Month: September 2016

Penis pasta

If you have been to Venice or Rome you will have no doubt passed one of the many little gift shops dotted around the cities, where you can buy knick knacks and funny Italian themed items such as penis pasta (as pictured above). I brought mine back from Venice as a gift for my other half. I never actually got around to cooking it though as we broke up a week later. We’re back together now (long story, lots of toing and froing, neither of us could make our minds up), so last night I decided to add it as the pasta to my Minestrone mash up.

I call it Minestrone mash up, because I didn’t use a recipe but followed the general idea of a Minestrone base with whatever I had in the fridge: carrots, onion, leek, mushrooms, garlic, peas, celery, can of tomatoes, bacon, veggie stock, penis pasta and salt and pepper to season. VERY simple but now it’s our favourite. It totally knocked my veggie soup off the top of the list.

I had to use up the penis pasta because next week is Whole 30 time and we won’t be able to use it. For Whole 30 I am planning to try out a chicken and mushroom and sage based soup and make it really thick so it fills us up.

soup

Sadly the penis doesn’t hold it’s shape once hot and wet (woah!). However, I can tell you this Italian penis pasta tasted mighty fine.

 

Sunday pampering

Today (Sunday) I spent an indulgent day pampering myself. My other half was otherwise disposed with his mates, I could have called a friend to hang out but days alone with no plans can be rare so I decided to use the day for myself.

I started with drinking coffee on the sofa watching Offspring season two – its on Netflix now! This realisation made my month. Next up was to test my new Panasonic lady trimmer. Earlier this year I made the decision not to be bald downstairs like a young girl. I had always been keen on Brazilian waxing, but this year I changed  my mind, perhaps it’s part of getting older. Of course the plan wasn’t to let it all grow wild, but also not to be as smooth as a dolphin. Anyway, I’m very happy with the lady trimmer so if you’re looking for one I can recommend it.

After a shower I put on my L’Oréal Pure Clay Purity Mask to cleanse my skin and relaxed in for an episode of Greys Anatomy. I’m sure you can see the trend I’m setting on chick-telly which my other half would not agree to sit through. Thirty minutes later I washed off my face mask, lathered on the moisturiser and got stuck into my nails to get them up to scratch for the week ahead. I picked Sally Hansen’s Red Eye in the Miracle Gel range because its bright and makes me happy. Plus I wear a lot of black for work so it adds a splash of colour.

I adore my man, but sometimes a day spent alone relaxing and indulging myself is very well received.

Today hurt, but it was superb

You may be aware that I started my new role in Group Audit (not an auditor, Business Manager) three weeks ago for a global investment bank. I used to work for the same bank, but in a consultancy capacity, in that the company I worked for provided recruitment services to the bank. So I technically worked for that company, not the bank, even though I sat onsite and had the bank’s logins and email address.

Now working for the bank has it’s perks; not only do I get a lot of croissants, but I also get to get involved with Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) events. Today I attended my first CSR event, to re-build, maintain and generally improve a community playground. Being an office worker I very rarely get my hands dirty – so this was a great experience to get out and do some physical work. I put my hand up for the gardening crew, this involved digging holes for plants, planting, wheelbarrowing mulch, lifting and moving heavy logs and raking said mulch into place. It was wonderful to spend time with 28 of my colleagues outside of the office, mingling and having a laugh – it definitely showed another side to the auditors I see everyday.

Now at the end of the day I feel absolutely shattered and my arms feel like jelly. But really, I feel fantastic – that sense of achievement looking at what we achieved in the playground makes me feel good for spending a day improving something that kids who may not be too well off get to enjoy. It cost me nothing, just a day and the use of my non-existent muscles. Coming home to a hot shower and a chilled beer was immense pleasure. I will definitely be signing up for the next CSR day, no matter what it entails.

Product review: Maybelline Dream Bronze BB

I’m a firm believer, that unless absolutely necessary: hot date night, promotion day, professional photo day or mass spot break out day, there is no need to wear foundation every day. Some people may argue with me and say they have awful skin and simply must cake it on every morning, some may be right, but I think majority could get away without it. Plus, the less you wear foundation, the clearer and cleaner your skin is (not proven fact, just from my own experience). And of course, some days I’m just lazy and rushing out the door to work, my solution: BB cream.

