Monday, 30 March 2015

TRAVEL: Shanghai, China

 
 
After recently going to Milan, I hadn't expected the next trip until June when I'm off to Lake Garda.

Fast forward a few weeks and I'm sat a plane on my way to Pudong Airport.

China is one of those places I'd never really envisioned going. I'm a big lover of the food (standard!) and always wanted to see the Great Wall, the Terracotta Army, the Pandas but I suppose, that's the extent of it.

I think a big chunk of it is that it's different to anywhere I've been before. It's an unknown. A place I know little about and that makes me a little bit nervous.

I'm by no means a nervous traveller but there seems to be that added pressure going for work instead of going for myself. I have a time frame, places I have to be, duties to fulfill BUT I also have the opportunity to visit an exciting new city but a number of things I know I have to try to see while I'm there (thank you Trip Advisor!)

Let's put it this way, Shanghai was an experience. Good and bad.

I genuinely had the best week with the companies I was there to support but, as a place, I'm not sure Shanghai is for me.

The Chinese etiquette is incredibly different to that of any other nationality I've ever encountered, which I suppose was one of the things I questioned while I was there. The food was, again, different to what I had imagined. They have a huge pollution problem so their water isn't always the safest to cook with - enter deep frying and fatty EVERYTHING. Don't get me wrong, I'm not adverse to trying new foods, no no no, but one meal in particular was something I wouldn't be repeating.

I did, however, have some DELICIOUS food while I was there and felt very, very spoilt to be taken for such lovely dinners.


Managing a four hour sightseeing tour of Shanghai was something I was pleased I had fit into my week and also one of the best massages I think I've ever had - like seriously, ever. The tour comprised of a trip to the Old Town, Yu Garden, the French area, The Bund and People's Square.


Restaurant-wise, the choice is endless. There are some really authentic local places, some western restaurants and some bloody good restaurants in the hotels. I'm not usually one for hotel restaurants but the quality and reputation of the two we ate in exceeded itself. And Indigo. Indigo was my favourite - a rooftop view of The Bund area of Shanghai. At night. With espresso martinis and food to share. Absolutely perfect!

Oh, and I CANNOT forget my hotel. It was incredible. I stayed in the Hilton, in a posh room...with a bath in the window that overlooked the city. It had a walk-in wardrobe and a waterfall shower, the biggest king sized bed you've ever seen and I pretty much felt like a princess. Hopefully not my last stay at the Hilton Hongqiao.

I'm going to do a separate post on my guided tour of Shanghai but I haven't really blogged that much lately...so I suppose this is a 'hello, I've been to China and I'm still alive, just seriously busy' kind of ramble to you.


I saw this the other day and well, that's where I'm at really. I feel so lucky and proud at the moment of where I'm at, the experiences I'm having and I suppose part of me is thinking, 'Is this life now? Is this how things are for me?' and that's pretty exciting in itself.

xo

Thursday, 26 March 2015

ATE AT: Bar Esteban, Crouch End



Ages and ages ago D and I went to Bar Esteban in Crouch End. Anybody that knows me knows that I LOVE tapas. Infact, I think tapas might be my favourite thing. There's just something about Spanish food - the flavours, the smokiness, the way it's cooked and well, I just like the idea of sharing food. You get a little bit of everything, it's a sociable dinner and also, a great first date for those debating the 'where's a good date spot?' question.

I'd said to D - 'right, I'm coming down for the weekend - get to work on restaurant research. TAPAS!' and he drummed up this beautiful little spot.

We had a quick drink in The Anthologist before making our way over to eat our body weight in Spanish goodness.

When we arrived our table unfortunately wasn't ready BUT that meant time for Sangria. There's ALWAYS time for Sangria.


It didn't take too long for our table to become available so we got right to it with the menu.

D made the fatal error of  saying - 'You order. I'm happy to have whatever you fancy!'
ALL THE FOOD.

I ordered a feast fit for kings.

First up - jamon iberico bellota. There is nothing nicer than Spanish cured ham. Nu-uh!


Next up - jamon croquetas. I love any form of croquettes. They're such an underrated side/meal accompaniment. These were the perfect amount of crispy outside with melt in the mouth middle.


