21 February 2013

Recipe | easy peasy lemon squeezy pasta!

I'm lazy. In case you hadn't already picked up on this, I'm fairly certain you will have by the end of this post, especially after I ramble on about the wonders of ready-chopped garlic.

I'm not the most wonderful chef in the world. In fact, most of the time I wouldn't even call what I do in the kitchen 'cooking', although I suppose it's closer to this than it is to anything else... I tend to throw a mixture of vegetables into a pan/oven, cook pasta/quinoa/rice/couscous, add beans/pulses, sprinkle in spices/herbs and mix (- delete where necessary, it's a fairly foolproof system I assure you). Cooking complete. Here's a little recipe I threw together for some summer-y inspired pasta. Enjoy!

Siddalee's simple summery pasta!

Makes 1 serving
Pasta for one (I suggest spaghetti, linguine or the like)
1 courgette
1 salad onion (or 3 spring onions)
handful of cherry tomatoes
olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic (or 1 clove)
lemon juice
(can you tell this is my own slap-dash recipe?!)

1. Chop onion, half cherry tomatoes, 'ribbon' courgette with a peeler (or a mandolin if you're fancy).

These salad onions are a lifesaver for me. I never need a whole white or red onion and these rarely make my eyes water. I usually buy spring onions (often labelled as salad onions) but occasionally the supermarket will have the bigger salad onion variant and these are the perfect size for meals for one!

2. Put pasta on to boil, cook as per instructions.

3. About 3/4 mins before pasta is ready, sauté the garlic and onions in a pan.

I ADORE this stuff. I always find when I buy cloves of garlic they go a bit dry before I've used them all up and it's just so messy and a lot of hassle. Pre-chopped garlic can be a bit vinegary and you definitely need to be aware of this during cooking but it smells AMAZING and is such a handy alternative.

4. When the onions soften and begin to golden, add the courgette ribbons. These are so thin they need minimal cooking.

5. Squeeze in lemon juice, taste and add more as necessary (I found the first time I made this I didn't add nearly enough lemon juice to counteract the vinegary-garlicy-ness - you can be fairly liberal with this).

Something else I LOVE. Lemons are a hassle yo. Who needs the bother of buying a whole lemon when you want a little squirt of it on a pancake or in a tomato sauce. Jif all the way my friends.

6. Add halved cherry tomatoes.

7. Drain pasta and add to frying pan. Mix everything together on a low heat for 30 seconds/1 minute max.

And serve!

This is very, very minimal. I'm fairly simple with my meals. I rarely have fancy ingredients in the cupboards and basically never buy cheese. Liberal shavings of parmesan would be amazing in this. Pine nuts would also give you some much needed protein. Personally, I was feeling a carb day. I bought the pasta in France and it is FAT, and not in a rude-boy way. I stuffed my face with this.

Super simple, and made of ingredients I always have in my kitchen. 

What are your go-to meals?

10 February 2013

Lustlist | valentine's day ideas - treating yourself

It's hard to miss the fact that Valentine's Day is nearly upon us. You may have a valentine, you may not, but personally I'd suggest using the whole shebang as a wonderful excuse to treat yourself. Flowers and romantic meals are nice, but no-one knows what you want better than, well, little ol' you!

Here are a couple of my picks; go on, treat yourself...
Bloggers everywhere are loving this clay-based mask; it's full of anti-oxidants and cleanses and revives skin to leave it feeling smooth and refreshed. Why not have a pamper-night, curl up in bed with a good magazine (or catch up on blogs!) and give your skin some much needed TLC.

Charbonnel et Walker
Charbonnel et Walker make the most amazing (and delicious) chocolates. Even if you don't fancy forking out £11.95 (at least) for some yummy treats, their shop is worth a look as everything is just so beautiful! Their adorable pink marc de champagne truffles are almost too beautiful to eat. Almost. 

Jemima Lumbley Jewellery
A little bling à la Carrie Bradshaw. Who needs their own Mr. Big when you can have your own Carrie necklace?!

