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Sunday Catch-up #13

You will find me with a big smile on my face for the next few weeks as it is half term! Whilst I love my job, I love the holidays just as much with the chance to switch off and unwind. Not that I will be doing too much relaxation – work is already underway to redecorate our guest bedroom, I have had a good catch-up and lunch date with work friends, my parents have come to stay and I have a trip to London, a wedding and more coffee dates with friends to fit in before school starts again.

This week I have been…

Making: some really tasty salads

Going: for lunch dates with friends

Wearing: old clothes as I end up covered in paint after approximately 20 minutes of decorating

Eating: this amazing crumble cooked by my brother’s girlfriend – thanks Tess!

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Drinking: coconut water – I’ve got a real taste for it again

Reading: endless interior design websites

Watching: the Cameron/ Milliband interviews

Buying: new rugs, blinds, paint, bedding and accessories for the guest bedroom

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Planning: my next wedding outfit

Cooking: this amazing chicken and quinoa salad

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Baking: nothing this week…trying to be good!

Writing: shopping lists

Favouriting: Milly’s New York trip – so many little things added to our to-do list!

Working on: putting all the clocks, watches and various kitchen appliances forward an hour

Trying to decide: if I will be tempted by the latest ASOS and Body Shop sales (spoiler – 2 orders placed!)

Wishing: this blister on my painting hand would disappear #DIYproblems

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Enjoying: having my Mum and Dad to stay

Needing: to book a cut and colour soon

Feeling: very happy at the thought of not having to get up at 6:30am tomorrow morning

Giggling at: Gogglebox, standard

This Week’s Nails – Red Spots

I knew I fancied a bright red on my nails this week and had a hard choice deciding between my favourite red shades…

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The Nails Inc bottle won in the end – it is a lovely bright scarlet shade with really good staying power after two coats on top of my Orly base coat.

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I then decided to use my dotting tool to add a strip of tiny white dots along the centre of each nail. These were really easy to do, although they definitely got a bit wonky when using my left hand!

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A good layer of Seche Vite next and this subtle nail art look was complete. It actually lasted for over a week without chipping so I can see myself using this combination of base/colour/topcoat again.

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I have now had ‘naked nails’ for two days and they are just crying out for some colour…I am definitely leaning towards something bright and spring-like so may try out a new look.

I don’t have much else planned this week apart from celebrating the fact that tomorrow will be my last ‘get-up’ for two weeks as it’s the last day of term! x

Restaurant Review – Lunch at The Longs Arms

One of my favourite local restaurants on the blog today, situated just a hop, skip and jump across the fields from our house. With spring starting to tease us with an appearance, we decided to make the most of the bursts of sunshine last weekend and go on a brisk walk with lunch thrown in too.

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The Longs Arms serves amazing local and seasonal food and it’s one of those places where I have worked my way through most of the menu and not had a bad meal yet!

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We just had a one-course light lunch although I couldn’t resist a hot chocolate afterwards too.

I ordered a cheese soufflé and salad and it was divine. Always tricky to get right, this soufflé was made with a rich sharp Lancashire cheese and was sat atop a wonderful salad of spiralised beetroot and courgette with a lovely crunch coming from a variety of seeds and nuts. I feel I need to buy a spiralizer soon as I have seen so many lovely recipe made with them lately!

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Ian had something slightly heartier in the form of sausages and mash which you really cannot go wrong with.

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All in all a lovely weekend lunch and I’m looking forward to a return visit.

Sunday Catch-up #12

It has been a quiet week but a super busy weekend for me with a comedy gig on Friday night, an old friend’s wedding on Saturday and my brother and his girlfriend over to ours for lunch today. I’ve got one more week left until the Easter holidays so I am hoping this coming week flies by!

This week I have been…

Making: half-term plans

Going: to see Suzi Ruffell and Romesh Ranganathan live…both were excellent

Wearing: heels all day on Saturday (ouch)

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Eating: this gorgeous rose chocolate

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Drinking: champers darling

Reading: I’m now on book four of this series

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Watching: the new series of Masterchef (and thinking I could at least get through round 1!)

Buying: more pairs of tights as I go through them way too quickly

Planning: some recipes involving quinoa

Cooking: veggie burgers with ALL the extras!

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Baking: cherry, blueberry and almond crumble

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Writing: more blog posts

Favouriting: Pixiwoo make-up tutorials – perfect to watch as I’m getting ready each morning

Working on: my fitness again – hoping to squeeze in a few more weekly runs now it’s getting lighter

Trying to decide: which red to go for on my nails (Nails Inc won!)

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Wishing: daffodils were here all year round – so bright and cheery

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Enjoying: time spent around friends this weekend

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Needing: to start saving for our summer trip

Feeling: like I want short hair again, after almost a year of growing it!

Giggling at: post-tequila-shot faces

Latest Purchases #74 – Phone Cases

I actually wrote the title ‘Funky phone Cases’ for this post then remembered it’s not 1999 and nobody uses the word ‘funky’ anymore!

Anyway, after living with an iPhone that had a cracked screen and didn’t lock, I finally forced myself to upgrade to the iPhone6. It’s a lovely phone but has a beautifully smooth cover which I could see slipping out of my hand in no time and resulting in another cracked phone screen!

The solution is obviously pretty phone cases and I bought two from ebay for a couple of quid each.

The first to arrive celebrates my love of anchors and chevrons.

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Next, a slightly more summery and tropical option in the form of this gorgeous watermelon case.

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Both look great and set my mind at ease that my new phone may at least last until the end of my contract!

