Friday, 28 November 2014

TGIF... and something exciting

Seriously, thank goodness it's Friday. What a week I've had. Rich came home last Friday, we had a brilliant weekend, but it was somewhat less productive than I wanted due to me having a poorly tummy, especially on Sunday. It was nothing to do with what I'd eaten, but it was really painful, and meant that I was curled up in a ball for most of the day. 

Fast forward through Monday at work (which has gotten really busy again, no more chilled out skill building, it's back to the grindstone!) and Tuesday evening saw me out at the theatre to see a show called Vampires Rock. It was sold to me as a musical using rock anthems to tell a story about vampires. Sounds like a great idea, right? Unfortunately I was let down, big time. I don't know if I have really high standards for theatre shows, but it all felt very amateur, from the dance moves, to the story, which was pretty much non-existent. Everyone else seemed to enjoy themselves though, and I had a great time with the people from work that I went with, so I still had a good time. 

On Wednesday night I went on a triple date to Xscape to eat some yummy food and play 4D adventure golf. Yes, 4D adventure golf is a thing. We only played through one of the two courses, but the special effects of roaring dinosaurs, wind machines and lightning effects were very impressive, and each hole was sufficiently different from the others to provide variety and a bit of a challenge. My only criticism, other than the fact that I lost so miserably because of my complete lack of hand-eye co-ordination, was that they don't have a cloakroom, so we had to carry coats from hole to hole. If you live near to Xscape, you should go, it's a really good date night, or something a bit different to do with friends. 

After two late nights on the trot, I am so so glad to have a lie in tomorrow, I am already counting down to getting into bed, knowing that my alarm won't be going off at 6:15am. Knowing me though I'll wake up really early still. Typical! 

Now time for the exciting news! A really lovely man called Kevin contacted me recently from Waterstones and asked if I would like to take part in their Blogger Book Club. They'd send me a book to read (the one in the picture), I'd read it, and then have a Google Hangout with 2 other bloggers and chat about the book, and the video of that will be posted on the Waterstones website. If only you could see the amount of exclamation marks I used when telling Rich about this. Excited wasn't even close! I received the book on Wednesday, and am reading it right now, and can't wait to have a chat about it with Becky and Lucy on Thursday. 

I'll tweet closer to Thursday with how to watch me talk books (and most likely laugh at me being really awkward), so if you're not already following me, I'm @inelegantwench on Twitter.

That's all for now! I hope you haven't minded this more chatty style post, I've quite enjoyed writing it. It's almost like I've been sat catching up with you over some hot chocolate isn't it? Back again on Tuesday morning!

Rachel xx

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Instagram Roundup

I recently took the plunge and converted my personal Instagram into a blog one. This means that far more friends and family will probably find out about my slice of the internet, but it is a sacrifice I am willing to make for you lovely readers of mine.

So my Instagram username is now the same as my Twitter (like my sneaky plug there?)


My recent post A Day in the Life of The Inelegant Wench contained Instagram pictures, so if you want to know what's happening in my life before it hits this blog, come follow me over there!

For a taster of the sorts of things I post on Instagram, here are some of my favourite Instagram pictures I have ever taken.

An arty picture in my old car, Apple, taken whilst sat in traffic.

Mine and Rich's shadows, taken on our third date!

I love visiting Rich's family at the seaside.

The best dessert I have ever made. Raspberry and White Chocolate Baked Cheesecake.

Frosted trees on my old walk to work.

Playing Monopoly with my Dad and my Sister.

Yes, this happened and it was awesome.

I hope this has given you a taste of the sorts of things I put on Instagram (even though it may include a lot more food than this) and has convinced you to give me a follow on there! 

Rachel x

Friday, 21 November 2014

Best Blogger Recipes: Tried and Tested

I have a lot of saved posts on my Bloglovin', and they're mostly recipes and places I want to eat in Leeds. I often find myself flicking through the saves for food inspiration, so I thought I would chronicle some of the best recipes I have saved on here, so you can all hopefully find some gems, and get hungry with me. These are all ones that I have tried and tested myself, I will do another post soon with the recipes which I want to try listed.

First up are Amy-Liz's Lemon and Raspberry Blondies which I made the morning that Rich came back from Afghanistan, so they will always have strong memories associated with them. I can confirm that they are every bit as good as they look, and simple to make, even if you're a bit distracted. If you're after something a bit different to a regular brownie, try one of these blondies instead.

