Hurghada, Egypt

Steve and I just got back from an amazing 7 nights in Egypt where we had a really spectacular time. The weather was perfect – I didn’t see a single cloud in the sky the entire time we were there.

This was our first “package holiday” with Thomas Cook and we learned a lot. Some good and some bad – but that’s the best way. We got ourselves a very good deal on our trip by booking it about 10 days out. It worked for us because we’re pretty flexible with holiday etc for our jobs. We also knew they needed bodies in seats on the charter flight so waiting meant saving a lot.

If you follow my instagram you will have seen a number of photos from our holiday. Lots of sun, san and sea – just the way I like it! Here are a few snaps from our trip – I’ll go more into detail of where we stayed and what we did after I do that for Prague!

IMG_1011[1]

This was the view from our room at sunrise one morning (I couldn’t sleep)

IMG_1030[1]

The view of the Red Sea from the pool area

IMG_1105[1]

Steve and I snorkeling in the Red Sea – it’s very salty which makes photos blurry

IMG_1029[1]

Hurghada was hit very hard by the Egyptian recession and much of it is half finished hotels and tourist destinations

IMG_1044[1]

A rather unflattering photo of me trying Hookah for the first time. It was not successful – but as funny as it looks

Now that we’re back in the UK we’re having a heat wave – its 89 degrees here today! Thankfully the office has AC but our house doesn’t – most dont – so its fans and open windows and a lot of laying around and moaning about the heat.

Prague Beers

For those of you who know Steve and I personally know we are big beer drinkers – so when we visited Prague in May we drank a lot, and I mean a lot of beer! I didn’t get photos of every pint we drank but nearly.

Here they are in all their glory – the beers of Prague

BKTR3408[1]

Beers from the Festival

IMG_0790[1]

Beer Ice Cream

Pineapple Chorizo Dinner

Everyone needs a few meals in their arsenal that they can a) cook really well b) is a total crowd pleaser and c) has ingrediants you always have on hand. For me this Pineapple Chorizo rice dish is one of mine. When I tell Steve its on our weekly menu he gets super pumped. And honestly so do I. I love making it and I love eating it more.

I found the original recipie for this dish over at How Sweet It Is – a great blog with lots of yummy recipes. The first time I made it I followed her directions and recipie and it was amazingly delicious – but also on the expensive side to make. Which is fine, but if its a go to meal I like to see if I can tweak it to be more budget friendly.

This is my recipie

4 cups cooked rice
2 tablespoon rapeseed oil
1 sweet onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 packet of chorizo – cut in 1/4 circles
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1-2 cans of pineapple
2-3 bell peppers, chopped
4 green onions, thinly sliced
any other veggies you have in the fridge – zucchini, carrot, celery, radishes and eggplant are all delicious

Start cooking the rice right away – its a fast dish to make and it’ll be easier not to have to wait on the rice.

Cut up all your veggies, your chorizo, onions and garlic.

Oil the pan and let it warm up before adding onion. Saute for a few minutes and add garlic. Add chorizo and cook for 5 min. Chorizo is an already cooked meat so dont look for it to turn brown.

Take the chorizo out of the pan and toss in the pineapple. The oils will cook it quickly. Once its soft and a little browned remove it.

Add more oil if need be. Toss in the veggies including the peppers in order of hardness. Carrots before eggplant (for example). Saute the veggies and add the salt, pepper and paprika.

Add the chorizo and pineapple back to the pan and mix all together. Let it cook a little more so all the flavors mix.

We skip the sauces – they’re good but not necessary for this dish.

Serve hot over rice, with green onions as garnish.

This is such an easy dish to make – takes about 30 min and is pretty healthy as long as you load it with veggies. I like it because I always have these items on hand. Chorizo is a staple in my house and lasts for ages – so does canned pineapple. I use whatever veggies I have and voila – a meal everyone loves!

Sorry there aren’t any pictures on this post – last time I made this it was gone so quick I didn’t get a chance to snap any!

What are some of your go to, easy, always on hand meals?

Cooking For An Army

I have to apologize to you, dear readers, I have been a slacker of a blogger here lately.

Honestly I have been working a really odd shift at work – 12.30pm – 9pm which has thrown me totally off my game. Thankfully it’s temporary!

Since here lately I’ve been going to bed super late (hello trying to wind down at 9pm) and sleeping in – cooking has gone out the window. Theres 0 point in trying to cook something super early for that evening – especially when I should be at the gym working out. So I’ve taken to batch cooking on sundays to make my life just a little easier and so Steve doesn’t order a takeaway every night.

