Tuesday, 6 December 2016

P'S GUIDE TO THE 5:2 DIET . . . PART ONE!

So I mentioned in one of my posts recently that I had decided to revisit the 5:2 diet. After months - nay, years! - of dieting unsuccessfully, I decided that the 5:2 was probably the easiest to stick to. Mainly because of the whole only having to be mega-strict for those 2 days of every week.

I'm onto my third week again but I feel like it's easier (mostly) this time. I lost three pounds the first week and only maintained the second . . . but I was out for dinner and drinks for all of the other nights I wasn't doing the fast days on that second week so not actually putting on any weight was probably a big bonus!



So anyway I thought I'd share the way I am doing 5:2 this time around.

1) I put off eating as long as I can on a fast day.  I doubt I could last until evening even with a massive effort but I can last until lunchtime.

2) I'm being prepared. Even if I haven't made a lunch in advance, I will buy a soup the night before - pop it in the microwave the following morning, stick it in a flask... lunch is served.

3) I try to aim for 150 calories, less if possible, for a fast day lunch - this is why soup is ideal. Salad is also pretty good - but soup is much easier to eat in my opinion!

4) I try to make the most of my dinner with a lot of low cal vegetables - most of the time this means I can add in a little bit of the things I enjoy on non-fast days . . . like cheese or crème fraiche.

5) If this also means I can add in a little bit of chocolate within my 500 calorie allowance as a before-bed treat, then I'm going to make sure I can do that. 

6) I find if I can make it until dinnertime, I can usually keep going on a fast day. Yesterday I was so close to giving up between lunch and dinnertime because I was just soooo hungry. But if you can hold out and eat your low calorie healthy dinner .. . . you find you're actually okay. And by that point it's nearly the end of the day and you can last a few more hours until bedtime.

7) Last time I was using ready meals for my low calorie dinners. This time I am cooking my own from scratch. I had thought originally cooking my own fast day dinner would make it harder. Surprisingly, if anything, it makes it easier. Cooking seems to focus me. And make me appreciate my food more!

Whether this makes a difference or not,  I don't know. But I definitely am finding it easier this time around and, although I think I will definitely have to break while I'm off work at Christmas (I find it easier to fast while at work), I do think I will continue following this diet for a while . . . and if I can stick to my above rules, I feel I will be able to stick to it.

I have some great recipes I've found so far, as well as books and other resources . . . if you follow me on instagram, you may already have saw some of these. But, if not, I will share these in a part two very soon.

Have you ever tried the 5:2 diet?



Saturday, 3 December 2016

P'S TOP PICKS: FUNNY YOUTUBE CLIPS!

I have to admit I don't really use youtube a lot apart from to watch music videos . . . and that's mainly because I have freeview and the few music channels I had on that have just vanished into the ether somewhere. But very occasionally I am made aware of a funny clip on there . . . so I thought I would take this opportunity to share a few of my favourite finds.




First up, we have this: while I'm sure most of us who post on Instagram and other social media are being pretty straightforward about our lives and/or just posting certain sides of it, as is our right (as you know if you've been reading my blog for any period of time, I certainly do this myself!), this clip looks at the way Instagram can be used to give a completely different impression of "reality" . . . and I think it's pretty hilarious!




Absolutely love this - and it makes me kinda glad I'm not really sure how to do a complicated "contour". (Or a simple one, really, for that matter . . .)




This is sooooo "me" it's not even funny. (But it is also funny.)



If People were aps... a wee bit longer but worth a watch! SketchSHE (who also did the Instagram vs Reality vid I started this post with) are a hilarious trio.

So there we have it. I hope one of these clips has cheered up your day, and please feel free to share links to anything that's cheered you up in the comments section! I do love a comment!

Friday, 2 December 2016

THE TRIALS OF CITY CENTRE WORKING . . .

So a month ago, my office moved from just outside Glasgow city centre to right into the heart of the city centre. The new office is only about a 20 minute walk from the old one, but the difference is pretty massive. We have lockers to put our belongings in at the end of the night, we have a fabulous view, it's a lot fancier than what we are used to . . . Even the lift system has been stressing me out so much that I have ended up on the wrong floor on several occasions and have now resorted to walking up four flights of stairs and trying not to collapse when I reach my destination, just because it's easier than dealing with the lift.

But the biggest change for me has been working back in the city centre. Back in the early days of me working, I often worked in the centre in a variety of different jobs. But I have worked in the same area now for 11 years, and I'd kinda forgotten what it was like. So here's my run-down of what stresses me out about city centre working life . . .










OTHER PEOPLE
There are too many people other than me in the city centre. As you might know about me, I suffer from bad pavement rage. Trying to get from A to B without pushing someone over is a struggle for me. There are too many people trying to walk through me, stopping in front of me without warning, conducting horrendously loud conversations with each other directly in my ear . . . that's just the tip of the iceberg.  Okay, we're less than a month from Christmas so town is obviously a bit busier than it usually is. But I can't see my pavement rage abating any time soon.


THE PROXIMITY OF THE SHOPS
I rarely went to the shops when I was in the old office . . . mainly because 1) the aforementioned pavement rage and 2) it was too much hassle to walk into the centre on lunch or after work, and try and shop in a hurry. Now the shops, ALL OF THE SHOPS, are on my doorstep. The temptation!!! Wait - it gets worse. Because Primark is about a TWO MINUTE WALK from my office. How am I going to be able to resist the lure of cheap ballet pumps and pretty pyjamas? I ended up buying a pair of ankle boots with sparkly heels on my second day in the new office!!! That's how long I managed to avoid the Primark visit. This is not going to be good for my pursestrings, is it?

Look how sparkly!!!



