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Last night was my girls night in with the London Bestie. A night filled with laughter, food and films. Perfect to start the weekend!

We decided earlier this week we were going to make homemade pizzas on our girls night in, as a treat, and watch chick flicks. Heather had never seen Pitch Perfect…I was shocked! It is an amazing girly film I would recommend if you’re looking for a great musical chick flick. All the songs are catchy, and it has a great story line – When I went home for the weekend before Christmas, the family had been drinking a little, and had Pitch Perfect in the dvd player fast forwarding to the songs to sing along. Evidence it goes down well with everyone – Aunties, Cousins, Mums, I even think my uncle may have sang along to some of it!

For our pizzas we stopped at Sainsburys on the way home, only to find out they didn’t have any pizza base mix!!! We were devastated. But suddenly had a couple brainwaves – For the pizza base we could use plain scone base or english muffins. This was a difficult decision as we are little perfectionists and wanted delicious pizzas. We decided English Muffins – Only 90p, can’t go wrong!

We bought chopped tomatoes as these work lots better for the tomato base than tomato puree, and the toppings we wanted for our pizza – You can us pretty much anything you want.

To make our mini pizzas we sliced the english muffins in half (each muffin makes two pizzas) and laid them out on a baking tray.

We put chopped tomatoes in a jug and beat them, adding herbs, for the tomato base. We prepared all the toppings ready so we could get to work on our pizza-creations.

We each took half the pizzas and started spreading the tomato base. We added the jalapenos (we like a bit of a kick to our food), and then sprinkled pizza cheese on top.

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We placed our toppings (we chose pepperoni, olives and mushrooms) on top of the cheese, and placed some hot and spicy cheese (we found this in the 99p shop, which made our day. But I know Sainsburys do jalapeno cheese squares) on top of the toppings.

We baked the mini pizzas on Gas Mark 5, for about 25 minutes to make sure the pizzas were cooked all the way through and that the edges were a little crispy.

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Our Verdict – Speechless. We were too busy eating!

I wanted to share this little creation with everyone as I believe anyone could do this. It is so simple and fun, and you can choose whatever you want to put on them. We will most certainly be making these scrumptious treats again.

It would also be great for doing with children – Children love to make their own food. I remember making pizza with my Grandma when I was little; me, my sister and brother used to love this, definitely a memory which sticks out!

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Part of my Christmas presents to everyone included fudge – Home-made, chocolate drizzled, crumbly, vanilla Fudge.

In a bid to save money this Christmas as on a very tight budget, I was making Christmas presents. After researching different treats I could make to accompany presents and also to form the main part of a few gifts, I decided on fudge – I wanted to make something I’d never made before and you always find fudge at Christmas markets.

It was hard to choose a recipe, as many say you need a candy thermometer to stop simmering when the fudge reaches 115 degrees, but I am no candy maker normally, and I didn’t have the money or time to find a candy thermometer (YES, I left everything to the last minute…something I definitely won’t be doing next year!).

I found a community recipe on Nigella’s website for Vanilla fudge, which was a timed recipe (It did have the temperature too if you had a thermometer) and works very well as long as you stick to the time (The second time I made a batch of fudge I put a timer on my phone for the 15 mins, so that it was simmering for the exact time rather than just looking at a clock, and it worked better).

Here’s the recipe and how it went:

Ingredients for Fudge

Ingredients:

  • 100 ml milk
  • 100 ml double cream
  • 350 grams caster sugar
  • 80 grams butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Milk and White Chocolate to decorate/drizzle

Line a dish ready for fudge to set in – I would recommend lining with baking paper rather than greasing as you can then easily lift it out once cooled.

Put everything in a saucepan (except the vanilla and chocolate). Bring to boil and then simmer for 15 minutes (this is where it’s best to set a timer on phone!).

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It will go thicker towards the end, no need to worry when this happens!

Bring off the heat. Add the vanilla and beat until thickens. Pour into the lined dish, and you should still be able to spread the top to make it even.

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Now comes the patient part – Wait for it to cool!

I then cut my fudge with a large knife, rocking backwards and forwards on the blade to try get a clean cut. You can break the fudge – I did run out of patience a little so have to admit I resorted to this too.

I warmed two freddos in one mug, and some white chocolate in another to drizzle my fudge in chocolate. I put the chocolate drizzled fudge in the fridge for the chocolate to set.

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Next comes how to decorate and pack – The arty bit! I tried clear food bags which I tied with ribbon, but they weren’t see through enough, and to be honest it looked awful! With a little help from my creative housemate we came up with making small parcels of fudge out of baking paper and ribbon..and here’s how they turned out…

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I can say they definitely went down a treat. Perhaps a little sweet for some, but very tasty and you don’t need to give a large portion. Cheap and Tasty present in an hour!

To see the full recipe and instructions I used, you can go to: http://www.nigella.com/recipes/view/vanilla-fudge-2281. Enjoy!

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So it’s been way too long since blogging last time, and I actually feel guilty for letting myself get away with it! I love writing, I just didn’t have enough time. It is actually quite hard putting time aside, making sure it’s a time you’re relaxed enough to really love writing you blog ( as let’s face it, there’s no point writing if you don’t enjoy it!!), and a time when you are actually going to be happy with what you write!

My time over Christmas was jam packed! Visiting home, making Christmas presents, seeing friends before Christmas, working (as I’m in retail too), making the most of Christmas, Winter Wonderland, sales shopping and New Year! But now come the New Years Resolutions – TO BLOG being one of my main resolutions!

