Monday, 25 March 2013

(Belated) Sunday Summary - 24/03

So has anyone else noticed a correlation between me being off work and blogging more? Apparently the only time I can maintain any level of blogging dedication is when I'm off sick, and as I don't plan to do that again for a while (partly because unwell is rubbish, but mostly because I had 450 emails in my inbox when I got back to work) you will just have to tolerate my higgledy piggledy mish-mash of blog posts. Sorry!

This week has been cray-cray busy. In fact, all my weeks seem to be cray-cray busy. I'm torn between loving it, loving what I do, loving the cool office and the brilliant colleagues and the interesting work and being able to say 'I'm in PR', and this overwhelming sense of panic. The weeks and months are whizzing by in a blur of stress and panic about missed deadlines, emails I haven't replied to and a to-do list as long as my arm and there are days, like today, when I wonder at what point it stops being ok? When does it stop being a job and turn into an obsession? I never expected to have a job that I like. In my world, work is what you do to put food on the table and occasionally pay for something more extravagant. A holiday, or a new car. Both my parents have always worked, but I've never been led to believe that they work because they want to. They work because they have to, because they have kids to feed and mortgages to pay. So firstly, for me to have a job that I like and enjoy is a novelty. For me to have a job that I like and enjoy and that takes up so much of my time and puts me under such a lot of pressure and I still enjoy it...well, that's gobsmacking. And scary. Three months have passed in a blink of an eye and I'm slightly scared that I'm forgetting how to have a life outside of work. Never was this fear more pronounced than this evening, after having spent a solid 11 hours at my desk without making a dent in my to-do list. It's a balance I need to find. I'll get there. Eventually. I hope.

So anyway, apart from minor nervous breakdowns, what else have I been up to this week?

Finally jumping on The Hunger Games bandwagon. I read all three in a week and am now re-reading...don't judge me, I have a long commute and need diversions!

My first Twitter party at work - image by Vanesa Guallar
 A boozy night in London with my (one of) my favourite ex-housemates. This was shortly before he spilled an entire glass of red wine in my lap. Bless him.
A snowy pilgrimage to Leicester to visit the boy, who has recently returned from his slightly more impressive pilgrimage to the Sudan. I will be spending my Easter weekend sampling the delights of Leicestershire (read: sleeping for solid twelve hour periods and letting him cook for me) - I can only hope its slightly warmer by then, although I doubt it.
What have you been up to this week?
All my love,
Lauren xxx

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Sunday Summary 17/03

This week started so well - there was promise of exciting days and nights out and lots of new things and places for me to write (brag) about. That lasted until approximately 10am on Monday, and things went rapidly downhill from there. After suffering all week with whatever cold/flu like virus is currently doing the rounds, I woke up on Thursday morning with pains running across my chest and upper back. A quick call to NHS Direct later - my mother's idea, I only came down to ask for some pain killers - and we were on our way to A&E - for some reason the words 'chest pain' and 'history of heart problems' (albeit not in the last 21 years) sends everyone into a tizzy, even though I told them I was fine. Four hours in A&E later and I had been poked, prodded and jabbed with needles by two triage nurses, two final year medical students and a doctor and was merrily sent on my way with no more idea what the problem was than when I arrived. The hospital may be Basildon's finest (!!) but the doctor was not, and while he was perfectly friendly and I'm sure he knew exactly what he was doing, well....I couldn't understand a bloody word he was saying. He handed me a prescription for whatever ailment he decided I had and I just about deciphered the words 'see your GP' and then off I went...still in some pain but mostly just relieved to be going home. I told the NHS Direct nurse I was fine.

Fortunately I had no problem understanding my GP when I saw him on Friday. He poked me in the ribs a couple of times (what is it with medical professionals and poking? It wouldn't kill them to be a bit gentler, surely?) listened to my chest for about three seconds and cheerily announced that I have a chest infection and I've 'pulled something' during a coughing fit. No big deal.

And that, more or less, has been my week. Dinner and drinks with a friend on Thursday and a lovely belated Mother's Day outing on Saturday were both cancelled so I could putrefy on the sofa. All my good intentions about going to the gym were scuppered and my boredom at being stuck in the house with nothing to do just made me want to eat all the things. The week was partially saved by a trip to my Nan's...although I can't say the same for my weight loss efforts after we had a huge Indian takeaway last night followed by a mammoth roast this afternoon. I will literally never be skinny.

