Enjoying the food at least

Lockdown 3… the never ending days of sameness.

But Kyle and I have done our best to keep our spirits up and to enjoy the time we have left together (wow that sounds a bit scary). I mean, just the two of us (three with Alfie) before our lives get turned upside down in July.

One thing we really try to do every weekend is go for nice walks and enjoy our food. I mean, options are limited and this is really all anyone can do. But anyway, we try and have a nice walk together, or one of us will meet up with a parent or friend to go for a walk and a takeaway coffee to liven up the social juices.

During my pregnancy I’ve changed my usual coffee of choice (an obnoxiously complicated order) to a decaf almond latte which I just find divine. Previously I’d have some sort of syrup in there but my tastes have changed a bit and all I want is a coffee flavoured delicately creamy drink. Normally at home I’ll have a black decaf coffee (which I’ll invariably liven up with a side of chocolate), so it’s nice to have this simple pleasure to look forward to at the weekend.

Anyway a few other things that I’ve been really enjoying is cooking. We regularly get Hello Fresh, which we love as it jazzes up our weekday meals and keeps organising meals quite easy. But I was also recently sent a pack of game from the Game & Wild company. I’ve had meat from them before and really enjoyed it so I was excited to try out some other bits.

I don’t regularly eat game – I’d be more inclined in a restaurant to try something but I never think to try anything in a supermarket. But their Cook with Game Starter Pack is perfect for people who aren’t sure where to start. It comes with a selection of game and SO helpfully a recipe book.

Within the pack you get:

  • 6 Partridge Breasts
  • 4 Pheasant Breasts
  • 8 Pigeon Breasts
  • Venison Mince 500g
  • Talking Game Recipe Book

I don’t think  I’ve ever tried partridge, pheasant or pigeon so I was quite intrigued. I’ve had venison before (as a steak) but not as mince. I mean I was instantly thinking, burgers! I flicked through the recipe book, and the helpful seasonal recipe leaflet they included, to find options for the meat and the choice was fantastic. So many options!

I used the venison mind to make some INCREDIBLE burgers. They were so tasty. Less beefy than beef but just as juicy. Kyle was a BIG fan.

For the partridge I made a delicious lemon and mushroom risotto using one of the seasonal recipes and it was really tasty.

I love risottos but also feel a bit cheated when there isn’t a lot else going on so the added partridge gave it that extra jazz.

I had grand plans for the pheasant and pigeon by with the recipe of tasty looking curry and a stroganoff but as the weekend weather changed I got a very random and spontaneous desire for a BBQ. I could not get it out of my head!

Thankfully we had some coals saved in the shed, so got it fired up and, instead of wasting money on extra meat at the shop, we decided to bravely try the pigeon and pheasant on the BBQ (as well as some random pork steaks and ribs in the freezer in case it went pear shape!).

I tell you what, it worked! I marinated the breast with a tasty paprika and pepper herby blend and served with salad and buns. It was so good! Different, definitely, but a lovely treat on an early spring evening.

Really recommend this starter pack if you’re in the market for jazzing up your cooking and meals, especially during this boring lockdown period.

As well as cooking, we’ve also been ordering brownies from Instagram.  I mean this has sort of become a problem as we’ve now done it three times. The brownies are SO FRICKING good. They’re from an incredible hobby baker who does bespoke brownies that you order via direct messaging her.

M&M’s, Mini Eggs and Galazy Salted Caramel brownies

She’s been made redundant from work so this is a way for her to get a bit of money while she looks for another job. But MY GOD, she should definitely consider doing this for a living. Her brownies, honest to god, are the best I’ve ever had. I’d even go as far to say the best dessert food I’ve ever eaten. They are dense, squidgy, moist, soft, moreish and packed full of chocolate pieces (of which you can choose). I meeeeean WHAT. Kyle and I can’t get enough.

If you’re in need of a chocolate pick-me-up, I can’t recommend her more. She also does blondies, rocky road and millionaire shortbread (or monster creations blending them). Her Instagram is @nickichalam. Check her out immediately!

