You thought I’d forgotten, didn’t you? Or maybe you hoped I had! Tee hee.

Well, here I am with this week’s Macro Monday puzzle. I don’t have the picture I mentioned last week as a real doozy, but I do have this one. Maybe this is a doozy … or maybe not. I am famously bad at guessing which ones you clever lot will find difficult.

I won’t lie to you; you won’t find this in every household. However, many, many people do keep them these days because they are very useful. They come in handy for various hobbies and activities, but in fact I bought them because I have two dogs.

Purple is not the only colour this item comes in, though admittedly the colours available are limited, and actually – despite the trendy purple shown here – not really dictated by fashion.

If you don’t have them at home, you have certainly seen them used, whether in the workplace, on TV, or in the movies. In fact, in one of my favourite movie, the purple colour is evident! Make of that what you will.

So, take a guess and leave a comment, and I’ll be back tomorrow with the answer in the form of a picture link as usual.

Have fun – and good guessing!

Tuesday:  Oooh!  Looks like I win this week!   Go here to see the full picture.

If I tell you to look in the lower left hand corner of the photo for a clue, will you kick yourselves?  Well, you may do after clicking to view the full version!

Nobody really even came close to guessing, so I can’t really name any winners, but I did enjoy reading through your guesses.  I only wish I DID have beautiful, silky purple sheets!

Thanks for playing along and being good sports as usual.  I’ll try to make it a tad easier next week so we get a few clear winners!


Today I kind of felt there wasn’t a lot to feel happy about, because my poor Sid is not doing at all well, and isn’t able to get up and down comfortably – and this afternoon he threw up in the lounge, which is most unlike him. Add to that that the fact that my neck is worse than it’s been for a long time and you can see what I mean.

But then I began thinking about ‘How to be Happy!’ and I realised that in fact there have been exactly the same number of reasons to smile this week as there usually are, and all I had to do was look at them properly.

So to begin with, up at the top there, is one of the sweetest faces belonging to one of the sweetest dogs: our lovely Sid. Doesn’t it just make you smile? Don’t you want to hug that hound? Well, and so you could if you were here, because there’s nothing Sid likes better. Though many dogs don’t like hugs at all, Sid would be in heaven.

And then I opened the fridge and found the pieces of Italian cheese which I’d bought from the Italian street market. I didn’t know it was there, but I’d unexpectedly come across it when I went into town a few days ago to get my neck fixed by the chiropractor.


I’ve been enjoying those cheeses. First the soft goat cheese went, spread onto toast for lunch, then the other two whose names I have completely forgotten … but one was rather like a young Pecorino and the other reminded me of Taleggio, if that helps!


The Italians in the street market also had a wonderful selection of hot chocolate powders. If you’ve never tasted Italian hot chocolate .. .well, let me just say it usually puts a big smile on the face of seasoned chocolate drinkers. We simply do not do hot chocolate like this, except in places like Harrods. Smooth, dense, dark, and not particularly sweet. Delicious!

And lastly, a few weeks ago when we were walking in the town park, we saw a lot of this sort of thing -


The tree guys had been in and cut down quite a number of trees. You could see quite clearly that most needed to go, by the dark stains on the wood inside, and in some there were great holes left by disease. But they left the wood it was safe to leave, piled up quite artistically, for children to clamber over and insects to burrow into and as shelter for various other forms of wildlife.

Then, this week, what did we see?


The tree guys were back! But this time, they were planting new trees to take the place of the old ones which had had to go.

And that made me happy, too!


If you want to join in and tell us what made you happy this week, just copy this little badge:


and write your own little ‘How to be HAPPY!’ post, then link back here.

You see, it’s my belief that the things that make us happy people or unhappy people are not the big events, but the accumulation of little things. You just have to develop the habit of noticing them.

I think I’ve proved that to myself, this week.


Before we went to Italy for our recent trip, I had got into some very bad eating habits, and this had turned me into a … well, not so much a couch potato as a cross between Jabba the Hutt and a dormouse crippled with arthritis.  No, that’s not a pretty picture, is it?  But it’s what I felt like: sleepy, bloated, and in considerable pain.

I had got into the habit of eating a handful of biscuits for breakfast – and that means those things up there, because I’m English*.

Anyway, I craved sugar.  I ate biscuits for breakfast and for elevenses (and in the afternoon ad evening, too).  I ate cake.  If something had sugar in it, I wanted it. In short, I gave in to my sugar addiction – I do firmly believe that refined sugar is addictive and that one day it will be banned (and hopefully save future generations from this unhealthy compulsion).

And along with sugar, my consumption of palm oil shot up.  Now, the jury is out on palm oil.  It’s used in almost all of our sweet snacks and many other foods, but many people believe that palm oil is as bad for our health as the hydrogenated oils or animal fats it now replaces.   Whatever the truth of the various arguments put forth by various factions, I have come to believe that palm oil is bad for me.


