A February Catch-up

A February Catch-up

It’s been awhile since I did a chatty catch-up post, hasn’t it? Here’s what I’ve been up to in 2019 so far. 

#19for2019

So far I’ve managed to tick off finishing my Florida 2015 scrapbook, archive and organise my paperwork as well as getting a vlogging camera ready for our Japan trip (and hopefully future trips!) and solving my blog photo problem. Turned out it was easier to just cough up a bit of cash and stay with Flickr. The ridiculous amount of photos I have on there helped with my decision!

I think that’s a pretty good start to my list. One check and two half checks. Bring on the rest of the year. 

Weight Loss

Or lack of it I should say. Since the beginning of 2019 I haven’t really gone anywhere when I look at the scales now. I’ve just yo-yoed the whole month. So things need to get serious. 

I want to get at least a stone off before we go to Japan so I’m back on it with Slimming World. There’s going to be a lot of walking happening during the 2 weeks we’re over there and I want to be as comfortable as possible. That and a scary nurse at my doctors is threatening to switch my medication out if I don’t lose weight. So that’s definitely motivation. 

Health

I’ve been sick. The flu caught me these last couple of weeks in two stages which left me two weeks ago having to be sent home one afternoon and take the next day off, followed by having to call in sick for two days straight last week. So three days off work. Who am I? Before this I could count the number of sick days I’ve had in my working life on one hand. 

At first I felt guilty for taking the days off but in the end I had no choice. I looked like death and don’t get me started on how I felt. I was super stubborn at first and didn’t want to go home but I think that’s just engrained in me from working jobs that didn’t give sick pay. This one does and I don’t have to worry anymore. 

And speaking of the flu…sorry Topher. I passed it onto him as well. He actually took a day off sick today. His first one in the whole 10 years I’ve known him. Apart from his hernia surgery a few years back where he had sick leave. See, even more stubborn than me! 

We both realise now that it’s ok to take a day and heal rather than exhaust yourself trying to get through the day. I feel so much better now and am so thankful I had that time off. It was definitely needed and one of the days was when no one could get in because of the snow anyway so not too bad going. 

General wanderings

I haven’t been out too much in the last month but I did go to my first We Blog North event in a long time. It was a goal setting workshop and just what I needed. Now that I’m all better as well I can fill out the workbook that we got with the session!

Topher and I had brunch at Evelyn’s in the Northern Quarter which was awesome. I’ve heard good things about them so they’ve been on my to try list for a while. Topher had the steak and egg which was delicious and I had the pancakes with honeycomb butter and blueberries which was just heaven. As much as I like pancakes, I always find myself getting too full too quickly with them. Not these ones. Nom.

And speaking of food, this weekend my parents are coming to stay. Whenever they come to visit we always go out for a meal. This time they requested a Korean restaurant since they’re going to Seoul at the end of the month. Of course I turned to my Korea expert Claire and she’s recommended us a place. The table is booked so I’ll let you know how it goes!

And that’s about it really. In other news I’m still slowly decluttering but that’s a long term ongoing process so you’ll definitely know when I’ve finished!

How has 2019 been treating you so far?

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By Heck, It’s Veganuary!*

Ey up! So with it being January, naturally the world and their mother are trying to watch what they eat. Whether that be trying out Veganuary, Dry January or simply watching themselves eat more cake (nom!), you’ll be hard pressed to find someone not talking about it.

As a person who doesn’t eat pork, I have found myself trying to find sausages in this country that I can eat. Other meat types do exist but they don’t seem to be well stocked. So over the years I’ve found myself trying more and more vegetarian sausages.

If you haven’t heard of Heck, then where the heck have you been? #sorrynotsorry. Heck are a British food company who believe in making unique, healthy and delicious sausages – among other things these days! Having been a fan of Heck since I tried some of their chicken sausages a few years ago at a food festival, I was super excited when they offered to send me some of their vegan sausages to try.

Though I won’t be participating in Veganuary, Topher and I have been actively trying to eat less meat in the last few months. At the moment we’ve narrowed down our meat eating to outside the house only. So home cooking is all veggie for us now. I couldn’t wait to try the four type of vegan sausages that Heck offer.

