Tuesday, 29 July 2014

The New Essentials | Beauty

Ah payday, that wonderful day every month where everything is great with the world. Then you go to shopping. And then you have no money because you've splurged on hair and beauty products. But, you look great for the rest of the month. A weird all round win-win situation.

I purchased a few much-needed staples this payday - some different iterations of favourite products and some brand spanking new things to try.

Here's the lowdown.


Sunday, 27 July 2014

Super Clean Brownies

So it's time for another Weekend Edition, and this weekend, I've mostly been getting my bake on.

Something I've wanted to try and make 'clean' without compromising on taste and chocolately satisfaction has been the king of the traybakes; the Chocolate Brownie. Rich and oh-so indulgent, how can you not love the sweet and moorish goodness of this treat. This version is low sugar, grain free and filled with vitamin E supremos, almonds.


Yard Life | Home Style

Our back yard is one of the areas of our flat that we've just never got round to doing much with. Sure we have a (man) shed, a few potted plants and a functional little table and chairs, but it's definitely a work in progress.

This summer, we finally decided to get the yard looking spick and span but we've been struggling in the inspiration department. Enter your old friend and mine, Pinterest.

I've cobbled together a few shots of what we're trying to achieve - hugely looking forward to arranging and building our own suspended lighting canopy (thankfully J is very skilled in the woodwork side of things, how handy?)

Also, I love me some neon accenting, so adoring the idea of the painted breeze block planters below - such a simple and effective idea.

For some other things I'm finding inspiring, head on over to pinning heaven to take a peek at my other boards.


Friday, 25 July 2014

Stuff I've Learned | Running

Hitting the pavements can be a daunting thing when you haven't had much experience. When I first started out, pro runners used to speed past me like lightning and I thought I'd never be able to run like the them.

I've been properly running for over three years now and am constantly learning new things, whether it's how to improve my technique or getting that playlist bang on so the BPM helps me up my game in the pace stakes.

I don't consider myself a running pro or expert by any stretch of the imagination but I've pulled together a few hints and tips I've picked up along the way to guide you through your time on legs. And in turn, if you have any for me, just comment below.

Get some snazzy gear
Why look boring when you run? There is some seriously colouful kit out there and it makes you feel (and look) the part when running. I'm guilty of investing in boring black vests and shorts when I started out (goth at heart) but I've recently added some brighter things to shake things up. TK Maxx and H&M, particularly, have good quality, interesting and affordable running gear.

Buddy up
Running with a pal is one of the best ways to help you on your way. When I'm on long training runs, I buddy up with my Mum - we have a chat on the way round and it makes those long, hard slogs that bit easier to cope with, knowing you're both in it together. If you want to run in a group, there are loads of brilliant running clubs all over the North East, which you can join whatever your level.

Stop worrying about everybody else
Even now, after running for a few years, I get a bit of running angst - Why can't I run as quickly as that girl in front of me? Go at your own pace and set goals to work towards. Want to get faster? Try some interval training. Working on distance? Sign up for a 5K or 10K. Remember, even the expert was once a beginner so take your time, and do what suits you.

Make an epic playlist
One thing I can't cope without when running is a damn good playlist. I use Spotify and make my lists available offline, so I'm not relying on the (usually) patchy 3G signal down at the seafront. I always have a range of genres in the mix but mostly it's really upbeat tracks to help me with my pace (and obvs some guilty pleasures in there for lols).

Enjoy it
If you don't enjoy it, don't do it. Yes, running takes some getting into when you first start out and if you stick at it, it can feel unreal. At the end of the day though, we're all different. There are loads of other cardio-based exercises you can try instead if you're just not feeling it, whether it's cycling, something like netball, HIITs or Tabata. Personally, I think mixing up your exercise routine does a world of good, and introducing different form of exercise that complement other is a damn fine thing.

What are your running tips?


Sunday, 20 July 2014

Homemade Almond Milk

Today sees the first in the series of The Weekend Edition. I'll be posting under this tag every Sunday morning, with something food-related to get your Sunday kick-started. Sometimes it'll be all about clean-eating, sometimes it'll be something downright dirty - that's just how I roll. First up, homemade almond milk.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Workout Essentials | Wellbeing

I've been an active runner for around three years now, and that is definitely my first love when it comes to keeping fit and feeling the burn. I love chasing a PB and the elation of crossing a finish line (competitive much?).

But last year, I decided that running wasn't quite cutting the mustard - I wanted a new challenge and something to help complement my time spent on legs. To mix things up, I started attending beach bootcamp sessions every week. Man, my muscles were in for a shock - I remember waking up the day after that first bootcamp, and I ached. But in a really good way.

Since then, I've been doing beach bootcamp nearly every weekend, strength training, HIIT workouts, cycling and much more. And I bloody love it.


Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Life on Instagram #1

Oh, how I love thee Instagram. For some people the first thing they do when they wake up (sadly) is check the socials. Not. Me.

Firstly, I curse the alarm for going off. Then, I check the socials. I just can't help myself. What's been going on in the world of the Gram, overnight? I need to know. Most people tune into Facebook as they open their eyes, however, I'm an Instagram girl all the way.

I've done a few of these posts in the past, but now I'm turning into it into somewhat of a more regular thang. A brief overview of life in pictures. So, here, for your viewing pleasure is what's been going down over at AMB in the past month or so.

