Tuesday, 23 July 2013

The protective powers of the duvet!

Me & the kids travelled down to my day's house in Leicestershire on Saturday & following a dull & overcast weekend, yesterday the sun came back....big time! It hit 32 degrees at one point but was getting more sticky by the minute....storms were a-brewing!

The black clouds rolled in around 8pm with the thunder rumbling in the distance.  We were still sat in the garden at this point but moved inside with a few seconds to spare before the heavens opened!

I went up to bed around 10pm as Alfie was petrified of the thunder & lightning so was lying in bed reading with all the covers off as it was still so hot.  During the night, the mother of all storms hit with the loudest claps of thunder I've heard for many years & with every boom, the duvet was pulled up a little more!

I've never liked storms anyway but have got better over the years, you know, when trying to calm down small children & pretending there was nothing to be scared of!  But even now, no matter how hot it is, if there's a storm raging outside, I have to protect myself with the duvet!  It usually ends up over my head at some points too so I can't see the lightning as I always do the countdown from when it flashes to when the thunder booms & can feel my heart rate rising as the storm gets closer......a reminder of sneakily watching Poltergeist as a small child!! Not recommended by the way, this is where my fear of clowns also kicked in - you'll understand if you've ever watched it!!

So I can't see myself ever being totally ok when there's a storm raging outside but as long as I have my duvet, I'll be fine!

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Recent reads #2

I've read quite a few books in the last 4 or 5 weeks & here's a little peek at some of them.  First up, The Potter's Field by Andrea Camilleri.
This is the 13th novel in the Inspector Montalbano series that I've previously talked about on another book review & after a shaky start with the first book, I've really grown to love this grumpy Italian character.  In this story,  he is called to a field of clay (hence The Potter's Field!) where the grisly remains of a dismembered body have been found.
On first inspection, it would seem that this has been an execution, the work of the local mafia but putting all the clues together just doesn't add up to Montalbano.  He also has to contend with his friend & colleague Mimi's odd behaviour....is he somehow mixed up in this latest gruesome discovery?
The book features the same characters as in the other novels & the author uses his favourite descriptions of mouth-watering Italian cuisine!  I really enjoyed this book & whenever I see others in the series in the library, I always get them out.  I'm looking forward to working my way through them, albeit out of order!
My next book is (deep breath!) Tony Hogan Bought Me An Ice Cream Float Before He Stole My Ma by Kerry Hudson.  I must admit, this was a last minute grab in the library as I liked the look of the cover but it's actually quite a harrowing story.
It's the story of Janie Ryan, told in the first person & starting from the moment she was born.  It's details her childhood living with her family & how she is expected to become the next in a long line of brash Aberdeen fishwives but rebels against this to do her own thing.
It follows her throughout her life, sometimes happy but mostly a living hell after escaping one abusive relationship after another.  I have to admit, I found this a quite distressing read, not at all what I was expecting - that'll teach me not to read the blurb before I borrow a book again!!  You really can't judge a book by it's cover!!
My final book this time is the acclaimed psychological thriller Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.
I've had this book on my Kindle for months but was holding out on reading it because I was hoping the book club would cover it but they chose others instead.
This tells the tale of Nick & Amy Dunne's difficult marriage & her sudden disappearance on their 5th wedding anniversary.  Nick becomes prime suspect, not helped by the fact the police discover that he recently increased Amy's life insurance, borrowed the remains of her trust fund to buy a business & seems devoid of any emotions about his wife's disappearance.
It's hard to tell any more about this story without giving away what happens but all I'll say is that I was really looking forward to this book & although I did think it was great, I don't actually think it's lived up to it's hype.  But maybe if I'd read it before all the rave reviews everywhere, I'd have enjoyed it more!  I'll still be going to see the film when it's released though!
So that's all for today.  I need to clear more space on my bookshelves as I went a bit mad in the library book sale the other day......
.........this doesn't include the 18 books I have lined up on my Kindle either, whoops!!!
What books have you really enjoyed lately?

Monday, 15 July 2013

NOTD Essie ~ She's Pampered

I believe Essie She's Pampered was one of the A/W '12 special editions & I picked the little beauty up from the Boots clearance shelf a couple of months back but hadn't tried it until last week.
As with most of the Essie polishes, this has a great formula, thick & opaque enough to get away with only one coat but the photo above is with 2 coats & Seche Vite top coat.  It looks more fuschia pink in the bottle but I found it more of a red with a hint of pink.  Either way, it's a beautiful colour ideal for this glorious sunny weather we're having!
I managed a week with absolutely no chips & minimal wear on the tips, this is another Essie hit for me!

