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Thirteen Fad Diets to Try – or Not!


A few nights ago one of the news items on television was about the new tube diet that is sweeping America. It sounded pretty gross to me, but it did give me an idea for this weeks Thursday Thirteen.

Thirteen Fad Diets

1. Grapefruit diet – a low-carb diet featuring grapefruit/grapefruit juice with every meal.

2. Cabbage Soup diet – a lot of cabbage soup is consumed.

3. Beverly Hills diet – based on a theory that the body needs the enzymes found in certain foods in order to digest food properly.

4. Atkins diet – this is a very popular diet plan. It’s based  on the theory that when we reduce our intake of carbohydrates our body must seek another source of energy and will burn fat.

5. South Beach diet – this diet is similar to the Atkins diet, but it balances good carbs against bad carbs. It could be argued that this one is not a fad diet because it is nutritionally sound.

6. Blood Type diet – food eaten is suited to a person’s blood type. 

7. Paleo diet – the dieter eats the same foods his ancestors ate rather than a modern diet.

8. Negative Calorie diet – foods are eaten that use up more calories during the digestion process than they actually contain.

9. Apple Cider Vinegar diet – it’s claimed that regular consumption will cause fat to be burned rather than stored.

10. Tapeworm diet – a tapeworm is ingested in order to lose weight.

11. 3 Day diet – a low calorie diet done over three days.

12. Israeli diet – done over eight days. The dieter eats apples, cheese, chicken, salad. Each food is eaten for two days before moving onto the next food.

13. Tube diet – the new diet where a person has a tube stuck down their nose and they’re given a limited amount of calories via tube.

When it comes to diets, my preference is to limit my calories and increase the amount of exercise I do each day. With this type of diet it’s possible to lose weight at a sustainable pace and keep off the weight. I think the tube diet sounds gross, and personally, I prefer to physically eat my food and use my taste buds!!

What do you think of the tube diet? Would you try the tube diet?

Thirteen Medicinal Herbs


When my husband and I worked and lived in London, we weren’t very far from the Chelsea Physic Garden. In hindsight, I wish we’d visited this historical garden, which was founded by The Worshipful Society of Apothecaries in 1673. Next time we make it to London, it’s top of the list.

I picked up a copy of Herbal – The Essential Guide to Herbs for Living by Deni Bown at my local library since one of my characters in the historical I’m working on is gifted with herbs and healing.

Thirteen Herbs: History and Use

1. Dill – comes from the Middle East and has been used since Biblical times. Both the seeds and leaves are used in cooking. Extracts of dill are used for calming and toning the digestive system. It acts as a mild diuretic. Dill is said to increase milk-production in mothers.

2. Horseradish – originally found in south-east Europe to western Asia. Horseradish has been cultivated for around 2000 years. The young leaves are good in salads and on sandwiches. The fresh root can be grated. Horseradish acts as a diuretic and speeds the excretion of toxins in a person with arthritis and gout. I love a mix of creamed horseradish and mayonnaise with hot beetroot. Yum!

3. Arnica – Grows in northern temperate regions and the Arctic. Several species grow in America. It has always been a popular remedy for sprains and bruises, but is no longer taken internally since it’s considered unsafe. Some people are allergic to arnica.

4. Mugwort – I hadn’t heard of this one before but liked the name. It’s one of the nine sacred Druidic herbs believed to protect against evil and poisons. It’s bitter to the taste and is a traditional flavoring for eels and carp. No danger of me eating any!

5. Asparagus – has been cultivated since Egyptian times. I love fresh asparagus, and it always says summer to me. It contains asparagine, which is a strong diuretic and gives the urine a strong odour. It contains an acid that kills roundworms, threadworms and flatworms. Herbalists think of asparagus as a cleansing herb for the liver, bowels and kidneys.

6. Marigold – valued as a medicinal herb, a colourant for fabrics, used in foods and cosmetics since ancient Greek times. The petals can be used in cooking as a cheap version of saffron to colour things such as rice. Marigold is a soothing and healing plant. It’s used to heal dry and cracked skin. It’s also used as an antiseptic for eczema, ulcers, nappy rash. Marigold is often used as a companion plant in vegetable gardens, to help get rid of pests.

