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Green+Aquamarine: December 2014

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Looking Back: 2014

This last year has been one of my busiest yet, and has gone fast. I suppose it is inevitable, but I am still surprised to find New Year's Eve rolling around today. I don't really have any traditions for New Year's compared to Christmas; I find the passing of another year a little sad! Still, I'm looking forward to starting the new year, and starting new and old routines afresh. Before I start the new year, I thought it would be good to look over the last year before moving on to 2015.

 January, February, March
After finishing an A level research project, I suddenly found myself with a little time on my hands. I had blogged before and wanted to get going again. I started Green + Aquamarine, with the idea of building a new blog based around fitness, wellbeing and sustainability. I passed my driving test with only four faults, and in February travelled to Harrogate for lunch with Mum and a cheeky nosy into Sweat Betty. During March, I tried an online Ballet Bootcamp class, made healthy energy bars and shared a guest post from the Marine Conservation Society.

April, May, June
From Easter, the run up to final exams began. Blogging went quiet for a bit, although I had a go at an Instagram yoga challenge during my study leave. A level exams were completed, and I spent a weekend glamping in Northumberland to celebrate. After that was my Mum's birthday, immediately followed by my Leaver's Ball, which I had been chair of the committee.  It was such a relief that everything ran smoothly, and the event hall was beautiful.

July, August
Over the summer, I started sharing a new post series, Asana of the Week. I then became an affiliated blogger for Om Yoga magazine. It is such a supportive, enthusiastic community to be involved with, and I really look forward to each month's issue, with it's variety of articles and topics. I spent my final weekend with the RSPB's Phoenix Forum, a team of ten teenagers representing the youth of the RSPB. We volunteered at Rutland Water's Bird Fair, which is always a really interesting weekend.

Over the summer, I managed to go on a couple of trips with friends, including going down to Swanage in Dorset for a gorgeous week. I experimented with vegan recipes, and then it was time to pack up my bags and start university. Moving all the way to Wales to live by myself for the first time was certainly strange, but I'm now living with some lovely flatmates.

October, November
Come autumn, university started properly and I started to settle into my course and life in Bangor. It is amazing to be focusing on a subject that you are passionate about, and as well as my course, I have had a lot of opportunities to join societies, such as surfing and marine mammal surveying. I joined the university gym, and have been able to work out, attend two yoga classes and have started the rather scary Insanity classes. Between that and eating a largely healthy, vegetarian diet, I feel healthier than ever. In October, I travelled down to London to the Om Yoga Show and then over to Oxford to see Stuart. My parents came over for Dad's birthday, so it was lovely to see them again.

The final month of the year saw me travelling back home, after a final two weeks of practicals, lab reports and an exam. It was really special to come back to the house all decorated, to get involved in all the usual traditions once again. It was like I hadn't left, and I'm a little worried that I won't know how to leave again! We had a wonderful Christmas -I'm part of a very small family so there were just four of us, but it always nice and cosy. I have been spending the holidays seeing family and friends between working and revising. It's been a pleasant sort of bubble; I can't quite fathom that my nineteenth and the return to university are just around the corner!

I hope that you've had a happy 2014 and have an either better 2015. Happy New Year!


Monday, 29 December 2014

Winter Runs

After Christmas, all I want to do is to get outside and stretch my legs. I think its the contrast that I like; opening up stiff muscles and joints that have previously unused whilst sat on arm chairs; and breathing in crisp cool air after being sat close to a warm fire. I had to postpone my Boxing Day run thanks to a cold, but yesterday I got to run with Stuart, which was really nice. It isn't often that I get to run with someone else, and I enjoyed being shown around a new route to me. From my family for Christmas this year, I received a few outdoor fitness and running tops, which I have been itching to try out. I also treated myself to some Nike running tights, which I absolutely love. They're not designed for winter, but as I get hot quite quickly they were perfect.

This is the first time that I have had kit specifically designed for winter running, rather than grabbing odds and ends that I can, and I was so comfortable. My Asics Fuji top is a great layering piece, although it could be worn just on its own. It is really bright in colour, and has 360' reflectivity so is suitable for all-day visibility. The tight hood stayed put and kept my ears warm -the last thing I want on a run is a chill-induced headache! The long zip is good for temperature control, and I love the thumbholes on the sleeves.

My Peter Storm base layer is designed more for power and hill walks as running makes the tight-fitting top ride up a little. However, it coped well on the run, keeping me warm where needed whilst wicking away sweat. It has carefully placed panels on the back, which look like they will be good for keeping skin breathing while carrying rucksacks up mountains and hills.

