Recipe: Pea and Prawn Risotto

Monday, 30 November 2015

My cooking skills don't really stretch very far, but I've got pretty bloody good at making risotto. I can't really cook much else to be honest! People seem to assume that risotto is a really fancy and complicated dish, but it's actually ridiculously easy to make. It's also really versatile and can be adapted to suit your tastebuds! You can swap the prawns for tofu or veggies if you're not a meat-eater, pop in a dollop of soft cheese to make it extra creamy, or throw in a tin of tomatoes to give it a completely different flavour.

My favourite risotto ever is pea and prawn, it's perfect for a cosy night in with my other half. He loves it (he's started buying risotto rice on a weekly basis as a subtle hint, either that I should cook more or maybe he really does like it that much!), and we usually have plenty left over for lunch the next day- winner!

Ingredients (Serves four)
900ml vegetable stock
300g arborio risotto rice
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
100ml dry white wine
1 tin petits pois peas
1 pack ready-to-eat king prawns
Salt and pepper to season

How it's done 
1. Make up the stock and leave to simmer on a low heat.
2. Heat a little oil in a large pan. Over a high heat, add the onion and cook for 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.
3. Tip in the risotto rice and coat in the onion and garlic. Turn down the heat.
4. Add the wine and simmer for a couple of minutes until almost evaporated.
5. Start adding the stock, a ladleful at a time, only adding more when the stock has almost evaporated. This should take around 25 minutes in total, until the rice is soft and the risotto is creamy. Ensure you are stirring frequently.
6. Five minutes before the rice is ready, add the peas and king prawns and allow them to cook gently.
7. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve!

It's as simple as that! And it tastes absolutely divine! If you try the recipe, I'd love to see your photos and hear your thoughts! You can comment below or tweet me @SianKathrine!

What's your favourite dish to cook?

Sian Kathrine xo


Saturday, 28 November 2015

My younger sister and I have quite a few little traditions. Every Christmas, we decorate the tree at my mum's house together, drape ourselves in tinsel and dance around the house to Christmas songs. Whenever she comes to visit me, we have to go and get our nails done. And whenever I take a trip back home, we have to go to Cupcakes. It's just the rules.

Cupcakes is a super cute little coffee shop, tucked away in the corner of the retail park in Gainsborough town centre. Decorated in bright magenta, Cupcakes it warm and welcoming and serves every kind of cupcake you can think of, from Vanilla to Chocolate Orange, from Red Velvet to Sherbert. All home-made, all incredibly yummy!

My sister and I first started visiting Cupcakes about four years ago, when I was still living at home. We'd meet up after school/sixth form every Tuesday, have a walk into town and go to Cupcakes before heading to the youth group where she was a member and I was a volunteer. We'd spend a good hour in there, staying out of the cold and we'd talk, laugh, swap icing from our chosen cakes and chat about things that we wouldn't really talk about at home. It became our little sanctuary, where we could spent time just the two of us, sisters and best friends.

Even now, whenever I go home, we have to have a trip to Cupcakes. I have so many fully stamped loyalty cards that they probably owe me a year's supply of free drinks!

My favourite cupcake ever has to be the Cookie Dough (pictured), the icing is just incredible! I try to branch out and get different ones but I end up going back to Cookie Dough every time.

It may be little, but Cupcakes remains one of my favourite places ever. Not just for its amazing cake and yummy hot chocolates, but because I get such lovely times there with my baby sister.

Do you have any special places you love to go to?

Sian Kathrine xo

OOTD: Boutique of Molly

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

 Dress: Boutique of Molly
Cape: New Look
Boots: Next

I do love a cute dress and boot combination. Especially in Winter, when it's so cold that all you want to do is hide behind big baggy jumpers, it's so good to go out wearing a pretty outfit.

When Boutique of Molly approached me and asked me to review one of their pieces, I couldn't resist the Dora lace-up dress. The very next day, the pink parcel landed on my doorstep and I was super excited to style it.

