Chicken and chocolate

Well I am glad we’ve almost finished this week. It has definitely been a strange one! What with it being Easter and having Monday off, and then having Tuesday off because of my little episode (thank you all for your kind words by the way), it’s just been a bit crazy.

After Tuesday I felt a bit battered and bruised with a HUGE head ache, but otherwise I was OK. On a random note, when I had an ECG in the ambulance to check my heart they stuck these coin-sized sticker things (the things they attach the wires to to read your heart…or something *pretends to sound like she knows what she’s talking about*) on various places on my body. When I got back from the hospital I kept finding the stickers. I had no idea they put so many on me! When I thought I got them all I then found them on my legs! Crazy. And painful to unstick.

I’m now terrified to get up in the morning (or the middle of the night for my various pee trips, sorry TMI) for fear I may faint again. I’m like an old lady getting up in the morning, bracing myself and taking my time.

I went into work on Wednesday because the doctors told me I couldn’t be alone for the next 24 hours in case I fainted again and Ben couldn’t be off work again. But in all honestly, I was fine. And it was rather fun telling people what happened. I know that hospitals are not funny places and God forbid anyone needs to go there, but thankfully my episode was just sheer bad luck of the location of our stairs and nothing serious. If I’d have fainted on the bed I’d have been fine!

Anyway, so I wanted to recap a bit more of Easter (before I was rudely interrupted by my delicate disposition). After looking after Ellie, my niece, on Saturday Ben and I were definitely up for a more relaxed day. Our families had agreed to have a bit more of a quiet Easter and most of us aren’t religious, so Ben and me decided to have a nice relaxed meal on Sunday.

After inspiration from Sara and her Bucket List of recipes I decided to do what I’ve been meaning to do for ages. Roast my first ever whole chicken. I decided to keep things relatively simple so just put some Nando’s mild sauce on and under the skin, pop an onion and some garlic inside it and season before popping in the oven for an hour and a half.

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I bought a whole brand new baking tray for this culinary adventure only to find I could cook it in it’s foil container *sighs*. But I’ve got it for next time!

We kept the meal simple as we wanted to maximise the chicken experience (…or I couldn’t be bothered to do all the trimmings).

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I had broad beans (the king of all vegetables in my humble opinion), roasted vegetables and mashed cauliflower cheese. Ben declined the cauliflower and had potato waffles instead. Honestly I can’t get this boy away from cheese but if it’s near cauliflower he’s like “helllll no”.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I went back for thirds seconds of the chicken. It was so good.

And I was inspired by another blogger (I know, seriously I have no independent ideas) for using the chicken carcass to make stock. Laura always talks about the pros of respecting the meat you eat by using as much of it as you can and the health benefits involved in bone broth that I was really chuffed to finally try it myself. I felt like a proper housewife with my stock simmering away in the pot. It’s now safely stowed away in the freezer ready to be used in soups or sauces. Yum.

Then mums also popped over on Sunday and we had a nice catch up and coffee with them both. I only wanted one Easter Egg this year because honestly we have so much chocolate in the house it’s ridiculous, so my mum got me this AMAZING egg.

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A dark chocolate egg with TWENTY-FOUR mini bars. There are loads of flavours like chocolate and almond, chocolate and raisin, white chocolate… Oh I am loving this. I might have eaten the entire egg in one sitting while watching Downton Abbey in the evening with these two dashing chaps…

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…and felt very sick. But I find it so hard with Easter eggs because you keep wanting to ‘tidy up’ an edge and then suddenly you’re just left with a few chunks…and well, you can’t leave them…

Monday started with a 6 mile run:

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That mile 5 was TOUGH. I had spotted another runner a distance ahead of me at mile three and I gradually began to gain on him. But he was clearly running just that tiny bit slower than me because it took forever to get to him. Then around mile 4-5 it became a bit uncomfortable because I was right at his heels and I didn’t want to be like a weird runner stalker. So I had to pick up my pace to get past him and then maintain that pace to make sure he didn’t feel like a weird runner stalker to me. Hence my 7.14min/mile pace for mile 5!

And then the rest of Monday was a day of chilling. I might have hoovered to liven things up, but otherwise we just relaxed. I spent some really nice lazy time on the couch watching more Downton Abbey and reading magazines…

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I know my Easter weekend might not sound very exciting, but honestly, it was perfect. I got to spend it with the people I love and enjoy good food. What else could I want?

