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Shopping local

I went to my local cookery shop in Berwick-upon-Tweed today. This isn’t really very exciting but I have been too busy or too exhausted to try and get anything organised for a recipe this week – I have about 4 on the back burner with lots of deep research and planning but the actual doing the recipe seems to pass me by! I thought it would be quite interesting to write up this lovely shop.

It goes by the name of The Cookcraft Kitchen Shop and it is run by a lady called Liz who is enormously friendly and really makes the whole experience. It is tiny shop with a big table in the middle and shelves around the three sides, a till with a range of premium knives above and then some baking goodies leading up to the stock room. I think the reason I love the place so much is because almost every square inch of space is taken up with different products and – while this could be taken the wrong way – aesthetics take a back seat in order to cram every last whisk and spoon into the shop. I’m not saying that it is messy or ugly, just very functional and stock takes priory!

If I had to use a phrase to describe the place, it would probably be no-nonsense. Everything that is crammed onto the shelves and racks is there because it serves a purpose. There are a few Joseph Joseph things and a few OXO Good Grips things but it seems like everything has had to prove its worth to Liz before she allows it into the shop. There is a funny article on the site about finding the right peeler and it being the reason she opened the shop! It does sort of sum the place up.

I live in a really rural area, my nearest cities (and John Lewis!) are 50 miles away and because I am so busy, I never really get there so I tend to use Amazon a lot. I know that makes me a fundamentally bad person and condemned to death when the revolution comes! However a service that can get an item to me by the next day with free delivery at a very competitive price – especially when I have a limited income – takes a lot of beating. But sometimes you have to look at the addition of value, the service. Liz knows all her products inside out and never have I thought, oh she is trying to sell me something more expensive to make more money. Everything is legitimate. There is always a nice friendly chat and I always leave having learned something.

The other thing that should be mentioned is that she also organises the Berwick Food Fair – which for one reason or another, I have never been able to get to. I hope Alyson and I can go next year.

I do try and use Liz’s shop as much as I can and one day, when I can justify it, I will buy some Wusthof knives from her and I will be able to upgrade all of my pans. I try to never leave empty-handed and on this occasion, purely out of interest for the article (I promise!) looked at the cost of the item I bought and it was exactly the same price as on the Amazon site! Much better value!

 

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

 I’ve loved banana bread for a long time. And not because it makes me feel pleased with myself for eating a fruity cake. It’s a great one to have in the cake tin, as it’s simple, delicious and keeps moister for longer than your average Victoria sponge. Ironically, you have to bake it for longer!

The chocolate added to this isn’t necessary, but it adds a bit of another dimension, making it altogether much more luxurious. 
 

You will need:

125g butter, at room temperature 

150g caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract

2 large, ripe bananas

1 egg

190g self-raising flour

60ml milk

75g chocolate chunks or chips 
  
  1. Grease and line a loaf tin and preheat the oven to 160C fan. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Crack in the eggs and whip them into the mixture until airy and moussey.

 
  2. Break the bananas in, mushing a little with your thumb. 

 3. Add the vanilla. Mix in well  

4.  Add the flour and fold in gently. Being careful not to overwork the mixture. Overworking will make the cake dry and heavy. Mix in the milk. 

5. Add the chocolate and mix gently.  
 
  6. Pour evenly into the loaf tin and put it into the middle shelf of the oven. 
  7. Bake for an hour, then check if the loaf is cooked by inserting a skewer or narrow knife into the centre. It can be hard to check, as sometimes traces of banana will cling to the skewer which might look like raw cake batter. If in doubt, bake for an extra 5 minutes. If this user cooked enough, it’ll collapse in the middle. 

 
  8. Slice and serve. It is especially delicious still warm from the oven. (Particularly if the chocolate is still slightly melty!). 

This loaf, if well covered, will keep for around a week.

Brown Butter Lemon Sole 

I went to the fish counter yesterday and it was lemon sole which jumped out at me. I’ve had a lot of salmon recently! So I decided to buy a piece for Sunday dinner. There are two traditional recipes for lemon sole: Sole a la Meunière and Sole Veronique. But let’s keep things a bit simpler. Fish needs a light touch. Delicate cooking. Fresh flavours. 