Elle Macpherson Intimates
Wearing nice underwear shouldn't be resigned to dates and Clinton Card holidays - buy yourself some nice underwear that makes you feel happy and confident. Elle Macpherson Intimates is a stunning range with something to suit everyone. One of the best things you can do is pop in to your nearest lingerie department and get yourself properly measured - it's amazing how much it can change the comfort and look of your underwear when you're wearing the right size!

I've always avoided bodycon dresses; I've never been super confident and the last thing I wanted was to highlight all the things I didn't like about myself. Recently, however, I bought a bodycon midi-dress from Topshop with long sleeves and I finally wore it this weekend and I absolutely love it, even if I do feel sliiiightly lumpy in it! I think long sleeves on a bodycon style dress are flattering and balance the fitted body; this wrap-style dress from Topshop will be even more flattering for those who are a bit self-conscious about their tum!

Minna's room
This needs no explanation. Buy it. Display it. Most importantly, listen to it.

The Wedding of my Dreams (vom)
These vases are so cute! You can pay an extra £3.50 to ensure you get a 'bottle-shaped' vase but I think these organic ones are much more unique and look adorable alone or in a group displaying little stems and single flowers from the garden.

I've never been a massive fan of v-day, and no-one I've spoken to recently seems that enamored with this most amorous of days either; whether you're in a relationship or single, a valentines-lover or -hater, I'd do what you want to do with who you want to do it with. Just like any other day of the year really. Personally, I'll be chowing down on some sushi in celebration of my friend's birthday. Sounds pretty perfect to me!

What are your plans for the 14th? And what will you be treating yourself with?

09 February 2013

Skincare | the first step to cleanliness is... finding my routine

I've gotten pretty lazy with my skin routine lately, I'm not going to lie. Last summer I was cleansing all over the shop, morning and evening. I'm not sure when I dropped the ball, but boy did I drop it.

My skin isn't awful, but it has definitely been suffering from poor care and some dodgy face wipes the last couple of months, not to mention a few too many nights sleeping in that evening's makeup. I get the ol' hormonal blotches creeping up and fading away in a never ending cycle, but the last week or so my face feels like it has EXPLODED. My forehead is bump-central and I have to try my hardest not to pick at my skin until it's a bleeding, scabby mess.


Caroline Hirons is fast becoming my skincare guru. I've been re-learning the importance of a proper skincare routine and I'm hoping (in the not too distant future) I'll find the products that work for me to find my very own perfect skincare routine. Here is what I've learnt so far, and it's back to my old favourites cleanse-wise...

Step 1. Removing makeup

I count this as cleansing, although Caroline doesn't and she's pretty scary. I'm sure I don't need to gush about how wonderful Bioderma's Créaline H2O (now Sensibio H2O) is - the whole of the bloggersphere went crazy it for it last year - but suffice to say I think it's awesome. It's so gentle on my skin and 3 cotton pads removes all traces of a day's makeup without the redness I'm used to - £3.49 face wipes I'm talking to you!

Step 2. Cleanse 1

After I realised pretty much every beauty blogger I loved was using the Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish, I jumped on the bandwagon like the little sheep that I am. I love that you don't have to wet your hands and wash soapy suds all over your face; it's minimal mess and maximum results. My skin feels cleansed afterwards but not squeaky clean which, as I have learnt from Caroline, is a good thing - see last point here of Caroline's list of 'things I wish we could all move on from - part 1'. I know some people don't get on with C&P, Caroline included, and have found their face really red afterwards but I would say this is the nicest cleanser I have used so far and I'm definitely very happy with it. Baaaa.

Step 3. Cleanse 2?

Caroline (you may get bored of seeing her name but I just canNOT get over how much I've learnt from this woman) claims if you've been wearing makeup or sunscreen you should double cleanse. Bioderma, I have learnt, is not cleansing. So here I get stuck. Any ideas?! I'm interested in trying an oil-based cleanser but have no clue where to start...and no money to go taking loads of chances!


