The story of my home

What makes a house a home? I admit I’ve struggled to make my house really feel like mine (I say mine loosely as it’s rented so by ‘mine’ I mean feel as mine as possible!) on a tight budget. Because I really think it’s the little details that make it and it’s normally those little things that are neglected on a small budget in favour of more ‘essential’ items. I admit, lots of the things around our home are still things we inherited for free or bought because they were cheap (ie second hand furniture that isn’t our taste or Ikea stuff that ‘will do’). But it’s the trinkets, artwork, photos and personal bits that make my house feel like my home.

I definitely haven’t got my whole house to feel like home – it’s a work in progress – but I’m almost happy with the living room so I thought I’d focus on that for this blog post.

Living room fireplace

I love the fireplace area because I suppose it’s the statement wall. It’s what the sofa faces so it’s the wall we see most of the time. The main image is a print by Roy Lichtenstein. I got this from the Lichtenstein exhibition at the Tate last year and loved it – I couldn’t leave without bring home something with me. I love the style of his work and this seemed to match some of Rob’s tastes too. Above it you’ll see a pair of 3D glasses and a Hilly Valley town fair flag, both mementos from the recent Back to the Future Secret Cinema… Continue reading


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Review: Gluten-free food at Pizza Express

At the weekend Rob and I went to Pizza Express in Brighton. I’d heard really good things about the pizza bases there by fellow gluten-freers and Coeliacs so I was keen to try it out for myself.

When we got there we were greeted by a very friendly waiter – and that was something that was really noticeable actually. Not to skip to the end, but from the moment we arrived to the moment we left the staff were very personable and friendly – almost to the point where it felt like we were in a little local independent restaurant rather than a large chain. It was really nice.

As we sat down and were handed menus, I immediately asked for the gluten-free menu. I’d already checked out the menu online so had a good idea about what I’d pick for my main. The waiter then told me that actually there was just the one menu and that all the gluten-free options were clearly marked – AND that I could have any of the pizza toppings on a gluten-free base. The gluten-free online menu only offered the ‘Classic’ pizza toppings and now I also had the choice of all the ‘Romana’ toppings. It was music to my ears but also a choice I wasn’t prepared for. Needless to say it took me quite a while to order!

For starters I had the Risotto Fresco which was an oak-roasted salmon fillet in a creamy white wine risotto with rocket and lemon. It was delicious; I wolfed it down! The meal also came as a main and I questioned whether to change my order to get it again for my main course… but I had fancied a pizza for a while (plus eating the same thing for two sittings would be ridiculous, if not tasty).

Salmon risotto at Pizza Express

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Recipe: Gluten-free vegetarian Pho

UPDATE: I originally called this a low FODMAP dish, as I thought it was! But thank you to @xHeeralx for pointing out that you cannot have mushrooms on a low FODMAP diet. Sorry, I’m still learning! So this is gluten-free but I’m afraid it’s not low FODMAP.

This is not my recipe, I found this on and adapted it (which also probably means I removed all authenticity so for something traditional please follow the original in the link!). I emitted all onions and garlic (I did this originally so that I could make it low FODMAP without realising mushrooms are actually high FODMAP, doh!) and replaced soy sauce with Tamari sauce which is a Japanese substitute. I’m sure it tastes much richer with the garlic and onions but I just didn’t feel it was worth the risk of stomach cramps. I have recently come across a blog post which lists low FODMAP ideas for garlic and onion lovers though.

Anyway, so back to the recipe. This made two portions:


Block of extra firm tofu (I could only find firm tofu rather than extra firm which didn’t hold very well)

100g rice noodles

Big handful of shiitake mushrooms (the original recipe asked for dried mushrooms but I used fresh as they were cheaper!)

Ground ginger, 1tsp

2 cloves

Cinnamon, 1tsp

Tamari, 2tbsp

Chilli flakes, to taste

Sesame oil

Gluten-free vegetarian stock (I use Bouillon)



  1. Cut the tofu into equal sized pieces and fry in sesame oil until browned on all sides.
  2. Meanwhile, heat seseame oil in a big saucepan. Add the stock, Tamari sauce, shiitake mushrooms, ginger, cloves and cinnamon (and onion and garlic substitutes, if using). Bring to the boil and simmer on a low heat for at least an hour.
  3. Prepare rice noodles. Soak in boiling water for about 15 mins and stir regularly to stop them from sticking.
  4. Place your cooked noodles in your serving bowl, top with the stock mixture and place tofu on top. Sprinkle with chilli flakes. EAT!