7. Camphor Tree – this was unknown in the west prior to the 17th century, but was common in Chinese medicine. It’s used in mothballs. Sometimes used in liniments for joint and muscle pain. In Chinese medicine it’s used for skin diseases and wounds.

8. Limes – are native to Asia. They don’t do well in Mediterranean regions and spread to the West Indies. The essential oil is used in perfumes. Lime juice is often added to medicines in south-east Asia. I like limes in cooking, and can’t wait to try Key lime pie when we visit Miami later this year.

9. Coriander – is one of the world’s oldest herbs, and seeds were found in Egyptian tombs. the leaves and the seeds are used in cooking. It’s one of hubby’s favorite herbs. He seems to put it in everything. The tea made from the bruised seeds relieves indigestion and wind.

10. Echinacea – an important medicinal herb to native Americans. They were used to cure infected wounds, poisonous bites and stings. Echinacea is an immune-system stimulant. Some species are becoming rare because of over-collection.

11. Eucalyptus – native to Australia. The essential oil is used as an antiseptic, expectorant and anti-inflammatory. It’s used in coughs, colds, dental hygiene products as well as liniments and soaps. It has a very distinctive scent.

12. Ginkgo – a tree that grows up to 100ft tall. They’re called a botanical dinosaur because the trees are unchanged from those that lived 200 million years ago. They’re sacred in China and Japan and many are grown near temples. Ginkgo nuts are served roasted in Japanese bars. The nuts are prescribed for asthma, coughs, and incontinence. They contain a substance that improves the blood supply to the brain and is used in senile dementia cases.

13. Liquorice – grows wild in Mediterranean regions and south-west Asia. A different variety also grows in central Asia, China and Japan. Liquorice is mentioned in Assyrian medical texts. Liquorice extracts are added to sweets and baked products, ice cream and chewing gum. Liquorice roots contain glycyrrhizin, that has cortisone-like effects. Excessive intake of liquorice can cause side-effects. Not recommended for pregnant women.

Are any of these familiar to you?

Thirteen Famous New Zealanders


When I first started traveling most people didn’t know much about my home country. Once the Lord of Rings movies came out everyone suddenly knew more about New Zealand. But there’s more to New Zealand than gorgeous scenery. We have produced some very interesting and famous people. My TT this week is about famous New Zealanders.

Thirteen Famous New Zealanders

1. Sir Peter Blake – sailor and navigator. Famous for his lucky red socks during the America’s Cup campaign. Murdered by river pirates while on an environmental research trip on the Amazon River.

2. Sir Edmund Hillary – mountaineer and explorer. First man, along with Sherpa Tenzing, to climb Mt Everest. Famous for the immortal words, “We knocked the bastard off.” He was born in Tuakau, the same town where I lived and went to school. He is on the NZ $5 note.

3. Peter Jackson – film director and actor. Famous for the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

4. Bruce McClaren – famous international motor racing driver, engineer and designer. His name is still used in Formula 1 motor racing to this day. Died while testing one of his cars.

5. Herbert J (Burt) Munro – land speed record holder in his motorcycle. His story is told in the movie The Fastest Indian staring Anthony Hopkins.

6. Kate Sheppard – Women suffragette and responsible for helping women to get the vote in New Zealand. New Zealand women were the first in the world to get the vote. She is on the NZ $10 note.

7. Kiri Te Kanawa – Opera singer. She sang at Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s wedding.

8. Ernest Rutherford – Scientist who split the atom. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1908. He is on the NZ $50 note.

9. Dame Edith Ngaio Marsh – a very good mystery writer.

10. Sir Peter Snell – athlete and gold medal winner at the Rome and Tokyo Olympics. World Record holder.

11. Jane Campion – Film director. Her works include The Piano, which starred a young Anna Pacquin.

12. Jean Batten – Aviator. She set many solo flying records such as first direct flight from England to Auckland in 1936.

13. Sir Truby King – Founder of the Plunket Society for babies in New Zealand. Well known as a health reformer and a Director of Child Welfare. He was the first New Zealander to be given a state funeral.

Extra – Richard Pearse – is said to have flown almost nine months earlier than the Wright Brothers.

Okay quiz time – have you heard of any of these famous New Zealanders?

