Portugal by Numbers

 

 

We’re now five days into our nine day trip and so far our holiday in the Algarve looks a little bit like this…

1 pancake brunch

3 long walks along the beach

1 lazy lunch at our favourite haunt

1 impressive shopping trip; 4 statement necklaces, 3 striped tops and 1 blanket/scarf

1 candlelit hot tub experience

too many to count day time hot tub soaks

4 mosquito bites (on one knee)

1 pudding platter, shared

9 mini magnums consumed

4 sunsets enjoyed

2 unexpected wave soakings whilst enjoying a pleasant paddle

1 head cold to contend with

3 books read

0 runs started or completed

Here’s hoping the rest of the trip continues in the same way.

Laura & Fi xx

Travel Tuesday

Race Bucket List – Runners Tell All

It’s the 21st September today which means it’s time for the monthly Runners Tell All link up. This is perfectly timed as we are currently in Portugal and hopefully totally chilled out and relaxed in the sunshine. Who knows we might even be running as you read this! The fact that we can schedule this post in ahead of times means that you get to still here from us. Yay for that!

Today’s topic is Running Bucket List. What a great topic. I love it. I have so many races that I want to run one day so to be able to create a list and to one day be able to tick them off? Awesome!

Laura’s Running Bucket List:

Royal Parks Half – this is a half marathon through the Royal Parks of London. London is my city, so of course I want to do a half marathon here. Plus there are so many parks in London that I still haven’t run in. Whilst training for my first half last year I ran through Battersea Park, Hyde Park and of course Clapham Common, but there’s so many more. The Royal Parks Half happens in October and takes runners through Green Park, Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens and St James’s Park. Along with all the London sites too.
Run Disney – I love Disney and I love running so to run in the Disney Parks would be amazing. Unfortunately this isn’t available at Disneyland Paris, so I’d have to head to America for this one, but one day I will get there. The Tinkerbell Half Marathon is calling to me!
Full Marathon – I’d love to do a full marathon, one day. In the far off future. I really don’t know which Marathon I’d like to do, maybe London or New York, maybe Boston or Amsterdam, I don’t know. But it will happen. One day.

Fi’s Running Bucket List

I differ from Laura in that I’m not so sure I’d want to run a marathon, I don’t think I could handle it. So for now I’m going to stick to the half marathon distance. So on my bucket list for a half marathon I’ve got the following:

The Amsterdam Half Marathon – I fell in love with this city back in May so I think to experience it as a runner would be brilliant. Just imagine how fast the race would go if you were cooing over the beauty of the city.
The Royal Parks Half – Just like Lau I’d be up for this race too, to run through the park in the lovely autumn weather would be great. There’d be that brilliant sound of the leaves crunching under your feet as you explored another fabulous city, which would be a great experience!

So what’s on your running bucket list?

Making my own nak’d bites

Greetings blog friends, how are you this wondrous day? I’m (hopefully) currently sunning myself in Portugal so I thought I’d leave you with a brilliant recipe. After all who doesn’t love chocolate gooey morsels of joy? No one worth knowing, that’s who.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been trying to leave bad habits behind and be healthier. You know, eat less crap and exercise more, all the obvious things – oh how I wish it was as easy as it sounds! My main problem, apart from laziness and lack of willpower, is that I have the sweetest of sweet tooths around. I usually start the day with a syrup-filled coffee and overnight oats and by 11 I’m craving the sweet stuff again. Plus after every meal I feel the need for something sweet, chocolate namely, as otherwise it doesn’t feel like I’ve eaten enough. Ridiculous I know.

During my most recent attempts to be healthy I’ve been a bit addicted to nak’d bars. These bars of gooey goodness are made with all natural ingredients with nothing bad in them. And they perfectly satisfy my sweet tooth. The only problem is they range from 85p – £1.40 for one small bar depending on where you grab them. I’m not made of money so I can’t be buying them all the time can I?!

I figured I could make my own but I thought it wold be quite tricky. After all how do you make them all smooshy and perfect and don’t they require odd and obscure ingredients? Whilst reading one of my favourite blogs I discovered a recipe which proved that these bars are seriously easy to make – thanks Hungry Healthy Happy. Hooray for that!