Batch cooking is essentially exactly what it sounds like – cooking in large quantities and putting the food in the fridge to be reheated throughout the week. If I was really on my game I’d do crock pot meals for during the week but I’ve been lazy so microwaved leftovers have had to do.

The first thing I make when I am batch cooking in veggies – cause let’s be real, they are the last thing you want to cook fresh every night when you’re making yourself dinner. Plus I find if they’re cooked and in the fridge I tend to add them to my meal.

IMG_0915[1]

Rainbow of veggies

This was the tray of veggies I made this past weekend. From left to right its plumb tomatoes halves, red peppers, shredded carrots, yellow peppers, onion, green peppers and asparagus. A good mix and flavor profile. Put some rapeseed oil with oregano, paprika, salt, pepper and crushed garlic over the top. 20 min in the oven – boom! rainbow of veggies ready to grace any plate.

IMG_0917[1]

I also made a tray of shrimp in the same dressing. It was warm on saturday and a shrimp, veggie salad was the perfect meal. Plus we had shrimp and rice with veggies for the dinner monday night.

What isn’t pictured is the Crock Pot Chicken Teriyaki I made and the One Pot Spinach Pasta. I actually subbed in chicken instead of shrimp for this recipie – its what I had thawed at the time. Both super easy, I cooked all of this at the same time so I could do one load of dishes.

Are you a fan of batch cooking? What are some of your favorite recipes you like to cook in bulk?

Manchester Attacks

This is not what I was planning to write my newest post on – but in lieu of what happened monday night I think its an important to talk about it.

As I am sure you are all aware – there was a terrible attack at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester Monday night where a suicide bomber killed 22 people and injured countless more. For additional details I would encourage you to look at BBC News or CNN as they have the most accurate and up to date information.

Thankfully Steve and I were home safe in our beds when we first heard about the attack. Manchester is about 3.5 hours north of us, and it being so late there weren’t a lot of details. Like the most of the UK, we awoke Tuesday morning to learn of the horror and extent of the attack. Information flooded our phone, the morning news and the radio. The information was arriving thick and fast – the number of bodies, who did it, how the city and country was reacting.

Not being english and being here for such a tragic event is a feeling that is hard to explain. A part of you feels totally disconnected from the events  – maybe because we knew we didn’t know anyone there. Another part of you feels guilty for not being british because you know the fingers will likely be pointed at outsiders like yourself and you feel like you can’t relate to the tragedy. Relief and guilt are among the mixed feelings – relief the bomber wasn’t from my country, relief it happened here and not in the US where our friends or family could have been hurt but also guilt for feeling those things. Feeling scared – this was a terror attack and now the county you live in is on high alert because something else might happen.

But overall, beyond all the emotions and the mixed weird feeling, you feel sad. Sad that it happened, sad you can’t do more, sad for those who lost their lives, sad for the families who have a huge hole in their lives. You feel sad because you can close your eyes and remember back to September 11th 2001 – you remember exactly where you were and who told you and every tiny detail from that day. You know what it feels like to be a part of a nation in mourning. And so today – at 11 BST, I took a moment of silence for the victims and their families. I stood in solidarity, not with my countrymen, but with my fellow human beings to remember and pray for the victims.

I ask – if you’re reading this blog, take a moment out of your day to remember these wonderful people who lost their lives so tragically. And if you want to do more take a look at somethings you can do to help here.

Plus Size Travel Tips

It seems like every time I log into Facebook I see some sort of add or blog post or article about travel tips – making the most of a long flight, how to get upgraded for free or how to roll your clothes so everything fits in a clutch.

All that is well and good,

Side note: if anyone finds an article about fitting a weekends worth of clothes into a clutch please let me know! I’m a notorious over packer.

But what I find the hardest part about traveling, especially flying is doing it as a plus size person.  The world is getting very PC, not judging people for their sexuality or skin color. But when it comes to weight, especially on airplanes, the gloves come off. People seem to think its ok to make a fellow traveler feel bad for also traveling. I can’t tell you how many scared looks I get as I walk between the rows of seats to mine. Those terrified looks of “is this whale going to sit next to me and use up all the space?” If you do that – shame! Trust me, I don’t want to be squeezed into a tiny sheet in a metal tube for hours on end anymore then the next guy, but in order to travel I do it. Here are my tips on making the entire process a little less awful for everyone.

Fly Early or Late

Now I realize this isn’t always possible, but I try and book my flights at less desirable times of the day. Not only does it normally mean cheaper fairs, but it also means emptier planes. And of course, emptier planes means more empty seats so you’re much more likely not to have to sit directly next to someone.

