Lifestyle: Happy Fortnightly Things #49

It’s the last day of the year, but it’s also time for my Happy Monday post. I did debate doing a special “year in review” type post but unfortunately ran out of time to put it together – and so it’s the bog-standard usual format, albeit with some added Christmas sparkle! I will however be putting together a Year in Review thingy on my Instagram stories, so keep an eye on that if you’re interested!

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First up though, what’s made me happy lately…

  1. Making it through Christmas (and also 6 whole months!) without either me or W ending up on A&E. Given last Christmas Day I took him in, then both of us were in within 10 days of each other in the summer it’s a bit of a relief!
  2. Pecan & Maple Snowball Cookies. I made them as gifts for my team at work and they are 100% my favourite bake of the year. Recipe will be up as soon as the photos are edited…
  3. Picking up two jumpers I’d lusted after in the Fat Face sale for less than half price.
  4. Making White Russian’s at home. It’s one of my favourite drinks and it’s dangerously easy…
  5. New fluffy socks. So warm, so cosy!
  6. Making prints of our wedding photos as Christmas gifts for our parents. It gave me all the feels, and I can’t wait to choose some to display in our own home.
  7. Lighting my Cocoa & Cashmere scented candle from Yorkshire Soap Company. It’s the most glorious fragrance!
  8. Big blanket scarves. I unwrapped one on Christmas night from my parents, and treated myself to another in the sales.
  9. My beautiful new chowder mugs, all the way from a tiny potter in New England – because my husband is all kinds of awesome. I’m planning to do a whole post about them soon but short story is I saw them, didn’t get them, moaned about it for weeks then unwrapped them on Christmas day.
  10. Cuddles with my pups. Our old terrier behaves like a puppy again when there’s presents to unwrap which is so lovely to watch!

I could go on and on about how lovely Christmas was, it might sound boring but a quiet few days with my nearest and dearest was exactly what the doctor ordered! I’m now prepping for a NYE celebration of good food and board games, so the good times are only going to continue!

How was your Christmas break?

Lifestyle: Happy Fortnightly Things #48

Happy December! How it’s the last month of the year I honestly do not know – I thought time flew by before the wedding, but here we are having been married for over two months! Our tree is up, the Buble CD is out and my festive PJs are firmly in rotation. I’ve not quite broken out the Christmas jumper just yet, but it’s coming…

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  1. Celebrating my birthday exactly how I wanted it. I saw family a few days before (and got a much needed haircut), then headed off to Tortworth Court for a relaxing weekend. I’d actually won a minimoon in a Love My Dress competition a while back, and so we cashed it in for my birthday treat. Divine.
  2. I also got to explore the Cotswolds, which has been on my list for ages. So beautiful.
  3. To top it all off, our mini-moon package included a spa day. We floundered about the pool, had a lovely massage and cosied in our room for most of Saturday.
  4. A new phone! After 3 years a rapidly deteriorating battery and a Black Friday deal coincided, so I treated myself to a Huawei P20. I’ve been so impressed with the brand previously I never considered looking elsewhere, and I have to say I’m impressed. Completely not sponsored by the way!
  5. Feeling like I have a whole new wardrobe. I bought *loads* of bits ahead of our honeymoon and kept it all new and fresh until then, so now I’m able to wear it all. I’ve loved combining more summery dresses with jumpers – this dress in particular goes so well with a black polo neck!
  6. Finally trying out the Brunch menu at Home SW15. It’s our fav spot in Putney (I’ve reviewed them for dinner a while back – have a read here) but we’ve never made it to breakfast. We finally did last weekend and oh my! So gutted it took us this long. I had the BEST brunch dish (crab cakes, poached eggs and hollandaise) that’ I’ve ever had in London.
  7. Whisky Smoked Brie. I don’t need to say anything else!
  8. Our Christmas tree makes me so happy – it’s coppery and rose gold and just so pretty. I’d love to decorate more of our flat with garlands and wreaths but we just don’t have the pennies this year, so I’ve gone all out with the tree instead.
  9. Making Gingerbread houses with Neff. I went to an event last Tuesday where we did a bit of a Bake Off between groups of bloggers. Whilst my team didn’t quite win, we did have an absolutely amazing time and our house didn’t collapse. A fab event, and I got to try the Bake Off ovens which are so fun (and would be insanely practical in a tiny kitchen).
  10. A surprisingly good pub meal in Northamptonshire for my birthday. I do find since loving in London I’ve become a little bit of a food snob, but this was genuinely lovely. I had some perfectly cooked sea bass, followed by a wonderful chocolate bomb dessert. Yum!

