‘A Modern Way To Eat’ by Anna Jones – Review

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This book arrived with me a week ago on the recommendation of a good (and very healthy eating!) friend.

I have to admit, in the past I’ve been sceptical of ‘clean living’, and very reluctant to jump on the band wagon, albeit late in the day. But I can honestly say this book has changed all of that.

From breakfasts and snacks to hearty main meals and rather decadent looking desserts, the stunning food photography, clear recipes and chatty tone make even a health food novice excited about cooking delicious food with new ingredients. Her references to her travels just make me long to try her recipes even more!

Below are two of her breakfasts I have made:

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A delicious banana, strawberry, tahini, oat, mint and almond milk smoothie (no, I’d never heard of it either but it’s delicious, low fat and healthy).

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Avocado, egg and chilli flakes on wholewheat toast – and like Anna, I’ve taken to calling avocado ‘avo’. Definitely makes me sound cool and in the know.

Not only does Anna give recipe after recipe of amazing sounding food, she also explains the different health benefits of various ingredients, which is really helpful to health-food novices like me. And when I’ve not had in the exact ingredients she specifies, her encouragement to experiment has made me brave to try new combinations.

My favourite recipe is for her ‘Proper Chilli’:

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Absolutely full of flavour – it went down a treat!

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Whether you are wanting to eat more healthily, more sustainably or just try out amazing new recipes from all over the world that deliver on flavour, this book is for you.

Oh, and the one thing I haven’t mentioned – the recipes are all meat-free. The reason I left this fact til last is because I don’t think it matters at all – substituting meat for flavour means not even Pedro was asking where the meat was!

Will you be trying this book?

Do I want it ‘all’?

A couple of months ago I wrote a post about ‘having it all’ see here triggered by my reaction to Kirstie Allsopp’s comments about girls and education.

Instead of ‘can I have it all?’ I’m now asking myself – do I want it all?

How can any of us achieve so many conflicting things all in the same time frame? It doesn’t take a genius to work out that if your desires are split in so many different directions no matter how focused you are, something will have to give? I’ve never heard the chant:

What do we want?
A successful career, time to myself, a fulfilling and satisfying love life, interesting hobbies, a close knit friendship group, potentially children who I spend quality time with and a healthy lifestyle?

When do we want it?
Erm, all in the next 5 – 10 years please?

Reading an article a friend posted on Facebook about women who, for various reasons, had not had children highlighted how obsessed we are as a society about speculating about the contents of women’s wombs. I hear on a daily basis gossip and discussions on when so and so is going to have a baby, and how it will be until what’s-her-name turns up preggers. This is NEVER questioned of male colleagues.

I have been guilty of this particularly amongst my friendship group – but I have asked men and women. Does this make me as bad as the other baby speculators, or even worse? After all, the same issues could apply to them having children – medical, or even that they don’t want children.

As for me – yes, I want children. But I don’t know how it can be done with everything else I want too. It’s been drummed into me that I want a successful, driven career as well – but I can’t see how it will work without something giving.

So where do we ‘give’? What’s the solution? Or do I need to push push push, and try to ‘have it all’ at whatever cost?

Moving House – a girl’s guide

As you all know, I have recently moved in with a boy. The moving day was stressful and very labour intensive. Re-watching an old episode of desperate housewives before the move reassured me that I would be introducing myself to the neighbours carrying only a decorative lamp, in casual yet stylish clothes and with GREAT hair and perfect makeup. The reality was somewhat different – makeup-less, frizzy haired, red-faced and profusely sweating, my new neighbours tactfully ignored me until I was presentable.

So here is my girl’s guide to moving house. Be warned – I didn’t necessarily do all these things myself, but many occurred to me as I went along as being a great idea!

1) De-clutter.
As documented on here, I threw out around 14 big bin bags of complete rubbish and tat, and donated 10 bags of clothes, shoes and coats to charity. This meant that I had less to physically move, and less to sort out at the new house – sounds simple, yes? Also as every girl knows, new house, new start (so far I have mostly kept to this – bar the occasional lapse with cleaning).

