Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Recipe: Stuffed Mushrooms

Hello! Occasionally, I like to post recipes of things I make, when I can remember to take photographs. Okay, when I say occasionally, I mean I've done it ONCE before. Some of you who follow me on twitter or various other places might know that I recently joined Weightwatchers. I'm not going to turn this into a food or weightloss blog, but I know a lot of people use the ProPoints plan, and I spend ages looking for new types of food or recipes to try so when I found this one, I knew a lot of people would probably benefit from it. Even if you're not following any kind of food plan or diet, these are still a lovely alternative to meat, and would be a nice Vegetarian option for a meal. Unless vegetarians eat cheese. Okay, I just checked. The cheese I used in this recipe IS suitable for Vegetarians.

Basically, what you're aiming for, is this:

You Will Need:
  • Large Flat Breakfast Mushrooms/Portobello Mushrooms
  • 1/2 a Red Pepper, de-seeded
  • 1 Spring Onion
  • 1/4 a Courgette, diced
  • 40g Soft Cheese ( I used Charleville garlic&herb spreadable, but I've used  2 low-low cheese triangles before, or 2 laughing cow triangles). 

I started off by getting three big flat breakfast mushrooms (I got a packet of 5 in Aldi for 99cent) and I used three because I wasn't having any meat with my meal - if you're doing these as an accompaniment, two is more than enough, because they are quite filling. The next step is to prepare the red pepper for the stuffing - you need to get the skin off. You can do this a number of ways, but I prefer to pop them under the grill for a few minutes on a very high heat, wait until the skin goes black, then leave to cool and peel the skin off.

While they're cooling, you can start getting the other ingredients ready. Chop the courgette and spring onion into tiny little diced pieces. Then, dice the flesh of the red pepper and add it to your mix. Spoon in 40g of the Charleville spread (or whatever you decide to use) and mix well. Check out my uber-cool Thomas the Tank Engine bowl :)

I have to admit, while chopping the spring onion, I had a little Castaway moment and did, for a second, contemplate drawing eyes on this little Wilson-esque head. But then I realised that I was neither trapped on an island, or a 5-year-old.

When you've got that done, put all the stuffing into the mushrooms as I've done in the first picture, and then make them into little parcels with tin foil. All mushrooms leak water when cooking, but these ones are particularly messy, so I wrap mine individually and pop them into a baking tin so that the water doesn't leak everywhere.

I completely forgot to take a picture of them when they were done, but I cooked them at gas mark 5 for about 20-25 minutes. For those of you who are following ProPoints, all you have to point is your cheese. The one I used was 1pp for 20g, so the mahossive dollop I used up there was 40g, or 2pp. 2pp for three entire mushrooms? Score. I forgot to take a picture of the cheese (can you see how desperate I was to eat them? All photography thoughts went out the window when I put them in the oven) but it's this exact brand and tub, only I used the garlic & herb one, and it's in a purple tub.

Image: www.tesco.ie

S xx

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Yankee Doodle Dandy

About two weeks ago, I placed an order with www.yankee.ie. I've been completely in love with Yankee candles since I discovered them in a tiny little homeware shop in Cavan years ago. For me, Yankee candles are my go-to item when I'm feeling down, annoyed, upset, bored, dull - every single wet day, you can guarantee that I'll have a Yankee candle lit in my windowsill. I adore them. I often just sit smelling them (not as weird as it sounds).

I'd buy Yankee every single day if I could (I'm aware, by the way, that this post is going to sound like I'm an ambassador for them, but I'm not connected with them in any way - just a huge fan), but the price is sometimes an issue for me. I find their large glass jars can be expensive, depending on where you buy them. Our local shop charges almost €2 for one little wax tart, and anything up to €50 for a large jar. The wax tarts are the little flat rosette-shaped candles with no wick (as pictured below) - these are intended to be burned in oil burners. I know that many people have been caught out with the tarts, assuming they were just flat wicked candles. They're not - they're SO much better. I burn one in my oil burner, then let it go cool again, pop it out with a knife, and burn another one. I keep all my partially-used ones in a little box in the kitchen, this means I will never get sick of the same scent - which tends to happen when I buy the huge glass jars, if I'm honest. I've got a huge Sandalwood one in my sitting room and I've completely gone off the smell of it over the last year.
Image: www.yankee.ie
Anyway, back to my experience with the website - I can honestly say I've never been as happy as I was with this company. I'm always a bit dubious when I use my laser card online - sometimes things can seem so impersonal. This time, I ordered (I honest to god can't remember) around 12-15 of the wax tarts at their discount prices (less than €1). About two days later, a lovely lady rang me and explained that they were sadly out of stock in one or two of the fragrances I'd chosen. She then went through the list of all available fragrances with me on the phone, stopping and explaining the individual scent whenever I asked. She also popped in an extra few tarts for me into my order, and I received it the very next day. One other little thing that I loved about the site that really made a difference - they specify that delivery is either by courier or by An Post (delivery charges are the same either way - €3.99 for orders up to €45, and free for anything over that). I paid €3.99 and specified that I would like to receive my order via An Post if at all possible (had an overdose of couriers the last month, after buying all the back-to-school stuff online), that was also mentioned to me in the phone call and it did indeed arrive with the Postman. I just thought it was nice to know that the orders were being dealt with personally and read properly, an important factor when you're taking the risk by ordering online. The site also operates a loyalty scheme, where customers earn loyalty points that are redeemable on the site once you reach a certain limit.

