Sunday, 26 October 2014

Easy Food DIY: Creamy Swede and Carrot Soup (Vegetarian)

This is So Delicious!

Having a dinner party and have no idea what to cook for that vegetarian friend? 
Or
Have little ones who run at the sight of anything healthy, this may be the perfect way to get some veggies in them!



The cream in the recipe is variable, to taste. I believe it  really sets off this delicious vegetarian soup and my family do too. Great for a chilly winters day to warm from within. It's really simple to create and unlike most of my cooking, I don't feel the need to prepare everything before hand, as you can prep and throw the ingredients in as you go. Perfect!

The Following Creates 4-5 Adult Sized Main Meal Bowls.

(But can be frozen and stored for approx. 1 month)



Food Ingredients.
  • 1 swede 
  • 3 - 4 carrots
  • 2 sticks of celery.
  • 2 - 3 onions
  • 2 large potatoes, or several new potatoes.
  • 2 Vegetable stock cubes (Chicken stock cubes work fine here too. Though of course not veggie friendly) 
  • 2-3 Cloves garlic.
  • Salt and Pepper.
  • A pot of single cream (or whipping cream) to taste.
  • Parsley for garnish if required.
Utensils.

  • Pan for boiling all the ingredients.
  • Blender, or hand blender.
  • Frying pan and oil for onions.
  • Sieve if you want very smooth soup.
  • A Clean large pan for finished soup.
  • Knife and chopping board.
  • Ladle.


Ready? Lets Start!



Fill a large pan half filled with water and set on high to boil. (about 2-3 pints)

Wash, peel and cut the swede into manageable chunks. This an be a tough process, start by slicing the swede in half to aid safe cutting as its such a hard vegetable. 
Ensure you have a sharp Knife!

Chuck Them In The Pot!
Turn the heat down to simmer. 

(Don't worry about the aesthetics of any veggies. It will all be blended)





Repeat the process with the carrots. These are a lot easier to peel and cut. 
You can use a peeler to peel them.

 I find the easiest way to peel carrots the thinnest end on the chopping board and stroking down and away from you with the peeler. 
This gives me a super eco way of peeling, with a neat pile of peel, rather than bits flying everywhere.
You can get really fast at this too. You'll be a carrot peeling and cutting machine haha.

Chuck Them In The Pot!




Peel and cut your potatoes. If you have new potatoes or salad potatoes, by all means just wash, chop and throw them in as they are.

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Wash and cut the celery and place in the pan with the swede and carrots. 
To prepare celery we cut off the ends and dispose of them. Then chop, Just like a carrot.

Don't you think celery looks like little caterpillars when its chopped up like this, is that a good image to have when we are putting them in our pot? haha

Chuck Them In The Pot!
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Whilst the hard veggies are softening, cut onions and fry in oil or butter then set aside.
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You should have something similar to this at this point in the cooking stage.


So Continuing ...


Garlic Crushed With The Side Of A Knife


Cut off ends of garlic cloves and remove the skin. Leave whole but crush with the side of the knife. This releases the favours but save on chopping time, after all the blender will wizz it all to pulp.

Chuck Them In The Pot!







In Go The Stock Cubes.
Remember to keep this veggie friendly use vegetable stock cubes, I would have used them, but it just so happened my parlour ran out & chicken S.cubes had to suffice.

 Leave for 10-12 minutes stirring occasionally. 
We are letting all the flavours combine, and boiling away some of the liquid.



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Chuck The Fried Onions In The Pot!

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Now is a great time to set up the blender, and clear up anything we have previously used. Also a great time to set the table, prep the bowls and cutlery, cut and butter the bread and all the other things you could possibly fit into this time space.

 I don't know about you but I love to have the kitchen clean and tidy before I eat my meal, I don't want to have to move once I am full of good food!
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 Returning to the stove, taste the stock, salt and pepper as required.
Take a small knife and see if the hard veggies are soft enough your knife should pass through them like butter. If not, leave to cook for a further 10 minutes. If you are running out of water, add just enough to cover the veggies, from a freshly boiled kettle. 

