Wednesday, 28 August 2013

That was the week that was

I know, I know, it's only Wednesday, but I'm on countdown, y'all! This time tomorrow we'll be pitching up at the End of the Road festival in Dorset in our very own motor home. Oh yes, peeps, no camping for us - we're doing this in style in Andy's Mum and Dad's mobile palace. Can't wait! I don't think I've ever been so excited to hang out in a field!

It looks like a cool little festival - our friends have been before and say it has a nice, chilled vibe, perfect for an old timer like me after a busy week. Speaking of which...

I was still so stuffed from our Bank Holiday lunch blowout, I skipped dinner on Monday night. Who am I? In the words of Joey from Friends, next thing you know I'll be wrapping up power bars and saving half for later! As if. Fear not, dear reader, I'm back on form.

Tuesday morning vegetable frittata was a welcome return to sanity.

It was the calm before the storm and there was a fairly relaxed pace, sorting out some work and getting organised. I met Rach for a weekend debrief over a salmon salad. The weather has been glorious the last two days and we made the most of it by taking it outside.

The day took a tricky turn work-wise in the late afternoon and I had some issues which, sadly, crept in to my evening and stressed me out. I don't let this happen often, but when it does it has an impact. Luckily, when I turned up at Real Military Fitness there were boxing gloves and pads at the ready, so I had somewhere to channel that negative energy! I also managed to make plans to spend time with good friends that we rarely get to see due to all being so busy, so that really cheered me up.
It was double salmon on Tuesday, it was on the dinner menu, too, as we hadn't managed dinner the night before. I whizzed up a nice coriander and coconut sauce as per the Waitrose recipe here. Love this dinner.

We watched the last episode of Southcliffe and were left disappointed, a recurring theme when it comes to TV for me lately. Then I went to bed early and tossed and turned all night, thinking about work. Blech.
This morning's breakfast was a repeat of yesterday's. I felt drained but surprisingly okay after a fitful night of sleep. Once I got in to work I could get to tackling the issues bubbling away and, with a lot of help from my very supportive colleagues, got it all sorted by early afternoon. Hooray! I celebrated with this lush Albacore tuna salad with anchovies and olives and a walk a little later on with my old friend DB. Just the ticket.

I'm still feeling a bit frazzled but much better and ready to focus on the long weekend ahead. Time to pack, eat roast chicken and put it all in perspective on an evening walk. I'll be checking in on Monday. Wish me luck! Ha, who am I kidding, I don't need it - we have a fridge on board for God's sake! Yay for glamping!
Does work stress get to you?
I try not to bring work worries home but once in a while they strike and I have to go with it.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Sweet days of summer

Good evening, my dears. It's been a lovely Monday here, mainly because it's a holiday so there was no work, lots of sun and a good deal of fun. We're exhausted after spending the day with Andy's niece and nephew, who are the loveliest little pair.

It's been a good couple of days, but also very indulgent and I. am. stuffed! Ready for some clean eats for the next three days at work before we head of for that other realm known as festival land on Thursday and lose ourselves for a few days. Yes, summer is slowly slipping away but we're making the most of every millisecond now!

On Saturday night The Boy spoiled me by not only making this very yummy Thai prawn masamman curry with veggies and sweet potato...

... he also made almond butter cups from Oh She Glows. OMG. They may look like Jaffa Cakes, but these are incredibly rich and decadent. He made me a little pot of the leftover chocolate topping which went really hard in the freezer. It was actually a bit too much for me I think as it gave me a stomach ache the next day. Small portions advised! If only I had the self control! We stayed in and watched some TV on catch up. A nice, relaxed Saturday evening.
 Sunday morning I woke up with the aforementioned dodgy tum and tried to appease it with the usual breakfast treat, but it didn't feel any better. I'd planned a workout but didn't feel up to it so mooched about and did some organising. And bugged Andy when I got bored of that.

We had a hearty cod and veggie lunch around 1pm as we were off to the local Victorious Festival for the rest of the day. I love cod but it really needs something to give it flavour - it's so bland.

The festival was heaving and there were long, long queues for EVERYTHING - to get in, for drinks, for the toilet. We queued around 30 minutes for a cocktail when we first got in. I did manage to have some very tasty banana coconut brownie and a delicious flapjack, both shared with Andy. I also enjoyed a cider and bought two vintage headscarves ready for our next festival as I won't be able to dry my hair so I'm going to arrange it artfully (!).
There was one main band Andy was really keen to see called The Joy Formidable - our friends' friend goes out with the drummer. They were good but only on for 30 minutes. Still long enough to cause me some hearing damage which I'm still feeling today. Am I just getting too old for this?! Andy was beside himself as he got to go backstage and meet them! We left around 8pm and had some cassava root chilli crisps and ham and mushroom pizza back home. Oh, and polished off the almond cups. My stomach ache had subsided at this point! We walked the 6 mile round trip to the festival and back but I doubt it cancelled out the treats!
Today I got up around 8am and made myself an oatmeal and ground almond porridge with strawberries and blueberries and coconut milk.

