November 2015 NET Worth


Cash – £30.68
Santander – £1,333.14
Halifax C/A – £2,328.94
TSB- £106.72
Credit total – £3,799.48

Capital One C/C – £15.00
MBNA C/C – £3,471.64
Santander C/C – £3,244.21
Virgin Atlantic C/C – £451.58
Loan from Mum – £6,000.00
Debt total – (£13,182.43)

Net worth
£3,799.48 – £13,182.43 = –£9,382.95

Fitness Friday: OrangeTheory

Orange Theory

A couple of weeks ago now I took part in an absolutely killer exercise class that I want to tell you about: OrangeTheory Fitness –

The physiological theory behind the Orangetheory workout is known as “Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption,” or EPOC. By providing you with a heart-rate monitor and POD, we can monitor your 5-zone interval training sessions that we call the Orange 60. During the 60-minute workout, you will perform multiple intervals designed to produce 12 to 20 minutes of training at 84% or higher of your maximum heart rate, which translates to Zones 4/5. This program design produces workout “afterburn” effect, which is an increased metabolic rate for 24 to 36 hours after the workout.

Sounds a bit complicated and scientific right? Well it might be science-y but it’s really easy to follow along. I was the only newbie in the class which just goes to show its popularity (there were about twenty of us total I think) people love it and want to come back!

So how did I get on? I don’t think I have ever worked out quite so hard in my life! I’m not gonna lie  I was a bit apprehensive about going along and wondered if I should maybe wait until I’d regained some of my long-lost fitness but the instructor (whose name escapes me) was really nice and kept checking in to make sure I understood what was happening and that everything was OK.

The classes are split into three components: interval training on treadmills, indoor rowing as your active recovery and weights/resistance training. You basically don’t stop moving for the entire duration but it’s designed so that you really can go at your own pace. Your heart rate is constantly monitored and you can see on the screens in  the studio just how hard you’re working which is great motivation if you’re a bit competitive like I am!

If the studios weren’t so far away (I went to a class right before my visit to Udderlicious with Yelp and it’s just right up the road from there) I would definitely consider signing up to this. Coincidentally I found a lot of useful information thanks to fellow Yelper Camie T. as the official website isn’t the best for telling you about things like shower facilities etc. Like me you can get a free taster class at any of their studios direct from their website – try it, you never know you might like it!

30 by 30: An Update

Half a year until I turn thirty! Eeeeks… I’ve not made a huge amount of progress recently so this will be a short but sweet update on where I stand. Remember you can check out the full list here.

1. Be happy with my body

I’ve been taking part in the DW Fitness Festive Fitness Challenge for 6 weeks now and starting to notice a difference. I’d like to lose half another half a stone by the end of the challenge and then reevaluate in the new year.

3. Get out of (and stay out of!) debt

Unless I win the lottery this one is a gonner but I do have a huge challenge for 2016 in mind which I will let you all know about in the run up to the New Year!

5. Read 50 books – 45

Just five more to go, this one should be easy!

6. Create memory books with my mementos

This one is a project for me and my niece to work on over Christmas * fingers crossed*

15. Write/finish writing a book

I’m taking part in NaNoWriMo this month and still super excited by the plot. I’m currently sitting on around 13k words so I’m a little behind but I’m hopeful that I can finally “win” this year.

Afternoon Tea Time:, Soho

For our penultimate afternoon tea of the year Jen and I decided to try something a bit different from the usual finger sandwiches and scones and booked ourselves in to in Soho for an afternoon in miniature. Instead of sandwiches there were three different kinds of slider; a standard cheeseburger,  a salmon & prawn patty and a fried chicken slider which also came with a side of tiny fries.


The cheeseburger was well cooked as you would expect in a burger joint but pretty standard to be honest. The fish patty on the other hand was completely different and while I enjoyed the filling I didn’t think it was something that should be eaten in a bun. Finally the fried chicken slider was just heaven and I was disappointed when I glanced over the menu to see if it was available as a regular sized option only to find that no, it’s not!

