Month: October 2016

Whole 30: Week two in review

Week two flew by, I literally don’t know where the week went. Not once did I panic about food or what I was planning, nor did I ever feel hungry. I continued to enjoy my smoked salmon, boiled egg and spinach for breakfast each day, as well as a salad from my work cafeteria.

I cooked my first ever roast beef on Monday night and my other half was thrilled – he’s northern, so anything roasted with meat and vege is his absolute favourite. It was even pink in the middle and not chewy at all! We skipped the gravy of course, but it was full and happy bodies all around.

On Thursday I tweaked Daniel Green’s nut crust salmon recipe from his cookbook: instead of adding macadamia nuts, almonds, almond flour and an egg, I wanted something crisper with more BANG flavour. So I through almonds, lemon rind, chilli, cracked pepper and dill into my food processor to whizz up the salmon crust. Amazing.

Salmon with a crust of almond, dill, chilli, cracked pepper and lemon zest all whizzed up in the food processor
Salmon with a crust of almond, dill, chilli, cracked pepper and lemon zest all whizzed up in the food processor

On Saturday I made a Whole 30 approved Thai green curry using a paste I found in the supermarket that was completely compliant – win!

Chicken Thai green curry
Chicken Thai green curry served on cauliflower rice

Sunday was the best breakfast of the week, partly because we had been out for a walk around Greenwich Park first to work up an appetite, but mainly because my other half made it and I didn’t have to move a muscle (except to pour my coffee).

Guilt-free breakfast, while not lifting a finger.
Guilt-free breakfast, while not lifting a finger.

I did weigh myself on day one, Monday 17th, and weighed myself again a week later, on Monday just been. In Whole 30 rules this  a huge no-no. But I love seeing the progress – you can’t see the difference straight away, even though you feel lighter and 100 gazillion times better. I still like to see the weight loss – to me that is fact that I am going in the right direction and to keep me motivated. Plus I’m a rebel. The good news is that in a week I had lost 1.7kgs (3.8lbs). But that’s mostly butter and wine weight, there’s lots more to go. I’m excited to see what the difference is this Monday coming.

 

Pampering and a product review: hair mask

neon-sign-465x345One of my good friends and I went for a bit of pampering this weekend in Clapham. We hit the London Grace nail bar and spoilt ourselves with shellac nails. Well actually, she spoilt me with shellac nails as a thank you for them staying with us. I’m a very lucky girl! The nail bar is beautiful and the staff are so friendly – I definitely recommend if you’re in London. Of course, I had to behave and order a black Americano, not a glass of prosecco. But that didn’t dampen my spirits – I was still thrilled for some R&R time. I haven’t been for a manicure in ages!

Fresh nails and fresh pressed juice (carrot, apple, lemon and ginger)
Fresh nails and fresh pressed juice (carrot, apple, lemon and ginger)

After our pampering and nail tidy up we walked through the markets in Camden and picked up some fresh pressed juices. Markets can be the hardest thing to wander while you’re trying to eat healthy. All the cheese, baked sweets and pastries and fresh baked bread can be very tempting! We managed to stick to the pressed juices before hitting the Common to extend our walk and chat. It was nice to be outside – breathing in the fresh air you often don’t expect in the city but the parks are just beautiful.