Arrive at the Airport Early – Especially for a Full Flight

This may seem obvious, but I like to arrive for my flights about an hour or 1.5 hours before take off for the off-peak flights. I have zero desire to sit at a gate at 5am waiting to board my 6.45am flight. No sir. But when I have to take that 10.45am flight that I know is booked solid I will arrived by 8, so I can chill in the lounge.

DAL_SKYCLUB_TERMB

Side note – if you travel a lot its worth checking with your credit card companies to see if they offer lounge discounts or memberships. Thanks to my American Express I can get into any delta or partner lounge gratis. Hello free snacks and drinks. 

A few drinks and some free bottles of water help to keep me calm pre flight. I can reorganize my carry on, fill my metal water bottle & change shoes if I need to. Plus most lounges have quiet areas where you can just chill.

stylespilotshop_2281_1389190889Safety First

The first time I flew and realized that the seatbelt was not going to fit I thought I might just die right there. I felt like every passenger on the flight was staring at me (they weren’t) and I told myself I wouldn’t fly again. Obviously that’s not the case because I’m flying in 4 days. I tried to hide the 2 halves of the seatbelt under my blanket but a flight attendant noticed. She didn’t make a big fuss, she just came over to me and passed me a bottle of water and an extender and said “here’s the water you asked for miss, let me know if I can get you anything else”. No mention of the extender – no loud announcement over the intercom that I needed one. It was amazing.

Will this always happen – no. I’m sure there are rude attendants out there, but they’re few and far between. These days I simply go up to the desk before boarding and explain what seat I’m in and that I need an extender. It’s also a great time to see if there’s an empty seat next to you, and if not see if you can switch. No fuss, no drama, no embarrassment. Seatbelt’s keep you safe – so wear it!

A1+sOhQ0YXL._AC_UL200_SR160,200_Pack A Mini Carry On

When I fly I tend to over pack. This is where Steve would say I over packed for a walk into town. It’s true – I tend to get very anxious about having everything I will need whenever I leave the house. So my carry on is often over packed and heavy. What I do is I pack a smaller bag in the big carryon bag. It’s big enough to hold a book , some gum & chap stick, my phone, passport, usb cable and headphones. That’s it. Not the 3 books in my bag, or my entire make up bag, or 4 pairs of socks. Just the stuff I actually want on the flight. So I pull the little bag out and put it on my seat. Put my s’well bottle in the pocket in front and put my big carryon bag in the locker above me. Then I don’t have to try and dig through it while I’m in the tiny airline seat because I have what I need right in front of me.

Sit at the Back of the Plane

I’m sure there are studies about the best place to sit on a plane, and where the safest seats are. In my experience they’re all the same. In order to make you more comfortable look for seats in the back. Often the front part of the cabin fills up faster – people naturally want to sit closest to the door to get on and get off faster. Not me, give me the back – where there is the highest likeliness of empty seats.

12-Seats-to-Avoid-on-Every-Airplane-1

Last time I flew to the US my flight looks super booked. I was dreading a 9 hour flight squeezed next to someone who didn’t want to be sitting next to me. As I boarded I noticed the first 20 rows where full, even middle seats, but as I got back to my row (high 30s) there were lots of empty seats. As soon as we pulled away from the gate I smiled at my seatmate and took a row of 3 seats to myself. Bliss! He got 2 seats, I got 3 and all those sardines in the first 20 rows had no idea how much space we had in the back. Winning!

You Have The Right to Travel

If you don’t take any of my other tips – this is the most important one. You pay for your seat like everyone else; you have the right to travel comfortably as is humanly possible on a flight.  No one has the right to make you feel bad for your size no matter what! If you happen to have a rude seatmate, and unfortunately it will likely happen to all of us, don’t engage with them. Simply call an attendant and say you’re feeling uncomfortable due to the verbal abuse and would like to request a seat change. They’re amazing problem solvers.

Now go book that flight and see the world!

Is This Blog Any Good? You Cheddar Believe It!

One of the many things Steve and I have discovered since moving to the UK is the greek cheese – Halloumi. Its commonly known as squeaky cheese because you can hear it squeak when you chew it – I promise it’s not as weird as it sounds.

It not very expensive and it makes a great appetizer when you’re grilling out – also it can be used to make a burger for a vegetarian. You can fry it – I don’t though. I like the grill marks and the crunch it gives. It’s not a melty cheese, it keeps its shape and firmness even when cooked. cheese.jpg

cheese2.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

We got this brand from Aldi – not sure if it’s available in the US but keep an eye out for it. I imagine places like Whole Foods or stores with cheese counters would carry it – or if you know of a local greek or mediterranean place.

