Foodie Friday – Soup & Pesto

This Foodie Friday I do not have any proper recipes to share, just a couple of quick things I made during the week and a story about Pumpkin Lady.

First of all Pesto – this went down very well with the Boyo – the jar I made was big enough to last a while but it was scoffed within 3 days.

I toasted some pine nuts in a dry non-stick pan then blended them until they were the consistency of peanut butter (this would actually make a nice change from peanut butter).

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I then blended that with fresh basil, 2 cloves of garlic, some sun dried tomatoes, olive oil and seasoning.

For quantities just use whatever you feel is best for you, I added more basil and olive oil until it was the consistency I liked and ours was quite garlicky as the Boyo is a big garlic fan.

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Next time I will try roasted peppers and some chilli flakes for a different twist.

The fresh basil smells amazing and pesto is so versatile.

Initially for our tea I roasted some slices of chicken breast in the oven with a little italian seasoning, then topped the chicken with the pesto near the end of the cooking time, I served it with tomato and basil rice, grilled courgettes and I crushed some toasted pine nuts and sprinkled with parmesan over the top. It was delicious.

We then had it in sandwiches, dipped crackers into it, had it with camembert and foccacia for lunch, and I also topped burgers with pesto and mozzarella.

I think the price was comparable with shop-bought jars as so often pesto is on special offer but the fresh taste beat the shop jar hands down. Definitely something I will make on a more regular basis now – and I even have a little basil plant on my windowsill to help me!

I had a pumpkin to use up this week. If you follow me on Instagram you will have seen my very attractive looking pumpkin lady. I don’t know about you but very often in my family if we are up late and are very tired or it is past midnight we’ll say ‘oh dear it’s so late I’m going to turn into a pumpkin’ (must originate from cinderella). Last Friday the Boyo was away working in London and I knew he wouldn’t be back until after midnight. So I got a pumpkin, drew a face on it, put a wig on (we already had that in house), my old specs and finished her off with a touch of lippy.

I then put the pumpkin in bed with a wee note.

I’d already told the Boyo that I would be in bed asleep as he would be getting back late.

So he got home and found I had actually turned into a pumpkin.

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Well this meant I had a pumpkin to cook. Having never made anything with pumpkin before I decided the easiest thing to make would be soup. I didn’t follow any recipe or particular quantities I just put an assortment of vegetables into a pot, roasted some of the pumpkin, added some lentils and made soup. It turned out rather tasty and stocked up my freezer for weekday lunches nicely.

I used:

Pumpkin

Carrots

Onions (red and brown)

Yellow Pepper

Red lentils

Celery

Spinach

Chicken & Vegetable stock (BIG pot so needed lot of stock)

Thyme

Salt & Pepper

Dash of Worcester sauce

Cook until all soft, then blend. Voila. Tasty soup.image

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What I Wore Wednesday – Working Wardrobe

Hello all,

I’ve been participating in a Autumn (Fall) fashion challenge throughout October over on Instagram. Organised by my favourite blogger Molly of Still Being Molly it has been a fun way to get me thinking about my wardrobe and the choices I have. As I mentioned in my last post I’m not entirely happy about my weight, I have so many beautiful clothes that I currently don’t fit. This challenge whilst making me think in new ways about the clothes that do fit is also helping me to focus on my eventual aim to fit into all my lovely clothes (especially my frocks) again.

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My weekday wardrobe is a mixture of smart-casual skirts, dresses and trousers. I tend to buy most of my clothes from Next (Tall selection online and very good delivery service), M&S, Monsoon, La Redoute, BHS and White Stuff. I am tall (5ft9 with long legs) and not skinny (top heavy) so shopping can be difficult.

I’m the librarian at an Further Education College library so I have to look smart as I’m managing the library but I also want to look approachable to the students. I tend to wear a bit of colour and although I have suits and more formal clothes I tend to keep them for more formal meetings rather than my day to day job.

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Day 21 of the #SBMFallFashionChallenge called for some animal print… I’m not really an animal print sort of girl.. but I do make an exception for wee owls… (all part of the looking approachable to students aim, I mean someone wearing colourful owls can’t be scary, can they?)

image3I tend to wear a low heel or flats for work. I have dodgy knees and a condition in my feet called plantar fasciitis which means I have to wear special insoles in my shoes so my requirement for work shoes is that I can get my insoles into them and that they look smart. I’m really sad that my favourite pair of teal heels are going to have to go to shoe heaven soon as the patent is all scratched and white scuff marks are showing – not so good for work! My shoes below come from New Look and are several years old. Most of shoes come from M&S (good old Marks & Sparks!) and Clarks.  I have 3 pairs of heels from Monsoon that have been excellent work shoes back when I was teaching as well. I recently bought a pair of shoes from Hotter and they are very comfortable and don’t look like Granny shoes so I’m keeping an eye out for sales with them. image1

Layers are really vital in my place of work. The building dates from the early 1960s and can either be freezing or boiling hot. The windows are double height, floor to ceiling, leak and let the wind in.. but they also act like a greenhouse on sunny days. To combat this I’ll usually have a top and a cardigan or blazer and a scarf which I can put on or take off according to the climate during the day. I also keep a fleece in the office for extremely cold days (luckily only about 3 days a year). image2 (1)

So my tweaks for something super smart like this dress below (Next Tall) which is part of a suit would be, cardigan, coloured shoes, scarf and pretty jewellery.

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My wardrobe is much the same as my teaching days and most of the same rules apply.

