Friday, 8 July 2016

Body FX Cookbook + Asian Tuna and Stirfry Vegetable Recipe


It's official.. I am a published author!!! A few months ago I was asked to prepare a recipe for a new cookbook and i'm excited to share the recipe with you today and the new cookbook. 


Body FX Cookbook


The book contains 16 really healthy recipes with ideas for breakfast, lunch and dinner. and I have to say, they all look amazing and I can't wait to try some out!!

Check out my recipe below for Asian Tuna and Stirfry Vegetables - it's perfect for low-carb non workout days (if that's your thing) or lazy dinner, ready in 5 minutes days (if that's more your thing):


Tuna steak and stirfry veg



Ingredients
2 tuna Steaks
4 sprays 1 calorie oil spray
1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1 red chili - sliced
1 clove garlic - chopped finely or crushed
Stir fry vegetables - pre-packaged or decide on your own (carrots, bean sprouts, onion, chili, edamame beans are all good choices)


Method:

  1. Slice the chili and crush garlic
  2. Place tuna steaks in a shallow bowl or small lunch box
  3. Cover with soy sauce, garlic and chili
  4. Leave to marinade for at least half an hour but ideally overnight
  5. Heat a griddle or frying pan until very hot - add 1 tsp of oil or 2 sprays of low cal oil spray
  6. Once pan is very hot place tuna steaks - fry on each side for 3 mins (or less if you prefer rarer)
  7. Meanwhile, in a separate pan heat the remaining oil - once heated add the veg and stir fry for 5 minutes until all veg has softened. Stir in more low sodium soy sauce to preference.
  8. Pile vegetables on a plate and place tuna steak on top
  9. Enjoy!

Calories per serving (based on Asda Edamame Bean Stir Fry veg) : 194 calories

For more yummy, nutrient packed recipes download your FREE copy of the Body FX Cookbook here.


Tuesday, 5 July 2016

The Botanist New Menu Launch


If you've been reading my blog for even a little bit you'll know one of my most favourite places in Chester is The Botanist. So I was really excited to be invited to the launch of their new menu*. 


The Botanist Chester



We arrived on a Tuesday evening and as usual, we felt really welcomed. I ordered my new favourite cocktail, Thai Chilli Crush and some Padron peppers to start. 


The Botanist Chester


Hannah, our waitress was really friendly and helpful. Due to not eating gluten at the moment, I asked if she knew which dishes didn't contain gluten and she bought over a really helpful list, do all restaurants do this? It definitely made life easier.

I ended up going with the chicken hanging kebab, it's something I've had multiple times before but it's so good - covered in sweet chilli, ginger and garlic butter - is there any better combination? Also, I dream of the seasoned chips! To make sure I tried something new from the menu I also opted for a side of summer slaw with cranberries, sultanas and lemon. It was so yummy and I could kid myself that I was eating healthy!!


The Botanist Chester

The Botanist Chester

The Botanist Chester


Andy went for chicken liver and rum pate to start which came with an amazing chutney. Before I went out I reached out on twitter for suggestions and Andy went for the highly recommended crispy salt and pepper beef salad - which looked yummy and came with a beautiful sweet chilli dressing. Finally, he finished with the chocolate chip cookie dough dessert (seriously, this guy never eats more food than me!). I cheated a bit with gluten and tried the cookie dough - it was amazing!! 


The Botanist Chester


The Botanist Chester

The Botanist Chester


I finished my meal with a pot of English Breakfast tea which came with the sweetest milk jug which I wanted to take home with me. Seriously, where do I get one? 


The Botanist Chester


The Botanist Chester

The Botanist Chester


The only teeny tiny complaint, and I say this only because I believe in giving a balanced review. Andy found a bit of wood in his salad - that looked a bit like a thing that's used to label plants. When we mentioned it to the person who collected our plates he was very apologetic but then later the manager came over and said: "there's nothing in the kitchen or the whole building that looks like that". It didn't really feel like an apology, however, since then I have had a full apology and the little incident was dealt with really well afterwards. 

Honestly though, it was a small blip and doesn't at all reflect every great experience we've had at The Botanist including this time. The rest of the staff were really friendly and helpful as ever. 

*The meal at The Botanist was complimentary in exchange for an honest review. 

