Busy, busy!

Hi all! Well today Ben and me were off and won’t be back to work until Tuesday. Wheeee long weekend! Today was anything but relaxing though. We had a million things to do before we dash of to Bruges tomorrow for my work Christmas do. And, OK, we might have gone to see The Hobbit too…important things needed to be done obviously! [The Hobbit was amazing. I am a huge Lord of the Rings fan and was pleased how true it remained to the other films].

Anywho, before I go into my busy day… two lovely ladies nominated me for the Liebster award. Thank you Sandy (a great vegan blogger) and Elle (causes me to have massive food envy whenever I look at the amazing baking she does every week). liebster-blog-award

I know this is quite a late post for this as this was going a while ago..so here’s my 11 random facts about myself!

1) I eat at least four apples every day. Always chopped.

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2) I have a secret love for movie music…I’m not talking about soundtrack songs, I’m talking actual original scores. Some of my favourites being Atonement, Jurassic Park, The Village, and Memoirs of a Geisha…. My favourite composers: John Williams, James Newton Howard, Hans Zimmer, Thomas Newman, James Horner… I am a film geek. And I am proud! I am a big believer that the music helps make the film.

3) I’m am always reading a book – I can’t remember a time when I’ve never not been reading something. I like to read with my breakfast – it’s my calming morning ritual.

4) When I’m alone in a public toilet and there’s music on I like to have a quick boogie while I’m washing my hands. I haven’t been caught in the act yet but I guess it’s only time…

5) Sometimes when I’m bored I daydream about end of the world scenarios. Not in a depressing way but in a ‘what would I do’ way. Like zombies attacking. What would be your first action? I’d get the family together (in my scenario we’d all be OK) and then head to the local supermarket and fill the car with tinned goods, then head to the docks, grab a boat and sail out – zombies can’t swim (or in my scenario they can’t)! These are important things to prepare yourself for.

6) I pluck my eyebrows every single night. It’s my night-time ritual.

7) I hate pasta. And not because of some faddy health reason. I hate the texture and I hate the taste. So you won’t find any pasta recipes here I’m afraid.

8) I will always wake up at least once in the night to pee. Apologies if this is TMI. I know this isn’t healthy, but I tend to have a hot chocolate before bed most nights…and well, you know.

9) I cry very easily. If Ben just mentions the Time Traveller’s Wife to me I will cry.

10) Mars Attacks caused me several months of trouble sleeping when I was younger. It scared the hell out of me.

11) If I could choose a superpower I’d be invisible. I’m so nosey, I’d love to know what celebs get up to away from the cameras!

Sooo, today. This morning I got up early and made some vegan cookies in my pyjamas. I have never made anything vegan in my life before so this was quite a challenge to a) find a recipe and that didn’t involve crazy ingredients which I didn’t have and b) to actually make them! They’re for the cookie exchange Tamzin is hosting and my partner (Sarah) is vegan. It was fun though!

Then I got dressed…

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And then Ben and I dashed off to Southampton to take back my first unsuccessful outfit for the Christmas do. We had originally bought it from John Lewis using vouchers. When we returned it we assumed we’d just get store credit – but they gave us cash back!! Hurrah! Almost like free money. Sort of.

We also picked up Ben’s suit (proper penguin suit for the Christmas meal Saturday night). Then we had a quick early lunch. Originally we were going to have Nando’s but they weren’t serving until 11.30 and The Hobbit began at just after 12 so it was pushing it too close. So we settled for Cafe Giardino instead.

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A chicken, bacon, spinach and basil ciabatta. Very filling. Then we dashed off to the cinema and watched The Hobbit sharing a large popcorn. I’m sorry but how expensive is popcorn at the cinema??!!! A nice treat regardless.

