How I’ve found three months of no meat Mondays

I’m going to start this off by saying, I love meat. A lot. Bacon, chicken, lamb, literally anything. But as a New Year’s Resolution I thought it would be interesting to see how we’d cope as a family with one meat free meal a week. Here’s how we’ve got on, how I’m finding it three months down the line and a few of my favourite meatless meals.

I have to say it’s been pretty successful! For me at least. We got into a massive rut with what we were having for tea, especially on a Monday. It was a rotation of chilli and sausage and bean casserole because we had the ingredients and it was easy to shove it all in the slow cooker. By forcing ourselves to ‘go veggie’ for one day a week we’ve had loads of different meals that we probably wouldn’t have made otherwise. At first everything looked a bit same-y, curry after curry, but as the weeks have gone on we’ve found a load of different recipes which have made me excited to get home on a Monday night. So I think we might be getting into a bit of a groove now. It can be easy to just pick curries and variations of spicy butternut squash. But we’ve started to incorporate different meals each week which changes it up a bit. Here are a few of my favourite recipes we’ve cooked over the last three months.

My favourite meat free recipes

Curried vegetable patties – These were fab! From Tom Kerridge’s Fresh Start book they may have been a bit of a faff to make they were really delicious. They were packed with lots of different veg and we had one patty with other veg and a really tasty mango chutney yogurt mixture. This recipe also made enough patties to have for lunches which was great and tasted just as nice cold.

Black bean enchiladas – Amazing! Another one that was a bit faffy but equally delicious this is one where I 100% don’t miss the meat. We used a recipe from a random magazine but I’ve linked one that looks similar. A tasty black bean mixture inside the tortilla topped with cheese and then a yummy tomato sauce. We also served it with a bit of guac and it was great. Writing about it is making my mouth water and I may recommend we have it next week.

Butternut Squash Pasta Bake – Another one from Tom Kerridge, I think I could eat this every week. The recipe isn’t perfect and the next time we make it we will probably change a few things up, e.g put crushed chillis into it, but it was really tasty. It’s pretty much macaroni cheese but with pureed roasted butternut squash in the sauce and breadcrumbs and roasted squash sprinkled on top. Seriously delicious, really filling, probably not fab for you health wise but in my top teas to eat at the minute.

Do you have any favourite veggie recipes. I’m always open to new ones to add to my list for Mondays!

Face masks, bath bombs and glasses of prosecco | How I relax and chill out

I love a pamper session. It’s what I live for.

For me, a bath is the ultimate pamper session, especially one where I go ‘all out’. What I mean by that is bath bomb, face mask and hair wash. I start off my running the bath (obviously as it’s the most important part) and putting in some bubbles. At the minute I’ve been using the Molton Brown Muddled Plum Bath and Shower Gel, which is fab and smells amazing, but I usually just use whatever shower gel I have at the time because they work just as well as actual bubble bath. Then I light some candles, and there is a specific number I like. I do one big one (usually a Yankee Candle) for the corner of the bath with two tealights next to it. Then I do two more tealights on my bath bar (more on that in a minute) and then another two on the windowsill. If I’m really really fancy I’ll light another big one across the room. Seriously though, the more candles the better.

Then goes in the bath bomb of choice. I’ve been loving these little tea bags at the minute (which I mentioned in my January Favorites post) but I also really like the Yorkshire Soap Company bath bombs and obviously the ones from lush. Anything that smells fruity or sweet and preferably turns the bath a cute colour. 

Now, the best part about my baths is the bath bar I have that my dad made. There’s space for two candles, my laptop, glass of water/cup of tea and a glass of prosecco. It means I don’t have to lug a chair in when I have a bath and I just have to lay back and relax. Also my new bath pillow that I got for Christmas makes everything even better. The type of video I watch varies, from episodes of Ru Paul’s Drag Race, Endeavour or random YouTube videos. Same with drinks. A mid afternoon bath comes with a giant mug of tea but an evening soak definitely needs prosecco or wine (with the bottle by the side of the bath, obviously).

If I’m going all out with the face masks I’ll take a triple approach. First I’ll do a pore strip to get rid of all the dirt out of my nose. At the minute I’m using the Biore Ultra Deep Cleansing Pore Strips and they’re really good and do the job. For the 30 minutes that’s on I’ll do two more masks. First I’ll go in with a spot clearing one, my one of choice at the minute is the Lacura Exfoliating Mud Mask which is pretty good and works best when I focus it on my oiliest areas / single spots. Then I’ll use either a sheet mask or my trusty Body Shop British Rose Fresh Plumping Face Mask (read my full thoughts here). Anything that gives me moisture it a winner for my final face mask.