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Six Women who Inspire me to Work Harder


Do you have a mentor? I recently read in Elle magazine and then again on The Pool the importance of being mentored by someone younger than you. Lorraine Candy, editor of Elle said:  "If you work within a team I would highly recommend spending an hour or so a week talking through ideas with someone just embarking on their career". Now, I'm definitely just embarking on my career. I'm less than a year into the industry I want to be in and just 6 weeks into what I am already describing as "my dream job". I don't know if I inspire or offer any form of mentoring to those around me. I like to think I do or will have the opportunities to do so, but in the past few months to a year, I have been so inspired and developed by six particular women in their actions and writing. 

I could list so many women who inspire me, across all aspects of my life. But these are women who, particularly within my career and my personal development inspire me. 



Arianna Huffington 

I'm currently halfway through Ariana's third book: Thrive. It's a reminder that success does not have to come through working 80 hour weeks, pushing our bodies to the limit and not getting enough sleep. In fact, the opposite is true. It is a call to sleep, switch off, look after ourselves and avoid burnout. It might, therefore, seem strange to list her first in my list of women who inspire me to work harder. However, in a society where I am regularly told "your 20s are the time to work all the hours" or "you can sleep later", Arianna's words are not just encouraging but a solid foundation for my firm believe in making the most of annual leave, taking time out and not over working for the sake of working. 


Jo Elvin

I've been reading Glamour Magazine for so long and one of my most favourite parts is always Jo's editor letter. Her go-get-them attitude is so inspiring. Further inspiration comes from her Me and My Career interview in the guardian. Key points include: "just go for it" and "whatever you're asked to do is integral to the magazine.. do it with a smile on your face, immerse yourself in the magazine and soak it up like a sponge" - whilst her advice is for wannabe journalists I can't help feeling that it is so easily applicable to all industries. 

Gini Dietrich 

I've been reading Spin Sucks for nearly a year now and relish my daily boost of PR news and advice. But I also love Gini's posts on leadership, development and workplace. She has a firm stance on the correct use of email (i.e. don't unless you really have to - go speak to them face to face) and is also passionate about flexible working/teams. 

Within her role, Gini mentors and advises PR professionals on a daily basis but she also offers amazing advice through the Spin Sucks blog which has been so useful to me within y own career. 

Sheryl Sandberg

I'll be honest, I'm not completely  bought into the Lean In concept just yet, mostly because I just haven't read enough about it or researched it. 

However, the work Sheryl does both within Facebook and Disney (let's be real two of the coolest companies) inspires me: she's a pioneer for women within technology and encourages women to inspire and educate those around them. 

Marie Forleo

Every single one of Marie's weekly videos are inspirational and uplifiting. I come away so motivated to chase my goals and live the life I want. I mean, the minute you step on her website you are reminded "that the world needs that special gift that only you have", which is very motivational at 7am on a Tuesday morning don't you think?

Jo 

This is probably the most personal on the list, hence the lack of last name. Call me a brown noser, but I am so inspired by my friend (and ok, boss) Jo. She has given me opportunities that have led to my career today, taken time out over the last year or so to offer training and advice to encourage my development. The work I did the other week around Ideal Week came from her. She inspires me both professionally and within my relationship with Andy. She has, and continues to, work so hard to be where she is today - whilst juggling a home life and gorgeous toddler.

Thank you, to the six amazing women, who inspires you?

Friday, 17 June 2016

Father's Day


It's Father's Day on Sunday and for the first time in I think.. 5 years...I will be with my dad! Which I am really, really looking forward to! In the meantime, I thought I'd take this opportunity to give a little shout out to my father and the other father figures in my life. I hope you'll forgive me a little emotion and sentimentality! 

Dad


Matt and Esther Photography


First off, I have only one dad. The other men below are wonderful but they are not my daddy. He is the first man I ever loved. My dad is endlessly protective, loving and supportive- I will never forget calling him with my A Level results and hearing him cry with pride over the phone, despite being in a supermarket in Crete. Yea, big Steve is a bit of a weeper!! 

He has taught me so much about working hard, reaching for my dreams and being proud of my achievements - he is still the first person I text with good news and the first person I call when I'm sad or stressed or need some advice. 

But it's not all serious, he is also so very funny and sarcastic (sound familiar) and he did a cracking job with his Father of the Bride speech. He is wonderful. Happy Father's Day, Daddy. I love you!