Now, the next one is unexpected for me. For as long as I can remember, I've never been a fan of lamb. I'm not sure what it is that doesn't lure me in but I've just always stayed away from it.

Until I came to Bar Esteban.

The special board had a slow roasted lamb, cooked in garlic and oil with a side of crispy potatoes and rocket drizzled in oil.

The lamb was absolutely out of this world. It fell apart with barely a touch and *dribbles*.


Tapas isn't tapas without a round of Patatas Bravas. Perfectly seasoned, perfect crisp to the potatoes and a little bit of a kick without being overpowering.

 

I could eat Paella any time of day, everyday. It's one of those dishes that I will never tire of.

Some Paella can be served to 'dry' in restaurants but this really didn't suffer the mistake that so many chefs often make.

The only way I can describe it - the right amount of slop.

The spices were spot on, the rice soft and the consistency was faaaabulous.


 
I love a tapas-style prawn. There's just something about them that makes them extra delicious.

These were did not disappoint - cooked perfectly (SO easy to overcook a prawn!) seasoned in the right amount of garlic and a generous serving of herbs.


 
Naturally, the dinner involved olives, more Sangria and a whole lot of mmm's and ahhh's. Noises are the sign of a good meal.

As well as the traditional style of tapas, the daily specials offered have a more contemporary feel whilst staying true to the Spanish style of cooking.

I would recommend Bar Esteban down to the ground. Friendly staff, fast service, prices to match the quality and a really cool, authentic atmosphere.

They're open until 10 Monday to Thursday, 11 Friday and Saturday and 9.30 on a Sunday.
Go check out the rest of their menu and get booking your table!

xo

Friday, 20 March 2015

FIVE FOR FRIDAY #19


I suppose this FFF is a bit of a different one, considering I've spent the last week in Shanghai for work. Having never been to China before, I wasn't entirely sure what to expect other than a lot of noodles, eating with chopsticks and a very different level of etiquette in comparison with the UK (and many other cultures, for that matter).

It's now Friday and I fly home tomorrow evening (and for a weekend in Manchester - hooray!) so it's been a bit of a whirlwind, but one I've thoroughly enjoyed - it's a great experience to be thrown into these things. And, I suppose, now's the time to say - I've had a big promotion. I'll be doing a lot more trips away and have been given a lot more responsibility (I mentioned this very vaguely a while ago but couldn't mention it until announced)

SO, this week's FFF:

A tour of Shanghai - As I had a few hours to kill on Monday, I arranged a four hour trip of Shanghai. I was going to attempt to do it myself but figured I would see way more if arranged via the hotel. We started off in The Old Town and Yu Garden before heading to a tea ceremony (I will be telling you about this soon!), over to the French area, down to The Bund and to People's Square. It was a great chance to see what Shanghai has to offer!

The food - It's been a very experimental week for food - good and bad. Asian food is high up there on my list of favourites but, my worry, you never really know what you're eating out here. We've had a couple of good meals and couple...erm..that were questionable. I had a fantastic half lobster and scallop salad - possibly a highlight of my foodie week, but not exactly Chinese.

Baths with a city view - After long days, it's obviously important to try and wind down for a few hours in the evening. I've been lucky enough to stay in a beautiful room at the Hilton with a bath tub kinda in the middle of my room, by the window overlooking the city lights of Shanghai, complete with TV above so I can chill out with a film.

Confidence - This week has been a fairly big deal to me with coming to China as the only representative from my company. It's been a real test, especially considering how anxious I can get sometimes but, aside from o2 completely blocking my phone at one point, I've handled it really well. It's given me faith in myself that I can do the things I actively put my mind to.

A weekend in Manchester - Although technically for next weeks FFF, I'm flying into Manchester on Saturday to be picked up by my best friend. I haven't seen him since just after Christmas so am really excited to see a friendly face in arrivals and have big catch up!

I hope you've all had a fab week and are looking forward to the weekend!

xo

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

TRAVEL: A Trip To Milan

Milan really was an experience for me. It's the first time I've gone on a proper 'business trip'. Can I call it that? Does it sound to poncey? Do I just say I went away with work for a few days? Whatever, it's all the same...

