A patter of puppy paws

The last couple of years James and I have been waiting for life to catch up with our aims. Well, he has now become a doctor with a job, we move into our new place in days and..

We pick up our puppy next week!

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I can’t begin to explain how excited we both are to have a furry friend in our lives – it has been a really, really hard secret to keep.

Everything has seemed to come together at once, which is why I’ve been nervous writing anything sooner, I felt it was all to good to be true.

James scored a three-year position in Bristol, officially became a doctor and found us this beautiful flat, with parking, a garden and permission to have a dog.

It is hard enough to find just one of those assets but he persevered for more than four months, going to viewings, phoning/emailing/persuading landlords and estate agents.

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Like most (almost) 26-year-olds, I’ve had my fair share of heartbreak and weeks spent in beds strewn with chocolate boxes, best friends and Legally Blonde on repeat.

I feel so incredibly lucky to be with such a brilliant man, who has worked so hard on aligning our lives to fit what I’ve been hoping for these past few years.

But back to the new man in my life!

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His story goes back to last December, when the heartache of losing Harry-Dog became focused energy into finding our family a dog.

With my allergies to pretty much everything, we researched so-called ‘hypoallergenic’ breeds for weeks. I talked to breeders, breed club secretaries and rescue organisations.

After much thought, we decided the labradoodle was for us. My uncle has labradoodles and I’ve been ‘exposed’ to them over the years with zero allergic reaction, a rarity for me!

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We looked very hard for rescue dogs that we could adopt but ultimately and unfortunately (financially and morally) it didn’t work for us.

I’d found a breeder whose ethics I fell in love with and couldn’t believe our luck when she said she had a litter which would be ready for collection in six weeks.

We tried to find a place but it wasn’t to be and so, very sadly, told the breeder we’d have to wait until her next litter in summer 2015.

In the meantime, we kept up our regular walks with our Borrow My Doggy friend, Rufus the corgi, and read as much as we could on puppy care and training.

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A month ago, James found the flat, which is super close to his work to ensure he can pop back regularly during the day if I’m not working from home, and I contacted the breeder.

Well, it turns out there was one puppy looking for a home from the previous litter, after being returned from his new family (through no fault of his own).

Puppy will be 17 weeks old when we pick him up next week and we are so looking forward to giving him the best life possible: full of love, joy and adventures.

Harry-Dog came to my family back in 1999, at six months old, after his owners could no longer care for him – it feels like it is meant to be a second time round.

* Any puppy tips/advice? Any personal experiences/anecdotes are very appreciated! 

* Any questions?

I could write a 70,000 word post about preparations for puppy/myself etc but didn’t want to bore anyone! If you have any questions, let me know and I’ll write a Q&A post :)

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A paw-fectly lovely weekend

Hello there and happy grey, drizzly Monday to you! Hope your week turns out to be a great one.

I’m currently knee deep in moving boxes because we are hopefully (especially after all the packing/cleaning I’ve done!) picking up the keys to a new place in three weeks.

Three weeks is a long time to be packing but I remember the nightmare that was our last move – I still shudder walking past our incompetent estate agents offices.

Keep your fingers crossed for us that all goes smoothly this time!

Talking of time, let’s go back in it and recap the weekend:

Friday

Hurrah for the weekend finally arriving! I celebrated by walking our Borrow My Doggy friend Rufus with one of his owners and eating fabulous food.

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Super crisp apple and almond butter is a combination I will never tire of – it’s just too delicious.

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Smoked salmon fillets with salty and spicy sweet potato chips are another one.. cannot get enough! Especially as the salmon was on offer :)

Saturday

We were up pretty early to drive oh-so-many miles to meet a friend in Ludlow, it was a five-hour round trip but we had a fab time.

We arrived home in time to pick up Rufus for a sleepover, we took him on a big walk before settling down to play.

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Dinner was chicken kebabs with veggies, I didn’t take a picture because we were completely engrossed in Rufus, he is such a star!

Sunday

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I slept really badly on Saturday night, don’t know if it was the drive or moving stress but this cheery face made getting up a lot less painful.

We walked before picking up the essential weekend breakfast – banana pancakes!

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This was James’ plate, I am really not a blueberry fan! I just can’t stand the texture.

We relaxed for a few hours then packed our bags and headed out for a walk with my Dad, his partner and his friend’s lovely labrador puppy.

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Rufus was very good at putting Pippy in her place, it was her first time out without her Mum (who she lives with but is on heat) so he took the role of chaperone!

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They ran, swam and barked their way around Ashton Court. I even managed to get them both to do a little training – using English commands for Pippy then Finnish for Rufus!

 The rest of our day was filled with eating, shampooing our carpets and crashing out in a heap of magazines and Booja Booja.