So I present to you my Brown Butter Lemon Sole. It’s a bit naughty with all that butter, but it is low carb!
  
You will need:

1 lemon sole fillet

A good knob of butter

1 small clove garlic, grated or chopped

2 tsp lemon juice

2 sprinkles of parsley

A handful of plain flour

A sprinkling of smoked paprika

Salt and pepper

  
1. Put the flour onto a plate and add the paprika, salt and pepper and one of the parsley sprinkles. Mix it all together and spread over the plate a little. 

  
2. Make sure your fish is nice and clean, then place it on the flour and turn in the flour until covered lightly on both sides. 

  
3. Put a medium sized frying pan onto a high heat and add the butter. Turn the heat down to medium so it doesn’t burn.

  
4. Add the garlic and parsley, and fry for a few minutes, making sure the garlic doesn’t burn. 

  
5. Add the fish to the pan and fry for a few minutes on each side, letting the flour brown a little. The butter will also brown (the French call it “buerre noisette” – nutty butter).

  
6. Add the lemon juice and serve. Be careful when you lift it out of the pan. If it’s fresh abs perfectly cooked, it’ll break up when you lift it. It ruins the presentation a little but just means it will be all the more delicious! 

  
Enjoy with a glass of chilled white wine and some steamed or boiled vegetables. 

Flour Tortillas (Go on, have a go)

If you think making tortillas is a waste of time, a hassle, too much effort, think again! Ok, it will take you a bit of time if you make a large batch, but it’s upfront time recouped when you can enjoy the leftovers from the freezer for weeks to come. If you’re pushed for time, make a smaller batch. The texture and flavour of these is a good couple of worlds away from anything you buy wrapped in plastic in the supermarket. They go stale much faster, but can be warmed up again in an oven (sprinkled with a little water) or microwave. The texture is almost like a very think flatbread, slightly flaky, but soft and light.  Though if you eat them around something hot and liquidy, like chilli, prepare to get messy as the delicate middle can split under pressure! 

You will need (for 8-10 tortillas):

400g plain flour

1 tbsp butter

1 tsp baking powder 

Good pinch salt

175ml boiling water

 

1. Measure out the flour and rub in the butter, like you’re making shortcrust pastry or crumble topping. 

2. As the baking powder and salt and mix in.

3. Pour in the hot water. Leave for a minute or so and then knead together. Be careful here. The dough will be really hot. If you can’t touch it relatively comfortably, allow it to sit until it cools a little. 

 

4. Knead well until the dough is smooth and elastic. Oil and place back in the bowl. Cover with cling film and allow to rest for half an hour. 

  
 

5. Once settled, flour a clean dry surface and grab a smallish ball of dough, squash and roll out to 1-2mm thin. 

 
   6. Repeat until all rolled out. 

 
  7. Heat a large, flat pan on a pretty high heat and add the rolled out dough one piece at a time. Once bubbles appear on the surface of one side, flip over to cook the other side.  
  8. The result should look like this; a bit like a piebald pony.  Keep warm inside a hot tea towel or leave to cool.  

I wouldn’t recommend keeping these for more than 2 days without freezing them because they’ll go stale, and they can be rewarmed with a few minutes in a hot oven with a sprinkle of water.

Serve with fajitas or my beef or turkey chilli with sour cream and guacamole.

 

Pendant le Weekend….

With the back to school fever hanging in the air, it’s time to get a bit nostalgic about returning to school when I was a kid. I love stationery. I always have. And the end of the summer holidays brought shopping for new stationery, including that elusive brand new pencil case. (Mmm…fresh box of pencils). A treat, however, which did nothing to shake off the uniform and shoe shop. 

One of the first pieces of homework we would be given, was to write a diary of our summer holidays for French and Spanish. This invariably started off “pendant les vacances, je suis allé…..avec ma famille…”. However, given I was at a public school (private school, America), everyone else has much more exciting stories than me!  J’ai fait du ski, je suis allé a Phuket avec ma soeur….all much more thrilling than “I spent most of the time at my family’s nursery school. We went to the zoo one day”. 

