Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Healthy Winter Meals

sweet potato chips

I don't know about you but as soon as it gets cold I go into total hibernation mode. The winter duvet has come out, it's raining, and all I want to do is curl up inside and eat comfort food, preferably with added cheese.

I am attempting to reduce the number of pasta bakes per week to a more reasonable number (my ultimate winter food. Preferably with garlic bread. Mmm) by ensuring I have a few healthier options on hand that are easy to cook.

1. Sweet potato chips

Sweet potatoes have the be the best vegetable ever. I recently perfected my sweet potato chip method (I won't call it a recipe as it's too easy for that) after reading these instructions for the perfect oven sweet potato fries and discovered a few simple changes made my chips soooo much better. The key is to cut your potato into equal or near equal sized pieces so they cook at the same time, not to add too much oil (they should be coated but not sitting in the stuff) for ultimate crispiness, and not to cook anything else in the oven with them, otherwise they'll sweat and go soggy.

Recently I've had these chips with steak or salmon, for an ultimate comforting but healthy evening meal.


2. Thai vegetable soup

I blogged this recipe for a spicy thai vegetable soup way back at the start of the year, and it's a great wintry staple. I recently had a soup making session, and stocked my freezer with individual portions, so I can pull them out for a quick lunch. We ate this with James' home made pitta for lunch last weekend. I think I overdid the spices first time around, but some of the heat gets lost when you freeze it, so second time around it was perfect!


3. Turkey Bolognase

Finally this low fat turkey bolognase was a recent discovery, on the BBC Good Food website. Swapping out beef mince for turkey makes a big difference health wise, and it's another meal that you can easily freeze and reheat with pasta or quinoa if you are feeling extra healthy. The turkey can be a bit bland, so I did spice it up quite a bit (when in doubt add more cayenne pepper is my cooking motto. Poor James gets to play guinea pig when I add too much...) from the original recipe, but it was really yummy and filling.

If you have any suggestions for filling winter comfort food that is also vaguely healthy I'd love to hear them! Please do leave your suggestions in the comments.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Revlon Lip Butters

revlon lip butters in berry smoothie and candy apple

When I'm in need of a bit of retail therapy, lipsticks are my go to makeup item. I don't have a crazy makeup collection, but lipstick and nail varnish are probably about 90% of it. Despite being most of my collection though, neither are things that I wear everyday, as most of my lipsticks are bright and bold and feel a bit much for a normal workday.

Enter the Revlon lip butter. I picked these two up on a three for two deal in boots with a primer I'm not too sure about yet, but the lip butters I love. The two shades I have are Berry Smoothie (top) and Candy Apple (bottom) and they are both super wearable sheer shades. They are slightly shimmery, with a nice colour payoff for something so sheer, and they feel like the perfect subtle lipstick for a regular workday, or a lazy weekend.

They feel really moisturising as well (hence the 'butter' I guess!), the only thing I don't like so much is the shape of the bullet. It has a flat top which for my lips is just slightly too big, making it difficult to apply accurately. Generally though I am pretty happy with the latest additions to my lip collection, though I am going to need to look at new storage for everything soon!

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Lazy Sunday Links

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1. Autumn always has me obsessed with root vegetables 2. I love these ideas for using school style lockers in your house 3. New York through Mariell's camera 4. love this little apartment, it even makes me want a floral sofa! 5. The best looking flat shoes around 6. This trip down memory lane with Lizzy's Silvanian family outfits is too cute!

Happy weekend! Ours has been not so happy, following a very traumatic trip to the vet with the kitties on Saturday morning. They needed to be weighed, so we could get them the right flea and worming treatment, and also have the first dose of their feline leukaemia vaccine. The combination of being trapped in their cat boxes, the journey and the vet's waiting room (complete with three dogs and  four other cats) was definitely too much for the poor things, especially Hershel who literally went crazy as soon as we let him out of the cat box, racing around. Thankfully the vet was amazing, and managed to catch Hershel with a towel and successfully administer the required injection. 

Hershel has been sulking upstairs pretty much ever since! I think he's slowly starting to forgive us, but little does he know he has to get the second injection in three weeks... Sorry little guy!

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Killer Heels

dress - asos, shoes courtesy faith by debenhams

Is anyone thinking about Christmas parties yet? Too early? It's dawned on me that it is only about four weeks now until my work Christmas parties start happening (I've managed to invite myself to four!) and so I have realised I do actually need to start thinknig about outfits if I don't want to end up in a mad panic the day before. 

The dress in the photos above is what I wore for the Christmas party last year, and looking through my wardrobe I think I'm getting to the point where I have worn all my formal dresses multiple times (four weddings this year has given me formalwear fatigue!) and I think it is time to go shopping!