Fireguard (also in white) with 3 boxes of Yankee Tea Lights, Now half price at €29.95

I want to make it 100% clear that I bought and paid for my order myself, and the only free products I received were down to the generosity of the lady who rang me (that's why I'm not mentioning her name, I don't want to get anyone into trouble) and this did not influence this post in any way. I would still rave about Yankee even if there wasn't a sale on. I just wanted to make a point of telling everyone how happy I was with the order, the company, and the products - so often, people complain about bad experiences they've had, and I think the good experiences are just as important - probably more so. It's great knowing where to avoid, but it's even better to know that you can trust in a company to provide a fantastic service.

The sale over at www.yankee.ie is ending this Sunday, August 23rd, and you can pay by Credit Card, PayPal, or Laser. The little fireguard above is fantastic value considering the usual price and the quality of the products - they also update their stock regularly and feature all the yearly limited editions and gorgeous seasonal gifts like these Christmas packs, which are DEFINITELY coming to my house this winter. Love.

Grab these for €17.95 (usual price €29.85) before Sunday!
I think in times like we've had over the past few years, it's easy to go to UK or US sites to grab bargains - so this is a brilliant opportunity to pick up some gorgeous gifts/treats and support Irish business at the same time. Treat a loved one (or yourself - yourself is always a worthy recipient).

S xx

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Saturday Night Song #7

Tonights SNS is Sweet Harmony by The Beloved.

Firstly: Yes, this video consists of a load of nude people sitting around in a circle. Don't worry, nothing pops out. Keep an eye out for Tess Daly. And the girl at around 1:40 who does that thing where you're about to keep singing and you realise that you're wrong. You'll know what I mean. Here's the vid:

Who: The Beloved were an English electronic dance group and were the final result of a couple of different band name and lineup changes throughout the early 80s. Eventually, the band consisted of duo Jon Marsh and Steven Waddington, which was the way it remained until 1993, when Steven left and was replaced by Jon's wife Helena. I think the 'The' had been dropped by this stage too.

What: Their first studio album Where it Is was a compilation of singles and B-Sides all released between 1986 and 1987, all of which made it on to the UK Indie Chart in the Top 30. Another single flopped in 1988, but the  1989 single The Sun Rising crossed over from the UK clubs and charted at No. 26 in the UK Singles Chart. Their second album, Happiness was released in 1990 - this was the first and only album that the band released as a duo. It spawned another hit single, Hello - the lyrics to that one are here, check them out - bizarre. They had another two hit singles, Your Love Takes Me Higher and Time After Time, both of which were hits internationally. They released a remix album in 1991, then their third studio album Conscience in 1993. A fourth was released in 1996, entitled X. This was the last original album from the group.

When: Sweet Harmony was released in January 1993. It became their biggest UK & Ireland hit, reaching number 8 in the UK charts and spending 11 weeks in the Irish Charts that year, peaking at No. 14. None of their other songs were as successful. This song garnered much of its attention because of the above video - it was extremely controversial at the time, and Jon Marsh found himself defending it on more than one occasion - "it was not intended to be sexual, it was as A-sexual as you can get". It was claimed that the actual concept was unity between humans.

Why: For no other reason than I was watching the best programme RTE have ever produced, Reeling in The Years, last week and this song was playing in the 1993 episode. I hadn't heard it in ages and something about the song makes me remember the Ireland I get such a longing for sometimes(far more often than is normal, to be honest). Anyway, hit play and have a listen. More music next week!

S xx

Matchmaker, Matchmaker

I'm back online as of yesterday, let the shite talk commence once more.

