Everything but the kitchen sink

How s-l-o-w-l-y things seem to drag when you’re soon to be going on holiday. Every day seems to crawl by…I know I shouldn’t complain though. I’m very grateful to soon be on a beach in Mexico applying another layer of suntan lotion…

It couldn’t have come at a better time as well. I feel a bit frazzled. And I know Ben is as well with all his travelling and hard working he’s been doing lately. So bring on the cocktails!

But first I have the small tiny little Bristol half marathon to get through first…I’m strangely looking forward to it. It should be great to do such a big race in terms of numbers of people. Cheddar Gorge half was under 200, whereas this one is around 20,000! Even Reading was only around 15,000 I think. So a lot of people!

What’s crazy as well is that when we get back from our holiday the ‘big’ training begins. Marathon Training. Those words just look scary to me. Marathon? Whoa. It’ll be less than two and a half moths until the big date when we get back from Mexico. I already have two races planned to help the training along:

End of October: Great South Run (10 mile road race – very popular, should be brilliant)

Mid-November: A nice and local half marathon (Gosport Half)

December 22nd: Marathon

Annoyingly enough our work Christmas party is the night before. My work always do a really good Christmas do. Last year’s was in Bruges for the weekend. This year it’s at a beautiful stately home in Winchester. Unfortunately Ben and me will opt out as it just wouldn’t be a good idea. Not with a 9.30am start the next day. I’m not too sad… *sobs*

Anyway, like I said I’m feeling a bit frazzled with work. Definitely in need of a holiday. I’ve been using my workouts as a bit of a escape. Seriously, I can’t think of anything important during those tough spin classes. My mind is purely “this hurts” or “I’m tired” or “when’s it over”. And running is like a cool breeze flowing through my mind. It just wipes all that stress away. For the half marathon I plan on just putting on some music and enjoying the scenery. I do enough introspection and worrying in my daily life to allow myself to get bogged down by unnecessary thoughts for 13.1 miles.

I haven’t really posted much about food lately. Mainly because it’s all been a bit samey and not interesting at all.

However, as it’s Wednesday (WIAW: go check out Jenn’s blog!) I did stumble across a quick meal that I just can’t get enough of at the moment. It was after I’d gotten in from spin and my body was like FEED ME. We had a lot of vegetables in the fridge that needed to be used and I just thought “what the hell”. So it was pretty much a meal with everything but the kitchen sink.

Kitchen sink meal

This delightful mess is a three egg scramble with lots of stir fry veg, mushrooms, sun dried tomato and diced trout. With a side salad of course – because you can never have too much veg, am I right? Winking smile

What made this was the trout and the sundried tomatoes. The tomatoes were in oil so this helped increase the flavour as well. I loved this. And good healthy omega oil from the fish as well!

Another meal that I’ve been enjoying is gammon steak.


I grilled the steak and had this with cauliflower mash with goat’s cheese mixed in (heaven) and broad beans…and maybe a sneaky bit of beetroot (it needed eating). Oh how I miss eating gammon! I’m on such a meat kick at the moment.

And at work it seems everyone can’t stop bringing in cakes. Not that I’m complaining!


Hello oat and raisin cookie. How I love thee.

Sadly our cake stash in our freezer is quickly going down. This is not good. My mum came over the other day for a catch-up…and we had the last slices of Victoria sponge. I almost cried. Winking smile Well, that just means getting/baking more I guess!

As my last point, I’ve just started reading Gone Girl after it seemed the blogging world exploding with how amazing it is a while ago (I’m so behind the trend). I couldn’t wait to get stuck in. I’m 17% through (God bless the Kindle) and I’m not massively keen. DON’T HURT ME. It’s just that it reads a bit like a comedy romcom style book but so clearly is not. I don’t know how to take it if I’m honest. It just seems a bit odd. I shall persevere though.

Have a great week guys!

When’s and where is your next holiday?

What’s your latest favourite meal?

Do you use exercise to switch off or switch on? Sometimes a long run is quite cathartic to think about different things, but usually I just like to stop thinking and shut off from the world for a bit.