How is your December going? Have you cracked out the festive jumper yet?

Lifestyle: Happy Fortnightly Things #47

I’m back! Despite very good intentions to have all October’s posts scheduled in advance, sadly it didn’t happen. Happily, though, I’m back as a married women. Still thoroughly wrapped up in newly-wedding bliss, suffering deeply with the honeymoon blues (and extra honeymoon lbs!) but excited to be back writing in my little online space. I have an awful lot of *whispers* Christmas content to plan, write and photograph soon but I have a little goal to keep posting regularly until my regular Christmas-New Year break so here goes…

Let me know in the comments what you have been up to!

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    1. We all know what’s coming up first – getting married! I finally, FINALLY married my best friend at the beginning of October. The day, whilst it didn’t go without hitches, was everything we’d dreamt of and even more. Nothing prepares you for the feeling of walking into a full room knowing everyone is there for you, because of you. Getting ready with my closest girls was wonderful, dancing with my new husband a really surreal moment, and I just can’t quite believe we finally did it. We’ve started to get photos through and oh my, has our photographer done an amazing job
    2. Being surprised with the most perfect honeymoon. Many of you will know that I handed over every single jot of honeymoon planning over to W, with strict instructions that I wanted to be surprised on our wedding day. Somehow we made it over a year between booking and me finding out, with only one small slip up by a friend. Even then the details were a total surprise, it wasn’t what I’d have guessed but it was wonderful. Boston, a Fall road trip around New England, New York and then Hawaii. Bliss.
    3. Ticking off a restaurant from my bucket list. Our NYC stretch of the trip managed to include dinner at Eleven Madison Park. Three Michelin stars, listed as Number One restaurant in the world in 2017. Definitely a once in a lifetime experience, with some of the most exquisite food I have ever tasted. I won’t be reviewing it in full, but I will probably do some kind of post on it in the future.
    4. It goes without saying that most of the food in NYC was a highlight – I don’t think we ate a bad meal. In fact we only had one bad meal in our trip of nearly three weeks, so I don’t think that’s too bad!
    5. A helicopter tour over Maui, Hawaii. Another bucket list item ticked off in the space of a few weeks, though I was pretty terrified! We spent most of our time on the island flopped on a beach, but managed to squeeze in this sight-seeing flight and I’m so glad we did – it was stunning!
    6. Coming home to fresh bed sheets. I was so glad past Chloe made that decision during the madness of packing.
    7. Heading back into the office to be given more responsibility which, touch wood, seems to be going well.
    8. Being more inventive with lunchboxes. Whilst my usual lunches are by no-means bad, now W is no longer part of a ‘lunch club’ at university I’m now prepping for two and he gets bored having the same thing every single day. So far highlights have been a thick and funky Broccoli and Blue Cheese Soup, and a Caesar Salad made with lentils.
    9. Baking sourdough – mainly my husbands (!) project but one I’m wholeheartedly supporting.
    10. The smell of a Pumpkin Spice candle. Utter bliss.

And that’s my quick catch-up. Please do tell me what you’ve been up to recently, I’d love to hear your news!

Food: Recent Eats #4

It’s been a month or so since I did a Recent Eats post, and in that time there’s been a fair few exciting things we’ve tried. Admittedly the last few weeks have been a case of eating from the freezer in an attempt to save pennies (weddings are expensive) but we’ve still managed to try a fair few new things. On the drinks front, Gin in Rose Lemonade (found in a can in Sainsburys) was my go-to drink of choice for much of September, though I’m now slowly sinking back into my red wine habit of last winter…

 photo Recent Eats 4_zpsyuvn5fla.jpgMore Tomato Free Pizza From Waitrose

It looks like my favourite ‘trout and samphire’ pizza is no longer available (why do I always fall in love with the limited edition items?!) but it’s replacement for Autumn is also tomato free and also *really* tasty. The pumpkin and porchetta sourdough pizza is the perfect combination of salty meat, sweet pumpkin and creamy cheese – all on a delicious base. I’ll be filling my freezer with these for sure!

