Thursday, 31 October 2013

Out of the loop

Hey folks. Well, this week has been a bit of a write-off as that cold just got worse and worse. *Sigh*. This was my view for 90% of Monday:

I ached all over and felt like crap. Tuesday I decided to work from home... still felt the same. Repeated on Wednesday... no better. Gave up and went into the office today as I was going stir crazy and starting to eat everything in the cupboards... Still the same!
I am beyond frustrated. Trying to rest, but missing exercise and healthy eating and just being normal! Bah! Sorry, self-pitying rant over. But, really?! Check my steps for Monday:

It's not all been doom and gloom, though. I've had my birthday slippers from my Aunty to keep me company:

I've dreamt about our round the world trip next year:

And my beautiful Christmas cactus has sprung into life for another season:

There have been some foodie delights, too. On Sunday night I made homemade steak mince burgers and topped them with Wensleydale blue cheese and Eat 17 bacon jam. Hello! Veggie "fries" and homemade guacamole sealed the deal.
On Monday Andy kindly took over kitchen duties and whipped up this Jamie Oliver recipe - cod wrapped in bacon served with cavolo nero and asparagus. Love cavolo nero season! This dinner was salty, tangy and fresh and made me very happy after a long, long day on the sofa.

I'm off to rest (sooooo bored of resting) and try and get ready for the weekend so I can enjoy, among other things, breakfast at Southsea Coffee, seeing my family, shopping in Space NK, a Chinese birthday buffet and general being me again. Wish me luck!

Sunday, 27 October 2013

The best hot chocolate in Southsea and other adventures

Hello there! It's been a busy week here, so I've not really had a chance to check in before today. Okay, so that's a slight fib... I did nothing on Wednesday night but was so exhausted after a busy Monday and Tuesday, I just couldn't bring myself to switch on the laptop.

All in all, it's been a pretty great week, despite the fact that I've come down with a cold. I've come over all chronological, so let's go back to Monday... We had some of Andy's friends over for dinner - Jodie and Jacko, who are visiting from Canada, and Martin and Kat, who live in Chichester.

When I knew we'd be catering for six people on a Monday night, I decided I didn't want to be slaving in the kitchen and missing all the fun, so we got an Indian takeaway. Such a good idea - all we needed to do was throw out the boxes and stick the dirty plates in the dishwasher, and I could focus on getting to know Andy's friends. Win win. I had a venison curry, which was nice, and a butternut squash side dish. It was a late night, though - 12am when the light went out. Crazy for me!

Tuesday evening I went to Real Military Fitness, which was good fun. The whole time we were working out we could see lightning flashing in the distance - I love a bit of drama in the weather! I'd made plans to meet my friend Alex at The Garage Lounge for a catch up after and was so lucky to make it there before the heavens opened and torrential rain poured down. It was even coming through the windows! I enjoyed a very tasty smoked chicken, papaya and mango salad while we caught up. The chicken portion was very generous and I lapped up the lovely bread and butter on the side, too. Afterwards I had my official favourite hot chocolate with soy milk. They do the best hot chocolate I've found in town.

Here's a lunch snapshot from Wednesday - sardines packed in chilli oil with salad. Very tasty, but I still found myself picking at office treats for the rest of the afternoon. Tiredness is my nemesis when it comes to snacking.

Here's a peak at the beautiful trees near work on my lunchtime walk with Rach.

And on my evening walk I literally bumped into our neighbourhood fox as I walked round a corner. He skitted away and hid behind these bushes. We've seen him hanging out quite a bit. It was still light when I saw him.

As I said, come Wednesday night I was worn out, and I let Andy look after me. This included making this maple sweet potato hash from an Iowa Girl Eats recipe I've been saving. With some spinach on the side it was a perfect midweek meal. Very, very good.

After dinner we settled down to watch the final of The Great British Bake Off that we had recorded from the night before. Because of the crazy weather, it hadn't recorded the whole show and it actually cut out just before they revealed the winner! To be honest, I'd been more interested in eating this carrot cake we'd bought to watch along with, and was falling asleep. Not the best finale, and not very good wedding cake efforts, but an excuse to eat cake on a Wednesday!

