Rants and Raves #26

Every time I write a Rants and Raves post I have to go to my blog and see what number I’m on. Kind of shot myself in the foot with this putting numbers on them… Oh well, nice to see how many I’ve done though.

Rant: Sometimes I’ll have a little look at my blog stats and how people have found their way to my blog. Sometimes it’s from Twitter, Bloglovin‘ or other blogs. But it’s always interesting when people have Googled something and come to my blog that way. Some of the search terms make sense (like a product review) but others are bizarre.

“Jamie Oliver and his sister Anna” came up a lot in different variations. Yes I love Jamie and yes he has a sister called Anna-Marie (I had to Google that, I’m not that obsessed I assure you) but how this is relevant to my blog I don’t know. Probably because I go to his restaurants every other week I suppose.

And some search terms are just plain WEIRD.


There’s an Anna naughty pudding? It must be really naughty if it’s especially for me – I’m the cake monster after all and am rarely defeated.

This one really concerned me though:

Weird search term for my blog

No, that is not OK. And the fact it was used FOUR times to get to my blog is really worrying.

Rave: A recently opened trampoline centre in Southampton. This is so much fun. I used to do trampolining back in the day at school and loved it, so when some girls at the running club suggested going last Monday evening I was totally up for it.Oxygen Free Jumping Southampton

The place is basically full of trampolines and there’s also an area where you can do monkey bars, swinging ropes, tight-rope walking and flips into a pit of foamy cubes. We spent an hour bouncing around, larking about and just generally acting like kids. It was brilliant.Oxygen Free Jumping Southampton (6)

We were hot sweaty messes afterwards. I was really proud of myself for doing the monkey (ladder?) bars several times without falling. My upper body strength has improved so much! Some of the girls said they ached a bit the next day but I was fine, which really shows how far I’ve come and my gym sessions aren’t a waste of time. Because hello how important is it to be successful at monkey bars?? 😉Oxygen Free Jumping SouthamptonShame my flips were far less than stellar…I think I managed two (into the foamy cubes) and that was it. Graceful I am not.

Rave: I still love colouring. My mum got me a really cool colouring book (it even says it on the book, haha!). It’s a cake colouring book!!IMG_7497

Clearly my kinda thing!

Rant: Oh hi winter, decided to turn up did you? Though saying that I’m far happier it to be freezing than wet and windy. Let’s not have a combination of all three though please! I’ve been getting so fed up of cleaning Alfie’s paws and giving him baths after walks, it’s ridiculous. I cringe when I hear him shoot off across the local field and all I hear is the squidge of the grass and see the mud flick up. To try and combat this cyclical pattern, I got him a lovely little coat.

IMG_7378A bargain £12 from Pets At Home

It partially covers his undercarriage as well which is very helpful. I think the word used to describe Alfie’s opinion of his new garment is “indifference” so that’s good I suppose…

Rant: And to continue that theme of ranting, this is becoming a regular occurrence…Wet trainersDisgusting soggy trainers after wet runs. I’m not tempted to put them on radiators as Martin Yelling suggested in MarathonTalk because my flat is tiny and the smell of wet trainers would just overcome the place. So sat outside my flat with newspaper in is the next best thing. It works nicely but makes me look a little mad to my neighbours. I have no fear that they’ll be nicked either – who on earth would want them??

Rave: Nike Pro Shorts. I think I have four pairs now. I love them. The colours are so funky!IMG_7049This week it’s been far too cold to wear them though of course which is a shame. But when the weather gets warmer they’ll be back again. The good thing about the gym is you’re shielded from the elements. The only thing is I walk Alfie before and after the gym so it’s very nippy in just shorts!

Rave: I’m still loving MuscleFood.com (<– referral link – you get freebies, I get money off). I can really bulk buy on meat like turkey steaks, chicken sausages, steaks, bacon and burgers. I had one box delivered to my parent’s house as it was easier than my flat and my dad kindly agreed to store some of it in their giant freezer. Unfortunately I forgot to ask him to separate the chicken breasts…IMG_7595Twelve chicken breasts all frozen together! There was no way to separate them individually. So over the weekend I defrosted them then cooked all 12 breasts. I re-froze a fair number of them and then kept the others in the fridge for meals in the week and random chicken snacks at work (is it weird I snack on chicken at work??).

