Sunday, 18 February 2018

Ultimate podcast list


I am always looking for new podcast recommendations. I'm constantly scribbling down recommended listens and trying to remember the names of my favourites when people ask me for them.

I've never listed all my favourites out. When people ask what my favourite podcasts are, I can generally reel off a few (Serial (series one), MDWAP, TED Radio Hour), but often the more niche, or smaller / obscure gems go amiss, unless I happen to be listening to that particular one at the time.

As you all know I'm a #WalkToWorkW@nker so I get through them pretty quickly, and I also go through phases of listening to podcasts when I'm running, instead of music.

I've included a sentence or two about the key themes and what I liked (or disliked).

If there are any podcasts you think I need to listen to, give me a shout, I'm always looking for more!

And so, without further ado (and by no means in order of favourite - in fact this is probably more likely to be a chronological list as I add more as time goes on....), here is my current all time podcast listen list:

Ultimate faves

TED RADIO HOUR BY NPR
I couldn't write a post on podcasts and leave this bad boy out - TED talks adapted for audio. Inspirational, thought-provoking, fascinating.. each episode brings a new idea to life. I'm always uplifted and inspired when I've listened to these, so perfect whilst out on a run or making your way to work on a Monday.

My Dad Wrote A Porno
Started to listen to this on a run and had to stop multiple times from laughing so much. I'm an absolute hardcore raving fan now, and even went to see My Dad Wrote A Porno live. It's one of the funniest things I've ever heard - I challenge you to listen on public transport and not piss yourself with laughter. In essence, man finds dad has written awful porn novel and reads it aloud. It's so, so much more than that though. I also absolutely adore Alice Levine. Yaas.

Crime

I find crime / thriller / true crime stuff absolutely fascinating... although terrifying whilst out on a run when it's getting dark and you're paranoid someone is behind you....

My Favourite Murder
Ok, caveat, the downside with this one is that they legitimately talk about nothing for 45 mins. I know a lot of people like that as they're getting to know the presenters (it does feel a bit like you're all sharing a car), but I personally think there's too much waffling. Nevertheless, the morbid curiosity theme throughout is gripping, and each episode, they both choose a true murder case and talk through it - it's fascinating, terrifying and weirdly... funny?! You'll know what I mean if you've listened!

Serial - Series 1 
I absolutely loveeeed Serial. I think it's investigative journalism at its best, and really makes you question your beliefs. Adnan Syed is accused of murdering his girlfriend in high school and is currently serving a life sentence in prison for it. But each episode you're presented with new / contradictory evidence and anecdotes that make you question everything.

They Walk Among Us
Each ep discusses a true UK crime story, from the sinister to the surreal. Some eps are good, others are average. The host's voice is really irritating (sounds like the IT guy from The Office?!), but if you can get past that you're good.

Casefile
Another true crime podcast but this time covers stories from all over the world. I've listened to a few really scary Australian episodes (the narrator is an Aussie guy), and an interesting few episodes on the Moors Murders.

S-Town
Listened to this after Serial series one, and was bitterly disappointed. Friends have loved it though, I just found that in comparison to Serial, it was slow and underwhelming. It's an interesting investigative journalism listen though, but don't expect amazing things.

Beyond Reasonable Doubt - 5 live
This historical murder / death story is also known as the Staircase murder and there have been documentaries and books released about it. Another one of those 'did he / didn't he' cases, and the episodes are quite short.


Health / Wellbeing

Don't Salt my Game - Laura Thomas, PHd
If you don't follow Laura on  Instagram, you should. She's helping lead the body positivity / anti-diet culture and is spot on with her thoughts.

Scott Baptie - The Food for Fitness podcast
One of the first fitness podcasts I found. I really love Scott's mantra: "consistently good, not occasionally perfect" - it absolutely sums up what I believe in in regards to diet and exercise. He's got some great interviews on there, and really helpful tips too. One of my faves.