Vegetarian Pho with tofu and shiitake mushrooms

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Surviving a snack attack

I really really struggle not to stuff my face with snacks when I’m at work. The office is full of foodies, which is great as I love talking about food and sharing recipes but it’s not so great when there’s always a fully stocked ‘snack area’. I think there’s currently a few big bags of sharing crisps, various big packets of chocolates and cakes. And it’s not even anyone’s birthday.

I think it’s ok to snack but I also think it’s good to be prepared for it. That way you avoid making nasty slip ups and regretting it later! So here are a few tips based on my own experiences of trying to snack healthily!

carrot sticks and hummusPhoto courtesy of

Don’t buy it!

If you fill your desk drawer with crisps and chocolate bars, you will eat them. Same goes for the kitchen cupboards if you work at home (actually I find it even harder to resist the temptation if I know I have ‘naughty’ treats in the kitchen and I’m working from home!). If you don’t buy them, you can’t eat them, simple as that. Buy healthier things and you won’t be as tempted to eat the unhealthy stuff.

Take healthy snacks to work with you

Here are a few ideas for healthy snacking alternatives that will keep you going till lunch:

  • Carrot sticks or celery with hummus
  • Rice cakes with soft cheese
  • Cocoa Nakd bar (I love these – they’re a great substitute for chocolate and they’re gluten free!)
  • Oat cakes with peanut butter
  • Low fat Greek yoghurt
  • A handful of mixed nuts
  • Edamame beans
  • A boiled egg
  • A homemade fruit juice or smoothie
  • Homemade popcorn
  • Chocolate covered sesame bar
  • Fruit, fruit and more fruit!

Identify your weaknesses and take substitutes for those with you. I’m a savoury fiend so if I don’t have healthy snacks with me and I get hungry, I’m much more likely to pop to the shop for a packet of crisps. I’d rather I had a few healthy alternatives ready to pick at if I feel I need to.

Another alternative if it’s getting quite close to lunch so you don’t want to pick at food is to have a cup of tea! It might fill you temporarily till lunch time.

homemade popcornPhoto courtesy of morigami via

Don’t beat yourself up

There’s no point making yourself feel bad about it if you make a slip up. The odd treat every now and then is ok. Just don’t gorge every day! I’m much more disciplined in the week when I’m at work because I try to stick to what I said earlier – I only take healthy treats to put in my desk drawer. But at the weekend it’s a different story and I’m more likely to sneak in the odd treat. But I think that’s ok because it’s only every now and then.

How do you survive a snack attack?

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Where we’re going, we don’t need roads

There’s no way of leading into this in a cool or subtle way: on Friday Rob and I went to the Back to the Future Secret Cinema AND IT WAS AMAZING.

I had high expectations as it’s my favourite film and I’d heard such good things (no details but that it was very good). So I was half wondering whether I was setting myself up to be let down. But it exceeded all those expectations.

It was so good that I can’t stop thinking about it, even now, two days later! I can’t say too much about the details as it’s still running (I believe it’s the finale tonight). But I don’t think it’s a secret to say that the set from the film has been recreated and everybody goes dressed in 50s gear.

I loved dressing up – I even tried (and failed) to do victory curls in my hair. I don’t have curling irons or rollers as my hair is naturally curly so I found it near impossible to do! But I wore a 50s style dress to look the part. And everybody made a real effort.

1950s style dress
On the way to Secret CinemaExcited on the train to the secret London location

You’re not allowed to take mobile phones or cameras so I don’t have any pictures of the event as I bought a disposable camera which I’m yet to develop. But I did see that the morning after, Secret Cinema posted up a couple of pictures on their Facebook page so I’m sharing those.

Hill Valley landscapeImage courtesy of Secret Cinema
Hill Valley at nightImage courtesy of Secret Cinema

I can’t believe I’ve been on the Secret Cinema mailing list since it started and never really taken that much notice as I didn’t entirely understand what it was. But I’ll be looking out for their future productions. I’m a Secret Cinema fan for life. (Fingers crossed for Wayne’s World…)


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