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Tuesday, 17 January 2017

7 WAYS TO INSTANTLY CHEER UP ON YOUR DOWN DAYS

If we believe all the PR and marketing emails flooding our inboxes, this week is meant to be a bit dreary…

It was ‘Blue Monday’ yesterday and apparently we’re all due to fail on our NY resolutions at anytime over the next few days.

Now, I’m not saying any of this is true because let’s face it, Tim in marketing blatantly made up the whole concept with some fairly iffy consumer research but hey – let’s just ignore our inner sceptic and appreciate this little mood-boosting list I’ve made for when we actually are feeling a little ‘meh’ about Monday and life in general yeah?

So here it is, a list of the 8 things I do to give myself a little boost when I’m feeling a bit blah:

1. HAVE YOUR FAVOURITE DINNER
Of course number one revolved around food, because food is bae.

When I’m having a *bleeper* of a day, the first thing I do is go home and make sure I have something AMAZING for tea.

I don’t mean order a Domino's Two for Tuesday to eat all by yourself because binge-eating isn't quite the right way to go but chicken fajitas? Yes. Lasagne. Double yes. Anything which feels like you’re being given a nice big hug when you eat it.
2. MAKE A KILLER SPOTIFY PLAYLIST
Nothing makes you feel like you've got your life in control than lip-syncing Beyoncé’s ‘Run the World’ at full volume - am-i-right?

Go make yourself a killer playlist on Spotify, turn the volume up and prepare to feel like a boss – mood instantly raised.

If you wanna save yourself some time, Katy's Hustle Hard playlist is all killer, no filler.

3. GO GET SOME FRESH AIR 
Go out in search of those much needed endorphins. If you need to go on a walk or run by yourself to process your thoughts – do it. Grab your iPhone and blast your favourite song (see point 2) while you think through all the stuff getting you down.

Or make your housemate/boyfriend/girlfriend/BFFE come with you and talk it over. There’s nothing like pounding the pavement to help you sort out the little things buzzing around in your brain.
4. REMIND YOURSELF OF ALL YOUR REASONS TO BE CHEERY 
Do you know how many times I had to check that doesn't say cherry?

Anyway, a lot of the time, when there’s something rubbish happening in our lives, we forget the 1009 reasons why we should be happy and get all consumed with that ONE thing.

I recently resurrected my weekly update posts as a way of helping me to remember all the little good things which happen in life. The very fabulous Katie Brennan also started a fab thread on Twitter so people can share what they're grateful for - it really helps put things in perspective.

5. ORDER SOME FLOWERS 
Yes it would be nice for someone to surprise you with flowers but life isn’t like the movies and sometimes you just need to treat yourself.

This one is backed up science too. A study by researchers at Rutgers University in New Jersey found people became less depressed, agitated and anxious after receiving flowers and also had a higher sense of enjoyment and satisfaction in their lives.

So take a look at the range from Bloom Magic to get inspired and embrace that Instagram cliché all you damn well please.
6. SEARCH FOR MEMES
If you don’t scroll through memes on Instagram and send screenshots to your BFFs in the GroupChat – are you even okay?

I don't even have to be in a bad mood for my best friends to cheer me up with memes. I spend SO much time on Instagram, scrolling and screenshotting that I'm sat on a pile of absolute GOLD just waiting for the right moment to be dropped in the group chat. (girls, if you're reading this. You're welcome).

Seriously though, a quick search will get you laughing especially when you share them with your friends....perfect little mood-booster.

7. JUST MAKE A CUP OF TEA AND CALL YOUR MUM
Becauses cups of tea make everything okay and so does talking to your mum.

Hopefully this list will help next time you're not feeling great! Let me know how you boost your mood in the comments below

* This post was written in collaboration with Bloom Magic
This post was added to Honest Mum's Brilliant Blog Posts
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Sunday, 15 January 2017

THE ELLE BLOGGS BAROMETER #2

Finally I am back in a routine - hallelujah!

After having a bit of a ropey start to 2017 (AKA snoozing my alarm every day before work) I'm back to getting up in the morning to go to gym, planning out all my meals for the week AND I'm keeping to my blog posting schedule. I'm basically being an adult again.

This week was a bit of quiet one for me but exactly what I needed to get back on track. So here's all the good and the bad from my week....

WHAT'S HOT

1. ROAST DINNERS & CATCH-UPS
We went through a stint of NEVER having a Sunday roast so that's one thing we're definitely changing this year.

Last weekend we met some of our good friends for a catch-up and roast at the Ealing Park Terrace.

