Sunday, 31 July 2011

Katie's Oatmeal Trick...

...aka The Great Oat Explosion 2011.

I love reading Chocolate-Covered Katie's blog - she has so many amazing healthy eating ideas that don't skimp on the indulgence factor (or the chocolate!) and when I saw her Voluminous Oatmeal Trick, I had to try it. I love my Overnight Oats and they do fill me up, but the thought of making a huge portion of soft, pillowy, puddingy oats out of exactly the same ingredients sounded too good to be true!

So I followed the instructions (using 30g of oats and wheatbran, 10g of Waitrose date and coconut porridge, 100ml of Kara coconut milk and 300ml of water) and put the oats into the microwave for four and a half minutes. Then I left them in the microwave for a further five minutes, and excitedly opened the door...only to be greeted by the most unholy mess you can possibly imagine! Yep, I should have kept an eye on it! Oh well, the microwave needed a clean anyway!

So for take two, I watched the microwave like a hawk...

...and cooked it for 3:20, until it looked like most of the water had been absorbed. Here's the resulting still-slightly-watery oaty mess (safely contained in its Pyrex jug this time).

It's gone into the fridge and I'll see what it's like in the morning!

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

A lovely week off...

I know I haven't posted for ages - that's because I had a week off! I went down to Somerset to stay with my parents, and did all sorts of things.

I went to a wet and windy Lyme Regis with my mum...

...where we walked a bit of the coastal path that involved lots of climbing up really steep staircases cut into the cliffs! We weren't quite expecting that!

I also went on a much sunnier walk and took some summery photos...

...and Mum and I made pickled gherkins using little tiny cucumbers/gherkin things from my parents' neighbour's garden!

Monday, 18 July 2011

Vegan Mango and Banana Bread...

I'm going to see a couple of good friends tomorrow, and as they've just moved into a new house and I haven't seen them for ages, I thought I'd make something yummy to take along with me. And when I saw this vegan mango and banana bread recipe on Joy the Baker's amazing blog, I decided it looked perfect!

And just look at how it turned out - hard to believe there's no eggs or butter involved!

Can't wait to try a piece...but I'll have to wait until tomorrow!

Sunday, 17 July 2011

The XT Memorial Mile...

Once upon a time, my friend Nic (channel swimmer, copywriter, journalist and now champion bodybuilder!) had a black and white canine training partner called XT. Sadly, a couple of years ago XT passed away suddenly, and every year since then Nic has run a mile in his memory (and in memory of the other dogs we've loved and lost). She posted on her blog asking others to join in - running, walking, swimming, cycling or otherwise ambling a mile at some point over the weekend.

And my mum and I joined in - we're doing a Race for Life on Saturday 23rd so I dragged Mum out for a bit of a training session! We did three miles and I'm dedicating the first one to XT, Basil, Ruddles and everyone else who's lost a dearly loved pet recently. I ran my Memorial Mile in 10:50, which is ridiculously slow compared to my usual 9-minute mile pace, but understandable when you consider the fact that the entire mile involved running up an absolutely enormous and very steep hill! I did then do another two 9-minute miles afterwards!

You can read about everyone else's XT Memorial Miles on Nic's blog.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Gorgeous orchid!

I bought an orchid half price in M&S last year, and it duly flowered and the flowers all fell off, as they do. I didn't hold out much hope of being able to keep it alive and make it flower again, but (following my mum's expert advice) I cut the stalk off once the flowers had all died, and I've been sitting it in a tub of water once a week and spraying it with amazing Orchid Myst spray. Back in October, a tiny little flower stalk sprouted, and it's been growing steadily ever since.

And look what happened today!

Isn't it beautiful? I'm so pleased! And look at all the other buds!

Monday, 11 July 2011

Luggage bargains...

If you're lucky enough to be jetting off on holiday in the next few months, I thoroughly recommend checking out the Debenhams sale for all your holiday bargains!

I needed a large holdall for a week's break - I had weekend bags and suitcases, but nothing in between. And I found this - a bargain with nearly £60 off - and then happened upon this, which had an even more impressive saving!

