A year of highs and lows

Evening all

Happy New Year first of all.

I am a fairly optimistic person,  but when I saw all the 2011 review posts I did start thinking about how this year has been for me, and the post title reflects how I feel about it.

It started on a bit of a low, because we were meant to go on holiday last Christmas over the school holidays, but because our plane got snowed on (we were actually on the plane, they de-iced it, we even saw the air safety video!) the airport got closed and our flights were cancelled. What with all the snow it was a bit tricky to get up to much, although we did have a lovely weekend over new years in Bath.

But it was building up to something very exciting- our (mine and Andy’s) first marathon! I turned 30 in May and as a way of celebrating (?) we signed up for it. Even though I had already had my birthday by then it was a sort of present to myself!  To help with motivation I signed up to marathon talk’s spring motivation challenges, plus the magic mile challenge later in the year- all brilliant so check them out! The training was really hard (up until then I had run 2 half marathons in the previous year, but my training runs had not gone over 12 miles), but I did enjoy the achievement of it all. I also leant to like ice baths, and had my first sports massages! My birthday weekend was spent in Derbyshire so we could complete a 20 mile organised training run. Anyone who ever worried about being the last person in a race, read my report. It is not that bad!

I did it! I ran 20 miles and got a t-shirt to prove it! 🙂

And we even went on a nice walk the same evening!

One of the “lows” was that this year I kept on being ill- I had a few UTI’s (having never had them before), including one days before the Stockholm marathon.  But despite being on antibiotics I felt OK so went for it. The race was a struggle, but I felt totally elated when I finished.

Totally all about the medals here! Yes, I was slow, but I ran the entire way, and finished under the cut off and nothing can ever take that away from me!

Just about managing to stand up straight after nearly 5 1/2 hours of running!

A high note before that was our trip to Italy- two of our friends got married out there and we were lucky enough to be invited- we spent  lovely few days out there (of course sampling lots of the local gelato!).

We did share it by the way, this was a comedy photo in which Andy wanted to see how much ice cream I could get on the scoop at once! 🙂

So here is a serious photo as we spent a day in Venice after the wedding and even bumped into the bride and groom on their honeymoon- what are the chances??

Another fantastic high was our summer holiday- we managed to re-book most of the things from our cancelled Christmas holiday, and had an awesome time, especially at Discovery Cove (I still need to put some of those pics on here).

Key West at sunset was one of the many highlights. 

Plus a weekend of girly fun in Bristol.

I can’t take credit for this photo- my friend took it but I just love the colours in it.

After the marathon I kept up running, and we booked a few shorter races in the Autumn. My absolute favourite run was the one in Sherwood Forest.

Running the Great South Run was brilliant as I raised so much for charity (thanks to everyone who sponsored me), although it was not the best race experience! On the plus side a post race lunch (enjoyed in the 3 hour car park queue) of a cinnamon roll and soya chai latte was pretty good!

In the background you can see the 4×4 that kept trying to back into our car, and also caused some road rage later on when it pushed in front of some other cars- people get tetchy when they queue that long!

The year was meant to end on a high, as we had booked a holiday (can you tell we love our holidays?) to NYC (I really want to see the big Christmas tree), Philadelphia, Washington, Orlando and the gulf coast, but before that a big old low in the form of me being admitted to hospital came along and scuppered our plans. There is always next year, and it is so much better than I found out I was unwell here and not whilst on holiday! Look on the bright side 🙂

We have been lucky to enjoy a lovely Christmas at home with Andy’s family, and I got to see my parents more as they were away, back for 3 days, then off to New Zealand for a month (although this turned into a saga when my Dad cut his hand and severed a tendon the day they were meant to go- honestly someone does not want my family to get on holiday right now! Luckily he has not done permanent damage and managed to delay their flights by 2 days- he is doing more tennis umpiring out there but only missed a day I think) so as we were here I managed to spend a few more days with them.

I don’t tend to set goals, but initially I had in my mind that in 2012 I wanted to speed up with my running- I wanted to get some half marathon pb’s and have booked the Brighton and Silverstone Half marathons. But at the moment I don’t have my next hospital appointment until the end of January, and the operation will be some time after that, so I highly doubt I will manage either of them. But again, there is always next year!

Of course 2012 brings with it the Olympics! I can still remember when we found out that London got them (and I actually was going “oh my word I will be 31 when they come” )and it seemed years away- we got some tickets in the second chance round so that is very exciting.

So, I am hoping that in 2012 I get my health sorted, get back into running, enjoy the Olympics, and also have an awesome summer holiday to make up for the cancelled Christmas one.

What are you looking forward to next year?

Happy New Year!

How to make a frothy chai latte

Hello! I have been making the most of some of my lovely Christmas presents by attempting to make home-made chai lattes. I think I have the right technique now, just need to play around with the best teabags/ loose tea to use.

First up, boil the kettle and put your chosen teabag (as I am off caffeine at the moment I chose rooibos with vanilla, but of course to make it perfect choose a black tea chai teabag) in the cup you will end up using. Only put a little water in the cup- the teabags need boiling water to properly release the flavour.

