Thursday, 6 March 2014
Life has a funny way of keeping you guessing and since I've started blogging quite a few unexpected opportunities have come my way. Taking part in regular local twitter chats has been great fun over the past few months as I love to follow some local faces, keep up with local gossip and discovering local businesses. It's not only been great fun but there is some great support out there with plenty of encouragement and advice.
Through the #NorfolkHour chats I got to know Jon Clifton (@Jon_Clifton78) , an aspiring local photographer and was so impressed with the pictures he tweeted. Jon is currently a hobbyist photographer based in West Norfolk, hoping to turn professional in the next year. He specializes in landscape, portrait, product, marketing and event photography and is always on the lookout for new projects to help promote people/businesses and expand his portfolio. I had a good browse through his website http://www.joncliftonphotographyanddesign.co.uk/ so when he suggested we work together on a mini project together I was rather enthusiastic. How often does a girl get to pretend to be a model? (Ok, it's most weeks for me, but only with my husband Chris, so not scary at all).
We planned to take some shots at two locations and to my great delight the weather turned out to be deliciously warm and sunny, saving me from freezing to death or worse- having to wear frumpy clothes. The first place we used was Sandringham country park, somewhere which for no logical I had never been to before. It was so beautiful, especially in the dazzling sunlight so I will definitely be making a return and next time behind the camera.
this maxi dress is so unusual, with its sparkly centred flowers and long sheer skirt that to me it fits the bill perfectly, especially when worn with white cardigan (old) and white faux litas totalling £26 in total from Amazon, I can see these coming out again and again.
It was great to work with Jon, he is such a nice guy, very patient and super talented too. The photographs have come out brilliantly and I'm so happy with the end result. I'm excited to be sharing the second lot of pictures soon too! If you are looking for a photographer in Norfolk then I would heartily recommend Jon and would like to say a great big thank you for his time and letting me use these photographs.
Don't worry guys – I didn't go alone. I've watched catfish. The good news for Jon was that I didn't turn out to be a creepy old overweight cougar using a fake profile.
Wednesday, 5 March 2014
In order to ring the changes around here and keep things interesting (ha) I filmed a short outfit vlog to talk you through what I'm wearing. I've heard other fashion bloggers call them 'lookbooks' but I have no idea why; no pages involved. Making little videos is something that I wish to work on and would love you to subscribe to my Youtube channel!
Jacket - blog sale, jumper and skirt - charity shops, tights - Primark, boots - Amazon, necklace - no idea
Things have been a bit up and down in the last couple of months; we've had a few deaths in the family (nobody that close) and winter usually plays havoc with my motivation. My posting frequency dropped to an all-time low as juggling everything just wasn't working and secretly I've been having something of a crisis of confidence not only about my blog but in my abilities in pretty much everything. I've talked before about my lack of self-esteem which has rocketed skyward in the last year or so (to around average, I guess) but my trust in my capabilities has always been low. At school I was reasonably intelligent, being put in the top sets for graded subjects and achieving good but not astonishingly great marks, however my common sense and natural ability to understand concepts and instructions has always been dreadful. It seems if I can possibly grasp the wrong end of the stick, I do or fail to even find the stick for starters.
This blog has always been a place for me to waffle on about whatever crosses my mind, whether it good or bad and in that respect makes for a good way of thinking things through aloud or jotting down things I want to remember. In keeping with my new found blogging roll I have been writing about a wider variety of topics than usual, so expect some more on the way soon.
Tuesday, 4 March 2014
When Holland and Barrett asked me to take a health and lifestyle MOT I thought it would be interesting to find out where I stand and how to make improvements. I've spoken before about how pathetically bad I am at looking after the 'beauty' side of my health; dry skin, severe lack of beauty regime, abstinence from moisturising. You name it, I probably forget to do it. I was sent some Aloe Vera wipes to help keep my skin fresh. I tend to use a multi stage process to clean my face; tissue to wipe off some of the foundation (my skin is so greasy that foundation tends to just float off the surface anyway), then wet wipes to get the majority off, followed by micellar water and then a while later a good wash with a sensitive facial wash. This is supposed to all be concluded with a little bit of a moisturise and as one of my resolutions I vowed to get myself into a better routine of moisturising my face in the hope that I can slow down the rate my face looks like it's ageing. Three weeks of regular attention was all I managed before getting forgetful and skipping the odd evening before abandoning it altogether. This Olive oil day cream looks rather luxurious and really ought to be applied albeit sparingly of a morning to protect my skin from the cold winter starts which seem to be drying my face out each morning.
