Monthly Archives

May 2015

Food

How to make strawberry basil lemonade

May 27, 2015

How to make strawberry basil lemonade

Here in England, we occasionally get warm days that leave you wanting to sit in the garden, talking, and drinking something refreshing. Strawberry basil lemonade is exactly the drink you’re looking for on those days.

I first discovered strawberry basil lemonade at the Hard Rock Cafe in Edinburgh. I’m not a fan of fizzy lemonade so I’d not had it in years, but there was something about the idea of strawberry and basil lemonade that piqued my interest.

Since coming back from Edinburgh at the start of the year, I’ve been saying I wanted to make it and with a little bit of warm weather, I found myself craving it. 

My recipe is bitter because that’s the way I like it, but if you want it sweeter, just add more sugar. 

I’m going to walk you through it step by step with photos, but if you scroll further down you’ll find a recipe card.

Quartered lemons

1. Cut your lemons into quarters. You can remove the pips if you want, but it doesn’t really matter as you’ll be sieving it anyway. 

Lemons, water, and sugar

2. Put the lemons and sugar into the blender, and add 1 / 4 litre of water.

Lemonade in blender

3. Blend until the lemons have been reduced to mush, add another 1 / 4 litre of water, and blend for another few seconds. You may need to place your hand, or a towel, over the lid of your blender if the water is likely to escape. 

4. Taste it at this point. Though you will be diluting it in a bit, you should be able to figure out whether it’s way to bitter for your liking. If it is, add more sugar. 

Lemonade mulch

5. Pour the mixture through a sieve and press the mulch with a spoon to get as much lemonade out as possible. 

Homemade lemonade

6. Add the remaining 1 / 2 litre of water to the lemonade, and mix. 

Strawberry and basil in a blender

7. Cut up 1 and a half cups of strawberries, and put them in the blender, along with half a cup of basil leaves, and blend. You don’t need to press the basil leaves down in the cup, just throw them in. 

8. Pour the strawberry and basil mixture to your lemonade and stir. 

Homemade strawberry and basil lemonade

9. Serve with ice, a strawberry on the side of the glass, and a few basil leaves. Enjoy in the garden on a warm afternoon with good company, or a good book. 

Strawberry basil lemonade

Strawberry basil lemonade
A delicious, refreshing strawberry basil lemonade, which is perfect for lazy summer afternoons in the garden.
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Prep Time
20 min
Prep Time
20 min
605 calories
150 g
0 g
5 g
22 g
2 g
723 g
64 g
90 g
0 g
2 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
723g
Amount Per Serving
Calories 605
Calories from Fat 39
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 5g
7%
Saturated Fat 2g
9%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 64mg
3%
Total Carbohydrates 150g
50%
Dietary Fiber 41g
163%
Sugars 90g
Protein 22g
Vitamin A
13%
Vitamin C
549%
Calcium
173%
Iron
375%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 3 unwaxed lemons
  2. 1/3 cup of sugar (this is fairly bitter, so use more if you want it to be sweet)
  3. 1 litre
  4. 2 cups of strawberries (1 1/2 cups for the lemonade, the other 1/2 for decoration)
  5. 1 cup of basil leaves (not pressed down, just thrown in the cup)
Instructions
  1. 1. Quarter three lemons. You can remove the pips if you want, but as you'll be sieving them it doesn't really matter.
  2. 2. Put chopped lemons and 1/3 sugar in the blender, and pour in 1/4 litre of water.
  3. 3. Blend for a few seconds. Once the lemons have been reduced to mush, add another 1/4 litre of water.
  4. 4. It's worth tasting it at this point. Though you're going to dilute it with the remaining 1/2 litre of water, you can get a good idea of whether it's too bitter or not. If it is, add more sugar.
  5. 5. Pour the mixture through a sieve and press the remaining mulch down with a spoon to get as much lemonade as possible.
  6. 6. Add the remaining 1/2 litre of water to the lemonade and mix.
  7. 7. Cut up 1 and a half cups of strawberries and put them in the blender, along with half a cup of basil leaves, and blend.
  8. 8. Add the strawberry and basil mixture to your lemonade and stir.
  9. 9. Serve with ice, a strawberry on the edge of the glass, and a few basil leaves. Enjoy in the garden, with a BBQ, and a good book.
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calories
605
fat
5g
protein
22g
carbs
150g
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Girl In Awe http://www.girlinawe.com/

Have you ever tried strawberry basil lemonade?

