Sunday, 30 August 2015

Fortnightly Catch Up #5

 Hello there! These past two weeks have been super busy (as always!) and it's been nice having nothing planned for this bank holiday so I just can chill out for a few days. Tom and I went to Poland for a few days, which we both really enjoyed and if you would like more details about the trip you can read my blogpost all about it! This really made me want to explore more European cities, and it reminded me that a holiday doesn't always have to involve the beach and the sea (although I wouldn't turn one of those down!).

 On the Saturday after we had come back from our trip Tom and I travelled to Preston to watch the football (hooray) but it was worth it as Tom's team won so A. he was happy and B. we didn't waste our day going all that way! As I went to the football this now means that Tom has to come to something that I want to go to and so we are off to the theatre in a couple of weeks which I am looking forward to. On the Sunday I went to Rachel's for a catch up which was lovely, as although we've both been in Sheffield for the majority of our summer we've not managed to meet up as we've both been so busy. I'm really looking forward to when everyone is back for uni as I've missed all of my friends!
I bought these lovely roses which brightened up my week!

 For the first half of this week just gone, I was setting up my own exhibition in Western Bank Library. At the beginning of the summer I completed a SURE (Sheffield Undergraduate Research Experience) project in collaboration with two of my tutors. My project was focused on the author Barry Hines, and I really enjoyed the experience of looking into something in detail that isn't a part of my degree. A result of this project was that I was able to curate my own exhibition and I thoroughly enjoyed picking out the pieces from the archives that I wanted to use, and setting them up to share with people. (If you are a Sheffield student then my exhibition is running until about mid-October so you have no excuse to not go! It's outside Special Collections).
I'm not going to lie, a highlight of putting up my exhibition was returning to Grill & Go for my lunch!

 The rest of this week has been more relaxed, and on Wednesday evening Tom and I had date 'S' which resulted in 'starting from scratch' which meant I taught Tom how to make pizza! I will be doing a recipe post for this in a few weeks time so keep your eyes peeled for that. We both love fresh pizza and so I thought it was about time that we made our own ones. We made each others pizza which was good as we could see who had the best decorating skills!
 On Friday after showing Tom my own exhibition, we went to the Millenium Gallery as this was on our Jhomas summer list.  On going we realised that we had in fact been there before! We just hadn't realised as we had gone in via the Winter Gardens, and this time we went in through the main entrance to the gallery. Either way it was still an enjoyable afternoon out. As I said I haven't got anything planned for the bank holiday and so I've been able to just potter around and catch up on various things. I can't believe that it is September on Tuesday- there'll only be a couple more fortnightly catch up's before I begin my final year of University!

Tom with his apple juice before going into the gallery!

 Have you been up to anything fun recently?

Love Jess xxx

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

A Trip to Somewhere New

 Hello there! Now if you've been a reader for a long time, then you'll know that one of my favourite blog posts (both to write and read) are trip posts. A couple of weeks ago now, Tom and I took a trip to Kraków in Poland for a few days. Neither of us had ever been to Poland before, and Berlin is the furthest east that I have been in Europe. We weren't really sure what to expect, both in terms of what the city would be like, and what the weather would be like! (When we went to Berlin it was mid-February and there was so much snow on the ground!). 
 We flew from Birmingham and this was honestly one of the nicest airports I have ever flown from. Birmingham train station was too galactic for us (there were touch screen timetables) and this topped off with going on a Virgin train was too much. Tom and I are clearly too rural and not 'city' enough! We arrived to Kraków in the evening, and so we had our evening meal at the hotel. Tom and I are used to going away in Premier Inn's (and quite happy to do so) but we stayed in a Novotel as this was a part of the package that we picked, and it was so lovely! I know it's another chain, but it was a step up (sorry Lenny Henry). 

 On the first day we had a walking tour through the city in the morning, which in typical fashion ended in rain. (This wasn't just any rain- it was so hard that our rain coats became useless).

 Before the days of numbering houses, Kraków used to have an emblem on each house, and so if you wanted to post something to this house below, you would put 'To the house beneath the Eagle'.

 At every hour on the hour in the main square, a trumpet will be played four times out of the tower below. 

 I fell in love with the main square as it was always buzzing and was so vibrant.

 Every Christmas there is a competition to make the Christmas statue for the year. These are completed by families, and they are only allowed to use material that is to hand (such as sweet papers) and this is a previous winner. It amazed me to think that this was made by amateurs, using such simple materials to construct something so beautiful.

 It was as we left this church that it started to chuck it down. We walked up to the castle, but unfortunately could only hide out and not have a proper walk around outside!

 In the afternoon we took a trip to the Salt Mines, and this was such an interesting trip- to think that everything is made out of salt! We walked around for ages and saw so much, but according to the guide this was only a small % of the completed mine. 

 In the evening Tom and I went to the Hard Rock Cafe, and the city was even more beautiful at night.

 The main reason for our trip to Krakòw was to go on a tour round Auschwitz as I will be writing a dissertation on holocaust literature this following year. I'm not going to say too much about the experience as this isn't really the place to, but everyone needs to take a trip. You can read all about it, but visiting is a completely different experience, and one that I think people need to do in their lifetime. Please follow this link for more information about the museum. 

 On our last day as our flight wasn't until the evening, we essentially had a free day. I'm so glad that we did as it was such a gloriously sunny day and made the city look even more beautiful. 

 We were able to go back to the castle from the first day, and see it in the sunshine. 

 For lunch we went to 'Bar Italiano' which was amazing. The thing about this place, was that the food was so good, and once you had converted the price from zlotys to pounds it was so cheap! We each had a freshly made pizza with a drink, and this all came to a total of £12. 