I was a bit worried about the shape of the dress not really suiting me, because I usually need something which brings me in at the waist. But it was actually super flattering, perfect for days when you're feeling not-so body confident, and I adore the lace up detail.

I've been looking at investing in a cute, knitted cape for a little while now and this striped one from New Look is just so cosy. It's amazing for keeping warm on cold winter days, and goes with so many different outfits!

The perfect finishing touch to the Dora dress is a fab pair of over-the-knee boots. I picked up this pair from Next last winter, they're so comfy and really slim my legs down, bonus!

What do you think of the outfit? What's your favourite outfit for looking cute on cold days?

Sian Kathrine xo

Refined Finish

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

It can be pretty tricky to get into a good skincare routine. And for me, remembering to exfoliate on a regular basis... Well, it just doesn't really happen. But thanks to Benefit skincare, I'm finally starting to get in a properly maintained routine.

I picked up Refined Finish Facial Polish as a payday treat, the latest addition to my Benefit skincare collection. The pretty packaging promises to gently exfoliate and soften the skin, giving you a dewy glow.

I use Refined Finish twice a week and right from the very first use, I saw an instant difference in my skin. You can feel the little exfoliating beads working through the dead skin, without the abrasiveness that I've found some exfoliators can have on my sensitive skin.

After I've used it, my skin feels super-soft, even before moisturising. I'll never neglect exfoliating again!

Although Benefit skincare is a little more expensive, with Refined Finish retailing at £18.50, it's definitely worth the investment. Especially if, like me, you have sensitive skin, because the whole range is so powerful but very gentle on the skin at the same time.

Have you tried any Benefit skincare products? What's your favourite exfoliator?

Sian Kathrine xo

When I Grow Up

Monday, 23 November 2015

I was basically born with a notebook and pen in my hand. Ever since I can remember, my favourite thing to do was colour, or read, or write a story. When I was five, I was bought a PlayStation One (retro) for Christmas, but my brother played on it far more than I did. (Unless the game was Harry Potter, then the arguments would start.) I was happier with a pretty notebook and colourful set of pens.

At school, I was giddy when the teacher would tell us that we'd be writing stories in lesson. At Parents' Evening, they told my mum that my writing skills were way above where they should be.

By the time I turned six, after I'd got over the whole "I want to be a princess" thing, I knew I wanted to write when I grew up. And that was it. I'd go to university, and spend my life writing books. That was my plan.

At fourteen, having done a bit more research, I decided that writing books was probably a lonely occupation. I wanted to write, but I also wanted to work around other people, getting out there, talking to the public and making a difference. I looked into journalism and it was the perfect fit. So, new plan. But the hard work had to begin. After my GCSEs, I picked out my dream university, spent hours on my UCAS application and worked so hard to get the grades I needed.

Fast-forward three years, and I'm sitting in on an inquest, part of my module on court reporting. The course was harder than I'd anticipated, but I was determined to get through it. Including finishing this assignment of six stories.

This was story number four. It was a straightforward, open and close inquest. 24 year old man, long history of mental health problems. After an argument with his girlfriend, he went for a walk to clear his head. They didn't find him until the following evening. He had taken his own life.

The whole inquest lasted under an hour. After scribbling down as many notes as I could, I gathered up my things and made my way towards the door. I was worrying about whether such a straightforward case would make a compelling enough story, and considering coming back the next day to try and get something else. I couldn't afford to not do well in this module.

I happened to glance up from my notebook and caught sight of the parents. They were holding each other, the mother was in floods of tears, and the father had a look of anguish on his face that I'll never forget. They'd lost their son, who wasn't much older than I was, and there was nothing that they could have done to save him from himself. And there I was, stressing about whether or not my tutor would deem his death newsworthy. I couldn't have felt more ashamed of myself.

I went home and thought everything over. We'd talked in seminars so many times about the need to be objective and not letting your emotion get in the way of reporting, but it hadn't been put into perspective until that moment.

