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Friday, 30 January 2015

Life: The Books that I Re-read Every Year

I love curling up with a book and escaping into another world or reading till the early hours of the morning when I'm engrossed in a book that I just cannot put down. There are a few books that I love so much, that I read very year. These are books that I first read at seminal points in my life, or which shaped my thinking into adulthood. I love that books are like good friends, our relationship stays as strong despite an absence.

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
If I was a writer, I'd want to write a book like this. Barbara Kingsolver weaves this intricate tale of an American missionary family in the Belgian Congo in the late 1950s. The book is told from the children's perspectives which makes it more powerful in my opinion. It taught me that sometimes you can't force something to happen, and that the lessons and trials of childhood can have a lasting impact.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
I can't explain my love of Pride and Prejudice. I read this book when I really want to relax because it reads itself. I've come to love the characters so much and have even ventured down the path of writing (very bad) fanfiction. Very embarrassing.

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
I love how this book tells the tale of a love story albeit one of nearly parallel lives. Somehow the author manages to keep this tale of time travel cohesive. I find parts of the book  achingly sad; the final scene will stay with you for a very long time.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
I first read this book in high school and it was one of the books that I stayed up till 4am and read in a single day. It felt fitting to read it as a teenager when we often love somebody despite our own best interests.  I still find parts of this story scary. Cathy at the window always gives me the heebies!

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
Elizabeth Gilbert's memoir telling the story of her own journey of self-discovery in three countries, inspired me to stop and take time to smell the roses. I'm still getting to know myself, perhaps it'll take a lifetime to do so and that's ok.


Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Food: Eggs Benedict and Two Variations with Easy Hollandaise Sauce

I always have Eggs Benedict for brunch when I see it on a menu, and ever since I discovered an easy hollandaise sauce recipe I now make this at home too at any opportunity.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Beauty: My Little Box January 2015 Review - My Little Energy Box

The theme of My Little Energy Box for this month's My Little Box seemed very apt for January and initially I was quite excited to see what they would come up with. However, this is the first month that I find myself quite disappointed with what I've received.

The big gift for this month was a sports bag which they valued at £20. I cannot agree with this estimation as the quality was very poor and the fabric is so thin that I find myself forced to give this to the littlies to play with. More useful, but also not worth too much is a My Little Box calendar which I'll be using as an editorial calendar for the blog. The My Little World Magazine also didn't hold my interest this month. Some pretty pictures, but not much of use.

Where My Little Box excels is in the size of their beauty products. I received a full size Nails Inc nail polish in Tate, a dark red, a My Little Beauty Energising Facial Mist (75ml) and a Talika Day Cream (30ml).

All in all, not my favourite month for the My Little Box subscription. I'll wait till next month's box before I decide whether I'll be continuing with the subscription or not.


Friday, 23 January 2015

Travel: Boulders Beach, Cape Town (or an Excuse for Penguin Pics)

One of my favourite places to visit in Cape Town is Boulders Beach, home to a colony of Cape Rockhopper penguins.

The beach is tiny when the tide is in, but it does give one the opportunity to swim with penguins and also watch them in their natural habitat.

The main part of the breeding ground can be reached by a wooden walkway. Here you can see the nesting penguins and chicks and watch as the older penguins come in from fishing, while watching from a lookout point on the walkway.

Photographic opportunities abound!


Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Food: Chocohotopots - Nigella Lawson (Gluten-Free Variation)

I've been experimenting with gluten-free baking. As mentioned before, I'm a huge fan of the Dove Farm Gluten-Free Plain Flour, but it doesn't always produce exact results without a bit of tinkering. Nigella's Chocohotopots from her wonderful cookbook Feast, however, were an amazing success when I substituted the all-purpose flour for the Dove Farm gluten-free version. I prepared these a day in advance, froze them and cooked them for 25 minutes, two minutes longer than the recipe suggested.

The littlies devoured them and probably because they are obscenely chocolatey, declared them the best chocolate pudding ever!


Monday, 19 January 2015

Beauty: No-Buy First Quarter and Shopping my Stash

I like to start the year with a clear out, actual and metaphorical, and have decided to limit my beauty purchases for the first three months of the year. Don't be aggrieved! I'll still be receiving the My Little Box subscription, so at least we have that to look forward to! More importantly though, I've managed to amass quite a few samples from subscription boxes and the generous Space NK gift with purchases, so it should be quite easy to "shop my stash".

Friday, 16 January 2015

Travel: The Majesty of the Scottish Highlands

One I question I always get asked by other people from warmer climes now living in Scotland is, "How do you stand the weather?" For me the answer is always the same, "It's easy because of the mountains."I didn't know I loved the mountains as much as I do until I came to live here. Yes, I'd spent time hiking before I moved here, and even enjoyed it, but it was only when I made Scotland my home, that I really began to appreciate that they were my happy place.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Food: Baked Spanish "Risotto"

We all have a favourite recipe that we count on for entertaining. The one I turn to time and time again is a Baked Spanish Risotto by Silvana Franco. It's similar to a Spanish paella, in fact I substitute paella rice for arborio rice, and prep is fast, leaving you time to socialise with your guests while it cooks! I like to drink a crisp white as an accompaniment, though, dry January meant that I had to stick to water this time round. Boo hoo!


Monday, 12 January 2015

Beauty: Sephora Haul - Dec/Jan 2015

I am slightly ashamed to admit that in 2014 I managed to reach VIB Level on the Sephora Loyalty Scheme, despite not living in the USA. So, as beauty hauls will be few and far between on my blog over the next few months, I thought I'd share my final Sephora Haul of 2014 with you, made in the last days of the year, which is what pushed me onto VIB. is a way too tempting place.

Friday, 9 January 2015

Travel: A New Year Trip to Zanzibar (or What a Holiday in Paradise Taught Me About Myself)

My first truly exotic trip was over New Year one year. I'd decided to meet up with friends in Zanzibar  which on the surface sounded easy enough, but in practise was a really eye-opening experience.