Someone, please, tell me about your exciting week so I can know there is still joy in the world?

Lauren x

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Hairy W***ers Spanish Chicken

Ok, so I'm just going to come out and say it.

I don't like the Hairy Bikers. And I especially don't like them now they're all 'look how skinny we are' Hairy Dieters. Blah.

I've always found them irritating. Now I find them irritating and smug. The only good thing about them is their food. And their beards.

See, here's the thing...their food is awesome. Since the Hairy Dieters recipe book graced our kitchen I'd say we've had more yummy, different, and relatively healthy meals than we have in a long time previously. I say relatively healthy, because most of these are cooked by my mum, and she's not so much about the weighing and measuring. She's more of a 'lets just chuck it in and see what happens' kind of a gal - one of the reasons trying to keep track of my evening meals is an effing nightmare.

Unfortunately I can't blame my mother for this meal being slightly naughtier than Dave and Si intended, as it was prepared by my own fair hands - on Mothering Sunday no less. You see, I was all for knocking up a traditional Sunday roast, but here's the thing. Nobody's roast is every going to top Mum's, is it? Actually that's a lie. Nobody's roast is ever going to top my Nan's, with my mother's coming in at a close second. Actually probably joint second with my stepmum's. Anyway, the sentiment remains the same - my roast dinner skills are way down on the list of yumminess and the idea of opening myself up to the 'Lauren cooked a rubbish roast' humiliation is not something I relish. So I went Espanol a la Hairy Bikers.

Spanish Style Chicken (inspired by the Hairy Bikers, made more fattening by me)

Serves 4

You will need -

8 skinless and boneless chicken thighs (naturally I didn't bother with the skinning and boning, because...well those are the best bits. Hence this recipe being slightly (a lot) more fattening than the bearded ones intended)
75g chorizo, skinned and sliced
500g new potatoes, halved or quartered depending on how big they are
3 peppers, whatever colour you fancy - I used green and yellow - deseeded and sliced into strips
Tomatoes - the recipe calls for 8 medium ones quartered, I just used a 300g pack of cherry tomatoes and whacked them in whole
Two onions, preferably one red and one white, cut into wedges.
8 garlic cloves, peeled
Sweet smoked paprika (quantity to be confirmed later)
Dried oregano (again, quantity to be confirmed)
Sea salt and black pepper
Olive Oil, preferably in the form of a spray but bottle is fine too
One large baking tray

Preheat your oven - 200 for fans, 180 or gas mark 6 for gas
Whack the chorizo, potatoes, peppers, onions, tomatoes and garlic into the baking tray and mix up so its all evenly distributed. At this point I sprayed over some olive oil, but it wasn't necessary as the juices from the chicken, chorizo and veg are definitely sufficient. Sprinkle over 1 tsp of paprika and another or oregano. Season well with black pepper and a little salt (the chorizo is quite salty anyway) and turn so everything is well covered. Here's one I made earlier -

Now, onto the chicken. The original recipe calls to cook the veg for a while first, then place the chicken on top and season....I tried that the first time and found the veg ended up overcooked (I like mine to still have a bite) and kind of bland, hence the adjustments. So, anyway. Season veg and chorizo, then set aside while you sort out the chicken.

I made a rub with a little olive oil, a sprinkle of salt, some more black pepper and some paprika and oregano. Rub a little of this all over each of the chicken thighs (yours will be skinless because you are better people than me) and then place on top of the veg.

Like so - kind of like a giant pie with chicken as the pastry. Mmm, pie.

Place in the oven for around 45 minutes to an hour. Check the chicken is cooked through before serving. When it looks like this (and your house smells like a tapas restaurant) then it's probably done -

We served it with a little savoury rice and some garlic bread - remember to work out the additional ProPoints values or calories for these if you choose to have them!

Including the olive oil (which could easily be omitted if you want to lower the points) this recipe works out the be 14 ProPoints per serving. If you followed Dave and Si's recipe to the letter it'd probably be less. Oh well.

Disclaimer - my family like things hot. If you're not a fan of spice, cut back on the paprika.


