Sunday, 28 January 2018

WHAT I'M LOVING RIGHT NOW . . .

I'm so happy to be getting back into more regular blogging again . . . let's see how long that lasts, eh? In the meantime, let's get into the things I'm loving at the moment . . .



CARDS AGAINST HUMANITY

I had heard of the Cards Against Humanity game a few times towards the end of last year, but finally got a chance to play it at Christmas and I loved it. I find it kinda hard to explain but you basically just have to try and find the funniest, most offensive answer to play out of the cards you are dealt. Cue hilarity. It's amazing.


THIS ASDA SKIRT


I found this jacquard skirt in Asda last week, for a mere ten pounds. I absolutely love the pattern and the style of it, and who doesn't love a bargain!?!


MY IOLLA GLASSES


For the first time in my life, I actually have a pair of glasses I like. This model is Bruce in rose tortoise, and they only cost £65. As a contact lens wearer for like 25 years I'm probably always going to favour those, but it's nice to actually own glasses I actually feel confident in. Iolla have some great frames so they're definitely worth checking out.


LODGE LIFE

We just spent three nights up in a loch-side lodge in the Highlands for the lovely fella's birthday and it was just great to get away and relax, while exploring the area. I especially loved coming back to the lodge and chilling out at the end of each day, while the snow lay outside. We even made a snowman!


MY FAUX FUR COAT


I got this QED coat for my birthday from my siblings, and I feel like I never take it off. It's champagne coloured (very fitting for me - although out of interest why is it "champagne" and not "prosecco" or "cava" coloured?) and it's so very cosy, particularly during all the recent cold snaps up here. I'm so glad it's in my life. (Sadly it doesn't appear to still be on asos - sorry about that!)  but there's a nice blue one and a lovely animal print one there!)


What are you loving at the moment?


Friday, 26 January 2018

ON CHEESE . . . AND THE BEST CHEESE TOASTIE I HAVE EVER MADE!!!

My name is Paula and I'm a cheese-aholic.



It seems to be a pretty much known fact about me anyway - possibly the first sign of being addicted to cheese is the fact that everyone you know seems to know about it. And as a result every other time you're tagged in something on facebook, it is something related to cheese. An opening of a new cheese cafĂ©, a recipe that basically is just made entirely of fromage, or a funny clip about . . . people who are addicted to cheese (although if you do like cheese that is definitely worth a watch!).

To be honest, I've often shared this same post before someone tags me in it. That's how on top of my cheese addiction I am. (Although it probably also means I'm on Facebook waaayyyy too much too. But let's not get into that right now.)

In my world, almost everything tastes good with a lot a bit of cheese added to it. There are a few things that perhaps don't really need it . . . like curry for example. But you can have paneer curry so that's basically a curry made entirely of cheese, and it's utterly delicious. (And if you can't find paneer, halloumi makes a pretty good substitute. Just sayin'). That being said, if I'm having a chicken korma, I'm unlikely to add cheese to it.

Although we were ordering a takeaway last night and one of the curries apparently had a sauce made from cream and Scottish cheddar . . . I was definitely intrigued by that.

A baked camembert is one of my great pleasures in life. I try to limit myself to only having it every once in a while. It's very difficult for me.

If I'm in a restaurant and there's some form of deep fried mozzarella listed under starters on the menu, I am highly unlikely to be able to resist.

Speaking of mozzarella, I'm a bit obsessed with buratta. Which is essentially mozzarella stuffed with further mozzarella . . . and cream. I had it for the first time near the end of 2016 and I became a bit obsessed with finding it again. I found a pizza takeaway place that offered it as a pizza topping and I was so excited - the pizza was delicious and I couldn't wait to get another. Next time we ordered however they got the order mixed up and put the buratta on the fella's pizza. I could have cried. (To his credit, he tried to give me the bits of buratta that he could salvage but he had went for pesto on his pizza and it kinda ruined it for me.) Another time, I was so excited that a chain restaurant was offering buratta as a starter but I swear it turned out to just be regular mozzarella. I didn't say anything, and I love fresh mozzarella anyway, but I was so disappointed.

Basically, it seems me and buratta are not meant to be so I should probably stop forcing it.

Another amazing cheese is Arran cheddar with chilli in it. Anytime we buy this, it's gone within the hour. Luckily we don't find it a lot. However, we did find that Tesco do a cheese with chilli and lime in it and it is everything!