Grandad 


Grandad


I should probably apologise in advance to my sister who I know will read this and cry. My grandad, Roly Downton, unfortunately, died 14 years ago. Prior to that, he was a rock for both me, my sisters, my mum and my nan. He never raised his voice, was endlessly patient with me and cheered the loudest for my successes- he even cheered for my fledgeling violin career when I think everyone else hoped I'd quit soon! I am immensely proud to be his granddaughter and my only regret is that he never got to meet Andy. Oh, and doesn't he look like Elvis?


Grandpa 


Grandpa


My paternal grandpa, the wonderful Roy. Never have a met a kinder, sweeter man. He manages to squeeze so much love into a 30-second phone call (a quick hello, how are you? Before he passes the phone to my Grandma). He is so very strong, despite tragedy and dignified where there could be anger. He is also so very generous - I know he would give me the shirt off his back if I even mentioned I felt a slight draught. He probably won't ever read this but I hope he knows how adored he is by all three of his girls. 


Rob 


Matt and Esther Photography


My fantastic stepdad, Rob. I'll admit 10 years ago I might have struggled to say that sentence but in that time, I have grown to love this man so much. He is not only a wonderful husband to my mum but he is servant-hearted - whenever I came home from university I knew I never needed to worry about driving back without my car oil and washer fluid being checked, come rain or shine he'd be out there checking before I set off again. He is also very funny. 

So thank you to four of the most wonderful men. You have all shaped me into the person I am today. Happy Father's Day, I love you!

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Wedding Wednesday White Wedding : The Flowers


I'm a little late for Wedding Wednesday today but hello!! As with most of my wedding posts, I've been meaning to share this one for a little while. 

Low on my priority list for wedding planning were flowers. Sure, I'd pinned bouquet after bouquet on Pinterest but I just couldn't get excited about choosing my own flowers! Then along came Anna from Floral Designs Dorset. Her website is full of stunning arrangements and all at amazing prices. From the get go Anna was enthusiastic and warm in all her emails so I knew we'd get along really well (I didn't really account for the fact that you actually want to like the people you work with when planning your wedding, but it's such an important factor - we actually hired our candelabras etc from another florists who were not nice at all!)



Matt and Esther Photography

Matt and Esther Photography


I came away from our first meeting with Anna feeling like she'd not just understood what I had in mind but was going to make my ideas even better. Throughout the planning process, she was diligent and communicative and did an amazing job of the flowers for Chloe and Duncan's wedding in September so I was super, super excited to see our flowers. She did not let me down, I especially adored my bouquet, I didn't want to put it down at all and wish I could have kept it- did I mention it had mini pinecones in it?! The sprays of gypsophila we used for table decorations lasted for weeks and weeks and now whenever I see it in shops I get a little reminder of our special day.


Matt and Esther Photography

Matt and Esther Photography

Matt and Esther Photography


Finally, Anna is just one of the loveliest people I've ever met, I feel like I've made a new friend! Not only did she do the flowers for our wedding, she also made the most beautiful thank you bouquets for my mum and stepmum and has since made birthday bouquets. She's an angel! 

Ok, I'm going to stop gushing and let the pictures do the talking. 


Matt and Esther Photography

Matt and Esther Photography


Matt and Esther Photography

Friday, 10 June 2016

Review: Knowing Anna by Sarah Meyrick*


I don't want to brag.. but I've read 3 books this week. Actually, there's nothing to brag about there, it just means I had a pretty free weekend and read books that I didn't want to put down until they were finished.

Knowing Anna by Sarah Meyrick is one of those books. My copy now has a salsa stain on one of the pages because why would I put it down merely for the task of eating?




Knowing Anna follows her (Anna's) family and friends as they venture along the Pilgrims Way, her final request before she died from cancer. Each pilgrim is battling their secrets, hearts aches and dramas as well as grieving for their wife, mum, friend, or daughter. 

 Then a stranger joins the group. Who is he? And what was the catastrophe that drove Anna from home a decade earlier?


Over the course of nine days, the pilgrims share their memories of Anna, and gradually the layers of her life are peeled back to uncover secrets that no one ever suspected. Can those who loved her come to terms with all that is past as her life is peeled back to uncover secrets that no one ever suspected.

Just to clarify, this book is a work of fiction, because I was pretty unsure when I first read the blurb!

