Book review; Some kind of wonderful by Giovanna Fletcher

I absolutely love all of Giovanna’s books so when she has a new book out I’m always excited as I know its going to be great. It has taken me a while to get around to reading this partly due to my book shelf bursting with all many books to read. I’m just gutted I didn’t get to this sooner.

The blurb 

When the love of your life says you’re not The One, who are you?

Lizzy and Ian have been a couple since the first week of university. Now, after celebrating a decade together, everyone thinks they’re about to get engaged.

Instead, a romantic escape to Dubai leaves Lizzy with no ring, no fiancé and no future.

Lizzy is heartbroken – but through the tears, she sees an opportunity. This is her moment to discover what she’s been missing while playing Ian’s ideal ‘better half’.

But how much has Ian changed her, and who should she be without him?

Determined to discover who she is at heart, Lizzy sets out to rediscover the girl she was before – and, in the meantime, have a little fun . . .

My review 

Imagine sitting by the pool in Dubai with your boyfriend of 10 years, waiting for that proposal. Both your friends and family thinks its going to happen. So last day in the sun, he has to do it before you leave, right?!

Lizzy is beginning to give up hope. We all know whats coming…well more we are hoping and praying for Lizzy. It seems its her dream to marry Ian.

Then picture him on one knee….

So how did Lizzy then end up to spending the last night alone.

Back home it’s now time for Lizzy to pick up the pieces and move on. Easier said that done, as us girls that have ever been in that situation would know. Lizzy does what any of us would and goes into melt down.  She starts reevaluating the last 10 years of her life and where did it go wrong. How could she change so much because of one person.

But really does one person change us or do we adapt to fit in someone else life. This is a brilliant story of self discovery. Lizzy is so inspiring. I loved how she picked herself back up by doing something she loves for herself. It’s a great message to love yourself first and just be you and do what you want to do.

This isn’t just a story about boy and girl it’s also a touching story on friendship and family. Her friendship with her family is just so lovely and honest. Best friend Connie was exactly what you want in a friend and same for the new friendship with Natalia. They were both funny, loyal and full of spirit. With Natalia there comes Alastair and just wow! The attraction was just electric. I thought I was with them in the club on New Years Eve. My heart was racing, everything stopped around me while I willing them to kiss. The chemistry and desire were jumping out the page it was so real and intense. Then there was the church scene where I was squealing with delight.

Some Kind of Wonderful is a must read its a perfect book to get lost in, that you wont want to put down.

 

 

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Vegan week 4

The end of Veganuary week 4 is here and I’ve just had a nice little stroll around town and a little stop off in Costa.  I tried their hot chocolate with soya milk for the first time which was just delightful. Oh how much I’ve missed hot chocolate!

I still have 3 days to go and am unsure how I really feel about finishing being a vegan, what started off as a challenge has now become the norm! I’m finding it a lot easier as the weeks are going by and never could have imagined how much I would enjoy and love this plant based diet. My shopping trips have got easier and quicker, even though my boyfriend would probably disagree!  I do feel more confident going in a supermarket knowing what I can and cannot have, without dissecting the back of a packet!

So my food highlight this week was cooking a new curry dish. The idea come from my favourite cook book Deliciously Ella Coconut Thai curry with chickpeas  I loved the look of this creamy yet spicy curry.  Plus all her recipes are easy to follow and quick. I added some extras to the ingredients as I had some left over vegetables in the cupboard. ‘The best thing with curries is that you can make it your own by adding or removing what you want to your taste. I’m always hungry by the time it comes to cooking dinner so the next best thing is tasting as you’re going along and adding more spices/herbs to your liking. My last curry wasn’t spicy enough and I try to get my non veggie boyfriend to try all my dishes so I added more chilli flakes to give it more of a kick for him. Surly if it’s spicy he would like it and forget about the lack of meat!  When serving I then finished it off using Alpro natural yoghurt to cool it down a bit for me and also to make it even creamier. So delicious!

