Friday, 24 March 2017

The Best Lunchbox Noodle Solution?

I'm a huge noodle fan. One of my favourite teas as a child was noodles, breaded chicken and mayonnaise - unhealthy yes, but oh my gosh super tasty. Then as a student I discovered the joy of supernoodles with grated cheese in them, which sounds odd but is actually super tasty. However when I'm at work and craving noodles, a noodle pot is the easiest solution.

I have spent a lot of time trying out the different noodle pots, ranging from Pot Noodles to own brand ones, and none have really tickled my pickle beyond being a way to fill up. Pot Noodles are yummy, but too unhealthy, some of the healthy ones just have no flavour, and some others are just too messy to take to work.

Enter Mr Lee's noodles. I found them on Twitter and when they offered to send me some of their noodles to review, I thought why not, as it can be yet another test on my quest to solution.

The entire range is gluten free and relatively low calorie as they use rice noodles instead of wheat ones, which are my preferred noodle of choice these days as they just don't bloat me as much as wheat noodles do.

Eating noodles with chopsticks is HARD
The first flavour I tried was the Penang Chicken Curry Laksa and I was surprised to find chunks of actual chicken in there, that tasted and looked like chicken! It was really tasty and kept me full until tea time, which is unusual for me. I thought I'd try the Hong Kong Street Beef one next, and I was chuffed to see actual chunks of beef in this one too. I've now tried all the flavours so I can confirm that when they say Dragon Fire mushroom, they mean dragon fire. Oh my goodness that one blew my head off a little bit, much to Rich's entertainment as it left me panting next to him. I'd say it's a similar level of spice to a Nando's hot, so you can gauge it for yourself if you'd melt like I did. There has only been one flavour I didn't like, which is the Shaolin Monk Vegetables. This was just a bit bland for my taste, and overly broccoli'd, which isn't my favourite of the vegetables.

Overall though, I'm a huge fan, and would definitely keep a stash of these in for the future when I need a lunch but don't have anything fresh in the house. They're not currently available in the shops but are currently available from here with free shipping, which is a bonus!

What's your favourite lunchtime noodle solution?

Rachel x

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Ladbrokes Ladies Day at Cheltenham

I was over the moon when I got the invite to go to Ladies Day at Cheltenham, courtesy of Ladbrokes, as I'd seen all the fun the bloggers had back in 2015 at Doncaster Races, so I swiftly booked a days holiday from work and began the panic of what to wear.

I eventually settled on this gorgeous Lady V London Hepburn Dress in red, which is unfortunately out of stock at the minute, but they have some lovely other coloured ones in. If you know me, you know I'm obsessed with Lady V dresses, I find the cut and quality unbeatable, and I always feel super confident in them. I popped a petticoat from ebay underneath the dress to help it stick out a bit more, and in the process discovered that driving with a petticoat on is great fun. My dress was all poofed up under the steering wheel and my gear stick and handbrake were just poking out enough for me to use. All good fun.

I accessorised the outfit with my bargain necklace I got from Primark over a year ago now, and a black fascinator from Amazon Prime. I had a black fascinator at my parents house, but as that's a couple of hundred miles away, I had to panic buy this one from Amazon. Although headband ones aren't my favourite this one was perfectly fine, and surprisingly comfortable to wear.

After sitting through a lot of traffic to get there I finally arrived and settled in at the table with the gorgeous ladies AbbeyHayleyEmJoelleKateCassieKazAmyEmma and Carrie, the PR. I'd arrived ever so slightly too late for the welcome coffee, but there were still a few biscuits on the table so Abbey and I grabbed some to eat, whilst looking at the menu and settling in.

We were in the Restaurant, which meant we had our table for the whole day, with table service food, drinks and betting, but could also get up and wander around as much as we liked outside. The restaurant itself was lovely, with big screens set up for us to watch the races on and a very neutral theme. The orders for our lunches were taken and then promptly delivered and the food was lovely.

Even though I was slightly spoiled by having a Michelin starred meal only 2 days earlier, the food was of a very high standard, my only complaint being that the presentation wasn't always that great, so the photos aren't as good as they could have been (blogger problems!).

In between courses, I put my first bet on, as I had a really good feeling about Might Bite. The tote betting lady came to our table and I put £4 on each way, and we watched the race on the screen by our table. The atmosphere was amazing as it neared its end, with lots of "Come on!" shouts coming from around the room, and the elation when our horse won was incredible. One of my favourite parts of the day was the atmosphere when someone on our table won a bet!

Once we'd finished eating, we headed outside to soak up some of the lovely sun and to do some people watching. Some of the outfits we saw were amazing, but I also saw a lot of people with their heels off. It made me very smug that I'd chosen to wear flats! It was great that we had access to all the outside areas, and we spent a good amount of time having a wander about.

