April Round-Up

April has been a strange month for me and even though it’s not quite over, I’m ready to round it up. During April I started the month by setting myself some goals which was fun and something I’ve not really done before. I have enjoyed trying new recipes this month – spicy sausage pasta bake has been one of my favourite recipes and as breakfast is my favourite meal of the day, carrot cake style baked oats have been the best thing since sliced bread.

With my boyfriend starting a new job I’ve been enjoying spending more time chopping up vegetables to start prepping the weekly meals and walking a lot more as well. One of my goals was to achieve 10,000 steps a day and for the most part I have achieved this, even more on some days. I’m really enjoying pushing myself to walk more and I’ve been walking up and down the stairs at work as well without ever feeling out of breath.

I did a Slimming World refresh and allowing myself to re-visit the plan and make sure I am eating enough speed food. During April I have had a little bit of a life curveball which I can’t really talk about on here, so if things are a little quiet round here for a couple of weeks please just bear with me while some life stuff is happening.

Music wise I’ve been really enjoying an album from Jason Derulo called Future History which I didn’t listen to when it came out in 2011 but now, thanks to a Spotify playlist shuffle it’s one of my favourite albums.

I’ve also been enjoying reading Boho Berry and learning more about the latest phenomenon going round – bullet journaling. I think I would like to start a bullet journal so when this life stuff has finished then I might start one – watch this space.

10 Things I Love About My Jack Russell

If you have read my blog for a while, you will know that I have a beautiful, almost 11 year old Jack Russell called Daisy. Last week Daisy received a beautiful hamper from Royal Canin to celebrate the launch of thew new food product line Royal Family which is different to anything I have seen before because this time it’s tailored to each individual breed which also takes into account the dog’s age, activity, size and lifestyle. As you can see, Daisy was an extremely happy pup at receiving her very own hamper. Within the hamper was a beautiful personalised ‘Daisy’s Treasure’ crate which now houses her toy collection, a gorgeous handmade personalised bowl, a lovely handmade toy from Edwyn UK and a bag of Royal Canin Jack Russell food. The food itself contains three key ingredients for the breed – as they are known for their lively temperament it’s designed to help maintain muscle mass and help maintain vitality, help with healthy skin and a healthy coat and dental health as well. Daisy was straight in wanting some of the food and she was very impressed and could definitely have had more.

Here are ten things I love about my beautiful Jack Russell, Daisy.

10 Things I Love About My Jack Russell

  1. She is loyal through and through and when my family are together she wants to be with everyone and in the same room for tickles. Even when we take her for a walk, she’s wanting to make sure we’re all there.
  2. She has many ‘voices’. It is honestly just like she’s having a conversation with you but she makes different noises depending if she wants to play, have a fuss or if she’s hungry. She will often sit and make a noise for fuss and won’t stop until you give her a tickle.
  3. When we take her out for a walk she will often hop along and then walk in a diagonal line across everyone. No sense of direction, it makes us all laugh.
  4. The way her little back legs cross when she’s lying down – so cute!
  5. For a nearly 11 year old dog, Daisy is still super energetic and runs around like a puppy a lot. She will bring a ball to you, drop it and then look at you.
  6. She has a crazy five minutes when I see her and she runs around like a maniac doing circuits of the downstairs room.
  7. Daisy is a creature of habit and her favourite time of day is when she can come in from a walk and eat food. She will never miss having her morning chewy time. She also makes funny faces when she eats her chewy and it makes her look like she’s smiling.
  8. She has a long tongue that is so long that sometimes when she’s asleep it will stick out.
  9. She has a docked tail which I know not a lot of dogs have now but I love her little tail and the way it looks like a blur when she’s wagging it around.
  10. And finally, her ears. She has HUGE ears and often tilts her head with one up and one down (if both are up, she is a little rabbit!

There are so many more things I love about owning a Jack Russell. What do you love about your dog breed?

This post is written in collaboration with Royal Canin, but all thoughts are my own. Photo’s credited to my Mum.

Slimming World : Having A RefreshDuring the past weekend I did something I haven’t done in a long time and had a good refresh of the Slimming World plan. I was in my group on Saturday when my consultant held up some baby sweetcorn and a corn on the cob and asked which one is a speed food. Immediately I thought this has to be a trick question as I was sure neither of them were. It turned out that baby corn is speed – who knew?! I know I didn’t know this and I love baby sweetcorn corn so much so that after this revelation I went to my local Morrison’s to pick up a pack to have with meals this week.

This made me think that perhaps I should look at my book a little bit more:

Slimming World : Having A Refresh

That night I took my Slimming World book to bed and as I was looking through my book I also then realised that Kiwi fruits aren’t speed. What on earth?! It turns out that from this baby corn revelation I have now found out that the fruit I have been eating most of recently isn’t actually speed food. Yes, it’s free so fine to have but it’s not speed so therefore not designed to boost your weight loss. All I can say is thank god it’s berry season soon as I am all about strawberries and raspberries which I know are speed.