Books

The Heir – Kiera Cass – review & is it just a cash cow?

May 26, 2015

Reading The Heir by Kiera Cass

I loved The Selection trilogy; it wasn’t perfect, but it was really fun. When the trilogy ended I was sad, and wanted to know more, but when I heard there would be more books I was wary that it might just be a cash cow. 

Nevertheless, I pre-ordered The Heir as soon as I could. 

This review will contain spoilers about what happened in the first three Selection books, so don’t read ahead if you don’t want to know.  Continue Reading…

The Heir Book Cover The Heir
The Selection
Kiera Cass
Young adult, romance
Harper Teen
May 5th, 2015

Princess Eadlyn has grown up hearing endless stories about how her mother and father met. Twenty years ago, America Singer entered the Selection and won the heart of Prince Maxon—and they lived happily ever after. Eadlyn has always found their fairy-tale story romantic, but she has no interest in trying to repeat it. If it were up to her, she'd put off marriage for as long as possible.

But a princess's life is never entirely her own, and Eadlyn can't escape her very own Selection—no matter how fervently she protests.

Eadlyn doesn't expect her story to end in romance. But as the competition begins, one entry may just capture Eadlyn's heart, showing her all the possibilities that lie in front of her . . . and proving that finding her own happily ever after isn't as impossible as she's always thought.

Photography, Scotland, Travel

Loch Ness & Urquhart Castle

May 25, 2015

Urquhart Castle

I’ve wanted to go to Loch Ness since I was a little kid. The whole idea of ‘Nessy’ is something that captivated me since I was a kid. 

The loch was a good three hours away from where we were staying, a journey that was made even longer by a car we followed for about 40 minutes who insisted upon driving at 30mph in a 60 zone, for no reason.

Loch Ness Forecasting StoneJacobite Loch Ness cruise boat

To my surprise, there aren’t many places that you can get down to the shores of Loch Ness. We decided to do a boat trip around the loch, and to Urquhart Castle to see more of the loch, and because we’re all big castle fans. 

There are a few points you can get cruises around Loch Ness from. Out of interest, we went on the Jacobite Freedom, The Clansmen and the Castle from Clansman Harbour. 

As we set off towards the castle, we could see big grey clouds ahead. Thankfully, the changeable Scottish weather was kind to us, and it cleared up.

Rain clouds over Loch NessLoch Ness from a Jacobite boatNo puffin

We stepped off the boat to glorious sunshine and blue skies. Oh, and a trebuchet, which instantly caught Tom’s attention. He loves trebuchets and wants to build one of his own. Urquhart Castle from Loch NessUrquhart CastleUrquhart CastleTrebuchet Urquhart Castle

The ruins of the castle were beautiful, and I can only imagine how stunning it must have been when it was in it’s full glory, perched at the edge of Loch Ness. It must have been quite a sight. 

The main tower had been renovated a little so that you could climb it and take in the views. 

Urquhart CastleUrquhart Castle arrow slit

Something that always amazes me about castles is how ridiculously tiny, tight and uneven the staircases are. It must have been awful to try and climb up and down those stairs all the time, especially in the dark when you might have been carrying a candle or a light to see by. Or perhaps, we’re just used to nice, wide, even staircases? Maybe it was a piece of cake.

As we headed back on the boat, I had a good look for Nessie but I couldn’t see her. However, I did begin to understand why people might have thought they saw things. The loch is so deep, and the water is dark, so I can imagine how the waves might play tricks on the eyes. 

Visiting Loch Ness was a childhood dream come true, and I’d love to go back again. I’m sure I’ll watch Nessie documentaries with even more excitement knowing I’ve been there now. 

Have you ever been to Loch Ness? 

Beauty, Product Wars

Product Wars: LUSH Veganese vs LUSH American Cream

May 21, 2015

Product wars: LUSH Veganese vs LUSH American Cream

Product Wars is going to be a new series where I pit two similar products against each other to see what worked best for me. A bit of an English essay style “compare and contrast”. 

For the first instalment of Product Wars, I’m comparing two LUSH conditioners to each other: Veganese and American Cream. 

