5 things I'm looking forward to when this is over

Red leopard print midi dress: Zara (similar)
Brown and gold sliders: Matalan (similar)

I've mentioned in my previous post that I have been finding things pretty tough this month. It feels like we have been in this situation forever and I'm struggling to remember what life was like pre-Covid-19. So I've been thinking a lot about what I'm looking forward to doing once we get back to life before. It may never be like life before, and let's be honest some things shouldn't go back to how they were before, but here are the somewhat mundane things I can't wait to do. Without a shadow of a doubt hugging family and friends is top of the list.

1. Popping over to our best friends house
Our best friends live at the end of our road and we're often popping in and out randomly. In fact during the summer months we just let ourselves in the back gate without knocking! Although we have been meeting up in the garden for a socially distanced beer in the evening, it doesn't quite feel the same. When it gets too cold or starts to rain we have to wander home. It'll be so nice to move into the living room without a second thought and carry on with the conversation.

2. Sitting in the cinema to watch a film on the big screen
We both have Cineworld unlimited cards so are fairly regular cinema goers. I have really missed the whole experience, It's just not the same on your sofa watching Netflix. It's so easy to be looking at your phone and be easily distracted whilst at home. I just love everything about going to the cinema. I love the snacks, the massive chairs and the loud noises making you jump when something scary is about to happen!

3. Going to a spin class
Last year I joined the gym and got really into my spin classes. I mean I absolutely hate it during the lesson but it makes me feel so good once it is all over. I really enjoyed it becoming part of my routine and looked forward to it every Monday. I didn't think it would be something I would miss but stranger things have happened!

4. Being able to aimlessly walk around a food store
I may be in the minority in this but I absolutely love food shopping. I often joke it's the highlight of my week. Food shopping has been pretty militant since lockdown as it isn't the time to aimlessly wander. I try to be in and out as quickly as possible. With queues whatever time of day and the social distancing required, food shopping hasn't been the most enjoyable experience. I really miss popping in random food stores and taking a browse. If you look in my cupboards you'll find a whole array of different spices and tins from all over the world. I love picking up new-to-me ingredients and researching how to use them.

5. Hanging out in an airport
I'm one of those odd people who really loves the ritual of going to the airport before a holiday. I feel quite relaxed in an airport. I even love getting up at the crack of dawn to make the journey to the airport. It excites me because I know I'll be jetting off to somewhere new. We are that couple who always gets to the airport a good few hours before our flight - never one to race through praying to make it. We're lucky we only live 20 minutes from Stansted so it's no bother to there early. We have a little mooch around duty free before heading somewhere for a leisurely breakfast to help us get in the mood for our holiday.

What are you most looking forward to doing?

What I've been cooking #14: Tin Can Magic by Jessica Ellis Dennison

Since we went into lockdown, back in April, I have been trying to keep a well stocked store cupboard. Those first few weeks when I struggled to buy anything in the supermarkets will forever be ingrained into my brain. It was awful and made me feel glad I often used to buy random tins so that we could have a nourishing meal. Now I have made sure I keep a larder stocked with things that are actually useful. Hannah had been raving about Tin Can Magic for a while and as we went into lockdown I took the plunge and ordered it. Jessica is the founder of 27 Elliotts in Edinburgh championing seasonal ingredients. Her book is full of recipes detailing how to jazz up store cupboard tins including tomatoes, coconut milk, lentils, anchovies and sweetcorn. I love that each recipe comes with a list of substitutions so you can mostly always make the recipes based on what you have indoors. Everything is so simple to make and has tasted delicious so far. I can't quite believe what she is able to make to a humble tin of tomatoes!

Spiced lamb and tomato flatbreads
I think this is my favourite recipe so far. I subbed the mince lamb for some beef as that's what we had in the freezer. I also defrosted some homemade naan from the freezer for the flatbread. This was so simple to put together and the flavours were utterly delicious. The slight heat from the mince paired perfectly with the cooling mint yogurt. I left the yogurt slightly chunky to help add some texture. It hardly took any time at all so would be great for a midweek dinner.

Indian-style creamed corn with naan, coriander and toasted spices
After eating this I think there is such a thing as too much sweetcorn. A can of sweetcorn each seems like a mountain, It was nice but it didn't blow me away. I think it was a little bit too sweet for my tastes. I did really enjoy the Indian-style flavours though.

