Tuesday, 19 September 2017

On the Menu Today... Toasties and What to Fill Them With

You won't often find me slaving over a hot stove in our household (burning myself is the best excuse I have for the reason as to why), but that doesn't mean to say that I don't like to rustle up something yummy for my afternoon lunch.
 

Now, I am not much of a bread lover (although I do take pleasure in sharing a garlic baguette with two out of the seven of my evening meals), but occasionally I will reach for the sliced loaf. And, when I do, although appetising, your bog-standard tuna mayonnaise sandwich is rarely what I prepare.

Yummy toastie ideas and how to make them.My suggestion for lunchtime is a toastie!
Two slices of warm, toasted bread packed with anything you decide to spread inside and then sealed together, all ready to then be demolished.

This creation is rightly categorised under the 'comfort food' term I'd say, which is needed at times, but even more so when it is absolutely freeezing (chatters teeth) outside.
Plus, it is very straightforward to make - Here's how... 

Equipment:
A sandwich toaster or a toaster and a microwave (when cheese is involved).
The sandwich toaster is definitely a better option in my opinion as it actually provides a sealed finish on the bread.

Methods:
1.) Using the sandwich toaster is a much easier method as all you need to do is grab your two slices of bread, add your topping(s), place together and then pop into the sandwich toaster for roughly a minute (depending on your appliances heat level). Then, flip over to toast the other side for around the same amount of time, slice in half and you're done.

2.) If you opt for using a normal toaster, toast your bread before adding any toppings. It will look almost the same as the above method, but obviously your bread just won't have the sealed finish.

3.) Now, when I make a toastie that involves cheese as my topping selection I like to melt the cheese before I toast the bread so that I can spread it across to cover the entire slice. I do this by popping one piece of bread topped with a cheese slice (think burgers in buns) into the microwave (mine is 700w) and then warm up on medium heat for around 30 seconds, sometimes a tiny bit longer. 

It is exactly the same steps when using a normal toaster, but I'd toast the bread before placing the single slice into the microwave. Remember that times may vary from the previous instructions. 

Topping Ideas:
Cheese / and... ham / jam / marmalade / pickle / onion / salad cream / brown sauce.
Ham / and... salad cream / pickle / brown sauce.
Chocolate spread.
Peanut butter / and jam. 

It is evident that there are lots more topping which could be added to this list, however these are the few that I have tried and enjoyed.

Also...
Sandwich thins are the perfect alternative to regular bread.
Wilko and Argos are two shops that I know who sell sandwich toasters for under £10 if you're yet to own this worthwhile appliance.
 
  Whether it's a toastie or a sandwich, 
what are your slices of bread often topped with?
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Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Reserve at the Library... My Favourite Authors

Around three years back, it wasn't uncommon for me to finish a three-hundred page book in a week or less by reading, on average, for forty minutes per night. I feel some sadness in admitting that the same can't be said nowadays. 


 From what I've come across in writing many people find calmness in sitting down with a publication of their choice, but at this present moment a chapter of twenty pages is the maximum for me.

This sudden change followed after my acid reflux diagnosis and I have since suffered from anxiety on a daily basis. As I have quite an energetic mind I keep myself busy and find difficulty in concentrating on a book for too long.

Five authors that I would consider as being my favourite writers of fictional books.

It's funny because I can read things like letters through the mail, or blog posts much easier, but that doesn't mean to say that I will never get back to reading how I once used to.

On that note, there are authors that I would steer towards now despite my current reader's block. 
 
Here is my top five: 
 
By far, this is the author that I have finished the most publications of.
Although her written releases often have a target market of children and teenagers in mind, that wouldn't stop me from buying them today, even being in my twenties.

I don't have a best-loved book of this lady. All I know is that with each one I have been on some fabulous adventures due to her incredible talent of creating fictional stories that involve both seriousness and fun scenes that a lot of us can relate to the situations of.

Nicholas Sparks:
Never has a book brought me to tears before - until I came across 'The Last Song'. But, in my defence, the film also made me blub. Along with an almost guaranteed tear-jerker moment are happy scenes with characters of whom we start to almost feel like we know in reality.

Nicholas is a hugely successful American novelist, as well as a screenwriter and producer. These talents have allowed him to turn many of his printed accounts into films, including 'The Notebook', 'Dear John', 'Safe Haven' and a variety of others.

How could I not include Mr Dahl? His cleverness for inventing such memorable fictional personalities is extraordinary. I have no worries about him being forgotten in the world of literature as children are still pulling the likes of 'Matilda' and 'The BFG' off of library and book shop shelves now. Hey, I even managed to read about the remarkable girl listed above only a few months ago, though I haven't got around to catching the recent moving-picture about the big friendly giant...

Sophie Kinsella:
Most teenage girls and women lap up tuning into a chick flick on the television, and I am no different. Sophie, however, has this marvellous ability to bring such plots to life with the turn of a page. If you long to escape into a world that is never boring and one which will frequently leave you with the urge to giggle, then Sophie is the gal for you.

