Falling off the Wagon

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I just fell off the paleo wagon.

Well and truly.

It was not just a slight tip; it was a fully fledged stumble, tumble, fall down, unmoving lying on the floured ground in a sugar coma.

I am not even sure why.

Or how.

But now I am sitting here stomach popping over my jeans, head cloudy with a sugar hangover, having heart palpitations, drooping eyelids and breaking out into a sweat even thought its cold and raining outside.

I am bitterly disappointed with myself and angry all at once.  

I know the heart palpitations I am experiencing are just a result of my mental anxiety and not really a physical display of the fact I just ate gluten and grains for the first time in a long time. And I know the sweats is a physical reaction to the mental anguish that of course I just ate sugar too.  I have a headache, but of course that might just be mental also.

I’m lying on the floor, and the red horned wearing version of me has pinned me to the ground with her pitchfork, grin of achievement plastered all over her face.

It was cake I bowed to. Cake!

Cake that I never used to eat, was never interested in, never seduced by.

And not just one piece either…

Oh how I stuffed myself to the surprise, laughter and aghast expressions of those around me as they watched me go back for seconds. Self control gone, restraint not a word that looked familiar, I was on a rampage and nobody could stop me.

I started small.

A protein gluten free and sugar free muffin that had grains and fruit I overlooked hoping it would subside the sudden thirst that had awoke inside of me.

It didn’t.

So I cut a very small slither of Julie’s coconut and lemon tea cake, my knife slicing through the moist goodness and knowing immediately her country baking skills would be second to none. I ate that treasure and wished I didn’t because it was too good.  And I knew then also, it would be better than the cinnamon tea cake – caster sugar and self raising flour included – that I had made.

But just because I wasn’t sure, I cut a slice of that too and ate half of it. Memories of my childhood rushed back to me in that cinnamon mouthful that was exactly like the sugar filled cinnamon donuts I used to heat up and eat for breakfast.  What started as a treat  became a daily ritual until I ate so many of them for many years after I couldn’t stand to eat cinnamon. But now it was ok, and the memory was back and sent shivers running down my spine.

Perhaps to escape the sweet memory or maybe because I had opened a door that had stayed closed for too long and was having a slight – ok epic – relapse of my former self, I immediately cut half a chocolate brownie and ate it, replacing the cinnamon taste with the beautiful chocolate, nutty sensation.

It was amazing.

I have always claimed not to be a cake lover, and I’m not (usually) but brownies are another thing, and this one had me hook line and sinker.

Oh lord, what have I done?!

By now there was no turning back.  I was unstoppable. Not only did I not recognize myself, others around me, many whom have NEVER seen me eat cake, did not recognize me either. Those who knew I very rarely would indulge looked at me with surprise, but silent glee – was I the once again recognizable, reckless Stacey they knew?

In truth, I think a few were silently happy at my failure.

The brownie not only tasted amazing, it also looked better than my muffins, which were also chocolate hazelnut brownie muffins.

And because, like my cinnamon tea cake, the muffins were a new recipe, I cut one in half and promptly ate that too. I tried to tell myself it was to check they were ok, to compare them to the brownie I had just eaten, because I needed to be sure.

I was kidding myself. I had no good reason to eat that thing apart from the fact I wanted to.  And when last night I had been cooking them three of the muffins refused to budge from the pan and I had to scoop them out and leave them behind, I had already tasted the mixture then. I knew they were good (but not as good as the brownie brownie).

So let’s just recap.

  • 1 x protein & fruit mini muffin (this was gluten and sugar free, and where I was meant to start and end in the eating process)
  • 1 x half chocolate brownie
  • 1 x half chocolate hazelnut brownie muffin
  • 1 x small slither lemon and coconut tea cake
  • 1 x half piece of cinnamon tea cake

In the end I needed to leave the group crowded around the table, cakes piled high, fruit barely touched and return to my desk in case I went back for more. 

It’s no wonder I felt ill.

And morbidly ashamed.

Every now and then someone pokes their head over the partition and smiles knowingly at me, or mimic’s throwing up, or offers me another piece of cake just to stir the pot even further. 

I want to throw my spinach and blueberry smoothie all over them and watch it ooze over their smirking faces turning them purple like the awful gum chewing child Violet in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

I can’t even stomach my smoothie at the moment and am trying to dilute this sugar swell by drinking bottle after bottle of water.

