Thursday, 20 February 2014

Cafe in the Clouds


I'm lucky. I'm in a relationship where we get to do things. Dinners out, walks along the beach, visits to the arcade or even just getting in the car and seeing where we land up.

Recently we decided that we were going out for a chance to celebrate the BF beginning to achieve his dreams as well as completing a, what I want to believe, important piece of work.

We decided to visit a tried and tested favourite restaurant of ours - Giraffe - for burger and chips before grabbing the chance for a visit up the Spinnaker Tower between grey clouds and showers.

I must admit, I wasn't 100% sure that'd we'd be able to see quite as far as my previous visit... but I was shocked to find we could see it all while we sat in the 'cafe in the clouds' - The cafe located just over 110ft above sea level. Huge waves crashing down on the beach at Southsea, the ferrys' crossing the channel and more bizarrely the rain falling in the distance as the showers came towards us. I must admit, although I'm not particularly fazed by heights, I did not enjoy the tower itself swaying in the winds. According to staff it moves up to 15 cm so that it doesn't buckle..... Trust me, that whole 15cm makes all the difference.

Its definitely somewhere I'd recommend if you want to do something different and don't want to be paying out a fortune!

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

The Easy Romantic Meal.

As you guys have probably worked out, I like the chance to try new foods - especially when I'm cooking - and so when valentines day came around I decided to cook a romantic 3 course meal rather than go out for dinner. Today I'm sharing my 5 steps to an easy meal, that I thought looked like a showstopper.

Stuffed Garlic Mushrooms, followed by Pan-fried Sea Bass with spring onion mash & Cheesecake for dessert. (although I confess, I bought the cheesecake. I'm not that much of a domesticgoddess...)

All that you need:
For the Starter:
- Large Mushrooms.
- Garlic
- Butter
- Breadcrumbs.
For the main course:
- Sea Bass Fillets
- Potatoes
- Spring Onions
- Selection of Vegetables.

Turn on the oven to 180'c. Crush Garlic and stir into butter, making garlic butter to taste. Turn the mushrooms upside down and fill with garlic butter. Top with breadcrumbs and place in pre-heated oven for 15 minutes. Serve.

Peel and boil potatoes until almost ready to mash. Begin vegetables cooking. Slice Spring Onions. Heat oil in pan on medium heat and place fillet skin side down in the pan and leave for 5-6 minutes. Mash potatoes with butter and milk and stir in the spring onions. Flip the fillet of fish and allow to cook for one remaining minute. Serve and Enjoy.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Routine. Or lack of...

Growing up was one of those kids who preferred routine. I liked to know what I was doing and at what time I was doing it... School was the ultimate in time and routine and so I did well....

Thing is, when I got to university that sense of routine promptly disappeared. Bed time disappeared - it was when I discovered that there weren't enough hours in the day for a decent routine, let alone a whole night sleep, (This is definately why students are forever tired and get to the point where we have to nap much like small children....)

The lack of routine thing seems to be getting continually worse as I get further into my degree, the less organised I seem to be. Sleep seems to be non-existent (even when I know I need it and I'm exhausted), work seems to pile up and my stress levels are through the roof. I hold my hands up I'm struggling, not that everyone realises that...

But, I'm determined to make it through this year, to get my routine back under control, and stay positive even when times are hard. I will get into bed at a reasonable time - boring and so unstudent-y I know, I'll do my work as soon as it's set and I'm going to find a way to des tress that doesn't involve me screaming. Or eating any more chocolate than I already do....

Suggestions that might help anyone?!

Friday, 14 February 2014

Friday 14th - Valentines Day

Love ? I love love love you.
Love ? I love love love you. (Photo credit: @Doug88888)
It is a well known fact that Valentine's Day is one of those days in the year where anything vaguely related jumps up in price. Because of this, plus the fact - as much as the BF hates to admit it - I'm not always the romantic of people, and so don't particularly see the point of Valentine's day. I figure that if you really love someone that much, you should celebrate it every day of the year, rather than just the one...

Me and the BF did have a debate to try and work out where the celebration came from and how it had got so big. He said religion, I thought it wasn't. Turns out he was right. Unfortunately. It all stems from the day being celebrated by the catholic church for Saint Valentine, the patron saint of affianced couples, engaged couples, greetings, happy marriages, love, lovers and young people as well as the slightly more bizarrely bee keepers and epilepsy, (Random I know!) but its easy to see why the he is the man for the day - so to speak....

