Stories of 2019 #55: 23rd Bucket List

The age of 22 has gone by in the flash. It only seems like yesterday that I was celebrating being 22?! And now within two months I will be 23. This year has been an age of change alongside a constant ‘what am I doing with my life’ thought running through my head. You are in a middle ground of still being very young and trying to be grown up (if possible)…

But a more fun twist on the blog today, I am going to pick 22 things I have achieved since turning 22 and going to set myself a challenge of completing 23 things before the 4th June 2019.

The age of 22

1 – Completed my Master’s degree (woop woop)

2 – Survived living in a flat infested with mould and damp (although this could have health implications later in life lol)

3 – Travelled to the other side of the world solo (ridin’ solo)

4 – Scuba dived in the Great Barrier Reef (and saw a huge turtle, which was incredible)

5 – Jumped out of a plane (I mean, it does not get better than that for a highlight really)

6 – Undertook work experience at High Life magazine (British Airways) and went to some cool PR events in London, pretending I was a true VIP

7 – Ate tiramisu and drunk Aperol in Italy

8 – Became a fully-fledge barmaid (I can even change barrels now)

9 – Learnt to surf

10 – Moved back home and spent some time with my mum and dad (still here and I reckon they do not want me to leave)

11 – Learnt to be happy on my own

12 – Read so so so many books!

13 – Flew to Florida with Jess for a press trip and it was the most amazing experience with some #influencers

14 – Became a plant-based hippy

15 – Applied for full time jobs, as in actual careers and had interviews (scary). I know, who knew I was at that stage… No one wants me yet but still

16 – Had a drink in the Dome in Edinburgh (a place I have wanted to go since my first visit in 2016)

17 – Visited family in Perth (something I never thought I would really do)

18 – Found oatly barista milk (may seem a silly one to some but this was a great moment for my 22nd year and oatly will be with me forever lol)

19 – Drove! (I am not a very confident driver and prefer to use my legs but on Fraser Island in Australia, I was designated driver and everyone made it out alive. I was told to speed up as I was going too slow but I am all about safety in the driving department)

20 – Decorated my room (I even built my own IKEA furniture. If that is not an achievement, I do not know what is to be honest with you)

21 – Had articles published in national publications (find them here…)

22 – Met so so so many people from the UK and around the world. From on a hostel bus meeting Tom, on a bar crawl and meeting Rosa to my regular customers at the pub, I have met an untold amounts of interesting, lovely people!

My 23 before 23…

1 – Vlog again (I rewatched an old video and I miss doing it! lol at me watching myself)

2 – See the Dior exhibition at the V&A (one failed attempt, second time lucky hopefully)

3 – Drink sherry and flamenco dance in Seville (this is slightly cheating because I know I am 100% going here) DONE AND DONE 14.04.2019-18.04.2019

4 – Bake more cakes and bread (for maybe exciting projects up ahead)

5 – Try to meditate daily (even if it is only for 2-3 minutes a day)

6 – Practise yoga again (when I was in Nottingham, I went to hot yoga at least 3 times a week and loved it. With no hot yoga or regular yoga classes within walking distance to me, I am going to try and practise it at home)

7 – Go to the new Chia cafe in hitchin (as one of my favourite spots in Hertfordshire, they have now expanded and I need to get myself to their new digs) DONE 12.04.2019

8 – Make seitan (vegan alternative)

9 – Complete a 48 hours offline challenge (no phone or laptop)

10 – Drink champagne at the Shard (very posh, I know)

11 – Plan and book 2019 backpacker trip? (I want to do everything and want to go everywhere and I think I want to do it solo? However, everything is up in the air at the moment and I feel like I am on the pause button…)

12 – Make a smoothie bowl for breakfast (channeling my inner Zen Ven)

13 – Try a charcoal latte (I don’t know why but I am very drawn to them right now) DONE 12.04.2019

14 – Go on a gondola in Venice (cheating again and on my last day of being 22, but how amazing. I am very much looking forward to that)

15 – Attempt to make my own oat milk…

16 – Buy a pair of Veja trainers or Novesta (they look so comfy)

17 – Apply for a secret competition (I will only say if we get it. Top secret stuff)

18 – Have a facial (I am big on skincare and face creams but I have never had a facial? Luckily, I am going on a spa break in May so hopefully, I will tick this one off)

19 – Get out of my overdraft (easy said than done when I am off to Seville next week)

20 – Host dinner party (I did one at Christmas and it went very well. I will return for the summer edition)

21 – Finish Tina Brown’s book (I have been reading this monster of a book for over a year now and it is about time I finished it)

22 – Set sail on a cruise with the simple 5

23 – Celebrate my 23rd birthday in style in Croatia!!!

