Culinary Delights

In terms of food, last week was either all Gousto or eating out. I let mastermind chefs do the thinking for me and just sat back and enjoyed the food. We were also still on Super Bowl leftovers for pretty much every lunch last week – very delicious, very unhealthy. It was a very nice pre-vacation break, though,  and I look forward to getting back into the whole meal planning thing once I return to London.

For our dinners last week, we enjoyed Prawn & Chorizo Paella, Herb-Crusted Schnitzel, and a Beef Noodle Salad. My favorite was definitely the salad – I don’t know what it was with that beef, but it made the whole thing amazing. I’m tempted to remake it, but hold the salad and just eat the beef with some veg. It was crispy and so flavorful I just couldn’t stop eating it.



Over the weekend, we attended a bottomless brunch at Tanner & Co for one of Sean’s friend’s birthday. That resulted in us being too hungover on Sunday to celebrate Valentine’s Day. We had decided earlier in the week to cancel our dinner reservation and instead do a romantic date night in Colorado, but were still looking forward to steaks and a nice bottle of wine. That very quickly got pushed to Monday!

Our go to steak dish has become steaks with peppercorn sauce, asparagus, and roasted sweet potato. The food looked so delicious that I didn’t even remember to take a picture until after I ate the entire thing. Oh well, there’s always next time!

Our food week picked up yesterday as I finally got back into the swing of things. I decided to attempt making a poached egg for lunch yesterday (it’s on my February Bucket List!) and it didn’t turn out too well…so I’m going to have to try that one again! We were having a friend over for dinner so we split our Gousto Lamb & Sweet Potato Curry into three portions and added on a cheese board. The curry was absolutely amazing, and that’s coming from someone who usually doesn’t like curries!

  

I honestly have to take a moment again and highly, highly recommend Gousto. For anyone in the UK looking to improve their meal game, it’s the best decision I’ve ever made in terms of cooking! I have yet to find a meal that I don’t like and they’ve managed to make cooking really easy and fun for Sean & I. We actually look forward to making dinner together at night!

You can get £22+ off your first order using my code – KELLY95997 at http://www.gousto.co.uk

 

My 5 Favorite Couples Travel Blogs

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After browsing travel articles on the Internet and planning some trips of my own last week, I ended up spending a good two or three hours searching through couples travel blogs. At this point, I do not even know how I ended up in that state, but I became obsessed! There is something so incredible about these couples that give up everything to travel together. I think Sean and I are so fortunate to do all of the traveling we do while still maintaining full time jobs, but I cannot help but envy these people who have made traveling their full time job!

Some of these duos are so incredible, doing extremely adventurous (sometimes dangerous) things all over the world and snapping the most incredible pictures and videos in the process. They have even inspired me to add a GoPro to the top of my big purchase list in order to capture water and adventure memories as Sean and I travel this year. I previously wrote about why I love traveling with Sean, and I feel like these couples must feel the exact same way. It’s so incredible to travel and experience new things with someone you love, and you walk away with incredible memories to cherish forever.

Here are five couples travel blogs/instagrams that I am currently obsessing over:

  1. Traveling Newlyweds – This was the first travel couple I started following on Instagram, and I absolutely love them for everything they have done. They’re working day jobs and still getting in a ridiculous amount of travel. Please…teach me your ways?
  2. Couples Coordinates – I keep meaning to get into yoga. Then, I found Couples Coordinates and I really need to get into yoga. Seriously – you think certain parts of the world cannot get anymore beautiful and then you throw in a beautiful couple doing yoga in the spot. Beautiful pictures!
  3. Murad Osmann – Pretty much everyone knows this one. Murad started the #FollowMeTo series when he was traveling the world with his then girlfriend (now wife). All of the pictures are from his perspective of her pulling him along. Gorgeous sceneries and gorgeous photos of gorgeous people.
  4. Lens Between Us – These two are AMAZING. They take pictures of each other taking pictures of each other and put them side by side. It’s incredible to see how a moment was captured by two individuals in the same place at the same time, simply just standing across from each other.
  5. Flying the Nest – Not only does this Australian couple blog and instagram their travels, but they video record them and post YouTube videos…and it looks like they have had the most INCREDIBLE time!

p.s. All of this travel and blog talk has inspired me and Sean to share more of our travel moments. We are now sharing pictures on Instagram under the name @apairofpassports – follow for snaps of our trips as we start a big travel period at the end of this week (he even contributes sometimes!).