There were then two puddings, a lemon curt tart which was very heavy on the pastry but perfectly balances and a tiny sliver of chocolate brownie which was insanely good. It might look tiny but it was so rich it was in fact the perfect size.


In fact you might be thinking “That doesn’t look like an awful lot of food” but it was, in my opinion, just right to give you a taste of everything without making you feel overfull.


As if that wasn’t enough we were overwhelmed by the amount to drink we were given too. Not only do you get a mini vanilla milkshake as part of the pudding selection but also an iced tea (to keep up with the afternoon tea theme) AND a glass of strawberry prosecco. For a mere £17 per person this is one of the best value for money afternoon teas we’ve done. So if you’re a bit sick of scones or know someone who isn’t a fan of finger sandwiches why not check out for something a little bit different?

BitBS Rating – ££

Brgr.Co Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Recipe: #KetchupCreations – BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches

To promote the launch of their new lifestyle blog Ketchup, Homeserve got in touch to see if they can change my mind on this tomato-y condiment by recreating one of their #KetchupCreations. So here’s a thing… I bloody HATE ketchup. I know, I know. So many of you are looking at me going, “Whatttt? How can this be?!” Truth be told up until a couple of years ago I didn’t really like any type of sauce but it’s slowly growing on me. (BBQ is my favourite!)

I won’t lie, when I was making the sauce for this dish I thought it was going to taste a bit weird being made of ketchup, then I added the red wine vinegar and thought it was only going to taste of vinegar and nothing else but actually the combination of these ingredients makes for a rich gloopy sauce which is just perfect for serving with pulled pork.

KetchupCreations BBQ Pulled PorkBBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches


For the pork:

  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • pork shoulder

For the sauce:

  • 140g tomato ketchup
  • 4 tbsps red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tbsps dark brown sugar

To serve:

  • 4 rolls
  • coleslaw


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 160C
  2. Mix the paprika and 1 tsp ground black pepper with a good pinch of salt and rub all over the pork
  3. Scatter the onions and bay leaves in the bottom of a large roasting tin then place the pork (rind side up) on top of the onions
  4. Add 200ml of water to the tin, wrap in foil and bake in the over for 4 hours.
  5. In a bowl mix the ketchup, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and brown sugar.
  6. Remove the pork from the roasting tin then place on the hob, pour in the ketchup mixture and boil for 10-15 minutes until thickened
  7. Remove the bay leaves before blending either with an electric hand blender or in a food processor
  8. Smear half of this mixture over the meat before cooking under a grill set to high for 10-15 minutes until nicely charred
  9. Use two forks to shred the meat into chunks. Add 3-4 tbsp of the sauce to the meat and toss together
  10. Pile in to rolls and serve with extra sauce and a little coleslaw
  • Serves 4
  • 533 calories per serving (meat only)

Tip: You can cook the pork in a slow cooker if you don’t want to use the oven for such a long time. I recently bought this one from Amazon and I love it.

*Disclaimer: I was send the ingredients for this recipe by Homeserve
in exchange for sharing this recipe with you.

The above opinions are still my own and not influenced by this in any way.

October Roundup

I know we say this practically every month but just where the heck is 2015 going? I can’t believe it’s November, before we know it Christmas will be here and then we’ll be ringing in 2016. I don’t particularly like new year as a holiday but I do love the excitement of a blank slate. Anyway enough rambling, here’s a wee catchup on what I got up to last month.

Great night out with some blogging girlies 🍸🍹

A photo posted by Leanne Fraser (@brokeinthebigsmoke) on

Way back at the start of the month I had a lovely catch up with some favourite bloggers at Cabana. The food was average but the company more than made up for it and I wouldn’t have missed seeing Katy the flatlay master at work for anything. I can’t believe it’s already been 5 weeks since I saw these guys!


We had a new entry in the Broke in the Big Smoke best afternoon teas in London list in the form of the Amba hotel’s Alice in Wonderland afternoon tea. Everything from the tiny details like the crockery to the ambiance of the terrace was utterly perfect and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.


