Thought of the Day #106: Truths

With today’s thought of the day I’m sharing a little bit of Star Wars wisdom.

thought-of-the-day

Here’s what I think this quote means; your truth, what you believe, isn’t going to be the same as everyone else’s truths. We are all different people, with different experiences of life, and therefore we are never going to agree with, or believe in, the same things. And these differences are what make us great, because imagine if we were all the same, there’d be cookie cutter robots wandering around doing everything in exactly the same way. What a boring life that would be. 

Life Rambles: Friday Favourites #81

It’s Friday! Hooray that the weekend is almost upon us! Although boo that next week is August! HOW THE HECK DID THAT HAPPEN! Let’s try and glide past that before we panic about where the year is going and start buying Christmas presents….{Although yay for Christmas!}. And instead let’s take a peek at my Friday favourites list for the last week of July.
First up on this Friday favourites list is that my half marathon training has officially started now. You may think that I am crazy to include this onto my favourites list but I promise I have actually enjoyed this first week of training. I’ve managed three runs and two swims which puts me completely on track for the week. The long run this weekend is only meant to be 40 minutes, so I don’t think I’ll have any problems with ticking that one off. I am slightly worried that if I start off well it could then all go downhill. But fingers crossed that isn’t the case. I’m going to be raising money for BookTrust, you can read more about why this is such a great cause (and also sponsor me if you want) over here.
Next on the favourites list is catching up with the parents and puppy last weekend. We had an unexpected visit from them on Sunday which involved a run with Dad, dog sitting and gardening with Mum, and then lunch and a natter. Sometimes those unplanned and last minute catch ups are the best. Plus last minute puppy snuggles are everything. I managed to snap this photo of the Lunabean as she climbed onto my lap for cuddles just like some sort of cat.
Aside from running and swimming this week there has been a lot of eating! I’ve had a couple of great catch ups with friends. Firstly on Monday night, where we ate pizza and put the world to rights before falling down a YouTube rabbit hole for a good couple of hours. I honestly don’t know how I do it! Then on Wednesday lunchtime I caught up with my lovely work ladies and spent the hour laughing and talking about all the things. Considering we are in the same building for eight hours a day, five days a week we really don’t have the opportunity to get together that often, so when we do it’s always good fun.
Oh and continuing on the food theme is the fact that I had afternoon tea at the end of last week with a friend who is visiting from the US. We had such a wonderful catch up over lashings of tea and all of the scones and cakes. Bliss!
The final thing for my favourites list involves what I’ve been listening to. I’ve rediscovered the Hamilton Mixtape and I’ve been catching up on Desert Island Discs too. Both of which have helped my working day and the commute fly by. Sue Perkins’ DID was absolutely fascinating, I just love her voice and I could listen to her speak forever.
I hope you all have a good weekend planned. I for one have excellent plans to spend time with my family who are over from Australia. There will also be a run too, because this is my life now. Have a good one.
Laura xx

In the Kitchen: Aubergine Bake

What’s this? A recipe post?

Yes, it’s been a while.

In my defense, not that I need a defense as it’s my blog so I can write what I want. But anyway it’s been hot and warm, and cooking has been the last think on my mind. I’ve been all about the salads and sandwiches and stir fries instead of slaving over a hot stove. But then a couple of weeks ago I had cravings for my Dad’s aubergine parmigiana. His aubergine bake is one of my favourite meals and I suddenly decided that I NEEDED to eat it ASAP. This also coincided with a friend visiting. So I quickly decided to hunt for an aubergine bake recipe and pair that with homemade breaded chicken. These two plus a fresh salad make for a simple and easy evening meal with old friends.

What you need: 2 large aubergines / 2 garlic cloves / 2 tins of chopped tomatoes / 2 tbsp tomato puree / torn basil leaves / 100g grated parmesan

What to do:

For the sauce: Heat some oil in a pan and then fry the crushed garlic cloves. After a couple of minutes add in the chopped tomatoes and simmer for a few minutes. Then add the tomato puree and turn to a low heat and let the sauce simmer for a little longer.

For the aubergines: Slice the aubergine into strips – I made mine quite thick as I was cooking them in the George Foreman grill, so they needed to be at least half an inch thick to reach both sides of the pan. Brush both sides of the aubergine with oil and then cook them in the griddle pan (or George Foreman). You want them to be cooked through with those fabulously dark griddle marks on them. I found this took about 5 minutes in the GF grill, so it would be twice as long if you were using a pan.

