Sunday, 31 July 2016

Little Things I've Loved This Week #33

Little things I've loved flatlay on Ginevrella
It's been a bit of funny week this one - tricky to keep track of the days! I moved in to my new flat on Monday, then spent Tuesday and Wednesday unpacking, shopping for bits and pieces and getting the flat laid out how I wanted it. Then Thursday and Friday were two days of induction at the hospital, meeting all my lovely new colleagues, hearing top tips from the current FY1 doctors and making sure our skills on resuscitation are up to scratch. Overall it's all been quite exciting - although I'll probably be less excited and more nervous by the time Wednesday rolls around and I'm actually working!

So here are the little things that I've enjoyed this week :)

A bit of GBBO appreciation for my post reviewing Martha Collison's new recipe book Twist. Not only did I get lots of lovely comments from you, my readers, but I also got a tweet from Martha to say thank you, and Mat Riley liked my tweet about the post too :) It's probably really sad to consider this something worth mentioning as a highlight of the week, but it made me happy!

Picking up my ID badge with 'FY1 Doctor' on it in place of 'Medical Student'. Ok, it means way more responsibility and expectation, but it's these little things that remind me just how far I've come since getting that place at medical school five years ago.

Laughing at Saffy's rubbish attempts at being a pigeon-scarer. On Monday evening my sister scattered some bread at the end of the garden for the smaller birds and tried to get our dog to act as a bird-scarer and keep the big pigeons away. Unfortunately Saffy was pretty terrible - firstly she wanted to do the job from bed, just by barking out the window. Then when she did head outside, she kept getting distracted, trying to eat and bury all the bread for herself! The working dog life is not for her...

Mini pots of rice pudding that came as a substitution on my grocery delivery. I made a big order ready for moving in to the new place and decided to buy a couple of tins of rice pudding to have in as a sort of comforting treat. It's not something I eat regularly, but sometimes it's just the thing! Turns out Tesco didn't have two tins of the stuff (who is buying it all?!?!), but they did give me eight mini pots instead which are actually a much better idea. Yum :)

Little things I've loved - mini rice pudding pots


Homeware shopping. It's fast becoming one of my favourite activities - although I've since downgraded to just window shopping until I get my first paycheck - and I've loved spending the start of the week picking up new furnishing and kitchenware.

Little things I've loved this week - homeware, pink and grey bedroom
Little things I've loved, pink peonies in vase

Yummy banana flapjacks that are deliciously soft and very more-ish. Luckily for you, I'm sharing the recipe here next week! They've been delicious as a snack to take with me during the day, or with a cup of tea in the evening.

Little things I've loved - fruity banana flapjacks


What have been the best bits of your week?
Jennifer
xXx


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Friday, 29 July 2016

Two Years of Blogging

Two year blogging anniversary flatlay


It still amazes me that I can say I've been blogging over a year, let alone two years!

On Monday 25th July, it was officially two whole years since I put out the very first post on this blog - where on earth did that time go?!

Back then I was a third year medical student looking for something to fill the time at the end of the year and over the long summer. I had no idea that I'd keep this blog going, or the sheer number of things I'd learn.

I also didn't realise how many wonderful people blogging would put me in touch with, or how many of you would come and read the posts time and time again.

I didn't know that I'd be doing so much alongside simply publishing on the blog. Somewhere along the way I was picking up social media accounts left, right and centre - and now you can find me on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat (occasionally anyway) and Pinterest. 

I've learned that blogging is something I love. Not just writing the posts or taking the photos, but actually interacting with  the blogging community. I've learned to really enjoy the satisfaction that comes with getting the best out of blog promotion. I actually find it sort of fun to check analytics and see how the hard work I put in turns into real numbers. And ok, they're comparatively small - but they are growing!

Two years of blogging on Ginevrella


And I'm proud of this blog. I might not shout about it much in real life (actually, I almost never mention it), but I've impressed myself by sticking with it this long and turning it into what it is today.

I want to celebrate this second blog anniversary, but I haven't quite decided how - so you'll just have to wait and see!

But for the mean time, I've decided to share some of my favourite posts from the past two years.