I need to put it out of my head and move on. To forget about this low point and pick myself up and dust the icing sugar off my pants (literally there is some there) but half of me is still too ashamed and the other half of me knows there is more cake and if I have failed already and eaten so badly already, then surely it’s ok to have just one more piece?

Later, much later, when I have packed up the remaining cake (thanks guys, you had to eat everyone else’s and leave mine!?) and gone home I sms my ‘trying very hard’ sister in law.

I ate cake. A full piece and half a muffin and a quarter of a brownie. Fail.

Her reply did pep me up a little –

I’ve stuffed my face with cake pops and lemon slice all day. Life.

I don’t even know what cake pops are, but the entire thing made me feel much better.  She is right, it is life. So I ate badly one day, its only one day. And the cake was nice.

Tomorrow is another day, and cake is not on the menu.

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The Primal Challange Day 24

I was reminded yesterday that some people eat simply because they like the taste. Sounds obvious enough, but I had forgotten this when I wrote yesterdays’ post, or maybe I just wasn’t clear enough.

Sure I like the taste of lots of food and that’s probably half to the reason I eat. I probably like more than I dislike, and I don’t want to eat something I dislike, but luckily enough I have never been someone who likes the taste so much they couldn’t stop… or so I thought. That was before the nuts.

I mean I could eat a piece of cake and put the rest back and not have to touch it again until the following day or even a few after. I could open a pack of Tim Tam’s and only have one. A bag of lollies could last me for weeks. I still have chocolate bunnies and eggs in my pantry leftover from Easter. When I was a kid I used to hide the treats around my room so I didn’t eat them all at once. It was a practice I put in place because treats were rare in our house growing up. Lolly bags were shared (and between six you don’t get much out of one bag) and when Easter came, or Santa filled a stocking with sweets, I made that supply of sugar last months. Sometimes I would even forget about what I had where and it would go to waste.

Lucky I know. Not everyone is like this. I have friends who cannot stop thinking about that chocolate cake until it’s finished, that open a packet of biscuits and have to eat the entire lot before they can rest, who have to give away Christmas shortbreads because if they are in the house then they will eat them all. They wake up thinking about food and go to sleep dreaming of it.

Shit, I can hear some of you thinking. That’s me.

Maybe that is why, largely, I have found the challenge relatively easy and very fulfilling. Although I am quite mentally strong and fiercely competitive (my blog bagging brother would say it is all in the mind – the same comment he tried to pep his wife up with before their daughter was born. Thank god she had to have a planned cesarean in the end) and once I decide to do something then I don’t like others trying to tell me I can’t do it.

That’s not to say if I was in land of Oompa Loompas and was swimming in Willy Wonka’s chocolate stream I wouldn’t take a sip, bite the nearest flower and chase a strawberry bunny for dinner. I really wanted to try that bubblegum, and the gobstoper and everything else those kids were seduced with into the pit of social gratitude failure.

And if suddenly the world went a little lopsided and I woke up there tomorrow, fiercely orange, wearing strange stripy overalls and half my height, then the challenge would easily be forgotten and my candy mushroom house would be eaten in a flash.

But today, no such luck. I woke up in my normal bed, no golden ticket in my hand and went about my day with boring normality.

Completed the Crossfit Games WOD number three, went to work, showered.  Managed to do up my back zipper dress myself without two colleagues pinning me against the wall and using brute force to get it up (which happened the last time I wore it)– a sign I have lost some of the sugar fat I was carrying. I had my usual morning discussion with a fellow cross fitter on what my latest hang up is (inability to get double unders), warmed up egg & bacon 3.0 muffins, ate muffins, ordered long black, drank long black, tried not to snack on nuts until lunch, warmed up spicy pumpkin soup, ate soup, snacked on nuts, got long black to try and stop snacking on nuts, drunk long black, locked away nuts in filing cabinet to stop snacking on nuts, ate a handful of shredded chicken to try and not taste the nuts, unlocked filing cabinet and ate more nuts, made green tea to try and stop snacking on nuts.  Wished I didn’t have any more nuts, but at the same time planned on when I will go and buy more…

Of course there is some work done throughout all of this.