I’m also currently obsessed with cheese. Instead of buying my usual Laughing Cow processed cheese and Babybels I’m now buying the proper stuff as I got a bit addicted over Christmas. I’ve been getting through Stilton, goat’s cheese, Brie, Camebert and Taleggio (Italian Brie basically). I just throw it onto my salads or grate it onto meals. So tasty and so much better for me than the processed junk.

Have you ever been trampolining?

What’s your favourite way to relax?

What’s your favourite cheese?

You can never have too many puddings…

I don’t know about you but this week is dragging. But it’s finally mid-week. On a side not, embarrassingly, it has taken me ages to get why people say “happy hump day” on a Wednesday. Yep, I’m that slow. (Pssst, if you didn’t know too it’s because you’re over the ‘hump’ of the week!)

And being Wednesday I’m back in the game for What I Ate Wednesday.


Thanks, Jenn, for hosting as ever.

This is food is from Sunday – aka 5 mile race day (recap still to come!)

Breakfast – what a surprise I know. If you’ve been a long-time reader you know this is fairly standard stuff. And on race day it isn’t going to change!


Oatmeal and unsweetened almond milk

I had this before 8am, the race started at 10.30am so enough time to digest adequately! And perfect fuelage for the race.

And to make things interesting, here’s what Ben ate:


He wanted to share as he felt his breakfast was up to healthy standards for once Winking smile He went for oatmeal with cow’s milk, dried fruit and a chopped banana. Notably absent was any added sugar!

After the race, hanging about chatting to people and getting home, we were famished! So we straight away had lunch.


This is re-used photo as I forgot to snap it before the hunger beast took over

I had one of my favourite quick meals. Chicken, random veggies and half a tin of pumpkin puree with cream cheese. I know it looks pretty grim there, but seriously this is heavenly.

Sunday was a great day of snacking as well… I might have had another one of these my granddad had left with us:


Meringue with dark chocolate and strawberry on top

And dinner was another repeat offender but one we hadn’t had in a while.


Beef meatballs. Mine is on the left and Ben’s is on the right. If he can put cheese on something, he will. I love this meal. I am still loving beef mince.

And pudding…well pudding was fantastic.


This was a slice of raspberry sponge cake that I got at the end of the 5 mile race. No medals, but a choice of cakes! That’s my kinda running. I didn’t eat it straight after the run as I just didn’t fancy cake straight away (food immediately after running just doesn’t go well in my stomach, plus I wanted to savour it later with a hot drink), so I had it after dinner with a hot chocolate. And I reaaaally enjoyed it.

Er…I might have nabbed another slice of cake as well at the race. I twinkled my eyes and gave my best smile to wrangle another slice of cake… Absolute lie, I offered cold hard cash. All of 50 pence to be exact Winking smile


Slice of banana bread (infected a little with the raspberry sponge)

Unfortunately I had to share this slice with Ben. *Sighs* I do hate being married. Totally joking Winking smile

An honourable mention this week is the appearance of one of our favourite salads.


Grilled halloumi (or fairly well done halloumi, whoops) with a whole host of veggies and roasted butternut squash. Divine.

As you can, I love my balance. On the one side I’m a huge fan of salads, fresh vegetables, home-cooked meals, and obviously my beloved and ever-present apples. But on the other side, I will always have my cake. Cake is my indulgence. Cake is my weakness. I need it every week to feel 100% Anna and 100% happy. It’s my soul food. I like to give my body good foods and good fuel to keep it healthy and happy. But for my soul, my mind, my spirit – whatever you want to call it – I need cake. My happy food. Don’t get m wrong I don’t have it every day (seriously, who can afford cake every day?) but it definitely makes a routine appearance every week. Whether I’m curled up on the sofa watching a film on a Saturday night, or sat in a cafe having a chinwag with my mum, or munching on something a co-worker has brought in to the office, I will have my cake. And it is always eaten Smile

Just don’t get me to choose between cake and apples. It can’t be done.

