Saturday, 29 December 2012

Cheesy dauphinoise potatoes


Today has been freezing and wet. Very, very wet. The plan was to go round to my granddads and help tile his roof... well I say help- what I mean is the men tile, I’ll provide the tea and biscuits.
 
Sadly winter got the better. It’s on days like these that I crave comfort food. Something carby and usually cheesy. This had to call for dauphinoise potatoes. Creamy, garlic-y, they are pure comfort food igredients on a cold, Saturday evening.

 
To make 4 servings, you will need:
  • 500g King Edward potatoes
  • 200ml double cream
  • 150ml milk
  • 50g mature gruyere cheese
  • 30g red Leicester
  • 2 crushed cloves of garlic
  • 3 teaspoons dried parsley
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

First, preheat the oven to gas mark 6.
 
Thinly slice the potatoes to about half a centimeter. If you have a potato slicer, it helps a lot!
 
Par boils for about 5 minutes, just to speed up the cooking time later.
 
Layer the potato slices in a dish small enough to allow for about 3 rough layers. Sprinkle the salt, pepper and parsley amongst the layers.
 
Mix together the double cream and the milk in a pan and slowly bring to the boil, then reducing to a simmer.
 
Next, grate the gruyere cheese, stir in until melted and add the crushed garlic.
 
Pour over the sauce ensuring it covers all the potatoes.
 
 

Then sprinkle the red Leicester on top and bake for 45 minutes until golden.
 
Finally, for a couple of minutes, finish under the grill to really get that bubbly cheese effect!

And serve.






























Who can resist this? A tasty side dish to a lovely joint, or why not just double up and have it alone?
 
 
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Thursday, 27 December 2012

Hangover cure plan


I’d like to start off by wishing everyone a belated Merry Christmas. I hope you all had a wonderful time, and thoroughly enjoyed yourself.
I loved spending time with my family, playing silly games and yes, indulging far too much! Mind, I have been extra good since, but my Nana had been furiously making a trifle the night before, and well it would be rude not too have some! I mean, she is 76!
However, if you are anything like me, Christmas also comes with the alcohol... wine, snowballs, baileys, more wine... and well, let’s just say I may be paying for it a little! Fear not though, if you too are a little hungover, as in the spirit of Christmas, I share with you my hangover cure wisdom.

 The essentials
Drink and eat theses throughout the day to maximise the benefits and reduce the seveeity of the hangover.
Water

The first thing to do when you wake up is drink lots of water. Yes, it’s nothing new, but that’s because it really is that important. Dehydration is the culprit a hangover as alcohol is a diuretic, which means that it speed up fluid loss. Dehydration leads to the pounding headache symptoms, therefore you need to replace all that fluid you have lost.

Fruit Juice
Besides it being more fluids which will help replace those lost, it is the vitamins; especially C that you need to replace. Drinking sugary alcoholic drinks especially wine, alcohol pops and cocktails, your blood sugar levels will have plummeted, so you need to rebalance them with NATURAL sugars (yes, i know those sweeties are tempting).
PowerAde

This may sound odd, but through dehydration you will have lost a lot of electrolytes. These are ions that regulate your body fluids (e.g. blood, plasma etc) movement across cells. Sodium and potassium  are examples. Low electrolytes leads to dehydration (headaches) and also muscle seizures, which is why some hangovers come with tired ache muscles. Sport drinks like PowerAde will replace some of the electrolytes lost, helping to rebalance your body.
Salted nuts
Sodium = salt. Also besides the loss of sodium, you will need to rebalance your blood sugar levels, so eating something salty will do you good. 
The recovery meals.
Now there are certain foods that need to be eaten. As much as it pains you, try to force yourself to eat. Trust me; your body needs these to recover quicker. I’ve created 3 meals to make it easier to intake the best hangover ingredients in one go, to maximise recovery.  
Breakfast
Honeyed Banana’s on toast.



Banana
Potassium is found in high concentrations in bananas, so eating one will replenish that lost electrolyte type.  It is the lack of potassium which is the cause behind symptoms such as cramps and nausea, so if you’re feeling sick, this is a winner.
Honey
The Royal Society of Chemistry discovered that the fruit sugars in honey is essential to  help break down the alcohol. Those sugars will also help replace the ones you have lost. Honey also has potassium, so with a banana is a tag team effort.

Toast (wholegrain)
To break down all that alcohol, it is your liver that will be doing the overtime. Fatty acids are essential for it to function. Wholegrain breads are a great source of fatty acids, so get some hot toast grilling!

