Saturday, 29 September 2012

Seasoned Oven Chips

It's been such a hectic week, first week back at uni and I already have numerous books/articles to read, coursework to start, and I'm still in the process of figuring out my dissertation project! Busy but I've been loving it: I feel a lot more settled this year, placement has really given me the time off I needed to return with a better perspective on things. Saying that though, give it a couple more weeks and I'll probably have regressed back to my former stress head self! 

Also thought I'd mention the blog's new header, courtesy of my brother, Nick (@nicknak49 on Twitter). He's currently studying Interactive Media so spends his time creating graphics and animations, and he offered to mess around with something for here in his spare time before he's gotta head back off to uni. It's amazing to see how good he's getting with this kind of stuff, the animation stuff he did last year was brilliant. Proud big sis right here :) Every now and then he posts some of the stuff he's working on over on his blog, which I recommend checking out. 

Anyway, I'll finish off with a quick recipe that I whipped up the other night. Comfort food season is definitely starting for me!

Seasoned Oven Chips

These chips are really quick and easy to make, the only time you might get impatient is waiting for them to cook!

Place an oil-drizzled baking tray into a pre-heated oven (200-220C/400-425F/gas mark 6-7) for about 5 minutes.

While the oil is warming up, chop your potatoes (Maris Piper are great) into chips as thin or as chunky as you fancy (peel as well if you like, though I always prefer to leave the skins on), until you have as many as you need - depending on the size of your potatoes, this is usually around 2 per person. 

Take the tray out of the oven and lay the potatoes evenly on it (be careful, the hot oil will spit!).

Add whatever seasoning you fancy. For these I added generous amounts of garlic salt and paprika. Use a spoon to carefully toss the chips so they are evenly coated in oil and seasoning.

Cook in the oven for about 40 minutes to an hour, depending on the quantity and thickness of chips, rotating the tray a couple of times.

I served the chips with home-made herby garlic mayo (a few tablespoons of mayonnaise, 1 crushed garlic clove and a sprinkle of herbs to taste), and chicken, bacon and cranberry mini baguettes. These were topped with the last of the brie we got hold of at the Plymouth Seafood Festival and popped under the grill for a few minutes. Seriously yummy, trust me.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Butterflies and a Winter Wishlist

New year at uni of course means new additions to my wardrobe. The weather is changing; student discounts are everywhere and my loan has just come through - the list of excuses goes on. I don't go clothes shopping that often and I know to be careful now, not if I don't want to end up living off dried pasta and Tesco value sauce in a couple of weeks (ahh isn't student life bliss?). But there's a lot of hard work ahead so a few treats are ok, right?

I found this top in New Look for £12.99 and felt the brightly coloured butterflies on floaty burgundy fabric were perfect for the transition from summer to autumn.

The pink vest top (worn underneath) and shorts are also from New Look. I've had the shorts for a while now and absolutely love them; they're perfect for a smart casual look.

With the weather getting steadily colder I've been looking forward to getting cosied up in oversized jumpers, coats and boots. These are the some of the things I've been lusting over recently:

I've been wanting a leather jacket for ever, and this one from Victoria's Secret is gorgeous. The fit is what I'm looking for in this kind of jacket, and the faux fur trimmed hood gives it a cosy edge perfect for chilly days.

Long jumpers are my best friend in winter. The design on this one from Republic is super cute and I'm liking the fitted sleeves, giving it practicality for days when there's more than cups of tea and old films on the agenda. 

I'm not one to follow trends much, but my inner goth is loving the studded look at the minute. A lot of items seem to be a bit over the top and tacky looking though to be honest; I love these boots, also from Republic, because the studs are subtle and overall they seem to be decent quality. 

These Plum skinny jeans are from H&M. I adore this denim in deep reds and purples at the moment; I have some high-waisted deep red shorts that I wear constantly. I would definitely be wearing these a lot; you can't go wrong with skinny jeans at any time of the year!

For me though, the most important Autumn/Winter clothing is of course snuggly nightwear. I haven't yet gotten hold of a onesie, but my friend recently introduced me to this website ( and it's so tempting to start a whole collection!

How cute is the Fox?

I really wish they had a UK store!

Any particular pieces of clothing you've been wanting recently?

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Plymouth Seafood Festival

Waking up to a beautifully sunny Saturday morning, the bustle I could hear from the street outside reminded me that this weekend is the Plymouth Seafood Festival, taking place on the Barbican. It's a good weekend for it: students have been flocking back to the city this past week, settling in before freshers starts on Monday. Plymouth has been full of excited young people getting ready for life away from home and their next stage of education, with their parents around assisting their move. This kind of festival displays why Plymouth is an interesting place to live: in my case it seemed vastly different when I first moved away from the city life in Nottingham, where the sea seems infinitely distant.

Tom and I decided to have a stroll around and see what was happening: surprisingly this is the first seafood festival Plymouth has had, so we were intrigued to see what was on offer.

