Saturday, 29 June 2013

It's good to share

Morning lovelies. What a beautiful day - the sun is shining, there's a soft breeze blowing through the window as I type and I'm watching the Arctic Monkeys' Glastonbury set that I forgot to watch lastnight. Have I ever told you how much I heart the Monkeys? It's a lot. Them and Kanye West - all poets. They're touring in the autumn and I am DYING to get tickets. Wish me luck!

In other news, it's been a bit of a trying week. There's been a meltdown or two and I've cried at dogs on TV. Yep, we're a bit overtired over here and realising we need to slow things down a bit and not try and do everything. Thank goodness I have a week off staycationing at home next week. What timing!

So, I'm sharing how I feel with you, but a number of people have also been sharing with me this week... must be something in the air. I'm carrying a lot of new information round in my head, but that's cool. I like to think people trust me and want to tell me stuff, and I'm a good listener... and sharer, it seems. Why not - I truly believe our worries seem a lot less scary once we blurt them out to someone.

With that said, let's re-rewind and see how we've ended up here.

Wednesday was when things reached a bit of a low point. I was worn out. We enjoyed grilled pork chops with steamed cabbage and asparagus and nuked sweet potato in the garden. I really want to make the most of the garden this summer and take every opportunity to enjoy it.

The plan was to go for a walk with Andy after. But I just couldn't motivate myself. I needed some me time on the sofa. So, off he went while I enjoyed gorgeous lavender dark chocolate I bought from the food festival last weekend. And then some sweet potato chips. I needed to just veg out and be.

Thursday I awoke a little more refreshed and ready for my usual fare - a mackerel frittata.

I was on the countdown to holidays and had a lot to get through on the to do list at work. Lunch was grabbed 'al desko' - tinned salmon (the last of it to be used up) and avocado salad. I wolfed it down so I'd get a chance to meet The Boy for a quick stroll before a meeting.

Instant mood-lifter right there.

After Wednesday night's self indulgent mood I was not having any nonsense from myself. So, despite it pouring with rain, I made a last minute decision to don my workout gear and walk to bootcamp. I was convinced it would be cancelled, but that didn't matter. I had to try! In fact, I arrived just in time to see the van drive away because no one had turned up! I didn't mind too much. I'd had a walk and made the effort.
It meant the evening was a little less rushed, and I prepared lunch, breakfast vegetables and our dinner. It was a simple affair - roasted sweet potatoes and green beans, smoked haddock and steamed spinach. We enjoyed it. And it continued to rain, so no dinner outdoors! We watched cute dogs, I cried, all was well.

The final day in the office dawned and we wanted to get in early to get a head start on Friday. I didn't fancy any extras in my frittata, just eggs and vegetables.

I worked my way through the list of stuff to get done, crossing it off as I went along. Love crossing stuff off the list! I had a welcome break for lunch with BC, and was loving my mackerel salad, as always. We took a little trip to the shops for some fresh air.

I managed to get all but one thing done before I left, which was pretty good going. Even so, it still took me a good while to wnd down after we left. All those 'Did I do that?' thoughts. I'm just about starting to relax now!
We grabbed some treats from Waitrose for dinner - I got some bargain plaice for about 60p! I accompanied it with samphire and steamed broccoli, carrots and butternut squash. It was nice, but not filling enough, so I had some nuts and root vegetable chips after.

Oh, and a sneaky cocktail. It was the start of my holiday after all...

The Boy was out at a gig, so it was early to bed and early to rise. Today I'm feeling fresh and ready. And my breakfast was fresh and ready in seconds - a fried egg, mackerel fillet and roasted vegetables. Love this. A nice change.

After a long beach walk enjoying some Arctic Monkeys on the iPod, I was ready for an iced coffee. This maple walnut coffee from Whole Foods is da shiz.

And now I'm still enjoying the AM set and feeling good. Ready for a barbecue with a very good friend later and seeing my Mum. A good day lies ahead, a good week in fact. I hope the same goes for you my friends. We can only appreciate the highs when we have a few dips.
Who's your favourite artist/band?

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Walking to stand still

This week has been so busy so far at work that it feels like Thursday at least, so I was surprised at how few photos I have to share from the last few days, but it has only been three! It's my last week in the office before a week off so I'm trying to get everything done and, most of all, trying not to get anything added to my list!

All in all, though, it's been a pretty good week so far, with some exercise and socialising thrown in. I've also come up with a way of trying to still have treats while not going overboard... I'll let you know how that goes! Let's dive in...

