Six kilos in six weeks: halfway through

horizontal-162952_1280Read the first post in this series here – Six kilos in six weeks: finishing what I started.
Just a warning, I’m going to be talking about weight loss, dieting and body image. If you struggle with your relationship with food, or have any self image difficulties, you may find it hard to read.

How am I doing?

I stuck to my guns better than last week:

  • I was under my calorie goal on two days…
  • …on my worst day I was only over by 400kcal.

Overall, based on a basal metabolic requirement of 2400 kcal per day, I’ve averaged a daily deficit of 922kcal, leaving me just below 6500 kcal down for the week.

WhaLibra chart- 2015-10-19 12-00-00t is my weight?

Err… Somehow, I seem to have lost no weight at all since last week. Weighing in at 69kg was somewhat depressing this Monday morning.

That said, the red average line has still dropped by half a kilo in the last week, and I suspect my weights will catch up through the week, although it does look like I’m a little behind…

A changeable week.

Routine is the dieter’s friend. For me, I get up, weigh myself, have a negligible calorie coffee, go to work, eat around 700 calories through my work day, do some exercise at lunch, then go home, do a little more exercise, and eat about 700 calories in the evening.

Without routine? Life seems to be suddenly filled with opportunities to eat, and a high availability of difficult to assess foods. How many calories are actually in a Saag Paneer with half a Peshwari Naan. A Salad Kebab? Even just a latte from a random coffee shop?

In dieting, as in so many areas of life,
knowledge is power.

This week I visited my grandma in Birmingham. I massively upped my exercise, and did my best to keep track on calories pretty severely. But the simple failure to remember my weighing scales meant I already felt uncomfortably cut adrift.

So far, I’ve not found this moderately intense diet particularly difficult. Weight loss is pretty simple really: mostly, you need to eat less. Having a nice graph of weights, whilst tracking my daily input and outputs gives me a real sense of control. That’s why not having my scales robbed me from feeling capable and confident; in dieting, as in so many areas of life, knowledge is power.

Getting sweaty

What went better? Exercise went better:

  • Week 1: I burnt off 1157 kcal doing exercise
  • Week 2: I managed 945kcal of exercise.

This week? 2150 kcal burnt off. More than the previous two weeks combined. This may have contributed to the difficulty losing weight, in two ways:

  1. Firstly, there is a risk of overestimating exercise calories burn, which would mean my net deficit wouldn’t be high enough.
  2. Secondly, I may have built up my muscles a bit, which would disguise fat loss.

Changes, changes, changes.

weightlossweek3

I’m confident that if I carry on pushing, the weight will continue to fall off, despite the results this week. This week I’m going to:

  1. Stick with a 1400 kcal target. I doubt I will see significant progress with any more, and I’d be miserable with any less!
  2. Aim to stabilise my exercise. 2000 kcal of exercise in a week is a sustainable amount for me – translated to about 5 hours. Aiming to fit in the following workouts:
    – 2x a NYT workout twice a week
    – 2x cycling day
    – 2x running day (working on bleep test)
  3. Keep an eye on macros. *Still* haven’t thought about macros much. May look at this this week, or just review it at the end.

Shout out thanks to Jon Smith for keeping me accountable, and texting me daily to tell me to “put down the butter dish and walk away”. Check out his ace 5K running app at RunwithKick.com

Results

These are all updated live from a central database, so feel free to check back daily for updates…

Six kilos in six weeks: the difficult second album

horizontal-162952_1280Read the first post in this series here – Six kilos in six weeks: finishing what I started.
Just a warning, I’m going to be talking about weight loss, dieting and body image. If you struggle with your relationship with food, or have any self image difficulties, you may find it hard to read.

How am I doing?

After a very principled and well behaved week one, I did less well, but still acceptably this week.

  • I have overshot on every single day…
  • …including one day where I managed an extra 1423 kcal!

Despite how bad that sounds, I only overshot by an average of 73kcal on the weekdays. I could see my weights were on track, so allowed myself a rest day on Saturday.

Depressingly, although I had been aiming for 2000kcal, I managed to exceed this by over 800. Its a clear warning that learning to balance my appetite in a controlled manner after this diet is going to be a big challenge.

Overall, In the last week, based on a basal metabolic requirement of 2400 kcal per day, I’ve averaged a daily deficit of 701kcal, leaving me just a smidge under 5000kcal down for the week.