It wasn't the best roast I've ever had (not nearly enough gravy for me) but the pub itself is lovely. If you're ever towards Ealing way, it's well worth a visit for a drink or two.


2. REAFFIRMING MY LOVE FOR RYAN GOSLING
We went to see La La Land on Friday night and it deserves every single accolade that's been thrown it's way so far.

It's shot beautifully and the ending made me cry. Plus if you haven't heard Ryan Gosling sing before you need to go to Spotify and listen to his band 'Dead Man's Bones' *swoon*

3, CREATING RECIPES
I feel like I've finally got my recipe creating mojo back and have been super proud of the last few that have featured on the blog. I remember when I first started out I struggled to get my photos accepted on FoodGawker - and now the last 5 I've submitted have all been accepted. Virtual high fives.

WHAT'S NOT

THE GREAT BLIZZARD OF 2017
Well that was a bit of a let-down wasn't it? I was fully prepared to dig my way out of our front door on Friday morning but I didn't even need to de-ice my windscreen. That's the last time I believe weather reports of ThunderSnow!

NO SHOWERS AT THE GYM
I am in no way one of those people that complains about newbies in the gym in January. Go you if you've signed up. I'm just really not a fan of the fact that my gym only has FOUR private showers for everyone. So yeah - I've been going to work, fresh and sweaty from the gym which all kinds of gross (forgive me). 

Hope you've all had a fab week too!

The Ealing Park Tavern Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Thursday, 12 January 2017

PURSE FRIENDLY TAPAS IN MAYFAIR AT EL PIRATA

Tapas is my ideal kind of food. I am SO indecisive when it comes to ordering in restaurants – and I hate getting food envy. 

Have you ever gone to a restaurant, ordered your main course and someone else’s arrives which looks SO much better so you’re left to weep a little into your plate...no? Yeah, me neither…

Tapas though – tapas is the dream. You get to order lots of different bits from the menu so you can try all of the food and feel none of the envy.  

You can't 'do' tapas wrong either. Any combination of meat, fish, veggies - hot or cold - is allowed. It's like one giant pick ‘n’ mix and when I come across an authentic Spanish restaurant like El Pirata – I really go to town. 

If you haven’t heard of it – I urge you to familiarise yourself ASAP. El Pirata has been but a jewel in Mayfair’s very sparkly crown for over 22 years and not because it’s all glitz and glamour, but because they serve real, authentic Spanish tapas at affordable prices. 

 Yep – a purse friendly dinner in Mayfair. Almost unheard of - so grab your elasticated trousers and I’ll show you around my favourite dishes….
Like I said before, the food at El Pirata is all about big bold flavours in little portions so you can share them out with your best pals. 

Start off with a basket of soft white bread to scoop up all that lovely aioli while you plan your assault on the menu.
I adore padron peppers so these are a must-order. They come with a perfectly charred skin and a generous crack of salt - just remember 1 in 10 has a fiery kick before you go diving in too fast!
The Iberico ham here is incredible too. Cut wafer thin and cured to perfection – I like to eat mine on its own so you can taste all that incredible marbled flavour but it's great alongside some of that soft white bread (if you haven't wolfed it all down already!)
The Pulpo a la gallega, or octopus to you and me, is super tender and comes brushed with olive oil and paprika. It’s a signature dish in Spain and super simple but tastes incredible when cooked this well.
Ahh, Calamares con arroz negro. I’ve had a mini love affair with this dish since I saw Rick Stein cooking it on TV a few years ago (remember the one when his lips went black?)

It’s made using squid ink and chunks of fish and transports you to the sea with every bite. Don't be put off by how it looks - it's super delicious (eat it with your eyes closed if you have to - just make sure you eat it!)
I’d also suggest ordering one of the many prawn dishes on offer – we adored the Mar y tierra: fresh plump prawns, pimento peppers and wild mushrooms sautéed in a little olive oil which arrives still sizzling at your table!
The tortilla, or Spanish omelette didn’t really do it for me and is the only dish I wouldn't order again.... Nothing against the dish itself or the cooking...I just found it a bit, plain I guess?
If you’re after meats, you can’t go wrong with the Pinchos morunos con chorizo. The idea of chicken skewers might seem dull but the fragrant marinade, chunks of chorizo and punchy paprika made this one of our favourite dishes of the night.
It would be rude not to order a round of Patatas bravas when you go and you really can’t miss the croquettes. A creamy blend of béchamel sauce and chicken lightly breaded and fried – just as good as any you’d get in Spain.
If you've got room, promise you'll order a slice of the torta de chocolate, a home-made chocolate cake. It’s served semi-warm with vanilla ice cream and fresh strawberries and is the best way to finish off your meal.  
So what do you think? Promise me you'll go - please!

