Friday, 30 October 2015

FIVE FOR FRIDAY #41

 
Happy almost Halloween all! I'm not the biggest Halloween fan - yes, at nearly 25 I'm scared of the masks, the silly string, the blood and gore etc. - but I always make the effort to dress up. This year I'm planning to be Cruella but my plans for where I'll be dressing up as everybody's favourite stylish villain are not confirmed.

This week's been quite relaxed compared to those of late. I spent the majority of the weekend in London but had a big chunk of time at home of Sunday afternoon to just do nothing. I still haven't been feeling great after getting a stinking cold and chesty cough so it was nice to just do nothing all afternoon.

The rest of this week has involved another Italian lesson, the gym, cuddles with Yuki, this delicious soup, planning Christmas presents (first already purchased, GO ME!) and a flying visit to see my family.

What's in store next week? The start of this wonderful exhibition that I urge you all to go to, my final Italian class for this level, fireworks and London.

Here's this week's Five For Friday:

SHOPPING AT TIGER - I picked up some fab things this week including two of my favourite spotty jam jar glasses. It's so cheap, everything's a bit quirky and, quite frankly, I could buy about 70% of the shop.

CHANEL MADEMOISELLE PRIVE EXHIBITION - It's no secret to those that know me that I'm a huge fan of anything Chanel. Coco Chanel was so inspirational and still continues to inspire with her signature products as well as he iconic style. The Chanel Mademoiselle Prive exhibition captures the spirit and endearing personalities of both Mademoiselle Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld. You can book to take part in workshops, see beautiful portraits and learn so many things about the iconic brand, and the team behind it, that you may not have known before. It's only on until Sunday 1st so try and get there if you can. Be warned - you'll probably be queuing for at least an hour but it's worth the wait. 

THE GOOD WIFE - I've tweeted about this a couple of times recently but I've got so into it. I've been staying up late binge watching episodes. I like how it's not just a show about lawyers; it's got the element of detective work and mystery to it whilst also keeping you hooked with on going relationships and storylines. Each episode tends to discuss a new case but the numerous storylines that play out through the seasons are still there with new things uncovered.

FESTIVE SPIRIT - Yes, I know...it's the end of October and I'm feeling festive but I LOVE Autumn. I love the colours, the scented candles, the warming drinks, the seasonal fruit and vegetables...When it hits Autumn and I can practically smelled the mulled wine around the corner, it gets me all excited.

THIS KATSU CURRY - I've been banging on about this to everybody I know but it's SO good. I've also tried it with chicken and it was tasty but with aubergine, well, it's my new favourite dish. Try it, love it, thank me later.

Have a wonderful weekend lovely readers.

xo

Monday, 26 October 2015

MADE: Aubergine Katsu Curry


I've always been a katsu curry fan for as long as I can remember. I can't say I have them that regularly, but when I do, maaaan I enjoy them. I must admit, this is the first time I've ever made one and because I don't eat a great deal of meat these days, I figured an aubergine one would do the trick.

This recipe came into my life via the lovely Cate, who makes me feel hungry on a daily basis - proof she knows what she's talking about.

It's a great mid week meal as it takes little time to prepare and make or an ideal alternative to your weekend takeaway. Get stuck in and thank me later!

[Recipe based on BBC Good Food]

All you need to serve 2:
4 tbsp GF plain flour
1 aubergines, sliced thinly
100g Panko breadcrumbs
4 tbsp EV Olive Oil
150g rice - I use sushi or brown rice but basmati is fine too
1 large onion, sliced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2-3 tbsp curry powder - I would suggest 2 if you can't handle your 'spice'
2 tbsp agave nectar or natural sugar alternative
400ml can light coconut milk
1/2 large cucumber, ribboned under a Julienne peeler

You can also use sweet potato and courgette instead of or as well as aubergine and breadcrumb them - very tasty too!

1. Preheat your oven to 160 (fan assisted or 180 non-fan). While it is heating - you'll need two bowls - one with your breadcrumbs in, one with 3 of your tablespoons of flour in. You'll need to mix water into the flour but only enough for it to make a paste. Dip each aubergine slice into the flour/water paste then into the breadcrumbs, making sure they are well coated. Repeat until all slices are coated.