Vintage Car Extravaganza at Glamis Castle

After a thoroughly cruddy Saturday weather-wise, we woke up to bright skies & warm sunshine again yesterday so decided to head off to the stunning Glamis Castle where they were holding their 39th Scottish Transport Extravaganza.
Although Glamis is only about 13 miles from where we live, it's a funny old journey to get there - it actually ended up taking us an hour to get in yesterday due to queuing from the sheer volume of traffic but hey, at least we could take in the scenery en route!
The castle itself is famed for being the childhood home of The Queen Mother, the birthplace of Princess Margaret & the setting for Macbeth & is just stunning.  However, yesterday was all about the cars, the castle itself will have to wait for another day!
There were 100's of exhibits dating from 1890 to 1975 on display in many fields & although I took a lot of photos, I've narrowed them down to my favourites of the day!



Mr F & I were talking a few months back now about when we've finally finished all the work on the house (HA!) we're going to get a classic car or campervan to restore & visiting here yesterday has only added fuel to the fire!!  It was a truly brilliant day out with great weather to go with it!

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

NOTD Barry M Gelly polish ~ Guava

I cannot rave enough about the Barry M Gelly polishes....seriously, I can't!!  They are such great value for £3.99 a bottle, but you can usually find them on offer in either Boots or Superdrug though making them even more of a bargain!
The choice of colours they're offering at the minute are amazing, the brushes are the perfect size & they offer the best coverage - sometimes one coat is all you need!
The Gelly polishes are high shine to mimic gel polishes (obviously!) but I always top with a coat of Seche Vite & this means I usually get at least 7 days without any chips & only the very merest of wear on the tips.  They really are fantastic & if you've never tried them, I urge you to hot-foot it to the shops & buy some..........go on, off you go!!

Rimmel Scandaleyes ~ Tempting Turquoise

I picked this little beauty up on a whim in Boots a couple of months ago when it was on offer (£3 instead of the usual price of £4.49) & then forgot to publish the post , d'oh!!
Anyway, it's the Rimmel Scandaleyes 24hr waterproof eye shadow stick in 005 Tempting Turquoise.  I was drawn in by the vibrant colour of it & it's really gorgeous whether you apply it in a solid winged slick of 60's coolness or blend it in for the more subtle approach.
It lasts for hours without any creasing, not easy in this warm weather we've been having recently.  I can't vouch for the 24hour wear  claim as I've always removed it by then but it's lasted from 9am until 4pm without budging!  It's easy to remove with no stinging (unlike some other waterproof products!) & never leaves any residue behind.  Pretty darned great I'd say!


Days out with the kids #2 - The Dundee Science Centre

For this week's outing, we decided to try out the Dundee Science Centre as they've been advertising that they had a new Myths & Monsters exhibition on throughout the summer.  Although one of my daughters has been here before on a school trip, for the rest of us it was a new outing.
On entering, you come face to face with the exhibition.  These animatronics are on loan from the Natural History Museum & although they're great, there's not a lot of them, not as many as I was expecting!
As expected, the centre has lots of scientific experiments & games to try out which were great for my teenage girls but for Alfie at 4 years old, not so much.  I think on the whole, the centre is much better for older children, I'd say over 6 years old due to the nature of the displays.
The website says to allow 2-3 hours for your visit which I think is doable with older children, but again, with a 4 year old with the attention span of a gnat & who struggled to play a lot of the games inside, we really struggled to eek out a 2 hour visit.........& 45 minutes of that was in the coffee shop!  Dare I say, I also found it quite pricey at £7.25 per adult & £5.25 per child (under 4s free) but again, maybe if you were spending more time in there, it would seem like you were getting more bang for your buck!
So although there were some really interesting things to do in there for adults & older children, we won't be going back until Alfie is at least 2 or 3 years older so he can appreciate it more!





