All the things I’m loving lately

There is so much good stuff happening right now, I’m loving life.

2020 really has been a great year so far. So let’s get cracking with a few life updates.

I got a promotion at work! I really love my job at the moment and enjoy what I do, and so getting a promotion is just the icing on the cake. My job hasn’t actually changed that much, but I have more authority and “clout” in what I do. Changing careers a few years ago was 100% the right thing for me to. I love my week and I work hard. I feel confident and happy with where things are going. Rather than despondent, lost and confused as I was previously (and a short commute MASSIVELY helps too of course).

And another happy life event is that my flat has a buyer (did I mention it was on the market? It has been since before Christmas…but thanks to Brexit and the election it was slow times) and Kyle and I have found a house and had our offer accepted! So all things are in motion for us to move out in the coming months. SO EXCITING. Obviously my promotion certainly came at a timely moment as well for this with all the mortgage application process and finances. I’ll share more when things get more finalised 😀

I’ve also been kindly sent a few products to test out.

I was sent some KALME Day Defence www.kalme.co.uk facial cream to try out. It contains SP25 and is clinically shown to reduce skin redness and sensitivity. I’m a HUGE fan of any sort of face cream that has SPF in it because…well, wrinkles. Yes, entirely vain but there we go. Other than things like alcohol and smoking, the sun is a big reason for wrinkles and I for one and trying my best to look ever youthful 😉

While I’ve never suffered from acne, the cream also contains zinc oxide which helps reduce inflammation and combat breakouts, which I do get occasionally.

The cream has got lots of good stuff in it for sensitive skin and for looking after you, so I’m more than happy to use this. Especially when doing long runs out in the open with the sun beating down. The only thing I will say is that it’s quite thick so you don’t need a huge blob (but works for wearing on runs).

I was also recently sent some cold brew coffee, funnily enough called Calm Coffee – a lot of calming stuff going on in this post!

It’s coffee that is infused with 10mg of CBD (Cannabidiol). I was sent the Americano and the Caffe Latte.

The American uses 100% Arabica Brazilian coffee beans and is basically black (as Americanos tend to be), whilst the latte contains oat milk. And because they’re served in cans, this means they’re a solid environmentally friendly choice.

With this I was sent the ground coffee version too, which is also infused with CBD. I make this either using my coffee machine (which is not an all-singing all-dancing variety but your simple “add scoops of ground coffee and water” to variety) or in the coffee press.

So CBD… what’s the crack? It’s not like THC (the more infamous variety) in that it doesn’t give you a high and it’s non-psychoactive. But CBD is commonly taken by people with anxiety, or insomnia, and inflammation or chronic pain. It’s not classed as a medical product however, it’s classed more of a supplement, but it (at least ancedotal at the moment) is said to help relieve these issues to an extent.

I really enjoyed the cans. Very refreshing, no strange tastes… just like a cold brew coffee really. And the ground coffee was delicious too. I like the fact that it’s touted to help you focus and energise you – definitely something that combines well with the caffeine. I wasn’t “buzzed” or running about that place and I wasn’t “zenned” out, but it was just like drinking a nice cup of coffee and feeling the benefits of that.

I’ve also been sent a number of turmeric supplement products too. This is something I am super excited about because there’s a lot of hype about turmeric being good for reducing inflammation and being good for injury-prevention and recovery (something I’m definitely no stranger to as I’m sure you’re aware).

I was sent three turmeric supplements: two capsule varieties and a bio-fermented liquid which has both probiotics and digestive enzymes in as well. All the products are vegan as well.

The turmeric capsules both have a combination of black pepper and ginger and contains zero additives and fillers. To counteract the fact that the compound curcumin, which is the active ingredient, gets quickly metabolised by the body, the added black pepper which contains piperine helps get the maximum absorption and bioavailability from it. The ginger which helps with the digestion and absorption too.

The Bio-Fermented Turmeric is a liquid that you drink (well, you have a shot of basically). Again it contains the black pepper necessary for decent absorption as well as live cultures to help with digestion. It actually tastes quite nice as well! I thought I was going to have to hold my nose and take it but I really enjoy having a spoonful before my porridge in the morning.

Considering I’m marathon training at the moment, I’m loving that I have all this turmeric to take. Reducing inflammation from running is a key priority to me. I’m not one of those total hardy souls who can run all the miles every day. I have to be sensible and really focus on recovery and looking after my body so these supplements have come at the perfect time for me. I take the liquid in the morning, then the capsules with dinner at night. You can get them in Holland & Barrett soon 🙂

Do you take any supplements?

Do you enjoy drinking coffee?

