cooking

Life Lately.

Wow. Things have been so busy for me for the past couple of weeks. I have an insanely long pile of reading to do, I have a presentation to write and give next week (ahh!) and I have an essay to write for next month. Oh dear…

Luckily I have lots of great stuff going on too so I’m just about managing to keep my head above the water. Tom is coming to visit this weekend and we haven’t seen each other in three weeks so it’ll be lovely to be reunited and be able to spend some time together. I went to see Les Mis (again) last night with a friend and we both cried (again), it’s such a moving film, each song is so rousing that you can’t help but get emotionally involved with the story. If you haven’t seen it yet I definitely recommend it, even if musicals aren’t really your thing, my mother isn’t keen on musicals and she loved it. My most exciting piece of news is that I am going to be moving out in September! For those of you that don’t know, I transferred to a uni closer to home this year so that I could live at home to make life easier for me because of my condition. However I’m going to get the best of both worlds in my final year, I’ll be in my hometown which I find easier to get around, I’ll be close to home, but I’ll get to live with friends and experience the typical student life. I’m really excited to make the move and get on with my life with my uni friends 🙂

I thought I’d do a photo recap of life lately, with everything going on I’ve not had much time to stop and blog or take proper photos so here is an Instagram summary of the past week or so!

mosaic755b142b1d88d2d937ee5507e6220f4b1707c2d4

My current addiction: hot chocolate | Roast chicken Sunday dinner | Starting the morning well

mosaic255c417868cefc2ace7c40086472044464adc6ee

Pasta, my saviour | Floral beauty | More chocolatey goodness of the drinkable sort

mosaic5d43f2e008efd7570cc70e15d3a3357256def698

Last week’s baking fun | Homemade pizza | Fresh lunch

mosaic2ce72e06fe7719c793af71183093703f82a1e793

Sunday lunch – chicken and mushroom pie | Heavy reading | A fruity start to the day

mosaic46709ec3c2067365f10db2f5d21c88e4bb1d71d3

Smile | Sunlit tulips | Healthy dips for lunch

mosaic537e98f7b0564512868bc719c0914d70a21715e5

Cooking dinner for the family | Quinoa, courgettes, red peppers and onions | Sleepyheads

What have you been doing lately?
How is 2013 shaping up for you now that we’re in February?

Sophie x

Advertisements

Currently…

IMG_7012

Reading…

So much! I have an absurd amount of reading to do for my course at the moment, it’s really difficult to keep up. At this point in time I am working my way through George Eliot’s Adam Bede which is good but hard going – it’s almost 600 pages long. I’m also reading Thomas More’s Utopia as well as rereading Jane Austen’s Persuasion and dipping into some poetry from the Romantic era. Phew! So I’m afraid I’m not reading anything for leisure at the moment, I just don’t have the time.

Listening to… 

I recently discovered The Lumineers thanks to my sister, Alice, and I’ve been really enjoying their songs, especially Ho Hey. I’ve also been listening to soundtracks quite a lot lately because I find it difficult to work whilst listening to music with vocals. My favourite is undoubtedly the Pride and Prejudice soundtrack composed by Dario Marianelli, it is just so beautiful. If I sit and listen to it I can picture every scene and it definitely evokes an emotional response from me.

Watching…

I haven’t been watching loads of TV recently because some of my favourite programs have just finished. I am loving Africa with David Attenborough although the last episode is this week. The footage of the animals in their natural settings is simply amazing and it’s fascinating to watch. I also love a bit of New Girl and Vampire Diaries for some light entertainment to distract me from my work 😉 Plus a new series of Food & Drink has started (this week’s episode is on BBC iplayer) and it’s presented by Michel Roux Jnr so it’s extra good in my opinion!

Drinking…

Heaps of hot chocolates! They are my go-to drink at this time of the year when it’s so cold and often wet. My favourite way to make them when I particularly need cheering up is with a spoonful of nutella and then cream and mini marshmallows on top. So so comforting.

Dreaming of…

The summer. I’m always like this at this time of the year, I long for blue skies, sunshine,  picnics, holidays… I want to be able to go outside without having to bundle up in multiple layers of knitted clothing, and to sit in the park and read without feeling like my nose and fingers are frozen stiff. I’m dreaming of ice cream cones at the seaside in June, of picnicking by the river in July, of cocktails under a parasol in the balmy evenings of August…

Loving…

My new NARS blush in Douceur which is just lovely dusted onto the apples of my cheeks. I’m also loving having the time to experiment a little more with cooking, last week I made pizza, this week I’m going to try a new dish of courgettes and quinoa. I love spending time in the kitchen cooking dinner for me and my family, cooking can be creative, fun, and I find it rather therapeutic.

What are your currently-s?

Sophie x

This Week #7.

