Friday, 24 July 2015

Books: July

What Catey Made Next... | Books: July | Man at the Helm by Nina Stibbe | The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins | Wild: A Journey From Lost to Found by Cheryl Strayed

I've only managed to finish three books so far this month and since I don't think that I'll finish my current read before the end of the month, I'm doing July's report a little early...

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins - Wow, I really liked this book, I thought it was so so clever!  I wanted to get that out there straight away because I really didn't expect to like it at all...  Funny story - I downloaded this and another book on to my kindle at the same time and thought that I had actually started reading the other one, it took me an hour of reading to work out why the protagonist was always on the train... doh!  But I'm glad I made that mistake, because I think it would have taken me a long time to before I actually picked to read this.  I do like books that are told from different points of view, the different time lines confused me a bit at first, but in the end made sense, as it is the story from beginning to end for each person.  I thought this book would make me anxious as I'm not good with 'bad things' happening, but I because the 'bad things' are so far removed from my day to day frame of reference I was okay, looks like I've found a whole new genre that i'm willing to explore, bring on the thrillers!

Wild: A Journey From Lost to Found by Cheryl Strayed - This was recommended to me by Nicole, (thank you!) however, had I known what it was about before this year (the year of reading anything and everything) and it had been recommend, I never would have read it... a book about a girl hiking?!  Nope.  But I really really enjoyed it and felt that magical feeling again, something that has been missing for a long time, that desperate desire to get lost in the pages, just to know what's going to happen, constantly thinking about the story when i'm not reading it and just being totally absorbed when I am.   It's probably a good job we moved the weekend before I finished the book so that I really had to concentrate on my commute,  had I been on my normal journey,  I would have for sure ended up on the wrong line at the wrong station!  This book made me feel like I could do anything,  if Cheryl in her unprepared way can achieve what she did on the trail with just naive determination and will power then I too can probably achieve great things.  Lovely book, true honest story with a very relatable main character.

Man at the Helm by Nina Stibbe - The very thing that I loved most about her first book Love Nina, the snippets of the odd little conversations, are what I feared wouldn't be part of this book, it being a novel and all, but my fear was for nothing, this book is jammed packed with whimsical turns of phrase and quirky dialogue and set in just the perfect era to make it all seem very normal.  It's not just about the words though,  there is an engaging story in there too which is very easy to read and very funny if a little heartbreaking under the humour.  I really enjoyed this book.

I'm currently reading The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt and I'm also still wading my way through various pregnancy/birth books... less that 8 weeks to the due date, I really think I ought to crack on!

What have you been reading this month?  Do you have any recommendations for me?


Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Turkey & Lemon Burgers with Bacon and Red Pepper Pesto

What Catey Made Next... | Turkey & Lemon Burgers

Summer to me is the seasonal home of salad, BBQ food and ice cream, though i'll eat any of them (especially ice cream) at anytime!  But there is something about the sunshine that makes me long for one of those warm lazy evenings sitting in the garden, smoke wafting around, sipping something cool, waiting with anticipation for a delicious juicy burger, topped with all manner of tasty things, to make it's way to my plate.  It's total nostalgia, all the happy childhood memories of family camping holidays, mingling with the memories of tipsy summer nights in my twenties, hanging out at the beach with friends, a BBQ, a beer and a campfire; but when I think of summer I think of all those magical happy nights... and burgers.

It's not often that I'll post a recipe including meat, my hubby being a vegetarian means I haven't had much practice and I'm a little scared if I'm honest, but if I do, it will probably have bacon in it, because, bacon I can handle.  It's super tasty and easy to cook, and makes everything better!  I'm also currently craving it like crazy, along with pineapple, and strangely for me spice and chilies and heat, this little one must be affecting my taste buds - I think i'm going to have a little chili lover on my hands, just like their daddy!

