Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Good enough

Well, here we are again! It's been a good long while but I had a sudden urge to write again. And why not? The blog has been here patiently waiting while I go off and get a new job and puppy and settle back into domestic life.

To be honest, life after travelling has been really hard at times. It's now a full year since we returned and I think I'm still grieving for the loss of life on the road. We've been busy getting on with things and making plans for the future, but nothing as fixed and certain as that travelling goal we worked so diligently towards. I definitely feel I've lacked focus since. And it's frustrating because, I know when I do have a plan, I'm great at working towards it and seeing it through... I just need me a plan!

In the meantime I left my old corporate job after ten years in December. It was definitely the right decision, but the significant wage drop and massive change of pace have been challenging. I forgot what it's like to be the new girl and have no clue what you should be doing. Life with our new puppy is a very similar fish out of water feeling! Don't get me wrong, I am obsessed with our Beagle, Pepper, but my God puppies are hard work. Our lives have been turned upside down by this little bundle of fluff and very sharp claws!

Since the New Year and with all these new elements in my life, it's been a struggle to get regular exercise in. Ironically, I've walked less since getting a puppy as she can't go out yet (four days to go!), and we can't leave her alone too long right now, so have to take shifts looking after her while the other goes off and does their thing. With Spring in the air and bridesmaid duties six weeks away, I realised I just can't use this as an excuse any longer. It's time to get my shiz together and make this work somehow.

I kicked the week off with a fifteen minute online Barre class on Monday. It was all I could fit in and I nearly didn't bother because it wasn't 'enough', but then I remembered not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good (thanks Gretchen Rubin!) and got on with what I could manage.

It's nice to be back and I look forward to sharing more with you. Happy Hump Day, friends!

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Wholly crap!

Good morning and welcome to August! Yes, summer has officially reached it peak and we begin the race to cram in every barbecue, picnic and ice cream we can before the golden season ends. It also marks the official end of my fourth and probably final Whole 30, but more on that later.

I hope you've been having a good summer so far? To be honest it hasn't felt that summery around here over the past week or so. The weather has taken a distinctly spring-like turn - think April downpours and March chills. But it is picking up a bit now, thankfully, and I really do want to make the most of these light mornings and evenings while I can.

So what's been happening since the last time I dropped by?

There's been a lot of this as the Whole 30 came to a close. I honestly don't get sick of eggs for breakfast very often. And I really love my scrambled eggs extra runny and barely set. Yes, I know some of you will be saying 'Eww' but I think rubbery overcooked eggs are a travesty. And don't even get me STARTED on microwaving them!

I am very fortunate that I'm able to work flexibly and sometimes when I have a meaty piece of work I really need to focus on, I work from home. When I did this last week I broke up the day by also taking myself along to work from Home - Home Coffee in Albert Road, one of our favourite coffee places in Southsea. Sometimes you need a little bit of atmosphere (and some nice tea and cold brew coffee) to get the creative focus going, and it really did the trick.

I recently invested in Food For Humans by Michelle Tam and Henry Fong of Nom Nom Paleo. It's a gorgeous looking book and has lots of nice paleo and Whole 30 recipes in it. This was the Madras chicken salad, kind of like a fancy Coronation chicken, and it got the thumbs up from me and The Boy who had never had a curried chicken salad before. Such a sheltered life!

I have slacked on my evening walks a bit lately, but do still try to get out there at least a couple of times a week. It never fails to revive and refresh. On this particular evening I appreciated this cheery little floral display.

Another new recipe to keep things fresh. This was from Well Fed by Melissa Joulwan. Chocolate Chilli. Oh my glob it was good! You honestly can't taste the cocoa powder. It's so easy too, you just mix it all up and then simmer for a couple of hours. I made it the night before and it was so rich in flavour, with a mellow depth of spice. Make it. Whole 30 approved, too.

My evening walks have been even better since I invested in these Saucony's last weekend. As I've mentioned, my nagging Plantar Fasciitis has been getting me down, so I went to get these beauties fitted by the pros at Alexandra Sports and I love them. 

Love this, too.

Here's a little glimpse into my morning routine I gave my Instagram followers this week. I'm on there as jodeapakos if you've not checked it out yet. 

I love to take my time in the mornings, meaning I get up at 5:30am to be ready to leave for 7:00am! But for me, it's the best part of the day, and breakfast deserves time to be taken over it. I also try to write in my journal and I hope to fit in some meditation, too, which I started today in the garden. One of my biggest issues when it comes to my wellbeing is the fact that my mind never stops. It is always whirring with things to do, lists to compile and generally, food and weight matters. I'm hoping a bit of meditation each day will bring some calm to it. I'll let you know how I get on.