2016 Travel Wishlist

I’ve been working on this post for awhile now, mainly because the list changes pretty much everyday. I have the worst attention span when trying to plan travel because I end up wanting to go everywhere and cannot decide how to prioritize! Just today, I’ve decided on like three more trips I want to try and squeeze in. However, here are seven trips I’m currently dreaming of – trying to see when I can squeeze them all in!

A weekend in…San Sebastian, Spain

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First off, it’s a foodie destination. And I love food. I first heard about San Sebastian in Conde Nast Traveler two years ago and have been trying to go ever since. It looks completely different from other places I have been and has it’s own unique culture – just the type of place I’d like to explore for a few days!

Exploring Castles in…Killarney, Ireland

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My obsession with Ireland grows each time I think about it. After spending a summer in Dublin and visiting countless times since, I feel the need to return every single weekend. I haven’t ventured beyond Dublin very much (just a day trip to Cork and a weekend in Galway), so the idea of staying in quaint Killarney and driving around the castles and exploring the Ring of Kerry seems like the perfect romantic weekend away from it all.

A Eurostar trip to…Ghent, Belgium

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After I fell in love with Bruges in May 2014, I’ve been dying to go back to Belgium. I heard amazing things about Ghent, but never actually looked into visiting. Once I finally did, though, I couldn’t stop! This city screams culture, culture, culture. I envision myself wandering around the small streets, exploring along the river, and maybe going for a kayak ride to explore. This is the trip I am most interested in planning at the moment!

A tour around…Japan

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Sean and I are in the process of planning a big trip to Japan in 2017 or 2018 (to be determined). We’re talking two full weeks, exploring as much of the country as we can – a mix  between luxury traveling and budget traveling. One of my friends recommended we go because she thought Kyoto was the most romantic place she had ever been. I started doing some research and fell in love…with all of it. Japan offers beauty, romance, adventure, history, incredible culture, and amazing food. It seems like the perfect place to explore with someone you love – and someone who loves traveling just as much as you.

Relaxation in…The Maldives

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This one’s a dream. But a beautiful one. The Maldives is something I would book with a Christmas bonus or a winning scratch card. I would love to head to there for a week and stay in a little bungalow on the water and just forget about the world.

Adventure in…Croatia

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A couple of my girlfriends and I are planning a week in Croatia for this summer. I never realized how much the country has to offer – hiking, waterfalls, beaches, sailing cruises, history, food, local culture. I’m currently looking into doing a trip which would take us to Split – Hvar – Dubrovnik.

A return trip to…Tuscany, Italy

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Sean and I talk about returning to Tuscany pretty much all the time. Last time we went, we stayed in Florence and went on a wine tasting tour one day which allowed us to experience the magic of the hills and vineyards. When we go back, I would like to rent a car and just stay in little Tuscan villages for a wine tasting trip. After spending a day driving through the vineyard towns in Alsace, I imagine that doing the same in Tuscany would be the most breathtaking thing I’ve ever done.

Do you have recommendations for any of the places I mentioned – or any other places I should consider?

Of (P)interest This Week

I’ve come down with major wanderlust this week, which has left me struggling to get through each day without booking a trip somewhere in the world. It’s gotten to the point where I have been looking into tickets from London to “Everywhere” – thank you Skyscanner for that one!

I’m gearing up for a busy weekend here in London and then four final days of work before heading back to the good ole U. S. of A. for a ski-venture. Here are six pins that piqued my interest (or should I say Pinterest) this week. Click on the pins to get to the original post!

Favorite Travel Pin

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I just bought the Lonely Planet book for Great Britain – I’ve been dying to get out and explore more of what is available right outside my door. This list right here, from Hand Luggage Only, has gotten me so excited to see more of England. These castles are absolutely stunning – who wouldn’t want to go and pretend it is their home for a few hours?!

Favorite Food Pin

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One of the things I miss most about America is the terrible Chinese food we have grown to love over there. It’s so bad for you, and completely made up half the time. However, I have a huge soft spot for General Tsos chicken. So much so that I’ve learned to make it at home since moving to London. I like the idea of General Tsos cauliflower to mix it up every once in awhile – plus, it’s healthier so I can make it more often, right?

Favorite “To-Do” Pin

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I’ve been trying to get back into running for quite awhile now (see – all previous Bucket Lists). Right now, it’s the cold weather that has me staying home in my pajamas instead of throwing on my sneakers and going. I like running because it is a good workout and results in a good sweat, which makes me feel accomplished. There are so many other amazing benefits though – not just to running, but working out in general. I really need to get back into a routine.