Because of my beliefs, I tend to try and limit the amount I'd spend whilst making sure that I acknowledge it the tiniest bit. I'm not that much of a scrooge to act like it doesn't exist... This reasoning coupled with the fact it's our anniversary two weeks later means that Valentine's Day will be very low key affair...

This year it's the first with my BF. He's travelled down from his just to spend the evening in with me and so if all goes to plan, I'm cooking a meal (potential recipe to follow if it doesn't become a complete disaster...) and we're going to have a quiet, romantic (I hope!) night in.

Hope everyone else enjoys themselves and has the chance to celebrate Valentine's Day with their loved ones, regardless of whether that's a boyfriend, girlfriend, friends or family. I know I certainly will :)



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Thursday, 13 February 2014

University. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

University Graduation Ceremony
University Graduation Ceremony (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
University. The first few years of your life where you learn proper independence - buying food, making sure you don't run out, doing your own washing and generally making sure you survive without all the help of Mum and Dad. It is honestly some of the best fun that you can have but as with every adventure, it never will be plain sailing. There will always be a point in it where you wonder why/how you are still here or whether it is what you truly thought it would be.

Today I've decided to share my outlook on university - the good, the bad and the ugly - in glorious technicolour....

The good! The madness and memories. I have done some things that I will certainly look back on in the future and wonder what possessed me to believe that that was a good idea, although it certainly means I have some pretty impressive stories.
I have met such a wide range of people from such different walks of life that I would hope I would keep in touch with way past the end of university.

The bad! The pressure of multiple deadlines all looming at once. The pain of a 9 o'clock lecture when you've been out the night before (self-inflicted I know, but still!).The difficulties of a group dividing when there is an argument between two people and everyone gets dragged in. The finding that you can't do a unit as well as you'd hoped and panicking about your grades.

The ugly! The state of you and your flatmates after a particularly heavy night out. The  mess that  the kitchen will inevitably land up in when everyone has cooked and no one wants to clean up just yet. The night you decide to stay in and still get woken up by the drunken flatmates coming home as they struggle through the front door.

The time at university may not be perfect, but I certainly think that by the end you certainly realise it was worth all the tear, tantrums and madness. I'm hoping so anyway!


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Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Rainbow Cake Recipe!

Looking for a cake that will stand apart from everything else, be in a birthday or just for coffee and cake when you need a pick-me-up with friends....

A perfectly easy Rainbow cake... A rather epic one at that...

All that you need:
-9oz Flour
-9oz Caster Sugar
-9oz Butter
-2tsps of Baking Powder
-4 eggs
-A collection of food colourings. (The gels or pastes tend to be better because they don't effect the flavour of the cake)
-2 x tubs of Buttercream frosting
-Decorations for the top.

All that you need to do:
Preheat oven to 180'c.
Cream the flour, sugar, butter, baking powder and eggs together until the mixture is light and fluffy.
Divide the mixture into the bowls so that you can add the colouring. (Mine went 5 ways because I only had 5 colours...)
Carefully fold the colours in, trying not to lose the air you've whisked in.
Spread into pre-lined/pre-greased baking tins and bake.
Allow to cool and turn out of tins.
Cool completely.
Layer with cake and buttercream.
Decorate the top.
Enjoy!


Tuesday, 11 February 2014

#TimeToTalk

Rethink Mental Illness
Rethink Mental Illness (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The scary thing about mental illness is that it is hidden below the surface of a person and can shatter someones lives way before they even become close to a diagnosis. It could be within anyone that you come into contact with - the person you walk past in the street, the person you chat too on the bus, or even one of your close friends. Either way, that person is probably suffering, and it is made worse by them believing that they can't discuss it... People seem scared of the stigma that comes with mental illness and its a subject that is avoided in our society, more so than sex and death. This fear of those 'unknown' illnesses can completely shape a person's life....

Stress. Struggling to cope. Depression. Mood swings. Things that can affect everyday life for absolutely anyone. And although it may not seem like these are major issues, they are all, when severe, are classed as mental illness. More people are affected than you may well think. Mental illness isn't just being bipolar, or OCD or having a breakdown...

