Lagom, apparently, it’s the latest thing

Just as there are trends in fashion, and food, and sporting and keeping fit activities, so there seems trends in life-style; it seemed to be mindfulness, and hygge, and now it’s lagom… which means just the right amount. It seems appealing, especially as I look round and see the amount of clutter and stuff there is… last year I attempted to throw away/recycle/give one item per day – sometimes there was more than one, particularly when I went through bookshelves, CD collections, clothes cupboards. At first I kept a record, but by about summer time forgetfulness interfered, and although I did get rid of I am sure, more than 366 items, I didn’t in fact write down all.

Lagom sounds appealing, and practical, and I’m sure relaxing – less stuff, less stress! So the outline:

  • balance
  • appropriate not perfect
  • simple, fair, less complicated/more contented

Sounds good… but how practical is it? I was writing about spring cleaning the other day, well maybe if I looked at it from a ‘lagom’ point of view I might feel more inspired! If it was spring cleaning not just to clean everything, but to sort and balance things too – which is what I was trying to do last year with my throwing/giving/recycling!

The idea is:

  • sustainability – yes! 100% for that!
  • waste reduction! 100% for that too – and waist reduction ditto!
  • economy – yes! Everyone wants to save money!
  • less stress – of course (not that I am very stressed, actually)
  • more freedom – I guess I am pretty free now, except for the oppressive stuff I still have, so freedom from stuff – yes!
  • balance of food/sleep/exercise – maybe this does need some adjustment, too much of some and not enough of others!
  • “improved wellbeing” well-being is a fashionable thing which seems to mean various things, but to have an overall feeling of calm satisfaction and happiness, yes!

Have a look at this infographic, which “explains what exactly a Lagom lifestyle means and what you have to do in order to be able to live it… the ultimate guide on how to live the Lagom life”:


Unexpected generosity

Gifts are always nice, that’s why we like Christmas and birthdays and other anniversaries… but surprise and unexpected generosity is heart-warming and wonderful.

Just recently I was shown appreciation for something which I had done willingly and had really enjoyed doing. Some time ago, I’d been able to help someone in what I considered a small way and which had really been interesting and a pleasure to do. The person was most appreciative, and thanked me – I in turn thanked them because I’d been given an insight into something, and had learned a lot by working with them. I felt I had gained a friend, not just an acquaintance and looked forward to meeting them again socially.

Much to my surprise, some time after I had helped them, I was given a thank-you gift! Obviously I was delighted, but also I was very touched by the kindness and thoughtfulness.

It really made me reflect on showing appreciation; I hope I do thank people properly, but I shall be more aware of it in future, thanks to my very kind friend.

More on train food – lobster salad and consommé

I mentioned our train journey the other day, we have another one today! We won’t be having a picnic lunch anything like Constance Spry describes in her Cookery Book!

Here is what she says about train food, (and its interesting to read about the difficulties picnic makers had in the past without our modern wrapping sheets, plastic bags, snap-lock boxes etc):

The primary qualification about such food is that it shall taste fresh and be really appetising. it should never bear the faintest trace of paper flavouring, something not so easy to avoid as one might think. Sandwiches or bread and butter, and chicken, may each be wrapped in  lettuce leaves to keep them away from napkins or wrapping paper, and whenever possible special food cartons should be employed.. and. for keeping salad fresh. Porosan bags. I should like to give you the details of a delicious meal made by one of the family for a small party going up to the far north.
Each of us was handed when we got into our sleepers a small, neat cardboard box containing two little screw-top cartons and other small packages. In one carton was a freshly made lobster salad in a delicious dressing, the second carton contained fresh fruit salad of peaches, strawberries and orange. Crisp poppy-seed rolls were quartered and buttered, and a Porosan bag held the crisp heart of cos lettuce. There were small cream cheese rolls made by taking two short pieces of celery, filling the hollow made when they are put together with cream cheese and rolling the whole in brown bread and butter…
… Thermos flasks, a commonplace to all of you, have brought about the possibilities that would have seemed miracles to us: consommé, coffee, and even toddy, all kept warm for many hours.