The recipe could not be simpler. Just bung 100g ground almonds, 20 chopped dates and 50g each of cacoa powder and cocoa powder into a bowl and blend them with a food processor. Then add 1 tbsp honey and 6 tbsp water and mix together to form a big ball of chocolatey stuff. I pressed the mixture into a lined brownie tin and popped them in the fridge. After 3 hours in the fridge I cut them into small bars and then returned them to the fridge overnight. In the morning they were fully set and ready to be enjoyed. I made about 30 small bars, each worth about 40 calories each. I’d say two of those is the perfect snack size – having done a lot of research over the last couple of weeks (this first batch went in three days…oops!

As the mint chocolate nak’d bars are my favourites I think I’ll add a bit of peppermint flavouring the next time I make them. Hopefully that will be enough to satisfy my mint chocolate craving!

Have you ever attempted to make a healthy snack to satisfy those sugar cravings? Any suggestions for the next recipe I should make?

– Fi xxx

Happy Birthday Old Man!

James Marsden, Greta Garbo, Sol Campbell and Ronaldo were all born on this day, September 18th. They are lucky to be in such esteemed company as someone else who celebrates his birthday today: our Dad. Today is his 60th Birthday. How amazing is that? We are in total agreement when it comes to this man. He is the best Dad, in fact the best man, that we know.

He’s generous.

And kind.

One of the biggest supporters in everything we do.

A brilliant chef.

Totally and completely competitive – we’ve all got that in spades too.

He’s Stubborn.

And he passed his sarcasm on to all of us. What more could you want?

So today is for him, Happy Birthday Old Man. Here’s to so many more years, to London runs, games nights, football matches, long country walks, Mario Kart competitions, Dad’s and Daughters dinners, theatre trips and roast dinners.

Lau & Fi xx

Dreaming of Days in Portugal

Later this week I will be in Portugal and I just can’t wait. I need a holiday. Right. Now. Obviously at the moment this is all I can think about so I thought I’d channel some of that excitement and shape it into a Travel Tuesday post for you lovely people to read. Portugal really is one of my favourite places to be. I think it’s because I know it so well so it’s become a second home and I can instantly relax.

The Algarve is just stunning, long sandy beaches, orange cliffs, nature reserves and bright white buildings. But aside from that I’m looking forward to…

…Sunshine

…Patio Time

…Holiday Reading

…Beach Walks

…Sandbanks Salads

…Salty Sea Swims

…Bananagram Championships

…Barbecues

…Mammoth Games Nights

…Hot Tub Time

 

 

It really seems like this holiday has been a long time coming, and I guess it has. I had a week off work in April but other than that it’s just been the odd day here and there and suddenly we’re halfway through September! And I’m just really feeling it right now. You know that exhausted feeling that just goes right to your bones? That is it. That’s where I am right now and that is why this break is so so welcome. It’s only 9 days but these are 9 enormously needed days of relaxation. It’s also a slight calm before the storm moment too as once I get back my life will be picking up full steam ahead. Not that this is a problem and not that I’m complaining, I love my life and I’ve got some exciting things coming up, which should mean exciting blog posts too (obvs). But right now I need a break and thank god I have Portugal for that.

Right, so I’ve got that off my chest! What holiday plans does everyone else have for the rest of the year? Or are you planning next year’s trips already?

As always don’t forget to check out all the other posts in this Travel Tuesday link up.

Travel Tuesday

Non Boring Pork Chops

Yes possibly one of the most uninspiring blog post titles ever, but it made sense to me!

So confession time, I’ve never really been a fan of pork chops. I don’t know why but whenever someone suggests chops I’m a bit non-committal and uninterested and yet when they’re on my plate I devour them with lashings of apple sauce and accompanied by veg and potatoes. There’s just something about the initial discussions about eating pork chops that makes me think they’re bland and boring. So recently when we gained a couple of fat pork chops from the parental units I started with my moaning about pork chops being boring and how we had to make sure we went for something unusual and nice this time. {God I must be a joy to live with!}

Thankfully Lau is nice and humours me, so a Google search or two later she had found the most amazing sounding (and super easy) recipe for us to try. The original recipe was a one pot roast pork chops with fennel and potatoes one from Good Food and we made a few amends to make it into the below dish – yummy!

