Slow Cooker Comforts: Warming Cauliflower & Parsnip Soup

Saturday, March 18, 2017


Most of you know I've been suffering with a cold the past week so I knew that my Slow Cooker Comforts post had to reflect that.

Ingredients:
1 cauliflower, chopped into florets
4 parsnips, peeled and chopped
2 small onions, peeled and chopped
100g yellow split peas
2 teaspoons of wholegrain mustard
1 teaspoon of chopped garlic (I use the Very Lazy range)
Half a teaspoon of turmeric
Half a teaspoon of garlic
1 litre of vegetable stock
1 teaspoon of chia seeds*
1 tablespoon barley grass powder*
Salt & pepper to taste

* I use these in all my foods to try and get as much goodness as I can.

I prepped all my ingredients the night before as I needed to soak the peas, and popped the slow cooker on low in the morning (around 7.30am - I don't sleep in on a weekend generally!) and had it cooking away for a good few hours.

I did puree this soup, as I think chunky it would have lost some of the warming properties I wanted it to have!

My Love Affair With Fitness

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

I'm in love with fitness and I'm not looking back!
Over the last few months, there has been a huge shift in my focus and I know that some people have picked up on and questioned me about it - but I didn't want to jinx myself and just did my own thing.

I've begun a rather intense love affair, and it doesn't show any signs in fading. With fitness. Three months ago I tentatively began 'boot camp' - a weekly high intensity workout which terrified me the first time I attended. Each week there can be between twelve and fifteen stations, all with a different workout positioned there. From squatting with kettle bells, to bench pressing a weight you feel comfortable with (but not too comfortable - push yourself!) to a rope you slam against the ground.. It has truly been a test of mind, body and my soul.

I have been pretty vocal about my attendance each week, mostly because if I tweet about it or Facebook something - I can't back out. It was really hard going at first, I didn't want people to see my wobbly bits wiggle, I didn't want anyone seeing my red faced struggles as I attempted a push up. Nobody but me was holding myself back. Not one person turned up at the boot camp session simply to point, laugh and comment on my extra tyres. Not one person stared at my sweaty, blotchy face. Why? Because we were all in the same position!

Over the last three months I can happily say it has been the best choice I've ever made. I feel my body changing, I can actually run for more than ten seconds without needing a break and I actually moved up some weights last week because I felt like I wasn't pushing myself to the point I could - a huge moment for me because I doubted myself in the beginning and went automatically for the lightest weights. Now, my arms have definition and I feel them toning, becoming stronger - with that, I feel pretty good in some of the clothes I could never wear before* as I was so unhappy with the way I looked.

Last night, I swept away another wave of anxiety and actually found myself stood in a gym, signing a piece of paper that meant I belonged to a team. A netball team. As a complete newbie. I've never played netball and despite doing some frantic googling the days before, I went into that hall knowing barely anything (kudos for Mike sharing "if you get the ball - move!" before I set off out though.. I have words for him!) and came out sweaty and knowing what Goal Shooter and Goal Keeper were. I'm too polite on defence at the moment, but like my boot camp adventures - I'm sure I'll flourish in time.

This is an intense, happy love affair and I just wish I'd had the confidence to embrace fitness a little sooner in life. As I said back in December - it isn't a diet, its a lifestyle change!

* I've never been happy with my body - I'm not going to go into the whole 'body positivity' argument but Sophia from TattooedTeaLady hit the nail on the head with her own post so I urge you to go and read it - she captures my own thoughts and opinions much more coherently than I'd be able to explain.

Oh My Blog: March Edition

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Oh My Blog is a monthly interview series, where fellow bloggers come together to answer a series of questions on a specific theme. This is a chance to get acquainted with a whole range of bloggers, some of whom you may not have heard of before, and learn a little more about them!

This month, the theme is Mums (because it’s Mother’s Day soon!) and I'm hosting Amy from The Mighty Duxburys.


