Rants and Raves #7

I feel like I have absolutely no time right now. What with planning meals to make sure we use up all our food, planning what to wear and what needs washing and ironing last minute so not to mess up the packing situation, last minute housework (who wants to come back from holiday to a messy house??) and my normal day job…I feel a bit time-limited. Though I will hastily qualify that statement with anyone who has children makes me look very pathetic. Kudos to all you parents.

So when better to have a good old rant and raves?

Rave: Generally I’m a very tidy person. Though Ben likes to push my boundaries on this one (apparently trousers can be allowed to drape on the banister if he’s going to wear them in the next ten years…that would be no, Benjamin). However I’ve let things slip in the fitness clothing drawer department. I do have a lot of fitness apparel (as I’m sure a lot of you do too) and it was getting to be a struggle to comfortable fit everything in…so, I’m embarrassed to admit, in the end it’s been a bit of a “shove it in” affair.

But enough was enough. I sorted through the drawer and made a big pile of clothes to donate to charity that I just don’t wear anymore since upgrading a few item which left me with enough space to make nice neat and organised folded piles within the drawer.


Ahhh, so much better. And so much easier to access. My soul sleeps happily at night now.

Rant: I’m a dog person as you might have guessed, but I don’t hate cats or wish them ill. I just find certain ones around where I live annoying and very cunning. They leave little paw prints on my sunroof so I know they’re walking over my car at night. And this may be my imagination but I swear they goad and taunt Alfie.

Alfie, bless him, is not a particularly smart dog or very ferocious. He will give chase to a cat (and promptly yanks himself on his lead) but if the cat just sits there he sort of freaks out and doesn’t know what to do. I imagine in his head he’s giving the indifferent cat a menacing stare. Basically I think these cats are taking liberties. They sit close to our front door, they slink slowly past our living room windows…

IMG_9017 And they sit on our bins! I feel like they are being passive aggressive and are waging psychological warfare on us. OK maybe not, but seriously, cats please hang out elsewhere as dragging a frenzied Alfie around on his lead is fun for no one (except the cats perhaps).

Rave: This is hilarious and probably very true:

Female runnersI definitely imagine that I look better running than reality. Race photos are always quite a horrifying shock.

Rant: This is rather gross story so apologies in advance. I was walking Alfie at the weekend and I often wear my iGloves as then I can use my phone without getting cold hands (I normally listen to some music or a podcast). Anyway, Alfie did his business and I picked it up with a poo bag and as I tied it I noticed Alfie poo on my glove. Yuck. And then found the poo bag had a hole in it and was leaking – wonderful! Luckily there was a poo bin close so it wasn’t too bad in the end. Obviously my glove needed to be washed so I took it off and turned it inside out and when I got home it went in the wash with some other bits and bobs and then in the dryer later.


And it shrunk!! It looks like a very small child’s glove now (I actually think it looks quite cute). How annoying though! It does kind of fit but it’s a lot more stretched. Hmph.

Rave: I know I keep saying this (sorry) but I’m loving going to the gym. I know that might sound incredibly sad but I’m really enjoying it. It might be because I do so many different things when I’m there that it’s never boring. I do a certain number of reps of something before moving on to something else. And I know this sounds weird but being in the gym at 5.30am makes me feel hardcore. There are a few other people there (probably less than 20? It’s quite a big gym) and I feel like we’re hardcore gym goers to be there so early. I also get the choice of any space, equipments and weights that I like. IMG_8992And getting there for 5.30am means I’m done by 6.30ish and as I walk out I can just see the Spin class starting and, I won’t lie, I do feel very relieved to not be doing it! Spin is a brilliant cardio workout and I do enjoy it (sort of) but I much prefer doing my own thing at the moment and I feel like my entire body is getting a good workout so it’s a better use of my time and effort to get stronger overall.

Rant: Those first few minutes at the start of your commute when the car is FREEZING and you’re desperately turning the heating up as far as it will go. At 5.20am in the morning it is possibly the worst 5 minutes of my life. Even my steering wheel is freezing! I tend to wear a hoodie and a coat and then leave the coat in the car and make a mad dash to the gym as I hate carrying excess of stuff to the gym but lately it’s just not possible.