You've probably notice that my hair is getting in worse condition in recent months, it looks and feels much drier which I put would say is partly down to the weather but mosty because I haven't been lavishing it with enough care. It really needs a regular moisturising mask but I just never seem to prioritise it and so my various tubs of gunk for that remain untouched. I was sent some Hair Food which contains vitamins and minerals needed for hair to grow and maintain good condition. Sadly, as I'm utterly rubbish and can't swallow tablets these are something I'll pass on to someone else who can make better use of them. I've spoken before about how I really don't like nuts. As part of my attempts to eat clean and improve my diet I've taken to trying more in the way of including nuts and seeds. These almonds are sure to get eaten soon. More to come on the nut-front soon I hope.
It's no secret that I don't get enough sleep. I tried really hard last week and got a trio of early nights, two lots of over 7 hours and one full 8 hours, I was so proud of myself but conversely I did feel a bit poorly after the 8 hours, with a dull headache most of the day which I can't really explain. When filling in the Good Life MOT survey I perhaps should have elaborated that I was not gettng enough sleep because I simply don't allow enough time to sleep, as opposed to laying awake at night. Chris, on the other hand is something of an insomniac so I'm hoping these Valerian pills will be of some use to him. The lavender essential oil and lavender massage oil are really not my thing as lavender is far more of a scent either of my grandmothers would use and kind of puts me off so again, I'll pass these on to someone who can get more use. In fact I think I'll put together a giveaway with some extra goodies soon. Along with a blogsale, I HAVE to part with a load of clothes.
Thanks to Holland and Barrett for sending me this parcel! All opinions my own, as usual, as ever.
Monday, 3 March 2014
On Thursday I went to one of the special live cinema screenings of the hit show War Horse with my Mum. We booked the tickets a while ago and were lucky to get any at all, it seemed like a popular limited screening being shown all round the country. War Horse is a show that we'd both heard about quite a while ago and had we been the types to go to a London show then this would have been top of our list of ones to see. Mum and I are both horsey people and so this is something that we have in common as well as everything else so when we heard that we could see the live show from our local cinema we jumped at the chance even though the tickets were quite expensive considering!
In short the show was brilliant. Neither of us had read the book by Michael Morpurgo, nor had done any research about the show so we didn't really have a clue what to expect. Mum wondered if it was a musical and I thought it would be a larger scale production with loads of people and staging. We were both wrong, there were only a few main characters and yes, there was a bit of singing but it wasn't a musical. The short interviews with the author and show production joint manager were illuminating and the mini documentary of how the show was conceived and evolved was really interesting.
Joey the horse was little short of a masterpiece; an amazing handsprung body operated by exceptionally talented puppeteers which after a couple of minutes of getting used to, really came to life. I was a total convert! All of the puppets were individual with their own characters and I definitely had a soft spot for the naughty goose.
I wore my favourite Jaeger jacket, thick shirt and high waisted oasis jeans (all from charity shops) along with my new boots which you will be seeing a lot more of soon. Vintage bracelet, new look necklace.