Now compile the bake: Spread tomato over the bottom of the dish and then place a layer the aubergines along the bottom. Next add sauce, some torn basil leaves and a sprinkle of cheese and then repeat starting with the aubergine. Once you’ve done your last layer of aubergine top with the remaining sauce and the sprinkle with the cheese.

I like to leave the bake to rest for a couple of hours, ideally 24 hours – if you can wait that long! And then bake in a preheated over at 200C for about 25 minutes – or until the top is bubbling and the cheese is looking all goey and golden. 

As my Dad doesn’t have a recipe written down (and because I still haven’t picked his brain for his recipe) I went online and found this aubergine bake recipe instead. So this one formed the base for my own yummy version. BBC GoodFood has all the best recipes.

-Laura xx

All Things Fitness: Fitness Update, Week One

Fitness Update, Week One - All Things Fitness - This and That Blog

So here we are, it’s time for my fitness update, week one. Eek! So it’s not technically been a full week since I wrote my first post, all about creating better habits, so this won’t be a full post. Not least because I took very few photos. Oops! So please bear with me through all the text and very few pretty pictures! Anyway, let’s dive in to week one of the fitness update!

Fitness Update, Week One: Exercise

I only managed four moments of exercise this week, for some reason I had a bit of a moment mid-week. I just couldn’t get out of bed early enough to swim or run pre-work and then had plans in the evening, so it just didn’t happen. Oops, but four out of seven days isn’t bad for week one.

  • *Monday – Post-work run. 2.5m in 30 minutes
  • *Tuesday – Pre-work swim. 38 lengths in 30 minutes
  • *Friday – Walk through London. 75 minutes
  • *Sunday – Morning run. 4.5 miles in 57 minutes
  • *Total Steps – 59,000

Fitness Update, Week One - All Things Fitness - This and That Blog

Fitness Update, Week One: Food

Most of this week I’ve been good food wise, especially during the work week.

  • *Firstly breakfast wise I had either granola, yogurt and fruit from home or M&S’s Bircher Muesli for breakfast everyday this week. At the weekend it was cereal or toast, so not too bad at all.
  • *For lunches it’s mostly been all about the homemade salads, packed full of fresh veg, lettuce and chicken bits. I’ve also been adding M&S’s empanadas into the salads or guac or even half a mini pork pie to the lunch boxes so that it bulks it up a little bit. So yummy!
  • *Over the weekend lunches have been either fresh bread and ham and a Costco Sushi platter for lunch. Again, yummy!
  • *On Friday I had the most amazing afternoon tea for mu lunch and I’ve not stopped dreaming about it ever since. It was incredible, with the most yummy sandwiches, melt-in-the-mouth scones and cute little cakes.
  • *For dinners this week we’ve been adding extra veggies to everything and we’ve pretty much made everything from scratch. From our butternut squash and bean chilli (so delicious) and meatballs and pasta with a homemade tomato sauce to chicken and sweet potato fajitas and homemade salmon carbonara (my new fave pasta combo).
  • *There have been a couple of nights where I’ve been out, so I’d say the pulled pork burger wasn’t quite on the good side of the balance but it was on an exercise day. So there’s that balance coming in to play!

This thing that’s been my real downfall this week has been the snacks. While I’ve had two or three days of no snacks or extra coffees when at work, which is good. I’ve then not been quite so good when I’ve been at home. There’s definitely been too many biscuits or crisps, so I need to work on that big time.

Fitness Update, Week One - All Things Fitness - This and That Blog

Fitness Update, Week One: Results
  • *There’s been no weight loss this week, but then I’m not surprised as like I said I only really did it properly for half a week. But on the plus side – no weight gain either!
  • *One other good thing, I’ve definitely enjoyed feeling stronger on my runs so that’s something.
Fitness Update, Week One: Goals for the next week

I’m setting myself two goals for the next week, fingers crossed I can manage both things…

  • *First up I want to do exercise every day this week. I’m working over the weekend too, so that might make it extra tricky, but I’m determined to make it happen – even if it’s just 10,000 steps every day!
  • *Cut the bad snacking. This one is key as it’s so not something I’m good at. My go-to snacks are chocolate or crisps, so let’s make it all about the fruit or the treat-size chocolate bars (and stopping at one).