A good pamper session ends by moisturising my body and then doing my skincare. At this time of year I love a thick body moisturiser and the Body Shop Shea Body Butter is my current go-to. In the summer I also love the body yogurts from the Body Shop because they’re just that bit thinner for when it’s hot.

What’s your favourite pamper product?

My favourite cookery books and recipes

I’m all about food. Eating out, cooking at home, 100% my vibe. over the last few years, I’ve gathered a nice little collection of recipe books to sit in and amongst the Jamie Oliver, Marcus Wareing and 1980s books that my parents have. I thought I’d share my three favourite books which we use quite a lot at home and a few of the most delicious recipes. So buckle up for a foodie post.

A Year of Beautiful Eating | Madeleine Shaw

This was the first of Madeleine’s books I bought. I searched high and low for it after I heard her on Lily and Anna’s podcast At Home With because some of the recipes sounded amazing and I wanted to give them a try. There are so many recipes that I love and the fact that it’s split up into seasons means that every year you remember recipes that you loved from the year before. My favourites are the Baked Sea Bream and Lentil Parcels, although we use salmon instead of sea bream and it works just the same (the pesto is fab). Also the Prawn Korma is delicious and the Chicken and Chickpea Curry is great because it has peanut butter in it. I could literally list every recipe in this book as my favourite but I’ll leave it there. If you want pretty easy meals with a lot of variety then I really recommend you pick this one up.

Fresh Start | Tom Kerridge

For my birthday I got the book which went alongside Tom Kerridge’s latest food show (really good btw). I went through when I first got it and bookmarked everything I wanted to try and safe to say there were A LOT of bookmarks. Not everything is that quick to make and some of it can be a bit time consuming but it’s worth it in the end. A prime example of this are the Nutty Wholemeal Pancakes. Delicious and amazing but I literally used every bowl in the house making this one. Some of my other favourites are the Beef Biryani, Peanut Butter Brownie and Butternut Squash Pasta Bake. There are a few weird ingredients but it’s nothing that a quick google can’t fix as most have a replacement you’ll already have in your cupboard.

Ready, Steady, Glow | Madeleine Shaw

I love Madeleine’s recipes (if you haven’t already noticed) and this one has some real crackers in it. The Cookies in this book are my favourites to make – even if my dad isn’t that keen – because the buckwheat flour makes them taste nutty and they’re the perfect balance of crunchy and chewy, yes! This is split into quick recipes and ones that take a bit more time and does some fab ones that take no time at all. The Red Thai Salmon Curry and the Chickpea Curry are fab and so is the Chicken Stir Fry (the sauce is amazing and is literally four ingredients). This book also has yoga moves in it if you fancy a bit of a stretch when you’re cookies are baking (try the cookies, you won’t regret it).

What recipes are you loving at the minute? I’d appreciate any veggie ones because we’re doing meat free Mondays and I’m running low on ideas.

Musicals, glitter and a day at Ascot | June Favourites

Well wasn’t June a great month! I don’t know about anyone else but I seemed to have a lot of exciting things going on and with this nice weather we’ve been having it’s just been a lovely few weeks. With that being said I’ve been a bit selective with my favourites this month and although there isn’t much to mention, the things that are in this post I am 100% obsessed with.

I think I’ve mentioned the Stila Magnificent Metals Liquid Eye Shadow before, and for good reason. It’s literally like magic in a bottle and it’s perfect for when you have a special occasion that could do with a bit of extra sparkle. I have Gold Goddess, a twinkly bright gold that is seriously versatile. I’ve used this with my Naked Heat palette, Naked 3 and a standard brown smokey eye – it’s worked for all of them. No mess as it’s in a liquid form and really easy to build up for a super sparkly lid. Such a great product I could recommend this endlessly.

This month I’ve fallen back in love with the Revlon Colorstay Foundation, specifically in the shade Sand Beige. I’ve been fake tanning a fair bit over the past few weeks so I’ve needed a darker foundation shade so my face matches the my body. This formula is amazing for me. Semi matte so it stays put throughout the day but doesn’t dry your skin out. Lots of coverage but it can be blended out to something a little lighter if you want. Just an all round good egg that I need to not neglect in the future.

