Thursday, 17 October 2013

90. Lifestyle // 21 before 21 FINALE

Some of you may know that I turned 21 on Tuesday, October 15th! I celebrated - in style, of course - in Amsterdam with S, and returned home to a lazy day filled with DVDs and cake, followed by a yummy Indian takeaway with my family on the Wednesday evening. It's been perfect! I will be writing up a post soon about my mini break, and there will be a LOT of photos, so keep your eyes peeled.

Those of you who read my blog religiously (does anybody?! please tell me if you do!) will know that I embarked on a challenge (one of many...) earlier this year; 21 before 21. The challenge is simple: you set yourself 21 tasks to achieve before you turn 21, or 30 before you turn 30, and so on... I set myself this challenge way back on June 8th, meaning that I had 129 days to tick off, at least, a few goals. I've updated each month and now, time is up. So, let's see how I got on...
Green = completed
Red = failed
Health & Beauty
Lose another 20lbs (or reach a weight at which I'm genuinely happy)
erm, yeah, so this didn't happen... I think I maybe gained a pound or two instead, oops!
Stop biting my nails
so this happened... and then didn't... and then did... lets just say it's a work in progress...
Give up smoking
this one was harder than I thought! Any tips are more than welcome!
Get my hair in good condition
literally 834454032 times better thanks to a few hair products which I will be reviewing soon
Blogging
Reach 50 followers on Bloglovin and 10,000 page views
okay, so I beat my Bloglovin target (thanks guys!) but I'm nowhere near the page views... yet
Attend a Bloggers meet-up or events
despite being invited to several, I've not managed to make any due to anxiety and money issues
Get a proper blog layout
I had this lovely design created for me earlier in the year, but I'm looking for a revamp!
Friends and Family
Arrange my 21st birthday celebrations with friends
*sob story* hardly anyone responded - boo, you guys! - so this didn't happen
Have an amazing time in Amsterdam with S
been there, done that, got that hat
Have enough money saved for a deposit
as mentioned, the whole moving-in-together thang has been put on hold
Hobbies
Read and review one new book each week
yeah, so I managed 5... I'm a busy lady!
Watch and review one new film each week
this one was just too easy
Cook or bake something new each week
I lost track but I'd say I got about halfway there!
Financial
Save £600 towards Amsterdam and flat deposit
obviously managed the Amsterdam part but the flat? Not so much
Do not go overdrawn or miss any card payments or bills
don't even talk to me about money... *angry (at myself) face*
Material Matters
Buy a good camera
Treat myself to a Kindle or tablet
Buy or create one item for our new home each week
The Boring Stuff
Pass theory and practical test
well, this is happening... but it just hasn't happened yet!
Find a job that meets my needs, e.g. hours, income, challenging
totes achieved
Pass first module with a minimum overall score of 70%
passed each assignment with an average of 75% #dork


So, as you can see, I achieved 9 1/2 (yeah, I know, does that 1/2 really count? Can't I just round it up?) and failed 10 1/2 of my goals. A bit of a mixed bag, eh? What I've learnt is that I'm pretty good at the easy tasks: buy a camera, watch a film, have a nice holiday... but when it comes to the more challenging goals such as don't go overdrawn, read a book every week and pass my driving test, I've struggled. What does that say about me?
A work in progress.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