What is your soul food? It doesn’t necessarily have to be ‘naughty’! I would class apples as my soul food too. Basically it’s the food I always look forward to eating, always enjoy eating, it never gets old, and always makes me a happy happy Anna.

What are your repeat offender meals? Halloumi salads are a winner in our house, but meatballs are more of a weekend food as they take a bit longer to throw together,

What’s your ideal pre-race/workout fuel? Oatmeal has always worked (race or no race). Ben will always have a banana but sometimes will leave it at that or have something bigger.

Sleepless Nights and a Special Birthday

There are good times during the day when it is sensible and productive to think about important decisions, tasks at work, and things that you need to do.


I have found that 3.30am is not that time. At 3.30am everything can seem like a complicated problem. Everything gets ruminated and examined from every possible angle. Time gets sucked away and your mind whizzes at ninety miles an hour. Problems are not solved at 3.30am.

That was last night for me. I tossed and turned all through the night with a mixture of a zillion things going through my mind and achy legs from my running club run that evening. Consequentially, I did not sleep well.


Loving that peak from 3-3.30am…not

I didn’t need the Sleep Cycle app to inform me that I had pretty rubbish sleep quality. I was fully aware of that at several points during the night. In fact, I’m sure I ruminated on it at 3.30am.

I love running club but it does mess around with my sleeping after I’ve had a hard run only hours before. And on top of a tough week at work…well I had no chance really. It’s funny because at that time in the middle of the night, you almost want you alarm to go off so you can get up. When you do eventually fall back asleep however, those thoughts are long gone.

Anyway, so this week has been tough at work and tough running. My 10k on Sunday pretty much savaged any energy I had left in my legs and left my runs feeling tough beyond belief. I usually comfortably run between 7.30-7.45mins/mile. On Tuesday I was struggling to hit 9mins/mile. Very humbling! Reminds me that I’m not superwoman and rest is important.


But I enjoyed the run regardless and just ran at a pace that my legs felt comfortable. I think it’s important to get back into it after a tough race but I also think it’s important to that slowly and sensibly. Shake out those achy muscles and get some fresh air.

And importantly – a big happy birthday to my amazing, super mum.


I couldn’t ask for a better mum. She may not be the best cook in the world Winking smile but she is definitely a great listener, a loving person, kind beyond words and always there whenever I need a mum-daughter chat or coffee.

On to some good food. The other night I tried a new recipe. It’s loosely based on THIS recipe that I had pinned (follow me if you fancy!)


Tomato and Feta Chicken (serves 2)

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • Tin of chopped tomatoes (I used chopped cherry tomatoes)
  • Herbs (e.g. oregano, thyme, basil, rosemary)
  • Garlic

– Pre-heat oven to 200C/400F.

– On the hob in a small pan, cook the chopped tomatoes with the herbs and garlic until bubbling.

– Add most of the feta (reserve two heaped teaspoons) and stir so it begins to break down and melt.

– Season the chicken with pepper (no salt as the feta is very salty) and add to a small casserole dish. Cover with sauce, pop in oven and cook for about 15mins.

– Remove then sprinkle over the remaining feta and pop back in for another 5mins (until the chicken is cooked).


The sweetness of the tomatoes and the saltiness of the feta worked so well together. And so easy to make, definitely one to repeat as an easy midweek meal!

So it’s Friday today, hurrah! This weekend is a long weekend with the bank holiday on Monday (a day off in the UK). I plan to enjoy a nice relaxed Parkrun tomorrow – NO PRESSURE allowed. And then Ben and me might have signed up to another 10k for Sunday….um, yes we are obsessed.

Have a lovely weekend!

What are you up to this weekend?

