Olympic fever and garden delights

Hey peeps!

I am sure you are all glued to your TV’s right now, enjoying all the sports on offer. I have been loving it! I have never watched an opening ceremony before, and just put it on for a bit to see what it was like, and ended up watching the entire show. One channel was showing it without the commentary which was so much better- we did turn it over for a bit, but the chatter was so inane we quickly went back to the other feed. I did wonder if it would be a bit too arty, but I just enjoyed it all- the fireworks, the dancing, the music, the little cultural references sneaked in (like the most famous weather forecast ever!)- it just showed how fab Britain is. I was so pleased to see Beckham involved, as I think he has turned into a fantastic role model for younger athletes, and actually is proud to play and work for his country (and not just rake in the money like most footballers), plus he was involved with the bid, and I loved that they nominated up and coming athletes to finish the final part of the torch. I also though that London looked amazing, especially at night all lit up. It is a city with so many brilliant landmarks, impressive buildings (historic and modern), lovely parks, and the fireworks helped to showcase that I thought.

After a 5 mile run, a walk to the shops and some work on Friday, I chilled out in the afternoon by painting my nails (Primrose Hill Picnic– what a pretty name) whilst watching The Spirit of the Marathon- it got me into the mood for the opening ceremony I suppose.

I also made some rosemary foccacia from my Lorraine Pascale book.

I was a bit worried that it was too brown, but it was soft on the inside still.

(Mine was so much darker than the photograph)

As well as picking rosemary, I picked some fresh mint, and had it in mint tea, and also with pineapple and watermelon.

So refreshing ūüôā

On Saturday morning, I had my longest run this year (since the Great South Run in October I think)- just over 10 miles. It was not quite as hot as it had been, which I was grateful for. I also turned my Garmin around so that I could not see the screen any more- that seemed to help a lot because I have been getting into the habit of thinking about how far I have to go, which makes me feel more tired. I want to run on feel really, especially on those longer runs. It took me about 1 hour 55 I think, which is not bad seeing as the GSR took me 1hr 50, and in March I could not even walk half a mile! I am sure I have said this before but I am not going to worry about a time, I just want to enjoy the experience, but going these longer distances does give me some confidence.

I had a delicious breakfast waiting for me- raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and blackcurrants all from the garden and allotment, alongside muesli, hazelnut milk, chia seeds, and a little drippy pb on top.

I have also been loving coconut water to rehydrate- it is just so refreshing, although I cannot find the mango stuff at the moment, which is my fave flavour.

Earlier in the week, I finally received one of these:

I think I had to use my Starbucks card 15 times to earn one, but now Andy has a card too, that counts towards the total too (basically the reward scheme is on visits and not per item, so you are better to have separate cards linked to the same account if that makes sense). I used to buy both our drinks on my card, which would earn one star, but now if we buy them on our own cards, we get 2 stars.

We had opticians appointments, so as a post-run treat, and a pre-opticians treat (I hate things like that) we went to Starbucks. As it was warm I got a soya chai tea latte, only iced. It was delicious (Andy had one too and liked it, but decided that it is not as good value because they fill it up with ice haha!). We shared a cinnamon roll- reading my GSR recap it seems that I need a cinnamon roll after running 10 miles!

Then this morning started with more garden produce:

I really fancied pancakes, so made up a quick batch with wholegrain spelt flour, hazelnut milk, apple sauce and coconut (random, but it worked). While they were cooking I made a sauce with blueberries and blackcurrants (from the garden), in a little water, with a tsp coconut sugar. The mix was only small (I think 40g flour or something) but it made a pancake mountain! I also had some hotel chocolat chocolate peanut smudge sauce (but it is not as nice as Dark Chocolate Dreams)- the fruity sauce was the best bit though- delicious.

After that I have been mainly relaxing- I thought my legs would be more tired, but they have been OK. We watched the Grand Prix, and a lot of the women’s road race (such an exciting finish!)- then we had a walk, and got back seconds before it poured with rain.