How could I report on such heartbreaking stories, death, crime, the anguish of a family, and be completely emotionless about it? How could I go into a courtroom or an interview, get what I need and leave without doing anything to help those who have been hurt? I didn't want to end up like that. I'd seen the ugly side of my dream job and I didn't know if I could deal with it.

There is a point I'm getting at. Since the age of five, I'd always had a plan. I knew exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up. Then all of a sudden, I was 21, almost a grown up, and my plan had been completely thrown into question. Since then, I've felt so lost and unsure of myself. My whole life has revolved around becoming a journalist and now, I just don't know what I'm aiming for.

But what I'm starting to realise is that not knowing is okay. Maybe I'm not supposed to have my shit completely together by 21 years old. Or even 22, 23, 24 or 25 years old. I don't need to have my life mapped out. Now is the time to enjoy the rest of my degree (despite the stress), go on a million work placements, make mistakes, change my mind or just go back to the drawing board. As long as I work hard and keep an open mind, I'm pretty confident that the rest will fall into place.

For now, my aim is to get through to graduation. After that, who knows. But I'm trying not to worry too much about that yet. And if you're in a similar position to me, you shouldn't worry either. You've got this. You'll be okay.

Sian Kathrine xo

An Open Letter To Retail Customers

Saturday, 21 November 2015
Dear Retail Customers,

We love you, we really do. Without you lot, our jobs would be pretty pointless. But, there's some things you do that get on our nerves a little bit. And I don't want to whinge, but maybe it's time you were made aware of what makes us mad.

First, if we don't look particularly happy-smiley, telling us to "cheer up", or saying "she's got a right face on her" isn't going to help. Bear in mind that we spend our whole days pretending to be happy. We're probably just tired, we've been stood up for the last six hours, the manager's breathing down our neck and the last place we want to be on a Saturday afternoon is here. Give us a break.

You might not realise, but we spend hours merchandising and tidying our displays. And watching you obliterate the section that we had just straightened out makes us cry a little bit inside. Please, just be a little bit considerate. If you take something out of a box to look at, put it back when you're done, don't leave it all over the place for one of us to deal with. Leave displays as you found and you'll avoid not-so-subtle glares from us.

Hey, we can't magically summon up items that are out of stock! We're not personally attacking you, so please don't go on at us as if we are, or mutter about how it's a joke when we apologise and suggest that you try ordering online.

Please don't take it out on us when you forget your own carrier bag and have to pay 5p for another one. Despite the fact that you find the charges "ridiculous", no we can't just give you one. Have a problem, take it up with Mr. Cameron.

If we're carrying armfuls of stuff and ask you to hang on for two minutes before we look in the back for a different size, please don't tut as if it's the biggest inconvenience in the world. We're not superhuman. We were clearly in the middle of something, and whilst we're happy to put that on hold to help you, let us unload all of the crap that we're carrying first.

It's Saturday afternoon and it's busy. We're trying to get through the queue at the till as fast as we can, but seeing you huffing and puffing, tapping your foot and muttering about how unbelievable it is that there aren't more staff isn't going to make us go any faster.

And while we're at it, when you're at the till, don't stand there chatting on your phone while I'm trying to serve you. It's just rude and difficult for me to signal to ask whether or not you'd like a gift receipt.

It's a common misconception that retail workers actually live in the stores, but I can tell you now that is a myth. So when you duck under the shutter just as we're closing and ask a million and one awkward questions, it delays us from getting home on time. And that really annoys us.

Don't get me wrong, most of you are lovely. But remember, working in retail can be much harder than you think. Be kind, please. You'll get much happier, smilier service. Promise.

Retail Workers Everywhere

November Glossybox

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Words genuinely can't describe how excited I've been for November's Glossybox. Like, I squealed at the postman when he dropped it off level of excited.

The fabulous people at Glossybox have put together this month's box of goodies to get us prepared for the party season, for when your make-up needs that little bit of extra drama, and your skin needs that little bit of extra glow. And it has certainly delivered.

