Sunday, 27 October 2013

Cloudy with a chance of meatballs 2 (2D version)

                                               Image: (Ross Burlinghame)

I had actually created a page for films because I love the cinema and am partial to an arthouse flick but I went to see this with my little boy today and couldn't resist telling you about it. I bought the first film on DVD in the summer from a very quirky secondhand shop in St Andrews and it's been a favourite on a rainy day.
I suppose I was quite apprehensive about a follow up as I wondered where they could go after the first film; scientist builds a machine that makes food, it then goes out of control , he eventually manages to switch it off (or so he thinks) and proceeds to save the world from being consumed by rather large roast chickens and hamburgers. But the sequel was surprisingly quite touching, humorous and enjoyable. Since the first film, it's obvious how the world of computer graphics has progressed. The colours were very vivid and the film was fast paced and action packed. We saw it in 2D as opposed to 3D. Although I think it would be a brilliant experience in 3D,  I find my eyes can't follow the screen that well so I miss a lot of what's happening and my boy is only four so would probably find it a bit overwhelming.
The film describes an island that is now inhabited by over-sized items of food that have mutated into animals (as the machine used to make the food had not been switched off as the inventor had thought). There is a new character;  Charles Z (the inventor Flint's childhood hero) who wants Flint to battle through the menacing atmosphere of the changed environment to locate the machine and turn it off for good. But has he got an alterior motive??
If I'm honest I'm always hesitant to go to the cinema to see children's films, as I wonder if it will also offer the parents an enjoyable experience. With this film I would have to say yes, it does. The storyline works, the animation is amazing and the jokes made me chuckle. And I could hear a good few other parents chuckling too...

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Charity shop chic #1

I went out to karaoke on Saturday night; maybe not the best plan given that I had been feeling a bit run down but it had been in the diary for a long time and a night out always helps to boost my mood. I have been paying for it the last few days as a result of tiredness (it was a late night and I'll admit I did have a bit of a dance!). It's also impossible to sleep past 7am with a preschooler! I was very careful with the alcohol though.
Anyway I decided to wear a dress I had picked up in a charity shop over in Stranraer when I had a weekend away in the summer. It's a Miss Selfridge dress and cost the grand total of £3.50 (a massive surprise as in Edinburgh charity shops are very pricey, for example you could pay £16 for a second hand dress from Next...)

My lovely friend won me some of these  (don't be put off by the towie-esque website!) They are fantastic and really give your hair lots of volume.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Time to take heed

This week some of the dreaded ME/CFS symptoms have been returning;  twitching muscles, heavy feeling in my limbs, restless legs and the wrong words coming out or I've been getting words or letters mixed up when I talk. The latter is probably not so noticeable to others but it embarrasses and frustrates me although I'm at the stage now where I can laugh about it. What else can you do! I've also noticed that my thoughts are slipping into a more negative way of thinking, I've been a bit more irritable and my mood has dipped a bit. All warning signs for a relapse if I don't catch it quick enough.

Action Plan:

  • plenty of sleep
  • healthy diet - reduce sugar, caffeine and alcohol
  • meditation at least once a day
  • mindfulness during the day and gently challenging my thoughts 
  • scaling back on the activities (never an easy one looking after an active four year old but good old mumsnet and netmums always have tips on activites to do indoors during Autumn). 
I'm not always sure what definitely causes these blips - do any ME sufferers??!! But I'm reckoning walking too far last weekend, the change in season, family stress (I wont get into that...) and maybe pushing it slightly at yoga this weekend have been the contributing factors. 

Always such an inconvenience when you think you are doing ok.... 

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

The Enchanted Forest and an indulgent weekend

Last weekend we went up to Pitlochry and stayed in the very quaint Moulin hotel (3/4 mile from Pitlochry). It sells an amazing selection of real ales and whiskies and the food is delicious (proper Gastropub meals at very reasonable prices and portion sizes are good).  They also have their own microbrewery across the road.

While we were there we revisited The Queens View, The Soldier's leap at Killiecrankie and spent Saturday night wandering round the spectacular Enchanted Forest at Faskally Woods. It's been running for a few years now and every October, they place lights and art installations round the forest and pipe eerie music out as you walk round. It does get busy, even though the entry times are staggered, and at some stages, we felt a little claustrophobic but I think its just due to everyone getting off the bus at the same time and walking in the same direction. As the time wore on, the crowds lessened and people were milling around different areas.
Its definitely worth checking out if you are in the area.