So here’s what we did to make a non boring, bland or dull dinner a couple of weeks ago. There’s a possibility that I may have eaten enough for four human beings…

To make scrumptious dinner for two you will need:

  • Two Pork Chops
  • Eight Slices of Pepperoni
  • Two Baking Potatoes
  • One Sweet Potato
  • Handful of Spinach
  • Handful of Tomatoes
  • One Pepper (any colour)
  • A Leek
  • Mushrooms
  • Two Garlic Cloves
  • Two tsps of Thyme
  • One tbsp of Tomato Puree
  • 300ml of Chicken Stock

Start by cutting each potato or sweet potato into eight wedges. Cut the mushrooms and leeks into slices and the peppers into wedges too. Bung them all into a deep roasting dish with the thyme and garlic.

Make up the stock and mix the tomato puree into it. Add the liquid to the roasting dish full of veg and mix it all together.

Cover with foil and cook on 200 degrees for 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and reduce the oven temperature by 20 degrees.

Remove the foil and add the pork chops (nestle them in between the veggies), pepperoni and spinach and pop back in the oven 20 minutes until the pork is fully cooked.

Serve and enjoy!

So tell me, what are your non-boring pork chop recipes? I need a few more so that I don’e eat this recipe ALL THE TIME!

 

Getting Crafty: Embroidery

I like to think I’m quite a crafty, hands on person. I mean I can knit more than a scarf, I can sew on a button, thread and use a sewing machine (the threading part is immensely tricky FYI) and I’m quite a good baker. But there’s one craft that I’d like to get better at and embrace more, and that’s embroidery, cross-stitch to be specific.

For as long as I can remember my Mum has embroidered. From family trees to Christmas decorations, quotations and wedding samplers, you name it my Mum can create it. She even creates her own patterns for the pictures that she wants to create with her needle. No pattern for a palaeontology kit? No worries, she can draw it and then recreate on the canvas – yes seriously! It’s an amazing skill and one that really fascinates me.

I asked my Mum to create something for my new Goddaughter’s Christening the other month and after seeing the gorgeous finished product (above) I had an urge to get creating myself. I remember doing the odd bit of cross stitch when I was younger and I actually still have a sewing box that my Nanna gave me when I was about 8. But I actually haven’t picked up a needle and thread for ages. I think this is something that I want to change and writing this post is the first step in that – hopefully when I stumble across this post in a year or two’s time I will have just finished a cross-stitch creation!

Laura xxx

Running in London Town

Hands down one of the best ways to see and explore London Town is by running all over it and I love nothing more than heading out on to the Southbank for a run. Followed swiftly by a brunch of course! You get to see so much and if you choose the right time to go (Sunday morning, but don’t spread it around!) it’ll be virtually empty. So you’ll have the city to yourself, which is an amazing thing.

My usual run of just over an hour takes me past the Oxo Tower, the Tate Britain, The Millennium Bridge, St Paul’s, the Thames, a great stretch of the Southbank, the square mile, Covent Garden, Temple, Trafalgar Square, Westminster and the Eye. So I think you’ll agree it’s a great way of ticking off the key sites in London!

So have you ever used running as a way of sightseeing in your city or another one? Make sure you check out the other Travel Tuesday posts on Bonnie’s blog too!

 

Travel Tuesday

Summer Fun Times

Even though I don’t go on my summer holiday for another two weeks it’s pretty clear from what’s going on outside that the summer is drawing to a close for another year. Rather than getting morose about this fact I’m instead focusing on the good things. After all autumn is one of the best seasons around, plus I had such an epic summer that I can just look back on that to make myself smile. Laura and I have curated our top moments from the summer. So here goes.

A weekend in Chester – we had glorious weather for our first trip to Chester last month and it was a great weekend full of good friends, lovely family and lots of laughter. Bliss. Recap on that weekend by checking out our Exploring Chester post.

Beautiful Chester

Lazy park afternoons – with the wonder that is Friday Summer Hours (a publishing industry perk) we were able to make the most of chilling in the park most Friday afternoons and a good few Sundays too. Does anything beat a picnic in the park?

