Things that have been making me happy lately

Well it seems like I temporarily vanished again… Ooops. Sorry about that one, it seems that life as a postgrad student can be pretty intense sometimes but bear with me, I’ll be here when I can!

I’ve had lots of things to be grateful for these past few weeks…

Happy is…my beaut of a friend coming to visit me for the weekend a couple of weeks back and allowing me to indulge in being a tourist in this incredible city. We went up the shard and drank champagne (it’d be rude not to…)

The Shard

Champagne Shard

Filled our tummies at Borough Market…

Borough Market

Listened to an awesome busker near St Paul’s Cathedral. Good music makes me happy… (Sadly my video won’t load, bloody technology.)

St Paul's Cathedral

And went for cocktails which were on fire.

Cocktails on fire

Happy is..meeting new people who share my passions, be it friends on my course, other feminists at a recent women’s rights talk as part of London Thinks or the lovely Cat from Cat Food Is Good For You, it’s always pretty special to have that extra something in common with people.

Happy is…cosy evenings in with my housemate and geeking out on Harry Potter whilst eating Paleomg’s spaghetti squash pizza pie, with added goats cheese ;)

Paleomg Pizza Pie

Happy is…running my first ever race. More to come later this week!

Happy is…the simple everyday. Making my room all cosy, the way the trees are starting to turn as autumn approaches us, sipping on cosy cups of tea whilst studying, sweating like hell at CrossFit and falling rather in love with life…

Tea Study

Happy is…knowing everything will be alright.

What’s been making you happy lately?

Learning to be a student, once again

As you’ve probably noticed, unless you’re new around these parts (welcome), I’ve recently moved to London and started a postgrad degree in Human Rights. Round two of being a student is definitely very different from the first time. Here’s why…

  • The most obvious difference is that I am studying something that I am truly passionate about. Although I enjoyed much of my undergrad degree (Economics) I feel that I am now following a much more clear cut path which will hopefully support me in my future career. Finally knowing the field that I want to go into is incredibly reassuring. Imagine driving a car with no set destination compared to setting out with a route plan and an end point… That is me now.

(Source)

  • I am treating it like a job. Get up, workout, shower, breakfast, lectures, seminar, study, home, dinner/perhaps a social event. When I was younger I despised the idea of having a ‘set routine’ as, being a typical teenager, I thought it was boring. But it feels so good!
  • Speaking of social events, the biggest personal change for me has been the way in which I socialise. So often I feel “it’s the weekend, I must be going out, I must do doing all the things with all the people and I must be doing it now”. When, typically, I don’t actually want to be doing this at all, it’s just what I feel I’m meant to do because I’m young, and in a city, and that’s what people like that do. I much prefer to see friends in smaller numbers, go for dinners, perhaps some drinks, or sometimes just be (or sleep…). So what if some people might class that as boring? Just because it’s the weekend it doesn’t mean I have to do ‘weekend’ specific things. It’s just a case of bashing out the ‘should’ voice, stopping comparing myself to other people and letting the ‘want’ voice win.

(Source)

  • I am managing stress much more effectively. When I find myself starting to get overwhelmed with work and study (yes this has already happened) I am now able to take a step back and reflect. Is this really the be all and end all? Or should I cut myself some slack and take a bit of a breather? My health is the most important thing.

How has your lifestyle changed? What are your thoughts?

Planned Intuitive Living

It seems only right to follow on from Friday’s review of my Whole 30 experience with an outline of my plan for the future and where I intend to go from here. I mentioned my ideas briefly but wanted to go into a bit more detail…

I know that paleo eating is what my body enjoys the most and, to be quite honest, gives me the body that I enjoy the most too! But I also know that fitting my eating into one single category is not healthy for my mind. Doing so makes me feel restricted and constrained in my food choices… Even when still eating wholesome, real foods, if they’re not strict paleo I end up feeling guilty and this is something that I do not want. Life is so much more than stressing about the food that is on my plate thank you very much.

So, instead I intend to go down the path of ‘paleoish with Pip modifications’ as I mentioned on Friday i.e. mainly paleo foods but without constraint if I am wanting something different, think 80/20 style! (I do hope this is making sense…) And I intend to do this in the form of a type of planned intuitive eating. What is this you ask? Each day I roughly plan out what I am going to eat in my head (hence the planned) but this often gets adapted throughout the day depending on whether I am more/less hungry than anticipated or craving something specific (hence the intuitive). This is pretty much what I do anyway, I’m just confirming to myself that it is a good idea!