What’s your favourite kind of cheese? Mine is goat’s cheese without a doubt. But I do love cream cheese.

Do you wake up in the middle of the night with thinking-overload?

A bits and bobs post

Firstly, thank you for all your kind words about Sunday’s half marathon. It made my day Smile I’ve literally been floating along with happiness since then. What was also nice was everyone at work was so lovely about it and there was a lot of banter as there were about four other guys from work who did it too (I beat all but one! One guy did it in 1hour 36mins wowza).

This week has been crazy busy. And what makes it worse is I think I’m one day ahead…Friday is going to be painful. Because of the half marathon on Sunday it’s just skewed my perception of the week as the race took the entire day and I was so tired afterwards it didn’t feel like a proper weekend!

Anyway it’s Wednesday so we’re not too far off from the weekend. And it’s What I ate Wednesday link up.

I’ll show you a random selection of eats as it’s been a bit of a random week.

Breakfast is the standard oatmeal with almond milk. No changes there I’m afraid. Still as satisfying.


Lunch this week has been a mixture of my usual salads as I’ve missed them and they’re also so easy to throw together the night before (whereas my sandwiches don’t tend to be as nice if I make them the night before). I tend to make two lots of salads at the same time on Sunday night and then that means I can have a more relaxed mornings. Monday morning I was shattered and didn’t set my alarm till 7am which was heaven (usually I get up anywhere from 5.45 to 6.15am).


And with this I have a fruit salad with Greek yogurt and a Babybel.

But! This morning because I’m off to Cambridge (a two hour journey) a bit later for a FIFTEEN MINUTE presentation I didn’t know what was going to happen with lunch. I couldn’t realistically bring in a massive box of salad and I don’t know if I can buy lunch there or en route. And I’m not sure we’ll even get a proper time for lunch so I basically packed a stupid amount of snacks that I can discreetly eat at any point.


This is rye bread with peanut butter smeared onto it which I’ve sandwiched together. A bit more discreet than a ‘proper’ sandwich I hope…and I’ve got a Babybel, a packet of Snack a Jacks, an apple and these:


Which I got in my swag bag from the half marathon.

I think I’m sorted!! I hate not knowing what’s happening with lunch and like to be prepared.

Dinners have been a lot more interesting. On Monday night Ben and me had one of our usual easy go-to meals: salad with grilled halloumi. Normally I roast a lot of veggies to go with this to make it more filling (butternut squash, sweet potato, zucchini, peppers, etc.) But I had the leftovers from that side salad I had at Jamie’s Italian on Sunday that needed using up.


It’s basically bulgur wheat and quinoa mix. Ben looked extremely sceptical about it. I had to convince him it was basically like couscous. And…he loved it! In fact he’s requested I attempt to recreate it. Win!

Last night I tried my hand at moussaka again (which I got wrong in the previous post by saying moussaka is usually made with pasta – it’s actually potato. Apologies, I should have done my research!)


This time though as I wanted a more quick mid-week meal, I left out the eggplant as that’s what took ages last time (salting, frying etc.). I basically just fried a small onion, lean beef mince, crumbled in a beef stock cube, added Worcestershire sauce, passata and herbs and let it reduce a bit while I made the top sauce. This was using one egg, a good few dollops of Greek yogurt and a tablespoon of parmesan. I put the mince mixture in an oven dish and poured the sauce on top and then grilled for about 10 mins. Perfect!


I did miss the eggplant but it was still very yummy and definitely filled me up nicely.

In terms of running. My legs have been aching hugely since Sunday. I was hobbling like an old lady on Monday. On Tuesday though I thought I’d venture out for a very easy run just to shake myself out. Plus, I am pleased to say that Ben has been inspired to get back into running! So we went out together and I stuck with him the entire time to force myself from not trying to go too fast (though I doubt I could have as it was so tough). So we kept at a nice 10min/mile pace for 3 miles.

