Happenings 26.7.20

I’m sorry it’s been a while since I have posted on here. To be honest, I sort of lost my ability to focus and sit down to write plus not knowing what to write. So I looked back at a few favourite bloggers and remembered one of my favourite posts I like to do. Inspired, as always, by Heidi. Enjoy!

DOING: Sat in the kitchen, at the dining table with mum, who’s sewing away making masks.

HEARING: The radio and the sewing machine.

DRINKING: Water. I have a headache, possibly from too much coffee or the lack of water 😬

EATING + COOKING: Even though lockdown has been lifted more and things seem to be returning to “normal”, we’ve still continued to buy from our small collection of local businesses we’ve supported since the start of lockdown. So whatever we choose or get in our vegetable box, we tend to make meals with that produce in. I’ve craved steamed vegetables and fish or chicken, mostly, the past few days. A sign I need to up my protein in take! I’ve also been baking, recently making a Delia Smith Ginger loaf and of course, a few number of sourdough loaves a day!

WANTING: So much….like everyone, I want my normal life back, even though it’ll never be what it was. Little events have happened recently that have been enough to make life feel more normal again, which has been really nice. Also wanting a routine, which brings me to the next paragraph…

LOOKING: For a job, a nannying job. After a few bumps in the road, it’s apparent I need to redo my GCSE Maths. So I’ll hopefully be taking a course and able to work alongside it. I’m hoping….if I ever hear back from them, that is…

DECIDING: My future…alongside the course, my next step in my life/career is very much undecided. I need to sit and think quite hard, about what I do next, because I’m not entirely sure.

ENJOYING: Being back at the hub for both PT and classes and running with friends again!!! I loved workout at home but I couldn’t do it forever. The hub has been massively rearranged by Laura to make sure we adhere to the social distancing rules, there’s copious amounts of hand sanitiser around and the way we enter and leave has also been altered.

WATCHING: A lot on Netflix recently – I LOVED ‘The Kissing Booth’ and the second one, ‘After’, and of course, Gilmore Girls (which I’m still working my way through and am not leaving it until I’ve finished it!!)

READING: Actually nothing at the moment. I finished my Jodi Picoult book and dip in and out of my midwifery book, but otherwise that’s it. I need to find another book, so any recommendations welcome!

WEARING: Gym clothes….😬 ALTHOUGH, I did get dressed up for my aunts birthday on Friday, which was really nice! If not gym wear, then cozy, slouchy clothes it is, because, why not?!!!

BUYING: Nothing…except essentials. Very aware of my outgoings at the moment but there is nothing I need and I’m quite content with that. For now, I’m happy surfing the web and dreaming of the beautiful summer dresses I could own!

CRAVING: Wild salmon sweet potato cakes from the “Run Fast Eat Slow” cookbook, which I can’t recommend enough for all! We had them for supper Sunday night and I had the leftovers for my supper on Monday. There is also a second cookbook, which I prefer slightly, but the first one does have some gems in it!

PLAYING: Bat and ball with emails and agencies and other people…I’ve found myself watching and refreshing my emails all day, everyday, for the past few weeks and it’s getting a tad boring… I understand we are in a difficult time right now but i just feel like I take one step forward then two steps back…

PLANNING: My week…I have a few appointments and runs planned with friends, otherwise it’s waiting for emails and job information.

SAVOURING: The time I have off/at home. I’ll be back to work soon, I hope anyway, so I’m making the most of the last few days/week at home.

LOVING: Netflix! I very nearly cancelled my subscription before lockdown but I’m SO glad I didn’t! There have been some great films, documentaries and series and some of my faves are coming back, which I’m excited about! My post long run plans involve my bed, snacks and Netflix – heaven!

FEELING: Unsure…about a lot of things. My job/career, future, of what’s going on in the world and where we will be, as a country, in a few weeks/months time. Trying to stay positive and take everyday as it comes. A start and all I can do right now.

As always, thank you for reading, and hope you enjoyed a little update! Post inspired by Heidi.

Hope you are all having a good week and happy reading!