Lunch
Spinach and Mushroom Omelette




Eggs
Alcohol causes your body produces a toxic substance called acetaldehyde, which leads to nausea and headaches. Egg yolks contain cysteine, which breaks down acetaldehyde. Think of it as a natural aspirin.

Mushrooms
Mushrooms are also essential for your liver function as they are high in B vitamins, which like fatty acids, help it keep ticking.
Spinach
Spinach is high in vitamin C, which will help balance out your blood sugar levels, and is high in sulphur, another electrolyte ion, helping to defeat your headache. 
Dinner
Cheese and beans jacket potato


Source: food.com via Laura on Pinterest
Beans
Beans are a great source of fibre. Fibre is important for mineral absorption, so the beans will help your body in absorbing all that extra vitamin C you have been having. It also aids insulin response, which is necessary to regulate blood sugar levels.
Cheese
Cheese supplies a great amount of calcium and protein, which will give you an energy boost, and help repair muscle spasms.
Potato
Contains complex carbohydrates which not only gives you a boost to your flagging energy levels, but also like the toast, contains fatty acids are essential for your liver to function.

If you eat this, keep drinking, and take regular fresh air- even if it’s just sticking your head out of the window, you should feel on the mend again. 
We say we will never drink again, but with the big NYE approaching, I’m predicting a surge on egg and beans sales!
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Monday, 24 December 2012

Manicure Monday: Christmas Eve Santa Edition

 

The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other. ~Burton Hillis
It’s Christmas Eve!  In less than 12 hours it will finally be here.
I love Christmas, but not for the presents, for just how happy it makes everyone. For one day everyone just seems to just be in this euphoric mood. Even now, I still bound out of bed, jump around like a spring, and give everyone ridiculous amounts of hugs!
We don’t have a lot of traditions in our family, but the one I am lucking forward to is my Nana’s Christmas cake. You can’t beat a Nana’s homemade Christmas cake that she’s been preparing for the last 4 months. There is just something magical about a Nana’s baking. Now I realise my last post was about being sensible with Christmas goodies, but I may end up eating my own words as I devour her cake!
But that is for tomorrow! Today in preparation I have painted my nails Christmassy at last! 
Santa Nail Art

To recreate, I used:
  • Nails Inc- Tate
  • Models Own nail art pen- Black
  • Models Own nail art pen- White
  • Models Own nail art pen- White 
Model Own Nail Pen
  • First, paint Tate all over your nails.
  • Then, carefully about a third way down, draw 3 ‘humps’ end to end with the white pen.
  • Next fill in below the hump line with the white.
  • Using the brush in the black nail art pen, draw half way down the nail a line end to end.
  • Repeat until thick.
  • Once dry, using the gold, draw a square in the centre of the black line.
  • Finally, dot 2 black buttons above the belt.
 
I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas. Make tomorrow full of joy and happiness. Don’t think about the presents, but about your family and friends. Take the time to give them a hug, let them have the last piece of turkey, for they are what matter.
 

Merry Christmas one and all!

 
 
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Saturday, 22 December 2012

Avoiding Christmas Weight Gain


I know, I know. Eat, drink and be merry! Stop raining on my parade!

Trust me, I’m no party pooper, and I’m certainly no gym enthusiast (what gym membership, actually?). Although I will admit I do worry about weight gain. Let’s be honest here, us girls we do have a lot of pressure, and it does take its toll on our self esteem and body image. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t affected by media images and the like.
That’s the only downside to Christmas. Last year I ate and ate my way through the holidays, which yes, it sure as hell tasted yummy, but I did feel depressed come the New Year when my jeans didn’t fit and I felt bloated.
So this year, I’m being sensible.No, this is not some extreme, ‘’let's all go for a run on Christmas morning’’ guide... no no, there will be none of that where I’m concerned. But here are my tips to keeping constant and happy this Christmas.

Very Old School- Here comes Laura and her *Previous* inability
 to control herself around the Christmas chocolate tin!
Weigh yourself.
If you are like me, the thought of weighing yourselves often leaves your knees knocking, just stop for a second. It’s only a number. Yes, it may be higher than you hoped it would be, but it’s OK. This is what I mean by our self esteem taking a battering.
By weighing yourself at the start, you can monitor and manage your weight over the holidays. Then I’d recommend weighing yourself every 2 days to keep a track. No more- let’s not get obsessive. Also, weigh yourself at the same time every day. I’d go for the morning, after you have been the bathroom and before breakfast.



But remember if it does go up, relax! If you keep on top, it will level out again, if you just resist the extra mince pie the next day.
Regular meals
It’s so easy to let normality go out the window, and instead of having regular meals, just graze on cookies, mince pies and that tin of roses that just seems to keep topping itself up. However, make sure you stick to your 3 meals a day. This will help keep your metabolism running, and also will help you feel satisfied and less likely to snack.

