Stuffed Baked Apples

This is the simplest little sweet treat that’s perfect for autumn. Whole apples stuffed with sweet spiced sultanas and baked until they’re soft and tender. It takes only minutes to prepare and they make for an easy and tasty dessert…while also being healthy enough to serve for breakfast!

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Core 4 eating apples but keep the skins on. In a small bowl, mix together about a tablespoon of brown sugar, half a teaspoon of cinnamon and a couple of handfuls of sultanas. Fill the hollowed out apples with this mixture and top with a blob of honey or butter (or even both if you like!). Bake on a lined tray in a pre-heated oven (around 180°C) for twenty minutes. Serve warm from the oven. These are delicious on their own but you could add ice-cream or whipped cream on the side if you want to indulge a little!

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Friday Fun

As it gets closer and closer to Halloween, we’re undoubtedly going to be bombarded with various warnings and cautioning over the next couple of weeks. Some of this may be good practical advice but more often that not, you can guarantee that something ridiculous will be thrown in there too. Think back to last year when parents were told that children risk infections and scratched eyes if they participate in some classic autumn apple bobbing!

I’m all for being safe but I don’t get the mentality of being unnecessarily over cautious. Take food labels, for example. Now I understand that a lot of people have all sorts of food allergies and intolerances these days. I myself sometimes react weirdly to products containing certain nuts. Obviously it’s important for everyone that ingredients are clearly marked but it’s pretty funny to see the efforts that some manufacturers go to, just to cover themselves.

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Without even really looking, I found in my kitchen a number of products that you just have to laugh at. There’s an egg carton that apparently “contains eggs”; a jar of peanut butter that actually “contains peanuts” and a carton of milk that — shockingly enough — “contains milk”.

I wonder are these companies just not giving us enough credit or are there really people out there with so little common sense?! Let’s hope it’s the former :-D. Have a great (and safe) weekend!

Step Ten

As any regular readers will know, I decided at the start of the year that — instead of coming up with a long list of resolutions — I would create a different goal every month. The idea was that I could introduce permanent changes to my lifestyle by taking small steps, one at a time.

However, rather than creating a new “step” for September, I used that time to focus on all the steps I’d already created so far this year. It turned out to be the right decision as it gave me a chance to do some catching up. I had been slipping a bit with certain goals but now I feel like I’m back on track and ready for the next step.

This month’s step is an important one. As I mentioned earlier in the week, I recently started a course. Before then, I had been unemployed for six months. During that time, I quickly got in to the habit of going to bed and getting up pretty much whenever I wanted. That’s not to say I was staying up all night and then sleeping ’til lunchtime but I definitely wasn’t an early riser either. However, now that I have a specific schedule again, this routine just isn’t going to work! After all, it’s impossible to make a good impression when you’re showing up bleary-eyed and yawning.

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So my aim for October is to sleep better. For me, a good night’s sleep is eight to eight and a half hours. I need to be waking up the next morning without consecutively hitting the snooze button (which is exactly what’s happening now. One day, I hit the snooze button so many times, that I woke up with only ten minutes to spare — nightmare!).

There are a few things that I’ve heard of that we can all do to help us sleep better. Avoiding big meals and (obviously!) caffeine late in the evening is a big one. It’s also usually advised that we have a warm bed and cool room so I’ll be making the effort to have the windows open and extra blankets nearby. We don’t have a TV in our bedroom but I often end up on my phone last thing at night. We all know how easy it is to lose track of time when you’re online (I’ll just skim through this article…hey this link looks interesting…oh a quiz that can tell me what superpower I should have…well I can’t not watch this video of puppies eating ice-cream for the first time…!) so I’ll definitely be putting the phone away from now on. It’s been proven again and again that a good night’s sleep has multiple benefits so I’m more than willing to give this a shot — I think as far as goals go; this is one that most of us would be more than happy to try!

Changes

Earlier this year, I blogged about being unemployed. I’d finished up in my last job just before Easter and since then, I had been looking for something new. As many of us unfortunately know; job-seeking can be incredibly frustrating so I’m really happy to be able to say that my situation has now finally changed.

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I applied to do a course in my hometown and I was lucky enough to get a place. It’s a fairly general course, offering its participants different modules to gain various skills that can be utilized in pretty much any workplace.

To be completely honest, six months ago I would never have expected that I’d be doing a course like this. I was aiming to get a job rather than to go back to education again but as it turns out; you need either tons of experience or else specific qualifications to get in to most workplaces nowadays.

As I’d hardly had any response from the CVs and application forms that I had been sending out, I decided to take a different approach. I realised that, instead of being completely focused on going straight back in to the workplace, it might make sense to consider other options. This course only runs for one academic year so I worked out that if I went ahead with it, I could have some brand new skills and certificates by next summer.

