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?

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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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Dreaming of Japan

If all goes well with making enough money to save for a trip, I plan on visiting Japan next year. But whether I make it or end up going some time further in the future, it’s definitely somewhere I will get to eventually. The plan is to go to Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hiroshima. I know there’s so much more but it will only be a two week holiday. Plus, I don’t see myself only going to Japan once in my lifetime.

Anyway, for now, I’ll just dream and tell you all about the things I’m looking forward to the most.

Things I’m most looking forward to

 

Harajuku

japan - harajuku

Source – unknown

I got a book called Fresh Fruits* when I was 16 or 17 all about unusual Japanese street fashion and since then it’s been my quest to go see them in person. I still have that book today and it’s so fun to flip through. I may not be into shopping as much as I was back then but it’s still something that’s very high on my list.

 

Vending Machines

japan - vending machine

Source – Akiodesigns

I hear that the vending machines over there are insane. You won’t find any that have food in (at least not on the street) as it’s considered rude to eat on the go in Japan but you will find a whole lot of drinks! I hear there’s things like peach fanta and coffee flavoured Coca Cola. I think Topher will probably end up drinking the majority of things we get but I love just being able to try things. It’s a running joke that alcoholic or non-alcoholic, I am the slowest drinker ever!

I also look forward to trying the restaurants where they have a vending machine outside where you choose your meal before you go in. Though it looks like I’d definitely need Google Translate on hand!

 

Food

japan - food

Source – Being Erica

It wouldn’t be a Nomad post if I didn’t mention the food. Oh my lord the food. It all looks so interesting. I love trying new things as well as being a big fan of ramen and sushi. I want to try the street foods like okonomiyaki, odango and takoyaki as well as go to a Japanese BBQ place where you cook your own meat, and I really want to try tempura and yakatori. There’s just so many things I don’t know how we’ll fit them all in.

japan - snacks

Source – Haven Turner

And don’t get me started on the snacks. Japanese convenience stores are highly recommended for all of the amazing snacks you can find. There are a ridiculous amount of different flavoured Kit Kats, sweets and so many types of savoury snack. Heaven.

 

Architecture

japan - castle

Source – Nagoya Castle

I love the fact that Japan embraces both the old and the new and it’s reflected in their architecture among other things. I want to see the temples and castles as well as getting myself lost between the city skyscrapers. And also they have a load of mad stuff like below that I am just dying to see in person.

japan - architecture

Source – Lady Iron Chef

 

Disney

japan - disneysea

Source – The Cherry Blossom Girl

Well duh! How could I go to Japan and not pay Tokyo Disney a visit? It’s me.

As well as seeing the park from a whole new different culture angle, there are different rides and Disney Tokyo Sea is a different enchilada (or salmon and avocado hand roll in this case?) entirely.

japan - mochi

Source – Keiko Lynn

Plus their food also looks amazing. There’s mochi shaped like the three eyed alien, unusual flavoured popcorn and steamed buns galore. I cannot wait.

Also, I’m not usually that into merchandise shopping but Japan is known to have by far the best collection out of all the parks. And I’ve definitely confirmed it by watching so many haul videos on Youtube! Those things are addictive.

Of course there are so many more things I’m looking forward to (like all of it) but these were just a few general things that popped to mind.

I plan on visiting Hiroshima to see the peace museum as I think it’s super important – especially right now, we’ll also be paying Universal Studios a visit (for Harry Potter) and I also hope to see a real life geisha.

Have you ever been to Japan? Give me suggestions! And if not, what would you want to see?

 

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My Week #69 – Paying respects

*Mediterranean Chicken Orzo *Pickles

*Greek beefy pasta thing *Crematorium

Not too much to report on this week.

Went to the crematorium to pay respects to Topher’s step-dad who died 2 years ago. He was only 49 and it does make you realise how short life is. It makes me realise that I need to try and pull myself out of this funk that I’m in. I feel like I’m wasting time and I don’t want to feel that way anymore. Fingers crossed I can actually do it and not just say I’m going to.

On the bright side I have been having great luck with finding new meals to cook.

I made Pinch of Nom’s Mediterranean Chicken Orzo which was amazing. I had never used orzo before but it was very nice. And I also tried a non Slimming World recipe that I found on Pinterest by The Happy Foodie. It was a Vegetable Casserole with Dumplings and it was so delicious! It would be quite low syn as well if you didn’t have the dumplings….but I like the dumplings!

I also attempted to make shortbread…and I’m not kidding when I say attempt. It tasted good but it was literally crumbles. A pile of crumble. Very tasty but still it would have been more at home on top of a pile of rhubarb. Fingers crossed my next baking venture goes better.