Performance 

LUSH say that both of these conditioners are lightweight, and I do agree with that. Neither of them feel like super thick conditioners, but Veganese has a thinner consistency, and a little goes a long way. They both apply easily and neither of them make your hair feel greasy or weighed down. 

Both conditioners do a brilliant job of making your hair feel silky smooth, so much so that I couldn’t choose which one is better. 

Scent 

American Cream is supposed to smell of strawberry milkshake, but I’m not really picking up on a strawberry scent. To me, it smells more like vanilla milkshake. The scent seems to last a long time as well, my hair smells nice the day after washing, which isn’t something I’ve experienced with a conditioner before. 

The scent of Veganese is harder to describe though. It just smells fresh to me. 

Price

There’s no denying that LUSH conditioners aren’t cheap. A 100g bottle costs £4.50, a 250g bottle is £8.95, and the 500g bottle is £14.25. Not super cheap, but I guess it depends on how often you need to wash your hair. 

I acquired my 250g bottles of both about 4 – 5 months ago, and I’ve been swapping between both and I’ve got about a quarter left in each. So for me, they do last a while and I feel they’re worth it considering how nice they make my hair feel. 

The verdict

Well I suppose this is a slightly disappointing outcome for the first Product Wars, because both of them perform exactly the same. For me, Veganese has the edge though because it is vegan, while American Cream isn’t. 

Have you tried either of these conditioners? 

 

Life, Photography

A picnic in the ‘Secret Forest’ & OohLaLaSpring with Joules

May 20, 2015

It’s finally happened; I’m doing an outfit post. I’ve wanted to do one for a while and a picnic in the ‘secret forest’, proved to be the perfect location. 

A few weeks ago, Joules got in touch with me to ask if I’d like to take part in their Spring #OohLaLaSpring campaign. I jumped at the chance and Tom happily agreed to the idea of getting to play with his new camera and eat food outside.

We packed our picnic rucksack full of tasty goodies and headed off to the ‘secret forest‘. 

George's Hayes

We found the ideal spot amongst the tree stumps and I opened the picnic blanket as soon as possible. Did you ever play “the floor is lava” as a child? Yeah? Well that’s what me on a picnic blanket in the middle of a forest looks like. 

I have a fear of things I cannot see, and grass / plants that are a couple of inches high are excellent places for snakes to hide. At least, it is in my head. 

Once the picnic blanket / serpent banisher was on the ground, it was time to whip out the food. We don’t mess around. 

The rucksack comes with everything you could possibly need for a picnic, apart from the actual food. It even has a place for you to keep your wine cool, which we severely underused with a bottle of Ribena. #LivinItUp. It was really comfortable to carry, and I think I could have fit my camera in there too, which makes it ideal for me on one of our day-long camera adventures. 

Hampers look beautiful and fancy, but they’re impractical for walking with and there’s no way I could carry one around all day. 

Can we also take a moment to appreciate the fact that a matching dress, picnic blanket, and rucksack makes me look like I’ve got my stuff together for the first time ever? 

Things have been hectic for Tom and me for the past few weeks; he’s been working nights and I’ve been busy with general stuff, so the picnic was more in order than I realised. 

The ‘secret forest’ was so quiet that as soon as we sat down and started eating, I felt lighter. Of course, I mean that metaphorically given the amount of hummus and cake I went on to eat. 

You could be anywhere in the world in that forest, and it’s nice to feel like you’re the only people in the world every now and then. And it feels even better when you feel like the only person in the world wearing a darn pretty summery dress. 
Reading in a forest

Then came outfit post time. I have a reputation with myself for being hopelessly awkward in front of a camera. Think Chandler from Friends in front of a camera. I can’t help it, I blink as the shutter closes and my face does things I didn’t know it could do. 

But you know what? The outfit shoot turned out to be much more fun than I expected. It was a little awkward to start with as I gave Tom a list of what kind of shots I needed and it got a little easier. 

My directorship (is that the right word?) obviously worked fairly well because I’m really happy with these photos. 

And last but not least, the dress. The dress. It’s not the kind of style I normally wear, which is partly which I picked it. I love the colour, the pattern, and the style. It’s really comfortable, and it has pockets! I have instant love for dresses with pockets because being without pockets is so impractical! 

Yes, there’s a good chance I picked up a stick and decided it was a wand. 

