Saturday, 24 March 2018

Books I've Read In March

With my aim to read 20 books in 2018, I slacked in February and turned my hand to listening to podcasts. But with the recent realisation that my local Oxfam Bookshop is actually great (nothing can beat the one in Leamington Spa which had so many new books in every time I went in), I have been reading quite a few this month. 

I bought Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty to fill up an Amazon order - because I can't afford that Amazon Prime life, but I am willing to spend £20 a time to get free delivery... Anyway, I didn't know much about it as a story, but I heard about the TV show. This was different than some of the other  chick lit books I usually find myself reading - not usually on purpose but because I don't know what else to try. It's a really good read, with flawed, but great characters and a gritty story. 

Back to chick lit, I picked up My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella. I actually read this in only three sittings which is so unlike me, partly because I thought the story was good, but also because my house mate was keeping me up by being loud in the kitchen, but I digress. Without sounding like a cliche, this book was really relatable as Katie (or Cat as she tries to reinvent herself when she moves from Sommerset to London), who wants to live the perfect London life, is working in a low paid job and spending all of her wages on rent. I always used to think that having a job in London was the dream, but now, I'm not so sure. The stories flirts some romance, which was actually my least favourite part of the story, but it shows that not everyone's life is how it appears on social media, which is a good message to shout about. 

Wonder by R.J Palacio is also an Oxfam Bookshop find. Having seen the trailer for the film that has come out, I grabbed the book. It tells the story of August - a young boy with facial deformities - go to school for the first time. August is pretty inspiring as a character as he makes jokes and doesn't always feel sorry for himself. The friendships he finds are also lovely to read, realising that there are good people in the world. The book also had chapters from other members of his family and children at the school who Auggie does, or doesn't, make friends with. It was a very lovely read.

I have just started The Keeper Of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan and looking for the next few books to get going on, especially as I have a 3 hour train journey to see Friends on Easter weekend.


Monday, 12 March 2018

Two Ingredient Flatbread

I have actually been doing pretty good this year with making more food from scratch. I am also trying to eat less meat, especially on the weekdays (I think my nan would have a freak out if I turned up to Sunday roast declaring I was vegetarian). My friend sent me this Buzzfeed article about two ingredient bagels and I was instantly intrigued. I then saw that it could also be used for flatbread and decided to give it a try.

You literally need equal amounts of Greek yogurt and Self raising flour, and that's it (although I found I needed to add a little more flour to make it dough like). Knead it together and roll out on a flowered surface. I then used a pastry brush to put oil on the outside and fried them until they looked like tortilla wraps.

I used 100g of each to make two flatbreads, and you know what, they didn't turn out too bad at all. I could have added a bit of seasoning into the dough as they were a little bland. But as an alternative to pitta, smothered in hummus, or to eat with a curry instead of naan bread, these will be perfect. My friend also said she has used it as a pizza base.

I recommend getting them quite thin as they can become brown on the outside and not cooked on the inside if they are too thick.

On this occasion, I made a tuna and greek yogurt salad to eat with them, and it was pretty yummy. Obviously they take longer than grabbing bread from the packet, but it made me feel pretty good that I knew exactly what I was eating, and at the weekend, it was quite nice to try something a bit different.

Do you think you'll try this?

Saturday, 3 March 2018

This Week (03/03/18)

It has currently just starting raining. Goodbye snow and ice (hopefully!). After 5 days of icey, snowy weather, I hate to say it, but I'm pretty glad that the end is in sight. Maybe I'm just bitter than I live in walking distance to work, so no snow days or working from home for me. I made the half an hour walk every morning and evening in my chocolate pattern wellies trying not to slip over.

It has been a magical week though. I've secretly loved the office being quiet. It's done wonders for my confidence. I had to run an event alone and generally making more decisions as other people aren't around. Plus, no one could judge me for the amount of tea I was drinking, or that I devoured two tubs of M&S double chocolate mini rolls. 

I love that snow can make anything look beautiful. I did however not make it to my mum's on Friday night as I didn't want to risk driving, and missed a theatre show with my friends. But that's life isn't it. Instead, my housemates and I had tons of mexican food and drank beer that we stuck in the snow. So not all bad.
I've loved seeing everyone's beautiful snow pictures too, so here are a few of mine. Not perfect, but a nice memory. Who knows when we'll see snow like this again.

