Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Orange & Chilli Marmalade

For our first party in the flat we are having a cheese & wine party - a few difficulties to combat will be the fact we own a total of zero wine glasses and a very limited number of places to park your behind but what I do have is three jars of this very delicious Orange & Chilli Marmalade. 

I have never made a marmalade or a jam before - terrified of how difficult I assumed it would be. This was not difficult - time consuming would be truthful but also very very worth it. Peeling and cutting the pith off 5 oranges was enough to drive me insane. I used just standard oranges you would find in your fruit bowl but I saw in the supermarket yesterday some marmalade oranges which I assume have been grown to be less pithy. Pith, the white stuff on your oranges, will be bitter in your final marmalade so worth trying to get as much off as you can possibly bear - it's worth it I promise.

The original recipe called for a food processor which I own but in the move I have managed to lose the central spindle which means at the moment it's unusable so instead I successfully used a stick hand blender. Don't make my mistake and hand blend this in a white shirt - it will not be all that white for very long!!

Cheese & Wine party here we come!!

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(adapted from Good Food magazine recipe)
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5 oranges
6 red chilies
4 red peppers
900g jam sugar with added pectin
8g sachet of pectin
500ml white wine vinegar

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1. Peel the oranges and take as much of the pith off the peel as you possibly can. Cut the peel into thin strips (size is dependent upon your preference - mine are quite chunky - like me). Peel as much pith a you can from the orange flesh itself and roughly chop this into medium pieces.

2. Chop and deseed the peppers and chillis and place this into the bowl with the orange flesh. Pulse the mixture until you have a vibrant frothy orange soup - a few chunks here and there won't matter. Pour this into a wide deep pan along with the orange zest strips and the sugar, pectin and vinegar.

3. Heat the mixture slowly until the sugar has dissolved and then bring to a vigorous boil and then bubble for approx 40 minutes. The best way to test if the marmalade is set enough is by placing a small plate in the freezer before heating the mixture and once 40 minutes have gone by putting small teaspoon on the plate. If after a minute the marmalade wrinkles it's ready - if not bubble away for a couple more minutes and repeat. 
(As my freezer is in the garage which is quite some way from my kitchen - I'm not exaggerating I promise - I just did this by eye - it could have done with a few more minutes maybe but it's still pretty good)

4. Allow the mixture to cool for 10- 20 minutes and then ladle (or if you don't yet own a ladle like me use some measuring cups) the mixture into sterilised jars. Store in cool dry environment.

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Just a note on sterilising your jars - the best way I found to do this was to wash them in hot soapy water and then put them upside down in an 140°C oven for about 10 minutes.

Monday, 2 March 2015


The first book of my Open University course is all to do with reputations and one of the first question it asks you to consider is "what is a reputation and how is one gained?" We are looking at characters ranging from Cleopatra to Stalin, the Dalai Lama to Madonna - all people with very different reputations.

It got me thinking. Obviously I posted this blog post about my reputation within high school. At a time that reputation was me and that reputation will always be part of me. I find it easy to talk about what some would call "slutty behavior" but that still doesn't mean that I don't judge people for acting in that way. I still judge the girl that said nasty things to me on the bus when I was thirteen as a bully even though she is probably a completely different woman now. I know I am not alone. 

A reputation is hard to break especially without fresh starts - you start to act a certain way because that's how everyone expects you to act. I used to be very shy and when I was with my ex boyfriend I would say that I became even more introverted and I hated it. I'm not that person anymore but confronted with people who only knew me as shy I feel myself slowly sinking into that way of life again. I'm also a very emotional person - my friend will constantly remind me of the time I absolutely lost it at high school - stunning a teacher that could talk the leg off a donkey into silence. It makes me cringe even now but I still manage to lose it sometimes. I still have that same reputation at work - of being emotional, of being difficult. I wish I didn't. If an action is negative it achieves a reputation much quicker than a positive action. There can be months go by in which you act perfectly normally and then you have a bad day and that reputation you have worked so hard to distance yourself from is there again. 

But then a reputation is different depending upon who you ask - I believe my reputation to be a gobby, emotional, chatty person but someone could have had a completely different idea about me depending upon how I have been with them. I think sometimes it is so easy to dwell on people's thoughts of you that it becomes a little bit consuming. I find it hard to distance myself from what my reputation might be, from what others might be thinking, and does it really matter? In the end you can only be the best person you can be at that time given the circumstances.