1. Introduce us to your mum. What’s her name? What does she do? Reveal her age if you dare!
My mum is Andrea. She’s a barrister’s clerk, working in the Family Law Department. It’s very posh and I’m always jealous of the Christmas presents that they all buy for her. She’s got four children, with me being the oldest. I also have a younger brother, Andy and two younger sisters, Chloe and Emily. She lives with my Dad and youngest sister just outside Burnley. A mere 80 miles or so away… *sad face*.

2. What’s the one thing your mum always used to say to you?
 Me: “Mum, what’s for tea?”
 Mum: “Shit with sugar on.”

 Nice, mum. 

3. Someone’s playing your mum in a film. Who is it and why?
I wrote these damn questions and I can’t answer them. Jesus, this is really hard. Jennifer Saunders maybe? They’ve got that same sort of humour about them. She would clearly have to work on her Burnley accent though. 

4. She’s won the lottery. What’s the first thing your mum buys for herself?
Easy. A private gig with Olly Murs. 

5. What embarrassing story about you does she always tell when you meet new people?
Crikey… not really embarrassing for me so much as it is for her, but when I was a baby she left me outside a shop. Just left me in the pram. Baby brain at its finest… apparently my dad found me and took me away from said shop, sending my mother into a panic when she realised I wasn’t there. Oh, I also hated men when I was a baby. Pretty much all of them. Would scream if a bloke so much as looked at me apparently. I must have been tonnes of fun as a kid. 

6. What are your plans for Mother’s Day this year?
No plans for the day itself. We’re visiting my parents and the gang the weekend before so will probably go out for a meal or something then but nothing big. We’re not good with elaborate plans! 

7. What’s her favourite TV show at the moment?
Her favourite TV show of any moment is Jeremy Kyle. She insists she doesn’t like the man, just the show. I’m not sure which is worse if I’m completely honest - I think she sees it as a real-life soap opera.  

8. What’s the biggest or most important thing that your mum inspired you to do?
My mum actually (indirectly, I suppose) inspired my entire career path. She has worked in a legal sector for as long as I can remember and she inspired me to go to University, work in law and become a solicitor. Something I finally managed at the beginning of 2016. Without my mum, I have absolutely no idea what I’d be doing. 

9. Your round at the bar! What’s your mum drinking?
White wine and soda. Prosecco if it’s a posh do. 

10. What’s the biggest difference between you and your mum?
That’s tough. We’re really quite similar in a lot of ways, but our tastes in things like music and hobbies are probably the biggest difference between us. She likes pop music, reality television and football whereas I’m more into alternative and metal music and Game of Thrones. It’s probably more of an age thing than anything else. 

Oh. And she voted for Brexit. Booooo.

11. Most important question of the lot. What is your mum’s stance on 50 Shades of Grey? Does she love it? Hate it? Not even know what it is?
She’s read them all. She’s been to see both films with one of my youngest sisters. Jamie Dornan is her Whatsapp profile picture. Safe to say she’s into it. 

12. What’s your favourite memory of your mum?
At my wedding - I mean, that’s my favourite memory of a lot of people but with my Mum it was just super lovely. The whole process leading up to it as well, going out to buy the dresses and sorting out the bits of decor and the planning. She was about as excited as I was by the time the actual day arrived and it was awesome. 

13. What do you think your mum was like as a kid?
She’s going to kill me here. But I reckon she was a proper bossy boots. I don’t really know why. I also know that she was a bit boy-mad when she was younger… the drummer from the Bay City Rollers was a particular target of her affections… but when I was younger I came across some of her old records (I think that’s what they were) but they had all sorts of scribbles about which boy she was crushing on at the time. The names always changed, but the message was pretty clear. I.D.S.T. etc. 

14. Cast your mind back a bit; what was the thing you did as a child or teenager that made your mum the angriest she has ever been with you?
My dad ran the London Marathon so they all went down south for a long weekend. I did was any self-respecting sixteen year old would do and threw a house party. Bribed my younger brother to keep his mouth shut… party was awesome and aside from some unexpected guests in the form of my mate’s present crush and his friends, a wonderful time was had by all. I absolutely gutted the house, made sure it was spotless. My mum however, knew within two minutes that something was amiss. 
Turned out one of my guests had burned a hole in the kitchen carpet with a cigarette. I’m not sure what made my mum angriest… the ruined carpet, the fact I’d clearly had a large party, or the idea that the cigarette burn might have been me. 

