On the menu – more Deliciously Ella

Friday

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These were for lunch; quinoa fritters (from Deliciously Ella, I’ve menu planned all the recipes for this week from the book) made with sweet potato and buckwheat flour. Quite nice in a gently warming, filling sort of way, although if I make them again (probably), I’ll be shaping them with my hands!

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And the reward for the most unappetising looking and tasting meal of the week goes to my evening meal of roasted kale and polenta. It tasted as good as it looks. The actual recipe also includes mushrooms, which I emitted because I don’t like them, maybe if you actually like mushrooms and the mushrooms were in the recipe this would be ok, but as it is, nope. I’ve had some lovely roasted kale before and although I’m not a big fan of polenta I’ve had some nice polenta in the past . . . but not today. I think my definition of nice polenta has got cheese in it. All together a bit bland and just like the beetroot and buckwheat risotto I made from the book last week, in desperate need of some additional ingredients to add flavour.

Saturday

No photo but I made the simple oat biscuits from Deliciously Ella. They were quite nice but were more like flat cakes than biscuits and they certainly weren’t chewy as the recipe suggested (and if I’d left them in any longer they would have burnt). They were made with a mix of mashed banana, oats, coconut oil, buckwheat flour and maple syrup, they were very bananary, so I’d have called them banana biscuits really.

Tuesday

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This was rather nice, as you can see I couldn’t stop to take a photo of it until after I’d eaten. The recipe is under classic stir fry in the Deliciously Ella book and it is pretty simple, just stir fried veg but the thing that pushes it over the edge is a really nice sauce combo of tahini, lemon juice, (weirdly) mixed dried herbs and soy sauce (it’s meant to be tamari but can I buy that anywhere? nope and anyway, soy sauce is a good substitute). I’d never thought of using tahini before in a stir fry but it coats the veg and the noodles really well and adds a subtle creamy texture, whilst at the same time the lemon juice really cuts through, yum, I will be making this again.

Thursday

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And the award for the dish that most looks like baby food goes to . . . butternut squash ‘risotto’. This is another Deliciously Ella risotto that isn’t actually a risotto, it uses brown rice which you are meant to cook for 45 minutes, sorry but I am not going to cook brown rice for 45 minutes, I think this is meant to give the brown rice a more risotto like texture but sorry, that can’t be doing good things to the brown rice’s nutrient content, over cooking it that much, surely? So if you’re going to screw around with the rice that much you might as well actually use proper risotto rice, but no, I’m still on that health kick, so I used brown rice and cooked it for the time it said on the packet, 25 minutes. Other than that and the alarming baby food texture and appearance, this was actually quite nice, I may make it again but in a more ‘inspired by’ the recipe fashion than actually following it next time.

 

Slouch hat

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I can’t seem to stop knitting this year; this is the Slouch Hat from Knitting Smitten by Jessica Biscoe and it was my first ever project knitting in the round, so another #TSNEM for this month!

I found it fairly easy once I got my head around it, although I did rip out my first attempt as I had made a mistake and I was also worried that casting on 52 stitches as the pattern instructed was not going to be big enough for my large head, so on the second attempt I cast on 65 stitches, kicking myself shortly afterwards that it should have been an even number as the pattern involved K2tog but it worked out ok in the end.

The resulting hat is really comfortable, I particularly like how it covers my ears, although on a personal note I don’t like how my glasses then go and make the sides of my head under the hat look all weird and bulgy (I am increasingly leaning towards going back to contact lenses).

I really like the wool, Debbie Bliss Donegal Tweed Chunky, although I think there’s a typo in the pattern as it says to use one 100g ball and when I went shopping I could only find it in 50g balls, so I bought two and one 50g ball was definitely enough.

As I get older I’m increasingly realising and settling on a personal colour palette for me and I know now that I could happily wear just mid to dark greys, mid to dark blues and splashes of red for the rest of my life. So I could definitely knit more with this wool!

#TSNEM

January – acrylic painting

February – ribbingusing layer masks in Photoshop and knitting in the round

Capture Real Life – week 2 – guilty pleasure

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The challenge for week 2 of capture real life was guilty pleasures and I thought long and hard about this. Until recently my guilty pleasures were coke zero and chocolate but I’m not drinking / eating those anymore and anyway, even when I was I think there was more guilt involved than pleasure. So what was my guilty pleasure? And then I knew, Plants vs Zombies!

I’m not, as a rule, that into computer games, I do have a very long standing relationship with the game Civilization but I try not to play that because an hour on that can quickly turn into a day and anyway, my middle aged Mac can’t play the newest version and I’m still sulking about that. I’ve flirted with Angry Birds in the past (hasn’t everybody?) and I am partial to a bit of Peggle (although the latest version is a bit of a preemium rip off, so I don’t play that anymore) but I am totally and utterly faithful to Plants vs Zombies.

I came late to Plants vs Zombies, I remember the kids and Mr. Lacer being very into the original and I was as usual “Oh god, not another computer game” but then, in a moment of weakness / boredom a few months later, after the initial family fandom had died down, I downloaded it onto my Mac and I was hooked. When the new version came out I was as giddy as a school girl and I still am every time they release new levels for it (like right now some more new levels are due and I am beginning to check my iPad for updates at a very unhealthy frequency and I know there will be some squealing when they come).

