Thursday, 31 October 2013

Happy All Hallows' Eve!

Happy All Hallows' Eve to all ghouls and goblins! What a funny day, I can't believe it is already this time of the year. My year has been awash with bland nothingness but for it to not only be Autumn but Halloween is a complete shock to my system. If I say I'm not ready can we go back a month and start again?

I know I started my preparations and started thinking but work has been busy and I've been busy trying to adjust. I'm still having to take painkillers but I'm getting there, unfortunately being back in the big wide world has meant I've caught every bug going around and take I felt pretty terrible, which is terrible considering what day it is. So instead I'm seeing Halloween as the start of something, Bonfire night is coming up and then it will soon be Christmas and New Years Eve and I've decided to not stop preparing. Christmas shopping has even been started. That doesn't mean I want Halloween to fade into nothingness.

Last night we carved pumpkins, mine had to be the giant one, we've got them on display on the hall landing windowsill. I actually went on a mad hunt today for led tea lights, I mean we have bags of actual tea lights that are about 15 years old but as the pumpkins are indoor for now the led tea lights are perfect for leaving and forgetting about, they also look just as effective. 

That's it for today though, I'm already in my pj's but a scary film awaits and we still have the weekend to look forward to! Firstly I can look forward to a few parcels arriving, as I've been back at work James has treated me to a couple of sprees via ASOS and New Look so an early Christmas. Secondly and more importantly is Bonween, a few of my friends and I are getting together for a combination, celebration of both Halloween and Bonfire Night. We will be having a ton of fireworks, proper full on fireworks. There will also be some yummy goodies not just from myself but I plan on baking my pretzels but also hopefully attempting a forgotten recipe, well lost, it is actually one from a book, except I don't have a copy any more, the book was from the library and that has gone, my local library even tracked down similar books from the British library to no avail so I will just be winging it, which suits me, I do that with most things I bake! There will also be mulled cider - unfortunately not for me. Later on we'll be going back to our friends house for scary movies so we do have an absolutely fantastic evening planned and I really can't wait. I just have to stop feeling like shit then I can enjoy it. 

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Halloween Playlist - The Obvious Choices

Now doing these two lists is quite hard, some songs are hard to distinguish, I think the not so obvious tend to not be the full Halloween package, the Halloween sound or lyrics but again it's pretty hard to split one from another, especially for myself. These are either huge hits or are Halloween novelty records. I think we can just say that the ones that come under the not so obvious aren't likely to be piped into shopping centres and supermarkets.

(Don't Fear) the Reaper  - Blue Öyster Cult
I'm starting with this song as it's one of my favourite songs ever, I'm not just talking around Halloween. The reason why for me and I'm sure many others associate it with Halloween is because it featured in the film Halloween (1978).

Monster Mash - Bobby "Boris" Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers
I must say for what could be the most played, heard, requested Halloween song it certainly never tires. I love a good novelty record, unfortunately most novelty records are rarely good but this one is great.

Feed My Frankenstein - Alice Cooper
I've loved Alice Cooper from an early age, this song easily goes on the obvious list. I would heavily recommend the live shows, the last two years I've missed the UK live shows which were also around Halloween thanks to bloody ill health. 

Ghostbusters - Ray Parker Jr
I think you can guarantee if you're out in a bar or club on Halloween you'll hear this

Purple People Eater - Sheb Wooley
Not the greatest quality video but it has to go on. I absolutely love this song, it always makes me laugh

I Put a Spell On You - Screamin' Jay Hawkins
Of course this song is another one that is more than just a song to put on at Halloween nor should you only ever listen to this one Screamin' Jay Hawkins track.

The Addams Family theme - Vic Mizzy

The Blob - The Five Blobs

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes - Lewis Lee

Suspiria - Goblin
Here is where I'm splitting the difference, as mentioned in the not so obvious list I love Argento films and I love the soundtracks by Goblin. In my mind they're huge but I am aware not everyone has heard of him or them so I've split the difference and featured one in this list too, this time from Suspiria (1977).

There are so many great Halloween songs out there, some full blown some with just a hint, it depends on what you want for Halloween night. I need to prepare my list for Bonween - with friends we're combining Halloween and Bonfire Night so big bangs and huge scares.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Halloween Playlist - The Not So Obvious Choices

I haven't held a Halloween party for years but that doesn't stop me from listening to music with a Halloween feel, not that I exclusively listen to it at Halloween. I wanted to start by posting my top 10 not so obvious Halloween songs - these are just generally good songs that aren't quite full on Halloween kitsch or anything to do with the spooky and certainly shouldn't only be listened to at this time of the year but it helps.

Werewolves of London - Warren Zevon

Halloween - Sonic Youth

Halloween - Mudhoney
(Okay, I couldn't resist, this is a cover of the previous song but to me both are as good and as important)

Halloween - Dead Kennedys

Graveyard - Butthole Surfers

Frankenstein - Edgar Winter Group

The Devil Went Down to Georgia - Primus
I just love the video that accompanies the Primus version

Bad Moon Rising - Creedence Clearwater Revival 

Tiptoe Through the Tulips - Tiny Tim
I actually seriously love Tiny Tim, this, his most famous song, I've always found quite haunting, searching for the right video to use on YouTube I've come to realise I couldn't have been the only one as it has been used in horror films, just not ones I've watched.