2) Contact everyone you need to inform with your new address promptly
I am really bad at this. I HATE being on hold and having to explain changes of address. I am rubbish at filling in forms. It just takes forever. But it needs to be done as soon as possible after moving house, for legal reasons as well as for practicality. Also because if you rent and you order a somewhat inappropriate magazine to be delivered to your home, a la the previous tenants in my new house, it can become quite awkward when the new tenant receives it and has to hand it over with all your post when you pop round to collect it…

3) Prioritise what you need setting up first
Being a girly girl, I wanted things like cushions, pictures and candles out ASAP to ensure I felt ‘at home’. Clearly this was not sensible. What I did do however was make sure I had a carrier bag kept with my handbag on moving day with some cups, a kettle, tea bags, milk, and biscuits in it. This kept Pedro and our helpers going! To big importance to us was the TV which we managed to get set up almost straight away so we could relax and watch a film.

4) Get your friends to help!
Pedro and I were lucky to have lots of offers of help and it certainly could not have been done with just the two of us. My dad in particular was a legend and didn’t complain once even when I whinged about being sweaty and tired.

5) Don’t worry about cleaning for a few days
This isn’t just to give you a well-earned break, although that is important! It’s because you will probably be moving a lot of things round in the first few days, and any cleaning you’ve done will be for nothing! I rarely clean anyway so I just think I’m taking my advice ALL the time…

6) Know your local takeaways
On the first night after all that shifting and stressing, you will NOT be wanting to cook! Make sure you know where you can get hold of food – fast. Pedro and I demolished a large pizza, wedges and garlic bread on the first night in about 10 minutes flat!

7) Take photos
This applies mainly when you’re renting – but definitely take photos of every little defect in the house when you first move in. This prevents your landlord trying to take things out of your deposit that you are not responsible for. We also did this for our electric and gas meters to give accurate readings to the companies.

8) Before you move in, plan!
I wish we had done this! Before you move in, take time to plan where all your furniture will go in terms of room in the house, and approximate location in that room. It will make it so much easier when you are hot, tired and stressed and being forced to make a decision as one of your helpers asks you where you want something!

9) Look after pets
Whiskeroo was a big concern when we moved. As an old gent the last thing we wanted was him to become distressed. We made sure he was the last to move so he would have little disturbance, and we shut him in one room with plenty of food and water while we moved furniture etc round. At first we kept him in one or two rooms, and we stuck to the idea that you should keep a cat inside for two weeks when you move house. We let him out into the back garden which had all exits covered up, and have now started letting him out properly. It was very nerve-wracking when we first let him out and he could go anywhere!

10) Make lists
Lists saved my life when we moved. I had lists of who to inform of change of address, lists of where things would go, and shopping lists. I love a good list!

What’re your top tips for moving house?

Procrastination

So two weeks today I go back to work. I have quite a bit of work to do before that time – and despite setting aside this morning to make a good start, I haven’t even opened my laptop.

But what I have done is:

– watched last night’s episode of MIC NYC (just great by the way)
– put a big wash of clothes on (my life is so exciting)
– cleaned the entire house minus hoovering (got to leave something for Pedro to do, right?!)
– googled various things including ages of celebrities, garden plants (I’m so old) and couple’s ballroom dance lessons in Leeds (more on this another time)
– had a full length conversation with Whiskeroo on whether or not he wants to go out for a bit (he did)
– emptied and re-filled the dishwasher (such fun)
– got dressed (not as obvious as you might think, pjs are so comfy especially when you’re not going anywhere!)
– checked Facebook, twitter (other forms of social media are available) about a million times (to the nearest million)
– browsed Netflix for anything to watch (any suggestions?)
– sat on the sofa thinking about doing school work
– texted some friends
– read a bit of my book (it’s good!)