How was your Easter?

What can’t you help but keep eating once you start?

My running week and a baking success

Hi guys! Hope you’re enjoying the long weekend (if you’re lucky enough to not have to work/study). And would you believe the sun is out? OK it’s still very cold but there is actual sunshine and sunlight coming through the window as I type. Hurrah!

Well this week has flown by (I guess it would do being only four days). But I felt like I’ve done a fair bit. I have finally joined a running club. I found a very local one to me that meet on Tuesday nights. Originally I was sceptical of running clubs because I never run in the evenings. It just isn’t my thing. I like to get up and get it done first thing.

However, the appeal with running with other people was quite tempting. So I joined and went on Tuesday night. It was weird getting back from work and putting my running gear on and going running. I wasn’t used to not having dinner straight away.

The running club meets just over a mile from where I live so I ran there. There were so many people! About 20-30 I think. But I felt like such an outsider as everyone knew each other. We started warming up outside in the car park and it felt a little like a PE/gym lesson with a teacher. This went on for about 10 mins and I was thinking “let’s just run already!” All the faffing around was a bit annoying. Anyway we finally started and we did intervals. Basically the main guy stood a distance away from us and we had to sprint towards him as fast as we could and then jog slowly back. Then he would move further away. It was INTENSE. Hello competitive Anna. It was nice to have that motivation to run fast as I’m sure when I do intervals on my own I don’t push myself that hard! Though there were four guys who were just astounding in their speed. Crazy fast. Then after warming down it was over and I ran home. The next morning my thighs were so painful.

I’m still not wholly convinced as it basically took my entire evening from me and I do prefer running in the morning but it was nice mixing things up and the intervals obviously pushed me hard. Well, I’ll see how it goes I guess.

I made things a bit easier by making dinner in the morning so Ben could still have dinner when he got in and I could just grab something quick when I got back from the club. I made the chicken and apricot lentil thing again which was so good after the running.

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Running, in general, this week has been back to normal after recovering from the half marathon this week.

Monday – 5 miles, average pace 7.42min/mile.

Tuesday – running club

Wednesday – I ran with the guys at work during my lunch break and I felt shattered. My legs ached and I was tired. We ran 3 miles, average pace 7.42min/mile.

Thursday – I wasn’t sure about running but Ben persuaded me (yes you read that correctly). The preference of getting the run done Thursday and fully enjoying my lie-in Friday made sense. Also meant I would be rested before my long run Saturday.

Friday – rest

Saturday – 10 mile long run planned.

Sunday – rest

And I’ve been loving my new trainers.

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Mizuno Wave Alchemy 12

Because I have over-pronation when I run (my feet roll inwards) I needed trainers with a lot of support to help prevent this from happening as otherwise it ripples up my legs and makes my knee painful because I’m not running properly (my physio tells me!) So with insoles as well I’m sorted. Apart from a MOTHER of a blister when I wore them for the first time on a run, they’ve been brilliant. I’ve had no issues with my knee or my Achilles’ – TOUCH WOOD!!

I meant to post this earlier in the week but never got round to it but I went on a baking frenzy last weekend to bring cakes into work and for Ben’s work for people who sponsored my half marathon. I thought I’d pick a two very simple cupcake recipes to make it easier, but honestly I was baking for HOURS. I did like 6 batches of cupcakes!

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And that wasn’t even all of them!

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I made a standard chocolate cupcake but with a chunk of dark chocolate in the middle that I poked in just before baking, and I made a vanilla cupcake with vanilla icing and either the sugar balls or sweets stuck on the top.

I am a self-confessed bad baker (see exhibit A) so I am so pleased these actually turned out really well! The only disaster I had was when I was whizzing up the icing sugar and butter to make the frosting with a hand blender the icing went up in a huge puff of icing smoke literally coating everything, including my hair, in a film of sweet dusting. Alfie loved it.

So today is all about chilling and getting the chores done. We’ve got just two episodes left of Game of Thrones, a custom-made pizza from Sainsbury’s (no cheese, extra veg, chicken & BBQ sauce – YES) and maybe some sneaky chocolate…well, it is Easter Open-mouthed smile

Have a great Easter everyone!

What have you got planned for this weekend?

