A New Me…

A New MeOver the last month, I have consciously sought to make changes in my life. You see, I’d arrived at one of those times in life where a small comment someone else made caused me to stop and reconsider all that I was trying to do. I’ve written before about trying to do too much. I like to think I have the time do it all, but I don’t.

My work-life balance simply wasn’t sustainable. I was spending so much time busy trying to stay on top of everything, that I ended up forgetting things and I never managed to get as much done as I had hoped to. So I hit pause on a bunch of things, saw the GP, and deferred a number of things to next academic year.

In some ways it’s been lovely, I have the time I need to really be able to focus on my MEng research project and to also do the things I need to do so I feel whole again. I realised that I needed desperately to become a new me. I need to be physically active. I need to craft, cook, bake, blog, knit, crochet, read (things that aren’t research related), but most of all I need to enjoy the time I do have to spend with the Boy.

In fact, because I took a bit of a step backwards with Uni stuff, I was able to show the Boy how to use paper mache to make the pirate’s hat he was meant to take into school the week after half-term. I can’t say that crafting with my child is always fun – he grew tired after painting about 1/4 of the brim, but it is always worthwhile.  He also made an adorable little parrot with an eye-patch and a peg-leg to take into school out of some toilet paper rolls tubes that we’d originally painted ages ago to turn into monsters.

Seven days into February I did something else for me. I joined a gym that’s within walking distance of one of the rail stations I usually travel from.  It’s a women’s only gym where I have unlimited access to classes, personal trainers, and all the equipment I need.  However, none of that is what sold me on this particular gym – that’s all down to E who showed me around and not only is a personal trainer, but also a back injury specialist & lover of sparkly shoes!

I feel incredibly old writing that having access to a back injury specialist is important to me, but it really is.  When I was four (I think) I fell from the second floor to the first floor of my parents house and landed on the dining room table.  (That’s first to ground for all the Brits reading this!)  Due to that fall and a number of other incidents over the years a bit of my spine is compressed and while I want to be active and fit again, I don’t want to hurt myself further in the process.

I would be remiss if I neglected to mention that turning 33 came in the middle of all this and made me realise that I might only have lived one-third of my life so far. I want to do things now that make the next two-thirds as amazing as they possibly can.  I want to make sure that not only am I physically here when my son needs me, but that I’m healthy enough to truly be present.

Have you made any changes in your life recently?  I’d love to hear about what steps you’re taking so that you feel in control of your life.  

Wine and Vegetarian Food Pairing

Glass of red wine on table uidMany people are switching to vegetarian food not only to lose weight, but also to have better health. Same goes with wine because of its numerous health benefits when taken in moderation. According to a research conducted by the Queen Mary University in London, “Red-wine tannins contain procyanidins, which protect against heart disease.” In separate studies, results showed that wine promotes long life and reduces the risk of getting a heart attack, stroke, cataracts, colon cancer, and diabetes.

With all of this being said, it comes as no surprise why most people prefer pairing their vegetarian food with wine. If you are a new wine drinker, then choosing the right wine can be quite difficult. With the number of choices of M&S Wine, finding the perfect wine to match your favorite vegetarian dish can be made easy if you follow some of the tips below.

People often refer their choice of wine by the old rule “white wine with white meat and red wine with red meat”. With that in mind, you won’t have any problem pairing meat dishes with wine. But how will this rule work with vegetarian dishes? I read an article published in Wine Lovers Page that suggested pairing white wine with green vegetables and red wine with brown vegetables.

White wines like the Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2012 goes well with a bowl of green beans, a vegetarian risotto, a spinach quiche, and English asparagus. Make sure to avoid salad dressings that are vinegar-based because they don’t compliment with wine. If you are in the mood for some pasta to match with your white wine, then a good choice is the Fettuccine Primavera.

Red wines like the Schug Pinot Noir 2011, on the other hand, can be paired with tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, brown or red beans, and other root vegetables. Mushrooms such as shiitakes, morels, porcini, and chanterelles are also perfect for red wines. For the pasta lovers, I highly suggest Eggplant Parmigiana for your favorite red wine.

This is a contributed post that appears in line with my disclosure policy.  

Uni Necessity: Broadband that Works

Since I started my Chemical and Energy Engineering degree back in October of 2010 we’ve flipped-flopped between Sky and Virgin internet and TV services almost annually. Both services never quite seem to keep up why Hubby and I need them the most in the evenings. I admit that the nature of our internet usage has changed a bit over the years – we watch more Netflix than traditional television, we have tablets and smartphones which we use to read blogs, play games, and catch up on BBC iPlayer and the like. I’m pretty sure we’re not alone.

Perry's Chemical Engineers' HandbookEven a decade ago, University life was changing. Instead of looking through loads of paper journals, students were searching online databases for keywords. Now, I regularly access monstrously large texts such as Perry’s Chemical Engineers’ Handbook through online resources like Knovel.  (Instead of opening the doorstop of a book hiding underneath my desk.  It’s seriously as thicker than your average brick.  Plus the e-book version is fully searchable!)

Needless to say I need Broadband that works and I want a provider that isn’t Sky or Virgin.  Which led me to BT.  Currently BT are offering students a fabulous 9 month offer which includes:

  • Unlimited connection
  • Fibre optic broadband
  • Unlimited weekend calls to landlines
  • BT Sport online - showing 38 live Premier League football matches
  • BT SmartTalk App – Making it free to call 0845, 0870, 0800 numbers for free from your mobile
  • Unlimited access to BT Wi-fi – Great for tablets!

devicesThe two tier offer includes Unlimited Infinity + Calls for just £20 a month for download speeds up to 38MB or Unlimited Broadband + Calls for just £16 a month for speeds up to 16MB.  Even better, if you’re a mature or postgraduate student who needs broadband that works year round, like me, once your 9 months are up the price for Unlimited Infinity + Calls is only £23 each month.Even better, if you sign up for a student deal by the end of October you can enter to win one of their 5 ultimate student entertainment packs worth £2000!

The prize includes:

  • Samsung PS43F4500 43 inch Plasma TV HD Ready
  • Samsung HT-F4500 BluRay Theatre System 5.1 – Black
  • Nikon Coolpix S9050 – compact – 12.1 Mpix – 15.5x optical zoom
  • Xbox 360 S Console With 250GB HDD
  • 4 x Apple iPod shuffle – 4th generation – 2GB – Silver
  • Free 9m contract length broadband & calls
  • £300 Sainsbury’s vouchers
For the official rules please click here.
Disclosure:  I am BT Student Ambassador and am being provided with a subscription for review.  

Silent Sunday

Silent-Sunday

not so little anymore…

Boy with babyccino

Over the last couple of months I’ve slowly come to the realization that my little boy is not so little anymore. I suppose the first signs appeared towards the end of last school year, but I didn’t take notice until we visited the Eden Project and he did something he’d never done before. [Read more...]

Musings on Menu Planning

vintage food, don't waste it poster

Pretty much as long as I’ve blogged as American Mom in England, I’ve been menu planning at least a bit. However, with Hubby home to cook dinner all Summer the plan, the groceries purchased, and the meals prepared just haven’t been matching up which means that a lot of lovely local produce has ended up [Read more...]

Summer Fayre Food

Meal Plan - Menu Plan

So, last week we did okay with regards to the menu plan. We didn’t completely stick to it, but that’s pretty normal. Last Wednesday there was no curry as I didn’t feel like making one just for me. Friday became ‘Chip Shop’ night because Hubby’s week at work had been evil and he wanted [Read more...]

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