Unpopular opinions and things I’m loving lately

Well this is really a random post! It’s a mix of things I’m loving at the moment and some unpopular opinions.

The unpopular opinions idea came from a post from Hungry Runner Girl and I thought it would be a fun post to do as well. I’ll throw my hands up and say it’s mainly food related but that should hardly surprise you 😉

  • I really don’t get Nutella. Yep starting with a big one. I mean, I like chocolate and I like hazelnuts. But together? As a weird thick paste you put on bread and crepes? Nope. Doesn’t do anything for me.
  • I also don’t get the craze for peanut butter (or any nut butters really). It could be because I don’t often have bread or toast. But I don’t see the appeal even on it’s own. It’s alright but I wouldn’t go out of my way to find any or eat it. I quite like a peanut butter chocolate flavour combo with cookies and ice cream but as a fun change rather than something I’d crave.
  • Toppings on porridge. In fact, I could say a whole lot about porridge and what people do to it. Cold overnight oats? Nope, no, nooo. The most exciting I do is putting protein powder in it.

  • Not one for the veggies… I really like eating my chicken with the skin on, and in general I’m a big fan of meat on the bone. I think it’s because I’m a mini T-Rex.

  • And one non-food related one. I’d rather get up at 5am to workout in the gym than do it in the evening. I can be motivated to run whenever, but going to the gym? Nope.

And onto things I’m loving lately…

This is fairly random but it made me laugh. Have you ever wondered what animal you’d be if you were to be one? On my two holidays I was called two different animals. The first was a hyena. This goes back to the eating meat from the bone (see above).I’m pretty good at getting as much meat as I can off it. It’s a well-honed skill. I like to think that back in the day (you know, a few million years ago) I’d have survived for a good amount of time as a neanderthal with that kind of ability.

In Tokyo I then got called a squirrel. This is because I have a fear of food running out and so to combat this I constantly carry snacks round with me. On the flight I had three different packets of crisps, two apples, a mini bag of pretzels and some turkey jerky. I didn’t eat them all but I felt happier knowing they were there.

This doughnut. Now I’m not a huge doughnut fan. I’m more of a cake-lover. However when I was in Southampton West Quay shopping centre I saw a “make your own doughnut” stand. Basically you could choose your own toppings…as many as you liked! For £1.50! I walked over to have a look – just a LOOK – and found myself with my purse in my hands perusing the menu before I knew what I was doing.I got a white chocolate covered doughnut with caramel sauce and caramel shrapnel.Caramel shrapnel? What a wonderful way to describe little droplets of sugary heaven. I won’t lie. I got it all over me in the middle of the busy shopping centre and I did not care.

Odd but tasty gels. My lovely friend, Mat (AKA triathlon legend) sent me some gels a while ago and I was FINALLY able to try them out during the marathon. Well, one of them anyway! Maple Bacon flavoured GU. Yes really.I have quite a strong stomach and have never had an issue with gels before so I was confident to just try it for the first time during the race (I live life on the edge…). It was really good. I love the flavour of maple bacon anyway (Kettlebites I’m looking at you) so this wasn’t too weird for me. Sweet and salty yumminess! (FYI: I believe he bought them from Amazon).

Tokyo goodies: When I finished the Tokyo Marathon (I’ll stop talking about this one day), we were first given a towel as we walked from the finish line. I was like “oh cool…but we still get a medal, right??” Thankfully we did, but getting a towel as well was pretty cool.I’ve only ever received a mini gym towel (and that was in place of a medal) but this is pretty damn good. Get me to a swimming pool/beach/plumbing disaster immediately!

I also got a technical t-shirt which (hallelujah!) actually fits.As I’m a fairly micro person I always opt for extra-small if it’s available as an option and this fits like a glove. I suppose it helps that Japanese women in general are quite small.

ASICS running gear from Millet Sports: Millet Sports kindly sent me a pair of ASICS leggings and ASICS running jacket to review.Firstly, apologies for the most ridiculously cheesy pose in this picture. Catalogue pose eat your heart out.