Posts I'm proud of

This has remained one of the most popular posts on my site ever since I published it. I wouldn't have got where I am today if it wasn't for the kind people who agreed to me observing their time in hospital or at the doctor's surgery, so this post was partly to thank them. I also wrote it to explain why medical students sit in and to hopefully relieve any worries you may have if you're asked if a student can be present.

There are no pretty photos and it's a little Christmassy in parts, but I liked the points behind this post on balancing living life with blogging about it.

Actually this is post I've been meaning to repeat at some point! I reckon we all search some pretty random things every day, so I collated a few from one week as a little insight into my thoughts...

This feels so long ago already as we had our ball before our electives. It was such a wonderful evening spent with some of my favourite people.

This was one of my favourite activities in Cape Town (although I have a long list of favourites)! It's a little bit too far away to go back, but I definitely want to do some more afternoon tea posts in the future.

The future...

So what's to come for Ginevrella? Hopefully a lot more still! I'm determined to keep the blog going despite having started full time work as a doctor. It's certainly a new challenge for me, especially as I've had months of free time to spend on it until recently. I'm sure working full time will affect the blog and what I can dedicate to it, but stick with me while I figure it all out.

Two years of blogging - plant pot and pink flowers on desk

Oh and by the way...

As I've only just been blogging for two years I still qualify in the 'Best New Blogger on the Block' category in the Bloggers Blog Awards. So you know, if you've still not nominated and fancied celebrating my blog anniversary, a little vote would be wonderful :)

Also - I'm thinking of maybe doing a little giveaway to celebrate! I haven't decided what just yet, and I want to make sure 'life etc.' settles down a bit beforehand but do stick around :)


Jennifer
xXx




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Wednesday, 27 July 2016

20 Things You Don't Have to Do With Your Blog

Twenty things you don't have to do with your blog

The blogging community, the bloggersphere, team internet. They're great. Full of advice and tips and hints.

But sometimes, I feel like I'm a million miles behind. Everyone else seems to know exactly what they're doing with their blogs - and are good at it too. From Twitter chats to blog posts, there's all manner of blogging "how to's", "must-do's" and "you can too's". But do we really have to be doing everything? And are we all aiming in the same direction anyway?

Things you don't need to do with your blog

20 things you don't have to do with your blog

(if you don't want to...)

1. Have ALL the social media. Sure it's nice to have followers and more sources for traffic - but if you don't want to be hashtagging and filtering and snapchatting and liking and pinning all day, then don't.

2. Follow the trends. So what if micro-blogging is set to be the next 'big thing'? If you love your long, rambling, once a week pieces then keep on doing it!

3. Take flatlay photographs. They're bloomin' hard.

4. Earn money from it. Just because everyone else has rate cards and sponsored posts and advertising packages doesn't mean you need to.

5. Spend money on it. Custom domains and professional templates do not make a blog. You still have a blog even without them.

6. Get personal. You don't have to post all your deepest feelings just to be relatable. If you don't want to share something on your blog, you don't have to.

7. Run giveaways. I'm always amazed at how generous bloggers are, often funding these from their own pockets but there's no pressure to do one every time you hit a milestone.

8. Share with your friends, family and colleagues. Sometimes they make the most loyal readers. Sometimes they're a barrier to writing down exactly what you want to share. You can still be proud of your blog without making it a part of your 'real' life.

9. Have marble backgrounds, pink peonies and a houseful of copper and rose gold. But if you like all these things, then why not?!

10. Win prizes. It's wonderful to have your hard work acknowledged with nominations and titles - but it's ok to just blog for the sake of blogging too.

11. Write when you're not feeling it. There are no rules about how often you should post or how long you're allowed to go without writing something. If you're not in the mood to write, no one says you have to.

12. Keep it up forever. If your heart's no longer in it, you don't need to keep pushing. Take a break even if you don't think you'll come back. Your blog will be there waiting if you change your mind.

13. Care about stats and views and rankings. Some people do and this fine - it's nice to have goals and see yourself reach new levels. But there's no need to. A blog's a blog, even if you're the sole reader!

14. Stick to a niche. It's your blog. You write about whatever you fancy. If you mainly do beauty, who says you can't chuck in a favourite recipe now and again? A niche is no bad thing, but you don't have to limit yourself.

15. Aim to be professional. Just because you've started a blog doesn't mean this is where you have to go. You can take up baking without aiming to be a pro-baker, or start running without trying to be an Olympic athlete.