This recipe started out life as just a mention of turkey lemon meatballs in The Love Verb by Jane Green.  (Although there are many full recipes in the book, including this (almost) vegan quiche, unfortunately the meatballs weren't one.) When I decided that the meatballs had to become a reality and started working on the recipe, I just knew that they had to have bacon in them, (see above paragraph for reasoning.)  Other ingredients that were in earlier versions didn't all make the cut, but along with turkey and lemon (obviously,) bacon has been a constant.

The meatballs are good fried off a little, then cooked in a light tomato sauce with plenty of fresh herbs and served with pasta.  They are even better when made in to burgers and served with a slab of mozzarella, a rasher or two of bacon and this amazing red pepper pesto!  (Pesto recipe can be found here.)

What Catey Made Next... | Turkey & Lemon Burgers

For the Burgers
300g minced turkey
4 rashers of bacon, cut in to small pieces
Zest of 1 lemon
A clove of garlic minced
A good big handful of chopped mixed fresh herbs
3 sun dried tomatoes chopped in to small pieces
Half a grated courgette
1 whole egg plus 2 yolks
Good handful of breadcrumbs
Salt (optional)
Pepper
Onion granules
Oil (to cook)

For the Red Pepper Pesto
Jar of Roasted red peppers
large handful of parsley
75g unsalted cashews
Garlic clove
2tbsp olive oil
50g grated Parmesan

To Serve
Soft white buns
Lettuce leaves
Beef Tomato cut in to rounds
Mozzarella cut in to rounds
Bacon cooked to your preference
Red pepper pesto

To Make the Burgers
Put everything but the salt and the oil in a bowl and squidge together thoroughly; really squeezing it between your hands to get it all to bind nicely.

Heat up a pan, fry a tiny bit off to taste and then adjust seasoning accordingly.  This is when you might want to add salt, I usually find that the bacon and the sun dried tomatoes provide enough but feel free to add it if you wish.  Make sure you fry off another taster to test the flavours.

Shape into patties, I usually end up with between 4 and 6, place on a plate covered with clingfilm, cover, and pop in the fridge for at least a few hours or even over night.

When you're ready to cook, put your oven on gas mark 4 (180 degrees C), put a frying pan over a gentle heat and add a little oil to the pan and fry each burger on either side for a few minutes to seal, then transfer to a oven dish and pop in the oven for 20-30 minutes until the burgers are cooked and juices run clear.  Or if you're BBQing, brush on a little oil, and hand over to the chef!

To Serve
Mix the pesto ingredients together in a food processor - you will have way too much for the burgers but it's soooo good over pasta for a quick meal.

Then build your burger as demonstrated in the GIF above - layer up the bun bottom, lettuce, tomato, burger, mozzarella, bacon, pesto, and finally bun top, and you are done!

Serve and enjoy!

What Catey Made Next... | Turkey & Lemon Burgers

This is my current favourite way of enjoying these burgers, but there are many other good things to put on the burgers: even more bacon in the form of bacon jam, chorizo, a nice thick slice of fried halloumi, a roasted garlicy portobello mushroom, sticky fried onions, pickles, olive tapenade, homemade BQQ or  tomato sauce... the list is endless and a totally opportunity for getting creative...

So, what are your favourite burger toppings?  And what are your most vivid summer food memories?