Discovering Iced Americano’s – all the coffee and none of the calories. It’s definitely love. Although iced latte’s are still pretty awesome too. Especially when there’s a striped straw involved!

Exploring London in the sunshine – London is awesome, but she looks even better when the sun is shining. So from the Books about Town book bench trails to exploring the Globe and from Crystal Palace Park fun to enjoying the Southbank the summer has led to a lot of great explorations in London, which has been wonderful.

A few of London’s book benches

Being outside – be it for a walk to work or an early morning run the summer sun has made getting out and about much easier over the last few weeks. If only the light would continue, but still keep the cooler weather. That would be perfect!

Sunny skies

Chilling out at the parentals – As much as I love London town I also appreciate the calmer weekends spent at the parentals chilling out in the garden with no noise apart from the twittering of birds and nattering of my family. Bliss.

A weekend away to Amsterdam – It may have rained for two thirds of this trip (yes seriously) but we still had an amazing time in Amsterdam. There’s something about going away with people who know you so well and who like to do the same things that you do – it just makes everything so much better. We took in museums, canal wandering and boating and of course pancakes. Perfect. I just wished we could have stayed for longer. Maybe next time.

Up in the clouds

What about you lovely lot? Any favourite parts of your summer. Places you went, people you saw?

Fi xx

Smores Cheesecake Squares

It’s no secret that here at This & That we LOVE the sweet stuff. Cake, biscuits, pastries, tarts. You name it either Fi or I (or both of us) will undoubtedly like it and eat it. We are always always on the look out for more recipes to try, so when Fi stumbled across a recipe in the below Jamie’s Magazine called Smores Cheesecake Squares we just knew that this had to be made at some point. Soon. Very soon. I have a thing about cheesecake by the way, I love love love it. I will always choose cheesecake if it’s on the menu and I still dream about the Junior’s vanilla and chocolate brownie cheesecake that I stumbled upon in New York. Plus Fi is obsessed with marshmallows which makes this recipe the perfect thing for us to make together. Also who else wants to make the cake on the front – YUM!

Suddenly it was a good few weeks later (okay months as this is the April issue of the magazine) and coming up to the final bank holiday of the Summer (sad, sad times) and we still hadn’t tried to create the smores goodness. Luckily there were plans in the diary for an Evans family catch up in St Albans. Not only is this good because duh it’s a family catch up, but also because baking would be needed. As Fi and I were both around one afternoon we decided to bake together and yes, you’ve guessed it, it was time to give smores cheesecake squares a go.

CAKE

Ingredients – 

  • 125g butter, melted
  • 250g digestive biscuits, crushed
  • 150g caster sugar
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon
  • 250 g of 70% dark chocolate
  • 450g cream cheese
  • 250g sour cream
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 300g marshmallows, chopped

What to do – 

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4. Line a 24 x 30cm tin with lightly greased foil.
  2. Add the crumbed biscuits, 1 tablespoon of sugar, the cinnamon and butter to a bowl and combine. Press into the lined tin.
  3. Bake for about 10-12 minutes, until golden, before removing and allowing to cool.
  4. Reduce the oven temp to 170C/gas 3.
  5. Melt the chocolate and set aside.
  6. Beat together the cream cheese, sour cream and remaining sugar until smooth. Then stir in the cocoa and vanilla.
  7. Whisk the eggs into the slightly cooled chocolate, then add to the cream cheese mix. Pour over the biscuit base and smooth out.
  8. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until set, but so that the middle still wobbles slightly if shaken.
  9. Scatter the marshmallows on top of the cheesecake and put back in the oven for 2-3 minutes, just enough time to melt the marshmallows slightly. [You’re then meant to caramelise the marshmallows with a blow torch, but as we don’t have one of those, we ignored this bit.]
  10. Once the cake has cooled, take it out of the tin and put it in the fridge. We left them overnight to set properly before slicing them up and transporting it to St Albans.

cake cross-section

The only changes we made to the recipe was to use fewer marshmallows – about 200g. Plus we bought mini marshmallows to save on the chopping time (we are geniuses). But that’s it.

Next time I think I’ll make the base a bit thicker and the chocolate cheesecake layer a tad thinner, as the ratio wasn’t perfect – but that’s just my opinion. There were no actual complaints on the day.

Laura xx