Friday, 29 August 2014

Recipe: Gnocchi with mixed herbs and mozzarella

As much as I love food, I don't often share recipes on the blog. I'll post an instagram pic of some cupcakes I've baked, but I always chicken out of sharing how it's done. So when I was asked to create a student friendly recipe for Currys student cookbook, I panicked. Yes, I'm a student, but I often think I'm very un-studenty. I'm married, with a toddler and commute to uni - which thankfully means I'll never live off beans on toast for a month - which, of course isn't a standard student lifestyle. Nevertheless, after fancying some gnocchi for lunch, I decided it would be a great addition to any student repertoire as you can buy packets of gnocchi quite cheaply at any supermarket, it's around £1.30 for 500g. 

Gnocchi with mixed herbs and mozzarella
Serves 1

250g gnocchi
mozzarella ball
mixed herbs (any herbs will do, really)
parmesan, grated

Turn on your grill, and let it heat up. Next, boil a medium-sized pan of water, and chuck in a dash of salt. Once bubbling, carefully pour in around half a packet of gnocchi. I tend to use a slotted metal spoon to do this, to avoid being splashed with boiling water. 

In a frying pan, melt a little bit of butter and shake in some mixed herbs. You'll notice that after a few minutes the gnocchi will start to rise up to the top of the water. When this happens, use your slotted spoon to lift the gnocchi into the frying pan. Once all the gnocchi is in the pan, tear up your mozzarella and add a few chunks to the pan. Finally, sprinkle a small pinch of parmesan over the top, and then place the frying pan under the grill. In less than a minute, your cheese will have melted and your gnocchi is ready! 

You could add all sorts to this dish - ham, different cheeses, asparagus - and really make it your own. What more could you ask for a simple dish? I hope you like this recipe, if you're starting university soon, make sure you check out Currys Student Cookbook

Would you try this studenty recipe? Let me know what you like to have for lunch! 

Chelsea xo

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*this post features a link to Currys, but all thoughts, words and pictures are my own*

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

J is for...


Can you believe my last alphabet update was in May? Pretty ridiculous, if you ask me. Anyhoo, J is the next letter and surprisingly, I struggled a little bit to think of something. I ended up with joy, which is always a nice thing - I'm sure anyone who has me on twitter is convinced I'm a misery! - as who doesn't want a little bit of joy in their lives? Let's have a look at some of the things that made it onto the list...

'Look how full of joy I am!' or 'Look how bad my hair is!'
Dylan! Joe! 
Christmas! Singing!
Date nights! Lunch with the girls!
Seeing Leona! Meeting bloggers!
Reading a good book! Ringing my papa!
Wearing dresses! Doing a star bake!
Buying stationary! Tapas! Pie!
Remembering my headphones on the train!
A tidy house! Having a picnic!

See, I'm not complaining all the time! I kind of didn't want to stop there, but I guess a list of all the things that bring me joy would be too long and make me seem somewhat human. I really needed to write this list out today, as I recently ordered some beautiful wellies and they sadly don't fit, thanks to my stupid man calves. They're so beautiful, I'm considering keeping them so I can just look at them. 

What brings you joy?

Chelsea xo

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Taking Time to Slow Down

Although I feel like I have been blogging fairly consistently on here recently, I wanted to just jot down a little post to catch up with everything. I started my blog to ensure I would remember the little things, so a catch-up post feels more than necessary for me. 

You may have noticed that I gave my layout a little redesign. There's been a few niggling problems - I accidentally deleted the Disqus comments, for a start! - but I think I did an alright job. I wanted to change my coral colour to a nice teal/green shade, and overall I'm happy with how it looks now. I still need to create a new blog button, and maybe jazz up my about me page, but it is shaping up well. 

Another venture I have recently turned my hand to, is creating content for a festival website. It's quite fun, and I get to babble on for 300 or so words, which is always a bonus for me. Also, it's another thing I can add to my never-ending work experience section on my CV, so that is pretty good. I always feel extra thankful when people suggest me for these jobs, as I often worry that my location and stretched lifestyle might put off potential offers. It's a silly thought (I hope) but one I have nonetheless. 
we bought a tent - Strawberry & Mango fruit tea cakes - RISKy business - best. drink. ever.
Primarily, August has been a month of intense tidying up for Joe and I. We moved in to the house on 30th June, and then found out we would be getting a formal inspection of the house from the landlord at the end of this month. This meant we had to fire up all cylinders and get every last box unpacked and ensure everything found a rightful place. Which is tricky, when you have an energetic toddler wanting to play or run about, and no one to help with babysitting. I think we'll manage though, there's a few more days to keep on top of everything, and then after that we can go back to our usual slobtastic life! I jest, a bit... 