 Kraków really is such a beautiful city, and as I said to Tom, it shows that you don't always have to visit the capital of the country. If you ever want a city break to somewhere new and different, I really would recommend a trip to Kraków! It's not too far flight-wise and has a lot on offer.

 Have you been anywhere new recently?

Love Jess xxx

Sunday, 23 August 2015


 Hello there! I haven't done a quote post in quite a long time, but I've been thinking about this for a while and so I thought I would share my thoughts with you. This post is similar to my one where I talked about saying yes and how you shouldn't let fear hold you back. However for this post I will be talking about how: 

 Now I am very much someone who likes to be all cuddly and squishy in their comfort zone, and rarely venture out into the wide unknown. I have always very much been a home girl- I enjoyed going to sleepovers and things as a child, but I always liked going back home again the next day. Had you told me a few years ago that I would move 200 miles north to a city that I had never really been to, I would have laughed at you. I always thought that if I did decide to go to University that I would go to the UEA in Norwich and live at home. I think back to the time I went to an open day at the UEA, and how glad I am that when I visited I really didn't feel the place and couldn't see myself going there. I have found, especially since coming to University, that you need to put yourself out there, out of your comfort zone, in order to achieve things that you didn't even realise you could do. 
 Now this doesn't have to be a dramatic change that means you have to move across the country, it really can be something as simple as not following your normal routine for a day and trying something new. If you don't feel comfortable to go out and try something new on your own, why not take a friend? That way you both try something new and gain a different experience, but you have that friendly face in case you need it. 
 New and exciting things aren't just going to be handed to you on a plate- it's up to you to go and find them. Try something that you've always wanted to do, and if it turns out you don't like it, so what? At least you've tried. I know it's said a lot, but when you look back on life you're only going to regret the things you didn't do, not the things you did. You need to be able to make mistakes in order to learn and gain from that experience- nothing is going to be perfect the first time around. I'm not going to lie, of course when I try something new or different I still have that fear inside me, but it's the decision that you make after this that means you'll either gain a new experience or not. 
 If I see a new opportunity come my way, I try my upmost to take it. I hope that I will continue to do this throughout life, and so when I do look back, I don't have a life filled with thoughts of 'I wish I had done that when I had the chance', but rather with the thought of 'yes, I went out and tried that and accomplished that'. It's a cliche, but life is short. Live it the best way that you can, and go out and achieve all you can, while you have the chance. 

 Is there something that you've always wanted to do but never have? Why not make a plan to do it now? If you have the mentality of 'it's not the right time', it never will be. If you wait too long the chance may pass you by!

Love Jess xxx

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Mini Broccoli and Cheese Pies

 Hello there! Today it is time for another baking post, but this one will be different as it is savoury rather than sweet. I am a massive fan of broccoli, and so any recipe I see that features this as a main ingredient I have to try! My mum found this recipe in a magazine, but we adapted it to our own tastes and so here is the final result. This was a joint effort and I always enjoy baking with others! They were super yummy both out of the oven and cold for lunch the next day.

300g Plain Flour, 75g lard and 75g butter to make the pastry (or 1 block of ready made shortcrust pastry)
1 broccoli
3 eggs
150g Gruyere
30g Cheddar 
30ml double cream
150ml milk
salt and pepper

 To start with, make the pastry by rubbing the fat into the flour, adding a small bit of water and combining to make a dough and then leave this to chill. Just before the pastry is ready you can preheat your oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4 and lightly grease your muffin tin with some butter. 
 Once the pastry has chilled, you will need to cut this into 12 pieces. Roll out these pieces to about 2-3mm thick, and cut out your circle. The recipe said to cut out a circle just bigger than the hole in the muffin tin, but we found they needed to be bigger than this. We used this plastic lid, as the circle needs to be able to sit comfortably in the tin, with enough pastry at the side to hold the contents that you will be pouring in later. 

 Once you have rolled out the circles, place them into the tin and press down to ensure the bottom is completely covered. Then take a fork and prick the pastry all over. Using some greaseproof paper you will need to cut out another 12 circles that are the same size as your pastry circles. 

 Pop the greaseproof paper circles over the pastry, and then bake blind for 10-12 minutes. You can get special beans for this purpose, but we just put in some dried kidney beans and they worked the same! When ready remove the beans and place the tin back into the oven for a further 3 minutes as this will avoid those soggy bottoms- and we know how much Paul Hollywood hates those! Leave these to cool.

 While the pastry is cooking, you can make a start on the filling. To begin with you need to cut off about 15 broccoli florets and blanch these in salted boiling water for about a minute, and then drain. 

 Next grate your Gruyere and place in a mixing bowl. Add the eggs, milk, cream and salt and pepper, and whisk to combine.

 You now need to pour the creamy filling into each of the pastry cases, leaving room for the custard to expand whilst in the oven. We have a spoon that has a spout shaped edge to it- but using a jug would work just as well. 

 Once each case is full, you need to add one broccoli floret into each pie.  You can then sprinkle your Cheddar over the top- the recipe says to use Parmesan but as I don't like this we used Cheddar instead!

 Bake these for 15-20 minutes, or until the custard is set and the pastry is golden. You need to then leave these to cool for a little bit, to ensure that it sets!

 We had ours with a bit of salad on the side, and they were honestly so good that I will have to make some more again soon! These are the perfect thing to make at a weekend, as you can have them for your evening meal, and then use them for lunch during the week.

 As always I would love to see these if you have a go at making them! I think this is great as the actual filling can be changed completely depending on what you want to do- I think this would be great for a salmon and dill filling too. 

Have you baked anything recently that you think I should have a go at making?

Love Jess xxx
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