Profondo Rosso - Goblin

Tenebre - Goblin

Now the final one (one of two) is actually from a film Profondo Rosso/Deep Red (1975), an amazing film by one of my all time favourite directors Dario Argento. I also love Goblin, I think they can be credited for some of the best Horror themes ever, I doubt they will ever be surpassed either. A lot of horror films do have great soundtracks but not many can be listened to out of context but Goblin just make amazing tunes Now I'm cheating and featuring two on this list, the second from the film Tenebre (1982) I'm also going to feature one of them on the obvious list as I really can't make up my mind. To me Dario Argento is huge, his films are beyond amazing, everything about them, listening to these has meant I'll be having another full blown Argento season. Just listening to the soundtracks makes me want to watch all of them again. Anyway I'll split the difference, two here and one on the other list.

That's it, I'm sure more will spring to mind once posted, especially not I've started to think about film scores but now onto the obvious.

Weekend Baking - Raisin, Cinnamon and Oat Biscuits

Instead of considering this a late recipe post it can be considered an early one for next weekend. I've been meaning to make biscuits for a while and considering they're so simple and quick to do I just haven't found the time. With the clocks going back yesterday I felt a bit more invigorated and made the effort to bake.

Raisin, Cinnamon & Oat Biscuits Ingredients 24 biscuits Gas Mark 5 (190°C/375°F) Preparation time: 20 minutes, baking: 10-15 minutes

100g unsalted butter - at room temperature
200g light brown sugar
1tsp golden syrup
1 medium egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
125 g self raising white flour
125 g medium oatmeal
100 g raisins
4tsp ground cinnamon - this is quite a bit, I love cinnamon, for a more subtle approach just go for 3tsp

As usual using the database on MFP I've worked out the nutritional value per biscuit:

117 Calories 18g Carbohydrates 4g Fat 2g Saturated Fat 1g Protein

Now only a few simple steps.

Start by pre-heating the oven and lining some baking sheets, the mix is quick and nothing needs to stand so it doesn't take long from start to finish.
Use a hand blender to mix the sugar with the room temperature butter, it will most likely get stuck in the blades a bit so I used a silicone spoon to pull blobs out intermittently. In the end I finished off the mix with just the spoon when it became too thick to use the hand blender.

Here goes
Now to add the wet ingredients, egg, golden syrup and vanilla extract. As I want to use the hand blender again I used the end of it (not turned on) to mash the ingredients together, once the mixture is a bit softer I use the hand blender to give it a quick blast before finally putting it to wash and going back to the spoon.

Hard to soft
Now we're moving even quicker. In a separate bowl I mixed the dry ingredients, flour, oats and cinnamon. I then turn half of this mix into the wet ingredients, mix thoroughly before adding the rest of the dry ingredients followed by the raisins. With the raisins I mix in a bit at a time as if you dump them all at once it can make it harder to spread around the whole mix. The mix will still be quite wet but slightly stiff, like a thick porridge or in my case, Ready Brek.

Dry, wet, balls! 
Next step is to ball them up. Take a ping pong size amount and roll them in your hands, it's really important to work them. I let my partner do a few towards the end and he was a bit lazy and although he made them into a ball he didn't really work them. You'll notice when they're rolled enough as at first they'll be sticky and your hands, a wet mess but eventually when worked enough they will be a perfect ball (see photo above) and won't stick to your hands.

To the left balls, to the right flattened balls
Once on the tray they need to be flattened. Again, if you have worked the balls you won't have an issue but I found when it came to James' attempt they were a bit too sticky. I find the best thing to use is a wooden rolling pin, a quick swift tap on the top will do the job, they only need to be flattened a bit, not to the size of a biscuit as they will spread.

Now all that is left to do is put them in the pre-heated oven for 10-15 minutes. They should be golden brown when you pull them out, although that isn't too different from when they go in. The thing to pay attention to is how they feel, use an egg slice/spatula to life one from the tray, it should still be soft but not completely floppy, they'll harden once cool. Pull them out and leave them to cool on a wire rack, job done.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

That Autumn Feeling

I know I bang on about how I love Autumn so much but it is truly the one season that I feel invigorated. There are so many aspects of it I adore but one thing that I always love is the end of British summer time, this sounds daft right? Yes, I do love the extra hour in bed but it isn't just that, something else is going on, it makes me feel alive. I always feel like it's the start of something good, something positive. Okay, the extra hour helps, last night I stayed up late watching movies and this morning I was able to wake up at 7:30am feeling full of life.

So I'm typing this at 11:45am and what have I done? plenty! By 8:30am James and I were out for a woodland walk. I even pulled out my walking boots. However just before leaving I did feel like I'd modelled myself on Alison Steadman in Nuts in May, only once I'd put my hat on though. As it was early on I decided to risk wearing leggings and a jumper dress out, I wouldn't usually be that liberal with leggings.

I'd been meaning to take an Autumn stroll in the woods for weeks but have been running out of time, with the clocks going back I always feel like time is moving at normal speed again although I also have to say the imminent storm warnings made me get off my arse a bit too. Good job, as the wind was howling when we were in the woods. Not to storm level but in the woods you can never be too sure when a gust will send a branch crashing to the ground.

Those grey clouds look pretty unpleasant
Still we had a nice stroll out for an hour, back by 9:30am for a bowl of cereal before starting to bake.

I haven't had the chance to bake since my parents returned from their holiday but I was determined to do something different this weekend as I know next weekend I will be making soft pretzels again so I can share them with friends. I'll be borrowing my parents laptop so I can follow my own recipe! Today we made raisin, cinnamon and oat biscuits - I'll post the recipe later.