WhaLibra_2015-10-12t is my weight?

Apparently in the last week, I’ve gone from 70.6kg on the scales to… 69.0kg. In reality, things aren’t as simple as weighing daily, that’s why I use a rolling average (see the red line) to confirm things are moving in the right direction.

Still, I weighed 71.1kg 2 weeks ago, and I currently weigh 69.0kg, so there’s no doubt I’m on target.

What’s been hard?

The temptation to snack has definitely increased a little in the evenings.

This week I’ve had a sore throat, and generally felt pretty exhausted. I’ve not been super hungry, although the temptation to snack has definitely increased a little in the evenings.

Mostly I’ve just been bored of my normal day time food – I usually have a Joylent/Queal/soylent style shake for my combined breakfast and lunch over the day. There have been several days where this has lost out to an equivalent calorie amount of curly fries, or veggie sandwich.

I’ve struggled a little to motivate myself for exercise. Last week I managed 1157 kcal of exercise – not much short of an extra day’s calories. This week I managed 945 kcal, around 20% less. Not managed a proper run since starting the diet. I did, however, stop finding the NYT 7 minute exercise so hard, and am noticing an improvement in my press up ability!

 

Changes, changes, changes.

weightlossweek2aI’m happy about progress. If this carries on, I should hit 65kg as planned, hopefully all from fat loss. This week I’m going to:

  1. Stick with a 1400 kcal target. Although I’m missing it a little, I know myself – if I set it at 1500, I’d just miss that a little instead!
  2. Slightly increase my exercise. Aiming to beat the total calorie burn from week 1. Aiming to fit in the following workouts:
    – 2x a NYT workout twice a week
    – 2x cycling day
    – 2x running day (working on bleep test)
  3. Keep an eye on macros. Still haven’t thought about macros much. May look at this this week, or just review it at the end.

Shout out thanks to Jon Smith for keeping me accountable, and texting me daily to tell me to “put down the butter dish and walk away”. Check out his ace 5K running app at RunwithKick.com

Results

These are all updated live from a central database, so feel free to check back daily for updates…

Six kilos in six weeks: 1 week in

horizontal-162952_1280Read the first post in this series here – Six kilos in six weeks: finishing what I started.
Just a warning, I’m going to be talking about weight loss, dieting and body image. If you struggle with your relationship with food, or have any self image difficulties, you may find it hard to read.

How am I doing?

The first question in any diet is: have I fallen off the wagon yet? I’m happy to say no.

  • I have overshot, on one day by 250kcal…
  • …but I’ve also been under it by 137kcal on one day too.

In the last week, based on a basal metabolic requirement of 2400 kcal per day, I’ve averaged a daily deficit of 996kcal, leaving me just a smidge under 7000kcal down for the week.

All things being equal, 7,700 kcals would roughly equate to a kilo of fat loss. Has it…?

WhaLibra chart- 2015-10-05 12-00-00t is my weight?

Fairly underwhelmingly, in the last week, I’ve gone from 71.1kg on the scales to… 70.6kg. I’m happy things are moving in the right direction, even if they are currently moving a little slower than I hoped, after the exhilaration of reaching 70.0kg on my 3rd day.

In the past I’ve had my weight change by 3 kg over the course of 3 days!

You should expect your weight to vary significantly day by day. Drinking more water one day than the next can account for huge variations, as can the timing of bodily excretions. In the past I’ve had my weight change by 3 kg over the course of 3 days!

What matters is the trend of your weight. At the moment, I have a steadily downwards trend for my weight. On the graph on the right, the blue line is what I would need to achieve to hit my 6kg target loss. The red line is the estimate based on my weigh ins.

What’s wrong with my maths?

If I’m running at a deficit, why aren’t I losing weight? Some people say that calories in/calories out is a myth – are they right? Unfortunately, metabolism, weight loss and nutrition: none of these are exact sciences. Whilst its a helpful rule of thumb, lots of factors can derail this.

Estimations I’ve had to make.

I’ve had to make a number of assumptions and estimations for my diet.

  • Firstly, my basal metabolic rate using the Harris-Benedict equation: BMR= 88.362 + (13.397x weight in kg) + (4.799 x height in cm) – (5.677 x age in years ). For me, that equals 1,706kcal a day.