Here are also a few things I have been doing this week:
  • I'm currently reading Big Little Lies - I haven't seen the TV program yet, but I am really enjoying the book so far. 
  • I'm watching Crazy Ex Girlfriend and I must stop humming and singing the songs in public. 
  • I've been listening to a lot of Dua Lipa - a quiet office means blasting music during the day.
  • I watched the tour of The Sound Of Music that was at work this week and it was beautiful. I cried, I laughed and remembered why I loved it so much. I am very lucky to be able to work in an industry that I loved, and this week reminded me of that.
  • I'm very grateful for great housemates who I enjoy hanging out with - maybe my expectations of FRIENDS isn't too different from real life. 


Sunday, 25 February 2018

4 Podcasts I Have Listened To In February

Podcasts have definitely replaced reading this month. After feeling uninspired with my walk to work playlist, I decided to get back into podcasts, and I turn up to work feeling so inspired every time. I love the idea of women, talking about things that concern them, having interesting conversations, and realising that you can't all agree on everything.

There are also some brilliant ones out there for blogging and generally business and careers. Working in a creative industry, I feel so inspired by super creative people talking about their experiences. Here are a few I have been listening to this month:

1. The Fringe Of It

Hosted by Liv Purvis and Charlotte Jacklin, they're on podcast chemistry is so great, it's like listening to two friends having a lovely conversation over a cup of tea, nattering about what TV they are watching and what they have bought recently. I think I also loved it so much because the first episode was all about Friendship and being lonely as an adult, ideas of what to do and how to get out there. Of course, this is highly relevant to my life right now. The second episode was equally as good and I can't wait for more!

2. Blogtacular

This one is more career focused, not only to bloggers but also for people in creative industries. Hosted by Kat Molesworth, the podcast covers things from branding, creativity, careers and interviews with bloggers. This is the perfect podcast if you're feeling uninspired creatively and to hear about the amazing things that people are doing and achieving. The most recent episode I listened to was one about GDPR which was so helpful and useful, especially in my job as I work with customer data on a regular basis.

3. Get It Off Your Breasts

I have been a fan of Emma Gannon's for a while - I love her writing style and her own podcast Ctrl Alt Delete. Co-hosted by Lliana Bird, the first series of this podcast has amazing interviews with brilliant women about issues that are 'on their breasts' with topics relevant in the media, online and general feminism. I can't wait for the next series, that is apparently coming soon! I loved the episode with Konnie Huq, talking parenthood, millennials and sleep(!). It felt like a proper conversation, with each having their own views and experiences which made it very interesting listening.

4. Courage Makers

I have listened to a few of these episodes and it is so positive and inspiring. Hosted by Meg Kissack, I've also been exploring her site thathummingbirdlife which is also equally as positivity filled. The latest one I listened to was with Amy Parker where they talked about her word of the year, 'Joy', and documenting your life. It was just wonderful to listen to, and Meg seems equally as lovely and gave me a lovely tweet back when I let her know how much I loved the podcast.


Wednesday, 21 February 2018

2 No Lettuce Salad Lunches

Let's just take a moment to look at my new insanely cute lunch box. If this doesn't scream 'adult' in the fridge at work, I don't know what does.

In an attempt to switch up my lunch away from boring sandwiches, I've taken to the internet to find some healthy alternatives that pack in some fruit and veg (which I was seriously lacking). And the best part is, they don't require any watery iceberg lettuce or dark leaves, which I find too strong, making them actually enjoyable to eat and will fill you up.

Chickpea & Feta

This first one was a result of a Pinterest search after looking for a use for a tin of chickpeas I picked up and didn't know what to do with them.

I usually have a third or half a tin per serving, and mix with cucumber cubes, plum tomatoes and feta (lots!). I then added some Caesar dressing and some salt and pepper and left it in the fridge overnight to let it soak in some juices as it definitely tastes better after being left overnight. Sometimes I will add avacado if I have one or I have been also taking a flatbread so that it keeps me fuller.

Tuna & Greek Yogurt

This one is a little more creamy and filling than the last. To a tin of tuna, I'll add cucumber, plum tomatoes and - my housemates find this quite controversial - chopped apple and raisins. I then add a few spoonfuls of low fat greek yoghurt, which I bought in this massive tub from Lidl, just enough to make it stick together.