Hopefully I can add some cool pictures to these ones below.

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Stories of 2019 #54: Vegan Sauce Recipes

For the past six months I have switched to a fully plant-based diet. Before, I was mainly vegetarian whilst still eating or drinking dairy produce and on the odd occasion eating some fish. I first decided to try a plant-based diet because of the nutritional benefits but then I began to sway towards the ethical side of a plant-based lifestyle, especially after reading the book, Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer.

But what I have loved about following this type of diet is the cooking! I did cook before but I do feel like you have to be more prepared and more willing to cook from scratch. I have put together marinades, used a variety of spices and tried different veggies, fruits and vegan substitutes like tofu and tempeh that I have never tried before.

However, some things have not changed and for breakfast I still remain faithful to my delicious oats that I was having before (the same breakfast for about 5 years now lol) but now, if I have it with milk, I have it with a plant-based milk like almond or oat and then top with nut butter and more often than not, dark chocolate because why not! Recently I have also been making overnight oats which I am currently loving. I put my oats, truvia sweetener, raisins and chia seeds into a jar (which I have up-cycled) and cover it all with almond milk and leave it all overnight in the fridge. Then, in the morning either eat it from the jar or pour into a bowl and pair with coconut yoghurt and banana for breakfast.

Lunch and dinner is a very similar set-up. I have some sort of protein, whether that be tofu, tempeh, lentils, pulses or vegan chicken pieces. Alongside this, I will have a carb which most nights is noodles (soba or udon) because I am literally oodles for noodles. Alternatively, I will have some cous cous or rye bread. I am not really a person to have much pasta or rice unless I really fancy it. I did today, however, have quinoa for a change! Another option if I am at work, at my mums bakery, I will usually have a granary bread sandwich as the bread is vegan and sent in fresh, daily, and it would be rude not to test to products. For the safety of our customers of course… Then alongside these two food groups, I will have a ton of veggies. The usual suspects are courgette, broccoli, spinach, mushrooms and red onion and then, if I am fancying being a bit out there with my veg selection, I may have the odd avocado, sweetcorn, new potato or edamame bean.

Sauce/marinade wise I normally make my own also in preference to buying a jar. I have four favourite, go-to recipes…

Tarami sauce, garlic clove, sesame seed oil, maple syrup, smoked paprika and ginger.

Coconut milk, peanut butter, tamari and curry powder – more thick, creamy and tastes indulgent.

Coriander, pea, spinach and almond milk (add water if a little too thick).

Chickpeas or butterbeans, tahini, garlic granules and some water (hummus).

I usually put these all in my nutri-bullet and blitz it up baby!

Keep scrolling for some plate-spiration, nicely put together with flowers, plants or my legs :).

This post is a bit of a ramble but I wanted to show you how delicious and easy plant-based foods can be to put together. I do have other foods, less often, which are more processed such as vegan croissants, chocolate, vegan yoghurts and pastry but I much prefer to cook using whole foods and delicious, fresh fruits and vegetables.

What is your favourite plant-based dish?

More recipes coming soon…

Stories of 2019 #53: March Photo Diary

The sun has come out to play and generally, everyone is feeling happier. I started the week with a wobble but today (I am writing this on Thursday), I am a happy Inds. I am sat in my room with the window open, where I can hear the birds tweeting and see the sun shining a beautiful light into my room. I have to say this is my favourite time of year. You are done with the cold weather and you can feel it going up few degrees! You get excited for the possibilities of what this summer could bring and find yourself reminiscing on previous BBQ’s and pub garden afternoons with friends, ice-creams by the sea and horrendous burn lines (not tan lines lol). I hope you have been able to enjoy being outside in the sun. Luckily for me, I do not drive so I am forced to get out and walk around in the sunshine with, most likely, a podcast playing in my ears.

In photos (HUJI style, of course) my week has looked like this… True stunner in that first one lol. Probably was I look like 99% of the time… hair-up, headphones on, lazy eye out and about, gym clothes, no make-up – true India style.

Happy Friday everyone! Have a great weekend.

Stories of 2019 #52: London Food Tour

What a whirlwind week I have just had and it is not even over yet! The perks of working part-time is that I have been able to spend a few days with friends and family and been able to spend pretty much everyday so far in London.