I am off for another fix of the Olympics- what sports have you enjoyed watching? 

Many recipes

Hey peeps

I know I keep going on about it, but I cannot believe how fantastic the weather has been these last few days- just in time. Normally it is lovely right until the schools break up, so I am enjoying every second.

Last week I picked a load of blackcurrants from our garden- I made some of them into a cheesecake, but I still had a massive bowl left (I would estimate at least 400g, as they filled a pasta bowl- much more than the little punnets you can buy in the shops anyway).

I was going to make some jam, but I mentioned it to someone who suggested blackcurrant ice cream- what a fab idea. I have a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream book¬†(and I must say, the peanut butter ice cream from that book is divine) so I flipped through for ideas. They had lots of fruity ones, and also a coconut one which caught my eye, so I combined a few recipes to make my own. They have different base mixes, one with raw eggs (which scares me, so I never use that one), and one has condensed milk and cream. They suggested to add coconut cream to the normal base, but I decided to replace the cream with coconut milk, to add to the coconut flavour.

400g blackcurrants (approx)

1/2 cup water

2 tbs coconut sugar

1 can light condensed milk

1 can coconut milk

1 mini can coconut cream (I used the Waitrose essentials one)

50g dessicated coconut

First up, I cooked the blackcurrants- I put them in a pan with a little water (probably 1/2 cup), added a couple of tbs of coconut sugar, and heated until the berries burst and it looked a beautiful purple colour.

While this was going on, I toasted the dessicated coconut on a tray in the oven, for probably just less than ten minutes.

Then in a jug I mixed the condensed milk with the coconut milk. Now I have never used canned coconut milk (or cream) before- mine seemed to have separated into milk and oil, so I just used the milk but (from both cans), but I am sure you could use it all??

Then I added the blackcurrant mixture and the toasted coconut to the base.

Wow- purple!

This was then poured into my ice cream maker. I don’t think I had frozen the bowl for long enough, plus it was a warm day, so the ice cream did not go as thick as usual.

But once it was done I put it into some tubs for the freezer, and it firmed up further.

It was delicious- I think blackcurrants go really well with something creamy as they are a bit tart, so the coconut ice cream base was lovely. I would like to replace the condensed milk too, but I am not sure what with- I am wondering if using plain yoghurt might be nice.

Next up, tea bread!

I saw that Phil had made the most amazing looking tea bread, and I could not wait to try it. Look here for her fantastic recipe. Hers had sultana and coconut, but I swapped in raisins as that is what I had (I am sure it is basically the same). I am already thinking up other variations as it worked so well.

I made mine with:

400ml Earl Grey tea (2 teabags), 1 cup self raising white flour, 1 cup wholemeal spelt flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 2 cups raisins, 1/2 cup coconut, a little lemon zest, cinnamon and 2 eggs.

Any recipe which has dried fruit being soaked is already a winner in my book- I love how they plump up so much. Here are my raisins soaking in Earl grey- how civilised.

There is the mixing bowl- super easy- just mix it all together.

I could not wait to try it warm from the oven- it was amazing!

Lime curd went very well with the earl grey I feel. I have also enjoyed it toasted for lunch. It holds together so well- and considering it has no butter/ oil, and no sugar in there, it is very flavourful indeed. I am thinking of adding in some pumpkin puree next time for a pumpkin tea-bread.

Finally, some cookies:

All ready for a chocolate-free girly meet-up. I used the ever reliable Millie’s cookies recipe, and replaced the 200g chocolate chips with 100g butterscotch chips and 100g peanut butter chips¬†(both from American Soda).

They have turned out well, but the butterscotch chips have a very strong flavour and almost overpower the peanut chips a little. Next time I would use less (say 50g) butterscotch chips, and more peanut ones.

Phew, that is enough recipes for now. I am off to body pump later (and guess how many people turned up to the Sweatshop run yesterday? 3! Three! ) and hoping that the air-con actually works.