This form of planned intuitiveness can then be tied into my exercise as well – hence the planned intuitive living! Each week I roughly plan out my workouts in my head (I don’t like writing things down!) which I usually stick to but I am also free to adapt it if I find myself struggling with tiredness or feeling a bit run down. Or even just because life gets in the way sometimes :)

So there you have it, roughly planned living and avoiding slotting myself into any specific box!

A prime example of this would be the marvelous day I had on Thursday. I chose some freestyle yoga over my morning run because I felt like that was what my body wanted… Then that evening I had a delicious dinner cooked by my lovely cousin and her husband which wasn’t paleo but it was real whole food which was just perfect…

photo 1 (29) Gorgeously crispy tofuphoto 2 (29)Auberginephoto 3 (26)Broccoli cooked with sesame seedsphoto 4 (23) photo 5 (18)“Homemade yolos” from the Oh She Glows cookbook (amazing surprise present!) dippled in melted chocolate… the best dessert? I believe so.

MiMM

Do you follow a specific eating plan/way of eating? Or are you just trying to go with the flow (like I am!)?

The FINAL Whole 30 Recap – The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Over one month later (oops, where did September go?) I am finally writing my last Whole 30 recap! Sorry about that one, life got in the way as it so often does. Which is sort of appropriate as that kind of sums up my thoughts on the Whole 30 lifestyle…. First though, let’s look at the positives.

The Good…

For me, the biggest change from my Whole 30 (and one that I have tried to keep up with after) is ditching my fear of fat. New motto – fat makes you phat. Thanks to someone on instagram, I’m afraid I’ve forgotten who, for that one! From increasing my healthy fat intake I really noticed great improvements in my satiety levels as well as my skin. Now, I don’t suffer from particularly bad skin at all but it does sometimes get a bit dry on my face. The more fat I eat, the less dry skin I have. Simples. So that was a real positive.

(Source)

I lost weight. This wasn’t my main drive behind doing a Whole 30 but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was thinking of it. I’ve always struggled with the ‘stubborn fat’ around my middle (stomach and hips) area and I definitely slimmed down here, an added bonus.

I slept better. No more nights of tossing and turning waiting to fall asleep, I was out like a light. This was absolutely joyous.

I confirmed that I have dramatically improved my emotional relationship with food in the past year and a half. Back then, this would have been impossible, so that was pleasing to see.

I was able to roughly analyse my reactions to various food groups. I say roughly as IBS means that my stomach reacts for all sorts of reasons (stress, etc.) so it can be hard to tell sometimes if it’s the food or my head (!) that is the issue. Dairy seemed to be fine, although it wasn’t as exciting as it used to be. Bar ice cream, ice cream is always exciting. Gluten was not so good, I was in pain. Gluten and I are no longer friends. Non-gluten grains were hard to judge. And I didn’t really introduce legumes as I’m not a fan from past experiences which makes me think my body isn’t really a fan! Although I won’t say no to the occasional pnb…

Ultimately, the fact that I did it! I’m stubborn like that ;)

The Bad…

I’ll come straight on out with it – my mental state. I found Whole 30 to be incredibly restrictive mentally, which brought back some of my old obsessions with food, this was not fun. To me, food is a joy, a pleasure, literally a source of life, not something I want to be fretting over 24/7. There’s far more to life than that thank you.

So while I do agree that strict paleo style eating is great for your body, and my body at that, it isn’t so great for my mind. Not if done 24/7 at least. Though I must acknowledge at this point that it works great for some people which is totally awesome but this was all about finding out what works best for me.

It seems that I am back at square one… I wrote in my initial Whole 30 post that I have been eating paleo with ‘Pip modifications’ and guess what I’ve been doing post Whole 30? Yup! Seems I had it right all along. I like to be able to eat with friends and not stress about how I’ll find something I’m ‘allowed’ to eat (although I am still the fussy one, that’s not going to change!). I like to eat some dairy now and again. And some oats. I like being able to sub in rice flour or the like when I’ve run out of coconut flour (or can’t afford it…). These things keep me calm and happy and that happiness totally overules having a little bit of extra love on my tummy. Besides, it’s 99% real food and I’m pretty proud of that.

(Source)

The Ugly…

Sadly I don’t really have any proper ugly to report, I just like that catchy title. Other than the fact that my new term for my eating would be ‘paleoish’ which doesn’t sound too great…? #uglyfail

Have you ever done a Whole 30? What are your thoughts?

{WIAW} Sunday brunch and a creamy chocolate pudding smoothie recipe

Well there’s a catchy post title! I had planned to post my final Whole 30 recap today buuuuuut I haven’t written it. Hey, you’ve been waiting long enough, what’s a few more days?

