Sunday, 30 December 2012

Swept away

It's nearly the end of 2012! (I just typed 2013 by mistake...!) It's really crept up on me and I'm not sure I'm quite ready to enter a new year, but, here goes nothing! I do like the idea of a fresh start and I have a lot to look forward to in January and 2013 as a whole, so all in all, I'm all for it.

But, 2012 ain't over yet, so I better give you the lowdown on today's happenings.


I woke up at Mum's for the last morning of our stay there and immediately raided the fridge for a sustaining breakfast ready for the day's activity. Three egg omelette with smoked salmon and two cups of tea.

Having exhausted my mum's supplies of food and patience, we headed for Emsworth, a gorgeous small town smack bang in between Portsmouth, where I live, and Chichester, where my family are. We parked in town and followed the instructions of our 9 mile coastal walk guide. Yep, you read right, 9 miles! It started very promisingly after walking across a pond (on a path... I'm good, but I ain't that good) and coming across the little village of Prinsted where we were greeted with this picture-postcard house.

We carried on past a marina to the start of the walk proper, which circumnavigates a small island occupied by the Ministry of Defence (MOD). Walkers are allowed on the island, but only if they stick to the designated coastal path. I wasn't in a hurry to find out what happened if we didn't! It was a blustery day, but dry and not too cold, and we even got the odd glimmer of sunshine.

Around a third of the way in we stopped to admire the view and I snacked on a Gala apple and a Ginger Bread Nakd bar.

Our stopping place was right next to this cute church.

The walk was stunning. The boy thought it would be great in summer. I agree, but there's something about a walk along the coast on a steely winter's day. I think it appeals to the drama queen in me!

Sadly all the recent rain meant alot of the paths were very muddy and some were completely waterlogged, so, despite our best efforts, we both ended up with wet feet! Three and a half hours later we arrived back at the car exhilarated and a little dazed from all that fresh air. Wonderful.

Home again
A long, hot shower and washing of muddy clothes later, normality was restored. Ah, it's good to be home. After unpacking I chilled for a bit, then ate a banana and an apple, followed by a carrot with salsa while I got dinner on the go.

I also decided a little red wine might be in order and, luckily, the boy agreed, so I wasn't alone and in danger of polishing off the Rioja solo!

Dinner was a roast chicken with roasted brussels sprouts, baby carrots, red onion and sweet potato.

I thought the packaging on the chicken said to cook it for an hour and ten minutes, and I left it in about ten minutes longer and it came out perfectly. It then occured to me while eating that the packet said 110 minutes, not one hour ten! I had a moment of paranoia, but knew the chicken was fine and it made me wonder what it would have turned out like if I followed their instructions! Out of interest I checked online after and no decent chef advised cooking it for as long as the producers did... Plus I'm still alive, and that's the main thing. I'll live to blog another day!

There's a new programme on at 9 we're going to give a whirl called Ripper Street. A little more wine and some dark chocolate will also make an appearance I'm guessing. A good day.

Question of the day: What do you trust when it comes to cooking times, use by dates etc? The packaging or your instincts?

I used to think the packaging was the gospel and dread to think how much perfectly edible food I've wasted over the years. Now I'm more confident with food and cooking, I go with my very experienced gut. Three months of travelling without so much as a dodgy tum are testament to this!









Saturday, 29 December 2012

The sweet smell of success

I won't tell you the obscene amount I spent on perfume in Space NK today with my Christmas vouchers. I'll only tell you that it's my favourite ever perfume, Philosykos by Diptyque, and I had to have it! And I love it, which is the main thing. Smelling like a pudding works for me!

I still feel a bit like one after the Xmas Xcess, too, but have vowed to take it easy on myself for now while I figure out my diet plan of attack for 2013.


Off to work again it was, and the same morning routine set me up for the day: Jillian's Ripped in 30 week two and paleo porridge with banana, ground almonds, almond milk, mixed berries and desiccated coconut ,with the cheeky addition of Peanut Butter and Co The Bees Knees. Well, it was Friday.