What kind of trainers do you prefer?

Are you/have you been part of a running club?

My Skiing Adventures

Hi guys! Sorry for my lack of posts, we are now back from our week of skiing in Bulgaria. We got back late Saturday night (2am UK time, 4am Bulgarian time – which was the time that our bodies were still in) so we were quite tired!! So I’d thought I’d do a recap post to tell you all about it if you don’t mind Smile

The taxi picked us up from our house 11ish so I had enough time to get up early to get in one last run before having a week off. Yes, I know, sounds a bit obsessive but I thought if I was just sat travelling all day it would be nice to think I got a run in the morning! So I ran my first ever 12 miles and was fairly chuffed with my speed.

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It was quite a tough run, I’m not going to lie. By mile 8 I was feeling fairly tired. But I got there in the end about 8 minute a mile. This is the speed I’m planning for the half marathon and I know shouldn’t be running this speed already on my long runs but it just came naturally to me so I’m thinking I might aim to go quicker on race day. Not sure though as honestly I felt absolutely shattered at the end. I did lots of foam rolling at home afterwards!!

We got to the airport just after midday and by the time we got through security it was lunch-time. We decided on Jamie’s Italian (yes, I know, I am little bit obsessed with this restaurant at the moment!)

Jamies

I had a vegetable plank to start, which was so yummy.

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I loved that they put this in the middle of the table…as if I was sharing it. Ha! There was a small ball of mozzarella and a slice of fontina cheese, some chutneys, roasted vegetables and a mini carrot salad. Oh I do love variety!

Then for main course I had my standard turkey Milanese. I just absolutely adore this dish (it’s my third time having it…)

IMG_3623So huge! And so filling. Perfect for a long day of travelling.

We then caught our flight and then had a three hour coach journey to the resort. By the time we arrived it was around midnight. We were shattered! My legs also ached a lot from the run which wasn’t so great. It was 2am Bulgarian time and we had to set our alarms for 7am to get up for breakfast and meet our group to get our skis and boots etc. at 8.45am.

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I’ll talk more about the food on Wednesday for WIAW as otherwise this post will be huge. But let’s just say I’m not a huge fan of the Bulgarian food!!

The first day was very stressful. Getting up after so little sleep, rushing to meet with our group, queuing for all our bits and pieces, then meeting with our tuition group…I felt so frazzled. Then Ben and I got split up in our groups because Ben was a better skier than me (he’s been three times before) and I felt a bit lost without him if I’m honest. This was my first time skiing on snow and I was already stressed and tired so I wasn’t too happy to start with!

However, after Ben managed to calm an emotional Anna down and I began properly skiing I loved it. After flying (read: slowly winding) my way down the first slopes, I was hooked and it no longer mattered that Ben and I were apart.

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And it was just beautiful. I had to keep pinching myself when I was skiing down the slopes and just seeing the views in the distance. So beautiful.

Each morning we got up early, had breakfast and got to the slopes as soon as we possibly could. We were skiing by 9am together before our tuition began at 10am. Then 12am we broke for lunch and Ben and me would try and get a couple of slopes in before the lessons began again at 1pm and finished at 3pm. Then Ben and I would meet up again and ski until 4pm. Needless to say we were shattered by the end of the day. Literally we would fall asleep at 9pm. Now for me this is no big deal (hello, I’m an old lady) but for Ben this is CRAZY talk. And in the morning our legs ached like crazy. My calves were SO tight.

SkiingBut we loved it.

Thankfully I wasn’t in the beginner’s group where they were taught the absolutely basics. I was in the intermediate group and we were taught how to parallel turn and basically improve. Though my moves are by no mean perfect, I can happily say that after the first couple of days I looked like a proper skier (not an expert, but I didn’t look like an absolute newbie!) Ben was amazing. He was a smooth criminal with his skiing and he even got to go down a black run on the last day! I got to go down some reds so I’m happy Smile

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I just couldn’t believe the views. It was terrifying seeing the heights we were going when we took the different chair lifts up. I only made it to the middle of the mountain but that was just phenomenal (Ben got to the top and he said it was just another world up there). Do you know what else was terrifying? Trying to take a photo of the views when on said chair lifts. This involved a lot of careful navigating of ski poles, gloves and phone. Scary stuff.