This weekend, my Saturday involved a trip to Broughty Ferry to see a Ron Lawson exhibition. He is my very favourite artist and I have 3 of his prints already. I won’t bore you with the details, in case it’s not your thing, but it was a nice way to spend an hour, breathing in some culture, although I suspect he thought I was some sort of raving teen fan girl the way he was speaking to me. Next, to the most low rent wedding dress shop I’ve ever encountered. And finally off to lunch at the Ship Inn, where I enjoyed a huge bowl of Cullen Skink, loaded with smoked haddock and new potatoes. Delightful. Only to arrive at my parents’ to be dragged into fixing their broadband. 

Last night, we all watched Gone Girl, which I have to admit I enjoyed, despite the ending being entirely unsatisfying, and having to go through that awkward situation of graphic sex scenes flashing up while you’re sitting with your parents. 

Sunday mornings are for glorious lie ins. Waking from a dream naturally, no alarm clock and a text from my lovely fiancé to begin our exchange of things we’ve seen on Facebook whilst trying to wake up.

  
From him. 

  
From me.

Then on to start the day, getting a workout done and onto preparing healthy lunches for the rest of the week. Finally some time to rest, reading in a sunbeam, before supper, ironing and off to bed ready (or not so ready) for another week, hoping to wake up to sun.

Nevertheless, weekends at the end of summer still have that melancholy feeling once you’re an adult, even though you’re at work all the days in between. No more sneaky drinks outside a bar on the way home; no more barbecues promised when it’s likely to rain, every second person in the supermarket lugging about boxes of beer and basket full of rolls; fewer and fewer colleagues talking about how difficult it will be for them to be at the airport to fly off the Spain at 2am the very next day. 

Personally, I’m celebrating the last few weekends of buying piles of salads to make light summery lunches, which take hours to prepare and eat, at looking gleefully across at the mountains of paperbacks which have been abandoned in favour of “doing things” at the weekend. Bugger that! Bring on the cold, the wind and the rain. Bring on afternoons in front of a good film while the sky storms around the house. Bring on British winter misery!

The best part of autumn, for me, is the change in farm produce, from cucumbers, strawberries and lettuces, to squash and leeks and potatoes. I think the autumn is my very favourite time for cooking: giant pots of soup, hearty casseroles and pies, with the smell of the first frost in the air, but while the golden glow of autumn remains.  Sundays in the kitchen in front of a bubbling pot is so much like home, and so far from chopping fresh and zesty foreign ingredients. 

  
The only challenge will be keeping up the healthy eating with all that pastry around! 

Light Sweet and Sour Pork 

My prevailing memories of Sweet and Sour when I was growing up were the sticky, cloying bright red sauce with guilty pleasure battered chicken balls or my Mum’s Sweet and Sour Chicken, which was basically dry chicken breast in a jar of Uncle Ben’s Sauce, served with boil in the bag rice. Weird I ever got a taste for it, right?!

However, my first forays into stir frying (again with experience led by my Mum who can’t have stir fry without a sachet of sauce) had me reaching for a sachet of Blue Dragon Sweet and Sour Sauce, which is arguably of better quality. 

  
Most recently, I’ve learned how to make it myself, and that means I can make it however I want! No green peppers, lighter, thinner and with a bit of a kick. If you want to recreate that old fashioned taste, you can easily do so. Just leave out the ginger, garlic and chilli and add a bit more cornflour to get a thicker sauce.

You will need (for 1):

1 small piece of pork fillet (tenderloin). I used a leftover piece I had in the freezer) this should be out of the fridge for half an hour or so before you cook it. 

1/2 brown onion

1/2 red pepper

1 small carrot 

1 clove garlic

1 knob fresh ginger

2 tsp tomato purée 

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp Shaohsing rice wine (or sherry)

1 tbsp honey

Pinch mild chilli powder 

1 tsp cornflour 

1 small tin of pineapple slices or chunks in their own juice 

Splash groundnut oil

  
I used to make this recipe with fresh pineapple and pineapple juice (which is delicious) rather than tinned, but I’m not really one for drinking fresh pineapple juice so it made the recipe much more expensive and it meant running out for particular ingredients rather than trying to pull something together with what’s in the cupboard. 