Recipe – Goats Cheese and Spinach Ravioli

Recipe – Goats Cheese and Spinach Ravioli

I feel I start a lot of my recipe posts with the caveat that they are really quick and simple to make. That’s how I want the majority of my midweek recipes to be but every now and then, when I have an afternoon free at the weekend, I like to get my hands (and kitchen!) messy and spend a few hours creating something special.

This recipe involves making pasta from scratch – without a pasta maker – and then rolling, filling and crimping the ravioli. Yes, it’s a bit more effort than buying a packet of the stuff but I can honestly say it was worth it and so much better than the ready-made stuff.

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Would I make it every weekend? No – it required quite a bit of time, created some mess and killed my hands rolling it out but for a special treat or when friends come over, I would definitely put the effort in and recreate this.

I used the John Lewis ravioli set which was a rather brilliant Christmas present from my friend Cat and contains everything you need for various sizes of ravioli.

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I chose a vegetarian filling but there are so many options if you wanted to add meat or fish (I want to try a crab filling next!) I also wanted a really simple sauce to serve with the ravioli so made a kind of pesto drizzle but mixing up a spoonful of pesto with some good quality olive to thin it slightly.

Ingredients (for two people)

For the pasta:

300g of ‘00’ white flour

3 eggs

A pinch of salt

A glug of olive oil

For the filling:

Half a bag of fresh spinach

One little ‘log’ of soft goats cheese

Salt and pepper

A grating of nutmeg

For the sauce:

A tablespoon of fresh pesto

A good glug of olive oil

A handful of freshly grated Parmesan

How to make it

  • Begin with a large work surface (I used my kitchen table) and sift the flour

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  • Make a well in the centre and crack in the three eggs (confession…mine went all over the table!)

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  • Add the salt and about one tablespoon of olive oil
  • Using your hands, mix the ingredients together – it will start out as quite a crumbly texture but once you start kneading it, it will become a soft dough

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  • At this point, knead for 5-10 minutes and it should be a smooth dough

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  • Roll it into a ball, pop it in a bowl, cover with cling film and leave it to rest in the fridge for about half an hour
  • Whilst the dough is resting, make the filling
  • In a saucepan, wilt the spinach leaves then add the goats cheese

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  • Season well with salt and pepper and grate some nutmeg into the pan too

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  • Allow to cool
  • It is now time to get rolling!

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  • Lightly flour your work surface and start rolling out your pasta as thin as you can get it – this is quite a task as it’s a very springy dough that almost doesn’t want to be stretched but persevere!

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  • Once the pasta sheet is as thin as possible, cut in half then spoon the filling in equally spaced mounds on the pasta

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  • Brush the spaces between with a beaten egg

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  • Gently lay the other sheet of pasta over the top and press down around the fillings to remove any air bubbles

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  • Use the ravioli cutter to create your pasta shapes

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  • Once you have all your ravioli squares (or circles!) ready, bring a pan of salted water to the boil and gently simmer the pasta for 3-6 minutes
  • Drain and serve with the pesto drizzle over the top – I couldn’t resist a handful of Parmesan too!

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Like I said, this was really delicious and definitely worth the extra bit of effort…expect some more varieties on the blog soon x

Beauty Review – March Birchbox

Beauty Review – March Birchbox

I was really pleased when I opened this bright Birchbox and saw it was a collaboration with Habitat. I love interior design so was excited to see what products had been picked.

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I always try to be honest on here as I’m not being paid to review these or anything but I was slightly underwhelmed when I first opened it. I was picturing a cool photo frame, print or candle influenced by Habitat’s designs but a flimsy notebook seems to be the extent of Habitat’s influence!

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Yes, it’s a handy notebook (ideal for my weekly shopping lists) but hardly the prettiest to have on your desk.

Whilst I’m having a moan I may as well get the other disappointing product out of the way – another book preview; two chapters of Penny Vincenzi’s latest novel, A Perfect Heritage. I understand this is a good marketing ploy to lure people in to buying the whole book but I find it a really cheeky inclusion in this box and will be unlikely to read it solely because I would then HAVE to buy the book to find out what happened next and I don’t like that kind of marketing.

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Onto beauty now and the product I had pre-ordered through Birchbox. I really like this option where Birchbox email you a few weeks before the box is due to be posted and allow you to pick a shade or type of product. This time, I had the selection of three different Benefit mascaras and seeing as I already had the other two, I jumped at the chance to try out their latest Roller Lash mascara which has gorgeous retro packaging and promises to curl and lift the lash.

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Next up, another brand I love – Philip Kingsley. I admit I have only tried this through Birchbox samples but everything I have trialled I have loved, especially their cult Elasticiser treatment which I will buy full-sized when I finish my tube. This time, I received their Smooth Cream which is designed for curly hair…perfect for me!

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A facial cleanser next by Janjira. This contains pomegranate and acai and smells lovely. I have tried a face cream by this brand before and quite liked it. This face wash will be a nice wake-up to use this week.

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You can tell summer is on people’s minds when the tanning products come out! I have to say that on first look, this product from Tan Organic doesn’t grab me. I’m really not keen on the dark packaging but a quick Google revealed some positive reviews of this self-tanning oil so I will give it a go when it looks warm enough to start thinking about getting my legs out!

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A perfume next from Catherine Malandrino – it’s a lovely scent and perfect handbag size. I probably won’t buy the full-sized version but I do like a perfume sample every now and then simply to try something I may not pick out myself.

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So a mixed bag, well box, this month. I really like the beauty products but feel the ‘lifestyle’ items weren’t up to the same standard. Here’s to next month being a good all-rounder!

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