Instead I am sleepily sharing my Sunday with you, as well as the most simple but delicious smoothie I made yesterday. How’s that for a compromise? Grad school tiredness has hit full force as I write this and it’s only Tuesday of week 1… The amount of work that looms ahead of me feels a little overwhelming but the excitement that I feel is spurring me on, I know this is the right path for me at this moment in time and that is incredibly reassuring. Besides, the people on this course are so inspiring it’s all 100% worth it. So a tired happy Pip you have, who apparently now talks in the third person. Focus. Sunday.

After a gloriously sunny run in Hyde Park this weekend (whoever said it’s autumn is lying, summer is back with vengeance) my friend and I headed over to WIld Food Café for a slightly less sweaty catch-up off the recommendation of this lovely lady. Oh wow, this raw vegan haven certainly did not dissapoint. This was a brunch of epic proportions. You know that feeling of complete contentment that can only come from being full of nourishing foods? And brilliant company of course ;) but full we were indeed…

Dithering between various dishes on the menu/wanting to order everything in our post run hunger we opted to get two dishes and share them – genius I know.

Super saladI quote “a bed of organic lamb lettuce and wild rocket topped with amaranth, courghetti spaghetti, hijiki seaweed, slices of artichoke hearts & avocado, cucumber & red pepper cubes, finished off with coriander, rocket & parsely pesto, mango salsa, activated savory seeds flavoured with leafy greens and spices, and marinated shiitake mushrooms” aka fresh delicious goodness!

But the real crowd pleaser was this little beauty below…

Wild pizza

An incredible, fresh pizza of raw, dairy-free young coconut cheeze, wild sea purslane & basil pesto, raw cultured tomato & goji berry marinara, Turkish olives, artichoke hearts, avocado.

Sweet potato wedges

Plus sweet potato wedges and guacamole because who wouldn’t order those?

Raw cake

Raw chocolate and berry tart and an early grey cream tart, both glorious.

And both of us? Two rather stuffed (and still slightly sweaty if I’m honest) but very happy campers.

Obviously I’m linking up with Jenn for today’s post! Head on over to stalk everyone else’s eats this week.

WIAW button

Finally I have this quick little recipe to share with you that I whipped up yesterday for a post uni snack. It is so simple yet too delicious not to share. I firmly believe that every blog should have it’s own variation on the infamous chocolate avocado pudding, so here’s mine.

Creamy chocolate pudding smoothie

Serves 1

1 banana

1/2 a good sized, ripe avocado

1 tablespoon quality cocoa powder

3-4 pitted dates

A slosh of water

Simply pop everything into a blender and add sufficient water so that everything combines and then a little more (you still want it to be creamy but not tooooo thick). Pour into a bowl, grab a spoon and enjoy! Not a pudding as such but not quite a smoothie either. I add some granola to mine as topping.

creamy chocolate pudding smoothie

What’s your favourite brunch spot? Do you go out to meals sweaty like me or are you classier than that?!

{MIMM} Abergavenny Food Festival

Last Sunday my friends from work and I took a trip to the Abergavenny Food Festival – bare in mind I work in events catering so as a bunch of foodies at a food festival we were in heaven.

The day started out in good spirits as we cracked upon a bottle of bucks fizz on the train in the morning – the best way to start a Sunday ;)

Abergavenny Food  Festival

Bucks FizzOut of plastic cups because we like to be classy like that

We were so lucky in that it was such a beautiful day… we wandered around from stall to stall eyeing up all the goodies on display. It was mostly food to ‘eat now’ as opposed to take home so there was a lot of eating with my eyes involved!

Abergavenny Food Festival BakerySo pretty!

I enjoyed the most glorious salted beef sandwich for lunch… not too heavy, not too much stodge but just right!

Salted beef sandwich

With a side of prosecco because, why wouldn’t you?

ProseccoDon’t worry, I didn’t drink the whole bottle! I’m far too much of a lightweight these days for that!

The stalls were dotted around the town in different sections and along the streets so you really got to see the best of Abergavenny, including the castle and beautiful views of the Welsh mountains.

Abergavenny Castle

Abergavenny Food Festival StreetsBusy streets!

And we discovered the most incredible bar, I mean just what?! Prosecco on tap!!

Prosecco on tap

Although I couldn’t resist the frozen margarita…

Frozen margarita

An awesome, or perhaps marvelous, day with plenty of treats, including some unphotographed sheeps milk ice cream and some cake! Heaven. Although it did end with a bit of drama when all the trains home were cancelled due to a train being stuck on the tracks, cue a very long taxi ride home!

MiMM

Have you ever been to a food festival?

