New Year and a new resolve

Firstly: Happy New Year! I hope 2016 brings you happiness.

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I never used to attempt to set myself resolutions for new years. I assumed I would fail, so why bother starting. But really I’d been doing myself a deservice – surely it’s better to try and fail than not try at all.

With that in mind my 2016 resolutions are:

No Added Sugar

This one is definitely going to be a challenge for me. I am a chocolate addict and at the end of last year all my pre wedding good behaviour and weight loss had been undone by this.  Sugar is addictive folks – you don’t need me to tell you that! I’ve been reading a bit of Jack’s copy of I Quit Sugar for Life by Sarah Wilson, and she talks a bit about the science behind why we can’t / don’t feel the need to stop eating it. Our brain’s have “that’s enough” switches for carbs, protein and fats, but not sugar.

Start Each Day with a Glass of Water

Simple – but writing this post this morning has served as a reminder that I nearly missed this today, and it’s only day two!

Visit the Gym Three Times a Week

Again nothing groundbreaking here. I’ve been a gym member since joining with my encouraging old housemates back in 2012, and although I have continued to attend it has been with varying enthusiasm. I wouldn’t say there has been more than a 3 week period were I haven’t been but there definitely have been ups and downs and I hope to make 2016 more consistently up.

Not planning to be strict – 20 mins, or an hour sessions – they will all count.

Mind My Money

Being more conscious of how I am spending my money is the aim of this one. I have a bad habit of just popping in to H&M or grabbing a new piece of make-up from Boots rather than paying too much attention to a budget. No more – treating myself this year, will hopefully be about seeing my savings grow, rather than dipping into them.

What resolutions, if any, are you making this year? And do you have any advice on how I can stick with mine?

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Crumbly, delicious mince pies

So a little later than I intended but here is a recipe for pastry for making your Mince pies. It won’t produce the neatest, tidiest pies but it’s really tasty.

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Ingredients

350g Flour

100g Sugar

225g Butter, at room temperature

Pinch of salt

Method

Pre heat your oven to 180 degrees.

Mix all of the ingredients together either by rubbing, or if you need to make them quickly using an electric mixer or kitchen aid.

Once all the butter has been rubbed or mixed in, knead it into a loose dough, but don’t overwork it, it should crumble apart.

Gather together a walnut sized ball of dough and press into your pie tray.

Fill with your preferred mincemeat.

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Gather half a walnut sized amount of dough and press between your palms to make a rough top, do this for each of your pies and make sure to meet the edges of your pie with your lids.

Brush with milk, or whisk egg.

Bake for 15 to 20 mins until golden brown.

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Allow to cool before tucking in. You don’t want to burn your mouth on molten mincemeat. Trust me.

28th Birthday

Whoop whooop! I’m getting old. 28 people. 28.

Being the self serving person I am, I usually make a massive deal out of my birthday and get all my favourite people together but… I’m tired. We’ve had a big year this year and I saw lots of lovely people in the lead up the wedding and it feels a bit much to do a big celebration this year.

Instead J and I went for dinner at Hotel du Vin – just the two of us, to celebrate my birthday on the 13th and Jack’s which is actually today. I think it might be the lowest key birthday celebration in my living memory. Short note about the meal – Jack’s Moules Frites Marinière was apparently delicious and there was loads. My grilled Globe Artichoke with Buffalo mozzarella and preserved lemon wasn’t very good. But we made up for it by going to Kooks for a cocktail and dessert. Yum.IMG_1953

On the 13th, we woke up pretty early and headed out for a walk along the Undercliff walkway out to beyond Rottingdean and back.

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Then unashamedly pigged out in Zizzi’s who had sent me a *have a free birthday main* email voucher. Yes please, I like free pizza.

Tonight, if our car is in functioning order following it’s MOT, I’ll hopefully pick Jack up from work and either take him out for dinner or hunt down an appropriately exciting supper to have at home.

On Sunday some in laws are coming over for Sunday lunch and then later this month I am seeing some lovely ladies for a little lunching which I am looking forward to.

What do you like to do for your birthday?