And the realization that actually, I am one of those people. If I open the lid of that Tupperware container, then I can’t stop until the nuts are finished along with the coconut, the seeds and the goji berries they swim in.

So yes, some people eat because they like the taste of food. My key learning today, is I am one of those people, and my vice is not the chocolate cake, the Tim Tams, the lollies or the sweets. It’s plain old nuts.

How many days to go?

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  • Nuts! (knitreadclick.wordpress.com)

The Primal Challenge Day 21

Apparently I am no fun when I am off the sugar and off the drink. Or so I was told on Saturday night when I refused cocktail after cocktail, champagne, punch, chocolates, cheesecake, gingerbread men and many other loveable naughty’s my Christmas in July offered.

I think I was a bit offended.

Actually I was.

Especially given I had wasted 12 hours on a Christmas pudding that managed to get water into it during the transfer between houses and ruin.  Yeah don’t get me started, epic fail. Its back hanging in my laundry hoping it can be saved but knowing it probably cant be, and who would eat it anyway…

But I digress – Christmas in July with the girls, Saturday night.

I still managed to last until 2am, completely sober and relatively sugar free – I ate some a bit too much fruit and as far as I could tell was still semi engaging in my conversation attempts and interactions. I still leapt to the challenge of Pictionary and Celebrity Heads and laughed over excitedly when those who were tipsy and those who were just blind drunk couldn’t hold the pen or draw a simple image.

No, I didn’t stand on a dining room chair and try to get everyone dancing. Nor did I spill red wine on the floor or dive into the chocolate cheesecake spoon in hand without waiting for it to be cut. Although I was the only one who broke a glass (of mineral water) all night.

But, as I was also told, I was no longer the life of the party. And who was going to play that role now?  I admit neither Pictionary nor Celebrity Heads would have come out on my watch.

Oh the pressure! The guilt! But I had carried the load of over excited behavior for too long and had paid the price with pounding next day headaches, a cramping stomach and often a cheeky next morning (most likely afternoon) spew.

Not tonight!

I picked my way through the meal, skipping the prawns with the Cajun spice, knowing sugar is a hidden ingredient on the list, eating a spoonful of the bruschetta mix without the bread, swallowed a few oysters, ignored the grilled halloumi and the smoked salmon and cream cheese wraps, and waited patiently for the main.

Roast pork with no gravy or apple sauce, steamed greens with almonds, roast chicken without the stuffing and roast vegetables minus the dressing and potatoes. Of course I knew and had to accept the fact that the oil was probably rancid and not the ideal choice for the challenge, but I did have to give a little.

Overall however, it wasn’t even that hard.

Nor was sticking to the mineral water. Not as hard as I thought it would be probably as there were a few others in the sober boat with me thanks to a) Run Melbourne the following day, b) the sacrifices of breast feeding c) knowing with three kids at home it just isn’t worth it the following day and d) a ‘most often’ paleo diet.

The hardest part of the night (apart from trying to guess my celebrity head Nigella Lawson and drawing an image that represented the world ‘gargle’) was accepting the change in my social tag from ‘party starter’ to ‘party pooper’.

And while one friend commended me on my effort, another said a bit of her rice bran oil wouldn’t hurt me, nor would one drink, a few stayed silent and the host pointed at me and slurred how boring I was. Lucky my ‘generally’ paleo friend had my back the entire night. Although she did take a tiny sliver of the chocolate cheesecake when I desperately wanted to and most likely would have if I was not on this challenge, making it that little bit harder.

I did get some great advice however during the meal of many choices by my ‘almost always’ paleo friend. Once you make your own choice, deal with it, own it, and then move on. If you want to eat the vegetables cooked in rice bran oil because you are hungry and there is no other alternative, just do it. If you have been clean eating all week and trained all month and really like the look of the cheesecake, eat it. But don’t go on about it all night. And don’t beat yourself up about it or let others beat you up about it. Make your choice, and live with it.

I think I needed it on day 21.

Not because I am struggling, but because there is not long left and now I’m at the stage of working out what I would keep and what I was add and what I would change of this clean eating plan. And if I want to eat a slice of the chocolate cheesecake that looks amazing (I took a giant piece home for my husband just so I could look at it) once my challenge is up then I can.

But if I want my skin fold tests to be better than when I went in, I need to stop eating the nuts hidden in my draw by the bucket load, stop thinking about what I would add back in my diet, and start thinking about what I still need to cut out.  At least for the next nine days.