Snacking
This doesn’t mean you can’t snack. It is Christmas after all and we all need some holiday sweetness in our lives. Just be sensible that’s all. My suggestion is to keep those goodies for ‘moments’ as I like to call them. If you quickly snatch a couple of choccies of the counter in passing to do the washing up, they are gone in a flash, and not really savoured. Yet, if after dinner, when the families settling down to watch Christmas movies, then is the time to have a Christmas goodie. You’ll appreciate and savour it much more when it’s associated with good memories.
Double happiness.
Old's Cool
Balance
One thing I love Christmas for is the Christmas meals. Whether it is with friends, work or societies you belong to, I just love going to a restaurant that has a good quality and inventive festive menu. I’m a little bit of a food snob sometimes- there is no way you will find me down at Nandos willingly. (I realise I’m probably going to get slaughtered for this now!)
When I do go out for dinner, the last thing I want to do is worry over my choice of food. I’ve never understood paying over the odds for a salad. When I go out, it’s a treat, so I will defend myself against anyone who questions my need for 3 courses.
However, I realise that it is a lot of food, and therefore the other meals need to be light and nutritious. No skipping meals though, this is a disaster as your metabolism will slow down. Just think along the lines of a bowl of porridge with fruit for breakfast, and a healthy sandwich or soup for lunch. Then the next day keep it light again. Balance restored.
Eating just because it’s there.
The passing around of the box of chocolates. The last few remaining potatoes in the dish. ‘’Go one, have another mince pie- it’s only Christmas once a year m’dear’’.
I all too often find myself eating simply because it’s there. It’s like those potatoes on my plate are just staring at me, questioning why I didn’t choose them. And even though I’m not really a fan of roses, I still take a handful when offered.
However, what is actually the point? Are you missing out if you don’t have them? No. Don’t let Christmas mask that if you are full, you are full. It is will power, but just stop.
My tip that I did 2 years ago (why I didn’t do it last Christmas I’ll never know?) is if you really think you’ll be missing out on those expensive Harrods chocolates that are getting past round, take one, but save it for later.
So let me introduce you to my goodie jar.
I didn’t want to eat 5 chocolates in a row, but at the same time, didn’t want to not have a Pink Marc de Champagne Truffle. They are my favorite you see. So I took one, and put it away in my jar, along with others over the holidays.
I then got to have a truffle at the time of my choosing, which also meant I could spread them out, to keep the balance. Currently, yes, it's looking rather empty, but I'm still at University right now, so no chocolate for me. Maybe that's another tip- stay on a deserted campus!
But whatever happens this Christmas, do just have fun and be happy. If you do find yourself a little heavier in the new years, it's OK. If you want to get back into shape, you can do it, you just have to work for it. Remember, Christmas is a celebration, so make sure you do celebrate with those you love.
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Friday, 21 December 2012

How to remove Caviar and Glitter nail polish

 
As you may be starting to guess I love nail polish. Anything sparkly, embellished, I just love it.
What I don’t love is trying to remove it. Seriously, glitter nail polish is the devil. I can scrub away as much as I want, but that polish just DOES. NOT. WANT. TO. BUDGE
After a while, it starts to very slowly chip, and look scruffy, but not not enough to completely come off.
Removing caviar glitter nail polish
 
However there is an answer. Read on to find the solution to your glittery problems.

You will need:
  • Nail Varnish Remover
  • Cotton wool pads
  • Tin foil
First, soak your cotton wool pads in nail varnish remover, and press to your finger.
Removing caviar glitter nail polish
 
Wrap the pad around, and secure by wrapping the whole thing in tin foil
 
Do this to all finger, and leave for AT LEAST 5 minutes. And I mean a proper 5 minutes. If you can manage longer, do it, although I will admit I get bored.
 
Removing caviar glitter nail polish
 
Warning: Similarities to Edward Scissor hands may be noticeable.

Removing caviar glitter nail polish

After 5 minutes, unbind yourself and reveal.
 
As you can see after 5 minutes, the majority of all the polish has come off, however the longer you leave it the better. But this is the impressive result after only 5 minutes. Plus the last little bits actually flicked right off.

Removing caviar glitter nail polish
 
Hopefully this will alleviate some stress from your life, and reignite your love for glitter and caviar just in time for Christmas.

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Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Spicy Tuna Fritters


Me and tuna go way back.

Once upon a time when I was a vegetarian, I found out I didn’t really like the vegetables. Cue awkward times when eating out. However I made the decision that to solve this, eating fish was acceptable. Well technically it’s not a mammal, and we all know vegetarianism only applies to mammals...