Step 4. Tone and Step 5. Moisturise

I've hit a bit of an issue here. I started using a new toner and moisturiser on the same day - Liz Earle Instant Boost Skin Tonic and La Roche Posay Effaclar Mat - and I think I'm allergic to one of them. After a couple of hours I was sat in bed (catching up on blogs, obviously) and my face started to feel a bit tingly, pretty itchy and really warm. Never having been allergic to skincare before  I couldn't decide what to do but in the end I decided not to risk it and wiped everything off with a good glug of Bioderma. I guess I need to try one without the other to work it out, because putting a sample of each in the crook of my elbow did NOTHING. Thanks google for that useless tip. I got the Skin Tonic free with an order but will be bummed if it's the Effaclar Mat as I really liked how smooth my skin felt afterwards! I can completely understand why people say it acts as a good primer, any bumps on my skin were definitely flattened and smoothed. Wahhhhhh.

Anyway, I've gone back to using my bog standard crappy drugstore moisturiser - something 'hydrating' from Simple if you must know - and even with this I have noticed a difference in my skin. My foundation stays on so much better and, despite not risking using Effaclar Mat yet during the day, my face has been far less greasy by the end of the day at work. I really do think a proper cleanse every evening is helping my (shit) moisturiser and my (nifty) hydraluron to do their jobs better. Magic.

I'll be sure to test out the toner and moisturiser and get back to you with the results of my undoubtedly extremely scientific experiments and conclusion but, in the meantime, any good skincare suggestions would be more than welcome!

02 February 2013

in the bin // product expiration dates

It's safe to say I'm pretty anal when it comes to expiry dates. Jars, cans and cartons all find themselves thrown unceremoniously in the bin as soon as their time is up, and often even a bit before if I'm feeling particularly suspicious. And whilst I have become sliiiiightly more laid back about this of late (a bag of spinach IS still eaten past its expiry date as long as it's not squishy or smelly, shock horror), I have always been extremely lax about the dates on skincare and makeup products. I just don't... care. If something is not being consumed by me - and therefore does not wield the power to potentially make me vom (not my favourite thing in the world to put it lightly) - I have never really worried too much about it. It's a kind of safety mechanism that I developed as a child so I didn't end up worrying ALL DAY LONG ABOUT EVERYTHING I TOUCHED AND STOOD NEAR AND BREATHED IN AHHHH.

I even wear the shoes at the bowling alley without socks, much to my housemate's disgust.

The way I see it, no vom-potential = no issue.

That is, however, until I jump out of the shower ready to treat myself with a little Dior Miss Dior Chèrie Hydratant Parfumé Pour les Corps (perfumed body moisturiser, basically) only to find that, once applied, I smell like a tramp urinated on me. Five days ago.

Big issue.

Yes, that's right folks. This little bottle-

-which promises to be full of such joy and perfection, instead was full of stale-urine-fragranced horror.

Now, I'll be honest, there's a good chance this has been open for about 3 years. Possibly only 2, possibly more. I'm not proud of it, I'm just facing up to the fact that I had this coming. I ignored that little tub-shaped graphic on the back of the bottle warning me to use the contents within 18 months of opening. 

Pah! 18 months my arse!

No, seriously, 18 months.

Need I repeat STALE TRAMP WEE again!?

It got me thinking about the rest of my products... the perfumes that sit prettily on my dresser, and the moisturisers I opened years ago to match. The mascaras I use for months on end, well past their 3-6 month suggested shelf life. It ain't pretty.

Fortunately, there is hope. For, where products must depart, new ones must take their place.

I'll be looking for a new moisturiser to replace this one, and, taking inspiration for Meg over at Lips So Facto, I'll be taking a careful look through the rest of my products.

Read Meg's blog on the expiration dates of your products here.

RIP, Miss Dior Chèrie Hydratant Parfumé, you beautiful little thing.