What is the best recipe you have tried lately?

WIAW- Good Hydration

Guess what song I have had in my head for 3 days now – (I’m talking about good hydration, It’s giving me exitations, Good, good, good, good hydration…OK enough of that).

Anyway, it seems the summer has finally arrived in the UK- hurrah! After my long run on Sunday I was very conscious of drinking enough, as I have a tendancy to get headaches after long runs in the heat. But some nuun and coconut water sorted me out. I was really thirsty on Monday, which I suppose might have been a sort of after effect.

Anyway, this is my food from Tuesday:

Breakfast:

Started with a few bites of a blueberry clif bar (my they are sweet) before I went out for a 6 mile run. I wanted to go before it got too hot, and had a lovely run up to the lakes, around the park, and saw lots of rabbits!

Once I got home and had a shower, I had this lovely breakfast to enjoy. The night before I mashed up a banana with a little pb, and then topped with muesli, a few chia seeds, and hazelnut milk. It had really thickened overnight so I added a little more hazelnut milk before serving.

Then I was off to the allotment for some weeding- bindweed seems to have taken over now. It was so hot there- I wish I had taken some water with me.

Lunch:

Two slices of tea bread, one with sunflower seed butter and one with lime curd.

Plus watermelon and pineapple. I find watermelon the most refreshing fruit for the summer, especially when chilled as it is like eating sorbet.

I also snacked on a few freshly picked berries while I made some ice cream with all those blackcurrants.

I didn’t eat the ones that had been already started on by bugs!

Dinner:

Roasted beetroot, courgette, peppers, with spinach, basil tofu, hummus and pine nuts. A bit random, but lovely- it was so hot that I wanted a cold salad.

Dessert:

Home-made coconut and blackcurrant ice cream (recipe next time in case anyone is interested).

As for my good hydration, I had lots of water as usual, and made a big jug of iced mint tea, plus a nuun tab in water once I got back from my run. Again I was a bit worried that I would get a headache (especially as I felt I overheated a bit at the allotments- no shade there at all) but I was OK.

Thanks to Jenn for organising the WIAW link up.

How do you adapt your exercise when it is really hot? I tend to go a bit slower, try to go at different times of the day (if possible) and try to choose a shady route. I also try to make sure that I am hydrated the day before. On long runs I take water with me (but not loads, just half a bottle to sip on to stop me getting a dry mouth). I must admit I am not looking forward to my Sweatshop run quite so much, because I know it is going to be so hot at that time of day, but I am hoping we choose a shady route and I will just not go too fast I suppose.

Groupon picture

Hey all

You might remember that a while ago I hosted a giveaway for Groupon, which is a daily deals website. They kindly sent me a voucher too, so that I could try out the service and review it.

They send out emails every day, but you can also search on their website. I kept looking as I could not decide what to spend the voucher on. In the end a deal came up for a canvas print from photobox- a large one for £20 instead of the usual £60 or something.

It was easy to get the voucher for the deal (that is how Groupon works- you buy a voucher from them, and then redeem the voucher with the retailer), and although the voucher expired quite quickly, they did send emails prompting me to use it.

It took us ages to decide what picture to choose. We had originally chosen a different photo, but when Andy uploaded it to the website, it said that the picture quality was not good enough (as the canvas is big- that is it in the middle of our sofa), so in the end we chose one from last summer (sunset at Key West) as by then Andy had very good quality camera (I don’t know the technical term but it has a big lens!).

The canvas is lovely- the picture has come out really well.

Andy also surprised me by ordering some prints from when we went to Canada a few years ago. The picture we had originally chosen for the print is the top left one, and is of a lake, at sunset, with an elk in the foreground. The other ones are Canada too (including Peyto lake, bottom right, which is in the shape of a wolf- amazing).  I just find those pictures so relaxing to look at.

Anyway, I have used Groupon in the past (it was how I found out about the cupcake decorating class) and I would always keep an eye out for different deals. They do rather inundate you with emails though!