16. Try to be helpful or funny or inspiring or relatable. Don't worry about trying to be something specific. Many people will read a blog simply to be nosy, whether you've got great advice or not!

17. Turn every life moment into a blog post. Some days are simply meant to be enjoyed by you alone without needing to get photographs and the right words.

18. Understand SEO and keywords and all that other blog-tech-jargon. Sure, it's handy to have a grasp of if you're looking to grow your blog, but it's not for everyone. If it's getting in the way of just writing, you don't need to worry about it right now.

19. Be perfect at everything. So you're great at writing and the tech stuff, but can't quite get the ideal photo? Or you're a whizz with a DSLR and Photoshop but can't code a drop down navigation bar. Very few people can do it all. Ask for help - that's what the blog community is for!

20. Know what you're doing. You don't need to know whether you're aiming to be a pro or a contented hobbyist. You don't need to understand how to alt-tag your images and write a killer blog title. You don't need to know how to approach a brand or how to decide whether to write about fashion or beauty or a bit of everything. 

As I said. Twenty things you don't have to do if you don't want to. Actually, I do do some of these. And that's fine. It's fine if you do all of them! But it's also fine to do none of them. We're all individuals with different goals and opinions. And that's what makes blogging fab.

Things you don't have to do for your blog


Jennifer
xXx
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Tuesday, 26 July 2016

New Flat Chat

Just me that's enjoying the rhyming title?! Must be that poetry event I enjoyed last week...

I've loved having pretty much all of this month free to work on the blog and get writing all kinds of content, from recipes to travel, even a few blog tips!

But now I thought it would be nice to have a chatty kind of post. A little update and catch up. So now that I'm in my new flat, the internet's working and I've got a cup of tea and chocolate biscuit (or four) to hand, I'm all ready!

New Flat Chat title post, decorative flowers and bananas


Way back in March I got the exciting news that I'd be starting working later in the year as a doctor. Now apparently someone pushed the fast-forward button shortly after that, because 'later in the year' suddenly became now.

And the new job also meant a new city and another new flat.

(I'm really looking forward to the day I can finally say I've got a permanent home rather than moving every year, not including all the medical school placements I did...)

I picked up the keys on Saturday afternoon and spent the weekend moving in all my things - I'm not entirely sure how I ever fitted it all into my bedroom at home actually!

Recipe books on shelves


Then Monday night I properly moved in and set about unpacking all that stuff. My priorities were making sure the bed was ready... meanwhile my sister thought it essential that my clothes hung in rainbow order. It looks nice I guess!

The best bit about a new flat though, is the homeware shopping. I'm not much of a clothes shopper - I enjoy it for an hour or so before getting bored, but I can homeware shop for days! (In fact, that's exactly what I've been doing).

I've been taking inspiration from Pinterest and trying to create a nice pink-and-grey scheme for my bedroom - cue hours spent wandering round department store cushion displays. Turns out pink cushions are actually really hard to find. No worries though, I persevered and managed to track one down...

Pink and grey bedroom decor


I also picked up loads of new kitchen goodies, from shiny cutlery to new pans and a decent set of knives all from Homesense. Now that I've got my own place again, rather than living at home, I've got all the excuses for wandering round the shop and actually buying things! Including a round drying rack. Why do I keep moving into flat with circular draining boards?! I actually made the conscious decision to leave the circular rack in my last flat because it was so hard to find one, I assumed they weren't very common so I wouldn't need one again. OOPS. Luckily I know exactly where they come from now :)

Now I wish I could say the whole moving-in process went smoothly - but we had one little hiccup in the way of the internet. The hub arrived, as promised, and the instructions seemed perfectly simple. I set it all up and waited for it to work. Except, it didn't. Probably just the normal teething problems you get at the start, I thought, and decided to go to bed and try it again in the morning. It still wasn't working though so I followed all the steps to try and get it sorted. Nothing. So I went shopping and killed a few hours buying duvet covers and such. AND IT STILL WASN'T WORKING!