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And yes, I fell over – a fair few times I’m proud to say! Nothing major, no broken bones thankfully. It didn’t hurt at all to be honest. The snow was like a big pillow. It did dent my ego a little but, hey, I’m still learning! My instructor gave me a great compliment when he asked if I was in training for something as he said I was able to jump straight back up and carry on so easily. So there’s a silver lining!

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Our hotel wasn’t the greatest I have to say. But we weren’t there for that so we shrugged it off as something to improve on next time. We already know we want to go back to the same place and we chatted around to different people and know the hotel we want to go to. So we’re putting it down to experience!

I had a couple of lovely massages though in the spa (which I definitely needed). I had a Swedish massage and an anti-stress massage. But can I just say that having a Bulgarian masseuse who doesn’t speak much English makes getting a massage a little bit awkward…

So I’m hooked! I love skiing and will definitely be doing it again. Probably next year and in Bulgarian again. It was so cheap there (all the gear and lessons) and the slopes were amazing, the snow perfect and the experience just unforgettable.

But I am knackered! We had today (Monday) off to recover and we definitely needed it. It’s back to work tomorrow unfortunately but such is life!

Have you been skiing before?

Have you been to Bulgaria before? To be honest we would have never gone there ordinarily if it wasn’t for skiing.

Do you prefer more active holidays or really relaxing holidays? I’m definitely a more active holiday fan!

Honeymoon–Part 2 (Colorado)

Hi guys! If you missed the first part of my recent honeymoon, please go have a read. It was a great week in Orlando Smile Now to carry on to part two…

After Orlando, we caught a flight to Houston (random I know) and then to Colorado Springs. We spent enough time in Houston airport to need to grab some lunch. We went to Cat Cora’s Kitchen. It was very good – sweet potato fries, where have you been all my life?

Cat Cora

[Beetroot and rocket salad with goat’s cheese on bread & fish burger with salsa and sweet potato fries]

And after checking out every single damn shop in Houston airport while we waited (for FOUR hours) we caught our fight to Colorado Springs.

For our first day we decided to go horse riding in Garden of the Gods. We felt very cowboy-esque. My horse was super speedy, while Ben’s took his sweet time.

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It was an amazing day! And baking hot! I thought it’d be cold but it was so warm. It was so much fun horse riding through this beautiful scenery. Such a difference from Orlando!

We also went mountain biking twice as well. The first time it was still so hot. I got badly sunburnt (whoops). We cycled some crazy routes through the Red Rock Canyon for about 2.5 hours. We were shattered.IMG_3020

Check out my cool helmet!

It was quite scary at times but definitely exhilarating. We had to get off the bikes at times and walk because it got a bit precarious. I could just hear my mother’s voice in my ear telling me to go back to safety…

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And the second day of biking it was freezing. It was crazy hot one day and then the temperature dropped so quickly.IMG_3133

[Ben was clearly too cool to wear his helmet. Safety first!]

We cycled to keep warm! We saw an elk as we were cycling along as well which was really cool. We were one with nature…careening through the wilderness.

We were intending on driving up Pikes Peaks (the main peak in Colorado) but it would have taken two hours apparently to drive it and so this is why we decided to do the biking again as we enjoyed it so much

And we did lots of walking. It was just so beautiful. Towards the end of our time there it just got so cold it was unbelievable. Really biting wind.

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[That’s my ‘hurry up and take the damn photo I’m cold’ face]

We made a road trip out to the Royal Gorge Bridge as well one day. Absolute fantastic views. Though pretty much everything was closed – apparently out of season. No white-water rafting for us! We were sad but it was so cold we were quite relieved. RG Bridge

Food-wise was a culinary delight in Colorado. IHOP for breakfast every day, yes please!IHOP

I’d like to point out that the left-hand side are mine and the right are Ben. Don’t get me wrong, pancakes and sweet things like that are yummy for breakfast but all that cream and sauce…my stomach just turns.

The meals in Colorado were really good. For lunch one day we went to a Black-Eyed Pea for something a bit more relaxed and ‘lunchy’. I got a turkey meal with two added vegetable sides (my kinda sides!)

3.10 Lunch Anna

It looks like a crazy roast dinner! And a little portion of cranberry sauce on the side. I think the bready thing in the corner was cornbread. It didn’t taste very healthy but it was very good!

