Thursday 13 December 2018

Cookbook: Prue by Prue Leith

Hey everyone :)

I enjoy a good cookbook! If you've seen my bookshelf then you would know!! I had never heard of Prue Leith until she replaced Mary Berry on GBBO.

A big must for me with cookbooks is pictures and Prue's cookbook does not disappoint!! It's bright, colourful and there are pictures on every page!

I'm more of a dessert man but there are a good few recipes for dinners that peaked my interest.

Let me know in the comments below if you've bought Prue's book yet?!


Tuesday 4 December 2018

'The Princess Switch' Christmas Film

Hi everyone :)

I do love a good Christmas film! The classics are good but I love the films Netflix bring out! From what I've seen in the reviews this film didn't really get many good reviews - some saying it was cheaply made or boring or like so many other Christmas films but loved it!

It has the right amount of Christmas happiness mixed with that little bit of sadness!

Highly recommend it to anyone who loves to cuddle up on the sofa with a hot chocolate, a comfy blanket and snuggle up to watch.


Sunday 18 November 2018

Carrot Cake

Hi everyone :)

I do enjoy a carrot cake - they are one of my favourite cakes to make and eat!

4 eggs
300ml vegetable oil
400g caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
250g plain flour
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
350g grated carrot
125g chopped pecans (optional)

125g butter softened
200g cream cheese
450g icing sugar sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract
125g chopped pecans (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 180℃ and grease and line a large cake tin, or you can also line two smaller cake tins.

2. In a large bowl mix together the eggs, vegetable oil, caster sugar and vanilla extract.

3. Add in the rest of the ingredients - plain flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, salt, ground cinnamon, carrot and pecans and fold until combined.

4. Pour the mixture into the large tin, or the 2 smaller tins in even amounts. Put in the oven. For the large tin bake for around 45-55 minutes and then check if a skewer comes out clean. If using the 2 smaller tins then it should be around 20-25 minutes.

5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 20 minutes and then pop onto a wire cooling rack.

6. For the icing - mix the butter, cream cheese, icing sugar and vanilla extract until smooth and creamy. Take 1/4 of the mixture and use this for the middle of the cake. Then take the rest of the mixture and spread on top ... you can spread down the sides if you want or you can just spread across the top - do what you think looks good!

7. I found that popping the cake in the oven after iced helps set it - as it will be quick runny.


Let me know if you enjoy carrot cake or have made one before in the comments below!!


Saturday 3 November 2018

Mary Berry's Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Hi everyone :)

Got another Mary Berry recipe for you - since I love her cooking so much! I was watching YouTube videos last week and the autoplay was on and some clips from her Absolute Favourites programme popped up and this was one of the recipes and I remember my previous workplace used to do a similar soup and it was so good!

1.5kg butternut squash
1 large onion
2 medium carrots
1 red pepper
4 tbsp virgin olive oil
1 tbsp runny honey
5cm fresh root ginger
1.5 litre (2 1/2 pint) vegetable stock
salt and pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 200℃
2. Tip the prepared squash into a large, resealable freezer bag with the onion, carrots and red pepper. Add half the oil and salt and pepper and toss everything together until the vegetables are evenly coated. Tip into a large roasting tin and spread out to form a single layer.
3. Roast in the oven for 40-45 minutes, or until tender or tinged brown. Drizzle over the honey 5 minutes before the end of cooking.
4. Place the large, deep-sided saucepan over a medium heat, add the remaining oil and, when it is hot, add the ginger and fry for a minute. Pour in the stock and bring to the boil, then stir in the roasted vegetables and add salt and pepper.
5. Remove the saucepan from the heat and, using a hand blender, blend the mixture until smooth. Return to the heat to warm through and serve hot with crusty bread.

The soup is very tasty and great for a rainy day in fall. It pairs well with a crusty white bread roll straight from the oven with some butter.

Let me know what you think if you try the recipe.


Wednesday 31 October 2018

Nintendo Switch: Harvest Moon: Light of Hope

Hey everyone :)

I saw this on pre-order a few months ago and completely forgot about it! I am a big fan of Stardew Valley and so this game is right up my street!