I know everyone, myself included, harps on about how quickly time is flying by this year, but I'm finding it so hard to believe we celebrated our anniversary at the start of this month. It feels like forever ago already, but I guess time really does fly when you're having fun/working hard. 

Other trivial updates include: cutting my fringe, playing RISK for the first time (and coming second, booya!), baking Strawberry and Mango fruit tea cupcakes, finished reading Mr Penumbra's 24-hr Bookstore and breaking the handle off of the fridge... 

What have you been up to recently? I'll pop the kettle on, and let's catch up!

Chelsea xo

Monday, 18 August 2014

Back to uni with Personal Planner!

If you've followed my blog for a while, you might know that this September I will start my third and final year at university. It's fair to say that I have pretty much sailed through my previous two years, and because of this I have always been just shy of my ideal grade. Silly me, ey? Anyhoo, to combat this, I'm going to become super crazy organised and basically work my socks off. It sounded like fate when the folks from Personal Planner contacted me about creating my own little planner. 

Uni/Life Planner - Personal Planner*
The great thing about these organisers from Personal Planner is that you can really go into detail with what you want on there. I was given an endless amount of designs to pick for my front cover (and I went for stripes - how exciting!) and you can even pick the colour of the elastic tie. Naturally, I opted to match my throw, I mean, who wouldn't? You can also decide how you'd like the innards of your organiser to look, I went for the standard uni year, which is Sept-Sept, but you could pick any start date, which is something I find great. You don't really want to buy a planner only to realise the first five months have already been and gone!

Not entirely sure what happened to the colouring of this pic, it was taken like three seconds after the first one...
I was able to decide how the pages were laid out, as well as picking the little orange boxes along the bottom as well. If I remember correctly, I was also given the option to make them orange! I went for a "To Do This Week" box, to help with any deadlines or hand in dates, and an "Idea of the Week" to give me space for motivating myself. On the other page, there's just some random lines incase I need to jot down a number or anything, and a handy little monthly calendar too. Obviously, I picked out a fun week to photograph and show you - the fun thing being that we're seeing The National at the O2 Arena/dome thing! That was my anniversary gift to Joe, if any of you have been pondering about that. 

I really would recommend Personal Planner to anyone looking for an organiser. There are so many great features I didn't know how to photograph properly, such as the little see-through pocket, for putting in random scraps of paper (which I usually just chuck in my bag and forget about), and there's also the option to put in around 50 pages at the back for lined or plain paper. This is great for me, as I might need to write down descriptions for things, or even sketch out a book cover design - although god forbid they put me through that again for another year! #uniwoes 

Amazingly, Personal Planner gave me the opportunity to hold a giveaway for one lucky person to win and design their own planner! You could basically copy my whole design, or get creative and add whatever you fancy to it. 50 pages of graph paper? Sure, why the hell not! All you have to do is follow the instructions below and I'll announce the winner on Monday 1st September - so that's two weeks! Good luck!

Chelsea xo

Monday, 11 August 2014

On Reading and Listening

In my updated 101 in 1001 Days list, one of my goals is to buy Dylan a selection of my favourite children's stories. He's already got a few of the classics - Winnie the Pooh and Peter Rabbit - but there are so many amazing stories out there for little readers like him. He has one Janet and Allan Ahlberg story, Peepo!, and I can't wait to get him a The Jolly Postman book or two. 

Allan Ahlberg is from Sunderland, something I obviously didn't know growing up, but now it makes me wonder if this is why I loved his stories so much. We had a lot of Ahlberg books, including Funny Bones, which I completely forgot was by them,  and they do really remind me of reading with my dad and hearing him use all these wacky voices as new characters were introduced. 

Yesterday's light reading...
I've mentioned before that I would like to work in children's publishing. It is fun, and colourful, and children's literary festivals just look like a whole load of madness. I loved World Book Day as a child, and getting to dress up as my favourite literary characters, and I loved getting the National Book tokens and rushing to WH Smiths after school to pick up a new read. These days, I find myself drawn to Young Adult novels, a few of which I have reviewed, and I think this could be an area of publishing I could happily dip my fingers into. 