It was back inside after a while for the cheese course, a drink and then the afternoon tea. They certainly kept us very well fed!

Once we were completely stuffed we headed back out again to take outfit pictures, and for Hayley to do some more vlogging of the day, which you can see below.

All too soon it was time to head home, and I spectacularly lost my car in the car park so spent far too long wandering about trying to find it, seeing all the helicopters taking off and landing.

The day was fantastic, and we certainly were very well looked after, thank you ever so much to Ladbrokes for hosting us and to Carrie for inviting us, it was amazing!

Rachel x

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

The Unbuilt Room

Last night Rich and I did something very cultured, we went to a performance-game called The Unbuilt Room at Brasenose College in Oxford.

I spotted it in the Thirsty Meeple newsletter a couple of weeks ago and the description of it piqued my interest, and as tickets are only £10 each I thought why not, and booked Rich and I in for last night.
"Come in. Sit down. Explore… Discover an imagined version of Oxford in this unique Playhouse Plays Out performance-game. The Unbuilt Room combines the simplicity of bare-bones storytelling with the limitless possibilities of contemporary open-world computer games.
A performer stands on a bare stage and describes another, imaginary place. By giving instructions like “go north” or “pick up the lamp”, the audience works together to navigate the described space, overcoming obstacles and exploring this other world without leaving their seats."

When we arrived we headed through Brasenose College grounds to the stairs to the Crypt, which we descended into a gorgeous bright space with seating set out in a semi circle. The performer gave us a brief intoduction as to what would be expected of us and we began. He described a space very similar to that we were in, and gave us various options of what to do next.

Every time we went back on ourselves he would use the same description of the place, which was very reminscent of old text based adventure games, and he took it in turns to ask us as an audience where we wanted to go. We solved the puzzle provided by his descriptions then had a chance to create our own spaces, which was fantastically wierd and wonderful, reminding me of those games where you write a sentence then someone else does, until you have a strange story.

It was a very pleasant way to spend an evening, and certainly something unusal. It's on tonight and tomorrow, so if you are local to Oxford I'd recommend you book tickets whilst you can!

Rachel x

Monday, 20 March 2017

Meal Planning Monday V

Happy first day of spring - well, according to Facebook anyway, even if the torrential rain at work today did remind me more of winter. How was everyones weekend? Mine was pretty amazing ta, Nat came to stay, and we had quite possibly the most board game filled weekend ever. Along with playing many board games at home, we headed to the Thirsty Meeples again on Saturday and played some great games, and spent Saturday night playing Ticket to Ride Pennsylvania for the first time with Cat and Ollie. It also meant Nat got to meet (and promptly fall in love with) baby Alanna, and have cuddles from her which she enjoyed.

All too quickly though it's Monday again and another week of work looms, however I've got Friday afternoon off this week for something very exciting! So, here's what I'm eating this week:

Monday: Tonight's tea is Deliciously Ella chickpea chilli with baked sweet potatoes, which is actually cooking as I type and smells incredible.
Tuesday: Chilli from the freezer as I have a massage booked in for after work (thank goodness, my back is so stiff!)
Wednesday: This will probably be something light and quick from Oxford before I head to the Hotter Shoes event in the evening, yay!
Thursday: Another freezer dive, I think I've spotted some curries in there so I'll probably have one of those.
Friday: Most likely will be eaten out. I promise to tell you all about it next Monday!

So there we have it. As always, let me know in the comments what you're having for tea this week.

Rachel x

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Board Games at Thirsty Meeples, Oxford

Rich's birthday falls in the middle of February, and ever since we have been together it has never been on a weekend day. In fact, he normally ends up being away for it, but this year it was on a Saturday and he was home! I love birthdays and I was super excited to spoil him rotten all day, but I did ask him if there was anything he fancied doing and he immediately said he wanted to go to Thirsty Meeples and play board games with our friends Cat and Ollie.

Thirsty Meeples is a short walk from where the park and ride buses drop off, and was already getting busy at 12pm with it being a Saturday, so if you plan on heading there, it's always best to book in advance. We headed to our table and parked Alanna in her pram just next to us, where she happily slept for the entire time we were there. We like to think it was her birthday gift to Rich.

The game guru who would be looking after us took our food and drink orders and asked us what type of game we'd like to play. Rich has had his eye on Scythe for a really long time as it's currently out of print in the UK so that was our first choice. Unfortunately they don't have that game due to it's sheer size, but the guru suggested a couple of other games and we picked to play one called Inis.

Inis is a card drafting (meaning the cards get passed around the players instead of just drawn randomly) area control game which has elements of Small World and 7 Wonders in it. The rules initially seemed complicated, but the game guru explained them to us brilliantly so we soon got stuck in.

In the game if you fight, it is only ever until you agree to become peaceful, and both parties will always lose out, it just depends how much. This appealed to me because I don't like games where people gang up on one another as it can make the experience less fun.