After reading through the first section of my book I went through the rest of it to give myself a refresh of the plan which has given me new ideas and made me think about how much speed I’m putting on my plate or in my meals. I’m sure I can’t be the only person who probably gets a bit complacent thinking we all know exactly what we’re doing. For the most part, I do, I count my syns but the plan isn’t based on counting syns, it is clear I was lacking knowledge on speed/free foods and maybe I should have been making better choices and having extra variety. I then turned over the book and saw my awards and it gave me the push to treat this week as though I’m starting again and see how I get on. I think next week I’ll try some new fruits as well. Doing a plan refresh has made me determined that I can get my two stone award very soon and continue until I hit target. My tip would be that if you are a follower of Slimming World, get your book out and give it a good read – you might find out something new like I did.

Slimming World : Having A Refresh

If you follow Slimming World, do you ever have a plan refresh?

Slimming World : Tips For Eating Out

For me, Slimming World has never felt like a ‘diet’. It teaches you to eat well while still living your life which is why they always say that Slimming World is a different healthy eating lifestyle rather than a diet. Since re-joining group, I’ve never had a moment where I regret spending money each week on going along to my group. On Saturday I was sat in group when one of my fellow members asked about flexi days where you set yourself an amount of syns and that’s what you have – so if you’re going for a night out you might like to do this and allow yourself enough syns for drinking and food. It got me thinking when she mentioned about eating out and if any other members found it hard as she was going out that evening and wanted some help. Immediately everyone turned around to say no that they found it quite easy.

As with everything, Slimming World works differently for different members and I have all of my syns at the weekend. That may be slightly strange to some but I find that it fits my lifestyle a lot better – weekends are when I tend to see my friends or go out with my boyfriend for a meal. I always believe that if this is meant to be a lifestyle diet plan then it should fit within your lifestyle to the best possible way.

With that being said I know a lot of members prefer to have weekly syns so they look for alternatives for going out. If you’re thinking that Slimming World will stop you going out and enjoying yourself you are wrong. There are so many places that are great if you follow Slimming World – The Harvester and Nando’s are always good options but let’s face it, you’re not always going to go out to somewhere that is ultimately Slimming World friendly so you can use your syns like I do where I then don’t have any during the week, have a flexi day or do your research beforehand so you can plan your week around it. Whatever you do, don’t let it stop you going out and enjoying yourself with friends or family.

My tips for staying on plan when going out for a meal would be to look through your Slimming World book (if you are a group member) as they have a lot of fast food says in the back as well as some meal choices for going out to Italian/Indian/Chinese restaurants which is handy and I have also found that if I am at an Indian I ask for my curry to be cooked without oil so that eliminates a few syns right there. I would also always check my app in case anything has changed since the book was published as this can often happen.

The Slimming World website is a great place to find various guides on what you might want to eat when you go out or what the best options are if you want to stay as close to plan as possible. Obviously, looking at the menu beforehand is good because you can judge what you might have before you go along which is something I tend to do. There are also Facebook groups like Syns Allowed which will help if you’re looking for syn values for somewhere specific.

What are your favourite places to go out for food?

March Round-Up

March was a good’un, wasn’t it? For me the weeks flew by and I had something look forward to each weekend.

March started off with a much needed shopping trip to Birmingham with one of my best friends, Kirsty where we spent the day doing a lot of body magic shopping and walking around Birmingham City Centre. We went to the new Grand Central station and the shopping was amazing, I couldn’t believe how big it is and what they’ve done with the space. A huge John Lewis, Pandora, MAC and Jo Malone to name a few.

We spent a lot of time looking at makeup trying to resist making purchases – I have to keep reminding myself that I’m going for the minimal approach this year. I bought a new Jo Malone perfume with a Selfridges voucher I had as well as buying some chocolate from Hotel Chocolat for my boyfriend as he got a new job in March as well. We also went for lunch at the Mailbox and it was a great day out.

I finished off the end of the month by going to Scotland to see my family and dog for the Easter break. I always like to book off four days around Easter to make a week of it and go home for a week. We spent a lot of our time going for walks in Lochwinnoch, Greenock, Luss and Loch Lomond. We of course ate some Easter chocolate, went out for an Italian meal and I could finally see the start of spring coming through as the clocks went forward while we were there. I taught my Mum how to make baked oats which I think I’ve got them both hooked on now.

Over March I’ve been loving listening to the Sia album ‘This is Acting’ and watching Arrow – isn’t Stephen Amell dreamy?

I can’t believe we’re in April now, this year is truly flying by! How was your March?

blogging essentials

Blogging has evolved so much since I first started in 2011. At that time I only tended to use my phone at the time to take photos for my blog, I didn’t invest in anything because I just wasn’t sure I would need to. Over time I have changed to digital cameras and invested in some good technology to help with my blog, make life easier for me and improve photo quality so today I thought I would share with you my blogging essentials. I would also love to hear what your essentials are.