Favorite Fashion Pin

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Living in London has me majorly missing J. Crew (I just cannot justify the prices here). I loved finding this pin and a couple similar ones showcasing spring styles that match my personal style profile perfectly. I would love to throw on this outfit to run around London for a day!

Favorite Design Pin

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There’s something about these tassels that has me googling “tassel throws” right now – such a simple but different touch to decorating your bed. I’m going to be on the lookout for something like this so I can put away the white furry blanket every once in awhile.

Favorite Cute Pin

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Part of me feels like a dog is always going to win this category, but I’ll try to make it so that isn’t this case. I couldn’t turn this one down though – that face! It also links to a great post on dog breeds that don’t shed. Between the shedding that I do, and our small flat, the last thing we need is more hair everywhere!

 

At Home Blowout Kit

Up until about age 21, I was all for the hair straightener. I loved the finished look, and I got it down to the point where it only took about 10-15 minutes to do my whole curly head. However, my hair was always gross and greasy by the end of the day. And it was absolutely fried.

I always wanted to be able to do a perfect blowout, like the ones you get at Drybar. However, I was convinced it wasn’t for me – my hair was too curly and frizzy and only a professional could deal with it!

Two years later, after many, many frustrating attempts and countless different techniques, I am confident that I have come pretty close to the perfect formula. So, to all the curly headed girls out there – give this a try!

 

Products

The Protector – Blow drying your hair without spraying thermal protector first is like going to the beach without sunscreen – you’ll end up fried! I have never seen my hair so dead and dry as when I stopped using heat protector. It’s the first thing I put in my hair before doing ANYTHING.

The Defrizzer – For the curly haired folk, this is essential. There is nothing worse than finally getting your hair blow dried straight and then realizing it is a straight but frizzy mess! Add a bit more into your hair when it’s dry if you still feel it’s on the frizzy side.

The Smoother – I usually mix a straightening balm and defrizzer and work them into my hair together. The straightening balm smooths curly hair and relaxes it for easy blow drying. To be honest, I have not noticed a major difference in using straightening balm versus not using it, but I have friends who cannot go without it! It’s just become part of my routine, as well.

The Prolonger – My blowouts usually last at least three days – two without dry shampoo. On the third, I spritz a bit to bring my hair back to life. It’s just as effective of starting from scratch but cuts down on the number of blow dries in a given week. I’m at 2-3 instead of 3-4 thanks to this product! I prefer the Oscar Blandi spray, but my blonde friends love the powder. Here’s to straight, volumized hair for days!

The Healer – No matter how much product you religiously use, your hair will eventually need a break from the heat and styling. Use a deep conditioner or a hair mask to give it some life. It’s your hair’s version of a spa day! (Plus – Drybar products smell amazing!)

Tools

Clips – Sections, sections, sections! Don’t try to go at your entire head of hair at once! Start with underneath to ensure you get a nice, dry base before you start going at the bulk of it. I usually keep my bangs and the sections surrounding my face separate as well and spend a bit more time styling them. These alligator clips (the ones your hairdresser uses!) are great, but on a day to day basis I tend to use claw clips – they work just as well.

Dryer – Ah, the essential piece for a blowout. You don’t need to invest in one that costs hundreds of dollars. Find one that works for your hair!

Round Brush – I used to think the need for a round brush in blowouts was a myth, and that hairdressers just used them to look cooler. I was wrong. Round brushes make the whole process so much easier, and I can’t even tell you why! I would spend more time picking out the brush than the dryer – get one that feels good on your head and will last awhile. It’s going to become your best friend!

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It’s patience. I nearly gave up on the idea of an at-home blowout on countless occasions. The first excuse was that it didn’t work with my hair. The next was that I didn’t have the time. And then that would never look as good as a professional one, so it’s not even worth it. Keep going. It turns out that, even when you’ve perfected it, it’s still going to take about 20 minutes. Keep going. Not only is it great for arm toning, but you’ll eventually find the right formula for you! I’ve gone from using my hair dryer about once and week and using a straightener seven days a week to using my hair dryer 3 times and my straightener only once or twice. And the final product is SO. MUCH. BETTER. Your hair will be feeling softer and fluffier in no time!

Culinary Delights

I am going to start with a disclaimer that this was probably the least healthy eating week I have had in awhile, and the Super Bowl really didn’t help!

Our home cooked meals this past week included the remaining half of our Boxing Day honey baked gammon (we froze it for a month and a half and it was still amazing!), scallops with parmesan risotto, and my go-to fancy ravioli and vegetable combo.

