Alien-style Scary Second Jaws are Real!

Check out this eel in a video from the Smithsonian channel!

Second Jaws just like an Alien:

Watch more from the Smithsonian YouTube channel, or the Smithsonian Channel website...

Find Alien movie collectibles here...

Back to School: Hogwarts and Herbology

Back to School: The legendary Hogwarts Acceptance Letter...

The legendary Hogwarts Acceptance Letter...

My son is starting middle school!

It's a big step for a little boy, and I'm just gutted by how much it isn't like Hogwarts (or even primary school).

With its featureless, industrial buildings and long, empty white corridors, it could almost be an early Dr Who set. It just needs lockers full of Cybermen, or a Dalek appearing round the corners.

But I'm getting distracted. I'd much rather pretend he's going to Hogwarts this 'back to school' week.

Sadly, having seen the films, he's not that interested in the books, and that's fairly typical, making the Language Arts teacher his personal nemesis already (Defence Against the Dark Arts, see!).

Lego Hermione to the Rescue!

Magical powers aside though, he's more of a Harry Potter type than I was. I was always more like Hermione, in the book smart / annoy people sort of way.

So, how can the end of summer and 'back to school' week inspire us into fitness?

As Hermione saved the day with Herbology, it's Back to Hogwarts with Herbology this week.

I've been collecting every weight loss herb, slimming tea, metabolism boosting or energising plant product I've found on clearance or markdown for weeks, and I have a good stash of plants for weight loss to get me through this week.

I'll also be walking him to school and back, with the aim of clocking at least five miles on my pedometer every day.

This week's challenges:

  • Build walking into the daily commute
  • Try out some herbal slimming teas, energy / metabolism boosting or otherwise weight loss enabling plant products.
  • Watch or read Harry Potter and the Philosopher's / Sorcerer's Stone

And Good Luck to all with school!

Click to find out how my Back to Hogwarts / Herbology week went here...

Star Trek’s Lwaxana Troi was Better for my Diet than my Mother-in-Law

Sometimes it's good to keep your mouth shut - for the diet as well as for a quiet life!

The trickiest thing about my Lwaxana Troi Diet was keeping my little helpers motivated. The kids' job for the week was pretending to be Lwaxana's Lurch-like manservant, Mr Homn, who bangs a little ceremonial gong in thanks every time she takes a mouthful of food. They thought this was very funny.

They started off with great enthusiasm, but soon had to be reminded to keep ringing the bell, banging the tambourine, or shaking whatever musical toy we had found for dinnertime, which sort of defeated the point.

I usually ended up ringing the bell myself, since for some reason they thought they should get to focus on their own dinners 😉

(Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 1, Episode 10: 'Haven' © CBS. Watch 'Haven' free on

In any case, it seems to have worked:

Beginning weight: 216.3 (yes, that was up a few pounds after my actual mother-in-law's visit!)
Ending weight: 213.3

So Why did this work?

Personally, I put the success of this diet down to mindful eating. There's nothing like a jingle every time you take a bite to stop you mindlessly vegging your way through a whole tub of ice cream in front of the TV (which, to be honest, is the kind of thing I've done at times).

There's also the factor of involving the kids in dieting, which makes me feel a little more accountable in case they ask me if it worked!

But eating less isn't all it's about this week. Like many slimmers, along with weight issues, I've had times when I've felt less self-confident than perhaps I should. Haven't you?

And so Lwaxana Troi can inspire us all: gorgeously glamorous yet embarrassingly awful, but above all unshakeable in self belief and confidence. Wherever she goes, she knows who she is, and that who she is deserves respect. And so should we.

"I am Lwaxana Troi, Daughter of the Fifth House, Holder of the Sacred Chalice of Rixx, Heir to the Holy Rings of Betazed. Who are you?"

Lwaxana Troi, in 'Haven'

Lwaxana Troi in Star Trek: Next Generation (Haven): "Who else would they send to greet me but the Captain? Ah, you may carry my luggage..."


Lwaxana Troi Diet Challenge: Most Annoying Mother-in-law?