Cannon G7X

I will never claim to be a camera expert because I’m really not. I’ve never used a DSLR and when I decided to upgrade from my Cannon S120 I read loads of reviews and watched YouTube videos to see what camera to get next – enter the Cannon G7X. I’ve only had this camera for a year now but I absolutely love it for both my blog and YouTube channel. Not only is it a great, easy to use camera, but it also has a screen that flips out at the top so it means that making videos is that much easier for me. The camera is 20.3 MP with a 4.2x Zoom and is so easy to pick up and use – you can auto focus when you film videos really easy and although it is heavier than other PowerShot cameras but it’s still really portable and I absolutely love it.

Camera Case

I searched high and low for a camera case that would fit my G7X in (as I said, it is a bit bigger) and when I finally came across this one on Amazon I was so happy. It’s a hard shell case and keeps my camera really well protected. I can even fit my spare battery in there to.

Spare Battery

An essential for me is to have a spare battery for my camera because with taking loads of photos and recording videos my battery dies, a lot. I got this one from eBay because it was a decent price and it hasn’t failed me since.

Memory Card

A small but crucial piece of equipment if you’re going to blog or make YouTube videos. Memory cards are known for corrupting and failing so I always go for a trusted brand and for me that’s normally SanDisk. I always pick ‘class 10’ and find that 32GB is more than enough although I have a feeling I might need a spare one for my New York trip later on this year.

GorillaPod

After my big tripod broke I decided that I would like a smaller tripod that I could take with me anywhere I go and after reading several reviews I decided that GorillaPod would be perfect for that and it is. Its really flexible so you can bend it to fit anywhere you want so if you’re trying to take a photo at a different angle it makes it so much easier. It’s also fairly lightweight and easy to carry around with you.

PicMonkey

I absolutely adore this website and would recommend it for editing photos. The basic free version has hundreds of features in it to edit photos but there’s also a paid account where you can get additional features and fonts that the free version doesn’t have. I use it to make all of my thumbnails and collages and to edit my photos. I also pay for it annually after trailing it for a month to see if it’s worth it. I’ve had photoshop before and I think this is much better for what I need.

What are your essentials for blogging?

Vanilla Baked Oats

Breakfast is probably my favourite meal of the day, I always wake up feeling ready for breakfast. I like trying different breakfasts as well and baked oats is definitely one of my favourite recipes. I make mine so they are syn free on Slimming World as if you add cooked fruit you will need to syn them. I think if I were to syn anything with this, I would put some nutella on for 4 syns per level tablespoon. Anyway, this recipe is so easy and will include your healthy B and part of your healthy A if you follow Slimming World.

INGREDIENTS
40g of Oats (Healthy B)
50 ml of Skimmed Milk (Part of Healthy A)
1 tbsp of sweetener
Vanilla extract or essence (don’t use the extract with syrup as that will have syns!)
A silicone muffin case, mould or oven proof dish
1 Medium Egg

METHOD
Pre-heat your oven to 200
First of all, whisk your egg in a bowl and add your ingredients and mix well
Add a few drops of your vanilla flavouring
Add into your mould, oven proof dish or muffin case
Cook in the oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown and once finished, serve with fresh fruit – I use raspberries or strawberries usually.

Tuna Pasta Bake

One thing I absolutely love is a good hearty pasta bake and I’m always looking for new ones to try so if you have any recommendations please send them my way. I love tuna and I love making tuna pasta but typically that involves using syns for mayonnaise so I was looking to make a pasta bake with tuna that didn’t involve syns and voila, this pasta bake does just the trick. Plus, it’s really yummy too.

If you are following Slimming World, it’s syn free if you are using the cheese as a healthy extra which I always do. It’s simple to put together but it tastes absolutely amazing. 

Tuna Pasta Bake

INGREDIENTS
Pasta (70g per person)
2 tins of tuna (in brine)
1 onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic or sprinkling of garlic salt
2 peppers, chopped
Handful of mushrooms
Sweetcorn
1 can of chopped tomatoes
200ml of vegetable stock
Good splash of Worcestershire sauce
40g of reduced fat cheddar per portion. 40g is healthy extra
Fry light
salt and black pepper

METHOD
First of all you will need to pre-Heat your oven to 200 degrees.
Then, in a pan fry off your onion and garlic in a pan with Frylight and then add the remaining vegetables, tinned tomatoes and stock and let it all reduce down for 10 minutes or so.
Meanwhile, cook your pasta until nice and soft.
One your sauce has simmered and reduced down add your salt, pepper and a large splash of Worcestershire Sauce
Add your cooked pasta to the sauce and then your drained tuna and mix well.
Finally once mixed, pour into an oven proof dish, add your cheese on top and place in the oven for 15 – 20 minutes until golden brown.