Do you wear any SPF creams throughout the day?

**Full disclaimer: this post contains products that I was sent for free in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

Our trip to Bournemouth – running, food and cats

I feel like I’m so behind and so out of touch with my blog at the moment and it’s really making me sad.

I love my blog. It’s like a diary. I like documenting things, putting photos up and rambling. And if people read it (and thank you if you do :)) it’s a huge bonus.

Work has been taking up my mental capacity to write. It’s not just that it’s busy, but it involves a lot of brain resource that leaves me dwindling at the end of the day. And weekends are packed with everything that doesn’t get done in the week.

And not just work, but life in general. It seems to be moving 1,000mph. It’s good – really good. I’m very happy and content and life is moving in the direction I want, but my blog has unfortunately taken a back seat.

But there’s so much I want to talk about! So I’ll do my best…

A couple of weekends ago Kyle and I went to Bournemouth. Bournemouth is about an hour from us and to be honest we had no real reason to go other than it would be nice to go somewhere and there were a couple of foodie/fun related things we wanted to try.

So we booked a very inexpensive Airbnb for the Friday night and went straight from work. We’ve been so lucky with Airbnb’s in the past. We’ve had one that was strange but not unpleasant but every other one has been absolutely fine, which is obviously why we keep doing it.

This one in Bournemouth though wasn’t great. It was described as a “quiet family home” but on arrival it was clear it was more a “chaotic family home” with children racing around the place and dogs barking loudly. It was a tricky to find out from the host where we were allowed to go, where the bathroom was, did we need a key and trying to explain to them what our movements would be (if we meet the host we like to explain our plans so we’re not just coming and going through their house – especially as we were going to be off early for a run in the morning). She didn’t seem interested at all or like she knew what was even going on.

In the later evening (past 10pm) the children were still running about and playing (they were very young children) and to top it off at 6am we were woken by a loud argument outside our door (lots of “you need to f****** get out”) which was VERY unsettling. To the point that we left ASAP and didn’t even shower after our run. You win some, you lose some!

But anyway. We had a fairly good dinner on Friday night in a place called Mokobo Burger (we still don’t know how to pronounce it).

I had three different types of chicken wings which were really good (though one lot was super spicy) and Kyle had a burger and loaded fries. I have to say that while my wings were good, Kyle’s burger was a bit disappointing (it was slightly burnt) and the “loaded” fries were just insipid fries with a small lump of pulled pork on top… which came out about 10 minutes after our mains.

It was a shame because originally we were going to go to our favourite burger place (Monty’s Burger Lounge) but decided to try somewhere new. Sadly it was loud and hard to talk to each other and just a bit “meh”.

So far, not great for our trip! We woke up early to get in five miles before Bournemouth parkrun as we wanted to get eight miles total for the day. We had grand ideas of running 2.5 miles before and after but in the end it just seemed simpler to get out and do the 5 miles and finish with parkrun.

It was a nice 5 miles, though somewhat unsatisfying because we didn’t really have a route planned so decided to run 2.5 miles towards the sea, and then back again. We could just see the sea a few 100 metres in the distance before heading back.

Obviously I know this already but I really do prefer longer distances. My body just gets into the groove after about three miles and feels nice and in the zone. So by the time we got to parkrun I was ready to go.

Bournemouth parkrun is literally right next to the football ground so getting there felt very much like I had a half marathon or full marathon to run as this was always where the portaloos were for those races in October! But no, just 5k left today.

We lined up in a big huddle and then we were off. It was a bit chaotic to begin with as we were literally just running across a field. It bottlenecked in slightly but was still rather crowded as we got onto the first loop. I found the first mile tough – not because of how I felt running but because of the crowding. It was hard to overtake people and I got wedged in to lots of people. I was scared to knock fellow runners or step on their heels. Eventually though we spaced out and I was able to get past people running slower than myself.

Then I got into my stride. It was like I was suddenly unleashed and I was off. I checked my watch – woah where had that pace come from? And I felt fantastic! Yes it was hard but it was hard in a very manageable way. It felt gooood!

We finished the loop for the second time and then headed off onto another loop for the half (ish?) of the run. I found myself picking runners off and running past. Grimacing but in a good way, I pushed the pace and finished strong.

My time was 22:43, which I’m super pleased with! And eight miles in the bag.

And it was Kyle’s chance to rock his 50th parkrun t-shirt for the first time! (Super impressed how quickly it had arrived).

After parkrun we walked back to the Airbnb and then took our stuff and left sharpish. We then headed to the centre for breakfast at the lovely South Coast Roast. It was very “hipster” and I mean that in the nicest way. Lots of milk options, environmentally friendly and all the avocado options on the menu.

