Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Chloe Likes To Eat: Savoury Protein Pancakes

Don't get me wrong, I love a sweet treat. One of my favourite pancake memories from childhood is my dad making crepe style pancakes and filling them with cherry pie filling. As an adult, I might have to recreate that with a slug of amaretto.... But it's easy to forget that pancakes- whether you prefer american style or crepe style don't have to be sweet. I got in on the pancake action over the weekend and decided to try out a post-run brunch of savoury protein pancakes. I wasn't entirely sure how it would work out, but it all came good on the plate!

Savoury Protein Pancakes Brunch photo Protein Pancakes_zpsmjwdgur3.jpg

We used MyProtein unflavoured pancake mix (1 50g serving made 3 pancakes which we split between 2 of us) mixed with 1 teaspoon of dijon mustard and about 150ml of milk and cooked per instructions.

To top, yes, that is a a decadent portion of smoked salmon, avocado tossed in lemon juice & poached eggs, all finished off with a light drizzle of sriracha sauce.

Let me know if you give savoury pancakes a go, I'd love some more ideas to temper all the sweet recipes about.


Sunday, February 26, 2017

Month In Review: February 2017

So February has fairly flown past. Maybe it just seems short because January was a 5 weeker. Maybe it's because I've been focused on projects of all kinds. Either way, it's been a solid February one way or another. And technically there's still 2 more days to go.

So I ran a lot in February. And I talked about it a lot... for a change. There's a reason my blog is named as it is... February has been the peak training month for the Cambridge Half Marathon, my first ever and I took the opportunity to post an update to my 2017 training happy goal - click if you missed it.

Fenland Running - Cambridge Half Marathon Training photo 32141194123_31197f141b_o_zpspdw1hmyh.jpg

On a personal note it's been a month of making peace. I wrote about family estrangement- click if you missed it, and what it means to make difficult choices as well as the longer term and far reaching emotional consequences- and it takes a bit of working through with the people who love and care for me- the ones I choose to have around. I've also been humbled to receive messages- private and public from others on both sides of the fence. Remember that there are a dozen or more sides to every story, and you don't get to judge.  

And I also talked about race fever. It's a real thing. There's always a cool race or event to enter, but there's also such a thing as too much. This year I've planned me events in properly so I get to do the ones I love without overdoing it on events that don't spark some joy. Working this out has been key to my 2017 goal to train happy- click if you missed the original post on my 2017 goal

On a foodie note, I definitely didn't get to cook as much as I did in January. This is always the case when I have to relinquish kitchen access, I mean it's like they own the house or something. I get that my situation with working away is probably a bit unusual, so please let me know if you would like to know more about my job and why I generally spend most of my week working 'away' but 'at home'. I don't have a desperately glamorous job, but it is in some respects a lifestyle choice which affords me some awesome benefits.

One thing I did get all over... Brunch. On a weekend I am terrible for eating enough. Often we have brunch and dinner and then inevitably get heavy handed with snacks and wine in the early evening. Given I've been running a lot (scroll up....) the brunch bit has to be good. I posted my 4 favourite (and super simple) brunch dishes- it's a disservice to call them recipes- click if you missed it. I also concocted this incredible protein mug cake one dark, chilly night... MyProtein Salted Caramel Mug Cake mix made with 70ml almond milk, a teaspoon of almond butter and a Grenade Peanut Nutter Carb Killa bar- half chopped and stirred through, half poked in the top. Joy in a mug...

Salted Caramel Peanut Nutter Carb Killa Grenade Mug Cake photo 32886762585_bf346721e7_o_zpstdjybyrj.jpg

Tom & I also started to seriously consider weddings. We got engaged last March whilst away in Vietnam and we have committed to financing a house purchase before we worry too much about a wedding but as we draw closer to the house buying thing, we have started to think about the practicalities of planning the next big life event. I'm not really into weddings and it's not going to be a traditional affair, but working out where to even start seemed a bit overfacing. After a few interesting chats with Twitter friends I realised that there's a lot of peripheral stuff that is as important as you want it to be. I'm sure there'll be more about what we do or don't decide to do about our wedding in the fullness of time, so watch this space.

I read some brilliant posts this month including...

Em's pragmatic take on her encounter with cancer in Brave Is Not The New Black... and a reminder to think on your choice of words when speaking to people, especially if you don't understand their situation.