THE HOT CHOCOLATE HABIT
I am in the early stages of what is bound to become a full-blown hot chocolate addiction, due to the fella insisting on popping into coffee shops in the morning, and me not being able to resist all of the interesting flavours on offer at the moment. Toasted marshmallow flavour from Costa? Yes please. Salted caramel hot chocolate from Nero? You had me at "salted caramel." And why yes, I would LOVE cream with both of those, how did you know?!? This is not going to be good for my budget or my waistline . . .


LUNCHTIME OPTIONS
In our old office, our lunchtime options were the following: a sort of coffee shop/café (without any seats) in the basement of our building, the vending machine, a snack van, a convenience store that usually was low on stock of anything you might actually want, and three restaurants which were a ten minute walk away. The only other option was to walk into the city centre. Now we are SURROUNDED by places to eat, restaurants, bars, takeaways. I've finally got to try and Paesano pizza (and discovered the absolute JOY that is burrata - how did I get to 37 without discovering this?), ate chips and cheese sitting on a bench in Buchanan Galleries, stuffed my face with goodies from both nearby Christmas markets . . . oh, and there's a Greggs the Bakers right next to the office. I suppose at least I'm getting exercise when I walk to and from the latest place I'm going to buy fattening food from! Now, where to have lunch today . . .?


Paesano pizza rocks my workd . . . and check out that burrata!

PUBLIC TRANSPORT
We've been experimenting with public transport, as the office is a bit further of a walk from my flat, and the parking in the city centre is not cheap. The first day I took the train, it was amazing - from my flat door, to my office desk, in 25 minutes. The next time we got the train, it was not so fun - we were all squashed in like sardines, and that mere five minutes on the train was just hellish. Then we tried to get the bus from the fella's and, although we have regularly got the bus into town from there for drinks and dinner at the weekend, this time it was late, packed, and stopped at probably every bus stop on the 9 mile journey. By the time we got off the bus, an hour and a half after leaving the house, I definitely deserved that salted caramel hot chocolate . . .


So, I guess my issues are mainly fairly superficial and silly ones . . .  really I just need to try to control my pavement rage, and dial up my willpower button. Unfortunately I am easily irritated and I have feck all willpower so it will be an interesting ride, that's for sure. Ultimately, I guess it's good being back in the city centre . . . but it's probably going to take me a while longer to get used to!

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

HOTEL ROOM ESSENTIALS . . .

It may have escaped your notice, but I quite like hotels. I've spoken in the past on this here blog about my addiction to going for a wee overnighter or twenty.

But I feel like some hotels and b&bs do forget about some basic little necessities at times. And, having spent a week of this month during The Big Irish Roadtrip moving between various hotels, I do feel like I'm pretty qualified to comment on what I feel all hotels should DEFINITELY have.



Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying you have to have a four poster bed or a roll-top bath (although, trust me, it does help and probably my favourite hotel I've stayed in this month - in Cairnryan - had both of these features (and, yes, that is that particular room in the pics above) but here's some things that DEFINITELY are going to make our stay a tad more comfortable . . .

Sockets next to the bed
For me, this really goes without saying. There's little worse than when you're lazing in bed, swigging wine, watching tv and feeling all relaxed... but your phone is charging on the other side of the room, because there is no socket next to the bed! Even worse . . . I've been in hotels in the past where there is only one spare socket! One!!! What if there are two of you? HOW DOES THAT EVEN WORK??? It beggars belief.

"Do Not Disturb" signs
A later check-out time combined with a lack of a "do not disturb" sign does not make me a happy camper. The amount of times a cleaner has just marched into a room (occasionally without even knocking) on my watch makes me surprised they have never walked in on me in a state of undress. The odds can't be in my favour much longer.

Easy to reach your drink while lying in bed
Something next to my bed to perch my glass of wine on is another essential. For that matter, having glasses or cups (or even a mug) is also necessary.  (When we were in Rhodes last year, I ended up having to drink wine out of a mini-POT on my first night as we discovered we had no drinking receptacles - in a self-catering apartment - whatsoever. That was not my finest hour.)

Information Pack
It's a nice little touch, I like to know what features the hotel room has, the hotel itself (if any), the check-out times (sometimes online booking sites don't always get this right so it's nice to have confirmation), the wifi password, etc. In a hotel we stayed in recently, one without a "do not disturb" sign funnily enough, on our second morning in the hotel, we were disturbed by the cleaner twice, the second time was because they wanted to give us an information pack. We'd been there for nearly 48 hours and were leaving the next day - it was a bit late to give us an information pack at that point!
 So if we can have the information pack from the outset, that would also be ace, thanks! ;-)

Wifi
I'm an addict okay? I need my internet. I don't think I need to elaborate further on this one.

Adjustable heating/air con
It's good to have control over this stuff. And, let's face it, we all feel hot and cold differently, so it's nice to actually be able to adjust the temperature in your own room.

Reasonable check-in/check-out times
I like to get my money's worth if I can. So for me a reasonable check-in time is around 2pm, and a reasonable check-out time 11 or 12. I've stayed in a few places that have check-in times of 4pm and check-out times of 10am. These tend to be smaller places with few rooms so you do end up feeling like they could maybe let you stay in the room for a little bit longer. Especially since the rooms are usually the nicest ones!

What are your hotel room essentials?

Sunday, 27 November 2016

P'S TOP PICKS: CHRISTMAS JUMPERS!

Can you believe it is less than a month until Christmas now? I can't quite get my head around this - wasn't it last Christmas only about three weeks ago??? This year has went so bloody fast!

Anyhoo, it's time to get into Christmas gear and apparently this means we should all be buying our Christmas jumpers!