I am sorted for shoes though, as I was sent this amazing pair of heels from Faith by Debenhams, which was designed to celebrate their 50th anniversary. Faith was a total highstreet staple when I was growing up, so it is nice to see they are still going strong. The heels are sky high and incredibly narrow though, so they may not be the best shoes for this trainer-lover. I need to get some practise in around the house first!

Sunday, 9 November 2014

A picture of the week


You may remember me waxing lyrical about the Bierra Moretti food festival in the summer. I tried so many amazing Italian street foods, and left feeling utterly stuffed and delighted in equal measures. So when they invited me back to the winter edition last week? It was an instant 'yes please'!

Sadly the winter darkness and mood lighting meant 90% of my photos came out an unsalvagable purple, sob, but I did manage to capture one photo of the amazing Pizza Pilgrims' mushroom and truffle oil pizza, which was to die for! I also had double helpings of Gelupo gelato, and the most amazing pumpkin gnocchi known to man.

Alas the tour ended in London yesterday, but keep your eyes peeled for next time, this is one of the best pop up events I have been too, and I would highly recommend.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Second Hand Books


If you ever find yourself in Bristol make sure you visit the little second hand bookshop up the far end of Gloucester Road. Almost everything is £2, unless its cheaper, they have a brilliant selection, and I cannot go in without picking myself up a book or three.

This time I got a collection of books by some of my favourite authors - a couple of Terry Pratchetts which we didn't already have in our collection, a Michael Chabon I haven't read yet (he's one of my absolute faves - if you haven't read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay yet you should), and The Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman, who also wrote Practical Magic, which I loved even more than I loved the film (and I loved the film a lot!)

Monday, 27 October 2014

Who ate all the pies?


Me. Yup, it's me. I ate all the pies.

My love of pie, and in particular Pieminister pies has been well documented through my use of the Pieminister cookbook upon the blog (chicken, leek and cider pie anyone? Or are you in more of a sausage and potato mood?)

This weekend I was in Bristol having a long overdue catch up with my school friends, and when in Bristol of course you must eat pie, so a trip to the original Pieminister restaurant was swiftly planned and executed. I had the Moo and Blue pie - an epic steak and Stilton pie, with sides of superfood red cabbage slaw and sweet potato fries, which were possibly the best sweet potato fries I have ever had. Soft on the inside but perfectly crunchy and fry-like on the out.

If you are a veggie, then I can promise you the vegetarian options are every bit as good as the meaty ones - you must try the Heidi pie with goats cheese and sweet potato. If you are (and I don't know why you would be but I guess someone is) after a lighter pie they have a few options which sounded delicious and come with out a pastry top. I can't say I've ever tried these, as more pastry is always a good thing in my mind, but the flavours do sound delicious!

To drink they have a good range of beers, wine and gin as well as soft drinks, but for me when I go back to the west country it has to be cider! Their restaurants are all over the country now, and there is even one in Amsterdam, so there is really no excuse not to eat all the pies!

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Grown Up Weekend

clockwise from top left: blazer, clutch, dress, hat, skirt, top, shoes, scarf, top

I'm having a total Zara moment at the moment. I definitely feel an online shopping order coming on. I have talked extensively about making my work wardrobe a bit more grown up, and now I am looking to do the same with my weekend clothes. 

I don't know if it is the season (autumn is always the time to reinvent yourself isn't it?) or just a need for a refresh but I am moving more and more away from my old style of mini skirts, high heels and printed tees to something a little more elegant. I still love a good mini (I'm wearing one as I type this!) but I am generally finding myself drawn to clothes which are a bit less cute'n'quirky and a bit more pared down. 

I am endlessly pinning midi skirts, Breton tops and ballet flats. What I previously thought of as boring now appeals to me a lot more, and I want to get back into wearing scarves and jewellery to brighten up a more basic, classic wardrobe. Zara, Hobbs and John Lewis are currently my favourite places to shop, and the urge to shop is strong!

What's your autumn shopping list looking like?

Sunday, 12 October 2014

A picture of the week


It's been a tough week. One of the toughest. But coming home to these two little faces always makes things better. So lets talk about my little fluffy monsters some more.

They are six-seven months old now and definitely fully grown cats. Looking sleek and just a little bit rotund around the middle (we've had to instigate a no-treats policy!) and a million miles away from the skinny scared little things we brought home. Lets face it they basically rule the house. Hershel is definitely in full on teenager mode at the moment, he is so boisterous, and stroppy when he doesn't get what we wants (usually the food off my plate or a seat on top of my laptop!) and has taken to knocking things over when he doesn't get his own way.

Emmy is still the shyer of the two but she does like to be brushed and stroked, although only on her terms. She's definitely taken the idea that teenagers sleep all day to heart (or is that just cats?) and loves shoes. So pretty much like me as a teenager then!

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Dear Diary


James and I keep double booking ourselves, and when it got to the point I arranged a trip away with my girlfriends the weekend his parents were due to come to lunch (oops!) enough was enough. I popped into Selfridges one lunchtime and found these Moleskine diaries on sale. They are 18month mid year diaries so we are good til December 2015, and I like that you can see the whole week really easily on each double page.