Then heat up some milk (I used soya milk) in a smaller cup- this is probably about 250ml and it took about 1min 40 in my microwave. When the teabag has steeped enough (a couple of minutes- basically the time it takes for the milk to heat) remove it and add some flavour syrup (optional but I was excited to try it- the gingerbread syrup smells amazing). Then pour on the warm milk.

Then get out your milk frother (mine is an Aerolatte ) and froth away.

Look how frothy it goes! 🙂

Then I used on of my cookie shape things to try to make a cinnamon star on top- I think I needed to use my sugar shaker for this! Next time.

Then sit down and enjoy- mmmmmm. Not quite as sweet as a Starbucks one…

But very tasty and warming all the same.

Also, my Whittards order arrived- I had asked for a filter teapot as a Christmas present, and in the end ordered it myself as I had some codes for free delivery and 10% off.

A cool spotty teapot, some chocolate chai (Andy got this for me years ago and I love it but our local one never stocks it any more), Christmas tea and also cinnamon syrup, which I totally forgot I ordered! Hope I like it! 🙂

What are you after in the sales right now?

Also, don’t forget to enter my giveaway. If your comment does not pop up right away don’t worry- some of them were going to be approved by me first, I think just because they have links in them.

Zalando review and giveaway

Hello everyone. I trust you are all busy getting some bargains in the sales.

A while ago (back in November) I was contacted by Amy from a website called Zalando, and Amy wondered if I wanted to try out the website and then write a review for it. I agreed and decided that in the spirit of the season I would share the voucher with my readers. So I had £15 to spend, and if you keep on reading you can find out how you can win a £15 Zalando voucher too.

I had never heard of the website before (although since then I have seen them on several blogs) so I had a look around. I was really impressed- I thought it was just a sportswear retailer but it also sells clothes and beauty brands. It took me ages to decide what to buy. I was very tempted by some lovely handcream, or a scented candle (how nice does fig and grapefruit sound?).

In the end I decided to get some running gloves (which are now out of stock so I can’t link to them!). These have been on my wishlist for a while.

I was really impressed with the speed of delivery- I ordered them on the 26th in the afternoon, and got a dispatch email early on the 27th. They arrived on the 29th (today).

I was a bit worried about the size- the only size they had in stock was XS, and I think I have quite big hands for a girl. I would say that I would like to see size guides on the website, as I could see no guidance for what size I would need. I even went to the Nike website but still could not find any information (so I appreciate it would be hard for Zalando to have the size guides if the actual companies do not make them easy to find), so just went for it.

Well, they fit! Hooray! They are tight around the wrist, but they are meant to be keeping my hands super toasty so being extra snug means they will keep the cold out.

I look forward (even more so) to when I am back and healthy enough to run again, especially if I have super cool and super toasty running gloves to wear too 🙂

I was really impressed with Zalando- the website was easy to use- either by following the menus or by typing into the search boxes. You could also filter things by most popular, price, sale items and so on. The fact that delivery is free is also a massive plus. I like ordering things online, but I do get annoyed by some places who charge quite a lot for delivery. I was expecting them to be in a jiffy bag and posted through my door (which would have been fine) but they were sent via a parcel company, in a box, and had to be signed for, which is even better value considering it is free. Also they only show items in stock, which I like because it is annoying when you find something online and then find out it is out of stock. They do have size guides for the tops and things, so adding them for the gloves would really help too.

Now, I mentioned at the start that I am also hosting a giveaway! One lucky reader can win a £15 voucher for Zalando (UK entries only). Here is how you can enter (each one counts as a separate entry):

  • Comment on this post to say what you would spend your voucher on.
  • Link back to this post in a post of your own (leave a seperate comment saying you have done so).
  • Like me on facebook (again leave a seperate comment to say this).

Entries will close in one week (next Thursday) when I will be super high-tech and put all the names into a container to randomly choose the winner.

Good luck! 🙂

WIAW- not that festive

Hey all

I saw that Jenn is not very well today, but I already took the photos, so I am still joining in with WIAW. Get well soon Jenn. But first, I walked up to the shops yesterday (was glad to get some fresh air) and got myself a little bargain:

Whittards had lots of tea for £1- Andy got himself some Assam teabags and loose tea, I got myself a box of peppermint teabags, and this cute set of syrups (for coffee, but I think they could go in lattes, baking? etc)- I was looking at them online and they were £10 but out of stock- when I asked the guy told me they were £8, but they then took another 30% off so they were actually £5-something. Bargain!

Hazelnut, caramel, vanilla, cinnamon, and the best sounding one of all; gingerbread.

Right, on to WIAW.

Peas and Crayons

I chose one day last week- I am not sure what day as they all blend into one!


Yes I know it looks like some kind of potato gratin- it is actually baked oatmeal (used gingerbread porridge for the oats) with sliced pear. Was much nicer than it looks!


Dark chocolate with caramel. I prefer their coconut one, but this is nice.