I’m baaaaaaaaack and a belated Brighton recap

Guess who’s back, back again, Pip’s back, tell a friend… I digress. So my accidental blogging break ended up being rather a long one… Truth it, I had no desire to write whatsoever and was stuck in a bit of an anxious hole. But I’m working on that and am finally starting to feel like me again which feels amazing. Sometimes it’s the simplest of things that can help balance out the roller coaster that is life.

So here I am, taking it a day at a time and breathing happy. Speaking of taking it a day at a time – today is my enrolment day at grad school – wish me luck! (I always think these things are scarier than they are!)

Now then, Brighton. Aka my 24 hour summer holiday ;) admittedly this is a little late as dad and I took this trip a good couple of weeks ago but who doesn’t love a holiday photo dump first thing on a Friday morning?

Iydea BrightonWe arrived about lunchtime and randomly one of the first places we saw was Foodilic, as per Laura’s recommendation (thank you!)! So naturally, we dived straight in. Their self-service salad buffet is divine.

Brighton PierBrighton Pier

BrightonView from the Pier

2014-09-09 15.47.27Happy camper

Brighton Seaside

We spent the afternoon wandering around Brighton, the Laines, popping in and out of shops – including Infinity Foods (obviously), stopping for ice cream, walking along the pier, and flopping on the beach… It was tough, real tough.

Then, after all that stress, we headed to our apartment to recover with a bottle of prosecco… #wheninbrighton And yes, I did say apartment. We found this beautiful little place via AirBnb and it was just perfect – centrally located, stunning high ceilings and a massive window making it really light and airy. Happy days.

airbnb Brighton

We then had a stunning walk to find a restaurant for dinner…

Brighton sunset

…which wasn’t so stunning. I can’t remember the name of the restaurant (shows how good it was…) but for what was meant to be a special fish supper on holiday it was very expensive and the service was slower than a snail. On a positive note I tried lobster for the first time! Even if it did arrive cold and I had to send it back to be heated up…

Lobster

The entire meal took 2 hours for 2 courses, the manager ended up giving us our desserts for free as an apology. Mine was a pannacotta which was sadly a bit meh. Still, besides all this we did have fun I promise!

Pannacotta Brighton

On a bright(on)er note…

Brighton MorningPre breakfast seaside stroll

Breakfast the next day rocked! Thanks to Christina for the recommendation – we popped to Iydea which was literally round the corner from our apartment for some delicious homemade granola…

Iydea Brighton granola

And then went for a walk through the park to the Brighton museum which had an amazing exhibit on WWI – well worth a visit, it was incredibly thought provoking.

Brighton Pavilion

And then we just had time for a great coffee and cake at Full City Coffee House before heading back home…

Small Batch Coffee

Small Batch Coffee CakeThis was INSANE – gluten free and so so so good

All in all a great trip! Who needs to go abroad? (Me me me!! I joke. Kind of…)

Have you been to Brighton? What great trips have you made within your country lately?

A night at the theatre

This past Monday my dad and I drove up to London with a car crammed full of all my belongings to move it into my new flat! And, yes, I still managed to forget rather a lot… Yet another reason why I should follow Meghan’s lead and make more lists.. Oops.

This next chapter of my life is all starting to feel terrifyingly real yet surreal at the same time…

Moving

Anyhow, that evening we did the West End proud in the form of dinner and a show…

It started out with a heavenly glass of argentine malbec at The Spice Market (as if I drink any other red now… yup, still pining for Argentina)

Malbec

The Spice Market was actually a completely accidental find, we were just strolling past on the look out for somewhere to eat and it caught my eye. Set slightly down from street level it felt like a little hidden world away from the hustle and bustle of near by Leicester Square.

The Spice MarketI think I need to work on my awkward restaurant photography skills… Lovely pillar isn’t it?

The menu was extensive and varied with something to suit every pallet. I opted for the grilled rib eye with boy choy, garlic and sesame. Oh my, it was heaven on a plate. We also split a side of coconut rice which was lovely although a bit on the crunchy side in my opinion.

Rib Eye Spice Market

Coconut Rice Spice Kitchen

Then, it was theatre time. The show of choice? Miss Saigon. My dad had seen it before way back when but it was a total new one for me.

Miss Saigon

For those of you who don’t know, it is a musical set during the Vietnam War and follows the story of a young Vietnamese woman who falls in love with an American soldier after fleeing to the city, following the loss of her family. If I were to criticise I would say that the first half went on a little long and could have cut to the point a little more quickly. Yet, the second half more than made up for it. And the set was just incredible, I mean there’s a helicopter scene – need I say more?