Peanut Butter & Jelly Crumble

Combining my favourite Autumnal/Winter pudding with peanut butter is definitely an inspired idea – it’s turned it super-comforting, super-yum and I can’t get enough. Recipe will be up over the next few weeks, so keep your eyes peeled! in the meantime, have a read of my classic crumble recipe

Soft Boiled Eggs & Buttered Toast Soldiers

Having a cold and feeling sorry for myself in late September meant this was my breakfast/lunch/dinner of choice (particularly when I was home for the weekend and had my mummy to make it for me!) – so comforting.

 photo Recent Eats Oct18 1_zpsdfnqljrs.jpgA ‘Pot Pasta’

Having gotten through four years of student life without eating any kind of Pot Noodle, I ended up having to try a Carbonara ‘pot pasta’ on the night we dropped my sister off at university. It surprisingly wasn’t too bad – fairly creamy, soft pasta and reasonably filling. My main issue was the lack of cheesy taste – it SMELT super cheesy, but the overriding taste was vegetable stock peppered with a small amount of bacon.

Raspberry Marshmallows

Without a doubt, my favourite product from September’s Degustabox* was the Raspberry Mashmallows from Mallow & Marsh. Coated in quite a bitter dark chocolate there were fruity, soft, gooey and made for a really delicious Tuesday night (Bake Off night!) snack.

 

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Really Good Salads

Towards the end of summer,  when I wasn’t quite ready to stop eating salads but wanted something filling we came up with some cracking recipes. The one in the photo above was my absolute favourite, inspired by a Jamie Oliver recipe. Shredded leftover brisket fried until hot and slightly crispy, tossed with lettuce, apple, pear and mint. We drizzled over a blue cheese dressing, added some fresh chilli slices and made some cheesy croutons too. Absolutely stunning, and something I’ve craved ever since eating it.

Completely Homemade Tacos

Talking about Bake Off, this series we’ve been trying, as far as possible, to bake along with the theme each week. For bread week I decided to dust off our tortilla press and make the tacos for our taco night – and they were delicious. Beautifully soft and so much more flavourful that the ones we usually pick up from Sainsburys.

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Hot Chocolate

Colder evenings have called for a warm drink before bed, and hot chocolate is of course my favourite. Again Degustabox* has come to the rescue with that – in August we received a tub of Cadbury’s Hightlights, and last month was a tub of Oreo Hot Chocolate. Both we have really enjoyed!

Chicken Tikka Masala

One of the things I *really* miss is a good Indian takeaway. I can make some fairly decent curries, but so far nothing has quite matched up to the takeaways I remember from my childhood and teenage years. The recipe in the first photo of this post, however, has pretty much cracked it. Inspired by a recipe in September’s issue of Delicious, it is thick and rich, heavily spiced without being chilli-hot and the perfect Friday night supper. I’m working on perfecting the spicing a little, and then I’ll be sharing the recipe…

And that’s it, just a little round up of the yummiest things I’ve eaten recently. No duds this time!

What’s the best thing you’ve eaten recently?

Lifestyle: Happy Fortnightly Things #46

Happy Monday! It’s October – which means it’s Wedding Month! I can’t quite believe that after he got down on one knee nearly three years ago, we finally get married in just a few days. Both terrifying and exciting in equal measure, I’ve got a to-do list literally longer than my arm and a million and one things buzzing around my brain. But all I can really think about is that I’m marrying my best friend, eek!

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  1. Getting my sister settled into her university halls and hearing about how she’s getting on. I’m so pleased it seems to be going well – and that she’s following a maths-y path like me!
  2. Seeing my wedding dress taking shape. Having it designed from scratch has been such an amazing experience, and I’m so excited to see the final finished product. Although nervous – I won’t actually manage to squeeze in a final fitting before the big day so everything is in the seamstresses hands…
  3. Candles! It’s the time of the year for cosy evenings of candles, blankets and fluffy socks and I’m loving it!
  4. Making homemade pasta. There’s something so therapeutic about it, and it tastes so much better than anything you can buy.
  5. Evenings spent typing up blog posts and editing photos whilst watching Harry Potter. Can’t get better than that!
  6. Having a *really* good work day. I was actually ill so working from home, and managed to get my head down and do a load of super-interesting analysis. It’s the kind of work I may not always have time for and it’s my favourite part of the job – geeky as that sounds!
  7. Filling up my Kindle with new books ready for the honeymoon. Any recommendations then please let me know!
  8. Autumnal food. Think casseroles with dumplings, warming curries and comforting pasta dishes. Much as I’ve loved lighter salads I’m ready for some stodge!
  9. Finding savoury muffins buried in my freezer. I made some really cheesy courgette muffins a few weeks ago, froze them and then forgot about them – but I’ve rediscovered them. Turns out they freeze super well – and the recipe will be going live later this week.
  10. My latest Degustabox (gifted). It was full of some exciting sweet treats including some *amazing* raspberry and dark chocolate marshmallows from Mallow & Marsh. They were the highlight of the box this month, but I’m also really excited to try the A2 Milk (as I have some issues with dairy)…

