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Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Meat-Free Tuesdays

Today's Song: Elbow- One Day Like This

For the past few months, I have been trying to eat at least one meat-free evening meal per week. It's not really health based but mainly about expanding my food horizons! Avoiding meat means being adventurous or being bored. We started by using quorn instead of meat in curries/fajitas etc but quickly realized that it didn't agree with Edd for some reason.

Luckily it's 2014 and Pinterest exists! BBC Good Food has also been super helpful as it always is. I sent off for a PETA booklet but it basically said 'use quorn'. Thanks PETA but I'm trying to be imaginative here!

So, here are some of my favourite meat-free meals. Most of them are very simple and use basic ingredients that you can get in Tesco or similar.

Gnocchi and Tomato Bake

Gnocchi & tomato bake

This is from BBC Good Food. I don't really like pasta and gnocchi is an excellent alternative. I haven't tried making my own yet. The sauce in this recipe is delicious and contains lots of tomatoes. I don't use as much cheese as in the picture.

Quinoa and Spinach Stuffed Tomatoes

quinoa stuffed wp Quinoa and Spinach Stuffed Tomatoes + Giveaway

This is from a website called Diethood which I found via Pinterest. It was my first attempt at using Quinoa which gets a bit of stick for being a sort of hippyish middle-class thing to eat. "Oh Saskia loves quinoa, she'd rather eat it than chips any day!"  (The implication being that your child is more civilised  than most and so, by extension, you are a better parent) But it's actually really delicious, filling and soaks up  flavours like no one's business. This is a great website anyway- stuffed peppers also feature!

Spinach and Goats Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms.

Spinach & Goat Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

From Joyful Healthy Eats. What an inspiring website name! I'm trying this for tea tonight. I've never liked mushrooms much so I'm hoping stuffing them with lots of my favourite things will help.

So there we go! Polenta is also very useful, microwaveable lentil packs, beetroot, ready roll puff pastry and pesto. And cheese. Lots of cheese. If you eat meat free food, please feel free to point me in the direction of some delicious recipes.

Note: If I have a child I'm going to call it Saskia and fully expect it to eat quinoa for dinner and sliced peppers for snacks.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

A flattering dress for a mellow day

Today's song: Elbow- My Sad Captains

Dress: Oasis, Tights: M+S, Shoes:M+S

I am feeling very happy to be wearing this dress today! I bought it in the Christmas sale without trying it on and was disappointed to find it didn't quite fit. Too much indulgence over Christmas!

I've been a bit too scared to try it on since then. However, after exercising most days since then and the scales telling me I've lost some weight, today seemed like a good day. And it fits! Hurrah! Still a tad tight around the upper body but nothing terrible. At least it zips up, sob.

I have been trying to be more healthy this year. Exercise and eating properly went out the window when I was doing my PGCE so there is no wonder I put weight on. Plus too much cake in the staff room and an inability to refuse chocolate. I've been much better since January and am enjoying exercising when I get in in the evening. I don't think my diet is too unhealthy. I do enjoy a treat on the weekend- crisps are my weakness but I have given them up for lent as I do every year. So I am feeling pretty vibrant, strong and healthy at the moment! Important when you have long days.

I originally bought this dress for school but it is rather too low! It looks okay in these photos but it wouldn't pass the leaning across a table test.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Graduation! Part two.

Today's song: The Jam- That's Entertainment

Friday was a very special day. I got up early, donned a cap and gown and graduated with a Post Graduate Certificate in Education. I finished the course in July and started my job in September but had to wait til March to graduate for some reason!

I have graduated before, after my degree (and blogged about it here!) but I just remember feeling rather tired and a bit gloomy and worried about the future. So I was determined to really enjoy this occasion and look a little more alive in the photos!

It was held at the Symphony Hall which is such a grand venue. My course is rather small and isn't actually at BCU but is accredited by it. We were the second group to go across the stage, shake hands with the mayor and collect our certificates. I felt extremely proud as I heard my name called!

Afterwards, I found my coursemates, chatted to the course director and then found my parents. Edd didn't come to the ceremony but he met us straight after to take photos.

Here I am looking windswept! I really liked my gown, the post graduate ones are more detailed which make you feel a bit badass!
Please note the flat shoes. I genuinely do not know how some girls got across the stage. I would be paranoid about tripping over in heels.
After I had given my gown back, my parents, Edd and I headed for lunch at Marco Pierre Whites at the top of the Cube. Well if you can't splash out on your graduation when can you?! I had beetroot and goats cheese salad, sea bass and then crème Brule. All gorgeous and three courses was twenty five pounds.
My parents headed home. Edd and I headed home to get changed, then took advantage of the fizz Friday offer at Bar Epernay. Then we met friends from my PGCE, ate and drank cocktails at Coast to Coast and finished off with a bit of dancing! All in all, a perfect way to celebrate becoming a teacher.
It is exciting to write about I here as I have recorded every step of the way- from my degree, working at the cinema, work experience, retaking GCSEs, applying for the course, taking the course, getting a job and now having the certificate to show for it! The school was recently ofsteded and I am pleased to say my lesson was good with outstanding features! 

Monday, 24 February 2014

February in food

Today's song-London Grammar- Wasting my Young Years

No, February is not quite over but I am making the most of the time I have available! I was back at school today after half term but haven't got any marking (hooray). Also- if you don't like meat, look away now!

Here is one of my favorite new places in Birmingham-Loki. It is a wine shop with a difference! Not only can you try lots of different wines using a super special machine, you can also take your glass and sit in the seating area upstairs with a meat or cheese board. You simply put money on a card like a gift voucher, slot the card into the machine and select the wine you want in a choice of sizes. Taster glasses start from about 80p so it's an accessible and inexpensive way to spend an afternoon.