Chilled chilli tomato noodles with crispy garlic and sesame
Anything that uses miso and I am there holding my bowl out for it to be filled up. This was so good. All of the flavours went together perfectly. I wish I'd used thicker noodles to help soak up the sauce better. This is such a quick dish and takes less than 20 minutes before you're sitting down and scoffing every last scrap. The toppings really do make it so make sure you do them all.

Carrot and thyme sausage braised lentils
Ah this was the best! The leftover dijon aioli is great in a sausage sandwich the following day. We bought some caramelised red onion sausages from our local butcher and they were superb in the dish. I've recently become a massive fan of tinned lentils as they only need to be warmed through. Great if you're a bit time poor and starving hungry!

Tomato and chilli lentil Dahl with quick tomato and lime pickle
I loved the pickle and wished I had doubled the recipe. It was delicious! Once again such simple tins (coconut milk, tomatoes and lentils) made such a flavoursome meal. I'll definitely make this one again as it was so simple. It says it feeds two but we got four portions out of it so it will be good for prepping lunches for the week. It reheats wonderfully!

Tomato and red wine braised aubergine
This was another great dish! I loved the richness the red wine added to the aubergine. I served it with some homemade sourdough which was perfect for mopping it up. Make sure you proper char your aubergines to get them extra smokey as this really does make a difference to the dish.

Roasted pepper, tomato and lentil soup
There was way too much smoked paprika in this for my personal tastes. I think I would reduce to use a tablespoon because my poor taste buds can't handle it! I used a jar of mixed yellow and red roasted peppers to help make the process a bit quicker. The portions are pretty big and I think you'll get at least five bowls out of this, making it great for meal-prepping!

Deciding on a new routine when you no longer have a weekly routine

Floral cotton dress: H&M (similar)
Brown and gold sliders: Matalan (similar)
Red lipstick: Kat Von D Everlasting lipstick

I got furloughed in the first week of April and I won't going back to work until 3rd August. So when this is all over, providing it doesn't get extended,  I will have had four months off work. Wow that looks absolutely mental now that I see it written down! On paper it sounds like a dream. When else are we ever going to get months off work when all we need to think about is what series to watch on Netlix and what to cook for dinner? The first few weeks were absolutely fab if I am honest. It was a novelty. I suddenly had all this free time and felt incredibly productive. I was cooking elaborate dishes in the kitchen, working out five times a week, going for evening walks and never setting an alarm.

But as it came up to a month my mental health took a bit of a nose dive. I started slacking off the workout routines, ordering takeaways, struggling to sleep and never leaving the house. It picked up again after a few weeks but the month of June has been tough. Maybe it's because it is starting to feel relentless. Maybe it's because I'm struggling to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But it has been tough. When work is so central to your routine in life it's bloody difficult to know what to do when it suddenly isn't there. My round trip commute is four hours so I am out of the house for more or less 12 hours a day. I don't have to think about anything during the week as it's set in stone. I wake up, commute to work, do my job, come home, go to the gym, cook dinner and go to bed. As regular as clockwork. I might jazz it up with a dinner after work in London with friends but that's as wild as it gets. I didn't realise how much I craved a routine until it was no longer there. My brain is doing overtime and running at 100 MPH. I like being alone but I don't like being alone to think.

It's taken me a while to realise I need a routine and how much one benefits me. My boyfriend has started working back in Southampton this month so, twice a week, I'm on my own all day. Watching 6 episodes of something in a row was not doing me any good when he is working away. So I started implementing a routine this week after realising I was spiralling. Two days in and I already feel better.

 I've started growing vegetables in my garden so I make sure I get up to water them first thing and check them for the dreaded bugs. I allow myself one episode of something on Netflix when I'm eating my breakfast. I do a work out, usually kettlebells or abs, before having a shower. I choose something to bake and do some pottering around the house. Usually a washing load or some tidying up. I read a couple of chapters of my book in the garden or on the sofa if it's a bit chilly. Then it's time to start dinner,  my boyfriend finishes work and I finally have some human interaction. I'm going to push myself to go on a bike ride at least 3-4 times a week to ensure I get some fresh air in my lungs. Knowing what I'm doing each day is giving me some of purpose and a kick up the backside to get things done. My days will hopefully stop blurring into one. Only six weeks left to go at home...

What is your new weekly routine since we went into Lockdown?

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