Sorry this a bit of a mind dump - there's a reason for it I promise just not one I'm really ready to put into the big bad internet yet. What do you think about reputations? What is your reputation?

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Jan/ Feb Roundup

These months have been busy but oh so good. So many new things started and so many things to be enjoyed.

Work has been that crazy mixture of quiet & busy - frantic long hours one week and then having the time to help others the next week. I also had some time off in February which meant getting back into the swing of things was hard - I have been really rubbish at taking time off so it is much needed but it does make me nervous

Going to see Chris in Nottingham was the perfect midweek treat to my week off and getting drunk on a Wednesday now seems to be my thing (and then feeling pretty sorry for myself Thursday). Alcohol is not my friend but cocktails are delicious - also getting ID'ed in two out of three places in Nottingham must mean I'm looking extra babyfaced at the moment!

Also spent some time with the boys on my week off - eating pizza, playing monopoly and going to the cinema was perfect. Also meant my Mum & Dad went to their spa day which I got them for Christmas which they really enjoyed even though there was a fire in the sauna! They took it all in their stride and had a cake as waiting outside in their dressing gowns really tired them out!!

Open University is going well - I am further ahead than I have to be at this stage because I am pretty sure that something will come up soon that will take me away from studying when I least need it and also ahead because I'm really enjoying the course. I have been to one tutorial and a day school in Cambridge and was really nice to see some new faces.

Being in the flat has now started to feel more real - washing up is maybe my least favourite task but I love food shopping and cooking meals for us. I am getting used to the air drying washing thing that perplexed me so much when I moved in and finally feel like we are back on top after no washing machine for like a month.

I went on my first first date - it was not a success but not a failure. He was nice but potentially too nice which makes me sound like a crazy person but just didn't feel like we had that much in common - he was like maybe the nicest person - volunteering in a charity shop, working for a company that helps people - and I'm maybe not.

So these are some of my highlights - can't wait to see what the next couple of months brings!

Saturday, 28 February 2015

BlogLove - February

This post about wearing what you want regardless of your size

This post about how your anchor habits - habits that keep you grounded. I'm not sure I have any so maybe a good idea to start some to keep some normal in my life

Can we celebrate my half birthday?? Even though it is my birthday next month!

Love this article.

Can I have this kitchen please?!? I don't even like pink that much but this is pretty!

I don't have kids but this is cute - and would be nice to praise people's good more often anyway

So these are some of the blog posts I have been enjoying this month - please feel free to share some blog posts you have enjoyed and share the BlogLove


Your favourite post on Simple Chronicles of Me this month - Adventurous: The Art of Trying New Things

My favourite post on Simple Chronicles of Me this month - Banana & Salted Caramel Muffins

Friday, 20 February 2015

Dating Dilemnas - The First "First Date"

I am going on my first date tonight and I'm starting to feel a sense of abject terror at the thought of it. This is my first "first date" - not that I have been single for my whole life but we just didn't do dates for some reason or another. And now here I am about to embark on my first date and I'm thinking of throwing myself down the stairs so that I have an excuse not to go.

So to take the panic off here are 10 thoughts I'm having before a first date:

1. "Ok so what do I wear?" Trivial but oh so important 

2. "What if he thinks I'm crazy?" I am crazy but I don't want him to think that, similar thoughts on if he thinks I'm loud, annoying or a bitch 

3. "What if he's crazy?" I am having thoughts ranging between a little eccentric to straight jacket wearing psychopath

4. "I will spill something down myself" We are going to eat - I am going to look like a complete an utter idiot who cannot feed herself. I went out on Wednesday and spilled food down a baby blue dress, I laughed, my friend laughed, until the waitress pointed it out and I wanted to smash her in the face (please see note 2)

5. "What if he's boring?" I am pretty rubbish at forced inane social chit chat unless I am drunk and as I am driving tonight this will not be the case, if he ain't got nothing to say then I would rather through myself off the pier 

6. "What if he thinks I'm boring?" I'm not so not even going to happen ;)

7. "What if I don't like him?" I don't really know this man/bloke/guy/person - I've seen his picture, chatted to him online and thought yeah he's nice but if he's not then I am a bad judge of character.

8. "But what if I do like him?" I am getting through this by convincing myself it's a one and only but what if I actually like him? What if he doesn't like me back?