Now it's only just 12pm, we have so much of the day ahead. Sunday usually feels like it is passing by in double time but today just feels relaxed and super slow, I just love this time of the year. We still have time for a few films, a jigsaw and a bit of gaming. It also reminds me I should be grateful for not having too many responsibilities, although I'm still moving in slight slow motion I only have myself to think of.

I know not everyone feels like I do. Most people I speak to find this time of the year rather a low point, the early dark nights, the coldness, both things I embrace but I know they aren't ideal for everyone. Which camp do you fall in? 

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Autumn Mini Haul #1

I've mentioned my slowness this week, I feel busy and slow. Plus there is another issue, my good camera is in for repairs. My good camera isn't exactly high quality but it is much better than my old one so I've not been testing much make-up out but any mini shop has to be shared.

With being busy and stressed this week my partner knows what helps, shopping. After a very slow start to the day including watching the 2 and a half hour epic musical, Half a Sixpence in bed we finally made it out at 4:20pm, the shops close at 5:30pm so this was a whirlwind shop.

I'd been on the New Look website earlier this week and added many things to my saved items list, when I went back today I noticed they were doing a fun scratch card offer, spend £30 and receive an Everyone's a Winner scratch card with a guaranteed win, I couldn't resist. I'd seen some gorgeous shoes on the New Look website that I wanted to try out, I don't wear leather and it can be hard to find good polyurethane shoes, I'd wanted some nice loafers and brogues but it has taken me a while to find some good, comfy, non-leather ones, luckily New Look delivered and I picked up some gorgeous burgundy patent loafers. I also love me a good jumper, I can't even justify this buy, I just love the jumper, I really need a smart but comfy, light jumper that can conceal a small hot water bottle while I'm at work. at the moment I wear a rather baggy one and I think I look a little too scruffy but I kind of feel like this is too nice to be worn at work just yet. It made me think of Freddy Krueger, although not red and green but burgundy and black instead. If I had a nice pair of black straight jeans I'd be wearing this jumper with the shoes.

Oh and James couldn't resist this little fox pot, neither could I.

Now I didn't find any of the items I had on my saved list on the online shop, I didn't expect to as the stuff I'd found online that I loved was part of the tall section and my local New Look doesn't have a tall section, not a problem as I was hoping to do an online order as James wants to order some bargains for himself too along with non-leather shoes. Here is the fantastic part, now you know I mentioned the Everyone's a Winner scratch card? well I think I won the best thing possible, 25% off my next shop in New Look, both in store and online! James will be spending a little more on me in the week to come.

Next up we quickly popped in Superdrug and possibly annoyed them by being there just before closing. There were loads of little bits I'd wanted to pick up make-up wise (not toiletries, still being good there) but because we were short of time I just couldn't think. I did remember the Barry M stuff I wanted but the rest were thanks to browsing and the 3 for 2 on cosmetics on at Superdrug. I remembered just while James was paying that I really wanted to pick up some of the Rimmel Scandaleyes Shadow Paint but couldn't decide which to go for so had to leave it.

I did pick up some awesome bits, the two Barry M matte nail varnishes (burgundy crush and brown mocha - I have gone burgundy mad today) I'd been eyeing for a while, I wanted some nice, work-friendly shades for autumn and both of these fit the bill. I love their nail art pens but hadn't picked up the white one which I could have done with last week when doing my colourful skull nails so I finally stocked up. Now the random buys. Another lippie, Maybelline super stay 14 hour lipstick, I picked up a red version ages ago that I haven't tried yet but couldn't resist always plum. Now more nail stuff, first Bourjois laser manicure topping in sun scales, I just thought it would be perfect over an orange or brown for Bonfire Night/Halloween. Last but not least MUA nail constellation Pisces (for someone that doesn't believe in astrology I do pick up an awful lot of astrology themed goods - see Leek haul), I couldn't resist, I've wanted to try caviar nails for ages but have never been too sure about them, I decided at £3 it was time to give it a go.

Fortunately M&S was still open so we nipped in and I started to browse for Christmas presents, my mum loves the perfume and I have to say they do make some really nice day perfumes and the handbag sized bottles are super cheap so I like to pick up a few different ones for mum to use. I clapped eyes on Halloween stuff, ten years back you really couldn't get much Halloween themed stuff but now it is everywhere and I'm super happy about that. We picked up some of the Scorpion shaped pickled onion corn snacks and the lightly salted ghost crisps, I'll try and save these for Bonween (a combination of Halloween and Bonfires night) so that they can be shared. Oh and a few of the veggie range of sweets Marks and Spencer do, I rarely buy sweets but it's nice that I can get the odd sweet treat like this minus the gelatine.

I do love a little trip out to the shops and I think taking me out to them when there is only an hour left to shop is perfect if James wants to save some money! 

Friday, 25 October 2013

OPI - Bond Girls Collection - Honey Ryder

Natural light
OPI - Bond Girls Collection - Honey Ryder

I love the OPI collections, I usually go for the country/city collections more than the film/celebrity style ones but I've loved the Bond stuff, of course with the previous Bond collection I went with my favourite Bond film, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, but with the Bond girl collection I have instead gone for the first Bond girl, in the first of the Bond films, Dr. No (although technically not the first woman to be with Bond in the film).

Last week I used, for the first time, one of the liquid sand style nail varnishes, this time from the OPI San Francisco collection, Alcatraz Rocks, I loved it, not only a gorgeous shade but also I loved the effect so I was excited to try another colour, this time gold.

