Share A Meal with World Vision UK

I love food, and I love sharing food. Coming into the Christmas period (let’s face it, it’s really soon) we start to think about family, getting together and sharing food and drinks. But it’s easy to forget those in other countries facing diversity.

To promote awareness, World Vision UK have launched the #shareameal appeal to raise money for the refugee children in Bidi Bidi, Uganda, along with Great British Bake Off’s star baker Selasi.

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Selasi recently visited Uganda to see how we could make a difference.

“It’s heartbreaking to see pain and hunger etched onto the faces of orphaned children and hear their harrowing stories of rape and violence. It is vital that, as a community, we come together to do what we can to help provide these kids with a better future.”

Thousands of children flood into Uganda’s refugee settlements, escaping civil war in South Sudan. Many of these having seen their parents murdered and having to walk for weeks without food or shelter. This is a dangerous and frightening trek, having to hide from fighting to avoid being killed. They are along, traumatised and hungry.

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And this of course is something we just can’t relate to. But we can help, and World Vision UK have come up with a way we can help bring aid to these children, in a way we can relate to.

World Vision UK help feed these children and find them foster families, to give them a new start. However, global funding just isn’t enough and so to raise money, they’d like you to take part in #shareameal.

World Vision UK invite you to be inspired by Selasi and host a dinner party. It can be as small or large as you wish, just as long as you’re sharing a meal. Following the meal, you and your guests donate the value of the meal to World Vision UK and that money goes to the children.

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They’ve even made it really easy for you, but putting together a pack that includes everything you need – invitations, an exclusive recipe from Selasi and thank you cards for your guests too!

Visit http://www.worldvision.org.uk/get-involved/share-meal/ to download your pack!

Now, if this wasn’t fun enough, they’re also giving you the chance to win a meal for two, cooked by Selasi himself! To enter, simply post a picture of your Share A Meal event on Instagram using the hashtag #shareameal and tagging @WorldVisionUK! For more information visit www.worldvision.org.uk/shareameal

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So all that’s left to do is start planning your meal and who you want to invite.

With so many holidays coming up, you could host an American-style Thanksgiving, a Christmas themed meal, something for New Years or simply use some of the fantastic Autumnal ingredients that are starting to appear in supermarkets.

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It’s an excuse to show off your repertoire AND help the refugee Children in Uganda.

I’m already planning mine, so keep an eye out for my post about that in the next couple of months!

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Event photos provided by World Vision UK. All other photos are my own.

My Search for Authentic Flavours: Cherry Tomato Linguine

I’ve always been the kind of person who likes food to taste authentic. I love picking up recipes for food from books, magazine and most usually now Pinterest and tweaking them until they’re perfect. In fact one of Gary’s favourite meals, sausage casserole, is one I’ve been perfecting over the last decade.

On our recent trip to Rome, the very first meal I ate was a tomato and basil spaghetti. Nice and simple with fresh ingredients and pasta cooked al dente and just right. It was delicious, but the thing that struck me the most was how much it tasted like something I already cook.

I picked the recipe for cherry tomato linguine up off Pinterest, and the main reason I wanted to try it was that it’s a one pan recipe so I knew it would be pretty simple to make. I’ve made it a handful of times, and always enjoyed eating it, but was left with an acrid after taste every time – which I had put down to the use of garlic in the recipe.

So whilst eating this gorgeous plate of spaghetti in the little authentic recipe down a Roman side street, I thought hard about the flavours and decided I was going to make my linguine slightly differently next time.

So about a week after returning I picked up my ingredients and away I went. I have to say, this time I nailed it. I cut out the garlic and instead used garlic oil – oil infused with enough garlic to add the right depth of spice and flavour, but without that nasty after taste. I posted a photo of my creation and had a request to blog the recipe, so here goes; my one pan cherry tomato linguine, tweaked to perfection!