This highly-recognised female author of the chick lit genre is especially known for her 'Shopaholic' series, which in 2009 the first two entries of hit the cinema big screen as a single film starring Isla Fisher.

Whether it’s a whirlwind romance in the city, making friends with a puffin by the coast, or juggling every sweet that there is available to mankind, Jenny Colgan seems to undoubtedly warm my heart with the events that take place in her written work.

Although it might not matter to some, each of her outer covers own a design that is as charming as what features inside, which in my eyes, is an extra bonus.

What authors are you fond of?
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Monday, 7 August 2017

Next Destination... Parga, Greece

Greece is a country that I would revisit again and again - and I have, 
to many of their mesmerising islands. 

 
I know that the high opinion I have for this destination is not only due to its breathtaking surroundings, but the kind Greek residents, and not forgetting, the incredibly delicious food on offer.
 

All about my holiday to the Greek town of Parga.
 
It has been almost three years since I last journeyed over to Greece, mainly because our family are running out of new places to go to over there. However, in 2016 I came across a superb deal (I am regularly on the hunt for discounted holidays) flying out May this year to the small town of Parga, which is located on the north-western coast of Greece.
 
Normally the average flight duration is around 3-4 hours via plane, which I can just about cope with sitting through. The transfer from the airport to and from the place that we stayed in was pleasant too, at around 50 minutes.
 
All about my holiday to the Greek town of Parga. My parents and I booked into Zozefina Apartments & Studios for our seven-night stay.
I was shocked to find out upon our return that this accommodation had just a 2-star rating and I definitely think it deserved an extra star for all that was provided. A cleaner came every day to our studio room that was furnished with two single beds, plus a sofa bed, (guess, who ended up with that?!) a bathroom, plus a kitchenette. Appliances such as a hairdryer were also included, as was a satellite television and free Wi-Fi. 
 
A swimming pool and tables with seating were available downstairs from our room as well.
The only area I feel that could be improved on was to the food service when ordering from the snacks and drinks menu. The wait time was longer than expected and there wasn't much choice to select from, just your standard burgers and chips, omelettes etc.
 
We were in a brilliant spot for seeing things, being a five-minute walk from a line of restaurants and twenty from the stunning harbour.
 
All about my holiday to the Greek town of Parga.All about my holiday to the Greek town of Parga.
 
Although we ate back at our apartments on more than one occasion, when we did eat out we headed straight for Yannis Taverna. They provide an impressive menu of homemade authentic Greek dishes that kept tempting us back to try more of their glorious (and affordable) food. 
 
The meatballs, stifado (a Greek dish of stewed meat with onions) and the vegetarian moussaka were the trio of dishes that I tested out over three nights and all of them tasted extraordinary. Most of the meals can be ordered with a side of oven potatoes, chips, salad, or rice, which is an option that I particularly valued. Their Greek salad (with the must-have feta cheese) was another thing to rave about, and so was the mixed grill (for two people), according to my parents. 
 
 Last off, the staff of this family-run business were so friendly and would give you a complimentary shot of Ouzo (an alcoholic drink popular in Greece and Cyprus) or a coffee to finish off with if you wanted to after dining in their eatery.
 
All about my holiday to the Greek town of Parga.

Each day we were out walking and stopped at different points to appreciate the clear sky, unbelievably blue water, beautiful flowers and a whole lot more, all in the satisfying heat that was in the high twenties.

You could book excursions with Thomas Cook for outings that lasted for either half or the full day.
My mum and dad had a good experience out to somewhere much further away, which meant a 7:30am pick-up for them and a return time of 7:30pm.
 
    Together we booked a train journey costing eight Euro per person.
This two-hour trip consisted of a tour of Ali Pasha castle and to take a look at the local waterfalls.
 Visiting the waterfalls nearby for twenty minutes was meant to be included on the second half, however when we stopped off at Anthousa Village that this is positioned in we were told that there was not enough time as it was too far away. As avid walkers though, we opted to travel by foot there and then back to our starting point - completely ditching the return journey in the train. Funnily enough, the waterfalls actually turned out to be a short stroll directly down the road.
 
All about my holiday to the Greek town of Parga.

Up from the harbour is also where you could wander around the ruins of another castle, the Venetian Castle of Parga. As this is quite a tourist attraction there was a restaurant on site where visitors could have refreshments after the steep walk up to its grounds. 

Overall, the town of Parga was another highly enjoyable getaway (plus another Greek destination crossed off of our list!) It will appeal to couples and families who relish a holiday to a part of the world that is picturesque, reasonably priced and somewhere that time for some relaxation and things to do are both on the agenda.

What part of Greece ticks all of the right boxes for you?
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Tuesday, 18 July 2017

15 Ideas of Delightful Things to do Come Summer Time

Even though the colder part of the year gives me a very good excuse to pull out my snuggly pyjamas, I'd much rather wake up to a bright, sunny morning over a typical dark winter one. 


I would most definitely like to socialise more and fill my days with exciting plans, but especially when the weather is nice.