Photo credit goes to the lovely fella for this one!

Now, I've always eschewed this tradition as I don't really buy into (literally!) the idea of purchasing a jumper that only really serves any purpose at one time of the year. But this year I'm feeling more like I should get into the spirit of things and actually buy one! Because a) I guess I can use it every year, even if it's just one time each year and b) at least it should keep me cosy!

So what ones do I have my eye on? Let's have a look . . .

First up, I'm loving this penguin jumper from asos. Okay, it doesn't specifically mention Christmas but it's festive enough... and it means I could potentially wear it at times other than Christmas, thus negating the spending guilt. And it has a cute penguin on it - need I say more!?!



Next . . . loving this little boohoo number! I like to think that I am Santa's favourite blonde. ;-)



Oooh, I love this Yumi one on the House of Fraser website - polar bears are the cutest. And, once again, I could wear this at other times of year too!
 We've got to have a little "classic" Christmas jumper, the type that made the whole thing a trend in the first place. I reckon this little Rudolph one from Pretty Little Thing fits the bill perfectly and ticks the old-school boxes.  BUT still looks cute rather than cringe-inducing.


It's a tad too early for me to get too excited about Christmas yet, so this jumper would be PERFECT for me. Oh, and I can't resist a bad joke. Or do I mean a "baaaa-d" joke?!?  (I'm so sorry. Please keep reading.)


Today we were visiting a castle and we saw a lovely little round robin sitting on a fence. So when I saw this Dorothy Perkins jumper, I fell instantly in love...AND it has sequins! What's not to like???
Okay, so I think this one might be the one for me. It's actually a Christmas t-shirt rather than a jumper... but it's got a reference to Prosecco which, if you know me at all, you know I love!


And last but not least, could this ASDA jumper be any more adorable? I definitely seem to favour Christmas jumpers with an animal theme don't I? I make absolutely no apologies for this.


So that's my little round-up complete. Did you see anything you liked in there? Or have you already bought your Christmas jumper? Or, like me, have you never really bought into the idea? I'd love to know!

Thursday, 24 November 2016

WHO'S THAT GIRL?!?

Hello?

*sidles into the blog, looks around shamefacedly*

Anyone still here?

I've been decidedly missing of action of late; in fact I'm shocked to discover I haven't posted in nearly two months! I've had blog breaks in the past, granted, but this one was longer than I anticipated. I kept meaning to make a dramatic return, but somehow real life just kept getting in the way.


When I last posted, I was about to go on holiday again (if you follow me on social media at all, you probably couldn't have missed that - I employed all of the tactics I mentioned in my post!). We were off on a cheapo holiday to Menorca - and when I say cheapo I mean cheapo, it was something like 220 quid a person. It seemed too good to be true... so when I received an email from the holiday company two days before it to say they were changing our hotel, I was more than a little annoyed.


BUT . . . when you book a self-catering holiday in one hotel and end up in an all-inclusive holiday in another hotel for no extra money? You can't really get too pissed off. Especially when it's the last week of the season and the hotel is rapidly emptying, you can help yourself to your own drink from behind the pool bar, get a pool lounger without any issues (and at some points are the only ones BY the pool) AND there's only one bad weather day even though it's the beginning of October and the Balearics aren't exactly known for brilliant weather in October. Safe to say we were more than happy with that little holiday!

Cheers!!!
On top of that, there's been a birthday  (I was - cries - 37!); a three year anniversary with the boyfriend (I know - I can't believe it either!); my work made a big office move right into the heart of the city centre of Glasgow (both a blessing and a curse - I'll explain about that at a later date); and one of my bestest friends got married, resulting in what me and the fella called The Big Irish Roadtrip.

Oh, and then I got home from that to discover that my wireless router was gubbed. So there's that too.

Add several million nights out and dinners to that and naturally the blog has suffered - not to mention my waistline. Hence the reason why I'm back on the 5:2 diet wagon as of this week.  Hopefully with more success than my last attempt.

Anyhoo . . . I'm back. And hopefully blogging far more regularly. I have so much to talk about. Clothes, restaurants, the aforementioned Big Irish Roadtrip, more about my travels around my beloved Scotland, recipes, dieting . . . and of course my usual random selection of posts. I have a list of ideas a mile long and I ain't afraid to use them.

I just need to get them written.

Wish me luck . . . and stay tuned! ;-)

So . . . how've you been?


Friday, 30 September 2016

THINGS YOU *MUST* DO ON SOCIAL MEDIA WHEN YOU'RE ON HOLIDAY . . .

I'm not long back from a holiday abroad. Didn't you know? Chances are, if you follow me on any form of social media you probably do know. As I really like making sure everyone knows I'm on holiday and having fun.

I'm sure it's not just me - after all, you're in a different place from usual, so why wouldn't you be wanting to tell all and sundry what you're up to?

So here's my guide to things you should be doing on social media when you're on holiday . . .



The obligatory airport Facebook check-in, complete with glass of alcohol
The holiday don't start until there's a picture of me on Facebook (at the very least!) waving a glass of wine at the airport - no matter the time of day



Plane selfie
If you don't take a piccie of yourself on the plane and later post it on Instagram, were you really on a plane?



A tweet to your holiday company to moan about something... because something always goes wrong
They ran out of wine on the plane? (This has happened to me before.) They messed you about with your transfer bus? It's a long drive to your resort (usually) so you might as well complain while you wait... and then be inevitably infuriated by the unhelpful response.


Hot dogs or legs pic
Personally my legs are too chubby to be mistaken for hot dogs, but if they were I'd probably do this. However, I will still probably take the odd picture of my legs, on a lounger, with a glass of vino in hand...


