Friday, 30 May 2014

Stuffed Peppers


Sometimes if I've been out for lunch with friends in the afternoon by the point tea time rolls around I want something tasty and healthy to eat, but also something that's not too filling. These roasted peppers stuffed with peppers are a super tasty, super nutritious and super quick tea to make.

This time I used some pointed sweet peppers for a change which were rather lovely, but regular bell peppers will do nicely!

What you'll need...

Ingredients 


- 2 peppers
- Packet of cous cous (Ainsley Harriott is my favourite!)
- Soft goats cheese

Method

1. Heat oven to 180c. Boil kettle and prepare the couscous according to the packet instructions. Give it a stir with a fork and set to one side 

2. Cut peppers length-ways, wash and de-seed. Place them on a foiled baking tray. 


3. Fluff up your cous cous with a fork and carefully fill the peppers.


4. Top with splodges (technical term) with goats cheese and place in the oven for 25 mins.


And it's as simple as that! 

This will serve 2 people, or if you are eating on your tod like I was save the other 2 peppers and have it for a delicious pre-made lunch the next day!

If I was going to make it a bit more of a substantial meal or if I had company, I'd probably serve it this with a nice salad, bread and oil for dipping, and a little selection of cheeses for a more filling and tasty tea to share.


Monday, 26 May 2014

Wicked



I had one last birthday present coming my way, and I was very very very excited for this one. On Friday night I was whisked away to London's Apollo Victoria Theatre to see my first ever West End show, Wicked!

The whole lead up to the show was perfect and we left just the right amount of time to get to where we needed to be, get food, get excited and more importantly relax. Being a Friday night there was an amazing atmosphere anyway and it was so good to be a part the London buzz.

The theatre looks amazingly shimmery and sparkly, and it's literally just over the road from London Victoria rail station, so the perfect place really! I felt very confident with letting my boyfriend lead the way the whole time as this was his third time seeing the show, and I just happily followed along taking in all the city sights and weaving through the crowds.








I've been waiting to christen my Cath Kidston Mushroom dress for ages and ages and I feel like this occasion suited it perfectly. I got so many compliments and loved wearing it, I will be wearing it out more often from now on for definite.

The inside of the theatre is so cool and as soon as you step foot inside the foyer everything is so green! When you go expect witches hats and cauldrons and all sorts of other awesome witchy related merch.





Inside the theatre itself the stage design is beautiful. I loved the glowing map of the kingdom on the stage curtain and of course the mahoosive dragon that spreads its wings across the whole stage is amazing.





I won't tell you too much at all about the actual story itself just in case you haven't seen it yet, but I'll just tell you what I knew prior to seeing the show. The story runs parallel to the classic Wizard of Oz story and tells the story of Elphaba and Glinda (the Wicked Witch of the West and the Good Witch of the North, respectively). It's funny, it's uplifting, it's intriguing but more to the point it's heartfelt and leaves you feeling a lot warmer towards the so-called Wicked Witch of the West whilst shedding a different light on a number of other central characters of the Oz story. I loved hearing the tale from these different perspectives!

The show is a visual and and audial treat and it was so cool finally hearing the songs I know so well from the show in action. It was so well cast and no-one put a foot wrong. I never thought I was much of a musical fan but if other musicals are as good as this one I would love to see more of them!

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Quesadillas


My perfect lunch would be something quick, healthy, inexpensive and most importantly tasty. This is the meal I often find myself getting in a bit of a rut over, before I know it I've eaten the same sandwich, salad of soup for 4 days in a row and I'm so bored of it. Anything beginning with 's' it seems! 

At the moment I'm writing my dissertation so I'm spending a lot of time at my uni house in the day. It's hard work but it means I can take my time a bit more and experiment with my lunches and have some warm food. I bought a pack of wraps for a change, which are great because they tend to last a little bit longer than standard bread loaves. 

I had a little think and remembered an amazing quesadilla recipe I had spotted on Jamie Oliver's website not too long ago. I adapted the recipe a smidge and the result is this wonderful quesadilla. With just 5 ingredients this lunch for 1 takes 5 minutes to prepare and 5 too cook. 