Overall this curry was filling, creamy yet flavoursome.  I really enjoyed the coconut milk mixed with the spices, it was just delightful. Even the boyfriend agreed and said “this is the best curry you have made”. Clearly practice makes perfect!

I need to research a new veggie curry to try this week, if anyone has any recommendations I would love to hear them please.

Apart from Deliciously Ella’s book her app is another great source where I get my ideas from, its quick and accessible. There is a favourite page so you can store all your favourite recipes and keep should you wish to refer back to. This week I tried the Creamy Mushroom and Garlic Pasta. I love mushrooms, pasta and anything creamy so altogether this was going to be an amazing dish. It did not disappoint. If you are feeling lazy or do not have much time yet want a fulfilling meal this is a simple yet satisfying dish.

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My other treat this week was ice cream. When I think of ice cream I just associate it with diary so have stayed away. That was until I see an advert on Twitter for Ben & Jerry’s dairy free ice cream. They do 3 flavours that all look so good; chocolate fudge brownie, chunky monkey and peanut butter & cookies. Here comes my indecisiveness again…. the hard choice to decide what one!  I was also recommended by a friend Alpro Hazelnut chocolate flavour which is really nice.  As I knew about this I had to try as part of my vegan journey, so after a trip back to my second home Sainsbury’s I now have this.  Thankfully they only had the Alpro flavour my friend recommended so I didn’t have to spend ages deciding what one…..lucky! It really is so tasty, chocolatey and creamy.  I love and have missed chocolate this month so this is getting me my chocolate fix at the same time, win win!

My other highlight this week was having my twin, bro in law and kiddies coming to visit us. Hosting a family gathering is fun at the best of times and being this was my first time as a veggie having to cook nibbles for all non-vegetarians and vegans was another test. I passed with flying colours! Now don’t get me wrong the Italian meats, selection of cheese, pizzas, party sausages, pork pies, and chocolate cake did look nice but…I wasn’t even tempted! How far have I come! Forward thinking I had other foods that I could have and had Sainsbury’s free from chocolate chip cookies so when everyone was tucking into the chocolate cake I wasn’t missing out.  I offered these out with a few people taking and eating them all, so they couldn’t have been that bad!

It’s amazing the substitutes you can have, which makes being a vegan less of a challenge especially now veganism is becoming more popular. Supermarkets are growing to the demand and getting up to speed but I do think there is still a long way to go, especially for restaurants and pubs. They need to start providing more choices on their menus.

For anyone else doing veganuary good luck on your last 3 days.

Eating out as a Vegan – The Fox Harpenden

Being a vegetarian there are times at restaurants I struggle what to have, looking at the menu wanting to see that V sign to no avail! Some restaurants/pubs do have a good selection of choice,  others not so much. Doing Veganuary I haven’t come across many places that cater for Vegans as well as vegetarians. Until now….

I was saying to my boyfriend one morning last week we should go for lunch or dinner and find a vegan friendly place so we can both have a good selection. I come into work that morning and one of my favourite local establishment The Fox in Harpenden emailed me a Vegan menu! Fate or what! The gastropub is such a lovely place, where I have always had great food, received excellent service and with a great atmosphere. That was that decided, table booked for Saturday night!

Come Saturday I was excited to try the menu out and I love date nights.  I had a look at the menu and knew what I wanted. Time to get glammed up, new dress and red lipstick on I was ready for my Saturday date.

I failed at the first hurdle and couldn’t even decide on a starter, the poor waitress had to come back twice as I was not ready, whoops! An important decision when it comes to food cannot be rushed, unless you’re dining with me and hungry! The soup of the day was carrot and coriander which I really love so threw a spanner in the works. After much deliberation I went for Roasted Lentil Falafel which is new to me but very enjoyable. The Lebanese style dip really complimented the falafel and gave it a great taste. I’m glad I went out of my comfort zone and tried this. My boyfriend isn’t veggie or vegan, yet he see the Wholefood Salad so chose that. It was probably the best salad we have ever tried. This was made up of Kale& cauliflower couscous, asparagus, tenderstem broccoli, avocado, butternut squash, sweet potato, pomegranate and roasted pumpkin seeds with a pineapple, lemongrass & ginger dressing. I cannot begin to describe how amazing it was, words wouldn’t do it justice. This is a must try all the flavours and ingredients really did come together well.

