Friday Questions

18 December 2015

How old are you in 5 years? 30 years. And I'm sure life will be very different from how it is now!
Who were you most recently with 2 hours ago? My colleague, Charlie. We get on like a house on fire and spend our days laughing at anything and everything.
How tall are you? 5'1. And yes the view is lovely down here.
What movie did you watch last? The Holiday. Always need a little bit of Christmas cheer!
Who called you last? My mother. We were discussing when I'm arriving back at her house for Christmas and our plans for Christmas Eve..I'm so excited!

Who did you ring last? My aunty. I wanted to let her know that I'm going to bring her round some homemade Nutella truffles, cos I'm a nice niece like that!
What was the last text you received? 'Hope you have a wonderful day gorgeous.' Who it's from, I won't disclose ;)
Prefer to call or send texts? I don't really mind. I love to have a good chat on the phone, but depending on where I am determines whether it's a text conversation or a phone conversation. Texts don't convey how you feel as well as phone conversations.
What is your favorite place? Wherever my favourite people are. As long as I'm with the people I love, then it's a good place.
Which place do you prefer the least? A&E. I don't think anyone enjoys sitting in A&E for hours on end.
When did you see your mother recently? 6th December. I was at my parents for the weekend and it was a wonderful occasion. I didn't want to leave!
What eye color do you have? Green.
What is your favorite Christmas song? I'm not sure I could choose..I love so many Christmas songs! Especially the traditional songs and carols.
When you did you wake up today? 0630. 
Where do you think you'll be in 10 years? I've really no idea. I've tried to stop thinking about the future as it honestly just stresses me out. I'm the sort of girl who wants to settle down and have a family relatively young, and after a couple of heartbreaks, I'm just taking it a day at a time now rather than giving myself deadlines and life goals.
What scared you at night as a child? The idea of a house fire. It was all those scary 'check your fire alarm' adverts that did it!
What is your favorite outfit? If I could wear gym clothes every day, I would. But there's nothing like a little dress, tights and wedge boots. It's hard to pick a favourite outfit as it does depend on your mood!
Are your parents married or divorced? Married for nearly 27 years now!
What is your best feature? I'm always happy and positive. So many people comment on it and i'm glad they do. Happiness is catching and a smile can change someones day.

What is your worst trait? I can be a little stubborn.
How many pillows have you in your bed? Four. I love lots of pillows and I've had eight in the past! Hotel bed wannabe!
What is the strangest thing you've eaten? I've eaten a mealworm but that was as part of a tequila drink in Mexico.
Do you have a desktop or laptop computer? I have both, but daily I use a laptop.
What are you listening to right now? BBC Radio 1.
Which ice cream is your favorite? Coldstone Creamery. There's nothing like it.
Can you play poker? Yes. And I have a good poker face. I'm actually a really good gambler, which is why I don't let myself gamble that often. It could be dangerous otherwise!
What have you eaten today? An Activia yoghurt. I'm currently waning dairy out of my diet, but I rushed out of the house this morning without eating my usual breakfast of eggs, so grabbed a yoghurt from Waitrose. 
What will you do today? Work work work. Gym, and then relax in the evening.
Do you want children? More than anything. I have always been maternal and crave children so badly. Hopefully, once I'm with the right guy, children will be around very quickly.
Know any other languages ​​than English? I can speak German, conversational Spanish and French, and a little bit of Norwegian and Finnish which I'm currently learning.

What do you spend your money on? Travel, experiences, normal life expenses such as bills and food, and surprises for those that I love.
What is your favorite dessert? I'm a dessert person so this is hard to choose! I'll never turn down proper New York Cheesecake though.
Do you drink anything with breakfast? Water, green tea and sometimes fresh orange juice.
Are you social? Incredibly social. I fully believe that being with people enhances your day to day life massively. You have so much to learn from other people, and it's from other people that you learn things about yourself. We only live once and I personally think we should spend it with the people we love, meet as many people as we can and embrace community.
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Lussekatter for St Lucy's Day

13 December 2015

I've always had a love for Scandinavian traditions, food and celebrations. Don't ask me why - I just always have. I would love to be an expat in one of the Scandinavian countries for a while and just soak in the Nordic lifestyle. I'm lucky that one of my best friends is Finnish, so she spoils me a little with Finnish traditions and food. Seeing as it's Sunday and we usually all have time on our hands, I thought I'd share with you one of my favourite Christmas celebrations from Scandinavia.

In Sweden, Norway and some Swedish speaking parts of Finland, December 13th is a day of celebration and light, and is commonly known as St Lucy's Day (or St. Lucia's Day). St Lucy was one of the first Christian martyrs, killed by the Romans for her beliefs. Lucy means 'light', and it's on December 13th when it's one of the darkest days in the month that she is remembered, and towns everywhere are lit up with candles as 'light overcomes darkness'. In most towns, a young girl is elected St Lucy, and she gets to wear a long white robe with a red sash, and dons a green garland crown on her head which is covered in candles.