Ingredients 


- 2 tortilla wraps
- 1 medium tomato
- 1/3 yellow pepper
- 1/3 green pepper
- Handful grated cheddar

Method

1. Finely chop your pepper and tomato and grate your cheese

2. In a dry non-stick frying pan, place one tortilla in and lay the peppers and tomato on. Sprinkle the cheese over the top.



3. Place the other tortilla on the top and cook on a medium heat for 2 and a half minutes. Then flip the whole thing over and cook for the same amount of time on the other side. 

4. Lift the quesedilla out of the pan, cut in to quarters and serve!





Some people like to fry their quesadillas in oil but I think this makes then too greasy. By dry frying them like this you are left with a crispy outside and a gloriously oozy filling.

This is such a simple recipe and I love that it feels like I'm eating pizza, when actually I'm eating lots of salady bits and actually being rather healthy. A perfect lunch and a big success! 

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Summer's Coming Haul

As I'm writing this I'm sitting on my bed warming my hands on a cup of tea and wondering where the sunshine has gone. I thought by showing you all the summery things I picked up earlier in the week would encourage the weather to get back where it's supposed to be so I can actually use this stuff and lounge around in the sunshine. That's the plan anyway!

I've been doing a lot of planning with my friends and family this week getting some trips and visits organised (some very exciting stuff is going to be happening!) and I realised that while I have all these picnicky and general party plans I am severely lacking in all the sorts of things one needs to successfully throw one.

I started by tackling the picnic prep head on and got some really lovely stuff for really not a lot.

First up I picked up this lovely kitsch bicycle pattern lunchbag from one of the independent housey type shops in Canterbury. It was only £2.99 and I thought it'd be an excellent addition to picnics and my life in general because it's light and has a lining which will keep things nice and cool.

I also got this great little tupperware box for the same price which will be great for little salads or anything of that ilk. I adore the pattern too because I absolutely love maps and globes, I could spend ages looking at them. I used to make treasure maps and map out imaginary kingdoms when I was little and I don't think that fascination has ever really left me.


The great thing is that it fits perfectly snugly inside the lunchbag with room for a few other little bits and pieces in there too. First and foremost I intend to use these for taking lunches out in to the sun but also I can use these for general uni lunches when I'm off to the library too.

To have a successful picnic first you've got to stake your claim to a great picnic spot and get yourself comfy. I was at The Works browsing the books and arty stuff and this great picnic blanket caught my eye. It was £4.99 which I think is brilliant value because it has a waterproof bottom to stop you getting soggy if the grass is a bit wet. I'll get a lot of wear out of this because I often like to take my book outside in the summer and read and sunbathe, so the blanket will come in very handy for that.

And finally some goooood ol' Pimms! Ahhh Pimms, the drink of the summer. I like to go all out with mine, with strawberries, apple, cucumber, ripped up mint, the works. For the best results it's best served with a little ice in a big jug with friends to share it with. I can't wait 'til I get the chance to break it open!



The last purchase was a completely unexpected acquisition. I am really good with my clothes generally,  I usually save up and buy one item of clothing that I really love to pieces rather than buy 10 cheaper ones I think are alright. However there's nothing wrong with an impulse buy every once in a while, especially if it's as pretty and as much of a bargain as this little summery dress from New Look.


It was the last one in my size, and was £10 marked down from £22.99. The colour is just a beautiful jewel blue and it came with this little waist-cinching belt too. I'm slightly taller than average and this dress it the perfect length for me to feel like I'm showing just the right amount of leg - enough but not too much! The back is also very very pretty. I just love it and I am so excited to show it off. Just need the sun to come back now, fingers crossed!



Are you buying lots of summery things now too?

Monday, 19 May 2014

Pretty City


I think today and yesterday are supposed to have been the hottest days of the year so far. May is my favourite month of the year, of course I'm biased because my birthday falls right at the beginning of the month, but aside from this little occasion May is a month close to my heart. Lots of exciting things happen in May, bank holidays, important sporting events, and the weather usually starts to get summery. I can get out my sandals and sundresses, okay I say get them out, I've already had them out for about 2 months by now, but now I can actually wear them!

