Thursday, 16 December 2010

present perfection and smoked reindeer

yesterday i may or may not have gone Christmas shopping and i may or may not have eaten one chunk of extra pistachio turkish delight, 3 huge milk chocolate brazil nuts (my favorite), 1 cheese straw and a bite of my brother's cream filled, cherry topped, raisin filled belgian bun.

ok, ok, i did.

and it was so good! we managed to get a few Christmas presents as well as eating our way around town. we also went to visit a friend of mine who is a jewellery designer in the town where we live. she is incredibly talented, and i so wish i hadn't already decided on a present for my mother, as her silver leaf and acorn pendant is absolutely beautiful (ok, maybe secretly i want it!). i actually saw her work desk, and she was making a commisioned piece for someone for a gift. she told me how her eyesight was getting progressively worse with creating such detailed pieces, and she's only 25!

we've ordered all our Christmas food now too. most of it is coming next week in an Ocado delivery van, apart from the meat (we're having lamb) which we have already purchased from our local farm shop. we have been redecorating too, our entire living room has been getting recarpeted, repainted and a new fireplace put in. it's a lot of work, but the family don't usually come to ours, so we want to make it special!

now onto my latest eats:

blueberry and banana buckwheat waffles (try saying that quickly!)

tortelloni with bacon and avocado sprout salad

haggis with potato wedges, sweet potato and spring greens with onion. i love haggis!

i've been sorting out creating this year's Christmas presents, as well as making pomanders with the family and eating tortelloni galore!

wholewheat pasta, boiled egg and sweetcorn lunchbox salad. 

wonderful pistachios - that bowlful was eaten in almost under 2 minutes by me and my mother. the salt and pepper flavour is delicious! they are just the right level of crispness, all easily openable and the flavour is just subtle enough to let the pistachios shine through.

we went to our local Ikea, and bought a few things in the food shop. this time we got knackebrod and smoked reindeer. that may sound really gross and weird, but it's seriously really good! we also got sild, kalles kaviar, kanelbulle, and crispbreads. we are fully stocked for the Christmas season now!

currently listening to: let it snow! by dean martin

PS. on a total sidenote that's a little off topic: i am so sad that the last season of Merlin ended, but I am super duper excited for the new season (apparently 2012), because of the beauty of the new cast - Gwaine, Lancelot and Percival - mm hmm. is it just me that appreciates rugged manly stubble a la Robin Hood or Aragorn?

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

homemade mince pies and secret santa

i recently took part in laura's secret santa and received my gift at the end of last week. it was absolutely brilliant! thank you to kate at embrace nutrition for such wonderful goodies, i feel totally spoiled!

i received some nairn's oatcakes (which were immediately opened and spread with butter!), a 9 bar, cashews, green tea with peppermint (absolutely divine) and my favourite - vita coco, in two different flavours!

another lunchbox photo! i really have enjoyed eating so much good veg and greens in the middle of the day. it makes my day brighter, and gives me so much energy! and bizarrely i don't ever feel hungry, as i thought i would. i suppose all the mince pie eating and copious amounts of food at various Christmas parties are keeping me full most of the time anyway!

although the snow has now melted, i adore this picture i took last week of my brother and little Bruno the puppy. they both enjoyed playing in the snow, and Bruno especially liked getting his face covered in it and making pawprints in the clean white crispness.

 ♥ white chocolate and cranberry cookies went into my secret santa box. we love these at Christmas in our house, they disappear very quickly though! there are so many different recipes on the web, i'm never sure where to start - when i find the ultimate recipe i will let you all know though! the key is to make sure there is a LOT of choc chunks and cranberries!

i have now officially made three batches of my healthy mince pie recipe! i edited the mincemeat recipe though, as i didn't have half the dried fruit and nuts, i used only brazilnuts and few almonds, raisins and sultanas, linseeds and sesame seeds, and added extra whisky, honey, a bit of brown sugar and one more apple. i think as long as you use lots of spice then it can't go wrong! i used the Jamie recipe for sweet shortcrust pastry - which is just perfect. with some pearl sugar on top, these are absolutely divine, melt in the mouth, not-too-sweet pastries that get gobbled quickly by everyone!

and if anyone has never understood mincemeat or mince pies, just try these and you won't be disappointed, seriously! usual shop-bought ones are far too sweet for my liking, and obliterate the tastebuds, but homemade you can keep your hand on flavours you like and adjust them to suit how sweet you want them. plus it's not too expensive to make your own, and they freeze really well too which is a bonus!

have i gone on about these enough? perhaps. but i just wanted to convey to all those who don't like mince pies that homemade taste totally different and far better, and you shouldn't dismiss them until you've made a batch :) they are a much misunderstood thing.