The jacket is brilliant. It’s quite thick, so perfect for when it’s really cold outside (like those ridiculously cold mornings or evenings we’ve been having). It has the fabulous thumb holes as well as a couple of nice pockets. It’s waterproof, breathable and has reflective dots over it so great for visibility when running in the dark. I just love the colour as well.It matches my new trainers!

The leggings are full length made from a breatheable stretch material, with a short zip at the ankles to give a bit of ventilation (I personally wouldn’t when running as it would flap, but I imagine after a run it’s lovely to have a bit of air). There’s a drawstring around the waist so there’s no worries about them slipping down mid-run as well. Though they’re not baggy they are less tight than other leggings I have, like ones from Fabletics or Lululemon which literally suck you all in. This makes running in them a lot more comfortable.

There’s also a back pocket slightly to the side which I like as sometimes a back pocket can annoy me with the zip, whereas slightly to one side is a bit more comfortable.

A great winter running outfit. Check out Millet Sports for more running gear!

What would be your ideal doughnut topping?

What animal would you be and why?

What’s your unpopular opinion?

**Full Disclaimer: I was sent the leggings and jacket for free in return for a review. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

Rants and Raves #35

One more cheeky Rants and Raves before Christmas? Go on then… Though I do have some choice rants, in general I’m very happy at the moment. Life seems to be going quite well, if I do say so myself 🙂

Rant: Idiots who can’t park. Ahh parking and car-related moans. They really do bring out the best in us, right? I have to say, I don’t swear that much being the polite young lady I am (hi, mum!), but get me into a car on my own and some choice words can be known to fly out of my mouth during my commute when people don’t seem to know how to drive. And likewise, when people don’t seem to know how to park. Case in point in the village where my parent’s live.

I just don’t understand how anyone can walk away from a parking like that? Bizarre. That didn’t necessarily annoy me more than baffle me. What did annoy me was after going to the gym one morning and driving back into the enclosed shared parking area I noticed some knob idiot had decided to park two cars rather than one. We only have one allocated car parking space per flat and have our own designated space with our number on it. The way this person had parked – diagonally behind their first car (not a legitimate space) – meant I couldn’t get into my space.

It really annoyed me. How selfish. Before I calmed down and thought a bit more rationally I was about to do one of two things: start beeping my horn until they came out, but thought best not as it was before 7am, or park behind them and block both their cars in. But that seemed childish and I didn’t want to get keyed.

So I did the next best thing. I wrote a passive aggressive note which I slapped on their windscreen. How very British of me.It made me feel a lot better I must say. There have been no more stupid parking. My work here is done.

Rave: I’ve been mixing things up on the porridge front (crazy, I know ;-)) by continuing to add protein powder to it. Protein is always important for me as I find it fills me up a lot more than just carbs and in general my porridge was a lot higher in the carb to protein ration. So I add about 15g of protein powder to my normal amount of oats and almond milk and it feels a lot more filling.

My current protein powder set-up that I’m loving is about half and half of a flavoured powder with an unflavoured as I don’t really like my porridge overly sweet. I have the PEScience Select Frosted Cupcake and the MuscleFood unflavoured whey. I definitely need the unflavoured variety to tone down the PEScience one as otherwise it’s incredibly sweet (but FYI great for protein pancakes). I’m loving my breakfast even more now – and you know how much I love my porridge if you’re a long-time reader! (No affiliation with either product, I just like them).

Rave: I pay the monthly fee for Audible which gives me one book a month for “free” (if you count paying £8 a month free…) and recently I’ve listened to some really good ones.

The Girl With All The Gifts  – M. R. Carey

I love an “end of the world” style story and this had me gripped. It slowly draws you in and you’re constantly wondering what’s going on, but in a good way not in a Lost series kind of way (i.e. here’s a polar bear in Series One that we’ll do vague some hand-waving explanation about in Series 8). And I loved how unpredictable (at least to me) the ending was.