89. Guest Post // Food Blogging Exposed

Today's post is a brilliant guest post from a lovely blogger, Samantha, over at Planet Bake Life where she blogs about all things yummy! I hope you enjoy, and don't forget to stop by at Sam's blog to check out some of her delicious recipes!
Food Blogging Exposed: 5 Expectations vs Realities
So this has been a whirlwind year for me! I’ve been blogging for about three years now on and off but this year is the first time I’ve sat down and blogged seriously. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed myself and when I saw a few bloggers doing an Expectation vs Reality post I knew I wanted to do something similar. So here I am!
1// Expectation: Everything will turn out perfectly the first time round even if it’s a new recipe.
      Reality: Stuff flops. You will end up with half risen cakes, uncooked biscuits and burnt loaves. That’s just life and it’s no different in baking. You have no idea how many times I’ve taken biscuits out of the oven when they were meant to be cupcakes or how many cakes have leaked uncooked batter out of the sides. Don’t let it put you off!
2// Expectation: You’ll post every food picture and 20 000 people will like, retweet and comment on them all.
      Reality: You’re going to have to work hard for admirers and you’re going to take 100 000 photos and end up posting 4 of them before you get bored. There is no way around this. Just because something is out there doesn’t mean everyone will find it. The internet is a big place, your photos can get a bit lost.
3// Expectation: Every recipe and post will be loved and people will call for your place as head chef with EVERYTHING.
      Reality: There are a lot of food blogs and you are a very small ripple in the pond. Ripples can become waves but not overnight. You have to work hard on everything you do to create an audience. Not everyone will love your recipes and you won’t be the next Joy The Baker in the blink of an eye. You should write your blog because you love it and not for what you can get out of it in the end. If you get freebies, get paid or even make a living off your blog eventually then that’s cool but you should still enjoy blogging for blogging.
4// Expectation: You’ll use only the most expensive and top quality of ingredients available to mankind.
      Reality: Food is expensive. Even if you can afford truffle oil and vanilla pods on the daily, maybe offer an alternative on the blog for those that can’t? Sure, baking that cake with the most expensive butter will add a different flavour but it’s not strictly necessary and you can always put an alternative in your recipe. It’s important for people to feel like the recipes are accessible and that will help engage them with your blog.
5// Expectation: Every reader will be your friend.
      Reality: Not all bloggers are created equal. There are those that will sneer at all you do because they’re jealous and mean spirited but that’s ok. You’ll learn who your true friends are and you’ll make amazing connections with genuine people who love what you do. These are the people to appreciate and spend your time on. Just like in real life, make friends with people who are positive influences on you.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

88. Beauty // The Procrastinating Beauty Blogger Tag

The gorgeous Liberty over at Liberty Loves Make Up was kind enough to tag me in this very fun beauty bloggers tag. The tag was created by The Beau Bow! At the end of the post I'll be tagging three of my favourite beauty bloggers, so keep your eyes peeled!

Rules

1. You must copy and paste these 'rules' onto your post when you write it.
2. You must state that this tag was created by 'The Beau Bow'
3. You must thank the person who tagged you at the start of your post, and at the end state who you tag and remember to let them know.
4. Title 'The Procrastinating Beauty Blogger Tag'
Name a beauty regime that you rarely do...
Exfoliating and moisturising! I do remember to moisturise my face and neck most days, but I can hardly ever be bothered to moisturise my whole body... it just takes so long! Again, I exfoliate my face with face scrubs and washes but never my body. I guess I'm just too lazy!
Is washing your make-up brushes something that you do regularly?
I'll be totally honest here; no. I tried recently to wash my foundation brush with baby shampoo but it didn't work at all, so I'm not sure where I went wrong with that! As for eye shadows and the like, I have a few different brushes so as long as I use certain brushes for lights and others for darker shades, I'm okay!
How long will you last with chipped nail polish?
Urgh, I hate it. That's not to say that you won't see me wandering around with the worst chipped nails on the planet, because you will! But as soon as I see one little chip, I try my hardest to pick it all off. It's disgusting; there's always a trail of little bits of dried up nail polish behind me, when I've been picking at it! I normally have to wait until the weekend, when I have a bit more free-time, to completely remove it though.
How long will you put off buying/replacing a beauty product, even if you need to?
I very rarely run out of beauty products as I tend to go out and get replacements just before they're all used up, especially with foundation and powder as I can't live without them. Seriously, I couldn't even leave the house! When it comes to products like blusher, eye-shadows or kohl liner, I could probably leave it a couple of weeks.
What is your worst beauty habit?
I draw my eye-brows on with a pencil, and I use face wipes... both of which, I believe, are frowned upon by the serious beauty bloggers! I'm hoping to buy myself some proper eye-brow shaping products next month, and I'm also toning it down on the face wipes now that I'm using Senzimi cleanser daily.
Name something non-beauty related that you put off doing all the time...
Oh my God, I could be here all day! I guess the main thing that I put off, or least like doing, is the dishes! I absolutely detest washing dishes. At home, we have a dishwasher which isn't so bad, but at S's there isn't one which means one of us always has to do the dishes! Thankfully, I tend to do the cooking and S will do the dishes in return, so it's usually not so bad.
When going out somewhere, do you leave getting ready until the last minute?
It depends where I'm going but, as a rule, definitely not. I suffer from quite bad anxiety, which mainly rears it's ugly head when I have to leave the house or go somewhere that I'm not familiar with, or with people who I don't feel comfortable around. So, for me, getting ready is a calming process where I can get my thoughts together and really prepare myself, mentally, physically and emotionally, for what's coming. For those reasons, I like to give myself plenty of time to get ready.
Can you commit to spending bans?
For me, a spending ban is pretty tricky but I can manage to cut down on clothes and make-up fairly easily, it's the little things like snacks, DVDs and bottles of wine that I struggle with! 
How organised is your make-up and nail polish collection?
All of my make-up is squished into one make-up bag that I carry with me everyday, as I split my time between my family home and S's house, so it's not very organised at all - but at least it's all together! The products that I don't use very often are stored in a box in my cupboard, or in a little pot on my chest of drawers. My nail polishes are all lined up next to my television so they're easy to find, but not organised in any special way! I am hoping to get more organised with my products very soon.
I hope you enjoyed reading my answers, I'm going to tag:
Ella at Hello Ella

