Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Intimate Summer Wedding

At the beginning of the Summer, I had the pleasure of photographing Debbie and Nick's wedding at Tracy Park. I've known Debbie for years, as she used to be in my sisters year at school and we'd walk to school together. She's now a travel agent, and helped us book our San Francisco and Vegas trip!

The wedding was very small, much smaller than anything I'd worked on before, but it was so intimate and felt really special. Congratulations Mr & Mrs Saunders!

Monday, 20 October 2014

Perfect Autumn Nails - Barry M Gelly Hi Shine Nail Paint in Chilli

It's been quite some time since I've done a nails post! But I am back with the shade which will be firmly on my nails for most of Autumn. I'm a red nails kinda girl anyway, but feel like my favourite reds are sometimes a bit too bright for work. Well, Barry M have sorted that for me with their gelly shade 'Chilli' from the Autumn 14 collection.
After two coats, Chilli is the most perfect muted warm red, with hints of brown to tone out the brightness. It's seriously complimentary to most clothing colours (even my favourite mustard yellow cardigan) and after 4 days, hasn't chipped at all. Although, that's probably mostly because of my go-to top coat, Seche Vite Dry Fast, which is now on Amazon UK at an affordable price!

See more nails here!

What's your favourite Autumn nail shade?

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Meat Free October - half way (with Slimming World recipes!)

On 1st October, I decided to go meat free for the month. As someone who would eat meat at least once a day, it's been quite a change for me. Here's the story...

I've been a Slimming World member for over a year, and unfortunately, am struggling to get to my target which is still over a stone away. Although the Extra Easy plan is simple and effective, I found myself getting lazy and stuck in a rut of losing one week then putting on the next. Before we went to Zante, I vented to my consultant, and she suggested I tried the Green plan for a week to see what results I got. I found it pretty easy to go meat-free for just a week, stocking up on Quorn products and loads of vegetables. At weigh in, I was chuffed to have lost 3lb. On EE, my normal weight loss is usually only 1lb a week if I'm lucky, so I was pretty sold on Green. We got back from holiday on 30th September, and from 1st October I have been strictly veggie in an attempt to kick start my weight loss journey again.

I'm now 18 days in, and although I don't miss meat completely, I am starting to get urges - especially last Sunday when I woke up to the smell of bacon cooking in the kitchen... regardless, I am staying strong and continuing with Green until at least 31st October.

Here's some of my meals so far. All photos taken from my SW Instagram, @rosieslims

Easy lunch

Pasta N Sauce Mac and Cheese. I added orange pepper, green beans and chilli flakes to the pasta whilst it was cooking on the hob, then served with a small side salad, including beetroot which is a natural metabolism booster.

Saturday Night Dinner
Mushy pea curry and Slimming World Chips! The first time I heard of the curry I thought it sounded disgusting... I was SO wrong.  Here's the recipe:

Spray a pan with Fry Lite and fry off a red onion with any veg you like for 5 minutes (I usually use peppers, mushrooms, green beans and sweet corn, but this time I had some sweet potato too!) Add 3 tins of mushy peas, 1 tin of chopped tomatoes and curry powder to taste - I went for 4tsp medium curry powder. Cook on a high heat for 5 minutes, then turn down to a simmer and cover. I usually let mine simmer for as long as it takes the chips to cook. This is just as nice with rice or a jacket potato.

 Sunday Brunch
Just a simple meat-free breaky. Eggs scrambled with black pepper, grilled tomatoes and mushrooms, baked beans and toast.

Sunday Lunch
Here I substituted the normal roast chicken for a Quorn peppered steak, with loads of veg and a small amount of gravy.

Week night dinner
Sweet potato, chickpea and red lentil curry, which I heat up with fresh chilli.

Fry off  half a red onion and a finely chopped chilli, then add 1 medium sized sweet potato  and continue to cook until softened. Finely add a tin of tomatoes, a tin of chickpeas (drained), 50g red lentils, and 4tsp of curry powder. Simmer for 20 minutes and serve with rice.