So there we go, that’s fitness update, week one done! Roll on week two – I’ve got this! Although, having said that, any helpful suggestions for me?

-Fi x

Life Rambles: Friday Favourites #80

It’s Friday, I have the afternoon off work and I have a coffee in hand. What’s not to love about this day so far? I hope your day has started just as well! And now on to my happy things from the last seven days, I wonder what’s made the Friday favourites list…
First up, exploring where I live. We’ve been living in Streatham for almost two years now, and yet I still haven’t made it to Morden Hall Park, which is just ten minutes from my house. Clearly I’m an idiot as it’s amazing as I discovered when we headed there on Sunday. Morden Hall Park is a National Trust property with beautiful gardens, which are free to enter. It’s beautiful and I loved it. There are hidden benches, beautiful roses, a water wheel and a lovely river winding through the old deer park. I will definitely be going back.

Happy Things - Friday Favourites #80 - Life Rambles - This and That Blog

Next up, Pimms O’Clock! On Wednesday I sat on the Southbank with friends catching up over Pimms and it was lovely. I should definitely do it more often, it’s most certainly a good way to spend the evening!

Happy Things - Friday Favourites #80 - Life Rambles - This and That Blog

After two weeks of holiday and illness I’ve finally been back on the fitness train this week. And it feels good. There really is nothing quite like a good run or a long swim to make you feel refreshed. Why do I let myself forget this? Anyway enjoying fitness again is definitely a good thing, what with my new attempts to create new habits. Although I didn’t go swimming this morning so that’s less good. Oops!
My current read, One of Us is Lying, also makes my happy list this week. I started it on Tuesday and have raced through it. I highly recommend this brilliant, twisty teen read. Can you guess who really did it?

Happy Things - Friday Favourites #80 - Life Rambles - This and That Blog

The last item on today’s happy list is a clear example of my old person tendencies, but please forgive me! We got our fireplace plastered this week, which involved the removal of a lot of bricks and rubble, which was a bit of a faff. But it was so worth it as it already looks so much better. We still have a few days to wait for it to be finished but I can finally see how good the living room will look when it’s done. I’m so happy!

So there we go, my happy things! How’s your week been? What would be on your happy list?

-Fi x

All Things Fitness: Creating Better Habits

Back in 2014 I embraced a number of good habits and became so much healthier, not to mention happier, in myself. However, since then I’ve picked up those bad habits again and I’m not sure I’m happy with where I am and what I’ve done to my body and fitness levels. So instead of making excuses or pretending I’m okay with this I’ve decided to make some changes. Not insane changes, like never eating sugar again or running five miles a day. Instead I want to look at creating better habits. Ones that I live by for the rest of my life and not for five minutes to get me out of my current dissatisfied state.

I want my life to be about balance. About both treats and exercise. I no longer want to feel guilty about missing a run or for eating that second biscuit. I don’t want to count calories in things that are good for me – avocado I’m looking at you. I will track calories, but not when it comes to fruit and veggies. I don’t want to say no to a piece of fruit because that’s the snack that takes me ‘over’ my daily calorie goal. That’s not right. And that’s certainly not conducive for creating better habits.

As part of this focus on balance I want to start a fortnightly or weekly post about how this new way of life and these habits are good. Just some time for me to pop in and update you all on how my new habits are going. I’m currently thinking about how I format these posts, so if you have any ideas do let me know. At the moment I’m thinking of covering the following things:

  1. Daily Exercise
  2. Food – new recipes, new treats
  3. Next week’s goals
  4. Weigh in
  5. How I’m feeling

Let me be clear as well, this isn’t about dieting or an insane workout schedule. This is about finding balance and being healthier but I won’t be starving myself. After all I’m running a half marathon in three months. I can’t do that without fuel for my body. I just don’t need to be fueling my body with a chocolate bar at 4pm every afternoon when the afternoon slump occurs, or thinking that a three-mile run once in a blue moon will have me half marathon ready! Balance and healthier habits will get me there though – and that’s the focus!