The game starts with you unconscious and washed up on a small island where a young doctor saves your life. The island is mostly deserted and there are many run down buildings and a broken lighthouse and you love a challenge - so you set out gathering the resources and gold to fix the buildings and lighthouse and as you do more villagers return back and start to live on the island again.

You also take up residence on a farm so you can grow plant, water and harvest crops. You can also (once repaired) keep chickens and cows (there are other animals too).

I'm really enjoying the game so far - it is ALOT easier than Stardew Valley in my opinion - definitely in terms of making money as Stardew Valley make that harder for you to do.

I bought the Switch version but it is available on the PS4 and PC too.

Let me know if you've bought it or are planning to in the comments below!!


Sunday 21 October 2018

Mini Apple Crumble Pots

Hey everyone :)

I love apple crumble ... if honest I'd happily sit and eat lots of crumble ... forget the apple haha!

I think in America they call these "apple crisps" but to me they are mini apple crumbles - in cute little ramekins.

Ingredients (for crumble topping):
100g plain flour
100g porridge oats
100g butter
50g caster sugar
2 tbsp packed dark muscovado sugar

Ingredients (for apple filling):
6 Granny Smith apples
2 tbsp water
1 tsbp caster sugar
1 tsp cinnamon spice

1. In a mixing bowl add the plain flour, porridge oats, butter, caster sugar and dark muscovado sugar (if you don't have this light/dark brown sugar works too) - rub together with your fingers until you have golden brown rubble. Set to one side

2. Peel and core the apples and slice thinly. Grab a pot and over a medium heat - add the sliced apple, the water and the caster sugar (you can add your cinnamon here if you want too) and cook until the apple starts to break apart - for me it was about 15 minutes.

3. Grab your individual ramekins and spoons some lovely apple mush into them and then sprinkle over the crumble rubble.

4. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes or until everything is nice and brown and the apple is oozing out the side.

5. You can serve straight out the oven or leave to cool. They can be served with a dusting of icing sugar, pouring cream, whipped cream or even ice cream!!

Let me know what you think in the comments below!


Sunday 9 September 2018

Monzo: The Bank of the Future!

Hey everyone :)

I imagine when someone mentions "change banks" - you cringe - because there is so much work involved ... moving direct debits, transferring the remaining balance or telling your work your new account number and sort code.

I've was with my old bank about 12+ years and I was bored. I was paying around £12.50 a month (started off as £3.50) just to have an overdraft, warranty guarantee, card protection and mobile phone cover. I rarely used the overdraft (it was just there for emergencies), I didn't use the warranty guarantee or the card protection and from what I heard the mobile phone cover was the worst and getting them to do anything when your phone broke was next to impossible. So I asked myself - "why am I paying £12.50?".

I found Monzo in an unusual way - in that I happened to come across them in one of their new employee's YouTube videos "My first day at Monzo". I was intrigued and started googling them and checking out the reviews on the app store and was really impressed. I found it odd you could open an actual bank account on an iPhone app as I'd never heard of such a thing!!

What drew me to Monzo was the sleek, cool looking app. It's available on iPhone or Android!. I love that it pulls the logos from companies and shows them next to the transactions. Whenever you buy anything you get a notification instantly (signal permitting) to tell you and it also puts it in a certain category to help you track spending. It also lists your direct debits and shows when they come off and shows these in a "committed spending" category. You can also help with testing on Monzo Labs for anything they are doing - I'm currently using the "bill splitting" feature which is really good and lets you split transactions and request the other half from other people.

I applied for the account while sitting on my bed. Entered the usual sign up stuff (name, date of birth, address etc). Took a picture of my passport and then recorded myself saying "Hi, my name is John and I want a Monzo account"... then three days later I had a lovely hot coral card in the post :)

Some people might be a but dubious and worried about an online/app based bank however it is covered with the FSCS up to £85,000 for current accounts and £170,000 for join accounts. Being online/app based they do not have physical branches so you can't visit. They do have online chat and can call them if you have issues.