2. Heat a little bit of olive oil in a medium frying pan - add a few coated aubergine slices at a time, browning on each side a little - you'll need to do this in batches. Once they've browned slightly, add to a baking tray and cook for 10-15 minutes whilst you make your sauce.

3. Using the same pan (but wiped out), heat a little EVOO and throw in your onions - cook on a low heat, stirring regularly until they soften.

4. Stir in your crushed garlic and curry powder - making sure the onions are coated. Soon after, add the last tablespoon of flour and the agave nectar (or whichever natural sugar alternative you are using) to make into a thick paste.

5. Once the paste has formed, add your coconut milk a little at a time. It'll need to be mixed in slowly to allow a smooth sauce. Leave it to simmer on a low heat for 10-15 minutes. If it gets a bit thick, feel free to add a splash of water to thin it out a little. Put your rice on at this point.

6. I like to add a bit of chopped spring onion to the rice for extra flavour, so if you've got some, it's a great addition - now everything should be done and it's time to plate it all up with your ribboned cucumber.



Eat and enjoy! It's too good to not want to make this EVERY week.

Friday, 16 October 2015

FIVE FOR FRIDAY #40

 

This week's been an odd one. I had an amazing weekend in Scotland for Hazel and Jack's wedding followed by a really busy week at work and a total feelings rollercoasters. You see, I realised something this week and it's made me a little out of sorts. I spent the first part of the week feeling totally shit. There's nothing worse than realising you may be too late saying how you feel BUT, break through...things are going to be okay. So the latter part of the week, well, I've been in high spirits. Feeling all of these feelings has been exhausted. You know what I've found the best therapy to be - Bridget Jones. She's my spirit animal, definitely.

Next week's going to be a seriously busy one - a few days in the office, two days in London and the weekend in Sheffield. Ain't no rest for the wicked...

This weekend I'm having an unusually quiet one for me. Tonight I'm doing NOTHING. I may go to the gym BUT that's it. I started watching The Good Wife on Netflix at the beginning of the week, after many recommendations, and I've got pretty into it. So I anticipate watching at least 5 episodes when I get home later. Tomorrow I'm heading down to London for an overdue catch up with a uni friend then Sunday is a breakfast outing, possible walk and a spring clean of the house with my housemate. I've not had a weekend doing as little as this for ages but I'm really looking forward to it. Most of all, I'm looking forward to a quick London trip - Autumnal London is beautiful.

I hope you guys have had a fab week and have an equally fab weekend!

Here's this weeks Five For Friday...


A weekend in Scotland - Jack and Hazel's wedding was absolutely perfect; the whole weekend was. I flew to Glasgow on the Friday and got a hire car for the two hour drive to Lochgilphead. Hazel (and my best pal Dan)'s Aunt and Uncle own the most INSANE estate. It's unbelievable. The ceremony was at a beautiful little church down then lane and the reception was on the estate. UNREAL. I had so much fun and it made the Monday blues a million times more difficult this week. LOVE a wedding!


Rachel's Special Edition Fig and Honey Yogurt - AH-MA-ZIIIIIING! I love figs, they've become a bit of an obsession lately. And honey, well, who couldn't like honey?! Rachel's always do my absolute favourite yogurt. I've never got over them discontinuing (can you still say that for yogurt?) my love, Apple and Elderflower. This Fig and Honey has upped their game. Get to the supermarket right now and buy some!


Film nights at home - We've been getting our quota of chick flicks in this week (again!). It's become a regular thing now that we watch at least one or two a week. I mean, maybe it will brainwash us into an unrealistic view on how life, love and friendships actually are but hey, you can't beat a good girly film - especially this time of year, now that the nights are getting darker earlier and the weather is getting colder.

MOTIVATION - I am SO pleased to announce that I've rediscovered my gym motivation this week. I've been really stressing over the last few months about putting weight on/not being as toned/getting fat/just generally thinking I'm a minger. These thoughts are NEVER EVER healthy. But us girls can't always stop them. So I've figured instead of having a mental battle with myself on the reg, to actually do something about it. I've been twice this week and plan to go at least once before Sunday afternoon.

