Recipe: Spiced Pumpkin Soup

Now that we’re into Autumn, one of my favourite things to make is soup. There’s nothing better on a drizzly day than snuggling up on the sofa with a big bowl to warm you up. It’s generally quite quick and easy to make, plus it’s really healthy and a great way of getting that extra bit of veg into your diet too. One of my favourite soup ingredients is pumpkin, but if you can’t find any, butternut squash will do just fine.

This soup doesn’t take much time to come together and has a little bit of a kick to it, so if you’re not a chilli fan you might want to reduce the amount. I like to serve this with a nice thick slice of granary bread.

Ingredients

  • 750g pumpkin
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 5 carrots
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 chillies (deseeded if you don’t like too much heat)
  • 2 litres vegetable stock

Method

  1. Peel and deseed the pumpkin and then roughly chop all of the ingredients into smallish bitesized chunks. This doesn’t need to be too precise as the soup will be blended, but the chunks should be roughly the same size to ensure they cook evenly
  2. In a large pot, add a splash of olive oil, the onion and the garlic. Cook for around 5 minutes or so until the onion has softened
  3. Add the pumpkin and cook for around 10 minutes or so until the pumpkin starts to take on some colour
  4. Add the carrots, the cumin and the chilli and cook for a few minutes
  5. Add the stock and bring to the boil. Once the stock has started to boil, reduce the heat to a simmer
  6. Simmer until the pumpkin and carrots have cooked through and can be pierced with a knife
  7. Blend until smooth and then check for seasoning. Add a pinch of salt and pepper if required
  8. Serve with some crusty bread

Recipe: Granary Loaf

There’s nothing more homely than the smell of fresh bread baking in the oven and it tastes far better than anything shop bought. This bread is a fantastic accompaniment to soup, but also tastes great on it’s own with a nice slathering of butter (my favourite vegan alternative is vitalite). Although the bread takes a while to rise, you don’t need to keep an eye on it, meaning that you can get on with other things whilst waiting.

Ingredients

  • 250g plain flour
  • 250g granary flour
  • 7g sachet fast-action dried yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp agave nectar or honey if you’re not vegan
  • 300ml lukewarm water

Method

  1. Sift the flours into a large bowl, add the yeast and salt and stir to combine.
  2. In a separate bowl or measuring jug, add the water, oil and agave nectar and mix well.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until a soft dough forms.
  4. Tip the dough onto a floured work surface and knead for around 5 minutes or so until the dough is no longer sticky.
  5. Add dough to an oiled bowl, cover with a clean, damp tea-towel and leave to rise in a warm place for around an hour.
  6. After an hour, tip the dough back onto the work surface and knead for a few more minutes.
  7. Oil a loaf tin and press the dough into the tin evenly, cover again and leave to rise for another hour or so, until the dough has filled the tin.
  8. Heat the oven to 200°C/ 180°C fan/ 400°F/ Gas 6 and bake the loaf for 30–35 minutes. Remove from the oven and tip the bread out of the tin onto a cooling rack. When cooked, the loaf should sound hollow if tapped on the base.

The loaf is best eaten on the day it’s made, but will keep for a second day if kept in an airtight container.

Favourite Products of 2012

Slightly belated but here it is, my favourite products of 2012. I tried out A LOT of new things in 2012, some things I loved, some I did not. The items that are mentioned within the video were the cream of the crop.

Just to be super helpful, here’s a little rundown of everything mentioned with reviews where applicable: 

Diptyque Philosykos Perfume Oil Roll-on

Diptyque has long been a brand that I had admired from afar thanks to their rather lovely, but expensive candles. Whilst in Space NK recently, I was browsing the shelves and intended to purchase one of their candles, until I caught a whiff of the Philosykos perfume.

Fig is a scent that I am really rather a fan of; most of the candles burning around my apartment are fig and the shower gel that I love (Korres) is also fig, so falling for a fig scented perfume seemed like a natural step.

For me, Diptyque’s offering is a little more grown up (in a good way) than a lot of other figgy scented perfumes that I have sampled in the past. 

