Friday, March 30, 2012

New Year’s Resolutions Update

Back in January, I posted my New Year’s Resolutions and I thought I would write up a 3 month progress report!

1. Be more healthy and exercise more.

This is probably everyone’s resolution isn’t it? Hasn’t got off to a good start but still working on it.

2. Get a job

Another work in progress, will keep you posted.

3. Cook 12 new savoury/dinner dishes

Currently at 4, which isn’t bad at all for me! And seeing as I have a slow cooker, I’m hoping I’ll excel myself this year and cook even more than 12!

4. Make 12 new sweet (or baked) dishes

I’m already on 8! Which is really good, two thirds done. Again, I’m hoping to do even more than 12 this year.

5. Finish reading all the books I’ve started (There’s about 20-30 of them).

So far I’ve completed 6 books but I’m not doing great at finishing books I had already started as out of the 6 I’ve completed, 4 were books I only started this year! Oopsie!

6. Watch 50 films I’ve never seen (while completing the A-Z list I started last year).

I’ve watched 13 new films (it would be 15 if two I hadn’t got from the library didn’t skip!). Also, I only have 9 more to watch on my A-Z list from last year.

7. Learn a new skill (as of yet I have not decided).

Still undecided but considering my 25 Before 25 list has crochet on it, I have a feeling it’ll be that.

So there it is, some better than others definitely but I’m still trying to work on it. How are your resolutions going?

Tagged!

So I got tagged the other day by Random Ramblings and Musings. The idea is easy, just answer the questions that you’ve been asked and then tag some more bloggers and write some questions for them to answer. Simples!

1. If you could introduce one new law what would it be?

Free cupcake day! Ok, so seriously there would probably be a few current laws I’d like to change but I can’t think of any new law (I’m so boring!).

2. What book do think everyone should read at least once, you know the one you read, fell in love with and have since taken to recommending it to people at every opportunity?

I honestly don’t think I have one. I’d recommend the Harry Potter, but then again most people have read it! The only thing that comes to mind is a book I got years ago with J-17 magazine. It was called Last Chance by Sarah Dessen (but now seems to go by the title Keeping the Moon). It’s the story about a 15 teen year old who goes to live with her aunt one summer and it’s all about images and fitting in. Or rather about being yourself, regardless of what others think. I read it about once a year or so.

3. If you could wake up tomorrow anywhere in the world, where would you be?

London, with the sun shining, my boyfriend next to me and a job I love to go to.

4. When was the last time you did something that scared you?

Well, I get such a fear of ringing people to make appointments etc. and I did that last week! I try force myself to do the same things that scary me like that. But in terms of facing a fear, probably getting back into a car and driving after my crash last year.

5. Are you a believer in always telling the truth, no matter what the consequences, or are there times when it’s best to keep your mouth shut?

I do think there are times when a white lie is called for. As I think the truth usually comes out after the reason for the white lie has been fulfilled and the good intentions can be seen.

Phew! That was kinda tough I must admit. And now for the really hard part, thinking of questions to ask back!

1. What’s your signature dish to cook/bake?

2. If you could see one band live, who would it be? (Regardless of if the band is still together, or if they split up, or if a member is dead)

3. What songs are you guilty pleasures?

4. Being too hot or being too cold?

5. Where did you first go abroad? (presuming you’ve been abroad!)

6. Was there any particular reason why you were given your first name?

Ok, and now to tag people!

Ate By Ate

winipedia

Labhaoise Ni Dhuibhir

Views from a tin bin

Feel free to answer but if it’s not your thing, no worries! Just a bit of fun!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Facebook Flashback

I recently changed my Facebook to timeline. I was waiting (and dreading) Facebook changing it themself but when I realised it would be a great chance to look over some of the things I’ve said and remember fun times, I changed it myself. And my how much did I laugh?! I spent a good chunk one Sunday reading through it and taking some screen shots of funnier things. I have too much to post in one go so I’ll probably do a series of posts.

1st

My first ever status update. Note the date, St. Patrick’s Day. No alcohol was consumed that day as it was smack bang in the middle of my 3rd year exams, I had sat an exam the day before and had one the day after. I took a break to take my Manx housemate out to celebrate and watch the parade and had to beg the barman to put some green dye into my 7-Up after he had put it in her beer. Later we baked cupcakes, coloured green for the day that was in it and after consuming so much food dye, I was in quite a hyper mood!