That's £235 worth of luggage for £70.50 - not bad, eh? I could have gone for the medium-sized suitcase, but the large was only £3 more and I thought 'Well, my current suitcase is massive, so it can't be that big...'

Er...yes. That's my old and battered suitcase on the left. So I certainly won't have any trouble packing for my holiday this year! The only slight issue is that my new suitcase won't fit under my bed, which is where my suitcases I'm not exactly sure where I'm going to put the damn thing!

Thursday, 7 July 2011

My name is Allie...

...and I have a problem with shoes.

This is my shoes-and-coats wardrobe:

Whenever I have to look for a new flat to rent (which I hope with all my being I won't have to do again anytime soon) one of my top priorities is to make sure it has enough storage for shoes. My previous flat had a cupboard in the hall that was just perfect, and my current flat has three brilliant built-in wardrobes.

I was beginning to despair at the state of my shoe cupboard, so I've just had a bit of a tidy and a sort-out. With the exception of a couple of wet weather staples, I've put all my wintry shoes in the boxes at the top of the wardrobe, and I've moved my sandals and more summery shoes to the more accessible boxes at the bottom of the wardrobe. I've also thrown away a few pairs that were on their last legs...and there still isn't room for everything!

Shamefully I also rediscovered a few pairs that I'd completely forgotten about - and that made me realise that I must stop buying new shoes (honestly, I have shoes in every possible colour and shoes suitable for every possible occasion - I do NOT need any more!) and wear the ones I have instead. Because despite having an entire wardrobe of shoes, I find myself sticking to the same few pairs. At the moment I switch between my tan flat brogues, my leopard-print flats, my tan strappy sandals and a couple of other pairs. Boring!

So I'm starting with these:

I bought them in New Look at least two years ago, and I can only remember wearing them once since then. I'm wearing them around the house this evening to see if I can work out what the problem was (did they hurt my feet? Give me blisters? Keep falling off?) and if I can't work it out, then I'll have to wear them more often, because they're really nice! They've got a little wedge heel and they look fab with skinny jeans.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Banana bread...

I had some bananas that were going a bit manky, so the only sensible thing to do was to make a loaf of banana bread. I brought it to work this morning, and by 4pm this much remained...!

I think you could call that a success. OK, I had three (small!) pieces myself, but still!

I can't remember where I got the original recipe from - it was one I'd scribbled down in my recipe notebook - but at any rate I ended up changing it (because I didn't have enough butter, and I wanted to use wholemeal flour) so I sort of made up my own recipe! And (if I do say so myself) I think it was one of the best banana breads I've ever made.

Banana bread

100g wholemeal plain flour
125g self-raising flour
About half a teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
3 ripe bananas
75g caster sugar
2 eggs
35ml sunflower oil

1. Preheat the oven to 160C, and grease a non-stick loaf tin.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the two flours with the baking powder and mixed spice.
3. In another large bowl, mash the bananas, beat in the eggs, and stir in the sugar and oil.
4. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry until just combined (don't overmix it) and pour into the loaf tin.
5. Bake for around an hour, until risen and golden and a skewer comes out clean.

Monday, 4 July 2011

An amazing weekend...

I haven't blogged for ages! Sorry about that! I've been busy - I joined my local running club and went for my first run with them on Wednesday last week, and then on Thursday the Finnish contingent (my sister and her chap) arrived for a long weekend. And what a fantastic weekend it was!

We had copious amounts of Pimms and lovely supper with friends on a sunny South Bank...

...we drank gorgeously light rosé and messed around in pub beer gardens...

...and the whole shebang was topped off perfectly by Jarvis Cocker and co, as we spent yesterday afternoon and evening bopping away in Hyde Park. The Wireless festival was on, and after a(nother) trip to the pub for lunch, we arrived in time to see The Horrors, The Hives, TV on the Radio, Grace Jones (who was on stage when she should have been, which was amazing enough, and who sported an incredible array of outfits and hula-hooped her way through 'Slave to the Rhythm') and of course Pulp! I hadn't seen Pulp since my teenage Britpop heyday in 1996, but they were incredible.

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