What are you reading at the moment ? Have you read Gone Girl? Thoughts?

What a surprise…

Howdy people. How’s your week going? Mine has been dampened by the cold weather and some bad running-related news (I’ll get to that in a minute).

But firstly, to pull me out of my dark and shady place (OK, I’m being dramatic), I must share a couple of the new-to-me meals I’ve been having lately. After spotting THIS recipe on Jessie’s blog I knew I had to try it.

IMG_4482Basil Avocado Chicken

I changed it slightly as I added in a load of random veg with the chicken and I also added a big dollop of Philadelphia cream cheese (because, let’s be honest, everything tastes amazing with cream cheese). Also, being lazy and reluctant to do more washing up than strictly necessary, I didn’t food process the avocado. I just chopped everything up, fried it until it all became melted and then threw in the cream cheese.


I loved it. It was nice to have smooth avocado bits and chunks of unmelted avocados randomly throughout. I don’t eat avocado that much (mainly because Ben runs screaming from it hates it) so this was such a nice change. Basil and avocado are a great combo.

Salads have been a regular meal as well when the weather was sunny.


This was a citrus themed salad. Chicken with goat’s cheese and loads of different veggies and chunks of orange drizzled in lemon juice and olive oil. Fresh and zingy.

And just to throw this one in there…Cake of the week (though strictly speaking there were two cakes of the week, but this one ROCKED – no pun intended): rock buns. I’m loving how ‘non-artificial’ this brand is. Let’s be honest, cake will never be classed as a superfood (I know, it’s upsetting) but having a ‘clean’ cake is surely the closest thing to it.


I have never had a rock bun before but when I saw them in the shop they looked like giant cookies so I was sold. And honestly the jokes are endless Winking smile


Surprisingly they weren’t rock hard. They were soft in the middle. Like oh-my-god-this-is-amazing-soft-in-the-middle. With raisins, sugar dusting and a hint of cinnamon. I’m going to aim to not buy these every week but seriously it will be hard.

This is yesterday’s outfit. I’m not a massive fan of the selfie photo but when I feel particularly happy with an outfit I feel the need to share because most of the time I don’t have much style. Though arguable the below picture doesn’t prove otherwise Winking smile


Tops from New Look, Owl necklace from Mango, Jeans from Topshop, Shoes from Tesco

Loving the peep toe shoes: let’s pretend it’s summer. And gotta love the photo bomber having a good old stretch there.

In terms of running…ack. Surprise surprise I have acquired a small injury. I knew this would happen – and I’m sure you’re not surprised if you’ve been following my huge running obsession lately. Serves me right for running so many damn races. I could feel something wasn’t quite right last week (hence the sports massage I had). It was fine during the runs at the weekend but afterwards my right thigh was really painful when I went up and down stairs. I thought it was fine but when I went for a run Tuesday morning within minutes I was in pain and it just wasn’t happening. So I turned round and went home. There’s a way to ruin your day before 7am.

I did a bit of Googling (as you do) and worked out it was my IT band.

Self diagnosis

So I booked in with the physio (again) and managed to swag an appointment that day. She confirmed it was my IT band and that I needed to take five days off of running. FIVE days. She did some ultrasound and acupuncture on me and gave me some stretches to do at home. She’s a great physio but I couldn’t help but be miserable. But I’m going to be sensible. Five days is a lifetime isn’t that long and it’s not worth risking a serious injury and being out of the game for weeks or even months.

Even if I start twitching…

I’m not bitter that bitter. I didn’t glare at Ben as he went for a run this morning…much. I’m going to try to use my time productively. In effort to be a better, healthier runner it’s time to get back into the strength training groove. Woo, woo, party on. So instead of running this week I’m working on my strength training. Joy of joys.


For all the you gym bunnies and proper strength training experts, I know this looks pathetic. Humour me.