Buns called Lussekatter (literally translated as Lucy's Cats) are served along with mulled wine. Lussekatter remind me of being very young. I thought they were exciting and special, and just were quintessentially Christmassy. Sweet and light, they have a gorgeous golden colour which is due to saffron being used, and are easily identifiable from their backwards S shape.

In case you might like to get involved with one of my favourite Advent traditions, I've put the recipe I used below.

What you need

1 tsp saffron threads
250ml milk
500g strong white flour
7g sachet of fast-action dried yeast
1 tsp salt
50g caster sugar
50g unsalted butter, melted
100g Quark cheese
1 egg yolk
Handful of raisins

This is how you do it

- Heat the milk until it is lukewarm.

- Soak the saffron in the milk for 5-10 minutes so it gets a really yellowy colour.

- Combine the salt, sugar, flour and yeast together in a bowl. Make a well in the middle.

- Mix the melted butter into the milk and saffron and pour into the well.

- Add the Quark cheese.

- Stir this mixture briefly and then bring together as a dough.

- Knead the dough on a floured surface for around 10 minutes.

- Place the dough in a bowl and cover with a teatowel or clingfilm. Leave it in a warm place for around 1½-2 hours until well risen.

(This is where I usually go and watch a Christmas film. Any excuse!)

- Preheat the oven to 220c/Gas Mark 7.

- Split the dough into 12 pieces. Roll them into long sausages using your hands. They should be around 8 inches long.

- Twist them into a reverse 'S' shape. This is easy and you just need to curl them round. Make sure they are twisted nice and tightly

- Place on a greased baking tray, cover with a teatowel again and leave for 30 minutes to rise.

(Grab a cup of tea and dance around the kitchen to Christmas music. Best 30 minutes you will spend - I promise you.)

- Brush the Lussekatter with the egg yolk. This helps to give them a nice golden colour whilst cooking.

- Place a raisin in each side of the Lussekatter (2 per bun).

- Bake the rolls for 15 minutes, and then leave to cool on a wire rack.

And that's how you make Lussekatter. It's a little time consuming, but definitely worth the wait. I love eating them when they're still warm with a little bit of Christmas Cake curd or some salted caramel cream (which isn't strictly the Swedish way, but dayaaam it tastes good.) Make sure you eat them with a glass of mulled wine and share with your family and friends.

Happy St. Lucy's Day! God Jul!

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7 things to do in December

9 December 2015

001. Go for festive Christmas drinks with friends. There are pop up bars everywhere this time of year, and there's nothing quite like squishing up on a table and keeping warm with a cup (or boot) full of Gl├╝hwein.

002. Don the ice skates and hit the ice. We do this every year, be it at Canary Wharf or Somerset House. This is festivity personified and it's a perfect way to bring a smile to anyone's face. (especially when people take a tumble!)

003. Decorate a gingerbread house. You can find decorating packs everywhere nowadays, and there's something very therapeutic about decorating the house how you'd like, and then seeing it finished in all its glory. And then devouring it afterwards. That tastes good.

004. Wrap up warm and go for a Wintry hike. Fill flasks with mulled wine or tea, throw on some waterproofs in case it rains (you never know..this is the UK after all), put on your best bobble hat and go for a proper trek somewhere new. I love just putting my finger down on a map, driving there and seeing where it takes me. The dog will love it too. Plus, you can treat yourself with a hot chocolate after to warm you up. With extra marshmallows.

005. Listen to Christmas carols. If there's anything that makes me feel Christmassy, it's Christmas carols. You don't really get carolers come round to houses anymore, but there's nothing to stop you from going to a Christingle service (if only for the Dolly Mixture you get on top of the orange) or listening to a playlist on Spotify whilst cooking dinner one night. Try it. You might even like it!

006. Donate to charity. Now you can do this at any time of year, and believe me, I do. But Christmas is the time of year when giving is at a high. Why not give to those less fortunate than us? In the past, I've made a food hamper up and donated it to a shelter, or bought some toys and donated them to a children's home.

007. Spend a day watching Christmas films. Usually, I binge watch loads of films on a weekend, complete with warm mince pies and salted caramel cream. What's not to love?

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Christmas Q&A

4 December 2015

What do you usually do on Christmas Eve?
Christmas Eve is maybe my favourite day in the whole year. I'm usually at my parents house, and I wake up early to walk the dogs, and then get ready to run the final errands before the big day. I'll help my Mum with the chopping and preparation of food and vegetables, and then most years, we've popped to the shops for an egg nog latte and a last browse of the makeup counters (in case there's a festive lipstick that we just have to purchase). Once all the preparation is complete, we'll watch a Christmas film, and then head down to our local pub for festive cheer and to wish everyone health and happiness. Around 10pm, I make my way to church for rehearsals, and then sing midnight mass. I get home around 1am, have a cup of tea, and head to bed..ready for the whirlwind of Christmas Day to begin in a couple of hours!

What's your favourite Christmas treat?
I like pretty much everything when it comes to Christmas treats! I don't eat things like cookies so we don't have Christmas cookies in the house, but I love all the savoury treats like cheese and biscuits and antipasti. I always look forward to filling my body with mulled wine too, as that's just Christmas personified for me.