All in all: we has a fun time, my dress was beautiful, the rucksack was perfect, the blanket protected me from snakes, food in a forest is fun, and Tom will be asked to take more photos from now on, muahaha. 

Wearing 

Joules floral dress in Opal Blue Blossom* // Joules Picnic Rucksack in Chocolate Blossom* // Joules Fold and Carry Picnic Blanket in Chocolate Blossom* // New Look ballet flats (Super old) // M&S black cardigan (Even more ancient) //

* The items were provided by Joules for the purpose of this adventure. 

Special thanks to Tom also, for being a photography wizard. 

When was the last time you went on a picnic? 

Photography, Scotland, Travel

The Glenfiddich Distillery Tour

May 19, 2015

Glenfiddich Whiskey Distillery

Glenfiddich Distillery

I must confess, I’m not a whiskey fan. I adore the smell of whiskey, but the taste? Nope. If it tasted the same as it smells, I would love it, but I’m not a fan of the burny taste. 

My Mum and Tom are big whiskey fans though, so when we decided to go to Scotland the Glenfiddich Distillery tour was at the top of the list. 

Glenfiddich Washback

Glenfiddich Underback

The tour was really interesting, but the best bit for me was the smell. As we walked through the first building, the delicious smell of whiskey got stronger and stronger. I was practically salivating. 

Whiskey always reminds me of cosy nights by a log fire. Which is interesting because I’ve never drunk whiskey by a log fire, but that’s just the image it conjures up in my mind. 

We were taken into a couple of the storage rooms, where we heard about the barrelling process, and how they experiment with new flavours. I felt pretty old when I saw barrels of whiskey that were barrelled the same year I was born.

Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take photos in there, which is a shame because they would have made fantastic photos. But I guess you have to go for yourself to see what they look like! 

Glenfiddich tasting

Glenfiddich whiskey tasting

The best part for my Mum and Tom was the tasting session. I was driving so I couldn’t take part in the tasting, but I was only really interested in the sniffing. 

We were given four different whiskeys, a 12 year old, 14 year old, 15 year old, and 18 year old. They all sniffed amazing to me. Apparently they all tasted incredibly nice also. 

The Glenfiddich Whiskey Distillery

The Glenfiddich Distillery

I’ve been on a couple of brewery tours before (including the Guinness one I posted about here), but neither of them had grounds as pretty as the Glenfiddich Distillery. We didn’t go to any other distilleries, but we saw a few on our rounds and they all appear to surrounded by beautiful scenery. 

While we’re talking about fancy and grand, the toilets. The toilets. The toilets, wow. I have never been in a bathroom so grand in my entire life. The bathroom had a waiting area with a logfire and ARMCHAIRS! WHAT EVEN?!

Glenfiddich Distillery fancy bathrooms

Have I been using bathrooms wrong my entire life? Because I have never needed to sit in front of a logfire before or after going to the toilet. 

Looking at these photos makes me want to go back to Scotland *sobs*. 

Have you ever been on a distillery or brewery tour? Have you ever needed to sit in front of a logfire in a bathroom?

Books

Paper Towns – John Green review

May 18, 2015

Paper Towns, John Green

Paper Towns quote - you will go to paper towns and you will never come back

The first two John Green books I read were Looking For Alaska and The Fault In Our Stars, so I had a lot of expectations going into Paper Towns, but did it live up to my expectations? 

My synopsis: Margo and Q were friends as children, but as they grew up they drifted apart and began to move in different social circles; Margo is popular while Q is not. 

One night, Margo shows up at Q’s window and the pair enjoy a wild night of revenge on fellow pupils and general badass-ery, leaving Q thinking they could be friends again. Margo disappears before that can happen though, leaving Q desperately trying to find her. 

Margo is your signature John Green manicpixiedreamgirl:

  • She’s popular but doesn’t really like it. It just happened to her.
  • She does whatever she wants.
  • She likes unpopular things.
  • She’s full of wanderlust.
  • She doesn’t want grow up, get married, have kids, and get a job, because that’s what everyone else does. 

Q, or Quentin, on the other hand, isn’t popular at all. He’s been in love with Margo since they were kids, and he can only dream of them being as close as they used to be. 

The thing that annoyed me about Q is that he doesn’t really have any interests, apart from Margo. He just exists to like Margo, and that seems very un-John-Green-ish. 

Paper Towns is split into three sections. Part one was great; it was funny, fast-paced, we got to learn about the characters, and revenge is fun. 