Me and my friend, Jess, had booked to see George Ezra a few months back at the O2. As we had not seen each other in a little while and always wanting to explore London, we thought why not make it into a mini staycation! We booked a Travelodge in Greenwich and headed up Monday evening. Both Instagram obsessed, we had a few points of interest we wanted to visit after seeing them on various influencers accounts (how basic of us haha). And Monday nights bar of choice was an underground bar in Waterloo called Tonight Josephine. Iconic for its, ‘well behaved women don’t make history’ neon sign on the ‘gram, we headed there for some Monday night cocktails. How every Monday should end! Tonight Josephine is one of seven bars run by this chain, with notably Bar Elba in Waterloo and Blame Gloria in Covent Garden. My cousin has been to Blame Gloria and said how much fun it was, so definitely one to try. On Monday, me and Jess also tried Bar Elba, which is a hop skip and a jump away from Tonight Josephine, but is a rooftop bar! Admittedly, we were drawn in by the 2-4-1 cocktail sign outside the door as we left the other bar…

Bar Elba had a lot better atmosphere than Tonight Josephine but I think people were in the same boat as us and were won over by 2-4-1 drinks.

Tuesday we woke up nice and early with the intention to try and get tickets for the V&A Dior exhibition. With pre-bought tickets sold out for bloody months, they realise 120 on the day tickets. But when we arrived at the V&A at 9:50am, the queue was already big! Would you believe six people from the ticket desk – they sold out… I mean, how unlucky. I would have prefered them to have sold out either after me (in an ideal world) or if I was 20 or so from the front! Not six!

Anyway, after an hour of standing in a queue for no reason, we walked to get some brunch and drown our sorrows in coffee. Already in the Kensington area, we walked for 20 minutes to Farm Girl cafe in Chelsea. Rose lattes, acai bowls and avocado on toast – this place screamed India. Decorated by Beata Heuman, this Wes-Anderson-esque cafe is beautiful, with its hanging ivy plants and pastel pinks. I ordered a coconut milk flat white and an acai smoothie with organic Amazonian berries with banana and almond milk topped with fruit, chia seeds, almond butter, granola and coconut shavings. Jess had the same as me but with a butterfly matcha.

Our day was basically a walking tour of food places we wanted to go as we could not get into the exhibition. After Farm Girl cafe in Chelsea we wandered over to Oxford street, where we had cake at Deliciously Ella’s deli. But my god, I will have to go back here for lunch as the smell as soon as you entered this busy little cafe was incredible! I love Ella anyway and follow a lot of her recipes when cooking at home (which you will see on my Instagram) so this spot was basically because I am a fan girl. Plus, all of her foods are made from organic ingredients so, all healthy, I shall tell myself anyway. I opted for an iced turmeric latte and slice of victoria sponge, whilst Jess had a beetroot latte and banana bread with almond butter.

For a food break, we hit the stories along Oxford Street dipping in and out of the shops, as well as our bags to reach for our purses. The day was flying by and we needed to head back to our hotel to get ready for George Ezra at 7:30pm. We decided we did not want to eat at the O2 and would rather eat in central London at a cool restaurant. I had found a plant-based kitchen just off of Oxford Street on Percy Street, called Kalifornia Kitchen, ran by Loui Blake. Here we had a burger and chips! It only has a small menu but the waiter recommended the klassic kalifornia burger and it was real good. #dontkalemyvibe

Now, well and truly full after three stops across London (ops) but not too bad considering our 28,000 step count, we ventured back to the hotel and then onwards to the O2. As expected George was brilliant. He instantly brings a smile to my face with all of his songs and in between, each song, he tells stories about how he came up with this song or that tune and included witty comments. Overall, it was a brilliant performance and I was up, out of my seat dancing away to Shotgun, Paradise and Barcelona.

*Well done for making it this far if you are still with me and this blog post – you are a true fan and I love you greatly!*

On Wednesday, we were going to try again at the V&A but I was struck down with a cold. So, instead we decided just to head back to Stevenage, where Jess drove back to Manchester and me in search of cold and flu tablets. After a good nights sleep dosed up with Night nurse (miracle tablets), we were up and again, I was standing on the platform at Stevenage station, dolled up for afternoon tea! For my mum’s birthday we had bought her the Mary Poppins themed afternoon tea at Aqua in the Shard. On the 32nd floor we had scones, cake and finger sandwiches overlooking the amazing skyline of London.