My Whole 30 officially ended on 30 July and I celebrated by eating porridge yesterday morning, which was a really nice change. I absolutely love the Whole 30 for what it has taught me about which foods nourish and satisfy me and which leave me hungry and cranky. Take a look back at my posts from January and April 2013 and January 2014 to see how my first three Whole 30s went. 

I honestly think it's a brilliant programme that everyone should try once. The Boy learned so much from doing it and is now making time for breakfast every day and taking loads of healthy snacks to work with him. My friend BC has also had some great results and a change in mindset. But, I think I'm done. I didn't notice any significant changes this time, and actually gained two pounds! I think for me, I already eat that way most of the time, and my body is used to it. I missed the freedom of having the odd treat, and I no longer need to be educated about food's impact on my body. No regrets, but I'm glad it's over. The real work for me now is the mental aspect - my relationship with my body, and that will be the focus in the coming months. It starts with food, for sure, as Melissa Hartwig says, but it continues with your mindset.

So, last night we celebrated the end of the Whole 30, and generally being alive, at Southsea Beach Cafe. It was a glorious evening to be sitting on the beach with my boyfriend. I had a raspberry Bellini which was so refreshing. I'd really been craving a bit of fizz!

For food I had mackerel pate with seaweed butter and sourdough toast to start. Check out the bucket and spade! It was really nice. Moules in a tomato and chorizo stew followed then dessert, a lemon posset with berry jelly and meringue. Yes, kids, we went all out. And why not. It's good to be alive. Until next time.

What food would you miss most on the Whole 30?

It varies but I do like to have porridge sometimes, and I do miss the odd glass of wine.

Monday, 20 July 2015

A balanced diet

So, we're 20 days into the Whole 30 and... I'm just not feeling it this time! My fourth Whole 30 has been really tough. For a start I'm really not feeling any results, in fact my clothes feel tighter! It's not all about weight loss for me at all, but GAIN! Also, I think because I eat this way most of the time anyway, the novelty has completely worn off. I know what foods suit me and which don't, I know which treats are worth the consequences and which aren't... But, I am carrying on, because I'm a stubborn little thing and once I start something, I've got to finish.

I just needed to rant! It's not that I'm not enjoying the food, I generally love it. I just miss my freedom.

I mean, what's not to love?!

And drinking my coffee black is not hard when we have amazing local coffee shops like Southsea Coffee where it's criminal to spoil the amazing coffee by adding milk!

Even eating out really is not that hard - meat and two veg at Murray's Restaurant in The Ship Hotel, Chichester last Sunday.

Maybe my lack of enthusiasm is part of a bigger problem. To be honest, I am generally a bit below par lately, as my Balanced app can testify. My squiggly line has been pretty low down the scale lately.

The Balanced app works by allowing you to choose a number of things you like to do each day, week or month that you know will keep you feeling balanced and happy. Mine include walking, reading and spending time with family. You set a target for each one and then track how well you're doing at keeping balanced. It's free and it is very telling - I feel at my best generally when I'm well above the line on the Life Pulse. Give it a go.

Adjusting to life back at work has been tough, too, especially as I'm in a new role where I'm not really sure what I'm doing yet.

It's all left me a bit drained (this was me Friday evening!), but I'm trying to rally round. Today I walked with a friend and soon I'm going to do some stretching. All things that boost my mood.

We managed to have a pretty balanced weekend, too. It was The Boy's birthday on Friday so we got Whole 30 friendly Turkish takeaway from Nemrut. Quails cooked on the barbecue grill and a hot chilli salad for me. And no cooking, a nice change from constant meal prep!

Saturday was great - a barre class at Sweat to start, some chores and a sunshine saturated lunch.

Followed by a much-needed coffee date with my man. No distractions, just a good talk about life over a cold brew at Home Coffee, Southsea.

We also stocked up the fridge and cupboards. We need a vegetable overflow basket now!

The donut peaches at Lidl are irresistible right now.

Sunday morning early walking also added to the feel good factor. I really am trying here!

I also tried to help my nagging plantar fasciitis by getting some new trainers fitted but the queue was too long at ever popular Alexandra Sports, so I need to go back.

We had a truly relaxing barbecue with friends yesterday afternoon and finished the day with pork belly and Sunday set-up meal prep, plus brilliant Sopranos Series 4.

I'm really hoping to turn a corner this week, but mostly I'm just going to try and be kind to myself.

How do you deal with a low patch? Drown in sorrows or get up and at 'em?

Bit of both!

Saturday, 11 July 2015


Good morning, and good weekend! Today's blog title is brought to you by my current soundtrack and also inspired by a beautiful sky yesterday evening - more of that later.