Tuesday, 12 March 2013

If At First You Don't Succeed, Try Try Try Try Try Again.

I mentioned in my last post that I'm not really losing at the moment, but that I'd like to be. I find it all too easy to slip into bad habits, particularly at the moment when my oh-so-wonderful habits of my university days are so far behind me. It's been a long time since I've been properly on track - my week normally consists of a couple of good days, followed by four or five terrible ones. And repeat. Going to weigh in at meetings wasn't helping - I think its more the actual meeting that helps me stay on track, rather than the getting weighed part. With my job keeping me at work late regularly and my current 'joint custody' weekend set-up with the boy-toy, committing to a meeting is practically impossible. Instead of paying for a service I can't get to with any regularity I've instead cancelled my monthly pass (the money is going towards a gym membership instead) and have joined forces with Elinor and Sarah in the hope that having someone who I'm regularly in contact with will help keep me on track. The girls and I have been chatting all week and I've found it's helped me to not completely freak out and stuff my face at every opportunity, even with three meals out. One of which included a starter. One of which included dessert. One of which included both. And a baileys latte. And two cocktails and half a bottle of wine. But let's not dwell on that.

By some miracle I managed to lose 2lbs this week in spite of all that - don't ask me why, I cannot for the life of me figure it out but I'm certainly not complaining. All three of us weighed ourselves this morning and lost a total of 6lbs between us - Elle's 3lb loss took her to a total loss of 6st and her lowest ever weight, so go show her some love and congrats on twitter or her blog.
Anyway, my nothing-short-of-miraculous weight loss has spurred me on and given me some motivation to actually make more of an effort this week. Even though I have a dinner on Thursday and a late Mothers Day trip to London planned for this weekend, there's no reason I shouldn't be able to behave myself the rest of the time. Despite the last couple of days of wintry weather (seriously England, what is up with you at the moment?!) I am very aware that spring and summer are fast approaching and being the fat chick in the too-tight shorts is so not what its about. I have a wardrobe full of clothes from last summer, when I was about a stone lighter, and I'd quite like for them to fit and look nice again this summer. That's the plan anyway. I'm removing myself from the temptation of my mothers cooking by taking over my own dinners and trying to avoid the temptation to blow out at lunch time just because my colleagues are going somewhere I quite fancy. I fully appreciate that this will go completely out the window when I go to Leicester next weekend and end up matching half a rugby team drink for drink and then scoffing sausage and chips on the way back...lets hope that being good in the meantime will counteract that at least a little bit!

Have you weighed in yet this week? How did you get on?

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Sunday Summary 10/03

Hi, my name is might remember me, I used to blog around here from time to Well, that's ok. It's been a while.

I know, I know, I'm rubbish at this blogging malarkey. So much so, I have so much to catch you up on that this will be less of a 'look what I did this week' post, and more of a 'look what I've done in 2013 so far' post. And on that note, welcome to the first Sunday Summary on A Little Less of Lauren. I'm hoping that by having a scheduled weekly post that is expected by my lovely readers, I'll be more likely to sort my life out and actually post something. Well, that's the plan anyway.

First off, lets address the elephant on the blog (me) (just kidding) (but not really)....there isn't actually a little less of me. That being said, there isn't any more of me either. I seem to be holding steady around 13st 12lb at the moment, which is about 20lbs heavier than I'd like to be but isn't the end of the world. I'm wearing 12-14s and while I'd like to be a consistent size 12 and have a bit more fitness and bit less thigh, life is pretty much all good. I think the only reason I've managed to 'maintain' at this weight rather than pile on the pounds is due to my good behaviour during the day (most of the time). Work is so busy that snacking isn't really an option, and while lunch is a potential landmine (we have a big 'going out for lunch' culture in the office, which is not conducive to a healthy waistline or purse) I'm normally pretty good. The evenings are a different story, but in an attempt to combat that and drop the last stone and a half I have now taken over the menus at home and have *gulp* rejoined the gym. I'll let you know how it goes!