Sources: Wikipedia, New Zealand in History

Thirteen Common Endearments


Since it was Valentine’s Day this week I thought a list of endearments would be the perfect topic for my TT.

Thirteen Endearments

1. Love/lover

2. Sweetheart

3. Darling

4. Dear

5. Honey

6. Babe/Baby

7. Sugar

8. Sweetpea

9. Sweetie/Sweet

10. Doll/dollface

11. Cutie

12. Sunshine

13. Cupcake

When we lived in England, it was very common for the customers in the pub where we worked to call the barmaids luv or darlin’ or sweetheart. I was a bit taken aback at first, but soon became used to 18 year old men calling me luv.

One of our regulars used to call all of the girls “me old darling.” He’d say, “Another drink, me old darling.” I hated this and used to grit my teeth each time. When my husband wants to wind me up, he’ll call me that. Gets me going every time!

Do you use endearments in your relationships? Which endearments do you absolutely despise?

Thirteen Types of Sharks

A notice before I get to my Thursday Thirteen:

I’m visiting Chris Redding and talking about writing plus my upcoming release Cat Burglar in Training.


Hubby went fishing last weekend, and he rang to tell me about the shark he caught. He was fishing in the Hauraki Gulf and totally inspired this post.


Thirteen Types of Sharks

1. Blacktip Reef shark – they hang around reefs and grow up to six feet long.

2. Bull shark – this shark does well in both salt and fresh water. It’s the third most dangerous shark to people.

3. Great White shark – anyone remember Jaws? We have a lot of this variety of shark. They attack more people than any other type of shark.

4. Hammerhead shark – this is the one that hubby caught. See above photo. They removed the hook and released it after taking a photo.

5. Mako shark – a very fast swimmer. It’s a jumper and sometimes jumps into boats.

6. Nurse shark – these are common in aquariums. They hunt at night and sleep by day.

7. Sandtiger shark – another shark that hunts at night. The female shark has two uterus. The strongest one eats the other before they are born.

8. Tiger shark – this one is also known for attacks on humans. They eat anything. Things such as boat cushions and alarm clocks have been found in their stomachs.

9. Whale shark – the largest of all sharks.

10. White Tip Reef shark – the most common shark encountered by divers and snorkelers on tropical reefs.

11. Wobbegong shark – this is an Australian/Pacific shark, and it lies on the bottom of the ocean waiting for fish to come near.

12. Zebra shark – this is a small and gentle shark, which is often kept in aquariums with other fish.

13. Thresher shark – this shark has a long tail, which it uses to help catch its food.

Okay, who watched Jaws, and how long did it take you to get back in the water? I watched the movie with my brother. For a long time after seeing it, whenever I went swimming I’d keep touching my legs to make sure they were still there!

Thirteen Groups of Animals

Thursday Thirteen

This week my husband and I, plus several of the other drivers on one of our local roads, had to stop for about twenty geese to cross the road. This started a conversation about what a group of geese is called. According to an online page of the Christchurch library, I discovered that geese come in gaggles, clutches, flocks, lines, skeins, nides or wedges.

The perfect topic for a TT, I thought.

Thirteen Animal Groups

1. Crocodiles – bask or a nest

2. Flamingoes – stand

3. Ferrets – business

4. Goldfish – troubling

5. Grasshoppers – cloud

6. Hedgehogs – nest or an array

7. Hippopotami – bloat, school, pod or herd

8. Leopards – leap

9. Lice – flock

10. Midges – bite

11. Cockroaches – intrusion

12. Owls – parliament or a stare

13. Tigers – ambush

I don’t know how they come up with the group names, but it struck me how appropriate some of them are – hippo/bloat. They match perfectly. I’m not sure how ravens ended up with unkindness though. That one doesn’t seem to fit. Maybe someone can enlighten me.

My question to you – if authors and readers came in groups the same way as animals, what do you think they’d be named?

Thirteen Useless Facts about Romans

Thursday Thirteen

During my latest library jaunt I picked up a copy of The Mammoth Book of Useless Information by Noel Botham. Some of the useless information relates to Romans, and since hubby and I are off to Europe later this year, I thought this would make a good TT topic.