Do you ever use any of the daily deal websites? What sort of deals do you look for? 

And relax

Hey peeps

I hope you all had a lovely weekend and you all got out to enjoy the sunshine- it has come just in time!

I was very lucky on Friday (as it was the last day of term)- I was given some beautiful flowers and lots of lovely cards.

(And a badge made by one of the children- so sweet).

Plus some lovely gifts from colleagues- candles, lush bar, baking book and a candle jar for the garden.

It was a bit of a rush as I had to leave right away to get to the wedding on time, but I made it, and it was lovely- an intimate service with immediate family. I was so nervous about doing the reading (even though it was for such a small audience) but it went well thankfully.

Saturday was the busy day (even more so for Andy as he had best man duties to attend to). I ended up pottering around at home all morning, before I got dressed up and headed over to pick up his parents. All the family members had these lovely flowers (although they have wilted a bit now!)- I wore mine on my wrist, and of course all the men had theirs in their button holes.

Officially the service was a blessing (as they were married on Friday) but it was basically a wedding service with readings and hymns etc. The sun came out and I am sure the photos will look lovely. I had plenty of time to catch up with people I met at the hen weekend (in Southwold) as Andy was very busy.

They also had a sweetie bar which was total geniusРjars with jelly beans, dolly mixture (remember that?), licorice allsorts, flying saucers. They had the little metal scoops, and stripy bags! I got some jelly beans but hardly ate any so brought the rest home with me!

Of course the inevitable questions kept coming at the two of us (as his brother is a year younger than Andy and they have been together nearly as long as we have). Firstly I find it awkward because really it is nothing to do with anyone else. But also I am not sure of my own thoughts on it! I mean, I know that I would not want a wedding day- every wedding I go to confirms it more. I think people think I am insulting them when I say it, and I am not- I enjoy going to weddings, but I would not want a day like that myself. Andy had to do a speech, and he did so well, but I would have hated to have all the focus on me just for a little bit, let alone a day. Plus they are so expensive- for just one day! Think of what holiday you could have in exchange. And we signed a lot of things when we bought our house- that is a pretty big commitment. And you hear about people who are happy for years, then get married only to split up soon after. Is there something about it that adds more pressure? Who knows.

Anyway, they had a brilliant band (Hula groove) who were fab- I have never been to a wedding before where the dance floor was so consistently packed. The two of them had a wonderful day (which is what counts, after all), and the weather was just the icing on the cake.

We didn’t set an alarm for Sunday morning, and in the end I didn’t get up til 10am (which is so late for me) and headed out for a 9 mile run. It was hard, but I was tired from all the dancing, and probably had not had quite enough to drink on Saturday. I made the mistake of thinking (at mile 6) “hmm, at the Great North Run I won’t quite be half way yet”- whoops. Anyway, overall I enjoyed it although my legs did feel tight. I saw so many runners out too- it must be the sunshine calling them! It took me nearly 2 hours I think (have not plugged in the Garmin yet, and I was too thirsty when I got home to look at it!), but that is OK.

We were going to go to the Waffle house for breakfast, but I got home from my run at 12, so it was too late for that! We watched the Grand Prix (go Button!) and then headed out to see my parents and Andy’s parents, and then went to the Waffle house for dinner instead. It was packed, but that is no surprise. It has so much outdoor seating, and it is right by the water, so it was perfect. I went for a wholemeal waffle topped with veggies, hummus (a massive scoop of it) and sliced avocado, topped with a sweet chilli sauce. It was delish.

Today I have got to wait in for some deliveries, and then do some shopping, and work (and possibly the allotment to tackle the wedding, but that might wait until tomorrow!), but it is nice to have a day to myself now and finally relax into the summer holidays.

After all:

OK that has gone huge! I copied off a friends’ facebook wall ūüôā

Catch you later dudes!

Also, married folks- what made you decide on getting married? Has anything changed since you have been married? Just curious.