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Cherry Tomato One Pot Pasta (very generously serves 2)

2 tbsp garlic oil
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes (from oil) snipped smallish with scissors
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes (left whole)
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
200g dry linguine – or however much you want for 2 servings! (snapped in half to make everything easier)
2 cups vegetable stock
1 1/4 cup of cold water
85g tomato puree
handful of fresh basil (sliced thinly)
Add olive oil to large high sided pan with a lid (I use a cast iron Le Creuset casserole dish), heat the oil, add the sun-dried tomatoes and cherry tomatoes. Coat well with oil, over a medium heat and then partially cover the pan and allow to cook for about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.
The tomatoes will spit a little as they burst because they’re full of water, so be careful! Add the paprika, pepper and salt, and cook for 2 mins more, stirring well.
Add the broth, water and pasta and increase the heat to high. Then add the tomato puree and mix well. Once the liquid has come to a rapid boil, stir well and then allow the liquid to reduce for about 14 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat, give a stir and then add the basil. Stir one last time and then cover the pan and let it sit, off the heat, for about 5 minutes.
Serve with bread to mop up with!

If you decide to make this, I’d love to know what you think – send me your photos and comments, and tell me if you changed the recipe at all.

Happy eating!

This Week I Have Been Mostly

this week i have been mostly

Firstly I’d like to say well done to everyone for surviving Lost day….. Yeah it passed me by too, but it’s pretty cool.

On 4th August 2015 at 16:23 and 42 seconds the date and time aligned to make up The Numbers from the tv series Lost. People wondered what would happen. And obviously, much like the whole tv series, nothing happened…. So there you go. But, you know, pat on the back for surviving.

The last few weeks have been pretty uneventful – or should I say blissfully uneventful. We were feeling rather burnt out from the busy start to our summer, and have very much enjoyed the lie-ins and chilled out evenings. Catching up on movies and being generally lazy.

Still recovering from my injury and getting my first tattoo (pictures once it’s healed, but hop over to instagram if you can’t wait) has meant that swimming training has halted for the time being. Which is both good and bad. It’s 26 days until my Ibiza trip and I’d hoped to be feeling a little fitter and looking a little more toned by then, but hey. What you see now is what you get!

We’ve had, until this weekend, terrible weather. One of the past weekends was positively autumnal and saw us hunkered down under a blanket, drinking tea and watching movies.

I’ve tried a few new recipes, one from a new dairy free cook book. It’s the kind of ‘dairy free’ book which calls for a lot of dairy free cheese, dairy free milk and dairy free cream. I consider this as cheating in allergy recipes because I could look at any recipe and make those substitutions myself – I do have a brain. But one recipe caught my eye. Boston Baked Beans with Chipolatas and Dumplings. Unfortunately I failed to take a photo before I served it up, but it was so delicious there’s no doubt I’ll be making another pot shortly. It’s definitely an autumnal dish and can see it featuring in regular rotation on my repertoire.

Last night the Book Club met at a local TGI Friday’s to celebrate a few of our birthdays. We have 2 birthdays in June, 2 in July and 2 in August so we took the opportunity to push July and August’s into one and have a meal together. Fantastic company and hearty food – with free desserts courtesy of the Friday’s Birthday Club – AND 4 free huge slices of birthday cake for the birthday girls. We had to stand on our chairs and shout across the restaurant to earn them, but I have little shame so all was good.

11828664_10152876895446511_2124377560263580556_nI even had a cheeky cocktail, called Summer Peach, which had orange sherbet in it. Perfectly refreshing and juicy.

I took my cake home to share with Gary – I was truly stuffed!

So, next weekend is my birthday! I’m turning the big 32 and have no idea what I’ll be getting up to, but I intend to rinse the whole weekend doing fun things 🙂 You only get one birthday a year, after all!

This Week I Have Been Mostly

this week i have been mostlyThis week has been book ended with great running and has had food and fun mixed in between

  • Sunday, last week, I ran my fastest 5k (29 mins) and my fastest 10k (61 mins). The weather was perfect for it, and despite swallowing a few flies, it was a pretty amazing run.
  • I really enjoyed watching the final week of Masterchef this week. I love seeing the contestants improve so fast – and it always makes me hungry!
  • I finally sold my bike, for a pretty penny, and used some of the funds to buy some holiday shoes!
  • After months of planning, we booked our 10 year wedding anniversary celebrations for 2016 – we’re going to Disney World!

11192662_1426375217668410_87374560_nThere a LOT of planning to do now that it’s booked, but I can’t wait. We’re off next September and got an amazing deal for our stay. We should be there for the Epcot Food & Wine festival and also have a chance to go to the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party!!