Wishing you a summer full of happy days and magical nights,

Friday, 17 July 2015

Explore North West: Two Cities

What Catey Made Next... | Explore North West: Two Cities

Colorful graffiti somewhere in Liverpool (I was a little bit lost at the time) : : The entrance to Liverpool Central Library : : Chicken and waffles at Splendid Kitchen in Manchester : : One of the many mini superlambananas that can be found around Liverpool city centre : : Tea and cake at Propertea, enjoyed with a view of Manchester Cathedral : : Albert Square in front of Manchester Town Hall during Chinese New Year : : Superstore in Manchester, an intriguing mix of bar upstairs and grocers downstairs (which has an excellent selection of bottled beers for sale) : : The clock in Liverpool Lime Street Station, for some reason I just loved this sight every evening during the winter, the brightly lit interior against the deep blue sky : : The New Yorker afternoon tea at Cuthberts Bakehouse in Liverpool, one of the very best savoury selections on any afternoon tea I've had the pleasure of sampling : : Clockwork orange graffiti I walk past on my way to work most mornings, it's tucked behind a barred gate and intrigues me greatly : : Lunch at Leaf in Liverpool, quirky, industrial, retro, with delicious food and a cracking tea menu : : The Liverpool Sailor's Home Gates, now a memorial to all sailors who have passed through the city : : Inside the Liverpool Albert Dock : : Liverpool Catholic Catherdral, quite odd looking from the outside, but truly beautiful from the inside - follow the link and take the virtual tour, remember to look up! : : Outside the Albert Dock : : The Band Names Wall of Fame outside the Cavern Club Liverpool : : The floor in Bakchich, a yummy Lebanese restaurant in Liverpool, photo taken while waiting for a chicken kebab wrap to munch while exploring Bold Street : : Honeycomb brownie and an Iggy Pop smoothie (red pepper, mango and strawberry) at Teacup in Manchester : : Blue Tit Art by Faunagraphic on Newton street in Manchester : : Streetlights outside the Walker gallery in Liverpool, love these old style lamps and was so happy to get this nice shot : : Billy Fury statue down at the Albert Dock : : Bacon and sausage pancakes (where the yum is actually inside the pancake-gah!) at Moose Coffee in Liverpool : : Wellington statue in the culture quarter Liverpool, which I can see from my office : : God made MANchester sign on Tib street, in all the time I've spent in Manchester over the years I'd never seen this until March this year... always exploring: : Manchester town hall bathed in purple light... no idea why but it's very pretty!


We were at a CAMRA beer festival in the basement of Newcastle University about 7ish years ago when I came up with the idea of moving to one of the pretty countryside towns in the hills outside Manchester - the best of all worlds, in the country, but near the city, beautiful, well placed for job opportunities, near my parents, near Tim's - ideal.  Over the years that idea was put off, changed, dreamed about, put off again, seriously discussed, and eventually became our plan.

And here we are 6 months after moving to the North West, finally living in the area we wanted to, and another step closer to that plan of a life in the hills, it feels good to be realizing our dream, and to be excited about our life here too.  I do miss the North East, and my life there, but although it will always hold a special place in my heart, life moves on and there are a lot of good things waiting for us here, I just need to get out there and discover them and enjoy what life in the North West has to offer...

In an endeavour to do this I made it one of my goals when we moved to the North West to spend one lunch time a week exploring the city I worked in.  Above is a small collection of pictures from my North West city centre explorations, mostly Liverpool, as I've had more to explore there, but with a smattering of weekend visits to Manchester too, because even though I knew Manchester pretty well before we moved, there is always more to discover no matter how well you know a place!  I really love both cities, they are so different from each other and both have their own unique qualities.

I have just loved wandering around Liverpool taking everything in, getting a little bit lost, working out where I am, slowly putting a map together in my mind.  I love it when a randomly chosen direction leads to a yummy cafe, an amazing bottled beer shop (and the perfect present for valentines day!), or a sudden appearance of a building i'd previously only admired as part of the city skyline from the train.  I always went back to work feeling invigorated and more excited about getting out there again.  I think I especially love Liverpool because it's very much mine, I discovered it myself, no one showed it to me, everywhere I know about is because I found it, which is exactly the way I felt about Newcastle when I first moved there.

But of course having people to show me round Manchester is good too, it means that you get to go to the already tried and tested places.  There is still room for exploring though, especially when it comes to food!  One of my best friends made a new years resolution to not eat in the same place twice in Manchester for the whole of 2015 and I have seriously been enjoying joining her and discovering new eateries, I've even come up with a few suggestions myself after following the EATMCR Instagram page... I'm very easily swayed by a good photo of some tasty food!

