live, work and eat better – at the weekend #2

Good morning! I’m off to Majorca for some serious unplug and relax time. I’m going to swim, drink cava and read to my hearts content. I can’t wait to dive in to some trashy fiction and finally get around to reading that Julian Assange (unauthorised) biography – if you’ve got any good books on your list then let me know!

PortoColom

Anyhoo, things that have caught my eye this week…

First up…if you’re in or around South Wales next weekend then you HAVE to go check out the Abergavenny Food Festival.
Olives {image via Will Delves)
I’m gutted to be missing it especially as there are some brilliant masterclasses and shows on offer such as The Chiappa Sisters – ‘COOK ITALIAN’, Julian Baggini & Seb Emina – ‘The Importance of Breakfast’ and Pete Brown with ‘Ale & Sound – Drinking with your Ears’.The full schedule is HERE and it is on Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st of September.

Do you check Facebook too often? Here are 10 things that will happen when you STOP checking in all the time.

It’s a bit of an old one but this Vanity Fair article on the history of “Fuck” is fascinating.

Tanya has shared her recipe for Fig and Chocolate smoothie – seriously – amazing.

Amy has shared 10 tips on loving your body.

Easy School Lunches from Cup Of Jo

I’ve been thinking of setting up a podcast around the whole live, work and eat better theme. Emma from Freelance Life (check out HER AMAZING PODCAST HERE) listed some of the best podcasters for freelancers!
No posts from me next week but I’ve LOTS of great food posts coming up when I get back!!

Chicken Caprese Salad with Balsamic Fig Glaze

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By the end of September I’m usually yearning to make hot soups and hearty stews. But since I’m reluctant to let go of summer, I thought I’d combine the hot and cold and make the perfect Autumn Salad… Chicken Caprese Salad with Balsamic Fig Glaze. {PS if you’re a vegetarian or you just don’t fancy meat then it’s just as nice with the chicken left out!)…

Chicken Caprese Salad

What you need…

  • Chicken
  • Lettuce
  • Plum Tomatoes
  • Mix of Peppers
  • Red Onion
  • Mozzarella

Right well, I don’t think you really need to be told how to make a salad! But in essence, what makes this salad great for that transition from Summer to Autumn is the warm chicken and the hot pepper and onion mixed with the cool salad. So grill your chicken breast and cut in to slices, leave to cool slightly. Whilst your chicken is grilling, cut some pepper and red onion in to thin strips. In a hot pan, add some coconut oil and fry your onion and pepper until soft. On plate now add your lettuce, tomatoes (quartered) and mozzarella. Top with your peppers and onions and your chicken on top.

Balsamic Fig Glaze

You know I’m all about ease when it comes to cooking so I’m going to recommend an absolute gorgeous glaze that will save you hours of reducing and will be just as tasty. I use the Tesco Fig Balsamic Glaze. It’s £1.50 and can be used to glaze, marinade, drizzle, dip & decorate. Perfect.

 

What words do you hate?

Just a short post today as I’m trying to complete the painting of the master bedroom (I cannot tell you how excited I’m going to be to finally move out of sleeping in the lounge!!).

I stumbled upon this a while back on The New York Times website and have been meaning to share…

There are certain words and phrases that send me in to a spin. One being “she cut an lonely/slim/etc figure” – I HATE that. Mostly because it’s used in gossip rags to describe women and also because it just makes my skin crawl.

So I thought this was rather interesting…

When Kurt Anderson was editor at the New York times he compiled a list of “words we don’t say.”

It was a list of words and phrases that he found annoying and didn’t want used in his magazine such as “eatery”, “bigs” and “lifestyle.”

Here’s the list – how many of these words do you use daily or in business? Keep in mind that this list is way over 15 years old so there are plenty of other “new” words that could be added to list…

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So, what words do you hate? Leave a comment below with what words you’d add to the ban list…

ps: I’ve been wanting to share this “word crimes” video with you all for ages but never found the right slot for it so – enjoy x

live, work & eat better this weekend #1

OK so I’ve dipped in and out sharing things I stumble upon during the week. You know how it is? A week on the internet and out and about and your absorb so much great stuff you want to share that it’s hard to do know where to start.