I'm sure you all knew there was going to be a fair bit of The Londoner on here, Rosie is a goddess in the kitchen, and I have tried many of her recipes. This Cauliflower Pizza recipe is one that is used on a regular basis in my house, and I have converted many a person to the ways of the cauliflower pizza. I always buy pre-grated cheeses, and just use tomato purée for the sauce and it always turns out wonderful. Be warned, this is a very filling pizza, and don't try and make the base too thin, as it just falls apart. Oh, and the basil is totally necessary. 

Whilst we're on the topic of The Londoner, I can't not mention Slutty Brownies can I? These are life changing, you will never look at a standard brownie the same way again. The recipe is a touch out of date now, as the packet mixes for cookies and brownies need different added ingredients, but the principle is the same. Cookie, oreo, brownie. Heavenly.

For the #LeedsMayMeet we were all invited to bake something and bring it with us, and the amazing Big Fashionista brought this Malteser Tiffin with her. It vanished remarkably quickly, and after much clamouring she posted the recipe on her blog. You will have a chocolate coma if you make this, but it is really worth it.

I made a slight variation on this Slice of Slim recipe for Mushroom, Spinach, Pesto and Chilli Pasta for my tea on Saturday night and it was really good. I didn't have any pesto in, so I just used 100g of extra light cream cheese instead. It was a really good naughty-feeling-but-not-really tea, and just perfect to satisfy my pasta cravings.

To finish off with, The Londoner's Courgetti recipe is another one which is being eaten on an almost weekly basis at the moment. I don't have a spiralizer, so to make the courgette spaghetti I just use my box cheese grater on it's side. As long as you use long strokes, it makes perfectly yummy courgetti on the cheap. It is such a healthy meal, but really filling and tasty too. My top tip is not to forget the cheese, regular cheddar is better than parmesan in my opinion, but it really finishes the dish off.

So there are my top blogger recipes I have tried and tested myself. There will be another post soon with the rest of the recipes I want to try on it, but even these will barely scratch the surface of my foodie goldmine in my Bloglovin' saves. 

Please let me know in the comments if there are any other recipes I must try, even if they're your own, I'm all for a bit of self promotion!

Rachel x

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

A Day In The Life of The Inelegant Wench

On Friday Rich went away with work for a week, leaving me on my own for a whole weekend with only brunch with the girls planned on Sunday. Having seen the #photoanhour tag floating around on Instagram in the past, and posts done by other bloggers in a similar vein, I thought I would attempt it myself, and it would provide me with a welcome distraction from being on my own! 

7am (ish): The day started out pretty early, I normally wake up for work at 6:15 am, and don't find it an issue to fall back asleep normally on a weekend. However without Rich in bed with me I struggled to drop back off, so I gave up after half an hour of trying and began my usual morning ritual of checking Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

8am: As the cupboards were bare I headed to Lidl to do a weeks food shop. We have only recently switched to Lidl from Sainsburys, and are very impressed with the savings we are making! It's all in an effort to save money for our wedding next year, and I will be doing a post soon on how we are making and saving money, if anyone's interested.

9am: Food shop done, it was time to head into Leeds to begin Christmas shopping. The train is so cheap from where I live it is barely ever worth attempting the mental roads to head into town, much easier to get the train. It was really foggy on Saturday and it made for a wonderfully eerie picture whilst waiting in the cold.

10am: All of the Christmas decorations are up in the Trinity Centre! They look so sparkly and festive, and I am a huge fan of the reindeer which seem to be dotted all over Leeds. Hearing all of the Christmas music in the shops and seeing all of the decorations has really got me in the Christmas spirit now, and I'm itching to put my tree up, but I know I need to wait til December really.

11am: Taking a quick break from the craziness of shopping to get an orange hot chocolate from Costa, in the Christmas cup of course! This was such a yummy hot chocolate, it is topped with a swirl of belgian chocolate, which melts and leaves you with an amazing lump of melted chocolate to slurp at the end of the drink. I was a little disappointed that I couldn't taste much orange to it though, but it was still a good hot chocolate.