They do also have their own forum/community where you can chat and talk about Monzo-related issues (and some non-Monzo related issues). I just joined a few days ago and I've learnt a lot more about banking and Monzo than I did before.

Overall I am really impressed and happy with the bank and I'm glad I switched over. I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a new bank. They do offer the current account switch service or if you like to do things yourself - you can do it yourself at your own pace.

Let me know in the comments below if you have switched or use Monzo.


Thursday 16 August 2018

Cupcake Jemma 'Red Velvet Cupcakes'

Hi everyone :)

These cupcakes are one of my all-time favourite to make and to eat of course! The original recipe makes 24 so I have halved everything to make about 12 (depending on how much you fill the cases you might only get 11).

The recipe also uses the cream cheese icing for the topping but I find you need to keep that refrigerated or it goes off quicker so I used Jemma's normal vanilla buttercream icing for the topping - of course this option is up to you - both work really well with the cupcake.

Ingredients (for cupcakes):
118g self-raising flour
1/2 tbsp cocoa powder
125g caster sugar
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
135f unsalted butter, softened
2 large free-range eggs
1 1/2 tbsp buttermilk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp red food-colouring paste
3/4 tsp cider vinegar

Ingredients (for the cream cheese icing):
125g unsalted butter, softened
120g cream cheese
420g icing sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 170
2. Sift the dry cupcake ingredients (apart from the bicarbonate of soda) and 3/4 of a teaspoon of fine sea salt into a large bowl, add the butter and eggs and beat for 60 seconds with an electric mixer (I prefer the free-standing type).
3. Mix the buttermilk, vanilla extract and colouring paste in a small jug, then add to the mixture and beat for another 20 seconds, or until well combined.
4. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then give the mix a final blast for a few seconds to make sure it's all incorporated.
5. In a cup, mix the bicarbonate of soda with the vinegar - as soon as you do this, it'll start to fizz. Working quickly, pour the bubbling mixture into the cake mix and whisk very briefly to incorporate.
6. Give the batter a final mix and whisk very briefly to incorporate thirds full with mixture, but don't bother to smooth it out.
7. Bake for 20 minutes, or until they spring back when touched. Leave to cool, transferring to a wire cooling rack after 5 minutes.

1. Beat the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer for 2 to 3 minutes, or until pale and smooth.
2. Sift the icing sugar into a large bowl, then add to the butter mixture in two stages, beating well between each until beautifully smooth - if the mix seems to loose, add a little more icing sugar until the consistency is just right.
3. Once the cupcakes are cool, decorate them with the icing and a few of your favourite sprinkles and enjoy.

Let me know in the comments below if you've made these amazing cupcakes!?


Saturday 4 August 2018

Stardew Valley

Hey everyone :)

I originally bought this game on a whim for my PS4 when I was in my "recording gaming videos" phase - started recording videos and realised it was going to take forever so I decided to give it a miss - I think I then recorded and did Ori and the Blind Forest (a much better choice).

The game then came out on the Switch which I have and so I bought it on that - and I haven't stopped playing it since - I highly recommend getting it - it's currently on sale (or was depending on when your reading this post).

The game is a farming simulation role-playing video game where you take control of a tired office worker who wants a change - and guess what ... you just inherited your Grampa's farm in Stardew Valley.

There is plenty to do in Stardew Valley and I've been kept very busy the last couple of months - you can clear rocks and trees, plant, tend and harvest crops, buy buildings such as coops, barns, silos, stable etc, speak and build up relationships with the villagers, get a boyfriend/girlfriend and get married, have kids too - the game really does have everything.

It's also LGBT+ friendly - you can be gay and instead of "making a baby" you can adopt one instead.

You can also do little daily quests, longer quests and there is the community centre bundles that need you to collect certain items and this in turn unlocks bigger things on the map - like the bridge being rebuild or your greenhouse being rebuilt.

It is such a good game and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys simulation games.

Let me know in the comments below if you are playing/have played it?!


