A Walk in the Woods

As happens every single day of the week, the little human alarm clock that resides in the flat below mine sounded his morning cry at 6.08 am on Sunday morning.

Normally, lots of groaning and tossing and turning (on my part) would have ensued however in my haste to close the curtains the night before I had left a slight crack that a ray of sunshine was now peeking through.

Instead of falling into the same trap of wasting time trying and failing to get back to sleep I surprised myself and threw my new gym kit on (maybe that was the motivation?) and ventured outside.

I’ve always felt there’s something that feels weirdly naughty about being up and about when everyone else is snoozing. The other, not so naughty feeling, is one of sheer smugness knowing that you’ve already started your day: you snooze you lose.

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I knocked on Sleeping Beauty’s door but she was away for the weekend…

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Hours of touring churches in Italy taught me one very valuable lesson: never forget to look up.

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I most definitely contemplated ignoring my to-do list and just staring at the view all day, but alas, common sense prevailed.

If you’re ever in Surrey then a visit to the Devil’s Punchbowl in Hindhead is a must. I’m lucky enough to have it on my doorstep but it’s so vast that I doubt I’ll ever be able to cover it all!

Eggless Meringues {GF, DF, Vegan}

I know what you’re probably thinking – excuse me? How? What? Why?

Let me tell you, I had exactly the same thoughts when I first came across the concept on Pinterest. I cannot take credit for the recipe as it was the brainchild of Wallflower Kitchen. Go over to her blog to check it out. I can however, confirm that it works and the end result will blow your mind. It certainly did mine!

I don’t want to give the recipe away but I will tell you what the main ingredient is: aquafaba (chickpea water to you and me). You heard right, chickpea water can create this:

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You can even perform the famous hold-the-bowl-upside-down test!

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The final product:

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I crumbled a couple of them up, added some summer berries and a dash of Oatly cream. On a completely unrelated side note, if you’ve never tried Oatly’s chocolate milk then I suggest you add it to your shopping list. Tastes even better than the real thing.

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Just a couple of notes on the recipe.

  • Don’t skip the vanilla extract – you need it to eliminate the subtle chickpea taste.
  • I cooked mine for 2 hours, as the recipe says, and they were very sticky and chewy so could maybe have done with a little bit longer. It all depends how you like your meringues though: crispy = cook longer vs chewy = perfect cooking time.

July Favourites

Coming at you on time this month!

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  1. Evening walks

I’ve been making the most of the long, light summer evenings. After I’ve been sitting at a desk in a stuffy office all day it’s so nice to fill my lungs with fresh air. I’ve also noticed that I sleep a lot better on the nights I go for a stroll as opposed to when I don’t.

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Unfortunately I don’t live by the sea but I snapped this shot when I was down in Aberystwyth for my brother’s graduation.

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Although I am lucky enough to have the Devil’s Punchbowl in Surrey right on my doorstep…

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Spot the hot-air balloon!

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2. Cheska Floral Embroidered Flat Mule 

So on trend at the moment, these were an absolute steal at just £9.99. They’re still in the sale now so you can get your hands on a pair!

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I’ll be truthful, they’ve taken a little bit of breaking in but they’re so beautiful that they’re worth every blister.

I’ve received so many compliments when I’ve worn them, even from a waiter in Jamie’s restaurant of all places!

I’ve also got my beady on these beauties:

3. Flowers

I think I’ve inherited this trait from my lovely Granny; having side-lined as a flower arranger back in the day, she always has a house full of blooming flowers and house plants. When he was alive my also-lovely Grandpa would come home with a bouquet for her at least once a week.

I don’t have anyone to buy me flowers – no problem though – I can buy them for myself!

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Sunflower season is upon us and I’m so happy about it.

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I’ve borrowed these pics from my foodie Instagram as I find they make good props when taking photos.

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Peonies are among my all-time favourites.

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4. My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

My first encounter with this book was during my final year at University. As a language student I studied translation and one week my tutor happened to choose an extract from this very book.

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Ashamedly, even though this book made an impression on me some three years ago, I’ve only just got round to properly reading it.

At the beginning I did struggle to immerse myself in the novel, I think because there are so many characters I found myself losing track of who was who, but I persevered and I’m so glad I did.

I love Ferrante’s style of writing and not only does the story offer an insight into Italian culture at the time but it also delves into the fascinating world of human nature and relationships.