While we journeyed to the cinema I pondered when the last time that Mum and I went out anywhere together and found that I couldn't dredge anything much from my memory except from a different horse-based show around 16 years ago. Pretty fair to say we don't tend to do anything much together and a bit of guilt flooded through me that maybe I'm not being quite generous enough with my time. It's fair to say I'm not all that girly and I am the only daughter with Mum having no nieces so perhaps I'm not really fulfilling my role with regard to girl-time.Sophie
Sunday, 2 March 2014
It's high time I checked in again with my running progress this year. As you may know, I've been spending time with the treadmill in an attempt to get my training back on track after a frankly LAZY winter. Ideally I've been on 'mill 3 times a week but in fact it's been more sporadic so sometimes just once, or none. My main focus has been on interval training in order to build up my cardio abilities and my breathing, with a gentle warm-up in order to get my body in gear for a bit of a beasting. To be honest the maths of pace and speed are beyond me but the treadmill is currently set on imperial measurements. I try to do between a 14 and 25 minute workout with at least 5 minutes of gentle jogging included to start off, the last thing I want is to go and injure myself at this stage! I then whack the speed up to somewhere between 9-11 mph for a minute (or as long as I can possibly manage) before reducing it to about 3 mph (walking pace) to recover. The machine can measure heart rate so I'm tending to take that as an indicator for when to speed back up again. For example; my heart rate once I have been sprinting for as long as I can manage is around 181 bpm, so I wait until it falls down to under 130 bpm (which is a couple of minutes of walking and breathing) then go fast again. At the moment I tend to do between 3 and 6 sprints depending on the length of workout and by the end I expect to be sweaty and disgusting. For the time being I have been running at 0% incline but I'm going to start the intervals at an incline but slower pace in order to get some hill training in.
Anyway, earlier this week I aimed to run 5k and set the speed at higher than I was used to running at. I made it to 2.75miles in 22minutes (after a 0.5 mile steady warm up) and really felt pretty shattered after that. The workout kind of left me feeling a bit daunted at just how much faster I'd have to run to reach my goal of 5k (that's 3.1miles in old money) in sub 22 minutes. Clearly, I have a LOT of work to do.
Yesterday I decided to make the most of the mild conditions and afternoon sunshine to hit the road for the first time in what feels like an eternity, although in reality probably only a couple of months. The main objective was just to make it to 10k all running as it felt like all confidence had drained out of me and I really didn't even know if I could still make the distance at all. For the first time in at least a year – if in fact ever- I discovered what it is like to go for a casual run and how to enjoy just running in the great outdoors, feeling the sun on my bones and feeling to a certain extent 'carefree'. Sure, I DID keep an eye on my Garmin Forerunner watch to see how I was going but not in a competitive way, just to make sure I wasn't pushing forewords too fast with the risk of premature expiry. To my total surprise the first 5k were at such a leisurely pace that despite a raised heart rate, I wasn't really out of breath and felt mighty fine. I should point out that I planned to do two laps of a 5k circuit just in case I felt like I wasn't going to make it. So the second lap started really well and naturally I didn't feel quite as fresh but it did make me happy to just relax about slowing right down on the incline and just not look at the watch, panic and have to press on harder. It's not in my nature to be so laid back about this but I had promised myself I wouldn't be fazed by however long it took me to make the distance and I resisted running hard at all points other than on the last half kilometre on a proper good downhill so I thought I'd just stretch out and do a short stretch as fast as I could which was satisfying. Just the fact that I made the whole distance still running has boosted my confidence no end and was just what I needed to make me feel like I CAN do it and I CAN make progress. All is not lost.
Saturday, 1 March 2014
I thought I'd share with you a recipe for a particularly delicious venison pie that I made this week. Cooking with venison is something we don't often do so I found this venison cottage pie recipe online and made a few changes so I'll tell you exactly what went in to our in case you fancy making it yourself. Firstly, you probably wont find venison on your supermarket shelf. Visit your local butcher and see whether they have any in, if not they can usually make sure they can get hold of some if you order it in. Don't be afraid to have a chat with them about all your meaty requirements; a good local butcher will be happy to help.
By using a swede and parsnip mash not only are you getting more portions of your 5 a day, but you make this pie into a lower carb meal. Plus the pie tastes even better with the mashed veg topping if you ask me. This recipe makes enough for two extraordinarily hungry people, or three more sensible people. We served ours with steamed cabbage and carrot along with garden peas.