 

Catholic Guilt

The reaction by the person I was travelling with is the funniest thing about this. I had just started my work experience that week and seeing as it was a Bank Holiday weekend, we got to leave early. My housemate was driving us back across the country to our ‘home’ homes when we stopped half way and ordered food in McDonalds. Just as my housemate bit into her burger I remembered it was Good Friday and shouted it out loud. The look on my housemates face was PRICELESS! You’d swear I had just told her that if she eats that burger puppies and kittens would die. While I’m not too religious and probably would have ordered the same thing had I remembered it was Good Friday, she was slightly more religious and wouldn’t have ordered it at all. In the end we ate the burgers as we figured God wouldn’t want us to waste food!

 

snuggie

And that’s exactly what I did. With the curtains closed so no one would judge me. I know you’re jealous you didn’t think of this yourself!! (I bought a red one for anyone who is interested).

 

bertie

I should have added *FACEPALM* to the end of that status. I have my ditzy moments at times!

 

JML

I don’t know how they do it but every time I see a JML ad, I want the product. Thankfully I don’t have a credit card, otherwise I’d have rooms full of pens that could write upside down, pet grooming tools, Shamwows and and Toastabags (and yes, I know this comes after something I just wrote about a Snuggie! Though I bought the Penneys version!).

 

ribena

That man started walking down the same aisle as my boyfriend and I and then swiftly turned around as I pretty much shouted ‘OMG, they have strawberry Ribena. STRAWBERRY!! WOOOOO!’ and did a dance in the middle of Tesco to celebrate.

 

bra

Three years on, nothing much has changed. I should probably start wearing strapless bras when I go out!

 

homeandaway

I totally regret not buying this when I saw it! Oh the fun that would have been had! If I ever see it again, I will know it’s destiny and buy it straight away.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Rainbow Cookies!

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I love Pinterest! It’s one of my favourite websites, has great ideas for a whole range of things. My favourite being recipes. Especially baking and dessert recipes! I actually made these last summer and forgot about writing the post until now. Super simple to make and even more impressive than shop bought ones!

Rainbow Cookies

Adapted from How Sweet It Is

Ingredients

270g plain flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

170g butter (melted and cooled. Microwaving is the fastest way to melt, leave it stand for roughly 10 minutes after to cool)

200g brown sugar

100g caster sugar

1 egg + 1 egg yolk

2 tsp Vanilla extract

Handful or two of M&Ms (original recipe calls for mini ones, I used crispy ones though. Choice is really yours)

Method

1. Preheat oven to 160°C (325°F). Sift the flour and baking soda in a bowl and set aside.

2. In a separate bowl, mix the butter and sugars together until combined. Add the egg, egg yolk and vanilla and stir until mixed.

3. Gradually add the flour and mix until a dough forms. Don’t worry if it looks a bit crumbly at first, it will all come together (use your hands if you think you need to). Fold in M&Ms.

4. Divide the dough (if you want larger cookies, use large balls). Using your hands, shape each portion into a ball and then pull each ball in half. You are then going to stack one half on top of the other, with the ‘rough’ part (from where it was pulled) facing upwards and then squish both halves together.

5. Place the dough rough sides up on baking tray, leaving enough space between them to allow for spreading.

6. Bake for 12-15 mins (large) or 8-12 (regular size) or until slightly brown. Don’t let it brown too much as you want the cookie more chewy than crunchy.

7. Let them cool completely and enjoy!

You could add different chocolates in if you’d like. How would you make them?

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Monday, March 26, 2012

Carrot Cake

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It’s a bit crazy when I think of it but I don’t know if my mother has a favourite cake. She eats pretty much everything I bake but I have no clue if she has a favourite. I do know she likes carrot cake so I thought it would be a safe bet when it came to making her a cake for Mother’s Day!

Carrot Cake

Adapted from Rachel Allen’s Bake

Ingredients

2 eggs

140ml vegetable oil

200g soft light brown sugar

300g grated carrot (weight when grated,a food processor makes this a quick, easy job)

75g walnuts, chopped (optional)

180g self raising flour

Pinch of salt

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

Decorations for the cake (like sprinkles)

For cream cheese icing:
250g cream cheese (straight from the fridge)
50g butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
275g icing sugar, sifted

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F).

2. In a large bowl, beat the eggs. Add the oil, grated carrot, brown sugar, and chopped nuts (if using) and mix together.

3. Sift in all dry ingredients and mix using a wooden spoon.

4. Pour mixture into a baking tin pre0lined with grease proof paper (Rachel uses a loaf tin but I used a round tin). Bake for about 1 hour (mine took about 40 minutes but thinking about it, I think I had my oven temperature higher than it should be. So it may be no harm to check around the 40 minute mark).

5. Allow to cool in tin for 5 minutes before removing and transferring onto a wire rack to cool completely.

6. To make the icing, beat the cream cheese and butter together in a bowl. Add the vanilla extract and icing sugar and mix to combine, until smooth and quite thick. Spread icing onto cooled cake using a palette knife or spatula.