Edd and I like having lunch at Bacchus, which is near the new New Street Entrance. It is really just a pub but it happens to be located in an old wine cellar! Hence the name, Bacchus, who was the Roman (?) God of wine I believe! Or maybe Greek? Anyway it is a lovely quirky place and the food is a slight cut above your usual pub grub.

Another new favourite haunt is Cherry Red's on John Bright Street. There are lots of places opening there at the moment- BrewDog is already open and there will be a Caribbean restaurant too. Cherry Red's started in King's Heath and now they are in Birmingham too! It is a charming, quirky place filled with antique furniture. They are a cafe-bar selling food and coffee by day and cranking up the music at night! I have yet to visit at night but I hear it's great. The breakfasts are gorgeous.

Edd and I don't take Valentine's Day too seriously but we do like to make the most of food offers! This year we had the Waitress dine in for £20 and it was amazing. We had cheese soufle to start, then stuffed duck breast with new potatoes and veg, then a cherry and white chocolate mousse to finish. Plus chocolates and a bottle of cava! What a fantastic deal.

Finally, here are some cupcakes I made yesterday- toffee popcorn flavor! I won't give you the recipe as it is from the charity MacMillan's recipe book. You can buy it here for £4 and I can tell you that all the recipes are sensational! Plus you will be donating to a good cause, so what's not to like! So I leave you feeling hungry as I am off to cook a quick curry for tea- yum!

Sunday, 2 February 2014

January in Food

Today's song: Vance Joy- Riptide

UPDATE!! Flavourly boxes can be bought here and they are 15 pound per month.

It has been a while! Working full time has rather taken its toll on me. I make an effort to spend time with friends and family and to do nice things but things like blogging have taken a back seat. As I get into a routine I am hoping to blog more.

So, here is the round up of my January in food! January is a funny month- half craving salad and healthy food after the Christmas indulgence and half wanting fat and sugar to get me through the dark days. I have been trying to stick to the former.


One of my favorite treats at the moment is my monthly flavourly box. It is like a beauty box but with food! January's was my favorite so far.

Look at all the tasty treats! I'm eating the popcorn right now and it is tangy and delicious. The fruit bars are perfect for a snack at school and I am looking forward to trying the other bits.

Here are some items from previous boxes.

Muffin mix! I don't usually go for baking mixes but as I had it it was fun to sling it in the oven. They were jolly nice too.

 Chipped nail polish and a lunch snack . They were nicer than expected
OOH this was so NICE! A thai red curry. 

And finally,look at this cute cup my friend served me tea in!

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Boots Beauty Advent Calendar

Only ten working days until half term! Although I am really enjoying teaching I am desperate for a break. A chance to recuperate! I think the kids need it too. This is a long term and they are getting restless. I have booked a couple of nights at Haughton Hall near Telford for Edd and I. There will be much wine drinking and swimming and sitting in the steam room!

Now- onto the point of this post. I am feeling rather pleased with myself right now. I have built up a lot of Advantage card points over the years and have never gotten round to spending them. I really wanted to get something a bit flippant with them- a real treat and something I don't actually need. The ideal thing has never appeared- until now.

Yes that's right- an advent calendar with a different beauty item for every day. Best thing ever. Also £30. I don't think I could have justified it if I wasn't using my points.

It contains items from brands such as Nails Inc, Soap and Glory and Carmex (yay!) as well as Boots own brands. The contents are worth £65 so it is a pretty good deal really. I'm getting Edd to hide it from me so I won't open it early!

You can get it from boots.com or in store. Definitely worth using your points on!
Image from here: http://iamfabulicious.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/boots-launches-its-first-ever-beauty.html

Saturday, 5 October 2013

September in... erm, pictures

Today's song: Chvrches- The Mother We Share

Before I go on, this song was flying under my radar until I saw Chvrches on Jools Holland and then read this super article by lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the Guardian. She writes persuasively about internet misogyny  which women in the public eye (and out of it!) face, without ever sounding self-pitying.

Anyway! Moving on. I usually do a 'month in food' post around now but it seems that I didn't take many pictures of food last month! I did have a lovely meal at Annexe's 20's night and 'British tapas' lunch at new Birmingham restaurant The Pickled Piglet. Both highly recommended Birmingham folk!

Here are the teacups and tea pot which we had our Hendricks and tonic served in at The Pickled Piglet.

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The 'British tapas' I referred to included scallops, garlic prawns and honey pork belly. Everything was delightful. The whole thing, including desert, came to around £50. Not for every week- but certainly a decent way to celebrate my first real paycheck!

I've finally had my Qualified Teacher Status certificate.

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I don't usually post about my monthly Birchbox but I particularly liked September's.

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I was sceptical about the 'mystic diamond' hair oil containing diamond oil (lol) but I've been using it everyday! My hair is really calm and soft, no frizz. I loved the Bioderma too but I failed to get hold of the full size from the website. The lipstick is lovely and natural and smells like sweets and the red nail polish is a great colour which goes on easily and didn't chip quickly. The Molton Brown body cream was lovely of course and the chocolate went down nicely.

In Munich, I picked up this Wiener Schnitzel pack. I don't have any veal so used pork steaks. I over cooked it a bit as I am not used to pan frying. It was really tasty though. Not as good as the one I had at Zwickl in Munich, which was actually veal, served with cranberry sauce and sautéed potato.

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I'm finally starting to feel less exhausted. Marking is taking slightly less time. Weekends aren't spent panicking. I'm getting there!