Lwaxana Troi: The Most Annoying Mother in Law? Star Trek: The Next Generation (CBS). Watch on Hulu.

Lwaxana Troi: The Most Annoying Mother in Law? Star Trek: The Next Generation (CBS). Watch on Hulu.

Deutsch: Logo der Sci-Fi Serie Star Trek: The ...

(Photo: Wikipedia)

Anyone who has wedding stress, or their in-laws coming to stay should watch Deanna Troi's rehearsal dinner for a little perspective:

Lwaxana Troi, mother of the bride, is WAY more annoying than my mother-in-law.

(Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 1, Episode 10: 'Haven' © CBS. Watch 'Haven' free on


Of course, she is an alien, and a very important one, or so she tells everyone, as well as being a telepath in the most embarrassing way.

(Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 1, Episode 10: 'Haven' © CBS. Watch 'Haven' free on

But it's at dinner that Lwaxana Troi and her entourage really come into their own: her Lurch-like manservant, Mr Homn, has to bang a little gong in thanks every time she takes a mouthful of food. Have a look:

(Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 1, Episode 10: 'Haven' © CBS. Watch 'Haven' free on

So that's this week's diet challenge: ... yes, really... to increase our awareness of how much we're eating by having someone sound a little gong-type thing every time you take a mouthful.

My kids are very excited.

So am I a ‘Skinny Bitch’ yet?

The Skinny Bitch Diet, available at AbeBooks

The Skinny Bitch Diet, available at AbeBooks

So am I a 'Skinny Bitch' now? Not by a long way! But the vegan diet wasn't bad, and the vegan desserts were really good. I still haven't found a good vegan option for replacing milk in coffee, but the unsweetened vanilla almond milk wasn't bad in tea (surprising when I don't like vanilla!) The vegan diet did take some extra planning, and was inconvenient when out and about, but let's face it, that probably helps if you're normally prone to fast food and impulse snacking (like me).

And as a very nice result of this week, going by their statistics, having my family of five eat a vegan diet for a week saved the lives of nine animals. I like that. Although I wouldn't want them following me around indebtedly like Morgan Freeman in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves.

I lost a bit of weight too, not a huge amount but they'd clap you for it in Weight Watchers.

Read more: The 'Skinny Bitch' Diet, in Honour of the Girl from Species...

Starting Weight: 213.3lbs
Ending Weight: 211.8lbs

Read more: Vegan Resources
My Vegan Food Diary

The meals I cooked from The Vegan Menu were nice, and I think I've learned some new tricks about vegan cookery already ('Not Your Mother's Fettucine Alfredo'). I loved their Vegan Key Lime Pie, and the Chocolate Mocha Pie recipe from Whole Foods was gorgeous, although it turns out not to last overnight in the fridge without separating, so it has to be eaten in one go. However will we manage 😉

Natasha Henstridge

Natasha Henstridge: She plays the main character in 'Species', and so creepily, so why isn't she credited like the men? (Photo available from

I may not have followed the diet as strictly as the authors would have liked (I tried the fruit for breakfast a couple of times and thought 'bleurgh'), and perhaps it would have worked better if I had, but overall I'm pretty pleased with it.

I also became quite skeptical of the authors' 'Skinny Bitch' claims: they may be skinny, but to me they seem much too concerned with animal welfare to earn the 'B' word, however hard the book tries to be rude ('You need to exercise, you lazy shit'! Um, ok....)

In fact the hardest thing about Skinny Bitch week was watching Species again and being reminded of how horrible she really was. Having said that, my inner feminist was outraged that Natasha Henstridge, who played the main character so well, and was the only person I remembered seeing in it the first time round, wasn't give anywhere near the credit that the male actors were. And towards the end, the film did get a bit silly. (Alien rats, anyone?)

Meanwhile, the rebellious side of my dieting self enjoyed the huge junk food binge scene, and I felt the little vegan almondmilk chocolate puddings I found really captured the best of that for enjoying at home: chocolate does tend to be better when you aren't murdering strangers and messing up trains.

In any case, yay vegan diet and I probably won't bother with Species 2 and 3.

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