I wondered if I was being a bit impatient, but the troubleshooting card did say to call if it wasn't working by midnight on the day of installation. And it was definitely after midnight by now. So I called up BT and couldn't make their voice recognition system work. Or recall my landline number (because, er, apparently I've got one of those now. No phone though haha). And I couldn't work my mobile fast enough for their automated system so it just kind of did its own thing and put me through to a queue. Annoying. I opted to be called back within the hour, rather than wait on the phone and settled down for an hour of daytime TV (no internet, you see).

And an hour passed with no call back. So I phoned again (definitely being impatient now, but I wanted it sorted!!). Weirdly, I got through pretty much straight away this time and after a bit of switching the box on and off in various ways, we established it was definitely not working and they'd have to send out an engineer. Which I was told could take up to three working days.

I hung up feeling so frustrated - what was I going to do without internet for three days? I think by this point I'd really just had enough. And was hungry, because my grocery delivery wasn't due for another hour and the nutritional content of my kitchen was currently vegetable soup and a packet of cacao nibs (yes I know that's weird. Obvs didn't eat them together). And tired, because you know how you never sleep well the first time somewhere new?

Anyway, feeling pretty rubbish and bored I sat down with the daytime TV again. And honestly, about half an hour later, the doorbell rings. Which is weird because the grocery delivery isn't for another twenty minutes and they're never early. Nope, it was the BT engineer! Pretty sure I thought I was just hallucinating from hunger by this point. But anyway, the lovely BT lady got my internet all fixed up and my day improved about a zillion percent. I can actually cope without internet normally, but when you've just moved in and you want to be able to check emails and download an inventory and just feel at home - it kind of matters.

Pink flowers in kitchen


Yeah, sorry for that probably pretty dull story about internet woes. I'll be back with fun blog content soon I promise!

Basically though, I'm actually really happy in my new flat. I've finally got everything unpacked and layed out in a way I like. The groceries also arrived so I no longer have bare cupboards. The flat already had quite a lot of furniture, plus loads of random decorations that I've got to somehow accommodate, but it's all kind of fun. And now I have internet I can blog aaaaallll about it :D Once I've got things properly, properly sorted I'm thinking of doing some room-tour type posts - because who doesn't love a bit of nosey home inspiration?!

And now the cup of tea and chocolate biscuits are all gone, so I really ought to wrap this up. Thanks for reading if you actually stuck with me through all that! Anyone else recently moved or moving soon? If you're blogging about it, link me up because home posts are my new faves!

Jennifer
xXx
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Monday, 25 July 2016

Twist by Martha Collison - A Recipe Book Review

Twist Recipe Book by Martha Collison - A Cook Book Review

There's something almost irresistible about picking up recipe books in the supermarket for a quick flick through.

I've probably said it before, but I love growing my recipe book collection. Sure, the internet is excellent when you've got something specific in mind, but you can't beat a beautiful cookbook for a little foodie-inspiration.

My latest addition is this - Twist by Martha Collison of Great British Bake Off fame. Yes. I did need another baking book. One minute I'm buying dog treats in Waitrose, the next this beautiful book has somehow fallen into my basket... (Actually. I'm not sure I was even carrying a basket.)

Recipe from Twist by Martha Collison - A cook book review

My thoughts

What made me purchase Twist is that it really appeals to my principles of baking. I like a classic, but I like thinking about how I can change it, update it or add a little something extra. 

And this is exactly what Martha's proposing in her recipes. This isn't another book rolling out the same old standard cakes. She gives a few basic recipes, then follows them up with all kinds of inventive, yet oh-so-appealing variations.

I like a good brownie, but how about salted caramel and pretzel for a little added sweet 'n' salty loveliness?

Or how about playing with a lemon drizzle? I personally love the sound of Grapefruit Drizzle Cake but my mum and sister reacted with 'yuck' - so guess who won't be getting a slice?!

Twist by Martha Collison - A Recipe Book Review


What I also really like about this book is that the majority of the recipes are the kind of things I can bake at home on any old rainy afternoon. It's not all showstopper cakes that are best suited to a fancy dinner, or huge cakes that only survive a matter of hours before they are past their best. The recipes are all the kinds of thing I can pop in a cake tin and let my family munch through over a few days, no special event required.

On a similar note, I haven't spotted a single ingredient I don't recognise. Which is not so much a sign of my incredible baking knowledge, but more that these are basic, everyday items that can be found in any supermarket. No ordering off Amazon for these bakes! 