Today was my first day in my new job – I am now officially an Assistant Account Executive, and I love my job! Back to normality today means more time in the evenings and eventually the weekends; time to keep my new years resolutions.

Along with blogging I have decided that I want to try something new every month – whether that’s learning something new (I want to learn how to knit, how to dance in a different style…), or trying somewhere new (a new restaurant, attraction, visit a new place…), trying a new food/drink,  but 2014 is going to bring many new and exciting things, and I can’t wait!

I would definitely recommend this to everyone – Make the most of life and try everything you can.

 

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Christmas is coming, and fast. But we all know that! Have we all finished Christmas Shopping? A lot of people I have asked have said they have,or that they only need to get the odd thing. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has only started recently.

I  started wondering just how much people spend on Christmas. From my experience, my parents have always gone over the top, and still do even though we’ve all grown up, but then I guess it’s always hard to admit your children are now old enough to cut back. I have always wanted my presents to appear amazing and look like I’ve spent a lot, so perhaps this is from my upbringing; but normally this is still budgetted (with a larger budget for the BF – but no where near as crazy as my friend who is spending over £200 on one watch!), I just search for the best options.

This year, things are going to be different. Of course I still want my presents to look amazing, but after 2 months unpaid work experience and living on part time wage, I have little money available for presents so I have decided to MAKE my presents!

My ideas started with sweets and treats which I could wrap, pack into jars or boxes as gifts. With some great recommendations I came up with these ideas:

  • Toffee
  • Peppermint creams
  • Fudge
  • Marshmallows
  • Chocolate Truffles

(Keep an eye out for my post on how my fudge making goes!)

I also decided I was going to use my ‘arty’ side for gifts too. One idea was a collage for my boyfriends mum, along with some other great ideas for certain people who I know read my blog so I have to keep quiet about those!

I used different media, but all were easily accessible, or very cheap! I decided I was going to do one pencil drawing, one with felt tips, one with biro and I really wanted to do a painting (or use paint with a biro outline) but all my paints were at my parents house. Having ventured into a 99p shop (which is amazing!), I found some acrylic paints for 99p which definitely made my mind up.

After getting back I found I didn’t have any paintbrushes (I did think a stray may have been found in one of my boxes – very dissappointing), looking around the house for spares, I realised I could use anything and make it a challenge! I began mixing and painting the one part of my collage with cotton buds, cotton pads and cocktail sticks – so much fun!

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I spent the whole day yesterday doing art. I finally finished my 4 parts, putting together my finished work in a photoframe I already had and not used. I also made the most of old magazines, by cutting out peachy colours to use as a background for my collage.

And here is what I made … (Still debating with myself whether to put letters spelling out family in the top corner…)

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I have loved my challenge of thinking of cheaper gift ideas, and it is still ongoing as got my family to do now. It feels great when you have made something for a gift, and takes so much effort and thought, I believe it could even make as a better present!

 

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Last night I had my first ever work event … yes first ever, apart from when I worked at the wacky warehouse, but I’m sure conferences where they imitated what a kids party should be like – you playing conga, musical chairs, dressing up games and eating buffet food doesn’t really count as a proper work event.

Last night I attended the SmartCookie party at the Covent Garden Hotel – Very swanky location, gorgeous place to have an event!

When I first left the office, I felt nervous. I didn’t know how well I’d perform at a networking event, all I could do is think POSITIVE, CONFIDENCE and cross my fingers (and toes!! Which, just to let you know, were freezing..silly weather).

Me and my other colleague, Alice, turned up a little later than the other half of our team (Work can’t just stop at 5:30pm because we have a party to go to). When we got to The Covent Garden Hotel we put our coats and bags in the cloakroom and made our way into the room where the get together was being held.

We were greeted with cocktails (Yes, there were non-alcoholic versions…No, I didn’t go for those – would you after a hard day at work?!). The canapes being served were amazing, tiny little renditions of meals; fish and chips, shepherds pies, curry followed by bannoffee pie and scones – all tiny so you don’t have to feel guilty about eating dessert.

At the beginning things did feel a little awkward. I met a few people through Alice, and then went and stood with the other half of the team who were chatting with one of our clients. It was all quite interesting, and I joined in when I could.

We were soon all ‘shushed’ and the organiser of the party made a speech. He introduced the band who were playing in the other room – little, cosy space. Such a nice set up!

Everyone moved into the little room to discover this new band. After a short while listening to the music, we moved back into the main room. We got talking to one woman from one of the other companies, and had a great conversation about the difference between English and American culture and travel (She was from America..), and she soon introduced me to other people in her company, and others she had met that night. It was great! I was ‘flying all by myself’. So happy that I was making the most of the night, speaking to other people, and hopefully making a great impression to help with my career.

I really enjoyed last night, and we even came away with some amazing goody bags!

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Tips I would give for anyone coming up to having their first/one of their first work events:

  • Confidence is everything! Even if you aren’t confident, act confident. SHINE!
  • Look interested, make conversation, and if you get talking to one person they might just introduce you to others – great way to make your way around the room for a beginner.
  • Take cards – (check your card holder  beforehand- don’t forget to fill it! I know someone who has done this, it is quite funny at the time)
  • Don’t get drunk. The cocktails may taste great, BUT always stay less drunk than the others. Keep on top of the ball and make the best impression you can.
  • Anyone can do it…Just believe in yourself!
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