On the way back from our park walk we spotted an Oliver Bonas – my most coveted store. EVERY time I go in I purchase something. It’s a drug. I can’t help myself. Even if my boyfriend is with me telling me I don’t need something – less face it, when a man 1077469_oliver-bonas_gift_oh-k-hair-masksays that it only fuels your determine to buy it. I will not be told! On this occasion, being with a girlfriend, you only spur each other on – “oh you totally need that, it’s an investment”. So with her wiping the guilt from my mind I bought Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar – investment. As well as an Oh K! Hair Mask for us each. Now I have used a lot of hair masks in the past – I have blonde hair (not all of it natural, shush) but this means it dries out easily. Not to mention the awful, hard water in London that strips your hair of anything it has left. I followed the instruction on the packet – was hair with shampoo (no need for conditioner), towel dry and then add the conditioning treatment. Once you have rubbed it in from roots to tip you pop on the mask and massage that on your head for a couple of minutes. Then you wait, 10-15mins. You can actually feel the cap warming up on your head. Once baked, take it off and rinse you hair. Holy cow, it’s like silk. I was so impressed – I just can’t stop stroking it. The test of time will be how long it lasts, if it feels dry and crunchy after one wash I will have to re-write this post, but currently I’m over the moon and hoping the silky, smoothness lasts.

Book Review: The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo

Hilarious. Sometimes serious, but a good mix the with funny moments. Some chapters must have been hard for Schumer to write, sharing very personal life moments. But the overall book is heartfelt with great humour running through it. There was the odd bit that I felt were overdone – but for the book as a whole – I’d recommend it for a summer read, if you’re looking for something light and easy to read.

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The wardrobe I desire.

You may be aware that I am currently doing a Whole 30 detox/cleanse. I know what you’re thinking – oh, really Bron? You shove it down our throat in every Instagram snap and every other blog post. I know, I apologise. But I’m just so happy about it and proud of myself that I’m going to keep shoving it down your throat until you run away or join the craze and sip lemon and mint water with me all day long.

Part of my Whole 30 goal is to lose weight, don’t get me wrong, I am loving the other benefits, but for me weight loss is the biggest factor. I currently weigh more than I ever have and I absolutely hate it. I’ve dieted a lot in my life and been up and down, at my lightest I was 30kgs (4 stone, 10lbs) less than my weight now, I was healthy. Just because I’m overweight doesn’t mean I don’t know what a healthy lifestyle is. When people start barking off weight loss advice; “just drink water, lower your sugar and fat intake and add more exercise” I just want to punch them. I know what I should do, it’s just actually bloody doing it. Because at the end of a week, a glass of wine and a cheesy pasta are so damn appealing.

Anywho, as part of my determination and end goal, I want to kit myself out with a whole new wardrobe. But this can’t happen until I am out of my ‘fat sizes’ and back into my healthy range. I have started saving clothing items and outfits as inspiration. This morning on my way to work I walked passed an M&S window display with a mannequin in skinny cut grey jeans, a simple, loose black tee, a collared, burnt orange coat and black ankle boots. That outfit for me was perfection. So much so, I nearly walked into the window.

Below are some of my top favourite fashion wants. You’ll notice that jeans appear quite often, this is because I don’t really wear them now. The struggle that comes with trying to squeeze my porky ass into the tight sausage-like casings just isn’t worth the effort.

Coffee

Yesterday I tweeted about a girl I overheard with a bonkers request whilst ordering my morning crack coffee. Each day I go to the same Eat store on my way to work and order a black Americano (long black), the people there know me now, they’re sweet and always work extra hard to get my coffee to me quick.

So what did this girl request? She asked for a “cappuccino with no foam”. I was thinking, is she serious? She had a serious face and had a take-no-bullshit look about her. I felt bad for my friends behind the counter who were now going to have to make this non-cappuccino cappuccino. She’s lucky I wasn’t working behind the counter as I would have said quite quickly – what the fuck is that? Do you mean a white Americano? But they smiled and nodded and went on their merry way to make this crazy lady’s hot beverage. I nearly turned to her and asked what a foam-free cappuccino was, what was the point?! She’s murdering an Italian classic. But then this is Eat, it’s not exactly a snobby Italian coffee bean spot – so I guess she had every right to amend it to her taste. But who doesn’t like foam?! Befuzzling.

