Tuesday, 31 January 2012

My Spag Bol

My Mum taught me how to make the classic Spaghetti Bolognese.  It was the only thing I remember Dad would ever cook for dinner.  I also remember it being a competition of whose Spag Bol was the best!

When I moved out of home at 18, Mum gave me a few of her classic recipes and a bunch of print outs from her Good Housekeeping book.

One of my favourites is still the Spag Bol so I have decided to share it with you here.  I have changed it only slightly.  I used to use a smaller quantity of beef stock as I found it quite unpredictable how runny the sauce would be using 1/2 pint but have since started using the new Knorr 'stock pot' instead as it's concentrated so the sauce is never too watery but still has a nice rich flavour.

Serves 4-5

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed (I use 2 if they're small)
500g lean steak mince
1 oxo cube
150g mushrooms, sliced (I like a lot of mushrooms)
1/4 pint of red wine
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1.5 tablespoons tomato puree
1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs (I ran out the other day so used Oregano)
Knorr beef 'stock pot' (or 1/4 - 1/2 pint of beef stock)
1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper (add more later to taste)

Parmesan to taste


Heat a little oil in a pan and fry the onion and garlic for about 5 minutes over a low heat until softened.

Add the mince and stir until starting to brown.  Crumble over the oxo cube and stir.  Add the mushrooms and fry for 2 minutes.

Add the red wine, chopped tomatoes, puree, herbs, stock and salt and pepper.  (This time I also added some chopped sun-dried tomatoes.)  Bring to the boil then simmer gently for 45 minutes.

About 15 minutes before the end of cooking time, boil the spaghetti in plenty of salted water until al dente and taste the Bolognese sauce to see if you want to add more seasoning.

Serve the sauce over the pasta and grate over the parmesan to taste.  Yum!

Monday, 30 January 2012


OK, I lied - I'm afraid the honeymoon post isn't going to be finished today as I just checked and it's nowhere near written - it's the two after that I have prepared, oops!  Also, my book is just too good!!!  If you haven't read them I can highly recommend the Millennium books.  (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, etc...)  They are a bit graphic in places with severe violence but they are a really good read with great story-lines.

Please excuse the lack of interesting posts today as I bury my head in the last of the three books this lunch time while snuggled in my duvet before heading back to the day at work from hell!

Thank you ;)


I will try to get my next honeymoon post finished and posted today but it's been a busy weekend of baking, eating, seeing friends, obsessively reading my book (3rd in the Millennium Series) and celebrating 5 years with my husband!


Off to work now but will hopefully get it up at lunchtime.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Afternoon Tea

Today I enjoyed a lovely afternoon tea with some of my best girls!  I invited my girlfriends round to watch our wedding DVD (while Nik is at work) and belatedly celebrate my 30th (as so many of them were away or couldn't make it over the Christmas period - annoying birthday that I have!)  I LOVE being the hostess and getting to make and bake yummy things for my friends and making the flat look all pretty.  Unfortunately as organised as I like to think I am, I always end up rushing around at the last minute!  (Luckily Anne arrived early so helped me make the sandwiches!  Thanks Anne!  Oh and she also gave me a super cute green birthday card with a dragonfly on it!)

The flat has been a bit of a tip lately (as Nik's been working so much and I've been obsessed with my books) so we still haven't put the Christmas decorations back in the attic (they've now been shoved in the spare room), the study has been at a standstill since getting it liveable for visitors over Christmas and the washing/ironing has been piling up!  Hence yesterday was spent frantically trying to sort out the study and rest of the flat on my own.  It does tend to take an event of some kind to urge me on to tidy properly and get rooms finished!

The study is now pretty much finished - just need the last few files and papers sorted by Nik and a couple of boxes of 'memories' sorted by me (currently also shoved in the spare room so I could show everyone the new study today!)  I can't wait to show you the before and after pictures!

Luckily I planned ahead a bit and on Thursday I baked a blueberry & lemon drizzle cake and macadamia & chocolate slices.  Then today I made the rest of the goodies I had planned - cherry brandy muffins, cumin seed wafers, sour cream and chive muffins, Yorkshire puddings and bread.  (Nik mainly did the bread, I just baked it.)

Blueberry and Lemon drizzle cake

The treats went down really well (I was even asked for doggy bags as there was so much food)!  I will post recipes soon of all the cakes I made but in the meantime here are a few pictures...

Couldn't resist these green meringues from Wholefoods Market!

Lemon Drizzle Cake

Green Meringues

Cherry Brandy Muffins

Macadamia Nut Slices

Earl Grey or 'normal' tea

Sweet Chilli Pistachios in my cute new bowl from Sarah

Cumin Seed Wafers with cheese and olives (and other crackers)

YUM!  Yorkshires!

