WHAT TO AVOID

NOTE: You don't necessarily have to avoid these!  Overnight oats can be as healthy as you make them - click here to find the original photo alongside lots of recipes to try.

After last week's weight loss post, I thought it might be useful to share with you some of my thoughts on how I gained the weight in the first place.  I know, I know....in a nutshell I was eating too much of the good stuff.....but there was more to it than that.  I picked up bad habits that I didn't even notice myself doing and I wasn't in a good place mentally.  I think it's important to identify these factors if you want to make changes.

I'll start by saying that this weight didn't pile on overnight.  From my lowest weight, it took me a couple of years to put on 9 or so lbs and in all honesty it didn't bother me.  I was eating what I wanted, exercising moderately and my body had just evened out.  But in the last 18-24 months, I realised there was a problem.  I was putting on weight faster than ever and feeling pretty unaware as to how it was happening.  I wasn't happy with how I looked, clothes didn't fit right and I couldn't seem to get a handle on things.

So how did I gain the weight?

My mental state |  There are two strands to this.  Rewind back to late 2014, early 2015 and I was really struggling mentally.  I felt stressed and out of control across so many areas of my life, and my eating was one of them.  I've always been a comfort eater - whether it's to comfort myself emotionally or even just to make me feel better if it's cold! - and I think I was eating to compensate for that.  I never gorged myself or binged, but I definitely wasn't making good choices.  Which leads on to the other component here.  You have to have your head in the game to lose weight....wanting it and moaning about it isn't enough.  No matter how badly I thought I wanted to slim down, subconsciously I just didn't feel ready, mentally, to make any positive changes.

Buying treats | For a while this was my biggest downfall.  We'd quite often skip weekly shops so I'd pop in to the Tesco Express round the corner a couple of nights a week on my way home from work.  And on 90% of those trips, I'd pick up some sort of chocolatey treat simply because they were on offer.  But the worst part of this was....I'd hide them once I got in.  I was telling myself it was so Nick didn't scoff them all in one sitting, but in reality it was so I could eat them all myself.  I also think a little bit of shame comes into it here, too.  With packets stuffed in cupboards and drawers I never really held myself accountable to how much I was consuming because I never actually looked at the packet to see: I just ate until it was empty.  Again, there was no binging and it would take a couple of days to finish off a pack, but it's definitely excess calories that I was eating mindlessly. 

Exercising with no purpose | I'm not sure I've described this one properly, but throughout the past few years I've always been a gym-goer.  So why no results?  I'd start by sitting myself on the bike for at least half an hour 3-4 times a week and refuse to leave until I'd burned at least X-amount of calories across a host of machines.  Or I went through phases of following Kayla Itsines' workout plan (religiously for 4 weeks, with no change in my body) or sweating it out doing the 30 Day Shred to find I'd lost nothing.  And to be honest, I'm not entirely sure why I didn't see any changes.  I've never been one to pig out on takeaways and have fatty, heavy meals but I know that my bad diet and snacking certainly wasn't helping.  My exercise and food consumption didn't complement each other - I was eating badly and hoping the workouts would cancel things out; they may have slowed my weight gain down, but it didn't lead to a deficit and loss.

Bad diets | So besides the snacking I've mentioned, I've done some pretty silly diets as well.  My main one is restricting calories and for a while last year I was having protein shakes twice a day and eating two plain rice cakes for lunch as a way of keeping my calorie intake really low.  Which is ridiculous, and no wonder I didn't lose anything!  I've also dabbled with other diets and although they're not 'bad' necessarily, they just didn't do anything for me.  I tried both Weight Watchers and Slimming World but think the idea of "free foods" was a problem.  Oh, I can eat all the rice and pasta I want you say.....?  Without realising it, I was eating more than usual just because it was 'free'. 

Avoiding the scales | Any time in my life that I've gained weight it's been, in part, because I haven't been weighing myself.  I went years without stepping on the scales and that's when I hit my heaviest.  Now I weigh myself everyday and although some people tell me that's unhealthy, I really don't think it is for me.  I have to feel accountable for my weight and see when things are starting to go the wrong way in order for me to nip it in the bud and change things before they become too much of a habit.  You might be someone who prefers to measure their body using a tape measure....whatever works for you, but I think burying your head in the sand is a big no-no.


Until I sat down to write this post I don't think I'd realised quite how many factors came into play with my gaining weight.  It's so easy to say "I need to eat less" or "I need to move more" but I truly believe that all the pieces of the puzzle need to fall into place for dieting to be successful.  If I hadn't managed to get all of these things in line, I'm not sure I'd be sitting here 21lbs lighter for it.  So if you're wanting to make changes to your body, I'd really recommend having a think about the reasons and choices that have lead to where you are now.

Hopefully this helps!

Why I Gained Weight

23.2.16

WHAT TO AVOID

NOTE: You don't necessarily have to avoid these!  Overnight oats can be as healthy as you make them - click here to find the original photo alongside lots of recipes to try.