So at the moment it’s nothing leg-focused as I want to fully heal. I want to start working on my core again. After reading a gazillion few running articles on injury prevention I realise I’m definitely not being a smart runner. I need to be more balanced and not just run, run, run. So I’ll be aiming to do this at least once a week to begin with. When my leg is better then I’ll add things like squats and lunges, etc.

I can hardly contain my excitement. Not Winking smile


Make sure to check out Peas and Crayons for the What I Ate Wednesday link-up!


Pssst, also check out Jemma’s great Simply Bridal giveaway – click HERE.

Have you had an injury before? Did you cope well with resting? I’m just feeling all annoyed that I let this happen and that it’s stopped me just as I was feeling like a superstar. But I guess that’s just it really, never take it for granted and let your ego take over. Don’t be stupid: stretch, foam roll, listen to your body.

Have you ever had an issue with your IT band? I’m not gonna lie, I didn’t know what the IT band was before this…

What’s your favourite avocado recipe?

Have you tried rock buns before? Because you should. Like now.

Being ill and cookies to make me smile

Hi guys. I apologise in advance for this post. It’s going to be a bit of a moan and ‘woe is me’…

I have had a terrible week. I mentioned on Wednesday that I was feeling ill. Well, it only got worse. I have literally been on the sofa huddled under my slanket all week (slankets were made for ill people I swear. It’s a blanket with arms basically). My whole body has felt unbelievably achy and tired, my throat like it has been cut with knives, headaches, and I have felt sick on and off.

Sleeping has been a nightmare. Then in the morning I’d get up, force myself to shower, then get back into fresh pyjamas and recommence my sofa experience. Ben, bless him, has been looking after me between work and Alfie has kept me company in the day. The Smith-James household has not been fun place.


I haven’t been eating my porridge in the morning (or anything for that matter). Food just turned my stomach. Lunch has looked like this for the past few days:


Have you ever seen anything more boring?? Sweet potato and broad beans. I just have to eat the most bland food as anything else turned my stomach. My appetite has been zero.

Sorry to sound oh so depressing. I’m not very good with being ill. I’m sure a lot of you can relate that when you’re ill you feel helpless and weak. These are things that I hate feeling. I’m not one of those people that enjoys sitting down for ages and not doing anything. So when I find myself literally unable to get off the sofa to do anything it really frustrates me.

After Bruges I had all these plans of running and my strength training. So I would feel in ‘peak condition’ before Christmas. I know that sounds ridiculous but I like to run up to Christmas feeling my most healthy so I can really relax on the day. But getting up and walking to the kitchen was difficult so there was no way in hell I was running. It just wasn’t even an option. But I haven’t run since last Wednesday. For me that’s crazy! I love running and I miss it so much but I just can’t do it. It would be stupid and would feel horrific.

I don’t feel guilty for not exercising – that would be stupid as it’s completely out of my control. But I’m just terrified I’m losing everything I worked so hard to achieve. They say it takes two weeks to lose your fitness level. I know I shouldn’t care, but I don’t want to have to climb that hill again! I was doing so well with my times and speeds. If this illness and taken me back a step I’ll be so angry.

Last night the only thing I fancied for dinner that didn’t make me feel sick was pizza.


Sometimes only pizza can help, you know? I just fancied something carby and easy. It was a Pizza Express Lighter Gustosa (roasted peppers, mushrooms, cheese & ham). I didn’t want a huge pizza to lay heavy on me so this was perfect. Not massively flavourful so it worked a treat.

Anyway, I’m feeling better today but I’m still suffering a little. I am however off the sofa (hurrah!). This is good news considering this weekend we need to do a lot of cleaning (The Big Pre-Christmas Clean) and marzipan the cake.

And in perfect timing, I received something very lovely in the post.


I took part in Tamzin’s cookie exchange and received my cookies in this beautiful box. I was sent it by the lovely Cerian. I basically said I didn’t mind what kind of cookies she’d make – I quite like surprises!IMG_3334

She made these amazing Welsh cakes! Neither Ben nor I have had Welsh cakes before so we’re very excited to try them. They smell amazing. And there were two cheeky mince pies in there too! Thank you Cerian! Smile So this has definitely been one of the better parts of the week!