For dinner one night we went to a Mexican restaurant and, unsurprisingly, the meal was HUGE, but very yummy.

4.10 Dinner Anna

Spiced pork with pineapple, rice, black beans, guacamole, sour green, salsa and a rolled tortilla in the foil. I just don’t understand how someone can eat all of that?? I gave it my best effort.

4.10 Dinner Anna done[Thought I’d do a little before and after!]

I didn’t even make a stab at the tortilla. Poor effort maybe, but I think I did pretty well!

I’ve shown quite a few of the meals I’ve had on the honeymoon and most of them probably weren’t that healthy (hello, turkey leg). But I think it’s important to relax a bit on holiday and try things you might not have normally. We were fairly active and we didn’t go absolutely mad so I think the ‘damage’ is fairly minimal. My jeans still fit and that’s all that matters! I can’t be one of those people who goes on holiday and worries and frets and not enjoy myself. I know I eat healthily at home and I exercise so I knew when I got home things would balance out. That’s not to say that if Pinkberry became available in Southampton I wouldn’t have it every day week…

Other than lots more sight-seeing, walking, eating and just having fun, that’s pretty much it! And the perfect end to the holiday was on the flight home:

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I slept well on that flight Smile

So that’s my recap! We had an amazing time. We really had fun together, a little adventure if you like. And we’re so excited about the future and our life together (sorry, a bit sappy).Jump

I hope you enjoyed it! Has anyone else been to Colorado?

Hello Reality

Hello! I’m going to do a couple of recaps of the holiday as well but I need a bit more time as it requires sorting through hundreds of photos (yep, I got that holiday feeling of MUST TAKE A PHOTO OF EVERYTHING). So please stay tuned, I hope to have the first one rocked out by the weekend Smile

As jet-lag goes, it didn’t affect me too bad. I fell asleep stupidly early Sunday and Monday night and now I’m back into the rhythm of UK bedtimes and mornings. Though it was a horrific shock of the alarm going off a 5.30am Wednesday to get me up for my first run post-holiday. Though we did get up relatively early during our holiday (I think the latest we stayed in bed was 8am) it was still horrible. No consolation of  IHOP for breakfast or roller-coasters in a few hours. Nope, just the cold dark British weather and slug-dodging. Anyway, it was tough (to be expected I suppose). I like to think we didn’t massively indulge on the holiday and we kept fairly active. But it was still tough.

Run 10.10

Just over 2 miles. Not my best time. But I congratulated myself on getting out there anyway. I also did some ab work afterwards which wasn’t so tough. I guess general fitness declines quicker than muscle.

I’m thoroughly enjoying our normal meals again though. Don’t get me wrong, eating in America was AMAZING. But the portion-sizes are quite hefty and I’m a starter and a main girl so it was heavy going. Oh, here’s a question for any Americans out there, why do the waiters/waitresses bring out the main meal when you’re still eating your starter?? We were quite baffled.

And the sweets….and FRO-YO. Seriously, Britain, get your act together. We don’t have enough fro-yo places around.

Fro yo love

Yogilove…self-serve. Disaster. Eyes waaay to big for the stomach (toppings including). Not that I left any! Pinkberry was definitely the best though. So creamy.

You get that holiday feeling of “I’ll never get to eat this again!”. So as you can imagine, by the end of the holiday we had over-dosed a bit on food and eating out. I just wanted some normal Anna-friendly food. Also, I think I’ll definitely be holding back on Diet Coke for a bit – free refills!! Monster glasses. Heaven.Black-eyed pea

Anyway, so eating our normal meals (easy salads, chicken with roasted veg, omelettes) is great. Though one thing that I will try and continue that I picked up from America is drinking Bud Light. I’m not a beer drinker but I tried some of Ben’s and it was so refreshing! Definitely be on the look out for that.

So in the spirit of a new era (sort of), I’ve signed up to the Reading Half-Marathon! It’s in March so ages away to worry about just yet. But it’s something I can now work towards and dread look forward to. And I’ve signed up to Pilates on Saturday mornings! I get a one-to-one session to begin with (in a couple of weeks time) and then I get to join the ‘proper’ group. I’m so excited. Things are a-changing! Well, they’re mildly different.

Hope you’re having a good day! Bit of rambling post I’m afraid.

How do you recover from a holiday?