So that we could compare but not overwhelm ourselves, we decided to try out a new kind each night for four days. Here’s how it went:

Day 1: Bollywood Bangers

These are the ones I was most excited for. The package describes them as “Indian-style veggie bangers with cauliflower, green lentils, pulses and seeds. All spiced up with chilli, ginger, cumin and turmeric.”

Since I’m not the best at coming up with recipes (I’m a follower, not a creator) so I headed to Heck’s website and used their Bollywood Bangers Roasted Cauliflower and Lentil Dahl recipe.

So…this isn’t my photo. This looks a whole lot better than my photo. I’m good at following recipes but not so good at making it look pretty. You want to see the real thing I made? Well you asked for it…

Complete with chipped plate that I am sneakily hiding with my thumb, I digress. Anyway, you must be thinking, please tell me this tastes better than it looks? Yes. Yes it does. In fact it tasted so good that it ties for joint first place for me. I’ll tell you which one with in a bit! The combo of the sausages with the dahl and the cauliflower was just delicious. If you’re a fan of Indian food then I definitely recommend these.

Day 2: Super Greens

Filled with quinoa, spinach, kale & ginger – I have to admit these weren’t at the top of my list of the types I thought I’d like. Blame it on an entire childhood of hating anything green. But I’m happy to say that these were my joint favourite with the bollywood bangers. Especially the way I served them. Loosely based on this Heck recipe, we ate the super green sausages Mexican style. Mexican is my second favourite type of food so it’s not that surprising that I loved the flavour of this.

So I was hoping that this would look a little prettier but that idea went out the window when the sour cream, salsa and guacamole glooped onto the top. Not particularly arty but tasty as well. We paired the taco boats with paprika wedges. I’m so pleased I saw the Heck recipe because I wouldn’t have thought to go in this direction with this particular sausage. Another meal I would definitely have again!

Day 3: Sweet Fusion

“Veggie bangers made with fragrant thai pesto, sweet potato & sticky rice” i knew straight away that Topher would love these sausages. Following another Heck recipe that would be perfect for BBQs in the summer, I have to once again state that it tastes better than it looks dammit!

My suspicion was correct and these sausages were Topher’s favourite of the whole bunch. An easy meal to throw together and something a little bit different from a plain old hotdog. These would also be lovely in a stir fry!

Day Four: The Beet Goes On

Now I’ll be honest and say I was pretty apprehensive about these sausages. I hate beetroot. I always have. So my plan of action was to give them a fair shot by finding a recipe I could hide them in. Yes I’m a child. Since jambalaya traditionally has pork in it I don’t get to have it I figured Heck’s jambalaya recipe would be a winner.

Ooh look another pretty picture definitely….not taken by me. Thanks Heck. Here’s what I actually made:

Unsurprisingly these were my least favourite but they were edible. I actually finished the whole thing and took some to work the next day. Topher does like beetroot and did agree with me that they had more of an earthy kind of taste so weren’t as nice as the other sausages we had this week. But to be honest the bar was pretty high in the first place. If you can’t get enough of beetroot then these are certainly worth a try.

Overall…

I’m a big fan of food experiments and this one was a successful one. I’ll definitely be hunting some more of these down in the future. It’s so nice to see more veggie and vegan food appearing in stores – especially when it’s so delicious!

Heck vegan sausages are available to buy in Asda, Waitrose, Booths and Ocado

Have you ever tried Heck Sausages?

*Sausages were sent to me by Heck free of charge in return for an honest review

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Manchester Eats Festival 2018 – Heaton Park, July 7th & 8th *

Long time readers of this blog will know I am a massive foodie. I am also a huge fan of food festivals. Topher and I are lovers of Disney World’s Food & Wine Festival at Epcot but can no longer go as it’s during term time and he works in a school. Sad face.

Much closer to home I was also hoping the Ideal Home Show would be back to Manchester this year and bring it’s Eat and Drink festival along with it but my dreams were shot. Another sad face.

Enter Manchester Eats Festival

That’s right, Manchester has a food festival coming up! My food loving heart is overjoyed. Manchester Eats Festival is in Heaton Park next weekend (7th– 8thJuly), tickets start from just £7.50 and kids under 14 go free. I will be there with bells on. And trousers that have a stretchy waistband! Plus the weather looks like it’s going to be just as hot as it’s been in the last week or two. So don’t forget the sun cream!