Emma xx

New Brooks Glycerin 18 Road Shoes

Last Friday afternoon, a surprise box arrived from Brooks, and inside were the beautiful new Glycerin 18 road shoes, along with some new kit! With the shoes tied to the top of the box, I lifted it off and out floated balloons to reveal the rest of what was inside. I have to take my hat off to Brooks for this package, because they nailed it on the creative side!

Described as being “the perfect shoe for road runners who believe there is no such thing as too much cushioning” and made with more DNA loft, they are both soft and comfortable but without feeling overly cushioned. Making you feel like you are floating in them as you run – and they did just that!

On Sunday morning, I laced up and headed out for 6 quiet and much needed miles to test both the shoes and kit. The shoes are super comfortable and very light! They remind me of how the Adrenaline GTS feel, cushioning wise, but a lot light and I’m considering making them my long run shoe! I was also pleasantly surprised by how comfortable, flattering and fitting the kit is – especially the shorts! I’ve only ever ran in compression like shorts but these, the Chaser 5”, have certainly changed my thoughts on future short purchases. Comfortable enough around the waist, without hugging too tight and staying put, they are made from the lightest of fabric and I’m very tempted to buy another pair or two because I have a feeling I am going to be living in them for the rest of the summer!

If you’d like to get your hands on the new Glycerin 18, they will be available from today, 1st July, online and in all retainers worldwide!

A big thank you to Brooks for kindly gifting me the kit and shoes!

Happy running everyone!

Emma xx

Local businesses I’ve been supporting throughout lockdown

I hold my hand up high and admit I was one of the very many who panic bought at the beginning of lockdown. Now I think back, all but a few of my Waitrose purchases were quite mindless and random – I’d definitely got caught in the panic buy circle!

What I then found quite hard to see, were the local businesses/cafes/restaurants that I love, support and spend my time at, start closing their doors. I was worried for them and upset. What the next few weeks and months held for them, for everyone, was completely unknown. So that’s when I turned my focus to supporting and doing what I could to help them. I started purchasing from them, sharing on social media and by word of mouth. We were still lucky enough to be getting a weekly delivery from Ocado, which we had signed up to and been using for years. We were very mindful with what we purchased and got what we couldn’t get locally.

Here are a few of my favourite local cafes and businesses I’ve been supporting though these hard times.

Geo Cafe

A cafe I’d been visiting for years, which had changed owners not long ago, bringing a Georgian theme to the cafe and centre of Caversham. Continuing to sell freshly baked homemade sourdough bread, delicious breakfast and lunch dishes and a range of yummy cakes both vegan and not. Before and then when lockdown hit, they were offering takeaway coffee, baked goods and bread, alongside eggs and fruit and vegetable boxes. The vegetable boxes have been a wonderful hit in our house and we have bought many, using them to base our weekly meals around. Full of variety every week and so fresh and delicious. They’ve really grown as a cafe over the past few months, you can now order online, add eggs and bread to your order and also pop by and pick up a range of fresh produce from the stall outside! Check them out here!

Dudmans Of Berkshire

Now I had not come across this independent wholesale grocer until I was browsing the local community Facebook page. Strange as they are literally a 10 minute drive from me. Someone had posted about their fresh fruit and I decided to look at their website and what they offered. Vegetable and fruit boxes available for delivery or you could pop down and pick what you wanted. The set up was so colourful and my eyes were in heaven! The colour and freshness of the produce shined, the staff were extremely welcoming and helpful, adhering to the 2 metre distancing rules, using gloves and enabling a safe and easy shopping experience. And at a great price! I’ve mostly bought fruit, especially strawberries, from them, but it all tastes so fresh and delicious. If you are close, I definitely recommend you get there early in the morning, around 9am, to beat the rush! You can find more information by visiting their website here.

Berries Coffee Shop

Now to the important stuff – coffee! Never have I been so thankful, or used our bean to cup coffee machine, as much as I have since lockdown!! Berries, located in Henley, is a relatively new and special coffee shop, mainly because they roast their own beans! When lockdown hit, they quickly closed their doors and offered a delivery service. By buying their beans, we were able to support them and continue to enjoy the essential cup, or two, of coffee at home! Since lockdown has been eased, they’ve opened up again, serving baked goods, wraps, sandwiches etc. There is ALWAYS a queue outside and one I am prepared to wait in!