I think I’ll probably share these posts on a Monday to allow me to recap on the week before and also as I hope it’ll keep me motivated to continue these habits, or more likely, jump back on these habits again for the new week. So all being well week one will appear on the 24th. Here’s hoping that by using the blog as a little online diary it’ll allow me to start taking better care of myself. Only time will tell!

-Fi x

The Book Corner: June Reads

June Reading Update - The Book Corner - This and That Blog

Photo by Rachel Lees on Unsplash

Greetings friends, I hope you’re all having a lovely weekend. What exciting things are you up to? The end of my week was fairly busy and with plans yesterday too I’m definitely feeling the need for a slower day today. That’s what Sunday’s are for after all! Part of a slowish Sunday? Reading of course, so as I’ll be spending most of today with my head in a book it seems sensible to bring you my June reads post today too. A little behind schedule, I know – sorry, but blame Photobucket and their stupid new account changes!

Before I dive into the June reads and my mini reviews of each book I should probably mention that when I started compiling this list I thought it had been a bit of a rubbish reading month. I felt like I’d barely read anything at all, but actually it was a good reading month! I read seven books, plus one work book that I can’t discuss yet, so definitely not a bad month for reading. Maybe it just felt that way because of the second half of the month. For the last couple of weeks I was in a bit of a reading slump and feeling like everything I read was a bit meh. It’s funny how your brain at one moment in time can cloud something that’s actually been awesome, isn’t it? Anyway on to the books!

June Reads #1 – The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan

This was a surprisingly good book, I say surprisingly as I’m never really sure what to expect from a 99p Kindle sale book. Especially when I’ve forgotten why it caught my eye in the first place! It’s a really easy read and follows a lonely woman who inherits a house and a pile of lost things from her employer. While reuniting owners with their random items she ends up finding herself. Clichéd perhaps but still good!

June Reads #2 – When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

This is such a good book and the perfect summer read. It’s the tale of two teens whose parents have arranged their marriage, which one of them (Rishi) is on board with this and one of them isn’t (Dimple). The book explores both points of view really well, so you totally ‘get’ both Dimple and Rishi’s opinions on it all. Also, as characters Rishi and Dimple, are so well written and complete – you can’t help but want to be besties with both of them. I defy you not to love this book

June Reads #3 – The Island at the End of Everything by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

This is the second book from award-winning Kiran Millwood Hargrave and it’s just as delightful as her first. Her writing is so beautiful and every sentence is perfect, plus her characters are just great. This book follows a young girl growing up on an Island of lepers who is forced to leave the Island with the rest of the non-leper children and adults. This is a tale of acceptance and family, prejudice and love and the lengths we’ll go to for those we love.

Fi's June Books - The Book Corner - This and That Blog

June Reads #4 – The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

This book should be required reading for everyone. It’s a brilliantly written look at the horrific and wrongful shootings of black people in America. It’s told from the perspective of a teenager who watches her best friend gunned down for no reason. You then follow Starr during the aftermath of the shooting and how it impacts the two communities she lives in. The run down, poverty stricken community where she lives and grew up and the largely white, very privileged private school she attends. It’s heartbreaking and honest, moving and anger inducing. It’s absolutely an important read.

June Reads #5 – I See You by Clare Mackintosh

This is a brilliant page-turning thriller of a read and is would be perfect beach fodder. The book follows a women who sees her picture in the classified ads along with people who have met grisly deaths. Talk about a freaky idea! The book flicks from the police investigation back to the women and the impact it has on her family. Having these different perspectives makes this novel a real speed read. Oh and the fact that Clare Mackintosh is a genius at creating suspense. I couldn’t put the book down during the last 100 pages – it was just that good!

June Reads #6 – Calling Major Tom by David Barnett

I was a bit meh about this book when I was reading it. It just didn’t hook me in right away and I had to force myself to finish it. I have no clue why that is. It must have been more about me than the book itself, as now thinking about it, it was really enjoyable. It looks at the relationship between a man headed to Mars and a family struggling in North England. And this combination makes for a heart-warming read. It’s possibly a bit too predictable by the end. And I could have done with feeling more for the characters sooner than the last act but overall a good read. Plus it was 99p on Kindle – so can you really go wrong with that?