Mini Eggs and Guylian Shells brownies

We’ve already got another order on the go with her for next week…

What foodie bits have you been enjoying recently?

Have you ever ordered any baked items off of Instagram?

**Full disclaimer: I was sent the Wild & Game meat for free in exchange for a review. All thoughts are my own honest ones.**

Our lockdown gender reveal party

So I am now 17+5 weeks pregnant. It feels like it’s flying by but it also feels like it’s crawling, which is weird. I mean, comparative to the pandemic and lockdown(s) I suppose.

We recently had another private scan so we could (hopefully) find out the baby’s sex. We could of course wait until the NHS 20 week scan but both Kyle and I are rather impatient. And also, there’s no guarantee at the NHS scan they’ll tell us (I’ve heard a few stories of this).

Originally I wasn’t going to find out. Kyle was going to be told and then I would be left in the dark. He would then text his sister, Lucy, the gender and she would beaver away making a “gender reveal” cake ready for a big family Zoom call the next day. I thought it would be quite fun me finding out the same time as my family and through cutting into the cake. However, I caved on Friday morning and decided there was no way I couldn’t not find out. It would be so hard Kyle knowing and me not.

We headed to Hello Baby in Southampton on the Friday evening and I was now super excited. Kyle and I were both convinced it would be a girl. Like I was almost CERTAIN (impossible I realise but I had such a strong feeling). We played silly games on the way to the scan like “the next singer’s gender will be our baby’s gender” or how many blue or pink things we could spot.

The woman doing the scan (the sonographer?) was so lovely and went through all the different parts of the baby saying how the sizes were good and healthy… and then she said did we want to know the gender? Yes! Yes! Yes! She explained she would turn the lights off, and then turn either the pink light or the blue light on. Oooooh.

Off went the lights. And on went the blue light! We were SHOCKED. So shocked. It was weird. I had a sudden, unexpected flood of disappointment, which upset me. I knew keenly that I wasn’t at all disappointed it was a boy. I was actually very chuffed we were having a boy. But I realised I was sad because all the things I’d imagined with a girl were now not going to be a reality. Like I’d imagined two scenarios in my head, and now one was now firmly gone. It was a brief moment of mourning for the little girl we wouldn’t be having.

But then suddenly I was excited and happy. A BOY! All the scenarios with a boy suddenly became cemented in reality. A little boy!

Kyle was super happy too. To be honest, we were going to be happy either way. There are so many pros to both. We FaceTimed Lucy and let her know (she was super excited for us) and then celebrated at home with a takeaway – of course.

The next day Lucy dropped off the cake. It looked incredible! We’d asked her to make it dinosaur themed (which is gender neutral in my eyes) and inside would be, of course, blue sponge. It had dinosaur “eggs” on top which were in fact cake pops and little chocolate dinosaurs. It was amazing.

We spent the day counting down the hours until we’d have the call with the family. We had to wait until everyone was free and ready – oh so hard! We were so impatient! We set up the cake in front of the laptop, positioned my phone to film it (for the memories and to share on social media).

Finally everyone arrived and we got them to guess before we’d cut the cake. It was pretty even on the guesses. And then we cut the cake.

It was such a special moment! Of course we’d have loved to have done it in person but at least this was still a bit of fun and such an enjoyable experience. I’m  so glad we filmed it as well as it means we have it forever.

Everyone, of course, was so happy for us and if I’m honest I’m glad it’s a boy not a girl now because on my side of the family we have no boys. My sister has two little girls so it’s nice my parents have a grandson to look forward to now.

So onwards to the 20 week scan now!

Did you do any sort of gender reveal party if you’ve had a baby/babies?

Just keep swimming… or running

I realise my blog has suddenly become quite pregnancy focused. Somewhat understandable as that’s what’s currently going on right now for me, and let’s be honest there’s not much else happening anyway!

I’m now a couple of days away from 15 weeks and feeling miles better than I was during the first trimester.