And today that's exactly what I did. I had errands to run in Canterbury so I had a leisurely breakfast and walked down in to the city late morning. I did my jobs and browsed the shops and bought a couple of things to spruce up my summer wardrobe. I really enjoy just wandering around on days like these nipping in and out of anywhere I fancy the look of and just soaking up the atmosphere, everyone is just so much happier when the sun is shining.


Canterbury is beautiful in general but it looks simply stunning in the sunshine. 

 
Since I came here I've heard many lovely things about Canterbury and how it really comes in to its own in the summer months. More than a couple of people have told me I had to get myself down to the Westgate gardens pronto, so I picked up a takeout lunch and went along to enjoy it in the gardens. I wasn't disappointed, they are so beautiful.




What I always find incredible is that this place is just a few hundred metres from the core of the city, and yet it's somewhere peaceful where friends and families can come to relax or play, and business people can find sanctuary for a little break. 

There were lots of sunbathers and picnickers, punters rowing up and down the water, people playing frisbee and even paddling in the stream.



This adorable brace of ducklings were being ushered along by their mum. It would have been brill if I could have videoed this for you because she clearly wasn't happy about something, so she quacked some very stern instructions and got them all safely up on to the river bank. One of the cutest things I've seen in a while!




I'm loving being back in Canterbury so much; I shall be bringing my book down here and chillaxing in these gorgeous gardens more than a couple of times I'm sure.

Friday, 16 May 2014

The Liebster Award

 

Hi everybody, a very happy Friday to you! I'm doing a blog post with a difference today. I'm very excited because I have just been informed that I've been nominated for my first ever award! 

First of all I want to say a big thank you to Peachy over at The Randomness of Unicorns for nominating me for this award - it was a totally unexpected and lovely surprise!

So to accept my nomination I have a few fun challenges to complete...

The rules...

I thank the blogger who tagged me
Say 11 facts about me
Answer the 11 questions written by the person who tagged me
Write my own 11 questions
Tag 11 up and coming bloggers


11 facts about me
- I'm a Yorkshire girl living down South
- I started dancing at the age of 3. I did Tap, Modern Jazz, Character (look it up!!), 2 types of Ballet and got to Intermediate level
- I am pretty good at illustration. When I was younger people thought I should become an artist
- I love Shakespeare so much that I was accepted to do a Masters degree at the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-Upon-Avon, but I declined it because I wanted to study in Paris.
- I am very competitive, so much so that my parents joke(?) I should have gone in to the army!
- I love giving gifts and finding good presents
- I've lived and gone to university in Paris
- I almost did a Law degree but picked English Literature because of my love of books
- My biggest fear is being burgled after confronting a burglar in my house when I was 16
- I went to school in Doncaster with a certain member of the band One Direction 
- I won my university Come Dine With Me and fancy having a go at winning the real thing!

11 Questions to answer
1. What does blogging bring to your life?
Most importantly blogging brings me joy. For me blogging is a way of sharing my experiences, recommendations and encourages me to get off my butt and do things/make things/go interesting places! Blogging is making me a better writer and I also like that I am part of a wider community of bloggers - getting a comment from another blogger is the best feeling! It's lovely that people read my blog and tell me they like my writing style, but even if not one person viewed it I'd still carry on because I love writing about and reflecting on my adventures. 

2. Are you religious? If not what do you believe in?
Oh boy, what a question to be asked! Like with most tricky subjects, I tend to steer clear of broaching this issue with people unless I know them very well (with people I'm close to, I go for it)...but seeing as you're asking! No, I'm not particularly religious. I was Christened but I haven't been to church in years, and to be truthful there have been many moments in my life where I've found it hard to believe that there is a God. Having said that, I don't really think you can argue with fundamental rules of Christianity, ie. no killing, no stealing, and try and help people out if you can. If you try to live life by those rules, I don't think you can go too far wrong. Oh and even though you might have your questions or doubts try not to give someone else a hard time for what they believe in - concentrate on being true to you. Follow your own arrow and just try and be a good person :)

3. Name 1 thing you have done, outside of your comfort zone in the last year.
Living in Paris! This was haaaard. Especially studying there and trying to find accommodation all on my own. It has improved me as a person though - sadly not in the French language sense because pretty much every Parisian is fluent in English and isn't afraid to show it! But I have realised I am more resilient than I thought. Living alone in a foreign city takes guts but I'm glad I did it. 