You may be thinking, how can I even be drinking coffee while doing my Whole 30? It’s approved I’ll have you know. Bizarre, because I doubt the cavemen got out their percolators to brew their hot drinks on a daily basis, but the Whole 30 gurus are happy for us to stay caffeinated. Of course I’m having mine milk and foam free, so not breaking any rules. You’re probably better off without the addiction, but one cup a day isn’t hurting me. Well it could be, as without it my boyfriend doesn’t like being around me. Apparently I’m a monster (his words), I think he’s just being sensitive. Coffee is good for everyone – even without that bloody foam that gets in the way.

coffee
Me in the morning.

Portobello Road Markets, London

This weekend, as we have Kiwi buds staying, and because we’ve never been (in the four years we’ve lived here! Shocking!) we hit the Portobello Road Markets near Notting Hill. I love playing tourist in the city I live in. It makes you remember what it was like when you first arrived. Exciting and shiny and new. Not the 9-5 drab, painful commute you go through every single day, but the amazing scenes and experiences that make London such a stunner of a city.

portobello-rd

We took in the beautifully coloured houses, the local buskers banging on their drums and strumming their tennis racquets (!) while breathing in the smells of the musky antiques and the sizzling, hot Bavarian sausages.

cake-sliceI, always sucked in by an antique purchase, bought a beautiful silver cake slice. I love all things old-school for the home and couldn’t resist it. I love the idea that one day, when I’m grown up with a house in New Zealand serving pavlova for friends and family, I will pull out this shiny, silver cake slice and think back to the time I was in London – specifically the day I hit the Portobello Markets.

Being on a Whole 30 diet limited my options in the market – but I spoilt myself with a fresh fruit juice from Joe & The Juice. juiceI had a Sex Me Up – passionfruit, apple and ginger – divine. On the way back through the market we decided to try a Bavarian sausage (no bread, ketchup or mustard was eaten on this trip). The sausage at the time was heavenly. I was starving. However at 2am that night I was in pain. Stabbing, bacteria soaked sausage pains woke me up from my sleep and caused the hypochondriac in me to think I was having a miscarriage. Please note, I am not pregnant, nor are we trying. But the pain was so immense I was having hugely irrational thoughts and the symptoms seemed like those I’ve read in novels or seen in films. Thankfully it was not the miscarriage fear I expected, and it was simply a case of food poisoning. Rancid sausage food poisoning.

queenA top highlight was bumping into Queen Liz, or so she thought she was. Crown, purse and the wave to boot the Queen impersonator made my day. She smiled and waved and even danced with some kids as the buskers played. I don’t know if she really thought she was the Queen, or if she did it as a way of busking/entertaining the crowds, but she sure pulled in the attention.

If you haven’t been, go. All markets in London offer different things, Portobello definitely offers more of the old school market in my mind, antiques and such. Where others can be more based around trendy things and clothing, this market is a brick-a-brack gold mine.

 

 

Book Review: Where’d You Go, Bernadette

This was hands down a five star book for me. The whole thing intrigued me – how it was written, the fantastically quirky, reclusive character of Bernadette, the gnats, the simple one-liners that made me smile and the whole plan of a trip to Antarctica.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette is like no other book I have ever read. I flew through it and couldn’t put it down.

A must read if you are looking for something fresh and funny.

Now I must go through the rest of Maria Semple’s novels!

Whole 30: Week one in review

I have felt really good this week, light, bouncy and happy. Only on Wednesday did I have a slight headache, I think it was the change of having no sugar in my diet. It hit. But by Thursday it had passed, my tummy was feeling flatter (not thinner, but not bloated) and I was sleeping so well. Straight to sleep each night quickly, without waking up in the middle of the night. The dream (excuse the pun)!

I have thoroughly enjoyed all of my meals this week. Taking the time and making an effort with dishes and recipes really does make a difference. I have found so many amazing recipes through Pinterest and Instagram – so many inspirational and creative people out there eating well!