Weekend plans

Off down to the West Midlands for a friend’s kid’s christening. Which means staying in a Travelodge. I enjoy staying in hotels so am looking forward to it. Oh and also interacting with other humans. Otherwise, my weekend will just be filled with driving. The coming weeks are going to be a lot more interesting I promise as the Christmas season is about to begin and I have a load of parties/meals to go to. That’s the thing about being freelance. You end up with so many more groups then you would in an office. I’m looking forward to them. Particularly the meals!

How was your week?

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Disneyland California Resort – Honeymoon Travels

So I think it’s quite fitting that the last edition of our honeymoon travel diary was our visit to Disneyland California.

I have only been to Disneyland California once when I was about 9 I think and so had only been to the main park. California Adventure was a new one for both of us. Being a massive Disney (and Walt Disney of course) fan, I was so excited to see where it all began – at least when it comes to the theme parks.

Once again, #sorrynotsorry for the vast amount of photos!

Our Disney trip actually began the night before when we finished at Universal and drove over to Anaheim (do NOT do that during rush hour). As soon as we checked into our hotel which was just off property, we walked to Downtown Disney to get our personalised Mickey ears.

We ordered them there and then at the counter and they only took about 20 minutes despite the World of Disney shop being a mad house. It turns out that the minute we arrived, California Adventure had closed for the night so the whole park emptied and a few thousand people came straight to Downtown Disney. Anyway, lesson learned we headed back to the hotel with our ears to get some sleep. We got our initials and our wedding date embroidered on them btw!

Day 1

Hello dodgy mirror shot!
disneyland californai - outfits

And of course a Mickey ear shadow shot!

disneyland californai - shadows

We started off with California Adventure as it turned out that a few rides in the Disneyland Park were closed that day because they were having their halloween overlays added. Luckily they would be opening the next day so I’m glad I did my research! California Adventure was actually closing at 5pm that day because of a staff party but we decided we’d rather do that then miss out on the Halloween rides at Disneyland park. That make sense? Ok, let’s dive in!

disneyland californai - california adventure

Knowing that the Radiator Springs Cars ride was the most popular, we decided to grab some fast passes for that. Then we headed over to the boardwalk area below and pretty much walked onto California Screamin’ – a rollercoaster. It was awesome!

Next, I was really surprised to find a super short wait for Toy Story Midway Mania. Apparently even though it’s exactly the same ride as the one in Florida, it just isn’t that big a deal here. For those who don’t know, in Hollywood Studios in Florida, TSM is the ride you definitely need to grab a fast pass for as soon as you arrive in the morning.

disneyland californai - california screaming

We decided to get in line for the Cove Bar as we really wanted to eat here and I read that the wait times can get really long. It was like 11ish at this point but with the park closing early and us wanting to also have our dinner inside, it worked out pretty well.

disneyland californai - cove bar

It’s more like a bar than a restaurant but their food is really good too. We got two starters to share between us which may not sound like much but look at these photos! They were the perfect lunch. First was the lobster nachos which were the best. I loved these things so much and they definitely lived up to the hype.

disneyland californai - lobster nachos

Then we also had some chicken enchiladas which were pretty damn tasty!

disneyland californai - chicken enchiladas

The best part of the meal (just by a smidgen) had to be the lemonades we got each. As you can see, they are blue and then garnished with cotton candy.

disneyland californai - cotton candy lemonade

After that we used our Radiator Springs fast passes and then tried to figure out what to do next. I can see what people mean about this being a half day park but the rides that are here are very high standard. Note to people who are planning on visiting, the app is good for wait times but isn’t always accurate. After leaving Cars Land, we headed over to the Guardian’s of the Galaxy ride (formerly Tower of Terror) with the app saying that there were fast pass tickets left. Unfortunately they were long gone.

Not the end of the world, we just stood in the hour queue which isn’t bad going considering we’d practically walked on everything else all day.

disneyland californai - walt and mickey statue

Instead we grabbed a Soarin’ fast pass which was due to come into play around 4pm. So to kill time, we went to the Animation Academy and drew Jack Skeleton as well as grabbing a Starbucks and wandering around Downtown Disney for a bit.

4pm came and we went to Soarin’. I was really looking forward to this as they have the new Soarin’ round the world version (the previous was just over California). Unfortunately as we got into the line, the ride broke down and they literally sent everyone out of the building. Gutted.

We decided to go get dinner and try Soarin’ again just before closing. We got Cozy Cones from Cars Land and they were really good. They’re basically a bread cone filled with tasty stuff like mac and cheese or chilli. With cheese on top of course. Plus, while we were eating, we ended up on a table with an older couple and the lady not only had visited Disneyland in it’s opening week but she also met Walt Disney. How awesome is that? I’ll never be able to meet him myself but it’s so cool to have actually met someone who has. Disney nerd alert.