1. Slice the onion, chop the pepper and peel and chop the carrot. Size is up to you. Some people like to julienne the carrot but I just prefer to cut discs from the narrow end, the half or quarter lengthways and continue to slice. 

2. Grate the ginger and garlic. Cut the pineapple into chunks, unless you bought it in chunks.

3. Add the groundnut oil to a large frying pan, allow to heat to a high heat and toss in the onion. Once it has started to turn translucent, add in the pepper and carrot. These actually need quite slot of cooking and will still stay nice and crunchy. 

  
4. Allow the veg to cook down a bit, stirring or tossing every now and then depending how dexterous you are with this…I’ve finally nailed the one handed toss with even my biggest frying pan and am feeling pretty chuffed with myself! Anyway, add the grated ginger and garlic and cook out for a few minutes, reducing the heat down to low to medium. 

5. Mix together the soy, honey, mirin, chilli powder and cornflour. 

6. Thinly slice the pork. I like to do this widthways but whichever way gives you thin smallish pieces is absolutely fine. You can cook this in the same pan if you like, but I decided to use a medium pan for the veg and my smallest frying pan for the pork, just to give it the best chance of really searing and taking on colour without being affected by the moisture in the other pan.  If you want to minimise washing up, push the veg to the side and use the same pan, but use the largest one you have. You want the pork to sear on one side then turn over to brown the other side. As soon as it is just cooked, take off the heat.

  

6. Meanwhile, add the tomato purée to the veg, stir in and allow to cook out at a lowish heat. 

  
7. Add it the sauce mixture along with the pineapple and pineapple juice and stir, stir, stir to avoid the cornflour catching of become lumpy. 

  
8. Add in the just cooked pork and heat until it just comes through the boil again them serve with noodles or rice. 

 

Summer Favourites and Failures

The biggest failure of this summer has to be my phone breaking. Frustrating. Very frustrating. Or as they say in “In the Loop”: ‘difficult, difficult, lemon difficult’.

Whilst my favourite moment of the summer was seeing one of my best friends get married. Tears. Lots of happy tears. But lovely all the same. 

  
At the beginning of July, I shared some of the products I picked up in Boots in an attempt to try some new things and get our of my rut. As usual, some of these worked and others have me a hefty dose of buyer’s remorse. I’ve also been using other products for awhile longer, and have bought a few more things since. So here’s a summary of what worked for me and what would be in the bin if that wouldn’t waste even more money!

  
Simple has given me a game of two halves lately. I’ve been a loyal customer for a number of years, simply (see what I did there) because I have pretty dry to sensitive skin which can flare up at any time. Whilst I love moisturisers which offer a fresh scent, facial moisturiser is just something I can’t really risk. I usually use the replenishing moisturiser for both day and night, though I occasionally by the day any night creams which come in the plastic tub. They are so heavy for travelling though so the bottle of replenishing has done me fine over the summer. However, these were on 3 for 2 when I went to a Boots to stock up, so you have to try something new and something pricier, right? I’m not sure if my logic is flawed, but if something’s going to be free, it might as well be an expensive something. 

The age resisting night cream is miraculous – I didn’t realise how un-moisturising the replenishing cream was until I met this guy. The green tea extract is refreshing too. I’m not convinced that it’s helping me to resist any form of aging, but I wake up with a soft face and need much less product than usual. It comes in a pump action container, so I’ll report back about how difficult it is to squeeze the last drops out when I get there. 

The day cream, however, well, it’s like night and day (I’m on fire today). I’m not having a great time with the day cream. It isn’t as nourishing, although perhaps that’s because it doesn’t deal too well to being immediately applied to freshly washed skin and I think it might also be irritating my skin, although that may have something to do with the primer I’ve been trying (see below). I’ll keep trying because I don’t like waste (maybe I’ll try it as a night cream if my quasi OCD will allow it) but I’m not convinced! 