Saturday 30 June 2018

Taylor Swift Reputation Tour - Wembley, London - Saturday 23rd June 2018

Hey everyone :)

I've only ever been to one concert back in 2000 when Britney Spears had her Circus Tour so I was not sure what to expect when I attended Taylor Swift's Reputation Tour in Wembley Stadium on Saturday.

I'm struggling right now to find the words to describe it - I'm still playing the experience over and over in my head and trying to figure out if I had enough money to fly to another country to see her again - it was amazing! The music, the lights, the wristbands that glowed different colours, the other fans, the supporting acts, the dancers, the band - all AMAZING!

I went with someone I used to work with in Coventry - Sarah who loves Taylor Swift just as much as me :) Taylor also mentioned in the concert that this was her 13th concert of her career and we all know she has an obsession with all things 13.

She played all her songs from Reputation and also a mashup of a couple of songs from other albums which was really cool - I really enjoyed the mash up of Bad Blood and Should've Said No!

She also treated us to Fifteen (from her Fearless album) the reason for this was because it was her 15th night of her tour and so that made it special.

We didn't realise how close we were to the stage. We both thought we were up on the nosebleeds but actually we were technically on the pitch only about 20 rows from the front I think.

We had such a good time and I can't wait for her next tour!!


Sunday 17 June 2018

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone 'Scots Edition'

Hey everyone,

Hope you are all doing well? I have been rather quiet during May - not sure why which is annoying but I'm back with a book post :)

Dave picked this up on Amazon when he saw it and thought it would be a great little present for me and I absolutely love it! I mean I am Scottish and even some of the phrases in this book I'm finding hard to understand ... truth be told Dave thought it was another language completely.

It would make a great little present for anyone Scottish and who loves Harry Potter aha!

Let me know if you have picked it up or read it?


Wednesday 6 June 2018

Pokemon Quest on Nintendo Switch

Hi everyone :)

Hope you are all doing well? I started writing this post on the weekend and then got distracted playing the game I was supposed to be writing a post about.

As you can probably tell this post is about Pokemon Quest - a new free to play game on Nintendo Switch. My view on the game is that its a mix between Minecraft and Pokemon and I absolutely love it. They also announced another new Pokemon game due out in November which looks AMAZING! I'll probably do another post nearer the time!

The idea of Pokemon Quest is based on collecting ingredients and making recipes which attract new Pokemon that will join your party. You collect ingredients by completing main quests and challenge quests and by going on expeditions on the island. There are different biomes on the island and each has a different type of Pokemon for you to fight. There are a few levels in each biome and then a boss battle at the end. You have to be certain levels to win so you do this by levelling up your Pokemon and affixing them with strength and health power charms which again you collect like the ingredients.

The game is very addicting but like most mobile games you have a energy bar so you can't do it all in one go. You get 1 energy back every 30 minutes. There is also things you can buy if you don't mind spending money - you can get extra cooking pots, some decorations that increase the amount of Pokemon that come when you make a recipe or the amount of ingredients you get when you are doing an expedition.

The game is really fun and I already have a friend at work playing it - if you enjoy Pokemon you will enjoy this game! There is also a Reddit for it now which is really helpful (some might say its cheating - as all the recipes are on there) and a Discord channel too if you want to chat to other people.

Let me know if you are playing and what your best Pokemon are?!


Thursday 10 May 2018

30 Questions About Me That Never Get Asked?!

Hey everyone :)

I do love a good question tag ...

1. Are you named after anyone?
I don't think so ... my mum did tell me that I was nearly called Jonathon but they thought I'd get teased so they settled on John.

2. When was the last time you cried?
I can't actually remember - I watch Grey's Anatomy and their episodes are quite emotional sometimes so probably when I was watching one of those.