7. Decorate if desire and enjoy!

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Monday, March 19, 2012

St. Patrick’s Day Nails

I hope everyone had a good Paddy’s Day yesterday. The weather stayed good for the parade here, no rain for us! After spending over an hour styling my sister’s hair into a Jedward style skyscrapper, I had just about enough time to lash a few coats of nail varnish on to add to my green attire for the day.

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Not the neatest but the best I could do with the small amount of time I had! I used MUA Nail Quakes in Green Glitter. These are actually ‘crackle’ style nail polishes but I put on 3 layers to get a good coverage and finished with a top coat.

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Outside in natural light, waiting for the parade to start! Hope you all had a great day celebrating!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Baileys Milkshake

St. Patrick’s Day has arrived and maybe you’ve been too busy to whip up some to Brown Soda Bread or some Green Velvet cupcakes. Fear not, this Bailey’s Milkshake is quick and tastes great!

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Ingredients

-Vanilla icecream (or whatever flavour you like, vanilla is best for picking up the Baileys though. Mint would be good if you like Shamrock Shakes)

-Baileys (I chose Hazelnut flavour,but again it’s up to you)

-Milk

-Green food colouring (optional)

-Whipped cream (optional)

Method

No really recipe as such, just add the ingredients into a blender and whizz until you get your desired thickness. Top off with some whipped cream and enjoy!

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day, where ever you may be! Last year I made a post about why it’s great to be Irish. And it still is just as great!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Brown Soda Bread


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My boyfriend had been bugging me for months to make him some soda bread. My Dad’s birthday Red Velvet cake, I had some buttermilk left over and decided to use it to make some bread. First stop was to Rachel Allen’s Bake book, one of my favourite baking books. Since I prefer brown scones to white ones, I decided to make brown soda bread. Here’s the recipe!

Brown Soda Bread
Adapted from  Rachel Allen’s Bake
Ingredients
225g (8oz) wholemeal flour
225g (8oz) plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
50g (2oz) sunflower, or golden linseeds (this isoptional)
25g (1oz) butter (this is optional)
1 egg
375-400ml Buttermilk

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F)
2. Sift together the flours, salt and bicarbonate of soda in a large bowl. Mix in the seeds. Add the butter and rub into the flour mixture with your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs. Make a well in the centre.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg with the buttermilk and pour most, but not all, of the liquid into the flour mixture. Bring the flour and liquid together, either using a knife or better still, your fingers in the shape like a claw. Add more buttermilk if necessary, the dough should be soft but not sticky.
4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work counter. Bring together into a round shape, roughly 4cm deep. Mark a deep cross on the surface.
5. Place on a baking tray and bake for 15 minutes. Turn the heat down to 200°C (400°F), and cook for 30 minutes more. When fully cooked, the loaf will sound slightly hollow when tapped on the base. Cool on a wire rack.
6. Enjoy! I usually just top with butter, but I hear jam is nice too!
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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Red Velvet Cake!

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Yes, there NEEDS to be an exclamation mark in the title of this post, it’s that good.

For my Dad’s 50th, I decided the cake had to be something special. And Red Velvet Cake is pretty special. I used the same recipe that I used for the Green Velvet Cupcakes I made last St. Patrick’s Day. As I was also in charge of making dinner for this event (for 17 people!), the cake got a bit neglected and one layer fell when I tried to take it out of the oven. After some reconstructive surgery, I made it look almost decent. Then, I made a mistake when making the cream cheese frosting but just about managed to save it. I used golden cake balls to write the 50 into the icing, gold as it’s his 50th year (clever huh?)

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I didn’t get a chance to take a pretty shot of the cake as it was demolished as soon as it was pulled out. Dad liked the cake, as did everyone one so success!

25 Before 25: Fund a Kiva Loan

kiva

Funding a Kiva loan is something I’ve wanted to do for a while, ever since I first heard about Kiva on the ‘Stuff You Should Know’ podcast.

But first, what is Kiva? Kiva is a microlending site. It allows people to give loans of $25 to people who need it in developing parts of the world. It’s sorta like a mini bank loan. In it’s more basic form, you lend the $25 to person who needs the loan, who then eventually pays it back to you. You can then withdraw the money or use it to fund another loan. So it’s not a donation but a loan. It’s a tiny bit more complicated than that, so if you want to read more then CLICK HERE.

So I was super glad yesterday when I saw that Emma of fluff and fripperies had posted on her Facebook that Kiva are giving away FREE $25 loans to first time users! So I jumped at the chance to sign up.