Now, over the past month I have become obsessed with musicals, like seriously obsessed. I’ve always been a fan of some but it’s started taking over my actual life. I listen to soundtracks all the time (we’ll get onto those in a minute) and can’t stop watching musical YouTubers. Amy Lovatt and Katherine Steele have been playing on repeat for the last month. They both do videos on musicals, songs, actual shows, etc and I cannot get enough. If you want something easy watching then their videos will be just the thing to pass four hours of your life (I’ve been on some serious video binges recently). It’s through these two that I’ve discovered my new music obsessions – Mean Girls the Musical and Dear Evan Hanson. Yes you saw right, Mean Girls the Musical is an actual thing and the soundtrack is amazing. I think if you’re a fan of the movie then you will love this! I love all the songs but my favourites are Revenge Party, Someone Gets Hurt and Sexy. Easy listening and great to sing-a-long to in the car. Dear Evan Hanson has an equally sing-a-long-ish soundtrack. I’m not 100% sure what the plot is but that doesn’t matter when listening to the soundtrack. Again, easy listening, some songs more jolly than others but they all make you fell good. Anybody have a map and Good for you are my top picks.

A shout out has to go to the events I’ve had on this month. A weekend trip for my friend’s birthday followed by the best day ever at Royal Ascot! It seems to be becoming an annual thing and I’m so there for it – what’s better than a picnic, prosecco and betting with friends? Nothing, that’s what.

How I relax and unwind

I’m a total lover of pamper sessions and any chance I get I’ll hop in that bath with a cup of tea or a glass of prosecco, depending on what day it is, and just chill out. So after a day at work or on a lazy weekend what does a horizontal (ha!) person like me do to relax? Here are my favourite things to do when I just need to chill out:

Run. That. Bath. I put all of the bubbles in, if I have a bath bomb even better! Is there anything better than a bubbly bath, glass of prosecco and an episode of Endeavour? If I’m wanting to go all out with the relaxation I’ll have what I like to call ‘a hair wash bath’ which is basically a bath where I wash my hair. It’s like a full on treatment – head to toe pampering!

Putting a face mask on is like the ultimate pamper time for me. There’s two I’m switching between at the minute and I feel like they’re a match made in heaven. When my face is feeling a bit sad and dehydrated I use the Oskia Renaissance Mask. This costs a literal arm and a leg (luckily I got it in an advent calendar) so I’ve been using it sparingly but it does a great job of giving my skin a boost of hydration without making it feel oily or greasy. When my face is more on the spotty side of just feels gunked up I’m all about the epoch Glacial Mud Mask (thanks Amy for hooking me up!) . It draws all the nastiness from my skin without shrivelling it up like a prune. I have to say I’m really impressed with how non-drying it is for this kind of mask and although I’ve only been using it for a few weeks my skin seems to be enjoying it!

I’m addicted to tea, it’s potentially my biggest obsession and I’m totally okay with that. There’s nothing better than getting the biggest mug we have, popping in two sweeteners, bashing that teabag and going ham with the milk. Drinking a cup of tea is one of my ultimate happy places and I usually have about six cups a day so you know, treat yo’ self.

Last week I was spending my mornings and evenings on a 40 minute train journey and although the teatime train was a bit like hell on earth, my morning trips were a total delight! I decided to take the time to get in some reading and I sped through The F Word by Lily Pebbles. I love Lily’s videos and was really looking forward to reading her book but I was really surprised at how much I loved it. If you don’t know, it’s a book about female friendships with stories, advice and anecdotes. When I was reading it I saw all of my friends in the book, they all slotted into the different situations and I loved that. This little morning reading slot made me look forward to my daily commute and definitely chilled me out before a day at work.

An honourable mention goes to TV. I’m obsessed with it and have mentioned my love for it many times (see here) so I’ll keep it brief. Cup of tea in hand, Ru Paul’s Drag Race on the box, switch the brain off – is there anything better?

What’s your favourite thing to do to relax?

Watching something a bit different | YouTube recommendations

I love watching videos on YouTube. It’s my go-to form of entertainment. But in and amongst the beauty videos and chatty vlogs I find myself falling down deep holes where I become obsessed with something a little bit odd and binging them all at once. We’re not talking about watching people’s loads of washing or destroying lipsticks (*shudders*) but these videos are still out of my usual watch list.

Buzzfeed is a place I find myself going from video to video without any signs of stopping but there’s one series that I binge over and over again every couple of months – Worth it. Now if you don’t know what this is it’s basically two guys going round different places eating a certain type of food, like pizza, in three different eateries to see which is the most ‘worth it’ for the price. I love watching videos about food and once I eat one I honestly cannot stop. One of my favourites is the Buffet episode, partly because they go around Las Vegas which is somewhere I like to see but also because they eat some amazing foods in those restaurants!

The Super Carlin Brothers are another binger for me. I can go months without watching any of their videos but then I have an urge to sit through their entire back catalogue. They’re brothers who make videos about Disney theories and Harry Potter quizzes and I find them really easy watching. If you love Disney, Star Wars or Harry Potter then I recommend watching these as you’ll find out some interesting facts you may not have known otherwise. My favourite videos of there’s are the quizzes they do against each other – it’s great to join in and attempt to act like I know more than I actually do!