With flash - bling-bling - they remind me of a pair of shoes that I loved but didn't end up buying which I regret even though they had 4 inch heels and I would have never been able to go anywhere in them.

As before it applies really easily, dries relatively quickly and is easy to patch up without it being noticeable. I love the texture and although it's rough you don't need to worry about laddering your tights, it won't catch. The gold shade is beautiful and luxurious, it sparkles in the light without being gaudy. Another bonus I've noticed is that when it comes to removing it I find as long as you soak the cotton wool with remover you won't have many problems getting it off, of course it's a bit harder than plain nail varnish but not much and for the effect it's really worth it.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Bloggers Slimming Club - Lose a Stone for Christmas - 1lb Down!

I'm going in slow motion this week, work is on my mind and when I'm not in work I'm resting so everything I've done outside of work is done very slowly. I logged this 1lb loss yesterday on MyFitnessPal, although I weighed myself on Sunday so I am truly moving at a snails pace, just like my weight loss, which is good.

I didn't want to restart my goals on MFP, I'm very proud of the weight I've lost and even prouder that I maintained the weight loss eating maintenance calories whilst being off ill for almost a year. There were a few days where I didn't feel like eating much and those where I ate everything I wanted - just before the surgery, if for some reason something had gone wrong, well I wouldn't have known but it didn't ruin anything.

A few weeks back

Okay, I know this might sound like I'm celebrating something minor but it is important to me, just as not gaining whilst bed-bound was huge as I was so used to my weight flip-flopping all over the shop. I do this whole weight loss thing the frustrating, painstakingly, will it ever happen way. Some days I want to cheat, I want to cut corners and eat less than I should because that is how I did it when I was young, it worked, well it worked for a couple years, I then had to cut even more just to maintain it, eating a third of the calories I do today. It has taken me ten years to realise there isn't a big problem with my body, I can eat normally and be a normal weight.

Do you know what stops me from cheating? Women's magazines. This is not because they encourage instead they remind me of what happens when you choose a faddy diet over long term healthy eating and a little bit of exercise. I hadn't bought any magazines for a while but as I was shopping with James I slipped a couple in the basket. There are so many "celebs" that find a special diet that supposedly works, nothing else would apart from only eating lemons or potatoes or only eating food that is purple. They show off their body and I feel it's a bit sad because you know those people that only had a little bit to lose and are claiming to have lost 10lbs in 10 days will end up gaining it back and then some. Some can hold on to the weight loss for months, others weeks. It's frustrating, I feel sorry for them, there is still so much pressure on looking a certain way. I hate the idea that people are being bullied into being a certain size, I always think the response is to ignore them and not vow to be a certain size in x amount of weeks, surely that is just giving into them? 

These magazines remind me that slow might take a lot longer but it will also last a lot longer. I never feel like I'm missing out nor do I panic about Christmas.It doesn't stop me from being frustrated, especially as I feel so out of control with other aspects of my body at the moment. 

I wonder how we'll view weight loss in 20 years time? I'd like to think that the times will have changed, we're more healthy as a whole but also less judgemental but I think that might be just wishful thinking. As long as there is money to be made there will be weight loss pill, potions and spells on the market. 

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Halloween Themed Nails #3 - Colourful Skulls

As I'm still feeling under the weather I've spent today in bed, mainly playing GTA V but also painting and doodling on my nails another idea for Halloween. Now you'll have to excuse me as I'm quite shaky today so these aren't the best (although I'm not usually that great anyway) but it's just an idea.

These are similar to the pumpkin nails, not just because they're sloppy, but because they're so nice and simple. I was at first just thinking of doing a plain and simple colours associated with Halloween nails, so this was the base and I just decided to expand.

For green I have KIKO - quick dry nail lacquer in 836 Lawn Green, for orange I have Essie in Orange, It's Obvious and finally for purple I have nails inc in Westminster. Two coats for each of them and then left to dry.

Later decided to doodle some skull-esque faces on them so I grabbed my Barry M nail art pen in black although I couldn't help doing the eyes on the orange one a bit pumpkin-y because of the shade. As the purple is quite dark I did end up doing the faces in silver (as I don't have the white pen) - unfortunately this doesn't photograph that well but in person it looks good.

So another simple and quick look for Halloween. 

Saturday, 19 October 2013

OPI Nail Polish San Francisco Collection 2013 - Alcatraz Rocks

Taken with flash
OPI Nail Polish San Francisco Collection 2013 - Alcatraz Rocks - Limited Edition!

I was super exciting about trying this, OPI's Alcatraz Rocks, a limited edition liquid sand effect varnish. I always have problems smudging my varnish so I was excited about this effect as it doesn't need to be that neat. What I was really impressed by was the speed I could apply it and the speed it dries, I applied two coats rather hastily, immediately I was back to playing video games, ten minutes later I put the controller down and it was bone dry.

Taken without flash

Now you shouldn't apply a top coat to this varnish so I was slightly worried it will chip easily but straight after I was able to shower, get ready and go out. The photos were taken this morning so they've had a good outing and still look amazing. Even if they did chip this sort of style can easily fixed without it being noticeable. A sparkling, navy shade that is perfect for this time of the year, fun but also smart. 

Friday, 18 October 2013

My Film Picks for Halloween - Warning, Not for the Faint-Hearted

**Warning - Some of the trailers are for a more mature audience, if horror isn't your thing it might be best to look away**

I love Halloween, I love the kitschy crap that now comes with it, I just love it full stop. So of course I've been thinking about what films to watch over the Halloween period for weeks. Now I watch horror 365/6 days a year, if I get the chance that is, basically I watch a lot of horror. Some films are just tradition with me, I watch them every year, others I may own but have yet to watch. Now thinking about what to watch at Halloween is different, it isn't just about what I want to watch but also what will appeal to others, I do love to introduce films to others. I have to admit my taste is somewhat weird and I can sometimes go extreme with my pickings but this year I want to appeal to all.

