Thursday, 30 January 2014

It was just like in the movies...

My first blog post of 2014, just as I promised! I know we're only into day 30 of the New Year but so far so good and I'm determined not to fail at the first resolution on my list!

My aim for 2014


Busy. Just, busy. So far 2014 has been my most hectic so far. We finished 2013 off in a relaxed fashion, dinner at home, champagne and the fireworks at midnight. Exactly what I wanted after a pretty epic Christmas holiday (but we'll come to that in a bit!) Cool, calm and collected, I went back to work on 2 January and haven't stopped since. Working on a new project in a new team, I don't think I've ever been so busy in all my working life! Long hours and working on a high profile project, my job is to stay calm and reassure everyone that it will be ok and we WILL make it through!

I've also become one of those people with motivational quotes everywhere, a bit yoga obsessed and yes, I'm jumping on the healthy bandwagon. Don't worry, wine and I are still good friends and I'm not denying myself anything, just trying to make better decisions. As my ever supportive sister said to me, "Let's see how long it lasts!" I'm out to prove her wrong now!

We got bikes! Thanks R&P!!
Houndslow, January 2014

Clean grocery shopping

To keep me from stressing out or hating life, I'm getting up a little bit earlier every day to do some yoga and I think that's what keeps me calm and more alert. I love it! And yes, my yoga mat is bright pink, of course!

Morning yoga


Before I get on to the superficial part of my 'love' section, I'll begin with something a little more genuine. I was thrilled to pieces when my big sister J returned home from Aus after what felt like she was away forever. I missed her terribly and was horribly jealous that she got to spend so much time with my chatterbox of a nephew, my parents and my beautiful middle-big sister L (and the boys too!) Both my sisters were great at sending me loads of photos and videos of K and giving me updates of everything that was going on back home. I don't think either of them realise how much it meant to me or how much I appreciated it!

But now it's time to talk about the material things that I love. This is more of an obsession than a love... Instagram! This little photo sharing app is ridiculously addictive! It's where I get ideas for healthy new foods to try and the motivation to keep going with my daily exercise. And who doesn't love to see amazing photos of exotic places around the world and getting a little sneak peak into other people's lives! A few of my favourite are The Merrymaker Sisters @themerrymakersisters for inspiring recipes; and for the best fitness motivation, The Healthy Me @the_healthy_me Oh and of course my profile is filled with food, travel and random everyday stuff. I'm @lifelovetravelfood in case you're wondering!

Another source of inspiration for me is Lorna Jane. Such a positive outlook on life can only be a good thing and if I look like her when I'm pushing 50, I'm going to be thrilled!!

One of my yummy creations from
The Merrymaker Sisters
Raw mango pudding

And just one more thing for love. My birthday! How can you NOT love your birthday?! It's going to come around anyway so you may as well embrace and enjoy it. I got ridiculously spoilt from friends and family this year. My summer wardrobe is now well stocked with gorgeous clothes, I've got some lovely new jewellery, a heap of new pjs (my favourite type of clothing!) and my stunningly beautiful, favourite ever Mimco handbag. Sigh! So materialistic yet so much love... Thank you for buying and lugging it around for me J and thank you THANK YOU for forking out for it B!!

Isn't she beautiful?!


Christmas. In Aus, it's summer, hot, seafood, the beach and endless mangos. Yet we still sing Christmas carols about chestnuts roasting on an open fire, have snowmen decorations and often eat a hot Christmas lunch even when it's 40 degrees outside. Don't get me wrong, I love it and nothing can beat a proper Aussie Christmas but I've always dreamed of a white, wintery, snowy Christmas and in 2013, that's exactly what I got.

B and I went to Saariselkä in Lapland, nothern Finland for one of the most memorable Christmases I think we'll ever have. We were kindly invited to join our friends (the original cruise crew with two welcome additions, J&C.) What an experience!

Our house for the week was a sweet little log cabin surrounded by snow capped trees and icicles on the roof. We had an in-house sauna, a loft bedroom and a wood fire. Perfection!! The house was a little out of the way, about 800m from the town centre which might not sound far but when it's a journey through snow which requires layer upon layer of clothing just to go outside, it was an effort!

Cutest little log cabin! Our home for the week
Saariselkä, Finland, December 2013

Hooray for snow!
Saariselkä, Finland
December 2013

Our first day we went tobogganing down the longest toboggan in Europe - 1.2k long and a heck of a trek to get up the top. The walk was incredible though. Everything was white, pure white... It was magical and so incredibly beautiful. The ride down was hilarious and there were a couple of bruises, a few sore bottoms and lots and lots of screams!

White, white, white!
The walk up to the top of the toboggan
Saariselkä, Finland, December 2013

Just perfect!
Saariselkä, Finland
December 2013

Toboggan, done!!
Saariselkä, Finland
December 2013

We recovered from two togobban runs with a beer and the best tasting toasted cheese sandwich of my life, only to find out toboggans had been stolen!! We soon learnt that this was pretty normal and you snooze, you loose... And then you just take someone else's that's been left unattended. Fairs, fair.

Christmas Day was brilliant. We slept till 10.30 (it doesn't really get light until 11 and the sun goes down at 2) went to the pub to call home (hey, they had free wifi, don't judge!) had reindeer sausages cooked on the open fire and then went snow mobiling. The best fun ever!! 1000CCs and just awesome. I thought I drove really fast until B let it rip and I seriously nearly fell off the back. My hands were gripping on so tight, it was slightly terrifying!! Instead of trying to cook in our tiny kitchen for nine people with only a hot plate and a microwave, we decided to go out for dinner and had a ball, making crazy amounts of noise and just seeing Christmas 2013 out in style. To top it off, it snowed! At one point we were sitting in our little log cabin with a crackling fire, sipping red wine and I glanced out the window to see beautiful snowflakes falling from the sky. JUST like in the movies!

