Charlotte's Web

Blogging my world since 2006


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Bless Me, Bloggers …

… for I have sinned.

I have been led unto temptation and like the weak-willed sinner I am, I have given in. Twice in the last week, I have ignored my Lentenfast and partaken of the white stuff. But if you will forbear, I can justly show that my excuses were good and my reasons solid.

Firstly, our friend the extremely Funky Uncle Mustard swung by from his corner of the USA. He is an old very youthful friend who we only see once a year, if we are lucky. My husband (who has given up alcohol for Lent) said, “Lent be damned, I am going to have a beer with my friend.” That gave me just cause to say, “If you’re having alcohol, then I’m having sugar”. So the Funky Uncle partook of a homemade lemon ice-cream with me. Rather delicious it was, too.

Then yesterday, there was an even juster cause for my sin. My beloved boy turned two. We had a party. I baked Granny Toni’s Sinful and Decadent Chocolate Cake (see the end of this post for the recipe):

without sampling the mixture or even licking my fingers. I also baked 24 lemon drizzle muffins:

without one small scrap of the white stuff passing my lips. We had a birthday tea and at the end – I cannot lie – I sampled both some muffin and cake crumbs. I found them good. Very good. Sin is delicious.

You will be relieved to know that today I am returned to the straight and narrow. I am finding it straight. I am finding it narrow. I am eating many apples.

In other news, Spring IS behaving, and we were able to have Ollie’s birthday tea in the garden:

It was lovely. The children ran, climbed, swung and played. Ollie sat on his new red car, and batted away any guests who came too near with the firm words, “No, Guest, this is Ollie’s car!” I didn’t force him to share. I thought on his birthday, when his car was brand-new, he should be allowed full ownership. So he sat on his car, like a little king, clutching a red Mini under his arm, and eating “‘Marties”. He had a fine day.

Another sign that Spring is here is that the Germans are once more eating ice-cream. I posted about the national obsession with Eis last year, and got a hurt comment from some poor German saying, “Isn’t ice-cream an international thing to eat?” Um, yes, but not to the same extreme. I have never seen adults eating ice-cream with as much gusto as they do here – grown men in business suits strolling down the Heidelberg Hauptstrasse with cones, old ladies tucking into enormously calorific sundaes. A house across the road is being re-roofed (with spectacular German efficiency, let it be said), and today as we arrived home after the kindergarten collection, seven burly builders were taking their break, tucking into chocolate-, vanilla- and strawberry-striped icecreams. With no irony whatsoever.


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My Favourite Drug

I have given up sugar for Lent. I think the goal for Lent is to give up the sin you love the most, so, as I am a dull, nearly middle-aged German Hausfrau and don’t have any sins apart from reading in the bath at 3am so I wake up the next day crabby and use my outside voice with my children (bad), nearly knocking over cycling German pensioners who I forget have right of way over me, my car, any pedestrians or passing ants (worse) or indulging in a high-octave gossip session with one of my South African girlfriends (about a two on the scale of nought to sinful), I’ve had to resort to giving up my favourite drug. Oh I love sugar, I just love, love, love sugar.

At the same time, I have taken up my favourite weight-loss regime, the Shangri-La Diet, in order to shed the avoirdupois which I have gained in the Season from October to now. (Avoirdupois sounds so elegant, rather like “Won’t you have some more peas?” or “Avril du Pois was a lovely girl”, so you can almost forget you’re talking about fat and imagine you’re talking about something glamorous and otherworldly and French. Germans call the extra kilograms that creep on in the Christmas months Winterspek (winter bacon) which is whole lot more basic and frank, and not quite as charming.)

So, in order to separate myself from my winter bacon, I am back on the Shangri-La, which involves drinking a tablespoon of sugar in a litre of water twice a day. Contradictory? At odds with my Lenten fast? No. Let me tell you how.

First of all, I always give up sugar for Lent. It’s tradition: my husband gives up alcohol, I give up sugar and we spend a few weeks staring soberly and sadly at each other. When the deprivation gets too bad, I have a glass of red wine for him and he snarfs a chocolate bar on my behalf. This is a chance for us to show our love for each other. We do it well.

Secondly, the Lenten fast is a test of my moral fibre. Can I resist chocolate, ice-cream, cake, biscuits, yogurt, cereal, random sweets, delicious German bakery products? Can I resist them for weeks on end? Can I bake for my kids and not eat one drop of the cookie mixture nor sample one crumb? Can I resist them without turning into Deprived Sugar Junkie, shouting for the finest cakes known to humanity and mugging little old ladies so I can ravage their handbags for their secret peppermint stash? You betcha.

Thirdly, at the end of every fast comes the inevitable reward. How apt that at the end of my sugar fast comes Easter, the festival of chocolate and hot-cross buns and marzipan and Simnel cake and tiny little adorable pastel sugar eggs that are so cute you want to kiss their dimpled little shells before you inhale them and Nusszopf and other delicacies. Easter Sunday is possibly my favourite day of the year. And if anyone feels the urge to send me some See’s chocolates with which to end my fast, then give in to that urge … you, and I, will feel so much better if you do.

It’s also a chance for me to reveal my backbone. I may be a dull, nearly middle-aged, German Hausfrau with three kids, a washing mountain, and a dangerously addictive blogging habit, but I am Made. Of. Steel. If you put me in the jungle with no rations and a bush tucker challenge consisting only of toad’s eyes, maggots and the roe of the deadly piranha fish, I would voluntarily starve to death. That’s how strong I am.

Tradition, love, moral fibre and backbone are all very well, but fade in consequence when compared to the state of my Winterspek. It has to go, and as a veteran of almost every diet known to humankind, from WeightWatchers to the colic diet to that weird one where you eat beetroot and cheese for three days, I can honestly say that the Shangri-La Diet is the easiest, most effective and sustainable diet I have ever attempted. Best of all, it removes nothing from your diet, only adds a couple of tablespoons of sugar. Yummy, delicious, pure, white, granulated sugar, which you add to water and sip slowly over a couple of hours, with the delightful after-effect that your appetite goes away. So I am drinking sugar in order to not eat sugar, and it is going very very well. Really I can recommend it. It’s the way forward. By the time Easter comes, I’ll have no appetite left and won’t be able to eat those chocolates you sent me.

P.S. I had some of my husband’s favourite drug tonight – can you tell?