With a planned film watching event at a friends house on the Saturday afterwards I want to watch as many films in-between and after as I can, I have a few suggestions for the night but really it isn't just down to me. We will be watching Halloween (1978) as one of my friends hasn't seen it before so she has put in a request for this (I'll be bringing the blu-ray along). Now as I've mentioned my tastes can be extreme, so if you aren't a fan of horror it might be best not to watch some of the trailers below! I sometimes find it hard to gauge if something would be too much for others. Horror spans such a wide variety of areas too, what might scare one person could be bland to another, so where to go?

One film that we will hopefully watching first thing and early on in the night is Fright (1971) a British film I really consider to be a prototype slasher movie. It has all the hallmarks of a slasher film, babysitter at home on her own, weird noises outside, watching a horror film herself, boyfriend calls round, etc. It might not be as full on as the later slasher films but it holds it own along with having a superb cast, I'd highly recommend it to anyone and everyone.

 Now the rest are just possibilities for the night but if not they will definitely be watched around that period.

Next up is The Vault of Horror (1973) a joint UK and US production, although this film is billed as being based on EC comics The Vault of Horror, none of the stories featured actually appeared in the comic. They did however appear in sister comics Shock SuspensStories and Tales from the Crypt. Now I love a good portmanteau, a good horror portmanteau, I just love anthology series be it old TV shows or old horror films I love The Vault of Horror, it is one of my favourites although I have to say Dead of Night (1945) being a very early one happens to be my favourite. This comes a close second but we won't be watching this on Halloween, why you ask? because after taking the photos I felt so compelled to watch it I did. I just love this movie, it really is quite gruesome.

Another British film with Twisted Nerve (1968) now although this film implies a controversial/erroneous reasoning which I won't go into as I wouldn't want to ruin the plot, rather than just being a good film it is also a superb piece of cinema with a soundtrack you won't be able to stop whistling, hell, each time I see Hayley Mills in any film I start to whistle it. With Hayley Mills and Hywell Bennett teaming up to star in another Roy Boulting outing not only is it a well thought out film but also a well acted one, not something I always go for! Now I know I've mentioned the plot is erroneous in its suggestion but I'm pretty sure the majority of us don't watch films for reality, with the amount of horror I watch I'd hope not.

Next we go Italian, most of the other selections are Italian although all are dubbed in English, first we'll start with The New York Ripper (1982). This Fulci film is rather bizarre but thoroughly entertaining and just a little grim. Although it is a fairly gruesome slasher, in the UK it was banned from being shown in the cinema at the time of release, it is also a little bit silly, well to me at least, but it has a good story - I think a lot of current horror films can be all shock no story which I hate. Now although the current release in the UK of The New York Ripper is still cut there is a beautiful Blu-ray release from Shameless who really do have a plethora of films suitable for Halloween.

Time for one of my all time favourite films, Opera (1987) aka Terror at the Opera (I've always just known it as Opera) now although it is one of my favourite films it isn't quite my actual favourite from the director Dario Argento. This comes down to my mood, at Halloween it is number one, with Tenebrae (1982) a close second. The film centres around the common superstition surrounding the performance of Macbeth, a young girl takes over the role after the previous lead is injured in a car accident, now are the incidents that follow down to that superstition? Filmed at a troubled time for Argento the films production also ran into several problems, some say his choice to use Macbeth (Verdi's operatic version) in the film led this.

Time for another Fulci film and the third Italian film on the list. To say I haven't watched The Beyond (1981) in years is a slight lie, I've watched it fairly recently, around 3 years ago, just not in a sober state, it is a great post drink/pizza film. Supernatural occurrences abound as a young woman inherits a hotel in Louisiana, unbeknownst to her is what had happened in that hotel decades before with some necessary renovation work activating a gateway to hell - this really is the tip of the iceberg as I don't want to go into all that the films are about and explaining The Beyond  in a few lines is a hard task.. Another gore soaked possibility and with a gorgeous steelbook edition on its way to me it will be hard to resist.

StageFright (1987) yet another Italian film, they do make up the majority of my selection, I really don't think anything gets better than Italian horror. Having previously worked both in front of the camera and helping out behind, working frequently with Dario Argento this is Michele Soavi's first feature film as director. Here we go back to the theatre this time with a more low key, small town production where the cast, having been locked in the theatre, find themselves being terrorised by an unknown killer. I've already watched this film this year but I'm ready to watch it again.

Ghosthouse (1988) I watch this film every single year, I adore it. A deserted house brings terror to those that happen upon it, a group led there by an anonymous radio call find themselves in a seriously bad situation thanks to the ghostly visions of a deceased girl and her frigging creepy clown doll. This film deserves a much better release than what is already out there, like a lovely, shiny, cold steelbook.

Last but not least from Dick Maas Amsterdamned (1988) this time a Dutch horror film with an interesting use of the layout of Amsterdam. This is on my must watch with friends list but I can't decide whether Halloween is the perfect time, it is a horror but it's also pretty action packed too. A mysterious frogman lurks in the depths (well about 10ft?!) of the Amsterdam canals, attacking prostitutes and those daft enough to take a rubber ring out for a lazy ride on the canal. To put it simply, if you want horrific deaths, a speedboat chase on a canal and a catchy pop theme song then look no further.

