Monday, 31 December 2012

A new look for a new year

Everyone likes a fresh start when a new year is a matter of hours away, so I thought I'd do the same with my blog. It isn't perfect yet, I want to change the background but this is the best that I can do for now! 

Does anyone know how I can make my header centred? I've tried editing the HTML but it doesn't actually change anything... All advice appreciated.

A very happy new year to you all.

"Christmastime, mistletoe and wine"

Alright, I'll admit it, I've been a terrible blogger recently. My poor blog is neglected and it's entirely my own fault: I've been indulging in a lot of Christmas, singing carols, playing board games, eating food, and being with my family. My sisters are both at school and my brother and I are at university, and even when we're all home for the holidays we're rarely all together at once. We're either working, on holiday, or seeing friends, and it generally turns out that the only time of the year that we're all together is from Christmas Eve to New Year's Day, so I like to make the most of it while I can.

I have some proper posts lined up, as soon as I get on and take the necessary pictures, but for now I'll leave you with a little gallery of pictures from my Christmas celebrations.

Banbury Christmas lights in the evening.
Barbed wire earrings as collar tips because I can.
Christmas shopping, before it got too stressful...
Possibly the most disgusting bottle of wine to have ever been made, but we drank it anyway.
My beautiful little sister at the end of Christmas day.
The sea at Budleigh in Devon. The water that had run off the land from the floods turned the sea red
Sticky bubbles are not just for children.

Why does the turkey have to look quite so unappetising before it gets cooked?
All the best mince pies are covered in glitter.

Lots of handmade wrapping paper this year.
Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without smoked salmon.

Me and my mummy. And a present, which I will show you later.
Christmas lunch starter.
30 glasses for the six of us. At least I don't have to wash them up!

We played the Name Game at lunch on Christmas day. My youngest sister won for once, and my Dad took an age to guess that he was Cruella DeVille, even though through his questions he'd worked out that he was a fictional female who was evil and killed dogs. Nope, we don't know what was going on in his brain either!
Apologies for the mixed quality of the photos - my iPod has been pretty handy this Christmas since I'm missing two of the batteries for my camera.

I hope you've all had a wonderful Christmas this year. Enjoy whatever celebrations you have planned for tonight, and I'll see you in the new year!

Monday, 10 December 2012

Make It, Eat It: Emergency chicken soup

You know those days when you wake up feeling utterly disgusting for no reason at all? When you've had a sensible, non-alcoholic night of listening to Christmas songs and reading, only to be rewarded by a swollen throat and the inability to breathe? That's what I woke up to this morning. I can't fathom how this is fair, but I've just accepted that this is not going to be a productive day.

I talked to The Mother this morning (not because I felt ill, I can handle a blocked nose and sore throat on my own!), and she told me (a) to drink green tea and honey, and (b) to have some chicken soup for lunch. So I did. I'm not a massive fan of tinned chicken soup - it tastes fatty and fake, and it's too sweet for me. I don't tend to buy it, so I had no option but to make it. I think it worked pretty well!

I Googled a few recipes to see what is generally put in a chicken soup. I wanted a broth based one rather than cream, most of which had noodles in, so I ended up with a delicious gingery chicken noodle soup. I've called this "Emergency chicken soup" because as usual I had very few of the actual ingredients that I saw in recipes. But it worked just as well.


  • 1 large chicken breast, uncooked and cut into small slivers or chunks, however you prefer
  • 1 vegetable stock cube (chicken stock would obviously make the soup more chicken-y)
  • 1 litre boiling water
  • Butter/oil/cooking spray
  • A quarter of a red onion
  • Four mushrooms (I used closed cup ones, but a stronger tasting variety might be nicer)
  • 1 inch ginger root
  • Spices
  • Noodles

  1. Chop the onion and mushroom to whatever size you prefer. Heat the butter/oil/cooking spray in a large saucepan and gently fry for a few minutes. Take off the heat.
  2. Finely slice the ginger, or grate it if you prefer to have smaller pieces. Put it in the pan with the onions and mushrooms. Of course, if you don't like ginger then don't bother with it. I think the soup would be nice with some chilli in it, if spicy is your thing.
  3. Make up a litre of stock. Pour into the saucepan, bring to the boil, and then reduce heat to a simmer. Add the chicken, turn the heat up a little, and leave until the chicken is cooked through.
  4. I added some fennel, cumin and coriander seeds to the pot, as well as some black pepper. I wouldn't add salt, there's enough of it in the stock. Add whatever you feel like - if I was at home I would have added some chives or spring onion in at the end.
Gently simmering...
Finished product!
Also, check out how amazing my soup mug is! My grandmother gave it to me on my last birthday, and I definitely don't use it enough.

This recipe makes enough for two servings - I've put the rest in fridge in case it's necessary for tomorrow! The rest of today will be spent in leggings and my Kermit jumper, drinking tea and listening to Of Monsters and Men. Just because.

The resurrection of the Ugg boots

The weather seems to have warmed itself up for the moment, at least compared to Thursday. I was so cold that I actually wanted to cry. It probably didn't help that I had an early seminar in what might be the coldest room on campus, but waiting at the bus stop to go into town I did notice people shivering more than usual. So we'll put my pain down to the weather, rather than me being pathetic...

The cold was bothering me quite a lot, so I did what any normal person would. I went shopping. Two tops, socks, and a pair of boots. I'm slightly better kitted out for the cold weather now.

These were my first purchase. I thought I'd left Uggs back in 2009, but it seems not. However, I feel that I can justify these. Here goes...

  • They're black, rather than my old, grotty 'camel' coloured ones;
  • They have a decent rubber sole, compared to the rubbish that was on the bottom of my other ones which wore through quite quickly;
  • They're short, rather than long, folded over, and showing too much greying fluff;
  • They have faux fur inside, rather than faux sheepskin, so infinitely warmer. 
  • My final reason? I will not be wearing these with my trackies tucked into them. What was acceptable at school, when I didn't actually see the outside world, is not so acceptable any more, even if the only place I'll be seeing is my route to campus and the inside of the library. 
They cost me £11 from Sports Direct - I happened to see them in there a couple of weeks ago when looking for more running tops. They've bought a load of stock from another sports shop and are selling it off cheap. How was I supposed to say no?

I then rang my mother to bed her for a few pounds to buy a long sleeved top that didn't have a scooped neck (I'm very low on money due to end-of-term-ness). Luckily the thought of me freezing in the cold wilderness of the north was too much for her, and she said yes. Thank goodness. So she's kindly bought me the black top. Nothing special, just an XS H&M Basic top. It's pretty tight, and makes me feel like I'm wearing a winter rash vest. Not quite as fleecy, but as something to keep me warm it does the job!

I know I've complained about being broke, but when I saw the green and black jumper I fell slightly in love. It's baggy, not too thick, but has quite a high neck - keeps out drafts and perfect for layering other things underneath. It was only a fiver in the sale, and I've already worn it a couple of times. Definitely a keeper.

The socks might not look like much, but check out the inside:

They have a TOG rating of 2.4 - I'm wearing mini duvets on my feet! Another half price purchase from Sports Direct, they have the oddest mixture of things in there. On really cold days I wear them inside the Uggs. It's amazing.

So there we have it, my winter survival clothes. Luckily the snow that was forecast for York doesn't look like it'll be turning up any time soon, but it's still set to be pretty cold for the next week. (Today was a blistering seven degrees. I nearly got out the sun cream.) I might have no money to go out, but at least I won't get frostbite.