We went for the Bondi breakfast which had avocado toast, tomatoes, poached eggs, chilli jam, pickles (I LOVE pickles!) and then you could add extras. So I added halloumi and Kyle had chorizo. It was delicious.

From there we walked to the nearby Cat Café. Yes, you read that right. It’s a cat shelter but built as a café so you can go in and spend time with the cats (on their terms of course…) and order drinks as well.

We were introduced to the cats and told the rules (no picking them up, no stoking while they’re asleep, being respectful to them etc.) and then ordered some coffees.

Well, I have to say that while the cats were beautiful and the café was friendly and lovely, I happened to meet the most grumpy cat who when I tried to stroke lashed out at my hand and made me bleed slightly. I mean, I am a dog person and I’m not quite as savvy with cats so it was probably my own fault…  but it was a bit of a shock.

A tiny wound to be fair

The other cats were fast asleep so in the end it was a bit of a dud experience. It very much felt like we were there because the cats had allowed us there and we were blessed to be in their presence… As a dog person this is a strange concept to me as dogs tend to just love you and want your company regardless. Cats are definitely more picky and temperamental. They were gorgeous though and well looked after.

Then we headed home! Definitely a weekend of ups and downs – though we enjoyed ourselves regardless.

Are you a cat or a dog person?

Do you need a decent warm up before you get into a run?

Have you ever had a bad experience with a hotel or Airbnb?

Learning To Cook From The Ground Up

I have another food-related post for you guys. I am a HUGE lover of cooking. I find it relaxing and I really enjoy it. Also there is something so satisfying about creating a meal from scratch and eating it. And of course cooking for people you love. So here’s an article to help if you’re new to the cooking world and how to get started…

If you would like to learn how to cook good, simple meals, but you are not yet proficient in the kitchen at all, then it might seem all to be a little overwhelming. However, it is going to be perfectly possible to learn to cook as well as you like, as long as you make a point of doing so step-by-step and from the ground up. In this article, we are going to suggest just one route that you might want to take in order to do that. If you follow these suggestions, you should find that you are effectively learning to cook much better in no time at all, and providing amazing meals your friends and family will love.

Starting With The Basics

It’s a good idea to start small if you can’t really cook at all. That means just learning to cook some simple meals that you can practise some basic cooking skills by doing. There are a huge range of dishes you could try, but the aim is to stick to something that only has a few ingredients – and yet produces a wonderful result on the plate. You might even start by cooking some basic sides, such as looking up how do you make shredded cabbage and trying that out. Start with the basics, and you will have a much better foundation going forward.

Follow Your Nose

If you want to do well in this, you are going to have to make sure that you are enjoying it, and there is one sure way to make sure of that: cook meals that you know you love to eat. If you do this, you will find that it is much more of a joy cooking in the first place, and you will be proud knowing that you can produce those meals that you have always loved to eat, but never known how to put together until now. Following your desire in this way is always going to be a good way to go.

Buy Good Equipment

The equipment that you have to use in your kitchen really does make a huge difference to how well you can cook. You need to make sure that you are going to buy good equipment, as that will make it so much easier to cook as well as you would hope, so that is something that you are going to want to think about at some point too. For now, you might just want to look into getting a decent set of kitchen knives and doing with that. But later on, specific gadgets might become more desirable, in which case you should get them.

Practise

Remember that, like everything in the world, it is going to take practise, but that as long as you are happy to put in the work, you will get the rewards you are looking for in the end. No matter your reason for wanting to learn to cook, you will find that it is hugely rewarding, and opens you up to many possibilities in the kitchen.

Do you enjoy cooking?

Do you have a meal you’re known for?

3 Veggie Recipes to Boost Your Energy

I have a great post for you today which I think will definitely help balance out the very meat-focused posts I’ve been doing lately. Now obviously I love my chicken wings and meat, but realistically I don’t eat like that all the time and try to have meatless days throughout the week. I love my vegetables so for me it isn’t a hardship. Anyway, hope this article inspires you 🙂

When you’re in need of an energy boost, it’s important to have something on hand. With these fab veggie recipes, you’ll be brimming with energy and bursting with goodness…

1. Vegetarian Parm Sandwiches

If you need a pick-me-up in a hurry, this recipe for veggie parm sandwiches is always a winner. Heat some oil in a pan, add a can of pureed tomatoes and a little garlic. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and cut some seitan into slices that are around 1 ½ inches thick. Mix half a cup of flour with half a cup of cola, dip the seitan into the mixture before browning in a pan. Place the seitan slices on top of a roll, add the tomato sauce and some mozzarella. Bake for around 5 minutes or until the cheese has melted and be prepared to fight over these spectacular sandwiches!

