25 March 2014

Frolics at the farmers' market

I'm a sucker for a farmers' market, so when my husband discovered that one was happening near us on Sunday, I gathered together my FM essentials...

Gilet. Posh girl hair. All the spare change.

Armed and ready, we pottered off to Nether Edge (a leafy suburb of Sheffield, obvs) and were swallowed up in a crowd of fellow gilet-wearers with kids called Tarquin and Hugo.

I gave each pretty little stall a good peruse, pretending to muse over trinkets made of gems circa 1995, but I knew I wouldn't buy.

Because the main attraction of a farmers' market is always MEAT.

For me, farmers' market = the grown up equivalent of going to the fair so you can eat candy floss and bat your eyelashes at boys.

We rounded a corner, and that's when I saw it. Buffalo burgers, being fried right there in front of us.

BINGO! That was where my money was going.

Buffalo, I've learned, is low in fat. So I added a slab of cheese and a big white bun, y'know, to make sure I'd have enough energy to get round the rest of the market.

It was pretty tasty. I batted my eyelashes at my husband.

Then we came across a vegetable stall selling a lot of kale. I'm relatively keen on kale so this was a happy discovery.

Next stop, sitting in the sunshine at the bowling club eating a peanut butter brownie.

I spent the last of my cash on some olives stuffed with whole chillis, before we rolled home.

Giddy slash still experiencing a sugar rush, we opened the most ridiculously expensive bottle of wine and whiled away the evening munching the olives.

A very sweet Sunday.


20 March 2014

In defence of no make up selfies for charity

Spotted a friend or 10 posting a no make up selfie on your timeline recently?

Yep, me too. Everyone's going crazy for it and with good reason. Ditch your make up, tag your pic with #cancerawarenessselfie and donate some cash to a cancer charity.

It started from nothing and snowballed. A flash campaign! What's not to love?

Well, as with anything positive, some miserable types are finding fault.

One news outlet called the no make up selfie "narcissism masked as charity" and pointed out that a number of the photos weren't taken to raise cash for charity.

NO MAKE UP SELFIE 1: Post run, post shower selfie. Hello red face! 

It's true that, at the start, people were doing it without a second thought to raising money. But now it's become a cancer thing, and though not all selfie-takers are donating, there's no need to be such a bloody downer about it!

The more no make up selfies the better, in my opinion. Every one is fuelling the fire, raising awareness, getting people thinking.

Because cancer's a right bastard and the more we embrace fun new ways to get money for research, the better.

NO MAKE UP SELFIE 2: Working for myself = can't be bovved with make up

And as for the narcissism point, DUH! Welcome to our generation.

We take pictures of ourselves, our food, our nails, the breeze, a rainbow. We're a sharing bunch.

So to channel that into a positive, charity-based outlet is A GOOD THING.

Cancer Research UK have got involved, and you can help them beat cancer sooner by texting BEAT to 70099 and donating £3.

That's the price of one coffee.

So if you've taken a slap-free selfie without donating, sort it out. And if you're going to moan that we're not raising money for charity 'the right way', it's time for a major rethink.


17 March 2014

Kale crisp recipe

Ask me what I want to go with a Sunday roast, and I'll say kale. 

Ask me what I fancy putting in a soup, and I'll say kale. 

Sometimes, when my husband asks me what I'd like for supper, I reply with "kale" which probably isn't the most helpful answer. 

Kale, as you can see, is my number one veg. 

Kale: tasty beast

I recently visited Kim, one of my favourite people in the world. She gamely endured me piping on about kale for what probably seemed like a lifetime before I told her about my homemade kale crisps

This perked her up. "How do you make them?" she asked. It's unbelievably easy. 

Here's my kale crisp recipe... 

1. Get a bag of curly kale. Ready chopped makes things easier. 

2. Preheat oven. Fan 140 works for me. 

3. Spread kale evenly on a roasting tin. I used 100g here. 

4. Drizzle with a BIT of olive oil, you don't want them to be greasy. 

5. Sprinkle on whatever the heck you fancy. I add sea salt and chilli flakes. 

6. Oven up to temp? BUNG IN THE KALE. 

7. Check after 10 minutes. 10 to 15 minutes is a good ballpark* and keep an eye on them, you want the kale crispy, not burnt. 

8. Remove from oven. If you're feeling healthy, drain off excess oil off by placing the kale on some kitchen towel. 

9. Fellow glutton? Yes! Put straight in a bowl and scoff the lot. Ta da. 

These are delicious, make a decent mid-week snack if your 80/20ing, and there are around five zillion reasons why kale actually is the best thing ever.

Calcium! More vitamin C than carrots! Practically NO fat! Hardly even a calorie! I'm off to write a poem about kale. 

*anyone else suddenly finding the word 'ballpark' hilarious? Just me? Oh. 

14 March 2014

Make up: It's a spring clean ting

I'm no mathematician (Mother Hen likes to remind me that I got bad grades in maths because I took against an unfortunately-scented maths teacher) but this equation is definitely happening right now...

Sun out + Spring on its way = happy Hannah.

I'm thinking about rejuvenation and New Beginnings. Y'know, the big stuff, like tidying and make up. The other day my husband and I moved a few boxes around our dining room in a burst of post-work energy. Yes, we moved in six months ago, but still. Achievements!

Gloriously, the fashion mags are filled with bright, inspiring pictures, and one of their summer predictions stood out to me. Make up is going bare.

Music to my ears! I've been working a bare-faced look since I left school so I'll finally be on trend.

The lazy girl approach to make up: mascara, blusher, lip balm, done. 