So what else has been happening in the life of me? Well as I'm sure you've all seen by now, I have now stepped down from Team Where Are My Knees?. There were several reasons for this really. Firstly I'm not actually losing weight or doing any kind of fitness regime at the moment, so posting 'I stayed the same' week after week with not much else to add seemed a bit pointless. It also made me feel the need to make excuses, when in reality I don't need to. Truth is losing weight is not top of my list of priorities at the moment. I am, for the most part, happy with where I am now. Of course I would like to lose more, tone up, get fit and all that noise, but I don't have that driving desire to do it right this very second. Until I do, its not going to happen. The other big reason I decided to take a step away from Where Are My Knees? is because of my job. Not only does it take up a lot of my time and energy (honestly, I don't know how people manage full-time jobs, relationships, children and blogging, I can barely cope with one) but it also affiliates me very strongly with Weight Watchers. Where Are My Knees? works with a lot of different weight loss and fitness plans and it wouldn't have been wholly appropriate for me to be affiliated with X through a blog, when I work with Y. I was both a pleasure and privilege to be part of Where Are My Knees?, and I loved being part of the team. The girls and Chris have kindly agreed to have me back for guest posts from time-to-time, so when I have something weight-loss related to post about I will dropping them all a line.

Life, otherwise, has been pretty much amazing. Work is wonderfully manic and stressful (if that's even a real thing). I've always had jobs that have kept me busy, but unlike previously this job actually challenges me and I'm noticing more and more how I'm picking things up and learning things as I go along. I work on some pretty big clients, each one extremely different to the others, so no two days are ever the same. Both my close colleagues and other people within the company are all lovely and its genuinely a really nice place to work. I'm aware that I'm bragging a little bit now, and I would hate to be one of those insufferable 'look at how amazing my job is' types but...well, it is. My evenings, especially over the last couple weeks (since pay day) have consisted of various drinks and meals out with friends and family. Unfortunately I'm a terrible blogger and am crap at taking pictures, but I've been spending money and consuming an excessive number of calories with my parents and extended family, the lovely Laura who I worked with at DK, my good friend Jack and the wonderful Sophie. I'm especially sad Sophie and I didn't get any pictures of our evening of cocktails and pizza - we were both looking pretty fit that night ;)

As for my weekends...they have, for the most part, consisted of a lot of time spent in Leicester. You see, there's a boy. He has a horribly inconvenient job that means he currently resides in the midlands. I shouldn't grumble, because a) he used to work in Chile, which is a lot further away than Leicester, and b) Leicester is super-duper cheap and makes a refreshing change for my poor London-battered bank account. I mean, as if we got a large glass of wine and a big bottle of Bulmers for £7 the other day. I would've paid £9.50 just for the wine in London and thought myself lucky for getting change of a tenner.

Anyway, the boy-type...I have spent the last few weeks debating whether or not to mention him on here. I kind of feel like mentioning someone new on your blog is a bit of a danger zone. It's almost like introducing them to your family (which I haven't yet, because I quite like this one and my family terrifies even me...I'm not entirely sure he'd survive an encounter with my mother. Particularly if she's had a glass or two of wine.) To me, at least, acknowledging the presence of someone in your life in writing, on the internet, for the world and his uncle to see, signifies a certain level of commitment that I'm not sure actually exists...but it felt fake and a bit sordid to completely gloss over the entire thing in a 'here's what I've been up to' post when that's what I've been doing most weekends since the end of December. So anyway, yeah. There it is. Out there for the world to see. Now I'm scared. As previously discussed, I don't really do relationships in the traditional sense...this is all very new and different for me and I wasn't really expecting it. Its really horribly inconvenient given everything else going on at the moment. I mean, surely a new job is enough stress, without throwing this into the mix too? I'm not entirely sure where, if anywhere, things are going yet...and if I'm honest, I'm not entirely sure how I feel about not being sure. The control freak in me wants an itinerary of what's happening and when, in any given situation, but I'm trying not to let my own psychosis dictate things too much. Yes, this is me trying to be normal. I'll keep you posted on whether or not it works.

So, that's this week's Sunday Summary and that's been my life for the last few weeks. I wish I had some pretty pictures to add to it all, but as previously mentioned I'm generally a bit of a shit blogger so this is what you're getting. What have all you been up to? I hope all the yummy mummys out there have had a day of being spoiled, and that everyone else has had a wonderful weekend!

All my love,