A small tortilla with cheese and picalilli, baked for a bit, plus cucumber and hummus and clementines.

Post-walk afternoon snack:

Blurry photo!

Smoothie with frozen banana, frozen cherries, coconut milk, cocoa powder and topped with some chocolate chilli and ginger munchy seeds (which are really yummy).


I made a version of the mexican casserole I saw on Oh She Glows– I used quinoa instead of pasta and probably subbed a few spices. With spinach. And topped with half a chopped avocado mashed with a little lemon juice (it looks like scrambled eggs or something in the picture but it is not!).

Plus some gingerbread tea and a few leibkuchen.

I could have chosen Christmas day but I think Andy’s family would have wondered about me taking photos all day! The picalilli is something I only have at this time of year- I know you can get it all the year round but for some reason I don’t fancy it the rest of the year. My Mum always used to get mixed nuts and dates for Christmas, but they are something I have year round, when I fancy them, now. What festive (or not) things do you treat yourself to at this time of year?

Lovely Christmas and a WINNER!


We had a very cosy Christmas Eve. We had a nice walk in the afternoon and then put up some decorations. Last minute much? The moose candle holder is my favourite- a few years ago we went to Copenhagen for the weekend as our Christmas present, and that was the one thing we brought home with us. The Christmas tree is a tealight holder but it was not lit when I took the picture.

After a nice tea of bread, cheese (I had some Wensleydale and cranberry cheese), salad, grapes and clementines we had a slice of Christmas cake too. Well I did want to try it before we gave the other ones away, for quality control purposes, of course.

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas and Boxing day too. I did, and I will ramble on about that later. But first, last week I posted about a giveaway where one lucky person could win a Bondi Band.

Well, I put all the names into a pot, gave them a big shake, and then chose one (yes, I am super old skool!), and the winner is:

Marijke who wanted the “One more Mile” one. So, email me your address and I will post it off to you! How exciting! Plus it made the decision for me as I loved them both, so once I am out running again I will get to review the Run one. 🙂

And now onto Christmas. I was getting excited about giving out the hampers:

The cake boxes were so huge they took up most of the hampers! There was also coffee, apple and mango jam, spiced nuts, Christmas pudding fudge and chocolate coated gingerbread cookies.

Plus I was so excited to give me Dad his tile for the garden.

He loved it so much! He actually said it was far too nice to put in the garden and is going to see if he can fix it to the front of their house.  🙂

We spent most of the day at Andy’s parents’ house (my parents were back from holiday late on Christmas eve and are heading away tomorrow so we did not want to impose), and it was lovely.

We were totally spoilt- the present opening took all afternoon (although it was nice and slow- one at a time in reverse age order, with a little break in the middle for some pudding), and by the time we had finished it was dark. We had a little walk to see some of the lights and interesting decorations. 6 ft inflatable tree, snowman and santa anyone?

Some of my gifts- a cute owl hot water bottle, some lovely recycled socks (from recycled plastic bottles) that came all the way from Yellowstone when Andy’s parents went there in the summer, nice handcream and a lovely baking book.

And some latte making equipment! A little hand-held whizzer thing, and a cocoa powder/ icing sugar shaker, a marmalade making kit and the sweetest present ever. (I did warn you I would ramble on). Andy has 2 brothers and they both have girlfriends/ fiancées. The 6 of us decided this year that instead of exchanging gifts we would choose a show in London to see in the new year and go together. We had to bring a “fun” gift (with a small price limit) that everyone could enjoy, so we went for this game (which was fun as we played it about 4 times I think). Anyway, his youngest brother and girlfriend gave me the Stitch mug and toy (Lilo and Stitch is my favourite Disney movie) with a little card in it saying that they were sorry that we had to cancel our holiday and would not be going to Disney at Christmas, so here was a little bit of Disney for me to have at home. It was so sweet and so kind and so unexpected. And the mug is the perfect size for a latte I think 🙂

For me and Andy our presents were going to be going to see The Book of Mormon ( from the South Park guys) and also The Rockettes, both in NYC. But I found out that as a surprise he had booked for our last night on holiday to stay at the Disney Animal Kingdom lodge, but obviously yet again we had to cancel it all. So instead he got me a Kindle, which I am very excited about! I got him one last year and he loves it, and I do read a lot (and he kept saying when I was in hospital that I could do with one too as he kept having to bring me more books and magazines). It came pre-loaded with Run by Dean Karnazes which I started already. 🙂 I feel very lucky indeed 🙂

I spent today chilling with my parents for most of it, before they are off tomorrow, and it has been lovely 🙂

I did start off with mincemeat topped pancakes 🙂 Yum! They were made of spelt flour, baking powder, almond milk, apple sauce, cinnamon, ginger and a few raisins, topped with the mincemeat from Meridian. Yummy. My best ones yet. I just realised this picture is almost identical to the one with cake and tea- I am loving my tablecloth, placemats and little table decorations right now! 🙂

Any lovely surprises that you had over Christmas? What was your favourite thing that you gave/ received?