  
One of you lovely ladies commented that you would be interested in my review of Dove Summer Glow. It may be because I chose fair to medium, being Scottish of the skin, but I simply haven’t noticed this giving me any colour at all. It smells good though, and leaves dry calves smooth, so for £2.99 it isn’t bad. 

This Frizz-Ease Oil Elixir is another story though. I bought it after being wowed by argan oil. Unable to find more of the pure stuff, I gave this a shot (again on a 3 for 2 with my shampoo and conditioner). Do not buy this, unless you like sticky, heavy hair. In fact I think it dried out my hair more than not using it. The one thing it is good for, though, is smoothing fly-aways once your hair has been styled.

  

Maybelline Master Sculpt is pretty good for the money, letting you easily create a subtle powder contour and highlight, but it won’t be for you if you want to be really bronzed and glowy.

  
This Barry M Gelly Shine Nail Paint in Sugar Plum is a luscious pink glossy polish however it’s lasting power is pretty feeble. You’ll probably be fine with it for a day, but it will chip fairly readily after that, which makes for high maintenance nails. 

The Max Factor Colour Elixir Lipliner is beautifully creamy and smooth, however the colour range is pretty limited to very dark shades or pale baby pink shades. None of which do it for me. However I may yet play around with blending this with a more nude lipstick or gloss to see if I can make it suit. 

This Collection Lasting Colour Tafetta Rose lipstick is almost the colour I wanted it to be – perhaps still a shade too dark but it works. It’s a great bargain at £2.99, but it can be a bit drying so you might want to apply some Vaseline or lip balm over the top, if you don’t mind a bit of shine. 

  The Porefessional from Benefit offers so much but delivers little really. It’s a sticky formula which is hard to blend around your face and I think I might be allergic to it. A very pricey primer. 

The next two, on the other hand, are delightful! The Seventeen Eyeshadow Brush is £1.99 and is as soft and fluffy as you’d like it. They have a range of different sizes so it’s likely I’ll try se more of these, but this one is really designed for crease and transition and for carefully blending out. 

The Collection Lasting Colour Concealer is a godsend at £4.99 with plenty of coverage. I bought this in Cool Medium (shade 2) and have used it pretty much every day (as you can see by the state of the packaging). I’ll be buying it again instead of the Maybelline FitMe Concealer, which was about £7.99 and hasn’t impressed me. 

The Maybelline Age Rewind roll on gives good, even coverage. I bought this a shade too dark but it’s fine once blended in with the Lasting Colour guy and set with powder. This was £9.99 but I feel a lot of the price went into the packaging. 

  
Finally, the king of all things: St. Ives Apricot Scrub. I actually bought this in tesco and use it about 5 times a week. It’s gentle enough to feel like you’re getting a really good face wash and exfoliate without causing too much redness about the face. And it smells glorious. And (touch wood) it has kept my skin much clearer that normal. This is a welcome addition to my skin are routine. 

If you have any favourites or fails this summer, I’d love to hear from you!

Vegetable Samosas

These are a bit cheaty, and a bit naughty, but the cheat sort of helps to stop them being entirely bad for you, if that makes sense, because it means using filo pastry instead of dense, floury, eggy pastry. 

  
You could of course use whichever vegetables you like best, but I picked potatoes, peas, onions and carrots because they are sort of traditional. In the same way, you can use whichever seasonings and spices you prefer. 

You will need, to make about 10:

1 onion

2 carrots

8 or 9 new potatoes or 2-3 larger potatoes

1 cup frozen peas

2 cloves garlic

Small knob of ginger 

Filo pastry

Medium knob of butter

2 tsp garam masala

1 tsp turmeric 

1 tsp chilli powder

Salt and pepper 

You can make the filling in advance if you’d like, but you are dealing with vegetables so don’t let them sit for too long. I made the filling at around 2pm and allowed it to cool, starting the wrapping process at around 7pm. 

1. Slice the onions.

  
2. Peel and finely dice the carrots. Boil under just cooked. Then drain and set aside. 

  
3. Peel the new potatoes and boil them until just cooked. Drain and allow to cool, then cut into smallish dice.

  
4. Heat some groundnut oil in a pan. Add the onions and turn the heat down to medium to low. Cook out until translucent then add the ginger and garlic. Once those have cooked out, tip in the carrots and stir. 