After last week's weight loss post, I thought it might be useful to share with you some of my thoughts on how I gained the weight in the first place.  I know, I know....in a nutshell I was eating too much of the good stuff.....but there was more to it than that.  I picked up bad habits that I didn't even notice myself doing and I wasn't in a good place mentally.  I think it's important to identify these factors if you want to make changes.

I'll start by saying that this weight didn't pile on overnight.  From my lowest weight, it took me a couple of years to put on 9 or so lbs and in all honesty it didn't bother me.  I was eating what I wanted, exercising moderately and my body had just evened out.  But in the last 18-24 months, I realised there was a problem.  I was putting on weight faster than ever and feeling pretty unaware as to how it was happening.  I wasn't happy with how I looked, clothes didn't fit right and I couldn't seem to get a handle on things.

So how did I gain the weight?

My mental state |  There are two strands to this.  Rewind back to late 2014, early 2015 and I was really struggling mentally.  I felt stressed and out of control across so many areas of my life, and my eating was one of them.  I've always been a comfort eater - whether it's to comfort myself emotionally or even just to make me feel better if it's cold! - and I think I was eating to compensate for that.  I never gorged myself or binged, but I definitely wasn't making good choices.  Which leads on to the other component here.  You have to have your head in the game to lose weight....wanting it and moaning about it isn't enough.  No matter how badly I thought I wanted to slim down, subconsciously I just didn't feel ready, mentally, to make any positive changes.

Buying treats | For a while this was my biggest downfall.  We'd quite often skip weekly shops so I'd pop in to the Tesco Express round the corner a couple of nights a week on my way home from work.  And on 90% of those trips, I'd pick up some sort of chocolatey treat simply because they were on offer.  But the worst part of this was....I'd hide them once I got in.  I was telling myself it was so Nick didn't scoff them all in one sitting, but in reality it was so I could eat them all myself.  I also think a little bit of shame comes into it here, too.  With packets stuffed in cupboards and drawers I never really held myself accountable to how much I was consuming because I never actually looked at the packet to see: I just ate until it was empty.  Again, there was no binging and it would take a couple of days to finish off a pack, but it's definitely excess calories that I was eating mindlessly. 

Exercising with no purpose | I'm not sure I've described this one properly, but throughout the past few years I've always been a gym-goer.  So why no results?  I'd start by sitting myself on the bike for at least half an hour 3-4 times a week and refuse to leave until I'd burned at least X-amount of calories across a host of machines.  Or I went through phases of following Kayla Itsines' workout plan (religiously for 4 weeks, with no change in my body) or sweating it out doing the 30 Day Shred to find I'd lost nothing.  And to be honest, I'm not entirely sure why I didn't see any changes.  I've never been one to pig out on takeaways and have fatty, heavy meals but I know that my bad diet and snacking certainly wasn't helping.  My exercise and food consumption didn't complement each other - I was eating badly and hoping the workouts would cancel things out; they may have slowed my weight gain down, but it didn't lead to a deficit and loss.

Bad diets | So besides the snacking I've mentioned, I've done some pretty silly diets as well.  My main one is restricting calories and for a while last year I was having protein shakes twice a day and eating two plain rice cakes for lunch as a way of keeping my calorie intake really low.  Which is ridiculous, and no wonder I didn't lose anything!  I've also dabbled with other diets and although they're not 'bad' necessarily, they just didn't do anything for me.  I tried both Weight Watchers and Slimming World but think the idea of "free foods" was a problem.  Oh, I can eat all the rice and pasta I want you say.....?  Without realising it, I was eating more than usual just because it was 'free'. 

Avoiding the scales | Any time in my life that I've gained weight it's been, in part, because I haven't been weighing myself.  I went years without stepping on the scales and that's when I hit my heaviest.  Now I weigh myself everyday and although some people tell me that's unhealthy, I really don't think it is for me.  I have to feel accountable for my weight and see when things are starting to go the wrong way in order for me to nip it in the bud and change things before they become too much of a habit.  You might be someone who prefers to measure their body using a tape measure....whatever works for you, but I think burying your head in the sand is a big no-no.


Until I sat down to write this post I don't think I'd realised quite how many factors came into play with my gaining weight.  It's so easy to say "I need to eat less" or "I need to move more" but I truly believe that all the pieces of the puzzle need to fall into place for dieting to be successful.  If I hadn't managed to get all of these things in line, I'm not sure I'd be sitting here 21lbs lighter for it.  So if you're wanting to make changes to your body, I'd really recommend having a think about the reasons and choices that have lead to where you are now.

Hopefully this helps!

MY NEW OBSESSION!


Let me introduce you to my most bag purchase - this beautiful dusky pink suede number from Zara.  When it comes to off duty, weekend style there's no denying that crossbody bags are my thang, and for the past few years I've been a fan of condensing down the crap necessities that I carry so that on days off I'm only lugging around the bare essentials.