Okay, so I know you're probably shaking this head looking at this and thinking "is she still talking about cheese?" but as a disclaimer, the post is called "On cheese . . ." and I did lead off by saying I was a cheeseaholic so there wasn't really anywhere else it could go.

However . . . if you've managed to keep reading this long, I'm going to tell you all about an amazing cheese toastie I made recently. It's in the picture at the top, and I'm about to tell you how you can recreate it too if you're so inclined. I posted it on instagram at the time and it proved to be quite popular. And, like I said on the post itself, it was one of those meals where you're eating it just not wanting it to end . . . and I was gutted when it did end.

All you need (for one sandwich) is:
  • two slices of sourdough bread
  • grated cheese (I went for the aforementioned chilli and lime cheese from Tesco and grated it myself - I think grating your own cheese works better than buying ready grated) - as much as you like
  • mozzarella (I just bought a ball of it and shredded it myself) - also as much as you like
  • red onion, sliced
  • red pepper, sliced
I assembled the sandwich with all of the cheese, some red onion and red pepper and stuck it in the George Foreman. (You can do it in the frying pan if you want but I was trying to make one for the fella too so it seemed easier to do the main part of it in the George). Then I waited until the cheese was all melted and the bread felt suitably toasty.

Then I took a tip from Jamie Oliver, melting a bit of butter in a frying pan with some more grated cheese, before sticking the sandwiches in there and swirling them about until the cheese started to melt. Voila! The result was a cheesy taste sensation!

I made some sweet potato fries to go with it and they were alright (I'm yet to find the perfect recipe for those) but the main event was one hundred percent the cheese toastie. It was absolutely awesome.

And you are welcome. ;-)

Anyone else obsessed with cheese? Just me??


Thursday, 25 January 2018

P'S READING CHALLENGE . . . PART 6!

So I fell somewhat behind with my reading challenge. In a way. Mainly because I could never keep up with blogging about it! I started writing part six up about two months ago, but didn't publish it.



So a wee update, if you've happened upon my blog by chance and never read it before. Last year, sick of my reading habits dwindling over the years, I decided to aim to read 40 books . . . and to hold myself accountable by listing them all on my blog (if you click on the "P's Reading Challenge" label on the bottom of this post you can check out my other posts on this subject).  At first I was way behind, I think it took me three or four months just to read the first five books. LUCKILY I went on three laze-around-on-a-sunlounger-with-a-book holidays which helped immensely with the challenge.

I had been doing five books per post, but since 2017 is now over (where did the time go???) I decided I may as well finish off my challenge with a bumper post. Sorry about that!

So what else did I read in 2017? Let's find out . . .

The Truth About Gemma Grey - Sophie Ranald

I was immediately intrigued by this book because the heroine of it was a vlogger. Although I don't vlog myself, I am interested in watching others' blogs and so this topic was definitely of interest to me. Gemma goes viral by accident after having an on-screen breakdown after her boyfriend dumps her . . . and she is quickly propelled into a world she is completely unfamiliar with, thrust into a world of stringa-attached freebies and hobnobbing with some of the most famous youtubers around. But is this actually the life she wants? I devoured most of this on my flight to Kavos earlier this year and was transfixed throughout. A great read. 8/10

The Diary of Madison Brown - S.J. Crabb

Although I found this book entertaining, I did struggle a bit with it and I actually had to leave it a couple of times and go back to it after reading books I preferred. I found the humour mainly lay in the main character's ditziness and she seemed pretty one-dimensional and arrogant to me. I also don't like it when good fortune just constantly falls into someone's lap, and that's how this book felt - there was no struggle for it. It had its moments and I wanted to see how it ended and I enjoyed it enough . . . but I'd never re-read it and I probably wouldn't recommend it. That being said, I wouldn't rule out reading another book by Crabb - I think it was just the character I wasn't a massive fan of . . . and you can't like everyone! 5/10

Whatever Happened to Vicky Hope's Back-Up Man - Laura Kemp

There's been a many a plot based around the age-old "if we're both not married by *insert age here* we'll get married" plot, but this book certainly put a bit of a twist on it. Vicky has just been dumped and been forced to move back home, which makes her think about getting in touch with her back-up man, Mikey, as well as her former best friend Kat. However, there's a massive secret one of the three is hiding, and it could threaten to ruin any of their relationships re-forming. I have to admit I saw the plot twist in this one coming really early on and I did find this book a bit hardgoing at times, but it was definitely an interesting read and I did are about the characters. 6/10

