Friday, April 17, 2015

GoFundMe project

Hello friends!

I'd just like to put a quick post about my current funding project:

Lenzie's PhD tuition fund

For full details, please click the link. Essentially, I am trying to raise money to help offset some of the costs incurred throughout my PhD.

Thanks for reading! I won't keep asking you for money (I promise!)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The New Forest, and the beginning of April

The last post marked the big finale trip of our European travels. We don't have any more trips planned until our big move to New York at the end of this summer.
And this makes me sad. I love Europe. I would permanently move to Europe, if that was a feasible possibility. But I digress. The main point of telling you all that Iceland capped our travels, is that the next few posts may be a bit boring in comparison. Travel-less life just isn't as interesting, fact.
However, life goes on even when travelling hasn't happened. And Ben and I always manage to go on an adventure of some sort...

To start off this post, I'm happy to say that I have a draft of my ENTIRE thesis. It is all written, all finished. I just need last minute edits from my supervisors/ readers before the official submission. And I am RELIEVED! The thesis writing remained relatively okay until a month or so ago, then it got horrible. Now that I'm at the end of my writing experience, I'm actually really proud of my thesis! I wrote a book, a science book, on everything I've been working hard at for the past 4 years. Having something tangible to represent all of the work done is actually quite nice.

Many of you probably don't care about that, so I'll go ahead and get to the part of the post you all want: the pretty pictures! Ben and I went to the New Forest for a day trip this past weekend. The first beautiful spring day of the year. And it was GLORIOUS. We cycled from Brockenhurst to Burley, drove from Burley to Beaulieu, and walked from Beulieu to Buckler's Hard. The forest was beautiful and the exploration was fun, even though I was exhausted by the end of the day. Also, there are wild ponies and donkeys in the New Forest. This obviously automatically makes it awesome.

 Yeah yeah, I know I'm not riding the bike correctly. But for it only being my second time riding in my adult life and third time riding ever, I'd say I did a pretty good job.


 Buckler's Hard!

The New Forest is awesome! Everyone should go visit it!

Besides that, nothing too exciting has been going on. I finished reading Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch. And it was great!!!! I've now read two books by her and she really is a fantastic author. My only criticism is that the book dragged at the end a little bit, which was a real shame because the book was otherwise really great. I'd recommend her as an author to anyone.

Finally, I owe you guys two posts worth of new recipes. Time to get fully immersed in the deliciousness.

Red beans and rice from Joy the Baker. Now, I've made a lot of red beans and rice in my day. This one was the best I've ever had. And I loved her mention of throwing a ham hock in there. (cheap and delicious, can't go wrong)

Steak with Asian slaw from Barbells and Bellinis. Now, Ben and I are working on decreasing out meat consumption (specifically red meat, and now we are working on cutting down pork as well). Besides the health benefits (which, lets be real. That's not why we are doing it), the amount of beef and pork eaten in the Western World is unsustainable and not helping with the climate issues. So we thought we should start being mindful of that. But every once in awhile, we will eat steak. And this was a fantastic choice for our rare treat. Bonus points for the slaw (I love cabbage) sans mayo (I despise mayo).

Creamy spinach lentils from Pinch of Yum. I love lentils. They are cheap, healthy, and quick.

Coconut shrimp patties from The Healthy Foodie. These patties, you guys. These. Patties. Words can't even express my love for these. I made enough for 4 and Ben and I polished off the lot. Quickly followed by Ben stating he wished there were more. Now, these bad boys are shallow fried so they aren't the healthiest. But we ate them with greek yogurt and avocado, wrapped up in a lettuce leaf. So... does that balance it out??? I'm going to say yes so that I don't feel bad making these again.

Coconut banana cream chocolate truffle pie from Half Baked Harvest. Ben and I made this pie together, in honor of his birthday. (even though I'm the one working from home and have 24 hour access to the pie) The chocolate didn't fully set, so watch out for that!!! It really does need to fully set before the cream topping can be added. Also, let me just say how much I love this food blog. It has officially taken place as my favorite food blog. Every recipe of hers is amazing and it always has multiple components that take meals to the next level.

Cheesy black bean quinoa taco bake from Half Baked Harvest. This was heaven. Really. Eat it with extra tomatoes!!

California chicken veggie and avocado rice bowl from Half Baked Harvest. One of the benefits of working from home is that I can make stuff like this. Now that its spring, I can actually grill ALL THE THINGS instead of just broil them. But these bowls. Chicken, veg, cheese. Avocado!!! So bomb

Butternut squash kale florentine lasagna from Half Baked Harvest. Let me just say- most lasagnas that you find on a food blog suck. And by suck, I mean they are pretty basic and not worth the effort/time. But this lasagna was a breath of fresh air. Sage. Butternut squash. Pine nuts. Bechamel. Of course, Ben made the bechamel because I am horrible with anything flour. But this lasagna is really worth making.

