Cook With Me #7 – Vegetarian Chilli

A while ago now I shared with you how to make my favourite chilliย so today I’m back with another recipe, vegetarian chilli. ๐Ÿ˜€Photo 11-08-2017, 16 33 04

Ingredients: (makes 4 large portions)

1 (or 2) onions

Garlic (2 cloves)

2 (or 3 peppers)

2 tins chopped tomatoes

1 tin red kidney beans

1 tin of another beans your choice – I picked haricot beans

Tomato puree

Chilli powder



Rice (or nachos) to serve

  1. Chop up the onion and garlic and add it to a large pan. Also slice the peppers and add them to the pan.Photo 11-08-2017, 16 45 27
  2. Fry the vegetables for 5 minutes until they soften, then add the tomatoes and spices.Photo 11-08-2017, 16 50 38
  3. Let it simmer a little before adding the tomato puree and beans.Photo 11-08-2017, 16 53 17
  4. It is now at this point I start the water boiling for the rice to give the chilli plenty of time to simmer. ๐Ÿ™‚ย Photo 11-08-2017, 16 57 03
  5. Serve with rice ๐Ÿ™‚ย Photo 11-08-2017, 17 09 13

You can also bake some sweet potato chunks for 40 mins or so while you’re making the sauce and stir the potato through before serving ๐Ÿ™‚

This is such a yummy dish, it freezes well and doesn’t take too long to make ๐Ÿ™‚ Have you ever tried a vegetarian chilli?


What University Has Taught Me

It’s weird to think that I’m less than 6 weeks away from finishing my masters now. It feels like I’ve got so much left to do still though! :O Since my time at university is coming to an end and I don’t plan on taking my university education further I think now is a good time to share some of the things that university has taught me ๐Ÿ™‚

How to save money and budget 

At some point as a student you’ll be poor, it’s a well known fact that students are poor. Plus you’ll have some ridiculous amount of student debt to your name. But you’ll quickly learn how to save money and what value/own brand food is actually OK.thumb_IMG_1585_1024

Be yourself

Don’t try to be someone you’re not. If you don’t want to do the whole freshers thing, don’t! There will be other people like you who also don’t want to do the whole drinking/partying thing!IMG_3296_1024

Don’t be afraid to try new things 

I don’t mean pushing yourself totally outside of your comfort zone, but occasionally it may be good for you.IMG_0407_1024

You’ll probably change 

You’ll probably become a different person in some ways having been to university. I know I’ve definitely changed since going to uni!IMG_1137_1024

It is OK to get homesick

You’ll probably miss your parents/friends/dog at some point and that is OK. There will be others feeling the same way too. Homesickness didn’t really hit me properly until December of first year, but it hit me alright!

You’ll probably feel like you’re dying at some point 

You’ll probably get really ill at some point during your time at university and it will feel like you’re dying. You have to hope it’s in your second or third year when you can text your housemate and ask them to bring you hot chocolate or a hot water bottle! Or if its not dying because you’re ill, you’ll probably feel like you’re dying with the amount of work you have to do at some point. But it happens to everyone!

When Laura bought me this! โค

You’ll learn how you work

It wasn’t until I came to university that I began to learn and appreciate how I learn best. I’d be surprised if you came out of uni still not knowing how you work and learn.Photo 25-04-2017, 20 09 59

You’ll learn how to do your washing 

You’ll probably have at least one disaster working out how to do your washing during your time at university, but if you’ve never done your washing before, you’ll definitely learn!IMG_2179_1024

You’ll learn how to clean something or the other

I never knew how to clean a toilet with bleach until 2nd year of uni! :O You’ll probably learn how you clean something else random like how to get those blu-tac marks off the wall or how to clean food/drink stains off the carpet.Photo 04-05-2017, 11 32 29

You’ll probably hate the people you live with at times 

So you can’t really do much about the gross kitchen, hearing every word of your neighbour’s conversation, your neighbour singing or you neighbour and their boyfriend/girlfriend’s late night shenanigans in first year. But in second and third year when you’re living with your friends you’ll still probably find something to hate someone for, be it their sloppyness in the kitchen, not taking the bins out on their turn, hogging the washing machine, or not taking their turn on the cleaning rota. You will hate them at least once …. But you still love them dearly! Photo 07-03-2017, 15 26 19

You’ll make some of the best friends 

You’re all thrown together in this new situation. Everyone wants to make friends, and I know I have made some of the best friends through my time at uni. I may not talk to them every day now, but I know I can text them whenever and still pick up any conversation with them! Miss you Penny, Becky, Laura, Reg and Sara! โคIMG_9126



My A-Level Story

I’ve never really spoken about this and it is only really my closest friends and family who know my little story about how I got in to uni. So I decided that with A level results day today I would share my story in this one off post.