So each Friday I’m going to post a run down of things I’ve read or thought about that will hopefully help you live, work and eat better as you approach the weekend.

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Well for a start, have you got clipboard on your iPad? If so, are you following my magazine: live, work and eat better?

THIS blog post I thought was fascinating. As a wine drinker myself, I’m all too aware of how my glasses can sometimes be a little on the large side. Caitlin from HealthyTippingPoint shares just how much the recommended 5oz of wine is – WAY smaller than you’d think!

How to be polite.

Werner Herzog on Creativity, Self-Reliance, Making a Living of What You Love, and How to Turn Your Ideas Into Reality

Brainpickings.org is such a treasure chest of interesting articles. I love this piece detailing extracts from Barbra Walters book out-of-print 1970 gem How to Talk to Practically Anyone About Practically Anything.  Here’s what she has to say on gossip:

Sometimes people gossip just because they feel they must in order to be interesting. 

Since it’s September it’s a great excuse to go buy some new stationery. I’ve shared some of my favourite pieces over at MaisonDuVann.com

(Image above: I’m heading BACK to Porto Colom this month so looking forward to sitting on a beach and totally disconnecting with the world!)

 

Hotel Mela, Times Square, New York

I absolutely LOVE hotels.I’m genuinely fascinated by them, always have been. I love the smell, the bustle, the feeling of one room living. I’m also deeply interested in what goes on behind the scenes in hotels (have you been watching that Richard E Grant series on Sky Atlantic about hotel secrets? If not, Series 2 is on NowTV – well worth a watch). So many weird things happen and strange behaviour played out – it’s enthralling.  But all that is another story… I was chatting with someone on Twitter last night about my stay in New York, they have booked the same hotel and I couldn’t praise it highly enough – which then reminded me that I hadn’t actually blogged about it.

So if you’re on your way to New York then check out Hotel Mela a fabulous hotel that’s right in the heart of Manhattan…

5218578632_d5ba46d98b_z Hotel Mela located 120 West on 44th Street. Right in the heart of Times Square this  hotel has defiantly got the home from home vibe down. 5217993513_df946f9a28_b     Large, memory foam beds with plenty of pillows and thick black out curtains to hide the noise and bustle of Times Square – I can honestly say i’ve not had a better night sleep in years (and bear in mind I was in a car accident the day before!!).

The Hotel Mela really is the perfect place to base yourself, especially if you’ve never been to New York before! It’s tucked up a side street so you have a moment to catch your breath being entering the fray. The hotel is less than two blocks from all the shopping on Fifth Avenue, within five blocks of the New York Public Library and the Rockefeller Centre, and  Central Park and the Museum of Modern Art are within 15 blocks.

We managed to walk EVERYWHERE from the hotel so it really is ideally situated. OH and free wi-fi so you can update all your friends back home of the wonderful time you’re having… 20140512-174812.jpg images of hotel mela via crshotels on flickr

Want to sleep better? Stick your feet out of the covers

sleep-better

I don’t know about you but I like to sleep with the window open under a big, thick duvet. I don’t mind my face being a little cooler and I like to have fresh air circulating but I absolutely HAVE to have my duvet covering me. Regardless of the weather, from heat wave to cold snap – the only way I get a good sleep is to have my trusty duvet – if I get a little too hot, my leg comes out from the duvet.

Now, generally I sleep really well but I’m always interested in ways to sleep better…

Which is why this article in New York Magazine caught my eye. They suggest that to help you fall asleep faster and have a better quality of sleep, all you need to do is keep one foot or both feet outside of the blanket.

This is exactly how I manage to sleep with a big heavy duvet – the one leg out method.

Sleep researchers know that right before you fall asleep, your body temperature starts to drop; in the deepest stages of sleep, your body is at its coolest, about one or two degrees below normal. Some scientists believe cooler temperatures cause sleepiness, and although the pre-slumber cooling process happens naturally, there are a few things you can do to help it along, like taking a warm bath right before bed, for example. When you leave the tub, your body temperature rapidly cools, triggering that sleepy feeling. A warm beverage works the same way.