Already there are huge potential variabilities here – if your weight is mostly muscle, your BMR will increase, but that’s not reflected in this, and conversely, if its all fat your BMR will decrease.

  • Secondly, my daily calorie needs, based on my activity level: BMR x 1.55 (based on being moderately active) = 2,644kcal per day.

I started with an assumption of daily calorie needs of 2200kcal a day, giving me 1200 after a 1000kcal deficit. I felt pretty tired on this, and felt it made sense to increase to 2400kcal, (giving me 1400 after my deficit). The unclear aspect of the daily needs is: does one account for exercise calories if its already included in the calculation?

Unhelpful exercises

I actually found my ability to do press-ups reduced throughout the week.

A key issue here is that I’ve been doing strength exercises every day. The New York Times 7 minute workout isn’t much, but it involves a fair amount of sit ups, press ups and similar body-mass strength routines.

Doing strength exercises every day, on the same muscles, is a stupid idea. A good workout actually slightly injures muscle fibres, with the act of repairing damage leading to an increase in size and strength. They need at least a day, ideally two, to recover and be ready for more work. I actually found my ability to do press-ups reduced throughout the week.

Also, I may have been putting on muscle, which would impact on the daily weigh in.

Changes, changes, changes.

weightlossweek2

One week is down, and I’m feeling good. Sure, I’ve not obviously lost much weight, but I’m solidly on a path to being heathier, and I’m excited about it. Pretty sure there is a slight visual difference too… This week I’m going to:

  1. Stick with a 1400 kcal target. It’s difficult to be certain of my basic calorific needs (as discussed above) but its likely at least 2,400 kcal. A 1,000 kcal deficit is likely to be both effective and sustainable.
  2. Change my exercise. I’m going to do the New York Magazine workout twice a week, a decent cycle ride twice a week, and an attempt at improving my running time in a bleep test once a week. Sunday is going to be a day of rest!
  3. Keep an eye on macros. I’ve not really kept much of an eye on exactly what I’m eating, so this week I’ll think a little bit more about hitting the ratios I planned at the start.

Shout out thanks to Jon Smith for keeping me accountable, and texting me daily to tell me to “put down the butter dish and walk away”. Check out his ace 5K running app at RunwithKick.com

 

Results

These are all updated live from a central database, so feel free to check back daily for updates…

Six kilos in six weeks: finishing what I started.

wpid-wp-1447062912089.jpgJust a warning, I’m going to be talking about weight loss, dieting and body image. If you struggle with your relationship with food, or have any self image difficulties, you may find it hard to read.

Weight graphGetting healthier

I’ve been taking a more proactive approach to my health over the last two years. Amongst over achievements, I have:

  • Lost around 16kg (Around 2 stone, 8 lb) – 18% of my entire weight.
  • Dropped my BMI from 28 (Nearly obese) to 23 (Middle of normal).
  • Started running – and competing in a weekly 5K at runwithkick.com.
  • Taken part in my first Triathlon.

My “magic” technique

There’s an old cycling adage that holds a lot of truth:

You get fit on the bike;
but you lose weight in the kitchen.

I’ve always been fairly active, walking and cycling around Sheffield’s hills, but I’ve also always been completely able to eat a large pizza, followed by a large tub of Ben & Jerry’s.

The simple fact of the matter is, to lose weight, you need to eat less calories than your body is using. There needs to be a deficit. Thanks to calorie counting, a few lifestyle hacks, and a general awareness of the fact that its better to be fit than full, the weight has steadily come off.

Not quite there yet

Unfortunately, as the graph above shows, it easily goes back on. Whilst overall I’ve made a steady progress, I’m keen to skip to the end now. I’ve been aiming for 65kg for several years, and I’m planning a final push.

That would take my BMI to just under 22, and, I estimate, leave me with little enough belly fat that a six pack would emerge.

Why bother?

Last night, I came across an article by a chap who has lost around 40kg, and I showed his progress photo (below) to Katherine (my lovely wife), asking: “If you could choose, which body would I have?”. We’ve both come a long way over the last few years in opening up, and talking in a healthy weight about diet, about calories, and about fitness – I’m proud that she knows she can answer a question like that honestly, without hurting me.

She chose the second from right image. Mildly muscular, low body fat.

4dZcALk - Imgur

Now, I have a healthy weight at the moment. I’m fairly happy with how I look, how I feel, and how I weigh. But I’ve always wondered how it would feel to be a bit more slim and muscular. And there is no shame in wanting to look sexy for your wife: frankly, it’s my duty.