I probably say this pretty often but I honestly can’t believe how quickly this week has been. It’s just flown by and before you know it, I’m about to begin my third week at my new university! I am pleased to report that so far so good. I’m really enjoying the course, I have some great lecturers, I have already read some very interesting texts, and on top of that I have met some lovely people. Although this semester comes packed with at least four assessments (which I am soon going to start planning!) I am feeling extremely positive about this new stage of my life.

This week I have been quite busy, I’ve been to the physio, to the hospital, to a new choir, and to London! The hospital went well on the whole, I have been discharged from CBT, she basically said that it can’t help me much as I already do it all for myself haha. I will be writing an update about all things health-related for you sometime soon as there are a few changes. London this weekend was just wonderful. I took the train down on Saturday morning and I navigated all of the complicated tube line closures which can be irritating but I was pleased with myself for finding my way around it all without panicking 😛 We spent most of the evening snuggled up watching Quantum of Solace followed by Michael McIntyre which was just what I needed after a tiring week!

Stewed plums and Greek yogurt | My favourite courgette spaghetti | Pre-lecture reading

Physio leaflets | Conker collecting! | Curling up with Poppy

Spicy aubergine and tomato with noodles | Baking inspiration | Jamie Oliver’s Pregnant Jool’s Pasta

Field mushroom Welsh rarebit | Apple cake 🙂 | Discovering Marlowe’s Edward II

Burgundy nails and Edward II on the train to London | Noodles | Mini smarties treat

Meerkats! | Roast dinner perfection | My blackberry brulée success

Here’s hoping this week is as good as the last! It’s a little less busy which is a bit of a relief, it should mean I can get ahead with my reading too, I’m doing really well so far. I definitely want to bake this week as I didn’t have time to last week, any suggestions? I’m currently thinking peanut butter cookies…

If you have Instagram too then you call follow me @loveliveandlearn to see my photos as I post them!

What did you do this week?
Do you enjoy autumnal activities like collecting conkers?
Favourite Sunday dinner?

A Time to Study.

Firstly I want to say hello to any new readers who have come to check my blog out because of the lovely Bee 🙂 Welcome, I hope you stay a while!

Okay, so I have been majorly absent recently and I’m sorry, it seems that recently, every time I go to write a post, all I do is apologise and explain that I am ill. This isn’t how I want my blog to be and it definitely isn’t how I want to be! As I said in my last post, I always aim to be honest on my blog (if you knew me in real life you’d know I’m always incredibly honest in reality – sometimes a little too honest!) but I don’t want that to mean that I come across as wholly negative.

I am fundamentally a positive person. I have had some difficult times in my life but I refuse to dwell on them, I have been ill for a long time but I refuse to let that take over and control my life.

For those of you that don’t know, I started my first week at my new uni, having transferred into second year. I was so so nervous but things seem to be going really well and I’ve already got heaps of work so I’m obviously settling in fast. I actually quite enjoy having the work to do, I’ve got a pile of books to read, notes to make, history to research and seminars to attend. Lectures are easy, you just go in, sit, listen and try to absorb. My seminars are two hours long and although they’re a little nerve-wracking because we are in smaller groups and they are made up of group discussions. Everyone seems really friendly though and it’s nice to be in a new environment.

I have so much reading to do already, Byron’s Prelude, plenty of Dickens, Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure and Hamlet, lots of American literature and heaps more. I love to read and I feel like starting term again has rekindled my love of the classics.

Although, I’ll have to let you know how I feel once I’m half way through the term and snowed under! 😉

Thursday’s are my days off which is great as it means I can spend most of my day curled up reading. I might bake as well, I have an urge to make cheese straws and/or cupcakes!

Then on Friday I have two seminars which should be fun, hopefully the seminar leaders will be as good as the lecturers and professors I’ve had so far. I haven’t got any plans for the weekend yet but I’m sure I’ll find something productive to do, any suggestions?

This is a little something I made for dinner the other day that I never shared with you:

 

Salmon filo parcels with an oriental salad. It was a little trickier than I thought (has anyone got any tips for making filo pastry any easier to deal with?) but it tasted absolutely delicious! I was quite pleased with myself haha, I need to cook a little more often, I don’t know why I don’t.

How is your autumn shaping up?
What have you been reading lately?
Have you cooked anything exciting this week?

Home Comforts.

Although in many ways, transferring to my new uni and living at home again feels a little bit like a step backwards, there are many perks of being back here. For starters, I am fully aware just how lucky I am that a) my parents gave me the option of coming back when I was too ill to continue, and b) that home is somewhere I am happy to return to. I know that not everyone is in my position! Here are just some of nice things about living at home again:

1. One of the most obvious positives about being home is having the company of my family! My sister and I have always been close and in the last few years we have become more like best friends. I know I can tell her everything, we support each other when things are tough and we also have a lot of laughs together 🙂

I love this girl!