If your veggies are cooked through and you have about one quarter of the vegetables peeping out of the stock. It's time to blend. 


Ensure your large pan for the finished soup is warm. You can put on a very low heat or you can rinse through with boiled clean water (Tipped out before commencing the next step)

I Changed pans twice during this tutorial causing myself way too much washing up!

Ladle the chunky soup mixture into the blender, don't worry if it won't all fit you can do this several times. If you would like super-smooth-soup (Try saying that 10 times, fast!) you can use a sieve over the large pan and pour the soup through that to remove any lumps or fiborous pieces. It may need a bit of encouragement, with the help of a wooden spoon, but remember you'll be getting rid of
 some of the vegetables most nutritious bits




Time to add the cream!

After blending your soup (and sieving if necessary) Open your cream and pour in approximately 200ml. Stir, heat through then taste. 

If it is good stop there, if not add more!
Continue till you have the creaminess you like. Remember to save cream for garnish. 

Make sure the soup is heated through, do not boil! (It ruins the flavours and splatters everywhere! Volcanic eruption comes to mind)

Serve in nice shallow bowls to aid cooling. Swirl some cream and add parsley for garnish if you wish. A couple of slices of crusty French bread and real butter wouldn't go amiss here. 


YUM YUM. ALL DONE.




I hope you enjoyed/will enjoy this recipe, I love having this soup as an autumn pick me up just as all those cold and flu's set in. It's a great way to get a few of your five a day in, being cautious of the fat content in the cream as its so easy to 
be tempted by the whole pot hahaha! 

Feel free to mix up the veggies and experiment, tell me what you come up with, I am always looking for new recipes to taste!



See you soon.
Much love 
J4!

Monday, 13 October 2014

My Learning-To-Drive Journey - Chapter Thirteen

Still Gaining Experience

Hours: 20 & 21


2 Hour Lesson
Friday 3rd October 2014


INSTRUCTOR: J4 if you get through your practical with no marks against

 your name I will adopt you! hahaha

BRILLIANT.... you are a strange one.... 
and I don't think you can adopt anyone over18.

_________________________

Today was simply a driving day. Not much to report, still just gaining more experience on the roads, roundabouts and ring roads.  I am trying to learn as many routes as I can so I will be ready for whichever way I am taken on my exam. Maybe. Of course anything is possible and i could come up against anything that i havent come across before. thats why its best to get as much experience as possible. 

Especially since I DO NOT want to pay out twice for the practical examination.
(more info down below)

Today I spoke to my driving instructor about booking in a test and in which way I should go about it. I just pick a day off the website and text him to make sure it free! 
Simple as that.

_________________________

Lets tot' up the costing for the practical exam...

One hour before the test in the driving instructors car: £20
One hour of the test in the driving instructors car: £20
Actual examination costs to pay via website: £60

Total For The Final Practical Exam: £100


WHAT?!?
This is so damn expensive!
(Who wants to drive anyway...?... Just kidding!)
_________________________


So I guess I shall have to swallow the pain and hand over the money,
 after all, I have only got to do it once....

...If The Odds Are In My Favour.

(Which, usually they are not, but at least I have not been pitted against other humans and the elements in an inescapable match to the death)

Sorry, My Fellow Hunger Games Lovers 
(Books of course)

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I Think I am ready...ish?

 
After my next lesson on Monday 20th October 2014

We should know how well I do in my mock test!
AHHHH


WAY.TOO.EXCITED.FOR.POSSIBLE.DRIVING.PASS.BEFORE.CHRISTMAS!
Its booked up till mid November at the moment I need to get in their soon!

Update you soon ;) !

Much Love
J4!

Apple Customer Services Review UK - iPad Mini Wifi Phantom Touch Fault.

HELP! A Ghost Is Playing On My iPad!