Since I started my job, I knew a bit of travel would come into it – a couple of trips a year maybe. Milan was the first and I was very excited to go.


As a child, we holidayed frequently to various towns and cities across Italy. As a self confessed 'foodie' from a rather young age, the food naturally always appealed to me but the country, well, not so much. I mean, don't get me wrong, I like Italian people, Italian architecture, Italian pizza...pasta...balsamic vineger...the delicious meats on offer in the true Italian supermarkets. You get where I'm coming from. Italy for me always has been and always will be about the food.


So we arrived in Milan, staying just off the Corso Como. On first impressions, I can't say Milan seemed like a beautiful city. Some of the buildings were pretty but most just a little drab and run down, not even in the rustic Italian style; they just looked like they needed a lick of paint and a bit of TLC.

I was very fortunate with the hotel, staying in the swanky Una Hotel Tocq. A fairly modern hotel with very friendly staff and great rooms. I mean, mine was probably a little (lot) more swanky than I would have booked for myself but hey, I'm not complaining!

For the majority of the trip we'd be at the Fiera Milano exhibition centre – a short train ride from Garibaldi to it's name sake station. For 20 euros for four days, we were impressed by the regular train times, ease of travel and the cleanliness actually. I never really expect that many cities across the world to be that clean.

Over the course of the week, I'll admit, I didn't really see a lot apart from restaurants, the exhibition centre and Eataly – which, of course, I had to visit.

I thoroughly enjoyed the work element of the trip – with a huge number of our member companies attending the show with us, it meant very busy (VERY long days!!) spent on our feet, networking, making sure everybody's okay, sorting out any issues and generally just not being still. It was tiring, very tiring and hard work but only to the extent you just had to think 'right, if I stop and sit for a minute I might fall asleep for the next 8 hours and not really function properly' so, ya know, you just had to keep going.

Aside from the working, there was eating. In the evenings mostly, the food blogger in me seemed to hide in the day for the majority of the time, apart from this delicious sushi...oh, and this kebab..and a salad...and a burger. Okay, so it didn't really hide. But I didn't snack, which is kinda rare for me.

Evenings consisted of client dinners, half authentic Italian restaurants, half standard restaurants. Admittedly, the non-authentic restaurants were average. The authentic Italian restaurants were as expected – good food, proper flavour. However, I can't say I was totally blown away. The food I've had before in Napoli, Ischia and various other places I've holidayed over the years, was of a muc better standard.

I'm really not meaning this to sound like a completely moany account of my trip to Milan but I can't not be honest really. I had a great time, with fairly good food, wonderful company, a great hotel to stay in and well, it was all really straight forward and enjoyable.
I'll blog in a little more detail about the restaurants visited, food photos...the usual shpeel because, that's what this blog is about, isn't it?

Let me know if you guys have been to Milan at any point, and whether you enjoyed it. I feel I missed out on the real authentic jaunts of the city but would love to know of any recommendations for next time.


xo

Friday, 13 March 2015

FIVE FOR FRIDAY #18


Thai Coconut Pancakes - I met up with a friend on Monday night at Banana Tree so a delicious Indoasian meal which included this yummy dessert. The food overall was really good - we shared the seafood money bags (yes, their actual name) to start, I had blackened monk's noodles and he had a chicken dish. Yum yum yum.

Last weekend in Sheffield - Peddler, Espresso Martinis, Sheffield Street Food, catch ups with old friends, amazing brunch. It needs no more explanation.

Dinner Dates - I went round to my lovely friend Cherilyn's for dinner yesterday evening. We only met last month but you wouldn't think it's been that short length of time! She whipped us up a miso fish treat and it was delicious.

Plans - just lately I am making SO many and it's kinda fun. My diary is pretty much jam packed until May now so I'm hoping I don't crash and burn with tiredness at some point. I'm very much looking forward to April, not only for my birthday but for a couple of weekends away, a few blogger meet ups/events and some time with my family.