Some days I get a little bit of random nausea early in the morning but mostly I’m out of the woods. Just general tiredness really. And other than the increasing size of my boobs, I pretty much look the same as before. I don’t currently have a noticeable bump. If I eat a lot in the evening (like when we get a takeaway at the weekend) it definitely pops out more, but I’m guessing this is mostly bloating and the food I’ve just eaten. By morning I’m back to “normal”.

Other than my pregnancy, Kyle and I are just pootling along through Lockdown 3.0… WFH during the week, Facetiming family and friends and then getting a takeaway or two at the weekend to keep us from going mad.

Last weekend was nice as my friend Mark was able to join me for a 10k run on Saturday morning. It was just so nice to run with someone else! I did used to run with Kyle at least once a week but he’s struggling a little with motivation (no races, no parkrun) and doesn’t particularly want to get up early in the week like I do. For me, if I don’t run in the morning I’d really struggle to go later as my motivation just dips completely.

So anyway Mark and I were able to run together and it just reminded me how easy running feels when you’re chatting away with someone. Hopefully we’ll do it again soon. He’s coming back from injury so my pregnancy pace was luckily not too slow for him! (He’s quite zippy normally).

I’m trying not to think too much about the coming months if I’m honest. Kyle and I deliberately didn’t take any holiday other than the Bank Holidays over Christmas so we could carry more holiday over to this year. The plan being that we could go on a little “baby moon” (hate that phrase) before the baby arrives.

We have to take this holiday though before the end of March and I’m panicking we won’t be able to go anywhere because we’ll still be locked down. Obviously I don’t expect us to go anywhere abroad, but I’d love to go somewhere other than Portsmouth right now! A little AirBnb, some walks, some time together just the two of us.

I’d dread that we’d have to take the holiday and be sat inside our house. I would go mad. And I don’t really want to take any holiday after March for the 2021 allocation because this is going to help boost my maternity leave pay. Argh. But it’ll be what it’ll be.

So we just work weekend to weekend and try to find little things to keep us going. Like ordering doughnuts from the local bakery. Or trying new takeaways near us.

Delicious cake from The Parade Tearooms

Or going for walks down to Southsea and getting takeaway coffees and cake.

Anything to just keep it from feeling too much like Groundhog Day.

How are you doing?

Are you planning any holidays this year?

Things I’ve Been Loving Lately – October/November

So we’ve almost survived Lockdown 2.0, hurrah!

Christmas is just around the corner and I’m feeling positive for 2021. Here’s what I’ve been enjoying recently.

MINI Runner’s Gift Box

The lovely people from Adventusaur sent me one of their personalised running letterbox hampers which I think is just the sweetest and fun idea.

Basically it’s a little box full of handy running essentials. It’s such a great gift to send someone before a big race they’re about to do. It contains things like Vaseline (we’ve all been there…), a gel, Haribo (of course), a protein bar (handy for post-race recovery), amongst other items.

They’re a small up and coming business so I really hope people go for this sort of thing. During these COVID times it’s nice to be able to send someone something like this if you can’t actually see them. I guess it doesn’t even have to be for a race – but someone new to running as like a starter pack for them.

Free Train

I’m a big fan of taking my phone out with me on a run – whether for listening to music or a podcast or for the standard mid-run selfie/photo.

This is a very secure way to carry your phone and what’s handy is that you can fish it out very easily on the move, or if you want to stop.

I do love a running belt and the Koala Clip I have that attaches  to my sports bra, but it’s tricky to get my phone out easily if I want to quickly change a song or whatever. It feels super secure, doesn’t bounce and didn’t rub. It’s a great idea!

Floreseca Dried Flowers

I saw this on Instagram and just fell in love with their dried flowers. I’ve become a big fan of flowers in general but they never last long (obviously). However dried flowers obviously last a lot longer. And I knew they were about to launch their Christmas collection. They’re a small business so sell out quickly so I set my alarm for when they were launching and managed to snag myself a one of their Winter arrangements.

Ahhh they’re so beautiful! Love our sparkly and Christmassy they are, but not overly in your face Christmasssy, you know? I could potentially leave them up after Christmas – so very much worth their money!