Nevertheless, I can remember having many fun experiences, which I have listed some of below, along with a few others (most of them are free!) that I would like to include in my diary come summer time...

15 ideas of delightful things to do come summer time.
Full credit goes to the original designer of the 'Hello Sunshine' print. 

  • Visiting the seaside and having a short paddle in the water.
  • Delving into a McFlurry ice-cream or a Mr Whippy cornet (don't forget the sauce topping please!)
  • Reading a magazine from cover to cover in the garden.
  • Admiring pretty flowers as they begin to bloom.
  • Making up a picnic for a lunch park outing.
  • Taking crusts of bread along to feed the ducks with at a nearby river.
  • Bringing out the art supplies to engage in some drawing or colouring.
  • Listening to a favourite album whilst taking in the surrounding areas.
  • Testing the mind with book puzzles.
  • Paying a trip to see numerous animals at the zoo.
  • Attending a live music event held outside.
  • Going for a long walk in the countryside.
  • Preparing a colourful fresh salad or fruit dessert to eat sitting at the garden table.
  • Hitting the shops to replace or add to a clothing and shoe collection.
  • Finding coolness for a couple of hours by booking tickets to a cinema screening.

What do you have planned come summer time?
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Tuesday, 27 June 2017

I've Got My Ticket... Sister Act - The Musical

Music, comedy and drama - the 1992 film Sister Act truly did have it all.

 

I'd previously seen this memorable moving picture live as a show on stage in London's West End many years ago now and remember having nothing but good things to say about it. Therefore, I felt that it would be completely unnecessary to question before seeing it again whether the current musical version touring around the UK would triumph like it did back then or not.

 

I would soon have my answer after attending.

 

Everything you need to know about Sister Act the musical. 
Show Name: Sister Act - The Musical
Venue: The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury
Performance Dates: Mon 26th June – Saturday 1st July 2017
Starring: Alexandra Burke, Karen Mann, Aaron Lee Lambert, Joe Vetch, Alice Stokoe, Susannah Van Den Berg, Liz Kitchen
 Directed and Choreographed by: Craig Revel Horwood

Brief Information:
Never would anyone have predicted what was about to happen in the life of the sassy Deloris Van Cartier, who was played by Whoopi Goldberg in the original film. Shortly, the singer would be in a huge amount of danger after witnessing a cold-blooded murder taking place right in front of her eyes.

With nowhere else to run and hide away to for total safety the police have only one option for her - taking up residence in a convent. There this bold personality would live under a new identity as a nun beside other sisters, obeying to the strict rules that they are all used to. Obviously, for someone who likes to express her opinions Deloris struggles with these, which does not bode well with Mother Superior (originally played by Maggie Smith), the female in charge of this particular religious community.

However, It isn't long until Deloris does get to use her voice for a more productive cause when she begins teaching her fellow nuns how to sing. Not only does this newcomer transform the once godawful choir and build strong friendships, but she learns a few worthwhile lessons about herself along the way too.

My Opinion:

With directing and choreography matters being left in the very capable hands of the BBC's 'Strictly Come Dancing' judge, Craig Revel Horwood, I really did have high hopes for this being an enjoyable production. As the winner of 'The X Factor' in 2008, Alexandra Burke was another famous name that I thought was perfect for the cast line-up, taking on the lead role of Deloris.

Aside from Deloris, there are some incredibly likeable personalities in the film and I was left wondering how other actors would portray these on stage. I needn't have been concerned though, as the entire cast shined brightly throughout.

Each of the songs had such meaningful lyrics and fitted brilliantly with what was being acted out in the particular scene that they were matched with, as did each of the instruments that were cleverly played for a lot of the two-hour + running time.

There was no ignoring the amount of glitz that was also presented to the audience either. Whether it was the fancy hairdo's, sparkly outfits or the vibrant stage layout, the whole auditorium was full of groovy inclusions.

What did you like?
I knew from watching the ITV talent contest and being present at two of her concerts that Alexandra owned an extremely powerful vocal range and could handle difficult dance routines, but it wasn't known to me the standard of her acting skills. It turns out that she really does have the whole package, proving herself as a class act throughout every performance. 

    Alexandra was definitely not the only sign of entertainment. Along with some comical dance moves from the male genders of the cast, those playing the nuns also had both the crowd and I laughing out loud when they began to gain confidence and strut their stuff. This musical even managed to successfully include some humour into more serious acted parts, which isn't often done without error.

    Along with an unexpected romance, I was surprised when I was close to tears (happy ones!) watching some of the scenes between Deloris (AKA Sister Mary Clarence) and Mother Superior. This partnership was pure excellence.

    What would you change?
    All of the songs featured were written for the musical. Each track performed was utterly impressive, but I couldn't help missing ‘I Will Follow Him’ – the final song sung in the film. Other than that, Sister Act - The Musical deserves nothing but praise. Plus, I have had the new tunes of 'Take Me to Heaven' and 'Fabulous, Baby!' stuck in my head ever since.
     
    My star rating out of five:


    Find out more about Sister Act - The Musical, including ticket prices and performance times:
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