So, as tuna seemed to be the main fish on the menu, ever since we’ve had that special bond, and now I’ll just crave it every so often.

And right now, I’m craving it. Tuna and cheese jacket potato for lunch, and now I want it again.

So, step forward Spicy Tuna Fitters.
 
spicy tuna fritter

To make 8 fritters, you will need:
  • 1 can tuna
  • ½ chopped tomatoes
  • ½ onion
  • ¼ green pepper
  • ½ tsp of chilli pepper flakes (add more if you like spice)
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Pinch salt
  • 150g plain flour
  • 100ml milk
  • 1 egg
  • Cooking oil  
 
First, chop the onion, pepper and crush the garlic.

Then mix together the tuna, tomatoes, chopped onion, chopped pepper, chilli flakes, paprika, garlic and salt in a bowl, and leave to stand.
Into a separate bowl, sift the flour.
Add the egg, and mix with the milk bit by bit until a thick yet runny batter is formed with no lumps.
Once done, add the tuna mixture into the batter and give a good stir.
Next, into a frying pan, add enough oil to cover the bottom in about a half centimetre thickness, and let it get nice and hot, but not smoking as your fritters will burn.
Now, start to spoon the mixture into the oil. I used a plastic cooking spoon.
 
spicy tuna fritter
 
After about 3-4 minutes, turn over and repeat.
 
spicy tuna fritter
 
Do the same for the rest of the mixture, until they are lovely and golden.
Take out, pat down with kitchen roll, and serve with spicy salsa. Done.


spicy tuna fritter

spicy tuna fritter
 

This is also perfect cold for lunch the next day, just let them cool down and then pop them in the fridge.
Tuna craving satisfied.
 

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Monday, 17 December 2012

Manicure Monday: Vintage Floral



You would think after all the Christmassy things I’ve been doing lately; Secret Santa, watching Polar Express, Christmas meals, I’d finally paint my nails Christmas themed?
 
I intended, honest, I really did, but then my friend went out brought out her Cath Kidston laptop case, and well, I just needed to do something floral vintage.
 
See, it is my life’s dream to go have Afternoon at Claridge’s. The sheer elegance of tea out of china cups- pinkie out, of course. Sat on chez lounge’s, listening to the grand piano, whilst servers actually take care of you, not some jumped up, 16 year old waitresses/ waiters you get. I was born in the wrong era sometimes.Not that they would have painted their nails like this mind you, but still, we can’t have it all?
 
Manicure Monday Vintage Floral Rose Flower

To recreate, I used:
  • No.7 Speed Dry Nail Colour - 30 Heather
  • No.7 Stay Perfect Nail Colour - 30 Sunset
  • Collection 2000 Hot Looks- 32 BMX Bandit
  • Collection 2000 Hot Looks- 36 Ninja
  • 17 Nail Xtras- Top Coat

  • First, paint all over with Sunset and wait till completely dry.
  • Next, lightly with the tip of the Heather brush, dot some colour on the nail, to create a spludge/ spot.
  • Do this around 4 per nail.
  • Next- Using a nail art brush, or as I as I could not find mine (professional is my name) improvise with a safet pin (!), and draw with Sunset ( ) ) shapes around the pink blobs.
  • Next using either a brush or pin, paint 2 little, short flicks out of the roses, with Ninja.
  • Finally once all are done, give a good coat of clear varnish.

It probably would have come out a little neater, if I’d located said brush, but what’s a girl to do? Nothing stands in the way of me and my nails! Maybe there’s a Christmas present idea...
 


 
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Saturday, 15 December 2012

DIY Old Sweet Shop Jars


One thing I can probably guarantee at Christmas time, is it usually involves at least one Secret Santa scheme, which I love.
We all know it’s already a far too expensive time, so any way to help save a few pennies, is good in my books.
After I’d bought my gift, I found I had spare cash left over, but not really enough to buy anything substantial. I was traipsing round Debenhams when I saw the old sweet shop jars they do. They look so tempting, but at £14 each, I was soon put off
Looking at them though, I thought I could actually recreate this myself. This way saves money and, let’s be honest, it’s always nicer to receive something that’s actually been thought through and given the personal touch. 
Kilner, Sweets, DIY, Secret Santa
To recreate, I used:

  • A Kilner Jar- £2.79 TK Max
  • Ribbon
  • Sweets
  • A homemade label

Kilner, Sweets, DIY, Secret Santa

I also decorated mine with a old broken bead necklace to give it a bit more of a glitzy charm.