currently listening to: all my bells are ringing by lenka

Monday, 13 December 2010

healthy lunchboxes and pumpkin pie

sorry for the short lapse in posting - i have been swamped with work, and Christmas prep and house decorating! no excuse I know, but such is life. so this is a short post just before i head out to work again....

my most recent eats:

asparagus salad lunchbox - i love throwing everything in my little box and mixing it with mayo, dill, olive oil and apple cider vinegar! it always seems to come out tasting great :)

more porridge - this time with some homemade (by me, of course!) marrow and ginger jam, which is really very delicious!

pumpkin pie - this was absolutely wonderful! we shared it with some of our neighbours for thanksgiving, and it went down very well. i love pumpkin pie (and squash pie, and sweet potato pie!). and this is the easiest recipe and most tasty to follow.

another lunchbox, with another favorite combo - bacon and boiled egg (which i have a new found appreciaton for) with spinach, mushroom, sweetcorn, tomato, celery and raisins.

i've just finished reading fairytale of new york - what a brilliant book! i read it pretty quickly actually, it's a bit of a holiday book, but perfect for winter i think :)

currently listening to: winter song by sara bareilles and ingrid michaelson from the hotel cafe winter album

Friday, 10 December 2010

apple cider vinegar for acne and skin problems

apple cider vinegar is a relatively new thing to me. i found out about it on the blogosphere and bought my first bottle a few months back - i'm sure it was in some sort of haul video this last summer. but anyway, i first purchased it with a mind to use it on my hair, as i'd heard that this helps strip product build up and make your hair shinier. but after several repeat attempts, i still have not managed to make ACV work for my hair. i think my shampoo is just TOO good! ha ha.

so, i have been experimenting with using it on my skin. with really great results actually! which is why i thought it only fair to pass my information on to you guys ♥

firstly, if you want like 400+ positive reviews on it, check out the MUA boards, which completely rave about this for all sorts of things. and the boards for their shining reviews on using this for clearing your skin.

my own personal experience with this has been somewhat interesting. i started by using it as a direct spot treatment - which did not really work for me. i was literally putting some ACV on a cotton pad and pressing onto the infected area. i think this just aggravated it more than anything. so, i switched it up.

i mixed together in an old Neal's Yard blue glass spray bottle half of apple cider vinegar and half of rose water with a few extra drops of rosemary or lavender oil. i created my own anti-acne toner basically. which was so easy, and a really cheap thing to make too (added bonus!)

i spray my face with it once i've put my makeup on in the morning to set my makeup (sort of) and then once in the evening after cleansing. sometimes if i've gone out for an event and have lots of makeup on, i'll use this as a final cleanser/toner to make sure all the product is off and my face is really clean - i just spray a little onto a cotton wool pad and gently run it across my face. i make sure to shake it each time i use it too, just so that the product is evenly mixed.

i've finished almost two wholes bottles of this toner now, and i love it! the lavender and rose water calm down the strong scent of the apple cider vinegar, and it's less pungent. it's not too strong or direct an application to irritate my skin, though it is enough to help tighten my pores and even out my skin tone.

along with other things (which I'll talk about soon, i promise) this is really helping to clear up my acne around my mouth and jawline. thank goodness!

i've also been using it as a dressing on salads, which is yummy, and i'm sure helps the skin from the inside too.

fashion is subjective.

first a definition of the word 'subjective':
belonging to, proceeding from, or relating to the mind of the thinking subject and not the nature of the object being considered

the thing about fashion is that - it is what YOU make it. you can't and should not criticise other people, because their fashion is their own, and therefore when you criticise their fashion choices, you criticise them too. fashion is incredibly personally, after all it is an extension of yourself.

the point of the wonderful online fashion world, is that there are many different people expressing many different views, and it is our job to read and enjoy them, and take little bits of inspiration from everywhere to create our own look.

with that in mind, i have created a couple of videos about my favorite blogs out there, and thought you all ought to know! the first was created summer 2009, and the second was autumn 2010...i hope to keep creating this sort of video, to let everyone know about the wonderful inspiring blogs out there ♥

and i've probably mentioned this before, but there's a wonderful Q+A section on Fashion Questions with interviews from some awesome fashion bloggers - a great place to find new people to watch...