As you can see I'm spoilt for choice, for me this isn't a super long list, I spend a lot of time thinking about what to watch at certain times of the year. Now has anyone else been planning a Halloween horror-fest for weeks? 

It's KIKO Time - KIKO Haul (Thanks Mum!)

I've been a bit lethargic this week due to illness and being at work but my parents returning from their holiday has spurred me into action. Whilst away my Mum sent me a rather exciting text, "I've just walked by a KIKO store, what do you want?", of course this cheered me up no end and the text she received, well she received 8 texts. I wasn't being greedy, there is so much I want from them but I just wanted to make it easy for my Mum to find. By the time they returned yesterday I'd almost forgotten about the the text, I was just happy to see them, of course when Mum started to produce item after item I was rather giddy, hence this post.

I usually focus on individual products but I do like to post shopping sprees - I always love to look at what other people have been buying so I'm sure a few others share this interest. Plus as I have £0 at the moment and it looks like that will be the case until the end of November anything I do get will be shown so this present and any pre-orders I paid for previously are the only things to be featured. Plus the odd present James buys me!

So, what did I get?

  • Water Eyeshadow - 212 Emerald Green - I swear mothers always know what to get, although I sent her a list as big as a novella she picked this colour, the colour I regretted not picking up when I did my first order. 
  • Smart Lipstick - 43 Light Pink - a gorgeous light, shimmery pink. I think this shade looks perfect with 60's style heavy eye make-up.
  • Twinkle Eye Pencil - 06 Hypnotic Starry Black - A black with a bit of sparkle, perfect for this time of year. 
  • Eyetech Look Eyeshadow - 114 Pearly Cobalt Green - I've been desperate to try this product for a while, this one is very dark with a hint of green. Applies like an eyeliner with an eyeshadow effect, along with the rest of the products I will do a full post on the product. 
  • 30 Day Extension - Daily Treatment Mascara - a black lengthening treatment mascara at a bargain price (currently on offer at £3.90). My lashes are okay, but as I've mentioned in previous posts I do compares my lashes to others and with false lashes being the norm (and something I struggle to apply) I do prefer a mascara that does the same job so I can't wait to see how well the treatment does. I will make sure to document this when I start my 30 days of mascara.
  • 30 Day Extension - Night Treatment Booster - My mother was also very thoughtful as she picked me up the night treatment booster too. I'm so eager to try it out I want to get it on tonight but I know I need to do it properly, restrain myself and test its powers. 
  • Laser Nail Lacquer - 433 Gothic Purple -  Mum knows I love nail varnish, she also knows I have too many but she couldn't resist getting me another one to add to my bulging collection. This one is a gorgeous iridescent purple. 

Now my parents will be going away again before Christmas which not only means we get the house to ourselves but Mum has also offered to pick me up a few more treats from KIKO, I don't think I'll be happy until I have everything they do but for now I'll work on deciding what I really want and giving Mum a much more manageable list.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

For the Good of my Health - Recipe Time - Vegetable & Red Split Lentil Soup

Now I know I've started adding baking recipes to my blog but I'm expanding, healthy-esque recipes. I'm one of those cooks that is "creative", or should that be experimental? I like to find ways of also doing the things I love in a healthier way so I figure posting them on here and keeping an index is as good as way (plus very modern) to keep track. I do have my own recipe binder which is badly stuffed with clippings and notes so this is also much more organised.

I do love to cook as well as bake but for nearly a year I've been poorly, boo hoo, and around half of that time I've been bed-bound. I've wanted to make it easier on my partner and family so what I've eaten has been pretty simple. Now I'm nearly back in action I want to really think about what I eat.

I'm a good girl when it comes to eating veg, I do love it, I always overfill my plate but this week I've had a bug and felt rotten. I wanted lovely soup, not soup in a can or even a carton but made at home soup so I know how much of everything is going in. Some canned soup I can find to be unnecessarily fatty or salty and making soup at home is so easy. I mean soup is not much more than a load of ingredients boiled and eaten together, sometimes blended! There are fancy soup makers out there that I do love the look of, I'm a sucker for a kitchen gadget, but a pan is just as good. So here goes.

There was once a wonderful soup by Knorr, chunky vegetable, the type you get in a carton but not in the fresh aisle, I haven't seen them for years nor any non-fresh soup cartons at least in the UK. So this can be considered and ode to that one although the only resemblance is how chunky it is.

Now I don't get much protein, I've been a vegetarian for years but I don't really think about how much protein I get so I've added some lovely lentils for a boost. I was tempted to call this soup "Plenty of veg, hidden protein" but I realised that was just terrible.

Ingredients Serves 4 or more

100g Red Split Lentils
200g Broccoli
175g Carrots
Half an onion
100g white potato
1 clove of garlic
1 pint of water
1tsp Sunflower oil
Salt & Pepper to season

There really isn't much to this soup but the balance of flavours works well together.

Nutritional Value (If using the amounts above without adding more water, the soup can be thinned out.)

Calories 150  Carbohydrates 24g  Fat 2g  Saturated fat 0g  Protein 9g

This is a pretty simple mix, peel what you need to then cut everything into small pieces. Add the onions and pressed garlic into a frying pan with just a little bit of oil, a teaspoon will do. This is a technique I do for anything I want to fry, steam fry. To do this take a little bit of oil, use a frying pan with a lid, anything done like this needs to be done on a low heat but some things just work best fried (eggs) so you can still enjoy them with only a little bit of fat.