IMG_9028 This was from this morning, not nearly as cold as yesterday but still not that warm!

Rave: Trying to make sure we don’t have to waste any food means a lot of careful planning. Happily this has meant more soup eating! I had half a butternut squash I wanted to use up quickly so chopped it up and popped it in my slow cooker with some chopped onion and vegetable stock. I left it to cook away for about six hours on low and then just whizzed it up with a hand blender. I added in a tablespoon or so of cream cheese as well to make it extra creamy and a tin of chickpeas to increase the protein.

Butternut squash creamy soup I got two large portions of soup out of this.

This is a similar story for sweet potato too, which I enjoyed a bit more as it had a deeper flavour.

Creamy sweet potato soup (Apologies for appalling photos)

And that’s my lot. I won’t be blogging in America (though I will be Tweeting – follow me HERE if you’re interested) so won’t be back blogging now until February. I’ll still try and keep reading blogs when I’m chilling by the pool after a hard day of roller coasters 😉

What are your rants and raves this week?

Are you a cat or a dog person?

Are you tidy and organised…and do you have a secret ‘Monica cupboard’ like my fitness drawer was to me?

A spot of afternoon tea

Hello! It’s Wednesday – half way there! Not that I’m living for the weekend or anything… Winking smile

This week I’m joining the blogging link-up What I Ate Wednesday and share the delightful treats and meals I’ve been loving lately. Pop over to Jenn’s blog to see what’s going down Smile


So here’s a recap of Saturday’s eats as they were pretty damn good. As I mentioned in my last post, I didn’t run Parkrun on Saturday. This was really hard and sad for me. Without sounding overly dramatic, it sucked. Ben went but I went to spin instead. I could have volunteered but I wanted to get the endorphins going and to be honest I was in a bad mood.

And let me tell you, spin was hard core. The usual person was sick apparently so we had a stand-by person do it. I assumed it would be a cop-out session. Ha. Usually we have little breaks between songs but not this time. It was just non-stop. And then the instructor goes “right, time for a 5 minute sprint”. Seriously?! It was 30 seconds of sprints, with about 10 seconds recovery, over 5 minutes. I was a sweaty mess.

After this I had my usual breakfast:


Same old same old. Porridge (oatmeal), almond milk and chia seeds.

Then after getting ready and usual house stuff, Ben and me headed to my parent’s where I dropped Ben off for some ‘man-time’ with my dad to watch the football and play Xbox. I picked my mum up and we headed off for a lovely spot of afternoon tea for lunch.

Besides from getting immensely stressed out trying to find a car park in the world’s smallest village square and ending up giving up and parking in a ditch, we arrived at Lilly’s Tearoom in Wickham in one piece (not always guaranteed when I drive).

We ordered soup to start because we weren’t sure afternoon tea would be an adequate lunch (rookie error right there).


Delicious pea and ham soup

I loved how beautiful all the crockery was. In fact, the whole tearoom was beautifully decorated and the service was fabulous.

Tea at Lillys

Obviously we had tea Smile

And then our ‘main’…

Afternoon tea

Heaven! We had the choice of so many different cakes (carrot, chocolate, lemon drizzle, coffee and walnut, rocky road, millionaire shortbread or Victoria sponge). Well, my mum and me both adore Victoria sponge so we both went for a slice of that. It also came with crustless chicken sandwiches and crustless cucumber sandwiches (but of course!) and scones with clotted cream and jam.

Yeah so we clearly did not need that soup!! We were both quite full by the end, only leaving a couple of the sandwiches (choose your battles I say – cakes all the way). It was perfect.

And then we looked round the little square at all the lovely little shops. And lo and behold I found the most amazing chocolate shop.

Chocolate shop Wickham

Because after so much cake, surely this makes sense??

So many beautiful and tasty looking chocolates! Well, I pushed the boat out and went crazy. I bought Ben and me a box to share.