12pm: The German Christmas Market is back in town again! I always love wandering through the stalls and looking at all the wares, however after going to the Birmingham one, which is huge, the Leeds one always seems a bit small to me. I managed to pick up something I really wanted to get for people for Christmas though, which is a bit delicate so I was pleased I could go whilst it was quieter than usual to pick them up! 

1pm: My bags were getting too heavy and Leeds far too busy by the time I was done with the Christmas Market, so I headed home to get some lunch and put my feet up. Ham and cheese omelette with salad was what I had for lunch, I am still on WeightWatchers and fast approaching goal, so I was trying to be good, and this wasn't too naughty points-wise and very satisfying as well.

2pm: An amazing work colleague lent me the first season of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo for the weekend, so I devoured a fair chunk of that in the afternoon. I love trashy American reality TV, especially things like Toddlers and Tiaras and this show, so I was thoroughly enjoying myself. I did manage to watch the whole season between the time I got in from work on Friday and the middle of the afternoon on Saturday. Oops!

3pm: Recently I have tried to read blogs less on my phone and the iPad, and more on my laptop instead, so I can comment on them a lot easier. Comments on my blog make me so happy, and I really feel like I know the lovely regular commenters, so I thought it's about time I shared the love around a bit more. This did mean that I had an unread list of 80, but by the end of the night it was down to 0, with comments left on at least half of the posts.

4pm: It was chuffing freezing on Saturday, so I put the fire on and lit my Christmas candle to feel nice and cosy. I didn't have a fire in my flat and I missed having one so much, there's something about having a fire that makes a place feel instantly like home.

5pm: I was having angel hair spaghetti for tea, and was struggling to weigh out a portion without it all going everywhere, so I got a glass out of the cupboard. Makes sense, right? My sister was quick to point out that this glass is hers from when we visited Disneyland Paris when we were little. I honestly have no idea how it's wound up in my house, but if she wants it, she'll have to come get it! (Yes that's a cheap ploy to get her to come and visit me, soon!)

6pm: I watched the Great Gatsby whilst I ate tea. After hearing such great things about the book, I read it last year. I didn't rate the book that highly, as it was very classic in style, which isn't my sort of book, but I thought the film was worth a watch. My crush on Leo has absolutely nothing to do with this decision of course! I felt similar about the film as I did the book, however I loved the party scenes, and I am debating using elements of the film in my wedding, such as the opulence and the wildness of the party, whilst still staying classy of course! 

7pm: Whilst watching the film, I was drinking diet coke out of my coke glass. This makes me far happier than I should admit to, but it always makes me feel far cooler than I am when I do this. This coke glass is my favourite glass to drink out of, and I've had it for over 10 years now, it has survived so many moves and so many houses, I would be devastated if I ever broke it!

8pm: Shower and pyjamas time! I struggled to think of how I could do a picture for this time, so resorted to taking a picture of my flannel stash. I always use a flannel to wash my face, I never feel clean if I just use my hands, and it is safe to say that I own a lot of flannels.

9pm: As I mentioned in my 5 ways to get ready quicker in a morning post, I make up my porridge mix in an evening and pop it in the fridge overnight. It means the oats soak up some of the milk and it makes it a far thicker, nicer porridge in my opinion. So that's what I was doing at 9pm on a Saturday night. I am so rock and roll it hurts.

10pm: Just to emphasise my rock and roll-ness, I went to bed with my Kindle and read for ages before falling asleep. I'm currently reading Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult, and it's interesting and enjoyable so far. I really feel for Peter, the protagonist, as he was bullied throughout his school life, so I can relate to this well. I didn't go to the extremes that he does though! If anyone's interested, I may post a review of this when I finish it.

So that's it, my Saturday on my own, in photos. When I have plans things are usually more exciting, but this was a rare Saturday of nothing, so it represents what I get up to on my own fairly accurately. I really enjoyed completing the challenge, it made me far more aware of what I was doing, and looking for the photo opportunities in mundane moments. This may become a semi-regular thing, and if you want to be the first in on the action (and how can you resist knowing when I make my porridge in an evening?!) then you can follow me on Instagram @inelegantwench or Twitter with the same handle. 

Rachel x

Friday, 14 November 2014

The Breakfast Club and the Tate Modern

We woke up surprisingly hungry after our day at the BBC Good Food Cakes and Bakes Show so where else to head but The Breakfast Club?