Pierreponts Cafe

A family run cafe, in a village I adore, which I’ve been visiting for years. So popular that you have to book at the weekend if you want to eat in, or be prepared to sit outside and brave whatever the British weather brings on the day! Initially closing their doors and kitchen, they bounced back after a few weeks, offering “fill your freezer” meals and baked goods for collection – changing weekly, all can be ordered from their social media pages or website. We purchased a few and boy were they delicious – I had a Thai chicken curry and my parents had a beef dish and a vegetable lasagna – perfect for an evening when we didn’t fancy cooking. Since a few weeks ago, they’ve opened up their hatch again to serve coffee, their popular jam doughnuts, my favourite, their vegan granola bar! Plus much more! I can’t count the number of times I’ve asked if it’s on their counter or begged for it to be made…! Steph and Phil are probably sick of me asking for it! It’s been lovely to see them open again and a real treat after a long walk by the river, which has become a regular occurrence on a Friday. Thank you guys for reopening and bring your smiles and positivity!

The Collective

A new cafe to Caversham and I have to take my hat off to them for opening during this weird time. However, from the looks and visiting myself, they’ve been doing amazing and the support from the local community has been incredible. Nestled just out of the centre of the town, this cafe is beautiful. Light, airy, clean and welcoming, they offer a range of sweet and savoury baked goods, coffee, local eggs, fresh bread and a selection of gifts and cards. I’ve visited twice, once on their first weekend and more recently, taking Charlie with me after our run. I look forward to visiting more and being able to sit in and enjoy brunch when we are allowed to do so. Check out their website and find out more about them, here!

Lastly, if you are in the Henley area, check out The Henley Basket. An online support website where you can order takeaway, food and much more from local businesses, cafes and restaurants in Henley. With safe collection, I think it’s a great idea to keep the small independent businesses open! You can find out more about it by going to the website!

I want to thank all of these local businesses and cafes for opening back up, safely, to the community. It’s been so lovely to see you all so positive, smiley and keeping spirits high during these uncertain times.

I hope you’ve all had a good week and weekend, hopefully we are one step closer to being out of this. For now, take care and sending much love to you all!

Emma xx

My Lockdown Bakes

I’ve always loved baking. I absolutely love it, I find it really therapeutic and enjoy loosing myself in a recipe. Before lockdown, my baking was pretty basic and consisted of cakes, cupcakes (mostly with the girls I looked after) and brownies. Since lockdown, oh how things have changed!

For my birthday, I was given the most beautiful cookbook from a friend, called ‘Aran‘. A bakery in Highland Perthshire, Scotland, where they bake an assortment of breads, cakes, pastries, delicious tarts alongside salads, and all these recipes can be found in the book.

Having been kindly gifted some sourdough starter from another friend and with my new cookbook to guide me, my bread baking especially, really took off. I never thought I could bake bread, let alone sourdough. It seemed “too hard”, too many steps and after a failed attempt a year ago, I decided it wasn’t for me. However, I’m so glad that I have persevered with this starter because I have really found something I love doing and genuinely have a passion for. It hasn’t been easy and it has taken many, many failed attempts but I feel like I have finally mastered it.

Now with bread and other types of flour being quite hard to source, I’ve only made the Classic Sourdough (definitely the most used recipe/page in the book) and a ‘porridge loaf’, but my next challenge is to find some rye and spelt flour so I can start making some mixed loaves and really experiment with flavours and texture.

Alongside bread, I’ve also found other ways of using my starter. I recently stumbled across Izy Hossack, and her blog ‘Top with Cinnamon’, through Charl, who I follow on Instagram. Izy opened a whole new chapter of sourdough baking for me with her recipes ranging from brownies to focaccia, I was excited to be able to make more yummy goodies using my starter. My current and favourite recipe from Izy, is her sourdough brownies – which I’ve linked here. I actually can’t count the number of times I’ve made them, for both my parents and friends, because they are so easy and taste incredible! She also has a vegan sourdough brownie recipe, which is on top of my list to bake next, along with sourdough banana bread!