Thursday evening only two of us turned up at Real Military Fitness - there's a ten mile race on today (Sunday) so we figured people were saving themselves. Well, we had a great session and I worked much harder knowing all eyes were on me. Real push ups!
Friday morning dawned and I finished off the hash with some leftover broccoli. What a breakfast! Sweet and savoury. More please!

We left work early to head to Earls Court in London to see my favourite band, Arctic Monkeys. We grabbed some food from a local pizza place before. It was really good! It was called Pizza @ Home. I had their house special. Thin and crispy with olives, prosciutto and artichoke. I inhaled it. I'd started to feel rough on Friday, with a sore throat, so I also had a rum and coke when we got to the venue... to soothe it....

The Monkeys were amazing and Rach and I went crazy jumping around and singing. But the venue was terrible - I could hardly see a thing the whole time and the crowd were pretty rough and boisterous.

Beer was thrown and we were pushed around, but we made the best of it!

We ended up walking out round the back way. It was really quiet and Rach remarked how funny it would be if we saw the band getting in their cars... Well, we turned a corner and saw the lead singer, Alex Turner, getting in a car! He didn't say hello but we didn't care. We were 15 feet from our idol! What an end to the night!
We got home at 1am and I got to bed closer to 2am after a warm drink and a sit down. Saturday morning I really didn't feel great but ploughed on with the chores and got ready for the carpet cleaner to come. Later on we headed to the shops so I could try and spend some birthday vouchers. I found a new perfume I like, so it was all good. Then we went to Pie and Vinyl where I enjoyed a Lucy Rose tea - half Earl Grey, half black, and Andy had a very nice wild mushroom and aparagus pie.

Now it's Sunday, we gained an hour, and I'm about to go and cheer Andy and my friend Esther on in the Great South Run. Wish them luck!
Diet update
Just a quick one to say I did have a blip this week (erm, half a carrot cake, anyone?!) and ended up having a couple of bingey days in the week. I absolutely know this was down to tiredness but still struggle to know what to do to combat it, other than not getting tired in the first place, which can be hard to avoid. I've tried not to get too discouraged, though. All in all I'm so much happier when I'm not fixating on every morsel and the way I look at it is, if I was still being strict there's a very good chance I would have binged anyway. Baby steps!

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Eye of the storm

We woke up to a crack of thunder and flash of lightning this morning - a bit of drama for 7:20am on a Sunday! But that's about as high octane as this weekend got, and that's fine by me after my birthday shenanigans.

We've both loved having a weekend at home, with no more on the agenda than a rendezvous with our parents to eat cake. A rare treat - the weekend at home and the slab of cake!

It all started with my usual, sacred, Saturday morning promenade along the seafront. The waves were crashing in and tempted me down to the shore, where I looked back and saw this threatening sky. Luckily, it didn't rain on my parade.

Hello, Mr. Birdy!
In the other direction, it was all sunshine and smiles. Got to love the British weather. I was listening to AM, the new Arctic Monkeys album as I crunched along. Particularly loving Fireside at the moment - perfect to listen to looking at a brooding sky. Maybe I do like a bit of drama after all! I'm getting SO excited about seeing them live next week. Eeeeeeeeeee!

It was quite warm and sultry out, and by the time I got back from my walk and trip to the butcher, I was pretty warm. All warmed up for Jillian Michaels' Blast Fat, Boost Metabolism in fact. Approximately one hour later, I was a hot mess! Who says at home workouts are inferior?

A little later on the sun was shining and we strolled to Palmerston Road for some shopping. I bought coconut dark chocolate shards from Coco Chocolatiers and we headed to our favourite beverage stop, Southsea Coffee Co. I love, love, love that this local independent is so busy and getting the custom it deserves. I heart their Japanese iced drip coffee. So, so smooth, you can easily drink it black. But I was in an odd mood, so also had some soy milk with some of it. Luckily they indulged me and gave me two glasses.
Andy enjoyed a butternut squask and coconut sponge of which I had a very tasty smidge, but I was saving myself for my choccy treat later...