Box of chocolates

I forgot to take a photo of inside, but I will share soon as it’s pretty impressive

The shopkeeper thought it was hilarious that I was buying this for just Ben and me to eat ourselves. How terribly indulgent, I know Winking smile

Well, dinner wasn’t needed for quite a long time afterwards! Luckily Ben had had a pub lunch so we were both happy to have a nice late dinner.

Roast sausages and veg

I kept it simple and had roasted vegetables and sausages. I threw in a chopped cooking apple as well (because I don’t eat enough apples – it’s something I’m trying to work on Winking smile). I threw some herbs on it (rosemary and thyme) and then drizzled it with some oil and balsamic vinegar. LOVED this. Definitely happening again. And so easy – everything just went in a casserole dish and then in the oven for 20ish minutes.

And that’s that!

Last night I went for an easy 8 mile run and it felt pretty good. No pain, no major discomfort. Just a bit of aching but I was more concerned with the raging thunderstorm going around me! But more on that another day.

Have you ever had afternoon tea? I think it’s pretty much the best thing in the world. OK I’m easily swayed by anything cake-related.

What treats do you like to buy? A box of chocolates is fairly extravagant for us, but I just couldn’t help myself. Usually it’s Cadbury’s chocolate or Lindt!

What’s your favourite filling in a sandwich? I am a bit turkey or chicken fan, with loads of salad. And cranberry sauce.

Easter weekend

First and foremost, four day weekends are amazing. It was so lovely waking up on Friday knowing that I had three more lie-ins ahead of me. Bliss.

This Easter we kept it quite low-key and very relaxed. A perfect way to spend the time if you ask me! Thursday night we had a nice easy dinner which was inspired by Maria from Running Cupcake. I really fancied something warming, like soup, but also wanted something a bit more carby so this fitted perfectly. Home-made tomato soup with a chicken quesadilla.

Soup and q

The soup was ever so simple. Just a tin of cherry tomatoes (for soups this is perfect because they’re slightly sweeter than ordinary chopped tomatoes), some vegetable stock, a chopped small onion, herbs (like basil & thyme) and a tiny bit of sugar. I blitz it with a hand blender at the end but left it a bit ‘lumpy’ as I wanted a bit of texture to it rather than it to be completely smooth.

The quesadilla was just filled with chopped chicken, onion, mushrooms and zucchini that I’d fried with some spices (e.g. paprika & cumin) and garlic. I spread a fair amount of cream cheese on each tortilla and then popped one onto a frying pan, loaded it with the mixture and popped the other tortilla on top and fried, and then cooked the top under the grill.

On Friday I got all the housework done and dusted (pun intended). As sad as it sounds I like to get the house in order before anything else because then you can really chill knowing that the bulk of the jobs are done. To be honest, we didn’t do much else. We watched the last of Game of Thrones and had pizza for dinner. Perfect.

Saturday morning I went for my long run (10 miles).










To be honest it felt very tough and I felt very tired the majority of the time. But I’m glad I went. I love getting back from a long run and just feeling like I’ve accomplished something really great. In the great scheme of things of course I haven’t, but I just feel on top of the world and ready for anything.

And believe me, I needed to be ready for anything. Ben and me were going to help out my sister and brother-in-law by looking after Ellie, our niece. After my run I showered, ate, and we picked Ellie up to take her back to ours for an afternoon of fun.

Now, let me explain something first. I am not very good with babies/children. I freak out and have no idea what to do with them, how to speak with them, or anything really. So this was a HUGE step. Of course I’ve been around Ellie (who is just over three years old) loads of times, but never just Ben and me. Alone. No actual adults. So to say I was nervous was an understatement.

In my mind I had planned out the day in a regimented format and imagined we would drift from one planned event to another with gentle ease. Yes, I realise now how delusional and naive I was.

We had a day planned of an egg hunt, building towers with some blocks, colouring and episodes of Dora the Explorer. However, pretty much only the egg hunt happened. We had smallish eggs and one big egg hidden all over the house and it was really fun to watch her try to find them. I thought we’d put them in really obvious places but she still needed some hints from us, bless her.