Care packages

My amazingly talented baker (and runner) friend Emma sent me the sweetest care package recently.

It contained one of her freshly baked sourdough loaves, brownies and a GIANT 1kg bag of peanut M&M’s.

This was such a lovely thoughtful gift! I will have to show great restraint not to eat too many M&M’s in one sitting though haha.

Hello Fresh

So I’m back on the Hello Fresh train again. I really do love it. Previously I’d find myself scouring the Internet for recipes and wondering what to cook every week night for Kyle and I. I wanted healthy, filling and tasty but I was finding we were just falling into boring routines and bad habits. And takeaways, while I do love them so, were becoming easier to just fall back to if we’d had a particularly tough day.

Now we have three guaranteed week night meals of healthy, exciting and very tasty meals. I thoroughly enjoy cooking and this is just perfect. I love listening to a podcast while I prepare dinner. And then Kyle and I will sit down to something new and see what we think.

Most of the time we love the meals, occassionally (though it’s rare) we’re a bit “meh” (there was a Mexican tostada meal that didn’t float our boat for example) but we always enjoy trying them regardless and always feel full and happy. There nice and balanced too. It’s made my week far less stressful now! I also like that the company is very eco-focused too.

If you’d like to get £20 your first week you can use my link HERE (I get money off as well then too FYI).

Bare Grill’s Smokehouse and Mrs Potts

A few weeks ago I saw two of my close uni friends and we went out for an epic lunch at Bare Grills in Bristol. It was GIANT and exactly the type of meal I love. BBQ ribs, pulled pork, smoked sausage, chicken wings and brisket with a mountain of deliciously seasoned chips. It was epic!

How we then had room to go to Mrs Potts for dessert I have no idea. It was a good job that we had to queue for a 10-15 mins to get a seat though. It’s a very popular café in Bristol and serves so much chocolate-related items, like hot chocolate made from melted chocolate, brownies, cookies, cake… it’s incredible.

I went for a brownie hot chocolate and took away a slice of cake (with a pot of melted chocolate to drizzle over), a stuffed cookie and a white chocolate rocky road.

Kyle and I shared and the cake and cookie later that evening after I’d gotten home (and made space!). They were absolutely divine. The cookie was definitely the best out of the bunch but the cake with the chocolate over it was incredible too.

Caithness Paperweight

My grandad who lives in Stoke-On-Trent sent Kyle and I such a lovely present. He called it a “glass dump” which just doesn’t do justice to the beauty of the gift. I guess it’s a kind of paperweight, but it’s basically a unique hand-crafted glass ornament.

It’s such a gorgeous gift and will sit proudly in our house. I do worry about my grandad living alone in Stoke in this horrible time but I ring him regularly. He does so much volunteering which had to stop during the lockdowns so I worry he’s a bit out of sorts, but he seems in good spirits. He has such a positive and happy outlook to life.

So here’s to just as happy a December 🙂

**Full Disclaimer: I was sent the Free Train and Adventusaur for free in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

Kyle’s birthday, all the food and a fantastic long run

It was Kyle’s birthday last week so we decided to take a few days off of work so we could relax a bit more and enjoy ourselves.

I mean, with the pandemic and all it was hard to really go anywhere properly but we’d been given a free night’s stay at our gym’s hotel (it’s a hotel first, gym second) so we decided to use it on the Thursday night and let our hair down a bit. To be clear, the hotel (The Village Hotel) is less than three miles up the road, so we weren’t exactly going crazy here but it was nice to be somewhere different, you know?

But first we decided to go a bit crazy and buy some Krispy Kreme doughnuts. It’s a massive weakness for us, doughnuts, and not something we regularly buy. But Kyle had asked for a bit of splurge. So I went a bit crazy and bought 15! Originally I was going for 12 but then I got a coupon for money off three…and I got very excited by the new Halloween flavours.

(In fairness, we definitely didn’t eat them all and in the end gave away a number of them to family)

The vampire one (above) was particularly tasty, filled with brownie batter. Krispy Kremes are dangerously easy to eat I can tell you!

