Monday, 30 December 2013

2013: The Review

Phew, it's almost 2014 already. Where did the time go?! Hopefully 2013 was a good year for you but before we wave it goodbye, here's a quick run down of some of my highlights...

January saw us welcoming the loveliest, furriest member of our family - Keeta the husky. Although it took her a while to settle in she's now very much part of the pack and we're completely besotted with her. Also around this time trips out into the New Forest and Dartmoor in the snow. Great fun!

Our first wedding anniversary! We celebrated by staying the night at Marwell Hotel, where we originally tied the knot, courtesy of my Mum. Absolutely splendid!

The weekend of two weddings saw one of Mr P's best friends and two of mine getting hitched. Cue us scrambling between Hampshire and Liverpool to make it to both do's! It was absolutely wonderful to see people so clearly perfectly matched tying the knot.

Bit of a low light here I'm afraid. At the beginning of July Mr P came down to find his Defender had been broken into and my motorbike stolen (fortunately my car and his bike were untouched). Cue a heartbreaking nightmare of police and insurance compounded by the fact that it was perfect biking weather. Argh!!! She was eventually recovered (ha, take that thieves) but not before the insurance had paid out and they refused to allow me to buy her back, but by then I'd bought the Suzuki and I have to admit she is a better bike for me. Still, very sad times :(

My 30th birthday! Very strange to be leaving my twenties but I can't say I was dreading it at all and I haven't found 30 to be at all scary. To be honest I don't feel any different to when I was in my mid twenties, except I have a hubby and a house and a dog (check me out with the domestic bliss!). My mate Jen, who also turned 30 this year, put it best - age is just an accident of birth! Anyway, a visit from my Mum and a trip to Longleat Safari Park made for a lovely celebration.

After much umming and aahing I finally took up playing music again, something my life had revolved around in my teens. I bought some new oboe reeds, dusted off my music stand and joined a wind band in Emsworth which I'm thoroughly enjoying. Who'd have thought after a decade away I'd still remember how to play?!

My little blog was born! I only got into reading blogs in October but immediately knew it was something I wanted to be a part of - the perfect outlet for my girly side and my inner geek delighted at the idea of playing with CSS.

Bit of a stressy start with work piling up in my day job but on the plus side my manager position was made permanent. Hurrah! Then a whole big flurry of Christmas shopping, decorations and finally the holidays and here we are!

Did you have a good 2013? What were your favourite bits?

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Merry Christmas!

To all you lovely people who follow my little blog, and anyone who happens to come across it over the festive season, I wish you a wonderful Christmas and a fabulous New Year!

Monday, 23 December 2013

Multi Tasking Vitamin E

I bought the Body Shop Vitamin E Nourishing Night Cream (£11) because I wanted a richer night moisturiser for the colder weather but I must admit it turned out to be a bit too rich for regular use on my skin. However, I'm not one to let a mis-purchase go to waste and I've found this pretty pink cream is great for a whole host of other uses.

The Moisturising Mask
Ok this one is obvious, but when I feel like my skin needs a little su'ing su'ing extra in the moisturising stakes I apply a generous layer, let it soak in for an hour or so and then clean the remainder off. I get the moisturising benefits my skin needs but by washing the remainder off I'm not left with a somewhat greasy mess in the morning. This is a trick you could try with any moisturiser you might have lying around which is just a bit too rich for regular use.

The Lip Balm
A quick dab on my lips and they're lovely and moisturised without waiting for a shiny concoction to sink in so I can apply lipstick pretty much straight away. The moisture lasts and it even manages to make my lips feel a little plumper, although I've no idea how! You do have to be a little careful though as it's quite heavily scented and doesn't taste great so less is most definitely more.

The Hand Cream
In a pinch you can use pretty much any moisturiser as a hand cream but something about this one sets it apart. It sinks in just as well as Soap & Glory Hand Food (my all time favourite) and does a really good job of sorting out dryness for a good few hours. Plus once I've smoothed this on my hands I can also use it as...

The Hair Tamer
I swear the second my hair does into a plait or ponytail it takes on a life as its own and starts pinging out all over the place! I prefer not to use gels or strong hairspray to banish flyaways as they just make my hair look greasy or crunchy but because this cream is pretty heavy it weighs down the rogue hairs without the unwanted side effects. True it doesn't last as long a proper styling product but as a finishing touch it's not bad.

Admittedly my vitamin E cream doesn't do any of these things  as well as products designed for those jobs, but given the choice between having this hide at the back of my bathroom cabinet for years to come or using it up I figured I might as well!

Do you have any mis-purchases that ended up being useful for other things or are you a get rid gal?