Scrappy Little Nobody – Anna Kendrick

It’s always great getting an autobiography on audible as they’re usually read by the author, so you can really feel a connection with what they’re saying. I saw some good reviews from this book and while I didn’t know a huge amount about Anna Kendrick I’ve quite enjoyed some of her films and thought, “eh why not”. Initially I thought I was going to hate it as she has quite the nasal American accent (no offence to any Americans reading this, I’m almost certain my stupid posh British accent would annoy the hell out of you guys!) and she had one of those “I was unattractive and was never popular” kind of backstories which you struggle to believe because, well, she’s Anna Kendrick. HOWEVER, within a few chapters I was laughing out-loud and fully wanting her to be my best friend. She’s got a great self-deprecating and dry sense of humour it’s really difficult to not like her (damn it). It’s also got some great “behind the scenes” stories from her different films and some realities of trying to break it in Hollywood.

Rave: I was given some flowers and chocolates at work for doing well this month and it really made my day. I obviously don’t talk much about work on my blog but I’m really enjoying work-life at the moment and seem to be doing a good job, which can’t be a bad thing 😉 Those chocolates didn’t last long. I might have consumed a good number on the way home after the Christmas party.

Rave: It’s taken me a year to realise I haven’t been receiving my RunnersWorld magazine subscription every month. And I’m still paying for it! So I emailed them and they changed my address and gave me last three months, which is good of them considering it was my stupid mistake for not telling them.So I have some good stuff to read over the holidays 😉

Rave: Proud daughter alert. Both my parents are doing incredibly well at Slimming World.

My dad has lost almost 2.5 stone now (the above picture was for when he’d reached two stone – so 20% of his body weight). He seems to be steadily losing between 1-3 lbs a week. Obviously this will slow down the more and more he loses, but he’s doing it in a very measured and sensible approach. He still has treats and meals out, but he plans them in now and makes sure to eat healthily around those days. Though I feel incredibly uncomfortable when my parents talk about “Body Magic” when they’re referring to exercise…Slimming World has some weird terminology.

How Christmassy are you feeling?

Are you a good parker?

Do you have any good books to recommend?

Good things making me happy

Apart from the dark mornings and evenings, the cold and rain, things are quite happy in my neck of the woods! It’s always nice to take stock of a few things that are making me a happy Anna.

The ‘C’ word: What is this madness? Christmas stuff already out in supermarkets. This photo was actually take two or three weeks ago as well.img_4888Christmas cakes, mince pies, stollen… yep. It’s October. That said, I love all things Christmas, especially food-related items) so I’m happy with this state of affairs. More mince pies in my life can only be a good thing.

Tesco encouraging kids to eat more fruit: They’re offering a free piece of fruit to children coming into the supermarket. img_3917So they can chomp on something healthy as they walk round with their parents. What a great idea! Nice one, Tesco. We’ll let you off for your Christmas products 😉

New shoes: I bought some new shoes. They were really cheap as they’re of an older seasons but I really needed a pair of simple comfy shoes I could easily slip into and wear for quick errands or walking Alfie. img_5954I tend to have a lot of trainers, pumps, boots and then my gym shoes (Vans & Converses – ideal because they have flat soles for squatting and deadlifting which help me be more “in tune” with the ground and lifting) but nothing that I’d be happy to get a bit mucky. I had a previous pair of Skechers and I wore them to the ground. These were only £25 which I thought was a steal.

Unusual gel flavours: A lovely friend of mine (a triathlon legend it must be said – his training cycles make mine look very amateur indeed) sent me some gels as a good luck present for my marathon (though with strict instruction NOT to use them during the marathon if I hadn’t tried them first).img_5972Maple Bacon flavoured gels!! I know some (many?) of you will be thinking “that’s so gross” but I’m genuinely looking forward to trying them out. I quite like the GU gels (I still remember that salted caramel one I had once…so good. And the lemon flavoured one that tasted like a zesty pudding) so I expect good things 😉