Highlights of the festival include demos with top chefs such as Marco Pierre-White, Ed Bainesand more, free workshops, street food, a prosecco tent, food marketplace, gin garden and vintage fairground rides. Plus one of their exhibitors is Reds True Barbecue. I’m sold.

It’s perfect for going with your friends or you can even bring the whole family along. There’s something for everyone – whether you’re into your alcohol or you can’t stop talking about healthy living. I’ll be telling my friends with little ones about the free cookery class for kids – maybe they’ll end up with a master chef? There’s even something for the vegans so don’t let dietary restrictions stop you from giving it a whirl.

I can’t bloody wait. I’ll be attending with my fellow foodie Claire and hopefully we  If you end up going and see me around – come and say hi. I’ll probably have a mouth full of food but something tells me I won’t be the only one! Those who can’t make it check out my post about it in a couple of weeks.

Tickets for Manchester Eats Festival are available here.

Are you a fan of a food festival?

*Post in collaboration with Manchester Eats Festival.  All photos provided by Manchester Eats Festival.

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March in Photos – Family, Friends and Food

Hello April and hello Spring.

I thought since I’ve been a bit MIA recently, especially with the “My Week” posts that I’d do a little catchup. I only posted six times during March and they were mainly travel posts so here are all the in between bits.

March in Photos - blue sky

Mental Health

It’s been all over the place this month. One minute I’m feeling fine and getting stuff done and the next I can’t get out of bed. The clocks changed which I’m hoping is going to improve my mood generally and those down points will get fewer and far between. I’ve been beating myself up less about not being active though so that’s a positive.

Friends & Family

We saw our friends a few times this month which was nice – a board game night at Claire and Steve’s, a birthday party for Topher’s mum and a leaving party for our other friends who are off to live in Japan for a year. Topher and I also babysat our friend’s 7 month old baby for a few hours which was a learning experience! Big respect to all the parents. The most I’d come into contact with a small human prior to this was holding one for about 30 seconds so it was interesting.

March in Photos - articulate

My parents came to stay with us too which saw the usual flurry of activity of food and doing bits around the house. Which brings me to…

Home

We have a new bed in the guest room. The king size one we had in there before was uncomfortable and was probably about as old as I am. I always felt bad for our guests having to sleep on it but now I don’t have to. My parents gave us their old guest room bed which is only a double so there is SO much more space in the room now. You can actually walk around the bed. Of course this meant new bedding was needed. This Mexican inspired rainbow cat bedding is from Asda a few months ago. How cute is it?! Sombrero kitties for the win.

March in Photos - new bed

March in Photos -rainbow bedding

We also finally replaced our old cat tree which has been on it’s last legs for a long time now. This new one is amazing. It’s from Amazon* and is super tall. Perfect for our big cats. I actually adapted it slightly by not putting on the hammocks as Pickles especially is far too big for them and they’ll just break! Plus it just means more uninterrupted climbing for them both.

March in Photos - cat tree

Car fun

And speaking of new things I got a new car. Well, new to me anyway. It’s an automatic and has a few more bells and whistles than my old car so I’m pretty excited about it. I’m going to be selling my Clio this month once it’s finished being fixed after it got rear ended in February so hopefully I can rest easy with car stuff for awhile. Now please can all the bad drivers stay away from my new car so I can drive in peace?

Films

Topher and I really need to get to the cinema more this month as we only went once during March. We saw Game Night which I really enjoyed. It’s been so long since I saw a comedy at the cinema where I was laughing out loud the whole way through. Definitely recommend.

Food

I didn’t cook anything new this month as I wasn’t up to it but we did go out for two meals. The first was Bem Brasil with my parents which was nice. I didn’t take any photos as a) I was too busy eating meat and b) who wants to look at pictures of slivers of meat on a plate? The second place we went was just Topher and I to Wasabi in Chinatown. We’ve been before but we were really craving Japanese food so we nipped in before the leaving party at the weekend.

I bloody love ramen.

March in Photos - ramen

Easter came and went

Topher and I had only planned on having one egg each but we ended up with 2 each as his family got us some. Oh well, more chocolate for us. Now that that’s all over, I’m going to try and get back to my healthy eating. I’m not feeling particularly comfortable at the moment with my weight as it’s close to my heaviest so that’s gotta go. Back to the happy weight please.