Now off to get some jobs done!

How do you cope when you’re ill?

What do you eat when you feel sick?

Caprese Chicken – WIAW

Hi guys, hope you’re week is going well. It’s official. It’s cold. The heating has been put on at home. It had to be done. We held out as long as we could.

Aren’t the weeks are flying by?! I have less than four weeks left working on the customer site so can then go back to a more reasonable commute. It’s not too bad as I drive in with my dad (yes I work with him, yes he sometimes drives me mad) and we listen to podcasts (love the movie review ones). Any recommendations for podcasts are welcome Smile I want to find a good health and fitness one but haven’t found anything I like yet.

So it’s WIAW as per usual. Thank you Jenn – check out her blog to catch all the other blogs involved and of course her own blog which always has some great recipes on.


This is what I ate Sunday.

Breakfast: I didn’t have pancakes (*sob*)…as I couldn’t be bothered and fancied porridge – but slightly different (I stress the word slightly here as I struggle with change…baby steps!) I had my usual oats cooked with almond milk but I added a heaped tbsp. of unsweetened coconut.

Shredded coconut

It adds a lovely coconut taste to it. I sprinkled some more coconut on it after it was done. It was  a great change (OK fair enough, not massive but, like I said, small steps).

Coconut porridge 12.11

Yum. I’m really not keen on sweet porridge (sacre bleu I know) so it’s hard to find ways to jazz up porridge in a savoury-ish way, if that makes sense.

We didn’t do much on Sunday to be honest. Just the usual cleaning of the bathrooms, ironing and hoovering. We watched some Grey’s Anatomy as well. If you’ve never seen it then I can’t stress enough how much I love this programme. We watched the last two episodes of Season 6 and it was AMAZING. Literally Ben and I just sat there gripped. Even Alfie was gripped. OK that’s a lie, Alfie was asleep. But I’m sure he would have been gripped if he’s been paying attention.

Lunch: a fairly standard meal. A three egg omelette with half a tin of tuna and some fried veggies, with Brussels Sprouts of course.


One of my favourite easy meals. Not as good as Saturday’s omelette obviously, but I can’t eat that all the time…somehow I don’t think it’s that good for me!

Dinner: I was at a bit of a loose end for exciting recipes this week but I decided to try making my own Caprese chicken. It’s a very simple meal but I’ve written the recipe below anyway.

Caprese Salad 11.11

Caprese Chicken (serves 2)

1 tbsp. oil

2 chicken breast fillets

4 large tomatoes, sliced

1 large ball of mozzarella, sliced

Bunch of fresh basil leaves

Lemon juice

Season the chicken and then heat the oil in a frying pan and add the chicken. After golden on both sides and cooked through, put on a plate. Then just pile the tomato slices, mozzarella and basil leaves on top. Season and squeeze the lemon over.

It’s a very easy recipe (as you can see) but it was delicious. I loved the simple and fresh flavours.

Caprese2 11.11

Alongside this I made my cauliflower mash potato with some cheese thrown in and had some roasted root vegetables. I really enjoyed this.

Snack: obviously my usual million apples, a banana and some Snack a Jacks. And I’ve been enjoying some Greek yogurt for a change.


Total Greek Yogurt is my favourite brand for Greek yogurt. I love this side pot of honey! Scrummy.

I also dabbled in a bit of baking on Sunday. I decided to try THIS recipe. Don’t get me wrong, I love big fat unhealthy cookies, but I saw this healthified recipe, had the ingredients to hand and thought might as well give it a try.


I just decided to make four larger cookies, rather than 16 tiny bites. They’re quite crumbly and fall apart fairly easily, but they’re not bad! Ben enjoyed them – and that, people, is the deciding vote.

Fitness: just my usual really. I ran Tuesday morning as I was meant to run Monday at work but it was tipping it down. I avoid washing my hair at work as it takes forever to a) wash b) comb, and c) dry. I tend to just tidy it up a bit and carry on. However, rain is a game changer. Rain = Anna looks like a drowned witch at work. So I thought it best to avoid, for everyone’s benefit really. I did enjoy the morning run though.