What’s made you happy lately?

Lifestyle: Happy Fortnightly Things #45

Happy Monday!

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    1. A lovely second Hen Do with my family (and family to be!). I arranged an afternoon tea for something more sedate that my grandma’s would enjoy, and it was lovely to have everyone together.
    2. Getting my exams out of the way (again). I’ve spoken less about studying these past few months as I was only doing a ‘little’ exam this sitting given the wedding is in less than three weeks, but I’m now free from it all again! Fingers crossed it went well as then I’ll only have one left to go…
    3. Making the *best* curry I’ve ever made. The photos turned out terribly, but I will be posting a recipe as soon as I can.
    4. Emptying out our freezer. We’re aiming to completely clear it and start again, which has meant discovering some new things (hello random pork chops!) and also some cheap food shopping weeks!
    5. Experimenting with photography again. I actually love it when we have darker evenings as I find it quite difficult to shoot when light is so unpredictable – dark evenings suit my style more I find. I’m especially proud of some upcoming coffee cupcakes which were shot during a particularly gloomy thunderstorm…
    6. The smell of paint. We’ve (or rather W) has made some giant light-up letters for the wedding. We’ve painted them copper but I loved having the smell of fresh paint in the flat. Is that weird?!
    7. Managing to grab the last of this dress in my size in a gorgeous bottle-green colour. It fits so well and looks/feels a lot more expensive than £20…
    8. Watching Mulan. It’s one of my three favourite Disney films (1st = Jungle Book, 2nd = Beauty & The Beast) and I love it. The songs are *amazing* and I can’t wait for the live action one to be produced.
    9. Bake Off! It’s back and I am loving it. I did think the last series on the BBC (how was it two years ago?!) was a little flat, but I’m loving the new one. I’ve also been baking along, stay tuned on my Instagram!
    10. Cosy evenings. Now it’s cooler in the evenings I can bear to wear PJs and fluffy socks – and it’s made me evenings 10x more enjoyable!

Are you enjoying the start of Autumn? What’s making you smile at the moment?

Lifestyle: Happy Things #44

Another Sunday evening when I’m going to moan about being too hot – it’s the start of September, I should be getting ready for Autumn but even the thought of wearing a jumper is making me sweat. Though I have at least managed to wear a cardigan outside recently which is an improvement… A lot has happened since my last Happy post (especially as I missed one, whoops!) so this is a bumper one. It’s certainly been a good few weeks.

    1. Being able to say “we get married NEXT MONTH” – after being engaged since the end of 2015 this feels crazy! So excited to be a wife…
    2. On more wedding-related news, we’ve had our respective stag and hen dos. He came back with all hair/beard/eyebrows still in-tact which was my biggest worry, so that was good. And my hen (or at least part I, with part II to come!) was amazing. My girls did a wonderful job at planning at day that was perfect for me, though unfortunately my night out was cut short when my mum took ill – but hey, what’s another Happy Things post without praising our ambulance service?!
    3. The meal on my hen deserves a special mention – I wouldn’t be a food blogger if meals weren’t a highlight. However my Confit Duck Leg with a Plum and Ginger Glaze was extraordinary. One of the best things I’ve eaten all year.
    4. All the foodie magazines. Recently I’ve been able to get a copy of the Sainsbury’s magazine through work, which takes our regular foodie magazines up to 3 per month, plus anything else I can get my hands on. So much inspiration. And it’s meant we’ve definitely kept up our goal of cooking at least one new dish a week…
    5. Speaking of new food, August’s Degustabox arrived and was just as good as July’s. I’m a big fan of the Crooked alcoholic soda!
    6. Making a batch of Noodle Salad for lunchboxes. It was loosely based on this recipe, but I’ll be posting my own version soon!
    7. Hosting a dinner party for friends. I made a selection of tips (Tumeric Hummus, Courgette & Tahini and a Whipped Feta) and served with breads – I could have just eaten that. So fun to catch up over some delicious food.
    8. Picking up a new favourite dress from Warehouse. My previous favourite shrunk but they’ve been great about refunding it, fingers crossed this one doesn’t suffer the same problem!
    9. This Trout Pizza from Waitrose is still a favourite, I’ll be gutted when it’s no longer available…
    10. A few days of cooler weather. We enjoyed some comfort food (this Cauliflower Cheese Risotto is a great option!), and I even pulled out the fluffy socks. Sadly it hasn’t lasted!