June Reads #7 – Not Working by Lisa Owens

This book got me out of my mini-reading slump and it’s hilarious. It’s about a women in her late 20s/early 30s who packs in her job as it wasn’t her ‘dream’ job. We then follow her as she tries to find out what she wants to do with her life. Each chapter is broken into smaller sections focused on everything from zebra crossings to coffee, which range from paragraph length to just a sentence or two. Some of these bits are right on the nose and ridiculously funny. I could totally relate to so much of this book and I’m pleased I was swayed by this brilliantly bright cover and decided to pick it up. Definitely one to add to your TBR pile!

So those are my June reads, but what about you? What was the best book you read last month? You know I’m always on the look out for recommendations!

-Fi x

Life Rambles: Friday Favourites #79

So before we dive into this Friday update here’s a question for you. Why is going back to work after a week off such hard work? Honestly I’ve felt absolutely exhausted this week, and there shouldn’t be any reason for it. It’s not like I had super long lie-ins last week that my body needs to forget. Or even that I’ve had a busy week so far. But I’m totally knackered! Hooray for Friday I guess!

So over to my Friday update and what has helped keep me going this week. First up, last weekend, we had friends visiting and we all took a trip to Bletchley Park, the home of the code breakers in WWII. It was an absolutely fascinating day out of London and I learnt so much about the work that took place during the war. The grounds are set up as they were during the war, and you can wander through the old house, the cottages and then the various huts, to get an idea of what life was like at Bletchley. What struck me was the level of secrecy that surrounded the work done here, it is absolutely astounding. I’m certain either Fi or I will write a post about our trip soon, so keep your eyes peeled.

Next up is food! I went to The Diner for lunch yesterday and it was so good. There’s a branch of this restaurant just opposite my office, so it’s easy to trip and fall in! The next thing you know you have a basket of chicken and sweet potato fries, it’s odd how that happens, right?! Anyway, it’s been a while since I’d been to The Diner so I made the most of it by catching up with a friend over delicious food.

Now I have to admit that I haven’t been watching much of Wimbledon this year, you’d think with a week off I would have done, but for whatever reason I haven’t. What I did see, and what I loved, was Andy Murray’s post match interview (linked here) where he casually calls out a reported over an incident of everyday sexism. The complete and utter disdain he has for the reporter is brilliant. As is Judy Murray’s response to the incident (here). So thank you twitter for pointing both of these out to me, I got a lot of joy out of that!

Now let’s talk about the weekend, because everyone loves a weekend. First up i’m off to watch some cricket tonight at The Oval. Then on Saturday I’m going to an outdoor cinema in Croydon. Such fun! I’m also hoping to have a bit of a chilled out time and catch up on some much needed sleep. Plus I want to start half marathon training this weekend, October is going to come round so quickly. Eek! You’d think I’d feel better about training after three races, but nope not at all! Anyway, I’ll see what the weekend run brings before I panic about that!

So there we have it, a very brief Friday update for you as it’s all I can handle right now! I hope you all have an epic weekend planned, here’s to me getting a lot of sleep!

Laura xx

 

Out and About: Beach Ready

 

Last week I went to the beach for the day and it was perfect. It’s my first trip to the beach this year, so I wanted to make the most of it and get beach ready. Which is what I am sharing today. Now don’t worry I’m not about to become a beauty blogger! For me beach ready means being organised, planned, and well packed in order to make the most of my time at the seashore.

There are so many utterly glorious beaches in the UK and they all deserve to be explored. My personal favourites are those along the Kent coast, in Wales and also Dorset. Mainly because these are the places I tend to head to, they are the places that I know. That being said I know that the rest of the UK coastline has some fabulous beach spots too. Maybe one day I’ll get to explore them all.

Now without further ado let’s dive into my tips for getting beach ready.

The Food

Tip number one when getting beach ready has to revolve around food, so first up it’s time to make a picnic. For me food at the beach is all about the grazing, so I always opt for individual rolls, pork pies, sharing packs of crisps (or pringles) and pieces of fruit.  If that feels like too much work then at the very least pack snacks and cold drinks. So that you can enjoy a couple of hours of beach time before heading for the nearest cafe or beach bar.

The Entertainment

You’re going to be on the beach for a good few hours, so make sure you’ve got captivating reading material, some music and beach games. I’m talking a football, a pack of cards or a bucket and spade to keep yourself entertained. Because if you’re on the beach then you are definitely young enough to make sandcastles!