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

87. Travel // Travel Wishlist

I love travel, and I love wishlists... Yup, it's a travel wishlist!

I got the idea from Amy at Cocktails in Teacups who wrote a wonderful wanderlust wishlist of places in the UK that she'd like to visit. I thought I'd do my own version of the top 3 places that I am desperate, and I mean desperate, to see.

1. New Zealand

If you followed me way back when in May, you'll know that I took part in the Blog Everyday in May challenge. One of the topics I had to write about was my travel dreams. I chose New Zealand. It may seem a pretty standard choice; good weather, hot guys, cute accent... but it's somewhere that I 100% have my heart set on moving to. As you'll know, I'm a big fan of lists, planning and organisation; I have a 10-year-plan which involves emigrating to New Zealand with S. It's a dream of both of ours; he visited when he was 18, for a month, and stayed with his extended family over there. He's told me so many amazing stories about the place and, through my own research (which, sadly, hasn't involved actually visiting!) it's led me to the conclusion that it would be an incredible place to live. Someone want to lend me £10,000, yeah?
2. Thailand
Thailand looks like a pretty immense place. I'm not talking about the cities - although I'd love to see Bangkok, but probably only very briefly! - but the beaches. Oh my God, the beaches. White sand, dazzling blue seas, hammocks, cocktails... I could go on and on. Not to mention the food?! Imagine spending a fortnight staying in a beach hut, sipping cocktails on the beach, swimming in the ocean... and then trekking through the National Parks, exploring the cities and experiencing real Thai life... Well, a girl can dream!
3. Germany 
A slightly much more realistic travel dream of mine is to visit Germany. There is so much that I want to see; from where the Berlin wall once stood, to the horrors of the concentration camps, right up to the beautiful mountains of Bavaria (seriously, Google Neuschwanstein Castle!) I think the German culture is so misunderstood and, in reality, it looks like a gorgeous place; very clean, lots to do and such a mix of modernity and traditionalism, in terms of architecture, food and so much more. I'd love to spend Christmas in Germany, it's a genuine dream of mine, as I picture it as just the perfect place: curled up next to the fire in a log cabin in the Bavarian Alps, opening presents and sipping hot chocolate (perhaps with a shot of Jagermeister in there to liven things up!)... Perfect. You can find out more about German Christmas traditions here.
If you could visit anywhere in the whole world, where would it be?
*All images are sourced from Pinterest*

Sunday, 6 October 2013

86. Recipes // Hearty Chicken Pie

Now that it's officially Autumn, I'm looking forwards to trying out some heartier comfort food recipes. The first of these is a hearty chicken pie, but not just any chicken pie... it's a chicken, leek, mushroom and bacon chicken pie. Yum.

Saturday afternoon was my first ever attempt at making puff pastry. Well, at making pastry of any type to be honest! I read a few different recipes, received a couple of tips from helpful Twitter-er-er-er's (?!) including James Morton from Great British Bake Off *swoon* and, kind of, mixed them all together... It didn't exactly go to plan, let's be honest here, it wasn't really puff pastry in the end. It was more like shortcrust pastry, but the fact that I made some form of edible pastry is good enough for me. 

I won't be sharing my pastry recipe as, to be honest, I sort of winged it. I chucked some flour and butter in a bowl, mixed it a bit, rolled it a bit, folded it a bit, chilled it and then rolled it out again... it was very haphazard, and I don't know how it even managed to work! So, let's focus on the filling of the pie instead which was delicious (not that I mean to blow my own trumpet!)

Please excuse the burnt edges and the poor quality phone-camera photograph...