Sunday night dinner was our new favourite, salmon with coriander and coconut. The creaminess with a hit of chilli is right up my street, and not too hot for The Boy. We enjoyed steamed samphire, tenderstem broccoli and asparagus on the side. Not a pretty picture, but a tasty one and welcome after a fairly indulgent weekend.

I was still in the mood for a little treat though, and enjoyed some fig and coconut balls with hazelnuts and a Redbush tea a little later.

Monday demanded a return to my more puritanical ways - mackerel frittata got me back on track for the new week.

It was a busy day with meetings all over the place, which was great for getting my steps in. I also managed a walk at lunch time with my friend after tucking in to my salmon salad.

Monday marked two years since my first date with Andy. Aww. As we were away for the weekend and we're doing lots of fun stuff next week, we decided to keep it low key. In fact, we ended up doing some cleaning! But, I did make us one of our all-time favourites - roast chicken dinner. You can't beat it as a week night treat!

We also made time for a stroll along the beach. We cram a lot in to our evenings... no wonder I'm exhausted half the time!
Tuesday breakfast welcomed back my favourite Lidl smoked salmon - sugar free and really light and subtle - to the frittata rotation.

We had a team meeting until 1pm, so I was starving by the time I got to my roast chicken salad. I realised I actually start to get anxious when I'm really hungry. Truly food obsessed!

I went for a late afternoon walk with my friend, Derek. I just have to get out of the office at some point each day.
The evening was busy - I was determined to make it to Real Military Fitness after not getting there last week, then needed to head straight to a friend's house for dinner. I managed it! RMF was good fun and hot! We did about a million lunges and I am really feeling it today. On the plus side my ankle is healing well and didn't hurt at all for the first time in a long time.
I was spoiled at Alex's house - starter was beef salad with ginger and chilli dressing. Really yummy - the dressing also had lime and sesame oil in it.

More meat for the main - pan-fried lamb with fig couscous and Greek salad. That's a dollop of taramasalata on the side. Can't resist the stuff. I also had half a wholemeal pitta to 'clean' my plate with.
I provided pudding - fresh strawberries with cream, or creme fraiche, and strawberry shortbread biscuits.
It was a lovely relaxed evening, and I managed to refrain from drinking. My new 'rule' is I get one meal a week where I eat anything I want and one day a week when I can drink. This week I'll be drinking at a barbecue on Saturday, but eating 'clean', so lastnight was my food splurge night. We'll see how it goes.

Andy walked round to pick me up and walk me home. It ended up being quite a late night, and I was woken up at 4.30am by seagulls! I was not exactly bright-eyed and bushy-tailed when I got up this morning! Breakfast was a repeat of yesterday's.

After a few IT issues I finally got down to work and felt like I was making some headway this morning. No meetings was a blessing.
Lunch was one of my current favourites - Albacore tuna salad with avocado, anchovies and olives. Yup, all the things. So yummy.

I also took a little trip to the shops and tried to resist the sales. I succeeded!
I'm having a hungry day today so must love and leave to make dinner before a little walk and The Apprentice. I heart Wednesdays because there's no schedule. Have a good one, peeps.
Do you have a weekday 'schedule'?
RMF on Tuesdays and Thursdays defines my week.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Whole-y moley

Good evening, friends! I'm blogging sleepily after a long, busy but, ultimately fun week. And, a week FULL of foodie treats. I've got a lot to share, that's fo sho.

So, without further ado...

Thursday's dinner was a house classic - rib eye grilled to medium rare perfection served with roasted broccoli and asparagus and baked (okay, microwaved!) sweet potato. This meal is like a bear hug - comforting and leaves you feeling all warm inside.

With a busy foodie weekend ahead of me, I wanted to start Friday right with a mackerel and roasted vegetable frittata. No muss no fuss.

Friday at work was cray - non-stop all day long. But, a healthy-living gal ALWAYS makes time to eat a proper lunch and take a walk with her friend. Mental and physical wellbeing, y'all - don't neglect it. Lunch was an Albacore tuna salad with avocado with a generous helping of gossip. Mmm mm.

Before I knew it the day had raced by and it was time to speed off to Cheltenham and the first stop of the weekend, Andy's old friend and running partner and his girlfriend.
We went for a lovely meal at a local country pub called The House in the Tree. Despite having had steak the night before, I was in the mood for meat. I went for cajun-spiced lamb in a tomato and pepper stew with new potatoes. The lamb was cooked to pink perfection, lightly chargrilled and so, so tender. I loved it.