Protein Porridge: I got a packet of this Mornflake Go! High Portein Porridge in my goodie bag from the Chester Marathon. Normally I will never use porridge packets because they always contain some form of sugar or flavouring and I can’t stand sweet porridge. For me the only sweetness I like is from the milk, so it’s very subtle.fullsizerenderBut this was different. It’s a pack of oats containing soya protein isolate and (other than a stabiliser) that’s it. No sugar, no fruit, no seeds…just oats and protein. One packet though wouldn’t be enough for me for breakfast as it was around 130 calories. So I used two with almond milk and it tasted almost identical to my normal porridge.img_5953Basically the same texture and it was really filling. I’m still regularly having scrambled eggs (with cheese, kale and olives – love it) for breakfast but I miss my porridge. The reason I swapped was because the porridge was quite low in protein but this is a great compromise. Though it is more expensive, so I’m looking into getting some unflavoured protein powder and playing around with that.

Woofins: These are adorable…even if I was disappointed when I first saw them as I thought “oooh cake” and then realised they’re actually for dogs.img_5987

Alfie isn’t a huge treat lover or chewer. For example, if I give him a dentist stick to chew on he puts it in his mouth then wanders around whimpering until I take it off him and cut it into four pieces for him (what a princess…). Although he will easily eat them normally when he’s around my parent’s dogs – but I think this is due to the fear that if he doesn’t they’ll eat it for him. Anyway, I digress, he wolfed down this mini cake – he loved it!

New car: OK it’s pretty much identical to my old car, just new.img_5968I love the Fiat 500 and wanted to stay with them. Unfortunately I did want a different colour (I quite like the mint) but they didn’t have it in stock for when I wanted it so I had red again. As someone who is rubbish with adulting, having a brand new car with no MOT or service to worry about for a while is a huge weight off my mind (especially as I was late with my last service by about 10,000 miles as I got confused <– story of my life).

But things making me nervous: A 10k obstacle course race (Chepstow Stampede) with my friends, Kate and Jamie, that’s happening Saturday. I did that obstacle course in Spain but I don’t think it can quite compare to a muddy obstacle course race in Britain during a rather wet autumn. I’m stressing a bit with what to wear as I don’t really have anything I’d happy to never see again if it got ruined… and I’m scared about being really cold and wet. But other than that, it should be a laugh. We’ll see…

Have you ever done an obstacle course race?

What kind of car do you have?

What non-workout shoes do you normally wear?

Windy running and feeling content

I can’t begin to tell you how much I love my little home. I’ve gone from being all blasé about weekends and evenings to being really excited. There is so much to be done, organised, bought, arranged… I can’t wait!

To roll back to the weekend gone, I was shattered after moving in on Friday but I really struggled to sleep. I’m a very light sleeper (to the point I have to wear an eye mask at night) and any unusual noises will keep me awake or wake me up. It was just a whole different environment than I was used to and it took me so long to sleep, and then I woke up for AN HOUR in the middle of the night.

It didn’t help that I was ridiculously hungry either (as I missed lunch the day before and my body was only too happy to remind me. Apparently cake doesn’t quite work as a compensation for me in terms of satiety). The next morning the first thing I did was have breakfast. This is really abnormal for me as I can go a fair few hours without anything in the morning before I’m ready for food.IMG_6466

I would say I treated myself to breakfast in bed but seen as how I have no table or chairs this is how I’m eating all my meals right now

I would have given parkrun a miss on Saturday if I hadn’t have had the cones and the keys for the storage cupboard and gates… This meant I had to go in order for parkrun to go ahead. It was ridiculously windy and I was tired. I wasn’t looking forward to it. But it was the 200th Netley Abbey parkrun and it was a onesie and pyjama themed event so I’m glad I went in the end.IMG_6468

It was actually easier to find PJs to run in than actual running gear in my box-filled flat

I found the run easier than last week. I was slower but the effort was less and with that RIDICULOUS wind I was happy to get 24:58.

Capture

 

 

 

 

I don’t think I can expect a huge amount of improvement on this winter course as it’s fairly gruelling with two hills you do three times. I hope to get close to 23-22 minutes as the weeks (or months!) go by.