Bristol & two very different restaurants

I hit up Bristol for a Hen weekend this bank holiday weekend, for the lovely Charlotte, who is getting hitched later this month. (I’m so excited for her and Andy, they’re awesome)

We were quite big hen party, 18 ladies ( well one man standing in for a no show…) and Charlotte had mentioned a few places she’d happily go to for her night and I sorted the rest.

I ended up booking the Cosy Club. It looked great and had a reasonably priced ‘Party’ menu and cocktails that wouldn’t bankrupt us all. But I wish now that I had chosen one of the others short-listed. The building itself might have been beautiful and the wait staff were trying their best but totally let down by the management. Suffice to say I won’t be recommending any time soon and a full review is going up on TripAdvisor shortly, which I’ll post a link to.

Bill's

In complete contrast, we went to Bill’s for breakfast on the Sunday morning, booked for 10 people and the service was great, apart from the odd difficulty at the end getting hold of a card machine ( I should carry cash, like the other 9 people!). The food was great and arrived in a timely fashion. Bill’s even serves dinners and has a selection of cocktails – with hindsight our breakfast venue probably would have provided better service for our Saturday night dinner. Lesson learnt.

Bank Holidays

I love ’em. We should have more. All Mondays ideally… but no, ignore that, that’s not practical for a productive working life.

However when they do come along it’s good to use them. For the most recent bank holiday weekend (Easter) I made mine into a beaut of a five dayer. That’s right folks five whole days off and I am going to tell you how I spent them.

Thursday was spent:

  • Kitchen Shopping – I have my heart set on a Homebase basic, country style like this.Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 3.59.29 pm
  • Hen Planning – Myself and my buddy Alice are busy planning a hen for our lovely friend Ailie who is getting hitched in June. I will share some info after the event, for fear that she might get wind of what the deal is.
  • Holiday Planning – I’m tagging on to my sisters holiday in September for a long weekend in Majorca and I can’t wait!Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 4.04.43 pm

Friday was spent:

  • Waking up some hungover men – J went out with some Sussex based buds for what I am calling his sussex stag.
  • Lunching with Fran and Amy at Burgers & Cocktails by Giraffe – It was lush and I was good and had a salad until I had a delicious Sundae for dessert. Oops.Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 4.09.34 pm
  • Visited the Brighton Museum with Amy
  • Date in the evening with J – We headed to Meat Liquor for our first visit. I have to say: I didn’t love it. Maybe I am too old, uncool and stay home too much but it seemed loud. Loud visually and audibly. I did like the food, which is a surprise as a veggie in a meaty world but the veg burger was good and the cocktails were lush. But I couldn’t think. Couldn’t enjoy them or J’s company because I wanted to Get Out! That’s just me though…

Saturday was spent

  • Being lazy – then feeling bad about being lazy and going to the gym.
  • Going for Dinner – With the lovely Lou, Lou, Adam and Jo – We went to Breeze and I’d go again. The food was tasty and it had a good vibe (forgive me for the use of vibe). It was very hot there though – knitwear not necessary!

Sunday was spent

  • Eating – Easter Sunday lunch was spent with all of J’s family tucking into a great lunch his dad cooked and too many dessert and then chocolate eggs. We did venture out on a little little walk around the village but not long enough to warrant the sheer quantity of chocolate.
  • Watching a detective drama – Vera on ITV on sunday evenings – I don’t know that I am sold but I did watch the whole thing. Ask me again after this weekend.

Monday was spent

  • Walking – We were so lucky to have such beautiful weather for a walk on Monday (the second bank holiday) and I got sunburnt would you believe it! We saw lambs – spring lambs! Awwww.Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 4.46.07 pm
  • Eating – after a significant walk (2.5 hrs round trip) we got to The Coach and Horses and sat out in their Garden for some grub. It was good and you should definitely eat there if you are in the area (Danehill/Chelwood Gate)
  • More Eating – We had takeaway round our flat with some friends from Mumbai Express in Brighton – what we believe to be the best Indian takeaway in the City. Personal opinion but you should totes check them out – I love the vegetarian Thali.

So I think you’ll agree a lot was packed in, and I probably need to go on a fast to repair the damage done to my pre-wedding eating plan but it was fun and I can’t wait for the may bank holiday in a few weeks time.

What did you do with your weekend?

Brighton Favourites

I thought I would share my favourite places in Brighton, in case any of you happen to be in Brighton and at a loss as to where to head.