At just over £40pp, you really can't argue with the quality of the food at El Pirata....they do say the best things come in small packages after all.

You might also note that I managed to navigate this whole post without a single drop of the incredible Spanish wine on offer at El Pirata. I’m currently taking part in Dry January to raise money to Alcohol Concern so if you wish to donate, please do head over here

El Pirata 
5-6 Down St
Mayfair, W1J 7AQ
* I was invited to review El Pirata
All food & drink was complimentary but opinions are my own!

El Pirata Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Monday, 9 January 2017

NUTRIBULLET SMOOTHIE RECIPE: ANTI-OXIDANT BOOSTING BEETROOT, BERRIES AND CHIA

It's January health kick time guys!

For me, one of the easiest ways to pack lots of nutrients into my body is with a smoothie in the morning.

It takes all of about five minutes to whizz up, pop into a portable cup and have on the way to work...

Minimal effort but maximum taste and health benefits #winning. 

This recipe is one of my favs. It contains immune-boosting beetroot which is a fab source of iron, magnesium and potassium and also Chia seeds which are loaded with anti-oxidants. 

I've also added a scoop of Protein powder to pack an even bigger nutritional punch but you can go wild and use any colourful, juicy fruits and veggies you like!
 What you'll need
50g frozen raspberries
50g frozen blueberries
50g beetroot
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 scoop of whey Protein (I order mine from MyProtein)
200ml almond milk
175g Total 0% Yoghurt
1/2 avocado
1/2 lime (juice)

What you'll need to do
1. Pop all your ingredients into the blender and blitz until smooth, adding more almond milk or water if needed
2. Decorate with some frozen fruits and enjoy!

How easy is that!?
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Sunday, 8 January 2017

THE ELLE BLOGGS BAROMETER #1

Remember when I used to do the weekly posts on a Friday - you know the ones where I rounded up 10 good things in the week?

Yeah I kind of stopped doing them - and I'm not really sure why - so this year, I've decided to bring them back!

This time though it's going to be a little different. Firstly they're now going live on a Sunday and they're going to round up all aspects of my week - the good and the bad.

So grab a cuppa and get ready for the first instalment of my weekly barometer:

WHAT'S HOT

1. CHRISTMAS, DUH!
I couldn't kick the first barometer off without a mention of Christmas! It feels SO long ago but I honestly had the BEST Christmas this year. We spent Christmas Day up North with Tom's family and Boxing Day in Beaconsfield with mine - which basically meant two Christmas days and more importantly two Christmas dinners.

We ate so much, spent time with all the people we love and got some amazing gifts. I also got to spend time with all my friends and even took part in a bloggers secret santa with Domu.co.uk where I received a popcorn maker! All in all - best Christmas EVER!

2. REVISITING FAVOURITE RESTAURANTS
Do you ever go to a restaurant and think OMG I love it here, I'm going to come back all the time and then just kind of don't...yeah we're a bit guilty of that.

We're so lucky that we get to discover new restaurants all the time through my blog but it's SO nice when you actually go back somewhere you love.

Rose & Rose in Richmond is one of those places. We headed back there last weekend and it reminded me just how much I love it. The menu is a fusion of modern British with Asian influence and the whole place is decorated with the most incredible colourful, flambouyant decor which makes me want to completely redecorate my flat.

It's also right next to Richmond Park (you know the one with all the deer) so we braved the cold afterwards and took a little stroll before heading home for tea and the last bit of Christmas cake before the healthy eating started again....
3. DRY JANUARY
After a month of excess, I'm proud to say that this month I'm taking part in Dry January.

For me, Dry January isn't about a 'detox' or being healthy, it's about driving awareness of Alcohol Concern and raising money for a charity which helps support alcoholics and their families. Losing someone you love to alcohol addiction is one of the worst pains imaginable and I hope that any money I can raise will help get the people affected the support they so badly need.

If you want to support my efforts, I've set up a fund-raising page for Alcohol Concern over here.

4. GETTING BACK TO SENSIBLE EATING
Okay so, I wasn't sure whether to put this in the good or bad section because on the one hand, I miss eating a wheel of cheese at every meal but on the other, it would be really nice to not feel quite as fluffy as I do right now.

I haven't got back into my usual training routine yet (that's next week) but I have gone back to tracking my macros which means no fad diets, just proper, nutritious foods like this INCREDIBLE dinner. Dreamy.