It’s the message of the performance that makes it so special. I believe that it manages to tell the story pretty equally from both halves – the Vietnamese and the Americans. A story of love, loss, desperation and hope. Hope of a better life and an escape from the struggle of living in a war zone… The hope that many Vietnamese women found in the American soldiers and the hope of the American dream… You have to see it for yourself!

After the performance, we went to what I would have to describe as heaven on earth. During the interval I had spotted a glorious sight from the theatre’s balcony…

The Pudding Bar

The Pudding Bar. Oh yes. All they serve is pudding and wine. What more do you need?

My dessert of choice was the glorious triple chocolate délice (which came with burnt caramel ice cream… I die…) and a side of a dessert wine that I’ve forgotten the name of… This may well be my new favourite place in London!

The Pudding Bar Chocolate

A pretty sweet ending to the night I must say! (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

Have you ever seen Miss Saigon? Would you like to go to a pudding bar?!

Where’s your happy place?

It’s no secret that I like to move around a lot. I’ve lived in 5 houses in the past 2 years, soon to be 6. I’m a travel addict, any opportunity for an adventure and I’m there. But all this moving around can be tricky. I need a base. A stable place that I can come back to to clear my head and feel settled. It’s great to have escapism, I can run, workout, read, whatever but sometimes I need a physical place. That’s where my happy place comes in. Whenever I am somewhere for more than a few months I find that I am naturally drawn to a certain place. A place where I can go and let it all go, think about everything, think about nothing, just be…

Buenos Aires – My Rooftop

Buenos Aires Rooftop

The rooftop of my apartment building was just insane. We lived on the top floor so just one flight of stairs and I was there. There was space for me to workout, practice my handstands, hang out with friends or just sit on the wall and look out over the city. There is something so magical about being able to look over a city as beautifully crazy as Buenos Aires, feel the energy running through you, feeling like a part of it but also like you are overlooking it, looking in from above…

Buenos Aires ParksLooking towards the park where I ran with the river and Uruguay beyond

Hereford – My Room

(Source – this isn’t my actual room! It felt a little weird putting a photo of it on here!)

Such a cliché but my place at home is my room. It’s the ultimate hideaway, a light and airy room, clutter free (SUCH a bonus when you’re still kind of moving house, trust me), the world’s comfiest bed and a sheepskin rug on the wooden floor for added cosiness. It’s somewhere I can escape to and just shut the world away, something I often need to do when figuring out how to live a life in transition again. And to plan the next adventure ;)

London – …

(Source)

Who knows! But I know I’ll find one, and that’s reassuring. Stay tuned…

Do you have a happy place? Where do you escape to?

{MIMM} Seeking the positive

It’s been a while since I’ve linked up with Katie for some Marvelous in My Monday so I’m excited to be back and sharing some positivity with you all today!

MiMM

Marvelous is… going for a picnic in the beautiful Shropshire hills with my dad last week. Even if a dog did run over and dribble all over our chicken…no seconds for me!

Picnic Shropshire Hills

Lunch ViewMy view from lunch :)

Sweet potato sandwichMy kinda sandwich

Shropshire HillsExploring after lunch

Marvelous is… stopping off at Ludlow Food Centre on the way home and seeing all the local goodies they had. You can even look through glass windows and see all the dairy, coffee, etc. being prepared!

Ludlow Food Centre

Marvelous is… then finding TWO different things called Pip!

photo 5 (14)

photo 2 (25)

Marvelous is… finally finishing Whole 30! I’ll have a round up post out when I’ve finished the reintroduction process so for now I shall just say that I’m proud that I managed to do it :)

Whole 30 Completion

Marvelous is… buying my mum some fancy Welsh chocolate and getting to taste it when I went to visit. Oh WOW. If you ever see some Nom Nom Chocolate be sure to pick some up! I can recommend the waffle flavour ;)

Marvelous is… learning to enjoy a more relaxed life again, post Whole 30. Particularly in the form of these banana bread waffles from the Paleo Kitchen…

Paleo Kitchen Banana Bread Waffles

Marvelous is… that although I rather painfully hurt my back on Friday I actually listened to my body and didn’t push it on Saturday. I don’t think this would have happened a year ago.

Marvelous is… this new sweatshirt from British company Sea, Soul and Snow. They have a range of superfood sweatshirts and lots of other awesomeness too, go take a look! I was in a bit of a funny mood on Friday but the arrival of this literally turned my day around, isn’t it funny how the little things can just make you feel so good?

Sea Soul and Snow Sweatshirt

Marvelous is… the fact that today I am driving to London to move all my stuff down before I move down properly myself in just over two weeks! It’s all getting rather real!

Tell me something marvelous from your week…