Twist by Martha Collison - A Recipe book review

What it doesn't have is loads of explanation behind the methods, ingredients and techniques, or stories behind the recipes. Which is fine - it's not what I'm looking for and it keeps the book simple and to the point, but this isn't one of those recipe books you can sit and read with a hot drink. And that's not to say there's no explanation either - even with the briefest of flick throughs I've learned about the role of gluten and how to manage it in everything from biscuits to choux pastry!

Twist by Martha Collison Great British Bake Off


 Test run

Eager to get some use from the book, I was straight into the kitchen and whipping up 'Millionaire's Flapjacks' - now that's a good baking combination! Crunchy flapjack topped with caramel and a crisp layer of chocolate - delicious.

Millionaires Flapjacks - Recipe from Martha Collison Twist

I followed the recipe exactly in order to give the book a good testing. The instructions were clear and unambiguous, meaning I could easily follow them and snapchat at the same time. (This is the kind of fun you'll find if you follow me!) The flavours were spot on and although the flapjack layer was a little too crisp for my liking, we'll blame the oven rather than the recipe.

Millionaire's Flapjack - By Recipe from Twist by Martha Collison
Millionaire's Flapjacks - Reviewing Twist by Martha Collison

 

What I want to try next


Honestly, I could try out nearly any of these recipes - there's nothing that looks overly complicated, ludicrously expensive or questionably flavoured.

But high on my 'to-bake' list are:
  • Raspberry and Pistachio Friands
  • Breakfast Muffins
  • Apricot, Pistachio and Honey Upside-Down Cake
  • Mojito Macarons
  • Turkish Delight Profiteroles

In conclusion?

Whether you've got wall-to-wall cookbooks or are looking to start your collection with a solid baking all-rounder, Twist would be high on my recommendations!

What twists do you like to put on a classic recipe?

Jennifer 
xXx

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Sunday, 24 July 2016

Little Things I've Loved This Week #32

Little Things I've Loved This Week 32


It's been a pretty special one this week because it's the week I finally graduated! Five years of medical school has been great, but it was wonderful to finally make it to the end. There's also been a fair bit of organising to do, ready for moving house next week. So here are the little things making me smile this week:

Seeing all my friends proud to be graduating as doctors. I can hardly count graduating as a 'little' thing (although I definitely loved it!), but seeing my Facebook timeline fill with photos of newly graduated doctors was so special. Everyone worked incredibly hard to get here so it was wonderful to see everyone so happy!

Going to a spoken word performance on Wednesday night. I'd probably have laughed if you'd told me a few years ago that I'd go to something like this and actually enjoy it, but it was great! The professional poets were brilliant, with funny and thought-provoking poems and I'd definitely go again.

Vanessa Kisuule's "A Malleable Personal Manifesto". Vanessa was one of the poets who performed and this piece in particular deserved it's own mention. A list for life, a lot of it was very relatable and there are certainly some great lines to live by. I've linked to a video of it, or you can find the words here: A Malleable Personal Manifesto.

Being in an air conditioned hotel room on the hottest night of the year. I really, really appreciated the air conditioning the night before my graduation!

Picking up the keys to my new flat. I haven't properly moved in yet, but I'm really happy to have everything sorted and I'm excited about living there.

Reaching 300 Twitter followers. I know this sounds like nothing, but I actually only set up a dedicated blog Twitter account about a month and a half ago so I'm pleased it's growing! It also means I'm getting much more traffic from Twitter now because I 'm happier about promoting on this account, and pretty much all the followers follow for the blog and nothing else.

What have you been loving this week? I'd really like to know!

Jennifer
xXx
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Saturday, 23 July 2016

Graduation!



I did it!

Five years of medical school all finished, all passed and all ultimately enjoyed (despite the hard work).

It was wonderful to go back to Bristol for one last day on Wednesday and celebrate the achievement with my graduation ceremony. 

A busy day of dashing from place to place - gown collection, promise ceremony, graduation ceremony and celebratory drinks reception. And all in the glorious July sunshine.



It's hard to sum up in words what it feels like to have finally graduated, to know that I now hold a medical degree and that all those years of studying, placement and exams have been worthwhile. So I'm keeping this post short and sweet. Maybe it'll sink in eventually...