"Hard day at the office"/ "not the usual Monday morning view" type post
You know the kind I mean, right? Pic of the pool or beach with a variation on one of the above captions. Sometimes with added "hot dog or legs" bonus footage. If you can post it right at the time where everyone you know will be in the office, do it. They'll love it. I promise. ;-)


Picture of cocktails
Doesn't matter if you don't usually drink cocktails. It's a must on holiday! Top tip: just have one cocktail for the photo opp and then switch to your usual drink. If you can tie the name of one into a song lyric for an instagram caption, even better! (For example... a picture of a tequila sunrise captioned "it's another tequila sunrise..." Or "Tequila . . . it makes me happy". You'll be glad to know the tequila themed part of the post is now over. And yes... I used both of them on one holiday!)



At least one mirror selfie showing you are wearing far less clothes than everyone back home
Whether that's because you have a hot bikini bod (not me!) or you just aren't likely to wear that particular item of clothing ever back home because it isn't hot enough (definitely me!) this is something you need to do!



And so that ends my list. I'm sure I had absolutely tons more, but once I actually sat down to type this up, they suddenly had all drained out of my brain. Please note that this is very much tongue-in-cheek and, when I'm on holiday again next week (yep, I only got back from the last one four weeks ago but I'm away again) you can guarantee most of the above will be happening on social media. So . . . you might want to follow me?!? (Here for twitter, here for instagram.) (Shameless plug, I know, but I'm not sorry!)

Have I missed any? What do you always make sure to do on social media while on holiday, or anything you've noticed other people doing? Feel free to share in the comments section - I do love a comment!

Thursday, 8 September 2016

CALL ME MAYBE (NOT) . . .


Do you answer phone numbers you don’t recognise?

I don’t.

There is little that instills the fear of god into me more than when my phone lights up with a phone number and a query of whether to answer it or reject it. (To be fair, sometimes I feel similarly when I do recognise the number, but when I don’t know it, it is so much worse.) You can guarantee that baby is getting either completely ignored or rejected.

But it’s constant. And oh so annoying. Several times a day, at least, I get these strange numbers ringing my phone.

Sometimes it’s the same number numerous times. Sometimes different numbers. Sometimes it’s a mobile number. Sometimes it’s a London number. Occasionally it’s even been an Egyptian number.

They all get ignored.

I used to reject them immediately if I saw the call coming through. But it seems the nasty numbers don’t like that, and you’ve barely swiped in the “reject” direction when a call comes through from the same number again. So now I tend to just blank them. I never have my ringer on anyway which makes matters a lot easier.

I google them afterwards, of course. Just to be sure I haven’t missed anything important. Luckily there’s so many forums where people document their experiences with these numbers and so the internet regularly reassures me that it’s okay, I don’t need to worry that I’ve missed National Lottery’s HQ telling me I’ve won a million pounds despite the fact I haven’t bought a ticket for six months. (This is the sort of thing that crosses my mind.)

Instead I’ve had a lucky escape from being told I might be entitled to PPI (I’m not). Or I’m due an upgrade on my phone (I’m not). Or I’m entitled to compensation for an imaginary accident I’ve had.

I can breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that my decision to ignore the number was completely correct.

But here’s an even more painful pain point, the sting in the tail… when the number you don’t recognise phoning you is “unknown number” or “private number”.

I’m going to ignore it still, granted. But not being able to google it afterwards? Hateful.

I really really hope when the National Lottery HQ phone me, they at least do it from a number I can google…

Thursday, 1 September 2016

AN OPEN LETTER TO MOSQUITOES . . .

Dear mosquitoes of the world,

Why do you like me so much?

It's very flattering, don't get me wrong. I would never have imagined I had such delicious blood that you all come swarming to me like bees to honey or moths to a flame. However, I am absolutely sick to the back teeth of having pretty much every foreign holiday I go on result in me ending up covered in bites.

And while some people do not appear to be affected at all by mosquito bites, I firmly fall into the opposite camp.

Mine are itchy and unsightly, and I never know quite what they're going to do next. On my first day in Rhodes, I was bitten several times on the foot and legs before I even had time to smother myself in mosquito repellent. I don't know if it was just one of you little blighters who did all of that bite-work, or whether it was several of you . . . either way, not one of them reacted in the same way. Some reddened to different degrees, others blistered . . . there was one that I had to cover with a plaster almost immediately as it was so tremendously ugly.

It makes the whole holiday process more difficult because I'm trying to treat the bites, while stopping new ones, AND balance this with frequent reapplication of suncream so I don't end up with sunburn to add to the irritation of the mosquito bites. And if I DARE to go in the pool, you have to go through the whole rigmarole again once you're out because if you guys sense any sort of weakness, any little chink in the armour, you zoom right in there like the heat seeking little missiles you are and chomp away at me.

And it's not even necessarily places with ridiculously hot climates that you seem to frequent, lying in wait to pounce on my flesh. I once got attacked by one of you in Paris in April one year! Three times on the hand, and it was so bloody sore I ended up shouting at the fella when the poor dude tried innocently to hold my hand when we were at Euro Disney the following day. I hope you're happy with your behaviour!!!

The thing that winds me up the most about it is that there doesn't seem to be anything I can do about it. No matter how much repellent I apply, you still manage to get in there somehow and suck my blood. And they always end up scarring. And never seem to even attempt to heal until after I am home from the holiday.

I just wish there was a solution - a way you could just leave me the hell alone. Or a miraculous cure for making the bites vanish almost as soon as they appear.

Unfortunately, I haven't found a solution or a cure. But I live in hope.

In the meantime, if you could all just give me a break for my next couple of holidays, I would be extremely grateful.