- 500g venison mince
- 2 parsnips
- 1/3 a swede
- 1 medium white onion (finely chopped)
- 2 sticks of celery (diced)
- 2 carrots (diced)
- 2 cloves of garlic (crushed)
- 2 tbsp tomato purée
- 100ml red wine
- splash of Worcestershire sauce
- ½ tsp thyme (or 2 fresh sprigs)
- 200ml beef stock
- 1 heaped tsp cornflower
- Set the (Fan) oven to 170 degrees
- Peel and cube the parsnip and swede and simmer in a saucepan for 15-20 minutes until tender, then drain and allow to steam. MEANWHILE
- Heat a tablespoon of oil in a non-stick frying or sauté pan then pop in the mince to brown on a medium heat. Break into small pieces and keep it moving. Once browned, tip onto a plate.
- Into the same pan pop the onion, carrot and celery and cook on a medium heat until they have softened, around 8 – 10 minutes
- The swede and parsnip should be well drained then mashed.
- Add in (to the onion, carrot and celery pan) garlic, tomato purée then stir and cook for another 2 minutes
- Pop the mince back in with the wine as well and cook for a minute before adding the Worcestershire sauce, thyme and stock
- Season with salt an pepper and bring to the boil then reduce down to a light simmer fo 10 minutes
- Mix up cornflower with a splash of water, making a paste then add to pan and stir. Cook for another 5 minutes but keep a close eye
- Spoon into ovenproof dish and level out. Add the mashed parsnip & swede in small dollops all over the pie. This sound help to get a fairly thin even layer all over. Use a fork to spread it out.
- Bung in the oven for 20 – 30 minutes until it looks piping hot
Friday, 28 February 2014
This is a random post but I hope you can see my mini vlog from this morning with added woodpecker.
Oh and I don't think I swear.
Tuesday, 25 February 2014
Apparently I went through a stage of wearing very dark clothes at one point in my early teens. I don’t really remember that, perhaps I’ve blocked it out. I did consider going a bit goth in my later teens but to be honest it would have been too much of an uphill struggle with my family so I let that phase pass unexplored. These days I like to wear bright colours and plenty of patterns,sometimes all at once.
I was feeling exceptionally cheerful a few weeks ago and decided to wear red, yellow and orange all in one go, to stick two fingers up at the miserable weather and I think the result is one rather jolly splash of colour well worthy of a smile. This charm necklace was a £1 charity shop find and I've taken to wearing it on every possible occasion since buying it, I do get attached to things.
Skirt, jumper, skirt and necklace all from charity shops. Boots - Internacionale. These pictures are rubbish quality I'm afraid, sorry about that but I did want to share my bright look even if my hair looks a bit odd as well. I'm wearing a little band thing with black and gold thingys on which looks rather lovely but not in my hair. A rethink may be in order.
Friday, 21 February 2014
On Tuesday I went out to see Royal Blood play at the Norwich Waterfront with Chris. It's not all that often I head out to gigs, especially to see a new band; it has to be one I really feel I have to get to see. The first time I heard material from Royal Blood was last year while I was listening to Radio 1 at work, I can remember it clearly. 'Out of the black' came on and I stopped what I was doing to stare at the radio because the intro was so intense and utterly grabbed my attention. I probably pulled a 'dafuq' face, wondering who these guys were. Think 'The Captain' by Biffy Clyro except in RB's case the rest of the track delivers. A couple of weeks ago I heard their second single 'Little Monsters' play on the radio which also got me all excited. Two real-deal tracks. As luck would have it I found that they were coming to Norwich in a week's time so I booked tickets, all rather fortunate.
Let me tell you that Royal Blood playing live is something you need to witness. Bands should (in my opinion) sound just as good, if not better live and Royal Blood certainly did not disappoint! There are just two guys in the band but there is no shortage of talent or noise so I guess it proves that you don't need numbers to make good music. Their sound is loud rock, catchy yet rough and tumble; a bit of Muse, Biffy, Arctic Monkeys, best heard at high volume with an air guitar to hand.
My only whinge was that they didn't play all that many tracks, or seem to, either that or time flew by without me realising it as I was having so much fun. Tracks to watch out for as well as the delicious Out of the Black and Little Monster are 'Figure it out' and 'Come on Over' but there is no sign of the album yet it's very much a case that they're keeping me waiting. On purpose.