Once the onions and garlic start to soften but not brown, add the carrots and potato. Fry for a few minutes before placing in a large pan with the broccoli plus well washed lentils along with a pint of water. I like my soup thick which is why I only added a pint but add as much water as needed, especially if it starts to dry out. This mix could easily serve 6. So now just boil everything together. Once it all starts to soften just use a hand blender to make a very thick, filling soup, don't be tempted to drain any water beforehand as a lot of nutrients will go with it. Oh and please beware you may end up covered in boiling hot soup goodness so either take it easy or get someone else to do it.

Boil, Blend, Bloomin' done
As you can see my soup is very thick so do what is best for you. Also, I always wait until the soup is done to season as I try and use as little salt as possible. This soup is lovely goodness, especially with knot rolls or a chunky sandwich! 

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Lose a Stone for Christmas - Pondering Sunday

Now I don't weigh in weekly, I know I've mentioned this. I'm not fluctuating heavily just that I don't expect my scales to go the way I want them any time soon, plus when they do I usually leave it until I then drop another lb and then log the higher, previous weight, paranoia, yes. I haven't gone up which is always a good thing especially after the week I've had. I do however like to ponder, with things slowly returning to normal I've become to realise how out of normal life I was and how harder certain things are and will be but this week I just want to talk about two things this week.
  1. I can't look after myself
  2. Fruit is addictive
Now this week has been a bit pants for me. I've made it through my two days at work but I have been feeling rubbish, really rubbish. My lady problems have been flaring up and seem to have developed permanent cramps. I used to always have mid cycle cramps which lasted a day or two but this week has just been a week of serious pain. I've had two hot water bottles on the go and one boyfriend setting up camp in the spare room so I could spread out and layer myself in the hot water bottles. James has kindly been sorting out these hot water bottles otherwise I would just stay in bed swearing with the pain but not doing anything about it. 

Add to that this horrible lurgy that has been going around has caught up with me, two weeks in the outside world and I have outsider germs. I don't feel too bad though, a bit of a zinc deficiency, muscular pain and that flu-head confusion feeling but no obvious signs apart from a bad stomach and that icky nauseous feeling - both I also get on my pain meds so this time I've had a double dose. I have a problem feeding myself when I feel like crap, I've done okay this week but I really had to push myself and it did lead to easy/junk options. The problem is when you feel ill you just don't want anything so you avoid, avoid, avoid then suddenly you feel a bit better but also feel ravenous so you grab the first snack that comes to hand. The "bad" snacks are always the closest ones to your hand. I think they must slowly creep closer in the night when everyone is asleep.

Now a little bit here and there is fine, I stuck to my limits so there isn't a problem there. My issue is I should have eaten better than normal. I was ill, I needed nutrients but I just couldn't be bothered. It's easy to look back and see what went wrong, I can say I should have done it better but feeling like I did I doubt I could have, at 31 I still need to be looked after. 

Now I don't know whether this is just me, I'm sure it can't be but I find fruit very addictive. Now I know fruit can be carb heavy/full of sugars, not totally bad but eat a 100 bananas and you aren't going to lose weight. I love fruit (and veg!) but some days I don't think about eating any, very rare but it does happen, I don't notice or care but most days I do eat a lot. My current addiction happens to be the mini easy peelers from Waitrose, I didn't even check out what weird combination they are but I'm addicted. I actually get a buzz (from all the sugars?!) and eat more and more. Fortunately although they are easy peel they still take time otherwise I'd be eating a dozen a sitting. Am I the only one to crave fruit so much?

Winter is also strange for me, I never get bored of salad but I do eat it less. I love a good salad, I don't just mean a few lettuce leaves and a bit of cucumber but a full spectacular salad meal. As I'm typing this in the cold I'm starting to think interesting additions to turn a summer salad into a winter one. I think there must be something and right now I could really do with some new meals to add to the collection. I'm thinking warm mushroom and balsamic salad. Time to put the thinking cap on. 

Back to how I did last week. I've mentioned my eating habit but not my exercise. Now I had surgery back in June on my kidney, I had the remainder of a thankfully benign tumour removed along with part of my kidney. I am miles better than how I was but I'm still taking things slowly with a hint of pushing. I can't go hardcore like I did after my embolisation in 2011, instead I have to test the waters. I successfully did yoga last Sunday, I did a tiny bit on Monday too but concentrated mainly on stretches. I have to admit to feeling slightly ropey though, it just hurts a little bit to stretch my torso and for the time being I'm going to stick to light stretching and as much walking as I can manage as my priority is to stop taking the pain killers. At the moment I can't envisage my normal routine but I also don't want to, right now I need to concentrate on what I'm able to do now which I couldn't do two months ago not what I can't do now that I could do twelve months ago.

Weekend Baking - Bread Roll Knots

I love bread, so simple but so delicious. I never think about making it from scratch though, I blame this on bread machines. I've never used one, I'm sure they're great but the fact that they exist makes me believe that bread is complicated. It isn't there are only a few ingredients even in this one which has more ingredients than necessary.

I decided to make bread rolls this weekend rather than a sweet treat as I felt the urge to make some soup which I did and I'm sure I will post later, although not as exciting as bread.