I look forward to exploring both cities further in the future, and feel lucky that I now live here and can do it anytime I want (give or take the current pregnancy exhaustion!)  So hopefully I'll have more posts about the North West to share soon.

Wishing you a happy weekend and a little time to explore,

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Beach in a Jar - My Own Mini Whitley Bay

What Catey Made Next... | Beach in a Jar - My Own Mini Whitley Bay

I pretty much knew I wanted to create this before I'd even left the North East, which is why you could find my hubby down at the beach on a cold wet January morning scooping sand in to a kilner jar, when really we should have been super busy packing up the house.  Bless is heart he didn't even question me; he can be quite tolerant of my whims sometimes!

What Catey Made Next... | Beach in a Jar - My Own Mini Whitley Bay - Beachcombed Flotsam and Jetsam

I've seen ideas like this floating round the interwebs and in magazines for a while now, jars capturing a certain day, like weddings, christenings, birthdays etc or a holiday memory jar with tickets, maps and other mementos, and I've been intrigued by the idea, but never really been galvanized in to action until the idea of taking away a little bit of my North Eastern home spurred me on.

What Catey Made Next... | Beach in a Jar - My Own Mini Whitley Bay

I've been collecting flotsam and jetsam from the beach for years now, seaglass, pebbles, shells, bits of old rope and drift wood, which have always been displayed around the house in various forms.  But this is just such a lovely tangible way to remember a particular place!  Of all the beautiful beaches the north east has to offer, Whitley bay was my favourite, a little bit quieter than the more popular ones just a bit further south in Tynemouth and Cullercoats, and though not as wild and ruggedly gorgeous as those much futher up in Northumberland, it was my beach, where I went to walk away my troubles or spend happy times with friends and maybe a cheeky '99 cone!

There's really no need for a tutorial here, but... i'm going to do one any way, of course!

What Catey Made Next... | Beach in a Jar - My Own Mini Whitley Bay - Gather your Ephemera...

Gather your ephemera, including...
Photo of the beach you want to remember
Sand
Shells
Pebbles
Other beachcombed items
Big Jar
Tweezers

Trim your picture to fit inside your jar without bending at the top, or come too far around the sides, experiment till it looks right to you, you might also want to round the top corners for a neater look.

Add sand to your jar, but don't fill past the line of the sand on the photo.

Carefully lower your beachy items in to the jar, this is where the tweezers come in useful for getting everything just so.  Arrange everything to your liking, I pushed some pebbles and shells down the side of the jar in front of the sand, placed some up at the back in front of the pictures and scattered some of the smaller pebbles and shells randomly.

Screw on your lid, and you are done!

What Catey Made Next... | Beach in a Jar - My Own Mini Whitley Bay

My own mini Whitley Bay!

****************************************************************

After 6 months of living with family, we finally moved to our own place this weekend, I have mixed feelings about the move and the house, but it won't be for long and it gives us time to find our feet in our new neighbourhood and meet our little one before we worry about buying somewhere again.

We had our 30 week scan today, all is well, the baby is growing at the expected rate, which of course means it was a bit too big to get a clear photo of, or for us to understand what was happening on the screen, but it's happy and healthy so that's all that matters!

I'm still on a bit of an internet hiatus, today however I'm just borrowing from my in-laws, (thanks guys!)  Hopefully by this time next week we should be up and running at home, at which point I can get round to visit everyone I haven't managed to while on my lunch break at work!

****************************************************************

So have you made a memory jar, or box?  Do you think you'll give it a go?  What would be the perfect place or occasion for you to remember?

Have a wonderful week friends!