5. Palmer’s Cocoa Butter – Original Solid

This product is an absolute miracle worker at soothing dry, cracked skin. After only a few days of use my hands are completely renewed and actually pleasant to touch for a change.

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I will say that I wish I had read the tub properly as I didn’t realise that this was the ‘solid’ version. It is quite hard to extract from the tub and I find it leaves my hands greasy for quite a while after applying it as it doesn’t absorb as well as this more fluid version.

House Tour

Being the nosey pants that I am, I absolutely love watching home tours and looking at pictures of other people’s homes so I thought I’d share my new home with you!

This is the first time I’ve ever lived alone and I’ve loved being able to put my own mark on somewhere. There are still lots of decorative pieces (cushions, pictures, rugs, ornaments etc) I want to get but this is where I’m up to so far!

My little flat is quirky in more ways than one. It’s one of 21 in an old, Grade I listed building on a quiet, leafy road in Surrey.

Hall

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Slippers ready and waiting for when I get home.

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Technically this is a money box, but twist it round and you have an ornamental pineapple!

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This painting of my dog by my brother’s girlfriend has pride of place in my hallway.

Bathroom

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Only downside of this bathroom is no shower, so I’ve definitely had to become a bath person.

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You may notice my decapitated tube of face mask. Top tip: chop the top off the tube so you squeeze every last bit out, there’s always more in there than you think.

Kitchen

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I’d love to say it was always this tidy but we all know that would be a lie.

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Bedroom

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IMG_0024Truth be told, it’s not actually a one bedroomed flat but a studio. There are perks to having your bedroom be your living room and visa versa. Crawling into bed from the sofa every night being a big one #unashamedlylazy.

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The wood panelling and parquet floor definitely add to the period feeling.

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Outside                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       There’s a large communal garden that wraps around the house and as I live on the ground floor I get a little section of the terrace all to myself. I hadn’t even contemplated being able to have an outdoor area so it was definitely a massive bonus.

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5 Tips to Help Ease Inactivity

Besides a recent drastic change in my location, there has also been a significant change in my activity levels (i.e. they have decreased significantly).

It has been a shock to the system going from being on my feet for 8 to 10 hours a day, to now being on my backside for 8 hours a day. Nearly 2 months in and I’ve made little changes that have really helped me.

  1. LUNCHTIME WALK

A trap I fell into during the first few weeks was spending my whole lunch hour sitting at my desk idly browsing on my computer. 3 o’clock would roll around and I’d find myself fidgeting in my chair and struggling to concentrate.

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Solution?

Move when you can. For me that means for at least 45 minutes of walking at lunchtime: headphones in, trainers on and no looking at screens.

I’m lucky as the office I work in is right next to the river so you can feel immersed in nature even though you’re in a city. I always smile to myself when I see the same men and women in suits (wearing their Nikes) doing exactly the same thing. Must work then?

River or no river go and pound the pavements for at least 30 minutes, your body and brain will thank you for it.

2. Drink, drink, drink 

Obviously by this I mean water, unless it’s been a particularly taxing day!

I have a large bottle of water that I’m constantly filling up and this way I know roughly how much I have (or haven’t drunk). Conversely, to get more steps in, drink out of a small glass and then you’ll have to keep getting up to fill it up, but make sure you do!

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3. Hourly breaks

This tip is more for your brain and helping productivity. Remember all the way through school and university being told that the best way to revise was to work solidly for an hour and then have a ten minute break? Well why not carry on doing this at work?

Nobody can concentrate for hours on end and maintain the same level of productivity.

4. Healthy lunch

Eat whole foods that are going to stabilise your blood sugar and keep you satisfied for hours after. Everyone is different but my lunch almost exclusively always consists of the following:

Leafy greens (kale, rocket, spinach, mixed salad leaves)

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Vegetables (salad, broccoli, green beans, courgette, carrot etc.)

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Carbohydrate (brown rice, quinoa, sweet potato, white potato)

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Protein source (beans, lentils, chickpeas)

Something I’ve found saves a lot of time is making double of whatever I have for dinner and putting half in a container and having it for lunch the next day. Who says you have to eat salad or sandwiches for lunch?

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I made this salad for lunch today and doubled it up and have the other half ready for work tomorrow.

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These are all meals that I’ve made recently and taken the other half with me to work.

If you need more inspiration then I’ve recently created a foodie Instagram account @newlyplantbasedgirl – go check it out!