After that she wanted to feed the eggs to Alfie. Quick intervention (much to Alfie’s disappointment) and all was well again. Then it was a whirlwind time of starting to do one thing and quickly wanting to do something else. I’d like to say organised chaos…but just chaos covers it. We started watching a film (Land Before time One million and Three IV) and I was getting quite into it when she decided nope she didn’t want to do that anymore.

Good luck to whoever marries this little lady one day Winking smile 

For lunch I made some egg mayonnaise sandwiches which in retrospect was probably a mistake (thank you, Nick, oh kind brother-in-law, to suggest such a meal). There was egg and mayo EVERYWHERE. I had to leave the room. It broke my soul.

As much as it sounds like it was a stressful time, we really had fun. It wasn’t at all like I had planned. But of course, you can’t plan things with a three year old. You just have to go with the flow.

My parents showed up to rescue help us and we all went to Manor farm, a local park and farm, to see some animals and have a nice walk.


It was freezing but it was great to see all the animals – especially the baby animals.


This lamb is four days old!

Manor Farm

I couldn’t get over the turkey though. It was HUGE and, honestly, it wasn’t winning any beauty contests (no offence, turkey). And Ellie saying “Christmas dinner” to him probably didn’t make him feel any better… Confused smile

Manor Farm1

My dad was there as well but he managed to dodge the photos.

We had a lovely cup of tea to warm us up and then parted ways. When Ben and I got home (Ellie-less) we realised how shattered we were. Kudos to anyone who has kids!

Right, I think I will leave it there! I have a few more adventures to recap but I will save them for the next post as this post is far too long as it is. Gold stars for anyone who read down this far Winking smile

What did you get up to over Easter?

Are you good with kids? Do you feel comfortable looking after them (plural? You’re crazy!)?

What’s your favourite farm animal? I think mine was definitely the lambs. They were just hopping around so happily. I was happy that I don’t eat lamb! Winking smile

Busy times and a new addition – WIAW

Whoops, I apologise for the delay between posts. Things have been crazy busy! I have some very exciting news (which I will get to shortly), a weekend catch-up with What I ate Wednesday. Whew, better get started.


Friday night Ben and me decided to treat ourselves to a take-away Indian meal. Honestly, I was so excited about it. We haven’t had one in ages. We have a lovely local Indian restaurant/take-away and it’s just brilliant. I had a starter of chicken tandoori:


Yum! This is basically a piece of chicken covered with yogurt and spices and cooked in the clay tandoor oven.

I then had a chicken tikka main (which is essentially very similar to my starter but chunks of chicken rather than an actual leg etc. – what can I say, I love this meal!). I had it with the ludicrously coloured yogurt side-sauce it comes with.


I had both starter and main with the salad garnish you get free with the starter and an onion salad as well. I love the onion salads but it pretty much kills any romance haha. Normally I don’t have any poppadums but I really fancied them so stole a fair few from Ben (Alfie loves them too…I know this is naughty!). We then watched Argo. Brilliant film, such a good story. But SO tense.

Saturday morning we got up early and Ben went for a 6 mile run and I went for a 9 mile run (we ran separately as we had different routes and different paces). The weather was pretty rubbish: cold and wet. And unfortunately on mile 3 when turning round a corner I slipped straight over and landed on the side of my thigh. Seriously painful. A woman passing her car stopped and helped me. She was very nice and offered to drive me home but I told her it was fine. She warned me not to run anymore…She clearly doesn’t understand the running mentality. I’m a third of the way in! No backing out now. I did have a bit of a rest but then carried on. What was great was as I fell I stopped my Garmin – runner’s mentality again haha.


Yeah so carrying on running was a bit painful but my own fault obviously for continuing so what can you do!

After the run I showered and made my usual breakfast of oatmeal and almond milk. So good after a run.


Then I was on fire and cleaned the bathrooms, hoovered, did the washing, ironed, put away laundry, and then walked Alfie. Super Anna! I then crashed haha.