A trip to China - Tomorrow I fly to Shanghai for a week for work and I'm really (!!) excited. I'd never even imagined China being somewhere I would travel to this year but feel very lucky to be going and representing the company. Who'd have thought this would be in store for me in 2015 (/ever) but, it's all about taking a chance, isn't it?
xo

Thursday, 12 March 2015

LIFE: Peddler, Burritos and A Brilliant Brunch

Last weekend I ventured up to Sheffield again for the weekend, well, it was meant to be a night...but ya know, all the fun!


One of our friends is involved with the event Peddler, a street food market held a few times a year on Arundel Gate (just round the corner from Hallam city campus) - this event is something I think Sheffield definitely needs. It's got all the quirky cafes and shops, delicious restaurants and a really good vibe about it, but a proper street food market seals the deal.



Peddler not only hosts a variety of different foods but also craft beers, live music and arty stands as well. It really is a great event with a little bit of something for everyone.

I met with a Emily and a group of old friend, as well as being introduced to a new group. We chatted, sipped prosecco (before moving onto delicious Espresso Martinis from Tamper Coffee) and, upon feeling our tummies rumbling, headed to The Street Food Chef. Now, I'd been told about TSFC years ago but never actually ventured there. It's a small place on Arundel Gate that whips up some of the nicest Mexican food I've possibly ever had.

I opted for the pulled pork burrito, mild with guac. Absolutely delicious..

From there we headed off to S1 then to my favourite, The Gatsby, and danced the night away.

The following morning, we had a really lazy one and I whipped us up a delicious brunch.



Smashed avocado, scrambled eggs, steamed tomatoes, seeded bread and a bowl of granola, yoghurt and raspberries, to share.

We really did have the laziest day, but it was seriously needed.

I was actually meant to only be in Sheffield until the Saturday afternoon but I ended up leaving early Sunday morning instead so we had another night at Peddler, a couple of drinks at the Lord Nelson then Ems and I headed home, devoured a tub of Strawberry Frozen Yoghurt and called it a night.



I headed to my old gym on Sunday morning for yoga, which was brilliant. I really miss that class. I said recently that although I go to yoga at my new gym, it's not quite the same. So it was nice to see some familiar faces and have a really good practice taught to us.

I love weekends like these - no expectations but they're always the most fun. I say this EVERYTIME I go to Sheffield but I seriously miss living there. It's home to me, and possibly always will be. My next visit will be over Easter, so let's hope there's something equally as fun going on!

For more info on Peddler, visit their Facebook page. If you're a Sheffield local or happen to be there during the dates of the next event, go and check it out.

xo

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

TRIED: My Protein #1 - Porridges and Smoothies

Protein products are something I've been keen to try for a while now...but I find they're one of those things that people, girls especially, are put off by. We seem to associate protein with putting on weight, but that's not the case.

Protein can infact aid weight loss because of the boost you get from the product, it helps your body to work harder during workouts. Not only this, we need protein in our diets and, sometimes, the time isn't always there to prepare a meal or simply, we just feel a bit lazy.

With a product like MyProtein, all you really need to is add water or milk to the majority of the powders.

MyProtein have been going for around 10 years now and are very dedicated to providing quality products (over 350 online now!) that are created through scientific research rather than any added bad stuff!

I was sent a very generous amount of different samples which I've been working my way through (albeit very slowly as I've been away a lot!)




The first product I decided to try was the smoothie. I have a juice or smoothie everyday, made with my NutriBullet, so I was keen to try their breakfast smoothie to see whether it's something I would incorporate into my daily life.


Upon first adding the water, pre-shake, it didn't look the most appetising of drinks...and I kinda expected it to be a pinky colour...


...but I have to admit, it was delicious. Quite sweet but the flavour was great and definitely something I could see myself having every morning before work.


Sticking to the theme of breakfast - the next two mornings I opted for the protein porridges.

First up, chocolate...


Again, I don't think it necessarily looks like the most appetising of meals but it tasted great.

The oats added texture and the chocolate wasn't too sweet nor to bitter.


The banana porridge was the one I was a little skeptical about as I thought it may be a little overpowering in taste but I was wrong. I preferred the chocolate, but the banana was also really tasty.


