Thursday, 14 August 2014

Rambling TMI chat & a recipe!

This week I was ill. From feeling drained & a bit ‘off’ on Tuesday evening to sickness & diarrhea (I did say there would be too much information!) on Wednesday, with me splitting my time between the bathroom & my bed trying to recuperate. I felt totally wiped out & spent a huge chunk of the day sleeping.

This morning I felt better, still had stomach ache but questioned whether that was because I was still ill or because I hadn’t eaten since breakfast yesterday (and I saw that again within a couple hours! More TMI! Sorry!) I had that ‘morning after the sickness before’ quandary – should I have breakfast or will it make me sick again? I decided to go on the side of caution & leave it a couple hours to see how I felt. I walked the dog, the fresh air certainly made me feel clearer headed & dare I say it; hungry. I decided that what I needed was something quick & easy, that would provide plenty of nutrients that my body was short on after yesterday, was easy to eat but still tasted yummy. What ticks all those boxes for me is a smoothie, specifically an Oatmeal Almond Milk Smoothie. Yum. So I thought I would share my recipe. I use US measuring cups to get the quantities but I know not everyone has measuring cups so I’ll post it twice – one with cups, one with grams & milliliters.

Oatmeal Almond Milk Smoothie

Cups quantities
¼ cup uncooked oats
1 cup almond milk
¼ cup vanilla yogurt
2 tbsp peanut butter
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp honey *optional
1 cup ice
Gram & ml quantities
25g uncooked oats
240ml almond milk
75g vanilla yogurt
2 tbsp peanut butter
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp honey *optional
1 handful ice

Blend in a blender until smooth and enjoy!

Drink & enjoy :)
A yummy, easy breakfast that can be enjoyed any morning, not just when you’ve been ill!

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Strange things are afoot...

I need to lose weight. More importantly, I need to be healthier. As the media is constantly telling us, carrying extra weight & having a poor diet is not good for us in the long term. Increased risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, liver & kidney disease, even problems during pregnancy assuming of course you can get pregnant – being overweight can make conceiving difficult. No, not like that you dirty minded individual! Being an overweight woman can have a negative impact on your fertility & can increase your risk of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). In the short term it can be pretty bad too! The recent hot weather has been lovely but when you are overweight it’s not as much fun; you end up a sweaty mess in next to no time, you don’t feel comfortable or confident wearing a swim suit, you end up missing out on activities with friends & family.

All in all, being overweight sucks!

So, what am I doing about it? Sitting & moaning on my laptop? Well, yes BUT I am also getting my butt kicked by a personal trainer for an hour twice a week (there’s plenty to kick!) & I’m eating better. The maddest, craziest, strangest thing has happened though in the past week. In a truly shocking turn of events I have also started running. Yes – me, running! I don’t run. In fact, in normal circumstances I’d say if you see me running you should run too because likelihood is something is chasing me, but that’s how motivated I am feeling. I am not going to sign up for the London marathon or be the next Team GB Olympic hopeful any time soon but hopefully I am going to be a fitter, healthier, smaller version of me. Wish me luck on my ‘Fatty to Fitty’ challenge!

These babies are finally seeing some action!

Monday, 4 August 2014

Already August!

I can’t believe that we are already in August – 2014 is flying by! I had a fun filled June & July with a week in Spain, lots walks with Mike & Dinky, Mike’s birthday, visits from friends. Even the weather has been on side with lots of sunny summer days.

Visit to Gibraltar
Day out in Marbella
Beautiful Ronda
What holidays are all about - yummy food,
lovely drinks & relaxing in the sun!
Meal at Abode Exeter for Mike's birthday

I’ve also started working out twice a week with a personal trainer. My life has been one long “I really want to lose weight” so me started another workout plan is nothing new sadly. BUT signing up with a personal trainer is new. I am hoping that having someone to push me, encourage me & keep me on track will help. I am really enjoying my workouts (although not so much while I am in the middle of them!) so I’m feeling hopeful that I will see some positive changes, both physically & mentally. I don’t have a lot of confidence in myself & am certainly not my own biggest fan but I am working on that. I am trying to see positives where it would be all too easy to see negatives, to recognise small successes & accomplishments, to see that a bad day is just a bad day not a bad week/month/year/life, to be proud of myself, to find joy in my life, to do more of what makes me happy, and to not apologise for being me.