Thursday, 4 July 2013

Summer cleansing routine

I want to share with you my current Summer cleansing routine as I've recently bought new products to try & so far, so good!
My eyes are so sensitive & react to a lot of eye makeup removers, even ones stating they are specifically for sensitive eyes.  I don't like the residue left by oilier removers & I find they make my mascara smudge the following day after using them so that pretty much rules them out!  But I've been using the Simple Nourishing Eye Makeup Remover for over a year & I do actually think it's the best one I've ever used.  It removes every scrap of mascara & eye makeup & I never wake up with panda eyes the following morning (well, unless I've used Benefit They're Real but I'll save that post for another day!)  My eyes never feel irritated or greasy & I think for a product hovering around the £4 mark for 100ml, it really does a brilliant job.
I've been a loyal fan of the beauty blogger favourite Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish for years now & I love it so I don't really know what's nudged into trying something new.  I've been reading about the virtues of micellar waters (solutions that contain microscopic surfactant molecules that help to bring oil & water together.  Read here for a brilliant description!!) for some time now but I've been happy with my routine so hadn't bothered trying them.  Well eventually, just as I knew it would, curiosity got the better of me & after seeing the B Pure Micellar Water on offer in Superdrug (150ml, currently £3.32 instead of £4.99), I decided to try it.
I just look at these bottles of solution & think, "nope, that'll never remove all my makeup" but amazingly, it does!  I'm so impressed with this product, I really feel like my skin is getting cleansed & refreshed without any tautness afterwards.  I've been using this as my first cleanse before I move onto my next new product, Botanics  Hot Cloth Cleansing Balm from Boots, £8.99 for 75ml.  Again, I'd seen this product reviewed many times on the blogosphere but it was especially when Jen of Daisy Rose Beauty recommended it that I decided to try it! 
This beautifully scented 97% organic cleansing balm is almost solid in the pot, as you'd expect from a balm however, it melts fantastically onto the skin as you can see from the above photo.  The smallest amount goes a long way so I'll be expecting this pot to last a long time!  I massage it in all over my face & neck (always massage your face upwards ladies, gravity is pulling it down, it doesn't need any extra help!!) & remove with the enclosed cloth soaked in hand-hot water.  Rinse & repeat until all signs of makeup have gone.
My skin feels scrupulously clean after using this balm but so nourished & moisturised.  The smell is divine & I'm pleased to see that it's 97% organic, paraben free & not tested on animals.  I'm really tempted to try more products from the Botanics range now!
I realise I haven't included any moisturisers or serums on this post but that's coming soon.  If I'd added them to this one, it would've gone on forever!
So to conclude, although I've only been using the micellar water & balm for a week or so, I am really impressed with them.  I stupidly feel like I'm being disloyal to my Cleanse & Polish but it will be interesting to see how my skin is after a month or so.  This duo could become my new favourite!

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

The Empire Strikes Back

As much as we love it, there comes a time when even we get sick of eating a normal roast chicken on a Sunday & it's on such times as these, that I switch to cooking Empire Chicken.  This is a Jamie Oliver recipe that I've tweaked ever-so-slightly but it's basically his take on an Indian roast chicken & it's bloomin' delicious!!
He serves his with Bombay-style Potatoes & a special spiced gravy but eat it with whatever you fancy!  This recipe is for the chicken & the gravy, you can find recipes for Bombay Potatoes easily online.  I use a large roasting tin that has a roasting rack that fits in it.  If you don't have one of these, put a large roasting tin on the shelf underneath a scrupulously-clean oven shelf & roast the chicken directly on this.  This way, the juices will fall straight down into the pan for the gravy!
Empire Roast Chicken
serves 4-6  oven at 200C
Chicken & marinade
1.5kg chicken
1 dessertspoon each of minced garlic, ginger & red chilli (I use the Lazy jars for ease!)
1 heaped tbsp tomato purée
1 heaped tsp each of ground coriander, turmeric, garam masala & cumin
1 heaped tbsp natural yoghurt
2 lemons
2 tsp sea salt
1 stick cinnamon
3 small red onions, roughly chopped
10 cloves
3 tbsp each of white wine vinegar & Worcestershire sauce
3 level tbsp plain flour
500ml chicken stock
1. Mix together the garlic, ginger, chilli, tomato purée, spices, yoghurt & juice of 1 lemon in a bowl.
2. Slash the chicken legs a few times right down to the bone then place on the roasting rack of your pan or on a board.  Put on clean rubber gloves (or the turmeric will leave you with yellow hands!) &  thoroughly smear the chicken with the marinade.  Get a nice thick layer on.  Leave to marinade for a few hours or overnight. Cut the other lemon in half & place inside the chicken cavity.
3. Place the chicken in the pre-heated oven.  When the chicken has approximately 40 minutes of cooking time left, remove from the oven to make the gravy.
4. Add the chopped onions to the pan with the cinnamon stick, cloves, vinegar & Worcester sauce & then whisk in the flour to make a roux.  Pour in the stock & whisk again then replace the chicken roasting rack & put it all back into the oven.
5.  Cook for the remaining time then remove.  The chicken can left to rest while you finish the gravy.  Push it through a fine sieve into a small pan & either add boiling water to thin or simmer it down to thicken it.  Make it the consistency you want.
 The chicken will be blackened on the outside but when the skin is peeled back, you're left with the juiciest, most delicious bird ever!  Serve with Bombay Potatoes, the gravy & a cucumber salad.  Yum!!

I'm sorry there are no 'after' shots of the dish but it's pretty much like feeding time at the zoo in this house when dinner's ready & food disappears before I can get my camera out!!  Enjoy!

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