You'll all know by now, I'm a huge breakfast fan...so straying away from my usual overnight oats or avocado on rye for a few days could have been a struggle but I have to admit, I loved the breakfast options MyProtein offer. Not only did they taste great, were simple to make (literally, just adding water or milk) and they left me feeling full of energy. And to be honest, that's one of the biggest things for me. Over the winter months I've felt so lacking in energy so a protein boost like these really does the trick in keeping you going throughout the day.

As well as the breakfast products, I also thoroughly enjoyed the Oat and Whey Flapjack. I unfortunately completely forgot to grab a photo as I was stuck in traffic in the car and well, it was starring at me from the box on the passenger seat...another great product that I could have probably devoured two or three of because it was so yummy!

Stay tuned for the next update on myprotein products to find out how I got on with them.

*I was kindly sent these products to review, however all opinions are completely honest and my own!*

xo


Friday, 6 March 2015

FIVE FOR FRIDAY #17

 
Feeling like a city girl - I feel scarily at home in London. I am desperate to move closer, even though I'm not exactly far away. I like hopping on and off the tube, the quirky shops, the variety of restaurants...the hustle and bustle. I'm eagerly anticipating my next visit, whether for work or play!

It's feeling like spring - it hasn't exactly felt warmer but the sun's out, the sky is blue and the clouds are all cute and fluffy. I've seen tulips and daffodils (my favourite flowers, FYI) being sold and it just makes me excited for springtime and warmer weather!

My yoga class - I terribly miss my yoga class at my old gym; our teacher is so lovely, her practices are great and everybody just gets on well. This week, however, I went back to the classes at my new gym. Although it isn't quite the same, I thoroughly enjoyed the sense of calm it left me with. Yoga really is good for the soul.

Bed, fairy lights, reading - I keep mentioning (moaning!) how busy I am ALL. THE. TIME. On Tuesday night I got in late but instead of switching on the TV or loading up Netflix. I hopped into bed, flicked on my fairy lights and read for an hour and a half. And you know what? It was lovely. I woke up the following morning feeling so much more refreshed.

Going home - Yesterday I headed back up North to see my family and this evening I'm going up to Sheffield to see Ems, visit Peddler and get that much Northern lifestyle temporarily back in my world. I love Sheffield, Yorkshire, The North...definitely where my heart is.

I hope you have some lovely plans for this weekend! Let me know what you've getting up to in the comments or on twitter!

xo

Thursday, 5 March 2015

LET'S TALK: Closure and The Past Being Left in The Past

 
I read a lot of stuff online - articles, lists, advice posts - all out of curiosity but mostly out of comfort, I suppose. I take comfort in knowing that people have similar thoughts to those that whirl around continuously in my own head.

Many of us are taught that the past should be left in the past and that it's not always good to hold onto to it; whatever it may be for the individual. But everybody is different and what works for some, well, it won't necessarily work for others.

In the past, I met a boy. When I say the past, I really mean that, years ago in my teens. Our relationship was relatively short, being of the age we were, but I fell seriously head over heels for him.   If I'm completely honest, and if he ever reads this I will want the ground to swallow me up, he's the one that set the bar.

Let me go back in time a little...we met under fairly normal teenage circumstances - a college house party, lots of alcohol, everybody waking up in the morning with a sore head. But that's not really where it all started; we chatted a bit but it progressed after the party when we started talking more and eventually meeting up.

Spring was about to end, summer about to begin and we were together. The problem? In October he would be leaving our hometown and heading off to University.

We enjoyed our time together, went here there and everywhere, created stories, made memories. It really was perfect. And I can look back and know, in those moments...I was content, happy and lost in it all.

But obviously, summer had to end...we had already agreed that we would 'part ways' when the time came because we were both so young, didn't want the back and forth at weekends...and, to be honest, I wanted him to have the best time he possibly could because, a year later, I would be in the same boat.