4. Where do you go when you need to clear your head?
I pop on my trainers and get my jog on. In my opinion exercise time is 'me time'. It gives me a moment to myself to think things through. And you always feel so much better after a run.

5. Name a book that has meant a lot to you and explain why.
I recently did a post called 'The Books That Changed My Life' and said that To Kill a Mockingbird is my favourite book. This is still 100% true, but another book that has meant a lot to me is the last book we read as a class in primary school - 'Goodnight Mr Tom'. I remember reading this and when we were told it was hometime the whole class protesting and asking for one more chapter, one more page. You can't get a children's novel better than this.

6. What song reminds you of Summer?
'All This Love' by The Similou. I hard this song for the first time back in 2006 and I've loved it ever since. It just sounds like summer and freedom! Also 'Inner Smile' by Texas which reminds me of lying by the pool in the sun. Or 'It Wasn't Me' by Shaggy which brings back memories of Tunisia 2001 and the time our kids club rep got us all chanting "It Wasn't Me!!!" back to her as she sang lead vocals. I was 9 and my brother was 10 and it is still funny.

7. Do you believe in the Law of Attraction?
Not going to lie, I had to google this to make sure I knew what this was..! Ok so it's the theory that if you focus on thinking positive or negative thoughts, you will get positive or negative results accordingly. Abso-bloody-lutely! I am a big believer in the theory that we choose our own destiny, and that encompasses the choice to be happy or let things get to you, no matter how big or small. We forge our own paths and it's up to us to make things happen for ourselves. 

8. What are your favourite type of shoes?
Ooh tough one! I like to have a good selection to choose from to suit the occasion but at the moment I'm loving my little red Vans. They're pretty, they're comfy, they're preppy, they're awesome!

9. If you could have your hair any colour what would it be?
Like every other girl I had a phase of messing around with my hair colour. Blonde highlights, everyone? Yeah it was fun and made me feel grown up at the age of 13, but man it was expensive! And it made my hair really dry and straw-like once I'd straightened it twice a day aswell (why did I do that?!) So now I think au natural is best for me. I actually forgot what my hair colour was for a time. I always looked at it as a boring mousey colour, but actually now I've let it shine through it's a kinda deep reddy brown. I'll be sticking with the natural look for the time being.

10. What keeps you going if ever you feel like quitting? Or your faith wavers?
We all get fed up and feel down from time to time. I certainly have had my ups and downs in life and sometimes have felt quite lost. In those times I rely on a very supportive circle of family and friends to guide me through tricky patches, but I also summon up some good old-fashioned will-power. I don't give up easily and if I start something I try my very best to see it through. I think of the sense of achievement that will be there for me at the end and that normally does the trick.

11. What do you love about where you live?
I've been very lucky to live in some very interesting places. I'm from Yorkshire, I did my first degree in Birmingham, I've lived in Paris, but at the moment my base is in Canterbury. Canterbury is a very special place with a rich history, but what I love the most about it is that it is such a lovely place to be. It's an English city to be proud of with lots of places to walk, to see, do, eat, relax, learn. It's a vibrant place with a vibrant population who are going places and doing things. 

My 11 questions
1. Why did you start blogging?
2. If you could meet any person, living or dead, who would it be and why?
3. What is your favourite quote?
4. Which film could you watch and rewatch and never get bored of?
5. Who was your first celebrity crush?
6. Do you say a particular word a lot?
7. What do you feel has been your biggest achievement in life so far?
8. What keeps you going if ever you feel like quitting? How do you keep positive?
9. If there was a movie of your life, which actor would you like to portray you in it?
10. If you could travel back in time what piece of advice would you have liked to give your younger self?
11. What are 3 of your future goals?


And finally, my nominations!