So along with the bad diet came various other bad things: pain, lethargy, difficulty in sleeping, increased acid reflux, apathy, and a distinct desire to avoid physical activity.  You can see the vicious circle emerging, can’t you?  So could I, but I couldn’t stop eating those damned biscuits.  See that label?  Not only the ubiquitous palm oil, but no less than four different kinds of sugar!

And then we went to Italy for a week.

The Italians are well known for their love of food, and sweet things are very much included.  They eat cake for breakfast, they eat gelato, they eat biscotti, and they eat the most wonderful desserts: for instance, Torta Umberto … and also Sorbetto Umberto, which is the most wonderful thing, made from freshly picked mandarins and yes, sugar.  But their food is of higher quality and they care what goes into it.  To be frank, their idea of ‘fast food’ shames us, because it might be fast, but it does not compromise on quality.


And here’s the surprising thing: while we were in Italy, my acid reflux settled down and I was able to drink wine without waking in the night with ‘heart attack’ pain.

So, the combination of being forced to stop eating too many nasty English biscuits and cakes and of walking a lot during the day has in fact got me out of the ‘too much sugar and not enough exercise’ trap.  And yes, I do feel better for it.  I have been using the treadmill, I have had the energy to sort out my wardrobe, and I no longer crave bourbons or chocolate digestives.  I have also started making my own ‘Italian style’ lunches, like the toasted Alta Mura bread with red pesto and orecchiette di mozzarella you can see in the picture.  There is no butter, just a light spray of extra virgin olive oil.

You know what?  The Italians eat a lot of cheese.


And they throw oil and salt into their food with gay abandon, and drink plenty of wine and coffee.  Strong coffee.  Their vegetable consumption is (as far as I have observed) far less than ours.  They are legendary for their desserts containing both sugar and cream – and yet they are healthier.  What they do not seem to do is over-sweeten their foods, or stuff themselves with palm oil all day.  And they do not subscribe to the opinion (popular in the UK and in the USA) that more is better.

The interesting thing about that is that if I eat Italian, as the Italians do, I don’t tend to want to pick at food all day as I do when I’m eating bourbons and custard creams.

I have decided, therefore, to eschew palm oil and too much sugar once and for all.  I have bought some silicone muffin trays and intend to cook whatever cakes (carrot and date for breakfast, anyone?) and biscuits I intend to eat, and I’m going to try cooking with olive oil.  This way I will eat less, for sure, and what I do eat will not have palm oil in it, and I can control the level of sugar, salt and refined … stuff.


Of course, I’ll need to pop back to Italy from time to time, just to keep myself on track.  Doesn’t that sound like a good idea?  It does to me!

And maybe next time we visit Florence, I’ll be able to climb to the top of that campanile instead of just to the first stage.

*There is some confusion between us and our American cousins about what the words ‘biscuit’ and ‘cookie’ mean, so I thought I’d make that clear.




Posted on April 21, 2013 in Life, the Universe and Everything by Jay8 Comments »



Are you ready for another puzzle? I hope so!

Here’s a picture I took in Italy, but these things are much the same all over the world, I think. You must all have seen them, many times, and probably own several.

Is it easy?  Well, I think so, but then I know what it is, don’t I?  Tee hee.   Anyway, I thought I’d ease you back into this slowly, because my friend P has a doozy for you, which I might just post next week, if she’ll send me the picture!

Pop your answer in the comments, and I’ll be back tomorrow evening – that’s Tuesday – at about 10pm, UK time.  I’ll add the answer in the form of a picture link and you can see if you’re right.

No, there aren’t any clues this week, because … well, I can’t think of anything to tell you that wouldn’t give it away completely!

If you want to see more (less demanding) Macro Monday photos, pop on over to Lisa’s Chaos, where you’ll find some great pictures, most of which don’t require anything from you other than the odd gasp of awe and delight.

Well, it’s Tuesday evening, so here I am with the answer!  Go here to see the whole thing.

I told you I thought it was easy, and it did turn out to be easy, albeit a tad confusing because some of you weren’t sure what you were supposed to be looking at.  I do love confusing you like that, I do!  However, we have a winner, despite most of you getting it right, or almost right, and that’s Rob Lenihan.  He not only guessed what the object actually was (in a manner of speaking), but what it was doing and to what.  If you followed that, well, that just proves you’re still awake! 

I am going to award ‘joint first’ to Lori, because she was the first to guess correctly, even though her answer was not as complete as the one Rob gave. 

And well done to all of you who entered.  You all pretty much nailed it, except for Meleah, who might have done if she’d taken a guess at all!  Have a go, next time, Meleah, m’dear!  You might surprise yourself!  

Thanks for playing, everyone!  See you all next week, I hope!