  • Over the last month we’ve been re-watching the Paranormal Activity movies in order. Last night was 4, which means there’s only one left. Sad!
  • I’ve cooked two new meals this weekend, both Pinterest recipes (and can be found in my Tried and Tested board). The first was Cherry Tomato One Pot Pasta

11189439_351608161715296_1651573003_n The second was Balsamic Chicken and Veggies

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  • To bookend a fabulous running week, today was the London Marathon. A chilly and overcast day for spectators but great conditions for the runners. We braved the cold to cheer on friends and fellow bloggers. I managed to spot and cheer on Leah who writes Naturally, Leah, Janice aka Queen Bee (she had her photo taken with Barack Obama a while back, when he was rambling the UK moors…) and I was able to cheer on my Rock Choir leader Pippa who ran to raise money for NSPCC. This was her first marathon and she did an amazing job. Everyone did an amazing job. There was a great atmosphere, as always!

Next weekend we have a bank holiday and the MK Marathon. This was the event that I ran the half marathon last year, but this year I’ll just be spectating. I’m hoping to spot Mary, who writes A Healthier Moo, as she completes the marathon distance. After all this marathon-ing it’s making me think a marathon isn’t totally off the cards for me…. one day maybe!

When Did it Become February?

And all of a sudden it’s mid February. I’m not sure when that happened but for sure it crept right up on me. And the cheeky thing about February is that it’s a short month. I’ve spent a lot of my spare work time getting things prepped for when I’m away on holiday, to make things easier when I get back, and most of my home time training. And before we know it, it’ll be March!

I’m on a 9 month training plan (of my own making) to gain a bikini confident body by September when I go to Ibiza on my first girly holiday, and hen party. I have some kind of training planned for every day of the week apart from one which is a rest day, but I’m out on that evening anyway. I’ve maintained the same weight for the last 4 weeks and it’s 2lb under my topper most happy weight. So it’s all going well and I feel more toned and less wobbly. I’ve been taking progress photos and not seeing a huge amount of difference so far, but I’m only a month and a half in.

Eating has been the hardest thing at the moment, since discovering I’m lactose intolerant, all I want is cheese and clotted cream, but I’m experimenting with foods at the moment and seeing how they affect me. A lot of the stuff I normally eat is dairy free anyway, and I’m not having a hard time substituting ingredients in other recipes to create a dairy free version.

Since the weather has been so so cold of late, I’ve been really fancying soup for lunch, which is odd because I’m usually against soup. I feel like I need to digest something for my lunch and soup, to my brain, is just a hot drink. But I found a recipe for a lentil soup a while back, which I think I’ve mentioned before, and it’s so easy and filling (and healthy!) that I have been making a batch on a Sunday morning and dividing it between 5 tubs for lunches throughout the following week. I’m able to buy the ingredients and use any left over for other meals in the week, and also get a wholesome and filling meal in the middle of my way, all week! Win win. My affair with soup won’t last long, and as soon as the weather picks up a little I will be back onto salads, but it’s great for now.

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And speaking of the weather picking up, which it seems it might start to do from next week, it’s been lovely seeing all the Valentine’s flowers about and a recent visit to my Mum’s saw a lovely bouquet of tulips in her living room. Spring touches are out and about and it’s wonderful.

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G Man and I don’t really do much, or anything, for Valentine’s Day. I’m not about to go on about commercialisation and a fake holiday, but you get the drift. It doesn’t have any impact on us. And that’s not because we’re not romantic or we don’t love each other, but because we love each other just the same all 364 other days of the year and don’t need a card or stuffed animal to show each other that. But on that cynical note I hope you all had a lovely day. Our day was made more Valentine-sy but being invited over to our friend’s house for Valentine’s lunch and cuddles with their new baby.

Lunch was amazing – a huge spread of salads followed by afternoon tea cakes and scones.

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And of course the company was great and we got plenty of cuddles with little Leo. It made for a much more festive Valentine’s and we were able to spend it with friends we love!

So it’s all go here in the Mason house, with preparations for all kinds of trips and lots of eating, with some running and training thrown in to boot. Not at all bad!