A lot of people say that you can’t get a lot done when you procrastinate – I beg to differ!

Now to go and make a to-do list (obviously putting something I’ve already done at the top)…

My Favourite Things

(About living with a boy)

Yes, it’s true that currently chores are not shared out fairly. Yes, it’s true that sometimes I have to move a towel or make the bed after Pedro has left it not quite how I’d like it. However, lounging in bed this morning I am feeling very lucky indeed. And I have realised that the above title should be ‘my favourite things about living with Pedro

Supermarket Shopping
For the last couple of weeks we have gone and done the weekly shop together. Before moving in with Pedro I thought this was probably the dullest of all couple activities, and vowed not to be one of those couples who have a whispered hissing argument in the meat aisle. However it has been hilarious. Pedro pushes the trolley, which is great as I always seem to crash it into things or run people over with it, and we end up being really silly round the supermarket with me shouting ‘arrrrrriba’ when we are buying Mexican food and Pedro pretending that there are zombies coming whenever I take too long on a particular aisle (terrifying but fun). We are potentially the most annoying people in the supermarket (and I’m including the screaming child prevalent in all supermarkets everywhere).

Gaming
Before I moved in with Pedro I had never ever played a proper ‘game’ with an actual console and everything. Once I had a go on call of duty for about 30 seconds and got my character stuck behind a rock for the entire time so hastily gave up my controller. But I’ve had a go on a game which I’m sure is relatively easy and there are times when I can actually control it properly and I even shot a baddie! Very exciting. The best bit was that Pedro was extremely patient and didn’t get cross with me when I walked into walls or didn’t know how to hit something with my sword and even when I accidentally landed on top of him (in the game that is – it wasn’t a euphemism).

Falling Asleep
Before I moved in with Pedro and we had no internet for a week (it was awful) I used to only be able to fall asleep watching something on my tablet (it’s lush). This would drive Pedro spare as it would light up the room (it didn’t – he was exaggerating). However now I can mostly just go to sleep with nothing which is brilliant. What it does mean is that when we put on a film in the front room I tend to fall asleep – particularly if I’m even slightly tired, and especially if I’m nice and cosy. The best thing about living with Pedro is that he really doesn’t mind, even when it means I missed the entire last hour of Gladiator (spoiler – he wins).

Owning Whiskeroo
Definitely one of the best things about living with Pedro is that I co-own Whiskeroo. Sure, Whiskeroo seems to prefer complete strangers over me, and when Pedro’s around barely acknowledges me, but he is so funny and great. Yesterday we let him out and didn’t block off all the exits from the garden for the first time. Pretty much instantaneously he slipped through the hole in the fence into next door’s garden. After half an hour I panicked and called him – and when he came back I was the happiest ever! He is stinky, and often sinks his claws into my leg or foot when I least expect it, but he is BRILLIANT.

Soppy Warning
The absolute best thing about living with Pedro is cuddles on tap. He is a remarkably cuddly man and never seems to mind my stopping whatever activity he is doing to demand a cuddle. Also he likes to light candles in the front room some evenings and make it all pretty and cosy, because he knows I like it. He is brilliant.

So there you go – a soppy round up of my favourite things about living with Pedro! What’s your favourite thing about living with your partner?

Living with the Enemy – an update

So before I moved in with a boy I had a lot of worries about how it would affect my (slightly) OCD tendencies.

I was worried that I would end up not only doing all the cleaning, washing and cooking, but also end up clearing up after Pedro! Surely moving in with someone means you can split these jobs?!

So I’ve decided to reflect on how the household jobs have been ‘split’ almost a month into living with the boy:

Pedro’s Jobs
Taking the bin out (this is great as I have a strong aversion to bin juice!)

DIY – namely putting together various types of IKEA furniture. Don’t get me wrong, I can do this myself, but it is nice not to stress out over what the indecipherable picture means and suddenly realise half-way through that I don’t have the correct screw-driver.