9. "What if he doesn't turn up?" This brings back issues of my thirteenth birthday party where literally no one came and I balled my eyes out, fear of throwing parties complex ever since.

10. "What am I going to eat?" This isn't really date related I'm just hungry!

Any tips from you professional daters out there? 
Am I being crazy?

Wish me luck!!

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Life Drawing 101

One of my New Year's resolutions this year was to try new things (see this post here for some more of my wishes and this post here for my tips of trying new things) I'm pretty good at doing the same old thing so when a leaflet came through my door with adult learning courses I decided to give it a go. I picked life drawing. If you aren't familiar with life drawing it's the drawing of the naked human form which yeah can be pretty intimidating but boy did I enjoy it (in a non pervy way!!) 

If you are thinking of studying life drawing here are my tips from a complete beginner:

- Don't be scared of being embarrassed - It's going to be a bit of a shock when you walk into a room to find a man naked so don't expect yourself to have full composure - you will want to laugh and if you might find it quite hard to look at certain ... ahem ... intimate areas. The models are used to it and you get used to seeing it all quite quickly

- Take lots of paper and a variety of pencils - you will most likely draw quite a few different poses so lots of big paper is a good thing. Also some different pencils can be useful (although not a necessity) - apparently my style suited a 4B. Also bring an eraser which brings me on to my next point...

- Draw what you see, not what you think you see - the life model had quite a short neck and muscly shoulders so when standing or sitting in a certain position you couldn't see his neck but to start of I insisted on drawing one. As soon as I stopped and got the head in the correct position my drawings improved.

- Don't give up - you will improve, it will feel more natural

- Get inspiration from others but try not to get disheartened - there were proper artists in my life drawing class with antique art sets and they were really good but they had done this lots before and had been to art college. It is really nice though to see other people's styles and see the life model from a different angle

- Enjoy yourself- it's art not life or death, so what if he has wonky knees? (unless it is life or death then don't enjoy yourself, draw like a madman, become the next Manet and do it quick!) 

If this has inspired you then look for some life drawing classes in your local area, colleges are generally a good place to start as they generally offer them for their art classes for sixth formers or just get Googling! 

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Adventurous: The Art of Trying New Things

My wish this year was to try new things, be more adventurous and just jump right out of that nice and easy comfort zone. For someone who screams confidence it might surprise you to hear that the reason I love the comfort zone is because new things terrify me. They fill me with enough anxiety to make me want to vomit and to make me not even want to put myself forward. I love routine, spontaneity scares me but actually when being spontaneous (generally forced by those around me) this is when I have enjoyed myself the most.

The thing is the new thing doesn't have to be massive to anyone else. It doesn't have to be jumping out of a plane or flying a hot air balloon, it can be the little things that make the most difference to your life. Today I am going on a train by myself for the first time. For all you train commuters this is nothing but to me this is big, it's scary, it's exciting. Don't put yourself down because you think others will believe your something is nothing. If it is something to you it is important.

Tell people you are trying new things. One it will give you that emotional support when you waver and two they will be able to give you some great tips about new things to try. Always have the same dish at your favourite restaurant? They could recommend something that you had never even thought of trying - even if in the end you order your old dish next time because it was better, how will you know if you never try?

It makes you look out for new things. I made my resolution to try new things and then I had to find some new things to try so when an adult learning course leaflet came through the door I looked for new opportunities and decided to sign up for an art course (which I will be telling you about soon) Art isn't very me but surely that's the point of trying new things?? And you know what I enjoyed it!

DON'T GIVE UP! Don't let yourself quit before you have even started. Agreed to do something? Then don't bail, even if you have only agreed with yourself. 

Talk yourself through your worries (or talk with a friend). I'm pretty good at coming up with the most ridiculous reasons to not try something (generally ending in my horrific death because I obviously read too many thriller books) but if you talk through these worries prior to the task then you already know how to combat the situation. What if my car breaks down? Call the AA or get a bus or get a lift. What if I get lost? Take the sat nav, ask directions, set off early just in case. What if I get abducted by aliens? At least it will be a new thing!

Worry is a wasted emotion, it doesn't change the situation and I know that that doesn't change anything when you are really worried but to me just reminding myself of that fact that worry changes nothing does a great deal to put it into perspective.

So please try new things and let me know how you got on or suggest new things for me to try (unless it's blogging consistently because I am a major fail at that!!)