No Meat Athlete
This is a really good podcast to listen to if you've just started to eat less meat. Talks about all things food and fitness and muscle and basically everything about vegetarian diets and exercising. V interesting.

3 Dumbells
Fun, no-nonsense chat about the gym / diet culture. Basically three mates having a laugh. Good gues interviews. Can be a bit wheeey lads lads lads at times (lol).

Fit and Fearless - 5 live
My fave gals Zanna, Tally and Vicki talking body confidence, fitness etc with great interviews, hosted by 5 live.

The Reluctant Vegan
Aussie couple go vegan. Their 'journey'.

Ben Coomber Radio
Ben is a really science driven, evidence based PT and chats all things health and fitness - he talks a lot about performance and is a good person to listen to if you're in need of some motivation.

#EatForThePlanet with Nil Zacharias

The Model Health Show
I first found out about this podcast by accident as I searched for a podcast on sleep:
Why sleep is the ultimate fat burner and Sleep Smarter are good episodes.
Shawn's got a really interesting background - he was diagnosed with an incurable spine condition at 20, changed his diet up totally and started exercising and managed to alleviate all pain. It can be very 'American' at times but some good eps.

The Vegan Body Revolution
Very very very 'bro' but a great podcast to listen to if you're eating less meat / going a bit more plant based and want reassurance that you don't need meat and animal products to look lean or build lean muscle. Often gives simple recipe ideas / protein sources / low carb high protein vegan inspo.


Business / motivation

Kat Horrocks - Put Yourself First
My friend Kat, a life coach, has just started a podcast on self-care, business and motivation and it's really inspiring. Topics include self-love, freelance life, body confidence and it's just an all round great podcast that supports women in business.

Hashtag Authentic
Was recommended to listen to this podcast at a blogging event and need to listen to more episodes but it's a greeeat one to listen to if you use social media to market your business.


General:

The Inquiry - BBC World Service
I lovee this podcast. Each episode is around 20 mins long and is centered on one topic (all current affairs based, so great if you want to feel like you're learning and bettering your general political knowledge!). The topic in question is then debated by four different people, from completely different stand points, who are able to offer their opinion on the subject. It's fascinating. Examples include 'What are IS doing in the Philippines?', 'How did we get hooked on plastic?', 'How powerful is Facebook's algorithm?' etc etc etc.

Coffee Break French
Some of the episodes date back over 11 years and so quite often the two hosts talk about listening on your MP3 player (loool), but it's comprehensive and really really useful. The series are split into units, and each episode is clearly labelled so you know what you're going to be covering. There are hundreds of episodes though, so when I'm done, Coffee Break Spanish is next!

The Butterfly Effect by Jon Ronson
Another investigative journalism piece. This one looks at the porn industry and the global effect 'free porn' sites have had, from lots of different perspectives.


I will no doubt be adding to this as time goes on so please, send me your recommendations!

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Sunday, 28 January 2018

A private dining experience with La Belle Assiette


I know the phrase is often over used, but I can't believe how quickly this month has gone! It only seems like yesterday that Holly was trying to organise a date for Pam, Vicki, Kat, Georgie, Fiona and I to have dinner at hers. We'd settled on a date in mid-January and received a very exciting message from Holly to say that La Belle Assiette had got in touch with her to ask if she'd like to try their private dining experience; having a chef to your house to cook you a four course meal.

UM, YES PLEASE.

This was last Sunday, and could not have come at a better time. I'd broken my dry January streak, and was hungover and in need of a lot of food. Cue, La Belle Assiette who'd sent an Italian chef to cook us four courses of pure deliciousness.

I've only had one private chef experience before, and that was a sushi making experience so very interactive. This was pure indulgence, very very decadent. It's definitely a great way to have people over and not worry about timings and cooking and plating up etc. An ideal way to celebrate a special birthday. We could just chill out and let Giorgio do his thing.

Of course, the whole evening was made so much more glamorous as it took place in Holly's incredible house, and I couldn't wait to catch up with everyone.