3. Do you have kids?
Haaaa, no! Haven't decided on that yet!

4. If you were another person, would you be friend of yourself?
Probably not ... I am quite odd!

5. Do you use sarcasm a lot?
Yes ... all the time.

6. What's the first thing you notice about people?
Their appearance normally ... or their accent.

7. What is your eye colour?
They are blue.

8. Scary movie or happy endings?
Happy endings defo!

9. Favourite smells?
Cut grass and apple pie!

10. What's the furthest you've ever been from home?
Canada on holiday

11. Do you have any special talents?
I don't think so ... spending money? Is that a talent?

12. Where were you born?

13. What are your hobbies?
They vary ... I enjoy swimming, TV, PS4, gaming, baking ...

14. Do you have any pets?
I had a cat when I was young, and I got some kittens twice then had to get rid of them due to house rules.

15. Do you have any siblings?
Yes, 1 brother.

16. What do you want to be when you grow up?
When I was at school - my idea was a chef ... or something with computers.

17. Who was your first best friend?
I actually don't know - I had a few friends when I was at school.

18. How tall are you?
5ft something

19. Funniest moment throughout school?
I got interviewed by the school radio because I was the smallest in the school

20. How many countries have you visited?
3 - Spain, Italy and Canada

21. What was your favourite/worst subject in high school?
Favourite had to be Administration or Home Economics and worst - had to be Physics or PE.

22. What is your favourite drink?
Right now I'm in love with Tenzing Natural Energy drink.

23. What would you (or have you) named your children?
Haven't really thought about it if honest

24. What sports do you play/have you played?
Not really into sports - I did the majority of them in school - football, rugby, hockey etc

25. Who are some of your favourite YouTubers?
Helen Anderson, Tom Daley, iJustine, her sister too, Trisha Paytas, Shane Dawson

26. How many girlfriends/boyfriends have you had?
If you count the "girlfriends" I had in school when I was 14 - then 3 girlfriends and when I got older 2 boyfriends (including the relationship I'm in now).

27. Favourite memory from childhood
Waking up at my granny/grampas and going to get freshly laid eggs from the chickens. We would go to the shed and open a big chest freezer full of bird seed and then we'd feed them and get their eggs and then granny would fry them :)

28. How would you describe your fashion sense?
Normal I think ... I'm not too out there!

29. What phone do you have?
iPhone all the way ... since I was 18

30. Tell us one of your bad habits?
I chew my nails till they bleed! Need to stop though!!

That is 30 questions ... if feels like a lot more ... probably because I typed all this and didn't copy and paste anything ...


Thursday 26 April 2018

Netflix 'Lost in Space'

Hey everyone :)

I have been trying not to watch anything new because I'm currently watching so many different shows but I saw the promo for Lost in Space and just had to watch it when it came out. When Netflix released the show - they released all episodes at once so the binge watch began!!

I managed 7 episodes in one day and then the last 3 the next morning!

I only ever knew about the film Lost in Space which has Joey from Friends (Matt Le Blanc) but apparently there was also a very old tv series that ran on CBS back in 1965. The Netflix series is set 30 years in the future where space colonisation is a reality and the Robinson family are off in search of a new planet that can support life ... until something crazy happens (I don't want to spoil it for anyone lol).

The ratings have recently been released and in the first three days after the episodes were released on Netflix it drew in 6.3 million US viewers and 1.2 million watched the finale in that period too. Apparently a second season has been green lit but we shouldn't expect it until 2019, maybe even 2020 but I am so excited already!

Let me know if you watch it as I need to talk to someone about it :) :)


Saturday 21 April 2018

Pots & Co.

Hey everyone :)

I had a busy week covering shifts while a colleague went on holiday to Japan so my blog has been quiet however that did not stop me discovering a yummy new company!!

As I mentioned - I only just recently came across this company via my work and as I can't just go around eating the product at work - I went straight to Tesco and bought every flavour I could get my hands on :)

My current favourite of the pots that I bought has to be the mango, lime and coconut - the flavours compliment each other so well and the flavours were not too overpowering.

Another favourite - close second - was the salted caramel and chocolate pot. I do enjoy the whole salted caramel train that everyone hopped on ... and the sweet and salty-ness really makes me swoon :)

Let me know in the comments below if you have picked any of these wonderful pots up?!

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