School was an experimental time for me in the make up department. Eg eyelids covered in silver glitter / an eyeliner flick in flame red. Quite the look when teamed with a school uniform in hues of grey.

Thankfully, I have since simplified. Issues with dry skin flare-ups since I was little mean I spend far too much money on expensive moisturisers, and if I can get away with no make up, I do.

If not, I go for: mascara, Touche Éclat, blusher, lip balm.
For evenings, I'll add an eyeliner in black or brown and a slick of Bobby Brown nude lipstick. PIMPS!

I'm not a foundation fan because I've yet to find one which doesn't make me look like a Painted Lady circa the Victorian times. And I'd like to try a serum but I don't know what they actually do. Anyone?

All this pared back beauty chat made me take a look in my make up bag and realise something gross. I can't remember the last time I cleaned my make up brushes. Those little suckers harbour a lot of bacteria. Blurgh.

Brushes in a line! As you can see, I'm a MAC brush fan. 

So, with New Beginnings in mind, I gave them a clean. Here's how I did it..

  • Grab an old towel
  • Find a mild shampoo (I used one I'd bought for my actual hair but didn't rate)
  • Organise your brushes in a very neat line (not actually necessary)
  • Fill a bowl with warm water and squizz some shampoo in it
  • Fill another bowl with hot water
  • Give each brush a good whizz in the shampoo water, then dip in the hot water to rinse
  • Line up clean brushes in another neat row
  • Leave on the towel to dry

Mild shampoo...
And a couple of bowls. 

Apparently, you're meant to do this every week. ERM. I might make a more realistic stab at once a month. 


10 March 2014

Being Pippa Middleton

Luscious locks, that peachy derriere... Just a handful of reasons why Pippa Middleton is one of my absolute favourites. 

Perfect Pips gets all the perks of being on the cusp of royalty without any of the tedium.

I imagine big sis Kate stifling a yawn as she mutters: "Queen, I'd simply love to plaster a smile on my face and pretend I haven't slipped into a coma while listening to the ramblings of yet another dignitary. Sure."

No such mundanity for Pips. She gets to gad about town in expensive clothes while forging ahead with her career as a food columnist for Waitrose.

A monthly highlight... And what? 
Rah! Pips loves to bake. 

So when I thumbed through the March edition of Waitrose Kitchen last week (I'm 30, ok) I was taken by Pippa's afternoon tea ideas.

Two facts for you...

One: There's nothing more civilised than afternoon tea.
Two: I like to think that Pippa and I would get along swimmingly, plus I'm the first to jump to her defence when people dismiss her as naff slash pointless.

And so a Friday night spent making blueberry and lemon curd cupcakes while pretending to be Pippa was practically inevitable.

Almonds and buttermilk make a delicious cake mixture. 
Disclaimer: I'm 100 per cent aware that cupcakes haven't been a thing since the turn of the century. But they are tasty and food snobs are dullz. As are people who say "nom nom". Nom off.

Back to the baking, and I knocked up two different types of buttercream to top them off. One with lemon curd, the other rippled with homemade blueberry jam.

I needed an Elle break before icing the little scamps. 
Pippa had teamed up with The Hummingbird Bakery founder Tarek Malouf for the recipes, and her  column offered such luminary thoughts as: "Hummingbird's cupcakes have almost as much icing as sponge, so they're a dream for the sweet-toothed."

A dream indeed... look.

And admired them like a proud mum. 
Popped them on the cake stand... 

Unlike Pips, who looks like she slipped into her most expensive cashmere knit for the bake-fest, I wore a faded old Gap jumper which has tomato juice stains on it.

And I ended up with blueberry juice on my face, which I'm pretty sure wouldn't happen to Ms Middleton.

But I did do a butt workout pre-bake to truly channel Pippa and her peachiness.

The view from my ass workout.

Conclusion: Pippa bakes a bloody nice cake. They are nearly all gone and I have no regrets thanks to all the pre-bake lunging. Win win!


5 March 2014

In praise of avocados, Mel C and Dawn O'Porter

Is it a fruit or a vegetable? Why did it used to be called an avocado pear when it tastes nothing like a pear? Whatever... the avocado is my new BFF. 

Remember when I was harping on about my mournful winter face? Well, then I started eating half an avocado every day. Cue face miracle.

My skin's a happy little chap right now, which hardly ever happens at this time of year. Clear, dewy, REJOICE.

I'm pinning it all on the avocado in my diet because I enjoy obsessing over new discoveries.

Mash an avocado. Put it on a wholemeal bagel. Eat it. Be happy. 

I've been following the 80/20 approach to healthy eating since before 80/20 became a thing.

Spice Girl Melanie C loves the 80/20 diet too, and with good reason. It's easy, nay, pimps. (Remember PIMPS? What a word! Let's bring it back.)

You make healthy food choices during the week and go wild at the weekends. Mel C's weekends consist of lager and crisps... what a girl.

Mine are filled with wine and those tortillas from M&S which are covered in paprika.

Anyway, when I am being good during the week, I now eat half an avocado a day and it's making my skin glow.

I grabbed a Pret smoothie made from pureed frogs avocado.  

So I did a bit o' research, and discovered that avocados contain the following:

  • Monounsaturated fats which are simply super for boosting moisture levels in your skin.
  • Omega 9 which is said to reduce redness and irritation.
  • Vitamin C which creates collagen and keeps your skin firm. 
  • Giant stones which will always ping out and on to your kitchen floor, leaving a trail of avocado mush in their wake. 

OK, the last bit did not come from internet research.

I once asked Dawn O'Porter, she of shiny hair and book-writing fame, about her shiny hair. She told me: "I eat half an avocado every day."

What a wise, shiny-haired owl. 


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