In the vein of doing what makes me happy I have joined a pen-palling group. I love sending little notes, cards or gifts through the mail so having pen-pals is something that really appeals to me. Checking the mail & finding a pretty envelope or a postcard is so much nicer than a pile of junk mail & bills. It does mean I now have a LOT of writing paper, envelopes, stickers, pens & postcards! I have always loved stationery & now I have a good reason to buy it. I might have to admit that I have enough to see me through for a while now! It’s lovely knowing there are people as kooky & geeky & stationery obsessed as me out there. If you are like me & would like to exchange letters with wonderful people around the world then check out The League of Extraordinary Penpals.

Send more mail :)
I am looking forward to all that August has to offer - camping, League of Extraordinary Penpals meet up, a rally for Mike, my best friends 30th. Wishing everyone a wonderful summer :)

Saturday, 24 May 2014

It's Show Time!

I love live entertainment; music concerts, theatre shows, stand-up comedy, festivals. Anything with performers & audience feeding off of one anothers energy. The past month has been show packed & it’s been awesome!

First my sister & I went to Birmingham to see McBusted - the combination of bands McFly & Busted! We used to go to a lot of music concerts at Birmingham NEC but it has been years since we last went so this was a fun return to one of our favourite ways to spend time together. We have seen McFly live many many times over the years, we actually first saw them as a support act for Busted in 2004 so to see them again 10 years later, all together again (well, without Charlie ‘I’m too good for you even though I’m really not that good’ Simpson from Busted) was a chance we jumped at. We really weren’t disappointed – the concert was great. High energy, happy, singing, dancing fun times! We left with hoarse voices & big smiles. I even managed to drive all the way home (with a quick stop at Bristol services for coffee) without falling asleep – result!

 Having not been to Birmingham for a concert for what feels like a lifetime, I have now been twice in as many weeks as Mike & I got last minute tickets to see another of my favourite pop acts – Katy Perry. My name is Teri-Ann & I am a KatyCat! The concert was great, filled with cool costumes, great dancers, lights & lasers. And of course – the lovely Katy Perry. Lots of her old songs, mixed with songs from her new album. I had a really good night singing along. I have to say I was grateful to share the driving with Mike though; I was much sleepier so we split the driving between us.

 As well as two concerts, we have also been to the theatre twice! First we had a weekend in London, with lunch at one of my favourite restaurants, Wahaca – great Mexican food & even better margaritas! In the evening we went to see ‘Charlie & The Chocolate Factory’ in the West End. I love the Roald Dahl story & the two film versions so I was excited to see the stage production. It was really good. The cast were great, the sets & staging were great, the music was fun & it followed the story pretty well. Last night, we went to Plymouth to meet up with Mikes parents to see ‘Evita’. With Marti Pellow as Ché & Madalena Alberto as Eva heading up the cast, it was a really great performance. Mike & I saw Evita on Broadway when we went to New York in 2012 (with Ricky Martin as Ché!) but I would say the performance we saw last night was better! I wasn’t 100% sure about Marti Pellow initially but actually he was great (but not as good as Ricky Martin, haha!) and Madelena Alberto was a fabulous Eva. Thank you to Mike's parents for taking us to see the show.

 After a busy month of shows, I am looking forward to a more chilled out June. A week in Spain should fit the bill just right!

Monday, 5 May 2014

Baking & Ice-Cream Making

Yesterday Mike went out for the day to work on his car at his parents so I was home alone. I made the most of the day, sewing, sorting through some letter writing supplies, watching a film & experimenting in the kitchen.