With my sweet tooth satisfied, I really wanted to try something I love – sourdough pizza! When we were put into lockdown, and restaurants had closed their doors and stopped takeaways, I instantly saved the Franco Manca’s sourdough pizza recipe, that they shared on their blog. Again, I remember reading it and thinking how much time it required, time I had, but didn’t think I could pull off. I must have read it a number of times before finally biting the bullet and deciding to give it a go. After working out timings, it required me to start it at 3am to eat the following evening, something I wasn’t quite prepared to do. So, I asked my friend Anders, who’s a a baker, and he said it would definitely be doable in one day.

So, that Saturday morning at 6am, I got up and started making the dough. I made a coffee, prepared everything and once I’d given it a mix, let it sit for an hour and turned it once, it was time to leave it until late afternoon to start cooking. Actually easier than I thought! In the cooking instructions, they suggested a few ways of cooking the dough, and we found baking it on the a stone at the same temperature I bake the bread, worked the best. We did try frying one of the bases but it didn’t cook as well, it came out quite thick and too doughy, but my dad happily munched it away!!

I won’t lie, once they came out of the oven, I squealed in excitement and couldn’t wait to tuck in! I even had leftovers, so dropped some at Charlie’s doorstep for her and Tom to enjoy!

Along with lots of sourdough themed bakes, I’ve also enjoyed cooking a huge selection of dishes for suppers. Again, a time for me to switch off for a bit and enjoy a new recipe, using new flavours and ingredients we wouldn’t normally choose.

I dream of working in a bakery and putting my skills to use and bake for others. I’ve been inspired by Kitty and her dad, who own a local bakery called The Orange Bakery. Selling sourdough loaves, cakes, pastries and so much more, all made in a bake house in their back garden! She’s such a sweet young lady, her dad is incredibly kind, and they both inspire me daily to keep going with my baking.

Lastly, I recently found and have fallen in love with Bryan Ford. His Instagram, which makes my eyes light up, along with his blog full of sourdough bread recipes, inspires me to want to try pastries – croissants especially! He’s also got a book out in a couple of weeks, which I’m excited about!

Once I’m back at work, I definitely won’t stop my baking and cooking. I enjoy it too much to stop and I’m too stubborn to let a recipe get the better of me!!!

I hope you’ve enjoyed a slightly different post and that it inspires you to pick up a wooden spoon this weekend!

Much love and thank you for reading,

Emma xx

Happenings 28.5.20

How is it nearly June?! This year, in a very good way, is flying by and although its not been the year we had all planned, I’m sure its one most of us will be glad to see the back of!
In terms of my blog posts, I’ve found I’ve wanted to blog/post a lot more, now I have the time, but end up staring at a blank page for a long time and unsure
of what to write.

So, I’ve decided to do one of my favourite posts, summing up the past month and, as always, inspired by my friend Heidi.

DOING: Sitting in the garden. A place I’ve spent the majority of this lockdown, enjoying the beautiful sunny and warm weather we have been having. 

HEARING: The odd bird singing away and a neigh or two from the horses in the field behind our house. 

EATING AND COOKING: Wow, where do I begin?! Thanks to a friend, who kindly gifted me some of his sourdough starter when mine died, I’ve pretty much mastered the sourdough baking. I currently have loaves coming out of my ears, thanks to another friend, who gave me a gorgeous cookbook called Aran for my birthday and has, in my opinion, the best sourdough loaf recipe I’ve found! The book has some other gorgeous recipes from croissants to cakes and even salads – perfect for these hot days we’ve been having. 

There will be a separate post about all the baking I’ve done, so sit tight for that one! 

Being home, I’ve also had the chance to do more cooking for myself and my parents, which I have really enjoyed. I love nothing more than to get lost in a recipe, explore new flavours and ingredients but mostly use it to switch off from everything going on around me. We have also been having local fruit and vegetable boxes from local cafes and businesses delivered, and for the past couple of weeks, have based our week night meals on the contents of the box. Again, it gives us less choice and allows us to be more creative and try recipes we wouldn’t normally choose. 

WANTING: Life to go back to normal, although I know it never fully will. I want to be able to hug my goddaughter and friends, family, race again and enjoy going out to eat, the cinema and sit in coffee shops. Little things I guess I took for granted, but will cherish even more now. 

