Thursday, 26 September 2013

Packed Lunch Problems, Solved with Soup

I am currently working full time, and whilst this is great it does mean I face the daily temptation of grabbing some sort of yummy meal deal or some cheeky fast food for lunch, which, while delicious, equates to money which could be spent on something slightly longer lasting (especially as I eat pretty quickly!).

I made the decision last week that I needed to stop with chicken and ranch baguettes and find a healthier option, and as the cold weather set in I struck upon my answer - soup! Cheap, easy to make and something I can prep waaay in advance and just grab on the way out and it's so good that I thought I'd share with you the recipe for what I am having for lunch today:

Cheap Recipe for Healthy Soup
Warming Carrot + Split Pea

225g yellow split-peas
1 onion
1 sweet potato
3 carrots
any form of vegetable stock / a veggie stock cube.

Soak the peas for a while (overnight/whilst you are at work) in cold water.
Drain them, rinse them, and then put them in a saucepan with 1.5 litres of cold water (or stock) and the stock cube.
Simmer for 25 minutes.
Add in the other veg and simmer for a further 15 minutes.
Blend everything until smooth.
Then heat whenever you fancy! (Two and a half minutes in the microwave usually does it for me).

        - Enjoy!

PS: Do you take pack lunch to work? Any tips for how to make it more interesting?


Wednesday, 25 September 2013

The Books Q & A Tag

I saw this tag on Evelyn’s blog and thought I would give it a crack. I've gotten back into reading since graduating, rewarding myself by finishing up the Hunger Games trilogy and am now also partaking in an ultra-casual, yet slightly nerdy, Graduates Book Club. I am probably going to post my reviews of the books we read on here so thought I would ease you in gently!

Q. What are you reading right now?
A. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, erm… it’s a bit old, but he is heralded as pioneer of detective fiction. 

Q. Do you have any idea what you'll read when you're done with that?
A. Yes! I want to read Orange is the New Black because I absolutely adored the TV series, and Darkly Dreaming Dexter because the TV series has just finished and now I don’t know what to do.

Enid Blyton Malory Towers

Q. What 5 books have you always wanted to read but haven't gotten round to yet?
A.  Oh my goodness, erm..
  1. His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman (I have seen the play though - it was magical!)
  2. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  3. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  4. One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest by Ken Kesey (again first experienced as a beautiful play)
  5. Inferno by Dan Brown (technically the only reason I haven't read this yet is because they won't release it in paperback!)
Q. What magazines do you have in your bathroom/lounge right now? 
A.  I’ve just moved back home to my ma’s house and I think she’d kill me if I left magazines in our bathroom. I was subscribed to Newsweek until it went digital and I’m thinking of getting a subscription to Company or  Glamour (recommendations?).

Q. What's the worst book that you've ever read?
A. I can’t pin-point anything that I’ve thought was terrible, probably because I wouldn't have got to the end if I hated it, but I’ve certainly read my fair share of trash! I can proudly claim that I have read all the books ‘written’ by Pamela Anderson.

Q. What book seems really popular but you actually hated?
50 Shades of Grey, but to be honest I’ve not even read it, having the same name as the main character has caused me enough grief anyway.

Q. What's the one book that you recommend to just about everyone?
A. Angels and Demons by Dan Brown. People should stop being pretentious, Dan Brown is bloody phenomenal storyteller.

Q. What are you favourite 3 poems?
A. To be perfectly honest the only reason I’ve read poetry recently is because writing essays on poetry is notoriously easy. When I was younger I used to love a poem called The Duel, but right now the only poem I know any lines from is called A Peanut Sat on a Railway Track.

(A peanut sat on a railway track, His heart was all a-flutter. The five-fifteen came rushing by - Toot-Toot Peanut butter!)

Q. Where do you usually get your books?
A. The cost of books really stresses me out, I love them but they are quite expensive especially because I read pretty quickly. Charity Shops are a godsend for books and I also own a kindle (I’m sorry publishing industry). I also sometimes go to my local library *gasp*.

Q. Where do you usually read your books?
A. My commute to work is currently the top place I read.

Q. When you were little did you have any particular reading habits?
A. We used to have a little notebook at school where whenever you finished a book they gave you a little star sticker, I’m sure there used to be a purpose for collecting the stickers but I’ve no idea what!
Cute Bookworm Toys

Q. What's the last thing you stayed up half the night reading because it was so good you couldn't put it down? 
A. I reeally wanted to know what the conclusion to the Hunger Games would be and I have hazy memories of staying up way later than I should have in China reading that.