Anyway, later after the sugar high had diminished a bit, we walked to the hotel because it was so close and the weather was nice. We had dinner booked for 6pm and got dressed up all fancy. Yes, we booked that early.

Our thinking was that we wanted to have a few drinks and enjoy the evening fully. Kyle and I very rarely drink so this was a bit out of the ordinary for us. We usually just focus on the food. It’s not that we don’t drink or anything like that but we just don’t ever feel the need to. We’re a bit boring perhaps (though this does save us lots of money in pubs as a Pepsi Max is far cheaper).

Anyway I was really fancying a few cocktails for some reason and so this was the perfect place to satisfy that craving. I went for a Porn Star Martini because it sounded a bit crazy and Kyle stuck with his standard Budweiser. The drink was DELICIOUS. It didn’t even taste alcoholic, which is generally how I like my drinks 😉

We ordered our food and I was soon devastated to find out they had run out of chicken wings. I mean, let’s be honest, I should probably have been trying something different anyway but this was a sad blow. Instead I went with a Peri Peri chicken burger with a side of loaded fries.

While I know I would have preferred the chicken wings, the loaded fries were really good. And as someone who rarely goes for the carbs this was high praise indeed. Maybe it because I was on my second cocktail or maybe because they had waffle fries mixed in. Either way they were good. The burger was a bit dull, but to be honest, I was on my merry way to getting, well, merry so it didn’t really matter.

In the end, Kyle and I had a lovely time at hotel. We got fairly tipsy and just enjoyed doing something a bit different in a different setting. I did not, however, enjoy the hangover the next day. Though the fresh air and the Starbucks on the walk back definitely helped.

Later that day, after we’d gotten home and sorted ourselves out, we headed over to Kyle’s mum’s house to celebrate his birthday (and his twin’s birthday) with his family. Kyle got to open all his presents from his family and I got to give him his cake, which I’d commissioned his amazingly talented sister to bake. I’d given her the instructions that I wanted it to have a PlayStation 4 theme.

Kyle has been collecting Platinum Trophies for the different PS4 games he has (if you don’t know about PlayStations I won’t go into what these actual are) and so it seemed fun to have the cake reflect this.

The cake turned out fantastically! Lucy, his sister, did an amazing job (check her out on Instagram @Dirrty.Cakes – you can get her to bake anything!)

We all ordered take away for dinner. Kyle and I went for Koop + Kraft and spent a ridiculous amount of money… Kyle got a chicken burger with chicken tenders and loaded fries, I got chicken wings (of course) and halloumi bites. It was so tasty! We thoroughly enjoyed it.

The next day I went out for run in the morning. I didn’t have a plan. I actually thought I was going to go out for 3-4 miles but as I got going I found my legs felt quite fresh and I had a lot of energy. I decided to head out to a route where I knew I could get at least 10 miles. As I got to about 5 miles I knew I was up for an even longer run. I love runs like this because there’s no pressure. It’s just about finding the right route. I had some music on and just zoned out. I felt fantastic! Maybe it was all the food I’d been eating or maybe because I’d had no expectation for the run, but I just felt like I could keep going.

It helped that the weather was really nice. A little windy but it didn’t bother me. My pace was quite steady and I just felt really happy. My runs in the week had felt so hard and tiring, and to be honest as I set out I was expecting more of the same. But it was completely the opposite. I just love runs like this!

I definitely felt it the next day though. My legs were heavy and tired. I did a three mile shakeout run which helped losoen them up a bit, but I kept the pace very gentle and easy (not that I realistically could have gone that fast anyway!)

The next few days we saw my parents and received even more good food, this time in the shape of Colin.

You can’t have a birthday without Colin in my opinion. And he was lovely and festive, dressed up in his Halloween special.

So Kyle and I had a lovely time celebrating his birthday, even in these strange times. In my opinion, a lot can be made better with cakes and doughnuts 😉

What cake would you have for you birthday?

Have you been to stay anywhere else during the pandemic?