March in Photos - easter

And finally, the cats

They’ve been their usual adorable selves. Pickles is being better at night as there was a point where he would keep us up for half of it. I put it down to the clocks changing. Luna has been extra cuddly recently – climbing on both our chests and attacking our faces with head bops – especially to Topher. She purrs super loud and is so intense it’s funny. Pickles has also found some toys to play with on his own which is great. Half of them were under the bed when we got the new one! We play with them both but it’s nice that they can amuse themselves too when we’re busy. Luna has always been fine with that but Pickles used to be extra work. So yay for that.

March in Photos - Pickles

As for April, I hope to get out to a car boot if it ever stops raining, get my decluttering on and get this blog back up to regular scheduling amongst other goals. Wish me luck!

How was your March?

Items marked with * are affiliate links. This basically means that if you click through and buy anything, I get a small commission with no extra cost to you!

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Bake with a Legend – Baking Bread with Paul Jagger

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4625/39911815351_33bc1aba69_o.jpg

I’m a good cook but when it comes to baking and desserts I’m a bit of a jinx.

Nothing seems to go right – the worst thing being the Bailey’s cheesecake that Topher refused to eat after one bite. So when I got the opportunity from Bake with a Legend to attend a cooking class, I jumped at the chance.

bake with a legend - paul

Photo courtesy of Bake with a Legend

Bake with a Legend is a series of cooking class that takes place across the UK and lets you learn from the greats. The class I attended was in Manchester and would be learning to bake bread with Paul Jagger from GBBO 2015.

I didn’t start watching Great British Bakeoff until 2016, the year after Paul’s round, but after immediately falling in love with the show I found the previous seasons online and binged. I was happy to hear that it was both Paul and we’d be making bread as I still remembered his amazing lion he made. If you haven’t seen it, just google “Paul Jagger Bread Lion”. Even Paul Hollywood said it was one of the best things he’s seen in bread ever!

bake with a legend - garlic

Our three hour class (which included a glass of fizz and snacks) was an informal affair where we learned how to make grissini sticks and Asian inspired garlic bread.

bake with a legend - mixing bowl

bake with a legend - paul jagger

I really enjoyed the format of the class.

Paul would show us a few steps and then we would go to our work benches and try it ourselves before going back to him where he would then do the next bit. Being able to do things piece by piece left little room for error and I didn’t feel like I was rushed at all. This was particularly useful being a blogger and having to take a million photos during the whole class.

bake with a legend - rosemary

bake with a legend - prove

Paul was a great teacher and very down to earth. Everything was explained in detail and he took great care in making sure we were all up to speed. This may have included saving my dough when I messed up… Bit of advice, just use one hand to knead a sticky dough – don’t stick both hands in like a pillock!

bake with a legend - dough

bake with a legend - tray

While our bakes were in the oven, we got to sit down with Paul and ask him questions. It was so interesting to find out about the audition process behind GBBO and what really goes on during filming. Luckily during this time, the helpful staff were keeping an eye on all our ovens to make sure nothing burned!

bake with a legend - garlic bread filling

bake with a legend - finished grissini sticks

I was amazed to find that both my grissini sticks and my garlic bread came out looking perfect! We were given bags to take everything home and I felt so proud showing Topher all of it. He was astonished that I had made them and the filled garlic breads made for a delicious lunch.

bake with a legend - filled garlic bread

bake with a legend - me and paul

Bake with a Legend costs £99 for a single person and £175 for a pair and I would definitely say that it is worth the money. It’s great for birthdays, hen & stag parties and couples too. The couple sharing our bench were gifted the class for Christmas from their children and it makes me think about doing the same for my parents. They both enjoy cooking and it would make a change from the same old gifts I get them every year.

It’s something I would bring Topher to in the future too – there was another couple there that day and I think it’s such a good idea for a date day!

bake with a legend

Photo courtesy of Bake with a Legend

I had a brilliant day with Paul, the other bakers and the Bake with a Legend crew and look forward to getting back into the kitchen again. Thanks Bake with a Legend!

*My place in this cooking class was free of charge but as always, my opinions and words are my own. 

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