For lunch I made a yummy sweet potato soup based on THIS recipe. It was lovely and warming and quite spicy. I used chickpeas instead of black beans though. And I sadly used all my nutritional yeast up *sobs*. It was another annoying meal that required grating sweet potato though.IMG_3961

Then Ben and I collapsed onto the sofa and watched three episodes back-to-back of Game of Thrones series 2. AMAZING.

For dinner I tried another new recipe. Prepare yourself, because this is something amazing.


Chicken Parmigiana (based on THIS recipe) serves 2

  • 2 chicken breast 
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 40g breadcrumbs
  • 40g parmesan, grated (split into half) 
  • Garlic clove, diced
  • 1/2 can passata/chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • ½ ball light mozzarella, torn

–  Mix 20g of the parmesan with the breadcrums.

– Dip the chicken in the egg, and then the breadcrumb mixture to coat the chicken (I double-dunked back in the egg and breadcrumbs to ensure maximum yumminess).

– Grill the chicken on both sides until golden and crispy.

While the chicken is grilling, fry the garlic in a saucepan, then add the passata with the sugar and oregano until bubbling.

– In a shallow baking dish, add the chicken and the pour over the passata, place the torn mozzarella over the chicken and around it, then dust everything with the remaining parmesan (the pièce de résistance). Grill for 5 mins (until all is melted and gooey like the photo).


This was phenomenally tasty. The best part was when I served it Ben he had no idea really what it was apart from being a ‘cheesy tomato chicken thing’ (this is how I sold it to him). He had no idea the chicken was breaded. He said it literally made the meal and was possibly the best meal I’d ever made. These are CRAZY words. I almost cried Winking smile

Sunday was supposed to be a relaxed day but something exciting happened that no one was expecting so soon…


My sister gave birth, six weeks early, to little Megan. It was always planned that Rachel would have a planned caesarean because of the baby’s position, but this was to be closer to the due date. So obviously this was quite a surprise for everyone, mainly the now very proud parents. She’s a little on the small side (as to be expected) but she is very well and so is Rachel thankfully.


She’s currently going to be spending the next two weeks in hospital just to make sure everything is perfect and then she can go home and join her sister, Ellie.

So Ben and I went to visit them on Sunday after dashing quickly into town to buy some pressies. And then we got to see mum and baby. Rachel was understandably very tired and Megan was fast asleep. But I did get to rest my hand, very gently, on her back. We couldn’t hold her as she needs to be kept as germ-free as possible. But it was just a beautiful experience. I’m always so awe-struck by how tiny and delicate and soft new borns are (I’ve only seen two – Ellie & Megan). And my sister is literally made to be a mum – she fits so naturally into the role.

How very exciting! Big congratulations to Rachel and Nick, my brother-in-law Smile

Do you have any little ones in your family? Our family is very small so Ellie and Megan are the only ‘little people’ we have.

Have you ever fallen when running? It was more embarrassing than anything, but I do have a HUGE bruise on my leg now. I guess that’s one good thing that it’s still trouser weather.

What’s your favourite take-away/take-out?

Mother’s Day and Cake

Hello! Hope you had a great weekend. We had a day of beautiful weather and then a day of freezing temperatures. But it was a really good weekend nonetheless.

On Saturday I ran my last long run before the half marathon next Sunday. It was a good run helped by the fact that it was a beautifully mild day and I went down a route that I really love. Isn’t that weird when you have a route that you get good vibes from? There are definitely certain routes I avoid purely because I don’t get good feelings about.


I like routes that head back home sooner in the run even though they might loop about before I’m actually home. It just psychologically feels like the run is almost at the end, you know?

Then after the run, I showered and had breakfast (usual oatmeal) and did some housework. Then I dared to enter the jaws of hell Marks and Spencer’s. On a Saturday. The day before Mother’s Day. Am I crazy??? And yes, it was MANIC. Dad’s and their kids racing about trying to get presents and flowers everywhere.


OK it doesn’t look so bad in the photo, but literally it was heaving.

I was only in there (thankfully) to pick up some nice flowers as I had everything else I needed for the mums. I wanted the flowers to be fresh for the next day, hence why I dared to go to M&S the day before.