5. Make the most of the weekend

I’m not going to be Miss-All-High-and-Mighty and pretend that every weekend without fail I’m out and about doing things. Some weekends the weather is less than inspiring and all I want to do is hibernate at home.

As a general rule I try and go for a nice long walk, do some yoga or go shopping (a more expensive form of cardio) every weekend.

 

 

June Favourites

I’m writing this post taking comfort from the famous saying ‘better late than never’. June was hectic to say the least but I’m finally finding more time to start doing the things I love. Well, technically, a slow day at work yesterday meant I had a little spare time to jot these down…

  1. Maybelline Color Show 31 Peach Pie Nail Polish

One big requirement I have for a nail polish is staying power. I need a polish that’s going to withstand cooking, cleaning and more importantly the dreaded washing up.

This Maybelline Color Show ticks all three of those boxes. I had been wearing it a week before there was even a hint of a chip!

*WARNING: if you don’t like feet then look away now!*

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I did plan on taking painting my fingernails and taking some nice, more aesthetically pleasing pictures but my fingernails are not currently photo-worthy in any way!

I love nude colours like this one as they’re understated and will go with any outfit you wear.

I definitely plan on buying more colours from this range, very impressed!

2. Camper Johns

If you like puppies, in particular golden retriever puppies, then let me introduce you to your newest crush.

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His parents are YouTubers Marcus and Kristin Johns and Camper is the newest addition to their family.

If you’re having a bad day or just need your daily dose of cuteness then go and watch their introduction video. I have. Upwards of 12 times – no shame here though.

3:13 and 4:29 are two of my favourite parts.

3. Harem pants

The office I now work in is situated above a KFC and a Thai restaurant. So what with the smell of fried chicken and garlic at 10 o’clock in the morning there’s the inevitable fact of the heat. As we know from physics, heat rises. 34 degree heat (thank you heatwave) coupled with the heat from two commercial kitchens means that we have been working in sauna like conditions.

A few weekends ago, out of sheer desperation, I ventured into H&M and ended up buying shares in their harem pant section. Flattering they are not but cool and airy they are. They may also be slightly see through as on several occasions (unless paranoia is alive and well) I definitely thought people were staring at my nether-region.

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4. Overnight oats

Eating my breakfast al-desko means no time for idly cooking my oats on the stove top *sob*. That being said, with the warmer weather, a steaming bowl of hot oats isn’t exactly appealing. Enter overnight oats. Chuck oats and milk in a tupperware the night before, pop in the fridge overnight and add your fruit/toppings before you head out of the door and breakkie is sorted!

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5. Podcasts

Living alone means silence is an inevitable occurrence. In an attempt to combat it I’ve recently found solace in podcasts of all things. I’ve always been a video/YouTube kind of gal – I still am – but podcasts are perfect for just wanting something to listen to whilst still being able to get on with jobs.

Recently I’ve been loving:

1.At Home With…. by Lily Pebbles and Anna Newton. I love these two, they have such a lovely friendship and they’re just such normal, down to earth girls!

2. S-Town I was glued (in a listening sense) to this one. Such an intriguing story and the main speaker’s voice is oddly soothing.

3. Serial: This American Life  I’ve only listened to the first episode of the first season but I love a good murder/crime/mystery story…

 

Big Changes

It’s been a while: upwards of five months to be precise.

To say that a lot has changed in that time would be the understatement of the year, no century.

After shedloads of job applications (I’d guesstimate at upwards of 40- which I know is probably nothing to some people), numerous telephone interviews, one particularly awkward Skype interview I finally hit the job jackpot! Naturally I was ecstatic as I finally felt that my hard-work and studying had paid off.

Of course it wasn’t all sunshine and roses, there was one rather large compromise. I’d have to relocate 250 miles from home to a town where I knew no one, least of all where I was going to live.

I gave myself a few days to mull it over and I came to the conclusion that if I didn’t accept the job then I would most likely regret it forever.

So, that’s what’s been happening. It’s all been very overwhelming/emotional/scary/full on but I did it. I’m here. I’ve been a full time career woman for a month now and I’m finally getting into the swing of things. I have rent, council tax and bills to pay, I get up at 6.30 every morning and get home at 7pm, I have deadlines and a desk in an actual office. I feel like a fully fledged grown-up, although I’m still trying to decide how I feel about that…

I mainly wanted to start my blog again so that I could document my new adventure and be able to look back on it in years to come. There have already been many ups and downs and I’m positive there will be plenty more to come!

It feels good to be back!

Alice xoxo