Weight Watchers limited edition summer meals [review] #WWspicysummer

29.8.16

When Weight Watchers asked me to review their limited edition summer flavours, inspired by Mexico and Brazil, I knew the man for the job. My wonderful boyfriend, Paul! He works long shifts with antisocial hours, and often has to work through most of his breaks, so eating healthy, filling food can be tricky and he finds it difficult to find the time and energy to prepare meals in advance to take to work with him.

Paul has been busy trying out the new flavours, Brazilian Bahia Chicken and Rice and Naked Enchilada and Mexican Style Rice, and has taken over this blog post to let you know his thoughts (psst, you can find these meals at Asda, Morrisons and Ocado for £2.59).

First things first, a quick roundup:

- less than 400 calories
- low in fat
- low in sugar
- source of protein
- contain no artificial colours or flavourings

Over to you Paul!

Hi guys! Hope you don't mind me taking over for a post!

Working in a hectic job involving shifts and no guarantee of a proper break means it's often difficult finding the time to eat properly. If I'm lucky there might be a ten to fifteen minute window at some point where food can be inhaled in between jobs, but it's all too easy to use the lack of time as an excuse to fill up on things of questionable nutritional value. McDonalds or whichever kebab shop is closest normally get my vote (don't tell Victoria ;))

All sounds great doesn't it?! But what happens if, like me, you're rapidly approaching your mid thirties and every bite of a Big Mac is a major blow in the losing battle against the Middle Age Spread?!

Despite my penchant for most fast food, I do really enjoy eating healthy and at home we love cooking together and trying new recipes. But at work it becomes a real struggle finding things that taste good, are good for me, and can be prepared and consumed in quick time. So when Victoria asked me to help her out and sample some Weight Watchers ready meals, I thought it sounded like something that might well tick both the speedy and healthy boxes. I was looking forward to finding out if the tasty box was going to get ticked too!

I was given two different meals from the new Weight Watchers range to try. Both came in nicely styled packaging with the picture of each dish looking pretty tempting compared to a dodgy doner (my usual unhealthy choice) or a tinned tuna and plain rice (my usual healthy choice).

Brazilian Bahia Chicken and Rice


I opted to try this one first because the other one came with a 3/3 chilli rating, so it scared me a bit. This one came with a 1/3 chilli rating, a much safer option for 3am in the middle of a night shift!

The Brazilian Bahia meal is a chicken, chorizo and rice dish all cooked together with a smoky tomato and vegetable sauce. As with most microwave meals, the food inside didn't quite live up to what the sleeve had me expecting, but undeterred, it went in the microwave for three and a half minutes. Then it came out for a minute. Then it went back in for two minutes. And then back out to stand for another two minutes. Eight minutes is heading towards the top end of what I'd say is a fair preparation time for a microwave meal, but it was definitely worth the wait.

It smelled great as I was sat waiting for it to cool. The first thing I noticed as I tucked in was that it was crammed full of great big chunks of lovely tender, fresh tasting chicken. The tomato sauce had a lovely smoky taste to it with just the right amount of tang. I thought the rice to chicken to sauce ratio was spot on, although as a chorizo fan I would've liked to have found a few more pieces.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed every mouthful and I had a good few jealous colleagues asking me what I was eating. I was a little worried when I saw the portion size but I can honestly say it was more than enough to keep me going through the rest of my shift. Amazing considering it only contained 300 calories!

Naked Enchilada and Mexican Style Rice


Next up was the quite spicy but not quite as spicy as the chilli rating would have you believe it'd be spicy, Naked Enchilada and Mexican Style Rice. This one came with the sauce and rice in separate compartments which is a good shout so you can keep the rice as a bit of a mouth cooler if needed! It takes about the same preparation time and certainly left me feeling nice and full. And I'm not going to quibble over the extra 4 calories this one sneaks in! If I was going to be picky I'd say there was possibly a bit too much sauce and not enough chicken in this one. The chicken pieces I did get were lovely big juicy bits, but just a little sauce heavy. The rice and bean combo was really good and worked well with the main dish.

Over all I'd say the Brazilian Bahia meal was more my cup of Caipirinha but you should definitely taco look at the Naked Enchilada meal too. Both were high on taste, low on calories, easy on the wallet and quick on time. Enjoy!

Paul X

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Life lately (one year anniversary, a new Instagram account and a shed load of colouring in).