The savouries - Yorkshires with Roast Beef and Horseradish Cream
Ham Sandwiches (made by Anne) on Sesame Seed Bread or Parmesan and Tomato Bread
Sour Cream and Chive Muffins

We enjoyed stuffing ourselves (I made waaaay too much as usual - I always seem to pick dates when so many people can't make it, either that or maybe they secretly don't like my food  :-/ or me!? :-(  In the end I was expecting 8 and 5 of them came so we had plenty of food to go around) and then we settled down with the popcorn to watch the DVD.  I love watching it and could happily watch it over and over (in fact I did watch it twice today as Julie couldn't come until later so wanted to see it from the start :) )  Thankfully they all seemed to enjoy it too and it wasn't just me grinning away at our wedding day.  Cherry Tree Films really edit it in such a way that it's fun to watch and not just a series of events as they happened.

They have put our 3 minute highlights film on their blog if you would like to see what they had to say about our day (they said some lovely things!) and leave them a comment or have a look at some of their other beautiful films (I think I've watched all of them!)  The lovely Steve has also given me permission to embed ours here so here it is...

I am a bit annoyed at myself for talking so fast (as usual) and, like most people, cringe listening to my own voice but I still love it!

Thursday, 26 January 2012


I'm having a bit of a thing for heart prints at the moment.  Just in time for Valentines Day!  I have spotted a couple of cute things in the shops lately so thought I'd show you some of them (and of course did a quick on-line search for a few more!)

There are quite a few sweaters I am liking...

Oasis Heart Print Top £42 

Next - Block Stripe Sweater - £25

Also in Red - Next £28
Next - Heart Sweater £28 grey

Kookai Heart Print Cardigan £34 (in the sale)

I'm also loving this Oasis flared dress...

Oasis Fit & Flare Dress £25 (in the sale)

And this top, also from Oasis...

Heart Print Shell Top - Oasis £35

And this cute skirt from Next (you can't see the print very well in this picture but it has white heart outlines all over)....

Heart Print Flippy Skirt - Next £28

Have you spotted any cute heart prints, or other prints for that matter?  Think I'm off to burn the credit card!  

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Nik's graduation!

I still haven't written about my clever husband's graduation.  Mainly because it was just a week before the wedding so there was a lot going on at the time!!

Anyway, he did it, hubby graduated from his second degree (I know, he's mental!  One was more than enough hard work for me!!) and is now a fully fledged doctor.  Now the really hard slog begins as his chosen speciality is a small one and competition for training places is fierce.

But, for now, here are some pictures of us looking all dolled up for his big day before our big day ;)

Dressing down my hen night dress with wedges

Beautiful Bute Hall

Proud family :)

Proud Wife! (Although I was still a fiancĂ©e then!)

Modelling ;)

Handsome Hubby

Then we all went out for a yummy celebration dinner at Rogano...


Hmm, I must have been ranting about something funny!

Monday, 23 January 2012

Honeymoon Pt17 - Safari - The Serengeti

So the next morning after a wonderfully restful night and yummy breakfast at Bilila Lodge, we headed out early for a half day on The Serengeti.  On route to the 'Hippo Pool' we spotted a tiny little deer called a Dik Dik - cutest thing ever!  It was about 50cm tall and had a long nose which was so cute when it wiggled it side to side!  Sadly it was on the wrong side of the road for the light early in the morning so the photos aren't great as they're back lit.

We then carried on to the Hippos where you can actually get out of the vehicle, despite Hippos being the most dangerous animals in Africa, and stand at the edge of the pool behind a fence.  Stench is not the word to describe their water hole.  You can see for yourself what they are wallowing in...

Hippo Pool

When we moved on from there, we spotted another group of lots of 4x4s meaning there must be something exciting to see!  As it turned out it was a pack of around 12 lions eating a kill but it was waaay over the other side of a ravine and this was the best photo I could get with the zoom lens (we couldn't really make them out without using the telephoto lens)...

You can see them just to the left of the tree trunks

We did however find a few lionesses a bit further along on our side of the ravine, lazing in the shade of a few trees...

By far the best part of my day was when we found the zebras drinking in a pool of water.  When we drove across the bridge, they all ran away but we stopped by the edge and our guide said they would go back in, which they did.  But the best bit was, they repeatedly got spooked by something and then return which gave me a great opportunity to try and get some pattern shots of them all grouped together and some action shots of them running out!  Unfortunately they are so quick so my composition isn't the best for the action shots (was zoomed in as well so difficult to judge what's happening) but I am still really pleased with them!

Zebras all running away as we approached

Brave leader heading back in

Getting spooked again

Lining up perfectly - thank you zebras!

Spooked again

And again!  (Love this one even though the ears are cut off and the nose is cut off on the right!)


B&W Patterns

Turns out it was this wee croc that was spooking them but he never attacked

I could have stayed there all day but we moved on and spotted this family of elephants enjoying a drink...

Further along the road we found the last of our big 5!  Our guide had been trying to find us a leopard as Nik had never seen one despite having done a few safaris in Kenya before and it would complete the big 5 for us.  Not only did we find one, but two!  They were about 100m apart in two trees near the road.  Amazing! The 2nd one was more hidden and had they not been pointed out to me I never would have spotted either of them!

Looking very relaxed!

After this, we made our way back to the hotel to spend the afternoon relaxing ourselves.  
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