For the first time ever, Glossybox subscribers could choose one of four shades from Revlon's Super Lustrous lipstick collection. I went for Fire & Ice, a rich red colour, and I absolutely love it! The formula of the lipstick is a little bit more matte than I would usually go for but I was pleasantly surprised about how much I liked it. It has some serious staying power, and I found that one application lasted pretty much all day. These lipsticks retail for just £7.99, which is brilliant value for money and I will definitely be trying more shades!

Wearing Fire & Ice
Next up is the MUA eyeshadow palette, which I've heard quite a few bloggers rave about as a fab product which doesn't cost the earth, with this palette costing just £4. The colours are just gorgeous, with shimmery nudes for day-to-day to bold metallic hues, perfect for nights out. They blend really well, but the only thing I would say is that once applied, it can crease fairly quickly, but I guess for £4, you sort of expect that! Maybe I just need to invest in an eye primer!

To finish off the eyes, the Glossybox includes a pair of Eyelure false eyelashes. I've used Eyelure many times before and I adore them! This pair is the "natural" look, which is perfect for me because I don't like my eyelashes to look too extravagant or obviously fake. These are perfect to add length to your natural lashes and give them a little lift, and an overall pretty, flirty finish.

Emite's Diamond Heart Primer is one of my new favourites, hands-down. It's such a beautifully lightweight formula, and is amazing at evening out skin tone. After using it, I feel like I don't need to put on as much foundation because Diamond Heart has already taken my skin halfway to flawless!

My final goodie is a body lotion from Royal Apothic. It's a lovely, thick moisturiser and smells gorgeous! I tend to use it just after a bath and it makes my skin SO soft, and the effect lasts for absolutely ages!

Each Glossybox gets better and better, I'm already excited for the next one!

Have you tried any of these products?

Sian Kathrine xo

Review: Even Now, Philippa Hanna

Monday, 16 November 2015

Fans of Philippa Hanna (me included) have been waiting for what feels like forever for her newest single. After jetting off to Nashville and completing a sell-out tour with Britain's Got Talent winners Collabro, the Sheffield singer's career is going from strength-to-strength.

'Even Now' is very different to what we usually hear from Philippa, but still embodies everything that we know and love about her as an artist. While previous songs have had a strong folksy vibe, 'Even Now' features a much more contemporary sound. But I love that the focus remains on Philippa's vocal, which sounds as amazing as ever.

Philippa is known as a songwriter with Christian influences and themes within her music of faith and self-love. However, she always executes these beliefs in a way which everyone can relate to. 'Even Now' is no exception, with lyrics telling of having faith, whether that faith be in God, karma, the universe, or simply those you love to get you through the times when we are broken, hurt, or lost.

When I first listened to 'Even Now', I felt incredibly uplifted, inspired and reminded of something which is so easy to forget when life throws difficulties in your way. 'Even Now' has made it very quickly on to my 'Cheer Up Playlist' (yes, I have one!) and I know that it will soon become my go-to song when I need a little lift.

Philippa, this one was definitely worth the wait.

'Even Now' is out on 20th November 2015. Have a look at the video here.

You can find out more about Philippa on her website or she's on Twitter @Philippahanna.

Have you heard this single? What do you think?

Sian Kathrine xo

50 Day Goals

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Two minutes ago, I was curled up on my mum's sofa with a glass of wine, seeing in 2015. Then I blinked and all of a sudden there's only fifty days of this year left!

Everyone will soon be thinking about their New Year's Resolutions, but I'm not finished with 2015 yet. Fifty days isn't a long time, but I'd love to make them count. I've set myself a few little goals which I'm planning to achieve before Big Ben strikes midnight to bring in the New Year.

1. Get through all of my university deadlines
This one is without a doubt my biggest and most important goal. My ongoing battle with my mental health can often make getting motivated to do work incredibly difficult, but I'm determined to end this term on a high. If I could hit all my deadlines, and know that against all the odds, I've put forward my best work, I will be a very happy girl.