I’d done great at GCSE, I had 11 GCSEs, 4 A*s and 7 As. I picked my AS Levels, biology, chemistry, physics, German and maths (although I dropped maths about a month in to year 12). I was so excited to finally be studying what I wanted to and be on my way to becoming a marine biologist (although I think at the start of year 12 I wanted to be a doctor but I soon changed my mind back to a marine biologist).

thumb_IMG_1792_1024I really enjoyed my AS levels… Up until March of year 12 that is when I found out my first set of grades. I can’t remember my chemistry grade but I got a D in my first biology exam of my AS levels. It wasn’t great! Especially as I had my mind set on biology in some form!

So I retook that biology exam in the summer of 2011 along with all my other exams. I’d started looking at universities. I was still predicted As and Bs so I was still looking at the “better” universities. Then AS results day came… I’d got a D in biology, and Cs in physics (I was so flipping proud of that C in AS physics), German and chemistry. I was so disheartened by the D and suddenly my hopes of getting in to the unis I’d already looked at all but disappeared.Photo 01-07-2017, 12 55 03

So I had to start looking at other universities, those who would take me with lower grades and my predicted grades for A2 suddenly dropped to Cs. I sought help from teachers, one of my chemistry teachers patronised me, but the other one (who was only part time) went out of her way to help me. I’ll forever thank her for that! And biology… We went through the process of entering me for again another re-sit (so I would be taking 3 biology exams in January of year 13) and getting my papers back. I remember sitting through them with my biology teacher and we were so frustrated. My teacher could see I knew what I was talking about I’d just keep missing one key word in my answers which meant I wasn’t getting the marks that I should! So frustrating!

Anyway… My marks for my January exams and resits of year 13 were mixed. I remember getting a U in one of my chemistry exams and a C in the other, an A in my German resit, and bad grades again in biology!

Anyway, by now I’d selected my university offers and was still holding out any chance of getting in to one of my universities. Especially after my A in my German resit! Anyway, I took my A levels and I was done… Then came the nervous wait for exam results.DSCF1968

Let’s just say this, A levels and me didn’t go well. It wasn’t that I didn’t work hard for them, I just struggled more than anyone should at A-level!

So at 6am on 16th August 2012 I had an email with my A level results and I was so shocked, I’d managed to get a B in biology and a C in German and chemistry. I had a B in biology!!!! Anyway, UCAS went live early and my UCAS didn’t say anything. When you log in that morning it tells you straight away where you’ve been accepted, your first choice or your insurance choice. I fully expected to log in to see it saying Portsmouth (my insurance). But it didn’t! Uh oh!

Soon after 8am when UCAS was supposed to go live I had a phone call from Newcastle University (my first choice) saying that although they couldn’t give me a place on Marine Biology they could offer me a place on their zoology course instead. They kindly gave me some time to think and investigate their course and after finding out I wasn’t going to be able to get accommodation at Portsmouth I decided to take up the offer to study Zoology at Newcastle.DSCF1988

I was happy, I was going to a good university. I remember going in to school to collect my paper copy of my results to be met by teachers who assumed I was going to Portsmouth. But no! I had great delight in telling them I’d got in to Newcastle!

Anyway, when I accepted that place on Zoology I was told I wouldn’t be able to transfer to marine biology but I was going to study somewhere I knew I liked, and study something I was interested in.

So basically I was lucky, A-levels didn’t go my way but somehow Newcastle liked me and took me on. I also think that applications were lower than normal as I was going to be the first year group to pay ยฃ9000, which probably helped get me in.IMG_3539_1024

I expected to struggle at uni after struggling in A-levels as much as I did. But weirdly I was doing well. I was getting pretty decent marks. Anyway, fast forward to Easter 2013 I decided to approach the school of marine science at Newcastle and asked them if there was any chance at all of me transferring. I was shocked when they said I could transfer on to their marine zoology course in second year if I passed first year with a first.