Thanks in advance

P xx

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

P'S "HEALTHIER" CARBONARA . . .

I have always been a massive fan of pasta.

I sometimes try to limit my carbs, but my love of pasta means that will never last for long. It is just the best. So tasty, and such a comfort food staple in my book.

My go-to current pasta recipe is my own version of carbonara. I've always been a massive fan of carbonara. My version though . . . well, it's a healthier one than the norm, or I like to think it is anyway. Mainly because it doesn't have cream in it. But it does have plenty of other delicious ingredients, it's easy to make, and it tastes ace. If I say so myself. ;-)

So let's get you up to speed on how to produce a plate of this yumminess all by yourself, yeah?

INGREDIENTS (this will serve two)
  • 160g spaghetti (you can use other pasta if you want, but spaghetti is my personal fave)
  • Veg of your liking (I used a red onion, a handful of chopped up mushrooms and around half of a red pepper, but you can pretty much use whatever you want and in whatever quantities. It's a pretty adaptable recipe! I also throw in a garlic clove if I happen to have garlic around.)
  • Diced chorizo (I used about 60g for the recipe)
  • Fage Total 0% Greek Yogurt (small tub - 190g)
  • 50g of grated cheddar
  • 1 medium egg
  • Spices - a sprinkling of hot chilli pepper and paprika (optional)
  • Parmesan (to serve - optional but extremely delicious)

METHOD
  • Cook your spaghetti the normal way.
  • In the meantime, chop up your veg and add it to a pan with either some olive oil or Frylight. Fry away.
  • After about five minutes, throw the chorizo in and continue to fry. By this time, your spaghetti should be nearly ready to go.
  • Add the entire pot of Greek yogurt into the frying pan, ensuring the hob is now done to a low heat. If you're planning to add spices, do so at this point.
  • Drain the pasta and then add it to the pan of vegetables and yogurt, keeping on a very low heat, and keeping everything moving so nothing sticks to the pan (add a tablespoon or two of water if necessary). Mix everything together well, then crack an egg into the pan, mixing it in thoroughly.
  • Once the egg is mixed in, add the grated cheddar and keep stirring for a minute or so longer.
  • Serve up onto the plates, sprinkle some parmesan on top, and enjoy.
This is definitely a lovely treat for one of those days where you have had a rubbish day and want a nice big dose of carbs, meatiness and cheese. It also isn't mega-high in calories - when I was adding this into my diary on myfitnesspal last time I was making it, it came to around 650 calories. Which granted, isn't ideal if you're being incredibly strict but if it's that or you go out for dinner and end up having the heavy cream based carbonara as well as a starter and half a bottle of wine . . . it's a decent alternative. ;-)

You could also leave out the meat if you're not a meat-eater. Oh and if you're weird with eggs, rest assured you won't even notice the inclusion of that one egg. Pinky swear.

Let me know if you give this a go. And enjoy!!! :-)

PS. You can check out all of my other recipes here.





Friday, 5 August 2016

ON "CASUAL FRIDAYS" AND WHY THEY'RE NOT FOR ME . . .

Happy Friday!

Always an awesome feeling  . . . well, as long as you don't work weekends, in which case I apologise and will try not to rub it in. This post isn't really about the weekend anyway. It's about something related to Friday in particular, which quite a lot of people will experience in their working life.

Dress-down Fridays.



I don't really *get* the whole concept of "casual Fridays".

It may partly be because I'm not really a "casual dresser" as such. I've only owned about two pairs of jeans in the past five years and I don't really feel comfortable in them. At the moment I don't own any that fit, for a start, so I'm certainly not going to wear them to work on a Friday!

I also just don't understand what makes Friday a different day from the rest of the week, when you're required to dress smartly. Don't the same things still happen that happen every other day that mean you dress smartly on those days? Meetings, visitors coming into the office? I've worked in so many offices over the years that operate a casual Friday policy and this still bamboozles me many years later!

But the main thing that annoys me about it is that I only have a few outfits I actually feel I can wear on a Friday, probably about three outfits that I wear on a rotation - a black top and stretchy mini skirt (I have two in different patterns which I alternate), a grey pinafore dress (pictured above) or  a black jersey dress. Which are also my standard weekend garb. (Seriously, if you look at any Instagram pics of me from a weekend you'll start to notice a recurring theme!)

I think most people wake up on a Friday, think "brilliant, I can wear what I want" and throw on a pair of jeans and a nice top and come in and look fab . . . I just always wear the same thing. And if I'm meant to be going out straight from work it's even worse because I'm not wearing anything different than I wear most Fridays. So I feel like people must think "does she have no clothes or something?" on a Friday. Even if I do think the few "more casual" clothes I own are cute.

It's weird because I used to love a "non-uniform" day in school growing up. The difference was though that I was wearing a uniform I hated on the other days. These days I far prefer my "uniform" of non-casual clothes and would rather stick to them!

Maybe I just need to buy more casual clothes.

Any excuse to spend money on more clothes! ;-)

Do you have a casual Friday in your workplace?

Thursday, 4 August 2016

WHAT MAKES ME SWITCH OFF AN EXERCISE DVD . . .

I'm a wee bit of an exercise DVD addict.

I've had wee phases of getting into the gym (emphasis on the "wee phases" part - they normally last a couple of weeks max) and I tried to get into running a couple of times without success... and I'm not a "class person" either - my once a week pole fitness class can be stressful enough for me at times (I am ridiculously possessive over the pole I use and get very upset if anyone beats me to it!), so I wouldn't want to add to that stress. So exercise DVDs are my saviour.

Well, I'm not sure "saviour" is the right word. I am interested in exercise DVDs.