DSC_0252The plan

I’m aiming to lose 1kg a week (around 2.2lb). This is a healthy amount of weight loss to aim for – its recommended in the NHS Weight Loss guide. I will do this by maintaining a calorie deficit of around 1,000 calories a day.

For fitness, I imagine I will have a fair bit more muscle work to do at the end, but for now I’m going to carry on my normal running and cycling, but commit to completing the New York Times 7 Minute workout once a day.

I’m not a big believer than the macronutrient mix has a huge impact on metabolism; but I do know that protein makes me feel full more easily than carbs, which helps to hit calorie deficit goals. I’m going to be aiming for roughly 40% protein, 20-30% fat and 30-40% carbs.

Support me!

Encouragement is very helpful to me. Kind words, fat jokes, comments on how ridiculous I look in those cycling socks – anything with a spirit of “I’m behind you!” would be great. Feel free to text me, facebook me, tweet me; comments on the blog are especially nice to get.

If you want advice about making lifestyle changes yourself, drop me a message.

Results

I’ll be doing a weekly update post, but I’m going to keep track of some key stats below.

One finding I’m expecting is that my basal metabolic rate may be higher than I give myself allowance for. This will show itself in me losing weight faster than planned. If so, I may need need to increase my daily calorific intake by 100-200kcal. I can definitely cope with having to eat a chocolate bar.

I may also find that I run out of abdominal fat after 4 or 5 kilos. If so, I’ll stop.

Avocado Cookies

AvocadoSo, Avocados are a thing you can get much more cheaply in Africa that you can in Lincolnshire. They also taste much better too. If you’ve never seen one, I’ve included a picture on the right.

They are also much healthier for you than butter, apparently full of “good fat”. Always up for a challenge, I decided to try and make some cookies, using avo instead of butter.

Given that maize is a local staple too, I chucked some of that in, which made this an even more South Africany treat.

Disclaimer: I am a proud member of the chuck-it-in-it’ll-be-fine school of cooking. I firmly believe a happy cook just throws stuff in a pan, rather than measuring 18g of this and 3.5 medium egg yolks of that; so take my measurements with a pinch of salt, so to speak. This recipe makes around 15 cookies. Ish.

Ingredients:

  • 2 or 3 medium avos – as ripe as possible.
  • 1 cup sugar – I literally used a coffee mug, rather than any kind of accurate measuring thing.
  • 1 cup chocolate powder (I used cheap stuff that’s full of sugar. If you use cocoa powder, you are going to want to add more sugar, around another 1/3 of a cup.)
  • A big spoon baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • Half a cup ACE chocolate maize (If you haven’t got this, just replace with flour).
  • 1.5 cups white flour
  • 1 cup chocolate chips. Or chocolate chunks. Or just eat the chocolate chunks, and have plain cookies. Mmmm, chocolate chunks!

Avocado CookieRecipe

  1. Mush the avos. I used a fork. If you have a blender, that would be easier, but you have less excuse to lick avo off your hands…
  2. Put all the powders in a bowl: flour, sugar, chocolate powder, baking sofa, maize, etc, and mix thoroughly.
  3. Now add the egg and avo mush, and mix thoroughly. It should be about as thick as butter thats been out of the fridge for half an hour. Add a little water to thin it, or more flour to thicken it, as needed.
  4. Put 1 inch balls onto an oven tray (greased with more avo!).
  5. Cook at about 180 degrees celcius for 12ish minutes. Peer at them through the door.
  6. At 10 minutes, quickly flatten them with a spatula – the avo doesn’t melt like butter, so they don’t go flat without extra help.
  7. Remove when browned, and allow to cool.
  8. Eat a cookie. Feel proud. Feel ashamed about eating all the chocolate chunks earlier. Get over it, eat another cookie.

Making a MediaWiki Theme

I love MediaWiki. I’ve been using it for MedRevise since 2007.

After 3 years of using a hacked up version of someone else’s theme, I decided to make my own theme. It was a big learning process, and I decided to share my knowledge… Unfortunately, 5 years ago, I stopped writing this how-to halfway through. It was for MediaWiki version 1.17.

Since then, there have been like 7 new major versions, and everything in “Code” I’ve written is hopelessly out of date. But the first three sections still have some value: Planning, Designing and Layout – so I thought I would publish it anyway.