The street next to the harbour was clustered with stalls, selling fresh fish, hot food, and handmade gifts. Little pots of cockles and prawns were available, plump and fresh with a subtle tangy seawater taste. Delicious.

Cooking demonstrations filled the air with incredible smells as chefs showed how to make the best of fresh fish. One involved topping a fillet of fish with a sauce made from garlic, chorizo, mushrooms and white wine, and finished with mussels and parsley; the only let down was there not being enough to go around!

With our mouths now watering, we wandered back through the crowds in search of crab sandwiches. The one we chose was amazing: thick white bread with a perfect crust, spread with a generous amount of crab mayonnaise sprinkled with spring onion (the photo doesn't do it justice!).

Before heading back, we checked out the cheese stall that's there, a reprieve from all the seafood. Both of us, Tom in particular, love cheese and couldn't resist trying a few samples. The brie was the nicest I've ever had, perfectly creamy. We chose a sundried tomato and a smoked garlic cheese along with more of the brie to take home with us. I have a feeling that they won't last long!

The festival is also on tomorrow (Sunday 16th) from 10 'til 5, so if you're around Plymouth I definitely recommend having a wander round and a taste of some of the food that's available: you won't be disappointed. I'm even tempted myself to go back tomorrow for another of those crab sandwiches!

Any other interesting things going on this weekend?

*All photos courtesy of Tom (@MechanicalTom11)

Monday, 10 September 2012

Current Music Favourites: Jack White and Rammstein

A couple of albums I've recently gotten hold of are Jack White's debut solo album "Blunderbuss", and the second album from Rammstein, "Sehnsucht".


I first got into Jack White's music when I heard "Sea of Cowards" by The Dead Weather. I fell in love with both of their albums and the vocals from both himself and The Kills' Alison Mosshart. It feels kinda strange to call Blunderbuss his debut album, seeing as Jack White has been around for years and is such a widely acknowledged musician, but this is the first time he's stepped away from the many bands he's part of. 

Blunderbuss is a collection of bluesy-rock tracks, each one toying with different styles but still managing to flow as a consistent album, reflecting on the difficulties of relationships and love. Some of my fave songs include 'Freedom at 21', 'Love Interruption' and 'Sixteen Saltines'. 


Rammstein are still getting a lot of plays off my iTunes; the excitement from seeing them back in March has yet to wear off. I finally got around to getting their second album, "Sehnsuht" (German for longing), released all the way back in 1997. 

Rammstein's first couple of albums are a lot more industrial/electro sounding than their later releases which is what I love about these tracks (I grew up listening to my dad's Soft Cell and John Foxx records so I love good electronica). I first heard some of these songs on their live DVD, Volkerball, so it's really interesting to hear the studio versions, which tend to differ quite substantially as the keyboards and sound effects can be better appreciated when listening to the album. 

This album has some of my favourite Rammstein songs on it, including 'Du Hast', 'Engel' (which is stunning live) and the title track 'Sehnsuht'.


Are there any particular albums/bands you're really enjoying listening to at the moment?

*Both of the images in this post are not mine and are taken from each album's Wikipedia page. 

Monday, 3 September 2012

China Miéville - 'The Scar'

The Scar is the second of three books written by China Miéville set in his fictional world of Bas-Lag. The first, Perdido Street Station, is set mainly in the large city central to the stories, New Crobuzon, and introduces readers to the vast range of races that inhabit this world, including humans, cactacae (enormous plant people), khepri (a race where the females have human bodies but their heads consist of a large scarab beetle), and garuda (humanoid birds of prey). The books are science fiction/fantasy, along with other influences, and include magic and steampunk technology.

The Scar moves away from the city of New Crobuzon to explore other parts of the Bas-Lag world by sea. The story begins with the characters sailing away from the city. Before their journey is complete they are captured by pirates and become citizens of the pirates' city of Armada, a floating city on the sea comprised of a huge number of ships. While some of the captured settle into their new life, Bellis, the main character, is desperate to return to New Crobuzon and in her attempts to find a way home becomes wrapped up in the plans that Armada's bizarre scarred leaders are leading the city towards.

Having time off this summer has meant I have been able to spend whole afternoons sat with this book, immersing myself in the events, and I haven't been able to put it down once I've got stuck into it. There are plenty of action and twists throughout due to the secrecy and controversy of the characters' plans, and coupled with the writing this is an excellent book.

China Miéville's style of writing is difficult to accustom to at first, but it's worth bearing with because once you're used to it, you can appreciate his beautiful use of language to describe the incredible characters and events that he has created. His writing is some of the best I have come across, with an expansive vocabulary that brings this strange and exotic world to life.

So far I have read all three of the books based in Bas-Lag: Perdido Street Station, The Scar and The Iron Council. The series aren't a trilogy, so you don't need to have read the preceding books to understand the story; however I personally think Perdido Street Station is the best place to start, as it goes into slightly more detail introducing the different races and the lifestyle of the world.
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