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

white snow and pastel cupcakes

last weekend i spent with my wonderful grandparents, eating creamed parsnip and vanilla sponge. it was a spectacular drive on the way as it started snowing and it was settling thicker and thicker - so completely magical! the few inches we had meant that we stayed inside most of the weekend knitting and watching great old movies like the millionairess

the view from my bedroom was quite spectacular when i woke up on Saturday morning ♥

 my latest eats are humble but delicious:

pouring yogurt with banana, oats, sultanas and linseeds. a tasty dessert shared with my mother one evening.

boiled egg with dipping soldiers and baked beans are so much fun. it's like being a kid again. although my adult self sensibly put a side salad with it to balance it out...

we've been eating a lot of salad lately, with lots of protein and fresh greens. spicy chicken, boiled egg, spinach, kale, cucumber, tomato and peppers. with my favorite ryvita crispbread and a layer of houmous.

sometimes  our lunches are weird. a sort of strange combination of things put together from fridge leftovers - a bit of tortelloni, a fried sardine, some houmous, some dill mayo, some veg and greens. it all feels a little railway children, doesn't it?

my friend's birthday happened last week, and she came over for a little lunch - our last weekly lunch as we are both starting new jobs! so i made her some pretty cupcakes, using all the icing and sprinkles and edible glitter i could find...

i hope you are all enjoying the first day of december, and that you opened a door on your advent calendar!

currently listening to: white christmas by bing crosby

ps. i so so want to make these apple latkes from smitten kitchen, they look tres yummy!

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

new favorite foodie: shutterbean

so, most of you already know about the amazing blog shutterbean. but for those of you that don't, this one's for you. you need to go and check it out know!

how is it i had never found out about this one! it's gone straight on my bloglovin reel...

i've done a few posts about my favorite food blogs before, and i always like to stay up to date on awesome healthy food blogs. but it seems sometimes people keep them a secret! thank goodness i found lauraaranmaggievalerie and heidi. it is such a pleasure to be a part of the food blogging community ♥

let me know your favorites...

Friday, 19 November 2010

roast chestnuts and banana oat pancakes

bonjour! i have some recipes for you today - a couple of new favorites i just adore...skip to the bottom if you want to check them out.

but first, i want to say how excited and happy i am about the news of the Royal Engagement - Prince William and Kate Middleton are finally getting married! and he gave her his mother's engagement ring, how lovely :)

today i want to share with you some of my favorite things:

roasted chesnuts. oh so simple, and oh so tasty. especially with some pomegranate green tea and a new copy of country living! if you've never roasted sweet chestnuts before, simple cut a cross in them, and put them on a tray in the oven for 30 minutes at a medium temperature (175c). and voila! 

walking with the puppy. even when it's cold and frosty, i adore taking him out for a stroll in my local countryside. it's been so beautiful lately with all the frost, as you can see the steam rising from the frost and the mist hanging low in the sky, it's really magical.

tortelloni. fresh of course. these are quick and simple and one of life's purest pleasures.

swaps! i recently took part in sofia's autumn swap, and received a parcel load of goodies from the lovely Kelly Kilmer :) i was really privileged to receive this parcel all the way from LA! the tea's are delicious, and i'm really looking forward to reading the book too. my parcel is on it's way, and i hope it's recipient enjoys it! i've also signed up for the UK Secret Santa that Laura is hosting, yahoo!

well prepared lunches. there's nothing more exciting than taking time to create a really special lunch. it feels very decadent, and it must be really good for the soul. we had trout sandwiches (handamde from scratch by my lovely brother), peppers and kale, apple and blackberry yogurt and a glittery cupcake made by a cake-maker friend of mine - edible glitter is the best!

pancakes and green smoothies. to start the day with pancakes is fun and exciting, and makes everyone's days a little brighter from the get-go! and green smoothies bring so much energy and nutrients, as well as tasting great. the two together is a powerful combination! 

these are two of my favorite recipes at the moment actually, banana oat pancakes and green ginger smoothie - see below the photo.

banana oat pancakes recipe - inspired by orangette

1. mix 1 cup porridge oats, 1 cup goat/soy milk, 1 egg, 1tbsp oil and use a electirc blender to smooth the ingredients together.
2. then add 1/4 cup spelt flour, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1 large banana, a sprinkle of salt, a sprinkle of cinnamon and 1-2tsp honey/maple syrup. blend these together again.
3. heat a large frying pan up to a medium high heat with a little oil in (coconut oil works well here). you know it is hot enough when water sizzles as you sprinkle it on the hot pan.
4. dollop on spoonfuls of the mixture and flip once it has a generous quantity of bubbles on the surface and is slightly firmed around the edges. serve with fresh berries, yogurt or a la mode.

notes: you don't need to blend these - they will be perfectly ok without, and even give a little additional texture. also, feel free to change up the ingredients a little, just make sure you have the same ratio of dry to wet ingredients - pancakes are very forgiving!

green ginger smoothie recipe

blend together 2 apples, 2 bananas, 1 knob of ginger (about the size of a brazil nut, or depending on how gingery you would like it), a cup or more of water (depending on the desired consistency) and then fill your blender up with a mixture of greens - i like mostly spinach with a little spring greens and gem lettuce.