(Dr) Jennifer
xXx
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Friday, 22 July 2016

Should You Edit Old Blog Posts?

Should you edit old blog posts? Blogging tips on Ginevrella Lifestyle Blog

This is something I got discussing in a recent Twitter chat - "Should you edit and update old blog posts?"

Previously, I'd always said I wouldn't.

I liked seeing how my blog has grown and thought that having my progression there for all to see was a good way to show where I'd come from and be a more 'authentic' blogger.

But then I got all enthusiastic about my blog. I wanted to put in a little more effort and reap a little more reward. More traffic, more followers, more satisfaction.

And what really got me inspired was having one last big attempt at getting to grips with Pinterest. Tidying up my boards, I realised that pins to my old posts just weren't especially eye-catching. They didn't tempt me in - so why would anyone else want to click on them?!

It seemed a shame to let all that old content go to waste, when actually some of it was still viable. I had a few recipe and blog tips posts that were still relevant, but desperately in need of a facelift and a little TLC.

So I picked out the ones that I thought could be recycled and spruced them up. A new pinnable picture, refreshed title pictures if they needed it, checking the image formatting and, my real bugbear, fixing up the alt tags!

It wasn't a huge amount of work. I took a brand new photo for a single post, but made do with what I had for the rest. (I wasn't going to re-do all my recipes!)

Bringing them up to standard means that I feel proud of them again. I want to share them, rather than leave them hidden away, embarrassing memories in my archive. If I get low on new content, I've got plenty of 'evergreen' posts that can be pulled out of storage and shared back into the limelight.

Updated posts I'm excited to share again!


Should I rewrite old blog posts?

I didn't rewrite the posts. Partly because it was time and effort I could spend on new posts, but also because this wasn't the biggest weakness (in my opinion, anyway). I still want my blog to reflect a journey, but I also want to maximise the potential of old content.


Do I need to update all of my old blog posts?

Now I haven't gone through all of my old posts. Some of them are pretty time-specific and I wouldn't expect them to stay current. While I personally love going back through my 'Little Things I've Loved' posts, I recognise that they simply share little snaps of my life and aren't necessarily what other people are looking for! That's why I've focused on editing posts that offer advice or instructions - such as my recipe posts.

Updating Old Blog Posts on Ginevrella Lifestyle Blog

 Seven ways to update a old blog post:

  1. Add a new first picture - this is what shows up on your blog if you have 'popular posts' or 'related posts' widgets, so make sure it's eye-catching and appealing!
  2. Add a title picture/ pinnable graphic - I like to include a big, vertical image with text that can be used when sharing your post on social media such as Pinterest or Twitter.
  3. Check the ALT TAGS on your images - writing quality alt-tags was something I got into very late on, so many of my older posts simply haven't got them! When I'm updating old content, I make sure to sort this out.
  4. Make sure the formatting works with your current blog layout. My most recent blog themes have all included code to resize my blog images to the full width of the post, but lots of my old posts have images as 'x-large' rather than original size. I've corrected this on the posts I've updated, as well as checking for extra line breaks that shouldn't be there.
  5. Correcting spelling and grammar mistakes. We're all human and we all slip up on these things now and again. But going back and rereading old posts is the perfect time to pick up any little errors.
  6. Make sure you've been using keywords in order to improve the SEO. When I started out blogging, I had no idea what SEO was - now I've learned a lot! While I said I wouldn't rewrite old posts, I did go through and made sure I included keywords where possible, for example using place names rather than just 'here/ there'.
  7. Remove any broken links. Check that the links in the post still work - otherwise remove them. It can be a huge (but worthwhile) effort doing this for your entire blog, but if you're updating the post anyway you might as well!

So, in answer to the question - should you edit your old blog posts? - I say yes! Give them a little refresh, bring them up to your current standard and enjoy having a whole heap of content ready and waiting to be shared again.

Should You Edit Old Blog Posts? Reasons to update old blog content on Ginevrella


What do you think - would you edit your old blog posts?
Jennifer
xXx


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Thursday, 21 July 2016

Baked Sweet Potato with Fig and Goat's Cheese

Baked sweet potato served with chopped fig and goats cheese

A baked potato is one of my favourite, go-to meals. Perfect for lunch or a light dinner, my standard affair is potato topped with baked beans and oozing with butter. 

