Getting into subscription services

And I don’t mean Disney+ !

I didn’t really notice until I was chatting to someone and mentioned about a few of the subscriptions, and I realised that I regularly use quite a few.

Fun ones:

Bird & Blend tea club. This comes each month ( but you can pause or cancel very easily)- you get 3 varieties of loose leaf tea (your first order has a tea measuring spoon and tea sacks too)- either caffeine free or a variety. They are usually seasonal- eg in January they had a sort of “relax and self-care” theme for the teas, February there were pancake teas, next month will be Easter themed teas. They also are accompanied by a postcard with art- the Feb one from Sugar and Sloth was totally adorable and now I can’t stop scanning their Etsy page!

Vegan Kind Lifestyle Box. I signed up to receive a box a month for 3 months, but I think I’ll extend it as I really like the variety. Each box has a selection of sweet and savoury foods/ snacks, plus other items (eg vegan floss), and a recipe card. Some of the products include discount codes, and there are some things I would seek out again, and others I am glad I have tried even if I would not have them again.

Hotel Chocolat. I used to get a box every 3 months, but they have changed the way their subscriptions work, and so I have kept on putting it back. They also mentioned a vegan option late last year, but so far that hasn’t materialised so I am keeping it on hold until they get some better options.

One of the Vegan lifestyle boxes


Wild. I have switched to this natural deodorant/ anti-perspirant and I am really happy with how it works. It’s aim is to cut down on plastic too, so you get one case with your first purchase, and then they sent out refills (which are easy to delay if you don’t need them). The refills are in card which you slot into the case, so zero plastic and waste.

FFS. I subscribed to these after becoming more and more frustrated with the amount of plastic and waste in traditional razors. Your first pack has the razor handle, and then they send out packs of razors (again as often as you like, or delay the re-send very easily)- you send the razors back to them when you are done and they recycle them.  They also do a solid anti-perspirant which I do like, but comes in a tin and I don’t really like applying it in that way. You can get £5 off your first order here (and I would earn some loyalty points).

Bamboo toothbrush head. I have an electric toothbrush but again the plastic is just so bad. I’ve done a subscribe and save on Amazon, so they send out a pack of 2 heads, made from coconut fibres and other recyclable things (LiveCoco), twice a year. You can send the heads to the company for them to be recycled.

Boring house things:

Smol. This time last year I joined a few vegan facebook groups (helpful for recipes, supermarket finds and so on) and learnt that “normal” washing tabs and fabric softener are not suitable for vegetarians or vegans as they often contain animal fats. Coupled with the plastic in the tabs meant I started looking for an alternative. In the end I went with Smol and I am really happy that I did. They they do dishwasher tabs, bio, non bio, fabric softener and surface cleaners. The surface cleaners are brilliant because you add a little tablet to their bottle and top up with water from your tap- helping reduce emissions as the water isn’t being transported everywhere too. Our recycling bin used to get so full so quickly of plastic bottles from shower sprays and things like that. They are very easy to re-order if you need them sooner, or to change the amount and so on. Plus they take up a lot less space in the cupboard which is always a good thing. You can get a free trial here (and I would get a small discount on a future order)

Who Gives a Cr*p.  Did you know that more people in the world have mobile phones than toilets? I learnt that from the wrapping on the toilet paper. The company not only make vegan toilet paper (again, something I learned recently is that the glue might contain gelatine and so on) without dyes, but it’s recycled, no plastic is used in the packaging, and they donate 50% of their profits to help build toilets and improve sanitation in the developing world. Be warned that it comes in a very big box with the company name written all over it! But, no worries about running out while everyone in the country is panic-buying!

I think I am signed up to more than I realised! Do you sign up to anything like this? Someone at work mentioned a flower subscription which seemed like a lovely treat.

Half term- pancakes, decorating and running (what else?)

On Sunday I went for a long run, again to the lakes to see the frozen water, and to see the fountain. It was due to warm up so I thought it would be my last chance. As the batch of cinnamon rolls made plenty, it meant we could have one for breakfast and one later with a cup of tea, in front of Wall-E.

