Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Most Read Posts In June

The end of summer term and the start of summer break have me all topsy-turvy when it comes to writing!  Here (a little late!) are the most read posts for June:

1. My Taste of London post was the top pick - I had such a ball!

2. My Summer Reading List was a popular read.  I'm so enjoying working on this list!

3. A post on favourite vacation spots.  A list which is soon to feature Las Vegas and Hawaii, I hope!

4. A Monday Funday from a while back makes a feature - I'm looking forward to bringing these back once we are back on a normal schedule post-honeymoon!

5. A Photographic Epiphany proved a fun read.  I had such a great time on this course!

6. Love these little Instagram catch ups when 'real' blogging is harder to find time for!

7. A Poppet Post makes the list once more.  Clearly the girl is giving the people what they want :)

8. Summer In The City...and how to keep cool, garnered a fair few clicks last month.

9. Introducing/Re-Introducing - a little bloggy navel-gazing is always fun.

10. A Show Us Your Life post on our kitchen reaches the top ten - another house tour will definitely happen in the autumn.  So much has changed since we first moved in!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Monday Funday: July 20th 2015

A weekly collection of the things which have been distracting, delighting, or diverting me online.  Videos, articles, gifs, blogs, op-eds....you name it, I'll list it here.

I'm kind of loving this Red Bull focus test.  Turns out I'm quite easy to distract....

Sounds to Sleep To is kind of hypnotic.  I think the crackling fire would be fab at Christmas time for atmosphere too.  #Christmasobsessed?  Moi?

Clueless is one of my favourite films.  So learning a little more about it is never a bad thing.  Team Cher Horowitz for life.

Book lists give me life.  Man, I love to read.

I've said it before....there's always time for a little Bob Marley.

Love these TED talks for when you crave a little inspiration!

A list of 30 Rock quotes, you say?  I am on board.  I so need to rewatch this entire show!

You know that Christmas obsession thing I mentioned?  Makes for forward planning like this.

I invented post-its.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Weeknight Supper Inspiration: Summer Vegetable and Chicken Stew

A couple of weeks ago I was very kindly invited to attend a products event for Zwilling and Staub.  It was such fun to look at all the ranges available and to dream up a wishlist of products I can covet - the Zwilling asparagus pan and Pro Chef's knife are especially lustworthy and I was also very taken with the Staub Cocottes.  These cast iron beauties come in a range of colours and styles, and I loved both the look and the feel of the pans.

Imagine my delight when I was then lucky enough to be gifted one of the oval cocottes, in graphite, to use at home!  The cocotte I received is perfect for cooking a meal for two to six people (depending how hungry they are!).  The day I returned from holiday in Spain it was awaiting me, so I devised a quick and simple supper to try it out - I fully intend to be using it a lot, especially when autumn, the season of soups and stews and roasts, rolls around!

Below is a little flipagram of my (incredibly quick and easy, thrown together with what we had in the fridge and pantry) Summer Vegetable and Chicken Stew.  Recipe after the vid.


1 medium courgette (or zuchinni, if you hail from the US), sliced
1 green pepper, diced
2 chicken breasts, cubed or in chunks
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato puree/paste
1 sliced chili (we had a red jalapeno in the fridge, but I'm sure any mid-heat chili would work well)
1 clove garlic
Olive oil
Salt and pepper


1. Put your oven on to preheat at around 160 degrees C (around 320 F).  Heat a little olive oil in a pan.  Add your courgette and cook for a couple of minutes.  Then add your green pepper.
2.  Add your garlic and chili, then add the chicken.  You're going to want to cook this until slightly golden and cooked on the outside - as it's also going in the oven to cook through there's method to the madness.
3.  Add your tinned tomatoes and tomato puree.  Stir through.
4.  Once all is combined, pop your cocotte into the oven for an hour.  Ignore studiously.  The cocotte has a brilliant dimpled underside to the lid which really helps to baste the food as it cooks and keeps it moist.

We had our stew with rice, but I think it would be just as tasty with greens or wholemeal bread.  A little cheese or sour cream on top would be yummy too.  I was really pleased with how this improvised recipe came together - let me know if you give it a try!

Disclosure: I was gifted this cocotte - all opinions and thoughts are my own.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

My fitness: past, present, and future

Growing up, I was pretty darn healthy.  An active life with plenty of cycling, walking, dancing and swimming meant I hovered around a size 14.  With broad shoulders and emphatically childbearing hips, that's a good size for me.  I'm never going to be a size six (curses).

At university, much due to alcohol and late night post clubbing snacks, my weight crept up, and with the aid of the occasional crash diet (BOO) got smaller again.  During these years I swung from a size 14 to a size 16.  In postgrad it was a size 18.  By the end of my first teaching job I was a size 20.  And now....I'm a size 22.

This is not good.

Now, some girls rock out the plus sizes, and I have nothing but love for them.  But I don't think this is the right size for me.  Much like I don't think my body would be happy as a 4 or a 6, I don't think a 22 is ideal, either.  Mainly because I'd like to be more active again and I'd have a bit more energy.  Also because I'd like to be healthier. And a little because I'm vain - it would be so fun to be able to buy clothes without always going for the XL or the XXL, or the last size available.  I think I could rock out being an L again.

I'm very lucky in that my health is solid, but I'm also aware that as I get older it'll be harder on my body if I stay this size or bigger, so I'm hoping that really focusing on this area in the year to come (after honeymoon, because, honeymoon) will help me to overhaul this entire area of my life.  And hopefully teach me some skills and strategies I can rely on for the rest of my life. I'm looking forward to trying new classes (like the hilarious and calorie decimating aqua spinning I tried this spring), making up new recipes, and basically focusing a little on my health and helping my body to be as strong and awesome as it can be!

According to BMI, I need to lose 108 pounds to reach a healthy weight.  That's, like, a person.  Rather than getting unecessarily hung up on that, I'm going to aim for a different target first - getting to 'overweight'.  I have been in the obese category since I was 17 (yep, me at a size 14 is still 'obese'), so overweight would be a massive (har har har, wordplay) achievement!  As of today I need to lose 81 pounds to get there.  I imagine after honeymoon, where I'm not intending to go mad but I will be in holiday mode, I'll have a few more pounds to counter, so let's call it an even 85.  I'll be chronicling my journey in a series of 'Wednesday Weigh-Ins' from mid-August, where I'll write about the highs, the lows, the wins and losses, as well as sharing photos, stats and recipes.  I'm excited to embark on this journey!

And now, a few gifs to illustrate what I'm hoping to change:  I am a sucker for a gif post!

To become more healthy, I am going to:


Cook up yummy, high fibre, veggie-tacular-lean-meat-and-fish-tastic suppers for M and I.

Work that FitBit.  Hard.  Watch out, pavements of London, I'm making some playlists!

Get back to swimming three times a week.  I spigging love swimming.

Sign up with a personal trainer.

Stop wincing at the words 'personal trainer' (I'm scared, dudes).

Continue to have this be the fact, because I do love my food.

Less coffee, less wine, more water.


Lots of little and often exercises in amongst the classes and swims and longer walks.  I do best when the menu of exercise is varied and fun!

More strength training.  Cardio I can do by the bucketload - now I need to tone and strengthen too.


So those are my health goals for the latter portion of 2015 and beyond. Do you have any health and fitness ambitions for the coming months?

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