26.8.16

It has been a little while since I did a "life lately" post (middle of June to be precise!) and I really need to get better at doing them because my memory isn't what it used to be and I forget what I've done (which is impressive considering I'm usually feeling ill and don't do an awful lot!)

With the help of bullet points and an afternoon where I've got a little bit of energy, here's what I have been up to lately. 

- The end of June saw us celebrate our "1 year since our first date" anniversary. I was surprised on the morning of our anniversary with a note to pack my suitcase and a swimming cossie. That afternoon I was whisked away to a hotel for the night. We relaxed by the pool and used the sauna/steam room, strolled round the grounds, had an amazing meal (where they catered to me being gluten free without batting an eyelid which was massively appreciated!) and enjoyed a Pug-free sleep-in. I was still on antibiotics and only just recovering from a nasty bout of mastitis so I wasn't feeling or looking my best, and I couldn't have any free prosecco (SOB!), but it was such a lovely treat and a welcome distraction from everything else going on. Paul really is a good egg.


In other news;

- I recently went to the Isle of Man to visit my sister, her husband and my beautiful niece Mabel, and Paul came along too! We had a few days together to see the sights before he headed home for work and I stayed on for a few extra days.

- I set up a new Instagram account (@thefogalwayslifts) to document my recovery from glandular fever/chronic fatigue syndrome. My regular account (@lilyloveslola) will still be the place for pug stuff, blog stuff and general life bits and bobs, but my new account will focus on my health/food/exercise/CFS/reviews and give me a place to talk about my condition more freely.

- In the last week I have binge-watched My Mad Fat Diary (apart from the very last episode which I can't bring myself to watch because then it's all over!) which inspired me to buy a fancy new diary, then I remembered how much my hand aches when I write because I don't hold my pen properly.. #niceone

- We threw a BBQ on one particularly sunny Saturday evening, I had too much to drink, and it took me a week to recover. Whoops!


- I bought a new colouring book and it's amazeballs!

- I started using a natural deodorant and I haven't turned into B.O. Bill!

- We went to see David Brent: Life on the Road at the cinema and laughed, cringed and thought it was pretty great.

- I've been working on a new cross stitch and getting back into enjoying stitching again.

- We have been working on our garden by adding a wooden border, plants, flowers and fairy lights, and it's such a lovely place to sit when the sun comes out or on an evening with a cup of cocoa. I feel really lucky to have a place to call home after moving around and feeling unsettled for so many months.


What have you been up to lately? :)

10 happy things (The Happy Newspaper, Stranger Things, planning trips, finding a gluten free restaurant in Sheffield!)

14.8.16

1) Signing up for a copy of The Happy Newspaper.

2) Planning lunch dates with my boyfriend when we don't get to spend as much time together as we would like.

3) Along with every other person on the planet enjoying Stranger Things on Netflix. My boyfriend and I have watched the whole series in the last week and we were hooked after the first episode. It's like a crazy mix of Stephen King vibes and The Goonies complete with 80s fashion and music.

4) Working on our garden. It's so nice having a lovely outside space to sit in. We've added a border, lots of plants and fairy lights so far!


5) Making pea and spinach pesto pasta (see recipe here) all the time because it tastes amazing and we have managed to keep a basil plant alive to make the pesto!

6) Planning a trip to the Isle of Man.

7) Finding products that have helped my eczema to settle down.

8) Having a boyfriend that makes me feel like a wonderful person, even though I know I'm a massive pain in the arse a lot of the time.

9) Going for a full body massage last week which massively helped my achy legs and shoulders.

10) Finding a restaurant in Sheffield that offers tons of gluten free options (Bistrot Pierre) where the food is amazing and they do a super reasonably priced lunch deal. Winner!

What are your happy things at the moment?

My "go to" healthy cookie recipe [Madeleine Shaw].

9.8.16

I have lost count of how many times I have whipped up these cookies by Madeleine Shaw now. Seriously, if you're gluten free and trying to cut out naughty white sugar give this recipe (link!) a whirl. I prefer the method on her blog as opposed to the method in her book (i.e. using coconut oil instead of butter. The butter makes them impossible to roll into nice neat balls, and using coconut oil makes me feel fancy).

I have dished these out to family, friends and my boyfriend and they all give them the seal of approval. I have also eaten approximately 1572945 cookies myself because they're so easy to make and I always have the ingredients in the cupboard.

They're slightly crisp on the outside and soft on the inside, just how I like my cookies. Absolute winner!


House of Florrie - Eleanor Gold Floral timepiece.