I've sort of blabbed on for three paragraphs before even getting to the true inspiration for this post. Last night, I told Dylan we could read a book in bed. He picked out Zog, and decided that actually he wanted to read it to me. For reasons only known to him, he started off three pages in, and interrupted himself a few times to explain to me that Zog was a roaring kind of dragon. Near the end, you are introduced to some actual people in the story (look at me, trying to not ruin a children's book!) and Dylan pointed to them and said, "look, it's mammy and daddy!" Mammy, turned out to be the knight in shining armour, and daddy was the nobel steed. I'm not sure if this was meant to be insulting, or a metaphor for our relationship, but it still makes me so happy that Dylan is the kind of child who doesn't believe princesses are for girlies and only men can be the traditional hero. With all the things I sometimes feel like I am failing at with parenthood, it's something as simple as this that tells me I'm actually doing a pretty good job.  

Do you have any childhood favourites? Are you a 'pink is for girls' kinda person? 

Chelsea xo

Friday, 8 August 2014

Book Club #6 - The Girl who Saved the King of Sweden

After throughly enjoying The Hundred Year Old Man who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared, I couldn't wait to get my hands on Jonas Jonasson's latest offering, The Girl who Saved the King of Sweden. I featured it in my summer reading list, and made sure to quickly snap it up. 

The story starts with Nombeko, a young black girl living and working in South Africa during apartheid. In true Jonasson fashion, Nombeko's story isn't straightforward and her goal to change her life for the better ends up changing the fate of the world. So yeah, pretty good going. Sadly, Nombeko is a rather unlucky character, but her quick wit and intelligence allows her to make the best out of all the bad situations she winds up in.

Matching my cushion to the cover, for the win.
I really enjoyed this book, and Jonasson's nonsensical style of writing. The characters were all interesting, easy to like and easy to root for. Of course, with this style of story, you basically have to take everything with a huge pinch of salt. Nombeko is meant to be a mathematics genius, so of course she is able to quickly calculate things and always be right. On the other hand, one character is a complete idiot, and you really do believe that he could do something so obviously stupid, in certain parts of the book. The joys of nonsense, ey?

I felt myself really getting into the characters and the story line - a few times I vocally jeered or cheered, which is completely normal - and much like Jonasson's debut, I devoured and loved The Girl who Saved the King of Sweden. 

Have you picked up The Girl who Saved the King of Sweden? What did you think?

Chelsea xo

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Our Second Year

Today is our second wedding anniversary! I honestly can't believe it's been two years - in one way, it feels longer, yet in another way it feels like we're still beginners at this wedding lark! I guess we still are beginners in the grand scheme of things, but I really feel like this is a turning point for us. 

Okay, so maybe I do change my hair a lot...
I've spent the last three or so weeks teasing Joe about my anniversary present to him (it's neither paper or cotton, we're untraditional like that) and giving him dud 'hints' as to what it might be. It's the future! It's the blue sky! I'm pretty sure he was convinced I've booked us a holiday abroad - we'll just ignore the fact we don't have passports, shall we? Ah, I'm so good at this wifey business. I mean, you're supposed to keep them on their toes, right? 

Sadly, Joe was put on the breakfast split shift today, so I'm spending our anniversary with Dylan instead! We went out for a lovely meal on Tuesday, though, and it was so nice to just relax and talk about everything. I'm so glad I managed to find someone as wonderful as Joe, who always believes in me and still adores me despite the fact my ass has quadrupled in size since we met! 

Thanks for the past two years of married bliss, here's to a few more Chadders! 

Chelsea xo

Sunday, 3 August 2014

The Reading Tag!

I know it wasn't long ago that I posted the Goodreads tag, but you guys should know that I'm all about the reading! I've been thinking about including a bit more bookish content over on this slice of the internet, so do let me know if that's something anyone would be interested in! I saw the reading tag on a blog and fancied doing it myself, and then the lovely Leona tagged me in it - fate, I tells ya - so, let's delve right in...

Do you have a certain place for reading at home?
I like curling in on the couch to read, although sometimes I read in bed. I like to switch it up a bit as that means I'm unpredictable, and people like that sort of thing.

Bookmark or random piece of paper?
I have been using Joe's bookmark, but I think he stole it back from me when I was between books, so now I'm using half a leaflet from the local council. It's about cycling. I really want a fancy bookmark, but I just never seem to remember that I need one when I'm in an actual book store.

Can you just stop reading or do you have to stop after a chapter or a certain number of pages?
That last one is weird, do people just read 20 pages? That sounds weird. Weird, I tell you. I try my best to read a full chapter, as I like to stop when the writer intended me to, but I am having such a hard time reading at the moment. My current book is so difficult to grasp at times, so I've been re-reading sections and the end of the chapter just seems so far away...