I recently saw an ad for Not On The High Street where one of the featured items was a beer bread mix. It looked interesting. I like beer, I like bread, surely I would like beer bread! I ordered a starter kit which comes with four mixes; Original, Garlic and Herb, Chilli and Garlic & Italian Cheese. The idea is the kit contains all the required dry ingredients, you just at 330ml of beer (or cider or soda water), mix & bake. The mixes are nicely packaged in hand-sewn calico bags & just look really appealing. I can see them making nice gifts for foodie friends.

Beer Bread mix and Innis & Gunn Rum Finish

I decided to start with the original mix & team it with a beer I really enjoy – Innis and Gunn Rum Finish. It’s a really flavourful beer, fruity, warming & spicy so I didn’t want to mix it into anything where it would overpower or be overpowered hence just going with the original mix. I dumped the mix into the bowl of my Kitchenaid, added the beer & set the mixer going on the lowest speed, just long enough to make sure all the dry ingredients were fully incorporated. The dough was then scraped into a lightly greased loaf tin, ground salt & pepper on top & into the preheated oven it went for 45 minutes.

Ready for the oven

Oh my, the smells coming out of that oven! When the bread came out it took all the restraint I had not to just tear into it, smother it in butter & eat it there & then. As it was, I did manage to restrain myself & instead took it with me when I went to join Mike at his parents in the evening for dinner. The bread had a good crust & a really enticing scent as I cut into it. The taste of the beer was certainly there, though if you were not a fan of beer you wouldn’t have been put off. I was really pleased - it was all around lovely!

Fresh from the oven & smelling fantastic

Not only did I make bread yesterday I also had a go at making ice-cream. I have been lusting after an ice-cream machine for some time so a couple of weeks ago I bought one! I haven’t gone overboard on the machine – it is from the lower end of the price options but I thought for a first machine it would do the job. I really want to experiment with dairy free, vegan ice-creams so that was my plan yesterday. I followed a recipe from ‘The Vegan Scoop’, a book filled with wonderful sounding dairy free ice-creams, for a coconut milk ice-cream. 

All I needed for lots of yummy ice-cream

The recipe was simple enough & the churning went well. After 30 minutes in the machine I had a passible coconut ice-cream! I separated off half of the ice-cream & stirred some chocolate chips through by hand, popped it into a cute cardboard ice-cream tub & into the freezer. The remaining half I decided to go a bit avant-garde & mixed in 2 tablespoons of Hot & Spicy Mango Chutney. I am always drawn to sweet-savoury treats & love chilli in chocolate so I was fairly confident I would like this combo. I was right – I really like it! It’s probably not to everyone’s taste but I didn’t make it for everyone, I made it for me!

Coconut Choc Chip and Coconut Hot & Spicy Mango

I took the fruits of my kitchen experiments with me for dinner at Mikes parents house. The bread was lovely alongside the ‘clear the fridge’ dinner Mike’s dad had prepared & the Coconut Choc Chip ice-cream was lovely with the gooey chocolate pudding that I must admit came from the supermarket! Even my spicy experiment received good reviews & was likened to something you might get in a top flight restaurant; a savoury ice-cream that might surprisingly accompany a main dish. I’d be just as happy to have a scoop of it in a waffle cone!

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Three years and counting

Today is our third wedding anniversary. Three years. Wow. It’s gone really quickly. I know everyone says that but I really can’t believe it has been three whole years. When you are a kid you scoff when adults say ‘time passes quicker when you get older’, well, it’s true! I often find myself talking about something I did “the other day” and realise what I actually mean is “last month” “last year” or even “a few years ago”.

Our wedding day was everything I dreamt it would be & more. It was a truly wonderful day filled with so many great moments. Even the weather behaved – it was one of the hottest days of the year! Seeing our friends & family laughing, drinking, dancing, playing giant jenga (or fetch with the local dog & a giant jenga block!!) was so lovely. Every time I think of that day, and I think of it often, I smile & lose myself in happy memories.