But today has been less glamorous and the cold has come out in full force! So, I woke up, cooked a delicious breakfast and got on with some jobs from the comfort of a nice, warm house. But the week is not yet complete and I have more exciting events coming up. Tomorrow night (Saturday), I am going to a charity ball so my ball gown and high heels are ready to get dancing! Then Sunday, me and my dad are perhaps going to make some plans as my mum is off pampering herself with her friends at Champney’s health spa. Not jealous….

So, this week has flown by and been full of exciting events. Not so good on the gym and healthy eating side of things as I have only been twice this week compared to my usual six… can you believe that! Feeling guilty just writing that down. I suppose with a cold and a busy time, it is difficult to squeeze it in and I should chill a little bit. But next week I will be back on the workouts.

Have you been up to anything exciting this week?

Stories of 2019 #51: Sketch, London

Iconic, quirky and utterly beautiful – Sketch London has been one of my favourite dining experiences I have had in London. There are five rooms spread across a three-story Georgian style townhouse on Conduit Street, The Gallery, The Parlour and The Lecture Room and Library, The Glade and The East Bar.

My mum took me last June for my birthday, where we had dinner in the dreamy pink Gallery dining room. Founded in 2003 by Algerian born Mourad Mazouz, this venue has now become the most weird and wonderful spot to be in London. As soon as you enter the building, you come across a hop scotch and that is only the beginning of all the little quirks you are about to come across.

The Gallery is the flagship dining room within Sketch due to its candy-floss pink design from the ceiling to the bubblegum pink velvet armchairs with the only exception being the floor which is contrastingly a beautiful mix of white, cream, teal and navy marble with gold specs. It is a truly stunning room, all designed by India Mahdavi (I mean great name). Lining the walls is 293 art line illustrations by David Shrigley and even designs on the dining wear. This is one of the cool touches which Sketch London does so well. From the salt and pepper to the bottom of your desert bowl, words or sayings are on each dish.

We ordered two cocktails as we were celebrating and starting to look at the menu. Maybe we looked confused but the staff were very attentive and helped us work through the menu, asking what we liked and recommended dishes to us. Pre-vegan days, I opted down the fish list, whilst my mum looked for a meat option.

We began our meal with campagne sourdough mixed cereal bread and Abernethy salted butter. Followed by our dinner and then tiramisu for two dessert. Do remember if you do get the chance to go, order the mash on the side. It needs to explanation to why once you have had a spoonful of this creamy, potato heaven! I mean it was my birthday and it is not every day you are lucky enough to celebrate at Sketch London, so we were making the most of it! I even had a glass of champagne also which they poured in the most amazing way, from a very great height lets just say that.

Not only did we get to experience the iconic Gallery restaurant but even the toilets are a unique experience. You pee in a pod, literally. It definitely has to be one of the weirdest toilet experience to date in my 22 years. Under a multi-coloured ceiling, similar to a disco dance floor, large egg-shaped pods are scattered around, where inside the toilet awaits. Even the mirrors above the sinks are quirky! You could visit Sketch London just for the toilets themselves.

I would really love to go back to Sketch London and try all the other stunning bars and restaurants but I would also like to go back to The Gallery and have afternoon tea.

It was such a lovely afternoon with my lovely mum, celebrating my birthday and one that I will cherish forever! I hope everyone gets to experience the mad hatter world of Sketch London. From the decoration, to the staff, to the food, to the drink – it was exceptional.

Stories of 2019 #50: Week in Workouts 3

This week has been a great week for working out! They have been hard, sweaty and I definitely can tell that I have been pushing myself that bit further. I must admit, I do go a little easier in fear I cannot do it. But something has changed in me. I am on it! Feeling strong and have kept on track with the food side of things also, which is mainly what I struggle with.

Lets get to it then.

Monday

PM – The shake off the weekend cardio class. This workout only really would work in a group as you each do one thing and carry on the other moves until the whole group has each done that move.

Round 1 / each person in the group does 20 burpees / whilst each person takes turns to do their burpees the rest of the group do 10 wall balls / 10 star jumps / 10 lunges

Round 2 / same concept with only 15 burpees / 10 kettlebell swings / 10 jump squats / 10 tuck jumps

Round 3 / 10 burpees / 10 kettlebell snatch / 10 tricep dips / 10 push ups

Tuesday

AM – I actually had a personal training session on Tuesday, which was fun, with Sam from Renegade gym, as I just feel like I need some extra guidance on how to achieve my goals.