What have you been up to lately?

Lifestyle: Happy Things #43

It’s Sunday evening, I’m sat sprawled out in an attempt to cool down and am utterly, utterly ready for Autumn. Sure, this hot weather is an excuse to eat plenty of ice-cream and I’m spoilt with an air-conditioned office AND a commute which involves the air-conditioned District Line. But it’s still a tad warm for my liking! Despite the moan about the heat, there’s been plenty making me happy lately…

  1. Cooking some more authentic Thai food. I posted about our Moo Pad Prik on Saturday, but it was absolutely delicious and deserves another mention!
  2. Finding a fragrance brand I really, really love. Noble Isle makes the most stunning fragrances, I already know I need ‘Fireside’ as a winter candle or diffuser this year!
  3. Flicking through my favourite new cookbook. Not only does Gatherings look beautiful on my shelf, it’s also one of the nicest books I’ve got. There’s barely any recipes which don’t scream ‘make me!’
  4. My cousins lovely wedding. It was the most relaxed day, she looked beautiful and it was lovely to catch up with my Grandma too.
  5. The above also made me super-excited for my own big day. It’s just under 9 weeks to go, I had my first dress fitting last week (which went far better than I had feared!) and eeek! So excited!
  6. Making one of the best cakes I’ve eaten yet. It was super-tasty, super-quick and went down really well at work (almost disappearing before lunch time). If you’ve got a courgette-glut it’s the perfect cake for you and I’ll be posting the recipe very soon…
  7. Finding all sorts of tomato-free pizzas in supermarkets. Waitrose are currently doing one with Trout, New Potatoes and Samphire which I’m excited to try!
  8. Having a freezer full of Bolognese (tomato-free of course) courtesy of yellow-sticker beef mince.
  9. Getting *the* most excellent customer service from the beauty salon where I’ve booked to have my nails done before my wedding. They’ve booked out the last two hours for me, my mum and sister, encourage us to bring some bubbles and were genuinely just lovely.
  10. An excellent issue of Delicious magazine. My future in-laws got me a subscription for my last birthday and it’s the best foodie mag I’ve read. Full of excellent articles and the recipes are super-seasonal and super-yum. To top it off the postal packaging is now biodegradable!

What’s made you happy lately?

Lifestyle: Happy Things #42

I’m back! It’s been a while since I sat down and wrote a blog post, with my Thursday recipes being scheduled in advance a while back. And I’ve missed it. Oh boy, have I missed blogging! But life got crazy, everything got in the way and it’s just not happened.

So where have I been? First up I managed to get some kind of stomach illness, and ended up in hospital with suspected (although fortunately not!) appendicitis. Then W got majorly ill along with hundreds of others at his graduation ceremony, which meant yet another hospital trip (this time in an ambulance – which I was secretly quite excited about underneath my worry). Then there’s been wedding bits and pieces, busy-ness at work and the fact that my appetite and love of food simply hasn’t come back yet – not great for a food blogger! But I’m back, I’m here, and I’m hopefully here to stay.

One thing I will say is that I’ve been having major technical issues over here recently. My server company is threatening to shut down the site, I’ve got no photos showing up and it’s all a bit of a nightmare. Just stay with me and we’ll hopefully figure it out! Oh, and Bloglovin decided to disconnect, then loose all of my previous posts. Doh!