A little poke about in John Lewis followed, but I wasn't tempted by anything. The curse of having a voucher to spend, burning a hole in my pocket! I did like this message, though:

After tucking in to a so-so slow cooked lamb curry back home (tried a new recipe, it was fine, but not wow and not worth sharing), I waited a decent amount of time (at least five minutes) before breaking in to my choccies. A delicious treat, and I managed to leave half the bag for round two!

After the storm woke me this morning, I went downstairs in search of comfort in a bowl. And I went for it - the triple nut supreme. Oh yes. Chopped banana, one dessert spoon of porridge oats, two dessert spoons of ground almonds and a splosh of Alpro almond milk. Nuked for two and a half minutes and topped with cinnamon, homemade berry jam and a teaspoon of Meridian almond butter.

After the thunderstorm, the sun came out, and I couldn't resist a blustery seaside walk. Real motive? Storing up a calorie deficit...
Tea and cake at the Tenth Hole were on the schedule you see, and it tastes even better after putting the miles in and a morning of chores. I went for apple and blackberry sponge and rooibos tea. What a combination. Look at those fresh chunks of apple in there. One of your five a day, surely!

It was also a chance to catch up with our parents, which is always a win.
Later my sweet tooth, having been very much awoken, demanded a top up, and I remembered I had these Clearly Scrumptious cranberries from the Flavourly box. A nice hit of sugar to keep me going while I napped on the settee after a hectic day. Sigh. I may also have 'tried' one of Andy's dark chocolate dairy free buttons from Coco.

And now it's time for chicken soup and Homeland. What a wonderful weekend! Like a warm, fleecy blanket of calm.
Diet update
For those of you who've followed my experiments and struggles with finding a sustainable way of eating healthily, feeling good and having the odd indulgence without going on a crazy binge...
I've now gone about three weeks having stepped away from strict Paleo, which was starting to lead me back to my bingeing behaviour. As a safety net, I started eating whatever I fancied, but tracking it using My Fitness Pal (MFP), mainly to reassure myself that I wouldn't start eating way too much given free reign. I've talked about how MFP links with my Fitbit to show how many extra calories I get to eat after exercising - a great motivator! Well, I haven't binged for three weeks and I'm feeling very relaxed about what I eat, and being moderate. In short, I'm feeling good. So good, I'm feeling ready to ditch MFP and, quite literally, go with my gut. Not sure when,  but watch this space.
I'd say I'm still about 80% Paleo, because it just seems to suit me, but easing up on that other 20% has made all the difference and was what I needed to get back to a healthy relationship with food and my body.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Flower power

Hi darlings. I meant to blog again a little sooner, but birthday celebrations at the weekend crashed that, and a good few days afterwards... We're just about over all that now, though, and it's time to stop being a spoilt princess and come back down to earth a week after I turned, officially, mid-30s.

Don't worry though, it's all good in the age department. I'm of the opinion that life is way too short to be phased by getting older. I love my thirties far far more than I ever liked my twenties. Although the after-effects of Saturday night are proof I don't seem to be getting that much wiser... I digress.

Let's take a look at a few things that sum up life around here since I last checked in.

I don't think this needs any explanation. THE perfect Autumn wedding cake? Just beautiful and available to view on my regular seaside walk at Carl Christian Cakes along with an assortment of Halloween themed cakes.
These babies made another appearance on Saturday morning. Make them now people.

Saturday set-up - making lunch and crock pot lamb stew all at once to leave more time for partying later and recovery on Sunday. And to ensure the tummy gets lined!

This lamb was divine. Browned it off before chucking in the slow cooker to make this recipe.

Back in the office this week, it was my duty as birthday girl to provide treats. Enter retro chocolate bars and Haribo, artfully arranged by a colleague.

Three of my favourite condiments this week:
  1. Homemade tomato and chilli chutney given to me by a friend. I've been having this with raw carrot as an after work snack. It's nearly run out!
  2. Homemade berry jam from the same wonderful friend - amazing! Been having it with my porridge and sweet potato pancakes and Andy enjoyed it with nuts and yoghurt.
  3. Bacon Jam by Eat 17 - erm, no explanation necessary surely? Tried it lastnight and we were both blown away.
The Bacon Jam was part of a Flavourly box I ordered. They usually cost £15 a month for a box but a colleague gave me a voucher so I could try one for £5. Worth every penny, and I would gladly spend £15 on the monthly scheme if we weren't saving every penny at the moment.
The idea is they send you a selection of gourmet treats from small companies that you might not otherwise get an opportunity to try. We loved it. Our box included popcorn, a Thai meal kit which we enjoyed tonight, the Bacon Jam, salad dressing and lots more - nine items in total, all in interesting flavours and all very much to our taste. Give it a go if it's your bag. You can cancel any time, but I bet you won't!