Then I escaped got home and did some housework and had some lunch with Ben. I had my favourite butternut squash soup again.


I’m just so addicted at the moment. I should make big batches of it but I can never be bothered and I know I’d probably eat stupid amounts in one sitting that way rather than putting it in the freezer…Plus I quite enjoy making the soup rather than defrosting it and reheating, you know?

After lunch and walking Alfie, we finally got our act together and saw our wedding photographer to get our photos. How terrible is that considering we got married last September?? Oh well! I might upload some of the photos on the blog as a little memoir to wedding…watch this space.

And because we don’t have a Waitrose near where we live I forced Ben to go to the Waitrose near the photographer’s office so I could stock up on tinned pumpkin. Waitrose is the only place I’ve found stocks it!


I restrained myself in to buying only four. The lady behind the till thought I was mad. Hey, I don’t care!

Then we got ready to take both the mums for a nice meal out. We went to a lovely little pub/restaurant near us called the Jolly Sailor.


We chauffeured the mums so they could drink and relax.


It’s so lovely because Ben’s mum and my mum are friends and go out together anyway so it wasn’t odd having them both there for a Mother’s Day meal. it was just nice to spend the quality time with both of them simultaneously.


Both Ben and me get on really well with our own mum’s and mother-in-laws so it was such a good night out. We are so lucky to have such lovely family surrounding us!

For starters Ben and me went for a sharing platter. Well, what happened was I saw a vegetarian sharing platter that literally had everything I could dream on it and I really wanted to try it but Ben was convinced it wouldn’t come with bread and didn’t want to be overcome by so much veggie-ness so wanted to order a bread basket with it to ‘balance it out’. Fair enough. Until we saw this beast arrive:IMG_3891

Enough to feed an army! There were different cheeses, a falafel, a potato cake thing, hummus, guacamole, grilled vegetables, tzatziki, cauliflower salad, regular salad…and bread. And then our bread basket. Whoops.

Needless to say we were quite full after this. However, on days where I run a long run I’m always more hungry that normal (obviously, I guess) so this was a welcome dinner I have to say!

For my main I went for poussin and fries. This is an unusual choice for me as I’m not a big ‘fries’ fan. I prefer chunky chips or sweet potato fries


But you know what, this pretty much hit the spot. The fries with ketchup went down like a treat. Really yummy and exactly what I was craving. And I might have helped out Ben with his fries too. Hey, I need the carbs what can I say!

No pudding as seriously, no room at the inn. Such a good evening with the mums. I hope they enjoyed it; they definitely deserved to be treated. Speaking for myself, I am so grateful to my mum and everything she’s done for me. She’s a hardworking lady and juggled a lot of things when my sister and I were growing up to make sure we had happy, healthy childhoods so I’m very thankful for that. And I know Ben appreciates his mum just as much. Like I said, we’re both extremely lucky.

On Sunday I didn’t do a whole lot if I’m honest. My mum and dad popped round in the morning and we had coffee and I gave my mum her flowers and card. Once again, a lovely time with my family. Then in the afternoon, Ben’s mum dropped round with a little, delayed surprise for Ben… His birthday cake! As a surprise Ben’s mum and me decided to treat him to an amazing birthday cake from the same lady that made our wedding cake and Ben’s mum’s birthday cake.


It has a little Xbox on it!


How cool is that? Ben loves playing on his Xbox so this seemed like the perfect thing to put on the cake. He was very chuffed.

And it tasted so good


Lemon sponge and buttercream…ahh heaven.

Ben’s mum had to take quite a bit of the cake home with her to put in her freezer unfortunately as our freezer is just bursting with cake (as I might have mentioned before). There’s no way we could eat it all before it goes stale – I mean it’s a BEAST.

So lots of good food, great family time, and cake. That my friends is a damn good weekend in my books.

What did you do this weekend?

If you’re from the UK, what did you do for Mother’s Day?

If you could have any cake in the world for your birthday, what flavour would it be? I think mine would be fruit cake with marzipan and royal icing…or maybe just regular birthday cake style with jam and buttercream…