Unfortunately I didn't have a tripod with me so ended up getting better photos with my iphone! Although they don't really do it much justice!

After a weekend of a few drams, ales and lots of yummy calorific food like fish pie and blueberry cranachan, I decided yesterday to embark on a sugar free diet. So far it's not been too bad. I've not had any particular cravings but I'm sure that may change during the month! It makes sense to try and limit my sugar intake given the effect it has on my fatigue with the blood sugar levels. It does make it a bit easier though if I can substitute my chocolate and desserts for something else so I'm going to have a look and see what substitute recipes I can come up with.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Teenage skin at 30 something...

It's been a problem for me since the age of 13 and still twenty years on, I'm cursed with blemish prone skin. It's linked to hormones, the fact both my parents suffered from acne and my sensitive combination skin which reacts to a lot of products. It also takes a lifetime to heal.

I have to say that now I'm a lot more comfortable in my skin generally in terms of looks, weight etc. and have learned to accept my acne (as unattractive as it is). However I still can't bear the thought of leaving the house make up free. To me that's my worst nightmare!

Over the years I've tried changes in my diet, antibiotics and various potions that chemists, GP's and alternative practitioners have given me (some of which have been pretty scary and taken layers of skin off) to no avail. The one thing that did work very well was Dianette contraceptive pill but I couldn't stay on that forever and when i came off it, my skin really flared up. It's very hard at this age trying to find products that tackle the blemishes while moisturising ageing skin...

I have found some products I really like however and do seem to make a bit of a difference although they are not a particularly preventive measure.

The Freederm range seems to be pretty effective at reducing redness and inflammation and I have just started using the overnight serum which is promising. Korres are a Greek company that I have dipped in and out of over the years. They are a little expensive though. Korres had a store in Edinburgh which unfortunately closed over the last few years so I buy online now and Liz Earle's products are a cut above but due to frugal times, I can't always afford to shop there. Always a good product to have on your birthday and Christmas list though!

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Wonky immune system

The last few days I've been doing a lot of reading about auto-immune conditions and how ME/CFS could be categorised as one.

Basically one school of thought is that ME/CFS sufferers have an overactive immune system and that's the reason we feel so tired, because our bodies are on red alert, constantly thinking that there is an invader that needs to be killed off. To me it makes a lot of sense. This is an article from a few years ago and the issues surrounding improvement in symptoms during pregnancy (the immune system is suppressed during pregnancy) , the role of stress in developing ME, as well as triggering a relapse and how an overactive immune system can cause a myriad of symptoms like inflammation, IBS, intolerances and allergies. Exercise boosts the immune system so its no wonder that this can be bad for us...

I have a cold at the moment and so my ME is pretty bad. One funny symptom I get when I have the cold or a virus, is itchiness all over; a bit like a creepy crawly, restless feeling. Again probably a histamine response triggered by a wonky immune system. I wont get into too much jargon but the mast cells are connected to the histamine response and are thought to play quite a big role in ME/CFS as discussed here. Its also encouraging to see the results of the Rituximab trial and the further trials that are likely to take place.

In terms of what helps me, I find it very difficult to have time to rest (something that's extremely important with this illness) but with a preschooler and house to look after, part time job and friends to keep up with (that's vital for my sanity ha ha!) , its difficult to make  'me' time. What does help though is 'activity switching'. I ensure that I am only doing something for a certain period of time i.e.watching tv or going on the laptop, which I call a 'brain' activity. I will switch after a while and do something like washing the dishes or emptying the washing machine, which is a 'physical' activity. As I said before I'm lucky to only be mildly affected so not being able to rest regularly on a daily basis is not such a big loss to me now, although I'm fairly sure it would help! Most nights that I come home from work I'm no use for anything except my bed!

I'm determined that I will recover fully though. Next month it will be 11 years since I first became unwell and although its been a slog, I have made a massive improvement with my health. Back in November 2002 I was stuck in my bed for weeks on end struggling to walk through to the bathroom for the dizziness and couldn't focus on people outside the window due to the blurred vision and floaters in my eyes. The exhaustion was unbearable and I cried lots especially when the GP dismissed it as a virus and told me I needed to get back to work... The headaches, GI symptoms, palpitations and muscle twitches worried me enough at times that I wasn't sure I would make it through the night. Thinking back it's like some awful nightmare and was a massive strain on my very new relationship. But I got through it (and stayed with my boyfriend - now husband!). Reading the books on recovery from ME/CFS and the stories online were and still are a big inspiration.

Here are some ideas to help you. Good luck!