15. Finally, what’s the BEST piece of advice your mum ever gave to you?
Don’t sweat the small stuff. She didn’t specifically say it ever, but throughout my life that’s one of the messages she’s given me. That constantly concerning myself with the tiny things aren’t going to help and that I should concentrate on what really matters.

If you enjoyed this post, you can find out more about Amy and her family by visiting her blog and social media channels!
Blog: http://www.mightyduxburys.com
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/mightyduxburys
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/mightyduxburys
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/mightyduxburys
Pinterest: http://uk.pinterest.com/mightyduxburys

Oh My Blog!

Slow Cooker Comforts: Leek & Potato Soup

Saturday, March 11, 2017


One of my favourite things in the world, is my Morphy Richards Slow Cooker. It really is the one thing I can't live without when it comes to my kitchen. I did have a ceramic version of this, but the ceramic actually cracked then shattered so I swear by the stainless steel version - although some people prefer ceramic I just lost faith in it.

Today I'm starting a little bit of a new thing. I'm going to be sharing some of my slow cooker favourites as part of a new blog series! I'm starting simple with one of my favourites: Leek & Potato Soup. Hearty, homely and old school - my favourite kind of recipe.

Ingredients
1.5l water
1 (or 2 if you feel you need that extra strength) vegetable stock cubes
400g potatoes, prepared to your liking
2 leeks, sliced
1 onion, sliced
salt & pepper to taste

I set my slow cooker to high for 2 hours, then medium for as long as I need to (I tend to prepare soup in a morning, and leave the slow cooker on medium until dinner time) which means the vegetables are cooked but the potatoes hold their shape.

I tend to leave the peel on my potatoes and slice them into rounds - I don't puree my soups so this works really well to create a chunky rustic soup. Obviously, if you plan on pureeing then I do recommend you peel your potatoes and chop them into small cubes.

Cream can also be added if you prefer a creamier stock, but again - my personal tastes mean I prefer a thinner broth.

Why I Joined The Women's Institute

Thursday, March 09, 2017


A few months ago when I saw an advertisement for the new Viaduct Violet Women's Institute looking for founding members.. I knew it was meant to be. At that point I remember firing off text messages to Gill of Gilliblogs and we both agreed to give it a go. I wanted to be a part of something bigger, something brilliant - and I knew that joining the WI was a step towards that. The WI has always been something I've wanted to become a part of - the history, the message - everything.

What is the Women's Institute?
The Women's Institute was formed in 1915, to help refresh rural communities and get women involved in food preservation and production to aid the First World War effort. Since then, the Women's Institute has become so much more - supporting initiatives that have changed the shape of the world around us as we know it. As the largest voluntary organisation for women in the UK, the WI celebrated it's centenary in 2015 and over 6000 individual groups like ours, champion the cause.

When I first walked into the founding meeting, I knew it was a place I wanted to be. My anxiety was roaring and there were over thirty women in a small room all bubbling and chatting away... And I was fine. I was comfortable. I knew that this was something I wanted to be a part of - and during the second meeting I paid my £39 (alongside Gill) and invested myself into becoming a part of something much bigger.


I felt so at home with these women that looking back on the candid photographs, I can see that it was the right place for me to be. I joined the Women's Institute to meet strong, inspirational women and I joined it to follow in the footsteps of those women. Each and every woman we meet with each month has their own story, their own successes and their own journey. Over time, I want to get to know each and every footstep on those journeys - to get to know a network of women I can learn from and look up to. I've fallen into an already fabulous group of women around me in work, and as friends - everything can only get better now I'm a Viaduct Violet.

