Sunday, 15 April 2018

Improve Your Meal Plan Game

If anything makes me feel adult, it's making a meal plan, and actually sticking to it. I love that I can come in from work and know exactly what I am going to eat, and usually put it in the microwave to heat up. It means no food wastage, I'm spending less money in my weekly shop, and I know that I am getting some pretty good healthy meals. I have also started eating veggie which is a total game changer and makes me cook more things from scratch rather than reaching for a jar of sauce.

1. Plan ahead and research
Spend Friday night researching and planning for the week - obviously unless you have a much ore active social life than I do. I usually head over to Pinterest, BBC Good Food, or browse some supermarket websites (thrilling Friday night activities, I know), to think of inspiration and what kind of products are out there. Factor in cooking time, whether you'll make it in advance and freeze, or cook when you get in from work. A lot of the things I have are made in advance and frozen.

2. Write a shopping list and stick to it!
After planning lunch and dinners for each day, I write a shopping list and head off to Lidl early on a Saturday morning. I try to stick to it as much as I can, grabbing the occasional things if they are on offer, but I try and stick as much as I can to my list.

3. Make batches in advance
Especially if your meals include a lot of vegetables and to stop them from going off very quickly, I will make my meals in advance, probably on the Sunday afternoon or evening. Therefore, the vegetables won't go to waste before you get to use them, plus all you have to do when it's done is freeze it in freezer bags or pots, and put in the fridge before you go to work.

4. Have a few easy good recipes up your sleeve and basic ingredients in your cupboard
Know how to make recipes like a simple carbonara, a jacket potato or sweet potato fries. You can slot these into your week so you don't end up eating the same thing every night. I also make sure I always have chopped tomatoes or pasatta, oil, garlic (I use lazy garlic), pasta, pesto, and more recently, chickpeas in my cupboard.

My Go To Make Ahead And Freeze Meals
- Vegetable fajitas 
- Vegetable curry
- Enchiladas
- Chilli Con Carne

Go out and smash that adulting.


Monday, 9 April 2018

The Graduate Diaries | Two Years On...

Maybe I should start calling The Graduate Diaries, The Adulting Diaries, but I still feel like I am trying to navigate life after university, even though it has almost been two years.

This stage of life is very strange, and no one really prepares you for it at all. There are some friends who are moving in with their boyfriends / girlfriends, some married, some pregnant, some still in university, some in amazing jobs and some who are still struggling two years on to find something permanent.

I have to remember that everyone has different timelines and everyone wants different things. There is no one size fits all for life after university. Not only are you adjusting to moving back home, or moving somewhere completely new, you're losing the safety university life. For me, adapting to the working world, was a massive step and is much harder than it is given credit for.

The last seven months in my second job have been an eye opening experience. I've had to grow up, take risks and speak up more than I have ever had to do before. I'm given real responsibility and have to bear the consequences if things go wrong. I have to balance working professional relationships, personal relationships whilst trying to eat healthily, fit in some form of exercise (because that's what adults seem to be able to do) and resist the urge to buy homeware I definitely don't need. So things could be a lot worse, I don't have a romantic relationship, a family or kids to have to think about, but even then, the thing with different time lines is that I see other people achieving different things.

Now, let's move onto social media in this life post-university. During university, posting selfies, pre-drink poses and club photos was seen as the done thing, to show everyone what an amazing time you are having. You don't post about all the times you were in the library, stressing over an essay or dissertation. I feel that with a lot of my friends, and even my self, you have to show yourself in working life that you can have it all, a relationship, friendships, eat healthily and have a job. Bonus points if your job is something really exciting. It's like we're all trying to prove that we can do it and function. It isn't until you see those people in real life where you realise that things aren't all as they seem. They're having problems living at home, they hate their job or they just broke up with someone and not taking it well.

I don't really know where I'm going with this, but talking to a lot of my friends who are graduating this summer and friends who I haven't seen for a long time, that there is no one way to navigate life after university. It's hard, you'll feel lonely, you'll feel like you're falling behind whilst simultaneously feeling ahead.  You'll sometimes crumble under the pressure of adult life and adult responsibilities, but you'll also thrive and grow more as a person. Start focusing on yourself - self care is so important in whichever way you find best, surround yourself with supportive people, but come out of your comfort zone every once in a while. Everyone's still learning. We can do it.


Thursday, 5 April 2018

8 Happy Things This Week

I love reading posts like this. It always makes me feel happy seeing other people's good things that have happened to them lately. So here are some of mine - it really has been a brilliant Easter weekend.

1. Catching Up With Old Friends

For the long Easter weekend, I went to see some friends from university who I hadn't seen since I graduated a year and a half ago. It was such a lovely weekend filled with singing, laughing, walking and cooking. It was utterly perfect.

2. Hamilton Lottery

To top off my awesome Easter weekend, I won the Hamilton lottery on the app for Easter Monday. If you win, you have the chance to buy up to two tickets for £10 each. I jumped at the chance having already seen it in January (review here) and took a work colleague who really wanted to see it but couldn't get tickets. We ended up sitting in the front row which was incredible. I laughed and cried all over again and got the chance to see some of the alternate cast members (who were insane). It was the perfect weekend and I feel very very lucky to have seen Hamilton twice!

3. Baking Macarons

My latest baking attempt has been macarons. It has taken a few tries, but I think I have now figured out how to get them with feet - the crinkly bit around the bottom - and with flat tops. Watch this space for recipe and tips.

4. Work

Work is finally getting busy, I actually came home and caught up with some things which is so unlike me. I am also feeling crazy inspired at the moment having met some great people in the industry and generally getting excited for the future.

5. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine

This book is something I wasn't expecting to like so much. The character and story was not hugely relate able and I didn't really like Eleanor as a character at the beginning, but the story was so cleverly written, covering aspects of living alone, navigating work and relationships, mental health and childhood. Definitely check it out if you fancy something a little different.

6. Light Evenings

Thank goodness Winter is over and Spring is here (well, except with the amount of rain we are having at the moment!). Light evenings make me want to be a lot more productive, which will hopefully mean I will start doing productive things - well, a girl can dream.

7. Netflix Binging

I am currently watching A Series Of Unfortunate Events, Ru Paul's Drag Race and of course, my favourite show, The Great British Bake Off - and I'm going to join in with all the internet by saying, how strange is the first series! I have actually been following Ed Kimble, who won the series, on Instagram for ages and din't realise he won the Bake-Off (sorry Ed), I clearly wasn't a huge fan of the show back when it started. It however is giving me a lot of inspiration for my next baking project, which I think is going to be bread.

8. 4 Day Working Weeks

Two in a row... fantastic.


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.

Are there any books you would recommend?


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.

© A Little Button. All rights reserved.