The main was easy I went for the spiced coconut curry. As mentioned previously I am loving my curries at the moment so I knew right away that was what I was going to have. The curry really was nice and delicious.  I’ve never had Jasmin rice before, I know where have I been right?! “It was yummy!”

When it comes to dessert I’m always a sticky toffee pudding and ice cream kind of girl, so looking at the menu I knew the treacle and pecan tart with coconut sorbet was the one. All I can say is “WOW” it was so delicious and sweet. Perfection in a bowl. Definitely my favourite course of the evening. I know many would have gone for the chocolate but don’t let the word sway you, this was amazing.

Well done to The Fox for recognising we are now in 2018, with vegan becoming more popular and a demand is needed more than ever to cater for all lifestyle choices.

I cannot wait to go again!

I raise my vegan glass of wine going into week 4 of Veganuary; loving life, feeling happy, positive and healthy.

The Fox Vegan menu

Sri Lankan Vegetable Curry

Lately I’ve got into making curries and cannot believe how easy to follow and make they are. Our cupboard is now full of spices waiting to be used.

So when I flicked through my Fearne Cotton book and see this dish jumping out at me with all the beautiful colours, I stopped and took a closer look. I read the ingredients and see many delicious spices and wondered how they would all come together. I just knew it was to be the next dish on my vegan journey.  Oh how it did not disappoint. It was so flavoursome I could eat it again today!

The vibrant colours of this curry, just like the Sri Lankan flag really were beautiful. The aromas whilst cooking were truly wonderful and lastly the taste well that was just delightful. Well done Fearne I’m a massive fan!

I’m now researching more Sri Lankan dishes and my love to go to Sri Lanka has grown even more…..I need more of those wonderful flavours and tasty dishes.

Vegan week 3

3rd week of my vegan journey and I’m still dedicated as last week and feel really good! I’m not bored yet and cooking so much more than usual which I’m really enjoying. Win win! I’m even over the sugar craving and happily enjoying lots of fruit instead.

This last week I have made some delicious dishes and even some naughty ones. Who knew being vegan you could be naughty! I’m really enjoying Deliciously Ella’s recipe’s as they are so easy to follow and quick. I’ve been a massive fan since I received her cook book as a present last year and now have the app so can keep up to date with her latest dishes. Definitely a must have.

My week of cooking….

Deliciously Ella’s salad bowl. This is one of my most favourite new dish I’ve tried and can have for lunch or dinner. Ella does this with tomatoes but I’m not a lover of them so removed. Sweet potato fries, chick peas roasted in cinnamon and chilli flakes and salad with lemon juice and olive oil. So simple and easy yet so nice.

Lunch bowl version below (prepped the sweet potatoes and the chickpeas the night before ) saves time in the morning before work.

Butternut squash, ginger and carrot soup. I put this together myself and wow this is so nice with a little kick to it. I did in batches, ready for the week and perfect to take to work.

Deliciously Ella’s peanut butter and banana smoothie – full of protein and tastes so nice. This is a great boost for energy and with a sweet kick to it it’s heavily.

Deliciously Ella’s cinnamon, pear and syrup porridge. I had this at the weekend and baked the pears. Such a nice combination which worked really well together.

Deliciously Ella’s creamy garlic and thyme mushrooms. I’m a massive fan of mushrooms and anything creamy so this was perfect and worked really well with the coconut yoghurt. I added seeded brown toast to create a quick meal.