If you are in the local area, why not come along and join our group? The Viaduct Violets meet every third Tuesday at St Patricks Social Club in Newton-le-Willows. You can come along for a taster for £4, and a years membership is £39 - for twelve meetings and various opportunities - from craft sessions to trips out around the local area. We have some great trips out planned for the summer months including the Bakewell Cake Festival & Southport Flower Show - well worth that annual fee!

Spring Cleaning & New Beginnings in 2017

Sunday, March 05, 2017


So, some people have probably noticed my social media accounts have had a huge overhaul. I've unfollowed a lot of accounts.. In fact I unfollowed all of the accounts I  previously followed. Over 2016 I had followed so many new accounts, that I just cannot keep up anymore and I feel like my engagement is dropping - so I made the decision to cut down on the accounts I did followed in order to manage my social media better. This is on twitter and instagram - mostly because I use those two the all the time, the numbers had gotten way out of hand!

That doesn't mean I don't like people anymore, it doesn't mean I'm not interested in your life - it just means my followings were a little overwhelming and if we did have a good online relationship I'll be following you again very soon. I did this in order to cut down on the magazines, bloggers and companies I had followed in the last 12 months - not to cut down on the people I do regularly engage with. I can't stress that enough. I've made no bones about my anxiety the last few months and while I do feel 100% in control offline - this was become an issue online. I'd rather take the steps to manage that now.

That being said, I know being unfollowed can cause hurt and I just want to reiterate that it isn't my intention to hurt any feelings (or egos, unfortunately) but I can't apologise for doing something that makes me feel more comfortable online and around my blog. I hope that this blog makes it evident that I'm not doing this to be sly nor to gain anything.

Thank you for being patient, and I hope to chat soon!

UPDATE

I woke up this morning and felt instantly more comforted as I scrolled through my tweets..







I think to know that other human beings are going through exactly the same thought processes at almost the same time adds a certain validity to how I felt last night purging my social media of unneeded and unnecessary influence. Thank you Melanie!

20 Inspiring Quotes To Celebrate World Book Day

Thursday, March 02, 2017


So, here we are on March the 2nd. World Book Day! A staple in a primary school calendar, I cannot help but share some of the lovely quotes I've stumbled onto when it comes to books. I've spent a lot of time looking through Pinterest for printables and that's what I'm sharing in this post. I'll give credit where I can, but sadly the credit-trail can be a little cold when it comes to Pinterest so if you do own one of these wonderful images please let me know and I'll credit where it is due.







 I wish I could sit down and have a cup of tea with this wonderful artist. She has this amazing ability to capture the words authors say, in an amazing image which encompasses everything the author is trying to relay. These are some of my favourite pieces of her art, but I recommend making yourself a Tumblr account and losing yourself in her glorious little piece of internet.




Another incredible artist who manages to catch all those thoughts a bookworm has while indulging in a good read. Again, the authors words are captured in such a stunning way - my favourite being the Stephen King quote. As my favourite author however, I could be being very biased! Risa has a website filled to the brim with wonderful treasures and I recommend you go have a good look through her portfolio to really soak up how much talent this lady has for her art.

MISC


Credit unknown, contact me if this is yours.

Credit unknown, contact me if this is yours.

Credit unknown, contact me if this is yours.

Credit unknown, contact me if this is yours.

Credit unknown, contact me if this is yours.

Credit unknown, contact me if this is yours.

Credit unknown, contact me if this is yours.

Credit unknown, contact me if this is yours.

I don't like sharing quotes without proper credit, but some of these are so perfect I feel it would be a disservice not to share them on a day like today. You can view these quotes and more by taking a peek at my Pinterest board for World Book Day right here!

Monthly Mood Board: March

Wednesday, March 01, 2017


"No one is you, that is your power", New Look black t-bar flats via ASOS, vintage pastel glass tea set via Etsy, rounded glasses via thesterlingsilver.com, 12 of the best braided hairstyles via theBERRY.com, stripes via FashionMeNow.co.uk

As always you can view all my favourite pins via my Pinterest - I'm very active on there and have plenty of Pinspiration to share with all of you!
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