Phoebe at North of London is killing it with brilliant posts with blogging tips but in particular this one about sharing and Improving Your Blogging Karma resonated for me

Lissy's point over at Dainty Alice on cliques and blogging is another one which had my nodding and remembering a few examples of similar experiences- if you blog, you are a blogger. 

And Vegan or not, there's some brilliant recommendations for in Lily's Four Vegan Lunches To Try post. 

And that was month 2 of 2017 for me. Thank you for continuing to read Chloe Likes To Talk, and thanks for engaging with kind comments, tweets and shares- let's get going for the last third of the first quarter of the year.


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Not Your Average Transformation Tuesday

I'm not here to talk about significant weight loss. Neither have I gained major muscle. There's no six-pack to see here. I have mini-muscles if I flex my bicep but in a world of dramatic before and afters, there's a few other things I wanted to share from an alternative perspective.

Alternative Transformation Tuesday - 2013 photo Transformation Tuesday before_zpstcf9fqra.jpg

That's me in 2013. I wasn't drastically unhealthy- I used to cycle a 20km round trip to work 5 days per week and I've always liked to cook and understand the basic concepts of cooking balanced food. I wasn't the healthiest person you'll ever meet, but I was just about a healthy weight for my height and participating in in 3-4 hours of exercise per week via my cycle-commute. I was doing ok.

So what's changed.

Well it started with losing my cycle commute to a new job. And having been adamant I wasn't a runner for a long time, I realised that trainers were going to be more transportable than my bike whilst working away regularly, so got on board with the Couch25K program....

Alternative Transformation Tuesday 2015 Running before photo 16324722761_7be9c044b8_o_zpsrf4rkyee.jpg

And it sucked. It was really fucking hard. And it only really came together after a handful of stutters...

This is me 2015 vs 2016:

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Do I look different? Sure. I was a little lighter and leaner. I ran over 100km of races between these 2 images. I also spent a lot of time feeling 'not good enough', setting myself unreasonable goals and feeling frustrated. I didn't realise it at the time and it took me until the autumn of 2016 to realise that when it comes to exercise, sports and health, there are constantly changes to make, things to learn and that everyone is working towards something different in their own way.

And this is me in 2017.

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I am a bit lighter- around 10kg, I'm a bit leaner- a size 10 from a 14 but it's nothing too drastic. There's no dramatic picture of me standing in a single leg of my old pair of jeans. There's no six pack and dedication to veganism or paleo or low carb. Do I enjoy buying a small instead of a medium? Sure, but here's a few things your average Transformation Tuesday doesn't tell you...

Alternative Transformation Tuesday Running photo TT Running_zpsjkjxb3ri.jpg

A before and after picture can't tell you that not only can I run 5k, but my 10km time has come down by 15 minutes and I completed a full marathon less than a year after lacing up my trainers for my first run.

A before and after picture doesn't tell you that riding my bike over 100km and 100 miles is exciting and it isn't so hard that I think about giving up half way through anymore.

A picture cannot demonstrate the improved healing time and significant reduction in injuries I suffered in the last 12 months because I've learned to love lifting heavy things.

And a picture will never explain the connection between physical strength and emotional strength that has given me the empowerment I needed to make peace with with all kinds of big life stuff.

A transformation picture can tell you a lot of things. It can help you to understand changes you might have made. They can celebrate you in all your beautiful forms. But a picture or a comparison cannot tell you your worth. It cannot tell you all of the positive changes you are capable of making and how much of an impact a healthy passion can have on your life.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Training Happy Updates - The Cambridge Half Marathon

My 2017 goal was to train happy, to stop putting unrealistic expectations and goals in the way of enjoying sport and exercise. You can read more about my training happy goal and why I needed to reach for it, click here.

This is a sentiment that's truly tested when you have lots of plans for the year in particular, I'm running my first half marathon on March 5th- the Cambridge Half. It seems a bit illogical to be running a 13.1 distance having already done a marathon but I fancied trying something new and a closed-road, big ticket race is as good a place as any to try it.

The problem with shiny new exciting things is the tendency to take a 'go hard or go home' attitude and to set myself up for my own perceived failure. So with 2 weeks to go, here's how it's going in the lead up to my first biggie of the year...

The Training Plan

I work best with a plan and because this is a transition from 10km to half marathon I chose a more advanced plan which focused on varied sessions and matched the number of training sessions I can realistically fit into a week and then tweaked any sessions as needed.