I also treated some friends to dinner this month taking Victoria to Sake no Han for her birthday and Jen to Carioca, a great Brazilian restaurant in Brixton. This month also saw Yelp London launch Yelptoberfeast, a month-long festival where various restaurants teamed up with Yelp to give away free food and host epic events. I was lucky enough to attend three of these over the course of the month; the Udderlicious Ice Cream Cake Masterclass, a Bubble Tea Masterclass at Biju and Ze night of Yelp fun at Herman Ze German who kindly stepped in when Voodoo Ray’s were no longer able to host the pizza party.

Trying bubble tea for the first time #yelptoberfeast

A photo posted by Leanne Fraser (@brokeinthebigsmoke) on

This place is so cute @udderliciousldn #yelptoberfeast

A photo posted by Leanne Fraser (@brokeinthebigsmoke) on

I checked out the AiWeiWei exhibition at The RA, visited quite a few gyms in my quest for the perfect Winter Wonderbody and spent the weekend looking after a friends beloved greyhound who sadly passed away a few days later after almost two years of kicking cancers ass.

Zombie Elsa - Stephen

Then it was time for my final comic con of the year at the Excel where I had an excellent weekend with my friend Lauren running around as a zombiefied Elsa from Frozen and drinking way too much.


In the final week of the month I enjoyed a visit to the Tower of London to partake in a secret mission with The Nightwatchers, an afternoon tea with a twist at BRGRco which I’ll let you know more about next week and spent Halloween roaring with laughter at the Leicester Square theatre where we saw Harry Potter and the In-Appropritate Halloween (An unofficial sequel). Highlights included the prerecorded foreword from “JK Rowling” endorsing the show, Hermione forgetting her lines, Hagrid trying to eat midget gems from the floor and a moment between Harry and Malfoy that reminded me of this genius video. I’m sniggering to myself just reminiscing about it!

So all in all a slightly quieter month for me but still loads of stuff packed in to it. This month I’m partaking in NaNoWriMo, finally moving the blog self hosted and taking three dance classes a week so I do expect it to be a *bit* quieter around these parts for the rest of the year. What did you get up to in October?

Carioca, Brixton

As an East London girl working in central I don’t spend much time South of the river unless it’s the Waterloo/London Bridge area so when I was invited down to try out Carioca in Brixton I was a bit worried about how long it would take to get there. Turned out there was a bus that took me pretty much door to door from my office and made me realise that actually South of the river isn’t as inaccessible as I thought. I’ve only been to Brixton once before for a truly terrible date that I had clearly wiped from my memory as it all came flooding back to me while I waiting for my friend Jen outside the tube station.


Carioca is located in Market Row a really cool undercover walkway jam-packed with loads of interesting shops and eateries including some that I’m desperate to return and try. After being somewhat disappointed with the food I’d tried at Cabana I was really interested in seeing how authentic Brazilian cuisine would compare. Of course Carioca hands down blew Cabana away with freshly prepared traditional dishes that combine the influences of Portugal, Africa and South America in one.


Even though we were almost half an hour early we were warmly welcomed and seated with a complimentary signature lime Caipirinha which I used to toast the magnificent Muscles – my friend’s pet dog who I occasionally looked after who had sadly had to be put down earlier that day. On Wednesday’s Carioca offer feasting options for those dining in groups of 2 or 4 which are super value for money but we decided to stick to the regular menu and just order a dish each and then swap half way through!


To start though we couldn’t resist the lure of the calamari which came beautifully presented with a mildly spicy sauce which complimented the lightly fried squid.


For mains we split the chicken caipira; a traditional braised chicken dish where the chicken is seasoned in shallot onion, fresh ginger, garlic, spices, spring onion and parsley before being slow cooked in a low heat served with rice. The meat came on the bone but literally fell away it was so tender and the rice soaked up the juices perfectly to make every bite delicious.


The second dish we shared was the pulled beef Brazilian burger on a cheese bun. Now I’ve had pulled pork before (in fact I have a recipe for this coming up on the blog next week) but never pulled beef. The chefs at Carioca use flank steak for this dish which the marinate and slow cook until it pulls away into long strips of tender beef which they then mix with peppers an onion for the filling. The meat was incredibly delicious and I definitely favoured this dish over the chicken but what really made this special was the cheese bun that it was served on.