By 9.45 we were on the road and collecting these gorgeous little urchins ready to take them out to lunch and to my Mums to see the animals.

I went a bit cray at lunch. Blue cheese burger and curly fries. The cheese was really strong!

And just a teeny bit of strawberry shortcake sundae for dessert. Ahem.

Erm, I'll be the one passed out on the couch for the rest of the evening! Send help!
What did you indulge in this weekend?

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Routine check-up

Hey there. It's my usual Saturday post... except, I haven't really been doing anything according to my 'usual' schedule recently. When I first started blogging I tried to do it every day, which quickly became exhausting. After that I settled in to a nice Monday-Wednesday-Saturday routine which suited me fine. Except lately I've been all over the place and it's been anything but regular. I don't like this. Hopefully once the summer silly season is over and life settles down a bit things will get back to normal, but until then, please bear with me!

In the meantime, I have a busy period coming up in September, a kind of project - all will be revealed after the event. It's really good stuff, but something I need to keep under my hat for now. And there's also another longer term VERY BIG project you'll start hearing more about soon. But for today, let's stick to the routine and try and have some semblance of normality on this Bank Holiday weekend - the last of the summer...

Last Sunday was a beautiful sunny day which I spent with family and friends celebrating Paul, my Mum's partner's, birthday. He loves Smith and Western, so around 15 of us descended on the Chichester branch (you may recall my visit to the Tunbridge Wells one). It was a really nice afternoon. I was in the mood to keep it healthy so stuck to Cajun grilled chicken, baked potato and guacamole with water to drink.

And, anyway, Paul didn't want to share his birthday bellybuster...

Fudge brownie, cream, ice cream, marshmallows... God knows what else was in there!

I always love spending time with my family, especially my Mum and Paul and my cousin and her husband. There are never enough hours or days on the week. I tore myself away in the early evening and headed home to prepare for the week ahead. I kept dinner light and simple with avocado, mango and cashew salad with spinach and salmon. Inspired by Iowa Girl's chicken version. Always a winner.
I was fast asleep by the time Andy arrived home from his festival later that night...
Which meant I was fresh and ready for the working week on Monday morning. I fried myself up two eggs and had them with some roasted veggies to celebrate!

I had a bit of catch up time at work while I waited for the next part of my current project to unfold, so made sure I got as much other stuff done as I could. At lunch I enjoyed my usual Monday catch up with BC. It was a little cool and windy but we took it outside. It's still summer! Salmon salad for me.

The Boy had been home all day and not left the house or managed to do much constructive after wearing himself out at the festival. Being a nice girlfriend I made him a roast chicken dinner. I know.

Tuesday, tuesday, time for a frittata. Just two eggs and good ole veggies.

I was back at the Mac at work doing some amends to our internal newspaper. I'm getting to grips with it, finally. Using the Mac is all new to me when it comes to work and systems but it sure is pretty.
Roast chicken leftovers were very succulent for lunch. I took a walk with Andy after.

In the evening I headed to Real Military Fitness and got my ass handed to me. I was shattered after, I even thought I might be coming down with something... nope, just beaten into submission! Luckily dinner was very quick and easy - grilled lamb and Greek salad, minus the feta - Andy had some, though. Loving our butcher's lamb lately.
We watched the last episode of Top of the Lake after. I was a bit unimpressed by the series overall.
As I had some leftover chicken from Monday, I added it to Wednesday's breakfast vegetables and topped it all with a fried egg. Ooh, yeah.

We had a team meeting followed by a team lunch. I always seem to have stinky mackerel on team lunch days. Sure do love it, though. Andy and I popped to the shops after so I could get some things for Rachael, my hostess for the evening.

I had a real treat in store - Rachael cooked me steak and very yummy vegetables. Spoiled! She also took me for a nice walk and made sure I got to bed early. Not exactly a high octane evening, but a very nice one and what I needed with a busy day ahead at work on Thursday.

As I was out of my usual routine, I didn't fancy breakfast first thing on Thursday at Rach's, so grabbed some fruit when I got in - banana, plum, pineapple and strawberries.

It made a nice change, but I was so hungry come lunchtime. Andy had kindly made me an Albacore tuna salad and bought it in to work for me. He even added the anchovies. I was very grateful. I then went for a walk with a colleague, which was very nice. It was really sunny and warm out and neither of us wanted to return!