Oh wait, I haven't told you about the support act which are well worth a mention; Tigercub opened the show and immediately swept me off my sturdy feet with their super catchy tracks which I would go so far as to say sounds a bit like cheerful rock to me. I'm sure parallels have already been drawn with Nirvana, as the lead vocalist has the most hypnotisingly husky voice a la Kurt Cobain. Last night I tried to find out a bit more about this three-piece but there isn't much to be found yet although their Youtube channel has three videos so far with Centrefold being my firm favourite with Little Rope and Mother being good listens as well. I guess they played around 8 tracks which I all enjoyed with what I would uneducatedly describe as nifty riffs, it's a bit of a shame that the volume was SO loud that I couldn't make out any words (thought I picked up 'telephone' but that turned out to be 'centrefold' and another song may have been about liver but goodness only knows). Tigercub have found a fan in me and I'll be keeping my ear to the ground to hunt down new music from them.
Get your backsides out to see both these young bands, they're more than worth a listen.
Thursday, 20 February 2014
I love food. Whether eating out or dining in at home if I'm trying something a little bit different then life is good. For our pre-Valentines day meal we decided to book a table at the Russian restaurant called Rasputin. We'd been once before, around 18 months ago with friends on a weeknight and wanted to return for another go. Last time it was very quiet so I cleverly made a Saturday evening booking a few weeks beforehand for 7pm. Due to me making a bungle with travel arrangements we arrived a bit earlier and the place was deserted so at least I could snap a few pictures without attracting any attention. Nothing says romance like taking blog pictures. Sorry for the dredful picture quality - low lighting and phone cameras is not a great combination.
The menu looked very similar, if not the same as last time; a short set menu with two courses £10 and three for £13.50 which I would class as particularly good value. Being a greedy mare, I wanted to order from the larger menu which was quite a bit more money (but hey).
I ordered the rabbit pate, served with pickled beetroot, rye bread and butter along with salad leaves. Adventurous-ish. Although the dish was quite pleasant, I was expecting a spreadable pate; what arrived was something I would have classed as a terrine.
Chris settled on the Soup of the day which we were informed was Borsch (beef). It has to be said that Irina is always on hand to explain anything on the menu and appears to do all the cooking herself. The soup was plentiful and a little thinner than anticipated but served with cheesy toast (which I was distinctly envious of!)
We plumped for a bottle of red wine between us, the label on the bottle is like a piece of art to me. All the wines are from abroad – I forget the precise areas but the one we chose initially was Armenian I think (this one was the alternative as the other one wasn't available).
For mains we both chose the Gregory Rasputin Pork which we both ate on the previous visit too, on the basis that it was so good before I couldn't resist! Breaded pork with cheese (and mushrooms but I ordered without the offensive fungi) on delicious mashed potato with a tomato sauce reduction with sauerkraut with sausage in. Absolutely scrumptious. Plate-lickingly good.
It's pretty rare I can leave before a pudding if we're out for a special meal and having already glanced at the dessert menu when intially ordering I had my heart set on the pavlova. I made a good choice, it was a generous portion and hit the spot.
Chris opted for the pancakes which he enjoyed and frankly I was disappointed that he ate them all, I wanted to have some too.
By this time we were rather merry on wine and decided to order Armenian brandy coffees, something which I would never do with a clear head as I don't drink spirits! I made an assumption that the brandy would be in the coffee but that was not the case, so I had a sip and pulled a face so tipped it into the coffee (which then made the coffee undrinkable too) so swapped it for Chris' unspoilt coffee. Note to self: you don't drink spirits. The petit fours looked cute but I only ate the ones which looked like ring doughnuts. Do not be fooled: they are rock hard. Nearly broke a tooth!
We had a thoroughly enjoyable meal with the only real downside being the quietness of the restaurant. By the time we left there were another 3 tables of diners and of course the traditional music playing. The plus side of course was that we had no trouble with service or feeling like we were being rushed. The decoration is a little odd and I imagine some potential diners do not make it as far as the restaurant tables (the dining is on the first floor – probably part of the reason for it being quiet) which would be a shame.
Rasputin gets a thumbs up from me. Have you dined Russian style?