And guess what I did? I passed first year with a first and I became a marine zoology student. It was so crazy the journey I’d been on to get there… But I got there.

Moral of the story? A levels aren’t the end of the world! You can still do it and you can still get there. Yes maybe I was lucky, but I really wouldn’t change that journey I’ve been on for a thing. I’ve met some of my best friends on both of the two courses I was on and looking back now I’m so proud of what I’ve achieved. Every A level results day I am so thankful that Newcastle took me on, and I think to myself I wouldn’t change anything. What I’ve achieved at uni I’ve worked hard for, and I know I wouldn’t have achieved it without that hard work. I always wish I could go back and show my school teachers where I am now too, show them what I’ve achieved and that my “failure” at A level (they made me believe that Bs and Cs were fails because they were expecting us to get As and A*s) has really been the making of me and since then I’ve achieved more than I ever thought I could academically.


Trying Something New for Breakfast

I’ve always fancied trying muesli for breakfast, but more often than not the ones you buy in the supermarket contain nuts or seeds which means I can’t have them ๐Ÿ˜ฆ So when I saw this recipe for Bircher muesli in the Eat Well for Less recipe bookย I decided to give it a go!ย Photo 11-08-2017, 07 25 41

Ingredients (for 2 servings)ย 

50g porridge oats

1 apple, cored and grated

100g natural yoghurt

1 tsp honey

100g frozen mixed berries

75ml water

  1. Tip the oats into a sealable plastic container and grate the apple over the top (I couldn’t be bothered to grate it so I just cut it into chunks).Photo 10-08-2017, 16 50 06
  2. Add the water, yoghurt and honey and mix it together.Photo 10-08-2017, 16 52 46
  3. Add the frozen berries, seal the box and put it in the fridgeย Photo 10-08-2017, 16 54 26
  4. Eat it in the morning ๐Ÿ˜€

Photo 11-08-2017, 07 25 41

OK, so I was a bit skeptical when I put it in the fridge last night as it didn’t look too good, but actually I really enjoyed this breakfast and it didn’t take at all long to make (maybe 5 minutes as I was cooking my dinner). Plus you can keep it in the fridge for 2 days so you can make enough for a couple of days) ๐Ÿ™‚

My only comment was that it wasn’t sweet enough for my liking, but that can be easily solved by adding a little more honey! Also the frozen berries were a little sour, but again I’ll just add more honey! ๐Ÿ˜€

What is your favourite thing to have for breakfast? ๐Ÿ™‚

The House of New Beginnings

Summer means it is time for the release of Lucy Diamond’s latest book in paperback, and I was so excited to get my hands on her latest one “The House of New Beginnings”. I don’t think my summer is complete without a Lucy Diamond book! ๐Ÿ™‚

In “The House of New Beginnings” we meet Charlotte, Rosa, Georgie, Margot and Jo, all living in the same house in Brighton. All of whom have their own story for being in SeaView House. All five of the ladies have experienced sad stories, and now thrown together in SeaView House they begin to confide in each other, building new friendships and watching each other fall in to happier, new chapters of their lives.

I enjoyed this book, like I have all of Lucy Diamond’s other books and it was great watching how the story unfolded and how each of the ladies lives were all twisted in to each other in some way. Plus there were parts of the story that weren’t predictable which is always good in a chicklit book! It was a lovely, heartwarming story of watching people so sad rebuild their lives into something new, so I really enjoyed going on the adventure with each one of the characters in this book.

My only problem with the book was that I sometimes forgot who was who. I think that is one of the problems with books like this were you have a lot of characters in a situation like this. Like I kept getting Rosa and Charlotte mixed up. I loved them both, but sometimes I had to flick back to remind myself which background story belonged to each character. But that said it was a great book with truly loveable characters, and I really can’t wait for Lucy Diamond’s next book! ๐Ÿ˜€

My Tips for Success at University

I’ve been struggling a little bit to think of ideas for blogging at the moment. Also I’m busy trying to work on my dissertation that blogging has kind of taken a back seat. I asked my friend what I could blog about today and we picked “study tips”. I suppose it makes sense with the new university term coming up soonish, so today I’m going to share with you some of my tips for staying on track at university! ๐Ÿ™‚

1. Stay on Top of Lecture Notes

Trust me, this will make it so much easier when it comes to exams. I know it can be tempting not to write up lectures straight away but actually it really helps. You’re more likely to remember what has been said in the lectures the sooner you write up your notes. It’ll also save you a lot of time and panic when it comes to exams!