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The Primal Challenge Day 15 – Half Way!

I arrived at work later than normal this morning (8am) because I am still off the exercise which means I leave home about the same time as every mother in their oversized four-wheel drive and need to battle the traffic of Camberwell to reach my daily grind.

I was not feeling the best for a few reasons –

  1. Still no exercise
  2. Still painful back
  3. Work moving day. I was losing the desk I loved (natural light, space, close to kitchen and thus food supply) and moving to sit with my new team. I couldn’t decide if it was just the desk I was upset about losing, or saying goodbye to the old role and starting the new. Sappy I know, especially when I was only moving twenty meters to the other side of the room and I’m excited by my new role, and given my old role has not been replaced yet, will no doubt be doing that too, but change always brings a sense of melancholies.
  4. Traffic.

Maybe I am pre-menstrual. Too much information? Sorry I apologize.

So when I finally got to my desk carting my laptop, ipad, handbag and two bags of my weekly food, I was pleasantly surprised by the brown paper wrapped cookbook I found waiting for me.

Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar.

I forgot I had asked a friend to get it for me, and it was a great Monday morning surprise!

My cooking and my baking will be taken to an entire new level with this easy to read, follow and fall in love with cookbook. And as one person said ‘if I could get legs like that I would quit sugar too!”

Along with my new cookbook, another clean eating friend sent me an image of this little treasure which I never knew existing (and haven’t decided if it’s a good thing I found out about it). Paleo chocolate!!!

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At first I thought it was a little controversial and somewhat contradictory – I mean isn’t clean eating all about stripping back the processed, the man made, the human touch? And looking at this elegant wrapper and patterned dark chocolate goodness, I’m not sure it’s all that well aligned. But it is handmade, gluten free, dairy free, soy free and has no refined sugar. So I guess when I get to the local health food store post this 30 day challenge it is worth a taste test.

Speaking of controversial and contradicting, that’s exactly what my sister Megan pointed out via email I was like after yesterday’s blog post….

Subject line – It’s too late for you!

This comment contradicts everything you listed….

You are one of those people!!

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Ouch.

But she was right, I was!

Somehow I had started a war on sugar with my nearest and dearest and at the same time started a war on morals… and judgment and contradiction….

The email banter continued when my other vegetarian clean eating sister joined in….

Heidi (Vegetarian clean eater who has been ranting about organic and free range for many years)–

I distinctly remember a time not too dissimilar to this at a family do when everyone was chowing down on junk and someone offered me a soft drink and when I said I don’t drink soft drink S Mase rolled her eyeballs at me!

MY HOW THE TIMES HAVE CHANGED!

Megan (Often gluten free due to boyfriend, but otherwise open to all food groups. Favourite meal used to be cheese and tomato sauce on Strasberg) –

YEAH STACEY, YEAH!!!

I’m going to poison you with sugar as punishment

Me (clearly new to this eating plan, but now I have found it look down at those who don’t know it’s there) –

That must have been a while ago, I have not drunk soft drink for a while….  Thanks for your support friends. I know I am eating humble pie but you don’t have to make it taste so bad

Megan –

Poiiiissssssooooonnnnnnnn

PS I assume this humble pie has no sugar?

You see what being the oldest of six siblings four of whom are girls gets me right? No wonder I was driven to sugar.

But I did deserve it.

I have been parading my relatively new (day 15) clean eating practice in front of others who didn’t deserve it. And as I am finding out, many others who have silently and with far more humbled modesty quit sugar or gluten or something previously but unlike me did not feel the need to wave it around in front of others faces’.

But it’s now HALF WAY…. Surely I get some grace of goodness for being so good?

No wagon fall off, no slight hiccup (let’s just forget the red wine jus shall we?) nothing! I have a new eating plan I have stuck to with determination and grit and actually (for the most part) liked it.

I am amazed by the support (excluding the above) I have received from friends and family who make a conscious effort to ensure what they have prepared can be adapted to suit my needs.

I am also startled by what I can only call the ‘paleo revolution’ with many different forms of primal clean eating coming out of the woodwork – or caves if we need a bad pun – and offering up menu plans and advice, and as we have seen with the chocolate, food lines.