Asics Fuji Winter top: £29.99-35.99; Peter Storm Active top: £9.00 (was £25.00); Nike Pro Combat 2 Training Tights: £28.00

Big thanks to my boyfriend Stuart for taking this post's photos!

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Saturday, 27 December 2014

Healthy Two Recipe Banana Pancakes

Facing post-Christmas sugar cravings, but wanting to eat healthily? Pancakes are seemingly the ultimate treat breakfast choice, and there are hundreds, if not thousands of recipes out there offering up healthy twists on the much-loved dish. One that I've seen around, is the really simple banana and egg pancakes. It couldn't be easier; all you need is two eggs and one mashed banana. From there you can add lots of extra ingredients and flavourings to create your perfect breakfast or brunch. I have included a few ideas below:

Essential Ingredients:

  • 1 medium banana, mashed
  • 2 free range/organic eggs

Optional Extras:

  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground or fresh ginger
  • 1 tbsp raisins or dried blueberries/cranberries/goji berries
  • 2 tbsp fresh berries
  • 1/2 scoop protein powder


  • Low sugar jam (I love Meridian's organic blackcurrant spread)
  • Maple or agave syrup and pecans
  • Honey and almonds
  • Extra berries or fruit

Combine the eggs and banana and any extra ingredients. Place a frying pan over a medium-high heat and add half a teaspoon of coconut oil or vegetable oil. Pour a small amount of the pancake mix into the centre of the pan. Aim to make quite small pancakes, as they can be a bit more delicate to turn or flip than traditional pancakes. Use one or two fish slices to turn the pancake after 30 seconds, or until the underside has started to turn a light golden brown. Finish off the batch, stack the pancakes up high and enjoy, guilt free!


Wednesday, 24 December 2014

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

December has finally worked its way through to Christmas and the festive period has come around really fast. I have been squeezing in Christmas shopping and baking in between work and revision and have slowly been feeling more and more Christmassy since arriving back home.

Christmas Eve is as an important part of Christmas to me as the main day itself. We start off the day with a fairly vital task -collecting the turkey! When I do eat meat, it is important to me to make sure that it is sustainably sourced from animals that have had a decent quality of life. I can't remember not ordering a turkey from a farm shop or the deli, and I do think it makes a difference. We also bought the stuffing, being a little short for time this year, and cheeses. Once again we've bought our turkey through the delicatessen where I work. My family have been shopping there since before I started work there and it is good to know exactly where everything has come from, and to be assured of delicious foodstuffs and goodies!

Next, on to secret Santa in Helmsley, a historical town a few miles away. Since moving to Yorkshire, the Christmas Eve secret santa hunt has been our new tradition. As Stuart stayed over this year, we opened up our gifts (out of christmassy present sacks) over tea and teacakes in the Black Swan tearooms. This is the third year that we've been doing our new Christmas Eve traditions, and now I wouldn't be without them.

Early gifts: Ottolenghi books and SLOEmotion tipples!

Keeping fit over the holidays can be tricky, especially when leaving the gym and sports clubs behind. I'll admit; I am yet to go out on an outdoor run, but I have made it to the local gym this week and stretched out for a few minute of yoga where I can. It keeps me feeling energised and comfortable in a time associated with sitting on sofas in hot rooms all day.

For this reason, Christmas and boxing day walks are usually well received, especially after eating lots! There is such a friendly atmosphere wherever you go, especially when passing families greet you as they go past, bike-riding children in tow.


Thursday, 18 December 2014

Grokker: Be a Better You

When you can't make it to a class mat or personal trainer session every day (so, most of us) it can be hard to keep up yoga and targeted exercises as a regular practice. Firstly, the solution was to bring the trainer to you, all neatly packaged up in a promotional DVD. Exercise DVD's are starting to get a bit outdated now; with a laptop or television being required and a limited amount of content that can actually be put on the disk. Step forward the internet era. Theoretically, you can just type in a few key words into YouTube and be watching a yoga class from where you are sat. But quality can vary an awful lot, and it was this issue that inspired Lorna Borenstein to found Grokker, a website that brings you yoga, cooking and workout videos by expert yogis, instructors and chefs.

The name Grokker came from the book, A Stranger in a Strange Land in which to Grok means "means to understand so thoroughly that the observer becomes a part of the observed,” and so to be Grokker, you have been transformed.