I have been having this in wraps, but I have also taken it to work by itself. The apples and raisins give it a sweetness which I love, and the greek yogurt is a great alternative for mayo, which I would usually have with tuna.

I have been rotating the two since January, and I feel so damn good knowing that I have got quite a few of my five a day out of the way. Yes, it requires a little more effort than chucking a piece of ham on some bread and cutting it in half, but I look forward to lunch times now - aka the best part of the working day other than home time. The key is definitely taking 10 minutes to make them the night before, making your mornings a dream.


Saturday, 17 February 2018

Meals For One: Spaghetti Carbonara

I am actually pretty happy with how things are going, food wise that is, this year. I love making things from scratch whenever I can find the time and knowing exactly what is going into the food I am eating. Of course, this definitely does not happen all the time, but trying little things like making my own bolognase sauce rather than grabbing a jar from the cupboard or making my own sweet potato fries is making my food times a little more enjoyable.

This recipe is perfect if, like me, you've run out of food and only have a few things in the fridge. Instead of having to come in from work and then go back out again to the shops, I whipped this up with only a few ingredients.

1 beaten egg
Salt & Pepper
2/3 tbsp Double Cream / milk (optional)
Grated Parmesan
Bacon (optional)
1 Clove of Garlic - crushed

Okay, so not everyone may have Parmesan, but I had some left over from my latest risotto (check out the recipe here). I also don't use fresh garlic, but use Lidl's equivalent of Lazy Garlic which my dad encouraged me to always have in my cupboard. It is so useful and you don't have to faff around with a garlic crusher. It is also very quick to make, perfect for a midweek dinner.

1. Mix the beaten egg and double cream together with a bit of salt and pepper. Add as much Parmesan as you feel, and mix.
2. Put your pasta on to cook.
3. Meanwhile, fry the bacon and once cooked, chop into smaller pieces. Add garlic to the frying pan, as well as the chopped bacon back in and fry until the garlic has cooked - a few minutes will do the trick.
4. Add the drained pasta to the frying pan and stir into the garlic and that the bacon is distributed evenly. If you manage it, grab a tbsp of the pasta water and add to the frying pan.
5. Take off the hob and pour the egg mixture and stir.
6. Keep stirring until the egg turns into a somewhat silky sauce. Top with parmesan and you're ready. 

The Parmesan combined with the egg mixture can make it look lumpy or that the egg has scrambled. It is completely fine and I don't really mind, as long as the egg doesn't fry completely, you're good to go, but I'm not very fussy, just more amazed that I managed to make a pasta dish with only a few ingredients that tastes pretty good.

I've also made this with mushrooms instead of bacon (which I only had because my house mate was going to throw it away!) and can also be used with just an egg instead of double cream or milk. And there definitely isn't enough for anyone else! 

Saturday, 10 February 2018

F.R.I.E.N.D.S Gave Me Unrealistic Expectations Of Adult Life

So no one told you life was gonna be this way.

I am starting to feel pretty lonely. I've always been a homebody, when I am very rarely out, I desperately want to make my excuses to get back home. But then when I'm home I want to be around people again.

This isn't always the case. I love being by myself, doing things for me, and not having to deal with other people, but sometimes, I wish I had my support network with me. In my post about the life lessons my friends taught me, it made me realise how much I value, cherish and love my friends. But living miles away from them is pretty tough.

And that's where Friends comes into all of this. Watching it as a 13/14 year old who definitely didn't understand a lot of the jokes, I couldn't wait for adult life. Living out your twenties with a group of friends who hung around in coffee shops, had dinner together, who went out on new dates every week and gossiping about it afterwards was what I always wanted.

I'm at a point now where I have come to terms with life definitely not being like that. And sometimes, actually most of the time, I'm okay with it, but sometimes I'm not.

Whilst I have great and lovely housemates, we rarely spend a weekend together. We value each other's alone time, and many of them have partners or work colleagues they see. I don't have those other people outside the house to hang out with. That's the problem with moving somewhere new, or even moving home after university.

And how do you even make friends as an adult anyway? I tried going into the staff room at work today in the hope to meet some new people. It was a total fail. There wasn't many people coming in or out, and if they did, we sat, in silence on our phones. I'm desperately looking for an activity to get involved with, hopefully things will get easier when it stops being so dark after work.

Yes, my life's a joke, I'm broke, and my love life's DOA, but I'm finding adult life to be a little lonely.

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