Ben has decided to give up alcohol for the next 8 weeks and to get back into running as we’ve both signed up for a 10k race in May (in 8 weeks time). I’m so proud of him! It’ll be lovely to do a race together as it’ll be nice to talk to someone after the race specifically about different parts that you know they’ll have experienced, you know?

My next run will be tomorrow and I’m just going to see how I feel. I don’t want to push myself and be silly as I need to recover properly, but at the same time I’m desperate to get back out and run again. So easy pace, no more than 5 miles.

And that’s all I’ve got. Like I said, it’s all a bit busy and crazy with work which isn’t ideal as I just wanted an easy week this week! But such is life.

Hope you have a great week!

Do you run/workout with your partner?

What do you do if you don’t know what’s happening with lunch at work? I think I’ve over-prepared!

The kind of weeks I like

Hi guys. Now if you’re back at work, commiserations. It’s no fun. Especially after all that lovely time off (and commiserations if you’re time off was limited). However this week has gone by very quickly. Well, there’s only three days of work so I guess it would do. And the commute has been a dream and not many people are back at my work so it’s nice and quiet. So it almost feels like I’m still on holiday. Almost.

However, I am feeling upbeat and ready to kick start this year with gusto. Never used that word before, thought I’d throw it in there. Maybe I won’t use it again…

So let’s get into the good stuff. Though this week I haven’t been crazily adventurous with food (due to excessive and wondrous amounts of left-over turkey – I’m afraid I’ve been eating the same turkey meal for three days.

New Years Day

I should have tried my hand at some inspiring turkey recipes but I just love that turkey meal so damn much. Blogging fail? Maybe. Happiness factor? Hell yes).

However, before I become that little bit more predictable (hello oatmeal every single day), I did try a new recipe at least once! Ages ago I spied THIS recipe from the lovely Chelsea and kept meaning to make it. So I gave it a bash the other night:

Moz sticks

Breaded mozzarella sticks. Honestly it was so simple. I used some cheese strings cut in half, rolled them in wholemeal flour, then dunked in egg, and then a breadcrumb mixture (I just whizzed up a slice of wholemeal bread and added some tasty herbs and spices), then fried them. Done! We had that over salad and pomegranate seeds (and maybe a sneaky bit more of freshly torn mozzarella).Moz sticks 2

Yum! It tasted naughty but actually wasn’t that bad considering cheese strings are quite low calorie and I used less than two slices of bread for all of it. And Ben loved it!

So a while ago I mentioned I’d signed up to the Reading Half Marathon. It’s in March and currently less than 11 weeks away. I really want to give my all to this so I searched online for a training plan and I’m currently in week 2. I thought I’d give THIS training plan a go.


I’m vaguely working to the length of times I should be running as I prefer to think of miles rather than time. So today I was meant to run for 40 minutes, so I ran a 4.5 mile route.


Almost 40 minutes. And I think that’s how I’ll play it as for some reason I hate to make myself run for a certain time. I prefer to have a set of miles I have to do and then try and run that as fast as I can.

Also, instead of the 30 minute ‘easy’ run, I’m going to use that as another short, sharp interval run to really help improve my speed – between 2-3miles.

It does sound like I’m veering off the plan but I have to make it accessible for me and, if I’m honest, I can’t be bothered to trawl through a load of training plans. I just need something to vaguely plan to. It’s mainly the long runs that I’m really going to stick to as I think they’re the most important.

I love that the plan is pushing me and now instead of “oh I can’t be bothered” I think “I really should go for that run”. And there’s a level of competition that is keeping me going. A group of guys from my work are also doing it and you know I just have to kick their butts.

And it works quite nicely as I’ve joined Maria with her Jantastic running team to see if we can stick to our goals of how often we run a week. I said I’d run three times but with this plan I’m aiming for four.

To complement the running, one day a week I’ll do a short (no more than 20mins) strength training routine (things like planks, press-ups, squats) and a Pilates session.

I feel really chuffed with this plan and I really hope I stick to it and improve my running to do well for my first ever half marathon!

Have you ever run a half marathon? Any tips?

How do you prepare for a race?