Mr. Lacer and Girl Lacer are not into Plants vs Zombies anymore, well ok, Girl Lacer still plays Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare quite a lot but it’s me and Boy Lacer who are the hard core fans (me more so than Boy Lacer). I can not start my morning without playing the daily Piñata party and when I’ve run out of levels to play (like I have at the moment, which is why I’m even more excited about the new Ice Age levels coming soon), I’ll often play the Endless Zones.

I am trying to cut down on the tech time in my life but Plants vs Zombies is definitely going to stay; I love that I can share the one iPad game I play with my computer mad son, I love that the developers are always keeping the game fresh with new content, I love that although it’s a preemium game they don’t make it impossible to progress without spending real money and I love how fun and colourful it is (eek I sound like I’m either middle aged or a pre-schooler with that last one). So it’s my guilty pleasure because a small part of me says I shouldn’t be so hooked but it gives me so much pleasure I don’t care and as you can see, I’ve got the tshirt to prove it!

The zombie and the peashooter were hand drawn by me using tutorials from here. I added them to my photo using Photoshop which was definitely another #TSNEM for me this month as I’ve never done anything that ‘advanced’ with photoshop before and it was a definite learning curve!

Previous weeks

Week 1 – day and night

Week 3 – nature

#TSNEM

January – acrylic painting

February – ribbing and using layer masks in Photoshop

Fifty Shades Freed

Fifty Shades Freed (Fifty Shades, #3)Fifty Shades Freed by E.L. James

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

SOME SPOILERS – particularly if you haven’t read books 1 & 2

So I’ve finished the Fifty Shades Trilogy, I think that’s probably the fastest I’ve read any trilogy but they aren’t exactly heavy literature. As I wrote in my review of Fifty Shades of Grey, I started reading these books because I was curious to see if all the campaigning against the story was (in my mind) justified, as I really do think that a lot of the people campaigning against the books / movie haven’t actually read the books / seen the movie (and I’ve seen examples on social media of people campaigning actually admitting this). So, this is, I think, going to be a review of the whole trilogy, not just book 3, although I’ll start with it.

Fifty Shades Freed starts with Ana and Christian already married and on their honeymoon, (E.L. James has discovered the technique of using flashbacks in this one, so we do see the actual wedding and some other events through Ana’s ‘day dreams’). Christian still has some control issues but Ana is successfully fighting against them, to such an extent I actually felt quite sorry for Christian as he comes from a very abused childhood and there were a few times were I thought she could be a bit more considerate and also a little less jealous.

There’s a stalker after both Christian and Ana and despite increased security the couple are in danger several times with the book attempting to cross over to thriller territory. Things do tend to get resolved really quickly though in the Fifty Shades books.

So, all in all, are these books about an abusive relationship? No, I don’t think so. I think Ana and Christian’s relationship had the POTENTIAL to become abusive, particularly as Christian held Ana is his sway at the beginning of the trilogy, Ana knew she could walk away from the BDSM but she knew if she did she would likely loose Christian to, which she didn’t want. BUT Ana has a strong head screwed onto her shoulders and she negotiates the relationship into something different from what Christian had originally intended. There is still a BDSM element but it’s consensual and if anything, by the end of the trilogy Ana wants it more than Christian does. Christian is a deeply flawed, troubled character, with a horrible past and I really enjoyed seeming him grow throughout these books.

I’ve given Fifty Shades of Grey and Fifty Shades Freed five stars and Fifty Shades Darker four stars, not because they’re great works of literature, they’re not, but because they kept me entertained. I haven’t (as I said) read books this quickly in a long time, days spent reading are a rare treat for me and it happened with these books because I literally couldn’t put them down. I’d tell myself I’ll read to the end of the chapter and before I knew it I’d be reading the first page of the next chapter and then, well, I might as well read the next chapter and so on and so on. I’ll miss these books.

View all my reviews

Capture Real Life – week 3 – nature

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This week’s Capture Real Life was about nature, which is a bit tricky to capture in February but I tried and I got some ok shots I think. The challenge was to find contrast, the above photo, taken on a lane leading up to Richmond Park is about colour contrast and contrast between focused and not focused.

 

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This one (now actually in Richmond Park) was about reflection.

 

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This one was about the contrast between light and dark.

 

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And this one is about the contrast between the hard texture of the old stone wall and the soft texture of the moss.

(Week 2 is coming it’s just taking a bit more work)

Previous weeks

Week 1 – day and night

Fifty Shades Darker

Fifty Shades Darker (Fifty Shades, #2)Fifty Shades Darker by E.L. James

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After devouring Fifty Shades of Grey I had to read Fifty Shades Darker, it’s not quite as good as the first book but ok. In Fifty Shades Darker Ana has to contend with some jealously issues and she learns more about Christian’s past. I won’t say anymore as I don’t want to put spoilers in this review but needless to say I will be heading straight onto book number 3.

View all my reviews

On the menu – beetroot and buckwheat risotto

Thursday

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I need to watch what I eat, so I’m now on a healthy eating kick (tell me off if you see anymore posts about chocolate), so I’ve decided to start cooking from Deliciously Ella. Tonight it was beetroot and buckwheat risotto, I think a whole nation of Italians may object to the use of the term risotto but otherwise it was ok, just ok though. The earthiness of the beetroot came through nicely but it was a bit bland and it really could have done with something else with it, even just a simple rocket side salad with a nice sharp dressing would have been good thinking about it or in the ‘risotto’ itself maybe a good cheese or some chilli or some basil or cumin, maybe I’ll remember that next time (can’t you see I’m so enthusiastic to make this again).