Three hours later we then zoomed home to post the cookies before the post office closes and then drop Alfie off at his dog-sitters while we’re away. He’s being looked after by a lovely old lady who’ll take great care of him…but it still hurt my soul to say goodbye to him. Those big furry eyes looking at me all accusingly…

Then Ben dashed off to get his hair cut while I packed. Then made dinner.IMG_3127

BBQ ribs from the freezer, roasted veg and salad that needed using up. Basically a ‘I don’t have any food and am going away the next day’ kinda meal. I love ribs though so this was a winner.

And now we’re chilling. Whew.

Oh was anyone else stupidly excited about yesterday’s date??

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And…when I went out for lunch…

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I love it when this happens! It is extremely likely that this won’t happen again in my lifetime.

And because I miss him…

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I won’t see Alfie until Sunday night so I gave him lots of cuddles last night before he went to sleep.

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So tomorrow is a very early start. The taxi is picking us up at 6.20am and then catch a train to London and then the Eurostar to Brussels. I’m so excited about the Christmas do and looking around the Christmas markets!

Have a great rest of the week and weekend and I will write a catch up as soon as I get back Smile

Are you going to see The Hobbit? Are you a big fan?

Do you have a Christmas party soon?

Have you been to Bruges?

Merry Christmas??

Brrrrr it is cold! Though it’s actually quite nice in a weird way. To be snuggled up inside nice and warm and for it to be chilly outside. Though getting out of bed in the morning is not fun – nor is taking Alfie out for a walk first thing. Winter coat: check, Uggs: check, gloves: check. Result = a happy Alfie but a cold Anna.

And Christmas seems to have suddenly appeared out of nowhere. One minute we’re all vigorously carving our pumpkins and admiring the autumnal colours of the trees when suddenly, boom! hello tinsel, hello Christmas adverts on the telly! Now don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas so as far as I’m concerned this is brilliant. HOWEVER, I have now been thrown into a state of stress. When am I going to bake our Christmas cake? When will I have time to go shopping? What do my friends and family even want??

And breathe. Anna, it’s the beginning of November. But I am getting excited. I love Christmas. I love the food (who doesn’t?), I love how everyone is just more merry than normal, I love the Christmas decorations, the time with the family…the never ending boxes of Celebration chocolates (I don’t love that Supermarkets seem to think that they’ve put them on offer at the moment…erm, weren’t they always that expensive??) It’s without doubt my favourite time of year. So the sooner the better! Smile

As usual as it’s Wednesday it’s WIAW. A big thanks to Jenn for hosting this as usual. I’ll show you a selection of different meals from the week as my best eats were spread rather than an individual day if that’s alright!

 

Breakfast: OK, OK you’ve seen pancakes a fair few times now if you’ve been reading my blog for some time…before you fall asleep, I did try a new topping to jazz things up a bit (and use some of the mass of fruit I have sitting in our freezer…)

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As it was too difficult for me to work out how to defrost my pumpkin purée from the freezer (yep I’m that person) I decided just to stick with the standard recipe I use (find it HERE). The topping I decided to just have fun with.

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I thawed some frozen blackberries, then sprinkled them with quite a generous amount of cinnamon and a few drops of Stevia. Then I zapped it in the microwave for maybe a minute. Basically so the fruit turns a bit mushy and is warm. Then I poured it over the pancakes. Bliss!

Lunch: During the week I always take food with me to save on costs. I used to have chilli using Quorn mince but I’ve gone off that mince a bit now and much prefer using mixed beans.

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[Apologies for seriously bad photo]

I used a yellow bell pepper, onion, courgette, mushrooms, chopped tomatoes and mixed beans (like butterbeans, kidney beans, chickpeas, etc.). I also added chilli powder, paprika, cumin, a little bit of sugar and some mixed herbs. To spruce it up I added a large tablespoon of Philadelphia cheese. This made it so creamy and delicious – definitely adding this again! Along with this for lunch I have two Baby Bells and an apple. Maybe not the prettiest lunch, but it works for me!

I’ve set myself a little target for November to make a new recipe every week as I was finding myself in a bit of a food rut. You know what’s it like…getting in from work, being tired, you don’t want to whizz up some all singing and dancing dinner. But I’m pushing myself to try – at least on Friday and Saturday nights! So far this is going really well. I made coq au vin the other day and that was deeeelicious. But I also made another meal this week as well. And I probably say this about everything I cook I cook but it was such a good meal! Filling and sneakily nutritious.