The time came. It crushed me and I mean like really crushed me. It hit me so hard and I didn't know what to do with myself, didn't think I'd ever get over it and I felt so much hurt that he'd 'left me'...I'm sure, at that age, it felt ten times worse because of the whole first love/first lust thing - whatever it was. I got over it after a few months but my mind always wandered back. I was hurt that he didn't really stay in touch, convinced myself that it was all one sided.

The thing is, I always thought he was too good for me. Well educated, well off, everything going for him...and I stupidly convinced myself that, although we were happy at that point, we would never have anything of a future. I really beat myself up over the whole thing when he'd gone. While we together, it was fine, we were living in the moment. But when he had gone, I thought about everything. Every detail, replayed conversations in my head...envisioned scenarios. Thought that maybe one day he might just turn up unexpected and think to see me. But it never happened.

I met other guys, I had other relationships. When I got to university and after graduating, I lived with my ex. It's not like I spent all those years waiting. I really didn't, and despite my lack of confidence, I had enough self respect not to pine for somebody that didn't do the same in return.

It is funny how much of a healer time can be, but my problem, I never, ever got closure. I lived my life but every now and then, he would sneak back into my head - 'I wonder what he's doing...', 'I wonder if he met somebody else...' - every now and again, I'd be left wondering. And then I wondered if he ever thought of me, which, to this day, I still doubt.

Then something weird happened. I was walking down Tottenham Court Road to an event for work and through the crowd, I saw a face I recognised. I passed by, not really registering that familiar face. Then, it came to me, it was him. By that point, we'd passed one another and it was the end of the working day...Surprised/excited/unsure I messaged him to see if it was actually him.

To try and cut this long story short - we arranged to meet. It didn't happen as I was ill. Then 2015 begun and I thought 'you know what, I've waited seven years to get some kind of answers, some kind of reassurance that 'it's not me, it's actually you''. So I figured, right, one last try. And I did and we arranged to meet. The nerves were there, we could see it in each others eyes. But we caught up, it was fun and I knew we would again.

A week later, we were sat having dinner. It felt like old times and it was worrying how easily I fell back into his company. We reminisced, we laughed about the silly things that happened, the awkward situations, 'the time when...'. We walked down the street holding hands, we giggled...we did all that stuff my mind had sometimes wandered to for the last seven years.

I sat on the train that night, grinning from ear to ear. Thinking about what could happen. Then I thought 'this guy pretty much broke my heart, and look how easily you're willing to give it again'. I'm unlucky in like/love/lust...to the point my mum jokingly calls me Bridget now (Jones, for those of you that didn't know..) So I felt a little silly in getting ahead of myself.

He, surprisingly, kept in touch with me for a couple of weeks...something I hadn't expected but we arranged a couple of days that we could meet up.

The first night, I met his work colleagues, it all felt really surreal I suppose. I was being introduced into his new life. A little while into the night, one of his colleagues girlfriends turned to me and said, "I'm going to say something to you that I say to all my friends, I'll say it to you in English first but it sounds better in Chinese..."

Well, as you can imagine I thought, what the fuck is she actually on about?

She looked at me, put a hand on my shoulder and said "Don't boil the same cabbage twice"

Then said it in Chinese; she was right, it did sound better in Chinese.

I stood there, a little bewildered, but did manage to force a laugh.

A few more G&T's and I guess I'd pushed it out of my mind. But, waking up the next morning, I couldn't shift it from my head.

And in a way, it felt like a bit of a bad omen. And the weekend, well, it didn't really feel the same nor did it go how I imagined it would.

I just needed to know, you know?

I needed to see if the feelings I had were teenage feelings, whether it was familiarity, whether it was a daydream for all those years or whether there was still something there.

The one thing I did come to terms with? I am worth so much more than I gave/ever give myself credit for. I felt like I was never enough for him but, you know what I've realised? I don't think he's enough for me. Not because he hasn't still got all of those things going for him but because I want different things. And I want things that I can't get from another person. But that's one of the biggest things I've learned lately. I've changed as a person so much in the time that's passed by - I've changed a bloody lot in six months - but, I couldn't see too much change in him.

I left feeling a touch of disappointment, but more than anything, a sense of self worth. I felt like I left with a bit of a spring in my step and a feeling of not needing anybody or anybody's reassurance but my own.