I got my iPad mini for my birthday last November. It was the first Apple tech' I had owned from new (I had had an iPod touch 4th gen. passed down to me that had finally broken the previous month - it was so smashed up). 

After using my iPad mini WiFi for around 5 months I had this phantom touch problem.

The problem would open and close apps, click all over the screen erratically, sometimes purchasing things on eBay for me! Which was so inconvenient, messaging sellers saying "My iPad bought it for me" really does seem like a lame excuse.

The touching problem wouldn't occur all the time, but when it did it would render the iPad unusable. Tapping everywhere, literally like a ghost was having fun with it.




I managed to stick it out, till the August of this year, a mere 9 months after it was first used. The iPad was eventually unlocking itself and playing music, minimising any app that was open, (this was so much hassle) zooming in and out when I was watching a film or video, or typing something important. 

Totally useless and unusable and not what you would expect for a £200+ piece of tech'.

_________________________

Initially I tried restoring my iPad to factory settings, thinking it was perhaps something I had downloaded that was causing the problems. Problems occurred here too, the iPad would take 4 hours to half-install the new software then tell me there was an error. 

(You made me wait 4 hours then tell me that you stupid thing?!?) 

Eventually I gave up my iPad to my boyfriend and he took it back to the store where he bought it. They palmed him off telling him they couldn't do anything after the 28 days from date of receipt and that we were to ring the electrical helpline. 

Which I did.

_________________________

After phoning the customer help line, which was the Tesco's free-to-call number, it gave me several options eventually taking me through to the apple customer helpline.

Now this is a very smart system. A little robotic lady asks for the serial number of the iPad and email address, So they knew all my details before forwarding me onto a customer advisor.


Problem is... This number was 5 pence per minute.

Surprisingly after spending only 10 minutes on hold, (Pretty reasonable considering I spend longer than that on hold making a doctors appointment).

The little man on the phone was quite helpful, very friendly and chatty, actually forming a relationship with me, his customer. 
Which is more than can be said for some call centres. 
He asked many questions and took a record of what I had said filling in whatever he needed to at the other end.

The verdict, after an hour on the phone answering questions, was to send my iPad off for repairs using the little box they would send within 2 days. Giving the 'repairers' a window of 6 hours to find the problem when it was seen to at their repair centre.

All of this was free of charge. Within warranty.

I waited 2 days for a box to be delivered to my house, send off my iPad, waited 5 days for an email back, saying

 "No, there is nothing wrong with your iPad. We are sending it back now."

And I receive my iPad 2 days later. With a letter that states its meets apples standards for correctly working equipment.....NoNoNo it was in the same condition i sent it in. Unusable, and not fit for purpose. 

REALLY APPLE?!?

'Did you guys even look at this thing?!?'


By this point I was loosing my faith in the company but I persevered and used the iPad as it was for a while, as they stated they had updated all the software and all the other technical stuff they do (phahahaha) but alas... still same problem.



Restored my iPad, still the same problem.

(This took several hours again)

_________________________

After a few days, I called the repair centre AGAIN.
 (this was a week after the iPhone 6 came out, I put it off a week expecting them to be busy) 
Shame though as it wouldn't have mattered as I spent £6 on phone charges for listening to 'on-hold-music'  for 2 hours with not so much as a peep from an advisor

They probably went home for the evening, leaving me to give them 5p a minute 
until the morning I bet!

On Hold Time:
Time Of Total Call: 1.57.31 minutes
Time Of Original Call: 19.15pm

No Luck Here...

_____________________

I Give up After the elapsed time and I go to the on line help.
This was a 'so-so' experience. 

The same evening of my 2 hour hold time I had trouble with the on line help once I had got through to a supervisor. Upon having the first message from the on line supervisor my chat would disconnect and have a 'paddy', booting me out to the original screen, waiting to be connected to a customer advisor again. 

This happened several times that evening, so I finally gave up
 (it wasn't my internet connection, everything else was working fine, and I even tried using my cellular network on my phone and it wouldn't cooperate)
You'd think Apple's on-line customer help might work on an iPhone?!