Red Lentil Soup
This recipe serves 4, but I tend to add a little more boiled water once the stock has gone in, just so I can stretch it comfortably to 5 lunch sized portions. This doesn’t affect the thickness of the final soup.
1 tbsp olive oil
1 lrg carrot, diced
1 sml onion, diced
2 lrg ribs celery, diced
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup red lentils
4 cups water or low salt broth
1 whole bay leaf
2 tbsp lemon juice
In a large non stick pan (with a lid), heat oil over medium heat. Add celery, carrot, onion and 1/4 tsp salt. Stir to combine and then cover. Let vegetables sweat until onions are soft and translucent (about 5 mins). Add the lentils, water/broth and bay leaf. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and let simmer, covered, until lentils are soft and starting to fall apart (about 20 mins).
Turn off the heat, and add 1 tbsp of lemon juice. Stir and taste. Add the other tbsp of lemon juice, if you’re happy to. (You do need both as the acidity cuts through the creaminess of the lentils, but please don’t ruin your soup!) Add salt to taste (this also reduced the lemony-ness of the juice and it all blends really well).
Don’t forget to remove the bay leaf! This will keep refrigerated for up to 5 days.

December 15th

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The time has come. With ten days until Christmas it’s about time I wrote about food!

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Food is one of the best things about Christmas. All the spices and roasted foods, comforting and wonderful to smell. Chestnuts are a big favourite of mine. I never really had them until I met Gary but it was a standard thing for his family. Cut a notch into each one, pop into the oven and soon you’ll have a wonderful warm snack. It’s fun to crack them open and then you get to eat what’s inside!

I also find I’m now fond of Stollen, despite hating fruit cake or anything with raisins inside. It’s sweet, soft and usually has lots of marzipan and icing sugar. What’s not to love?!

This time of year I’m partial to the odd mulled wine and a cocktail or two, but my favourite Christmas tipple is a snowball. That’s advocaat and lemonade. It’s fairly old-fashioned but so yummy. I like to have a few while I wrap the Christmas presents!

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Something I’ve discovered this year is butternut squash, and after having it for the first time about a month ago I scoured Pinterest for more recipes. I found this amazing one from The Vegan Cookie Fairy, for roasted butternut squash and chestnuts. It has sweet shallots and thyme in it too. We made it a few nights ago, and even though it was for 4 people we ate the whole lot. It was amaze-balls! You should try it if you like butternut squash, and it was so easy to make. I’m even considering making some to take to my in-laws for Christmas Day.

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This time of year I also love party food, and in my family celery sticks with Primula is a bit of a tradition in Christmas evening’s buffet. Anything you can eat with your hands is okay with me! I love Wenslydale cheese with cranberry, Quality Streets, maple roasted parsnips, and even the odd brussels sprout. It’s all good!

Darn it, now I’m starving……

What’s your favourite food at this time of year?

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Chilly & Chilli

The weather has well and truly turned for the worst, and despite it being a tad dryer this week, the weekend has been bitterly cold. At times on Saturday I wouldn’t have been surprised if it had started to snow.

Friday night Gary and I took another visit to the gym, and I was determined to run a 5k on the treadmill. I got a stitch pretty early on which I couldn’t shift and reluctantly gave in at 3k. I was super annoyed. It was pointed out to me later on, that trying to run 5k on a Friday after work when I was tired and already frustrated probably wasn’t a good idea. Good point.

Saturday we had to get up early as I had a hair appointment and unfortunately due to a mix up with a new receptionist at the hairdressers I was booked with the wrong person. The hair cut was fine but I was disappointed that I missed my quarterly catch up with my hairdresser, and there was so much to ask and tell. So it’ll be February before I get to catch up with her again 😦

After the hair cut Gary and I met with some friends and he went to see Gravity at the cinema and I caught up with my friend Tash. We had a flutter in the new casino and a nice long, chilled out chat. The casino in MK is one of the new Super Casinos and is surprisingly relaxed and chilled, and weirdly an ideal place for a girly chat (and free drinks!) We didn’t come out up on our money but we hadn’t lost much.

Supermarket shopping was next (we’re so rock and roll). There’s been a recipe I’ve wanted to try for about 5 years from Nigella Lawson’s book Nigella Express, and I was very excited that I was finally going to make it. I’m not a fan of spicy food. I love to try most foods and I wish my tolerance was better for hot spices but my body just can’t handle it. I really love the idea of chilli though, and when I saw a quick chilli recipe in Nigella’s book, that included sweet chilli sauce I got excited. I have adapted the recipe quite a lot for various reasons, but I’ll post it how I made it below. For various health reasons I swapped the minced beef for Quorn mince from the chiller cabinet (as opposed to frozen tvp mince). I switched chorizo for smoked sausage because neither me nor Gary like chorizo. And I toned down the spices by using unspiced mixed beans and no chilli flakes. The end result was very very mild for spice – like, no heat – but full of flavour. Obviously use spicy sausage, cooked mince, chilli flakes and spicy beans if you want, but that’s pretty much every other chilli recipe and I just loved how I was able to make a quick, mild and flavour-some chilli so easily. We served it with rice, but it would have been very yummy on a jacket potato or topped with broken nacho chips and grilled with cheese on top.