5. Add in all of the spices and season well. 

  
6. Stir in and allow to h at through for a few minutes, then add the potatoes and repeat the stirring and cooking process. 

  
7. At the very last minute, add the frozen peas and stir until just thawed. The residual heat will continue to cook them. Set aside to cool.

8. If you’ve ever worked with filo pastry before, you’ll know to try to avoid a hot and dry environment, that you need to work quickly and that you need to keep moisture in. You could try laying it out on a damp tea towel, but as long as it isn’t too hot in the roo , the melted butter should keep it pliable.  Melt the butter then lay out the filo. Take a pastry brush and use it to lightly butter the first sheet all over, then cut in half – scissors work best for this. It’ll be much easier to work with and provide you with a neater finish if you use a whole sheet, but I was trying to keep the calories low.

  
9. Spoon 3 tablespoons of the vegetable mixture into the corner of one of your sheets and push into a sort of triangle shape. Then push your finger against the longest edge and flip over so that the pointe corner folds inwards.

  
20. Fold the edge in, then continue to fold and wrap the best you can. I admit that these didn’t turn out as nearly as I’d planned, but they were light and delicious so I’ll take that as a win! There are various tutorials on how to do this online, such as by forming a cone first then filling it, but I’m not that dexterous! Importantly, though, always remember to butter any piece you fold over so that it adheres well. 

  
21. Repeat until you have used up all the filling. Then quickly pack, seal and refrigerate any leftover filo. 

  
22. Preheat the oven to about 200C and line some baking trays with foil. Butter the samosas all over, on both sides, and place on the trays. Put in the oven and bake until nice and brown. This could take some time so be patient, and remember to flip over to brown the other side. 

  
23. Serve immediately with salad or vegetables and something to dip into, like chilli sauce, mango chutney or a spiced yoghurt. Once cook, you can refrigerate or freeze, and they are even better reheated the next day!

  

Beef and Mushroom Stir Fry

When I was in Morrisons last weekend, I spotted some oyster mushrooms and couldn’t possibly have left without buying some. They are expensive though so use sparingly! I also bought some quick fry sandwich steak (3 pieces for £3.30 which made two meals for one greedy person). I also used some of my usual stock vegetables and some tender stem broccoli, as it was only 89p for a change. 

  
There are quite a few ingredients in this guy, such as mirin and rice wine, but you can pick them up relatively inexpensively in most supermarkets or Chinese supermarkets, abs once you have them in your cupboard they’ll help you out with a multitude of other oriental recipes (and by that time they’ll feel like they are free flavour). So, there might be a  bit of an outlet but just go for it….

You will need (to feed 1) (although you can use whichever vegetables and protein you like):

1tbsp mirin

1 tbsp shaohsing rice wine

1 tbsp honey

2 tbsp light soy sauce 

1 clove garlic, grated

1 tbsp ginger, grated

Dash sesame oil

Splash groundnut oil for frying with

Half white onion

Half red pepper

Small carrot

4 florets of tenderstem broccoli

Handful of oyster (or other) mushrooms

Strips of your favourite stir fry beef, I used 1 1/2 quick fry steaks 

Rice or noodles to serve 

  
1. Chop the vegetables into bite-sized pieces. Grate the ginger and garlic. 

  
2. Add the ginger and wet ingredients into a bowl and mix together. This part can be done in advance if you like, but it doesn’t take long. 

  
3. Slice the beef into strips and place in the marinade. This should be done at least 10 minutes before you plan to fry the beef which, incidentally, should also be out of the fridge for 20 minutes or so before you plan to cook it.

  
4. Heat a large pan or wok on a high heat and add the oil. Chuck in the onions and allow them to start to break down a little. Although I like my carrots to be crunchy and fresh, I prefer onions and peppers to be a relatively softened, and I can’t deal with raw broccoli! The cooking times are entirely customisable to your vegetable crispness preferences. 