I had heard so many good things about it, and seen so many pictures of the queues outside them that I couldn't possibly leave London without having queued up myself. So queue up we did, and we were soon joined by one of my sister's best mates, Louisa, who is now living and working in London. Jealous! We only had a 20 minute wait, and as it was lovely, sunny and we were having a good catch up with Lou, it went by really quickly. 

Deciding what to choose took us a fair while, as so many of the things on the menu sound amazing, and I think my eyes were definitely bigger than my belly! 

We opted to share a pitcher of Mango Go smoothie, which consisted of mango, strawberry and orange juice, and was really good, even if it was a bit thick to pour into the glasses! We also shared a pitcher of orange juice, which was freshly squeezed, and oh so good.

Louisa chose the bacon and banana french toast, which was apparently good. The whole combination of sweet banana with savoury bacon just doesn't sit quite right with me, but I have issues with mixing sweet and savoury in the same dish anyway - it's wrong on many levels!

Nat chose the chorizo hash browns, which looked really good. She also got a side of french toast, but we had to share that as she got too full - what a shame! 

They were all small fry in comparison with my huevos rancheros - Fried eggs, tortilla with melted cheddar, refried beans, chorizo, salsa, sour cream and guacamole. Yep, I was slowly turning into an avocado during the weekend. The flavours complemented each other beautifully, the eggs were perfectly runny, the chorizo sausage was perfectly spicy, and there was so much tortilla with melted cheddar that I had enough to mop my plate up at the end. I was that person. This is one of the best breakfasts I have ever eaten, and I still can't decide whether it beats my breakfast at Bills from the day before.

The staff at the Breakfast Club were really accommodating and allowed us to sit and eat for as long as we wanted to, without rushing us on, as we expected when there was a queue outside. When we left, we decided to head to the Tate Modern, as neither myself or Nat had ever been before and we wanted to see what all the hype was about.

On the way we stumbled across this really cool house sandwiched between some tall office blocks. Originally I thought it was like the Up house, but on close inspection it was discovered that it was an art installation for Merge Festival. The artist, Alex Chinneck, has made the whole house out of wax, and is melting it over 30 days until the roof will be left in a puddle of red wax. It looks so creepy and eerily elegant. I love London, because you are always stumbling across really cool things without even trying!

We made it to the Tate, where Nat and Louisa did their best Ferris Bueller art gallery faces...

Saw some shiny stuff...

Got a little bit confused...

And then totally questioned what art even is. That is a grey rectangle. It is classed as art. It is probably the scientist in me saying this, but that is not art. That is a colour. 

We all got a bit confused, Nat and Louisa less so than I did, I stopped taking art at 13, so I am very uneducated in the matters of interpreting art. Still, at least I have been to the Tate now, so it is something else ticked off my London bucket list.

I hope you have enjoyed reading about my adventures around London, I should go back more often, it gives me lots to write blog posts about!

Rachel xx

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Breakfast at Bills

Before we headed off to the BBC Good Food Cakes and Bakes Show myself and my sister headed to Bills for breakfast. I had heard great things about Bills from lots of bloggers and vloggers, so was very eager to try it out.

The interior was really cool, with a huge array of products for sale lining the walls, but it wasn't so cool that you feel out of place. 

We grabbed a menu each and started debating what to have. The waiters and waitresses were that perfect mix of leaving you alone to a leisurely breakfast, whilst also being attentive enough that you never wanted for anything. I really like that there was a brown paper bag in each cutlery pot, so if you wanted to take something home with you it was really easy to manage it. Good idea Bills!

Nat went for eggs royale, which is smoked salmon and poached egg with hollandaise sauce on sourdough toast, topped with pumpkin seeds. I didn't get to try any, but I was assured that it was really tasty.

I went for the vegetarian breakfast, not because I am a vegetarian, but because it sounded like the most unusual thing on the menu. It was two slices of sourdough toast, one topped with hummus and tomatoes, the other with guacamole and mushrooms, with poached egg and lots of sweet chilli sauce. It was incredible. A complete taste sensation, and something I will be recreating for Rich at some point. The mixture of flavours and textures worked wonderfully together and it was a light but satisfying start to the day. 

Happily full, we headed off to the Business Design Centre to start our day of cake eating, which you can read all about here.

I can't wait to go back to Bills again, hopefully for lunch or tea this time, as I have heard that they're yummy too!

Rachel x
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