Thursday, 27 March 2014

ON MY OBSESSION WITH INSTAGRAM . . .

I have a new addiction. Not wine. I've already been there done that. Not drugs, or cigarettes. Or food. Well, not really anyway...

It's Instagram.

Well... it's more than that. It's actually just food pictures on Instagram.

It started off that a few people I followed on there would occasionally post food pictures, like my good friend Dawn for example. And I would be like "Oooh, what's that?" and find out what the recipe was and consider making it but probably not because well I'm mega lazy like that.

And then I started to realise that some people actually almost exclusively post pictures of their recipes. I mean, seriously. Their whole Instagram stream is devoted to pictures of food. Usually (hopefully) complete with recipes. And some of these recipes are actually things I would never EVER have thought of in a million years.

Like... people making sweet versions of enchiladas. (Healthy ones)

"Ice cream" made out of dates. (I'm soooo trying this)

Or people making cookies out of CHICKPEAS. OR brownies out of BLACK BEANS!

Random cakes with recipes including things like beetroot. Or sweet potato. Or just today I saw chocolate peppermint creams which had SPINACH as of their primary ingredients.

This is actually insane. I mean... chickpea cookies?? How does this even work? I've formed chickpeas into cookie shapes before but it was to make FALAFEL, for Christ's sake! Which is not a cookie. Not even a savoury cookie. Oh no, not at all.

Yet, the other day, I saw someone on there had made "raw cookie dough batter" using chickpea and I eventually thought . . . "screw how weird it sounds, I NEED to try this!" I haven't worked up the nerve yet, but watch this space! (Anyone tried this???)

Do you have any idea how many varieties of pancakes can be made that don't contain any flour whatsoever??? I have no idea personally... but I bet Instagram knows judging by the amount of flour-less pancakes I come across on there on a regular basis. Some of the breakfasts look amazing - I discovered chia seed pudding through Instagram and have now started having one for breakfast at least once a week - I use chia seeds, almond milk, vanilla protein powder and (if I'm feeling a bit naughty!) some coconut and dark chocolate chips - and they are so delicious (AND chia seeds are apparently a superfood so added bonus there!). And don't even get me started on the variety of breakfast "parfaits" I've spotted on there recently... they're so beautiful they should probably be displayed in some sort of "breakfast parfait gallery". Even the salads look nice. Even the ones which appear to be entirely made of veg and have none of the good stuff that make salads generally more enticing.

I just want to eat all of it. (And, no, this isn't just because I'm on a diet and therefore can't stop thinking about food!)

Can you not tell, even just from this post, how obsessed I am?

Anyway, I must go now. I am either about to make a brownie out of buffalo meat, or I'm away to browse Instagram for the next hour or so. You can decide which of these options is more likely . . .


Have you ever seen a recipe for a normal everyday type of food that was made out of something you would never have imagined? How do you feel about Instagram? And, most importantly, somebody needs to confirm for me that the whole chickpea cookie idea is not just some giant joke the internet is playing on me!!! Please do share!

Sunday, 23 March 2014

OPERATION DETOX IS GO . . .

I am getting fat.

There is no way around this. I am not exaggerating. I am heavier than I have ever been. And I can't seem to stop eating junk. Or drinking wine. My waistline has suffered and I feel sluggish and sore. I need some sort of kickstart.

I go to Paris on the 4th April, in just under two weeks time. So between tomorrow and then, I intend to go hard and heavy on the healthy eating and exercise.

Oh, and skip the booze. (Insert terrified face here.)

So, I apologise in advance as this blog will probably become more of a health/fitness diary over the next ten days or so... mainly because I need some way of holding myself accountable. Because just trying to do it on the quiet doesn't work... I just end up cheating because I haven't told anyone I'm trying to be good. So.... it's out there now.

Let's see if I can make it to the 3rd April!!! Wish me luck!

If you have any advice, tips, or good websites I can hit up, please feel free to share in the comments . . .

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

REVIEW: ARDTORNA . . .

When it comes to accommodation, I've always been fairly easily pleased. Despite having stayed in some nice London hotels for work in the past, I was raised on chalet stays in Pontins holiday centres as a kid, and my tastes are fairly simple. As long as I have a comfy bed and access to some booze I'm pretty much okay. That being said, I also like a wee bit of luxury and pampering at times.


An overnight stay on Saturday at Ardtorna B&B ten miles outside of Oban gave me that and much MUCH more.

Warm scones on arrival, complete with jam and cream? Check.


Jacuzzi spa bath? Check. (Not in all of the rooms, ours had one, but the others have colour changing wetrooms, which also sound pretty awesome.)