Making plans - As I've got no work related travel plans until January, it's really nice to be able to make plans with friends and family at the moment. Of course, my weeks are still a bit here, there and everywhere but it's lovely to spend time with everybody. It makes me SUPER excited for two weeks off at Christmas!

xo

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

MADE: Green Lentil and Bean Burgers


All you'll need to make around 4 large patties:
1 tin kidney beans
1 tin other beans (butterbeans, mixed beans, whatever...)
1 lemon, juice only
2 tsp chilli flakes
1/2 red chilli, chopped
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
6-8 fresh basil or parsley leaves, chopped
1 cup green lentils
1 red onion, diced
5 tbsp buckwheat flour
1/2 courgette, diced
A drizzle of oil

Serve with...
Sweet potato fries and salad
Lettuce and tomato as a bun with Guac
Or just in a burger bun with a bit of garnish.

Warning: not a recipe that will result in clean hands once the patties are formed!!

First things first, preheat your oven to 180 (fan) and line a baking tray with baking foil. If you're making sweet potatoes I'd get them chopped and boiled for 5-10 minutes now as they'll take at least half an hour in the oven.


Option one for making the patties - throw the list of ingredients into a food processor or one of these until things are smooth. You'll need to cook boil your lentils in a saucepan for around 10 minutes first though. And once they're done and blended with everything, your flour will be added at the end  to thicken the ingredients as everything'll be a bit sloppy now.

Option two - pretty much the same as before BUT add your diced courgette and onion after everything else has been blended. This is quite nice for a bit of texture.

Whichever way you do them - once you've got your mixed ingredients, put a little flour into your hands and rub together. The mixture will stick to your hands so this kinda helps.

Form your patties by taking a small handful of the mixture and shaping it into a circle. I've also tried shaping them into balls before, kinda like falafel and it works well. Put your patties onto your pre-lined baking tray and into the oven for 15-20 minutes. You'll also need to flip them over half way through.

Whilst they're cooking, prepare your sides - whether it's a nice bowl of guac, a side salad or just plating up your burger bun and condiments.



Friday, 2 October 2015

FIVE FOR FRIDAY #39

 
Since I've got back from the States I've been running around all over the place. I've come to realise I'm not a person that can easily switch off. In the past 12 months I've become a workaholic, a frequent flying and well, I have eye bags like never before. That said, this week I've had to just stop and say, "you know what? I'm knackered." Because I'm truly exhausted and pretty certain I'm coming down with some sort of illness.

What I'm trying to say is - I've got to remember to give myself a break. This year couldn't be more of an example of how quickly time flies. If I don't learn to give myself a break, the days whizz by into weeks...months...years and before I know it I'm in my 60's staying in on a Saturday night watching Strictly (oh wait...!)

Fridays are always a weird one for me. I'm always excited at the prospect of a weekend but usually that involves me driving at least an hour and half or spending an hour on the train to get to Nottingham/London/Sheffield. I'm not good at staying still. I have to be busy. Well this weekend, I'm not busy. I'm going home to rest, to cook, to bake, to see Bracken. I mean, I can guarantee I'll get to Saturday afternoon and be like OH MY GOD I NEED TO MAKE PLANS, I NEED TO DO THINGS, but I'm going to try my best not to. I kept telling myself that I now have three months to relax before the work trips begin again but realistically I won't relax. Each week I'm out of the office at least one-two days. Weekends (after this one) are completely planned until pretty much the end of November. I have now become Pretty Well Organised Chaos.

Well, that turned into an unintentional ramble. I'll get on with it...here's this weeks Five For Friday:

ITALIAN CLASSES - Yep, that's right. This week I've started learning Italian. It's going to be useful, I'm there at least 4 times a year. I mean, at the moment all I can do is say my name, order a Panini (un panino, FYI) and say it was cold, but ya know...practice makes perfect.

LIFE UNEXPECTED - I did something BAD. I started watching a new series on Netflix. And by watch, I mean binge watch so that in less than 24 hours I'd managed to watch a whole season (yes, 12 episodes). During that time I also went on a training course for 6 hours and fit in sleep. Seriously, get involved, it's good.