Today in Crosshaven, Co. Cork, the second annual Red Head Convention is about to kick off. The event raised over €3500 for the Irish Cancer Society last year.

This years one-day event will consist of (among others) a farmers market, strawberry cupcake competition, redhead styling advice, red head photo shoots, a red balloon launch, and a Sunburnt Irish Red Beer bar. All information about the festival can be found on this excellent website: www.redheadconvention.ie.

I think this is a fun way to raise money for a very deserving charity. Red hair is one of those traits that is immediately identified with Irish people - I've always thought red hair was absolutely beautiful (I firmly believe that no two redheads are exactly the same colour) and frankly, as we're coming towards the end of another excuse of a summer, anything that brings people a bit of joy and a fun day out is a good idea in my book.

Now, what I wanted to talk about was an article I read in Thursday's Star newspaper. Firstly, I don't buy the daily papers - I was Daddy-sitting (minding the OH's father for a few hours) and flicking through his papers. This teeny tiny article caught my eye - actually,  I wrote the whole thing down in a draft in my phone. Here it is: 

TV dating show guru has claimed only Irish fellas fancy redheads.
Millionaire Matchmaker host Patti Stanger (50) said she found it impossible to get her mega-rich clients to go out with flame-haired women. She said, "the only men who like redheads are irish. I can't get my millionaires to date a redhead." Patti admitted her revelations have got her into trouble with her own family. "My cousin is a redhead and she almost kicked my ass for this," she said. - Source: The Star, Thursday 18-08-11.

Firstly, what a stupid assumption to make. Only Irish men like redheads?! Firstly, let's get a look at Patti: 

Patti later tweeted about the issue (@pattistanger) "On the redhead issue: I said millionaire men pass on redheads unless they live in Ireland, Scotland, or the UK!" Sure you did, Patti, sure you did. She then went on to insult a whole other group of people (us curly haired wenches) by saying "On curly hair: I've been rockin' the surfer waves & love it but money men love straight hair... why not mix it up!" 

Patti is notorious in the tv dating industry - she founded her exclusive "Millionaire's Club" in 2000 after recognizing that "successful men in the dating arena needed a private, exclusive club where they could come to find their beautiful and intelligent wives". Her show, "Millionaire Matchmaker" has aired on Bravo since 2008. Patti's advice to some of the women looking to snare a Millionaire have included telling them to lose weight and get hair extensions. She also said that she "can't do anything for women over 45". Even though she herself is 50. Here are her top 12 dating tips (from urbanette): 
  1. Make a top-10 non-negotiable list of the things you want in your man. If he doesn't have all 10 things on the list, then do not step off the curb to date him.
  2. Make a plan of action. What are you doing every week to meet your mate? You need at least one event to go to meet quality eligible men each week.
  3. Always date a pair and a spare. You must always date 3 men at a time.
  4. Marketing 101...package yourself in a sexy way. Men want the cheerleader they got or did not get in high school. You must be in shape, grow your hair long, and less is more when it comes to make up. 
  5. Smile the five second flirt when you see a man you like. If he does not come over to you, he is either not attracted to you, homosexual, or already involved. Practice on men you have no interest in.
  6. Go out alone. Those who travel in packs do not attract. 
  7. Let the man lead and all will be revealed. Let the man initiate the conversation, call you and set up the date.
  8. Do not sleep with a man unless you are in an exclusive relationship where he has discussed exclusivity/monogamy with you in the sober light of day.
  9. Be reliable. Do not flake. Following through is the key to success. Call him back within 48 hours or he will move on to the next girl.
  10. Qualify the buyer - ask him questions like 'Where do you see yourself in five years?'.
  11. Do not date a man more than a year. If by nine months no talk of marriage has come up freely by this man you can safely assume he's not the marrying kind.
  12. Do not live with a man prior to marriage. It kills the romance. You may accept a ring and move in only if the wedding date is set, both families have met and wedding plans are in full swing.
Patti herself met her fiancee Andy through a matchmaker - only to announce in 2010 that she had ended the relationship with the real-estate executive. Her reason? "I just ended my relationship with Andy. It hit me hard that I want kids in my life. You have to agree on the non-negotiables". Does anyone else just find that really, really sad? 

I'll end this post by firstly telling you that this post title now has the Robin Williams mask-makeover scene in Mrs. Doubtfire stuck in my head, and also by posting some photographs of my favourite redheads -  if you're a redhead near Cork today, why not pop down and support the Irish Cancer Society by joining in with a few of their events. 

God, yeah - the three of them, absolute mingers. Couldn't pull a millionaire between them, right Patti? 