And now onto what’s made me happy lately…

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  1. I passed my exams! Yep, I’ve recently got the results of the exams I took back in April and I passed them both. I’m now only two exams away from qualifying which feels pretty damn good!
  2. Lunch at Padella. We finally bit the bullet and queued when I had a random Monday off. We got there before it opened, queued for just under an hour and then enjoyed some of the best pasta I’ve ever had. Including in Italy. Only beaten by one restaurant in Venice, my dish of thin, delicate strands of pasta with teeny sweet mussels was divine. I also tried Burrata for the first time, which is a ‘happy thing’ all of it’s own…
  3. Watching W graduate from his Masters. I was and am so unbelievably proud!
  4. Trying out rather enjoyable alcohol-free white wine. Botonique* is billed as the ‘soft drink for wine lovers’ and, whilst it divided opinions between my friends, I really enjoyed it (they weren’t keen at all!). The smell is a bit off-putting (aka don’t breathe it in) but once I got used to the fragrant flavour I found it the perfect thirst-quenching treat for a hot picnic. Definitely one to try if you’re cutting down on alcohol!
  5. Picking up my new favourite dress. It fits well, is beautifully made with gorgeously soft materials. And it has bees on it.
  6. Opening my first Degustabox* – a monthly hamper filled with new, innovative or exciting foodie treats. I’ll be reviewing this month’s on my Instagram stories so stay tuned on here to find out more, but so far the Rhubarb Cider has been a real highlight…
  7. Managing to replicate my go-to order at Bella Italia. It’s a courgette and pasta dish in a light lemon and tarragon sauce, and now I can make it all the time.
  8. A rather successful planning meeting at our wedding venue. We remembered exactly why we booked it as the staff are so helpful and organised. We’re virtually all set for the day now – I’ve sorted the bridesmaid gifts, RSVPs are rolling in daily and I’ve got my first dress fitting next week!
  9. A meal at Trishna. Fancy Indian food, it was all absolutely delicious, and I’m still dreaming about the Crab Curry.
  10. An afternoon learning all about sourdough. We were booked onto Bread Ahead’s Introduction to Sourdough* which was an amazing class. We’d previously done the Doughnut Workshop (see my post here) which was super-fun, but this one was a lot more technical. We came away with a couple of loaves each as well as a wild yeast culture to feed and start our own sourdough journey at home. I highly recommend if you want to further your bread making knowledge – full post will be up soon!

*Items marked were gifted in exchange for an honest review, with no money exchanging hands. All opinions my own as always!

What’s made you smile recently?

Lifestyle: Happy Things #41

Another Monday, another Happy Things diary! This last fornight has been a mix of being super-busy at work, some relaxing weekends and a lot of evenings spent resting a pulled neck (so painful!). Having said that, there’s still a lot to be happy about…

    1. White Chocolate and Pretzel Cookies. The perfect balance of sweet and salty, crunchy and chewy. Recipe coming soon!
    2. BBQs and gatherings with friends. I’m not a football fan at all, but the World Cup at least gives people the excuse to get together a bit more and I’m totally okay with that.
    3. Red Onion and Goat’s Cheese Quiche. It’s currently baking as I type, it smells *amazing* and I’m looking forward to it making up my lunchboxes this week.
    4. Having a bit of an Instagram clear-out. So many accounts I don’t remember following, or just don’t have any major interest any more. It’s meant my feed is full of content I actually want to see, so I’m engaging more. Win win.
    5. Fresh mackerel. It’s one of my favourite fishes and it’s *so* cheap to get hold of. This weekend we pan-fried some in a harissa glaze which was delish!
    6. Gaining a tortilla press. I’ve made homemade tortilla wraps previously but struggle to get an even thickness so I’m looking forward to giving this a go.
    7. Homemade burritos. We piled green rice, refried beans, pork pibil and cheese into wraps and heated in the oven. They were huge, naughty and absolutely delicious.
    8. Enjoying the above whilst watching the Lego Movie. Everything is awesome!
    9. My fiance passing his Masters degree – we celebrated with pizza and wine, then he caught up on some much needed sleep. I’ll hopefully be sharing some of his final project on my Instagram page soon so stay tuned…
    10. Managing to nail a copy-cat recipe of Bella Italia’s Pollo Siciliana. I skipped the chicken, but it was virtually spot-on and absolutely delicious. One I’ll be making again and again…

What’s made you happy this week?