Snack time took an unexpected turn. Oh yes, this blogger went a bit cra on y'all and tried a new fruit... persimmon. It was on offer at the supermarket, so I thought I'd give it a try.

It reminded me a lot of mango, and I enjoyed the first few bites, but then it started to get a bit sickly, and I couldn't finish it all. The texture was firm but fleshy. Not one I'll rush to try again but I'm glad I did!

After the success of yesterday, lunch was a repeat of my leftovers feast with Christmas ham. I'm loving red cabbage in my salad. This was so zingy and crunchy and fresh. When I eat things like this I wonder why I'm ever tempted to eat crap.

I went back to more normal snacking for the afternoon shift and managed a late walk. The weather was terrible, but come 2pm I felt so restless and like my thighs were moulding to my office chair, I had to get out! Luckily it didn't rain too much and I even managed to persuade a friend to accompany me.

The evening held a much looked forward to event - dinner with my family. We decided this year that instead of buying presents we should all get together for a meal out. It was a great idea - fun, relaxed and so nice to spend some quality time together. I ordered a salmon and avocado salad. I forgot to snap it but remembered to show you the leftover 'fillers' of bread and croutons. It was washed down with Sauvignon Blanc and a limoncello liquer in lieu of dessert. After dinner we all headed back to my uncle's gorgeous house for more wine and laughter. What a great night.

I woke up a little dehydrated but in pretty good shape considering the amount of wine I had. I'm staying at my mum's so had to be a bit creative with breakfast. I scrambled two eggs with almond milk and had banana and pear on the side.
After an hour of iPadding and relaxing, I got my Jill on with Banish Fat Boost Metabolism.

*gratuitous picture of cute dogs (and boyf) in blatant ratings bid*

Lunch was leftover smoked salmon with roasted brocolli. It hit the spot, and I was starving after Jill.

Some dates, walnuts and dried figs followed. I love dates! I remember when I was young they always looked awful, but they taste like caramel. Seriously - if you've never tried them, do.

The weather was still dreary as ish, but we traipsed in to town anyway, and the ethereal glow of Space NK soon brightened my day. Walking out of that shop with a full bag can't help but make a gal's heart sing. And they gave me some nice little freebies, including some fancy face oil I'm totally busting out tonight. Obvs I'll never be able to afford the product should I like it, but nevermind, I can dream... and at least I'll smell like fresh figs for the foreseeable. A good thing, in case you're wondering!
Back home. More snacking. Pecan Pie Nakd bar and chilli pistachios.

And the last glass of pink Champers. A bit flat, but still good. One does not waste Champagne.

Mother insisted I feed the troops, so I baked this fillet of salmon in foil for 30 minutes at 200 degrees C with some chopped garlic, dill and lemon slices. I parboiled some new potatoes and carrots then roasted them along with the salmon, adding asparagus half-way through.

The future holds a glass of pink port and a viewing of Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. The boy has never seen it, and I love it. Happy Saturday, y'all!
Question of the day: What would you spend crazy money on?
Beauty products and candles suck me in, but I love a bit of luxury in the everyday. It's what makes life worth living.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Into the groove

As in getting back into it. I definitely still feel a little in 'Chrimbo Limbo', to borrow a friend's phrase, but it's felt good to be back to some kind of routine today. Sad, but true!


6am start, Jillian's Ripped In 30 Week 1 and paleo porridge made with ground almonds, a chopped banana, Blue Diamond almond milk, desiccated coconut and a selection of defrosted berries. Warm, creamy and comforting.

There were just two of us in my little office, but it was a nice and relaxed way to get back in to the swing of work, and made for a productive day.
I powered on through until 12pm with lots of water and a redbush tea, no milk. Detoxing! Then I tucked in to this little beauty - kale, red cabbage, grated carrot, cucumber, celery and leftover ham drizzled with olive oil and raspberry vinaigrette. Seriously good, y'all.

Bit of citrus to follow.

Followed by more sunshine - the forecast was rain so I dashed out while the skies were clear. It was blustery but I had a lovely brisk thirty minute walk that made me feel glad to be alive and off of the sofa! I also saw some amazing birds - a heron, two cormorants and some gorgeous brightly-coloured bird I need to Google! Life-affirming indeed, and hardly a soul around.