PJ parkrunAfter a lovely little hot drink and a moving-in celebratory bit of a freshly baked cheese scone bought by one of my parkrun friends, I headed home to test out my shower for the first time. Shower quality is SO important to me because if they’re just a dribble then I’m looking at a future of bad hair washing experiences as my hair is so long. Thank God it’s really strong (stronger than my previous one!!) and SUPER hot. This is like the perfect combo for me with my asbestos skin.

My parents came over soon after and we headed to the Mecca of furniture that is IKEA.IMG_6472My mum had never been before (my mum, by the way, is the biggest snob known to man so I was interested to see what she thought). She LOVED it. It’s funny because they really only came to assist me but left with their own trolley stacked high. I defy anyone to leave IKEA without buying anything.

I had already done a bit of research beforehand to know what I wanted so I was quite focused, but I too found so many extras that ended up coming home with me.

IKEA salad bowl This giant bowl will fit my salads perfectly… I’m not joking

By the time we got home and got my chest of drawers up the stairs, unpacked and then semi-built it was almost 8pm (this was one of four items to build). I had missed lunch once again and was about to eat the cardboard it came in. My dad said they’d return the next day, bless him, to help build the other items.IMG_6480

I slept a bit better that evening (after a good dinner and another slice of cake from the freezer – this time a chunk of rocky road) but still struggled with noises. It’s not that my flat is noisy, I’m just very sensitive. Previously my bedroom had been looking out onto a school field, whereas now there are noises from surrounding buildings and occasionally bumps from the other flats around me.

Sunday morning I got up and did my first run from my new home. I’d planned to do six miles but as I got outside it was ridiculously windy and I was finding it really tough. So changed to five miles. Only to get my route wrong and do seven.

7 miles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jesus, it was tough. I almost gave up at six miles to walk back but realised it would take ages and my parents were coming over mid-morning. I stopped at seven miles and had a short walk back to my flat. How lovely to have this scenery so close to my home! This will be where I’ll be walking Alfie 🙂IMG_6484

I just hope he doesn’t jump in the pond!

The rest of the day was flat-pack hell. My dad and me got a great routine going. He’d show me how to do something (like build a drawer) and I’d just get on until he showed me something else.IMG_6488

I’m not a picture person when it comes to instructions so I was lost with working it out myself. I need demonstrations! This was apparent when my dad left me to build a bedside table while he sorted electronic stuff out and I buggered it up. Seriously. ONE THING.

My flat is still a work in progress, as you can imagine, but it’s getting there. I have so many ideas for it and I’m looking forward to buying all the little things to decorate it and make it into a proper home. I might take some photos and share them on my blog when it’s a bit more organised if you’re interested. My flat is tiny, but it’s all mine and it’s becoming home 🙂

Do you like IKEA?

For instructions do you prefer words, pictures or demonstrations?

How soon do you need breakfast after you wake up? At the weekend breakfast can be anything from 9am to 11am depending on what I’m doing.

Things lately

Things are plodding along quite nicely round here. Though I’d hate to look back at my life and think of it as a “plod”. Rather that though than a sprint I suppose!

I guess you could call this an ‘odds and ends’ post of stuff that’s been happening lately:

  • Ben making carrot cake

This is big, big news people. For so long Ben has been promising to bake for me. But these promises have never materialised to actual calorific-dense baked goods (despite me buying him ingredients and everything). I’m the one who cooks, he’s the one that apparently bakes.

Last week he had the week off as he was starting a new job so he had no excuse. Being a typical man, he left it to mid-afternoon Friday to begin his task. I got regular text updates as to the progress of the cake…

Carrot cake process Apart from a minor zest grating related injury (and a lovely photo of it sent my way – in case I wasn’t fully aware of the sheer hard work he was putting in), it all seemed to be going swimmingly.

That is until I got a bit of an urgent phone call: “Anna, I forgot to add the carrot in before I put it in the oven. What do I do??”.

He even sent me a selfie to adequately express how he felt.