Believe it or not these buns are gluten-free making something like 90% of the menu at Carioca suitable for those that are gluten intolerant and I have to say I think that this bun was BETTER than some of its gluten including counterparts. Crunchy on the outside but soft and chewy on the inside the bun also didn’t fall apart when the meat juices had soaked it through. I tried to ask what the special recipe was but it’s a closely guarded secret so if you don’t want to take my word for it you’ll have to visit them and order this for yourself – I assure you, you won’t be disappointed.


By this point we were pretty full and were quite happy to call it a night but we were surprised with a slice of pineapple cake and cream to split between us. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it here on the blog before but I don’t really get along with hot fruit. Apple pie, nope. Fruit crumble, no thank you. And don’t even get me started on Christmas pudding. But this, this was something different. The fruit was in small enough chunks that it felt like part of the cake rather than a cake with fruit bits in it and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a pretty large slice though and even between the two of us we couldn’t manage to finish it. With belly’s full to bursting we headed home extremely contented with smiles on our faces. Huge thanks to Carioca for having us to visit.

BitBS Rating – ££

Carioca Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

*Disclaimer: Our meal at Carioca was complimentary in exchange for a review.
The above opinions are still my own and not influenced by this in any way.

Quick Cuisine for the Incurably Busy from Feast Happy

The last few weeks have been absolutely mental and the clocks going back make me feel like I have even less time in the evenings than I did before! As someone who likes to be in bed by 10pm I’ve found myself awake at midnight still trying tick things off my to-do list and it’s just exhausting. The first thing to go out the window when life is like this is looking after myself.

I have a million things to do I really can’t afford to spend an hour in the gym.

Why would I spend half an hour cooking dinner when I can throw something in the microwave and let it do its thing?

Given that I’m trying to lose weight for Christmas this doesn’t really help my cause. Enter Feast Happy, a great new gourmet food-tech delivery service that’s just launched right here in London.feast happy logoSo how do Feast Happy meals differ from all the other delivery services that London has to offer?

  • Cooked by award-winning chefs – currently Margot Henderson and Anna Tobias of Rochelle Canteen
  • Prepared fresh each day with healthy, locally sourced ingredients.
  • Arrive par-cooked so that they remain fresh and won’t dry out or go soggy before you can get around to eating them.

Tom, one of the founders of Feast Happy, kindly hand-delivered one of their meals to me at my office in Central London (you can see their delivery map here) a couple of weeks ago so I could taste test it for myself.

Feast Happy delivered

The option for that day was a beautiful British free range lamb shoulder on a bed of organic kale.  Paired with fresh, local turnips and shallots. It came wrapped up in 100% recyclable packaging with a rustic wraparound that included cooking instructions and all finished off with a beautiful twine bow! I know aesthetics aren’t everything but I was very impressed.

After a long day this just got DEVOURED @feasthappy #London #fdbloggers #fdporn

A photo posted by Leanne Fraser (@brokeinthebigsmoke) on

The cooking instructions were really easy to follow and I had a piping hot meal in front of me in just 15 minutes. Now confession time: before this I had never eaten lamb or kale (!) so I wasn’t really sure what to expect. Lamb is quite a fatty meat and while I wasn’t keen on those parts the leaner cuts of meat were melt in your mouth delicious, the vegetables were cooked to perfection and I really loved the kale too! Overall winner in my book. At the moment they’re offering an exotic lamb harira with bulgur wheat, carrots, chickpeas & coriander which looks delicious too.

For someone as busy as I am these meals are an amazing idea for those nights when you just know you won’t have time to cook anything half decent. You need to place your order by 6pm the day before but once you’ve done that you just sit back and wait for it to be delivered at the agreed time. Once it’s on its way you can even watch your bicycle courier approach so you know exactly when they’ll arrive which is a great touch. Find out more on their website.

*Disclaimer: My meal from Feast Happy was complimentary in exchange for a review.
The above opinions are still my own and not influenced by this in any way.

Fail to plan, plan to fail

Sooooo you’ll notice that things have been a lil quiet around here recently and that this post is actually a week late. Oops! But the title of this post sums up week four of the DW Fitness Winter Wonderbody challenge to a tee.