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Today is Remembrance Sunday and we decided to have a lie-in and watch the processions on the tv before we got up. It’s such a poignant and thought-provoking day, and I’m so pleased that we still observe it to the extent we do. After that we had a session at the gym with personal trainers as we’re new to the place. The plan I was given seems very good and focusses on continuing with the running but integrating intervals on the treadmill whilst strengthening my upper leg muscles, to help prevent further knee pains and also a little bit of upper body and core strength work. It was good to work on areas that I hadn’t previously and I know it’s all going to work towards helping my running technique and ability. All in all very positive. But now I’m knackered and can barely move – not because I over did it, but generally exhausted. It’s hard to do any kind of work out when you’re so bunged up you can’t even get the oxygen in normally….. ah well. My Movember 10k is only two weeks away…… let’s hope I can get the correct training in!

Quick Mild Chilli

150g Smoked Sausage (ready to eat, but heated according to the packet)
350g Quorn mince
1/2 tsp ground Cumin
1/2 tsp ground Cinnamon
3 Cardamom pods, bruised
500g jar tomato and chunky veg pasta sauce
240g (drained weight) can mixed beans
60ml sweet chilli sauce

In a heavy based pan I slung in the pasta sauce, drained beans, sweet chilli sauce and spices. I sliced the heated sausage into half moons and added to the pot. Then I tipped in the mince. If you’re using meat mince and chorizo make sure these have been fried off first before you add the sauce, beans and spices. At this point the mix is kinda dry so I put it all on the heat and added a little freshly boiled water. I kept the kettle nearby whilst I brought the mixture to the boil, adding hot water by eye until I was sure that it was loose enough but not too loose. Once at a boil I turned the heat down and simmered for 20 mins, stirring occasionally.

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bubbling away!

If I wanted to make this all vegetarian I think I’d replace the sausage with chunks of mushroom and courgette, though carrot or peppers would also be lovely. This makes enough for 4 people and as there’s only two of us here we have another hearty serving of chilli for later in the week!

Let me know if you make this, I’d love to know what you think, or how you adapt it.

Gahh….. Now I’m starving…… 😀

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Clearing My Weekend

First of all, I’d like to say ‘Hello’ to all my new visitors! I have been getting a lot of blog traffic due to a Pinterest post Chicken and Frogs which included a recipe. I hope you’ve all enjoyed it and if you made it I’d love to see what you think! I’ve also had a huge amount of visitors due to my post about Grave Encounters which is nice to see because I really enjoyed those movies and I hope you did too!

So this weekend I had quite a lot planned but the whole of the week I was so exhausted that towards the end of the week I started to cancel my plans. I have had such a wonderfully lazy weekend and it’s been a welcome change because I swear I haven’t had a chill out like this for about 3 months. Yay for being lazy! I’m feeling so much better for it today and even think I’ll be able to manage a good run tomorrow after work.

We have been working hard towards some good news, and I think it’s probably okay to share now. We’re almost at the point of exchanging contracts on our first house purchase. We are so excited to move out and live in a real house made of bricks instead of the tissue paper house we love in right now. It’s not far from where we are now but the area’s much nicer and we won’t have neighbours who crash about and make noise all day and night. We will have a proper garden too. It’s all go and we can’t wait!

I know I’ve been blogging less over the past few weeks and I have a few blogs planned but I’ve been having issues with WordPress web tonight and so I can’t write them at the moment. This post is being written via the iPhone app which is less than ideal! I’m hoping it’ll fix itself and I’ll be back up and running soon!

Until then iPhone blogging it is! Here’s to lazy weekends and more energy for the week ahead. Have a great one!

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Chicken and Frogs

So, guys – I’m on holiday! Whoop! And just to top it off, it’s been snowing. Just like it was on my last week off – in January. I’m less than pleased about this deluge of winter, and even more annoyed that the cold weather has given me some kind of ear nose and throat infection. Boo!