MY NEW COAT - I'm obsessed with my beautiful new, burgundy coat from Zara. I haven't got a snap of it anywhere yet but here's the link. Zara have seriously upped their game on Autumn/Winter coats this year.

TEA WEATHER - I've become a mint tea drinker over the past however many years but at the moment I've been loving the colder weather and the excuse to drink way more tea. I've even gone back to my old ways - weak, black tea. I've been wrapping up in a coat and sitting in the garden enjoying the sunshine with a cuppa in hand.

WEDDING EXCITEMENT - Next weekend I'm going to my best friends sister's wedding in Scotland and I'm EXCITED. I've never even been to Scotland so that's exciting enough BUT the wedding will be beautiful if the invites are anything to go by (BEAUTIFUL!) I've almost got my outfit sorted, I've got a wedding gift sorted, my flight's booked and well, I LOVE a wedding. All the love!

Have a faaaaaabulous weekend darlings!

xo

Thursday, 1 October 2015

MONTHLY GOALS: October


Where the hell has September gone?! Where has the summer gone?! It's getting towards Halloween, Bonfire Night and pretty soon, Christmas. Then the new year...GAHHH!

I've had the best month - a week of Milan, a week of New York, a London catch up, a weekend in Sheffield with my buddies AND I've spent some time with my family. Excitement of seeing a new city and catching up with my loved ones really makes my heart happy. 

October is going to be another fun month. I've got another two Sheffield trips planned, a wedding up in Scotland and, in all honestly, I'm serious looking forward to some downtime. Although the cold weather can easily get me down, I quite look forward to getting home from work, whipping up a nice dinner and cosying up under a blanket to read or watch something on Netflix. That said, I need to up my fitness game for the next three months before the next round of work trips begin.

So, how did my September Goals go...

SEE ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING HUMANLY POSSIBLE IN NEW YORK - I fitted in everything I could  while I was there - I did all of the standard touristy things, caught up with an old friend from Australia and had the time of my life!

PLAN A SHEFFIELD AND A LONDON TRIP - I've already been to both London and Sheffield a couple of times this month and have more lined up for Halloween, Bonfire Night and various other goings on.

NOT WORRY ABOUT MONEY - Surprisingly I've managed this, which is very unlike me. I've splurged a lot but I've kinda (not really...) kept track of things.

TRY AND HAVE A MONTH WITHOUT BUYING MORE THAN 10 ITEMS OF CLOTHING - Failed...let's move on. I'm never going to manage to cut my spending on clothes.


SLEEP - I've slept a lot more this month than in the past few months so I'm pretty pleased with that - getting more than 5 or 6 hours was becoming a rarity for me!

OCTOBER GOALS:

GET BACK ON TRACK - Healthy eating, the gym, clearing out my room and other bits in the house...all the stuff I've put off for the past few months due to not being in one place for more than a week.

SPEND MORE TIME WITH MY FRIENDS AND FAMILY - I can't wait to see more of everybody over these next three months as I have a breather from my work trips. Living away from all of them topped with travelling all over makes me miss them so much.

TRY AT LEAST ONE NEW RECIPE EACH WEEK - I've got pretty lazy with cooking over the last couple of months and have tended to stick to my tried, tested and probably too regular recipes. 

BE MORE PROACTIVE DURING THE DAY - I need to start making the most of time instead of getting so easily distracted during the day then staying up late working or browsing the internet.  I want to start getting up a little bit earlier and starting my day feeling less rushed.

GET SOME FRESH AIR WHERE I CAN - Now we're pretty much in Autumn, this is where the sunlight is sucked away and the weather turns - and the time when I go into hibernation. I find the winter months really tough as it's always so cold and dark. I want to try my best to make the most of the outdoors where I can - getting wrapped up for a walk at lunchtime, going out for a long walk with Mum and B when I'm at home or just sitting in the garden for 20 minutes having a cuppa!

I can't believe I've kept up for writing these monthly goals for so long! As 2016 approaches, is it something you'll do for the New Year?

xo