I also love a bit of a sweet kick so often serve up a baked sweet potato with a little butter and a good helping of salad.

But in honour of the warmer weather, I decided to give this classic comfort a summery twist with another favourite combination - fig and goat's cheese.

Fig and goats cheese


This would make an especially nice light meal idea in later summer when figs come into season here in the UK.

Juicy, sweet figs pair beautifully with the sweetness of the baked sweet potato, while the goat's cheese gives a little savoury balance to the combination.

Best of all, it's incredibly simple to make - which is ideal for making the most of any sunshine we may get this summer!

Baked Sweet Potato with Fig and Goat's Cheese


It would also make a lovely vegetarian option at a summer barbecue or garden party if you happen to be hosting.

All you have to do is bake your potato - I like to start off with a blast in the microwave for six to eight minutes, before transferring to the oven at about 180°c for twenty to thirty minutes to crisp up. (Bigger potatoes may take longer than this). Alternatively, you can cook them on the BBQ if you're feeling particularly summery!

Baked sweet potato


Chop up figs and goats cheese in whatever quantities you fancy, then sprinkle over the top.

Fresh figs


Pop the cheese on first so that it melts deliciously into the hot potato to create yummy, cheesy perfection.

Then serve with a little side salad and dig in!

Recipe for baked sweet potato with fig and goat's cheese


What are you favourite baked potato toppings?

I've also added this yummy recipe to the #InspirationalFoodies Linky where you'll find all kinds of delicious and inspiring dishes being added!

Jennifer
xXx
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Monday, 18 July 2016

A Trip to Basildon Park

Basildon Park National Trust Property

 Another good old National Trust trip!

Once I'd have filled my summer with trips to Legoland or Thorpe Park... these days you're more likely to find me in the gardens of a stately home or country mansion. (Or er, a Croatian beach).

This month we paid a visit to Basildon Park in Berkshire, an 18th century house set in the beautiful English countryside.

Gardens at Basildon Park


Arriving just before midday, we began by exploring the wonderful gardens - beautifully looked after by the busy army of volunteers working away.

Flower Gardens at Basildon Park National Trust

This place could definitely be #gardengoals... if I actually had my own garden anyway. Future garden inspiration though?!

Purple Flowers in the gardens at Basildon Park
Blue flowers at Basildon Park There really is something special about strolling slowly through the flower beds, pausing to take in the colourful displays - and the fabulous views out over green fields in the distance.
Countryside views from Basildon Park
Berkshire countryside from the gardens at Basildon Park

Flowers over brick archway at Basildon Park
White flowers over garden arch You know, I think I could be quite happy living at Basildon Park. It's obviously a big house by actual real-life standards, but as mansions go it's feels pretty manageable. (Ok. I'll return to planet Earth now...)

The house at Basildon Park
House and Gardens at Basildon Park Having just about gotten over my daydream of owning the place, we headed inside.

I didn't take all that many photos of the inside because 

a) I was too busy just marvelling at it all
b) How does anyone take photos of rooms and do them justice? I can never fit everything in!
c) Although photography is allowed, there's just nothing very discreet about a DSLR clicking and I didn't want to disturb everyone else.

 I did get this one of the magnificient dining room - for future reference obviously. (And there I go, back into daydream land again). But actually, this room is a Downton film set I'll have you know! I was delighted to find that Basildon Park is actually one of the filming locations for my most favourite ever ever TV show, Downton Abbey. 

Basildon Park Dining Room used in Downton Abbey


You see, Basildon Park serves as the interior of Grantham House, the Crawley family's London home. So that just made me love the place even more.

Once we'd completed the house tour we made our way out - somehow resisting the scents of cream tea wafting up the staircase - and wandered back out into the bits of the garden we had yet to see.

Country gardens


The grounds seemed to be huge - and dogs on leads are welcome so maybe we'll return with Saffy - but we explored the bits round by the house, stumbling across a herd of cows and their calves.

Cows and calves in the field at Basildon Park


It was a beautiful day and Basildon Park is another place I'd highly recommend you pay a visit if you happen to be in the area :)

Basildon Park Berkshire on Ginevrella Lifestyle Blog


Have you visited Basildon Park? Or are you a Downton Abbey fan?

Jennifer
xXx





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