2. Chili Bean and Bulgur Cakes

Add ½ cup of bulgur wheat and 1 ½ cups of water to a pan. Bring to the boil and then gently simmer for 10-12 minutes, before draining. Heat some oil in a skillet and add 1 tbsp tomato paste, 1 tsp chilli powder, ½ tsp of cumin and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Whisk for around a minute, then take it off the heat and let it cool.

Add a can of drained kidney beans to a bowl, along with the bulgur wheat, tomato paste mix, ½ cup of cheese and ½ tsp of salt. Grab a masher and combine the ingredients, then split them into cakes around ¾ inch thick.

Place the cakes on a cooking sheet, spray with oil and put them in the broiler for around 3-4 minutes. Flip them over, spray with oil and put them back in the broiler for another 3-4 minutes. When ready, top with some guacamole or sour cream and serve with fresh salad. Remember – you don’t have to cook the cakes straight away, so it’s easy to prepare this dish in advance and pop them in the broiler when you’re hungry.

3. Tofu and Vegetable Stir Fry

Cook some rice (or noodles), according to the instructions on the packet. Combine grated ginger, ¼ cup soy sauce, 1 tbsp garlic chilli sauce and 1 tbsp of sesame oil in a bowl and whisk. Pour into a large pan on a medium to high heat and add pieces of tofu around 1-inch x ½ inch thick. Coat the tofu in the marinade and then remove from the pan. Add a little oil and any veggies you like. Cook for around 5 minutes or until the vegetables are almost ready to eat. Add the marinated tofu to the vegetables with 2 tbsp of water. Cook until the tofu is warmed through; usually around 1-2 minutes. Then, serve and enjoy!

Energy Boosting Veggie Ingredients

Protein is a great way to increase your energy, so choose veggie dishes which feature tofu, seitan, lentil and chickpeas when you need something to keep you going. With plenty of combinations to choose from, you’ll never run short of fuel again!

Do you eat a lot of vegetables?

Do you enjoy cooking?

Our trip to London and all the food

I’m so behind on my posts. I have so much to talk about as well!

I’ll start first with an incredible weekend I had with Kyle that as just SO good. Kyle and I were super excited about it. It was literally all our favourite things, but sadly without any running.

We planned to go to London for my Christmas present, which Kyle had gotten me. A chicken wings tour! I mean, this was a perfect gift and a perfect excuse for us to spend a night in London and enjoy ourselves.

Originally we’d planned to do the tour on the Friday, stay over and then do parkrun and brunch Saturday. However it turned out that the chicken wings thing was only available Wednesday or Sunday… ehhh. So no parkrun for us sadly as we’d be travelling up Sunday morning to get there for the wings at lunch, then head home Monday after brunch.

It’s funny because after we got there we wondered why we hadn’t brought our running kit so we could do a cheeky run Monday morning. It was a bit of a lost opportunity but I think we were both just too focused on the food.

We did Lee-On-Solent parkrun on Saturday though and ran 1.5 miles there and 1.5 miles back to the car so we could get in a “long run” of just over 6 miles. Obviously 6 miles isn’t that long in comparison to previous runs I’ve done but I’m being super sensible about this comeback and I don’t want to just jump into a 10 miler and bugger everything up.

Anyway, parkrun was good. I saw a few people I knew, which is always nice and had a nice run with Kyle. We took it relatively easy and had a very enjoyable run. We made sure not to stand too close to the back as we have done in the past as it gets crazy busy at Lee and it’s a fairly narrow start.

Sunday we woke up early without an alarm – which is always nice. We got into a bad habit of sleeping very late a few weeks ago which made us feel terrible. I say late, it was about 9am, but this is late for us. We just felt so groggy and like we’d had too much sleep. As lovely as lie-ins are I’d rather naturally wake up earlier and feel refreshed. We relaxed in bed for a while as our train wasn’t until 10 and I decided to go for another short run.

I wanted to be running two days in a row again and adding another 3 mile run to the weekend would help me gently transition into this. The run went really well. No issues and it felt OK (asides from it being around Clanfield which is so fricking hilly!).

It was a fantastic Airbnb!

After the run we got ready and headed to London on the train. It was very tight on timings to get to Shoreditch, check in at our Airbnb (we love an Airbnb) and then meet our tour guide for the wings experience. But we made it bang on time!