_________________________

Cutting this long section short, I went back onto the on line chat the next morning managed to get through, talked to another supervisor for and hour... same answers, same questions... and managed to get this answer.

TAKE IT IN STORE.
"would you like me to make and appointment, the next available 
appointment is 1 week from now, i could book it for you?"

"No thank you I will be able to do that myself."

Looking on line, I found there was availabilities in the same week so, the advisor, was wrong.
___________________________

Taking a day off work, I arranged transport and travelled 50 minutes to get to the nearest Apple Store, I arrive, without an appointment
 (this was due to the on line booking being full on the day that I could get off work).

I was taking a risk with no appointment but I arrived at around 11:15am spoke to a man who was centrally located in the store, he took my details then sat me down at the appropriate Genius Bar stating someone will be with me soon.

Within the time I was waiting I had several store colleges assure me that someone would be with me soon and true to their word I waited only 15 minutes to speak to an advisor, he was very chatty and helpful.

 I told him briefly about the problem and showed him a video of my iPad doing the phantom touch problem. He watched about 2 seconds and pretty much said 

"Yup! Seen that before, fault in the hardware you need a new one, oh it's under warranty still, it won't cost you anything!"

I couldn't believe this man could diagnose my iPad in 2 second when I had spent multiple hours on phone calls to Apple customer advisor and in on-line chats, with all of them  not knowing what I was talking about!!

Because they where so busy I was told to come back at 1:15pm and they would sort me out with my new iPad mini.

___________________________


I found places to wander, and had a lovely hot chocolate from Costa whilst I was waiting for my 1:15pm appointment. 

Around comes 1:15pm and I go back in store, check in with an advisor who again, was standing in the centre of the store and she told me yes, please wait over there by those big screens and I'll get someone over ASAP.

I waited 45 mins in total.
Though this seems like a long time to wait around I was understanding of their business, and I was a walk in customer, they had managed to squeeze me in. 
Which I was thankful for to say the least. 

There where around 25 busy store colleges on the shop floor at once. 
I'm not sure hey could have fitted many more in! 

Once I had been seen to, I was taken to a computer to sit down, we went through the process of removing personal data from my broken iPad, until my new iPad was bought down. 

The man then helpfully set my iPad up for me restoring it, and explaining everything can be restored here, and you could walk away with your iPad all ready to go. 

All done!
I left the Apple Store and came home with fabulously working  iPad.



___________________________

So in conclusion:


I Rate the On line & phone customer service as:
2 out of 5.

Apple customer services are pretty useless on the phone and on line. You will find yourself on hold, charged 5 pence per minute and  'running' in circles doing everything that you have already done with the previous customer advisor.

The system seems very 'up together' and has an good and technical way of processing customers and gaining details in the first instance and keeping all data logged. However, once you get through to a human, (who may or may not have read through your information) the service goes down hill.

I Rate my in Store customer service experience as:
5 out of 5

Upon entering the store I was greeted by friendly faces and smiles.  Although I waited approx. 1 hour during my whole visit I was well looked after, and well informed during my waiting periods.

There where approximately 20 to 30 staff on the shop floor interacting with customers, none of which where standing idle. 
Understandably not many more would fit in the store with all the customers too!



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A Few Pointers for you.


When going in store, a video of your product going wrong really helps to get your point across so you do not have to worry if the product does not show the fault.
(something like I showed in the video at the top of this blog post)

 I was told a within-warranty product replacement or repair is free including any parts needed. But Apple are happy to help customers who have problems with products out of warranty, of course, fees occur. 

So that's that! I am happy with the overall outcome of the situation though am unhappy it all happened in the first place.

The only problem with going in store is that you get to look at all the pretty screens and end up wanting a £1000 mac computer. DOH!

Maybe that's the reason the on line and phone help is so rubbish?!


Have you had a good or bad experience with Apple Customer Care?
Do/Did you have an iPad that has this error?
Let me know!