Paleo chicken tenders from Allergy Free. Usually, I'm not into foods like chicken nuggets. But that's only because chicken nuggets are processed crap/ super lazy. Next time you feed yourself (or your child) something simple, make it something actually worth eating. Make these.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Iceland and the rest of March

The night of my last post, Ben and I went to an amateur theater performance that one of our friends was in. It was a lot of fun; I can't remember the last time I've seen a play live. Well, yes I can. That's a lie. I've seen Lion King and Wicked on the West End. But I'm talking about a local production. Something that doesn't cost 50+ pounds and a train ticket out to London. I've really missed those, and the play we saw was Steampunk. You just can't beat that!

We also FINALLY tried the top rated burgers of Brighton. As self-proclaimed burger connoisseurs and foodies, Ben and I both agree that the BEST burgers live at Burger Brothers:


We then jetted off for a four-day weekend in Iceland, Ben's request and Christmas present! And holy crap was it amazing!! Let me explain via a picture montage!
We got in on Friday and headed straight to Blue Lagoon, a spa/ outdoor pool heated by the geothermal hot springs that are dotted around the country. It was SO WINDY outside. And really cold. But the spa was amazingggggg.
You can see my head in this picture, I'm right in the middle

It was fab and relaxing. But was also the first stop to the "good bye, hair" story that continued throughout our vacation.

The next day, we took a day-long tour of The Golden Circle. It was SO beautiful and now I need to go back in the summertime so we can drive The Golden Circle and spend more time at my favorite spots.
We started at Thingvellir National Park, the site of the first parliament:

I MUST go back for camping. This is also the area where the American and European plates are separating (this is why Iceland exists- its made from volcanic activity at where these tectonic plates meet).
The next stop was Gulfloss waterfall:

We also had our first experience of Icelandic lamb. It is the best lamb in the world. Real story. Which is a big deal, because I live in England and there is some phenomenal lamb here.
The final main stop was Geyser, which all other geysers are named after. Ben got too close to Geyser and got absolutely soaked. It was HILARIOUS. I've added a time lapse photo stream for you all to enjoy the magical moment.
Litl Geyser!!!!

Now starts the amazing time-lapse of Ben getting doused by Geyser:

We hit up a few final stops on the way back to Reykjavik, including a geothermal power plant. Amazingly, something like 95% of Icelandic energy comes from the natural warming that occurs on the island. Which means this probably goes without saying, but this island is SO CLEAN. And amazing. You should go. Now. Go book a flight now.
For those who are looking for tips for Icelandic travel, I'll fill you in quickly on getting out of the city. First, if you go in winter (which we did), public transportation (buses) don't run. So you will either have to be gutsy with your driving, or take coach tours. There are two main tour companies: Reykjavik Excursions and Grayline. There are other, smaller adventure based companies too. But I'd like to say- the two companies are very similar. I would personally give the edge to Reykjavik Excursions, only because the tour guides didn't ask for tips at the end (and that garbage gets old really fast). I'd also like to recommend- the highlights of The Golden Circle are Thingvellir, Gulfloss, and Geyser. You will have A LOT of tour options and I'd recommend a half day tour to see those three as opposed to a day long one where they try to fit in other, non-important things. Ben and I both agreed that we would've rather done a half day Gold Circle and half day to see Reykjavik.
This is similar to an original Icelandic home, built partially into the ground (I can't remember what they're called now).

Geothermal plant

Reykjavik, Sakebarrin

Cocktails and sushi for Ben's birthday! Thanks Mom and Dad!

We also had Reindeer and Whale :)

Beautiful Reykjavik, which we didn't have enough time to properly explore

The next day, we took another day long tour. This time to the South Coast.
We started at a glacier and there were people going glacier hiking!

We then stopped off at the Southern city of Vik:

And moved on to the South Coast (black stone)

We then went to a fantastic little folk museum in the middle of the lowlands

And finally to a couple more waterfalls (and the big ass volcano that shut down air travel in Europe a few years back)


Fat little Icelandic pony!

The volcano

Ben walked behind this waterfall. And got soaked again.

When we got back, we went to Seafood Grill for some fine dining and it was AMAZING

And that night, we went Northern Lights hunting!

Ticked a big bucket list item with this one!

On the final day, we headed back to Thingvellir for some snorkelling between the tectonic plates.

That's Ben!

When we returned, we walked to the Marina and had some fantastic fish. And lobster soup!

Finally, I'm SO happy to say I've finished the writing portion of the thesis. Now I just need to edit, format, double check, finish referencing, etc. And I can't even begin to explain how relieved that makes me feel.

(no food on this post, I don't want to tarnish the Iceland pictures)