Put up pictures – Pedro is a good height for this being about a million foot tall (to the nearest million) and has a good decisive hammer (not a euphemism). I would generally hit anywhere but the nail, and then end up with the picture falling off the wall due to my lack of ability to secure the nail far enough into the wall.

Man the BBQ – absolutely crucial, so that I can sit and sip a drink.

OCCASIONALLY cook – see below in my jobs for more details…

Feed the cat – not a euphemism.

My Jobs
Cook pretty much every single meal – this is partly down to my new health kick, and I’ve been trying out new recipes which has been pretty fun. As I’m currently on holiday and Pedro is working I have also been making him lunch EVERY SINGLE DAY. Even when I went away to Jersey for a few days I packed his lunches in advance!! Incidentally these couple of days were the only time when Pedro cooked dinner – for himself. I want to make this clear that this state of affairs will NOT be continuing when I return to work!

Cleaning – Pedro has hoovered – once. However the rest of the cleaning has been moi. Again, being on holiday means that I suppose I’ve had more time to do this…

Washing – Pedro has not used the washing machine ONCE. Even when I was away he left his washing for me to do once I was back! Rude.

Cleaning out the cat’s litter tray – so far I’ve done this more than Pedro but I have a feeling this weekend will be the perfect time for him to level up and match me.

Loading and unloading the dishwasher – Pedro insists he has done this more than once. I am not convinced.

Hmm – not very evenly matched is it really?! I’m slightly worried that Pedro will be getting used to this maid service – any ideas on how I should broach this topic of splitting the jobs more fairly? To be fair to Pedro he has acknowledged that I’m doing about a million jobs (to the nearest million) compared to him. Should we go for a formal rota? Or should I start encouraging him to be a bit more fair with positive reinforcement a la Sheldon and Penny in the Big Bang Theory?!

Wedding Weekend!

Sorry I’ve been MIA the last few days – but I’ve had the most amazing wedding to go to!

The lead up to the wedding as a guest is very exciting. Having just moved house we had a slightly panicked couple of days of prep.

It involved finding those little annoying things that you never know where they are – eg shoe polish, cufflinks, ties etc – oh wait, that would be all Pedro’s things then…but in all honesty it was so fun.

We went a shopping trip the day before to find a smart shirt for Pedro and I decided to buy some new shoes…then had to buy a pashmina to go with (by pashmina I clearly mean ‘scarf-thing’ – I don’t think I’ve ever said ‘pashmina’ as a serious word). But of course there were no scarf-things the right colour. There were a million (to the nearest million) in every other colour of the rainbow, but none that were right. Pedro came into his own and gave me some ideas of different colour combos – by his own admission he is not at all stylish, but he was trying to be ever so helpful bless him!

Eventually I realised that I had a pair of shoes, bag and a scarf-thing that would all go already….having just bought a new pair of shoes. They were LUSH so I’m keeping!

The morning of the wedding was very exciting. HORRENDOUS weather – the type where you feel like you might have to start building an ark. To get to Pedro’s car I had to hop over wet dress and try to sit in his car in a way that wouldn’t crease my dress which had quite a voluminous netted skirt. I couldn’t wait to see the bride and groom – good friends of mine who are so in love!

It was the first wedding Pedro and I have attended together, and I was looking forward to it. In the past I had always attended weddings alone, hanging out with my coupled up friends. I’d always felt a pang of sadness at weddings, because no matter how happy you are for the couple you always compare your own love life to theirs!

The bride was absolutely stunning, and the groom very handsome. They were both very emotional but managed to keep their emotions to a level where they could still say their vows – just! It was an amazing venue and I loved getting to know all their friends and family, and had an incredible time.

It was very nice to have someone to dance with, and squeeze the hand of during the service. That sentence sounds like it could have been anyone there – but it meant the world that it was Pedro. We had a very soppy time dancing and kissing and generally being that annoying coupley couple!

So this post is dedicated to Jess and Scott – a wonderful couple who deserve every happiness.