It was just us on the tour which was really nice (the tour can have up to 15 people I think). The woman who was our guide (I’m embarrassed to say that while we did get her name I don’t think I’d be able to spell it correctly) was SO lovely. She was friendly, knew so much about the local area and just the right amount of involved. (If you’re interested it’s THIS experience).

She took us to Orange Buffalo to begin with an we got to try two different heat levels. Both flavours were fantastic and it came with a thick blue cheese dip. Honest to God, I could bathe in this stuff. One of my absolute favourite things in the entire world is a buffalo chicken wing with a thick cold blue cheese dip. NOTHING beats that texture and flavour combo for me. I am a simple creature I know.

She showed us around the local area (an area I’d heard about but never been myself), with all the street art, the food market, Banksy artwork… it was fascinating. It was hustling and bustling and busy with electrically (and far cooler) dressed people. It felt very “hip” (and by saying hip I have now fully separated myself from any form of coolness, I do realise this). She had fantastic tid-bits of information and interesting local knowledge.

Cool street art and a tree with lots of trainers hanging from it

The second stop was in the Boxpark in Shoreditch called Coqfighter. It was very exciting for me because I’d heard about these places on social media (follow my Instagram @AnnaTheCake88 for my foodie loving) and now I was getting to actually go there.

The wings were so different from this location because they were of the fried chicken variety so had a crispy Vodka and sesame coating and came with a soy sauce and chilli dip. Damn they were SO good. So different to what I’ve usually had before. The soy sauce dip, dear lord, was good. And the crispiness of the chicken just rocked my world. I was in heaven.

Then we headed, somewhat sadly, to our last location called the Blue Kitchen. We had double fried buffalo wings and Szechuan wings (pictured above). I didn’t think anything could top what we’d had so far but these were FRICKING AMAZING. Double fried? Yes please. In my excitement I sadly didn’t get a picture of the buffalo…but they were fantastic I assure you.

I think I amused our guide a bit because I was clearly VERY into my wings and did a good job of polishing everything off. She was amazed that we ran as much as we did as well – all the marathons and parkruns. It was fun talking to her about it. I felt like we just bamboozled her with our weird lives of eating and running haha.

After the wings tour, we headed to Doughnut Time for some pudding. I mean I was pretty full to be honest but we wanted to get some of these oh so Instagrammable doughnuts. Kyle was VERY excited. We’ve both had them before and had decided as a treat to get a box (and take a couple home for Kyle’s parents – my parents declined as they’re both on Slimming World).

We got over-excited and bought NINE. I mean, Jesus, they’re not exactly cheap either. I think they are a little over-priced and over-hyped for what they are, but it was good fun choosing and enjoying the moment.

We took a big box back with us to the Airbnb and enjoyed a few there. The ones I’d chosen (Sia Later, Ice Ice Bae and Caramacklemore) were delicious. The Sia Later (red velvet) was the best, Ice Ice Bae (with cookie dough and brownie bites) was VERY sweet but tasty and the Caramacklemore (white chocolate) was somewhat disappointing, but possibly because I was quite sugared out by that point. Yes, I was that greedy and ate three. I fully enjoyed them 🙂

Caramacklemore

The next morning, after a lovely little lie-in, we walked to Covent Garden with a little stop in Starbucks for a coffee. We had brunch booked for 12 at the Big Easy (blows my mind that this was the earlier we could book – surely this is now lunch?). We’ve had brunch here before and it’s all you can eat and it’s just fantastic. I mean, if you’re a big meat-eater of course.

We did have a little stop in ANOTHER Doughnut Time, but this time the Doughtnut Time “World”. You can really tell how much they bank on social media for their notoriety.

The shop was set up specifically for taking photos and promoting to Instagram. While it was good fun and quite quirky, it felt a little odd and, well, clinical.

I imagine when they have events it’s a bit better but just Kyle and I in the shop meant it was a bit weird. And the posters around the shop saying that the props were for photos only furthered this. I obviously fully enjoy social media and taking photos, but it was a tad overkill (tho tbf, it had worked for us right?).

Anyway, Kyle bought another of the OG doughnuts because he enjoyed it so much the day before and wanted to take one home. I refrained – I’d eaten three the day before and had one to take home, so I was happy.

Then we got to the Big Easy in Covent Garden and enjoyed even more excess of food. BBQ ribs, smoked sausage, BBQ chicken, pulled pork, chips, cornbread, coleslaw and beans.

It was fantastic and we left very full! The staff are very attentive and brought out more of what we asked and we enjoyed ourselves a lot, but we were now dunzo’ed on food haha.

So a whole lot of eating and a little bit of running!

Do you like all you can eat experiences?

Are you a doughnut fan?

Do you like social media? Do you use it a lot?