I've already lost another 3lbs doing Slimming World's Green Plan, and hopefully I'll keep losing until the end of the month.

Do you follow Slimming World? What are your favourite ways to substitute meat? 

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

The Time for Living - #transunXMAS

I received an email from Transun, asking me to share my favourite Christmas experience in order to be entered into a competition to win a trip to Lapland - something I am not ashamed to admit that I've always wanted to do! When most people think of Christmas, they think of the smiles, the food, the busy high streets, the movies, the fireplaces... and don't get me wrong, I think of that too. But my favourite Christmas memory is not like that. Mine was in 2006, and it happened in hospital.
For months, Grandad had been receiving treatment for prostate cancer. My Gran had died a couple of years before, and shortly after, he was diagnosed. At the time I was 16 - mature enough to understand what was going on, what cancer was, and how it was hurting him, but not brave enough to deal with it. I found it really difficult seeing him after his chemo and radiotherapy stopped helping. Grandad was my idol. The one who taught me how to use a record player, how to play cards, how to look for fairies in the garden, and how to bang my cutlery on the table and shout 'when will we eat!' in a way to get Gran's attention without her getting mad. He spoke at my Primary school, telling my classmates about his evacuation in WW2 from Scotland to Crediton in Devon. He was the man who showed me how to use a camera, and took me with him to the chemist to drop off my first ever roll of film. He was the man in my life, and he taught me so much. Knowing he was slowly wearing down was hard, but seeing him that way was harder. But, it was Christmas day. After the veg was peeled and the turkey was in the oven, as a family we visited him in hospital.

It was cold. It wasn't snowing, which would make this retelling beautiful - just a grey, cold Christmas day. I went onto the ward with Mum, Dad and my sister, Emma. The nurses were happy, despite working on the best day of the year (in my opinion). Grandad was snoozing in his bed. He opened his eyes when we sat around him, thanked us for visiting him, told us we shouldn't have bothered, and beamed a huge smile. We stayed for a little while. He was so looking forward to his turkey dinner, hoping they had 'proper' cranberry sauce. Truth is, we knew he hadn't eaten a meal in days. We chatted, he listened, slowly drifting back to sleep. Mum looked at me, that look of "should we go?" I shook my head. It wasn't quite time yet. Dad was chatting to a nurse just outside the room. I perched on the edge of Grandad's bed, and held his warm hand, wrinkled from years of work. He gave me a little squeeze, and then, was still, apart from the rise and fall of his chest with every breath.

When Dad came back in a few minutes later, we decided to go. We knew that more family would be visiting before Christmas lunch, and of course we wanted to allow them to have time alone with him. As we began our farewells, we heard something - the distant noise of a brass band. Down the hallway, a group of volunteers had arrived at the hospital to play carols for the patients. They were slowly weaving through the corridors, allowing everyone to hear the instruments and singing. We clapped after Jingle Bells. Grandad was completely asleep. As we were putting our coats on, the band piped up again. This time, it was Good King Wenceslas. We all leant in to kiss his forehead and wish him a Merry Christmas. And as I did, I saw his lips moving.

"Good King Wenceslas looked out, on the feast of Stephen,
when the snow lay round about, deep and crisp and even"

He began to slowly sit up in bed, still mouthing the words, and smiling. He shifted his body weight to the side, and reached to open his cupboard. Inside were five small gift bags. He looked at the tags, pulled three out and left two inside. He handed them out to 'his girls' - my Mum, his daughter in law, and my sister and I, two of his four grandchildren. Inside were square boxes, wrapped in gold with ribbons. We all began to open our gifts, Dad looking on. Once the paper was off, I recognised the name of a jeweller. I opened the box to see the most gorgeous, simple, white gold diamond necklace and earrings. The three of us had sets which were all slightly different but as beautiful as the next. Mum shed a tear. It was so unlike him to give something so delicate, and looking back today, I think I knew that this was a parting gift. The other two bags were for my Aunty, his daughter, and my cousin, his youngest granddaughter.