Now get out there and get your grill on!

 

 

2017 Reading Beer Festival

This bank holiday weekend Steve and I went to the annual Reading Beer Festival which is walking distance from our new house! This is the 3rd year we’ve gone. It was the first thing we ever did when we first moved here.

Pictures from our first Reading Beer Festival

beer8

2016 Glass

Last year we went with some of Steve’s coworkers which was really fun. It was the first time we went on Saturday which meant it was crazy busy!

This year we stuck to Sunday drinking – less busy, and just as much fun. We had pretty good weather aka it didn’t pour rain. I found a beer called Schiller which is my last name for any readers who don’t know. It was pretty good – but unfortunately even after showing my ID I didn’t get it for free. Lame!

I got more photos of Steve and I at the festival as well as our friends Ed & Jess but unfortunately they’re on the GoPro and I haven’t gotten them off the SD card. I promise to add them later.

I’m really excited to tell all you lovely readers that Steve and I are headed to another amazing beer festival in just 12 days!

Image result for prague beer festival may 2017

2017 Prague Beer Festival

Are any of my readers beer people?

Summer Dessert

Now that it’s finally warming up (not here in the UK but I imagine its beautiful in other parts of the world) Steve and I like to get our grill on. And when I say Steve and I, I mean me. I am the grill master of our house. I prep the food, grill it and serve it because I am a grillin’ badass good hostess.

grill-e1493737377592.jpg

The veggies I grilled on Saturday

Since its too nice to be cooped up inside cooking with a hot oven I like to make dessert on the grill to save clean up and impress the guests! Grilled fruit is one of my favorite things. In Georgia I would grill peaches all the time. If you haven’t tried it – do. So amazing! Make a bourbon simple syrup and pour over peaches and ice cream. Hello heaven in your mouth.

Since peaches

pineapple.jpg

Love my gri

aren’t a thing here, or their not in season (sad I know) I like to grill pineapple. I bought a massive one at Costco (yes we have Costco) and chop it up and toss it on the grill for a summer treat.

 

If it’s super cold. which happens when the sun goes down, sometimes I grill them in the house on our cast iron skillet – hello best £20 I ever spent!

pineapple2

No mint on this one

Once they’re nice and grilled – must have the grill lines, I toss them in glasses to look fancy and if I have a sprig of mint I put that on top.

Of course, what goes perfect with grilled fruit? Fresh, hand whipped cream! I just put double/heavy cream in a bowl and whip it till it’s just firm, sprinkle in sugar to taste and serve it with any and all fruit. So yummy!

Do you have a favorite summer dessert? Anything out of the ordinary you like to grill? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

One is Silver & the Other’s Gold

Im sure most of you are familiar with the friendship song – the one you sang in girl scouts when you were little – make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other’s gold. A circle goes round, it has no end, thats how long I want to be your friend.

I doubt any adult will tell you differently – making friends as an adult is hard. like H A R D hard. Add being in a different, new country & a lack of hobbies – making friends as an adult might as well be impossible.

For some reason its not socially acceptable to go up to someone in the grocery store and say “You like that cheese? me too! Lets go for drinks on Friday”. Wouldn’t that be awesome? A friendship formed on the mutual basis of loving cheese? Sign me up! But in all seriousness – I’ve tried to make small talk in all the normal places – book stores, pharmacy, check out lines at the grocery store, with the table next to be at Starbucks and even at the bar when ordering drinks. Almost every time I get weird looks (brits do not like small talk!) So whats a girl to do?

Unfortunately after 2 years here I can count my local friends on 1 hand. It used to be two, but thats a long story I don’t want to get into.

What makes making friends even harder is a lack of “fun money” as Steve and I call it. Between saving for the wedding, saving for travel plans and the gym membership (hello wedding diet that isn’t working) I find myself with not much extra cash to spend on nights out or trying new hobbies.

I tried meetup.com – it was going really well, met some fab people, but every events was a £20 spend minimum, between food and a few drinks. Thats got pricy quick and I didn’t really find anyone I connected with beyond meeting up as part of the group.

I’ve tried coworkers, but my old office was small (9 employees) and the fact that 6 of them hated Americans and made that a known fact didnt lead to friendships. My current office is bigger and much more friendly – so Im working on building a friendships there. Not as easy as I’d like. Ive also signed up to take a photoshop class at the local technical college – so hopefully Ill meet some fellow photography nerds there and build some bonds.