I’m already looking forward to a lie in next weekend!

* Are you a blueberry fan?

* Labrador or corgi – which would you choose?!

Of course I have to say corgi every time, little Rufus has stolen my heart!

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Enjoying the sunshine

Hello there! Did you have a fantastic weekend? I really hope you were able to enjoy the sunshine!

We had a rather quiet one, I’ve had a rather manic couple of weeks and was feeling really wired so we took it easy so I could try and relax enough to sleep.

I’ll hopefully have some exciting news to share soon, I’m being awfully superstitious and holding off until everything is confirmed for now though!

Here’s what went down this weekend:

Friday

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My colleague and I were invited to a lunch with our company’s bosses, which I wasn’t feeling nervous about until I realised what Big Cheeses they are.

We met them at The Glassboat, I went for mackerel to start and an omelette as my main. Of course, as soon as the food arrived I had to rush off to a job.

Let’s just say that sprinting through the streets of Bristol in a smart dress having wolfed down half an omelette seconds previously makes you feel as unglamorous as possible!

Saturday

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Pancakes! James and I woke up too late for Parkrun so spent the day doing chores and walking, which was lovely.

I didn’t really sleep on Friday night so had a nice nap in the afternoon, it was bliss!

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Dinner was delicious, cajun chicken fillets (the above is one I cut in half – they were huge!) with sweet potato, onion, salad and avocado.

We started watching Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, which I really enjoyed. Can’t wait to get stuck in to the rest of the series now.

Be warned: the theme tune gets stuck in your head very easily, I still have it playing in mine!

Sunday

Both of us woke up super hungry so running was out of the question, it was pretty rainy too so we didn’t feel too guilty scoffing pancakes instead!

There was lots of organising to do, phone calls and plans to make so we had a busy day before settling down to watch Crufts.

I had such a cuteness overload watching all the lovely dogs, I wasn’t too keen on the winner but the runner up, Dublin the flat-coated retriever, won me over!

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I’d picked up some doggy books from the library so it really was a pooch overload!

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Dinner was delicious if I do say so myself: free range turkey bolognese with onion, sweet red pepper and heaps of red onion, served on courgetti.

Monday

The highlight of yesterday was taking our Borrow My Doggy friend Rufus out for a walk in Ashton Court in the evening sunshine – I’m so happy the evenings are getting lighter!

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He was so chuffed to go to his ‘back garden’ park, we had the place to ourselves and had lots of fun getting muddy as we scampered around.

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Dinner was leftovers from the previous night, served on half a head of broccoli. I love it!

Dessert was oodles of Finnish treats Rufus’s owners generously brought back from their homeland, we were very spoiled!

They have me hooked on Salmiakki and it was great to get my fix. James was treated to some Salmiakki vodka, it was dangerously good apparently.

* Do you get nervous before big work meetings?

* Did you watch Crufts? Any favourites?

P.s. I want to make you all aware of an issue I’ve had with Fabletics. Basically, when I bought my outfit they automatically signed me up for a £45/month subscription.

The idea is they send you outfit choices via email and you have to choose before the 5th of each month, otherwise they charge you. This money is stored as a credit on your account.

I deliberately signed up for the ‘buy one outfit’ membership but it upgraded me when I paid the lower price for the outfit I purchased, making me a ‘VIP’ member.

I didn’t know this was the case until I spotted that £90 had been taken from my bank account and called them up today, when I (eventually..) was able to cancel.

I have been able to use the £90 to purchase a couple of items, though these are at full price (e.g. the capris are £64.95) so I haven’t been able to get the two ‘outfits’ I paid for.

I just want to let you know this because I’d hate for anyone else to be in the same boat.

^^ I’ve added the above to my Fabletics review too.

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Eats and Feats

Hello there! Hope you had a great weekend and your week is going well so far, I can’t believe how fast it is going by for me.

My weekend was a fun one, Saturday involved much relaxing and Sunday much clapping as James and I went to cheer at the Bath Half Marathon.

I’ve never been a spectator at a local race before (I shouted English words of encouragement at French runners last year) and it was a moving experience.

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After lots of shouting “well done, keep it up, almost there, you can do it!” and clapping until my arms hurt, we headed off to Yak Yeti Yak for lunch with some super runners.

It was so lovely to celebrate with fellow Hill Killer Girls JulieLaureen and Steph – I don’t know how they managed so such sparkling conversation after 13.1 miles!

Today you have a little recap of food of the weekend and previous week, as well as my workouts. I’m really enjoying 30 Days of Yoga – it’s always nice to mix things up.

Eats

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My first cheese in years! I had such a craving for cheese for weeks so decided to indulge in some local, raw ewe’s cheese. It had a crumbly texture, like feta, but was creamy too.