"Brightly shone the moon that night, though the frost was cruel,
When a poor man came in sight, gathering winter fuel"

Back home, we spoke about Grandad over our Christmas lunch, Mum and Emma both wearing their new sparkles. We remembered, laughed, smiled and were so thankful to have such a wonderful man in our lives. I decided there and then, that I wouldn't wear the jewellery until my wedding day, whenever that may be, so that on the day, he would be there with me.

Perhaps you're thinking that this isn't a very happy Christmas memory. But it is. When I walked out of that hospital, arms linked with Mum, trying not to feel sad, I knew then that our farewells had happened in the most perfect way, something which the Human race doesn't normally get the privilege of experiencing. Too often, loved ones are ripped away suddenly through tragedy. We were lucky to be able to have closure.

Monday the 25th of December 2006 was the last time I ever saw my Grandad. He passed away in hospital on Saturday the 6th of January 2007. He was only 74 years old. Not a day goes by that I don't think about him or my Gran. Christmases have never been the same for us, but we raise a glass each year and remember the good times.

Here's a photo from one of Grandad's many scrapbooks (something else which I picked up from him.) From left to right, top to bottom is: my Great Aunty (Gran's sister), Gran, Nanny (Gran's mum), Grandad, my Great Uncle (Gran's brother in law).

This is my entry for Transun's 'Win a family trip to Lapland' competition. You can read about the competition here:

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Searching for Turtles in Zante

The best day of our holiday was the day we went to sea. We booked the excursion through the travel agent before we left. Zante is famous for it's loggerhead turtles, and although I knew the chance of us seeing any would be slim, I love being on boats, and it broke up our lazy days spent at the hotel. A coach picked us up at 8.45am from our hotel, and before 10am, we were on board our boat for the day. The journey out of the harbour was pretty choppy,  but as soon as we began to get around the coast, it settled down. The wind was up, though, so I was thankful to Ash for packing our hoodies. Some others on the boat spotted a school of flying fish, but unfortunately we didn't see any. Our guide told us how the boat had been followed by 5 or 6 dolphins a few weeks before, so I was scanning the waves in the hope that we might get lucky too.
We zoomed around the coast, looking at the beautiful limestone and hidden caves as we went. We stopped off for a swim after a couple of hours - even I got in the water! I am much more of a pool person, mainly because fish near me freaks me out. (Those fish tank pedicures are my worst nightmare!) I bobbed about in the waves for a few minutes, until kids snorkelling around me starting saying "woooah look at all those fish!" So I promptly got back on the boat and into the bar... phew...
We sailed again for another hour or so, and got so close to these beautiful turquoise caves. The coastline was stunning, my camera is full of hundreds of photos. The boat was so clean and tidy, and not overly busy. We had a table to ourselves, just sat back and watched the waves.
On our way back around the coast, our guide started talking to us about the real reason we were there - the turtles! I honestly wasn't expecting to see anything, probably because of a couple of dolphin trips I'd done when I was younger which just showed up jellyfish... but as we pulled around towards the main turtle beaches, our guide noticed that some of the other boats were watching something. We sped over.
As we arrived, it was obvious that there was something big floating in the water. Our guide could hear my camera going click click click as I was trying to get photos of the discovery, so he grabbed my hand, and helped me over the railings so I could stand over the bow.
And that's when I really saw him.
He was HUGE! About a metre long, and 70 or 80 years old. We watched him for around 20 minutes. He dived under the boats, splashed around on the surface, and was so graceful. It was lovely to see him in his natural habitat.

Everyone was on a bit of a high after the sighting, and because we still had time left before going back to harbour, there was another swim stop. I didn't get in again (ew, fish) but Ash did. Typically, there were no fish where we stopped this time...  but I made use of myself, got us a couple of beers and waited for Ash with a towel when he came back in.
We then sped back to the harbour, ready to pick up our coach to the hotel. Without this trip, I don't think we would have enjoyed our holiday as much. It was so nice to get out of the hotel, on the water, and see a beautiful animal in it's natural habitat whilst learning so much about the species.

We booked our 'Turtle Island Cruise' excursion with First Choice, and it cost £31.99 each.