The difficult bit is now sitting down and making sure we update them every week so we both know what is going on. I have one friend who uses a shared google calendar for her and her boyfriend, but I just don't see James remembering to update that. It's better if I make him sit down and talk me through each week!

How do you keep on schedule? Particularly when you re coordinating with friends and family?

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Ballet Shoes

leggings - zara, tee - asos, cardigan - twenty8twelve, shoes courtesy rainbow club

Oh transitional dressing. Why you so hard? It was unexpectedly sunny at the weekend and I ended up being way too hot in this outfit, nice though it was. The focus was my shoes which were sent to me by Rainbow club. They are primarily a website for bridal shoes, and offer a bespoke dying service for when you've worn your white wedding shoes on the big day and want to dye them a slightly more practical colour to wear them again.

Of course it's not just for brides, and I could see the service working well for other special occaisions where you are stuggling to find shoes that match your outfit. I went for these plain flats, as I never really wear heels these days, and a pretty pale pink colour I knew would go well with a lot of my clothes. You can tell these are special occaision shoes - and I wouldn't wear them everyday for fear of getting them mucky, but for me these are perfect for dancing the night away at (someone else's) wedding, or perhaps a work party.

Monday, 29 September 2014

24 Hours in Mumbai


If you follow me on instagram or twitter you will have seen that I just got back from a week in India. I travelled for work (I realise how lucky I am to be able to say that!) and spent a few days in Bangalore working, then two of my colleagues and I decided to go to Mumbai for the weekend. Afdter all you aren't on the other side of the world very often.

Spending less than two days in a city is not necessarily something I'd recommend, but I couldn't have come home and said I'd only seen the inside of my hotel room and an office building after flying all that way.

We arrived in Mumbai on Friday night and decided to get a taste of local flavour by visiting a market near our hotel. Well being total westerners we pretty soon realised that was a terrible idea! We had no idea quite now bad the relentless pressure of the sellers and beggars would be and if we hadn't dived into a nearby shop would probably have come back all owning multiple drums, a range of local handicrafts and having adopted several children! As someone who just isn't used to that it was quite a tough experience. In the evening we went to an amazing restaurant called Indigo, just round the back of the Taj hotel, but we were so exhausted from the market, and the week's work we barely spoke and probably didn't appreciate the food as much as we should have.

After a good night's sleep though we were in much better shape the next day. Banglore was hot, but dry, whereas Mumbai was just coming out of the monsoon season, and being by the sea it was hot and muggy all day, and it just sapped your energy. We had a blissfully air conditioned car take us on a tour of as many of the sights we could see in half a day. We made it to the Gate of India (where we got cornered by priests attempting to give us good luck in exchange for money... By this point I was sensing a theme somewhat!), the Dhobi Ghat - an amazing open air laundry, the Haji Ali mosque - which is a fantastic white building on a peninsula in the bay, and Ghandi's house, now a museum. We had lunch at Leopolds - a very western style bar-restaurant which made amazing milkshakes, and is famous for still having the bullet holes in the wall from the terror attacks in 2008.

In the evening we went to Aer bar, at the top of the Four Seasons hotel, which was just stunning. Amazing for people watching, and looking down at the lights of the city you could have been in any country in the world. I really loved my experience of India. It's certainly a culture shock - I have never been anywhere quite like it, and from the moment you touch down in Mumbai airport surrounded by the slums you are acutely aware of the terrible poverty which exists there. However everyone I spoke to was so welcoming, and so proud of their country and keen for us to see how amazing it was. It was a really great trip and i would love to visit again and see a bit more of the country.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Lazy Sunday Links

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1. Zoella's new beauty line looks so pretty 2. Kate's post on decorating on a budget is right on the mney (pun intended) 3. Salmon is pretty much my favourite food, so this post is perfect 4. Lessons from a Tuscan life 5. I love Daniel's dining room make over 6. When I grow up I want to be a baker

So hey, long time no blog. Again. I know I keep taking breaks, and for ages I've been beating myself up about it, but I've decided to stop stressing about it any longer. I'd rather blog when I want to and when I have something interesting to say than keep forcing myself to blog when I don't feel like it. So that's the last blog post I start with an 'oops I forgot to blog' non-apology! Probably.

This weekend has been spent painting my living room wall after the plaster finally dried out. We had a damp problem which we got fixed about two months ago, but it was six weeks until we could repaint and then we just didn't find time for a couple more. I'm happy my living room is starting to look less like a building site finally though. The bare plaster was not a great look. 

It was the first time we have decorated with the kitties being around, so we had to trick them into going into the bedroom then shut them in for the day. I felt bad. They were pretty grumpy at me when we let them out.  In my guilt I then fed them many treats. I think we all know who the real smartypants in this house are.