Pecans and dried cranberries restored the energy reserves for a little afternoon meeting.

Then off I trotted, a little early, to get some food and bits from the supermarket, before rewarding myself with some carrots and hot salsa back home.


My mum, her boyf and my brother popped over to inspect the house now I'm pretty much there with it, and were kind enough to get some Turkish takeaway, too! I had Chicken Guvec, a tomato-based chicken stew, with an Ezme salad, which is finely chopped tomatoes, onions, cucumber, parsley and chilli. Yum! Also had two of my mum's bits of grilled chicken and am now officially stuffed. But wholesomely so!

Time to make lunch and chill for a bit. Work again tomorrow then straight off for a family dinner and staying at Mum's for the weekend. It's go go go! I'll blog again on Saturday.

Question of the day: Are you in Chrimbo Limbo?

Yup! A bit of me likes it but I also want to get to making resolutions and using my new diary!

Wednesday, 26 December 2012


I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas day and managed to spend it with your favourite people in the world? Mine was just how I like it - low-key and full of laughs, good food and relaxation.

Talking of relaxation, I've spent a LOT of the last few days in these fleece-lined babies - contenders for best present ever. These are never coming off when I'm in the house! Or in its vicinity... Do you think I could get away with them on Dress Down Friday?!

Christmas Day
A sustaining and luxurious breakfast was called for, and smoked salmon and scrambled eggs was the answer.

I also opened a few presents. Eeeeee! Here's a selection...
Gorgeous plant pot which looks amaze in my kitchen and replaces the one this poor plant was literally spilling out of!

Cute-as-a-button bracelet that is just my jewellery style - simple and sparkly.

Chilli chocolate. What more can I say?

Socks with owls on! Actual amaze! Can't wait to bust these babies out!

This is just a small sample of all the wonderful gifts I received. I feel very lucky and spoiled to have such thoughtful and generous friends and family. And I can't wait to go on a serious spree with my Space NK vouchers this weekend! 
Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to Mum's we go. She'd spared me a lot of hard work and prepped all the veggies for our traditional roast lunch.
I got to making these retrolicious prawn cocktails with a jot of mayo and iceberg lettuce. I usually hate iceberg but the juicy crispness really works with the richness of the prawns. And there has to be some use for these oversize wine glasses in a house where two thirds of the occupants don't drink wine! I know, hard to believe I come from this family... until you meet my brother...

Just look at this beautiful scene, set by Mother.
The pain of a total kitchen rebuild and refurb was worth it for this one day.

*Confession alert* I totally forgot to snap the lunch I slaved over. But let me tell you, it was goooooood. Roast turkey and beef, potatoes that were crisp on the outside and buttery on the inside, parsnips drizzled in honey, pigs in blankets, brussels sprouts and carrots and Yorkshire puddings. So. Good.
The cooking and eating were punctuated with flutes of this divine Oudinot Pink Champagne from Marks and Spencer. Light as a feather, like sherbert.

The rest of the evening consisted of Christmas Pudding with brandy cream. A bit more of the same. A walk to the cemetery to visit my Nanny, Grandad, Aunty Marina and Uncle Alec and leave them some sweeties, and then we watched The Fellowship of the Ring while baking in front of the log burner. Oh, and I fitted in one of my homemade mince pies and some chocolate biscuits. Precious.
Boxing Day
Today was our turn to play hosts to Andy's family. I fuelled up at Mum's first with a bowl of chopped banana, pear, flaked almonds and walnuts warmed in the microwave for 2 minutes and topped with cinnamon.

Check Royston out. He's like me with food - definitely NO SHARING.

We headed home around 10:30 and I prepped this li'l buffet. Note Luann's Kale Salad has pride of place, along with a million types of chutney, cheese, leftover turkey, ham and other morsels. I tucked in to turkey and ham with salad and mustard and mayo on the side. It was good to eat salad again!