I bought a few bags of sweets from the local shop, layered them and there you have it. So simple, and yet it looks such a lovely gift.
Kilner, Sweets, DIY, Secret Santa

The good thing about this present also? 'Accidentally' buying too many sweets, so somehow they just find their way onto your desk... It's the gift that just keeps on giving.
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Thursday, 13 December 2012

How to write a good CV


I think I have previously mentioned that last year I worked and lived in London while I was doing a 12 month undergraduate placement.

The process in getting a job was really tough, and it’s different to any other job application (except graduate schemes). It was only through many, many applications that I learned the process. Therefore I applied for a job at my university to be a placement advisor to this year’s candidates, as there was no help when I was doing it, and if I can save one person struggling, then sign me up!

In one of my open door sessions, someone asked me to review over their CV, which I pointed out some basic, but potentially rejection inducing errors. Later I had another person with similar silly things on their CV. 

This got me thinking about where we learn how to write CVs. I went to dozens of workshops to learn, but I guess not everyone does. For jobs like placements and graduate schemes, companies are literally receiving hundreds if not thousands in the case of multi billion pound corporations, of applicants per role. HR need a way to sift through the mass, so it is a case of quick scanning through CVs. If there’s a silly mistake, then they just throw it away- honest, I’ve got many friends in graduate recruitment.

Now, I don’t claim to be an expert in CVs, but I’d like to think I’ve picked up a thing or two, so here’s a small guide to help you polish off your CV and get the job you deserve!


Layout:
This is the layout that I was taught, and so far has proven successful for me. Please note, this is not my actual CV, just an example one I quickly wrote for reference... as if I got A in Maths!
Header:
Curriculum Vitae- It’s silly, but like I said it’s usually the silly things that count. Don’t be CV, its slang and looks unprofessional.  The key to a CV is professionalism, so start as you mean to go on.
Contact Details:
Make sure you have professional email address. It can be your university one, or a personal, but do not put down Jennybabe123@hotmail.com, again it looks unprofessional. Emails are free, so create a new one- there’s no excuse! (Sorry if this is your email address... I'm sure it is lovely really...)

Education:
When writing your education, start with your most recent, such as degree, and then move down.
Make sure you display the details in an easy to read format. For example, display A- levels in one column and AS levels in a column next to it. With thousands of CVs to look through, you want HR to be able to quickly spot your achievements.
A top tip, a recruiter gave me after an interview. If you have enough good, strong qualifications to meet the requirements, leave off any extras that are below standard. It’s human nature to pick up on the bad, which will over shadow your excellent features. So for example if you have 3 A-C grades at A-Level, but did a 4th and got an E, leave it off.

IT Skills:
This is something that a lot of people don’t add, but I cannot stress it enough, how important it is.
It doesn’t matter if you’re not applying for a technology role, you are going to be using a computer, and I can promise you that. Even my dad, who is a workman, still has to use a computer to book timesheets and log reports.
Employers want to see that you have key skills such as Excel, PowerPoint and Word, at a proficient level. This means knowing in Excel what If Statements are, Pivot Tables, and other formulas for example. If you don’t, it’s really easy to learn. There’s a whole raft of material online, and I promise you, it’s really not that hard, but for some reason a skill lacking. At work last year, knowing Pivot tables saved my bacon, and made me life so much easier- you’ll thank me later too!

Profile:
This is essentially a summary of you. It’s your time to say what you are passionate about, and what ‘soft skills’ you have.
The 2 elements here to think about are:
  1. Who and what role are you applying for?
  2. What competencies do they want?
So this means that if you are applying for a management consultancy role, you need to say you are passionate about this. State that you are motivated by strategy, efficiency and client engagement for example.
The competencies are values the company are looking for in a employee- they will highlight them on their website. If it says they want commercially aware, flexible, leaders, you have to put that you have those skills.
Recruiters will have these skills as a checklist, so you need to be able to give them something to check off. If you don’t that empty checklist is going in the bin... along with your CV I’m afraid.
WARNING
We have come to the first part where many people fall down.

It’s all well and good saying, I have excellent IT skills, but how does a recruiter know? You need to give examples. It is essential. So for example, say that you created a trend analysis system at work/ at school/ spare time using Pivot tables, so prove it- just don’t lie. I’ve been quizzed in interviews before.
Right, well that’s the first part complete. I hope you found that helpful. I’ll give you some time to go over your CV, and then I’ll do part 2 tomorrow. Don’t worry if your struggling to get a job at  the moment, it is hard, but there are the opportunities out there. Promise.
Just don’t let it get you down, it will be OK, job hunting is a marathon, not a sprint, as my dad told me.
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