In part two, John threw the anchor out the window. Things slowed down, and after a couple of chapters it really begins to hit a lull and reading becomes like trudging through gloop. 

In the words of my Mum, “reading about someone who is reading about where someone might be is boring.” It’s hard to argue with that because that’s pretty much all that happens in part two. 

The plot picked up in the third and final part, but it still wasn’t as good as the first part, and the ending left me feeling a bit “meh”. 

The parts I enjoyed about the second and third parts of the book were less to do with the plot and more to do with the messages of the book, which were pretty deep, as you would expect from any John Green book. 

For me, Paper Towns came across as a poor man’s Looking For Alaska. It lacked the frenetic energy that LFA and TFIOS left me with when I reached the end of the book, and I didn’t care about Margo or Q as much as I wanted to. 

The Paper Towns movie is out in the UK sometime in August, unless they chance the date again, and I think this will be one of those rare occasions where I enjoy the film more than the book. I can just imagine how the film will spice up the lull in the action and make it interesting, so I’m looking forward to seeing that.

Have you read Paper Towns? What did you think? 

Paper Towns Book Cover Paper Towns
John Green
Young adult, contemporary, mystery,
Paperback

Quentin has always loved Margo Roth Spiegelman, for Margo (and her adventures) are the stuff of legend at their high school. So when she one day climbs through his window and summons him on an all-night road trip of revenge he cannot help but follow.

But the next day Margo doesn’t come to school and a week later she is still missing. Q soon learns that there are clues in her disappearance . . . and they are for him. But as he gets deeper into the mystery – culminating in another awesome road trip across America – he becomes less sure of who and what he is looking for.

Books

Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn

May 13, 2015

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

I finally delved into Gone Girl, to find out what all the fuss was about. And also to see if I could figure out the whodunnit. 

This book first appeared on my radar a couple of years ago, when Beth from Beauty In Beta recommended it to me. I’m a bit of a hipster in that I get put off by things when I hear a lot of hype about it, so I forgot about it and avoided any talk of the film last summer. A couple of weeks ago, Gone Girl was just calling out to me from the book shelf. 

SynopsisWhen Amy goes missing on her fifth wedding anniversary, her husband Nick is the prime suspect. Her friends tell the Police that Amy was scared of him, something he vehemently disputes and tries to prove his innocence. 

If you’ve heard anything about this book, you probably know that there’s a very big ‘whodunnit’, so I can’t really talk about what happens. (I seem to be reading a lot books like this at the moment.)

When I hear that a book has a surprising ‘whodunnit’, I get excited. I see it as a personal challenge to try and figure it out faster than everyone else, but I could not make head nor tale of what was happening in Gone Girl. 

The plot was brilliantly written. One moment you were sure you knew what had happened, only for that idea to be pulled from under your feet and replaced with another idea, that you’re sure must have happened. I mean, it makes sense, this must be what happened, right? WRONG.

Gone Girl has a real roller coaster of a plot and it is probably one of the most surprising books I’ve ever read. 

Nick and Amy are our main characters and they’re incredibly well-developed and detailed. They’re realistic, they have problems, and they’ve got a lot of history. They’re so detailed, that it feels like Gone Girl is the story of a real case. (Perhaps it is somewhere in the world.) 

As well as focusing on the present day, we also read about Amy and Nick’s past and look at how their relationship developed, and explored their problems and issues. 

It took me a while to like the character and sympathise with them, but I think a lot of that is because I had no idea who to trust so I was skeptical. 

The only issue I had with this book is that I wasn’t thrilled by the ending, but perhaps that’s kind of the point of the book, or what might happen in real life. 

Gone Girl was fantastically and very cleverly written. It’s well worth a read. 

Gone Girl book rating

Have you read Gone Girl? 

Gone Girl Book Cover Gone Girl
Gillian Flynn
Thriller, crime, mystery,
Paperback

Who are you?
What have we done to each other?

These are the questions Nick Dunne finds himself asking on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary, when his wife Amy suddenly disappears. The police suspect Nick. Amy's friends reveal that she was afraid of him, that she kept secrets from him. He swears it isn't true. A police examination of his computer shows strange searches. He says they weren't made by him. And then there are the persistent calls on his mobile phone.

So what did happen to Nick's beautiful wife?