1. Only a digital conference would have a hashtag cake / 2. Awesome braiding at the French Connection #canthelpmyselfie event, organised by the lovely Lauren / 3. Getting fancy for a wedding - obsessed with the River Island dress I wore. Pineapples til I die. / 4. Russian treats brought back from Moscow. Fact: Russian Vogue is 100% better when it's actually been bought there / 5. In love with anything nut-butter related at the moment - these goodies are available at Protein Pick & Mix / 6. All over the IQS way of eating? Check out these tasty raw cacao nib cookies I made. Taste a dream and good for you too / 7. Susie and Rob celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary in June. I always love seeing their wedding photos / 8. Well done, The Drum. So, when is Downton back on? / 9. The collectable tin to end all collectable tins. Spiceworld the move on lime green VHS, in a limited edition Baby Spice tin. The holy grail.

1. Coffee from Newcastle's finest, Ouseburn Coffee Company / 2. Lobster-print napkins from Ikea / 3. It was our 10th birthday at work last month. These canny cards were sent out with birthday cakes to our clients / 4. My word. How comfy are Nike Free 5.0s? SLIPPERS / 5. Hitting up Whitby's amusements after a night in North Yorkshire / 6. Seafood treats down at Riley's Fish Shack / 7. Getting my run on in my new Asics. Less than 8 weeks until the Great North Run. In. Sane. / 8. Beautiful light on Seaton Sluice beach / 9. Food of the gods, Cal's Own pizza.

1. Super-green smoothie from Newcastle's latest culinary offering, The Naked Deli / 2. A weekend in the Lakes with Joe - what a view at The Drunken Duck / 3. To celebrate being 10,  DC did ten pin bowling at Lane 7 / 4. One too many Buddy's beers later / 5. York Races on a HOT Saturday / 6. Building my mug collection with this typographical gem from Repeat Repeat / 6. Another IQS-shaped recipe by yours truly - Banana Bread. Give it a whirl, it tastes mighty fine / 7. Surprise flowers / 8. Getting my caffeine fix at OPR's #Ocademy Brands and Bloggers breakfast - so lovely to meet so many local bloggers and finally put some faces to names.

What a busy few weeks!

Got a favourite Instagram account? Hit me up with links to your favourites.


Sunday, 13 July 2014

Recipe: Sugar-free Banana Bread

Who doesn't love a good ol' slice of banana bread, the sweet goodness that goes perfectly with an afternoon cup of tea. If you don't, then, well frankly, you're missing out on something pretty special.

The usual recipe isn't too kind on the waistline, so I've adapted it to create this paleo and sugar-free version of the teatime treat to be enjoyed without any trace of guilt. The sugar-free purists among us will say that this isn't entirely free of the sweet stuff because of those two little bananas, but hey, I'm not one of them. This is still damn good for you.

Ya with me? Here goes.

What you'll need:

  • 1 cup ground almonds
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/4 cup rice malt syrup

1. Pre-heat the oven to Gas Mark 4/180C/350F

2. In a large mixing bowl, mix together your dry ingredients; ground almonds, coconut flour, cinnamon and sea salt.

3. In a separate bowl mix your wet ingredients; oil, eggs, bananas and rice malt syrup (I got a bit mix-happy here and forgot to take a shot of all wet components together).

4. Add wet ingredients to dry and then mix away using a hand whisk, so you're left with a smooth banana batter.

5. Line a loaf tin with baking paper and pour the batter in, smoothing to even out on the top.

6. Into the oven she goes for 40 minutes until golden brown, or until a skewer comes out cleanly.
7. Once baked to perfection, leave to cool.

Super healthy, super tasty, and gluten-free, sugar-free and paleo to boot! You are welcome.

I'm now going to try and not eat this bad lad all at once.

What other sweet treats have you turned into sugar-free masterpieces? I'd love to hear your recipes. 


Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Le Tour

This weekend, we headed over to the Lake District for some glamping, beverage drinking and general relaxation.

When we realised Le Tour de France was calling by a lovely little village around an hour away from where we were staying as part of the first UK leg, we absolutely couldn't miss it. We're off on a cycling holiday around France next summer, so seeing these guys making hill-climbs look like an utter breeze was just the thing I needed to spur on my training.

Here's a few snippets, taken from when the race passed through Hawes.

The town (along with every other calling point throughout the three UK stages) had really embraced Le Tour fever, with decorated shop fronts and some token French goodies.


Tuesday, 1 July 2014

July: What's going down

What a bad blogger I've been of late. So, for something to whip my butt back into blogging gear, here's a look at what I've got planned for this fine sunny month.

Slowing things right down and giving myself some much needed R&R is kick-starting this July.

This weekend, I'm escaping to the Lake District to indulge in a bit of glamping and some spa treatments for a much-needed rest. An obligatory Lakes walk is top of the list, along with re-fuelling at pubs off the beaten track. Oh, and I'm extra excited about having a device-free few days. See ya, 3G.

We're staying at the fabulous Sunny Brow Farm, in one of their three woodland yurts.

Image credit: Sunny Brow Farm

We found this secluded spot over at Canopy and Stars, a site which I can highly recommend for cool places and spaces to camp out in the UK, France, Spain and Portugal. There are some seriously brilliant places to stay - you could literally trawl the site for hours planning adventures.

During our time in the Lakes, we'll also be hitting up The Langdale Hotel for some spa treatments, which I am insanely excited about. I'm booked up for a Detoxifying Spirulina Wrap, which I'm mildly terrified at the prospect of but love the idea of toxins being stripped from my skin. I'll report back on how it goes...


Having heard loads about the Yogalilies studio in Newcastle, I've signed up for a five-class taster using one of the studio's birthday offers. Easy to hot-foot too after work, I'm heading to Barre and Hot Yoga to bring a new dimension to my training schedule.


July is the month to take training schedule up a notch. The Great North Run is just around the corner, so I'm upping the miles and to compliment the cardio, I'll be weight training, heading to classes like Metafit and eating super clean. I'm chasing a sub-1.55" for the GNR, so hopefully all of the extra activities I've got planned in will help me achieve this big result.

Have you set any goals for July?

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