Q. Have you ever 'faked' reading a book?
A. I have a Literature degree so yes, one-thousand times yes. To this day I still have no idea as to what happens in the last ten pages of The Important of Being Earnest and have never read Oliver Twist.

Q. Have you ever bought a book just because you liked the cover?
A. Yes, but probably not at full price! I would imagine I read the blurb as well though..

Q. What was your favourite book when you were a child?
A. The Fire Within by Chris d'Lacey, it's an absolutely charming book that has everything that a curious 10 year old loves (including Squirrels and Dragons).

Q. What book changed your life?
A.  I can’t pinpoint anything that ‘changed my life’ but the book that sparked my enjoyment of reading when I was a wee littlun was The Hobbit by J. R. Tolkien as my dad used to read it to me while I was in the bath, n’awwh.

Q. What is your favourite passage from a book?
A. "He shall never know I love him: and that, not because he's handsome, but because he's more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made out of, his and mine are the same.” 
This gem also comes from the same character:
“I'll be as dirty as I please, and I like to be dirty, and I will be dirty!”
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë)

Q. Who are your top 5 favourite authors?
A. I can only pick 4 absolutes: George Orwell, Dan Brown, Alexander McCall Smith, Enid Blyton (the ones about boarding schools!).

Q. What book has no one heard about but should read? 
A. I'm not great on the whole 'undiscovered' genius thing, so maybe There's A Boy In The Girls Bathroom by Louis Sachar. Its that excellent mix of weird and beautiful.

Q. What is your favourite book from a first time author? 
A. I’m not sure if this counts but Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit was Jeanette Winterson’s first book (she probably has about 25 now!).

Q. What is your favourite classic? 
A. I'm quite partial to a bit of Shakespeare; Macbeth, Hamlet and Henry IV are particular favorites. (hello, literature student cliché)

If you do / have done this tag please leave a link below as I would love to read your answers!


Monday, 23 September 2013

Sleek Blush by 3 in Lace

Blush Palette and EcoTools Brush |

I currently own more blush that I’ve ever owned at any other point and this is because I currently have two Blush By 3 Palettes by Sleek; Sweet Cheeks and Lace. I mentioned them briefly in a recent favourites post, but I thought I’d indulge my love for them slightly more.

Despite picking up Sweet Cheeks after seeing a photo of it on twitter and thinking that those were the exact colours I loved, Lace is completely my favourite. It is made up of 3 (pretty bright) shades; crochet, a matte orange, guipure, a shimmery peach, and chantilly a matte red/coral tone. (I’m all for giving things interesting names, but I think it might have taken me longer than necessary to realise that these colours where all type of lace).

Crochet, Guipure, Chantilly Blush
I’m pretty pale so seeing these colours for the first time was quite intimidating; they’re super bright and as the package boasts ‘intensely pigmented’. But this high level of pigmentation, equalled in its staying time, is what makes these blushes so great. I’ve been using the palette for over five months now and not even made a dent in the trays!

After five months though I’ve still not mastered the art of applying the exact right amount and always have to blend (quite a lot) to make sure I don’t look like a deranged rag doll. I think this is because I still haven’t got used to how finely milled and soft they are and am picking a little bit too much up on my brush – shout out to the EcoTools Blush Brush and MiniKabuki that I am currently favouring.

The sleek palettes retail at £9.99 for 20g which is great value considering how long it has lasted me for, however, I have fallen in love more with one shade – crochet- than the others so I’m thinking perhaps for my next purchase I should play around with the singles a bit more. What I think is really smart is that on the sleek website they have a tester picture where you can see what the shades look like applied to your particular skin tone (although as I typed that I realised you can just Superdrug and try it on your skin for real, oh well, less messy anyway!).

Sleek Blush Palette and Box |’m now sold on this being one of the best high street blushes available and will definitely keep an eye out for other Sleek products to try, but I will end with a cheeky side note that it is made from that annoying black packaging that gets dirty no matter what you do, you know the one? Grrr..


Sunday, 8 September 2013

Coffee Club | Beanies Amaretto Almond

Now that I have left the world of university deadlines I can consume coffee in an enjoyable manner rather than surrounding myself with lukewarm cups of the highest caffeinated product in our kitchen so I have decided to start a new type of post where I indulge my love of coffee by trying out something new each month. I popped into my local supermarket and was drawn to the ever so cute Beanies pots. Having had a nightmare with ‘sweet’ flavoured instant coffee before I opted for the more interesting sounding Amaretto Almond flavour (despite never actually putting actual amaretto in a coffee in my life).