Having just finished Dorothy Koomson's The Girl From Nowhere (review, soon) I wasn't sure if I was ready for another weepy book. But, I'm a sucker for my own punishment and knew I'd cry whenever I read it so I curled up on Friday night and read. First of all, it's a great length so I knew it was a "one weekend" kind of book. Secondly, I really want to walk the Pilgrim's Way as a result of this book. Who is joining me?

For the most part, the characters are relatable and likeable - I really felt for Anna's parents as they battled with their grieve and the ailments of getting old whilst also looking out for their son in law and grandchildren. The relationship between Anna's mum (grandma) and son, Sam is really touching. However, Beth was written as a "typical teenager" complete with a vocabulary I've never heard used by any of the young people I've worked with- this is a bit of a pet peeve of mine, there are plenty of teenagers who can talk without saying "whatever, like mega borezone" or similar. However, I was really rooting for her to come out top by the end of the novel. 

As well as a beautiful tour of the walk from Guildford to Canterbury; the story is full of twists, turns and revelations right up until the end. I cried for the tragedy that Anna suffered ten years ago as well as for her family suffering in the present and even I couldn't call the biggest secret of them all (and as I've previously mentioned I like to think I'm Miss Marple or something). 

I will say the "stranger" who joins this is a bit built up in the blurb, but as a marketer I can forgive them for that! Whilst not my favourite character he certainly brings perspective to the whole group and offers the lesson of "never judge a book by its cover". 

Full of grace and wisdom I would definitely recommend this book. It's an emotional read but well worth a couple of tears. So curl up next weekend with a cup of tea and a couple of tissues and enjoy. 

*Thank you to Marylebone House (SPCK) for sending me a free copy of Knowing Anna in exchange for an honest review

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Wedding Wednesday White Wedding: The Dress


Happy Wedding Wednesday!! I can't quite believe that we've nearly been married 6 months. Where has that time gone?


© Matt & Esther 2015


It is definitely about time I talked about THE dress, right? 

For those who don't know, I found dress shopping really, really difficult! In my fantasy world, it would be like playing dress up only with a nice glass of something cold and fizzy to drink with my mum and sisters. In reality, I visited one dress fair with my mother in law where she had to help me in and out of dresses that were entirely the wrong size whilst I stood on a stage in a village hall (the curtains were closed, it wasn't some sort of impromptu am-dram performance) and the one shop I visited only had one style of dress (big, puffy with long trains - beautiful but not on me or particularly suited to a wedding in December) I then promptly cut my leg on the shoes they provided and bled on a dress! Needless to say, my dress wasn't there- and I told my mum to get me out of there before I cried! 


© Matt & Esther 2015

© Matt & Esther 2015


 Eventually, I gave up on the idea of "the feeling" and decided for some people crying when you put on your dress just doesn't happen! It was at that point that we started to look to The High Street for dress inspiration. Enter Phase Eight and all it's wedding gloriousness! On Christmas Eve 2014 they released a whole new range of beautiful dresses whilst me and mum obsessively checked the website and messaged each other back and forth. Hope really caught our eye for its beautiful 1920s style glamour, heavy beading and lack of long train! The only problem was Phase Eight only have three wedding stores: Winchester, London and Edinburgh and Hope was selling out fast!


© Matt & Esther 2015


By chance, we were visiting Oxford Street in January anyway and stopped at Debenhams. Due to a lack of communication we didn't have a booked time slot so had to blag a chance to try the dress on, again in less than ideal circumstances. But even in an overly bright, busy Debenhams changing room with an ill-fitting dress, I knew there was something special about this dress with all its embellishments, sequins and beautiful draped top. Plus the reaction from everyone when I put it on was enough confirmation that if there is such a thing as "the one", this was it! Within 2 days I had ordered it (with a bit of cashback from Quidco!) and my dress buying drama was over!


© Matt & Esther 2015

© Matt & Esther 2015

Of course, I then spent 11 months worrying that I didn't actually like it, that I'd just picked it to get out of any more dress shopping and that I'd hate it on the day. Even at my final fitting I wasn't convinced. But it was a bit late to change then. 

However, the morning of the wedding, when I stepped into it I felt amazing, so sophisticated and beautiful. With the theatrical makeup and my hair all done up, it looked perfect and felt like a really unique choice which went hand in hand with our art-deco theme and venue. 


© Matt & Esther 2015

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