Inside our cute little cabin
Saariselkä, Finland
December 2013

Snow mobiling awesomeness
Saariselkä, Finland
December 2013

Other adventures we had included going on a terribly organised, expensive Nothern Lights tour where the guide was convinced we were going to see the lights and kept promising we would. We didn't. All we got for our money was a crappy sausage and some hot juice. We all drank cup after cup and ate a silly amount of biscuits to try and make up for the fact that we'd spend all this money to stand around in the middle of nowhere with a giant igloo nearby. Boo!

We went snow mobiling again to a husky farm for a 60sec husky sled ride. It was fun but was literally 800m round an ice pond and then they ushered us away from the dogs into a hut for more hot juice. Don't get me wrong, the juice was delicious but we just wanted to pat the dogs. I was that annoying person who just nagged and nagged:
Me: "Can we go see the dogs now?"
Guide: "In a minute, let's have some juice."
Me: "How about now? I've finished, can I go see the dogs?"
Guide: "Soon, there's plenty of time. More juice?"

No! No more juiceEventually we did get to play with the dogs but it wasn't nearly enough time. My favourite was a beautiful ginger dog called Garlic. We were ushered away much too quickly so while I absolutely loved it, it was way too quick and too much hot juice!

Ben with Garlic
Saariselkä, Finland
December 2013

Our last day we went skiing and it was really odd skiing in darkness by lights! We had a few injuries with R going so fast and falling so spectacularly that her husband P wasn't quite sure she had survived. C and J spent most of their time on their bums and not actually on their skis. I'm quite sure I could hear C swearing from the top of the moutain! And after a very shaky, frustrating start, B mastered the art of skiing after a good few falls, causing me to lose my ski on the t-bar lift meaning a little pro kid skier had to pick it up and deliver it back to me. This was then followed by a second attempt to get to the top of the green run on the t-bar only to have a massive stack and us both fall over. Third time was the charm cause we decided to go up individually! Hooray!!

Skiing in the dark!
Saariselkä, Finland
December 2013

We did the total touristy thing of sitting sweltering in our sauna then ran outside, rolled in the snow and raced back inside, grabbing a beer on the way back in. I have never tasted a better beer in my life! We had no trouble with fridge space either - we left all the drinks outside and they were colder than our fridge stuff! We also made rum and coke snow cones are totally delicious.

It was a Christmas trip I will never forget. We had a ball with a group of wonderful friends and I absolutely loved it. Fun, snow, so many laughs and I will end by saying it is not possible to do my signature dance move in ski pants... I ripped them quite spectacularly.

Hash tag no filter!
A stunning 'sunrise' at about 11am!
Saariselkä, Finland
December 2013


Ah, my forever quest for food! With work being so busy, things have slowed down somewhat for me recently in the food department and I'm trying to cut out more of the stuff I know doesn't agree with me. I think it's because I've officially moved into my 'late 20s' and I've since discovered that a) I can't hold my drink like I used to be able to b) when I eat bad, it sticks around... This is one thing I'm having a hard time dealing with. Where are you early 20s metabolism! Come back, I miss you and realise now I should have appreciated you while I had the chance! And c) annoyingly, I do feel so much better when I eat healthier and cut out the crap. Yet having said that, it's not all doom and gloom and if I go out to a dirty burger place, I eat that dirty burger and I enjoy it. Don't worry, I promise I won't go 'all hippy' in my blog as B has nicknamed my new eating habits.

My birthday cake this year was utterly delicious. It was a snickers inspired paleo cheesecake, just without any refined sugar, no dairy and no wheat. No seriously, it was amazing!! J also loved it and B and all reluctantly agreed it was, "Better than expected." Or, "Not as bad as it could have been."

Raw, clean, no dairy, no refined sugar,
no wheat, paleo friendly birthday cake
January 2014

I've got a reputation to uphold at work now because I make my own hummus and introduced everyone to baked kale chips. My no eggs, no dairy, no wheat, no refined sugar muffins didn't go down so well though, I think they need more work, or 'more sugar and bad stuff' as one girl told me.

Banana pancakes - clean and delicious!
January 2014

Kale chips!
January 2014

But on to the interesting bit. In Finland, we ate incredibly well, trying loads of local dishes like reindeer potato bake (don't knock it till you've tried it!) reindeer with raspberry sauce, the best truffle soup I've ever had in my life, squeaky cheese with cloudberry jam, awesome burgers at the supermarket cafe and  a local liquor that smelt like pure smoke and tasted even worse.

Reindeer potato bake. Mmm!!
Saariselkä, Finland
December 2013

In London, we visited my two favourite pubs in Twickenham and indulged my love of stouts and porter. Our final goodbye to R&P (I still haven't quite come to terms with the fact that they're really gone!) along with J&C saw us visit the delicious Sushi Nara. My obsession for good sushi continues and I have to stop myself from eating it every lunchtime. I have also discovered I'm not only a coffee snob, but an espresso martini snob. I only tasted my first one last year but I already know a good one from a rubbish cheap one. My tastes are getting so much more expensive as the years tick by much to B's disgust.

There were more tasty delights in Portugal but I'll save that for next blog cause with work so incredibly busy, I barely have time for a quick dinner at home, let alone a yum London dinner so I'll need to save something to talk about in my food section next blog or else it will be all about kale, overnight oats, raw mango puddings and paleo butter chicken.

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