Do you eat or drink when reading?
Erm, I don't really make a note of it? I usually always have a glass of water or cup of tea on the go. Never food though, as I find it too distracting haha! So much for multi-tasking, ey?

One book at a time or several at once?
I read my books like I date my men. 

Reading at home or everywhere?
I do most of my reading at home, I think, but I love reading on the train. I can't read on the bus as I worry I'll miss my stop, but reading on the train is my jam. I don't think I've ever gone to a coffee shop and just read a book though, I'm convinced that it isn't really a 'thing' and I'll get kicked out for taking up space. 

Reading out loud or silently in your head?
Silently. I sometimes say a bit out loud if I've really enjoyed it, which can be a bit awkward if I'm not alone or on a packed train.

Do you ever read ahead or skip pages?
I'm terrible for this. I'll be reading a tremendous book, and need to know how it ends, but when I look I always hate myself for it. I can't just let a good thing happen. I'm a monster. 

Breaking the spine or keeping it new?
I think I keep it new? I'm not entirely sure. My let my mam read one of my books before me once - I was in the middle of another book - and she would keep the book open overnight. It was pretty awful. After that, I try not to let anyone touch my books if I can help it.

Do you ever write in books?
I think the last time I did, it was for A Level English Lit, and I used pencils, or post-it notes where possible. 

What are you currently reading?
The never-ending, 'A Girl is a Half-formed Thing' by Eimear McBride. 

So, that was the reading tag! I tag you all to do this, as it's good fun, and thanks again to Leona for tagging me in it! Make sure you check out her blog while you're at it :)

Chelsea xo

Friday, 1 August 2014

August Already?

Yup, it's one of those posts. Like people the world over, I too am surprised that we're coming into the eighth month of 2014. I wonder why people get so surprised that a new month is here once again, does time really go by faster as you get older? Or are we all just having too much fun to notice the date? Who knows, not this girl anyways! I wanted to do another 'my plans for this month' kind of post, as they're quite nice to look back on for me. 

I only set myself two things for July, due to just moving and all, and those were 'more shifts' and 'spend more time with Dylan'. Sadly, I didn't manage to get in any more shifts, which is kind of good and bad. Good, as I needed to spend time sorting through boxes and boxes of stuff, and bad as well, shifts = money. The lack of shifts did mean that I could spend extra time with Dylan, so yay for that. Instead of goals for this month, I'mma just tell you my plans. They're kind of goals, in a 'get out the house and do something' kind of way. 

Yeah, I tried making my own quote pic. Sorry about that...
Do something fun on our anniversary!
I've already picked out a present for Joe - and I've been teasing him with it ever since - so I'm hoping he's remembered to book the day off work and we can do something fun. We'll have Dylan during the day, of course, but that doesn't mean we can't hop in the car and explore! As we have an uncle coming round to look after the chappy in the evening, I'm hoping we can take advantage of some well deserved time alone. 

Book shifts for the end of the month
I was expecting to have family visit at the end of the month, but that isn't happening now. Instead of wallowing in pity, I'm going to try and take on some shifts. Joe's family (minus one babysitting uncle) have gone away for a few weeks in the middle, so I'm going to make sure I book them in for some babysitting shifts once they're home. Take that, suckers! 

Visit Bath and my uni friends
I'm hoping to take Dylan on a train trip to Bath as the girls love seeing him. I also want to hit up the new Primark store, but we'll see if that happens once I have a excited toddler with me. 

Buy a tent for Festival No.6!
Pretty self-explanatory, we're going to a festival in the first weekend of September, so realistically we need to buy a tent before then. This is so Joe (and I, I guess) can practice putting it up. I think Joe's brother also wants to borrow a tent from us, as he's going to a festival in August so we might have to buy this sooner rather than later!

Read more books!
August is my last full month before university starts up again for my final year. I'm predicting that my reading-for-fun time will diminish quite quickly once the workload and deadlines begin, so I want to finish at least three books. I'm not making much progress in my current book, so I think I just need to turn off Kim Kardashian Hollywood and get my book out instead! Seriously though, is anyone else addicted to this game? I don't even watch the Kardashians. 

So that's my plans for the month ahead, hopefully they're all little things I can build up and complete -  I don't want another month of half-ticked lists or what have you. If you've seen any tent bargains lately, make sure you let me know! 

Chelsea xo

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