Make your own Mediawiki theme

Ever thought it would be nice/useful to have your own wiki? There are lots of different bits of software out there for running a wiki, but the big one is MediaWiki – the same one used by Wikipedia. Now, your problem is that there are only so many ready made themes for MediaWiki. And there aren’t many good tutorials on doing it yourself. The tutorials out there are sparse at least.

So I’m going to give it a go, and I’ll explain it to you as I go. I warn you, this is aimed at an intermediate level. I am not going to explain how a div works, how to use CSS or much of that. Go to the amazing w3schools website for tutorials on these basics.

First things first.

There are four key stages to making any website:

Planning

You need to ask yourself some questions:

  • What is your website for? If there is a lot of information, you need to give prevalence to the content section, if there are lots of sections, maybe the menu needs extra prominence.
  • Who will use it? Is it going to be aimed at people new to the web, in which case it needs to be very clear and understandable. If its aimed at geeks, you maybe can play with the appearance more.
  • What will code put in? Database driven sites such as a wiki will need to import information. This information is usually of different sizes and lengths, in which case you will need to have an expandable or scrolling area for this information. Examples are menus, footer tags and content divs. Once you have really thought it out, get a piece of paper, and start sketching out some ideas, taking into account all your stuff above. Once you have a good idea, you can start…

Designing

Get yourself a good web graphics program. Photoshop isn’t really ideal here, lacking many of the measurement, image optimisation and slicing options that Fireworks has. But yeh, that’s my plug over. Get designing, and put in all the elements you think you need. Put in text and everything, and try to have all the text on a separate layer, so you can show the layout later without it. (If you don’t understand this, you’ll get it in the next step). Here is my first design for the new MedRevise:

Mockup of the design for the site.

Now, that is really very lovely. At least I think so, and its my site, so blah! And while I’m on the subject of accepting criticism, now is the time to get friends, families and geeks to look at this and give you feedback, before you spend hours putting it in code and everyone hates it. If you need a geek to ask, feel free to contact me.

Once your mum has finished telling you to add more flowers, and you are happy with your design, you can move onto…

Layout

You now need to turn your image into a web page. The first step is getting rid of all your text. Simple click the “eye” symbol next to your text layer, and you should end up with something like the image on the right:

Now, this step is complex, time consuming and laborious. It involves making all your divs and everything. I have chosen a very complicated design here, and I will not explain how to do everything. I will upload a tutorial at some point explaining how I got my middle div working, because I’m quite proud of that.

But basically, you want to end up with a site where you have your template design set up, with text tags saying “Insert Menu Code Here”, and “Insert Content Code Here”. In my case, I have decided to have a difficult left hand menu, so I will have to manually code changes to it, rather than having the option of mediawiki manually inserting the code for you.

Either way, you should end up with somewhat that looks like this… Screenshot of the finished template You might notice that I have moved my footer bar into the middle, as I realised it will work better there. Aside from this, I have kept it relatively close to my original design. I have also tested in in Firefox, Chrome, IE6, IE7 and IE8, to ensure that the majority of people accessing the site get to see it correctly. Use browsershots.org to do this yourself (its awesome).

Code

The final stage is making your theme do the things you want it to do. This can often take you as long, if not longer than everything else put together.

First off, go and read the MediaWiki manual on skinning.

Then start working through the article, changing it as you go through. I began by tackling the preheader. I used the following code:

/**
* MedRevise skin
*
* @version 4.0.0
* @author Chris Lowry (http://allaboutchris.co.uk / me@allaboutchris.co.uk)
* @license http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/ Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported
*
*/

// initialize
if( !defined( 'MEDIAWIKI' ) ){
die( "This skin file is not a valid entry point.\n" );
}

#Only needed for older MediaWiki instances
#require_once('includes/SkinTemplate.php');

// inherit main code from SkinTemplate, set the CSS and template filter
class SkinMedRevise extends SkinTemplate {
function initPage( OutputPage $out ) {
parent::initPage( $out );
$this->skinname = 'medrevise';
$this->stylename = 'medrevise';
$this->template = 'MedReviseTemplate';
}
}

class MedReviseTemplate extends QuickTemplate {
/* hijack category functions to create a proper list */

function getCategories() {
$catlinks = $this->getCategoryLinks();
if( !empty( $catlinks ) ) {
return "<ul id='catlinks'>{$catlinks}</ul>";
}
}

function getCategoryLinks() {
global $wgOut, $wgUser, $wgTitle, $wgUseCategoryBrowser;
global $wgContLang;

if( count( $wgOut->mCategoryLinks ) == 0 )
return '';