WHAT'S NOT

1. WAKING UP FOR WORK
I am in far worse a routine now than I was before Christmas. Pre-festive break, I was getting up at 6.45am, going to the gym and feeling completely rested. Now...I'm tired all the time and I've overslept twice. Fingers crossed by next week, I'll be back into the swing of my routine and ready to actually make a dent in some of these 2017 goals I've set myself....

2. THE COLD
Someone told me the other day the weather is going to turn colder than Russia. Bloody Russia. It's like -23 degrees over there so I don't believe that's quite true but I am also really not ready for it to be even -1 degrees.

3. THE WALKING DEAD
So we got into the Walking Dead towards the end of last year and binge watched the HELL out of it until we caught up with everyone else....and now we're like ehhh. Season 7 has been SO slow and we kinda gave up watching it two episodes short of the mid-season finale. Should we get back into it - I really don't know guys...if you watch it can you please tell me if it's worth sticking with!

Rock & Rose Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Friday, 6 January 2017

HOW TO BEAT THE DREADED GYM-TIMIDATION

I, like probably a lot of people, set New Year's goals which revolved around getting a bit fitter in 2017.

I'd already started my own (mini) fitness journey some-time last year but it wasn't until the weeks just before Christmas that I really hit my stride and ventured into the dreaded weights area.

I honestly used to be, and probably still am, intimidated by the gym.

It's not the actual exercise which intimidates me, it's this weird self-conscious fear I build up inside my own head - especially when it comes to weights.

Any excuse not to go would keep me out of there. "It'll be too busy", "I don't want to wash my hair today", "I don't want to look unfit in front of people I might know"

That last one is real too. I genuinely thought I needed to lose weight BEFORE I even started, I felt that insecure.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who's felt like that (or at least I hope!), maybe even you reading this has felt it at some point, but I wanted to show that there are so many ways to get over the 'fear' and once you do, you'll fall in love with training!
STEP ONE: WEAR HEADPHONES
OMG. This for so many reasons.

For me, wearing headphones creates almost like a barrier between you and the other people around you.

It's the international sign for DO NOT TALK TO ME. I hate feeling like someone is going to ask me a question or worse, tell me I'm doing something wrong, so on go the headphones and "see ya, sorry pal I can't hear you".

Secondly, motivation levels go through the roof. Try doing interval sprints on the treadmill without headphones - nope, not happening. Put Kanye West on and I can smash them out. The amount of self-belief that man has is infectious.....

STEP TWO: WATCH HOW THE PROS DO IT
I don't mean stare at other people while they work out - because #creepy - but watch videos of the right technique on YouTube or Instagram.

There are fitness tutorials literally everywhere you look online now and it's SO helpful for building your confidence, especially on equipment you're not familiar with.

First time I used the cable machine, I googled the hell out of it. Attempting a Lat pull down? Throw that hashtag into Instagram and you have access to SO many people mastering the right form and you'll know exactly what you're doing. 

STEP THREE: SPEND TIME WITH A TRAINER
If you're a newbie to the gym, you should get a free training when you sign up - USE IT.

It's so tempting to avoid doing these but they really are useful. New to weights? Tell the trainer that you want to learn how to use the squat rack or smith machine and they'll show you. Plus having someone with you the first time you wander over there is so much easier than just bowling over by yourself.

STEP FOUR: TRAIN WITH A FRIEND
First off. you are far less likely to miss the gym if it means you're going to let your friends down and secondly, having someone with you makes training much less intimidating #SafetyinNumbers

The amount of times I've sat on a machine the wrong way or picked up something awkwardly - I promise you it's a lot less embarrassing when you're with someone!

Plus it also helps motivate you and push you just that little bit harder with your work-outs.

If you don't have any gym buddies to go to the actual gym with, there's so many online communities you can be part of. My friend Hannah is part of the Kayla Itsines #BBG community and has made so many friends both online and offline, it's hard not to be completely inspired by her!
STEP FIVE: REMEMBER PEOPLE REALLY AREN'T WATCHING YOU
Honestly. I used to avoid the weight area because I thought people would watch and judge me like "LOL she clearly doesn't know what she's doing" - but d'ya know what, they really aren't. 

People are usually too busy focusing on their own work-out to even consider what you're doing and a lot of the time, they're feeling exactly the same way you are!

A few weeks ago, a man came over to me in the gym and said he couldn't believe how hard some of the exercises I was doing were. I can't tell you how good that made me feel about myself - especially when the whole time I was worrying I looked like a prat!

Keep these things in mind and I promise you'll be bossing the weights area in no-time!
Have you suffered with 'gym-timidation before? I'd love to hear how you over-come it!
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