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I've really enjoyed having a weekly speedwork session- one of my modification has been to run a different session each week with my running club instead of the generic Fartleks listed. I also allowed 14 weeks to complete this 12 week program so I had some wiggle room- holidays, weather, life, worst case scenario, injuries. They all happen. And if you're on the hunt for a training plan for a new distance, I rounded up my 5 picks from 5k to half marathon right here- click if you missed it.

Attainable Goals

Because physically, I know I can complete 13.1 miles, crossing the line is the goal, but I also knew it wasn't going to motivate me, that said, I want to enjoy the day, I want to enjoy having completed so I have set a time goal, but it's limited and set conservatively. Ultimately it's about #finishlinesbeforefinishtimes which is a sentiment I shared when I was featured on the MyProtein Women Instagram feed in January.

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Listening to my body

So this is a hard one to learn. And it's why I put some extra weeks into my training. Last weekend after a long week, disturbed nights and shitty weather I did not want to run. Not just feeling a bit lacking in motivation, but full on struggling to get out of bed tired and so I didn't. I stayed home, made sure to eat properly and the result is that my final peak long run this week was my strongest yet.

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Finding the JOY

I find it hard to believe that anyone enjoys every single run or ride or gym session they do. Sometimes it doesn't go to plan, sometimes you don't feel like it, and sometimes you have to do the things you enjoy the least to see progress. But if you can't see the point in things, or you find yourself dreading all of your workouts, then maybe it's time to revisit your reasons. I found the joy in new routes, planned runs with friends and dragged Tom along for some of them too. I've also planned my year (you can read more about how I plan my race calendar here- click if you missed it) around events that sound fun or I know I love. It's easy to get caught up in race fever- entering events because other people are or they sound fun at the time, but holding out for the ones I really love or want to do and fitting in not just running but some of the cycling fun and games I crave.


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Race Fever: How I Plan My Race Calendar

Race Fever. It's a real thing. The irrepressible urge to sign up for ALL the races and events. I'm pretty sure there's no right or wrong number of races or events to do, that's all down to your own preference, but as someone who frequently has their head turned by shiny looking events, and someone who has missed out on preferable events because something is already booked in, I've found planning my races really beneficial. It also helps me to stagger the cost of any expensive races and prevents me from over booking myself.

I know a lot of runners who swear by spread sheets- a page for events with their sign up dates, event dates etc, but personally, I'm a pen and paper kind of a girl..

Planning Notebooks Bullet Journal photo 32457120600_8a48deef75_o_zpsaeieh0r0.jpg

Actually, to be more specific... I'm a multiple notebook, sticker, coloured pens and pencil kind of a girl, and a all green everything kind of a girl. My bad.

For real though, I like the act of writing things down, it helps me to remember things and I find it easier to view than using a screen, especially in my own time as I spend most of my work day glued to a computer and a phone.

I use a Moleskine extra large 2 month planner. It shows each week to a page with a notes page opposite and it has a year calendar at the front, showing each month to a page. And it's predominantly this way that I plan my races.

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First port of call- enter any holidays, important dates, work commitments etc into the year. It stops me from booking races when I know I'm likely to be on call with the business or when I'm planning holidays.

Next in go races already booked- I had one or two events I'd already sorted for 2017 before it started- if you like big events, you may well find yourself entering ballots or signing up for events more than 6 months ahead. This year, I knew I had the Cambridge Half Marathon in March and Endure 24 in June.

Now comes the FUN bit. Races and events I already know I really want to do in the year. 10k is my happy place and I already know in 2017 I want to revisit the Vitality 10000 where I set my PB in 2016 because it was an awesome course and the high of finishing with a PB added to a great atmosphere and well organised race. It's become tradition for Tom & I to ride to Southend on the BHF London-Southend ride because it also usually falls on the Rapha Women's 100 weekend which I love, and I can usually tell whcih weekend it'll be based on the last 3-4 years. As well as these 2 biggies, a few highlights to include, in case you fancy any for yourself:

Wings World Race For Life: a role reversal for most runners, you are chased by the catcher car, so it's down to you how far you get. I had friends who ran it last May from Cambridge and I'm looking forward to giving it a shot myself. The race raises money for spinal chord injury and happens at the same time in cities all over the world.

Royal Parks Half.: You might already know I did secure a ballot place for this. I knew it was going to be luck of the drawer, but I alo knew when it would fall and the Women's Running Magazine 10k series would have been my alternative race as it falls the same day, local to me in north London, Finsbury Park.