We also laid out a selection of sweets. I just love the bright colours of wrapped sweeties in a bowl!

I had one of my Hotel Chocolat chilli pralines. So good I'll be having another in a minute!

A bit later I had this gorgeous smoked salmon pate from our farm shop haul, followed by a 'short' 90 minute nap and some more turkey. Phew! I'm all proteined up and tuckered out!

Time to make lunch ready for work tomorrow (can't even talk about that right now) then settle down and watch The Girl, about Alfred Hitchcock and Tippi Hedren on BBC2.
It's been wonderful to mooch about these past few days, but I'm looking forward to some form of routine, healthy eating and exercise again now. We didn't make it out for a walk today and I feel sluggish as a result. Blasted rain!
Have a good evening, y'all.
Question of the Day: Boxing Day sales or snuggling indoors?
Snuggling in my new socks of course!

Monday, 24 December 2012

Not feeling to elf-y

Totally self-inflicted, of course, but not helped by the dreary weather, although the sun appears to be coming out now, finally!

I know you're all busy running around getting ready for the big day, so I won't keep you. First, here's how Saturday evening ended:

I am totally addicted to dates, and these organic ones from Waitrose were just the ticket to end my hangover day, followed by that li'l Ginger Bread Nakd bar peeking out cheekily from behind.

The day started on a healthy note - ground almond porridge with berries, banana, desiccated coconut and a blob of Peanut Butter and Co Smooth PB. I followed it with a really tough Jillian Michaels DVD - No More Trouble Zones. It's my least favourite, but I felt it was time for a challenge and why not pre-empt the indulgence?

After that I needed a protein hit before we headed out, so chowed down on this little treat.

We then set off to meet one of The Boy's friends, who had just completed a coastal marathon up the road from where I live. My Jill time paled in to insignificance as I watched the poor mud-splattered runners limp in. It was very inspiring, but not enough to make me strap my runners back on again!
After we met up with the intrepid runner and his girlfriend, we headed to The Tenth Hole so some carb-loading could be done. Check out this festive 'teatray in the sky'. So cool!

I hadn't run a marathon, so gave the muffin enveloping my breakfast burger away and tucked in to the HUGE sausagemeat pattie, bacon, mushroom and egg. It was about 4pm by the time we ate, so I was famished and it hit the spot.

We got a good walk in there and back, but it meant it took a while to get home, so I had to get straight to finishing off the mince pies I was at the final stage of making.
I made my own pastry - satisfying, but very messy! The whole baking process was a bit of a faff really, and I immediately vowed never to make these again... but oh did they taste good. Jury's out on whether they're good enough to repeat, though.

I took a few of them to my friend's house that evening for a get-together and some gift-giving. As we'd eaten lunch late, we didn't eat before we went over, and that's where the trouble started. I was soon tucking in to crisps, pastries and anything else that wafted past, and ended up overdoing it on the chocolates, too.
I only had a few drinks, so it was definitely a carb-hangover that caused today's grogginess. Oh well, I suppose it's just as well to get it out of the way before the big day! I'm also aching like a mother after the Jill DVD.
Christmas Eve! (Monday):
So, today started in a funk, and I only had myself to blame. A re-run of yesterday's breakfast plus lots of water made me feel a little more wholesome...

As did cleaning the house and eating this super-green Granny Smith apple. I can feel the vitamins.

Some moping ensued, but I think lunch has finally got me my get up and go back. I roasted some broccoli at 200 degrees C, turning half-way through, for 30 minutes. Then, the boy made me a gorgeous fluffy omelette filled with smoked salmon to go with it.

Now it's off for a walk, then later we'll be meeting up with friends for a drink or two - not going overboard - and getting a Turkish takeaway from Nemrut. The healthier choice!
Have a wonderful Christmas Eve! And Christmas Day! I may try to blog tomorrow but will see how it goes. I'm chef for the day so may be too exhausted!
Question of the Day: How do you celebrate Christmas Eve?
I usually like to have a few drinks and go out. Although we will be heading out for a bit, I'm looking forward to getting back early and snuggling! Am I getting old or lazy?!