5. Once the onions have started to soften, turn the heat down to medium and add in the peppers, carrots and garlic, stirring occasionally so that nothing burns, then add the broccoli and allow all of those to simmer. 

  
6. Once the vegetables have almost reached your desired level of cookedness, push them to the side, turn up the heat and add another splash of oil. If you’re having dried noodles, they should be ready to go on by now too as they will only take a few minutes and will be reheated in the pan. 

7. Add the beef strips, a few at a time, trying not to introduce too much of the marinade to the pan. This will only lead to the beef boiling, which will leave it chewy. When just cooked on one side, turn onto the other and add the mushrooms to the vegetable side. Stir everything together.

  
8. Add the noodles and the marinade and stir through until everything is hot and combined, being careful not to overdo the beef. 

 Serve and enjoy!

June Lifestyle Favourites! 

I thought I’d take some time to let you all know about some of the other things I’ve enjoyed over the last month or so because sadly there are only so many times in a day you can put your make up on or cook a meal!

There are probably lots of things I’ve forgotten, but these are the ones that stick out most prominently in my mind!
I’ve already covered the make-up and skincare products in my June 2015 Favourites post, but I thought they added to the photo so I’ve left them in!

   
So, número uno: fruit and yoghurts. As you may know, I’ve been making a real effort this year to eat healthily. I used to be one of those naughty people who never ate breakfast. Partly because I’m not a morning person, and partly because I’d rather save the calories for a mid-morning chocolate biscuit. Nevertheless, I started off with homemade granola bars and moved on to yoghurts. Only these yoghurts by Yeo Valley though. They are nice and thick and come with lots of organic bio live bacteria so they’re good and healthy to help get your metabolism going to set you up for the day. The strawberry ones and lemon curd ones are the best though in my opinion! (The strawberry ones taste like petit filous). They are over 100 calories each, but much better for you than the chocolate biscuit you really want and they constitute pretty much the only dairy I have in the week. 

  
If I’m starting to get peckish at around 10.30 or so, it’s time for a nectarine or a peach. I’m still trying to discover whether they form separate pieces of your 5 a day, given they are the same species but not quite exactly the same, but whatever they are, they taste like summer.  Be careful though as apparently they are both diuretic and laxative!

  
Shoes! Lovely, lovely shoes! One of my best friends is getting married at the end of the month and it promises to be quite the society hoopla. I bought a pale green (described as “aqua”) dress a couple of months ago for the event, but didn’t think through how difficult it would be to find coordinating shoes, especially as the white underslip made anything nude or metallic look a bit odd when worn together. I’ve orders white (which turned out to be snake skin and were sent back) and also beautiful glittering towering peep toes with bejewelled heels, but they turned out to be a goldy bronze colour when champagne was promised, so back they went too. Finally, I found these bad boys, and for the princely sum of £15! They are Dorothy Perkins via Debenhams, and, although they are described as being pale blue got some reason, they are a lovely minty green colour that is just about right when worn a calf’s distance from the dress. Now I just need to find a bag…..

  
Despite buying a really nice TV and sound system and subscribing to Virgin Media, I spend a lot of time watching box sets on Netflix or LoveFilm (I know, I know, it’s called “Amazon Instant Video” these days but I just can’t handle that), mostly because I can watch on my iPad which will happily follow me around my flat and is great for when I’m cooking. Naturally, I gravitated to Orange is the New Black earlier this year, so was delighted to hear the third series was out. As billed, the first few episodes weren’t quite as compelling as the first two seasons, but by the end, in that typically Jenji Cohen way, I was hooked again. Now to wait another year…..

If you’ve seen it, let me know what you think!

  
Finally, paper roses! I learned how to make these by watching several YouTube tutorials and played around with different ways to do things. I’m now hooked and desperate to try to make them from other types of paper. These glossy ones were made using pages from an old Edinburgh Fringe festival brochure, but I have since made a couple of smaller ones from book pages which are completely adorable (if I do say so myself). 

Let me know if you’d like to see a tutorial on my method.

  
I have quite a few things going on in July so will try to do some more of these lifestyle blogs but would love to hear whether you find them interesting or if you’d rather have more food!