Ingredients

400g chicken breast, diced
1 large onion, sliced
2 large leeks, thickly sliced
Handful of button mushrooms, sliced
180ml white wine
150ml double cream
1tsp mustard
1tsp dried taragon
150ml chicken stock (hot)
300g bacon lardons or sliced bacon
Black pepper to season
1 egg
Oil

Method

1. Heat the oil and fry the onions and leeks until softened,
2. Add the chicken and bacon and fry until browned,
3. Add the mushrooms and fry until slightly soft (not browned though)
4. Pour in the chicken stock and wine and simmer for 5 minutes,
5. Pour in the cream, bring to the boil and then simmer for 5 minutes,
6. Add any seasoning; e.g. the taragon, mustard and black pepper,
7. Leave to cool for 20-30 minutes,
8. Once cooled, pour into a pie dish and cover with pastry (shop bought or homemade),
9. Heat your oven to Gas Mark 7 or 200-220 degrees celsius,
10. Brush the top of the pie with egg and snip a tiny slit in the middle for the air to escape,
11. Cook in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until golden on top

Serve with mashed potato and vegetables.

I really loved this pie; it is honestly one of my favourite savoury recipes that I've cooked and I was really pleased with how it came together. It went down a real treat with S, my mum and my brother. I just wish I'd taken more photographs before it was scoffed!

The initial inspiration for this recipe came from Jamie Oliver's chicken and leek pie recipe which can be found here

Saturday, 5 October 2013

85. Beauty // Sleek Face Form Contouring Palette

I have a big face.
There, I said it. It's out there in the open... my face is huge! I have chubby cheeks, a big chin, no real definition; it's not great.
I first heard about contouring when I had my make-up done at the Benefit counter earlier in the year; my make-up artist managed to completely change the shape of my face. I had cheekbones! I had a jawline! I had everything. I vowed that, come payday, I would return and purchase some products that would stop my moonface. But I didn't. I totally forgot.
That was until somebody on Twitter (sorry, I can't remember who!) mentioned Sleek. I'd never heard of Sleek before so I was slightly dubious. However, I googled the company and found lots of brilliant reviews, in particular for their Face Form contouring and blush palette. I quickly popped it in my basket and a couple of days later, it arrived.
As you can see, the packaging is pretty nice (the images look like chunks of chocolate or fudge, *drools*). It comes in a small cardboard box which - unfortunately - is quite hard to get open (well, I struggled...) and in the end, I had to rip the end off as I couldn't get the palette out of the box.

The palette itself is exactly as you'd imagine: sleek. The colours inside are gorgeous! I went for the Light 373 palette, as I'm fairly pale but have rosy cheeks so I'm by no means Snow White. The blush is a beautiful rose shade, the contouring powder itself is a deep, rich golden-brown and the highlighter is, well, white, I guess, although mine is now slightly pale pink as I used to same brush for my blush and highlighter: rookie mistake!



I've been using this palette for the last few weeks but most days I only use the blusher. Why, you ask? Well, I'll be honest. I'm not a huge fan of this palette. I don't know whether it's the way I've been applying it, or if it's my skin, or the brush I'm using or whether - well - it's the product itself, but it just doesn't seem to work for me.


The blusher is great but, to be honest, it just does the same as any other blusher, except it has a little more sparkle, but the contouring powder makes my face look dirty. Seriously, it looks like I have sideburns when I use it. I watched a tutorial online of how to use it and, even when I followed the guide step-by-step, it still looked the same. The highlighter, on the other hand, makes my face ridiculously shiny! I had been applying it down the centre of my nose and above my cheeks, but after a couple of days of use, I decided not to bother.
Another issue that I had with this product was that, when I wore it, it was extremely obvious. I looked as though I had caked on another 739532 layers of make-up, and that is not a good look. Even by the end of day one, my make-up looked cracked and, well, just weird.
I'm really disappointed and disheartened by this product as I was expecting to absolutely love it. I think it'd be better - for me, personally - on a night out where the lighting isn't quite so bright, but in the daytime it just doesn't look right on me, I'm sorry to say!
You can purchase the Sleek Face Form contouring and blush palette from the Sleek website for £9.99, if you want to give it a go yourselves.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

84. Travel // Sedbergh, Cumbria

Recently, I was lucky enough to spend four wonderful days with my mother, visiting my grandparents at their beautiful home in Sedbergh, which lies on the edge of both the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales. It really is just heaven on earth; a peaceful haven. I thought I'd share a few photographs from my trip.


This was the perfect opportunity for me to test out my new camera. The weather wasn't particularily bright, but the skies were very atmospheric which you will see in several of the later photographs.


This cute cow was adorable. I shot this from quite a distance but I'm happy with how it came out!




Mum and I went for lots of walks, with Jess (my grandparents gorgeous border collie), along the bottom of the Howgill Fells.



The colours of the rolling hills around my grandparents were perfect for some intense, atmospheric shots, but not quite so nice when you're walking up little paths and lanes late at night by yourself. Yorkshire Ripper, anyone?








Watching the cows coming in for milking. This was terrifying. I had forgotten how huge cows are close up!



I also spent a lot of time in my grandparents garden, looking for bright and beautiful photographs that I could snap. I was pleased with how these two came out!


As well as the incredible scenery, I was treated to lovely meals out and a spot of shopping with my Grandma too! We visited Kendal where I bought some gorgeous, cosy winter boots. We also visited The Bath House (check out their website, their products are gorgeous!) which was full of brilliant goodies, including Earl Grey lip balm and Gin and Tonic bath salts! 

If you're ever heading into Cumbria or Yorkshire, I'd also recommend stopping at the Westmorland Service Station, at Tebay, which has the most delightful farm shop, pond and cafe, selling some amazing produce. 

We visited an amazing gastro-pub named The Pheasant Inn in Casterton, where I had baked pan fried hake, butternut squash puree, roasted peppers & buttered new potatoes which was just delicious, and after shopping one afternoon, mum and I popped into Duo in Sedbergh where I had this scrumptious hot chocolate.

Monday, 30 September 2013

83. Lifestyle // (Attempt #2 At The) Spending Ban

As you will know, I attempted a spending ban a month or so ago (here) but failed miserably after just two weeks! Oops. However, here I am, I'm back and I'm raring to go.

September was a very skint month for me as I over spent ridiculously at the start of the month, and suffered the consequences for the next three weeks. But for October I am vowing to be careful with my money, conscious of what I'm spending my pennies on and to live within my means.

Excuse my French...

That means, no more clothes, make-up, beauty, skin and haircare products. No magazines, no bits and bobs for my bedroom, no stationary, books or other unnecessary items! Obviously if I run out of, for example, deodrant or foundation, it can be repurchased but only if it costs the same amount (or less) than the original. That's fair, isn't it?

I'm going to run this Spending Ban from today (Monday, September 30th) until Monday, November 11th. In those 6 weeks, I can obviously spend money on food (but not a fortune on munchies, lunches or snacks whilst I'm at work), seeing friends and spending time with S. It's mainly shopping that's out of the question.

If you follow me on Twitter, you will know that S and I are saving up for a flat, as well as a holiday, and so many other things that we need to make our future together perfect, so it's very important that I learn the importance of money, and I'm hoping this challenge will help me do just that.

I will update once a fortnight to let you all know how I'm getting on and how much money I've saved!

Spending Ban's are all the rage at the moment, so if you're taking part in one too, please leave me a comment to let me know and I can check your posts out!

Sunday, 29 September 2013

82. Health // Time To Get Serious

You may have noticed that I slipped off the radar somewhat with the Get Fit in 12 Weeks challenge. It just wasn't right for me. I did try - a bit - but then, as usual, I got bored and gave up and ate chocolate and pizza instead...


Two weeks later, I feel revolting. My clothes feel the tightest they have all year, my stomach feels bloated and swollen and my skin, hair and nails are in dire condition. The only thing that has changed recently is my eating, it's gone from bad... to worse. I'm putting the blame for all the physical side effects on my atrocious diet and (non-existent) exercise regime. Time to get serious, and sort this sh*t out.

I'm going to be completley honest this time. I weigh around 200lbs. Bare in mind that I'm only 5' 4" and we're looking at a lot of excess weight here. My ideal weight would be around 130lbs; the last time that I weighed under 140lbs was when I was 14. When I met S, I was around 155lbs and I was happy with my weight, shape and size. I'd love to get back there... So, I'm aiming for a goal weight of 154lbs (11 stone) - I know this may sound like a lot to many people, and to be honest I would still be classed as overweight, but I can't imagine myself every being slimmer than that.

For one, I have big boobs and big hips, they aren't going to just disappear. In the words of Bridget Jones, I will "always be just a little bit fat" but I'm fine with that. 

So how can I lose around 50lbs/3 1/2 stone? And how quickly?!

For me, it's not about how quickly I can lose the weight, it's about actually losing it. If it takes 6 months, GREAT! If it takes a year, NO WORRIES! If it takes longer? WHO CARES! I'll be heading in the right direction. I have patience.


I researched into juice and shake diets but I don't think they're for me; I love food, nothing will ever stop that, and there is no way I could live off shakes and smoothies (unless they contain biscuits, pasta or ice-cream). I've also thought long and hard about joining Slimming World and, to be honest, I think I'm going to go for it! I'm going to try a month of doing this by myself and then I'll see whether I could do with the extra support, advice and sense of community. 

I won't be making any drastic changes to my diet: nothing is banned, I'm not going to be gyming it four times a week, I'll not be living off celery sticks and ice cubes, no, I'll do it sensibly.

I'm planning on having a poached eggs on a bed of salad, followed by a small bowl of porridge (with added cocoa powder... well, I've got to have one treat!) for breakfast before work. A chicken, tuna or ham salad and a smoothie for lunch, veggie sticks with dip as a snack in the afternoon when I hit the 3 o'clock slump(!) and then a hearty, but balanced, meal in the evening, with fruit and yoghurt if I get peckish before bed. 

I'm aiming for around 1,600 calories per day which should allow me to lose about 1.5lbs per week without exercise, or 2-3lbs if I exercise several times a week. I think this is a reasonable expectation: 2lbs would be amazing, 1.5lbs would also be great.


In terms of exercise, I will try to up to anti a bit, but I'm making no promises. I'm no gym bunny, I hate exercise. It makes my boobs hurt, my back ache and my head feel like it's going to explode! I'm hoping to find something that will gradually increase my fitness; such as pilates, yoga and brisk walking, and do around 2 hours of exercise per week, to help with toning. 

Although, as mentioned above, I'm not fussed about how long it takes me to shift this flab, it would be incredible if I could reach by goal weight by July 2014. That's when S and I are planning on a holiday abroad so it would be fantastic to be able to walk around in a bikini (I haven't even worn a swimming costume in public since I was about 14) and not give a sh*t about my wobbly bits. 

Anyway, this has been another rambly post (i'm rather good at those, aren't I?!) so I'll round it up. 

I'm kick starting this diet healthy lifestyle tomorrow, in time with Stoptober (in which I'm trying to kick the ciggies!), and also my Spending Ban (which I will be posting about on Tuesday!)! So October is going to be a tough month but I've got lots to look forwards to also. I'll be updating you all along the way with my journey and I'll be throwing in a few healthy recipes here and there too!

Saturday, 28 September 2013

81. Lifestyle // The First Tag

The beautiful, inspirational, LOVELY Imogen (seriously, I could go on all day!) from The Bluebird & The Robin was kind enough to tag me in this wonderful 'The First Tag'-tag... I never know how I'm meant to word that but, hey, who cares?! IT'S A TAG POST. And a nostalgic one...

First Best Friend

When I was younger, I used to change my best friend every. single. week. I'm still indecisive (not with friends so much now!) but it's definitely a trait that has stayed with me forever. I remember my first group of best friends; Soph, Arnia and Megan. We all went to the same primary school and we would spend our breaks together; playing football (I know - can you imagine me playing football?! Seriously though, it's true - there's a photo and everything), making daisy chains on the playing field or making up stories; I once convinced everyone that Michael Owen was my dad, and that my mum was a model... I sound like Tracy Beaker! Vivid imagination, obviously. I remember going round to Arnia's farm and climbing up the silo and leaning right over the edge, until her dad came over and shouted at us, I remember walking in on Soph's mum on the toilet and pulling a radiator off the wall by swinging off it... Megan and I went to Disneyland Paris and I spewed as soon as I got there. Why is it that I only remember the bad/embarrassing things?! 

First Kiss

I am cringing so hard. I didn't have my first kiss - well, what I'd count as a kiss (and by that I mean a hormonal, teenage sloppy snog with lots of teeth and saliva) - until I was fifteen. Drunk, in a tent, with a boy who had a girlfriend. *hangs head in shame* Don't judge.

First Concert

I was lucky enough to go to quite a few concerts when I was younger! I remember going to see STEPS with Megan (mentioned above) and I bought these amazing/hideous gold, shiny trousers which I thought were just the BEST, to wear to the concert. I remember afterwards when I was in that same shop where I bought the trousers from, and a girl said "oh my god!! they are disgusting!!" about the trousers. I never wore them again. Anyway, I'm digressing... I also went to see S Club 7. TWICE. I know, I know, I was privileged  I don't remember much about any of the concerts though, probably because I would have been far too short to see anything... and probably far too scared of the flashing lights, the screaming and the thousands of people, to enjoy it.

First Celeb Crush

Ben out of A1. Those curtains, those big eyes, that...? Well, I have no idea to be honest. For some reason, I thought he was the most beautiful creature I'd ever set eyes on (when I was about ten). I remember he was on Big Brother (or something?) a few years ago, and I actually *blushes* still had a little bit of a soft spot for him then. Over the years I have also been madly in love with almost every character off Grange Hill (back in the day), Paul out of S Club 7, Calvin from S Club Juniors and Lee out of STEPS. I had the best taste, ever.

First Job

I always find it quite hard to remember my first job as I've had quite a few in the last 6 years! But I think it was either washing dishes at a local hotel, or - well - washing dishes at a pub on a Sunday. Needless to say, I quit each of them after about two shifts as I couldn't stand the pressure. Just kidding, I just hated the pruney-hand-effect.

First Phone

Another of my little fibs; I used to always borrow my mum's phone - one of those old Nokia's that you could only either text, call or play Snake on - and text my friends from it, telling them it was my phone. It was all going swimmingly; everyone believed I had a phone, just like everybody else, until I arranged to meet one of my friends at the pool and she rang my *cough* my mum's *cough* phone on her way to meet me, only to have my mum answer and inform her that actually this is her phone, not her daughters. Illusion = shattered. In all honesty, I don't remember when I got my first phone, but at least I remember when I first pretended to have one.

First Music I Bought

THIS. 

First Tweet

I've tweeted so much that I can seriously not go through all my tweets to find my first one but... I think it was something about having a shower? #YOLO

First Make Up

I have to say, for this one, I have absolutely no idea. I don't even remember when I started wearing make-up but I think it was probably when I was about 11 or 12 and I went through a craze of wearing bright blue eye shadow (WITH NO MASCARA. OMG. WHAT WAS I THINKING?!) 

First Word

Much like Imogen, I asked my mum and she pondered it for a moment and then shrugged, "I really don't know." Thanks mum... I presume it was something incredibly mundane like 'mum' or 'dad,' otherwise I'm sure she would of remembered...


First Pet


Oh God, we've had so many pets. Dogs, cats, guinea pigs, hamsters, lizards, rabbits, goldfish! When I was really young we had two gorgeous cats, Bailey (named after my mum's favourite drink) and Benson (named after my dad's favourite brand of cigarettes, rock and roll bitchezzzz), and they're the first pets I really remember. We also had a cat called Cougar but I don't remember if that was before or after?! My memory is honestly horrific. I should never have agreed to do this post. We also had a menagerie of goldfish (mainly sourced from fun fairs), the most notable (meaning he probably lasted for more than a day) being Rainbow. Imaginative as ever!


Anyway, I hope you've enjoyed my rather rambly (and rubbish, sorry) attempt at The First Tag. If you want to have a go at creating a (much) better post, go ahead! But for now I'm going to tag three of my favourite bloggers:


Magdalena

Dani
Cat

Friday, 27 September 2013

80. Recipes // Chocolate Orange Brownies

I got a great response on Twitter when I mentioned that I was going to be baking a personal favourite of mine; chocolate orange brownies, for my works' Macmillan Coffee Morning this week. We held our coffee morning on Thursday rather than Friday as most of the reporters (I work for a local newspaper) are out of the office on a Friday.

Anyway, boring-ness aside, we raised over £300 through sealed bids for amazing prizes, a tombola, a raffle, donations and lots of yummy cakes available to purchase, and I had a wonderful time! I even won a Yankee candle, some Nails Inc polishes, a bottle of white wine and a box of Malteasers... everything you'd ever need for the perfect girls night!

So, after the great response and lots of requests for me to share my brownie recipe, here goes!


I used a recipe from BBC Good Food's website, but adapted it slightly.

Ingredients

200g butter,
200g chocolate (I used Cadbury's Dairy Milk),
Grated zest of 1 large orange,
4 eggs,
350g caster sugar,
100g plain flour,
50g cocoa powder (I used Cadbury's hot chocolate powder),
Juice from 1/2 large orange,
120g Terry's chocolate orange (equivalent of 3 bars),
Cocoa powder to dust

Method

1. Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees,
2. Melt the butter, chocolate (not the Terry's!) and orange zest over a low heat,
3. Leave to cool whilst you mix sugar and butter until fluffy,
4. Sift in the flour and cocoa butter in with the sugary-buttery mixture,
5. Stir in the melted chocolate mixture
6. Add the chunks of Terry's and the orange juice,
7. Pour the mixture into a greased baking tin/tray,
8. Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes,
9. Best served warm with ice-cream.