Whilst mental illnesses are all around us, statistics suggest that 1 in 4 students will suffer from a metal disorder by the time the finish university, which means that it is more than likely that someone you know will do, does or has suffer. Even worse, is most students know someone who didn't or felt they couldn't get help and so have done something more extreme. Time to talk is giving people the chance to break the taboos and help in the simplest way possible. Taking that five minutes just to talk.

People don't seem to see the significance of taking those five minutes just to see if someones ok, or whether they can have anything done to make it better. This is by no means a substitute for the different support offered both in the public and within the university, (Portsmouth University offers support, counselling and chaplaincy for any one of their students, which can be accessed here).

Hopefully with this campaign, metal health will not be such a hidden issue within our society. If we can all make the tiniest difference in the life another, surely that's a good thing for us all....?





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Monday, 10 February 2014

Perfect Phonecase in a Nutshell.

Photo of my new favourite case, Retailed
 for £14.95 at the time I ordered.
I've always looked for ways of showing off my blog in more different and subtle way - I supposed there is only so many times that social media works before people become immune to me thrusting my blog their direction - and so when I stumbled across the idea of my blog badge on display to take with me on the back of my phone wasn't such a bad plan, after all, when is it I don't have my phone in the immediate vicinity...

The problem is, I'm unorganised. The idea first came to me months ago but between deadlines, university, and work, I hadn't had the chance to sit down, plan it all and get creating. So when the opportunity to use MrNutcase.com was passed my direction it seemed the perfect way to force me to sit down and get creating!

11 o'clock in the morning (a rather ungod-ly time for us students...) I submitted my order on one of the most simple websites around. It took me literally moments to pick the size case I wanted, image and background colour and make sure that everything was the right size. By 3 o'clock, I had an email telling me that the order had been shipped - not going to lie, I didn't really believe it.... how often is a personalised product shipped the same day that the order was placed?

Next morning, I wake up to the order on the end of my bed (that'll be the helpful flatmates parcel fairies that make sure all packages go to the right bedrooms)  With the speed of the order coupled with me just waking up I couldn't quite believe it.

It is exactly what I wanted. The case fits perfectly and my image (which I was slightly dubious would print without pixelling) is clear as anything. I'm not going to lie, I'm slightly dubious as to how strong the picture itself is and how long it will take to wear away. Although the case has already protected my phone from a bit of a fall out of my car, and being dropped from a height...

Looking for somewhere to get something different for your phone, iPad or tablet without a huge wait for it to get to you? MrNutcase is definitely the one...

Although I received the case for the purpose of this review, all the views contained are my honest opinion.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

How to get the perfect night sleep....

Sleeping
Sleeping (Photo credit: RelaxingMusic)
Late nights, early starts (that's if you even make them) and finding that you never seem to get enough sleep, even if you nap several times a day - students can often have worse sleeping patterns than newborn babies... - are all a huge problem faced by those who have left home for university.

Today I want to share the tips and tricks I have come across (and been told by the intelligent people out there) so that when all the clubbing catches up with you, you know that you can recuperate and rest up for that next big night out...

1. Lights out. No distractions. - Sounds really daft but by making sure that as soon as the lights are out you are no longer on your phone/laptop catching up on all those interesting tweets and stalking various people on Facebook. Give your brain a chance to turn off and you'll find that sleep comes a whole lot quicker. (I'm totally guilty of this... especially when I'm blogging...)

Three rubber ducks in foam bath
Three rubber ducks in foam bath (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
2. A bubble bath. - I read somewhere a long time ago that a warm bubble bath an hour or so before bed is one of the best ways to get yourself ready to sleep. The science of it is that it'll raises your body temperature and as you cool down you relax and find that sleep should come a little bit quicker. Just got to find the time to fit it in between lectures, and work, and other attempts at naps...

3. A walk or run. - A little bit of strenuous excersise before bed, be that a run, walk, or trip to the gym, and you'll go out like a light. It works!

4. Lavender Spray. - I'm definitely not a fan of lavender in any way shape or form. But it has been shown that by spraying lavender essence onto pillows and the bedding is enough to get you off to the deepest of sleeps.... I must admit, I'm not convinced...

5. Hot drinks - Hot milk, hot chocolate, Ovaltine or Horlicks. Before bed and you can't go wrong.

6. A Chilled Ambiance (<Micky Flanagan voice...) - Many people find that having a background noise such a rain against the window or classical music can help send you to sleep. That combined with being the perfect temperature - be that snuggled under the duvet, or having the cold side of the pillow. There is nothing I like more that being snuggled up under the duvet, with the right pillow with rain against the window...