Here are some snaps below of my various meals over breakfast, lunch and dinner. Click on some of the photos to find the recipe. I should mention that I am spoilt at work and have a kick-ass cafeteria on the 15th floor that serves up great salads every day for super cheap. So I haven’t had to prepare the three salads below, I was just excited about picking new things.

Coconut, lime & chilli chicken on cauliflower rice
Dinner – Coconut, lime & chilli chicken on cauliflower rice
Salmon & egg with an addition of avocado
Breakfast – Salmon, spinach & egg with avocado
day1-lunch
Lunch – Roast chicken salad with roasted cauliflower sprinkled in cumin
Lunch – Roast beef salad with fennel, walnuts and orange
Dinner – Salmon with an almond and macadamia crust, with broccoli and basil mash
Dinner – Roast veg pile – sweet potato, carrot, asparagus and kale, with a dusting of bacon
Salad with chicken roasted in lemon and oregano
Homemade bun-free burgers and sweet potato fries
Breakfast - egg, spinach, mushrooms and avocado
Breakfast – egg, spinach, mushrooms and avocado
Sweet potato nachos with salsa and guac
Sweet potato nachos with salsa and guac
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Dessert – Pineapple grilled with fresh lime juice and zest and a sprinkle of cinnamon
day1-breakfast
Breakfast – Smoked salmon, boiled egg, baby spinach and lemon, followed by an apple

I am really excited about week two and I’m hoping I can only feel better after day eight. I won’t lie, I was in a pub this afternoon and it was cold and bitter outside and I nearly caved and bought a red wine. I changed my mind before ordering and instead had a sparkling water and fresh lime. I was so close.  I can admit it – I’m human. I’m proud of myself for not failing though. Seven days down, 23 to go.

 

Celebs who blog

In recent weeks I have become hugely fascinated by celebrities who have lifestyle or personal blogs. I love to read about their daily lives from their own perspective. I’m definitely from the generation of reality telly and knowing everything and anything about the famous people around us – hello, Daily Mail!

But I personally think, where a celebrity has the chance to write in their own words what they think or are passionate about is a much better read than journalists just trying to jazz up an article.

I’ve always been able to retain useless celeb gossip and tid bits. It’s a talent I have. Bloody useless in the grand scheme of things, unless I plan to become a Celeb Goss Pub Quiz Champion or write a book about Celebrity Facts. It’s just information that I absorb and retain. Completely sad.

Some of my top favourites:

Katherine Heigl

Blake Lively – Now taken down. I was sad when this blog died.

Gwyneth Paltrow

Whitney Port

Lauren Conrad

Reese Witherspoon

Alicia Silverstone

Do you follow any famous folk online? I mean, apart from stalking their Instagram feed. I’d love to hear of more lifestyle blogs.

Whole 30: action time

One of my good friends is currently staying with us, having just arrived in London. Last night we enjoyed a girls night in watching trash TV, drinking red wine and eating pizza oozing with cheese. It was magic. But we discussed how blah we both feel, sluggish and heavy and not at our optimal health. We decided that starting Monday we would start a Whole 30 detox and body reset. It’s usually easiest to start on the 1st of the month, but I just want to get into action, not wait two weeks. My other half and I have social events booked in but I’m just going to make it work – there’s never a good time to be on a restrictive food plan, you just have to get on with it.  As previously mentioned I first completed a Whole 30 in January 2013 and loved the outcome; my skin was clear, I didn’t feel bloated, no sugar highs and lows, I slept better and I managed to lose a few kilos.

I have managed to persuade the other half to join in this time too. I can tell I’ll be pulling him kicking and screaming over the finish line in the first week, but hopefully he gets the hang of it and reaps the benefits early on to keep him focused.

Last week I spent time reading through all the information I had previously received when signing up for Whole 30, as well as perusing my friend Leah‘s website. Leah is a Whole 30 champion, she’s done it four times now and swears by it.