Two weeks ago I purchased a new BB cream, the Maybelline Dream Bronze BB in light/medium. I’ve used many BB creams before, including some in the Maybelline range, but this is by far my favourite to date. It’s gel based so doesn’t dry out my sensitive skin, and means it is easy on application like another layer of moisturiser. I also love that it has a built in bronzer to give you a sun-kissed look, even on the most dreary of London mornings, plus the advantage of the SPF protection means I don’t need to add a daily sunblock.

I have found that it lasts all day, needing a touch up maybe if I were going out after work, but that would be the same with all make up. For the price (£6.99 at Boots), the convenience, the fact it’s travel size and it doesn’t dry out my skin throughout the day I can’t knock it. I’m thrilled to have found a reliable, every day product I can slap on my face and feel confident about.

 

 

Veggie soup for the soul

I’m trying my best to be healthier, so after last night’s martini, gin & tonic, wine and pizza, I needed to be extra good tonight. I decided to try and make up a yummy vegetable soup. Both the man and I were pleasantly surprised and thoroughly enjoyed it. As we were having just veggie soup with no pasta, protein or lentils I decided to add a potato which I ended up blending with a few of the other veggies to thicken it.

I was shocked at the colour, but who doesn’t love eating food that looks like it’s radioactive, but knowing it’s so damn good for you?! I brightened mine further by adding a swirl of hot Sriracha sauce.

Get involved:

  • 2 potatoes
  • 3 carrots
  • 2 leeks
  • 1 onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 celery stick
  • 1/2 head broccoli 
  • Mushrooms
  • Peas
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Parsley
  • Thyme
  • Vegetable stock

Sauté the garlic and onion in a little olive oil. Add cubed potato, carrot, celery and leek and stir for 2-3 minutes. Add your vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Next add the broccoli, bay leaf and thyme and season with salt and pepper.

Simmer the stock and veggies until the veggies feel soft. Scoop out the veg into a blender (remember to remove the bay leaf and throw it away) and keep the stock simmering, pulse the veg until a smooth paste. Add mushrooms and peas to the stock to cook through while you’re pulsing the rest. 

Add back the veg paste to the stock and see how thick and rich your soup is now! Bring to the boil and stir through some freshly chopped parsley.

Serve with an awfully large glass of red wine. 

I can see this being an autumn favourite of ours. 

What’s your favourite vegetable soup recipe? I need some more!

“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” Pablo Picasso

In a bid to gain a few more “culture cells” in my body, on the weekend the man and I went to check out a pop up art gallery just down the road from us in Greenwich village. In the last year or so I have gained an interest in art, and the collecting of pieces. Whether they be paintings, prints or sculptures I’m keen to get on board with collecting pieces that make me happy.

We checked out the Fine Art Gallery housing oil paintings by the Royal Institute of Oil Painters. We were especially interested as all of the paintings featured landscapes and scenes from around Greenwich – where we live and first met. We’ve always said we’d love to buy a painting/print to take to New Zealand one day that encompasses where we found each other and lived in London. Triple cheese, I know.

While I enjoyed a lot of the paintings, sadly I didn’t love any. I’m a firm believer in falling in love with a piece of artwork, no matter the price, as you’re likely going to have to look at the damn thing every day – much the same as picking a partner. If on first sight one thing really annoys you about the painting (or your partner), it never going to improve! It’s always going to be that lemon in an open cut or tiny stone in your shoe that pisses you off. We will keep hunting, we’re only new at this, so really should see as many pieces as possible before plunging our house deposit into an art collection (my other half is far too sensible and would never let me do this).

art

Feature painting source.

BBC Bake sale

The biggest news to hit Britain this week: the Great British Bake Off sale. BBC have sold the rights to the show to Channel 4, a somewhat surprise given its success over the years. Turns out it’s not been a sale of choice, more that the production company in charge of GBBO pocketed themselves in the range of an extra £10 million.