After all that experimentation, an old favourite appeared this morning. Vegetable frittata was what the doctor ordered for my cold which has started up this week. Veggies for breakfast surely have to mean health is on it's way?
My new pet (cushion)! A birthday treat that I just adore and will be my surrogate until I become a real adult and get a real dog.
And look at this! Possibly the fanciest lunch bag ever by Joules? Another lovely present. I am so, so spoiled.

And this bedding just makes me want to dive in and never leave. My brother gave me a Cath Kidston voucher for my birthday and I'd been coveting some pretty floral bedlinen for, like, millennia. £80 reduced to £50 at their outlet store. It makes me all warm and fuzzy inside...
Now it's time to get chilly outside. A quick walk before I snuggle down for the night and Andy goes off to a gig. I was meant to go too, but just don't feel up to it with my cold. Bah!
Happy Wednesday!
What new foods have you discovered lately?

Friday, 11 October 2013

The next chapter

I'm back! It's been about a month and I'm feeling refreshed after a week off of work and some time off from the blog.

Autumn is getting into full swing here in the sunny South of England. I've had a bit of a sort out in the house and I feel ready to face the new season, a year older. Yes, it was my birthday on Wednesday, which was lovely, and I've still got a celebration to look forward to tomorrow night. A good week and a good time to get back to blogging I feel.

I've decided to focus less on each meal from now on, and instead have a bit more 'lifestyle' stuff, so, what I've been up to, the house etc. I'd also like to talk more about stuff going on in my local area - there are so many great cafes and restaurants I'd like to tell you about. And, I'm going to be getting in to some serious planning and saving for a trip around the world next year with Andy... More about that to come.

For now, I thought I'd do a little round up of what I've been up to and loving lately. I'll aim to post two or three times a week from now on. Once at the weekend and a couple of times in the week - probably Wednesdays... It's good to be back and I hope you think so too!

Loving lately

The roses in Southsea Rose Garden having their late bloom. Simply stunning in the Autumn sunshine this morning.

A week off of work! I've done a lot of walking and pottering about and generally chilling out. Even the butcher remarked that I looked refreshed this morning! Here's a very yummy soya hot chocolate I enjoyed in The Garage Lounge in Albert Road yesterday while out and about, busy doing nothing. Love it!

Still obsessed with this little marvel, my Fitbit. I did a personal record of 38,000 steps yesterday. That's about 16 miles! A couple of walks around town followed by Real Military Fitness made it happen by accident. I've set the bar high for myself now! Gulp. I also love the fact that I can link my Fitbit to My Fitness Pal and it tells me how many extra calories I have to spend on cake. Winner.

Mixing up my breakfasts, and food in general. Yes, I still love my frittatas, and I still eat mainly Paleo and Whole 30-style. However, I found being too strict with it was leading me back to my old binge behaviour, and that's no good. So, I've loosened up and reintroduced some old favourites, particularly at breakfast. Hello porridge with banana, homemade jam and nut butter. I missed you! This morning I served it in the sunflower seed butter jar so I could get every last scrap out of that baby. No judgement!
And these? Well, gosh darn it, these are just DIVINE. Sweet potato pancakes enjoyed before work one morning. My car sharer couldn't believe I make ish like this on a busy weekday morning, but this stuff is a priority for me! Want to try it? Zip over the the recipe page, which I'll be adding more to.
Spending time with old friends. No explanation necessary. And if we're dressed as cowboys? Well, even better!

Animal print clothing and accessories. If loving duck print is wrong, I don't wanna be right. A birthday gift that will keep on giving. I got so many wonderful presents. I'm a very lucky and spoiled girl.
That's all for now, but much more to come very soon. Leave a comment and say hello, I'd love to hear from you!