Andy had forgotten to get the meat out to defrost in the morning, so to make up for it he grabbed some Goan fish curry from Waitrose while I did my Jillian Michaels DVD - I didn't make RMF on Thursday night. I LOVE this curry. It really does not taste like a ready meal. I had mine with steamed cabbage and asparagus. Yum! We went for a nice walk after.
I found Jillian really hard going. I think having a lighter breakfast than usual had a knock-on effect on my energy all day. I can manage one hour at RMF, but found 20 minutes of Jill really tough! I also hate working out indoors now.
Friday was a big deadline for work and I woke feeling anxious at 5am. I decided to take my breakfast in to the garden for a moment of calm.

Luckily my organisation earlier in the week meant I could focus on the task at hand. There were a few hitches, but I stayed focused and kept going. We had tinned sardines for lunch - mine went really well with the added avocado. Yum. I had a 1pm meeting, so had a very fast few laps of the lakes alone and managed to squeeze a good walk in!

I managed to get my work done, but always leave feeling a bit uneasy when I have a big project on. It took me a while to wind down. We strolled up to the shops to look for trainers for my birthday present then headed home.
I popped in to Lidl for some smoked salmon for the weekend and then got in and made dinner earlier than usual. We were both hungry. Luckily it was a 15 minute job - grilled pork steak, microwaved sweet potato, steamed cabbage and carrot and stewed apple and plum with cinnamon. Gorgeous! The pork was really succulent and cooked just long enough without going dry.

I had a bottle of pear cider and fell asleep on the sofa. Not so worried about work after all...
Saturday! Up and at 'em just after 7. Salmon frittata to start the weekend - forgot to snap it. Then time for the usual routine (love it!) - long, leisurely breakfast, walk for an hour by the sea, go to the butcher, do Jillian DVD (new addition), clean, iron, eat lunch...

...Ham and avocado salad.
Then we went and did some outdoor chores - collect dry cleaning, get ingredients for another sweet treat recipe Andy wants to make from Oh She Glows and drop winter shoes in for re-heeling. Sigh.
We also stopped in to an amphibian and reptile exhibit at our local natural history museum, where I stroked a huge black monitor lizard. We're talking four feet long. I liked him! I have a strange thing for reptiles - I'd like to own one one day... Confession of the week right there!
Tonight Andy is cooking dinner and we're chilling, then tomorrow we're off to a local festival, so I'll catch y'all on Monday. You know, like old times. Have a good one.
Do you have a weekend routine or just go with the flow?
I have to admit, I do love a bit of order!

Sunday, 18 August 2013

The week in eats

I'm going to borrow a concept from Kath of Kath Eats, another favourite blogger of mine, and catch you up on the rest of my week after my trip to Stockholm through the medium of yummy food...


Back to Whole 30/Paleo breakfasts after a few weeks' variation. It felt good.

Spinach and vegetable frittata. Got to love Waitrose's frozen grilled vegetables when you haven't had time/energy to roast your own.

Fried eggs with home-roasted vegetables

Mackerel and roasted vegetable fritatta, made the night before and eaten cold, like pizza.

Smoked salmon and roasted vegetable frittata.
Clean eats to get me through a busy week at work and a VERY early start on Thursday (4:40am wake-up call). Just about got over it today!
Grilled mackerel salad. Tinned - they were out of fresh. Okay, but not as good.

Roast salmon salad. Good, good, good. Sat at our fancy Mac... scary but finally getting to grips with it!

Albacore tuna salad with anchovies. Heaven.

Afternoon snack in the garden when I got home earlier than usual after my early start on Thursday. Half a Gala apple with almond and sunflower seed butter. Two magazines. Restorative.
Sardines packed in chilli olive oil. Will get these again. Yum.

Cooked ham and avocado salad. All the good fats. And good things.
Andy has been away all week, so I indulged myself with whatever I fancied.
He did knock up this smoked haddock omelette with grilled vegetables and chorizo on the side before he headed to Pukkelpop Festival in Belgium on Tuesday. A perfect homecoming meal after Sweden.

Salmon and ginger broth with pak choy after going back to Real Military Fitness on Tuesday. I felt great - running better and faster and lifting heavier weights. Progress! Even the instructor commented.

Random insert: my Chinese orchid is really coming along. New buds on my new stem! My babies!
Wednesday night was tapas at Nicholson's with friends for their birthday. No snaps. You've seen it all before!