notes: you can also add a little chocolate powder and a few berries to make it a chocolate and ginger green smoothie, which is also delicious!

currently listening to: do you feel by the rocket summer

Thursday, 18 November 2010

happiness in loneliness

this little video made me smile, so i thought i ought to share it, in case it brought you the same happiness:

i've always struggled with being by myself, but recently a friend told me how much she wished for more time by herself, and that really blessed me. i've been trying to enjoy life to the max, and use the time i have with just my own thought wisely, not sadly.

of course, it helps to have a puppy :)

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

100% coconut water and roasted brussels

hello lovely readers, i hope you are having a great day! it is raining outside my window, but i quite like the quiet peace it brings to the house: the puppy is asleep at my feet by the heater and i'm still in my pj's drinking my morning green smoothie and redbush tea. divine!

yesterday i was pretty ill from my diabetes - my sugar levels were flying all over the place, and there was one very scary low moment. but my family came to my rescue and sat me down and fed me pancakes! diabetes is only fun when you HAVE to eat pancakes at 10 at night... the rest of the day i had high sugar levels, and this is no fun at all, because it makes me feel so wretched. oh well, this morning i have had a nice lie in and my levels are balanced again.

i have been making decisions about my future these past few weeks. i have been in a bit of a conundrum about quite what to do - i have been standing at a crossroads for a long time trying to decide which way to go. but instead of choosing, i have been procrastinating. so, last week i went and spoke to my pastor, who gave me a few new options to think about, which involve more travelling! i have even sent of emails and things to try and get some cogs whirring. so, keep an eye out for future developments... i am SO excited!

onto a slightly less personal and a slightly more foodie note (although isn't food personal? hmm), i have been experimenting more with new savoury recipes, which is a stretch for me. as it's not quite my forte. however, my skin has been horrible lately, which i can only pin down to stress and more-than-usual quantities of sugar in my diet. so, i have taken steps to eliminate processed sugars and too much vegetable oil (as well as simplifying my skincare routine) - and it seems to be working so far. perhaps the secret is in the green smooothies?

here are my latest delicious treats:

roasted brussel sprouts - yum! i can't remember when i first read about these, but i know it was on the blogosphere, and that i have seen them pop up in all sorts of places since then. suffice to say, i love these and they are so simple to make!

vita coco 100% coconut water - i picked just one of these up at my local health food shop. i feel so good after drinking these, but at £1.69 for just one tiny one, i don't think these can become more regular than once in a while. if you are unsure of why you should spend so much money, watch this.

chicken and puy lentil salad - this is the perfect salad for winter as it's heart and filling and i just can't seem to get enough puy lentils, they are ridiculously good - if you've never had a pack, go out and get one now!

pancakes are almost becoming twice weekly in this house - and every time i make them i seem to use a different grain or ingredient! roll on more pumpkin pancakes, these are so yummy! and a possible Christmas day breakfast (although we are currently in negotiations on that one!!)

pearl barley, chicken, pesto, broccoli and boiled eggs. weird but filling, and good for you!

oh, well, now that was a long long post, and perhaps one of the first times i've shared more than my eating habits with you all, but oh, i hope you don't mind. i guess i think you deserve to know a little more about me!

currently listening to: like a G6 by far east movement

Monday, 15 November 2010

the outcome

so after many many hours, i have finally completed my scarf! and it's received a ton of compliments already and has kept my neck very warm ♥

i'm already starting on a couple of these for Christmas presents...

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

bonfire night and pumpkin pancakes

thanks for the lovely response to my previous post. i'm so glad you liked the pumpkin carving!

so, first up are some recent tasty eats:

pumpkin pancakes - my first ever attempt - were fantastic! i can't believe i've lived so long without these. they are so light and tasty, and go perfect with lingonberry tea.

oven roasted carrots, parsnips, butternut squash and purple carrots with homemade ketchup

i wouldn't usually eat croissants but one with a big glass of green smoothie can't hurt can it. especially when the whole packet was reduced to 55p.

dr oetkers pizza pollo - the only pizza i will allow myself because it's so colorful, has a thin base and tastes really really good.

baked beans and jacket potato. the ultimate bonfire night food.

so our bonfire night was wonderful. it was cold and dry, and who can ask for more than that on such a fantastic occasion? for those of you who have no idea what bonfire night is, click here for a video all about the tradition. and if you want to know all about flapjack, check out my favorite sophie dahl book (i promise you won't regret buying it!) or channel4 for a traditional golden syrup variety.

here's a few photo's my lovely brother took of the occasion:

soup, jacket potatoes, mulled wine, flapjack, chestnuts are all tasty bonfire night food! and we had each and every one on Sunday. mmmm, roasted chestnuts.

currently listening to: rythym of love by plain white t's