A Proper Family Adventure - Chrissie Manby

I read A Proper Family Holiday a few years ago and, although I'm never a big fan of follow-up novels featuring the same characters, I did feel like I wanted to revisit this particular family. I wasn't disappointed. Their "adventure" this time features a cruise, which made me very jealous as I've always wanted to go on a cruise and I love to read about them. And  I loved it. The characters are great (the kids are particularly hilarious) and I was so disappointed when the story came to an end. (I think I've actually missed one of the family's stories in between the first one and this one, but I kinda feel like it was explained in this book and I therefore don't really need to read it. By all means, feel free to read them in order, just definitely read this one!) 10/10

If You Could See Me Now - Keris Stainton

This is my second Keris book read this year, and her first adult book (yes, I occasionally still read Young Adult and I'm 38 - I don't care!) and I was looking forward to this coming out for ages. It didn't disappoint - Izzy, our heroine, feels a bit like her life isn't quite going how she planned . . . but then something very unexpected happens (I don't want to give it away but I don't think it's a twist I've saw in a book before) and after she's over the shock, she uses it to make some giant changes in her life. There's also a great hero in it, which is always a very important plus point for me. You should definitely invest in a copy of this book, it's brill - I promise! 9/10

The Hating Game - Sally Thorne

Lucy and Josh share an office and are work rivals, possibly even worst enemies. But there's a fine line between love and hate, and this book is a fascinating, romantic and funny look at that line. I was absolutely transfixed by this book almost from the outset. I keep returning to read bits because the relationship at the centre of the plot is so captivating. A definite must-read in my eyes. 10/10

The Break - Marian Keyes

If there ever is a red letter day in the book world, it is when Marian Keyes has a new book out. Her book "Rachel's Holiday" is probably my favourite book in the world so anytime she has a new book out I'm very happy about this. And I had just so happened to have won an amazon voucher in work just as her book came out so I was very excited to pack it into my Kindle and take it on holiday with me! Amy's husband decides he wants to take a break from their marriage and go travelling and this is about Amy trying to survive without him while he takes that break. The premise, I have to admit, annoyed me, but as the plot continued it became clear nothing was quite as it appears. I wouldn't say it was my favourite Keyes novel by any means, but it was still a cut above so many books. 9/10

The Holiday Cruise - Victoria Cooke

Oh how I love a holiday-esque type book . . . especially while on holiday, which I was while I was reading this! Hannah's marriage has fallen apart and, as a result, her beauty salon business has also been affected. So she decides to apply for a job on a cruise ship. It's fun, it helps her forget and the only rule is that you can't get involved with the guests . . . oh dear! A great read. 9/10

The Worst Case Scenario Cooking Club - Chrissie Manby

Another book I was looking forward to being released, I was not disappointed by this at all! Three people from very different walks of life are brought together at a cooking course and it's wonderful. It also made me very hungry. 10/10

Izzy's Cold Feet - Sarah Louise Smith

This book was okay but I liked the idea of it more than I liked the story itself. This is about a girl on the verge of getting married who starts to wonder if she should have been with one of her exes. I found it quite hard to feel sorry for Izzy, if I'm perfectly honest and I think that's what put me off it a bit. It was an enjoyable enough read though. 5/10

Love to Hate You - Anna Premoli

I enjoyed this book of two rivals in work becoming romantically intertwined, however as I'd not long before read the aforementioned The Hating Game, I didn't feel quite as attached to these characters as I did to Jennifer and Ian in Love To Hate You. I did thoroughly enjoy it though and was rooting for things to work out with them! 7/10

Cocktails and Dreams - A.L. Michael

I've enjoyed every A.L. Michael book I've read so far and this was no exception. I enjoyed the character of Savvy and her messy relationship with her mother, the hero was delicious and who doesn't enjoy cocktail chat? Great read - it's part of a series so I will definitely need to read the others! 8/10

The Truth About Ellen - Sarah Louise Smith

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you met your teenage hero? And what if you then ended up involved, years down the line, with his bandmate? But you haven't told your new fella about your past? That's Ellen's dilemma and it's immensely readable. 7/10

The Hygge Holiday - Rosie Blake

Clara, a mysterious newcomer to a small village, ends up accidentally running a toy shop . . . and making a massive success of it. But who is she and what will the toy shop owner's son, high-flyer Joe, make of her. I loved this book a lot! I don't even know how to pronounce "Hygge" but just reading it made me feel all hygge inside. 10/10


Mistletoe on 34th Street - Lisa Dickenson

The last book I read of the year - and I had to completely read it on the Kindle app on my phone thanks to my broken Kindle. I always feel like I need to read a Christmas themed novel at Christmas and I rarely get around to actually doing it, so I'm glad I managed it this year. This was a great read, set mainly in New York (in case the title did not make that obvious), and it made me feel all festive just in time! 10/10


So I managed it. Somehow, against all odds, I read 40 books exactly in 2017. I haven't yet managed to finish one book in 2018 sadly, however, I was doing similarly last year at this time and I did only just get a new Kindle last week, so I'm not going to beat myself up too much yet.