30.7.16

I'm not a huge wearer of jewellery but when it comes to accessories, I do love a good watch! If you're partial to beautiful watches too then you might want to pop the brand House of Florrie on your horizon.

"House of Florrie is a collection of beautiful timepieces that feature intricate hand drawn elements, complemented by a colour palette of soft, feminine tones". 


They kindly let me pick out a watch to keep and to share my thoughts with my blog readers. It took me a while to settle on one, because there were so many I liked, but in the end I decided the Eleanor Gold Suede Floral design was my favourite. I have summarised my thoughts on the website, the packaging and the choice of designs below:

* The website is really user friendly and easy to navigate around.

* There are so many strap and face designs to choose from that it took me a while to pick - there is something for everyone from girly florals and nautical stripes, to deep burgundy and olive green designs. The gold peacock feather design (here) was my close second favourite.

* The watch arrived quickly and was perfectly packaged in a gorgeous gold floral box and pretty tissue paper.

* The straps are interchangeable so if you fancy a change you can order a new strap and keep the existing face. It's super easy to do, the straps just slide straight off ready to be attached to another strap = easy peasy!

* You get free worldwide shipping which is pretty unheard of!


I love the newest addition to my watch collection and I may be back in the future for that green and gold peacock number. 

Have you heard of House of Florrie before? Which watch is your favourite?

A social media detox, feeling frazzled, and making new habits.

10.7.16

In my June goals post I mentioned that I would be taking a break from some forms of social media for the remainder of the month. I would continue to use blogger and Instagram (my favourite) but I would knock Twitter, my personal Facebook account and Snapchat on the head. 

At a time where I am trying to beat chronic fatigue syndrome and return to a "normal" life I was finding myself spending hours trawling through my feeds in an attempt to catch up on other people's lives and conversations, constantly thinking "could I snapchat this?!", and quite frankly it was exhausting. What was the point of spending so much time and energy reading about other people when I was neglecting the fact that I've got a lot of work to do on my own life if I've got any hope of fixing this illness?!

I can honestly say that I feel so much better after my mini social media detox that I plan to continue with it. I have deleted my Snapchat app, I will occasionally check Twitter just to check in and reply to any messages, and I will mainly give Facebook a wide berth as I really don't need to know what my school friends and people I worked with 10 years ago are up to in their spare time. 

My whole life I have tried to do everything, all at once, at 100 miles an hour. An "all or nothing" personality type you might say. I never really had a second thought about the effect it was having on my body and mind. I just accepted that that's the way I am and my body and mind would keep up with my endless worrying, darting from one task to another, never resting properly, and going through fazes of over-exercising and under-eating, and vice versa.
I heard this quote today and I love it! (photo source unknown)

Looking back at the six months before my glandular fever kicked in it's no bloody wonder I got sick. A break-up and a cancelled wedding, lots of tears, stress, uncertainty, taking on a qualification on top of my full time job, going to the gym every day, staying up late and waking up early to go running, fuelling my body with coffee and toast, and moving house (twice). I lived with a friend which was one of the best things I've ever done but I could never truly relax there because it was never 'mine'. I was worried the dogs would pee on the rug (they did) or leave hairs everywhere (they did). When I moved the second time and lived alone I worried about getting my bond back at the end of the tenancy (I did), finding money to make the place homely (I did - although there wasn't much I could do about the damp problem!), and whether I had set all of my bills up properly (I had - go me!)

When I see other people living the way I used to I want to shake them. I would do anything to go back in time and change my old habits to potentially stop me succumbing to the grips of glandular fever and chronic fatigue syndrome, which has turned my life upside down. I've had to temporarily give up work and some days I can't manage to walk the dogs or pop to the supermarket for supplies. I wake up each morning not knowing whether it's going to be a "good day" or a "bad day". Once I figure out which one it is I plan my day accordingly. I might manage a little bit of housework, email writing or bits and bobs on the computer, or I might spend a whole day doing little to nothing, wrapped up in a permanent headache dealing with waves of nausea, dizzy spells and brain fog. It's shit and I am so unbelievably fed up with it that I permanently want to cry about it. 

At the moment I'm working on forming new habits so that if I do beat CFS I am equipped to live a more relaxed and stress-free life. I'm learning how to pace and spread tasks out through the whole day (instead of trying to do a weeks worth of tasks in one morning). I'm trying different meditation videos. I'm about to start some counselling sessions. I am trying to listen to my body and know when it has had enough and I need to stop. 