Grilled chicken with sweet potato and homemade apple, carrot and cabbage slaw. Fresh, fresh, fresh.
This was a pre-Pilates meal, which my friend and I tried as RMF was cancelled. It was okay but quite pricey and too much thinking involved for me - suck tummy in, breathe, pull bum in, keep shoulders down... I have enough thinking to do in the day - in the evening I want to run around a field and pick up heavy stuff. M'kay?
Grilled rib eye, steamed kale drizzled with olive oil, sweet potato. Simply perfect.

New recipe alert! Chorizo, kale and potato broth. I substituted sweet potato for normal. This will definitely go on the Autumn rotation - it felt like Autumn lastnight with rain and howling winds!
Other happenings - a haircut with my Mum, a couple of hours' girl time with one of my oldest, bestest friends and two quiet weekend nights in. All in all - ready to get back in the groove and make the most of the end of the summer! Happy end of the weekend, loves.


Dancing Queen

Hey, hey! It's a sunny Sunday here and I'm full of beans. Let's go!

Last Saturday was the big day - our friends' wedding in Stockholm. That morning was our first taste of the hotel breakfast and we were not disappointed. They had everything from Full English to muesli to pickled herring, and the dining room was really pretty, too. I went for a few slices of pumpernickel bread with soft boiled eggs and jam. A nice, simple treat. And lots and lots of black tea.

We had the morning at our leisure before the wedding, so went for a li'l walk in the sunshine. We spotted a little boutique that also did fresh juices - a current obsession. Apple, carrot and ginger. So zingy, you feel sooo virtuous drinking it.

See, the picture of radiance!

This is pretty much the postcard view of Stockholm you'll see as you walk around. Glorious. But there are LOTS of cobbles in the Old Town. Take comfy shoes.

Before I slipped into my uncomfortable ones, we had a quick lunch back at the room to line the tummies before the wedding. A very nice sushi takeout from the Coop.

Wedding! We headed to a church in the heart of the city. The bride looked stunning - I knew she would. Awww.

Then we all hopped on a bus and got on what can only be described as a cruise liner... all to ourselves!

Simple and pretty.

My handsome boy enjoying our drinks and toasts on the top deck.

The view as we sailed out of the city. It was so, so pretty.

Dinner! Lots of nice things to choose from at the buffet. There were rumours of reindeer, but I think it was lamb. Marinated grilled vegetables, a really good cold carrot mash, salmon, egg with caviar, potato salad... It was all really fresh and tasty. Perfect.

A little while later we tucked in to the gorgeous and feather light cake with layers of cream and custard. Then, sweeties were brought out and, around midnight, McDonald's cheeseburgers! What a great idea! I didn't fancy a burger but was tucking in to the sweeties - energy for dancing... We managed until 1am before we quit and walked back to the hotel, which was 5 minutes' walk away. A perfect end to a wonderful day.

I loved my breakfast so much the day before, I had a repeat on Sunday, despite all the variety on offer! Sunday was our sightseeing day, so we set off around 11am to squeeze it all in. First stop was the Vasa museum - a full-size real ship reclaimed from the depths of the harbour after it sank on its maiden voyage. Truly magnificent and creepy. Think Pirates of the Caribbean. It was too dark in there for decent pictures, sadly.

After a so-so, very over-priced salmon salad lunch with an amazing dill and mustard dressing (I was spooning it straight in to my mouth!) by the water, we headed to the Abba Museum. Andy was the one who really wanted to go, but I have to admit, it was great fun and I was singing all the way round. It's quite new, so very modern and interactive. I'd recommend a visit. Love these outfits - very modern. But so tiny!

We did a lot of walking, so decided we needed a reward on the way back. Pistachio and saffron honey for the lady.

After chilling back at the crib, we went out for our laster dinner in the city, and we wanted some traditional Swedish fare. Sadly, as is the case in most of the city, reindeer was £30 for a main course, so Andy went for traditional meatballs with lingonberry jam and mashed potatoes instead. Very nice. I had a spicy and hearty fish stew. For starters we shared a variety of herring and potato and sour cream. It was all delicious and simple. And pricey, of course! The restaurant was called Slingerbulten and it was pretty good if you want to keep it simple.


In the morning I went cray with a traditional Swedish breakfast. Hey, fish at breakfast is nothing new to me!

Smoked turkey, boiled egg, beetroot salad and herring three ways - with dill, with tomato and sweet pickled. It was so, so good! I didn't think I'd like the tomato, but it was nice and sweet, not bitter. Nom, nom.

One last walk and cup of tea at 'Under the Chestnut Tree' and then it was time to wave goodbye. Sigh.

Very overpriced but okay pulled park at the airport finished off a pricey but reviving trip. I'll definitely visit again.