Monday, 16 September 2013

79. Recipes // Homemade Chilli Nachos

Hello guys.

I hope you all had a lovely weekend! I'm lucky enough to only be working two days this week before my mum and I are off to the Lake District for four days - I can't wait! I'll hopefully have more time whilst I'm away to catch up on blogging and get a few posts written up and scheduled, I'll also be able to take some more photographs with my new camera *yay* 

Anyway, I'm getting carried away... Today's post is a really yummy recipe that Shane and I tried for the first time last weekend; nachos with chilli! We've made nachos with cheese and jalapenos and all that jazz before, but this time we made our own chilli and it's surprisingly simple, so here goes!

As we both work full-time and usually don't eat until about 7 o'clock, we decided to take a few shortcuts *cough* ready made mix *cough* so I've been entirely honest about these in the recipe.

Ingredients (for 2/3 people)
400g steak mince
1/2 tin of chopped tomatoes
2 x peppers, sliced
1 x medium sized onion, diced
250g Mexican cheese (available in Iceland and Tesco)
Handful of sliced jalapenos
1 x packet of nachos
1 x tin of baked beans
1tsp chilli powder
1tsp paprika
1 x packet of Schwartz Chilli con Carne mix 

Optional: Guacamole and Soured Cream to serve.

Method
1. Once all your vegetables have been prepped, brown your mince and onion in a pan
2. Whilst the meat is browning, follow the instructions on the Chilli mix to create a sauce
3. When the meat is browned and the onions have softened, add the sauce
4. Also add the baked beans, chopped tomatoes and peppers (and any seasoning)
5. Heat all the way through and then leave to simmer for 15-20 minutes on a low heat
6. Whilst simmering, spread the nachos in a baking dish and grate the cheese
7. When cooked, pour the chilli on top of the nachos and spread evenly


8. Sprinkle with grated cheese and jalapenos (if you want an extra kick!)


9. Cook in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted and golden


10. Top with guacamole and soured cream, and enjoy!


Have you ever made your own nachos?
Do you have any recipes for homemade guacamole?

Lots of Love,
Becci xo

Saturday, 14 September 2013

78. Lifestyle // Birthday Wishlist

It's only 30 days until I turn 21. To me, that's a big deal. 21 marks being an adult, a proper adult, where I'm old enough to do just about anything (except get a free bus pass). I'm really excited about it but, at the same time, very nervous as I feel that I'm not where I should be in life. I know this is silly as I've got a lot to be proud of and everyone achieves at different stages in their lives, but that's just my outlook on my situation.*sigh* Let's cheer this up a bit!

I thought I'd do a birthday wishlist as I love creating wishlists, and I thought it'd be a good way to subtly hint, to Shane, what I'd be happy to receive. Not that birthdays are about presents... No, of course its not. (I love presents).



This beautiful Kindle cover is available from NotOnTheHighstreet for £26.50. Now, you may think that's quite pricey for what is basically just a bit of fabric, but it's so pretty and it's handmade. However, I would also need a Kindle to go with this cute cover ;-)

I've been looking for some ankle boots for a while now and these glam cut-out panel buckle boots from New Look are perfect! I think they'd look great on a night out, or even in the office with a pencil skirt and some coloured tights to make them stand out, and for only £24.99 you can't go wrong!



Whilst browsing NotOnTheHighStreet I also stumbled across this adorable personalised 'love letter' necklace. The chain and envelope are made of gold and inside there is a removable wooden inscripted note; you can choose any wording you like. I think this is such a lovely idea, and for £48 it'd be a piece of jewellery you'd keep forever.
Now, I know this isn't the newest or most fashionable scent, but I love it. Unfortunately, I ran out of Euphoria well over a year ago and I've never been able to justify buying myself perfume, so I think asking for this newer scent as a birthday present would be ideal. You can find Calvin Klein's Forbidden Euphoria on Fragrance Direct for £36.95 (100ml).


It wouldn't be a birthday wishlist without flowers! I spotted this gorgeous, sumptuous Autumn Sunshine bouquet on Interflora, and now I'm desperate for them. They'd brighten up any room! Interflora also offer a bottle of red wine (double win) and free delivery with the bouquet, which makes the deal even sweeter. This lovely bouquet is £39.95 for the standard size, or £49.95 for the large bouquet.

What do you think of my birthday wishlist?
Is there anything you'd add?

Lots of Love,
Becci xo