Whilst we were chatting away, Giorgio brought over some warm focaccia and encouraged us to help ourselves. Well, I didn’t need telling twice. Three hunks in and a glass of prosecco later, I was feeling a lot less hungover and even more excited about the four courses to come...

As you all know by now I’ve been trying to reduce my meat consumption for environmental reasons (bla bla), so I was really intrigued to taste the menu. Italian food is up there for me and an absolute favourite (I blogged waaay back about Rome being one of the best places I’ve been to). The veggie options on the menu did not disappoint. It was amazing. So tasty - I didn’t feel like I missed out at all, contrary to other veggie options I’ve experienced, where you feel like you’ve been given the second best option.

Giorgio explained this food was from Veneto region, and I started with:

Wild mushrooms on a soft polenta bramata
Dried broad-bean croquettes (amazing).



The non-veggie started looked amazing too, with cuttlefish and sardines (I might have had a cheeky mouthful or two...).

Primo Piatto

I’d forgotten it was four courses and so presumed this MASSIVE risotto was our main course. Wow. This was incredible. I had risotto vialone nano with radicchio de treviso and carnia mezzano stravecchio cheese. The non-veggie was garlic chilli, crab and clams, which sounded amazing.


As I say, I thought this was the main (probably due to chatting away and not paying full attention- sorry Giorgio!) - the portion sizes were absolutely admirable. I would have this again in a heartbeat, it was so full of flavour, which I think can often be hard with cheesy dishes. It was rich, but not so rich that I felt too full.

Palette cleanser

Sgroppino: lemon sorbet and prosecco

This was fresh, light and nicely whipped.



Secondo piatto

I then had a fennel gratin for main. Now, this was interesting as I would never ever have chosen this, but it’s opened my eyes for sure. The best I can describe this is like a 'lighter' version of a veggie lasagne? The fennel was layered with a cheesy sauce and baked, with crispy breadcrumbs on top. The runner bean side and tomato stew was lovely, too. The non-veggie option was salted cod- and again looked very good.





Dessert



Now. I need to be honest here. I really dislike sponge based desserts. The thought of sticky toffee pudding makes me feel queasy and so when I found out that tiramisu was the dish of the day for us, I was like ‘ah’.

WELL. Let me say how sorry I am I even doubted this. It was one of the nicest desserts I’ve ever had. Ever. A huge wafer basket with super thin spongy layers and a generous dollop of a sweet, cream sauce- it was divine. Despite being so full, I managed to work fit in somewhere - and I am so glad I did.


Holly - thank you so much for an amazing evening, it was so nice to catch up with the girls and wow, La Belle Assiette, thank you for providing the most decadent Sunday evening I’ll have in a long, long while - I would highly recommend.


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Sunday, 10 December 2017

Spicy Sweet Potato & Coconut Chickpea curry



Yes, before you say anything - the wooden table background is back. Natural light inside the house is tough in dark December, so I took the pan outside on a snowy Sunday morning and stood in the freezing cold to try and get a shot that made this curry look a little bit appealing.

Anyway, enough about the behind the scenes exclusives... this curry is delicious; spicy and warming and full of flavour.

The recipe below will make between 4 - 6 portions depending on if you're adding rice or sides...

You'll need:

  • 1 red onion
  • Around 6cm of ginger, grated
  • 4 large sweet potatoes
  • 1 tin chickpeas
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tin coconut milk
  • A generous dollop of tomato puree
  • Half a bag of spinach (around 100/150g)
  • 2 tablespoons turmeric
  • 3 tablespoons hot curry powder (usually a blend of coriander, turmeric, fenugreek, cumin, garlic powder, fennel etc) (or mild, if spice isn't your thing)
Wash your sweet potato and chop into small chunks (I leave the skin on but it's up to you). Steam or boil for 15-20 minutes until they're soft and pretty much cooked through. 

Dice your onion and heat up in a large frying pan. I just added a bit of water to stop it sticking, but use oil if you wish. Add the grated ginger and turmeric, and add some more water, until a paste like consistency has formed with the turmeric and onions. 