2. Make Good use of Stationery

We’re talking project books, highlighters, coloured pens, files etc. whatever takes your fancy. Having nice stationery may motivate you to stay on task ๐Ÿ™‚ Also, using coloured pens and highlighters can really enhance your notes!

3. Don’t Scrimp!

When you’re a student it is easy enough to fall in to buying the cheapest things possible… Well for some people anyway! Money can be a concern when you’re a student but there are some things you just shouldn’t buy cheap. My biggest one is refill paper, it’s got to stand up to the wear and tear of flicking through your work, so try to go for 80gsm paper. Also, pens. You want pens that are comfortable to write with that you know you’ll be able to use for hours on end. Some people may be able to do this with your standard value biro, but I can’t!

4. Write

Yes, I mean get your pen out! So many people rely on technology and type notes these days. Do you really learn by writing your notes on the laptop? Do you really take it in? I know I don’t! Plus, you actually need to be able to write legibly, don’t forget you won’t be able to type your answers in exams (not in 2nd and 3rd year anyway). So could you really write for 3 hours if you never write anything by hand? No? I don’t think so.Photo 08-08-2017, 19 36 07

5.Don’t Fall in to the First Year Trap of “it doesn’t matter”

Actually, it really does matter. Sometimes decisions are made during second year about project supervisors or who gets first choice on field trips, and they’ll probably look at your first year performance. So your first year does count! Also, get in to the habit of working hard, it’ll help in the long run.

6. Don’t Throw Notes Away

So many people throw away and delete lectures. Don’t! You’re paying ยฃ9000 for them so why would you throw it all away! They’ll probably comes in useful again at some point. Like I’ve looked back at my old notes so many times this year while doing my masters!

7. Get on with Assignmentsย 

So many people leave assignments to the last minute. Don’t! Get on with them as soon as you can, that way if you’re stuck or have problems you have time to ask for help. Also, if you’re unexpectedly ill the week before deadline you won’t be panicking about asking for an extension, because you’ll have got the majority of the work done.

8. Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help

Your lecturers are there for you and want you to do well. If you’re stuck, let them know you’re stuck, don’t suffer in silence. They want to help. Also, when you leave uni and start looking for a job the chances are your tutor or other lecturers will be your reference. So it helps both you and them if you talk to them!

9. Plan and Organiseย 

Buy yourself a diary, or a wall planner or whatever it takes. But make sure you write down important deadlines and make plans to get your work done. It may also help you to have a clear idea of what you want to achieve for the day when you start studying!

10. Treat Yourself

So you’ve done all the above? You’re already way ahead of everyone else. Remember it is OK to have a day, or evening off. Treat yourself. Although going to uni is about getting your degree, it is also about learning about yourself. So don’t be afraid to have an evening off, go home or spend time with friends.


Class A (CHERUB 2)

I’m back with another book review. I’ve been re-reading the CHERUB series and can’t wait to grab the next couple of books to bring back with me while I’m home! ๐Ÿ™‚

I think with the CHERUB series it’s one that makes most sense if you read the series in order and not just pick up one of the books, which is sad. I mean they do make sense as stand alone books but I think they are best read in order ๐Ÿ™‚

So “Class A” (or as it used to be called “The Dealer”) is unsurprisingly about some of the biggest drug dealers that the police and MI5 are trying to shut down. So that’s where the CHERUBS come along. To befriend the children of the man in charge of the drugs operation and attempt to gain evidence that will help MI5 and the police shut the drug dealing down for good.

In this story we join James Adams on his second mission, along with some of his friends. We also get to meet another character, Zara who becomes a huge part of the series later on! (why it pays to read them in order). ๐Ÿ™‚

From this story I mean who wouldn’t love these kids as your friends? They know what they’re doing and can stick up for you. These books are fantastic young adult reads mostly aimed at boys, but I know plenty of girls who enjoy reading them too. They’re written in such a realistic way that actually you could imagine this all happening somewhere out there. Plus the ending to this book is great! And definitely that action packed ending that you’d hope after the whole mission! ๐Ÿ™‚

Have you read any of the CHERUB series? Have I persuaded you to do so? ๐Ÿ™‚