Do you prefer to give or receive gifts?
As much as we all like to receive presents from our loved ones, there is nothing quite like giving a gift that you know is going to light up someones face. I've always been the type of person to give presents that are meaningful, and will have some reference to a memory or a holiday or something special, and I just love knowing that people recognise the fact that you've gone to the effort.

Real or artificial Christmas tree?
Nothing beats a real Christmas tree does it? The smell of it is just so good!

What is a typical Christmas Day like for you?
Even though I've had a late night from singing midnight mass, I'm always up early because there's so much to do before the family arrive! My family and I have a glass of champagne whilst opening our presents to each other, and then get ready for the day. We like to dress up on Christmas Day, so it's usually nice dresses for ladies and shirts for men. My dad usually takes the dogs out whilst I help mum with any final preparations. When the family arrive, it's more champagne and we open half of the presents. Christmas Lunch is served, we eat until we're stuffed, and then open the final half of the presents. Then comes the games and fun, which usually involves my grandfather not understanding the games we're playing, and of course..more champagne. Then we all settle down to watch the Christmas specials on TV before putting on fresh pyjamas and snuggling down. It's always such a nice day.

Favourite activities in December?
There are so many! Ice skating (usually at Canary Wharf), singing midnight mass is always special to me, trips to Starbucks with my mum to drink egg nog lattes, buying and wrapping presents, listening to Christmas music and seeing some of my favourite family and friends. There's so much to love about December!

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7 workout excuses to banish from your life

30 November 2015

It's dark before I leave the office now and the first thing I want to do when I get home is make a cup of Caramelized Apple tea and snuggle on the sofa with the dog. Going for a run along the sea front and battling against the elements? Not my number one choice. But once it's done, you feel good and strong and 100% better for doing it. A couple of years ago when I was a teacher, I honestly didn't have much time to fit exercise into my life. It got me down more than I realised and changed the way I felt about myself. I vowed that I would never let that happen again and now, I'm the girl who trains whilst on holiday and factors in training sessions when friends come to visit me (this is a true story.)

It is so, so easy to make excuses when it comes to exercise, but we're in charge of our lives and what we do with our time. With that in mind, here are 7 workout excuses to banish from your life forever!

001. I don't have the time. Yes you do. It's about making time and evaluating your priorities. Think about the times that you sit down in front of the tv to watch those 3 episodes of Friends that you've watched about 40 times over. That's an hour and a half that you could have been working out or going for a quick run. It's so easy to pretend that you don't have the time, and I could easily do that. However, exercise isn't an addition to my's just a way of life and I will always make the time for it.

002. I'm too tired. We've all said this, including me. Sometimes it's important to listen to your body if you're physically tired, but most of the time, it's just a feeling. You never regret a workout and even when I'm not feeling my strongest, it feels good to have done a little bit of exercise, even if it's just 30 minutes.

003. It's too expensive. Some gyms are indeed expensive, but I am a firm believer that it's about finding the right gym for you, no-matter what the price is. I have trained in gyms that are £90 a month, and ones that are £9.99 a month. Think about the extra coffees you buy on the way to work, or the lipstick you pick up during your lunch hour. They all equal to what could be a gym membership. If a gym membership still seems too much, exercise is free. Get outdoors, go for a run, do push ups on the wall at the beachfront, do sit ups in your living room. There are so many options and exercise never, ever has to be expensive.

004. Exercise is boring. If you do the same workouts over and over again, then it can get boring. It's about finding that inspiration and what works for you. Training with a friend can be a great motivator, and giving yourself weekly targets means that you're always in competition with yourself. I love to switch up my workouts so that every day is different. I always make sure I have a good music playlist too to give me the extra boost - you'll often see me dancing and singing in between rounds, and that means I'm never bored!

005. I'll start to exercise in the New Year. Why the New Year? Why not now? There's no need to postpone. There's a month until New Year and imagine what you can do in those 4 weeks, and how your body might feel, not to mention your morale. When you do get to New Year, you'll already be in the mindset of exercising and it won't seem like such a challenge.

006. It's my time of the month. Come on girls. We're not in Year 7 and trying to get out of swimming any more. Change up the workout to suit how you feel. Maybe use lighter weights, or go for some shorter rounds. Exercise massively helps your hormones and you'll feel good for it after.

007. I'm pregnant. Now I can't speak from experience with this one, but as long as you've exercised before pregnancy, you're fine to train during pregnancy. This doesn't mean you have to go hammer for tong, but research has shown that exercising whilst pregnant has tons of benefits. Increased blood flow, endorphins and general fitness are all key for a good pregnancy and just by going for a brisk walk a few times a week can be of massive benefit. If I'm ever lucky enough to become pregnant, I will be carrying on my usual fitness routine unless otherwise told not to. Baby bump body pump is 100% a thing!

Hopefully this post will have given you a little inspiration when it comes to doing some exercise. Will your Monday involve some form of activity?

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