I for one, am an avid Bake Off fan, having never missed an episode. The hosts, the innuendos and the soggy bottoms keep your drawn in. Also of course the nail biting moments when time is ticking down and 24 identical Cypriot flaoumas or a 30cm tall Bavarian clock tower made of shortbread must be completed and standing strong.

While Channel 4 insist they will work hard to keep the integrity of the show – will it be the same? Mel and Sue have stepped down from hosting, and Paul and Mary have walked away from judging. All four created the comfort and entertainment you want on a Wednesday evening, so the next team picking up the roles have big shoes to fill. There are rumours Jamie Oliver could pick up a spot on the new baking edition… no complaints from my side!

Work perks

A big part of my new job, in a new department and new building, is attending breakfast meetings to discuss resources. Do we have enough people? Are they the right people? Should they be perm? Should they be temp? It’s endless. The best part about these breakfast meetings is the chance to chill and enjoy a freshly brewed coffee and a croissant provided by the business.

I swear the powers above and those running the meetings book breakfast slots on purpose. I have no reason to complain, they don’t start until 9:00am – you’d think they’d be cracking the whip to get us in for 7:00 or even 8:00. This morning’s meeting ran over by 15 minutes, but I found that I learnt a lot from the MD hosting it.

Another thing I discovered, yesterday, was our large open deck flooded with sunshine on the 15th floor where we can enjoy our lunch and the 360 degree views of London’s city landscape – it’s stunning! One of my colleagues said to me after I recoiled him on my adventure to find the sunny spot; “there aren’t many perks to this job, but that’s one of them“. I thought to myself that he should do a week in the trenches of HR, then he’d be thrilled by his suntrap lunch spot.

Book Review: A Man Called Ove

This is a five star book for me. I had no expectation going into, it having never read any of Backman’s books. Set in Sweden with a backdrop of a calm suburban street, it’s both comical and heartwarming.

Ove is cranky, he reminds me of Mr Fredricksen in the film Up, they both have the same short temper towards change, other people interfering and have lost their wives, their kindred spirits.

“Ove had never been asked how he lived before he met her. But if anyone had asked him, he would have answered that he didn’t.”

The book is also full of humour, from a grumpy old man’s point of view. Backman’s way with words and clear descriptions of characters and situations had me in giggles on the bus and on the tube on the way to work.

“Ove glares out of the window. The poser is jogging. Not that Ove is provoked by jogging. Not at all. Ove couldn’t give a damn about people jogging. What he can’t understand is why they have to make such a big thing of it. With those smug smiles on their faces, as if they were out there curing pulmonary emphysema.”

It’s a book I know I will go back to and an author I will research more on. I have read another of Backman’s books, Britt-Marie was Here, I did enjoy it but the character of Ove is what made me fall in love with his first novel. The book has also been made into a film, which I’ve not seen, but as always I would say read the book first!

starstarstarstarstar

Come Dine With Me

A couple of girlfriends and I have embarked on our own Come Dine With Me (CDWM) challenge: taking turns to cook each other a three course meal. This is what we do now that we are proper grown ups, in our 30s. No nights out on the tiles, eating fried chicken and vomiting in the back of a taxi. But, damn those were good times last month.

Both the girls have already had their turns, highlights would include a succulent rack of lamb, mixing our own cocktails and playing Twister with a Butler in the Buff. On October 1st it’s my turn to host and I need to impress.

I’ve decided to go with a Jamie Oliver themed menu, as of course, I adore him. When they arrive I will start with a prosecco based cocktail and an hors d’oeuvres I’ve not yet decided on. The menu will then consist of:

Potted crab with asparagus
Seafood paella
Lemon pavlova

I figure my menu will be light enough that they will actually want to eat each course, they’re also technically tricky, but not impossible to make. It helps that I have made them all before on different occasions. The hard bit will be making sure I time them correctly, but with these girls, I know I can always throw a bottle of wine their way and it will keep them happy in between courses.

Recently I bought a new cast iron paella pan, as I was previously just using a large frying pan, so I now need to make at least one paella before October as a practise and to season the new pan.

Watch this space for the follow up and reviews I receive post meal from my hopefully sizzled friends.