$skin = $wgUser->getSkin();

# separator
$sep = '';

// use Unicode bidi embedding override characters,
// to make sure links don't smash each other up in ugly ways
$dir = $wgContLang->isRTL() ? 'rtl' : 'ltr';
$embed = "<li dir='$dir'>";
$pop = '</li>';
$t = $embed . implode( "{$pop} {$sep} {$embed}", $wgOut->mCategoryLinks ) . $pop;

$msg = wfMsgExt( 'pagecategories', array( 'parsemag', 'escape' ), count( $wgOut->mCategoryLinks ) );
$s = $skin->makeLinkObj( Title::newFromText( wfMsgForContent( 'pagecategorieslink' ) ), $msg )
. $t;

# optional 'dmoz-like' category browser - will be shown under the list
# of categories an article belongs to
if( $wgUseCategoryBrowser ) {
$s .= '<br /><hr />';

# get a big array of the parents tree
$parenttree = $wgTitle->getParentCategoryTree();
# Skin object passed by reference because it can not be
# accessed under the method subfunction drawCategoryBrowser
$tempout = explode( "\n", Skin::drawCategoryBrowser( $parenttree, $this ) );
# clean out bogus first entry and sort them
unset( $tempout[0] );
asort( $tempout );
# output one per line
$s .= implode( "<br />\n", $tempout );
}

return $s;
}

/**
* Template filter callback for this skin.
* Takes an associative array of data set from a SkinTemplate-based
* class, and a wrapper for MediaWiki's localization database, and
* outputs a formatted page.
*/
public function execute() {
global $wgUser, $wgSitename, <span style="color: #ff0000;">$wgTitle</span>;
$skin = $wgUser->getSkin();

// retrieve site name
$this->set( 'sitename', $wgSitename );

// suppress warnings to prevent notices about missing indexes in $this->data
wfSuppressWarnings();

Now, I’ll be honest, I didn’t understand most of that. However, the Mediawiki walkthrough explained it nicely, and pretty much all I did was change the FooBar and foobar tags to MedRevise and medrevise. I also added $wgTitle to the execute function. I needed that for my login menu later. That done, it was time to chuck in the HTML header:

/* compose XHTML output */
?><!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd">
<html xmlns="<?php $this->text('xhtmldefaultnamespace') ?>" <?php
foreach( $this->data['xhtmlnamespaces'] as $tag => $ns ) {
?>xmlns:<?php echo "{$tag}=\"{$ns}\" ";
} ?>xml:lang="<?php $this->text('lang') ?>" lang="<?php $this->text('lang') ?>" dir="<?php $this->text('dir') ?>">
<head>
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="<?php $this->text('mimetype') ?>; charset=<?php $this->text('charset') ?>" />
<?php $this->html('headlinks') ?>
<title><?php $this->text('pagetitle') ?></title>
<?php /*** general style sheets ***/ ?>
<style type="text/css" media="screen,projection">/*<![CDATA[*/
@import "<?php $this->text('stylepath') ?>/<?php $this->text('stylename') ?>/main.css?<?php echo $GLOBALS['wgStyleVersion'] ?>";
@import "<?php $this->text('stylepath') ?>/<?php $this->text('stylename') ?>/contents.css?<?php echo $GLOBALS['wgStyleVersion'] ?>";
/*]]>*/</style>
<?php /*** media-specific style sheets ***/ ?>
<link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" <?php if(empty($this->data['printable']) ) { ?>media="print"<?php } ?> href="<?php $this->text('stylepath') ?>/common/commonPrint.css?<?php echo $GLOBALS['wgStyleVersion'] ?>" />
<link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" media="handheld" href="<?php $this->text('stylepath') ?>/<?php $this->text('stylename') ?>/handheld.css?<?php echo $GLOBALS['wgStyleVersion'] ?>" />
<?php print Skin::makeGlobalVariablesScript($this->data); ?>
<?php /*** various MediaWiki-related scripts and styles ***/ ?>
<script type="<?php $this->text('jsmimetype') ?>" src="<?php $this->text('stylepath') ?>/common/wikibits.js?<?php echo $GLOBALS['wgStyleVersion'] ?>"><!-- wikibits js --></script>
<?php if($this->data['jsvarurl']) { ?>
<script type="<?php $this->text('jsmimetype') ?>" src="<?php $this->text('jsvarurl') ?>"><!-- site js --></script>
<?php } ?>
<?php if($this->data['pagecss']) { ?>
<style type="text/css"><?php $this->html('pagecss') ?></style>
<?php }
if($this->data['usercss']) { ?>
<style type="text/css"><?php $this->html('usercss') ?></style>
<?php }
if($this->data['userjs']) { ?>
<script type="<?php $this->text('jsmimetype') ?>" src="<?php $this->text('userjs' ) ?>"></script>
<?php }
if($this->data['userjsprev']) { ?>
<script type="<?php $this->text('jsmimetype') ?>"><?php $this->html('userjsprev') ?></script>
<?php }
if($this->data['trackbackhtml']) print $this->data['trackbackhtml']; ?>
<!-- Head Scripts -->
<?php $this->html('headscripts') ?>
<!-- Cufon Scripts -->
<script src="<?php $this->text('stylepath') ?>/<?php $this->text('stylename') ?>/js/cufon-yui.js" type="text/javascript"></script>
<script src="<?php $this->text('stylepath') ?>/<?php $this->text('stylename') ?>/js/Blippo.font.js" type="text/javascript"></script>
<script type="text/javascript">
Cufon.replace('h1');
</script>
</head>