So 15 down and 15 to go, a new cookbook in hand, some more MODs coming fast and strong and only one major event looming on the horizon that brings me trickle of nerve Next Saturday’s girls Christmas in July dinner…

But never fear, paleo friends are near, and tomorrow is day 16…

sarah

The Primal Challenge Day 12

I remembered to bring in the rest of my chocolate cake to work today. Double dark chocolate mud cake. I bought it in, took the lid off the Tupperware, cut up the cake and called everyone over for a slice.  People have come and gone all day to take a piece or two (it’s a big cake) and I have sat here, and smelt the chocolate goodness. I’m in a dizzy haze of second hand sugar euphoria.

It’s almost enough. Not quite, but almost. This actually is the one cake I would eat and today my headache had returned and my back is not the best and I couldn’t finish the WOD so I’m slightly depressed, so a piece of moist, dense, sickly sweet chocolate cake would be just what I needed right?

Wrong.

I am eating a banana (still can’t cut out fruit completely, it’s my only piece today) and pretending it is in fact the chocolate cake. The smell that still lingers in the air is actually making it easier, if I close my eyes and block my nose it’s almost reality.

Thank god the last piece was taken and I didn’t have to pack him away and take him home again. That would have been too much.

I love baking. I love the precision and actually finding it soothing in a crazy dough kneading sort of way.  But most of all I love making people happy.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done a bit of charity work but I’m no Australian of the year – I’ve left that title to the amazing Shane Crawford after his Melbourne to Perth ride for Breast Cancer. I’m just talking about making people happy with instant gratification, and I can do that through food.

So I bake and I cook and I share it all with a smile and a warm bubble of pleasure runs through my body every time someone takes another cookie or slice of cake.

But today, I did feel a little differently. I felt a little guilty.

There were a few remarks about how I was ‘making them fat’ or ‘poisoning’ them with sugar when I was not eating it – of course their comments didn’t stop them from taking cake – but they did make me a little more self aware.

Was I making them fat and poisoning them? Would they be just as happy if I bought in a sugarless, flourless, almond meal cake or some protein powder balls?

I think the answer is no.

Unless…. I never told them it was sugarless/flourless and completely clean…..

Regardless, now that I know about the dangers of sugar, should I stop playing with it in the kitchen? This would involve an entire new hobby – an entire new library of cookbooks, an entire new set of carefully labeled Tupperware containers, (yes slight obsessive compulsive disorder) with an entire new set of ingredients. 

And – shock horror – what if this type of food doesn’t make people happy??!! I’m like Jerry Seinfeld – I want to be everyone’s friend – I don’t want enemies due to my poorly baked and horrible tasting kitchen catastrophe. 

Plus ill have a new team from 1st August; they don’t need a boss who tries to poison them by eliminating poison!

Oh chocolate, oh sugar, look what you have done to me – and I haven’t even eaten a piece of you – not even a crumb   – or licked the knife.

Please sugar; please don’t take away my social status. If I’m not the positive team player with a mean competitive edge especially when she is hungry – then I could be nobody. Well not quite, but its Friday afternoon, time for a bit of dramatics.

Can I bake a cake or two, a tray of cookies, a pie, a tart, and some scones just for special occasions? Can I throw in a cup or two of sugar (or three as this recipe called for) and not have my conscience eat away at my inner angel?

Surely we all have a sugar choice – and if I can bake it and not eat it – then others can also choose what to put in their mouth.

As long as they know, and as long as there is a choice.

So –

Post Challenge Firm Commitment Number 1

  1. Experiment in sugar free baking and hope that like a packet of sugar free extra I can still make people smile.

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The Primal Challenge Day 9

I have a confession to make. Some 10 odd years ago when I still fell into the early 20’s bracket, I ate McDonalds two to three times a day. I know, disgusting right. I can hear you gagging, or trying to swallow that little bit of vomit that has crept up your throat. The rest of you have foreheads creased in disgust and horror. But it’s true.

I got into a bad habit. Working 10 hour days at McDonalds while studying full time with a naïve focus of trying to fit the most in my day rather than get the most out of it. Yes there is a difference. Food was a necessity. I ate when I was hungry and never really worried too much about what it was.