Each anniversary we have made sure to do something filled with just as many happy memories. Our first anniversary was spent at Universal Studios in Orlando, riding roller-coasters, drinking butterbeer, eating hotdogs & having cocktails as the sun set over the theme park. For our second anniversary we hired a classic AC Cobra 427 for the day & went on a sunny drive through the lanes in the south east of England with a lunch stop at beautiful Mottisfont Abbey (where Mike had taken me for any amazing night out early on in our relationship!) Tonight we will be eating out at one of the best restaurants in the UK – Gidleigh Park – that just happens to be half an hour from our home! I am looking forward to what promises to be a wonderful evening.

Each 23 April since 2011 has been special to us, and has given us many happy memories. But that isn’t limited to one day a year. Mike & I met in 2007. He changed my life completely. We have plenty of lazy days wasted in front of the TV or trawling the internet on our laptops, probably too many with the time flying along like it is, but we also have amazing holidays, go on days trips, eat out at some wonderful restaurants and spend time with our families & friends. Every day with Mike is special, sometimes because of something big, more often because of something small & seemingly insignificant, but always special. That’s the best bonus of being married to my best friend. He makes me happy.

Friday, 18 April 2014

After 2 years - a return & a recipe!

So, back in 2012 I decided to get back into blogging & lasted a whole 6 posts. Terrible. Now, two years on, I am going to have another go. As the old saying goes ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again’!

The past few months my eating habits have been pretty shocking; too much takeout, too many snacks, too many fizzy drinks, not enough fruit, veg, water & homemade healthy meals. All this has lead to a lot of tummy upsets, headaches & a general feeling of ‘bleugh’ for want of a better word! In July last year husband & I did 6 weeks of vegan eating. We cut out all meat, fish, dairy & eggs. So much processed food contains some sort of animal product that it forced our hand to cook from scratch. The changes we both experienced were quite surprising. The main thing we noticed was how much more energy we had; rather than finishing work, coming home tired & ready to collapse on the sofa, we were much more productive. We also slept better (which probably contributed to the more energy), our skin was clearer, our concentration was better, and, not to put too finer a point on it, our digestion was better! I also found that I lost a fair bit of weight without any real effort.

All these things, coupled with tasty food, must make you question why we didn’t stick with it! Laziness I suppose is the only real reason. Well, along with blogging I’m also giving much healthier eating another go too! I’m using having husband home for the long Easter weekend as a kicking off point. Dinner was his choice & he went with Falafel Burgers, wedges & salad.

Recipe after the pictures!

Ready to turn into dinner

Chickpea, onion, garlic & spice paste

Awesome quirky, kitsch burger press!

Four perfect patties!

Coat the patties in a layer of seasoned flour

Dinner is served :)

 Falafel Burgers
Serves 2 greedy people or 4 normal, restrained people!

400g can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 banana shallot, chopped (a small red onion would work just as well)
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. coriander seeds
3 tbsp. plain flour, divided
2 tbsp. olive oil
Salt & pepper

·      Heat a frying pan over high heat. Once the pan is hot add the cumin & coriander seeds - no oil. Keep the seeds moving around, shaking the pan pretty much constantly – they really don’t take long, about a minute. Remove from the heat, add to a mortar & pestle & take out some pent up anger on them!
·      Put the chickpeas, shallot, garlic clove, crushed spices & 1 tbsp. of plain flour into a food processor & process to a course paste.
·      Tip the paste out onto a clean work surface & shape into either 2 large (greedy!) patties or 4 smaller (normal) patties. If you’re like me & can’t resist buying quirky, kitsch, unnecessary bits & bobs feel free to use your teeny burger shaped burger press to make your patties!!
·      Spread the remaining 2 tbsp. of plain flour onto a plate, season with salt & pepper. Coat the patties in a thin layer of flour, patting off excess.
·      Heat the olive oil in a non-stick frying pan over a medium head, add the  patties & cook for 2 – 3 minutes on each side until crisp.
·      We served ours on crusty tiger bread rolls with garlic & black pepper mayo, slices of beef tomato & oven roasted flat mushrooms, wedges & heirloom heritage tomato & rocket salad – yum!

It's good to be back, hopefully I will stick around a bit longer this time! 
In the mean time cheers!