Then, add your sweet potato. Don't worry if the potato starts to crumble a little bit. Add the chopped tomato and coconut milk, and keep stirring. After around five minutes add the rinsed chickpeas and tomato puree (I find it helps thicken sauce up). Keep it cooking for around ten minutes and then add the spinach, folding it in to the curry as you go. 

Finally, add a sprinkle of salt and leave to stand for about ten minutes.

Serve, and add sides as you see fit... 


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Sunday, 15 October 2017

Why do I bullet journal and should you start?


Google 'how to bullet journal' and a whole host of hits come back at you, telling you why you should do it, the best ways to do and what you can get out of it.

But what actually is it?!

In its crudest form it's essentially a glorified to-do list (but anything that involves an excuse for buying new stationary is absolutely a-ok with me). You basically 'quick log' all your thoughts, stresses, to-do's, pressures, appointments etc etc etc in no particular order, allowing your mind to 'empty' and get a sense of everything going on around you.

Anyway, I've been bullet-journaling once a week for a few months now and found it's helped me in a lot of ways. It helps me keep organised and I can prioritise things I need to do that week, as well as feeling less stressed about things that are going on in my head.

If you love a good old list, I think you'll be able to get on board with this. Here are 3 reasons I bullet journal.

1) There's no right or wrong way of doing it

Given that I initially Googled how to do it, and given that it's a bit of a personal admin 'buzz word' at the moment, you'd be forgiven to think that there's one set way of doing it. There's not. Do it however you want. Find a way that works for you.

For me, I do a weekly journal over three pages.

Page one is a literal mind-spewing list of everything and anything that's in my head at that time - from needing to do a dark wash, to certain career development goals, blog posts I want to write, things I need / want to do at work, people I need to call, things that are bothering / upsetting me, articles I've bookmarked, recipes I want to try, workout goals, things that are making me happy, weekend dates, things I need to buy - the list is endless.

Page two and three are then a double spread. My week is listed out by day at the top, with tasks and events listed out by day underneath the corresponding day. An attainable, achievable weekly 'to-do' list sits bottom left of the page. Then, my finances and people to call / meet up with are in the middle, and on the right hand side, I have a list for goals for the week, and then a list for specific meals or workouts I want to try and incorporate.

Naturally, some things carry over to future weeks, but that's fine - I like to be able to see everything on one page.

This might not be your preferred way of doing it, but it works for me.


2) It helps clear my mind 

I feel so at ease and 'cleansed' when I've noted everything down, got it off my chest (so to speak), and worked out how I'm going to solve / achieve / fit stuff in for the week ahead. I'd even go so far as to say it's like a conscious mindful meditation, mulling over every little thing in my head. We are bombarded with so much information now, it can be hard to find focus, and I find this brings me clarity.

3) I can see all my priorities and assess where I'm going to make a difference

Some weeks are quiet, some weeks I'm out for dinner four times a week and working long hours. My goals might be the same but different things going on in your life can affect what's realistically achievable. Some weeks work is the top priority, some weeks it's my own hobbies, some weeks it's about just doing the bare minimum! I love seeing what the main priorities are and finding ways to move myself closer to my goals.


I love how all-encompassing bullet-journaling is. It's not just about tracking personal admin, fitness, food, work, self-development, social life - it's a way of combining them all.

Essentially: I love lists. I love stationery. I love writing notes. So it's a win-win for me!

Thanks to luxury and designer stationery company Rooi, for sending me this gorgeous Kate Spade notebook for me to log away with :) It's been a dream to write in!

I'm by no means a bullet journal expert, and if you are looking for more in depth info on bullet journaling - definitely give it a Google and find a tutorial that resonates with you, if you fancy it. Would also recommend my lovely friend Kat Horrocks who's amazing at helping with goal setting and personal development (she's a life coach!).

This Buzzfeed article sums it up pretty well, ha!
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