If I had the early shift I would start at 5:00am and work until early afternoon which meant breakfast was a bacon and egg muffin and a few hash browns, and lunch was fries and a burger. Sometimes when it was really cold I would make a hot chocolate using the chocolate topping from a sundae and the soft serve, throwing in a dash or two of boiling water just so I could call it a drink. Often the favorite was ‘home made’ jam donuts. Empty the middle out of a cheeseburger bun, fill it with jam then deep fry it in the vat we cooked the apple pies in.  More vomit?

I could go on, about all the things I saw and we made in the greasy fast food kitchen. Burgers that held two or three chicken patties, thickshakes with added oreo flakes and soft-serve, muffins in the warmer heaped with topping and ice-cream. Closing time and the crew got to eat whatever was left so would stuff Cheeseburgers with nuggets and chips and Big Macs with chicken patties.

If I had late shift it was no different. If I had the middle shift it was no different. Work uni, uni work and my only fuel in between was a burger, fries and a litre or two of coke.  It got to a point where my crew would ask me if I wanted a ‘McStace’ today – my custom built favorite burger. That should have been a trigger point. I worked at three different stores and most of the crew at each knew of the McStace.  Of course Ronald didn’t make it any easier by giving all the Managers access to free food. My inner tight ass (no way was it tight on the outside with that diet) thought it crazy to buy lunch when I had piles of it sitting around me I could eat for nothing and I was a poor uni student who otherwise ate two minute noodles. The problem was, I was a ‘poor’ uni student for seven years. Yep swallow that bile now.

And I thought I had no addiction to sugar.

The truth was, it started even before then. High school lunch was a carton of milk, plain or sometimes flavored (ice-coffee was my favorite) a small bucket of hot chips and a mars bar. I never ate breakfast and could often go to early afternoon before eating at all, and then of course it was sugar.

Dinner was better, but not always great. It was quick and easy, and whatever Mum could do after work on a single income that would feed six kids. Chips in the oven with a chicken and some veggies, pasta, stir fries. Things that were easy for the first child who got home to pull out of a packet and pop in the oven.

By now you are probably picturing me as a morbidly obese 20 something and you would be right to paint that picture. The truth was however I was not much bigger than I am today, maybe only five or six kilos.  My body simply rejected almost all of the food and fueled itself on the sugar.

When I got my first corporate job some eight years ago my staple breakfast item was an extra tall latte with three sugars. Over the years I changed the milk to skinny, dropped a size and eventually took out the sugar, but the coffee and milk was always there.

As early as three years ago I would rush home from work and pop open a can of full strength coke. I joked with everyone that it was like my after work beer, but in reality I was no less addicted.

Even before I started this challenge I had the same naïve outlook on my diet. I thought I had limited sugar as much as possible. I hardly ate sauces (tomato, sweet chili etc), had cut out my can of coke – now that was a painful breakup – and barely ate any of the cakes that I made for others.  

But I was eating muesli laced with sugar every morning, and at least two muesli bars during the day that also contained at least 11grams of sugar each. Pop a few pieces of fruit in the mix, a dressing of my salad, even in my soup, and I was already overloaded before even dinner.

You get this is my ‘ah ha’ moment right?

Ah ha I hear you all chorusing in the distance. And why shouldn’t you join in the chorus, I am sure you have had your own – really I ate that much?! moments.

I had long been saying fat doesn’t make you fat; sugar does, but had not once looked deeper into where the sugar was hiding in order to try and fight its fat conquest. And it does hide – everywhere.

There are almost three cups of it in my dark chocolate mud cake I made last night, and that is before the icing and not including the sugar content in the chocolate. Ohh the sweet poison. I made the cake and watched as the mixture ran off the mixers blades with little more than a slight drool. I blocked my nose to the smell that began to radiate through my kitchen and not once did I lick the spoon. I was not even half tempted to.

Well maybe a little.

I’m sure somewhere underneath my ‘second week in, clean eating’ skin it’s still lurking. I am eating one piece of fruit a day, so it’s not gone completely.  I’m even thinking of raining that back in next week just to see if I have fully broken the sugar shackles.

And to think just a decade ago Ronald was my best friend and McStace was my middle name.

 PS – I had my own version of clean cauliflower tabouleh (turmeric, lemon juice, green capsicum and tomato) and lemon pepper chicken skewers last night and really need to use my camera and not my ipad to take photos!  

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