So, why feet? Feet contain blood vessels called the arteriovenous anastomosis, which — coupled with the lack of hair on the bottoms of your feet — are perfectly designed to help dissipate body heat.

So there we have it. If you want to sleep better – you’ve got to poke your feet out of the bed.

Do you do this?

1 Minute Poached Egg

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Well, I still have no kitchen! It’s not so bad actually, we have an electric wok, a microwave, a toaster and a george foreman grill so whilst coming up with healthy recipes is a challenge but totally do-able. In fact, after 4 weeks we’ve yet to resort to a micro ready meal {#impressed}.

Since it was a bank holiday on Monday, I fancied a bit of a simple, yet comforting breakfast that was QUICK (bank holiday’s are for tea, toast and magazines in bed if you ask me!) – only one thing could match that description – poached egg on toast!

But since we don’t have a hob, I had to turn to my humble microwave to sort it out – I know there are a lot of people who think the microwave is the devil (and before moving, I barely used one) but I’ve been doing my own research and found some interesting results – but that’s for another post.

Anyway, this is a very simple, 1 minute poached egg recipe – perfect if you’re in a rush or if you don’t fancy the fuss that poached egg usually brings (or if you’re like me and can never seem to make it work!).

What you need:
1 egg
Vinegar
Salt
A microwavable mug (< seriously, you don’t want one that will crack!)
A slotted spoon

The you simply fill a mug half way up, add salt and vinegar, crack your egg, gently pierce the yolk and pop in the microwave for a minute! Remove the egg with a slotted spoon, making sure the water is drained off and serve on warm, buttery toast.

DONE! The perfect busy girl breakfast.

The Supermarket With No Packaging…

One of the things that really gets my goat when it comes to food shopping is unnecessary packaging. I HATE seeing fresh veggies so shrink wrapped in plastic that you have no idea of the freshness of the product.  Not to mention all the waste! That plastic is getting dumped and therefore polluting our water, our soil, our oceans and harming wildlife. There is just no need for it!

So it was great to see this video (below) about a supermarket in Germany that’s done away with disposable packaging.

Now, let’s be honest, this isn’t a unique idea. Our grandparents didn’t have to contend with masses of plastics when buying their food.  They bought it direct from the source, at farmers markets or local shops. I remember there being a fabulous shop in Newport when I was a kid (not that long ago – honest) that served loose flours, cereals, nuts and dried fruits, so you only had to have (and pay for) what you needed.

So back to  Original Unverpackt, a supermarket whose ethos is to enforce a zero waste policy by not selling anything in disposable bags, jars or boxes. Take a look at these before and after shots – definitely food for thought…

BEFORE

AFTER

Like I’ve said, it’s not a new concept but it is one that needs to be revived and made mainstream. What do you think?

Eat your Way To Great Skin

Whilst its nice to have a dresser full of lotions and potions, real beauty starts from the inside.

There’s no point in spending £100’s of pounds on the latest anti-wrinkle cream if you’re going to fill your body full of junk food.

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This is a piece I wrote for Yahoo a few years ago but since they are starting to retire the old content, I thought that I’d share them with you…Try adding these super foods to your diet and eat your way to great skin…

Beetroot

Not only is beetroot a versatile veggie and adds a pop of colour to your plate but it’s also high in vitamin A, potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin E. Combined these make a great cleanser and clean your body from the inside meaning a nice clear outside.

Red Grapes

OK I’m not talking about pouring yourself a large glass of Pinot noir here, instead treat yourself to bunch of red grapes as they contain super powerful antioxidants and natural chemicals that act as an antihistamine to ease psoriasis, acne and eczema.

Avocado

Forget injecting yourself with chemicals, the simple avocado can help stimulate collagen in the skin and help the skin moisturise itself. Guacamole anyone?

Nuts

Nuts make a handy “on the go” snack but they’re also packed with selenium which helps fight infections. They’re also stuffed with vitamin E, magnesium, copper, iron and calcium. An essential super food to snack on for optimum health.