And managed a good time so I was chuffed. Usually it’s easier to get a good time during the day rather than the morning so I was pleased. I just need to get myself back into longer distances soon…my half-marathon training will start late December and I just know it’s going to be a shock to the system.

My strength training is still going well. I feel that it’s getting easier so it should be soon time to change things up again…The worst routine is the lower body workout though. I hate lunges. I like strength training because it really does shape my body nicely, whereas running has never really done that to a great extent. But it’s deadly dull, isn’t it? At least with running you can look around or zone out. Using weights is just so damn repetitive and boring. Just my personal observation!

I also can’t wait for the Pilates class to begin – two weeks time!

And here’s what I’m wearing today:

Outfit 10.10

I really like this top, I got it in American Eagle when I was in America. I LOVE that shop. I bought a ridiculous amount of clothes from there. And blazer is from New Look, and jeans from Top Shop.

Not much else to report really. I’m feeling a bit boring lately, sorry!

How’s Wednesday treating you?

Oatmeal/porridge – does it always have to be sweet for you?

Pumpkin oatmeal spice cookies

Wow the week has gone quickly. I must say this all the time but seriously. This week has been fairly tough. We’re working on the customer site at the moment and this adds an extra 30 mins on to my already one hour commute. And it’s half term at the moment which means traffic is amazing. Next week is just going to be terrible. I’m here for another five weeks!!

Right, moan over. As I said in my last post I had meant to post on Monday but it just didn’t happen. Sleep was chosen instead. Sorry I’m not sorry.

I wanted to do a quick mention of the mammoth task that was cooking my pumpkin. I was devastated when I’d used up my one and only tin of pumpkin puree that I’d got from America on my honeymoon. I almost bought a million a few more tins but decided I should try making my own.


OK I realise pumpkin might be a bit old news now as Halloween is over and October is finished but this was quite an arduous process and I just want to at least document it as, honestly, a fair amount of effort went into it and I’m chuffed at my achievement (yes, achievement). I followed THESE instructions. In the end I got a hefty amount of pumpkin puree, and I saved a quarter for roasting, and got a handful of pumpkin seeds. Fabulous. Stocked up for a few years at least!

So I’ve been using pumpkin everywhere as you can imagine. I wanted to make some relatively healthy pumpkin cookies for Halloween and this recipe was really quite easy.


Pumpkin oatmeal spice cookies (recipe adapted from HERE)

  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups flour (you could use whole wheat here I guess but I only had normal white flour) 
  • 3 cups of rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar (I actually subbed this for Stevia and went on taste just to make it a bit healthier)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp cinnamon 
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

– Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

– Combine pumpkin, eggs and vanilla until well combined. In a separate bowl, add flour, oats, sugar/Stevia, baking powder, baking soda and spices. Combine wet and dry ingredients until mixed. The dough is very thick and fairly dry, I added a few splashes of almond milk.

– Drop onto a greased baking sheet. I did 18 fairly chunky cookies, though you could easily make them smaller to make more. Bake for 12-15 minutes until lightly browned.

They were crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle. Lovely! You could probably add chocolate chips or nuts in there as well but I wanted to keep things simple.

I also threw some roasted pumpkin to a feta salad. This was great. I love salads with hot ingredients.


And I added pumpkin puree to porridge:


I’ve got to say, I didn’t notice any difference apart from it being slightly more creamy. I’m a big fan of more stodgy porridge/oatmeal so this didn’t blow me away if I’m honest. But some extra nutrients in the morning is always good I guess!

This weekend we have nothing planned. Hurrah! So I’m hoping to get a long run in tomorrow morning (we’ll see) and the usual chores. We’re loving Grey’s Anatomy (season 6) at the moment so Saturday night will probably be a fair few episodes of that with maybe a cheeky gin & tonic. Bliss.

What are you up to this weekend?

Have you gotten over the pumpkin craze or is still living strong?