Ellenor at Champagne Lifestyle on a Tea Budget
Georgia at Brew Up Buttercup
Jessica at Orange Chic
Maria at Ria's Ideas
Danielle at The Danielle Diaries
Emily at Emily's Elixir
Lorilee at Lorilee's London
Stephanie at Peplum and Coffee
Natalie at The Blonde Ethos
Kirsty from Just Like Heaven
Shelley at The Shelley Diaries



Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Lunch at The Shakespeare


So I'm finally back in Canterbury! I actually landed on Saturday afternoon but long story short, after an unexpectedly hectic weekend that was more than just a little bit stressful I have some safe, warm accommodation on campus that I'm happy with. Helping me throughout this ordeal was my normal crack team of sorterouterers (Mum, Dad, Jules, that's you, so thank you for being your normal brilliant and patient selves) and my lovely friend Frances who was on hand to back me up and generally calm me down (so thank you, Franny!).

So to celebrate being united in Canters, having all our spring essays done and dusted and my accommodation victory we decided to have a proper catch up and go for a beautiful lunch at the newly renovated pub 'The Shakespeare' on Butchery Lane in Canterbury city centre. 




In the shadow of the Cathedral I would describe 'The Shakespeare' as a trendy gastropub with very neutral, woody interiors. You can pop in any time of day for just a drink or to eat. We came on Frances' good recommendation and in fact when we arrived I realised that I had actually come with my parents and boyfriend on Saturday night for a pre-dinner drink before eating at La Trappiste (which was amazing as ever) and even then I thought ooh what a lovely place, I must come back here for a bite, after paying a group of ladies having food on the table next to us. 

It was slightly quieter in the day and we we were shown straight away to a booth tucked to the side of the room where we could people watch and have a good chin wag. 


My date studying the amazing menu. We decided to get a glass of white wine each (medium for Frances the designated driver and a large for me because, why not!). 

There's a pretty courtyard with trendy stacked crates and fairy lights which I bet look gorgeous at night. When the weather warms up a little it will be lovely to sit here and soak up the sun in this little sun trap.



We decided on a seafood sharing platter and a side of chunky chips (hiding behind the bread mountain) to split, which came with the most amazing dips. The food came in good time and we dived in, trying a little of this and a bit of the other.



My favourite hands down was the calamari but special mention goes to the trout pate which was so good. We also spotted the meaty sharing platter which the couple on the table across from us were enjoying which also looked amazing, so we have said we absolutely must try that the next time we come.


We chatted and sipped away long after the lunchtime rush had ended, and after we had finished we wandered in to Canterbury to have a little browse of the shops before closing time. Canterbury is such a beautiful place I feel so at home here. Wandering round also made me realise that there are so many other lovely places I have to try for lunch so I had better get cracking!

Monday, 12 May 2014

Prawn, Butternut Squash and Coconut Curry


I love a curry, especially Thai curries. They're so tasty, they're exciting and they're simple to knock up. With just a handful of ingredients (and a few cheeky spices) this curry really is rather good for you too, and for those who want a tasty curry without it blowing your head off with heat this is the one for you!

Serves 4
Takes 35 mins 


Ingredients

1 x 400ml tin coconut milk
1-2 tablespoons red Thai curry paste
400ml fish stock
A glug of fish sauce
1 table spoon sugar
A squeeze of very lazy lemongrass
Zest of 1 lime & half its juice
Teaspoon turmeric
1 large butternut squash (peeled & cut into chunks)
500g prawns
Fresh coriander to serve 

Method

1. Pour the coconut milk in a large saucepan, add the curry paste, fish stock, fish sauce, sugar, lemongrass, lime zest and juice and turmeric. Bring to a boil and add the butternut squash. 



2. Simmer until the squash is tender, should take around 15 mins. 

3. Add the prawns, slightly increase the heat and cook gently for 10 mins. 

4. Then you're ready to bowl up! Ladle in to big bowls, sprinkle over some fresh chopped coriander and serve with basmati rice. 

It really is as simple as that! This has been adapted from a very similar Nigella recipe but it's the sort of thing I'd expect to feature in a Jamie's 30 Minute Meal book or show. It's that tasty, quick and exciting. 



Next time I make it I'm going to serve it with some lovely warm naan breads for dipping in the sauce. 

Do you have any good curry recipes up your sleeve?