Diptyque use the whole fig tree in the production of this scent including the leaves and bark, rather than just the fruit. There’s also some white cedar in there for good measure. 

The oil within the roll-on is highly concentrated, therefore a little goes a long way and the scent lasts for hours after application. At £32.00 for 7.5ml, this certainly isn’t cheap, but is great for throwing in one’s handbag due to the small compact size. It would also make a beautiful gift for someone who really likes their perfumes.

Whilst I’m not sure that I would purchase the roll-on again, I would certainly think about purchasing the larger size bottle, where you get a little more product for your money.

Lucas’ Papaw Ointment

In amongst the receipts and other rubbish at the bottom of my bag, you will always find a tube of Lucas’ Papaw Ointment. This little tube of loveliness has been a staple of mine for a good few years now and it’s something that I wouldn’t want to be without.

The formulation has remained unchanged for over 100 years, since first developed by Dr T. P. Lucas and the ingredients list is pretty simple, just Carica Papaya and Pharmaceutical Grade Petroleum Jelly. It also doesn’t contain any polyplasdone, polyvinylpyrrolidone, talc, shellac or sodium lauryl sulphate.

Now whilst it does contain Petroleum Jelly, for me, this is quite different to Vaseline. The ointment has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties and can be used as a local topical application on the following:

  • Minor Burns & Scalds
  • Sunburn
  • Gravel Rash, Cuts & Minor Open Wounds
  • Nappy Rash & Chafing
  • Insect Bites
  • Splinters & Thorns

I find that it’s also really effective on the lips and the dry patches of skin that I sometimes get on my arms. It’s pretty reasonably priced too, at £4.95 for a 25g tube. I buy mine online from The Pawpaw Shop.

Neom Luxury Organics Treatment Candle

After months of lusting after a Neom candle, I finally bit the bullet at the beginning of September and decided to treat myself.

neom

Neom Candles are made with a blend of 100% natural vegetable wax and pure aromatherapy oils, which burn cleanly without releasing harmful pollutants, toxins or soot – working holistically to make you feel even better. Neom’s range is quite extensive and I struggled to choose just one, but in the end I plumped for the Sumptuous candle.

The Sumptuous candle is scented with wild Rose and Neroli (Orange Blossom). Rose is a calming and soothing oil and Neroli lifts the spirit and calms the mind. The description from Neom is pretty spot on. I feel myself relaxing without wanting to drop off to sleep the instant that the candle is lit and its fragrance starts to permeate the room. Even when the candle isn’t lit it smells beautiful, without being overpowering.

The cost of the candles may seem expensive (£39.50 for 380g), but the burn time is up to 55 hours. I’ve been lighting this for a few hours almost daily and have around two-thirds remaining. It also happens to be one of the most heavenly things that I’ve ever smelled and I will certainly be purchasing another.

I purchased my candle from FeelUnique but you purchase Neom products directly from their site

October Favourites

It’s the end of the month, which can only mean one thing. It’s favourites time!

First up this month was my new favourite cleanser by Temple Spa. As I mentioned in the video, I had previously raved about a cleanser by REN (No. 1 Purity Cleansing Balm) but after having used that for a while, it started to break me out, as I have quite sensitive skin.

I started to use In the Beginning Deep Cleansing Melt around a month ago and was initially a little concerned that my skin might suffer the same fate as when using the REN cleansing balm, due to it containing my skin’s version of kryptonite: lavender. However, I needn’t have worried. It seems that many other skincare companies use French lavender in their products, which can be irritating to some skins, whereas Temple Spa use only English lavender. The balm contains exfoliating beads which then melt to deeply cleanse the skin, removing all traces of makeup including waterproof mascara. I have used this every night for around a month and have noticed that the appearance of my skin and in particular the pores around my t-zone area, have significantly reduced in appearance. In the Beginning can be purchased directly from the Temple Spa site costing £27 for 60g. 

Next up was Tawny by Bobbi Brown. This is a blusher that I talked about rekindling my love for in my ‘Shopping the Stash’ video. More information can be found on that in this post.