Food For Friends

I freaking love this place, so much so I have never bothered to try Terre A Terre. I love their Vegetarian menu, and it’s such a treat having such an amazing, broad choice of food. Being betrothed to a meat eater, we do tend to hit up regular restaurants more.

J is a bit of a fan of their Sticky Toffee Pudding – you can kinda see why!

Sticky Toffee

foodforfriends.com

 

Koba

Koba Menu

Cocktails, cocktails, my lovelies. J and I went to Koba a little while back, in what must be a very Dry January, and we had the place to ourselves! This place is normally pretty buzzing, but we got to sit where we wanted super quick service, delicious happy hour priced cocktails, and then just a short skip home after.

Apple Crumble Cocktail

This here is an Apple Crumble, Super Sweet!

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The Creperie

I snuck in here with the lovely Charlotte and Andy when they came to visit for New Years ( Yes, I’m sorryI spoilt my appetite for dinner that night) and the crepes were all that you need from a crepe, sweet, crips edged, filled with deliciousness. I had a Nutty Ella, and I wish I had photo to share with you, but I scoffed it too quickly!

The Creperie

thecreperiebrighton.com

Blackbird Tea Rooms

This place… this place has the most delicious cakes of anywhere I have had cake in Brighton; I have had a lot of cake from a lot of places. Also, I’ve yet to photograph a single slice… I always eat ’em too quickly!

Their breakfast menu is also excellent, I had  Welsh rarebit with Portobello mushrooms & soft Duck Egg last time I visited (though swapped my duck egg for scrambled egg: fussy!) and it was lush!

blackbirdtearooms.com

 

Losing weight: What’s worked for me

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So it’s no secret that I was heavier a few years ago, I hit eating hard at Uni and carried on long after graduation. These things happen.

But I wasn’t happy, I was two going on three dress sizes bigger than I had ever been, I felt big, my skin was suffering from over indulgence. Basically things needed to change.

What I did that worked for me:

1. Tried a class

I joined a gym class with a friend, just once a week for a few months. Zumba was awesome, I loved the sense of achievement after a class.

2. The Gym

I joined a gym with friends, and tried all the free classes going.

Not all of these were awesome: Yoga is not for me, I can’t keep a straight face. People don’t always appreciate an inappropriate giggle. I know that now.

3. MyFitnessPal

This thing is a godsend. The truth now: I lie to myself about how much and what I eat. A fact: when I use this religiously my weight loss stays on track and when I don’t it doesn’t. There are graphs, actually proof.

4. Eating

This is a hard one. I love chocolate. In all forms. But once I started using the Myfitnesspal App I could see how far over my regular calorie allowance I was going each day, nevermind if I wanted to loose weight. So I said goodbye to multiple biscuits, and daily chocolate fixes. I started having healthier choices for breakfast and lighter lunches.

I’ve found ultimately it’s all about choices and making good ones for a healthier future. But it is hard.

I do LOVE chocolate. 

 

Festive Flat

We’re moving, but I haven’t let that put a stop to our festive cheer.

This weekend I made wreaths with Js mum and little sister, and it was super fun. So here is a round up of all the festiveness going on round ours and what I got up to over the weekend.

Mincepies

I made some, and my very own mincemeat. The mincemeat recipe is Delia’s.

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The Mince-pie Recipe…

 …was given to me by a J’s mum from a friend of a friend and I am going to share it with you all shortly, and wish you luck, I made this batch a bit too thick with the pastry, but it is the most delicious recipe.IMG_0211

Christmas Trees

I went Christmas Tree shopping with my mum at this amazing place, between Lindfield and Ardingly in West Sussex.

If you fancy heading there yourself, maybe next year if your tree is already up, here are the details:

sussextrees.co.uk  Goddenwick Farm,Ardingly Road, LindfieldIMG_0216

And this beaut below was our choice, and decorated by my fair hands. Good shape wouldn’t you say?

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Wreath Making

Below you can see the lesser of my efforts, I forgot to photograph my table decoration before gifting it to my mum.

It was a wreath to go around a candle, and was so painstakingly made, that I couldn’t bear to try and move it this weekend when we move flats (did I mention we’re moving?).

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