How do you get the perfect night sleep? Any tips and hints that would make a night sleep perfect for anyone else? Comment below!!



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Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Newspaper Nails


My first attempt at newspaper print.



My name's Kat and I'm addicted to nail varnish. I'm not, I just have a hell of a lot of different colours and glitter and all sorts of other such things. I am well known within my flat for having my nails change colours more often than most people change their underwear. (That and more recently trying false nails and preaching to the world about them....)

Now that I've finished possibly the worse piece of coursework known to man - and that's quite sadly

not even an exaggeration... - normal service has resumed. Painted nails, proper dinners, back to blogger and a chance to finally relax. Best way to relax? Having some me time with a bit of a pamper.

Today I tried something that I've been looking at for a while. Newspaper Nails. AND it was as easy as one, two, three.

One. Paint nails with a light colour and allow to dry completely.
Subtle but different effect for nails.
Two. Dip Nails in vodka and lay newspaper over. Peel off carefully, leaving the print.
Three. Paint on clear coat to seal in the writing.

And Voila!

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Setting the World to Right: The impact of the Music World.

Justin Bieber
Justin Bieber (Photo credit: cukuskumir)
Music is something that everyone comes across on a regular basis. No day is completed with the radio, music on adverts and TV shows, and even the backing sounds of a daily shop. It is such a hugely influential part of everyday life so it makes sense that the artists that are popular have a huge influence on us all, especially the younger generation.

Now I'm not old or wise or particularly world-ly (yes I have travelled, but there is so much more of the world that I want to see...) but I would like to think I know the difference between a good idol and perhaps a not so good idol. Like Justin Bieber.

Justin Bieber seems to just manage to cause scandal after scandal after scandal at the moment. Which is worrying because even when he is arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, his impressionable young fans maintain that we should #freebieber from jail. Its just like they can't seem to see that these things are wrong, and if they can't, what happens when they decide to copy all these habits?

Don't get me wrong, I'm guilty of having a sing along and occasional dance to his music, but more from when he looked like a pre-pubescent teenage boy. (Wasn't he just so harmless back then?)

It worries me that Justin Bieber isn't the only idol that glamorizes drink, drugs, and sex. How can we expect the children to show respect, empathy and kindness when its just not what their idols are preaching?
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Monday, 3 February 2014

Winter Warmer Recipes.

a slow cooker Oval Crock Pot
A Slow Cooker (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The weather outside is freezing and so there seems to be only one thing on my mind. Food.

And when the weathers as cold and miserable as it has been for me its time for proper warm hearty food. Pie and Mash, Beef Stew and Cottage Pie.

Recently, I was given a slow cooker which is seriously the best invention ever. I can put my dinner on in the morning and then not have to think until I need it. Perfect for those days when my timetables packed with seminars, lectures and meetings all day.

So today I want to share with you two of the recipes that have literally saved me through the business and stress that comes with deadlines.

Beef Stew and Dumplings (Serves 1-2)

- Beef (Cut into cubes)
- New potatoes (Cut in half)
- Carrot (Cut into chunks)
- Other veg for on the side.
- Gravy.
- 2oz (50g) flour.
- 1oz (25g) suet.
- Water to bind the dumplings.

Set the slow cooker to high and put the meat, potatoes and carrot in the slow cooker with enough gravy to virtually cover the vegetables. Leave to cook for 2-3 hours. After the 2-3 hours, check whether the meat is cooked through. Leave for longer if necessary, but if cooked turn temperature to low and re-cover. In a separate bowl, mix the flour and suet and add water slowly, creating a dough. Divide into 5 balls and place in the slow cooker on top of the meat. Re-cover for half hour. Serve.

(The easiest ever...) Chicken & Mushroom Casserole  (Serves 1-2)

- Chicken breast
- Can of Mushroom Soup
- Handful of Button Mushrooms
- Rice for the side.

Place chicken breast in slow cooker with a handful of mushrooms. Set slow cooker to high. Add half a can of mushroom soup. Leave on high for 2-3 hours or 4-5 hours on slow. 20 minutes before the end of cooking, boil rice. Serve.
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