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Oh yeah!

March AC Summer Run: having join a new running club in 2017, I thought I'd better mark the race the club hosts into the the diary fairly swiftly this July. For anyone reading in Cambridgeshire, we'll be hosting on July 2nd.

London Marathon: I'm not running it, but decided I wanted to volunteer this this year. I'm supporting the Cancer Research administration team on the day as it's a cause important to me, and I get to soak up some of the atmosphere

Ride London: I represented Team Skoda in Ride100 in 2016 and had a blast. You can check out my photo diary from the 100 mile closed road route if you missed it. I didn't get a ballot place, but as last year proved- anything can happen! It's also hellish trying to get around London on the day, so it's a useful date to be aware of.

And last off, I've been pencilling in races I've been too late for or unable to fit in this year as well. I know this might sound a bit odd, but it'll help me keep track for next year- I'd love to do the Disney Paris Half in September 2018, which I can't fit in this year, and I quite fancy running my 'local' half marathon- The North London Half, which is just a bit too close to the Cambridge Half for me this year.

To Do Stickers photo 32062900823_1abf3bb3ae_o_zpsgh9qduhc.jpg

So far, 2017 is shaping up to be a fun year event wise. I'm excited for the events I've decided to do and have been lucky with my Royal Parks place. I'm eyeing up more cycling adventures for the summer months which is typically when I run a bit less- I'm not a good hot weather runner!

As for frequency, this seems to be a hotly debated issue. There are stories of heroes running marathons weekly, I have friends who race once or twice a year, just keep them in their trainers and people who book lots of events and struggle to complete them all due to injury or conflicting commitments. In 2015 I raced a lot- if you're new around here and you want to know why (and what got me running) you need to read this post. In July 2015, I spent 3 weekends of 4 attending races, and for me, it was too much. I'm not an early riser and cherish a weekend lay in, so extra early starts didn't help, travel time to-from venues meant I lost at least half a day at a time, and I was shattered. As an inexperienced runner, I didn't have enough time to recover before throwing myself into the next event. In 2016 I went the other way. I imposed a one race per quarter limit, and I was bored, missed out on things and ditched the idea mid-year.

This year, I'm aiming for roughly one event per month, cherry picking my wishlist races first and foremost, and then taking it as it comes. It's not exact- I have 3 events between May 7th & June 11th, but not consecutive weekends, and I'm nipping off on holiday straight after Endure24 on June 11th. My point- it's very much a personal thing. Family life, work, cost and time are all factors so what works for me, might not work for you.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Slow Cooker Recipes: Winter Favourites

The slow cooker. Mine was a Christmas gift back in 2012 when Tom & I were living on one very minimal graduate salary in a shithole flatshare in E14. It was a lifesaver for making cheap food that neither of us had to put a lot of effort into between working, studying and a health hazard kitchen. My love for the slow cooker has stayed with me though and especially in the cooler months, it's such an easy way to cook. With that, here's a few of my favourite recipe. A lot of them are American (because they love their Crockpots over there) and Pinterest is a goldmine of slow cooker recipes if none of these grab your fancy!

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Thai Chicken Soup (Foodiecrush)

Think Thai curry flavours in a soup, great for a working lunch. Because our slow cooker is small, I use half the ingredients would usually add noodles instead of rice. It also is lovely with spinach stirred through for some extra fresh and would work well with leftover roast chicken shredded through the soup based if you're keeping it economical.

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Image: Foodiecrush

Mexican Mixed Bean Stew

This is one of my own from 2016, but one I've been making for a while. If you fancy a hit of extra protein, add chicken thighs to the bottom of your slow cooker and cook on low for 6-7 hours. I like to serve this over a baked sweet potato with a sprinkle of cheese over the top and plenty of diced peppers mixed through.

Mexican Mixed Beans recipe photo B47A13C7-4905-4B5C-9B92-86683D639EB7_zpsaonm6n5k.jpg

Korean Beef (The Recipe Critic)

This works equally as well for chicken but I love beef for something a bit different (I eat a lot of white meat & fish). My only edit to this recipe is that reduce the sugar content- I use 1/4 cup sugar and a tablespoon of honey instead of 3/4 cup sugar. Another top tip, because I loathe wasting plastic bags on coating meat- put the raw beef in the slow cooker dish first, sprinkle the cornflour over and mix well to coat.

Slow Cooker Korean Beef - Recipe Critic photo slowcookerkoreanbeef2_zpso3lgmeg6.jpg

Image: The Recipe Critic

Sweet Potato, Chicken & Quinoa Soup (Chelsea's Messy Apron)

This is a weight soup, but great for post-run food or a filling al-desko lunch. This recipe does appear to be designed for an industrial sized slow cooker though, so to scale down:

I  tend to use just the one standard UK can for the tinned ingredients (drained, that's usually around 250g, this recipe calls for over 400g tins), I use an empty can (about 400ml) to measure out the stock and add only 2.
1 large sweet potato should do it
2 chicken breasts should be plenty or 4 chicken thighs
I used approx 50g (dry weight) of Quinoa

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Image: Chelsea's Messy Apron

Winter fought off in a bowl! Now, to find my favourite spring recipes in the hope that the sun will come out to play!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Winter Training... On The Cheap

Winter running is a funny thing. Whilst some people loathe it, and I can't deny that sometimes the motivation to venture out when it's especially dark, windy and/or frosty, but there seems to be a camp of runners into which I fall, the one that finds winter training infinitely easier than summer training. The only snag, is that colder weather requires seemingly endless layers and whole array of technical fabrics you never knew existed, let alone thought you might need, all with a price tag. And frankly, this weekend, it's really fucking wintery.

Oh, and whilst I'm at it. This post does not contain any links, nor does it contain any paid for product placement. I've been given items by brands and I'm very honest about that, but this is not an advertising piece, it's an honest look at how to curb the cost when it's REALLY easy to keep spending.

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I've been really lucky over the last few years to work with some awesome brands who have broken serious ground with technical running kit- you might remember me posting about Helly Hansen and their Norviz kit last year (click if you missed it) and more recently some of the MyProtein kit- surprisingly good by the way! But I do also spend my own hard earned money on the kit I wear and whilst some of it has been a bit... miss, there's been some hits too. So, winter training, on the cheap.

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Highstreet Hits

The rise of highstreet sportswear has been stratospheric. Supermarket clothing ranges, designer collaborations and a splash of fashion is everywhere. Not only has it made sports kit more affordable but it's also more accessible- no more specialist shops or websites or worst of all- high and mighty assistants! Check out H&M for classy kit, Clothing at Tesco for bright prints and colours and ASOS for big brands.


There's all kinds of ways to save money on branded kit- sales are always a good bet but websites like SportPursuit offer limited discounts on specific kit and better still offer a points scheme for discounts and vouchers.

Other websites like Sportshoes.com have made there mark by offering consistent mark downs on trainers and other sports kit, specifically the very searchable brands like Nike. I also managed to snag a pair of my absolute favourite Norviz running tights with 75% off in clearance.

Norviz Helly Hansen Running photo AFBEE853-3A5F-4A58-98BA-8565AA9268BC_zpsdvmzzayb.jpeg
Helly love, and my horrible twisty form

Looking beyond the obvious

Some of my favourite and most relied upon kit has come from places I would never have thought to look before. The 'budget' supermarkets Aldi & Lidl both regularly stock assorted fitness items- my favourite baselayer comes from Aldi's recent skiwear promotion and my flashing arm bands came from a Lidl cycling sale. Outdoor brands like Mountain Warehouse have diversified their offerings and the long sleeved mid-layers are my go to for a flattering cut and some extra warmth.

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So, whilst the sky keeps leaking as it defrosts, don't be fooled into thinking that the only time of year to start running is spring or summer- that comes with it's own problems- hell hath no fury like an overheated sweaty runner, and don't go thinking you have to spend a fortune either. There are a hundred memes about expensive kit people buy when they run, and it's true, you can. But just because you can, doesn't mean you should. Happy Running.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Chloe Likes To Eat: Weekend Brunch Ideas

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I live for weekend lay-ins. If I can possibly avoid setting an alarm on the weekend, I do and it's rare for us to be up and dressed before 1100. This lends itself well to a fabulous brunch once we do eventually surface and it's a favourite meal of the week so I thought I'd share some our best brunches- ones you can make at home without having to spend half a week's rent or queue up to get into. Just sayin'...

The Ultra Low Effort Brunch

Scrambled eggs, smoked salmon & toasted muffin- naturally that's an *artistic* drizzle of sriracha sauce to spice things up a little too. I actually make my own English muffins- way easier than expected FYI, I use this English Muffin Recipe.

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The Any Day, Anywhere Bowl

Buddha, Grain, Burrito you name it and it comes in a bowl... Well you can add brunch bowl to the list. It's a great one to pre-pack if brunch on the go is your thing and it's comfort in a bowl on a dull afternoon.

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Scrambled eggs, avocado & cherry tomato salad- mixed with lemon juice, sriracha & a touch of salt, and a cauliflower fritter- (I posted a recipe for this last year, click if you missed it) and it would also work really well with my Smoked Salmon Burgers too (click if you missed it)

The One I Call Eggy Bread (French Toast)

Growing up, I went to a Girl Guides group for a couple of years. On pretty much the only camp trip I ever went out, at breakfast served up was something I'd never had before, referred to as 'eggy bread' bread dipped in beaten eggs and fried. So no, I don't call it French Toast!

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This works best if you have stale bread to use up and this slice of loveliness was actually dessert but it's a cracking brunch if you fancy something sweet- whilst still hot, spread with peanut butter & top with frozen berries (warmed through in the microwave is my personal preference) and I drizzled some additional raspberry syrup over it, because syrup.

The One With All The Cheese

Cheese, glorious cheese... Anyway...

Sweetcorn fritters lurk underneath a pepper & tomato salsa and the whole lot is topped with feta and some bonus smoked cheese.

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For the fritters: Blitz 1 small tin of sweetcorn with one beaten egg and 50g plain flour. Season with half a teaspoon of smoked paprika and a twist of a salt grinder. Place spoonfuls in a hot pan until golden on each side flipping when needed.

For the salsa: Chop 1 red pepper, 1 red onion and a generous handful of cherry tomatoes,  add the whole lot with a splash of oil to a hot pan and stir until softened. Season with salt & pepper and a sprinkle of chilli flakes.

There you go, 4 brilliant brunches that are easy to make, a change from avocado toast and easy to make.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Month In Review: January 2017

Month In Review Jan 2017 Cover photo Jan 2017 Review Cover_zpsnqjroni1.jpg

January. World politics aside, it's been a good month for me. If you don't want to read about the frivolous things I've been enjoying and personal achievements I've hit this month, this post is not for you, if you're looking for a bit of mindless distraction, do keep reading.

So, I kicked off January with a holiday- we shot off to Spain with a week in timeshare (thanks Mum & Dad for not having enough time to use it!) making the absolute best of the slightly warmer than average temperatures. And then headed off to Cordoba and Malaga for some more city style break. I posted about the incredible hotel we stayed in for our final night too- an actual castle, it was stunning and the service more than matched the surroundings- click if you missed my post on Castillo de Santa Catalina

View Castillo Santa Catalina bathroom photo 31475199874_553b557886_o_zpshgvc55lz.jpg
The view, though. And this was just the bathroom window

Food has featured really quite a lot this month too. Who am I kidding, 80% of my Instagram feed is food I'm eating, dreaming of or cooking.

I've had free reign over the kitchen for most of January since returning from my holiday, so it's been FUN...

Jan 2017 in Review: Food photo Jan In Review Food_zpszdkjvaox.jpg

1. Smoked salmon, scrambled eggs and (homemade) English muffins for a bleak Saturday morning brunch
2. Pad (sort of) Thai- a Pad Thai inspired, super easy recipe which works with pretty much whatever is in the fridge- click if you missed my Pad Thai recipe
3. Burrito Bowls. Because, BURRITO BOWLS.
4. Call it French Toast if you must, growing up in the North, it was always called 'eggy bread' and this is topped with peanut butter, warmed up berries & a drizzle of sugar-free raspberry syrup.

Training has featured heavily in January. I'm now 1 month out from the Cambridge Half Marathon. Despite running a marathon back in 2015, I've never taken part in a half marathon and figured it might be fun to try. So far I've been really enjoying getting some extra miles in and complimenting running with lots of strength training- I posted about my 2017 goal to train happy this year- click if you missed it and I'm not yet finding that hard to stick with. I'm even building mini-muscles, which is cool.

But you know what's not cool? A conversation I had with someone I know, have run with previously and who was made to feel unwelcome, patronised and completely devalued in participating in a run. The conversation played on my mind for days, and it left me wondering what I could do. I believe, and have had the good fortune to experience inclusivity is crucial to get us all moving and to enjoy exercise. In wondering what I could do, I submitted an application the Asics FrontRunner community in the hope it may assist in spreading the word of exclusivity in running and at the end of the week, I was featured on the MyProtein Women Instagram feed with a sentiment that I think embodies inclusivity as well as the joy and freedom fitness can give you.

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Finish lines before finish times!

Last up, a few things I've read this month that I think are worth sharing:

London Beauty Queen on influencers who buy followers and even  more concerning- that PRs don't care

Josie from Sick Chick Chick posted about life 6 months post-transplant. Josie is such a brilliant champion of why organ donation is important and it's something I also feel strongly about.

Gillian completely smashed apart the concept that we're all supposed to be super busy Girl Boos types and it was brilliant. 

Supersizing breakfast is an interested concept in a balanced diet and this article from Women's Health UK was an interesting look at just HOW supersize to go.

And finally. I posted a very personal account of my experience with the death amongst family from whom I am estranged. It left me reflecting on my own self worth and also on why I made the choices I have regarding my family background.


Thursday, February 2, 2017

It's Not That I Don't Care

My family background is complicated. It's not uncommon problem and although it all feels very normal most of the time, sometimes one event, one shift, one change leaves me questioning my decisions, my relationships and my humanity.

I am estranged from my biological paternal family. I grew up with my mum, my step-father who has been in my life since I was two and a half years old and call dad, and visits that were sporadic and awkward with my biological father and occasionally his parents until I made the decision to cease contact aged 19. From an early age the relationship with my biological father created a lack of my own self-worth- 'Why doesn't Daddy like me anymore?' and 'Did I do something wrong?' started at the age of around 6 when visits were moved or cancelled or decreased in frequency and coupled with some bullying at school by the time I'd reached my teens, I'd already decided that clearly I was a 'bad person' and that I just wasn't 'good enough'. It's a toxic combination that contributed to all kinds of difficulties through my teens and very early twenties and my only regret when it comes to choosing to walk away from a relationship the made me so very miserable, is that I didn't realise a bit sooner that I had that choice.

Fast forward almost 9 years and I'd suggest I'm a very different version of me. I'm still 5'5 tall, I sill love green and I still don't eat olives. But I've also fought hard to teach myself what I'm worth. First came graduation- I worked hard for it, and I earned it. Landing my first graduate job gave me confidence and moving through management and into other projects allowed me to relax into my own skin. In the last few years, running and cycling have strengthened my sense of self. I am stronger than I ever thought I could be, I found a person who loves me enough to choose to spend the rest of their life with me and when I said yes to a marriage proposal, I never once wondered- why me? Am I good enough?

And then it all came tumbling down. Whilst I didn't consciously cut out my biological paternal grandparents at the time, I never heard from them again after walking away from my biological father. I have some fond memories of my grandfather in particular who was an East End boy evacuated to the Fens in the 40s. He died in November. It wasn't a huge surprise to hear, he'd been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease some years ago but what did surprise me was feeling very little.

I felt sad for a his much closer family who were left with a much greater hole in their lives, I felt that it was a shame someone's life had come to an end. I decided that the funeral was place I didn't want or need to be- it seemed insensitive to show up for the first time in almost a decade when emotions are raw. And I started to wonder...

Should I care more? Should this bother me? Should I be prepared to brave a gathering of people I chose to remove from my life for the sake of paying respects to someone who wasn't technically at fault?

All of that spiralled into: I must be a selfish horrible person, because the death of a grandparent has not affected me. And then it struck, after a long, wine fuelled conversation about this whole 'thing' with Tom, he pointed out to me that I clearly cared, because it was on my mind BUT my reasons for choosing to walk away from this part of my life and my background were exactly the set of emotions and the feelings of self-doubt I sat there putting myself through right there and then.

It doesn't make me a terrible person or even someone who lacks compassion to choose not to engage with people who make me question my own worth or my validity as a person, a daughter, a member of society, even when those people are the ones who we believe should love us and support us unconditionally.

The point of this post? Well in part my blog has always been somewhere to work things through and to share some of the life lessons that have come my way. But I also know I'm not the only one with a complicated family or difficult relationships, and it's good to know that. It's good to know that someone out there understands and perhaps this message will reach someone else who just needs to hear:

You're not a bad person. Making tough choices in your own best interest does not make you a bad person. You only have to justify this to yourself, it's your business. You are stronger than you think or know.