Ingredients to make 18 Rolls Oven Temp: Gas Mark 4 (176°C/350°F)

300ml of lukewarm milk (I always use skimmed)
550g Strong White Bread Flour
2tsp Dried Active Yeast
1tsp caster sugar
1tbsp Sunflower Oil
1 egg yolk
1tsp Bicarbonate of Soda mixed with a little water

Nutritional Value per roll using the ingredients above:
122 calories 23g carbohydrates 1g fat 0g Saturated fat 5g protein

It's a simple recipe, mixing the ingredients together takes a matter of minutes however to proof the dough takes time.

I'm always worried with yeast so I start by adding the yeast to a little bit of warm water, less than is suggested on the packet, about a quarter of what is suggested as the mixture will be too moist. I also add the sugar and leave to sit for 5 minutes while I weigh out the rest of the ingredients.

Next I mix the milk, egg yolk, salt and oil in a large bowl before adding the yeast solution. Once this is all mixed I add half of the flour, mix together with a wooden spoon before adding the rest of the flour and getting my hands in there.

Once the mixture turns to a soft dough I roll it out on a lightly floured surface to knead the daylights out of it. Once the dough is starting to look smooth I place in a lightly oiled large bowl and cover with cling film before placing it in a warm spot, under a radiator usually works wonders. It needs to be left for around an hour or until doubled in size.

I prepare a few baking sheets by lightly oiling them and re-flour the surface I'd used previously ready to work some magic.

Once the dough has doubled it needs to go back on the floured surface and knocked back down. I then roll it into a long loaf shape before slicing down the middle and then cutting 18 small dough pieces to make into knot rolls. Similar to the pretzels I then roll in-between my hands creating a cigar shape, don't worry about rolling them too thin, the rolls will double up again.  Then I simply knot them, sometimes double knot them and other times letting my partner do random shapes - his is the one with the hole in the top. It really doesn't make a difference to how they bake.

After these have been placed on the baking sheets sprinkle a little flour on top, I usually use what is leftover on the worktop and cover the trays with cling film. They then need to sit somewhere warm for around half an hour so they can double up. Turn the oven on to gas mark 4 to give it a chance to heat up.

Before popping them in the over spread a little of the bicarbonate of soda solution on top of the rolls. This will give them a lovely crunchy texture. Place them in the oven and in about 30 minutes they should be done.

They should turn golden on top when ready. To fully test them turn them over and tap the bottom, they should sound hollow.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

The Autumn Tag

I've been tagged by Laura over at Petit Moi - Big World, as mentioned I love answering questions! So here goes!

A photo from very early last Autumn in the woodland behind my home

1.  What's your most favourite thing about autumn? It is my joint favourite time of the year, I also love Winter. I love the weather, I'm not really a sun worshipper so prefer the cooler months plus I love heavy snow. I also love all the festivities, Halloween, Bonfire Night, Christmas, New Years. I love being snuggled up warm in bed with a cool breeze coming through the window. I love to walk in the woods at this time of the year and take plenty of photos. I feel like Autumn is such a calm, peaceful month. On top of that I love to layer my clothes, I just love it when the weather cools.

2. What's your favourite drink? I love mulled cider and mulled wine at this time of the year but I really haven't had much to drink the last couple of years, I'm hoping to have something mulled this year. Oh and brandy, I love brandy.

3. What's your favourite scent/candle? Cinnamon, I really pull out anything that smells of cinnamon on the run up to Christmas. Perfume wise I always love anything musk but my favourite scent for any time of the year that does also have quite a warm, colder months quality to it is Modern Chypre by Esteban, I adore it.

4. What's your best lipstick? I love darker colours especially at this time of the year although I haven't found a particular lipstick that I buy and wear regularly. I'm hoping to pick up a Models Own Lip-stix in a suitable colour though as I love the quality and strength of colour, so far I only have light, bright colours from the collection, I'd like to pick up the very berry version.

5. What's your go to moisturizer? I never really wear moisturiser, I'm quite fortunate as I have soft skin but with that I have to pay the price somewhere and my skin is also super stretchy, in a bad way :( As I've hit my thirties fairly recently I have been trying to make the effort to use moisturiser before disaster strikes. I have some pots of Nivea day and night cream along with some Simple light moisturiser - something I'm working my way through.

6. What's your go to colors for the eyes? Brown, I do wear year round but it really works with my eye colour. Around this time of the year I do go for more metallic, golden browns. I'm also trying to wear more purple and navy.

7.  What's your favourite singer/band to listen to? I have such a wide taste, I think I mentioned most of my favourite bands before but it doesn't hurt to list them here without videos.

Devo, Mudhoney, The Smiths, Pulp, Sonic Youth, The Cramps, B-52's, The Misfits, MDC, The Adicts, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, The Birthday Party, Prince, The Cure, Guitar Wolf, Camera Obscura, The The, Belle & Sebastien, The Meteors, Butthole Surfers, Husker Du, Joy Division, Primus,  The Shangri-la's, Kate Bush, Pixies, Tiny Tim, Cheap Trick, John Grant, Tim Buckley, Jacques Brel, Jake Thackray but it could go on, my party playlist is jam packed full. I think I need to start collating playlists on youtube of each artist and have a separate section of links on the main page. I have a link on the right to my record collection too! It might need updating slightly.

8. What's your favourite outfit to wear? Hard to choose, I tend to layer, I love a nice patterned jersey skirt matched with a slouchy sweatshirt and gold (costume) jewellery. When I was younger I used to love wearing a black pencil skirt with leopard print tights and a yellow 70's satin shirt - I still love the idea of that.

10. What's your favourite place to be? In bed watching films, playing games or listening to music - candles going and a pizza being delivered.

I'd like to tag: