Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Easy Meals #2 - Sausage Tagine

Not including spices/seasoning you can make this sausage tagine for around £8 for two people (and you'll probably get some left overs with this which perfectly fine to put it in the fridge and have it the next day) 

Estimated cooking time: 45 minutes


-  1 pepper
-  Spinach
-  1 large red onion
-  Pork Chipolatas
-  Garlic
-  Cinnamon
-  Dried apricots
-  1 tbsp flour
-  400ml chicken stock
-  Tagine Paste
-  Couscous


1.  Start preheating your oven, I normally put it on 180c.

2.  Put your chipolatas onto the roasting tray or oven dish you will be using to cook your tagine in with a little oil and put them in the oven to cook for around 10-15 minutes. While these are cooking you can chop up your red onion and peppers. Then after 10-15 minutes take the sausages out and set them aside for the moment (put them on a plate and cover to keep warm).

3.  Now spread the chopped red onion onto the tray/dish you just removed your sausages from and put it in the oven for around 10 minutes to brown off. Then sprinkle 1 tbsp of flour over the onions and put them back in the oven for 2 minutes.

4.  Now you can add everything into the tray/dish with your onions - sausages, tagine paste, 400ml of chicken stock (I used two chicken stock cubes and dissolved them in 400ml of boiling water), spinach, chopped pepper, ground cinnamon, garlic and dried apricots. Make sure everything is well mixed (especially the tagine paste and chicken stock) and let it cook in the oven for 20 minutes or 30 minutes if you prefer your peppers softer.

5.  While this is cooking you can start on the couscous. Rinse 100g couscous thoroughly in cold water and bring 150ml of water or stock to a boil in a saucepan. Add the couscous and reduce to a low heat and leave to simmer for 5 minutes until most of the water has been absorbed. Then take it off the heat and drain any excess liquid away and leave it to stand for 10 minutes.

6.  Everything should be ready now so serve up and enjoy! Remember the tagine will be hot so be careful when serving it.

Hope you enjoy and please let me know what you think!


Thursday, 23 April 2015

My Creative Pioneers Experience

(Image source: Creative Pioneers / IPA

I joined the Creative Pioneers Challenge in their first year of running the program in 2012. And if it wasn't for one of my friends telling me about it after seeing it in the Metro I wouldn't be where I am today...well it may have taken a lot longer anyway. 

I never really knew what I wanted to do, I just knew it had to be creative and that university wasn't for me - I wanted to get out into the big wide world and get stuck in. I had just finished my foundation course at Camberwell and it seemed like fate that Creative Pioneers came along so I instantly applied. But because it was the first year they had run this I had nothing to go on. Was it difficult to get through? What would it be like? What exactly would I be doing? The application process has changed now I think but when I applied you had to do a video saying 'Why I'm a Creative Pioneer' in less than 60 seconds. I'm telling you, it's really difficult to sell yourself in 60 seconds! But I must have done something right because I got through, next was to have the first stage of interviews with companies.

The first stage of interviews with companies were in a 'speed dating' style which sounds really scary but once you got into it it was really good! But at first I was so nervous and excited at the same time to have so many fantastic opportunities in front of me. Some you may not be interested in but it gave you a chance to get advice, interview tips etc off someone experienced in the industry. And that's what jobs in creative industries are about, connections. 

Then came that horrible wait.

But thankful I got a few second interviews from some great creative agencies. I went for all of them, some I got and some I didn't. And in the end I got a years apprenticeship at Kitcatt Nohr Digitas (now known as Kitcatt Nohr) as an Art Director. I had no idea what that meant... I found a lot of job titles I had never heard of before starting my apprenticeship. 

So I began my apprenticeship, made sure I introduced myself to everyone and tried to make as many connections and friends as possible. And even almost two years down the line after leaving Kitcatt Nohr I'm still in connection with the people I worked with and I hope to always be. The first 3 months flew by and I tried my hand at being an Art Director but it just wasn't for me. Then the Design Studio Manager walked past me one day when I was trying to learn digital painting and asked me to try working in the Design Studio. Once he showed me a few things and got me to try retouching, I was hooked. I moved into the Design Studio asap and begin practising retouching and shadowing the designers. I learnt how to do a range of mock-ups, retouching, print basics and much more and the Design Studio became my home.

Not to forget all the coursework. The only thing I disliked about the apprenticeship was the coursework because it felt (and in my opinion) like such a waste of time. It wasn't very relevant to my apprenticeship or many of the other apprentices that I knew in the program. It seemed ridiculous that you either got the web design or the marketing coursework depending on what apprenticeship you had. Because mine was a creative apprenticeship I got the web design coursework which really didn't teach you much. You didn't learn how to code, use grids, basic typography or any design programs. Mainly it was frustrating when I felt like I was learning so much on the job and I had to put that aside to do coursework tasks and go into college once a fortnight. In the end, with the help of my supportive tutor, I got all the coursework out of the way so I could gain the full apprenticeship at the end of the year. 

But it turned out that I wouldn't stay at Kitcatt Nohr after my apprenticeship finished. Instead I searched for other jobs and with the support of my manager I was able to bag a range of interviews and job offers and i've now been a designer for almost 3 years and couldn't be happier with my choices :)

If you're interested in applying for Creative Pioneers then you better act quick because this years applications close this April/May depending on which jobs you want to apply for. So don't hesitate - GO FOR IT!

Are you unsure whether university is for you? Considering an apprenticeship? 

Any questions feel free to drop me a comment below, i'd love to hear from you!


Sunday, 19 April 2015

#1 Etsy Shops You Need To Follow

I love browsing Etsy to find new and unique shops and as a fellow creative I can't stress enough how important it is to support the creative community and the talented artists that form Etsy. I only wish I had more money to purchases all these beautiful pieces myself - but for the time being here are my favorites this month!

Olis Cupboard

Oli Divisova has been designing beautiful ceramic pieces for many years. Experimenting with glazes and materials to create these playful pieces of art that you can have in your home. Oli has a range of pieces from cups and bowls to vases and birdfeeders at very reasonable prices for unique handmade ceramics. 

Apple White

Dana began with a love of sewing and then grew into a dream of owning her own business - thank god she went for it otherwise we would be without these beauties! Dana is part of every stage of these creations - she designs, cuts and sews everyone one of them herself and describes them as "Fresh, modern, handmade designs with a vintage vibe." If you haven't looked into her shop before you really need to (and they make lovely gifts).

Haase Handcraft

Nathan and his father have been creating beautiful custom wooden pieces for more than 30 years and since 2012 they have been selling their geometric creations on Etsy. With a large number of possibilities of arrangements these geometric shelves are perfect for a large blank wall and being custom made you can choose from a huge selection of colours and materials to make them exactly what you need. 


Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Travel Tips - Guilin (China part 3)

This is the third part to my China travel tips, you can find the first part here for Beijing and the second part here for Xi'an.
I can't say a huge amount for Guilin because I was only there for a day and a half, but it is a beautiful place and a great change from the busy city!

Expect to come across any of these in China:

- People can spit a lot, especially the older generations.
- Don't expect many western toilets in public areas, most will be squatting loos.
- Remember to take toilet paper in your bag everywhere, a lot of public toilets don't have them.
- They won't smile back at you, it's nothing to do with you, but the Chinese don't smile at strangers.
- A lot of your normal sites will be blocked in China, for example Facebook and Google.
Don't be afraid to haggle, it's amazing how much they are willing to reduce the price by. I was told that you find on average they double the price of things for foreigners.

Guilin Specifically:

- The landscape here is beautiful, it's the main reason to go if nothing else!

- I didn't get sick at all on my whole trip so just be sensible with food and you should be fine.

- We went on the Li River cruise which is about 3/4 hours long? Seems like a very long time but you do have lunch on the boat and the views as you go down the river are beautiful. So if you love taking photos this will be a great activity for you!

- After arriving at the end of the Li River cruise you can walk through the Yangshuo in Guilin which is an ancient city with famous bar streets surrounded by hills. Another great place to have a drink and do a bit of cheap souvenir shopping.

- I would also recommend visiting the Guilin Tea Research Institute for a quick tour and traditional tea ceremony. You get shown the huge tea farm and different teas are explained to you, I learn so much about tea when I thought it was so simple. Then you are taken to the main building and shown how they cook the tea leaves and are then taken to a room for the traditional tea ceremony. You get to try 3/4 different types of tea so it's a great way to find the type you like so you can take a nice souvenir back as well as the correct way to brew and drink tea.

- Lastly we visited Elephant Trunk Hill which is a natural limestone hill with a naturally-shaped cave at the bottom which the locals found looked like an elephant trunk drinking from the river. And the very close by Fubo Hill which part of it is home to the Returned Pearl Cave which has over 200 Buddha images are etched into the walls, some are over 1000 years old!

- Another great place to visit if you like natural wonders is The Reed Flute Cave for it's beautiful collection of stalactites, stalagmites and stone pillars. It takes about an hour to walk through the cave so if you're not up for a little walking it may not be for you.

(Li River cruise)

(Snake wine they offer you on the Li River cruise - I think it's meant to be similar to 'fire water') 

(Li River cruise)

(Yangshuo in Guilin)

(Guilin Tea Research Institute)

(Guilin Tea Research Institute - Tea ceremony)

(The Reed Flute Cave)

Have you visited Guilin before? Would you recommend any other places to visit? Any questions about my experience in Guilin?
Let me know in the comment box below, i'd love to hear from you!


Sunday, 12 April 2015

Cooking Classes at L'atelier des Chefs

A while ago my company arranged an evening with L'atelier des Chefs near Oxford Circus for our spring event. But never got around to doing a post, so better late than never right?

L'atelier des Chefs runs a huge range of cooking classes from knife skills and cooking the perfect steak to Sushi and Spanish food! When you arrive you are greeted by the fantastic staff and can relax and mingle with a glass of wine before one of the chefs kicks the night off with a brief introduction. Because we had a large group our class was 'Street Food' themed, so we had 6 stations preparing different food (Sushi, Kebabs, Dim Sum, Sliders, Fajitas and something else I can't remember...). Each station had an experienced chef that gives you a detailed demonstration, talking you step by step through the recipe and then it's all up to you!

One of the first stations I tried was dim sum - which I love. But I always thought dim sum would be a really difficult thing to cook because they look so well presented, it was surprisingly easy though! But now I think about it all of the stations were, proves that if you have the correct ingredients and tools any recipes can be easy.

Next I tried making the sliders which were by far my favorite station of the night. It felt really gross when I first started rolling the meat in my hands but after tasting what you've made you can't help but make another. It helped that they had some great toppings and sauces to go with them!

I've never tried making sushi either, which is surprising as I love eating it. It definitely isn't the easiest of things to make but I managed and even though they were pretty messy and uneven they tasted delicious! 

I'd have to recommend giving a class a go at least once even if you're a terrible cook because the chefs are really supportive so theres no need to be embarrassed (the wine helps a lot). It's a great way to break the ice with new co workers or just to explore new food. Overall it was a really fun night and it helped me to become more confident with food and has pushed me to try more adventurous recipes.

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