But until recently I'd never worn a crossbody bag, well....across my body.  I preferred to balance the longer strap on one shoulder, which quite often led to it regularly slipping down due to my lack of substantial shoulder width and the company of two small children most Saturdays, requiring regular shimmying along or picking up.  So when I spotted fashionistas wearing their bags satchel-style, with the straps sitting diagonally across their fronts, I thought I'd give it a go.

And what are my thoughts?  Revolutionary.  At first I felt a little strange and self-conscious, completely changing the way I held my bag, but now I'm converted. The weight is balanced a little more evenly across my body and somehow it feels a little more secure knowing that my handbag is so easily within my reach rather then just dangling from my shoulder.


A COUPLE OF OBSERVATIONS:

// I know the Chloe-style saddle bag is *in*, but I much prefer a boxier style for this look.  Personal choice, but I definitely think a slightly thinner than average (but not envelope-width), rectangular-shaped structured bag works best.

// Play around with straps for added detail.  The majority of my bags have a plain, matching leather strap but I also think a chain detail one looks great.

// It's got to hit hip height.  Too low looks like it's fallen down, and whilst some people are able to pull of the bag sitting slightly higher, I'd say the majority of us can't.

// Another personal preference, but as you'll see below (and in this post!), for spring I'm all about a neutral colour palette.  Classic black, dusky pink or soft grey are *the* shades I'm opting for.

HIGH STREET INSPIRATION:
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: 1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5

Style: The Crossbody Bag

18.2.16

MY NEW OBSESSION!


Let me introduce you to my most bag purchase - this beautiful dusky pink suede number from Zara.  When it comes to off duty, weekend style there's no denying that crossbody bags are my thang, and for the past few years I've been a fan of condensing down the crap necessities that I carry so that on days off I'm only lugging around the bare essentials.

But until recently I'd never worn a crossbody bag, well....across my body.  I preferred to balance the longer strap on one shoulder, which quite often led to it regularly slipping down due to my lack of substantial shoulder width and the company of two small children most Saturdays, requiring regular shimmying along or picking up.  So when I spotted fashionistas wearing their bags satchel-style, with the straps sitting diagonally across their fronts, I thought I'd give it a go.

And what are my thoughts?  Revolutionary.  At first I felt a little strange and self-conscious, completely changing the way I held my bag, but now I'm converted. The weight is balanced a little more evenly across my body and somehow it feels a little more secure knowing that my handbag is so easily within my reach rather then just dangling from my shoulder.


A COUPLE OF OBSERVATIONS:

// I know the Chloe-style saddle bag is *in*, but I much prefer a boxier style for this look.  Personal choice, but I definitely think a slightly thinner than average (but not envelope-width), rectangular-shaped structured bag works best.

// Play around with straps for added detail.  The majority of my bags have a plain, matching leather strap but I also think a chain detail one looks great.

// It's got to hit hip height.  Too low looks like it's fallen down, and whilst some people are able to pull of the bag sitting slightly higher, I'd say the majority of us can't.

// Another personal preference, but as you'll see below (and in this post!), for spring I'm all about a neutral colour palette.  Classic black, dusky pink or soft grey are *the* shades I'm opting for.

HIGH STREET INSPIRATION:
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: 1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5

MY TIPS AND TRICKS


When I mentioned my New Year's Resolution to keep on shifting the lbs, a couple of you asked how I was doing it.  I wanted to share my experience with you, but also wanted to hit a milestone before doing it....and I've finally done it!

Let me start with a disclaimer.  If you're looking for a 'how to' guide you're not going to find it here.  Losing weight isn't easy and experience has taught me there's no suit-all formula behind it.  I don't want to preach to you all with dos and don'ts, but if you want advice on the journey as a whole then look no further.

Find what works for you | Over recent years I have tried so many different ways to lose weight.  Protein shakes, Weight Watchers, calorie counting, fad eating, Slimming World, exercise plans....none of it worked.  I'll put it out there that low carbs is what's done the trick and helped me shift 21lbs since mid-October, but I'm very aware that carbs are not the enemy.  I still eat them (more so on exercise days), but always try to keep in mind that I want to keep my intake low.  I realised a while back that my everyday diet was predominantly carb-based so by lowering the amount I eat, I think it's led to me eating a more balanced diet thus helping to shift the weight.  Point is, what works for some won't necessarily work for you (Lizzie is a Slimming World fan and had great results, but I only put on more weight) and it's more or less trial and error until you find your groove.

Buddy up | Dieting is pretty soul-destroying alone.  Going out to dinner but being the only one watching what they eat can be difficult, not to mention awkward when the result is you're a much pickier eater than normal.  I've always found the key to my weight loss is having a friend doing it as well; Lizzie and I do weigh-ins every Tuesday and I've got a friend at work following the Atkins plan who I know I can text when I need advice or a pep talk!

Set goals | So my goal back in October was to lose 19lbs, for no other reason than that was a weight I remember being at and feeling good about myself.  That in itself can be quite daunting, so I've set myself mini goals in between....to hit a certain weight by Christmas, by a friend's birthday and again by the end of January....and for each of them I managed to surpass the figure I had in mind.  They were small and achievable (sometimes only a 2lb loss) but it helped to keep me on track and limit any chances for huge disappointment.

Remove temptation | The more I started eating cleaner, the less I felt the need to put treats and snacks in my basket on my weekly shop.  If they're not in the house to begin with, there's no way you can binge on anything naughty and feel bad about yourself after!  Now that I've got much more of a handle on my eating habits, I've allowed myself to buy a pack of cookies per week, safe in the knowledge that I'll only ever eat one a day (if that) and won't fall off track.  In fact, I've had an Emergency Chocolate Bar in my bag since November which I can't see myself eating any time soon....how's that for willpower!

Exercise | they say that the key to losing weight is 70% diet and I definitely agree with that.  I always went to the gym but as I've said, for years I saw no measurable results.  But now that I'm on my way, I really would recommend signing up to classes or just trying to move more in general.  I go spinning twice a week which allows me to sneak in an extra treat or two on those days "for energy".  Yeah right.  Either way, I feel far less guilty as I know I'll be burning it off come the evening and it's an amazing feeling to push your body past any expectations you had.  Not to mention the endorphin-rush I get at the end of a particularly hard-going session.  My next step is to introduce resistance and weight training into my routine to start to tone up more, and to go back to Body Balance classes as a way of stretching out and relaxing at the end of each week.

Persevere | Anyone who tells you that losing weight is easy, or offers a quick-fix solution, is lying.  I've mentioned it before; I lost over 5st around 7 years ago and watched my weight slowly creep up by 2st without managing to do anything about it.  My eating habits had changed so much that I didn't know how to put things right again and it was a real blow to my confidence feeling pretty much helpless and hating what I was doing to myself.  As I said earlier, finding what works really is key and once you've got it you'll be well on your way.  Celebrate every success, no matter how small, and try not to see any setbacks as total failures.  Remember that even if you've gained 1lb one week, you're probably still so much closer to your goal than when you started.  Focus on where you're heading and keep going.

How I lost 21lbs (and counting!)

16.2.16

MY TIPS AND TRICKS


When I mentioned my New Year's Resolution to keep on shifting the lbs, a couple of you asked how I was doing it.  I wanted to share my experience with you, but also wanted to hit a milestone before doing it....and I've finally done it!

Let me start with a disclaimer.  If you're looking for a 'how to' guide you're not going to find it here.  Losing weight isn't easy and experience has taught me there's no suit-all formula behind it.  I don't want to preach to you all with dos and don'ts, but if you want advice on the journey as a whole then look no further.

Find what works for you | Over recent years I have tried so many different ways to lose weight.  Protein shakes, Weight Watchers, calorie counting, fad eating, Slimming World, exercise plans....none of it worked.  I'll put it out there that low carbs is what's done the trick and helped me shift 21lbs since mid-October, but I'm very aware that carbs are not the enemy.  I still eat them (more so on exercise days), but always try to keep in mind that I want to keep my intake low.  I realised a while back that my everyday diet was predominantly carb-based so by lowering the amount I eat, I think it's led to me eating a more balanced diet thus helping to shift the weight.  Point is, what works for some won't necessarily work for you (Lizzie is a Slimming World fan and had great results, but I only put on more weight) and it's more or less trial and error until you find your groove.

Buddy up | Dieting is pretty soul-destroying alone.  Going out to dinner but being the only one watching what they eat can be difficult, not to mention awkward when the result is you're a much pickier eater than normal.  I've always found the key to my weight loss is having a friend doing it as well; Lizzie and I do weigh-ins every Tuesday and I've got a friend at work following the Atkins plan who I know I can text when I need advice or a pep talk!

Set goals | So my goal back in October was to lose 19lbs, for no other reason than that was a weight I remember being at and feeling good about myself.  That in itself can be quite daunting, so I've set myself mini goals in between....to hit a certain weight by Christmas, by a friend's birthday and again by the end of January....and for each of them I managed to surpass the figure I had in mind.  They were small and achievable (sometimes only a 2lb loss) but it helped to keep me on track and limit any chances for huge disappointment.

Remove temptation | The more I started eating cleaner, the less I felt the need to put treats and snacks in my basket on my weekly shop.  If they're not in the house to begin with, there's no way you can binge on anything naughty and feel bad about yourself after!  Now that I've got much more of a handle on my eating habits, I've allowed myself to buy a pack of cookies per week, safe in the knowledge that I'll only ever eat one a day (if that) and won't fall off track.  In fact, I've had an Emergency Chocolate Bar in my bag since November which I can't see myself eating any time soon....how's that for willpower!

Exercise | they say that the key to losing weight is 70% diet and I definitely agree with that.  I always went to the gym but as I've said, for years I saw no measurable results.  But now that I'm on my way, I really would recommend signing up to classes or just trying to move more in general.  I go spinning twice a week which allows me to sneak in an extra treat or two on those days "for energy".  Yeah right.  Either way, I feel far less guilty as I know I'll be burning it off come the evening and it's an amazing feeling to push your body past any expectations you had.  Not to mention the endorphin-rush I get at the end of a particularly hard-going session.  My next step is to introduce resistance and weight training into my routine to start to tone up more, and to go back to Body Balance classes as a way of stretching out and relaxing at the end of each week.

Persevere | Anyone who tells you that losing weight is easy, or offers a quick-fix solution, is lying.  I've mentioned it before; I lost over 5st around 7 years ago and watched my weight slowly creep up by 2st without managing to do anything about it.  My eating habits had changed so much that I didn't know how to put things right again and it was a real blow to my confidence feeling pretty much helpless and hating what I was doing to myself.  As I said earlier, finding what works really is key and once you've got it you'll be well on your way.  Celebrate every success, no matter how small, and try not to see any setbacks as total failures.  Remember that even if you've gained 1lb one week, you're probably still so much closer to your goal than when you started.  Focus on where you're heading and keep going.

CURRENT MOOD BOARD

Image credits: 1 // 2 // 3 // 4

I am obsessed with a muted, creamy colour palette.  Anything dusky, blush pink is catching my eye and mixed in with soft greys and classic coppers....you've pretty much got my ideal wardrobe theme.

Like what you see?  Here's where you can get all the items listed:


Unexpectedly, the sports luxe look is one I'm really leaning towards.  My fash pants have opened up a whole new world to me and I find myself heading towards the casual, joggers section of shops.  Alicia's got the look nailed, and her instagram is one to follow if you're looking on how to work the casual look with a more stylish edge.

To finish, I'm also thinking of having a little switch up with my hair this month.  Now that my fringe is nearly fully grown out I'm planning to get it cut a little shorter with the aim of blending in the remaining layers a bit more.  And in terms of colour, I'm thinking now's the time to finally get rid of the bronde look.  I had a brief dalliance with pink, leading to bleach blonde, a couple of years ago, but besides that have remained loyal to the ombre/balayage style.  I'm hoping for a creamy, ice-toned blonde taken much higher up towards the root to freshen things up for spring.  I've spent a lot of time pinning things to my pinterest board dedicated to all things good hair, so be sure to check there if you want to see what's doing it for me lately.

Do you have any style plans for the month?

Mood Board: February

11.2.16

CURRENT MOOD BOARD

Image credits: 1 // 2 // 3 // 4

I am obsessed with a muted, creamy colour palette.  Anything dusky, blush pink is catching my eye and mixed in with soft greys and classic coppers....you've pretty much got my ideal wardrobe theme.

Like what you see?  Here's where you can get all the items listed:


Unexpectedly, the sports luxe look is one I'm really leaning towards.  My fash pants have opened up a whole new world to me and I find myself heading towards the casual, joggers section of shops.  Alicia's got the look nailed, and her instagram is one to follow if you're looking on how to work the casual look with a more stylish edge.

To finish, I'm also thinking of having a little switch up with my hair this month.  Now that my fringe is nearly fully grown out I'm planning to get it cut a little shorter with the aim of blending in the remaining layers a bit more.  And in terms of colour, I'm thinking now's the time to finally get rid of the bronde look.  I had a brief dalliance with pink, leading to bleach blonde, a couple of years ago, but besides that have remained loyal to the ombre/balayage style.  I'm hoping for a creamy, ice-toned blonde taken much higher up towards the root to freshen things up for spring.  I've spent a lot of time pinning things to my pinterest board dedicated to all things good hair, so be sure to check there if you want to see what's doing it for me lately.

Do you have any style plans for the month?

...I'M GOING TO HAVE PANCAKES WITH A SIDE OF PANCAKES


Pancake Day is a day of joy.  Any time where it becomes acceptable to overload on sugary sweet goodness - heck, to even forgo a proper dinner in favour of sweet treats - is one of the best days of the year for me.  I have a go-to topping of choice, but scouring the internet for this post has opened my eyes to the immense wealth of pancake recipes available.

All hail the pancake!
TRADITIONAL
On a basic level, there are only two types of pancake for me.  Thick or thin.  If I'm going standard, the pancakes of my youth, it's all about the lemon and sugar variety.  A few years ago I ventured out into American-style pancakes: they can be fairly difficult to master and often involved various hard to come by ingredients.  Until I found this fail-safe Jamie Oliver recipe.  If you're after thick, fluffy pancakes then look no further.  Drizzled with maple syrup is always a winner.  

INDULGENT
Chocolate with anything is a no brainer.  But gooey, melting warm puddles of good-ness are a must today.  These Nutella-stuffed versions are a twist on a standard combination, but these Oreo cookie ones are something else.  Not only do they look amazing, they're actually sneakily deceptive and not actually that bad for you.  A sweet tooth satisfier that won't ruin the diet?  Perfect.

HEALTHY
As I've just touched on, the best thing about pancakes is their versatility - mainly the potential to mix ingredients up and make them a healthy option.  Protein pancakes have been doing the rounds for a while, and this banana oatmeal recipe uses chocolate protein powder to amp the sweetness up a notch.  You'd be forgiven for thinking they're as naughty as they look, alongside these Slimming World-friendly salted caramel pancakes.  It's a four-ingredient recipe which looks to be quick and easy to whip up.

FRUITY
If you're looking for something a bit lighter, you can't go wrong with fruit as a topping.  As I said, lemon and sugar is my favourite, but strawberries are another delicious option.  I couldn't resist sneaking in an extra helping of chocolate, as demonstrated by this recipe.  Or if you like a classic breakfast-y variety, try these stacked blueberry pancakes.

SAVOURY 
Ok, ok.  Despite the sweetness overload in this post, it didn't seem right to overlook the savoury variety.  Although Nick can't get his head around it, I am fully on board.  Sadly though, that means these are unlikely to feature in our house.  Which is a shame, because the mushroom and spinach crepes with goats cheese and balsamic drizzle sound ah-may-zing and the egg peeking out of this Turkish spinach galette looks exactly like the sort of thing I'd like to eat.

EXPERIMENTAL
Finally onto something a little more adventurous....and I couldn't pick just two! On the left we've got German oven-baked pancakes - something I'd never heard of and am definitely interested to try.  Anything red velvet is guaranteed to catch my eye, so these raspberry flavoured pancakes with sweet cream cheese filling and a drizzle of Nutella were always going to make the cut with this post.  And on the right?  Cinnamon roll pancakes.  You're welcome.

Which ones will you be trying?

13 Pancake Recipes To Try Today

9.2.16

...I'M GOING TO HAVE PANCAKES WITH A SIDE OF PANCAKES


Pancake Day is a day of joy.  Any time where it becomes acceptable to overload on sugary sweet goodness - heck, to even forgo a proper dinner in favour of sweet treats - is one of the best days of the year for me.  I have a go-to topping of choice, but scouring the internet for this post has opened my eyes to the immense wealth of pancake recipes available.

All hail the pancake!
TRADITIONAL
On a basic level, there are only two types of pancake for me.  Thick or thin.  If I'm going standard, the pancakes of my youth, it's all about the lemon and sugar variety.  A few years ago I ventured out into American-style pancakes: they can be fairly difficult to master and often involved various hard to come by ingredients.  Until I found this fail-safe Jamie Oliver recipe.  If you're after thick, fluffy pancakes then look no further.  Drizzled with maple syrup is always a winner.  

INDULGENT
Chocolate with anything is a no brainer.  But gooey, melting warm puddles of good-ness are a must today.  These Nutella-stuffed versions are a twist on a standard combination, but these Oreo cookie ones are something else.  Not only do they look amazing, they're actually sneakily deceptive and not actually that bad for you.  A sweet tooth satisfier that won't ruin the diet?  Perfect.

HEALTHY
As I've just touched on, the best thing about pancakes is their versatility - mainly the potential to mix ingredients up and make them a healthy option.  Protein pancakes have been doing the rounds for a while, and this banana oatmeal recipe uses chocolate protein powder to amp the sweetness up a notch.  You'd be forgiven for thinking they're as naughty as they look, alongside these Slimming World-friendly salted caramel pancakes.  It's a four-ingredient recipe which looks to be quick and easy to whip up.

FRUITY
If you're looking for something a bit lighter, you can't go wrong with fruit as a topping.  As I said, lemon and sugar is my favourite, but strawberries are another delicious option.  I couldn't resist sneaking in an extra helping of chocolate, as demonstrated by this recipe.  Or if you like a classic breakfast-y variety, try these stacked blueberry pancakes.

SAVOURY 
Ok, ok.  Despite the sweetness overload in this post, it didn't seem right to overlook the savoury variety.  Although Nick can't get his head around it, I am fully on board.  Sadly though, that means these are unlikely to feature in our house.  Which is a shame, because the mushroom and spinach crepes with goats cheese and balsamic drizzle sound ah-may-zing and the egg peeking out of this Turkish spinach galette looks exactly like the sort of thing I'd like to eat.

EXPERIMENTAL
Finally onto something a little more adventurous....and I couldn't pick just two! On the left we've got German oven-baked pancakes - something I'd never heard of and am definitely interested to try.  Anything red velvet is guaranteed to catch my eye, so these raspberry flavoured pancakes with sweet cream cheese filling and a drizzle of Nutella were always going to make the cut with this post.  And on the right?  Cinnamon roll pancakes.  You're welcome.

Which ones will you be trying?
Image found via Pinterest

#1 - THE EXAMINED LIFE: HOW WE LOSE AND FIND OURSELVES // Stephen Grosz 


The Examined Life is, effectively, a collection of anecdotal stories from psychoanalyst Stephen Grosz's experiences with clients.  It promises to be about "learning to live" and finding ourselves; I expected insightful lessons which I could take away and apply to real life situations.  I bought this at a time when I needed direction and was seeking positivity, I suppose.  I didn't find it, or myself, in the pages of this book.  It is helpfully split into sections such as "loving" or "changing", and within each chapter it's focused further into specific essays ("on secrets").  Grosz's writing was compelling and easy to read, but I found the information to be too much to take in at one time and it ended up just swimming around my head in a blur.  I couldn't distinguish one article from the other and being based around certain people's individual problems meant it was difficult to see how the outcomes could apply to me.  Some issues did resonate, however, so perhaps this is one to revist on an 'as and when' basis - dipping in and out to seek advice when needed.
Rating: 2/5 


#2 - ONLY EVER YOURS // Louise O'Neill 

This book was big news online last year - Frieda is at a finishing school (of sorts) where the girls will only ever become Companions, Concubines or Chastities.  Destinies decided and controlled by men on the basis of their appearance, weight and behaviour.  It's disturbing, hard-hitting and thought provoking, written with insight and cynicism.  I read this with a couple of friends and we all agreed with could relate to the girls and see our younger selves in similar (albeit toned down) situations that the girls were in.  The hierarchy of school, body image issues and the mystery of boys is all covered in here.  I didn't enjoy it as much as O'Neill's other book, Asking For It, but it was still gripping and enjoyable all the way through.   And the ending!  Didn't see that coming.
Rating: 5/5  


#3 - WHAT ALICE FORGOT // Lianne Moriarty

Read as part of the Blogger Bookclub, check out my review here.
Rating: 2/5


  #4 - THE GAP OF TIME // Jeanette Winterson 

The Gap of Time is a retelling of Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale, published as part of the Hogarth Shakespeare project.  I wasn't familiar with The Winter's Tale or Jeanette Winterson's writing style, but really enjoyed both.  The book comes with a brief synopsis of Shakespeare's original play before launching into Winterson's retelling.  I enjoyed seeing how the characters' names matched up to their traditional counterparts and liked the reinvention of the story.  It was a quick read which I have to admit, I did feel like it went over my head at certain points.  The general thread was easy to keep up with, but the addition of a computer game as a key part of the story (the game's called The Gap Of Time so is a pretty important focus!) was lost on me and something I found hard to grasp.  It was a really enjoyable story nonetheless, and I'm looking forward to keeping up with the retellings project.
Rating: 4/5


#5 - THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE // C.S. Lewis

I got a head start on my plans to re-read old favourites in February, and snuck this one in at the end of the month.  It was as good as I remembered, and an even quicker read than expected thanks to having watched the film a few weeks earlier which helped me to race through certain passages.  My passion for Narnia has been reignited and I can't wait to carry on with the rest of the series.
Rating: 5/5

 



 

Read in 2016: January

4.2.16

Image found via Pinterest

#1 - THE EXAMINED LIFE: HOW WE LOSE AND FIND OURSELVES // Stephen Grosz 


The Examined Life is, effectively, a collection of anecdotal stories from psychoanalyst Stephen Grosz's experiences with clients.  It promises to be about "learning to live" and finding ourselves; I expected insightful lessons which I could take away and apply to real life situations.  I bought this at a time when I needed direction and was seeking positivity, I suppose.  I didn't find it, or myself, in the pages of this book.  It is helpfully split into sections such as "loving" or "changing", and within each chapter it's focused further into specific essays ("on secrets").  Grosz's writing was compelling and easy to read, but I found the information to be too much to take in at one time and it ended up just swimming around my head in a blur.  I couldn't distinguish one article from the other and being based around certain people's individual problems meant it was difficult to see how the outcomes could apply to me.  Some issues did resonate, however, so perhaps this is one to revist on an 'as and when' basis - dipping in and out to seek advice when needed.
Rating: 2/5 


#2 - ONLY EVER YOURS // Louise O'Neill 

This book was big news online last year - Frieda is at a finishing school (of sorts) where the girls will only ever become Companions, Concubines or Chastities.  Destinies decided and controlled by men on the basis of their appearance, weight and behaviour.  It's disturbing, hard-hitting and thought provoking, written with insight and cynicism.  I read this with a couple of friends and we all agreed with could relate to the girls and see our younger selves in similar (albeit toned down) situations that the girls were in.  The hierarchy of school, body image issues and the mystery of boys is all covered in here.  I didn't enjoy it as much as O'Neill's other book, Asking For It, but it was still gripping and enjoyable all the way through.   And the ending!  Didn't see that coming.
Rating: 5/5  


#3 - WHAT ALICE FORGOT // Lianne Moriarty

Read as part of the Blogger Bookclub, check out my review here.
Rating: 2/5


  #4 - THE GAP OF TIME // Jeanette Winterson 

The Gap of Time is a retelling of Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale, published as part of the Hogarth Shakespeare project.  I wasn't familiar with The Winter's Tale or Jeanette Winterson's writing style, but really enjoyed both.  The book comes with a brief synopsis of Shakespeare's original play before launching into Winterson's retelling.  I enjoyed seeing how the characters' names matched up to their traditional counterparts and liked the reinvention of the story.  It was a quick read which I have to admit, I did feel like it went over my head at certain points.  The general thread was easy to keep up with, but the addition of a computer game as a key part of the story (the game's called The Gap Of Time so is a pretty important focus!) was lost on me and something I found hard to grasp.  It was a really enjoyable story nonetheless, and I'm looking forward to keeping up with the retellings project.
Rating: 4/5


#5 - THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE // C.S. Lewis

I got a head start on my plans to re-read old favourites in February, and snuck this one in at the end of the month.  It was as good as I remembered, and an even quicker read than expected thanks to having watched the film a few weeks earlier which helped me to race through certain passages.  My passion for Narnia has been reignited and I can't wait to carry on with the rest of the series.
Rating: 5/5

 



 

#1 - ELLA'S BIRTHDAY
At the beginning of the month Ella turned 3 and besides her actual birthday party, Mum and I celebrated with Ella by taking her and Dylan on the train to Guildford for a 'Little Lady' day out (Dylan was a-ok with this).  Ella took her pink fluffy handbag I'd bought her and a purse with money in to buy herself something.  Girl after my own heart, she spent it in Waterstones (albeit on stickers, but we're getting there!) and we finished off with a lunch of her choice.  It was a really lovely, slightly tiring, day out which added a little extra to the month.

#2 - LOSING A STONE
 Ok, so this *just* happen in January and was actually part of a process but I hit the milestone a couple of weeks ago and have lost another 4lbs since!  More on how I got there in a post next week, if you're interested.

#3 - MAKING A PRETTY BIG LIFE DECISION
I sometimes feel like I'm floundering a little in life, but in January I made my mind up and took steps towards making some changes.  I don't want to say too much here, but it is good to feel like I've gained some perspective and have a sense of purpose.

#4 - HAVING A MANIC WEEK
 With the exception of gym days, most nights I come home from work and collapse on the sofa.  But in the last week, I had plans every. single. night.  Spinning >> catch up round a friend's (plus Facetiming our absent friend in America!) >> a farewell dinner with Lizzie >> more spinning >> payday late night shopping.  It was exhausting.  But in hindsight, I've definitely made a few more memories in there, and getting to see the face of a friend I haven't spoken to properly for over 2 years was a wonderful way to spend a Tuesday evening. 

#5 - SPENDING THE DAY IN BRIGHTON
At the end of the month, my two best friends and I went on a day trip to Brighton for a shopping excursion.  It's been years since we just hung out all together and it was the best day.  We spent lots, wandered along the windy beach front, stopped for lunch and then meandered through the lanes back to the car park.  Finished off with a car trip singing along to our favourite songs and making plans for world domination, it really was a good-for-the-soul day that we need to do more of.

5 Happy Things In January

2.2.16


#1 - ELLA'S BIRTHDAY
At the beginning of the month Ella turned 3 and besides her actual birthday party, Mum and I celebrated with Ella by taking her and Dylan on the train to Guildford for a 'Little Lady' day out (Dylan was a-ok with this).  Ella took her pink fluffy handbag I'd bought her and a purse with money in to buy herself something.  Girl after my own heart, she spent it in Waterstones (albeit on stickers, but we're getting there!) and we finished off with a lunch of her choice.  It was a really lovely, slightly tiring, day out which added a little extra to the month.

#2 - LOSING A STONE
 Ok, so this *just* happen in January and was actually part of a process but I hit the milestone a couple of weeks ago and have lost another 4lbs since!  More on how I got there in a post next week, if you're interested.

#3 - MAKING A PRETTY BIG LIFE DECISION
I sometimes feel like I'm floundering a little in life, but in January I made my mind up and took steps towards making some changes.  I don't want to say too much here, but it is good to feel like I've gained some perspective and have a sense of purpose.

#4 - HAVING A MANIC WEEK
 With the exception of gym days, most nights I come home from work and collapse on the sofa.  But in the last week, I had plans every. single. night.  Spinning >> catch up round a friend's (plus Facetiming our absent friend in America!) >> a farewell dinner with Lizzie >> more spinning >> payday late night shopping.  It was exhausting.  But in hindsight, I've definitely made a few more memories in there, and getting to see the face of a friend I haven't spoken to properly for over 2 years was a wonderful way to spend a Tuesday evening. 

#5 - SPENDING THE DAY IN BRIGHTON
At the end of the month, my two best friends and I went on a day trip to Brighton for a shopping excursion.  It's been years since we just hung out all together and it was the best day.  We spent lots, wandered along the windy beach front, stopped for lunch and then meandered through the lanes back to the car park.  Finished off with a car trip singing along to our favourite songs and making plans for world domination, it really was a good-for-the-soul day that we need to do more of.

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