But after it taking me years to write this, at least now there's one thing I know more than anything - I think the cabbage needs to be thrown in the bin.

xo

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

COOKED: Raw Ribbons with Garlic Tomatoes and Feta

Apart from coconut kale quinoa, this is my go-to meal at the moment.

I feel like I've piled on a few pounds during the winter months, and although I eat healthy 70% of the time, I really want to be a little bit tougher on myself and try and shift this winter weight.

Enter courgette ribbons - a wonderful alternative to pasta and, to be honest, a very healthy option with any kind of meal as a base or as a side.

As I still don't have a spiralizer (it's on my 'to buy' list) I just use a standard peeler to create ribbons of courgette - it still works as well, just doesn't necessarily look as 'neat'.

This meal is perfect if you want to whip up something quickly - with very few ingredients, all healthy and a great mix of flavours; it's the perfect weekday, post-gym, lunch, WHATEVER meal. At the moment, I'm probably eating this twice a week. I'm so busy but it takes me less than 20 minutes to whip it up. It's wonderful.

[Inspired by The Londoner]

To make enough for two people,  you'll need:

2-3 courgettes - depending on size. 3/4 of a courgette normally does me!
12 plum tomatoes, chopped in half
4-6 sundried tomatoes, optional
2 cloves garlic, crush
1/2 a block of feta cheese, crumbled
200ml EV Olive Oil
1 tsp chilli flakes
Sea salt and black pepper, to season
Extra chilli flakes, optional


1. First things first, you'll need to preheat your oven to 180 and grab a baking tray. Line this with foil.

2. Grab a small bowl - pour in your EVOO, crush your garlic, add your chilli flakes, season with salt and pepper.

3. Chop your plum tomatoes, throw them in the small bowl and mix with the oil etc.

4. Move the tomatoes onto your baking tray and pop into the oven for around 5 minutes, once it's heated. You need to make sure the liquid in the small bowl remains mostly there, you will need this to mix the rest of your ingredients int.

5. Peel your courgettes - or use your spiralizer, if you have one, it really doesn't matter too much. Once they're in ribbons/spirals, pop them into a bigger bowl and pour over the oil/garlic. Mix the courgettes with oil.

6. Throw in your sundried tomatoes and half of the crumbled feta. Once the plum tomatoes have cooked a little in the oven, pop these in too and mix everything together.

7. You're ready to serve it all up now. Grab a couple of plates, dish it up, crumble the remaining feta between the two and I usually add some extra pepper and chilli flakes at this point.


You could cook the courgettes if you preferred but the crunch they give you raw is a perfect texture for this dish.

I'm going to try this with some olives in the future, or maybe even some chopped artichokes.

xo

Monday, 2 March 2015

MONTHLY GOALS: March



I feel like I really lost focus with my goals last month. If I'm completely honest, I can't believe February has been and gone. I feel like February was a week long. It was a VERY busy month. Like, MAJORLY busy. I haven't stopped.

I had yesterday afternoon to myself but that's the first time I've actually be like 'you know what, I'm laying in bed watching multiple films on Netflix with no makeup on, in my pyjamas, with my candles burning and drinking peppermint tea'. And that was great. Really, really great.

February was a month of work, events and exhibitions and a lot of time away. The first few days saw me head down to The Saatchi Gallery to check out SCOOP. The following weekend I finally got myself to Sheffield to see Quantic DJ and did the whole nostalgic thing about my old life there. I always feel incredibly sad having to leave Sheffield. Following that, I then had a week away in Milan at MICAM - a long, busy week but had SO much fun. Who said work was always boring? I touched down at home for 24 hours post-Milan then had three days at London Fashion Week so, as you can imagine, by the Monday I was exhausted. I then visited London Fashion Weekend to see some of those I am in contact with through work (and spend some money, of course!). We also checked out the Guy Bourdin photography exhibition (which I will blog about this week) at Somerset House - definitely worth going to! 

And now it's March...and I cannot quite believe it.