Thirteen Useless Facts about Romans

1. Romans used to believe that walnuts could cure head ailments, since their shape was similar to that of a brain.

2. In Ancient Rome, the law stated that prostitutes were to either dye their hair blonde or wear a blonde wig to separate themselves from the respectable brunette female citizens of Rome.

3. Wealth Romans, both men and women, would have all their body hair plucked, including pubic hair.

4. Slaves generally came from conquered peoples, but even a free man unable to pay back his debts could be sold into slavery.

5. One Roman ‘cure’ for stomach ache was to wash your feet and then drink the water.

6. The Romans were the first to create sculptures that actually resembled the people they were supposed to portray.

7. In ancient Rome, it was considered a sign of leadership to be born with a crooked nose.

8. The ancient city of Rome was on the site of the present city of Rome.

9. They invented numerals that are still used today.

10. Capital punishment was often carried out in the amphitheatre as part of the morning entertainment. Condemned criminals faced wild animals without the benefit of weapons and armor, or had to fight other prisoners to death with swords (also without armor)

11. Rome’s Circus Maximus was the biggest stadium, with seating for 250,000, and was used mainly for chariot racing.

12. Some Roman dishes were very exotic and included teats from a sow’s udder, or lamb’s womb stuffed with sausage meet.

13. Asparagus was a prized delicacy in ancient Rome and was rushed by chariot to the Alps, where it was deep frozen for six months to last until the Feast of Epicurius – God of Edible Delicacies.

Do you think you’d like to live in Ancient Rome?

Stink to High Heaven: Baths and Bathing

Thursday Thirteen

One of my recent library reads has been If Walls Could Talk: An Intimate History of the Home by Lucy Worsley. An excellent read BTW, and full of interesting social details about beds, underwear, child birth, marriage etc. If you’re writing historical romance or you’re interested in all things historical this is the book for you.

Thirteen Factoids about Baths & Bathing Through the Ages

1. Medieval people mostly washed their hands and faces rather than taking baths.

2. That said, Medieval people weren’t afraid of baths. Knights used to indulge in something called a Knightly bath, which involved decorative sheets, flowers and herbs placed around the bath. A servant would take a basin of hot herbal potion and use a sponge to scrub the knight’s body. The knight was then rinsed with rose water and rubbed dry with a clean cloth. He was then dressed in socks, slippers and a nightgown and sent to bed. Doesn’t that sound luxurious?

3. Baths were made of wood and lined with a linen sheet to prevent splinters in the bottom!

4. The English embraced the idea of the Turkish hammans after reports from returning Crusaders. Records show the presence of 18 bathhouses in London in 1162. They were known as stews and were communal with men and women sharing them. Most were in Southwark. Wow, imagine the potential for an erotic romance…

5. The communal aspect did cause problems and some became houses of ill-repute. Henry VIII closed the bath houses down in 1546.

6. From around 1550 to 1750 baths were considered dangerous and weird. Bathing became medicinal rather than cleansing. People feared that bathing spread disease such as syphilis. Hot water opened the pores, allowing illness into the body.

7. During the 17th century medical understanding improved. People started to understand perspiration and a bath in cold water was considered beneficial. A full bathing, despite recommendation by doctors, was slow to catch on. The ballrooms at this time were pretty stinky.

8. Beau Brummell and other gentlemen of his ilk popularized bathing, making it classy, and soon everyone was doing it. Victorian etiquette books started to state bathing was good manners.

9. Water was usually carried from the basement up to the bedroom, then once used, it was carried down again by servants. Hard work!

10. Around 1860 some houses started to receive piped water to first-floor bathrooms, which made bathing much easier for all concerned.

11. The en suite bathroom was first seen in the New World. American heiresses sent to secure an English nobleman as a husband were horrified by the primitive bathing conditions.

12. The Methodist minister John Wesley would not preach in a place without a toilet and thus came the idea of cleanliness becoming next to godliness.

13. By the end of the 20th century thinking in the bath/reading in the bath becomes a way of relaxing and relieving stress.

Personally, I’m a shower girl and seldom have a bath. The bath doesn’t get much use in our house. I’d love to own one of those sleek wetrooms with tiles and lots of shower heads. Maybe one day…

Bath or shower? What does your dream bathroom look like?