All the videos are categorised really clearly, making finding a perfect video a breeze. As well as by category, you can search by video time length or expert leading the session, so the service is highly tailored to your needs. New, popular and featured videos are shown to provide further inspiration. I love delving through to find a new Vinyasa Flow video, and have learnt that Ashleigh Sargent's teaching style for yoga really suits me. She also runs yoga for athlete classes, which are perfect after a tough workout! I have been looking at the cooking videos for inspiration as well, although I have yet to try a workout class.

The fitness videos seem to be highly diverse, featuring weight training to ballet and barre sessions. There really is something for everyone. Videos are marked as to their difficulty level, letting you know if you are trying a class suited for all or one to challenge you.

The best thing is that you can access this for free. The basic membership allows access to three of the premium videos per day, as well as all non-premium videos. You can also make use of the wellness and community advice pages. For $9.99 per month, you can watch unlimited premium videos, and "attend" online classes. I am using the free version, which is working really well for me.

Do you use online videos to practice at home?

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Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Gift Guides for Fitness Girls

With Christmas coming steadily nearer, and still lots of gifts to buy, I thought I'd share a few gift guides with those of you still needing to pick up presents. I don't know about anyone else, but I find myself lusting after fitness-related gear and accessories more than anything else right now (not that I'd say no to shopping vouchers, skin care or a spa day..!). In lieu of this, I have split my guides up to suit the fitness girl that you are buying for... or to provide inspiration for your own wish lists! Happy shopping...

Running // Workout Gift Guide

Fitness Giftlist

  1. Beats Solo Headphones. £169.95 For the one who doesn't like the gym music clashing with their own.
  2. BPA-Free Filtering water bottle. £8.99 A must-have for clean hydration.
  3. Gym Talk Slogan Tee. £16.95 To keep motivated throughout the year.
  4. Lululemon running tights. £98.00 If you're feeling really generous, these high tech, sweat-wicking leggings are the ultimate fit-girl gift.
  5. Nike Free Flyknit Trainers. £99.00 What is a fitness gift guide without a pair of Nikes? These lightweight, flexible trainers are designed to keep you moving fast.
  6. Sweaty Betty Fleece Earwarmer. £15.00 For those winter runs.

Yogi Gift Guide

Yoga Wishlist

  1. No Balls Yoga Bra. £21.00 Made of bamboo and available in a range of colours, this is a yoga staple. 
  2. Mala Collective Beads. (Necklace $138.00) Useful in meditation, these beads make the perfect gift for a mindful yogi. Read my post about the beads here.
  3. Sweaty Betty Escape Luxe Jumper. £85.00 Taking you from the cold to the studio, this thermal jumper is perfect for winter practise and walks.
  4. Gym Tote Sophia Tote. £120.00 This bag is fitted with a mat holder, shoe compartment and can hold A4 folders, making it seriously multitasking. 
  5. Yoga Matters Sticky Mat. £17.00 The classic mat, great for yoga students of all levels.
  6. Lululemon Yoga Block. £10.00 Secret Santa-price friendly, this block won't get mixed up with anyone else's.

Concious Fitness Gift Guide

Conscious fitness gift list

  1. Cafe Press tote bag. £11.00. Simple, pretty and eco friendly. What's not to like?
  2. Marine Conservation Society Tee. Made of bamboo and cotton, this low CO2 emission t shirt is planet-friendly, and the profits go towards an amazing cause protecting our sea life.
  3. Cowshed Best of the Best. £40.00 Treat someone to this selection of goodies to nourish post-workout skin with natural, sustainable ingredients.
  4. Howies running top and capris. £45.00 and £39.00. Howies is based in Wales and makes fitness gear with low-impact materials, but high-tech design. With merino wool base layers, go to this brand for winter cycling and running kit.

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Saturday, 13 December 2014

Lately #2 December

Apologies on the quiet week. My last couple of weeks of university before Christmas have been busy to say the least. I have had a couple of lab practicals, written a report based a cockle survey that we conducted last month, and had an exam. In between that, I have started trampolining and somewhat scary Insanity classes with my friend Abbie, and visited Llandundo Christmas market. Oh, and we've sorted out a house for next year. What?! Things are shaping up to be pretty exciting.

Bangor has been looking pretty gorgeous at the moment. We've actually had quite a bit of clear sky weather at last, and in the sun the Menai Straits are so blue. Conversely, the mountains of Snowdonia have spent the last week building a white blanket of snow.

I'm now sat back at home, readjusting to living in an actual house with sofas and a more cosy feel than halls. My blog book has been filling with ideas for the next few weeks and I'm quite excited to get writing again in a new place.

Keep tuned for Christmas, fitness, yoga and food posts to come!