Stuffed mushrooms – quick and easy and most important full of such nice flavours. The cheese wasn’t even missed. My little recipe; Onions, peppers, spinach, chilli flakes, garlic, bread crumbs and oregano. I added a salad and perfect small dinner.

Veggie burgers – who knew these could be so nice! Result ! Add some fries (naughty) and a quick and easy dinner. Perfect for a weekend treat.

Veggie fingers with salad in a wrap and sweet potato fries – so filling and yummy.

So when people ask me how are you doing it, the above should explain it 🙂 I’m eating lots still and getting so much goodness at the same time.

Tomorrow I’m going to attempt Fearne Cottons Sri Lankan vegetable curry, which I’m thoroughly excited about. I’ll keep you updated…..

New books

Firstly happy publication day to Jane Fallon with Faking Friends out now! I have been waiting for this to arrive in the post, so how glad I was to come home from work and find this on my door step. The synopsis sounds so enticing I really cannot wait to find out what happens with Amy, Jack and her best friend Melissa….or soon to be ex best friend by the sound of it!  Having read all of Jane’s previous books and being a super fan of her writing I know what a delight this will be.  It made me think back to her last book My Sweet Revenge that was a real hilarious page turner. Oh how I did love Paula and her revenge plot. Priceless!

Also in the post came Giovanna Fletcher’s Some Kind of Wonderful with its beautiful sparkly cover. After having on my to purchase list for some time I can finally say “YAY I have this!” All the reviews I have read have been superb and I  do love a book set in a foreign country. Having been to Dubai and really loving I’m looking forward to reminiscing.

Now the hard decision of what one to read first?

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Veganuary

After being a vegetarian for 8 months and attending a dinner party over the Christmas holidays I got talking to someone who was going to take part in veganuary. This is eating a vegan diet for the whole of January.  Our conversation really inspired me to join in, after all it would get me eating and being healthier. I thought to myself I’m a veggie so how hard can vegan be…hmm let me tell you VERY Hard ! This is coming from someone who loves, sweets, chocolate, cheese and milk. Generally everything I wouldn’t be able to eat.

So how did I start off , well I made a food plan. I love writing and thought preparation will be key. I then did my weekly shop with my shopping list in hand and was glad to find that Sainsbury’s had such a good selection of food. It also helped using my vegan app ‘is it vegan’ to see if I was allowed things I was unsure of. Their free from range was brilliant. which was a relief. Day 1 started off with me sticking to my food plan,  weetabix with almond milk, a salad, raisins, orange and grape. .My usual lunch of cheese sandwich and crisps was definitely being missed.  By the end of my working day I was ready for bed, I felt so lethargic and sick. I did a nice pasta bake when I got in which filled me up, but without cheese this just wasn’t the same. I took some for work the next day and cold pasta bake let me tell you, is just wrong ! Never again ! So my plan carried on over the next few days and everyday I was constantly tired, miserable and asking myself why am I doing this. I struggled to get up in the morning and generally had no energy. However I could not quit I had set this challenge and I was going to see it through. I reassessed my food plan and realised I wasn’t getting enough so I made some changes and added more filling foods, snacks and even found some Sainsbury’s free for you ginger cookies. Which are a must for any vegan!

Day 7 I finally felt good and back to my happy self again.  I made a new weekly plan and have added some new dishes. It’s all about finding what you like with the massive change and ensuring your body is getting all the right stuff as well as the plant-based foods. I even managed sausages and mash for one dinner thanks to Linda McCartney sausages, amazing! I found simple dish likes stuffed mushrooms and rice is actually so nice and filling. Who needs cheese eh when you got onions,  spinach, peppers, spices and herbs. Day 10 I attempted my second ever curry, this time I did sweet potato, butternut squash, chick peas and green bean curry and wow so delicious. Too delicious not to attach a picture.

I’m now half way through the second week feeling really good and thinking yes I’ve got this!!  Maybe this wasn’t a bad idea after all. IMG_84110

My delicious vegan curry