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I used THIS recipe. Basically it’s chicken coated in a ground almond coating and then baked in the oven. Crunchy and spicy!

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And alongside that I cooked some cauliflower and then mashed it with some mozzarella cheese (well I blended it with a hand-blender).

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I LOVED this. Seriously easy and a good alternative to mash potato if you fancy a lighter dinner. With all the ground almonds and chicken, this was a very filling dinner.

Snacks: I sponsored Maria for her Great North Run a while back and she very kindly sent me some baked goods (Swedish Apple Muffins) as a thank you. How sweet is that?? (Due to me going on my honeymoon she sent them to me now – I’m very chuffed):

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[Please don’t judge the photo too harshly, they have travelled via post to get to me!]

So I have been happily tucking into these this week. They are so moist and yummy. Perfect evening snack. I thoroughly recommend Maria’s blog, she always has such yummy recipes and ideas!

Oooh and I’ve also been indulging in a few squares of these in the evening:

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I can’t always be snacking on apples after all I guess!

Fitness: I’m still following my strength routines three times a week. It’s not quite as difficult as it was originally so I feel I’m making some progress. I’ve got my plank back to 3 minutes. Does anyone else get bored doing the plank? I mean, it’s tough and painful but so boring. I just end up staring at my stopwatch…

I’m thinking of getting a resistance band – has anyone tried this? Is it worth it?

Running is going well. The only problem I have at the moment is that now I’m running at work it means that if I have a busy day I can’t always run. I’m quite a structure, routine person (have you noticed??) so I find this really frustrating. I hate pushing workouts to a different day. But it’s one of those things I guess.

Outfit of the day:

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[Can you spot Alfie hiding in the background?]

I can’t actually remember where I got this dress from, whoops. But the cardi is from New Look!

Have a great Wednesday!

Do you hate it when you have to postpone a workout?

Are you in a Christmassy mood yet?

Pumpkins, Pilates and Cinderella

And it’s Monday again! One week closer to Christmas…

This weekend was great. We didn’t really ‘do’ anything but we got a lot done, if that makes sense. Basically, we had no plans to go anywhere but we had a lot of chores to get on with. Mundane things like getting the car washed, then cleaning and vacuuming the inside, putting things up the loft, taking clothes to the Army and Navy… Yep, exciting stuff. I’m a married lady now, this is my life now! Winking smile And I love it! It’s just nice to get all those niggling jobs done that have been driving me mad. I’m a bit of an obsessive cleaner so I’m in my element.

I saw my sister, brother-in-law and their little girl, Ellie. We gave her her present from Disney World (a Barbie Cinderella) and she was over the moon. Though I ended up having to speak for the Barbie in a ‘princess voice’ for longer than comfortable period of time. Though I think I got off lightly, Ben was her human climbing frame haha.

I also went to a local farm shop to buy a pumpkin. I could have bought so much veg but I refrained as I’m pretty sure Ben would get fed up eating squashes every night…

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So I just bought a large pumpkin, a mini pumpkin (a munchkin!) and a corn on the cob. All for under a fiver. Bargain!

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How cute is that little thing?? I just had to buy it. For 30p you can hardly not, right? I made a delicious soup with that little guy – which I will share for WIAW soon.

Last week we decided to have a bit of a different meal for Friday night. We tend to have more exciting meals on Friday and Saturday just because it’s the weekend. So I bought some chunky pork ribs from the butchers and a jar of BBQ sauce (I was feeling lazy – I know I could have easily made one myself…next time). So Friday morning I marinated the ribs in the sauce and put it in the fridge. I wasn’t too sure how to cook ribs to be honest so I Googled it as work. FIVE HOURS they said to cook it. Well, that isn’t going to happen for sure! So I found a ‘quick’ recipe for an hour and a half. OK, fair enough, ribs are probably better slow roasted but I’m a busy hungry girl and I really wanted them Friday night. You know when you just really fancy something? Anyway, that evening after roasting them for a ridiculously long time in the oven (almost 2 hours) they were done (or if they weren’t, I didn’t care by this point. It was either uncooked ribs or my own arm that I would have eaten at this point).