Our plan for half term (Andy had the week off too) was to decorate our spare room, so there was a lot of furniture moving and prep to do before all the bits we had ordered came on the Monday.

My new vegan box arrived with some tasty looking bits

In the morning I headed out in the rain to get a run in before we started. My dad was planning on coming for a run with me the next day, so I was sorting out a route as he likes to run around a 5k.

In my memories it came up that a year ago we had been down to Southampton for the weekend. It was very stormy and windy and I remember checking the events over and over to see which ones were not cancelled, and luckily chose Netley Abbey parkrun which was still on. It brought back happy memories of running around the park, going out for breakfast after and visiting Andy’s grandma, but it also brought back bad memories of the toll bridge on the way to parkrun- it only took coins, I didn’t have many, and after not being able to get the barrier to go up I had to reverse out and go in a different one. Despite that, I am really looking forward to being able to parkrun, and to eventually tour again.

The less said about the decorating the better- we had to wash the walls (we’d previously taken most of the wallpaper down) and the glue was just oozing out of the walls- it was so gross and one of my most detested jobs.

On Tuesday, Dad drove over and we had around a 3.5 mile run together through the fields. It was really mild, and we could hear loads of birds singing, we had a good chat and it was just so enjoyable.

Then we got on with painting the ceiling and doing a base coat on the walls (some were dark green, some were brown- it was a real mess). At least it was pancake day, so we had pancakes for dinner!

I think we had a hot cross bun as elevenses, after doing some decorating.

On Wednesday it was another run first thing, and then the more enjoyable part of decorating, the actual painting. We managed the first coat in the morning, so I spent the afternoon pottering at home, doing some baking (I made the oatmeal raisin choc chip cookies from Lucy and Lentils) and doing various admin bits.

We had been watching The Investigation, which was a drama based on real events (to do with a person killed on board a home-made submarine) and we finished it that evening. One of the aspects I really liked was that you never saw the person accused of the crime- it focused on the police carrying out the investigation, and the family of the victim. So many crime shows give a lot of attention to the perpetrator (which some of them seem to seek), and I thought it was very refreshing to give them no time.

On Thursday I had another run, and it really felt like spring was close. The skies were blue, I found a heart-shaped hole in the road, and it was so mild. Crazy to think that a week ago I was totally wrapped up in so many layers.

Again our decorating was speedy, and then I made some scones as I had a virtual afternoon tea with some work friends.

Scones and tea ready, burgers for dinner later, and all ready for the virtual catch up

On Friday we had a “fake Saturday”- pancakes for breakfast and then a long walk (6.5 miles) via town. Each week we get a free drink from Caffe Nero (from Vitality) but we had not fancied going in there for a while- not this year anyway. We took masks with us in case it was quieter, as a few times we have walked past but the queue has been out of the door. We found out that you could order via click and collect, so I had to pop inside for a minute and wait for them to put it on the table by the door. It was nice to have a warm drink for the walk back home.

I did a few jobs in the garden (cutting up twigs and logs to make a little minibeast area), and then much excitement from me when a Disney parcel arrived! I could not resist these Baby Yoda pj’s, and to get free postage I’d added on a little shoulder toy. When we were in Disney we saw people walking around with them (all different characters)- they come with a little magnetic pad that you put on your shoulder under your top, and then the toy sits on top.  It’s super cute anyway!

We watched The News of The World, which had beautiful scenery- ah how I long for the days that we can go on a road trip across the USA/Canada again.

Because I’d been for a walk on Friday, it meant a run on Saturday (parkrunday!) which I’ve not had all year. It was so mild so it was good to be out in just a t-shirt. It did make me laugh as I got some new leggings which were 7/8 length but went to my ankles- short person problems! With Me Now pod has been keeping me company- their community is so positive and supportive, so it’s always a good listen on a run.