For my loan, I chose the Estrella Dorada Group in Mexico, who I am glad got their 100% loan. The money they receive will help them get fresh ingredients and will allow for the business to expand. When you are choosing a loan, you can choose what sort of business you’d like to help. I only found out after that you can see loans that are about to expiring and help towards that, so you if you do sign up I’d suggest that you do that instead.

The Estrella Dorada Group (from Kiva.org)

If you would like to sign up, please click the following link and take it from there. There’s no catch, the only thing with the free loan is that when the money is repaid, it doesn’t go back to you. However, any loan paid with your own money you will receive back.

http://www.kiva.org/invitedby/breige3973

I will definitely make another donation with my own money, hopefully not too far into the future. Let me know if you sign up!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

25 Before 25: Go to a Rugby Match

When I posted my 25 by 25 list on Sunday, I mentioned I had started writing the list a few weeks ago and had already accomplished one. I went to my first rugby match!

I’m not a huge rugby fan. It was never one of the watched sports in my house. The only reason I’ve decided to start watching it is because my boyfriend is a big fan. It’s only fair seeing as I’ve made him watch things like The OC and Dancing on Ice.

So when my boyfriend got tickets to the Munster VS Cardiff Blues match on 24th February, I said I’d go with him. Seeing as most of the team are playing in the 6 Nations, I didn’t really recognise any of them. Unless you count the fact I knew who Gavin Henson was for Cardiff! Nonetheless, I enjoyed the evening, especially as it’s funny when my boyfriend gets for into the game and starts shouting. I’m slowly learning the rules for rugby so I’m hoping next time I go I’ll be able to shout along with my boyfriend!

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Thomond Park in (almost) all it’s glory!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

25 Before 25

It only hit me a few weeks ago that I turn 25 this year. TWENTY FIVE. That’s a quarter of a century. And then it hit me that there’s probably loads of things I’d like to do before then. I’ve briefly touched on goals before and I like to do my resolutions for the past 3 years but there’s just something different about hitting a landmark birthday.
So I thought I’d write a 25 before 25 list. I’m sure I’ll make these lists for 30, 40, 50 etc. as there’s always so much to aim for. However, seeing as money is a bit of a problem at the moment, this list won’t be very ambitious so things like ‘See the Northern Lights’ and ‘Go to Galapagos Islands’ will have to wait. This will be more of a realistic, if slight more boring, list.
I started making this list a few weeks ago, so there’s already one thing I’ve done but I’ll reveal that in a later post!

25 Before 25

1. Crochet a granny square
2. Visit an unvisited country
3. Host a cocktail party
4. Sew an item of clothing from scratch
5. Become a vegetarian for a month
6. Host a fundraiser
7. Go to a rugby match
8. Learn to play poker
9. Take photo booth photos
10. Take a random road trip
11. Learn how to play a new instrument
12. Put a wild colour in my hair
13. Go to the Aran Islands
14. Try surfing
15. Enter a Craftster challenge
16. Plant some herbs and vegetables
17. Host an afternoon tea
18. Watch 100 films from IMDb 250 list
19. Learn to say ‘Hello’ and ‘I Love You’ in 25 languages
20. Write a short story
21. Get a manicure
22. Learn all the words to the National Anthem
23. Make a sock monkey
24. Fund a Kiva loan
25. Make a korma from scratch

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Miss Courtney’s Tearooms, Killarney

I was in Killarney, Co. Kerry at the weekend and when I remembered Miss Courtney’s Tearooms was there, I couldn’t wait to go! It was first opened in 1909 by the current owner’s great-aunt.

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It was a rainy day, so my boyfriend and I were glad to get out of the rain. The place was busy and we had to wait for a seat but we didn’t mind. First thing that struck me was the decor. It’s amazing! I loved the retro vibe, the old black and white photos on the wall, the table cloths, the china cups hanging off the chandler. I’m a sucker for places like this, it reminds me of a cafe closer to hand called The Potter’s Hand in Kilrush, Co.Clare.

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There was lots to choose from on the menu, the list of teas alone takes up a whole page. While the afternoon tea was tempting, I had missed breakfast and wanted something more. So I went with the scrambled Eggs with griddled pancetta and toasted focaccia.

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Himself had vegetable soup and brown bread. I loved the way the butter is shaped.

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I couldn’t resist a cake so I decided to go with the coffee one (even though if I’m honest, I would have tried them all!).

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One of my favourite things about Miss Courtney’s is the fact that all the china and cutlery are all miss-matched. It adds a certain charm to the place.

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I’d love to go back to Killarney again some day and when I do, this place will be top of the list!

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