IMG_7207

Luckily he was able to get the cakes (there were two) out of the oven asap and stir in the hastily grated carrot (no further grating related injuries here thank goodness). Whew. Rectified. But amusing nonetheless 😉

Ben's carrot cake Ta da! How good do they look? As the loaf tin was a little small for the batter, he made a mini round cake as well…with a better cake to icing ratio if you ask me 😉 It tasted divine and it was all I could do to not consume the entire two cakes in one sitting. And yes, there was carrot in it 😉

  • New mattress

Ben’s above selfie could also adequately describe the feelings we felt when our lovely new mattress was delivered the other day.

IMG_7181“Pants” would be one word to describe this situation. There are others I could use. Thankfully we can swap it (and pay the extra) for the correct mattress size. Not sure how we got this so wrong really…I don’t know how we both survive in this big wide world pretending to be adults.

  • Trips to London

Getting up at stupid o’clock to get the train to London for a meeting is no fun. Especially when it means eating my porridge in the car while my dad drives us to the station.

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Lots of things in my life change and new habits form, but eating porridge for breakfast will never change.

And I’m sorry all you lovely Londoners but I detest going there. It’s stressful, busy, crowded…and dirty. Yes I realise most cities (and places in general) are dirty. But I freak out.

IMG_7042 Essential requirement for me!

And just randomly, a mini escalator. For all those lonely people who have no friends to stand with…

IMG_7044 Room for one only

Or people who are so so busy they need to use the mini escalator to hurry up them quickly, by-passing the more normal sized busier escalator (I found this out as I was dallying around taking photos of said escalator while a man tried to hurry past…).

  • Birthday trip to Chichester 

IMG_7190On Sunday Ben and me went out to Chichester to go shopping for a belated birthday trip. Rant alert: I got a little bit angry in one of my favourite shops (Oasis) when I realised they didn’t stock my size is anything I liked (bar one dress). It’s not an obscure size either – a normal size eight. The lady in the shop just shrugged and went “yeah I know” and after a long pause “look online”. Gargh!! I like trying stuff on and I’m there willing to buy stuff NOW. I understand that they can’t stock masses of every size but they had about three size 20s in everything. Your loss, Oasis, was FatFace and New Looks’ gain.

We stopped at one of my favourite restaurants for lunch as well: Trents.

Trents Chichester birthday meal

We had a sharing platter (hummus, sundried tomato dip, beetroot dip, stuffed peppers) to start, followed by a Caesar salad for me (of course) and a club sandwich and curly fries for Ben, followed by crème Brule for Ben and chocolate brownie for me.

I had run 10 miles in the morning and I was FAMISHED. Sadly my salad didn’t quite cut it. I enjoyed it but it wasn’t one of the best I’ve tried (no croutons and no anchovies). Ben was struggling so I helped him out with eating some of his sandwich filling (bacon and chicken) and his fries. Win.

26th birthday meal That pudding. Oh wow. It could have done with vanilla ice cream to balance it rather than hazelnut ice cream but it was pretty damn amazing. Afterwards I was like “pft, that was easy. Three courses done and dusted.” After leaving the restaurant for a shopping continuation the fullness hit me like a ton of bricks (literally in my stomach). I couldn’t bare to even look at people eating or drinking. I couldn’t eat anything else for the rest of the day and required an hour long nap when I got home. Whew. Pretty good day I’d say!

  • Alfie

Kids (and adults) all over the globe are obsessed with Frozen.

IMG_6619 Apparently so is our dog, Alfie. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is what he does all day when we’re at work. He just wants to build a snowman…

Do you prefer online shopping or going into the actual shop? I like to try things on because invariably things that I think will look nice look awful. And it’s the whole faff of sending stuff back that really annoys me with online shopping. But it annoys me when a shop is seriously under-stocked in my size for pretty much everything.

Ever ordered a large purchase that turns out to be very wrong?

What’s your worst baking disaster? I could write a book for mine so it was nice that Ben, ‘Mr Baking Pro’ got something wrong 😉