Monday, 28 February 2011

Rob Ryan

Rob ryan mugs

Rob ryan mugs

Rob ryan mugs

How adorable are these his and hers mugs? My friend Kathy bought them for me & Scott as an engagement present. I love the idea of his and hers mugs - my Mum & Dad have his and hers mugs; one has a moustache on it and one has red lips on it! They don't use them now but I love how kitsch they are. I think these are such a perfect present for me and Scott as we are both obsessed with HUGE mugs of tea (and sometimes coffee for me). My Mum said these mugs seemed too big but we were like NO WAY! Perfect size! I also love the Cath Kidston crush mugs because you can fit a whole pint of hot beverage goodness in them.

These mugs are part of the Rob Ryan John Lewis range, there are some lovely things in the range but I do think these 2 mugs are my favourite of them all. 

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Day & night

25/02/11
shoes - topshop
dress - new look
t-shirt - asda

25/02/11
shoes - topshop
dress - miss selfridge
cardigan - debenham


I've had quite an up and down week - but it ended good on Friday with a good day in work starting a new project and then a lovely evening with 2 of my best friends. I bought the black dress the day before on a lovely shopping trip with my friend who was back up north from London. I had so many compliments on the dress! All my colleagues loved it. I love it too and think it may also lend itself to other occasions such as Sunday dinners with the family. There is also a matching blazer available for it which is very tempting... I also desperately need more coloured belts to jazz it up! It came with the black belt but I already have a million dresses with black belts. 

My second outfit is an old old favourite - I think I have had this dress for nearly 3 years! That is kind of terrifying. I like to think it's a good sign that I am finally happy with my style though instead of owning clothes for a few months and then hating them. The only problem now is that I have no storage room for all my clothes as I love them all but it keeps expanding! Anyone else have this issue? 

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Valencia panoramas

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I love the panorama feature on Scott's camera. I think I used it a little bit too much on holiday and it started to annoy Scott though! There were just so many amazing views! The first photo is the ciudad de la artes y ciencias. It is designed by the architect Calatrava and they are all very unique and futuristic looking buildings, such a contrast from the old town with the towers from when it was a walled city and the cathedral. The middle photo is the mercado central, an amazing food market with nearly 1000 stalls in it! The range of food they sell is amazing, especially on the butcher stalls. You can buy chicken feet, carcases, sheeps heads, every single organ of many animals! So much choice! They use all the left over parts to make amazing stock and aren't half as squeamish as we are in England. I wish some butchers would take a leaf out of the Spaniards books! The final photo is the view from the miguelete, looking down into plaza de la virgen.

Valencia is such a beautiful city, I would really recommend it for a short break. It's right near the beach, has a huge park going right through the centre (the River Turia would flood every year so they diverted the river and the river bank is now an amazing park, perfect for running or cycling through!), amazing food, great climate & amazing people too! (Ha, I would say that, being half Valenciana. Both of my grandparents are originally from there which is why we visit). But if you're bored of Madrid or Barcelona, you should definitely give Valencia a try.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Old favourites

Sometimes there is nothing nicer than baking an old favourite. Nigella Lawson's malteser cake is one of my old favourites. I don't bake it often but whenever I do everyone always says 'Oh yes, I love that cake, we haven't had it in ages!'. I think that is a sign of a good cake! If I baked it every weekend I don't think we would be as mad on it.

It was my Mum's birthday so of course I had to bake her a cake. Aimee had reminded me of this cake the other week when she posted about her baking it.

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Malteaser cake

I love the contrast between the creamy brown icing and the deep brown cake! I actually started cutting it up before even taking a photo of the entire cake, whoops! So unlike me. My family always laugh that I take more photos of food than of people, but that isn't 100% true! Honest! I have lots and lots of family photos too. Just more photos of cake than the average person.

malteser cake

As an added bonus, here is an archival photograph of the Malteser cake from 2 years ago. I think I have been making it for nearly 5 years now, such a good cake! This photo also reminds me that I need to use my Nikon D40 again more and stop stealing Scott's Sony NEX3...

How is everyone's week going? I think this week will be quite stressful in work (budget cuts & consultations *groan*) but I am also seeing my friend who lives in London at the moment later in the week which I'm really looking forward to!

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Valencia

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I am back from Valencia! I've been back for nearly a week but since we landed at 11pm on Monday night, I've hardly stopped and had any time to log on. It's been work, work, work & birthdays & training for my run as it's less than 3 months away now! So now it feels like my holiday was so long ago, but I have so many lovely photos to remember it by. It was lovely seeing so many relatives who I haven't seen since I was very little, as we all got together to celebrate my Tia's 90th birthday. Hopefully this week I will get back into my routine and have some more time to catch up with blogs and stuff. Here are a few photos from Valencia though, it's such a beautiful city with such amazing food (churros y chocolate and bombons are my fave!). You can see some more photos on my flickr here.  I hope everyone is well, please update me with what's going on and your recent blog posts! I will try to read them all during the week. 

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Moroccan meatballs

This is one of my favourite midweek meals. Lamb meatballs with a spicy Moroccan kick, yum! The original recipe comes from the BBC Good Food website, which is such an ace resource for the midweek munchies. Here are step by step instruction for how to make them:

Ingredients

500g minced lamb
1 red onion, grated or finely sliced in a food processor
2 cloves garlic
Chunk of root ginger
2tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of chilli flakes
Olive oil
200ml chicken stock
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
Handful of coriander, chopped

200g cous cous
50g butter
330ml chicken stock
Handful each of chopped coriander & parsley

1. First, mix together the meat, half the onion, half the garlic and half the spices. (I just chuck everything in the food processor until it comes together in one big lump, if not knead it with your (clean!) hands a lot). Form them into smallish meatballs (should get about 30).

2. Heat some oil up in a large frying pan and brown the meatballs off. Remove from the pan once browned.

meatballs

meatballs

3. Fry off the remaining onion, garlic & spices until the onions have sweated and the spices are releasing their aroma. Should start to smell really yummy now! 

meatballs

4. Add the 2 tins of tomatoes and chicken stock to the frying pan. Simmer for 10 minutes. 

meatballs

meatballs

5. Add the meatballs back into the frying pan and simmer for 20 minutes, so that the sauce thickens and the meatballs cook thoroughly. 

6. Now, start on the cous cous. Put the cous cous and butter in a bowl then pour over the hot chicken stock, stir slightly and cover with cling film. The cling film keeps all of the heat & steam in the bowl which will cook the cous cous. Leave for 10 minutes.

meatballs

7. Chop the herbs and add a handful of coriander to the meatballs and a handful of coriander and parsley to the cous cous. Fluff the cous cous up with a fork. Serve!

meatballs

meatballs

Enjoy!

Friday, 11 February 2011

Save Libraries

Borrow more books

I love these vintage style photos in support of libraries. Phil Bradley, the vice-president of CILIP, designed them to help support libraries in the UK. Because of all the cuts that the Tory government are instating, local authorities are being forced to make huge cuts in their annual budgets. Sadly, this means libraries are also being forced to make savings. Up to 400 libraries are currently going to be closed, with many more likely to be announced. I understand you're probably thinking 'oh yes, of course Helen wouldn't want libraries to close, she'll have no job. A turkey wouldn't vote for Christmas', but from a personal perspective I can see how worthwhile public libraries are. My sister always takes my niece to our rhyme time and she loves being read to already at only 6 months old. My Grandad would always visit the library too when he first came to England, it was his was of educating himself. He would always read to me as a child and fascinate me with all of his stories & facts.

I know that so many of my blog readers are fans of libraries & visit them often, but I also know that some people may like the idea of them but not visit as much as they would like to. Now is the perfect time to rediscover your library! Even if you don't read a lot of fiction, why not check out the cookery book section or the DVDs that libraries now have?

If you're not entirely convinced about libraries, please do not be so quick to write them off. The Internet has not replaced libraries. Just last week I held 'Get Online' sessions in work and helped 17 people get online who had never been on the internet before. People cannot afford computers & internet connections and the library is their only access to the world wide web. Here are some links to have a quick read of:

'Libraries gave us power' - Nicky Wire on libraries
Voices for the library - great website with many testimonies of the power of libraries.
The Guardian's libraries page.

And don't forget to show your local library some love!

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

An afternoon in Liverpool

At the end of January it was Scott's birthday so we decided to go for lunch somewhere. There was much umm-ing and ahh-ing over where to go. I really wanted to go to Etsu because I'm on such a Japanese food kick at the moment! But it was Scott's birthday so he decided he wanted to go to Jamie's Italian. It was  a good choice because the food was amazing. I think it's also partly down to the great quality ingredients they use, the buffalo mozarella was the nicest, creamiest, tastiest mozarella I've ever tried!

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Our anti-pasti planks. As you can see, the mozarella balls had been polished off by this point!

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I had the bucatini carbonara and posh chips. The chips were amazing - perfect crust and lovely truffle oil & parmesan dressing hmmmm. No full outfit photo, but I was wearing a Zara dress as seen in this post. 

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The light in Liverpool was gorgeous as we headed back home, so I took the opportunity to snap these photos of the two cathedrals. Oh yes, Liverpool is so good we have TWO cathedrals! One just isn't enough for us. The first one is the Roman Catholic cathedral we call paddy's wigwam and the other one is the Anglican cathedral we call, err, the Anglican. No nickname for that..although sometimes when I forget it's Anglican I call it 'you know, the old red brick one'. I really want to go to the top of the bell tower in the Anglican because the views from the top are supposedly amazing, but I still haven't done it yet!

P.S. Yes I am in Spain, this post is brought to you by the magical power of 'scheduled posts'! I have a few more lined up while I'm away, so please leave some lovely comments for me to come back to.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

*

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A camel coloured dress! How very trendy I know. I think I only really like camel when it's complemented by red. I couldn't decide whether to get this dress in camel and black or black and white. It is from New Look and I bought it at the weekend. I decided on the camel colour because it seemed a bit more sophisticated and I liked the smaller polka dots. On Thursday me & Scott went into Manchester to visit Tiffany's for my diamond certificate and then went to wagamama's for tea. I had the teriyaki salmon soba, so good. I also managed to eat it all with chopsticks, hence why I look so pleased with myself above. 2 days left until we go to Spain now too!

Friday, 4 February 2011

Giveaway winner!


Congratulations to Rebecca of Athene Noctua who has won my giveaway! (I have emailed you Beckie!) Rebecca told me  'Things that are cheering me up on these cold dark days are homemade soups, spending days at flea markets looking for things for our future house and the thought of saving money by exploring Britain this year! x.' So congratulations Rebecca and thank you to everyone who entered, your comments cheered me up. Don't forget to check out Sarah's shop, she is still having a 20% off sale for a limited time only. 

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