So we went back to Soarin’ to try our luck just before closing and by some miracle it had just started working again. I was so happy as that was our only chance to ride it. And it was awesome.

disneyland californai - mickey street show

On the way out of the park, we stopped at Downtown Disney again and picked up a churro ice cream sandwich. Nom is all I can say. But how awesome is this? Look at all the different flavours they have! Next time I’ll be trying those!

disneyland californai - flavoured churros

Day 2

Second day and last day. This was Disneyland Park day. I can’t do as in depth as I did for Day 1 as this park has so many damn rides that I can barely remember so I’ll just have to talk you through my photos!

disneyland californai - disneyland castle

The castle is super pretty though yes it is a great deal smaller. Not surprising really as this was the first park.

All the halloween decorations were up too which I loved.

disneyland californai - halloween decorations

I do remember that we started the day by getting a fast pass for Space Mountain. Damn that was a long line. I say line, it was more like a hoard. It was crazy but I’m so glad we got them because the queue was super long all day. This was one of the rides that had opened back up with a halloween overlay.

Then we headed to the Matterhorn which I have to say was rather disappointing. It was really rickety and jerky. Luckily this was the only bad ride we had all day!

disneyland californai - matterhorn

The It’s A Small World ride is so pretty from the outside and they even have disney characters inside which they don’t at the Florida counterpart. I also liked that this one starts outside as the other you practically have to go underground to get to it.

disneyland californai - small world

disneyland californai - train

As one of his souvenirs, Topher bought a Yoda backpack that makes it look like you’re Luke when he’s carrying him around. I’m not sure if I would have encouraged him to get it if I knew he’d be treating it like his child for the rest of the day.

disneyland californai - yoda bag

disneyland californai - new orleans square

Lunch was at Cafe Orleans and yes Topher did this and left me with him to go to the bathroom. It’s safe to say I looked pretty special dining with a bag!

disneyland californai - yoda

We had monte cristo sandwiches (classic ham for him and just cheese for me). It was really nice though the portion was a bit too large – I felt a bit ill from all the fried stuff and couldn’t finish it. Topher couldn’t even finish his.

disneyland californai - monte cristo

Jumping photos of course!

disneyland california - topher jump

disneyland californai - diane jump

And one to show off our ears!

disneyland california - looking at castle

We rode Splash Mountain and got soaked to our skin from head to toe. Brrr. You do NOT get that wet at the Florida one.

disneyland californai - splash mountain

We went to Mint Julep Bar for Mickey beignets and a Mint Julep which were both super tasty though very messy! Powdered sugar everywhere.

disneyland californai - mickey beignets

We made what turned out to be an excellent decision on getting fast passes for Haunted Mansion earlier on as the line when we got there around 4pm was insane. We even waited about 30 mins at least in the fast pass line. It was totally worth it though – the house had been given a Nightmare Before Christmas overlay which was so cool!

disneyland californai - haunted mansion

Dinner was at a Mexican place that I can’t remember the name of but it was near Frontierland. Right next to Thunder Mountain. Nom – burritos.

disneyland californai - day of the dead

Then it was time to get ready for the fireworks. I hear there is usually a parade but there wasn’t one this night. We usually go near the castle but even getting there an hour early it was all full up – at least the good spots. As it turns out, having a small castle is nice but then when you have massive trees in front of it, your options get limited fast.

We decided to head to Main Street and we sat on the side of the road where we were lucky to find a space. There was a cast member right next to us the whole time and he didn’t think to tell us what happened next. About 10 minutes I think before the fireworks started we were told to move by another cast member as they were going to fill the street up with people. I really wish we knew that as us and the rest of the people who had gotten there early thought we were sorted. I think you’re usually fine if there’s a parade but as I said there wasn’t one that night. If someone could confirm that for me? So confused.

It wasn’t the end of the world as we were lucky to end up near the front of a section that was cut off so people could cross over but it was annoying due to the many people putting their (massive) children up on their shoulders in the section in front. It wouldn’t be so much of a problem in Florida as the castle is huge but this one is tiny and easily blocked. I did manage to get a few photos of the castle though. I’m just glad we weren’t further to the left as the kid in neon yellow/green was especially big! Lesson learned, next time get there even earlier to get a better space in front of the trees.

disneyland californai - cheshire cat projection

Anyway, grumbling aside, the fireworks were awesome – I wouldn’t expect any less from Disney!

disneyland californai - lots of fireworks

On the way out, we managed to find the real bench that Walt sat on in Griffith Park so yay! Goal met.

disneyland californai - walt's bench

I really enjoyed our trip to Disneyland California overall and I just want to visit them all now! One day 🙂

So that was the last of our honeymoon – we headed back to New York the next day which is included in my New York post – see below for the other instalments if you missed them.

Part 1: New York

What we ate in New York

Part 2: San Francisco

What we ate in San Francisco

Color Factory

Madonna Inn & A Californian Roadtrip

Part 3: Los Angeles 

What we ate in Los Angeles

Universal Studios Hollywood

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