Thirteen Factoids About Eighteenth Century Food

Thursday Thirteen

I picked up a copy of A History of English Food by Clarissa Dickson Wright from the library last week. The history of food fascinates me, and I enjoyed the way this author told an interesting story instead of throwing facts at me.

Here are thirteen things I found interesting:

1. The Georgians had a huge impact on food, the way it was cooked, served and consumed. They even influenced the times of dining.

2. Advances in the fireplace and accessories made cooking less laborious. Roasting and baking became much easier due to new designs of ovens and flues.

3. Some of the poorer families didn’t own ovens and sent their pies, stamped with their initials, to their local baker.

4. The English started making porcelain from which to drink tea.

5. Tea became a very common drink for all classes. Tea was drunk weak and sweetened without milk. It’s assumed that they drank their tea black because the milk was often sour, had nasty additives or was thinned down.

6. The introduction of more lighting was one of the reasons meals became later and taken at times more familiar to us in 2011. In Medieval times people would go to bed when it became dark, but now people stayed up much later.

7. Seating was done according to station, although gradually this changed to alternative seating with men and women. They say behavior improved on the introduction of this new seating method. The women obviously kept the men in line!

8. Turtle soup wasn’t actually a soup but more a stew. It contained chunky bits of turtle. Turtle soup was so popular that people who couldn’t afford turtles made mock turtle soup out of calves’ heads. Personally, I say yuck!

9. It was deemed vulgar to sniff the meat on your fork or plate because the activity implies the meat was tainted. People didn’t take their own cutlery with them any longer. Instead the host provided it.

10. The ice house was another new innovation. A small stone outbuilding containing a deep pit for ice helped keep food fresh. Blocks of ice were sawn from rivers to provide the necessary ice.

11. In 1762 John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich sent for two slices of bread and some meat, inventing the sandwich. Job well done since I like sandwiches for lunch.

12. Viscount Townshend, known as Turnip Townshend, introduced a system of four-field crop rotation. This involved a strict order of plantings and improved the fertility of soil and crop production.

13. The staples of the English diet – meat, bread, and vegetables were readily available and affordable during the first half of the century. Toward the end of the century with the industrial revolution taking hold and growing populations, the laboring classes started to suffer.

It’s interesting to note that around this time England started sending convicts to Australia. One of my ancestors was sentenced for receiving stolen goods in 1801 and sent to Australia. His wife and two children went with him.

Thirteen Quotes About Age

Thursday Thirteen

Many years ago, around 8.00pm, I’m told, I came into the world kicking and screaming. Yes, today is my birthday, so I thought age was a very appropriate topic for my Thursday Thirteen today.

Thirteen Age Quotes

1. I was surprised when I started getting old. I always thought it was one of those things that would happen to someone else. ~ George Carlin, Brain Dropping 1997

2. I am in the prime of senility. ~ Benjamin Franklin

3. You’re not old until it takes you longer to rest up than it does to get tired. ~ Phog Allen, Kansas basketball coach

4. He says he’s young at heart – but slightly older in other places. ~ Anon.

5. Old is always fifteen years from now. ~ Bill Cosby

6. One day you look in the mirror and you realize that the face you are shaving is your father’s. ~ Robert Harris, Sunday Times 1996

7. One should never trust a woman who tells one her real age. A woman who would tell one that, would tell one anything. ~ Oscar Wilde, A Woman of No Importance, 1893

8. The four stages of man are infancy, childhood, adolescence and obsolescence. ~ Art Linkletter, A Child’s Garden of Misinformation, 1965

9. First thing I do when I wake up in the morning is breathe on the mirror and hope it fogs. ~ Earl Wynn, Hall of Fame pitcher

10. The old believe everything: the middle-aged suspect everything: the young know everything. ~ Oscar Wilde, Phrases and Philosophies for the Use of the Young, 1894

11. As we grow older, our bodies get shorter and our anecdotes longer. ~ Robert Quillen, American author

12. Just when I finally got my head together, my body fell apart. ~ Anon

13. Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional. ~ Anon

I admit that sometimes I wish I were in my twenties again. I’d do a few things differently i.e. start writing much earlier than I did, but on the whole getting older isn’t too bad. The wrinkles can be a little scary, but it’s easy enough to avoid mirrors :-)

Does getting older worry you? Which of the above quotes is your favorite?