* Be comfortable, clothes which are not comfy or you feel unhappy in will just distract you from work.

* Keep covered up. Flesh on show with skirts that are too short or cleavage are not appropriate.

* Dress in a way that suits your personality but also suits the job and how you want to be perceived. Ie. I love colourful things but some of my wacky clothes are just not suited for work. I want to be perceived as friendly but also in control so hence the smart but a little bit casual apparel.

* Accessorize (if you want to). I love my scarves and jewellery and to me they finish off my wardrobe so I am very happy to purchase little bits and bobs (a scarf wherever I go) to complement lots of my existing clothes. They allow me to put my own stamp on my smart clothes.

* Don’t wear scuffed, broken, tired clothes. Yes you have had those shoes for years, yes they did the job well, yes they go with a million things in your wardrobe but if they are a bit past it then they have to be excused from you work wardrobe because people won’t know your connection and history with that item, they will just see a scruffy person who doesn’t care.

Anyway that is just some of my own thoughts. I spend 36+ hours of my week at work so I do have a large ‘workdrobe’ and I enjoy my clothes (although I am definitely not fashionable). For more working wardrobe inspiration I suggest you look at Fashionably Employed blog.

Merry

Autumn Leaves

I haven’t blogged in rather a while. I work in education and every year without fail the start of the academic year and how busy it is takes me by surprise. This coupled with being short staffed has led to me working on average an extra 10 hours a week. My brain was frazzled (or as the Boyo says head fried!).

I’d built up enough time that I managed to take a week off when the students were on their October break. I promised myself I would relax and just enjoy a few days at home. This of course did not happen. I promptly arranged things for everyday of the week off. I seem to never learn!

I started off the week with a long weekend on the most wonderful Island I know. The Isle of Arran off the West coast of Scotland is my favourite place and this time I got to take some of my favourite people. The Boyo + myself + 2 best friends + 1 husband (not mine!) + 1 toddler + 1 dog + a house with a sea view and a cosy fire = a formula for a great weekend. We had so much fun. Wandering the Island, eating food and drinking many cups of tea and playing games in the evening. The verdict is that the girls are best at Cranium and the boys won the trivia game (only just!). I feel at home and relaxed on the Island and it was great to finally show my friends the place I love. We had a Treasure Trail for Brodick that proved to be a good idea and the games in the evening while the toddler snoozed were so much fun. This time of year is just spectacular and the scenery on Arran was magnificent. I really love autumn and my friends got to see the Island looking rather good. None of us really wanted to leave; my thoughts are leaning towards making this an annual event from now on.

Arran  View up Glen Rosa

My sister then came down to visit me for a couple of days and I did have a meeting in Dundee for work that I had to go to. I spent the latter half of the week in my hometown visiting family. I went to The Good Food Show in Glasgow with my Mum and spent far too much money but I do now have a kitchen stocked with tasty treats (not all unwholesome).

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Sisters

The last day of the holiday was spent at home catching up with my (tired) Boyo who had been at a stag do in Aviemore and then before we knew it the alarm clock was beeping on Monday morning and it was time for me to go back to work.

Kettle

Countryside around my house

I do feel a bit more rested but at certain points in my week off I had time to think (I was working so much prior to the holiday that there was no time for anything). I had to stop myself a few times from being very negative about myself again. The truth is there are much more important things in life but the only way for me to stop these petty negative thoughts is to tackle them head on.

The conclusion: whilst I am happy that efforts I have made to deal with stress have resulted in the chronic headaches lessening I am very unhappy with the way I look. Looks should not be important, indeed I have no huge aspirations to suddenly turn into a model or princess (haha as if, some very potent magic potions would be needed) but I know that I looked far better 3 years ago than I do now. Yes I do have excuses and some of those are valid (medication, bereavement, desk job) but I’m not happy and I’m being judged by other people (I’ve had comments from Gran and dad in past week and Boyo earlier in the year). Ultimately if I lose a little weight and get some zest back it will do wonders for my self esteem. I do not want to be thin, I just want to go back down 2 sizes so I can fit in most of my very nice wardrobe again.

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Graduation 3 years ago, this dress won’t even look at me now. 😦

The key things I am looking at right now to help me with this are obviously food and exercise. I have been doing a bit of research into 5:2, The Hairy Dieters (love them), exercise classes locally (but given my work hours this is proving hard!) and thanks to Molly’s blog I am also thinking about investing in a Jawbone. I am seriously challenging myself to try more vegetables using the techniques the hypnotherapist gave me. It is very easy for me to be weak and need some self discipline and encouragement (not nagging, Boyo has made that mistake before). I’m also stubborn so if I can just redirect my stubbornness in a direction that would lead to a healthier me then that would be useful.

I’d love to know if any of you have tried a particular type of exercise and enjoyed it. I have not got great co-ordination and I have dodgy knees so anything that is a very impact type sport (like running) would not really be ideal for me. I’d also really love to hear if anyone else has had a food aversion issue?

We bought a cross-trainer nearly a year ago and the Boyo does use it but I haven’t. I know how to use it, I am not scared of the machine or find it difficult it is almost as if I am scared to try to lose weight in case I fail? maybe tonight I’ll just face that (irrational) fear and get on it.

Wish me luck!

Merry

 

ps. I am also looking for tips on which mobile phone I should go for. I can upgrade next week but after 4 years with a blackberry it is time to change. I don’t need anything too fancy but something with a  decent camera would be good. Any advice much appreciated!!