Lobster salad! Good grief!

I guessed that Porosan might be some sort of pre-plastic food covering and after a lot of trailing through different sites, found this:

Porosan was a thick plastic skin (the book calls it a ‘synthetic skin’) that was ‘shrink-wrapped’ using a hot water bath method and which produced excellent and safe results. A real shame it’s no longer available, it’s easier and cheaper than replacing rubber rings on Kilner jars.

I see that it is available as waxed discs for making jam on Amazon – if you should want some. it”s not to be confused with Indonesian porosan ‘a dried betel preparation’!

Train food… before the British Rail sandwich

Train travel in a bygone era… For first class passengers utter luxury! Constance Sprye was born in 1886, and in the chapter on Food For Special Occasions in the cookery book she wrote with Rosemary Hume, she recalls a first train journey alone when she ordered a luncheon basket. From the way she writes it sounds as if she may have been about eighteen:

I well remember the first time I had a luncheon basket on a train; ordered ahead by wire it was brought to the carriage at some main-line station en route. Now, I thought, I really am gown up, no more packets of sandwiches for me. Someone must have tipped the guard, for a remember he brought a fresh footwarmer and enquired if I was comfortable. hair up, long skirts, luncheon basket, the Strand Magazine, on my way to my first house party – I was beginning life. In the basket was a wing of chicken, roll, butter biscuits, cheese, and, I think, celery and possibly cake or a jam tart and an apple, and I have an idea that it cost 2s. 6d. (two shillings and six pence, about 12½p in money now)

Today we are going on a train journey; we will probably have a coffee on the train, but no footwarmer, no need in modern heated trains! If there is not a buffet car, the trolley will come round offering sandwiches, sausage rolls, snacks and crisps, chocolate and cakes, but we will have our own packed sandwiches and snacks!

March 6th…

It is a good friend’s birthday today, so I wrote a little piece for her detailing several events, births and deaths which happened on this day – as well as her own arrival in the world!

As well as John of Gaunt, Michelangelo and Elizabeth Barrett Browning who were born on this day, so were several other people who will be celebrating their special day today! Guy Garvey of Elbow, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Mary Wilson and Kiki Dee – what a musical bunch of Pisceans!

This is also the day to commemorate one way or another, one side or the other, the Battle of the Alamo, and another commemoration not necessarily to be celebrated joyously is the arrival of the First Fleet on Norfolk Island in 1788… And several saints have their special day today too… Saints Chrodegang, Colette, Fridolin, Kyneburga, Kyneswide and Tibba, Marcian of Tortona  and Olegarius…

Apparently, March 6th is less likely to be on a Monday than any other day of the week; it’s more likely to fall on a Tuesday, Friday or Sunday (58 in 400 years each) than on a Wednesday or a Thursday (57), and even less likely to be on a Monday or Saturday (56)

So a special day for a special friend!

Today is…

I don’t know whether it’s because I’ve been away for a while, where every day was exciting and new with no reference to appointment, commitments, weekly this or monthly that, or whether it’s now I work at home, writing all day there is no such thing as an actual weekend, and two consecutive days can be a weekend, and single day can feel like a weekend… But I seem totally confused as to what day it is.

Maybe it’s because we went to a Tasmanian summer at the height of an English winter, Hobart’s Christmas decorations seemed to wilt under the lovely mid 20° to early 30° temperatures, what was actually January seeming like July…

Maybe I’m just losing my marbles… maybe the story I am so involved in writing is in its own time-sphere… but I literally have to stop and think and gaze at a calendar to work out where I’m up to.