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[I started eating “fancy” ravioli, such as this one with chicken and pancetta, with parmesan, pepper, and olive oil, and I refuse to turn back! It feels 100x lighter than traditional ravioli and is so delicious]

Of course, our Super Bowl party on Sunday meant lots of American-style fatty foods, all of which I happily devoured. All of the planned food turned out wonderfully, and we added on Bacon Cheese Fries at the last minute – they probably ended up being my favorite dish of the night!

You can read about all of the dishes on my Super Bowl Snacks post, but here are my pictures of the final products. Be prepared for some mouth watering!

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[Had to show the cheese fries twice because they were actually heaven on Earth]

As a bonus, we used leftover Spinach & Artichoke fondue as a pasta sauce the next day by adding a splash of water and reheating it until it reached a creamy texture. This might just become my go-to sauce for pasta dishes – it was even better than as a dip!

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We definitely need to go back to healthy until we leave for our skiing trip next weekend! Good thing we have a Gousto box getting delivered today – hello fresh food and portion control. (Currently ignoring the fact I have bottomless brunch plans on both Saturday & Sunday….)

How to Survive Working from Home

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I started working from home at the beginning of January and quickly learned that there are a fair share of cons to go along with all of the pros.

Working from home has eliminated our issue with getting deliveries since someone (me) is always home to sign for them. It has also saved me a lot of money – £6 per day since I’m not commuting, and £7 more since I’m not going out for lunch! I also get to wear comfy clothes to work, which I really can’t complain about!

The two things I’ve struggled with most, though, are 1) productivity, and 2) not leaving the house. While I still get all of my work done, my desk is in my bedroom, and sometimes it’s far too hard to resist the temptation of my warm, comfy bed! I’ll admit that I once had to add two hours on to my work day because I fell asleep after climbing in! I’ve also been going a bit stir crazy, and my FitBit is probably crying inside on the days where my step count barely reaches 500. I feel like I’m moving around during the day, but I can only take so many steps in this one bedroom flat! Over the weekend, I realized that I actually hadn’t left my house the entire week and it made me want to cry.

I’m still getting into the groove of this and have a lot left to figure out, but here are some of my tips on how to stay productive (& sane!) while working from home:

Get dressed everyday 

You don’t have to put on a pencil skirt, but get out of your bathrobe! Following your routine to get ready in the morning, even though you aren’t going anywhere, will wake you up and kickstart your day. Hey, if you make your bed, you’ve already started your day with an accomplishment!

Keep yourself busy

Like with every job, you will sometimes run out of things to do. When you’re at home and that moment strikes, it’s very easy to throw on some Netflix and completely forget about the work day. Try to keep a running list of low priority items – these could be updating the text on the website, researching some new job posting websites, or completing additional testing on an upcoming feature. When you’ve finished all of the work you are meant to do, start working on those smaller tasks. At least you are still doing something to benefit the company, and it will keep you busy until you can link up with someone else.

Set small goals daily

I find this to be one of the most important items. When you don’t have human interaction with your colleagues on a daily basis, it is easy to get discouraged and feel disconnected. If you set small personal goals, at least you can still feel like you are accomplishing something – a major confidence booster! These goals can vary from completing a task you have been working on for awhile to reaching out to touch base with a chunk of your customers to getting through all of the emails that come through to you on that day. When you achieve your goal, it will give you a productivity boost to keep pushing through the rest of the day!

Work away from home at least a few hours per week

Do you have a local cafe that you absolutely love, or a library where you know you can get some peace and quiet? Leave the house for even just a few hours a week and try working in a different environment. This could mean sitting outside your house for a few hours when it is warm out or commuting across the city to a public workspace. Mixing up your environment will keep you feeling fresh, and a break from the everyday distractions such as your growing pile of laundry and half-assembled bookshelf will keep you focused on your work.

Take every opportunity to leave the house

This could be anything from volunteering to go to a conference to meeting with a client based within commutable distance in person instead of over the phone. Research networking events in your area, make yourself known to your clients in the area, and ensure all of your coworkers know where you are based. Make your case for attending a relevant event and it is likely your company will support you. A quick lunch meeting could be much more productive than a three hour phone meeting – and it will get you out of the house!

I’m sure this list will grow as I get more comfortable working from home, but it’s a great start for anybody just starting out. If you give these tips a go from the beginning, you’ll feel more productive and focus more on the positives of working from home, as opposed to driving yourself crazy with the negatives!