During Summer months, I rarely wear anything on my lips, other than a bit of lip balm, but in the Autumn and Winter months, I like to go for a darker lip. I tend to find that darker colours are a little more drying on the lip and therefore I like to keep mine in tip top condition. For this, I love to use Guava Lip Butter by Korres. It has a combination of shea butter and rice wax to keep the lips deeply hydrated. Whenever my lips feel a little dry, I just slick on some of this overnight and in the morning my lips feel full and nourished. I buy mine from Feel Unique costing £6 for 6g.

One of my favourite colours for the lips of late has been ‘Get Lippy’ Lip Stain from Topshop. The colour is a beautiful pinky berry sort of shade, which would look great on just about every skin tone. As this is a stain it can be slightly drying, but I like to pair this with the Korres Lip Butter. Stains are great for a night out because they last hours and hours without the need for reapplication. This stain can be purchased in store at Topshop for £8.

Continuing with the darker berry theme, I have been loving wearing Tease-y Does It by OPI on my nails. This is a beautiful reddy purple sort of colour with gold shot through. This was a limited edition shade released in 2011, however you can still pick this up on eBay.

The final product to make it onto my favourites list for the month is the Rituals Qi Stress Relief Serum. This is a light cream which contains Chinese Peppermint, Yi Yi Ren and Lavender to cool and relax, relieving stress or tiredness. I like to pop a bit onto my temples, the nape of my neck and across my forehead whenever I feel a headache coming on. The serum can be purchased in Rituals stores and online at House of Fraser costing £9.50.

Pureology Shampoo & Conditioner

It’s rare that I find something that I enjoy using so much that I end up recommending it to anyone that will listen, but Pureology have changed that.

I’ve had a ‘problem’ scalp for years. My bathroom was always strewn with half full (ever the optimist) bottles that I could no longer use because my scalp just felt too sore, that is until I stumbled across Pureology in Harvey Nichols. I was still using a Korres shampoo at the time so only needed a conditioner and picked up one from Pureology’s Hydrate range. The entire Pureology range is free from animal ingredients and sulfates, which are foaming agents that can lead to a dried out/ irritated scalp. The conditioner contains peppermint and corn mint essential oils which not only smell lovely, but are also slightly tingly and soothing. Once dry, my hair felt softer and shinier than it had in a long time; static was also significantly less noticeable.

I find myself having to use much less of this product than conditioners that I’ve used in the past and a 250ml bottle lasts around 6 to 8 weeks.

Given my love for the conditioner (which I’ve repurchased three times), I decided to give a shampoo from Pureology a go when my regular shampoo ran out. My hair was feeling a little damaged following a dodgy home-dye job so I picked up the Essential Repair shampoo. The shampoo produces a rich lather, whilst still being sulphate free and it gently cleanses my hair without stripping any colour. My scalp hasn’t felt this good in years and there are no little sore patches in sight. It also smells pretty darn good too thanks to the blend of Jasmine, Ylang Ylang and Rosewood.

All-in-all it’s a big thumbs up for Pureology and a range that I will buy from again and again.

Pureology is sold in fine salons and can also be purchased online at FeelUnique. Both the shampoo and conditioner are sold in 250ml bottles and retail at £11.75 and £15.15 respectively.

Models Own Beth’s Blue Nail Polish

If you have seen my Most Worn Summer Things Video then you will already know that the polish that has been gracing my nails all summer long is Beth’s Blue by Models Own from the Ice Cream Sundae collection.

The shade is a gorgeous cornflower blue with lavender undertones. Against my skin, the colour appears true to that of the product in the bottle. The polish has a thickish creamy consistency and applies pretty opaquely in just one coat. I however, like to do two, just to make sure that my nails are completely streak free. Without a top-coat, I wore this for around 3 or 4 days with no chips, with a top-coat, it lasted even longer.

Models Own polishes can be found in larger Boots stores or can be bought directly from the Models Own site. Polishes retail at £5 for 14ml.