I even wore my apricot t-shirt- as it says “it’s still parkrunday” I feel a bit strange wearing it on non-Saturday runs. When I got home, Andy made me a cup of tea (Red Velvet- hooray for B&B seasonal blends) and I had vegan croissants for breakfast. The day was then spent pottering, doing bits in the garden and making a cake decoration for my niece (more on that next week).

I didn’t sleep too well (I’d had some work that came in over the weekend that was going to affect the coming week and I just could not stop thinking about it), but in the morning I felt OK so headed out for a run. I was initially going to do an out and back along Cole Green Way (a cycle/path) but it was so busy with loads of cyclists (in large groups too- one group of about 20) so when I got to the turnaround point, I was fairly close to Panshanger park, so I decided to run the rest of the way there and come home through the park. There were people out, but the paths are wide (and lots of it is fields) so it was easier to keep the space.

After breakfast I painted the skirting boards, did a bit more work and then watched Mary Poppins as a final end of half term treat. We enjoyed the final mince pies- I think them lasting until the middle of February is pretty good going!

Do you prefer Easter or Christmas food? Or another celebration entirely! 

Another snowy week and chasing sunrises

It is so much lighter in the mornings and evenings now- this last week it has been really noticeable.

I was very surprised on Monday morning to see more snow- after my winter run on Sunday it had sleeted a bit, but nothing had settled for very long. The pavements and even the side roads were covered, but as it was still fairly fresh it was not slippery, just absolutely freezing.

Of course matcha time, more snow, the red kites and dinner by the fire.

I am getting into the swing of online teaching although I had a lot of training sessions to get through which made fitting in everything else a bit of a challenge. It’s been good to have dedicated mini breaks in the day (eg a 10 min break mid-morning to make some matcha) to make myself look away from the screen and move about a bit. There is often one red kite flying outside the window, and I caught it being worried by the crows, and later in the week saw two flying together. No matter how many times I see them (and it’s pretty much every day) I am still amazed by their size and colours. It snowed more in the day, so we treated ourselves to the wood burner and had an easy pasta dinner so we could eat in the living room.

On Tuesday the pavements were icy in places so I did a very slow 4 miles.

I was sooooo cold when I got home, and then had more training sessions so was more sedentary than usual by the end of the working day. I’ve still been doing a short yoga session, but I felt the need for a longer one, so carried on with the Yoga with Adriene from 2020 (I got about half way through I think)- a 40 min session that was really helpful.

We’d been watching It’s a Sin and finished it that evening. I thought it was an amazing piece of TV, so hard to watch but so well written. I did really want some writing at the end to say how things have moved on since then (eg how there are medicines that can help, whether the protests did anything etc).

My B&B tea club arrived with the cutest postcard ever (Sugar and Sloth- they have an Etsy shop filled with cute drawings), and I ended up in bed with a hot water bottle, reading my more light-hearted book after the heavy going TV.

On Wednesday the snow was still there! So much of the woods were flooded, and the colder weather had meant it had frozen solid- very strange seeing frozen forests like that. The pavements were OK in places but slippery in others so again, a cautious run.

I made myself a toasted sandwich (peanut butter, banana) as something warm at lunch time, and to keep me going through another training session (they all seemed to come at once!). I also got the exciting news that my parents had been given their first covid vaccine- I actually got a bit teary when I saw their message. I know that they won’t even be a bit protected for a bit, and obviously need their second dose for it to be properly effective, but it’s a step in the right direction.

Wednesday night is yoga night, and I was really looking forward to it again. We have been doing a yoga nidra session at the end (you just lay on your mat with a cushion, blanket etc, and listen to the teacher)- I usually drift in and out a bit, but I properly fell asleep 3 times in those 30 minutes! Even though school has been going from home, I was still as tired as I would have been after a normal half term!

Thursday was yet another frosty and icy run, but it was so light in the morning too. We had the wood burner on again in the evening and started watching The Pembrokeshire Murders, which was interesting (based on a true story, with a bit of a Broadchurch vibe).