Yesterday,at about nine o’clock in the evening, I suddenly exclaimed ‘Oh! we forgot it’s Pancake Day today! We forgot it’s Shrove Tuesday!’ My husband stared at me for a moment and then said, ‘It’s Monday today, it’s Tuesday tomorrow…‘ Then this morning, with great glee, I gave my husband a gentle pinch and said ‘Pinch, punch, first of the month, and no returns!‘ Once again he gazed at me and then quite gently (before bursting into guffaws of laughter) told me it was still February, March begins tomorrow…

I do have two calendars on the wall in front of me, there is another at the bottom of the stairs, another two in the dining room and one in the kitchen… and there is the date and time on my phone…

10,000 steps and fruit and veg

There has been a bit of a fuss in the media about two health reports which have come out. In one a scientist says the idea of having a goal of 10,000 steps a day has no basis in actual science and could do more harm than good. My dad who was a scientist was always a bit sceptical of news items which included ‘scientists say’…

The argument by Dr Hager, a professor at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, is that the evidence for 10,000 steps being the right goal in order to become fitter and more healthy is based on one single study in 1960 in Japan. He may be right, he probably is, but he is sort of missing the point… people need targets and something to aim at – just saying I’m going for a walk every day doesn’t really work, if the walk is to the bottom of the garden and back! Another thing he mentioned was that it might be an unrealistic target for some people – well, I think people realise that – and I’m sure whatever they are using to count their steps will allow them to set their own lesser target!

There was a very good article in our paper a few days ago by Anna Magee, editor of Healthista entitled ‘Don’t Mess With My 10,00 steps’ which you can read here:

The point she makes is it is motivational, it is achievable, you don’t need any fancy equipment, you don’t need to pay to go to a gym, you can walk up and down your own stairs to achieve it – but it might just make people go outside and walk around and enjoy all the other things being outside and walking about brings – seeing and observing things, meeting people, exploring different streets and paths as well as the countryside.

The other news item about health which caught my eyes was that the idea of eating five pieces of fruit or vegetables a day is not going to improve your health – you need to eat ten. For some people it might be easy – a couple of bits of fruit at breakfast, another couple (but different fruit) in the morning, four salad items at lunch time, four other vegetables for dinner – how expensive is that going to be for most people – even if they actually like fruit and vegetables enough to eat that quantity. My husband for example just doesn’t like any green vegetables except peas and beans; he doesn’t like uncooked vegetables except tomatoes, he isn’t really keen on things such as celery (except cooked) aubergine (in any form) courgettes or marrow… This then means if I buy a cabbage for example, because I like it, I just can’t eat it all before it has only small, but I am still working my way through it.

I love vegetables, but I would struggle to eat ten different ones a day – and also I would get bored – and I am sure lots of people would too! I know it is fashionable to have drinks made of fruit and vegetables, but to me that is revolting – the idea of drinking a kale and carrot smoothie… yeugh!

I read another article about this piece of news and the point made was the practicality of it; the writer mentioned having a family and the amount of peeling, chopping, preparing that needs to be done for that amount of produce for a family of four or five or six…

I’m sorry, but for most people the important thing is to be able to manage their exercise and their diet – and I am going to use an acronym which I came across when I was teaching – I hated clever acronyms, but in actual fact this one does apply to targets, SMART:


  • Specific – target a specific area for improvement – like getting fitter and or losing weight
  • Measurable – quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress – I can manage 10,000 steps and 5 pieces of fruit or vegetables a day – and maybe sometimes I will do more!
  • Assignable – specify who will do it – in a family who is going to be able to prepare the food which is going to be eaten taking account of the different likes and dislikes, who has the time to do it, who has the ability to do it
  • Realistic – state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources – I couldn’t run five miles, I wouldn’t go to a gym or weight room – I can manage to walk 10,00 steps or more!
  • Time-related – specify when the results can be achieved – and I think added to this is another time-related factor involved in walking or buying/preparing food

By the way, my featured image would feed a family – it’s way too much for just me, and making a small enough portion would be impossible!