My first holiday day was yesterday. We did our boring food shop, which involved us buying a load of Easter eggs (a Mario one for me!) and visiting two supermarkets so that we could actually find everything we needed. I’m so glad we did visit two though, because I bumped into a very dear friend in the second one. I haven’t seen her properly in around 3 years and it was so good to see her, even if it was just for a minute. She’s the kind of friend that we could go 10 years and just pick up where we left off – though she did tell me her daughter is turning 16 this year, which was a bit of a shocker!

After lunch I finally got to try out my slow cooker! So exciting! I decided I was going to try out some BBQ chicken because who doesn’t like a nice sandwich of pulled BBQ chicken? I found the recipe online somewhere, I forget where, and it involves making your own sauce, an idea I really liked. I’ll put the recipe at the end of this post – I really suggest you make it. It was a fairly tomato based sauce but I’m sure you could tweak it to make it richer or spicy or whatever. It being the first time I had ever used a crock pot, over the 4 hours cooking time Gary and I could be found periodically wandering into the kitchen to stare into the pot through the glass lid and see what was happening. After the allotted 4 hours I was delighted with the condition of the meat – cooked through and tender – it just fell apart! And it was so delicious. We have so much left over we gave half to Gary’s parent’s and have loads left for sandwiches or snacks this week. I really can’t wait to try the next recipe!

During the cooking time, I did however have quite a scary experience. I was having a browse on Pinterest on my iPhone and all of a sudden lost the peripheral vision in my left eye. As that came back I started to get jagged lights down one side of my vision on the left. I was seriously freaking out – I thought I was going blind or something. So I did the only thing a girl can do in a situation like this and called my Mum! She told me she was certain I was having a migraine and that it sounded like an aura (and I have since learned, symptoms of tunnel vision) As a regular migraine sufferer I’m used to the pain, but these symptoms were very new to me. She told me to take Ibuprofen and then close my eyes and relax. So that’s what I did. About ten minutes later my left hand and wrist started getting pins and needles and going numb. Then the left side of my face started to go numb and tingle from the lip and moved down to my chin. I started to panic thinking I was having a stroke or something. Gary was ready to take me to A&E but he was telling me he thought it was an anxiety attack. So I got him to Google it, and sure enough all the results were for anxiety attacks. Totally freaky. I find it terrifying that my brain can do that to my body totally separately from my conscious awareness.

Anyway, after that episode Gary thought it might be a good idea to go for some air and a drive to get out of the house. So after our yummy dinner we firstly went to visit my parents, as we hadn’t seen them in a while. Then we visited Gary’s parents for a bit and took them some of the crock pot chicken to try.

The best part of our drives is the music we listen to. For part of the journey we listened to Katy Perry – despite my sore throat for some reason I fancied a good loud sing-a-long. Then for the rest of the trip Gary put on a band he’s just started listening to called M83. Their music is fairly 80’s sounding, electropop-ish. All the songs have an epic sound to them. I want to share this one particular song, called ‘Raconte – Moi Une Histoire’. If you only listen to one new tune this week, make it this one. It’s cute, uplifting and happy – Feel free to dance in your living room.

Ah, see that’s better isn’t it?

So today I’m just chilling out and trying to feel better so that we can start our holiday week off together tomorrow (Gary’s working today) We’re hoping to go to London tomorrow and I can see us having to wrap up warm. But it’s all part of the fun right? Stay tuned for more weird shenanigans and hopefully no more panic attacks…… eek!

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken

slow cooker BBQ Chicken

4 chicken breasts
2 cups ketchup
4 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp vinegar
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Mix all ingredients in slow cooker (except chicken). Add chicken, coating each piece in sauce. Cook on high for 4 hours. Remove chicken and shred with forks. Return to pot and stir in sauce to coat. Serve in toasted buns.

Enjoy!

Oh, and don’t forget you can get updates from my blog right into your Facebook feed by liking Musings of a So-Called Shutter bug here!

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Fake Valentine’s Day

This weekend I had some holiday to take, so Gary and I planned to celebrate our Valentine’s a couple of days late. We booked at meal at one of our favourite London restaurants, The Big Easy in Kensington and decided to spend the afternoon in London.