S xx

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Please Stand By #2

Sweet merciful mother of the divine baby Jesus.

A few weeks ago, I went AWOL from the blogging world because I had writers block. I'll be leaving ye again for a little while - not out of choice this time, but because my laptop has once again decided to put a stall to my gallop and refuse to respond. How am I writing this post, you may ask? Well, my Mum kindly lent me her laptop for a few days so that I could tie up a few loose ends online before I embrace the next few technology-free weeks. I decided to tell you all because you guys/gals were lovely enough to follow me in the first place, and for once, I'm not being a neglectful blogger (I had loads of post ideas too, I'll have to go back to the old faithful notebook and pen until I get sorted).

I'm really greatful to have the loan of this b*stard of a machine, but it is driving me CRAZY. The bloody thing has a mind of its own - a new window opens of its own accord every 25 seconds (I'm not exaggerating, I've timed it) and for some strange reason, the O and E letters are sticking. The two I use most often. Why couldn't it be Z and X? It also goes offline every few minutes, loads pages at about the same speed as a particularly slow slug, and is worryingly hot. The air is blue around me. Also - another thing I've noticed is that when something goes wrong, I start to think in German. I'm not kidding, the first thing I thought of when my laptop went funny was 'mein computer ist kaputt'. I've no idea why. It's like that thing in school when you'd have a French test and you'd think of all the answers in Irish.

I better stop rambling, because I'll be here all night otherwise - it's taken me 25 minutes to type this out what with having to close the million* open windows and bang the vowel keys. It would actually be quicker** to visit you all individually and say goodbye for a little while.

But that would be really, really weird.

Back soon,

S xxx

* Slight Exaggeration.
** Major Exaggeration.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Who's that girl?

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Pendants and Watches and Rings - Oh My!

Definition of a magpie:
  1. A long-tailed crow with boldly-marked (or green) plumage and a noisy call.
  2. Used figuratively to refer to a person who obsessively collects things or who chatters idly.
While I can sometimes have a noisy call, the second definition is me down to a T (there's another expression I've never understood, maybe a follow-up to the eye-peeling thing is in order). I can't get enough shiny sparkly things.  If you want to get rid of me for an hour, either pop me in the jewellery section of any shop (I'm not fussy) or whack the argos catalogue in front of me, open at the jewellery pages. I've always been obsessed with rings and pendants especially - I can take or leave earrings (weirdly, considering I have my ears pierced multiple times). I think it comes from when I was a child, and completely addicted to these:

I seriously couldn't pass a shop without haunting my mother for money to put into the machine and get a ring/watch/necklace that looked NOTHING like the sample ones stuck to the inside of the glass. 

These days, my fetish has been upgraded a notch - instead of stopping at the front of every newsagents within a 20-mile-radius, I've found another place to satisfy my cheap jewellery cravings - eBay.

Sometimes, when I tell people I get the majority of my jewellery from eBay, they say things like "Oh, would you not be better off saving up and buying one or two good pieces instead of buying loads of shite cheaper stuff?" The answer, my friends, is a big fat NO. Because I lose things. All the time. I only have a couple of proper rings/earrings/necklaces and I'm that scared that I'll lose them that I rarely even wear them. Also, I get really sick of the same stuff and like to change it up a bit. 

With this in mind, I wanted to show you a few bits that I got over the past few months on eBay - I buy from Chinese sellers, I found a couple of good sellers and stuck to them. Their customer service is impeccable, the stuff arrives within 10 days, they offer free post, and the jewellery is of no worse quality than you'd get in Penneys or Dunnes. Also, I find if I see something nice in Penneys, I see twenty more girls wearing it before I even pay for it. Not good. Here are a few of my finds:

L-R - Large orange stone pendant, motorcycle watch pendant, skeleton pendant

This is my favourite, I wear it all the time.
Large blue stone pendant
My favourite ring! (Also my fave nail polish, Essence Movin' On)
L-R - Large blue oval stone ring, large diamonte ring, large mood ring.
The thing I love the most about this stuff is how unique it is over here. While I do love Penneys and all other jewellery shops, I don't like how everyone seems to have the same stuff at one time or another. These are the eBay sellers I use:  sweetbabysupermarketsales, and yooocart (who is a really, really nice seller - my 3V card decided to have a huge fight with my PayPal on an order one time and she was extremely accomodating and kept an item for me). All the above items had either free or very, very little postage, and NOTHING was over €2.50. The watch necklaces arrived with batteries in, and both have kept the correct time since.

It ain't gonna last forever, but it's mighty pretty while it does.

S xx

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Play with Google

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