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They were pretty yummy I have to say. We had one and a half ribs each. I had some veg on the side while Ben had some garlic bread. Thumbs up.

On a food-related side-tangent…I’ve been really enjoying my salads as of late as well. I tend to throw in whatever really, and usually a bit of fruit. Recently it’s plums or mainly figs but I’ve just bought a mango so I’m really looking forward to that.

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Salads left-to-right: flaked tinned salmon, goat’s cheese with fig, fried egg, more figs and mozzarella, & homemade paprika hummus and two hard-boiled eggs.

On Saturday I went to my first Pilates class. It was a one-on-one so I get the basics before actually starting a class. It was brilliant. The instructor was very good. Really good at giving direction and clearly knew her stuff! We used the reformer machine [see below picture] as well, which I was so excited about.

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My legs were in the air and everything. It was crazy. The hour whizzed by. I’m going again next Saturday and I’m so excited. I wanted a less intense exercise to strengthen and stretch my muscles, and this was perfect. The only tricky part was how technical it all was. Imprinting your spine, inhaling here, exhaling there, neutral position…a lot of technical jargon that I need to master. But it’ll come I guess.

So that was pretty much it! Here’s what I’m wearing.

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Blazer and belt from New Look, top from Warehouse, jeans from Top Shop.

I’m loving the blazer look – stylish while warm! The best kind of outfits in my opinion.

What did you get up to over the weekend?

Have you done Pilates before?

Sweet Sunday and WIAW

So last post I mentioned that I had very busy Saturday with lots of wedding arrangements and having lunch out with my mum and sister. Sunday was equally busy as well. We had our ceremony rehearsal at the church in the morning after the Sunday service, and all the ‘main players’ (ushers, bridesmaids, etc.) met us there and we had a dry run-through.

It was quite surreal and we joked all the way through it. Like my dad and me did a funny walk together up the aisle. People objecting to our marriage. Then when Ben was repeating his vows I kept winking at him or pulling faces so he kept laughing. It was very funny and the vicar joined in as well. It made things a lot less scary!

Then from there we went straight to our reception venue to go through the final details and timings. So I feel a lot more ready now. I know what’s going on and that everything is pretty much sorted.

Then came the fun part of the day; buying our sweets for our candy buffet. We looked in old vintage-style sweet shops but it was all a but too expensive (but I enjoyed looking anyway – anyone else get excited by things like that??)

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So then we went to more cheap shops to get better value for our money.

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And we bought just a few things…

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Hehe. Yum!

And then it was a case of deciding which jars which sweets would go into.

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This was fairly difficult as I didn’t want to open any sweets yet so they would keep fresh for as long as possible…so it might need tweaking on Friday when I’m sorting out last minute details.

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The doilies are great! I love the vintage look. And the paper plates will be for cupcakes that my friend is baking me for the day.

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So it’s going to be a plethora of sweet goodies…I’m so pleased with how it’s turning out! I’m absolutely the least creative person, so this is pretty good for me. I got all the jars from charity shops so the costs have been kept down.

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And I’m chuffed with the table favours too. I bought the paper bags from Amazon for like next to nothing and got some ribbon from Hobbycraft. Each table has a sweet name (like Jelly Babies or Liquorice Allsorts) and then each person on that table gets a bag full of that sweet. Top table gets a mixture of everything (win!).

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So that was Sunday! Now on to WIAW. Thank you Jenn for hosting as always. Check out her blog to view what other bloggers have been eating (all very interesting!!)