I played sneakily, and I thought I'd won, up until Cat pointed out I hadn't taken the token which allows you to win, the equivalent of saying "Uno", which was hilarious and very frustrating for me. I did manage to snag victory though, even with everyone ganging up on me for the final round!

At the Thirsty Meeples you have 3 hours to play as much as you'd like, once we'd finished Inis we'd still got about an hour left, so we eagerly headed for the well stocked shelves to find another game to play. We found Tokaido which I've had my eye on for a while and we had a quick play through of that, which I won again - sorry Rich!

We had sandwiches, drinks and dessert there, and I can confirm that the salted caramel chocolate brownies are incredible. The sandwiches aren't the best, but it's not really a place you go to for the food, more the atmosphere and the games, so I'll forgive them that. The milkshakes are awesome though, definitely get those.

We had a brilliant afternoon playing board games, and I cannot wait to head back to find more games to play (and hopefully win).

Cat filmed this day as part of her latest vlog, so if you want to watch that it's from 3:02 in the video below.

Have you ever been to a board game cafe? Let me know in the comments.

Rachel x

Monday, 13 March 2017

Meal Planning Monday IV

Another week, another Meal Planning Monday. I’m absolutely loving how light it is in the mornings at the minute, I was able to wake up and open the curtains for the first time in what feels like forever this morning. I wasn’t quite as big of a fan of the sun shining in my eyes for part of my drive to work though, however now my workplace isn’t due east of my home I won’t be squinting for an hour a day (small victories).

This weekend was a busy one, on Saturday I went to visit friends in Birmingham and Naomi cut my hair for me, as you may have seen on Instagram. I absolutely love it, it is so much shorter and easier to deal with already, and today I have had my hair naturally wavy/curly for the first time in ages and I finally feel like myself again. As much as I enjoyed the ease of styling straight hair, it never quite felt like me. It did also mean that I got to cuddle Stacey and Naomi’s pet hedgehogs again, who are totally adorable, and we went out for tea with them to the Stable which was as yummy as always. Sunday consisted of a D&D marathon with Cat and Ollie, and as always, copious cuddles with my favourite little girl, Alanna. It was a very cute weekend in all!

Now onto the food:

Monday: We are going out for a Michelin starred meal, which was actually my present to Rich for Christmas 2015 but we’ve only just gotten around to booking it! I’m very excited though, it looks lovely.
Tuesday: Salmon and stir fried veg.
Wednesday: I’m off to Cheltenham Ladies Day on Wednesday with Ladbrokes for #BloggersatCheltenham so by the time I get home I think it’ll be something light like egg on toast. I’m totally excited for that though and will be doing a huge blog post about it.
Thursday: The Madeline Shaw prawn linguine recipe again. It was amazing and Rich didn’t get to try it last time so it is only fair he gets to try it too.
Friday: Chilli and nachos. My sister is coming to stay next weekend so we’ll be saving a bit for her when her train arrives.

That looks like a good week of food to me! As always let me know in the comments what you’re having for tea this week, as I love getting ideas from you all.

Rachel x

Friday, 10 March 2017

Film Review Friday | Logan

I'm absolutely loving all these films that I'm getting to see this year. Getting a Cineworld Unlimited card was such a great idea, and it's meaning I get to write about things more often for you all as well. The film of the week this week is Logan, which is a part of the X-Men series.

I have to confess, I've not seen any stand alone Wolverine film before, they've all looked a bit too full of fighting for my liking. I have enjoyed the last few X-Men films though, which has made me more interested in watching others from the franchise, and once I'd heard people had cried at this film it got me really interested.

Logan tells the story of Wolverine in the future, who is not well and is looking after an ageing Professor X. Along comes a mutant child and basically she causes havoc in his life. The child is pretty awesome, with a lot of the girl power vibe that Hit Girl has in Kick-Ass, but less vocal about it. I really enjoyed Richard E. Grant being in this film, I've had a soft spot for him since he was in Spiceworld and in the film part of Hex at Alton Towers (let me know if you get this reference!) and I loved the character he played.

It's definitely watchable, definitely very violent and bloody, and emotional at a few points, unusually. If you like to drool over Hugh Jackman though this isn't your film as although still buff, he's nothing compared to the "Huge Jackman" that had the yummy bum shot in X-Men Apocalypse.

I give it a 7/10, and it has definitely made me want to watch more Wolverine films.

Rachel x

PS - Don't forget you can get a month for free if you sign up to Cineworld Unlimited if you use my code:  RAF-96BU-42FB-94VV-44NV

Monday, 6 March 2017

Meal Planning Monday III

It's another Meal Planning Monday post. I'm actually kind of proud that I've done 3 of these in a row now, but I always like talking about food, so it's no surprise really.