Friday, 20 December 2013

A Merry Veggie Christmas!

If I say the words Christmas Dinner do you think of mouth watering roast potatoes, crunchy roast parsnips, juicy carrots, sprouts (if you must), fragrant stuffing, sweet cranberry sauce and a generous helping of succulent turkey topped off with figgy pudding gently sizzling with flaming brandy? I sound like an M & S advert! Me too sort of, except I hate figgy pudding and I'm a vegetarian so no turkey for me! However, I don't miss out as both mine and Mr P's family (we alternate) cook the veg well away from the turkey and I have a not so secret weapon to ensure I have just as yummy a meal as my meat eating relatives.

This year I'm having a delicious caramelised balsamic and red onion tart with goat's cheese taken from Delia Smith's Vegetarian Collection, which I have to say is the yummiest collection of veggie recipes I've ever seen. I won't recount the whole recipe here as it's quite long but here it is in a nutshell:

You will need...
Enough short crust pastry to make your desired size tart (you can buy it ready made but if you make your own add some mustard powder and cayenne pepper)
A little beaten egg
6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
900g sliced red onions (chew gum while you chop them and you should cry less)
2 round goat's cheeses
25g butter
1 dessert spoon of chopped sage and some whole leaves for garnish
A little olive oil and cayenne pepper

To make the tart...
Heat your oven to 180°C or gas mark 4. Roll out your pastry nice and thin and use it to line a greased quiche tin. Lightly prick the base with a fork, cook for around 15 mins in the oven and let it cool.

To make the scrum my onion filling melt the butter in a saucepan and add the onions, balsamic vinegar and hopped sage, season and let it all cook gently for about 30 mins until the excess liquid has evaporated and it has a glazed look.

Brush the cold pastry case with a little beaten egg and pop it back in the oven for 5 mins to stop it going soggy. Spoon the onion mixture into the case and add slices of goat's cheese on top. Finish the tart with a few sage leaves dipped in olive oil and sprinkle lightly with cayenne pepper. Bake for 20 minutes and enjoy!

The beauty of this recipe is you can make the pastry case and the onion mixture ahead of time and put them together in a jiffy. That and it tastes amazing, even as leftovers on Boxing Day. I heartily recommend Delia's veggie recipes for any fellow veggies out there and for any meat eaters who think they can handle a meat free meal!

Are you having something non-traditional for your Crimble dinner? 

Picture and recipe credit: Peter Knab for Delia Smith's Vegetarian Collection (BBC Books, 2002)

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

What's on my nails today

NYC Expert Last Nail Polish in Money Never Sleeps

For my latest manicure I've gone all traditional with a lovely rich green which reminds me of a gorgeously festive pine scented Christmas tree. Ok admittedly ours is artificial because otherwise the dog tries to eat it but hey, I'm just getting into the spirit of things!

This polish is the first I've tried from NYC and although it applied a little streaky at first the second coat was the charm, turning it into this gorgeous slightly shimmery dark green. Apparently this also gives a smoky quality to any jewel coloured polishes its applied over the top of but admittedly I haven't tried that yet - I'm just loving that rich colour on its own at the moment.

Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree...

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Amazing Lady!

Today is my Gran's 94th birthday. Wow!

There she is in the middle with my aunt and mum at Mr P's and my wedding last year. Looking pretty good, no? Of course she was a mere 92 there, but believe me she's still as active as you like and has a considerably better social life than I do!

All I can say is I hope I'm still going strong at even nearly her age!

I get to see her, and my folks, this weekend. Yippee! Do you have anything special planned this weekend?

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Lilac Lovin'

It's almost Christmas - just 3 weeks tomorrow! Christmas means glitter and bling, especially in the nail department. While I love a good old traditional red or green I'm currently opting for a slightly less traditional but suitably wintry silver lilac from Rimmel.

This glittery, sparkly, foil affair is Moon Walking from their Space Dust range which launched in October. The underlying metallic lilac is a lovely colour which changes shade depending on the light, sometimes even looking almost blue grey (but in a nice way). It has a foil-esque quality which is mixed with tonnes of lilac and silver glitter. As a result it goes on pretty thick and dries to a textured finish, which I quite like but if it bugs you then an extra coat of top coat should smooth it out.

The Space Dust range is ideal for parties with its light catching twinkliness. There are 4 other shades besides this one:
Aurora (a pale girlie pink)
Luna Love (bright raspberry pink)
Total Eclipse (dark green/black)
Shooting Star (silver)

Available in Boots for £3.99 and currently on 3 for 2. I might have to treat myself to them all!

Are you a glitter girl? What's adorning your festive nails this week?