British Flavoured Coffee
Beanies are an English company, which is always nice, who launched in 2009 and having Googled them a little bit have an incredible array of flavours available. However, only three flavours are availbale in supermarkets of which Amaretto Almond is one.

What is most notable about this cute little pot of coffee is the strong aroma that it gives off, it smells a little sweet, but also genuinely like amaretto (I guess it smells a bit like those little biscuits they made on GBBO this week). I was worried that the taste would be overpowering as well, however it is actually nice and mild. The coffee is rich and smooth with a little almond kick; it leaves a nice almond/coffee aftertaste in your mouth.

Beanies Amaretto Almond Flavour Insant Cofffee

What I was surprised to find out is that this coffee is sugar-free which is impressive for something flavoured like this. It’s nice because Amaretto is supposed to pair well with chocolate and bloomin’ heck does this go will with chocolate (although in my mind chocolate is excellent on all occasions so that might not be the most un-bias comment).

Overall, I’d definitely recommend giving this a try especially as it’s super reasonable (£2.50 for 50g) and really drinkable, whether you want it for a nice alternative or to drink on a daily basis.
Also, please excuse how tacky my mug is! It was a present from a friend, and truth be told I think it’s adorable.

Are you a fan of flavoured coffees?|


Monday, 2 September 2013

Maybelline Eye Studio Lasting Drama Gel Liner

Maybelline Eye Studio Lasting Drama Gel Liner is genuinely my eyeliner saviour I can’t see myself falling out of favour with it anytime soon. I will admit that this was the first gel eyeliner I tried out, but I fell so in love with it I couldn't see the point in trying the others and am now on my third pot (although one pot wasn't completely used it up, it just got left in my friends bathroom).

The benefit of gel eyeliner is that you can draw with much more precision which for someone who likes cats-eyes as much as I do is a definite advantage. The benefit of the Maybelline Lasting Drama gel is that it stays put afterwards. Its staying power is absolutely phenomenal; it claims on the packing that it can last for twenty-four hours and I would be one to dispute that claim.

Packaging-wise it is also worth noting that it is adorable and the little 2.5 gram pot retails for the incredibly reasonable £7.99. You also get a little brush included in the price which surprisingly isn’t bad for a freebie - it creates quite a nice line and is easily controlled. For a thinner line I've used the Barry M Eyeliner Brush and I've also road tested the Revlon Duo Eye Brush but that didn't blow me away.

I wish I could credit the person who originally suggested to me that Gel Eyeliner might be worth checking out, but unfortunately it was one of those random YouTube suggested videos that I didn't think much of at the time. However, I am grateful l as this is one of my ‘can’t live without’ items. It’s one of the only Maybelline products currently in my stash and writing this has got me wondering whether there are some others I should try.

Any recommendations?


Sunday, 1 September 2013

When In Rome..

Back in June a friend and I took a cheeky trip to Rome for the week; we wanted somewhere cultural and travel-y, but also something that wouldn't cause too much bank hurt.

Coffee in Rome

We saw all the things you'd expect to see in Rome, and took an unplanned excursion to Pompeii to see the ruins there. We also ate all the Gelato you'd expect to eat in Rome - I did however opt out from the Viagra flavored option. 

Our accommodation was the ever so lovely Alessandro Palace Hostel; it had all the amenities you would expect a hostel to have as well as the loveliest staff you will ever meet. We stayed in a 8 bed dorm, which was fairly spacious and realistically we were only in there to sleep cos when we were up we were either out or on the roof garden (something I wish all hostels, and really buildings, had).


Tourist Shop Selling Vatican / Pope Merchandise
We took a detour to Pompeii one day, which was a very surreal experience, and took the mandatory trip to the Vatican. Climbing the St Peters was one of my favourite parts of the holiday, but the insane queue to visit the Sistine Chapel was possibly my least. You are forced to go through the Vatican Museum to get to it, and there appears to also be a constant flow of huge tour groups being herded through as well making walking forward insanely difficult, but we persevered and Michelanglo's ceiling was indeed beautiful.

Exit for the Sistine Chapel

Cat Santuary Near Where Julius Caesar Died
Overall, it was a great week. My pasty white skin vaguely succumbed to the scorching heat and turned me a slightly healthier beige colour and I managed to hit up my second wonder of the world this year - the Colosseum -, plus I was able to indulged my crazy cat lady by paying a visit to the sanctuary that is within the ruins of where Julius Caesar died! I'm now thinking that 7 Wonders by the time I'm 30 is achievable (although my fitness may need to drastically improve before Machu Picchu is a viable option).

What are your travel goals?