I have discovered that audiobooks are my saviour! I don't have to hold a heavy book up which hurts my arms and my eyes, I can just sit and rest whilst listening to the story. Today I started "A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled" by Ruby Wax and I love it already, just a few chapters in. I'm going to leave you with this quote from the book which really struck a chord with me so I thought I would share it.

Have a restful and peaceful Sunday everyone! x 

"No one is addressing the exhausted elephant in the room, why we are making our lives more difficult? Why do we stuff ourselves full of so much detritus? We put all that garbage in there, why can't we just scoop it out again?

There's not going to be some test at the end of our lives so why are we cramming so much in?"


5 good things (finishing a mammoth cross stitch project, our one year anniversary, and Loki the Pug goes home).

25.6.16

Thank you for the love on my 7th blogging anniversary post. It really gave me a boost to know that you enjoy reading my blog, and that some of you have been around since the very beginning!

I have been unwell with a case of mastitis since Saturday (why am I so unlucky?!) but my course of antibiotics is coming to an end and I'm starting to feel human again so I thought I would pop a "5 good things" post together as they're a great way to talk about the positive things in life. As much as things have been a bit pants lately with my health I do still have lots of lovely things going on around me that I am really grateful for.

1) Remember over a year ago I started a cross stitch project for my niece? Well, I didn't finish it in time for her birth, or for her first Christmas, BUT it is now finished and I couldn't be more pleased with how it turned out. It's an A-Z sampler by Historical Sampler and I bought mine from Amazon, here.

It is now framed and ready to hang - what do you think? It took hours and hours of work, and survived three house moves and two trips to the Isle of Man, but it has all been worth it as it will hopefully be around for a lifetime!


2) Love Island. No shame here, we are obsessed with watching it in our house!

3) Last week marked "one year since our first date" and Paul surprised me with a night away at a hotel. I found an anniversary card on top of my suitcase with a note telling me to pack a swimming cossie and something nice for dinner. I have never been surprised like that and it was just wonderful! Paul's friend came over to look after Lily and Lola and we had a relaxing afternoon in the hotel's pool/spa before dinner in the evening, which was seriously good. The restaurant had gluten free bread so I didn't miss out on a bread roll, or bread with my pate. I was so impressed! Nights away from home and a change of scenery are good for the soul I tell you.

4) June has been a lovely month which will be finished off with seeing my mum and dad tomorrow for Sunday lunch, two puddings and cheese/biscuits, a Sons of Pitches concert on Monday evening (front row seats!) and plans to catch up with a couple of friends that I haven't seen for absolutely ages.

5) We survived a week of looking after Loki the Pug! He was a handful at times, and woke us up in the night every.single.night, but we did come to love him and we were sad to see him go. Seeing him play with Lily and Lola was adorable but I think these two old timers are glad to have peace restored in their routines.


Let me know what you think about the cross stitch, and what your "good things" are right now!


Happy 7th blog birthday Lily loves Lola! [12.06.09 - 12.06.16]

12.6.16

Seven years... that is actual madness! I feel like so much has been squeezed into those years that it's not possible. 

I started this blog six months after I adopted Lily and Lola, when I was working in a really quiet reception job where there wasn't much to do. I used to religiously read The Tea Drinking English Rose and another which for the life of me I can't find or may not exist anymore. I was obsessed with Nicole Richie around that time and I would spend all my spare money on buying things she had (colourful Missoni scarves and huge Dior sunglasses mainly). I thought maybe I could set up my own blog and it would be a distraction from my tedious job. Not only that but I could document my life, outfits, hair changes, baking, and holidays. So that's what I did. Lily loves Lola was born!


I got a couple of hundred "followers" in my first few weeks which was so exciting. I think most people were there for the cute pugs rather than me, but I'll pretend otherwise. I loved those 2009/2010 blogging days. I attended a few big events with The Body Shop and Illamasqua, I made lots of online friends and I would spend hours and hours working on my blog and detailing the ins and outs of my life.

The blogging world is a very different place now. You're probably not going to see me jetting off on any all expenses paid holidays or sharing any remotely fashionable outfits but you'll continue to see an insight into a pretty normal 30-something year old's life. From Leeds to Sheffield. From breakups to a new love. From moving house ten billion times to settling in one place. From Lily and Lola being young whippersnappers to little old ladies. From my barnet being brown, blonde, ombre, long, short, and everything in between. Whether you've been here from the start or you're new, THANK YOU for reading and I hope you will continue to visit my little space of the internet.