Tomatoes

Want taut and healthy skin? Then start making the most of tomatoes. Like avocados they aid collagen production but also contain lycopene that helps stimulate skin circulation for healthy, glowing skin.

Garlic

Eating loads of garlic may not be a good idea if you’re about to embark on a snog-a-thon but eating some raw garlic (chopped finely and added to your salad or even stored in to pasta sauces just before serving) will give your skin and your health a huge boost. Garlic contains allicin which when eaten can help kill harmful bacteria and viruses including skin infections – which makes it great for clearing up acne.

Brown Rice

Love rice? Then swap your white rice for brown and benefit from B vitamins, selenium and a host of antioxidants whilst regulating your sugar levels and increasing your energy levels.

Kale

Kale is a bit of a buzz food but don’t dismiss it as just another fad because kale contains a vast amount of vitamins A, B, complex C, E and K. But that’s not all, it’s also packed full of protein calcium, potassium, iron, manganese, magnesium, folate and phosphorus all of which meals a great tonic for clear skin. Try popping it in a smoothie for a great breakfast boost.

Artichoke

For glowing skin, artichokes are your best bet. Often used in cosmetics they are crammed with antioxidants that can help improve skin luminosity.

Nettles

These aren’t just a nuisance in the garden. Make up some nettle tea or soup and you’ll discover they have a side line as an anti-inflammatory, helping calm the skin and improve conditions such as acne and eczema.

Do you have any more tips?  (more…)

How To Stay Positive

When things are stacking up against you, I know how hard it can be to stay positive. Even if things seem like they are going well, sometimes all it takes is just one trigger for all that positivity and confidence to simply fall apart.

How to stay

I remember when I failed my driving test(s). The first time, I accepted that it was just one of those things, the second and third however, I did the grown up thing and just took myself to bed. Did it help? For about 5 minutes yes! But eventually, you have to get up and face the world so you may as well do that sooner than later.

Staying positive isn’t easy. It’s actually pretty hard work, our brains are hard wired to look for threats and when it finds one, it focuses on it. Threats can be perceived by the brain as being something as simple as worrying about a deadline – so you can be sure it happens to everyone.

There are times when you have to consciously choose to stay positive and you can train your brain to do so…

Here are three tips on training your brain to stay in positive mode…

Be Grateful.

Everyone is going to be faced by challenges whether it’s on a daily basis or once in a blue moon, we all have to deal with different shit. However, when things are going well, and there are positive things around you – it’s important to stop and take stock of these moments. Even if it’s something as small as having a choccie biscuit with your cup of tea.

Reflecting on the positive events in your life helps your brain store these moments up. Consider keeping a gratitude journal where you can write down your blessings as and when they come. Or maybe make it a weekly ritual that you start to document all the great things that you’ve actually got going on in your life. It doesn’t have to be long, drawn out essays, just keep it short, sweet and to the point.

Use affirmations.

Affirmations work on the basis that the more you hear something, the more you’re likely to believe it’s true. So if you’ve got a self confidence issue, standing in front of the mirror and telling yourself that you are worthy – works!

Try to chose at least two affirmations that represent you, your ethos and your goals.

I love this one from Tiny Buddah…

Keep your head up and your heart open.

Repeating your positive affirmations will help you make sense of and handle negative aspects of your life.

Don’t give in to negative thoughts

After my car accident earlier this year I had a week where I just felt awful. Not just in a physical sense but about everything. I didn’t want to get up, didn’t want to work and I didn’t want to even leave the house. I had to force myself to quit moping, get up and just get on with things.

Our brains zone in on negative thoughts, they expand them and can (at times) blow them out of all proportion. If you’re constantly worrying about something, those negative thoughts become bigger and badder.

A good tip I discovered was to try and distance yourself from the negative thoughts and look at them from an outsiders point of view. Observe it and then take practical steps to actually solving the problem.

So for example: rather than thinking “I’m a failure” try looking at it from the point of view of “I’ve worked really hard, this hasn’t worked out because of XYZ so what can I do to achieve my goal on the next attempt”.

It’s not easy to do but if you keep at it then you’ll start to look at things in a completely different way.

How do you stay positive?

image credit flickr

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