I will be the first to admit that looks pretty awful. All you need to know is that you leave it basically untouched, simply adding the correct path to your style sheet, if necessary (I just had to rename mine to main.css), then add any scripts you want to add yourself at the end. I use cufon for font replacement, so I chucked that in at the end.

Next comes the nitty gritty, making individual bits and pieces appear exactly where you want them. I first decided to tackle the search bar, altering the code in the tutorial, and simplifying it because I only want one search button, not two.

I then worked out my login details section, and wrote some conditional code to do one thing when logged in, and another when logged out.

Thanks for reading, I hope its helpful to anyone who needs some (rather dated) hackery!

Crispy Potatoes Recipe

We all have Christmas traditions, and often that revolves around food. Katherine and I have spent our 6 years together slowly perfecting our Christmas selection.

I thought I would share how we make our awesome crispy Christmas potatoes (you can eat them when its not Christmas too, if you want!).

Disclaimer: I am a proud member of the chuck-it-in-it’ll-be-fine school of cooking. I firmly believe a happy cook just throws stuff in a pan, rather than measuring 18g of this and 3.5 medium egg yolks of that; so take my measurements with a pinch of salt, so to speak. This recipe makes as many potatoes as you need. I usually plan for 1-2 large potatoes per person.

Cooked Crispy PotatoesIngredients

  • Potatoes.
  • Flour.
  • Olive oil.
  • Salt and Pepper.

Recipe

  1. Peel and chop up your potatoes. You want biggish lumps – cut big potatoes into 4 pieces, small ones into halves.
  2. Boil up your potatoes with a little salt in the water (helps them get softer).
  3. Check them after about 15-20mins: you should be able to stick a knife in them, but you don’t want them completely soft either.
  4. Drain the water.
  5. Chuck some in a metal colander, so there are about 8 pieces of potatoes in it (use a big bowl if you don’t have a colander). If you have lots of potatoes, you might want to do them in a few batches, 8-10 at a time.
  6. Jiggle the colander for about 10-20 seconds. This bashes up all the edges of the potatoes, making them uneven. This leads to lots of extra crispy bits.
  7. Have a bowl with olive oil in, and one with flour in.
  8. Potatoes before BakingRoll each potato in the oil, so its covered, then roll in in the flour. Oil + flour = more crispy.
  9. Sprinkle a little more oil on top, and grind loads of salt and pepper all over it.
  10. By now, your potatoes should look something like the photo on the right (click for bigger picture).
  11. Cook them at 180°C ish in the oven. You’ll want to take it out a few times and stir it around with a spatula so that it gets cooked evenly.
  12. When they are golden, with some crispy brown bits, cover them in gravy and eat them all up.

If you don’t like gravy, then I’m afraid you are a bad person, and you are not allowed to make my potatoes.