I also spent time mapping out my meal plan for first week as I think one of the most important things I learnt was how important it is to prepare. PREPARE. Otherwise you find you come home after a long day and reach for your Just Eat app on your phone. Which completely undoes anything good you’ve done.

Throughout I will post details of my meals and how I’m feeling, the ups and downs. Posting updates is the perfect accountability – no cheating or quick trips to the chip shop allowed!

I’m just so over being unhappy with my body. SO, SO OVER IT.

Book Review: Sweetbitter

I was drawn in by cover-lust. But that’s where the lust ends.

Sweetbitter follows a bunch of misfits getting high, getting drunk, quoting literature, working in a high end restaurant and messing with each other’s lives. You can’t fall in love with any of the characters, nor feel any empathy for them. This book was not intriguing nor well written.

One star.

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Four books I can’t wait to sink my teeth into

Since I bought my first Kindle back in 2011 I have been an avid reader. I have always loved books, but with university and being in my early 20s I never made the time to read or get properly sucked into books. But I found adding the Kindle to my daily life made me read more frequently and therefore get through books much quicker. The addiction of buying books straight from Amazon and knowing they will be present on your Kindle within minutes also made it easier.

blackrabbithallBlack Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase; Amber and Toby and Barney and Kitty.

The four Alton children spend every day of the hot Cornish summer playing games on sun-baked lawns or building dens in the dark woods. Endless days of laughter and fun, without an adult in sight.

But no one can foresee the storm that will bring it all to a tragic end.

Afterwards, Black Rabbit Hall, their home, with its endless corridors and ancient creaking clocks, is a twisted and changed place, set to steal the last vestiges of their childhood and innocence. A home that not all of the Altons will be strong enough to survive.

Now, thirty years later, a message from one of the Alton children is discovered carved into an old oak tree. Could the tangled truth of that terrible summer finally creep into the light? Or should some secrets be left in the past for good?

aboutgraceAbout Grace by Anthony Doerr; David Winkler begins life in Anchorage, Alaska, a quiet boy drawn to the volatility of weather and obsessed with snow. Sometimes he sees things before they happen; a man carrying a hatbox will be hit by a bus; Winkler will fall in love with a woman in a supermarket. When David dreams that his infant daughter will drown in a flood as he tries to save her, he comes undone. He travels thousands of miles, fleeing family, home, and the future itself, to deny the dream.

On a Caribbean island, destitute, alone, and unsure if his child has survived or his wife can forgive him, David is sheltered by a couple with a daughter of their own. Ultimately it is she who will pull him back into the world, to search for the people he left behind.

love-ninaLove, Nina by Nina Stibbe: In the 1980s Nina Stibbe wrote letters home to her sister in Leicester describing her trials and triumphs as a nanny to a London family. Nina Stibbe’s Love, Nina: Despatches from Family Life is the laugh-out-loud story of the trials and tribulations of a very particular family.

This was later made into a TV series too! But of course, best to always read the book first.

 

 

 

how-i-lost-youHow I Lost You by Jenny Blackhurst: They told her she killed her son. She served her time. But what if they lied? I have no memory of what happened but I was told I killed my son. And you believe what your loved ones, your doctor and the police tell you, don’t you? My name is Emma Cartwright. Three years ago I was Susan Webster, and I murdered my twelve-week-old son Dylan. I was sent to Oakdale Psychiatric Institute for my crime, and four weeks ago I was released early on parole with a new identity, address and a chance to rebuild my tattered life. This morning, I received an envelope addressed to Susan Webster. Inside it was a photograph of a toddler called Dylan. Now I am questioning everything I believe because if I have no memory of the event, how can I truly believe he’s dead? If there was the smallest chance your son was alive, what would you do to get him back?

I set myself the challenge of reading 30 books in 2016. Unfortunately I’m only on book number 21 so I need to up my speed to just shy of a book per week. Eek! My books to date:

2016-books

I’m always keen for new book titles to add to my ever-growing list. So what’s next on yours?