Our trip started with a quick post-lunch visit to Cinnabon in the Trocadero to get our sugar on. I’d had a funny turn on the train on the way in and felt the need for a sugar buzz – which is what I got and I sat giggling for a few minutes. It was yummy. Then we popped into the HMV which is closing down 😦 From there we headed to Spitalfields Market, where one of my friends has recently got a job in the NW3 store there. They have some really really lovely things in their shop. I bought a gorgeous oversized cardigan. It’s so cozy I never want to take it off. We had a look around the market and then went for a coffee at Starbucks. I hadn’t tried one of their Vanilla Spice Lattes yet, so took that opportunity – I’d totally forgotten how gross their coffee was since they started to put two shots in. The Pumpkin Spice Latte was so nice I just figured this would be too. I was wrong. I’m sorry Costa, I’ll never stray again…

Next we headed to Kensington to find the Whole Foods Market, which we had heard so much about but wanted to see for ourselves. We didn’t have a lot of time before out seating at the restaurant, but we managed to see the whole place. I definitely want to go back to eat at the food court upstairs, and the produce they had looked amazing. They even stock my favourite yogurt from The Dairy Collective.

From there we headed to the restaurant, and I collected my frequent diners card 🙂 I, of course, ordered one of their famous frozen Margaritas – raspberry flavoured this time. They’re so good. I love the salt around the rim of the glass. Gary ordered a BBQ chicken sandwich with caramelised onions, shoestring fries and coleslaw. I had steak, mashed potato and sautéed green beans. My steak was INCREDIBLE. Cooked perfectly medium rare. In fact it was all amazing and I had to be careful not to just inhale the whole lot.

(clockwise from top left) China Town, reflection, cocktails, ice cream, steak, Piccadilly Circus, Cherry milkshake, Moomins!, Cardigan, Hearts
(clockwise from top left) China Town, reflection, cocktails, ice cream, steak, Piccadilly Circus, Cherry milkshake, Moomins!, Cardigan, Hearts

We had a look at the dessert menu but didn’t fancy anything from it, so we left and walked towards our tube station where we’d seen an ice cream place on the way down. On our walk we passed Christie’s with some interesting furniture in its window and a really pretty looking rare and 1st edition book store. It was closed unfortunately but might deserve a visit another time! The ice cream shop was called Scoop and served proper gelato ice cream. I had white pistachio ice cream and raspberry sorbet and Gary had caramel ice cream and raspberry sorbet. Both delicious. It wasn’t until after this that I remembered another ice cream place I’d wanted to visit in Soho called Gelupo. We decided to head that way anyway, so we could at least find where the place was for next time. We discovered it’s just down from Bubbleology and Snog which I love! Can’t believe I’d missed it before! They have an amazing ricotta, coffee and honey ice cream that I’d tried at the Good Food show and I’d love to try again.

From here we had a walk through China Town, all decorated for the Chinese New Year and then we walked to Covent Garden. We wanted to visit the Cyber Candy store and have a look around. We managed to buy quite a few cans of American soda – the Vanilla Coke from America tastes so much better than the stuff they used to sell here. And I found a load of Moomin themed Finnish sweets! Best of all they’re free from artificial colours and flavours, of which I’m allergic to. Thank God for European food laws. (No horse jokes now please!)

After here we walked through Covent Garden where they had some huge L.O.V.E. letters where people had written messages on metal hearts and padlocked them to the letters. It was so cool! There were also a load of massive decorated eggs as part of a Save The Children auction initiative (a bit like the phone boxes they had last year) Some of the eggs were amazing!

We headed back to Euston from here, and got the 10pm train home. It was such an amazing day. The weather was crisp but not cold and there was no wind. The sun even shone! Such a good day.

Yesterday we stayed in bed late and then went food shopping (rock and roll!) and had a message from Gary’s Mum asking if we wanted to go out for lunch. So we ventured out to an American Diner near Northampton called Buddies. I had some amazing macaroni cheese with garlic bread followed by pancakes. (I still haven’t made pancakes at home for Shrove Tuesday yet!) Later in the evening we decided to make a recipe we’d found on Pinterest for a cherry-vanilla milkshake. It was okay but not as sweet as we thought it would be and didn’t taste of vanilla or cherries. But it was morish and surely must count towards one of my 5 a day!

Today I have been mostly doing chores and watching The House on Haunted Hill, which I’d never seen before. It’s not bad but not good if you know what I mean?! It’s back to work tomorrow, but since I love my job it isn’t a bummer 🙂
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