I'm genuinely knackered at the moment. I tried to get a whole working week of early nights in last week, but that didn't quite go to plan after a trip to Pauly's Soul Food CafĂ© and an open mic night at The Lamplighter (which was great!) then there was the unintentional night out in Angel on Saturday (and AMAZING tapas) and maybe missing my train and getting back the following morning, praying there wasn't a big yellow FINE slapped across the windscreen of my car.

As you can tell, life has been hectic. Fun but hectic. It's been all about new experiences, networking, spontaneous plans (can you still call it a plan if it's spontaneous?) so March...I'm excited to see what is in store.

This coming weekend I will be FINALLY heading home for some R&R...although, there's the option of a night in Sheffield, which I will probably decide upon. I'm also going to...SHANGHAI (?!?!!) Yes, I can't quite believe it either. A work trip...to Shanghai. Blows my actual mind. Post-Shanghai I'm also planning a trip to Manchester to see one of my closest friends for a couple of days for burgers, breakfasts and general food-related fun.

So rather than March being a month of trips to London. It's just going to be a month of trying to get some down time in where possible as I know April will be another busy month (AND MY BIRTHDAY!)

SO, February's Monthly Goals:
- Get back into daily blogging (Mon-Sat) - FAIL - Didn't even slightly manage this. I've been too busy to spend any free time doing anything other than sleeping
- Prioritise my time better - KINDA ACHIEVED - despite not doing things (like my daily blogging), I have actually managed to prioritise my time. I've found that being REALLY busy with work has allowed me to try and fit things in around this. Although you could argue that I've not done my daily blogging, nor have I managed to get to the gym that often...so maybe I haven't achieved this?
- Food Prep and cut down on bad snacking - ACHIEVED - definitely managed this. I've been making salads, kale quinoa, brown rice, soups all in bulk for lunches and dinners. In the evenings rather than snack on crisps, chocolate etc. I've been having natural yoghurt, a teaspoon of nut butter, blueberries and gluten free cornflakes as a sweet treat (it's honestly so tasty!) I've also been having my daily smoothies using my Nutribullet since January AND snacking on nuts or raw bars. *high fives to me*
- Watch my spending - 100% FAILED - I had to LOL at this. My spending this month has been nothing short of ridiculous. I've not budgeted, probably left myself really short and, if I'm honest, bought things I probably didn't need. However, my wants outweighed my needs and I have eaten at some great places, bought some beautiful things and generally just bloody enjoyed myself. So, although I'm left myself skint, it was so worth it.
- Embrace all of the excitement - ACHIEVED - I feel like I've achieved this twice over this month. I've had one of the most exciting and interesting months. Excitement fully embraced.

 
 
So, March...what's in store. It's going to be another busy month so I need to set realistic goals.
 
READ READ READ - I set myself this goal the month before last but it was definitely something I was to keep doing. Even if I only read one book this month, I want to make sure I do so. I miss getting lost in books like I used to do at University.
 
EXERCISE 3 TIMES A WEEK - I have really slacked on the gym this month. I want to try and do my two yoga sessions per week and one or two workouts as well but as long as I managed to show my face three times in a week I'll be happy (although, when in Shanghai this won't be possible!)
 
GO WITH THE FLOW - I suppose I had a bit of a blip last month. I allowed myself to believe a situation would work out and it hasn't. BUT the best news is that I didn't let it get me down. So I need to keep going with the flow, take things as they come and just make the most of any situations, good or bad, that occur. And if all else fails...
 
PLAN A TRIP, FOR ME - Although I'm going to be spending a lot of time out of the country this year, I want to make sure I have a trip solely for me. I keep saying I'll head over to Amsterdam as an old school friend lives there and I am so desperate to get myself to Morocco.
 
WRITE A PROPER LIST OF PLACES I WANT TO EAT AND THINGS I WANT TO DO - I have loads of random notes, bits of paper, scribbles in notebooks, cut outs...I need to organise all of these and make sure I get myself to as many as possible. I also want to get a proper list together of exhibitions I want to go to, plays, events...it's all part of prioritising my time better and seeing/doing as much as possible.
 
Have you got any goals for this month? I'd love to know.
 
xo