I like to buy them.

Using them is a bit more sporadic, let's just say.

I do however feel I'm a wee bit of an expert in them due to me owning so many of the damn things. So I thought it would be good to do a post about the things that I don't like in an exercise DVD. Y'all ready to hope on board today's rant? Okay, let's do this!


When the people in the DVD don't have their hair tied back
I don't trust people who work out with their hair loose. Either their workout isn't hard enough or they have some sort of ridiculous sweat glands that just don't produce sweat. And how dare they look glam after the same workout that makes me look like an angry tomato with a greasy scalp? They're taking fecking liberties, that's all I can say! Oh, and while we're on the subject of hair, what about the celebrities who appear to have gotten hair extensions purely for the purpose of the DVD so they can have a high swishy ponytail? We don't care about your fecking hair, we are trying to get your celebrity BODY here!

Jumping around
I hate exercise DVDs that involve too much jumping around. I don't mind the odd bit, I know this plyometric stuff is good for me but my legs hate me for it! Oh and lunges, especially jumping lunges are the worst. My knees are my worst enemy (well, after my flabby gut) and this sort of move really does not agree with me . . . and is most likely to leave me walking away from your DVD and never returning.

Strange dialogue
If you find a DVD that you don't mind the exercises for and start doing it regularly, one thing you notice the dialogue going on during it. And sometimes it's really bloody weird. One DVD I do fairly regularly, the Clare Nasir one (I know, I didn't know who she was either) has an exercise they do called "Stir the Soup" during which a very strange conversation goes on between Clare and her trainer "What's your favourite type of soup?" she asks the trainer. He replies "Strawberries and cream . . . but I don't think it's allowed on the diet plan." That is just weird, but I can accept it because the workout itself is okay. Other DVDs have had me screaming at the TV to shut up. Jillian Michaels spouting her self-help crap or telling me not to "phone it in" makes me want to hurl the remote, for example.

Repeating the same moves over and over and OVER again
There's a particular trainer who does this a lot and is behind a few so-called-celeb fitness DVDs. If you don't mind a certain move that's one thing . . . but if you end up having to do more than 300 knee lifts over the space of a 20 minute section of workout (and, yes, this has happened to me!), it seems a bit too much like overkill, even if it does burn a lot of calories. The boredom just ain't worth it!

Long warm-ups which are part of one of the main workouts
I generally like to do my own warm-ups when I am going to do a fitness DVD. This is because I find the ones on most DVDs a bit boring and frustrating. So I hate when a fitness DVD goes to the trouble to split the DVD into sections that you can skip between . . . but attach it at the start of the first workout so you have to try and fast forward through it if you want to do your own warm-up and then launch into that particular section. Very irritating. See also: cooldowns at the end of one section of the workout - this generally happens with ab/core workouts. Sometimes I might want to do the cooldown without the ab part first, you know!

Someone really buff doing the "easy" version of the moves
It's always nice when there's an easy version of some of the moves, especially when they are particularly hard. When it's someone who is quite clearly in extremely good shape and more than capable of doing the harder moves, it winds me up. I feel a bit patronised.

Including burpees in the workout
Main reason here is that burpees are the devil, they exhaust me, and I can't bloody do them properly! Is it just me who hates them? Am I the only person who finds their body won't actually work correctly when I try to do them? How the hell am I meant to make my legs jump out behind me and then propel me upright in one swift move? My body can't do it! Burpees make me feel like a failure. Please don't add them in! I can try and fail at them on my own time, 'kay?


Are you a fan of fitness dvds? What puts you off them?

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

P REVIEWS . . . SCHWARZKOPF LIVE LIGHTENER + TWIST (IN COOL LILAC) . . .

Guys, I am beyond obsessed with pastel hair.

Ever since I discovered Bleach London's range of pastel colours about a year ago, I have sporadically been using the rose and lilac colours, usually mixed together. But they wash out so quickly!


So when I found out about Schwarzkopf's Live Lightener + Twist range I was immediately intrigued. But a bit scared. Because the dye claims to lighten hair up to four shades while also providing a pastel tone.

Permanently.


Now, I did a wee bit of research prior to purchasing it, and I couldn't find any reviews of it - if it wasn't for the fact that I knew a girl in real life who had used it (the girl who told me about it in the first place), I would have been trying it completely blindly. So I figured I would document my experience for anyone who is curious about the product. (You are welcome.)

First of all, the box states that the dye is not suitable for use on coloured hair. Now, I did not realise this until now, as I type this review up! It is intended for blonde hair, but I guess they are trying to say it is only for natural blondes. Now, I hardly know any natural blondes myself so they are probably limiting their market somewhat with that statement.

I am obviously not a natural blonde. My (naturally brown) hair is probably medium blonde and usually darker at the top than the bottom, and I had about half an inch of black roots prior to using this hair-dye. So I don't even have white blonde hair that could potentially act as a blank canvas for a pastel shade.

But I decided to go for it anyway. Because I wanted pastel hair that much.

I opted for the cool lilac shade as I thought it would potentially be more subtle than the pink. It was simple to mix up and then it was just a matter of applying it to the roots, followed by the rest of the hair for a much shorter time near to the end. (Weirdly, this was following the instructions for previously dyed hair - so totally contradicting the advice on the box, no?)


I did find it a wee bit difficult to apply to the hair - it wasn't as easy as one of my usual blonde hair dyes, it didn't rub in as smoothly. Plus I was very paranoid about it going wrong, especially as my roots were looking a worrying bright orange colour under the dye!


I left it on slightly less time than advised, once again because I was paranoid about it going wrong. Then it was just a matter of washing it off, and massaging the colour after-treatment into my hair before washing that off too.