I didn’t seem to have a bad reaction to it which is great but I have noticed a slight itchy throat and bloating after eating it. Hmph.

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Mum sent me some chocolate treats from Keiths, a great cafe and deli in Cirencester, which we visited lots when I was little.

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Perfect pancakes on Saturday morning – unripe bananas are the key!

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Love adding slices of lemon to my salmon for the last few minutes under the grill. Roasted aubergine was a lovely addition to sweet potato fries too.

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Booja Booja mini box to go with my vitamins. I love the beautiful things magnesium, zinc and fclobb do to my skin but taking them is not fun. Except when chased with choc ;)

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Chicken and chips is only improved by super ripe avocado. I felt like a very lucky girl when I cut into it!

Feats

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Sun: 30 Days of Yoga

Mon: 30 Days of Yoga

Tues: Sweaty Betty run club with Laureen and Steph (we did about 6.5 miles)

Wed: Walk Rufus

Thurs: Off

Fri: Walk 5 miles

Sat: Off

Sun: Run 5 miles

* Do you enjoy being a spectator?

* What spurs you on during a race?

I love posters with funny slogans on, especially ones involving good looking men being at the finish line haha!

* How do you take your vitamins? 

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Eats and Feats

Hello there and a very happy weekend to you, hope you’re having a wonderful one.

I’m working but it isn’t too bad so far. James has been away doing an experiment and is now recovering from his 2am starts – lots of sleep, video games and guitar playing here!

This week has been a busy one but a good one food and exercise-wise, I’ve felt pretty great and energised most of the time.

James’ absence gave me the opportunity to evaluate my evening routine and I’ve been trying to reduce the amount of screen time I get, especially close to bed time.

I turned the brightness of my screens right down and this made looking at my phone during the night (part of the job sadly) much less painful.

It wasn’t such a success when I tried to use my phone in bright sunlight the following morning though!

Eats

Oh so few pictures because I was on the road quite a bit (lots of Nakd bars) this week and James left me with a pack of chipolatas that needed eating.

Chipolatas for dinner for three nights in a row was a challenge, I kept it varied by alternating veggies and salad.

My best meal of the week happened on Monday, we went to Aqua and I adored every bite of their Tuna Nicoise salad.

It really is worth sampling their version, which features rare tuna steak, but if you want to make it yourself, Laureen has you covered.

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Free range, organic, gluten-free chipolatas with sweet potato, red onion, salad and avocado

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Vanilla coyo with raspberries

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Wild salmon, salad, sweet potato and red onion

Feats

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Sun: Run 10k with James

Mon: Walk Rufus

Tues: Sweaty Betty run club (hill training) with Laureen

Wed: Winter shape up 1, Winter shape up 2, Walk Rufus

Thus: Off

Fri: Run 5.5 miles with Julie

Yay for a good workout week with some fabulous company! I even felt energised and stress-free enough to tackle two strength/interval workouts from Fitnessista.

They were hard, sweaty (check out my lovely red face in the above pic) and I’m still sore but felt great.

I was so chuffed to be able to walk our Borrow My Doggy friend Rufus twice this week, he was a little superstar and attracted many coos and compliments.

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He definitely keeps me on my toes and by the end of our walks we are always exhausted but so happy too.

Yesterday morning started very bright and early with Julie. It was lovely to see dawn break around us and we were rewarded for our 6am rising with a gorgeous view.

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I have a feeling this weekend will be very sedentary though!

* Do you manage your screen time?

* What’s your favourite salad add-in? 

A boiled egg is always a favourite but olives are delicious too!

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My #progress pictures

Progress pictures: every social media site is crammed with them. A picture of an ‘unfit’ headless figure on the left, a teeny ‘bikini-ready’ headless figure on the right.

I totally get that they are effective tools for promoting a certain lifestyle or diet, that they motivate people and that people want to show off their hard work.

One person sharing their health journey is not something that I object to, it’s the mass bombarding of every social media site with headless figure after headless figure.

And this trend of encouraging young girls and women to pose in front of a mirror, in skimpy underwear and bikinis, taking pictures for the online world to judge.

How is it accepted, encouraged and normal?

Once a picture is posted, who cares who owns it? Who cares what it is used to promote? Anyone can splash numbers at the bottom, ‘week one’ ‘week four’ and a company logo.

These pictures are used time and time again: in collages, splashed over Facebook timelines, promoted on Twitter, on Instagram, Pinterest. It never stops.

And all we are looking at is two carefully posed moments in time. They may not be of the same headless person. Even if they are, we know nothing of their real state of health.

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It is now three years since the above picture. If I was in my underwear, you would be able to see my concave stomach, the outline of six pack abs and thighs that didn’t touch.