We left around 10pm and it was still light - the longest day. Got to make the most of these light nights. The pub had a little petting zoo and we saw the goats and pigs all tucked up ready for bed. So cute!
Saturday morning rolled around and while the boys went for a run, I hung out at the house and took a little walk in the local park. Breakfast was a cuppa or two plus porridge oats with a seed and nut mix thrown in. A nice break from the norm. I enjoyed relaxing in front of Saturday morning TV until the boys got back and washed up and we headed to...

I've been once before but was just as excited to go again! Andy and Malc humoured me, and we got some lunch before taking a look around the shop.
I went for a cooked lunch rather than the salad bar. Grilled sardines, roasted vegetables and, my favourite, roasted butternut squash with onions and dried cranberries. Delicious, although not cheap at £9.50. I expected a bit more fish! Still, it is Disneyworld! I had an almond milk capuccino on the side. I've yet to find anywhere else in the UK that offers almond milk at their coffee bar. They also do coconut milk.

And then we got to shopping. Check out the instore bar - 'Fill your flagon'!

It ain't all mung beans and carrot sticks, you know.

While the boys got their second free sample of brownie sundaes, I stocked up on some healthy snacks and soaked up the atmosphere. I'll show you my haul later...

We bid farewell to Malc and Cheltenham and headed off to Droitwich Spa, about 30 minutes away, for part two of our adventure. We pitched up at my friend Karen's place and headed straight to a local food festival on foot with Karen and her husband, Colin. I told you it was a foodie weekend!

See - happy blogger! The weather threatened, but the rain held off and we sampled lots of goodies. And I mean, lots - from sausages to local wine to cheese to fudge and everything inbetween. It was great! I left with some lavender dark chocolate for me and coffee dark chocolate for Andy and he bought a bottle of the rather good local wine for us to share later.
Before heading back we stopped for a coffee - vanilla freddo in my case. Seriously good.

We strolled home along the canal and spent a couple of hours enjoying some wine and a chat before heading out to Rajdoot, a local Indian restaurant in a little village. This was seriously good Indian fine dining.
I had a vegetable side as my starter - Gobi Masala, which was cauliflower cooked in onion, cumin and tomatoes. Really good, vibrant, with a slight crunch.

For my main I fancied something with coconut and plumped for King Prawn Narial - prawns in coconut cream sauce with a hint of mustard and coriander. The prawns were really juicy and I could have drunk the sauce! I had a light and refreshing Kachumber salad on the side which had radishes, cucumber and carrot, and we shared Bengan Aloo - aubergines and potatoes. Plenty of red wine was quaffed, too.

As we were going all out, I didn't bother resisting pudding. I went for Gajar Ka Halwa - 'finely grated carrots cooked on slow heat with delicate touch of cardamom, garnished with pistachio nuts, served with vanilla ice cream'. Lovely, light and fragrant. The perfect way to end the meal.
We stayed up chatting quite late so I was a bit bleary-eyed when I surfaced this morning. Luckily our hostess with the mostest was ready with this breakfast spread.
I had some of the gorgeous fruit salad with yoghurt and muesli and plenty of tea!

We headed in to Worcester for a walk and light bite, although I wasn't hungry, so just had a cup of tea at very cute cafe called The Little Ginger Pig which specialises in local produce. Worth a visit. We said goodbye and hit the road around 1pm. I soon felt snacky on the way - luckily we were all stocked up, so I nibbled on these:
Check that ingredient list. No crap in there! They were good too, but expensive. A good treat for rare occasions!
I snoozed a bit on the journey and before I knew it Andy had got us home safe and in good time. Love that boy.
Check our booty!
Sweet potato crisps, vegetable crisps, the aforementioned chocolate bars, banana crunch bites, coconut water, my crackers (all gone!), fig bites, kale chips, and walnut and maple coffee.

I was proper hungry when we got back so I used up some leftovers from the week to make a mackerel salad. Never fails. Then I headed off for a walk to try and revive myself and get my steps up - I managed 10000 a day over the weekend so far.

I walked through the rose garden and saw a group of people meditating. I envied them being able to bliss out like that. I'd love to give it a go but am so impatient and fidgety... precisely why I need it!