I was pleasantly surprised (and relieved) with the results - I just wish I'd left it on longer now.  My hair is definitely a bit lighter, with a definite pastel lilac tone to it. I really like it, and I like that it's not going to wash out straight away like the Bleach London ones. I'm sure you'll agree it doesn't really look much like the model on the box - but then remember I'm working with already dyed, unnaturally blonde hair - and my hair is in nowhere near as good condition as the model on the box, but we'll pretend it looks just as glossy and amazing, OKAY??? ;-)

I will probably use the dye again very soon, to try and get more of an all-over effect, now that I know what I'm doing and what to expect.

It's currently only £5.49 in Boots, so it's a pretty good deal - if you are looking for lilac hair and don't mind a bit of bleach in your hair I would personally recommend it, although I guess results will vary depending on the original colour and condition of your hair. It worked for me anyway and I'm happy with the results!

Update: as nice as the results are, they unfortunately don't last long. I have used it another time since the first time and both times the pastel was gone within a fortnight. (I do still plan to use it again though, and I also found the Bleach London dyes have taken better in my hair as a result on account of it being lighter).


What do you think of the pastel hair trend? Is it something you have tried or would try?



Friday, 15 July 2016

HOW NOT TO BOWL ME OVER . . .

So I've been enjoying a couple of days off work this second half of the week, and this meant I could catch up with my sister (she works in retail so often has random week days off). We decided to go bowling, as neither of us had been in a while. We both love it - I'm shit at it but want to be good (plus the fact that I can enjoy a vino or three while playing is obviously an added bonus) and she is great at it and who doesn't love a game that you're great at?!?

However, there are a couple of things that do irritate me about bowling - would you expect anything less from me??? - so I decided it would be an ideal time to write a blog post about this while it's still fresh in my head! So let's get on with it, shall we?


Getting set up . . . for instant failure!
You want to be all independent when the staff ask whether you need help setting up your names etc at your lane, and say you can do it yourself. Then you look at the little screen and think "How the fuck does this even work?" and have to end up asking for help anyway . . . so you may as well have just let the staff member hold your hand right through the process anyway. Less humiliating overall!

Sharing is most definitely NOT caring
I hate that you effectively have to share a lane with another group of people. I know you have your own lane, but the way it's set up with the seats facing each other and you sharing a bowl machine (I have no idea what the technical name of it is!) it does feel like you're having your party invaded by another party. Especially when they actually do take over some of your space. As you may know about me, I am not a fan of people invading my personal space.

The machines don't make sense!
So you'd think in this day and age that you could throw a ball down your lane and it would actually return to your side of the machine right? Why doesn't it? To me, the tussle for bowling balls with the people in the neighbouring lane is definitely exacerbated by this issue. Which leads me onto . . .

People and their balls
Seriously, why do you need so many bowling balls within your party? There's space for like, what, five balls on each side? Do you really need more than that? You know they come back to you (mostly - refer to previous point) after you send them flying down the lane, right? You don't actually need ten spares . . . pun not intended! Oh, and while we're on the subject it would be nice if you put your chosen bowling balls back where you got them when you were leaving so that the next lot of people who want to use the lane don't have to try and work out what ones were yours so they can move them without stealing the balls that their neighbours are using. Just a thought!

Ball thiefs
I know there are a limited amount of bowling balls available, especially in certain sizes. But don't just come up and take a bowling ball from someone's lane without asking first.  And if you see the person in your neighbouring lane using a certain bowling ball all the time and have taken a fancy to it for some reason . . . GO AND GET YOUR OWN rather than using it when it's your neighbours turn so they have to wait around for it. One time the fella and I were at the bowling and the two older couples we were facing kept using the one bowling ball I had brought into the lane (before they turned up, might I add!) even though they had brought over a selection of completely different weights to this one before they started playing! Infuriating.

Faulty machinery
THREE TIMES there was an issue with our pins yesterday, and we had to wait for help. One of the times it even involved a technician having to look at it in around the back of the lanes. The third time it happened we didn't even know if that was it fixed and my sister finally took her shot hoping that there wasn't some poor guy in the back who was about to be attacked by her bad-ass bowling technique! We don't think there was . . . but then maybe he just hadn't been found by the time we left. We didn't hear any screams anyway so let's assume it's okay!

The price
Is it just me who finds bowling ridiculously expensive? We paid 36 pounds for three games, and because there was only two of us, it was over in an hour. And it would have been less time if it hadn't been all the waiting around for our lane to be fixed. Literally the only time I think you can get a discount in our local bowling alley is if it's your birthday . . . so I guess the best solution for me would be to make friends with people who like bowling who have birthdays coming up! Good plan, Paula! :-)

What do you think? Have I hit the nail on the head with these (Or I guess this case the question should be "have I hit the pin with the ball with these!)? Have I missed any? Please feel free to share in the comments section.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

CASHEW BUTTER FUDGE . . .

I’m a wee bit obsessed with Pinterest. I don’t really understand how it actually works and I’m not really sure if I actually care that I don’t . . .but I really just like drooling over pictures of food on it.
 
I’m also a teeny bit in love with cashew nut butter. (Remember the time I made cashew butter cups? Sometimes I still think about those. Mmmm . . . )
 
These two admissions seem unrelated but, trust me, they’re very much interlinked.
 

Back in January while planning my latest health kick, I was browsing through Pinterest for healthy recipes while drinking some bottles of Mixed Fruit Kopparberg (like one does!) when I happened across some recipes for healthy peanut butter fudge. Now, I’ve made peanut butter fudge before but it included the slightly more processed version of peanut butter and icing sugar, so I think we can safely assume that it was not a healthy variety! These versions were much more natural and unprocessed, and I immediately wanted to try to make some for myself.
 