Thursday, 2 July 2015

June

What Catey Made Next... | June
Cidona - scrummy fizzy apple juice I lived on in Ireland; Week 24; Sunset on our last night in Ireland; Gluten free chocolate cake - a Harry Eastwood recipe; The Sovereign Cup boat race; Thai Lobster Bisque in the Bulman; The Bulman Pub in Summer Cove, Kinsale; The view from our holiday cottage; A little bit of door love; Happy toes in the sand; Lemon and Blueberry Drizzle Cake at the Lemon Leaf CafĂ© in Kinsale; Looking back towards Summer Cove from the Town of Kinsale; My gorgeous husband; Yogurt and Citrus Potato Salad Recipe; Summer Wish List; Early morning baking; Holiday beach selfie; Paperchase haul; Chicken and Waffles at Splendid Kitchen; Sunset in Cheshire; A sweet note from my MIL; View from the train window; Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris; View across the valley from Mossley, Pretty early morning sky; His and hers Lego Star Wars keyrings; View of the Canal from the train; A little sunshine for the birthday girl; View from the kitchen; Roasted tomatoes, before and after; Guacamole in the making; Our living room in Cheshire;  Morning rainbow; The Runcorn Bridge from the train; Lemon and honey with chamomile tea to soothe a cold; Sunbeams at sunset on the last day of June.


Oh gosh, what was the weather like yesterday?  I meant to write and publish this post, but the heat did for me, it's no picnic being pregnant in the summer!  Wowzers!

Any way... June!  Where did you go?  In fact where did the first half of this year go?  I can hardly believe that time has gone so fast this year!  But this month has been a good one, I've felt more like myself than I have in ages, I've been doing things that I enjoy again, my emotions, though still quite volatile, are more under control, and apart from this heat and the swollen ankles, I'm coping with what pregnancy is throwing at me, and beginning to enjoy it, rather that just loving what it means for me.  Also, we had a wonderful relaxing holiday on the South Coast of Ireland, the weather was beautiful, the scenery stunning, the people friendly and the food was delicious, what more could I ask for!

****************************************************************

I'll be on a bit of a hiatus for the next few weeks, we move in to our new place on Saturday but it looks as though we won't have internet for a while :(  So blog reading and writing will be at a minimum!

Hoping that June was good for you too, and that July treats you well, see you all on the flip side!

Friday, 26 June 2015

Books: January to June

What Catey Made Next... | Books: Jan-June

After a year where I hardly read, I've been trying to make 2015 the year where I not only read every day, but the year where I read a wider variety of books.  I made a list of titles at the beginning of the year, some of which I never would have considered before, some of which I would and some that were recommended to me, my only rule is to give it a go!  Below are my thoughts on the books from the list that I've read so far, any books not on the list haven't been reviewed (mostly because they were they type of thing I was trying to get away from).  I'll hopefully be doing a post a month like this from now on.

Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch - I love the Peter Grant series and this was no exception, even though we took a trip to the countryside and left London behind, all the usual factors were in play, magic, mayhem and mischief, just with a few more trees thrown in.  But for anyone who hasn't read the pervious books it could be a bit off putting as it really feels a bit rushed, there are continuity errors and random words in the middle of sentences and a little bit too much assumed knowledge/understanding of the Grantiverse.  For me this was put-up-with-able though.  Recommended, but only after you've read the rest of the series.

The One Plus One by Jojo Moyes - Nice easy read, the most ordinary and relatable setting of any of her books that I've read, I just loved the everydayness of it.  Despite the cringeworthy mistakes made and other issues the protagonists go through (things that would usually cause me readers-stress) I really enjoyed this and felt happier for reading it.

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell - Oh wow, I adored the way this book made me feel... young and light and fluttery, full of the butterflies of young love, Rowell captures the bittersweet awkwardness beautifully.  It's not all light and fluttery though and the darker moments bring balance.  If you haven't already, please read this book.

Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy
 by Helen Fielding - I was a big fan of the first two books and this one felt just like catching up with an old friend, Bridget is unmistakably still Bridget, still as funny, still as whimsical, but just older.


Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn - I was very disappointed with this book, especially after all the film hype, it took me ages to really get hooked, both in pages and in time, as I found the beginning so boring I could sometimes read only barely a paragraph before I had to put it down.  I did get hooked somewhere a long the line and enjoyed the plot twists but the end really annoyed me.  The main takeaway from this book for me was, that when the baby comes and I only have limited reading time, I will still give any thing a go, but I will be abandoning my usual philosophy of once started, must finish.

Looking For Alaska by John Green - I like YA books, they don't shy away from difficult topics, but still feel like light relief.  Despite what happens in this book, it still feels quite innocent and made me glad that that age is well behind me, that I have life experience and some control over my emotions (pregnancy hormones not included!)  Quick easy read, nothing ground breaking but really enjoyable.

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green - Enjoyable, easy read, lots of anagrams.  Not much else to say really, but that is not to say it's not worth a read.

Landline by Rainbow Rowell - Brilliant concept, makes you consider the unique aspects of your own relationships and while you may not have a landline to your past, you can always make more effort to work on the promises you made to the ones you love. Very enjoyable read.


How to Build a Girl
 by Caitlin Moran - I loved this book, I laughed the whole way through!  I've seen a lot of criticism for it around the internet that I don't really understand, yes the main character is quite weak and horrible at times, but at the end of the day she is a teenager trying to find her way in the world and what teenage girl isn't horrible at some point?!  Very real life, very honest, very well written, give it a chance, your laughing muscles will be sore but you'll be glad you did!


One Day by David Nicholls - Perfectly imperfect love story. A bit of a slow starter for me, but soon picked up pace and totally captivated me. The format is clever and each snapshot provides just enough information to build up a full picture of both Dexter and Emma's lives. I loved the true to life awkwardness and the big love down played. Such a good read, even if I am late to the party!


Then We Came to the End
 by Joshua Ferris - I really wasn't sure about this book at the beginning, it's written from the collective perspective and I spent quite a while trying to work out who was 'really' writing it, which one of the characters was speaking for all of them.  When I eventually let go of my need to know, I really enjoyed it and began to think about the collective aspect.  The way that we may think we are separate, or different, or even better than, the group, and we all do have our own little crazies but in the end when we spend time in a big group, we really are all just part of the collective.  Very interesting and thought provoking.


Have you read any of these books?  What did you think? Do you have any recommendations for me? What are you reading at the moment?  I'm currently reading both Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin and The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (you know, for a bit of light relief from all the scary giving birth malarky!)

Happy reading,

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Before the Baby Comes and the Summer Ends...

What Catey Made Next | A Summer Wish List

I love reading other people's summer wish lists, finding out what their dreams for the warm weather are, what they hope to achieve and enjoy, where they see life taking them on these light nights and long days.  My favourites are always those that involve activities for little ones, maybe because i'm a big kid at heart, or maybe because I've been looking forward to been able to make my own kiddo friendly list.  Soon enough my time will be here and I'll be writing out lists tailored to this little wriggler.  For now though, I have one final summer to do as I please and lots of time off to do it in, and doesn't the summer solstice just seem the perfect day for a summer wish list?

So before the baby comes and the summer ends I want to...

Enjoy our last holiday as a family of two... currently taking place, and so far so good!
Make fruity ice lollies and lots of ice cream
Move in to our new (but temporary) house, and make it feel like a home
Finally get a wedding photo/photos printed to put on the wall
Make something for the baby, quilt/blanket/soft toy/all three
Make my own maternity clothes
Finish January-March project life
Go swimming
Join the library in our new town
Enjoy lazy summer breakfasts
Convince someone to invite us to a bbq (as we sadly won't have our own garden)
Get to know our new neighbourhood and find some new favourite places
Enjoy my baby shower with my lovely ladies around me
Make it to the beach once or twice
Learn how to use at least one manual function on my camera


What wishes do you have for your summer?  Leave me a link and let me know if you have your own list, i'd love to come read it!

Wishing you a happy summer solstice...