Did you set yourself a reading challenge last year? Did you succeed?



Tuesday, 23 January 2018

SCOTLAND THE BEAUTIFUL: A SCOTTISH ROAD TRIP . . . DAYS 6 AND 7!!!

It started snowing on and off between the Thursday night and Friday morning in Oban, but it was largely gone by the time we woke up. Skipping breakfast once again (so far we made breakfast on the Sunday only, despite breakfast being included in every hotel we had stayed in), we set off on our way.

Always time to be silly!!!

Our next destination was Crianalarich, edging closer back to Glasgow as it was our last full day on the road, so we had a bit of time to play with. We stopped off on the beach just to the north of Oban, with some lovely views of a snow-covered Mull and some silly selfie opportunities.

Looking over to Mull from Oban

Then we headed down towards the Slate Islands, since one is accessible via the Clachan Bridge, otherwise known as the Bridge Over The Atlantic. From the Isle of Seil you can access the other islands in the group by boat - one day we will do this!

Gorgeous views from the Isle of Seil

Eventually we arrived in Crianlarich where we were staying at the Ben More Lodge. We were staying in what was effectively a little chalet, with a bed, couch, tv and a little bathroom - it was so warm and cosy.
Crianlarich looked amazing in the snow

After having a wee walk around the snow covered area, we popped over to the pub there for dinner, a couple of drinks and some pool. As it was dog-friendly there were a couple of them kicking around, which I always love, and just as we were leaving some live traditional music was about to kick off. The food was really tasty too, and the price of both the accommodation and the food really reasonable. 100 per cent recommend.

Such beautiful scenery!

The next day the snow had picked up, much to the fella's delight, so after we got up and made it to breakfast (it had to happen again eventually!) we headed back towards Glen Coe to get a few snowier pictures than before!

Snowy scenes
Once we'd managed to capture the area in all its snowy beauty, we reluctantly began heading home towards reality, knowing we at least had one more day of the weekend before we had to return to our desk and PC and normality of office life. It really was such an amazing road trip. We spent too much money and drank and ate too much crap . . . but I feel like some amazing memories were made.

Glen Coe looking unbelievably dramatic!

I'd say I can't wait until the next road trip but we're literally just back from the next one. That being said, I still can't wait for the next one! And with not-yet-booked-but-upcoming trips to Ardfern, Torridon and Carnoustie coming up, it hopefully shouldn't be long before we're on the road again . . .

Sunday, 14 January 2018

SCOTLAND THE BEAUTIFUL: A SCOTTISH ROAD TRIP . . . DAY 5!!!

I had to get back to it eventually, didn't I? Ridiculous that I'm still posting about a trip that happened nearly two months ago now but life always tends to get in the way!

What a view!!!

 
 
 
So we're on to Day 5 . . . and we woke up in the Isles of Glencoe Hotel to a gorgeous view! Unfortunately we were not the only ones who thought so and there were a bunch of photographers with tripods and everything blocking the view outside our window. Eventually we got the view to ourselves and it was worth the wait.
 
 
Loch Leven
 

Loch Linnhe
We skipped breakfast once again and then headed towards our next destination, the lovely town of Oban. We were booked to go to the distillery at four, so we had a couple of hours to spare before we needed to get ourselves checked in to the hotel. We snapped some pictures at Loch Leven and Linnhe first. Then we discovered Loch Creran, a new find for us, which really was lovely.
Loch Creran
In Oban, we checked into the Columba Hotel (which was the sister hotel of the one we stayed at in Dunoon) and then headed over to the distillery. Now, we've did this tour before and it's a good one - it only costs ten quid as well which is pretty reasonable. We enjoyed a couple of drams in the bar afterwards and I also had a whisky ginger cocktail which was absolutely delicious.



Afterwards we popped to Cuan Mor for dinner and had a little walk around the town before heading back to the hotel. Not a massively eventful day, perhaps, but it was a lovely day all the same. Lots of good pictures for the old Instagram too, which is never a waste of time. ;-)
Oban looking pretty in purple
Roll on day 6!