And then it was Friday, and nearly half term. As I left home, it looked as if the trees were on fire because the sun was coming up. I just kept on stopping to take photos- the sky was so many amazing colours, and it was just such a happy run! Spring is  around the corner, half term was ahead of me, I was happy to be out running, and yes it was freezing cold but I was wrapped up warm and just loving the views.

The day ended with a bit more yoga, a shower, face mask and hair mask, and then prepping cinnamon rolls for weekend breakfasts and snacks. I used a new to me recipe from Domestic Gothess which involved something called the tangzhong method (basically making a bit of a roux with flour and milk before making the dough)- a bit more effort but they turned out amazingly soft and fluffy.

So delicious. After breakfast on Saturday we headed on a walk to the lakes (where part of the lakes were frozen solid) and then into the town centre to see the fountain, which had partially frozen. It was something I would expect to see in Iceland, not in the UK. It was pretty spectacular.

Our pond had also frozen over but not quite as dramatic as the fountain!

In the evening we wasted hours of our lives watching Greenland- thinking it would be a sort of good fun “let’s save the world” movie, but in reality it was just terrible and predictable and fair enough the special effects were OK, but the main(adult) characters were not even likeable and you just didn’t even want them to be saved.  At least we had the final of The Masked Singer to look forward to after!

Have you seen anything good on TV lately? Or watched any good films?

How have you coped in the cold weather? I prefer cold and sunny to rainy and grey, but the icy pavements are not so good.

Virtual Winter Run 2021

A few years ago I did the London Winter run with some friends from my running club. It was totally freezing, but a good enjoyable run through the centre of London. Before Christmas I’d been sent an email about signing up to the virtual event, and then of course forgot about it.

Luckily they sent some emails out, and the plan was for everyone to run a 10k on Sunday 7th February. You were also encouraged to fundraise for Cancer Research UK, which I was very happy to do (link here if you fancy donating) – all these charities are losing out at the moment due to no actual events going on.

Bib on my vest, pancakes, tea and mince pie from the weekend too

I decided to use the Festive 5 route (which is two laps close to the town centre) and add on a bit more, as that would make it feel like a race. I even pinned my number onto my top the night before- It’s approaching a year since I did an actual race so it was quite nice to have this little ritual once again. I did forget to paint my nails though (never mind, I had gloves on anyway).

On my way there (around 2 miles for a nice warm up) this fox crossed the path in front of my and stood looking at me for ages.

It was sleeting the entire time, sometimes quite hard and other times more gently. When I got to the “start”, I took my jacket off and put on some music (I was going to have a different playlist, but it turned out that my Run Disney playlist was the only one actually downloaded on my phone)- I thought music would be better than a podcast to make me feel more like I was in a race.

I had some very apt songs (mainly from Frozen and Frozen 2) and the opposite (“What time is it? Summer time” from HSM being the most opposite to where I was!), but the music helped to keep me going in the horrible weather. As I neared the end I noticed I was on course to come in under an hour, so I put on a bit of a spurt and just managed it, with a 10k time of 59:52. I’ll take that! I have not run fast for ages- to put it in context, half of this was also a (not)parkrun pb for me!

I messaged Andy to say I was heading back, put my jacket back on and then ran back in the sleet. As I arrived home, Andy was making us a hot chocolate each in the velvetiser- this was the perfect post- race drink to warm me up.

I even got to “meet” a penguin! 

I couldn’t pose with a medal because they aren’t being sent out until after the race, which I think is a little shame. After a shower and breakfast I was still pretty chilly, so sat on the sofa under a blanket and watched Frozen 2. It went perfectly with the weather and the overall theme of the day.

I really enjoyed the event. The fact that it was happening on the same day gave it a more cohesive feel, and although the weather was freezing, it was good to feel that I was raising money while getting out there. I didn’t take part in the virtual London marathon, but I did enjoy being out running that day and seeing people wearing their numbers, and so it felt a bit like that.