Fluffy dressing gowns, and towels that were practically taller than me? Check. (I wore my towel as a cape. It trailed behind me. It was awesome.)

A gourmet breakfast? Check, check and triple check! (Hello, poached eggs, bacon and grilled halloumi... ESPECIALLY the halloumi. I have barely stopped thinking about how beautifully grilled it was. And how much I just want to eat more grilled halloumi for ever.)

Gorgeous chocolates with a flavour exclusive to the B&B? Check.

Floor to ceiling windows and an amazing view of the water? Check.

Oh.... and I forgot to mention the whisky and home-made whisky liqueur available just outside our room door. I'm not a whisky drinker myself, but oh my god, the liqueur??? It was like Baileys' older, more decadent, hedonistic and FAR superior sister. There was CONDENSED MILK in it! It was like the mother ship had called me home!




Ardtorna is ostensibly a B&B but it is SO much more than that really. It's pretty much perfect. It's not cheap, granted, but it's worth it for the attention to detail, the thoughtful little extras, the friendliness of the couple who run the place and seem to really care about making the stay perfect for their guests, the abundance of Molton Brown bathroom products . . oh, and there's free wifi too. Y'know, just in case it wasn't QUITE  amazing enough for you yet! ;-)

I bought the overnight stay as a birthday present for my boyfriend through a voucher deal website, having no idea what to expect, except for glowing reviews on Trip Advisor which I was worried had raised my expectations to a point which could never be met. Thankfully, they WERE met and then some.

We both want to go back at some point, hopefully in the summer. It really is a lovely place to visit, especially if you want a romantic night away in somewhere a wee bit special. It definitely has the P Stamp of Approval (and I've never given anything that in my entire blog career so consider that a massive endorsement!).

For more information on Ardtorna go to http://www.ardtorna.co.uk/


Thursday, 6 March 2014

HOW TO ANNOY ME IN AN OFFICE . . .

I've worked in many offices over the last fourteen years or so (jeez, that makes me feel OLD). I'm also prone to being very VERY easily annoyed. Therefore I feel it is about time I use my wealth of experience in both of these areas to share my "favourite" (and that word is heavily laced in sarcasm at the moment) ways to actually make me irritated in the workplace . . .



***INVADE MY PERSONAL SPACE
This mainly means don't put your shit on my desk. I am possessive of my space. It is MY space. You have the same amount of space as I do. If I can't move my own fucking MOUSE cos you have put a pile of paperwork on it then my mouse might end up knocking said paperwork all over the floor. Or I might. One or the other.


***AND SPEAKING OF DESKS . . .
Don't leave something randomly on my desk without a) speaking to me about it beforehand b) leaving some sort of note on it explaining what it is and where it has came from or c) emailing me about it to let me know why you have done this. Sometimes it may be obvious. But it's not ALWAYS obvious and I'm not actually psychic.


***THE PRINTER
See that light flashing? It means something. Usually that the paper needs topped up. It doesn't actually top itself up. So if you're printing a shitload of stuff out and that light starts flashing, go and see what it fucking wants. Don't let someone else who is printing out ONE SINGLE SHEET OF PAPER in amongst all your sheafs have to deal with it every time. Not fair, dude.


***"BORROW" MY STUFF AND DON'T GIVE IT BACK
I've lost count of how many different pairs of scissors I've had in however many jobs over however many years because someone has thoughtfully taken them off my desk and not returned them. Or pens. Or post-its. Wait, no, I'm usually out of post-its because I waste so many by simply doodling on them. And I solved the issue of the pens going missing by ramping up my oh-so-sexy habit of chewing on the ends of them. But scissors... not so easy to keep a hold of. And let's not forget the time in the past that a colleague once actually GAVE AWAY my pritt-stick when I wasn't there. Which takes stationery thievery to a whole new, virtually Robin-Hood-esque level.


***BE EXCESSIVELY NOISY
I'm easily distracted. This is always going to be an issue I'm going to need to work on. But having people around me make excessive noise is really not going to help me. Things that annoy me the most? People having really loud phone conversations. Really loud coughing. People slamming sheafs of paper off a desk apparently in order to straighten it into order. Loud chewing. I could go on. I probably shouldn't though.


***DON'T PAY ME
This has only happened to me once, while working for the Con Artist (if you don't know that story, you can find it here) but let's just say working in an office (or ANY kind of job) is made a little more difficult when you're missing your wage at the end of each month. It's definitely the ULTIMATE way to not only ANNOY me in an office, but also to make me feel just a tad stabby...



Anything I've missed? What are your pet peeves if you work in an office?