The problem is that I never seem to have the correct ingredients for these kind of recipes. I’ll have coconut flour and oil when a recipe calls for coconut butter or sugar, I have no clue what liquid amino even looks like, and I use a stick blender whenever a food processor is called for – usually with mixed (pun not intended) results. So I looked through loads of recipes, couldn’t find any with ingredients that completely matched the current contents of my kitchen, and decided to improvise.
 
The results were good, but I forgot the recipe. So I kept meaning to recreate it, but that pesky thing we call life kept getting in the way. But the fella has been trying to quit sugar of late, and when he bemoaned not being able to find sweet things to eat, I decided this was the ideal time to try and make it once again.
 
And so, ladies and gents, I present to you . . . cashew butter fudge!!! (So good it had to be introduced in bold.)
 

The pros? It’s delicious. Absolutely delectable. It’s sugar-free. It’s even vegan, I believe.
 
The cons? It’s more-ish. Oh so very more-ish. And even though it’s full of good ingredients, these ingredients are pretty much exclusively high calorie ingredients. So you really don’t want to eat too much of it. Also, it’s not particularly portable – you’re going to want to keep it in the freezer when you’re not storing it in your mouth and stomach.
  

  • 4 tablespoons of cashew butter (I used Meridian smooth cashew butter)
  • 1 ½ tablespoons of coconut oil
  • A few drops vanilla essence
  • Sprinkling of sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons of rice syrup
  • Cacao powder (optional and up to you really how much you put in – I probably sprinkled in somewhere between a teaspoon and a tablespoon).
 
The method is ridiculously simple. Just put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix it together. (I stuck the cashew butter and coconut oil in the microwave for 20 seconds just to soften it a bit first and make it easier to mix – the other ingredients mixed in without any difficulty!) Pour into a plastic tub once it is mixed and let it set in the freezer before breaking it up into pieces. (If you’re as lazy as me, you could even mix it IN the plastic tub you’re going to put in the freezer and it means even less dishes!)
 
I also made some coconut "crack bars" from Chocolate Covered Katie's blog... so good!

Then eat just one piece. Then another. Then another. Then put it in the freezer to stop yourself only to return to get another piece. Twice. Okay, three times. Then lock the freezer and throw away the key.
  
Just me? ;-)

Anyway, so I'm just off to the freezer. For some . . . frozen vegetables?

Who am I kidding? I'm off to cram the rest of the fudge in my face. See ya!






Monday, 27 June 2016

BEING FOLLOWED (AKA SOCIAL MEDIA GOALS) . . .

I was doing pretty well on blog so far this year I reckoned. I'd been posting fairly regularly, coming up with some good ideas, producing (in my view) some decent content . . .

And then I went on holiday.

I knew I wouldn't be blogging in Corfu and I was okay with that. But I was thinking of ideas the whole time, so inspired and motivated to get back home and make these ideas into blog posts. But then I got home and just felt a bit "meh" about everything, and as a result, I haven't really been posting very much.

So I want to get inspired again. I still have a list of ideas of things I want to post - I just need to make the ideas into actual posts. And I've been thinking for a while about setting some social media goals, just to try and give myself a bit of a proverbial kick up the arse. The numbers are set out below, and I'm going to give myself until the end of August to see if I can hit them or, even better, surpass them. So . . . let's do this!!!



BLOGLOVIN . . .
So back in the days of Google Reader, I was actually pretty popular - but ever since it was removed and Bloglovin became the new way everyone got their blog fix, I have struggled to build up my followers. At the moment I'm at 62 which I know isn't awful, but it would be nice to get a bit more popular on there. So I'm going to aim to get up to 100 followers. Wish me luck . . . and follow me on bloglovin too, for the love of God! ;-)


FACEBOOK . . .
I actually only set up my blog's Facebook page a couple of months ago - I hesitated over doing it because it meant promoting myself a wee bit to my Facebook friends to build up likes and although I don't mind people in real life knowing about my blog, I still don't really advertise it. But I figured it was a good way to drive some people over to my blog (I'm still waiting to be proved right on that!). I have managed to get 71 likes on that page (mostly actual Facebook friends) so let's be highly original and go for 100 likes there too. (You can find my Facebook page here, hint hint!)


TWITTER . . .
I probably currently get the most traffic to my blog from Twitter, so it's important for me to get engagement on there! I also think I'm pretty funny on it, but it has taken me a long time to build up the following I have - as I type I'm at 1621 followers but by the time I hit publish on this post I may have lost or gained a few! Most likely lost. I tend to lose several followers every time I gain a few so it's a very much "one step forward, two steps back" kind of situation. Anyhoo . . . let's try and drive this up to 1700, shall we? And if you're not following me already on there, then why not? I'm pollypoptart. Get following. :-)


INSTAGRAM . . .
Last but by no means least, we have Instagram. Now, I currently am not really advertising my blog on there and I'm no good at flatlays and I literally just post whatever pops into my head (which is a bit like the way I am in real life  - there is a reason why someone once told me I should think before I speak and then not speak at all!) but I post some nice food pics and some not-quite-as-nice selfies (I'm not good friends with the forward facing camera). I currently have 621 followers on there (exactly 1000 less than on twitter, how weird!) so how about I try for 700? And since my main theme so far on this post has been one of shamelsss self-promotion, this section would not be complete surely without a link to my aforementioned Instagram account . . . so here it is!


So in order to try and get to my goals, I'll be trying once again to blog more regularly, promote myself on the various social media channels, joining in more twitter chats and generally just selling myself.

And if you have any other advice you can give me, please feel free to share!