 

As always, I’ll show you a bit of a mix of meals as Wednesday isn’t usually that exciting in terms of meals…

Breakfast is usually the same every day (apart from random pancake days!):

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I mix about 1/2 cup of oats with 1tsp of wheatgrass and a sprinkle of ground flaxseed (a new addition!) and then unsweetened almond milk. Nuke in the microwave for 3.30 mins (stirring half-way) and it’s good to go!

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Fills me up really well until lunch time (which is like a good 4.5 hours later!).

Then lunchtime [at work I usually have a tuna salad or homemade veggie chilli that I batch make at the weekends]. But I’ll show you a lunch I had at the weekend which rocked my world. Home-made hummus:

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Chickpeas, lots of herbs (mixed and coriander), lots of minced garlic, lemon juice and a big dollop of tahini paste.

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Then whizzed up in a food processor.

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I had this with salad, chicken and one of my new favourite chutneys (Cheeky Monkey – banana chutney!)

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Lovely. Really sweet and flavoursome, which complimented the hummus perfectly!

Dinner (from Friday night) was hands down the best meal of the week! Cauliflower pizza. The base was made with grated cauliflower, one egg and a big blob of goat’s cheese. I baked this for a few minutes, then added a tomato base…

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Then I threw on lots of toppings (more goat’s cheese, chicken, mushrooms & courgette) and baked for about 8 mins.

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Doesn’t look like pizza, granted (except that it’s round) but it tasted gooood and I was stuffed.

Snacks…well I thought I’d show you my every day dessert after dinner:

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Two chopped apples (always chopped, never whole).

With the wedding coming up I’ve not been that adventurous with my cooking (there are quite a lot of repeat offenders) but during my honeymoon I hope to have some very exciting eats!!

Workouts have been fairly standard. I did manage a quick interval run on Sunday (2 miles) despite not thinking I’d get anything in. And then yesterday I ran another 2 miles and did some core workout. I can now hold a plank for 3 mins, woohoo! Abs of steel! *Cough* Well, moderately firm.

And outfit of the day [dress from Warehouse]:

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Important meeting in London today, so the smart dress is out in full force!

Happy WIAW all! Happy eating [and viewing]!

Obsessed with eggs

Do you ever have it when you can’t stop craving a certain type of food? I’m guessing this isn’t an uncommon thing. I know it happens to me a lo [I used to eat carrot and coriander soup like every day]. I just get a type of food in my head and I just want to eat it with every meal. Eggs are my current obsession.

I just think they’re amazing. Powerhouses of nutrition within their own little package. And very versatile. You can cook them in so many different ways. But my two favourites are scrambled and fried. Personally, I think you just can’t beat a runny yolk. And with scrambled egg, pretty much anything goes with what you can throw in with it. I love scrambled egg and tuna, and onion is always a must! Maybe a few cheeky cherry tomatoes as well. Or salmon (smoked or tinned) goes amazingly as well. Ahh bliss.

But lately, my favourite salad du jour is this:

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I promise you, there is feta and salad underneath that beasty egg. I made a mega egg by adding an egg white to one egg.

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Within this salad there’s feta, beets, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, cucumber, lettuce, errrm yep that’s it. It might seem like a weird combo having egg and feta but it really goes! Or at least, I’ve convinced myself it goes…

I’ve also been eating an egg white alongside my morning breakfast oatmeal to increase my protein intake. Nothing fancy, just an egg white that I zap in the microwave for like 50 seconds and have after my oats. I’m thinking of adding it actually to my oats but I quite like just eating it on its own. Makes it feel like an extension to my normal meal! There are many reason I’m not a vegan, but not being able to eat eggs is a strong argument against it. Not that I have anything against being a vegan, I fully respect anyone who is a vegan, but personally for me it would be too hard. The only foods I don’t eat are ones that I don’t like the taste of (yes, cheddar, that is YOU). But I digress.

I also wanted to share my crazy flip-flops:

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I won’t show you me wearing them up close as, seriously, feet are gross and I hate mine especially. But I love these shoes, they’re a bit crazy, I love the colours! And the feathers!

What are your favourite foods that you just can’t get enough of right now?