29 Oct 2013

Crystal Poppy Ring for the Royal British Legion

Long time no blog! I've been so busy with my course recently, sorry!

I was emailed a few weeks ago about a collaboration between the Royal British Legion and Jon Richard at Debenhams, as Jon Richard has designed a crystal poppy ring, with some proceeds going towards the Poppy Appeal



The ring is huge and bling! It's adjustable on the bottom and makes a huge impact! I love it as an alternative to a paper poppy, although would still like to buy a paper one every year or something pretty to help the cause. 

The ring costs £12 from John Richard at Debenhams with £3.60 going to The Royal British Legion  for each purchase.

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18 Oct 2013

Belif: Napiers Natural Beauty Products

A few weeks ago I was sent some natural beauty products from Belif at Napiers natural skincare to review. Having very sensitive skin, I tend to be an advocate of natural skincare so I was really excited to try them and bring you a review. 


Belif lip balms in sugar coat and The Balm Almighty. Sugar Coat lip balm is a sweet, natural smelling lip balm without a distinct taste or colour. It works really nicely as a lipbalm without the slimey coating, and feels like it's really protecting my lips. It's £8.50 which is quite a lot for the small size, but it is a nice product. The Balm Almighty is £13.25, so again a lot for a small 30g pot but is great for all dry areas (I'm thinking around my nose when I have a cold and sore parts on my hands in the winter). It also doesn't have a very distinctive taste or colour but works well to moisturise. They both come on a cute keyring loop making them hard to lose! 

The Belif True Cream comes in two types - aqua bomb and moisturising bomb. The Aqua Bomb one was immediately snapped up by my boyfriend as it's a gel-based moisturiser which are so hard to find but don't get stuck in stubble! It is a really moisturising cream with a fresh but very subtle scent and is much too hydrating for my oily skin. It's very refreshing and light, but makes skin feel incredibly moisturised. If you don't have very dry skin, I'd recommend it as a lovely night cream. 

Moisturising Bomb is a much more traditional cream-like consistency and is better for oily skin types, balancing out the oil with water-based moisturiser. It's a really lovely cream for the day and again helps soothe skin which is very dry too. 

Each cream costs £25 which is about average for a natural-beauty product and are really nice for dry, sensitive skin. 


The Belif Hungarian Water Essence is a lovely toner-like product which provides a lot of moisture. I've been using it as a gentle, moisturising makeup remover when I'm having a lazy evening. It provides a really light moisture level for us oiler-skinned! It's £26.50 for a spritzer bottle




Belif True Anti-Aging Essence took me by surprise! This product has to be shaken before applying to create a cream, but I didn't bother reading the instructions before trying it out and lost a lot of the top layer! This provides moisturisation, anti-oxidants and nutrients to older skin and very dry skin and are a milky texture, so very light to apply. Apparently it's one of their best selling products and for £26.50 for an anti-ageing natural product, it's a good price. 


I also tried out a few sachets of products, my favourite being the Belif First Aid Anti-Hangover mask. This cooling gel mask helped perk up my dull, dehydrated skin the day after a night out and helped wake me up with the gorgeous scent. You're supposed to put it on at night and sleep in it, but I completely forgot after a night out so applied in the morning whilst in a relaxing bath and felt the benefits. I'd quite like to have more than a sachet of this!

The products I was sent were really nice, and have been shared equally around my boyfriend's flatmates so work well for men and women. If you fancied trying some out, I'd really recommend the Belif Gift Pack for £39.50. It contains the moisturising bomb, aqua bomb, sugar coat lip balm, water essence and a body wash

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16 Oct 2013

NFT: Making Curry from Scratch

On the weekends, it's a tradition to have a takeaway! However as part of my learning to cook I decided to try making my own this weekend. I love chicken tikka masala and Sam likes a really hot vindaloo so I made both from Jamie Oliver recipes. The pastes can last a month in the fridge. 

Chicken Tikka Masala

 Paste 
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 thumb-sized piece fresh root ginger
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 tablespoons groundnut oil
- 2 tablespoons tomato puree
- 2 fresh red chillies
- 1 small bunch fresh coriander
- 1 tablespoon desiccated coconut
- 2 tablespoons ground almonds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds


Put all the ingredients into a pan and toast lightly until it starts to turn golden brown. Remove from pan and blend with a hand blender or food processor 

Curry
- 1 onion
- 2 boneless chicken thighs, chopped into bitesize pieces
- 1/2 can of chopped tomatoes
- 1/4 can of water
- 2/3 small pot double cream

Chop up the onion into small pieces and try for 10 minutes until sweating. Add 2 large spoons of the paste and continue to stir for 5 minutes. Add chopped up chicken and fry until lightly brown on the outside. Add half a can of chopped tomatoes and allow to reduce for 5 minutes. Then add a quarter of a can of water, put a lid of and allow to simmer for 30 minutes or longer. 

5 minutes before the end, add 2/3 of a small pot of double cream, stir in and let it get to simmer and it's ready! 


Chicken Vindaloo

Paste
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 thumb-sized piece fresh root ginger
- 4 dried red chillies
- 1 tablespoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 3 tablespoons groundnut oil
- 2 tablespoons tomato puree
- 2 fresh red chillies
- 1 small bunch fresh coriander
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 4 cloves
- 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
- 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds

(Sam wanted his curry super hot, so we replaced the fresh green chilli with 2 of the hottest looking ones in the mixed peppers bag. This version will make everyone in the house cough and sneeze!)




Add all the ingredients to a pan and toast again until golden. Remove from pan and blend until smooth as before.

Curry
- 1 onion
- 2 boneless chicken thighs, chopped into bitesize pieces
- 1/2 can of chopped tomatoes
- 1/4 can of water


Chop up the onion into small pieces and try for 10 minutes until sweating. Add 2 large spoons of the paste and continue to stir for 5 minutes. Add chopped up chicken and fry until lightly brown on the outside. Add half a can of chopped tomatoes and allow to reduce for 5 minutes. Then add a quarter of a can of water, put a lid of and allow to simmer for 40 minutes

Serve both curries with whatever you like! I'm a big fan of chips. Serve with mango chutney, lime pickle and mint yogurt

Easy mint yogurt
- 1 teaspoon of mint sauce
- couple of tablespoons of natural yogurt
- pinch of cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon of sugar
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14 Oct 2013

Vaseline Paint The Town Lip Tint

Vaseline Paint The Town is the new limited edition from Vaseline, with a spiced berry flavour (which is really yummy, like a christmassy berry, cherry flavour) and a light red tint


This tint follows the limited edition Creme Brulee and Pink Bubbly releases, and is my favourite so far. It gives a really delicate red tone to lips, although I've found it impossible to photograph so gave up in the end, sorry! 

It's a really great product to keep in your handbag as it gives a perk up to a tired face and lips whist moisturising, but is easy to apply whilst on the train or at work! Also the scent is perfect for the winter, it has that warm, Christmas feeling smell but isn't too super-sweet or overwhelming.

If you're a fan of Vaseline, this is worth picking up for £3.49
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9 Oct 2013

New Food Thursdays: Easy Paella for the Squeamish

I've never been good with seafood but for some reason I love paella. I've been experimenting with a few recipes and for me, this has been the best one. It has all the lovely flavours, without the scary seafood and is really quick and easy to make after work!


You will need:
  • olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 1 pepper (yellow or red)
  • 3 cloves of garlic or a teaspoon of garlic powder
  • half a large cooking chorizo, skinned and sliced
  • half teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • 4 chicken thigh fillets without skin, chopped up into bitesized pieces
  • 250g paella rice
  • 100ml white wine
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • pinch of saffron
  • fillet of cheap smoked fish, chopped up 
  • pile of frozen peas
  • handful of prawns
  • some butter
  • lemon cut into wedges

Method:

1. slice up the onion into small pieces and chop the pepper up. Put in a large frying pan with some oil and fry on a medium heat until softened. Add the garlic, sliced chorizo and smoked paprika and continue to fry until the chorizo has released its oils and is starting to look cooked. 

2. Add the chicken thighs and fry until they have some colour on, then add the paella rice and fry for a further few minutes until it starts to look translucent on the outside. 

3. Add the wine and simmer on a medium/high heat until it's reduced. Add the chicken stock and a pinch of saffron (not sure this actually adds to the taste...) Give it a good stir and leave to simmer on a medium/low heat for 10 minutes stir a couple of times but not too much. 

4. Add the smoked fish and push down onto the paella, but don't let it break up. Put a lid on and leave to simmer for a further 5 minutes, then add a big handful of frozen peas (as many as you want) and leave to simmer with the lid on for 5 more minutes. 

5. When the rice is cooked but "al dente", cover the pan in a layer of foil for 10 minutes

6. Meanwhile, in a small pan, put in a knob of butter and some more garlic (if you like) and fry the prawns for a few minutes until cooked. 

7. After the 10 minute are up, stir the paella gently, and toss over the prawns and butter mix 

8. Serve with a wedge of lemon


There you go!  An easy, delicious paella. 

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2 Oct 2013

Afternoon Tea - New Food Thursdays

I've been learning to cook for the last year, and doing a really good job if I say so myself! Over the year I've accumulated loads of recipes and cook books but always seem to stick to a certain number of recipes so I though on Thursday I'd try something new from each book or recipe card I get from Sainsburys and cheesily ended up calling it "new food Thursday". I hope to bring you a recipe idea each week (depending how busy I am with my new job!)

Today's is afternoon tea - lovely homemade rolls and fancy tea.

Homemade rolls are a real treat, and after spending time watching Great British Bake Off I wanted to try some real bread rolls. Having a week off, I managed to channel my housewife tendencies into making some!
The recipe I used was from BBC food

font-size: large;">White Bread Rolls
  • 500g/1lb 2oz unbleached strong white organic bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp dried yeast
  • 30g/1oz butter or lard, softened
  • 75ml/2½fl oz milk, warmed
  • 225ml/8fl oz warm water

Preparation method

  1. With your fingers, mix the white flour, salt and dried yeast in a bowl.
  2. Rub the softened butter or lard into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.


    0:46 mins
  3. Mix the warm milk with the water.
  4. Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and mix together with your hands until the dough is well combined. Bring the dough together into a ball.
  5. Using floured hands, knead the dough on a clean, floured work surface for 20-25 minutes, or until the dough is elastic and smooth. If necessary add a little more warm water to loosen the dough.

    How to knead bread dough
    1:58 mins
  6. Return the dough to the bowl and cover with a clean damp tea towel or cling film. Set aside for 1-1½ hours in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size.
  7. When the dough has risen, return it to a floured work surface and knock it back.

    Knocking back
    0:43 mins
  8. Separate the mixture into eight parts and roll each into a ball. Flatten each slightly with the palm of your hand and transfer the rolls to a baking tray, placing them close together. Cover the tray with cling film and set aside for another hour, or until the rolls have doubled in size again.
  9. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7.
  10. When the rolls have expanded, dust them with flour and transfer them to the oven. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until golden-brown and cooked through.
  11. To serve, separate the rolls and serve warm with butter.

These rolls are SO good hot with butter, although we also had them later with slow cooked pulled pork (from this BBC Good Food recipe) and homemade healthy coleslaw made from red cabbage, red onion, carrot, apple, natural yogurt and vinegar. 

I was sent some teas from Flint & Co to try out, I have The Daily Brew and Indian Spiced Chai. I haven't tried the Chai tea yet because mostly I'm a scardy cat, but also because I do love a standard cup of tea. 


The tea bags are super-cute material meche pyramids with real tea leaves inside, very different to my normal PG Tips! The tea tastes delicious, they have a really lovely flavour and make a nice strong cup of tea 



White rolls and a posh cup of tea - perfect afternoon tea
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