I hope you all had good weekends, mine was kicked off with a bang on Friday with a meal out with the Oxford bloggers. There isn't much of an Oxford blog scene at the minute, but it was lovely to meet a few lovely bloggers (AbbeyHayleyMatt and Charlotte) and have a natter about all things bloggy. It was a bit weird being the oldest one though, but as in my head I'm still only 23 I hope I can get away with it. If you'd like to come to our next meetup, tweet me!

Rich's Mum and Step-Dad have come up to visit and the rest of the weekend was filled with catching up with them and going to Cotswold Wildlife Park again, which was just as brilliant as last time. I might have fallen asleep mid-movie on Saturday night though, which led to a very early wake-up on Sunday. D'oh!

So, onto the meals for this week. It's a lot calmer of a week this week, and I'm working from home for a few days which will be a nice change from my hour commute.

Monday: Tonight we ended up eating leftover bean chilli from the freezer, as we didn't get chance to food shop this weekend. It was super tasty though.
Tuesday: We're heading to Bill's for tea with Rich's Mum and Step-Dad. I might blog about it actually...
Wednesday: Chicken stir-fry with sweet potato noodles
Thursday: Sweet potato cottage pie with broccoli
Friday: Naked burgers, onion rings and coleslaw

As always, I'll be instagramming anything photogenic @inelegantwench and let me know what you're having in the comments.

Rachel x

Friday, 3 March 2017

Film Review Friday | Hidden Figures

This was a film I didn't know was coming until I saw the trailer for it, and when I did I got ridiculously excited. When watching trailers in the cinema, Rich and I have a code that if we tap each other it means we want to see that film. Normally it's just one tap, but I think I did a drum solo on Rich's leg I got so excited.

Hidden figures tells the story of three African-American women who were behind the maths of the early US space program, and it is all based on a true story. If you know what my new job is, you will totally understand why I loved the sound of this film immediately, and luckily it lived up to my expectations.

It was really interesting to see the ladies fight against not just the racism which was rampant back then, but also the sexism. At one point (which was shown in the trailer so no spoilers!) Katherine Johnson enters her new office and is given a bin full of rubbish to take out, as the man assumed she was the cleaner. I loved her dignified responses to all the sexism and racism, and her insistance that she just wanted to do her job and do it well.

In some ways this film reminded me a bit of Legally Blonde, in the girl-power, we can do anything we want to way, and I left the cinema feeling all fired up and ready to take on the world - never a bad thing to feel.

Whether you're really into science and space, or even if you just want to learn a bit more about the space race, I would thoroughly recommend this film to watch. I definitely want it on DVD as I'll watch it again and again whenever I need a girl-power pick-me-up.

10/10 from me!

Rachel x

PS - Don't forget you can get a month for free if you sign up to Cineworld Unlimited if you use my code:  RAF-96BU-42FB-94VV-44NV


Wednesday, 1 March 2017

You have to watch Stranger Things, it's SO good...


Oh my gosh.

I have not loved something this much since Orange is the New Black (2014), The Matrix (2004) and Harry Potter (1997). In other words, this is an OBSESSION.

I’d heard so much about Stranger Things, but it took me a really long time to get around to watching it, mostly because Rich and I only tend to watch 1 episode of a TV show per night, as we don’t really watch that much TV, and we like to complete shows before moving onto a new one. We’d only just started watching How I Met Your Mother when Stranger Things came on my radar, and there are 9 series of that to get through (as well as Rich working away a lot which always adds a lot of time to our series watching). Eventually though we finished it, and the other Friday we settled down to watch the first episode of Stranger Things.

The first episode turned into the next, which turned into the next, which turned into lets order Domino’s for tea so we don’t have to leave the sofa, and then ultimately ended up with us watching 5 episodes and only having to stop because I was getting crazy sleepy and didn’t want to miss any of it.

The series got finished the next day.

What an absolute ride of a series it is. If anyone is a fan of Stephen King novels you’ll notice the slight nods given to him all the way through, and it definitely has a feel of Super 8 mixed with a Stephen King novel.

I immediately had strong feelings about each of the characters, which is a rare occurrence for me, and I felt really invested in their lives. Eleven is just about the coolest girl ever, and the boys are my little heros. I loved watching them play D&D, and from things I’ve seen online it’s brought the game to a whole new audience, which is always a good thing (my D&D posts are coming, I promise!). Winona Ryder is absolutely superb as Joyce and plays the grieving mother perfectly, I felt her pain throughout the series, which ended up feeling more like an 8 hour long movie than a TV show.

I cannot wait for series two, and definitely plan to book out two days to binge it again, as it was a total rollercoaster. In fact, I need to watch series one again as I think I need some more time to digest it properly and appreciate the beauty from the beginning.

YOU HAVE TO WATCH THIS!!! Let me know if you have and please tell me that you’re as obsessed as I am.

Rachel x
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