As well as it being a way to make yourself more appealing to employers; it’s also something to do and a chance to meet new people. The course has only started recently enough but I’m feeling positive and hoping that it will lead to new and better opportunities (preferably — if I’m being honest again — paid employment!).

At the Weekend

These past few days have been so much fun! To start, my sister and I went to a beauty and blogging event hosted by Suzanne Jackson. As you may well know, Suzanne is the lady behind one of Ireland’s biggest and most popular blogs So Sue Me. It was held in a Sam McCauley’s pharmacy and we arrived early so we managed to grab front row seats!

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Everyone was clearly really excited to be there and when Suzanne showed up, she looked so glamorous in a red and black ensemble complete with killer heels! She went on to speak for about an hour, offering all kinds of advice on skincare and make-up. She also talked about her own experiences with blogging including all the highs and lows. She came across as really friendly and down-to-earth, encouraging us all to ask as many questions as we wanted. Afterwards, everyone was invited to have their picture taken with her and there was even champagne (although I did have to convince the lady in charge that I could have a glass as I am in fact 25 and not 17 as she suspected!). We had so much fun at this event — it was a perfect way to kick off the weekend!

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As we were celebrating L’s birthday over the weekend, we decided to go to his family home. We don’t get to visit as often as we’d like so it was lovely getting to see everyone and we were also so excited to meet his family’s adorable new puppy! I’m not sure if they’ve settled on a name for him yet but he’s only 13 weeks old and he’s so big already! Apart from his size, he’s a typical adorable pup; bouncing about the place as he explores his new surroundings. He’s so incredibly fuzzy and I couldn’t stop myself giving him lots of cuddles! L and I really want a dog of our own but I’m not totally sure if our apartment building allows them so we’ll have to see about that…

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We stayed the night at L’s family home and for breakfast the next day, his mum kindly made me the most delicious Nutella pancakes! We then had the laziest morning and caught up on Baz’s new show 50 Ways to Kill Your Mammy. It started on Sky a few weeks back but we kept missing it so we just had an on-demand marathon (has anyone seen it? It’s brilliant!). Before leaving, we went out for dinner with L’s family which was really nice. Late on Sunday, we went back to our own home and just had a lovely relaxing evening with presents and dessert and drinks and a movie. We both have a busy week ahead of us so it was really great to have had these few days like this. How was your weekend? Hope you all had a good one! :-)

Chicken and Chorizo Paella

This time last year, L and I were strolling around the sunny streets of Barcelona. Taking in all the incredible sights and culture on offer, it was probably the best holiday we’ve ever had. Thinking back on it this week made me a feel a bit nostalgic so I decided to cook up a big pan of traditional Spanish paella.

This is just the most delicious dish — hearty, filling and packed full of flavour. After a little browsing and research, I decided to go with this recipe for chicken and chorizo paella. It was so easy to prepare although it did take me almost an hour to cook this rather than thirty minutes as suggested in the recipe. Still, it was worth the wait. What’s not to love about a meal consisting of tender flavoured rice, juicy meat and a variety of veg? It’s fun, tasty, colourful and definitely worth a try this weekend.

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Wet ‘n’ Wild: Burgundy Frost

While doing a food shop in Dunnes Stores recently, a bottle of Wet ‘n’ Wild nail polish also made its way in to my basket. I chose from the Wild Shine collection and picked up Burgundy Frost. At a cost of less than €2, I just couldn’t say no!

I wanted to try it out as soon as I got home. I’d already decided that I didn’t like the grey plastic lid. It’s dull and cheap-looking and on my dresser, amongst my lovely nail polish collection, it would stick out like a sore thumb. However, weighing in at 12.7ml, this is a very decent sized bottle — especially for the price.

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Upon opening it, I was a bit dismayed to find a long thin brush inside. I knew straight away that I’d be having problems with that. Surprisingly it holds quite a lot of product but unfortunately, that just made it even more difficult to use! You’ll notice smudging around my nails and this is because I just found the brush so awkward to work with. I wasn’t happy with my first application and when I removed it, my fingers were left stained because it’s such a dark colour…total nightmare!

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This polish is called Burgundy Frost and while the colour is definitely there, there’s no trace of a frosty effect — it’s just pure shine. The name is a bit misleading but I actually do like that this has an almost gel-like shine to it. It makes the colour appear even more rich and vibrant.  Once I had two coats applied, it took quite a while for this to dry completely. Even when I thought I was good to go, I still end up smudging several nails which meant redoing them again — seriously annoying! I always apply a good base and top coat when doing my nails (especially with dark shades) so I can’t really say how long this polish lasts before chipping because the top coat is doing all the work anyway!

Overall; I really love the colour, it has great shine and it’s an absolute steal at €1.99. However, I do think it takes a lot of patience and even a bit of practice to get good results with this particular polish. While I can’t say I’ll be rushing to buy more any time soon, I won’t rule it out completely. Have you tried the Wet ‘n’ Wild polishes? Would you recommend them or any other products in this range?