I also snacked on some fig bites - fig balls rolled in shredded coconut aka heavenly little balls of sugar - and kale chips. Love these things. Again, pricey but such a great treat. Nom nom! I also drank a cup of the maple and walnut coffee. It was really good - not bitter at all and a nice mellow taste. I mainly bought it to make iced coffee out of. Can't wait.

I found this fragrant little rose head in the rose garden and bought it home. Now a bit of evening relaxation awaits and the sun is coming out. Time to water the garden, make dinner and relax.

Peace out.
Food highlight of the weekend?
Too many to choose!

Thursday, 20 June 2013

The run around

What a week! I predicted it would be manic and it has been. I worked from home today to try and get my head down and get things in order but even that didn't calm things down! Oh, well, at least the sun is shining after an incredibly dull day and the weekend is in sight.

What have I been up to to get me in this tizzy?

Well, on Monday I was eating a mackerel frittata for breakfast. Admittedly, not too stressful!

Later I cracked open my tinned salmon salad. Still fairly low on the stressometer, although I realised it's a bit smelly and I may have gone off it a bit as a lunch choice. Hmm.

It was quite a busy day at work, but I did manage a lunchtime walk with my friend before leaving a bit early to catch a train to London, where I spent the evening with a very dear, very old friend and her other half.

After enjoying some Cava we walked to a local Thai restaurant, drank red wine and had a good catch-up. It had been too long! Gorgeous vegetable gyoza and a really fresh and tasty salad started us off. I followed this with a very hot beef jungle curry which I forgot to photograph while engrossed in chat!

We ended the evening with an amaretto back at the crib. A few too many drinks for a school night, but it's a rare occasion!

After a restless night's sleep, I started Tuesday in a bit of a fog trying to find my way to the conference centre I was headed for. I got there in good time and inhaled coffee until the break, when I dashed out for some nuts and an apple from Pret a Manger. I hadn't had time for breakfast and it was all brown food at the event.

After it finished I headed to our London office for a meeting and grabbed a chicken and rice noodle soup on the way. It was delish, in a coconut and lemograss broth. It's nice to treat yourself to these fancy lunches when in town!

After my whistlestop tour of the capital I hopped on a train and back to the office for some evening volunteering on the phones for a charity...
By the time I got home at 8pm, I was not going to resist this amazing soda bread our car-sharer had made and kindly given us. Oh my goodness - it was so moist and light, almost like cake. This stuff is dangerous. There's a bit less left now...

Andy made dinner, a lovely, light salmon broth to offset all the naughtiness.
And collapse.
I think Wednesday's frittata deserves a prize for prettiness - the usual roasted vegetables with some spinach and prawns. A nice change. The prawns were really juicy!

It was busy back in the office after a day out, but there's always time for salmon and avocado salad. Loving those colours!

The sun came out for my walk - it was actually hot. That never happens here!

We hadn't seen Andy's parent's in ages, so we headed straight there after work for dinner. They spoiled us, as usual! Two types of HUGE sausages - pork and leek and Cumberland - plus mushrooms, fried onions, mashed potatoes, gravy, roasted vegetables and mushy peas.

And if that wasn't enough...

Berries and grapes soaked in brandy (!) with sugar and clotted cream ice cream and clotted cream. Oh yes I did! We got home pretty late in the evening but made time for a stroll in the sultry evening air to get hayfever tablets for Andy and our steps in for our challenge.
This morning I had a big, tasty piece of salmon to use up for breakfast. I got the pan out, but then realised this mother was a bit big for a frittata, so I just warmed through some roasted veggies and kept it simple.

My Christmas cactus has erupted in to one little bloom. Beautiful.

As I worked from home I wanted to make sure I kept hydrated and didn't need to keep going dowstairs to do so. On a whim I added some lemon and lime slices to a jug. Very refreshing.

A morning of IT issues and general frustrations meant I was more than ready for my ready-prepared mackerel salad. A joy, as always.

I popped out for some bits at the butcher and Lidl, during which it decided to rain. Nice. More work followed and I was more than ready to shake a leg after I finished work and get to my fitness class. The sun even came out to play. But... I got there and there was no one there! A couple of other people turned up and waited but the instructors never turned up. So, I ambled home, smelt the roses in the rose garden and watered my garden in the evening sunshine. Not too shabby.
I need to get organised as we're away for the weekend straight from work tomorrow. And the busy week continues! Should be fun though, especially with a trip to Wholefoods. Yes!
Updates on Sunday.
What are your weekend plans?