Have you taken part in any virtual event?

Doughnuts, matcha and the big garden birdwatch

As a treat for reaching the end of January- usually a long month but 2021 seems to take the biscuit- we ordered a box of vegan doughnuts from Crosstown. It was a box of 6, so we shared each one (half with tea in the afternoon, and half after dinner) on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

They were so delicious- a lime and coconut filled one, peanut butter and blackcurrant jam filled one, chocolate honeycomb filled and a chai spice filled one, plus glazed chocolate and vanilla. The chai spice or pb&j would take a lot of beating.

Reading a real book and not a kindle- and yes I’m still using my Disney Christmas blanket!

On Saturday I’ve been having a day off running and we’ve gone on a long walk together as our “leaving the house once a day” token. The weather was not very nice (sleet and rain alternating) and for some reason, even though I’ve worn my boots before, they rubbed my feet raw and they were so sore by the end. I’d got some bagels and Nush cream cheese which is just the best, so at least I had a nice lunch to look forward to once I’d hobbled home.

There was so much ice around on Sunday morning I had to change routes- I ran to Panshanger but would usually cut through a park, but the park had flooded and then the flood had frozen, and it was just an ice rink with no way around.

I decided to do the birdwatch on Sunday as the weather was better and I thought more birds would be out, so after breakfast and a shower I moved the armchair right by the patio door and set myself up, listening to a podcast while I looked outside. I saw a few birds but not as many as normal (eg sometimes I see around 6 goldfinches together, but I only saw 2). It was a relaxing way to spend an hour and very good to not be looking at a screen. Now the evenings are a bit lighter and the birds are out a bit more, hopefully I’ll see more of them.

For out afternoon movie we watched The Dig which was really good, then we had a roast dinner (nut roast etc) before watching a live podcast.

The week that followed was fairly standard, but at least at long last we are in a new month and spring feels a little closer. A run each morning for me, and matcha mid-morning. We bought a new flavour to try (Honey Bunny- vegan honey flavoured matcha) which is really good. Andy is getting very good at frothing it! We found a stollen in the breadbin (as you do) so had that in the evenings.

I ordered a top from Magic Moon club and it came this week. Plus a beautiful sunrise on my run, and a lunch of a wrap filled with apple, chutney and violife.

Cook Vegan lasagne for a treat dinner- it’s so tasty with pine nuts in the topping

One morning it was super misty and my hair was soaked when I got home from all of the fog! It was very pretty, especially when you could see the moon. It’s been so good to get home in the light- I tend to leave at around 6.45, so I still need my light on then, but depending on the weather I can turn it off pretty soon, and definitely by the time I get home.

A little moan- I run past a bus stop, and the people queue across the pavement instead of parallel to it- the verge is very steep so I am having to scramble up the slippery muddy bank to give the queue a wide berth, whereas if they all queued on one side of the pavement I would be OK to give them space but not have to slip up the bank.

Another lovely sunrise, more matcha which was very much needed after a power cut as I was 5 minutes into a live lesson with my class!! and a face mask to chill out on Friday evening.

I had ordered a new running watch- my current one is OK but has a scratch on the screen now, and sometimes does not seem as accurate with the steps tracking. Anyway, we get a discount with Vitality, but in fact the watch was cheaper on Wiggle so I ordered one from there. It took a while to set up, but it now seems to add my runs via the wifi (I have no idea) instead of bluetooth?

I’ve had a good Friday evening routine the last few weeks- this week was mental health week, so we had a little colleague catch up via a meet after everyone had finished their live sessions. I then finished up work, did a bit of yoga and then had a face mask, had a shower and did a hair mask in the shower, and then put on comfy clothes ready for a pot of tea and some TV. We watched Baby Done, which was quite a funny film with Rose Matafeo, and a good way to end a week/ start the weekend (did make me want to go to New Zealand and go back to Canada though…).

How has February started for you? Do you like matcha? Do you get many birds in your garden? Do you have a bell on your cat if you have a cat?