Recently I’ve been all about Brad Mondo. He posts reaction videos to America’s Next Top Model makeovers, really bad bleach jobs and other hair related videos. They’re so addictive and if you like people reacting to things then this is right up your street. My favourites are the reactions to people bleaching their hair at home – it goes downhill fast.

What other random videos / channels do I need to add to my watchlist?

What to binge and when

I’m all about binge watching, it’s like a hobby. One of my proudest achievements in life is watching six series of Pretty Little Liars in 12 days – the fact that it was just a giant procrastination exercise and I had exams to revise for is besides the point – I love me a binge. Over time I’ve collected a nice little list of programmes which I feel will be enjoyed most when watched all in one go. Here are my favourite box sets and when you should watch them.

For the background binge: How I Met Your Mother passed me by when it was first on. I never saw an episode and didn’t really have an interest in picking it up because, let’s face it, the familiar Friends was always on anyway. But when I was in my third year of uni it came onto Netflix and with days to kill and an urge to watch something I gave it a try. It was three weeks of background bliss. When I wanted to give it my full concentration it was a good way to pass a few hours and when I switched off and had it on in the background, I could dip in and out of it without any issue. I got a bit bored of it in later series (especially the last one) but if you’re looking for some background noise that you can tune into once in a while this is a good one to go for.

For the murderous binge: I am a MASSIVE Endeavour fan. Huge. So big that I squealed more than a normal person should at last week’s edition of Radio Times when it featured on the cover (come on Abz, get a grip). We are currently on series five so there are four series worth of four hour and a half episodes so plenty to keep you going. Each murderous episode is wrapped up in that time so although there’s no cliffhanger to keep you wanting more I find them so addictive and interesting to watch that I could just keep going.

For the ‘on a roll’ binge: As I mentioned before, watching six series of  Pretty Little Liars in 12 days is literally one my life’s crowning moments. I was totally hooked and could not stop watching it – pretty much every waking minute where I was by myself I was watching it. Such a good programme with twists that really suck you in. The reason I think you should watch this when you’re on a roll is because after I caught up, I didn’t pick it back up again and I must confess that I haven’t finished the series. I tried to start up again after the ‘five years later’ thing happened but I found it a bit boring and just didn’t carry on. So if you haven’t seen Pretty Little Liars yet and want to, definitely watch it in one big batch.

For the catch up binge: I didn’t watch Doctor Foster when it was on the first time round, but when series two came I felt the need to catch up. Wow was that an intense watch. If you have a few days to spare and fancy getting your teeth into something then I really recommend this. Pre warning though: You will get annoyed, feel tense and confused throughout but trust me it’s worth it.

For the sashay away binge: If you haven’t had the pleasure of watching Ru Paul’s Drag Race yet then stop whatever you’re doing right now, sit yourself down and get watching. I watching series one to six all in one go and after that I’ve binged each series individually which is totally what I recommend. Waiting a week just made me crave it more but spending a couple of days binging them means I can get out all of my drag race cravings at once.

Honourable mentions: America’s Next Top Model, Granchester, How to Get Away with Murder, Friends, Dance Academy, Happy Valley, Last Tango in Halifax, Silk (this list could be about fifteen pages long so I’ll stop here).

What binging boxset do you recommend?

Glitter lids and hyped soundtrack | January Favourites

January has gone unusually slowly this time around. Normally it’s “where has the time gone”, “soon it’s going to be 2019”, “how do we slow down time?!”, but I’ve just been here twiddling my thumbs waiting for Feb to grace us with its presence. Maybe it’s because my birthday is in February and I’m just counting down the seconds until I reach the big 23! Anyway, here’s what I’ve been obsessing over during the last month.

Day to day I’ve been really low key in the makeup department. In an attempt to make my skin better (at the end of last year I’d been having serious issues) I’ve been going light on the base and that’s extended to pretty much everywhere else. So when looking for something none existent for my lips I settled on the Tanya Burr Lipstick in Pink Cocoa. It has a buttery formula and I do a couple of swipes and then smudge it in – job done. It’s pretty much the same colour as my lips so works well on days when I’m going light. But I also like to use it with the Pixi Lip Gloss in Honey Sheen applied on top. This plumping gloss makes my lips tingle (tick) and gives a shimmer to my lips without leaving them sticky (tick and tick). I got it in my Look Fantastic Advent Calendar (click here to read other products I loved from that) and it’s a great ‘chuck in your handbag’ product.