As a busy week draws to a close I am feeling pretty good. The Whole 30 is going well for me, Andy and our friend Rachael. Okay, so we may be having dreams about accidentally eating biscuits but I'm pretty sure it wasn't real... was it? #whole30problems

Work has been pretty full on the last couple of days which has been a good thing. Much as I like to take my time over things and be methodical, I've realised there's nothing like a bit of urgency to get me going and give me a sense of accomplishment. That has been lacking a bit since I returned to work after travelling, and I welcome it. It's so good to feel like you're making a difference - whatever we do, we all need that sense of purpose.

I've also managed to fit in a visit to my cousin's newborn twins on Thursday evening which was just lovely. I was very proud of getting little Freya into a baby grow one-handed (me, not her!).

I ended the working week with a special treat for Friday breakfast. The usual smoked salmon frittata with a side of avocado plus some cauliflower mash with blueberries... Sounds a bit odd, but warmed through the cauliflower tastes almost like porridge. I bet if you added some coconut milk it would be amazing. Note to self for next time.

After work I went for a nice long walk and chat with my friend. The original plan had been to go to the Champagne bar at Southsea Castle, but we're both off the drink this month and thought a walk would be a nice change. It was, and the sky was just stunning.

Refreshed after a good walk and talk, I got home in time to knock this simple dinner up - pan-fried duck breasts with some steamed vegetables. I actually saved the fat I drained from the duck as it cooked and used it to saute the pak choi. It was a good move! The duck from Meat Porter was SO GOOD. I was sad when I'd finished it. To be fair though, I'm always a little sad when I finish a good meal. Any meal. 

I then snoozed on the sofa for the first time in a long time. This week defeated me.

This morning is all about getting the house ready for some guests we met on our travels in Goa and are heading out for dinner with tonight.

We were in Goa right at the end of our trip. We really wanted a totally chilled week on the beach. Having had some disappointing beach breaks in Sri Lanka and Bali (I know, who'd have thought?) we were braced for more of the same in Goa. We needn't have worried. We both loved it. We stayed in a gorgeous little cottage and the bridge above was part of our daily walk to the beach.

We also met our lovely friends who are coming to stay tonight. We definitely want to head back. The food was just amazing - I never tired of the curries... If you want to take a look at our travel snaps, there are a load on Instagram under #jandyworldtour

Curry for dinner tonight, but it was cold frittata for breakfast. Tastes like cold pizza - always a positive.

Have you managed to keep in touch with friends you made on travels/holiday?

We've made an effort to keep in touch and meet up and I've loved having that link back to our time away.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

All Barre One

Good evening all. We're halfway to the weekend! I have to say the start of this week has had it's lows but I am optimistic as ever that it can only get better!

Late buses, traffic jams and lots of systems issues (technology, not Whole 30 related!) have all flown at me over the last few of days. Sometimes a girl just can't seem to catch a break.

Let's take a look back at the weekend and see if that cheers me up...

On Saturday we purchased ALL THE EGGS. Sorry about that. #whole30problems

We also had a lovely picnic in the very beautiful Farnham Park with some friends. I'd never been before and it is huge and so peaceful. We stocked up on lots of Whole 30-friendly loot from Waitrose and enjoyed the sunshine. The jamon Iberico was off the chain.

I found out about this bit of lusciousness featuring Hemsley Hemsley, Deliciously Ella and Gizzi Erskine and promptly signed my friend and I up.

On Sunday morning I had the rose garden all to myself for a perfect moment. I think the moody sky brings the colours out even more.

After a busy day doing chores, food shopping and attending a baby shower, we finished the weekend off in the most comforting way you could think of. Free range chicken from the Meat Porter. I did have a freak out moment when I thought I'd left the giblets in but there weren't any it appears. Phew! Weirdly, we're watching season four of Sopranos at the moment and the same thing happened to Carmela. Thug life all day err day over here.

Gratuitous shot of my fridge. Seriously, it's like playing Tetris when we get back from food shopping. So. Many. Vegetables.

So, despite a bad start to Monday at work, I was determined to start the week right and headed to my new Booty Barre class straight from work. It's in a basement with no air conditioning, so the sweating is immense. But it's fun and challenging, which means it keeps me interested. There's also a lot of stretching and balance required which is ideal for me - I need lots of both!

It was a busy evening so chicken leftovers were the order of the day for dinner. Salad for supper can make a nice change. We had cold cuts of chicken with roasted new potatoes and a salad of tender kale mixed with beetroot, walnuts and blueberries. Different but deliciously so. Homemade mayonnaise on the side topped it all off.

This is the Tuesday morning scene in our kitchen. Andy isn't really a breakfast person but the Whole 30 has us both feasting on eggs and veggies before 7am. He also manages to make himself a fresh vegetable juice, and this was a person who didn't used to manage a cup of coffee before he left the house! 

I was on the road by 6:20am on Tuesday morning to meet my friend BC for our first official Personal Training Session after my taster last week.