Week three actually started off really well and thanks to picking up a box from Hello Fresh I was eating fresh cooked healthy dinners pretty much every night and enjoyed the leftovers for lunch the next day. The problems only really hit at the weekend. I was dogsitting for some friends at their house and they treated me to dinner on the Friday night as well as a pub lunch on the Saturday before they left which wouldn’t have been that bad overall but I kind of took an oh-well-might-as-well-go-the-whole-hog-and-eat-some-poptarts-for-breakfast attitude and oops-how-did-that-swiss-roll-get-in-my-belly? Which would have been OK if I got right back on plan on the Monday. Except I didn’t.

Brazilian feast at @cariocabrixton with @jenl85 #fdbloggers #london #foodporn #flatlay #yum

A photo posted by Leanne Fraser (@brokeinthebigsmoke) on

I didn’t get home until quite late on the Sunday and the last thing I wanted to do was to go through my fridge, freezer and cupboards to pull together a meal plan for the week. Which of course led to lazy choices for the next five days; chicken katsu curry from Wasabi, quick and easy fresh ravioli from the corner shop and even a sausage, egg & cheese bagel from McDonald’s for breakfast one day. Feast Happy came to my rescue one evening after work which I’ll tell you more about in a future post but overall it wasn’t the healthiest of weeks.

Then it was comic con weekend and if you can eat healthily at comic con then you’re a stronger person than I am! Thankfully though the scales were still kind to me on Monday morning and I lost another pound.

I’ve also gone down half a percentage point in body fat which lets face it is a much more important number than the total so I’m pretty happy with that. These past few weeks have been a typical example of how I usually approach weight loss. I start off really enthusiastic and enjoy the planning process of how I’m going to achieve my goals but then I have a few bad days just give up completely. Luckily knowing that I’m competing with other bloggers and have a team of trainers behind me on this means that this time, I’m not giving up even though it might be hard. Hopefully that will show in the numbers at my next weigh in!

*Disclaimer: I’m taking part in the DW Fitness
Fitness Festive Challenge in exchange for blogging about my journey.
The above opinions are still my own and not influenced by this in any way.

October Reading

This month I went back to an old favourite author I’d kind of forgotten about; Cecilia Ahern. I used to buy her books religiously as soon as they came out as they’re a great mix of modern fairytale/fantasy but I wasn’t a huge fan of The Year I met You.

The Year I met you

I found it slow and difficult to get into compared to her previous ones. This is less fantastical and more relatable than her other novels which I wasn’t expecting. I wanted to be whisked away to a fairytale land and I wasn’t. Not a bad book, just not as fun as I have come to expect from Ahern.

night circus

Little Miss Katy recommended The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern to me the very first time I met her so I downloaded the audiobook version using one of my Audible credits as it was narrated by the wonderful Jim Dale (who also narrates the American version of the Harry Potter novels) but I have to admit I found it difficult to follow. This has puzzled me now that I have finished it as the story itself is wonderful but maybe if I had read this rather than listened to it I would have enjoyed it more? Who knows. I was also very impressed to discover that this started out life as a NaNoWriMo novel (which I am partaking in this year) – success stories like these are great for aspiring writers such as myself.

am i normal

I had planned on starting the second Strike novel by Robert Galbraith aka JK Rowling given that the third came out this month but as I own it in hardback I just couldn’t bring myself to carry it on the tube every day. Instead I read Am I Normal Yet by Holly Bourne which I bought after watching her and Non Pratt in a video with one of my favourite YouTubers at the moment Hannah Witton. I’ve really started getting in to watching certain YouTubers and I’d quite like to get back on the vlogging bandwagon – watch this space! Anyway, the book. I thought this book was utterly wonderful! It’s all about a teenage girls relapse with OCD and as someone who has never really suffered with any real mental illness issues I found it fascinating. A lot of the bad thoughts Evie has in the book are very familiar to me but whereas I push them aside she is unable to due to a chemical imbalance in her brain. I think this should be on every teenagers reading list!