Much Love
J4!

Thursday, 2 October 2014

My Learning-To-Drive Journey - Chapter Twelve

Gaining Experience

Hours: 18 & 19


2 Hour Lesson
Tuesday 23rd September 2014


INSTRUCTOR: I am Impressed J4, Mock test after the next lesson I think.


WOHOOO!

_________________________

Today was a nice relaxed driving day, I spent my 2 hours getting more confident on big roundabouts and dual carriageways, Pushing myself to drive over 50MPH (honestly I'm a granny when it comes to going faster) 
_________________________

 There's not much to report for today's lesson, just practising on big roundabouts and getting to know the routes I am likely to take in my final exam. 

Driving is so much easier when you know the roads and what lane you are supposed to be in on those massive roundabouts and also, when you know where that big corner is slowing down to 20MPH.

I Was quite proud of myself today I managed to just about get up to the national speed limit on the dual carriageway (70mph for a car) which was much better than my measly 50MPH. A danger to myself and other traffic. 

Big roundabouts still need some improvement, I am slightly too hesitant to get onto them, but after that initial step all is well :)

That's pretty much my lesson for the day!



So a few highlights of my lessons, good and bad:
  • More confidence to gain t speeds and getting onto a roundabout.
  • Supposedly one more lesson before my mock test.
  • Still looking like a November pass if all goes well.

Next Lesson Friday 3rd October 2014

WOW Can you believe we are already in October?
 Another year has passed by in a flash.

Back soon!

Much Love
J4!

My Learning-To-Drive Journey - Chapter Eleven

Bay Parking

Hours: 16 & 17


2 Hour Lesson
Friday 19th September


INSTRUCTOR: 'RED LIGHT...'

'Oh Poo! I Didn't See that I was so focused on the roundabout ahead! '

INSTRUCTOR:  'I wondered if you hadn't seen it or you where just very confident it was going to turn green' hahaha

(we did stop, thanks to the instructors dual foot controls haha)
_________________________

Today we focused on getting the last manoeuvre done and dusted.
The Bay Park.

This is the parking method used to park in places like supermarket car parks.

_________________________


Driving from home again, on the main road to a different town, still exploring!

Oh its so nice when you can see yourself improve. Just a bit more confidence at speed (must-go-over-50mph Ha!) and more confidence pulling onto the larger roundabouts, and I shall be well on the way to the finish line. Today, the new skill and final manoeuvre to tick off the list was the bay park.

This is bay parking

This parking method is used in multiple ways, and is typically used when parking for shopping in a superstore.

In the exam you will be asked to reverse into a bay, though generally in a real life situation you may actually want to drive in, since you might want access to you boot to load your shopping, durr!



  • To start the manoeuvre pull up beside the White line - 2 lines up from the bay you would like to be in. 



  •  Check everywhere and start reversing
  • Immediately put full lock on the steering wheel (turning fully in the direction you need until it stops) 





  • Continue reversing into your space, it should be lining up well.
  • Keep a good level of awareness, make sure you know what's coming, if anything appears.
  • Once your door handles are parallel with the White parking lines. You can straighten up the wheel by turning back the other way (whilst still reversing a bit so you don't do any dry steering)
  • Reverse till you are within the line, and don't crash into anything behind you!


in the lines done and dusted, this is one of the manoeuvres I find a bit trickier than others, I hope I don't get this one in my exam! tee-hee

So a few highlights of my lessons, good and bad:
  • Focusing too much on what is ahead is not a good thing, Question: if you run a red light in your instructors car, who gets the blame?!?
  • No, I didn't run the light, but would have if it wasn't for dual foot controls.
  • General driving skills are still tip-top, YEY!
  • Mock test coming soon, then if all is well, here we come test date!
To Pass before my Birthday in November, would be amazing.

Next Lesson Tuesday 23rd September 2014

Are you a new or experienced driver? 
How did you learn to do a bay park?

Stay tuned 

Much Love
J4!