2. Reach 800 Twitter followers
I know it isn't all about the numbers, but you can't deny that hitting a follower milestone before 2016 wouldn't be amazing, right? As it stands I'm on 724, so I think 800 as a goal is realistic. 800 people seeing my tweets means 800 people that my blog could reach, and as I start to write more mental health, student help and general advice posts, that's more people that I could help, and that's a pretty amazing idea!

3. Finish decorating my living room
I've FINALLY decided on the colour scheme that I'm going for! Ever since I moved into my house in May I've kept changing my mind about what I want and continually run out of funds! But I'd love to start the New Year with a beautiful, freshly decorated living room!

4. Get into a proper healthy eating routine
My schedule's been so hectic recently that my eating pattern is completely messed up. I'm just eating whatever I can grab when I have a spare half an hour, I'm not actually eating proper meals half of the time, and after late finishes at work I'm starving and snacking at 11pm. I really want to try to get back into the habit of eating regular meals and eating more healthily. But, the Christmas rush at work is coming so we'll see!

5. Start saving for driving lessons
Having to rely on public transport is really starting to get to me now, and more than ever I want to be able to drive. Even if I can put away £20 for one lesson between now and New Year, that'll at least be a start.

Do you have any goals for the next fifty days?

Sian Kathrine xo

The Bluebell Inn, Gringley

Tuesday, 3 November 2015
Pub food is one of the best kinds of food. There's something about it which is so comforting... So much hearty, carb-filled goodness.

The Bluebell Inn is very much off the beaten track, tucked away in Gringley-on-the-Hill, Nottinghamshire. Which, as the name suggests, is literally a tiny village on a hill. Very quaint, with lots of cute houses, a tiny chapel and cobbled streets. The Bluebell is nestled amongst the little houses and you open the doors into a gorgeous, cosy pub with traditional decor and a warm atmosphere.

After deciding that cooking just wasn't an option, and getting a huge craving for pie and mash, my mum, my boyfriend and I took a little drive in search of a country pub for tea. Mum suggested the Bluebell, having been before and as luck would have it, they had a spare table on a busy Saturday night.

The menu had everything from fish and chips to risotto, which made deciding what to order almost impossible! In the end though, I just had to have the Bo Peep pie with mash, mushy peas and gravy. Proper northern scran right there! (Scran is Yorkshire for food)

The Bo Peep pie was lamb and mint in puff pastry, and it was so yummy. I'm usually a bit picky with lamb but this was really tender and the mash was lovely and creamy. By the end I was stuffed, but the fatty in me could have eaten more, it was that good!

Mum also went for the Bo Peep pie, and Luke ordered the surf and turf skewer, which looked amazing! It had steak, prawns, tomatoes and peppers, and the skewer literally hung above his plate. (There was a little bit of food envy going on, if I'm being honest.)

You can tell by his face that he loved it!

If you ever find yourself in the Gainsborough/Bawtry area (although, why would you?) The Bluebell Inn is definitely worth a visit, especially if you're a fan of pub grub. The staff were lovely and the food was delicious, I'll definitely be revisiting!

Sian Kathrine xo

Park Life: OOTD

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Dress: Apricot
Scarf: York Market
Boots: Next
Jewellery: Pandora

Scarf weather is back and I am ecstatic! I adore scarves, they’re the ultimate Autumn/Winter accessory for me. I have so many that a whole drawer dedicated to them is necessary.

This scarf is one of my all-time favourites, it’s just such a beautiful colour! I’m currently on the hunt for big cosy knitted scarves for winter, so expect plenty of scarf-related posts to be coming your way this season!

I fell in love with this gorgeous little dress as soon as I saw it. The fabric is so soft and I can layer it up and add all kinds of accessories to create cute outfits to see me through the winter.

(Plus, I seem to be wearing grey constantly at the minute. Constantly.)

My obsession for ankle boots has grown year on year to the point where I hardly wear any other shoe! This super-cute pair is REALLY comfortable and perfect for day-to-day wear. (And they’re comfy enough for work, yay!)

Let me know what you think of the outfit! What are your key pieces for Autumn/Winter?


Sian Kathrine xo

Photos taken by my lovely friend Fii <3