ENJOYING: Online Zoom classes. Be it PT, Pilates, foam rolling and many of Laura’s classes. I’ve enjoyed still being able to see friends and workout “together”, have a chat and laugh. And FaceTimes and calls with friends and family!

Our lockdown rules were also lifted recently, and we can now meet one other person outside, 2 metres apart. Charlie and I jumped at this opportunity to get a run in together and it was wonderful!!!

LOOKING: Forward to a new start. Goodbye’s are so hard and I have really struggled digesting being made redundant. Being a nanny is an extremely intimate job and caring for little ones, it’s hard not to become attached. However, I know it will get easier as time goes by and I have many wonderful memories with that family.

DECIDING: On a change of career, although it’s been a little trickier than I originally thought. I have always wanted to be a midwife and I feel like now is the right time to go for it. I’m SO thankful and lucky to still be living at home, and after a big discussion with my parents who instantly said they’d support me whatever, I applied to some universities. Sadly, I didn’t get accepted, a kick in the gut, but it hasn’t stopped me from pursuing my dream.

WATCHING: Not a great deal, however, I recently finished a Netflix series called Sweet Magnolia. I suggest you all run, don’t walk to your tv’s, because I highly recommend it! Admittedly it does take a few episodes to get into BUT then it suddenly takes off and let me tell you now, you’ll be wanting series 2 to arrive ASAP!

I’ve also been working may way through Gilmore Girls, and I’m absolutely loving it – why did it take lockdown to get me to watch it, I don’t know! Big thanks to Sophie for getting me hooked!

Other Netflix series I can really recommend are – Outer Banks, Unforgotten and my favourite, Cheer.

READING: I had started ‘The Giver of Stars’ by JoJo Moyes a few weeks ago, however, I haven’t picked it up since. To be honest, I’m finding settling down with a book quite hard at the moment, maybe my head just isn’t in the right place for a book but I’m sure I’ll pick it up again soon. Or in fact, make myself pick it up!

PLANNING: How to get some healthcare experience, which is obviously not the best time to be doing so, as all mother and baby groups and breastfeeding clinics aren’t running and I’m not sure how open armed hospitals are at the moment. However, I shall continue to reach out.

BUYING: Nothing other than fresh fruit and vegetables from local markets/small businesses and the essentials – coffee being top of the list here! There is nothing I need, nowhere to go and spend money, so for now I’m saving it. 

CRAVING: Cold fresh fruit, salads and light meals. Standard summer cravings! Also Kombucha. My favourites are Equinox – Ginger – and L.A Brewery, however I find this one really hard to find! I managed to come across two bottles at a local cafe I popped into the other day and treated myself.

WEARING: Basically Sweaty Betty or Lululemon….both brands are just so comfy and I spend a lot of my weeks doing at least a class a day! I can’t remember the last time I wore “real” clothes! Haha!

I love this Sweaty Betty running T-shirt! Great for cooler mornings/days. I got it in the sale last year so not sure if it’s still around!

LOVING: This amazing weather we’ve been having. It’s made getting out for a run so much more enjoyable! I also highly doubt I/any of us will get to travel abroad this year, so having this hot, sunny spell has slightly made up for it. Travelling and exploring new countries is definitely one thing I’m going to do more of when this is all lifted.

PLAYING: Scrabble! My mum and I really enjoy a game in the afternoon or evening, making the most of being outside in the warm summer heat.

I’ve also taken part in a few virtual races put together by Brooks and a friend!

SAVOURING: This time off, at home. I still do feel very guilty that I am not working but with a career change hopefully on the horizon, I don’t know if I’ll ever get this time again. So I’m soaking up the slow mornings, lazy afternoons, for now, and trying to let the guilt go…

FEELING: A real mix of emotions. My mood definitely differs from day to day but I’m learning to just take it as it comes and ride it. It’s definitely been a tough few weeks, and I know I’m not the only one who has experienced job loss alongside other troubling moments.

Sending much love to you all and leaving you with this quote that my aunt posted recently.

 

Much love, stay strong,

Emma xx