Barbell strict overhead press 5 x 10 (30kg) / Cable overhead press 21, 18, 15, 12 with a-frame press ups in between each rep for 10 / Cable overhead press dropset for as many reps as possible x 3 / Lateral raise 3 x 12 (5kg)

Wednesday

AM – Burn baby, burn! And, did this burn. I still have an achey neck now from the amount of wall balls…

Bench chest press 5 x 5 (42.5kg) / 150 calorie row taking turns in pairs (if doing workout on your own, you could just do 75 calories) / 150 wall balls (6kg ball I used) and then every time you pause or put the ball on the floor you have to do a 200 meter run (!!)

I managed 75 wall balls in a row, which left me feeling very dizzy lol. Then did the rest in 2 goes. So, overall, I ran three times.

Thursday

PM – Again this class was based on a group but you could just use this as a circuit. Similar layout to Mondays class with the time it takes for one person to do their exercise, you keep going with your exercise until they are done.

300 meter row (timer for rest of group) / butterfly sit-ups / kettlebell USA swings (overhead) / dumbbell thrusters / do this circuit three times

120 calories row race / we did this between four people.

Friday

PM – In all honesty, lacking motivation on this day, this was not my best workout of the week.

Barbell bent over rows 12/10/6/3 (increasing weight, 45kg for me) / hammer curls 12 x 3 (7kg) / banded bicep curls 3 x 20 (me and sammy basically did half of these…)

Saturday

AM – My favourite class of the week – squat Saturdays. I love this class because George, who runs it, is also pushing you to try that little bit harder and it is jam packed full of exercises. Safe to say, my legs hurt today!

Wall balls followed by jump squats 12 x 3 / barbell back squats 10/8/6/3/1 (I hit a PB and managed 105kg 1 rep max) / back squat drop set 12/18 (I did 80kg then 60kg) / leg extension 3 x 15 with goblet squats (20kg) 3 x 15 / leg press 3 x 6-10 (however, me and Heather, tried 2 reps are 300kg! And smashed it) / weighted walking lunges 2 x 2 lengths with still leg deadlifts 2 x 12 (dead by this point, I did 6kg with the lunges and 40kg with the deadlifts)

Sunday

Finally, giving myself a rest day!

Totally have the gym bug at the moment and I am absolutely loving each and every workout. Even when I am not really putting 110% into my workouts (aka, Friday), I still went and felt so much better for going and at least putting in 80% effort!

Stories of 2019 #49: Cultivo Lounge, Letchworth

Last week was a good week as it involved two brunch dates. One at Chia for pancake day and one to Cultivo Lounge in Letchworth. In the heart of the town, this cafe is the perfect spot for meeting friends, drinking coffee and even having a cocktail or two.

We were meeting my cousin and her little one – Theo. But we also had two pooches with us so needed a place to meet that was dog-friendly. Luckily for us, Colvito Lounge was just the place and even has little dog treats on the side! Not only did we need somewhere good for dogs and young ones but also with at least one vegan option for myself. What a bunch we are aye. However, they pulled through not with just one option on the menu for vegans but a whole menu for vegans! So, Coltivo Lounge is good for those on two legs or four, aged two or 55, herbivores or carnivores.

We settled into plush velvet couches, surrounded by tassel hanging lampshades all over the shop and cool prints and mirrors covering the walls. It is packed with character, charm and quirky touches, bit like myself!

The vegan menu was also on the table amongst the others, which is much so much better than having to go up to the bar and ask for one! It also had so many options to choose from, I was sat staring at it for a good ten minutes before I could even narrow down my options.

Deciding to go down a healthier route, I opted for the vegan falafel salad with butternut squash, wood-roasted peppers, cucumber, edamane beans, black quinoa, mixed leaves, coriander and French vinaigrette dressing. I also had two oat milk flat whites which were, I think, the best flat whites I have ever had. I know, that was a big statement I just made…

When you order a salad, you are slightly gutted because it is a salad and really you do not fancy it. You are simply trying to make a better choice (especially when it is your second meal out of the week). Well, that is often my thinking! But, no word of a lie, this salad was so good! The falafel was baked perfectly, the quinoa was covered in a beautifully sweet vinaigrette and I just love edamame beans so it was a winner for me. My mum and cousin had the halloumi and falafel version, which they enjoyed equally as much.

Overall, our ladies lunch date was perfect thanks to Coltivo Lounge. But sadly, no brunches this week?! Have no fear my lovely readers, next week I am in London for two days which means one thing – food!