The support my family gives me is great too, last week I had a couple of evenings when I just felt exhausted and a bit rubbishy, this is when having my parents and sister around me becomes so helpful and comforting. They help me out with daily tasks and they keep my morale up!

2. I’m not going to lie, one of the great things about being home is the food. (It had to be didn’t it!)

Firstly, having dinner cooked for you on most days is lovely when you’re under the weather on a regular basis and it also means you get to eat more varied (and more luxurious) food than when you’re cooking for one on a budget at uni. Dishes like this one:

Chorizo and gnocci isn’t the sort of thing you get to eat much of as a student!

Secondly, I have a fully equipped kitchen at my disposal which means one thing to me: baking 🙂 I absolutely adore baking, no surprises there, particularly when the autumn months are coming in, it is starting to get a little colder outside and you want a little comfort for chilly afternoons. It’s one of my goals for the autumn is to bake on a weekly basis as much as I can, I want to work my way through some of my bakery cookbooks and I’m so looking forward to it. I’ve started off with this lovely creation:

Although it might not look like much, but this was an absolutely wonderful plum cake from my favourite Primrose Bakery cookbook. The next goods I want to try are white chocolate and granola cookies from the same book, as well as blueberry muffins from a Mary Berry book…

3. Comfort. When I’m in pain, or feeling exhausted, or just wanting to curl up and read or watch TV, being back at home means I can do it complete warmth and comfort. If I’m not tucked up in my lovely, soft double bed, I’m curled up in the little reading spot my mother created in the study.

This is the chair my mother used to sit in with me as a baby :-). It has been covered and is so comfortable to sit in, plus I love being able to watch the world go by out of the window.

4. Opportunities, in many difference senses. There’s the closeness of both town and my new university so I can just cycle in easily enough. There’s the ease of travelling to London by train to go visit Tom which is great. I’m going to visit him this Saturday and I can’t wait to see him again and have a look round his new flat! There is also the fact that I have everything near by, there are shops, cafes, the gym etc all within 20 minutes of me so if I ever want to get out of the house, I can do so without much hassle.

There are many other little perks of living at home again, these are just a few of the main positives. I won’t lie and say that I feel 100% brilliant about moving back, I want to move on in my life, I want to grow and “leave the nest” but whilst I can’t I am determined to make the most of my last year or two at home and take advantage of the pros of living here!

Here’s to a positive attitude 🙂

If you’ve graduated, have you ever had to move home? How did you feel about it?
What are the positives of living at home with your family?
If you’ve moved out from your childhood home, what do you miss the most?

What I Ate Wednesday No.39

I can’t believe I’m already halfway through the week, working really does make the time pass so quickly. I love my job but it is so exhausting! Having said that working with children really is fascinating, we can learn so much from the way children interact with the world.

As you may have realised, today is Wednesday which in my book means WIAW! I know some people are a little bored of this pattern each week but I still really enjoy joining in with the other WIAW participants each week. As I’m slightly moving away from merely blogging my food, Wednesday gives me the opportunity to blog  all of my food and have a nose around other people’s eats for the day. I have to admit, I do enjoy taking photos of what I eat…

As always, thank you so much to Jenn over at Peas and Crayons for hosting WIAW, you must check out her blog if you’re a fan of photos of tasty looking food!

Breakfast today was pretty typical. I bet you are all incredibly bored of seeing my breakfast in its many, ever-so-slightly different incarnations, but here you go anyway.

Weetabix with fresh blueberries and raspberries – so delicious. It is definitely the perfect way to perk myself up in the morning, especially as sleeping in the heat we have at the moment is somewhat difficult so I’m a little more tired than usual.

I have to pack my lunch to eat whilst supervising the children outside so I like to take myself meals that are easy to eat, stuffed pitas, salads, etc.

I had what was left of the picnic’s pasta salad and added in more rocket, some tomato and cucumber which made the perfect light lunch to eat whilst working.

As I said, working with children is both a fun and a learning experience. Each child is so unique and has their own way of interpreting things, something that is especially clear when doing art work. Sometimes they misunderstand the instruction or else they decide they fancy doing something entirely different, either way there are always pieces which make us giggle as we round up their art at the end of the day.

Today we spent the day designing sombreros, creating them out of cardboard and paper mache, and then painting them in bright colours. It’s fair to say that only about half of the hats actually resemble sombreros. We like the children to do as much of their work without any assistance so there are many brims which are less than circular and there are a fair few incredibly lopsided hats. It’s all part of the fun though and that way they can say that they made them all by themselves. Another interesting thing is watching them choose the colours for their hats, I wonder what gives some of them a good understanding of which colours go together aged 6, whilst some of the older 9 and 10 year-olds pick the most random (and clashing) colour combinations!