For Christmas one of the only things I asked for was the Stila Magnificent Metals Glitter & Glow Liquid Eye Shadow and Santa delivered! I got it in the shade Golden Goddess and it literally the best glitter I’ve ever seen/used/experienced. A product which had some hype around it, it totally delivers. If you don’t know what it is, it’s a liquid glitter that you can apply to your lid easily with a concealer type applicator. I’ve been using it with my Mac Eyeshadow Palette (click here to read my thoughts on that – get me plugging all the posts today!) and it’s been perfect for the post festive period.

As a family we have become obsessed with the iPhone game Tsum Tsum, like totally obsessed. It’s a Disney connect the characters game and you have a time limit and can collect different characters. There’s a lot going on but it’s totally addictive and we’re hooked. If you’re going on a long journey and need to pass the time then I recommend downloading this.

Last but not least, over the past three months I’ve been into drinking peppermint and liquorice tea before I hit the hay. It’s like a better version of peppermint tea with lots of minty-ness but with a kick of sweet at the end. At the minute we have the ones from Pukka but Morrisons do a good one as well.

Quick mention: As I said in my last post, I’ve been listening to The Greatest Showman soundtrack and I’m hooked. It’s so feel-good and easy to listen to, two thumbs up from me.

Songs to blast on a long journey

I love a good sing-a-long in the car, especially when I’m by myself on the M1 pretending I’m in some sort of broadway musical (anyone else?). Blasting out my ‘guilty pleasure’ songs it the safety of my car is a great way to end the day and is a great way to pass the time on my way to visit my friends who live a hundred million miles away (slight exaggeration but you get my point). As I live out my pop star dreams I thought I’d give you some of my go-to sing song songs that I shout to passing pedestrians on the way home from work:

*Disclaimer – I’m probably the worst person to talk about music as I only really like whatever’s in the charts and songs from musicals. You’ve been warned*

#SELFIE: This takes me right back to first or second year at uni where my mission in life was to learn all the words to this and perform at pre drinks (which I did – many times). If you like feeling a sense of accomplishment when you finish a very wordy song, but don’t want to be judged by singing cringe-y lyrics, stick this one on in your car. All the fun and no judgment.

Man’s Not Hot: Same as above, I always think that passers by must think ‘what is that girl doing’ when I’m sat at a set of traffic lights trying to perfect my ‘scraaaaap’ or whatever it is. Also one of my favourites to go all out on with friends on a drive (that and pretty much any song by Little Mix).

The Sound: I’m all about The 1975 and this song gets me in the mood to go out. Another song that does the same is Biebs What Do You Mean. Stick those on on the way down to to friend reunion and I’m ready and raring to go.

The Entire Greatest Showman Soundtrack: Yeah, I’m in on the hype, but only when it comes to the soundtrack (I’m too lazy to go to the cinema to go and see the film). I mean, it’s pretty great and such an addictive soundtrack to have on repeat. If you have somehow managed to avoid this completely and love a good musical then this will be right up your street. My favourites (if I’m forced to narrow it down) are The Greatest Show, Rewrite the Stars and the Other Side.

One year of Q&A a day

I’m back baby! Nearly three months of laptop problems and the festive season has led to things being a bit quiet over here but I’m back and ready for some new posts. I thought I’d start off my first post of the New Year with a look back on 2017 and what I’ve learnt doing Q&A a day. I got this the Christmas before last (2016) and I’m pretty impressed that I managed to stick it out for 12 months – I’m notorious for starting diaries in January and never getting past the 10th. I think the fact that there’re questions to answer makes it more interesting than a ‘traditional’ diary as it doesn’t matter if nothing has happened that day or not, there’s still something to write down. But if something exciting has happened I try and work it in.

So, what did I learn? Well, I discovered that I was quite negative in January – everything was an effort and reading some of my answers back it was just a bit like ‘pull yourself together’! Things seemed to be going great in the middle of the year around June or July time. Lots was going on, I went on holiday, went to Ascot and it was just a generally fun time and you can really tell I was upbeat most of the time. Other than that my mood was pretty average throughout the rest of the year and I found that writing something down every night was a good way to quick look back on the day but without being like ‘okay what happened step by step, minute by minute’.

As we’re a bit into the month already I’ve started answering the year two questions and seeing what I was writing last year. Safe to say the answers are pretty much identical (I mean it’s only been a year) and in some cases I’m writing the exact same thing without realising. I try not to look at last year’s answers before going into my current thoughts because I don’t want past me to influence present me.

I’m looking forward to continuing to write in this throughout 2018 and I’m really intrigued to see where I am in life when I finish the book in 2021!