You wouldn’t see the way I often fainted straight after I walked up the stairs to our flat, the time I cried because I felt too weak to walk up a hill.

You wouldn’t see the zombie state I woke up in every morning because I couldn’t sleep, the split ends and frizz on my hair, the angry skin that just wouldn’t heal.

You wouldn’t see the hunger I had all the time, the miserable way I watched the clock, watched other people eat, dragged myself to the gym day after day.

In the last three years, I’ve made progress, 25lbs of it. And this is what it looks like:

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Both of the pictures were taken at the same time of day, in the same place, in the same clothes (give or take different coloured Toms and a Vivofit..).

The biggest change that I see is how joyful I am in the second picture and that’s something you wouldn’t be able to see if I didn’t have a head.

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Life is much more beautiful when you’re not hungry, when you’ve slept deeply, when you relax, exercise for company and play and wake up with clear skin and bouncy hair.

I’m not immune to seeing progress pictures and wanting to lose 5lbs, to tone up, to get a six pack but deep down, I know that it really isn’t worth it for me.

Health is so much more complicated than a size, a number, a moment picked out of hours posed in front of the mirror. It is more than comparing two headless figures.

I just wish there was a way to bombard young girls and women with that message instead of the one that they’re not simply good enough.

* What do you think about progress pictures?

* What’s the greatest indicator of health to you?

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Sushi, Valentine’s Day and a long run

Hello, hello and Happy Pancake Day to you! Any unusual topping action going down today?

I’m actually going to be celebrating this weekend due to early morning work (I’m afraid I can’t get on board with breakfast for dinner, it’s like opposites day at school..).

But, if you haven’t already found your perfect pancake day, are running short on ingredients and want a perfect banana pancake stack, I’ve got you covered here.

If you want to see what a pancake fail looks like, you’ll see one further down this post – and the top tip to prevent it happening to you!

Friday

Thanks for all the lovely messages about James passing his viva on Friday, it feels like a cloud has been lifted in our household and everyone is super chuffed, which is lovely.

I took Friday off to celebrate/commiserate with him and made the most of his two-hour grilling by having my hair cut.

From this…

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To this…

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I miss my long locks but short hair is so much more manageable and it is growing super fast at the moment.

As well as the haircut, you’ll see my face pre and post antihistamines in the pic above, I decided to try in a little dairy (my first of 2015) the previous night and it didn’t go well.

Speaking of trying non-paleo foods, I took James out to sushi for lunch post-viva and sampled a dumpling and rice (my first grains in a year or more).

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We had quite the feast and I was in culinary heaven until I started to experience the ‘sticky’ feeling around my throat and swollen stomach. Le sigh.

Our evening was spent celebrating with James’ friends and colleagues, it was really fun to meet people who knew him long before I did, like his first university lecturer.

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Dinner was super late and I was feeling deliciously bloated from our sushi feast so kept it simple with roasted veggies, salad and avocado.

Saturday – Valentine’s Day

I woke up to a lovely card and some running socks (Balega are the best for preventing blisters in my experience) and headed out for pancake ingredients.

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Alas, the only bananas available were super ripe.. the worst kind for pancakes. We decided to use them anyway and let’s just say a lot of artistic talent was used on the above plate.

After wolfing down the bananas, we headed out for a lovely walk with our furry friend Rufus.

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We had a great walk in the sunshine, met so many lovely dogs and couldn’t stop smiling. It was such a gorgeous day!

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We dropped Rufus back to his owners then I got stuck into cooking dinner and making my super sour jellies, which turned out perfectly orange and shiny.

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There may have been a slight accident when I walked the moulds over to set in the fridge, I thought I’d got away with it until James picked up his beer for the night.

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Ooops!

Sunday

Going out for a run was the obvious choice on Sunday morning, if only to test out our new socks!

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They worked a treat and helped us push through to a hilly and muddy 10k, our longest distance together since the half marathon (yes really!).

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Both of us were happy with our mile times, which started with a 9:53 and ended with 8:58 – not too shabby considering our legs were tired from the long walk the previous day too.

We were also delighted that the shop had some very unripe bananas in stock, making for some lovely pancakes.

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I washed my stack down with some kombucha, I can’t get enough of this rose and hibiscus flavour.

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After resting for an hour with the papers, it was up again and off for a five-mile walk to the big Waitrose (we are in our twenties.. honest!).

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A hearty dinner was in order and these organic, free range and gluten free chipolatas did the trick, along with a heap of roasted sweet pot, onion, garlic, salad and avocado.

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Dessert was so good I had to replenish my portion – the Equal Exchange chocolate was just ridiculously delicious.

* How did you celebrate Valentine’s Day?

* What are your favourite running socks?

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