Sweat is a fitness studio that opened five minutes walk away from my house a few months ago. I literally have no excuse not to go. I can't recommend personal training highly enough, it's worlds away from everything else I've done because there are no excuses. I try so much harder when I'm being monitored. I don't know, I guess it's just the people pleaser in me!

This was my reward, eaten in the garden in an attempt to cool down.

I want to try and appreciate every moment my roses are in full bloom.

I was also very appreciative when my Birch Box arrived in the post at work. That definitely cheered me up! Birch Box is a subscription service where you get beauty samples every month for a subscription fee of £13. You also get money off of the full price versions online. I've loved all my boxes so far. This month's had a great pale lilac nail varnish I've already put on and some really nice eyeshadow I can't wait to try, plus lots of other goodies. 

Talking of goodies, I sure stretched that chicken out this week.

And today has been a bit of a Monday repeater - back to Booty Barre and another busy evening of food prep and now blogging.

How has your week been so far? Have you ever had a personal trainer? Would you consider it?
My only issue with personal training is how I'll afford it long term!

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Breakfast news

Good morning, it's the weekend! I know I always say this, but it really has been a busy week...

The Boy and I have started a July Whole 30 which means we need to be ultra-organised when it comes to food shopping and cooking. Basically my time is split between the kitchen and the supermarket right now, with some work and sleep in between! I know it will be worth it though, and The Boy very kindly gave me last night off of chef duties and whipped up this truly gorgeous lamb rogan josh from Melissa Joulwan's Well Fed cook book. The recipes are Whole 30 friendly and it's also where I got my recipe for homemade mayonnaise, which changed my life. True story.

Apologies for the slightly poor lighting on this picture. What can I say, it was late, I was hungry and this plate was not going to hang around for long!

If you're curious about what people actually eat when they go Paleo or Whole 30, I've got a few examples from the week.

My first W30 breakfast of July was my classic frittata with roasted vegetables and mackerel. I didn't have any mayonnaise kicking about so added some perfectly ripe and creamy avocado - you have to have a portion of healthy fat at every meal, as well as protein and vegetables. Fruit is an optional extra and I had a few blueberries getting a bit mushy so had them on the side.

On Wednesday I had been due to eat out at lunch but my friend had some car trouble and ditched me so I had to go foraging in Tesco. This can be a challenge and you do have to spend a bit of extra time reading labels to check for added sugar and nasties like carrageenan. I came away with an apple and fennel salad, olives and ham. It was a nice change actually but I missed my usual mix of salad vegetables.

Dinner on Wednesday was a new week night favourite, cod wrapped in prosciutto with cauliflower mash... It looks just like normal mash, doesn't it? It's well worth a try if you're trying to cut down your carb intake. We're not particularly avoiding potatoes, we just love the cauli! To try it simply chop up a head of cauliflower florets and boil them, along with a peeled clove of garlic if you like. Once tender, drain and mash with some olive oil. For extra smoothness I use a hand blender to puree it. 

After a couple of weeks' break, I got back into exercise this week, attending two barre classes at Everybody Pilates in the evenings and also a free one hour personal training session at Sweat Southsea. This was the result!

It was proper hard work, and with no air conditioning in our current heatwave I was sweating. A lot. But I loved it - there is no way I would have pushed myself even a quarter as much without the trainer there. It's an investment, but I'm signing up for 10 sessions with my friend to share the cost, and I'm really looking forward to it. I'll keep you posted on my progress. We're working out first thing, so I just ate a boiled egg before I went and found that sustained me for the hour. Of course I then had a hugeass frittata when I got home!

And just to prove I can scrub up okay and do manage to hold down a job, here's a picture of me on the bus to work. Since we got home from our travels I've been catching the bus to work. It's a 20 minute walk away which is great for steps but also often leaves me feeling like a hot mess by the time I get there!

Talking of hot messes, this time last year we were in steamy, sultry Miami, Florida. Sigh. It was my third visit to the city and I would still go back for more. I know some people find it a bit fake and glitzy, but I just love South Beach and its beautiful pastel Art Deco buildings. There are no big high rises and you can stroll around the streets and neighbourhoods, which are all on a manageable scale.

Classic Miami Beach rollerblader shot. Well, actually we waited ages for him to move and just gave up!

And that brings us back to the present. It's Saturday morning, I've had my eggs, and it's time to face the day. We're going to visit some friends for a picnic later this afternoon, and I have a baby shower to go to tomorrow. I also need to fit in some chores and admin, so I better get to it!

Have a wonderful weekend and I'll pop back in on Tuesday!

What's your favourite weekend breakfast?

Smoked salmon and eggs will pretty much always feature in mine. Although sweet potato pancakes with homemade jam or maple syrup sound pretty good right now... #whole30problems