Bring the Shade

Number three on the getting beach ready list is a beach umbrella or something similar to create some shade. Now I know everyone wants to get a tan, but a shady spot is not just for children and pets! We had the Luna dog with us so we needed shade, but actually the humans were much more enamoured with the umbrella than she was.

The thing is I always forget is just how hot the UK sun can be. Especially when you’re on the beach for a full day. The coastal wind completely tricks me into thinking I’m safe and out of the sun, until I get home and I’m lobster pink. So get a pop up tent or a sun umbrella that has UV protection in it. Then be the smug person on the beach who is totally cool and collected while others are turning into lobsters….

A post shared by Laura Evans (@lau_evs) on

 

Arrive Early

When it comes to heading to the beach I am definitely my Mother’s daughter. I like to get up early and get the driving done. The thing is there will be an afternoon sleep session, so an early start isn’t going to be that big of a problem to contend with. Plus you’ll be able to get the best beach spot and find a decent parking place to save you carrying all the beach paraphernalia too far.

Go off the Beaten Track

When heading to the beach try to find the quieter areas. That might mean walking a little further to get away from the main beach but it will be worth it. The beaches are more likely to be smaller, have less people and the water might even be calmer. Yes it will probably be a little further to walk to get ice cream but if you’ve packed all the snacks then that won’t be a problem!

So there you have it, my tips to being beach ready. Now go forth and enjoy the British summer.

Laura xx

 

Life Rambles: Friday Favourites #78

Happy Friday friends! How are you all today? I’m on the last official day of my week off so I’m in that weird mix of joy from having had a fantastic week, to pain that it’s so close to being over. Woe is me! But as this is my Friday Favourites post I’m going to dwell only on the good things today, so read on for my happy things from the last week!

Happy Things - Life rambles - This and That Blog

Number one on the list? Going to the seaside. I was only by the sea for about 36 hours, but I had the best time ever. It’s been such a long time since I’ve been to a beach in the UK – in fact I can’t remember when it was. So it was glorious to be back in Sandbanks, my happy place, for a day of sunshine and paddling, lounging and ice cream. Definitely food for the soul. If you ignore the sunburn that also occurred. I also visited Mudeford for the first time and it’s gorgeous – I had no idea! It has the cutest little beach huts and there’s a number of perfect spots for sitting and watching the boats and paddle boarders go by. It was so lovely.

Happy Things - Life rambles - This and That Blog

We also made it over to the Isle of Wight as part of our seaside trip. So Thursday was the perfect day of walking from Ryde to Seaview and back, stopping only for lunch and ice cream. It’s about a 5 mile round trip, but with such stunning views that you barely even notice the distance. Not to mention the pupster is good at distracting you by being cute in the sea! I’ve been to Ryde before but never really branched further than the high street so wandering along a stretch of the coast was glorious. And pub lunches are always a good idea!

Happy Things - Life rambles - This and That Blog

Talking of good ideas, I started my week with a 4.5 mile run followed by a delicious brunch in Balham. I’ve not run that far in a long while, so it was reassuring to know that I can still run longer than 3 miles. Even if I did find it ridiculously hard. Here’s hoping that, by upping my training over the coming months, I’ll be ready for the half marathon in October…

Something else that made my happy things this week was getting back into my reading groove. I’ve not loved many of the books I’ve read recently but that seems to have been cured with the latest series by Sarah J Maas. I’ve basically raced through The Court of Thorns and Roses this week. Thank goodness. Apparently a fantasy series featuring fairies, a doomed couple, magic and a terrible curse was all I needed…

In other news this week has been a week of getting all the house jobs done. I’m really impressed at how much we’ve accomplished in just a couple of days. Everything from weeding to tidying, a deep clean to a loft sort out and baking and photo frame finding. This week has been immense in getting all the tasks done. A pat on the back to me!

My final happy things post has to be the absolutely beautiful Surrey golden hour. On Tuesday post the best barbecue ever we headed out on an evening dog walk back near the parents’. We set off just as the sun was starting to go down and we were greeted by the most beautiful sight. Just look! How incredible a view is that? The English countryside really is rather stunning isn’t it.

Happy Things - Life rambles - This and That Blog

So there we go, some of my favourite happy things from the last week. How’s your week been? Anything lovely to report? Do share!

-Fi x