I finished work at 4.30pm today and was pretty tired so dropped onto the sofa to watch TV for the first time in a while and to have a nap. Sleep feels so wonderful at the moment but I do really miss reading, I’m quite behind my target of books to read so I need to find the time. Luckily I always seem to inhale books when abroad so I’ll be taking a fully stocked Kindle to France next week.

Dinner was again eaten outside in the garden. I am in love with this weather, seriously.

Chicken Caesar salad. So so good. I’m really quite into my salads at the moment, hot weather always makes me just crave smoothies, salads and ice cream.

For dessert I didn’t have any of the latter so I went for the next best thing…

 

A strawberry cupcake. I’ve made these before and I am pretty sure they are the best cupcakes I’ve ever eaten. There is fresh strawberry in the actual batter, a little well of strawberry jam in the centre and the icing (or frosting to those from the US) is amazing. I may have had two. Maybe.

A rather excellent day of food in my opinion.

What’s the best thing you’ve eaten recently?
What kind of food do you like to eat when the weather is hot?
Have you ever worked with children?

July Goals.

June has been a pretty good month all round. My last exam was on the 31st of May so the whole month has been exam free – a real blessing!

As we are about to begin the month of July I thought this evening would be the perfect time to update you all on how I got on with my goals for June:

Read at least 4 books. Well I definitely pleased with myself for this goal – I’ve actually managed to read 5 books and I’m halfway through my 6th one. As you know I was working my way through Vanity Fair at the beginning of the month and managed to pretty much finish it on the train up to visit Tom. The other books I read this month are The Alchemist which I really enjoyed, Persuasion which is now my second favourite Austen novel (Sense and Sensibility being my first), To the Lighthouse which I adored, and lastly Anne of Green Gables which I had never read before but fell in love with.

Try a new baking recipe. Another successful goal! I have baked twice in the past week and both were new recipes. Firstly I made some rather over-the-top and indulgent Rocky Road cupcakes with Tom last weekend. They were pretty tasty and got eaten up rather quickly 😛

Then this afternoon I decided to give another cupcake recipe a go because of the absolutely beautiful present my mother gave me for my exams…

Strawberry cupcakes which were absolutely delicious, served on my wonderful new tiered cake stand. It’s simply lovely and I was thrilled when my mum presented it to me, I’m really grateful for such a fantastic gift!

Go the entire month without biting my nails. Okay, well this is neither a failed goal nor a successful one. I haven’t completely managed to stop biting but I have been able to let them grow a little and they are looking better – a goal to continue with!

Work on my strength. I see this one as a bit of a fail. Although this month has been so much more emotionally relaxing than the last, I haven’t actually been very well for the last week or so. My complete lack of energy and fairly high levels of pain, fatigued muscles and sore joints have just meant that I haven’t really felt like working out much or pushing myself physically. Hopefully I’ll see an improvement next month.

Journal more regularly. I love my journal and whilst I still don’t write in it daily I do regularly enjoy sitting down and  just writing about  my thoughts and my emotions. I know it might sound a bit narcissistic and you may be wondering how I can find things to journal about when I already blog about my life but I just like to write by hand 🙂

So there you have this month’s goals, I’d say that on the whole I’ve been pleased with my relative success. It’s been a month filled with lots of activity and although I’m struggling at the moment, I do feel positive about everything I’ve done.

Now onto July!

July Goals.

Write a short story. This is something I’ve been wanting to try my hand at for a while but so far haven’t had the time/the courage to give it a go. I don’t plan on sharing it, I may not even read it back to myself. I just want to write a short(ish) fictional story to practice my writing and do something productive and creative with my time.

Continue planning workouts weekly. I’ve been recording and planning my weekly workouts for a couple of weeks now and it’s something I’d like to continue doing. Last summer I became really good at exercising really regularly and was in much better shape – I would love to get back to that!

Cook and bake more. I know this is a regular goal for me but I love to cook so I want to remind myself to try new recipes and be a little more creative in the kitchen.

Start planning out a scrapbook for the summer. When I was little my mum used to help me make scrapbooks for my holidays and they’re so sweet to look back at. I’d really like to be more creative and so I think a summer memory scrapbook would be a lovely thing to make this year 🙂

My room is coming along nicely, it’s starting to feel more like my own personal space and less like small children were let loose! When it’s finished I will definitely take some photos to show you all. Tomorrow I have my last ever concert with the county youth choir that I’ve been singing with for 5 years. I’m not really prepared and it’s going to be exhausting but I’m determined to enjoy it and make the most of the day.

What have you been upto this month?
Have you got any goals for July?