Best Festive Sweaters: Christmas Jumper Round-up 2015!

I’m not going to lie. From November until January, I wear as many Christmas jumpers as I possibly can. December is obviously reserved for the most Christmassy of my collection, but there’s nothing wrong with wearing a nice Fair Isle inspired sweater, or a cute reindeer print in the dark days of January (and beyond…?)

With that in mind, I’ve scoured some of my favourite retailers to bring you my best of the festive selection!

The Best Christmas Jumpers

Here’s where to get your hands on these beauties, starting from the top left, then moving left to right, row by row:

Which is your favourite? I have to say, it’s hard for me to pick, but the Joules navy stripe with stag print might just be my favourite – I’ve purchase one, and it’s so soft I don’t want to take it off! And, as a bonus, the stag head is knitted with gold sparkly wool, too! Heaven!

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In search of: the perfect gold nail varnish

You know, sometimes you get an idea in your head, and you just can’t shake it out. I was like that with gold nail varnish for the past year and a half. I got it in my head that what I really NEEDED for the holidays was gold nail varnish. Proper bright, sparkly, beautiful, rich gold nail varnish, varnish that would say “HELLO CHRISTMAS! Yes, indeed, I am ready to party!”

People, I am pleased to say, my search is over.

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Please excuse the hasty rush job on these nails, I got over-excited when they were drying… Sigh. Anyway, I hope you can see that gorgeous shade on the bottom thumb there – that is the gold of my dreams! What is this exotic metallic varnish called, I hear you cry?! Why, it’s OPI’s Goldeneye! The MUST-HAVE gold varnish for 2012, I reckon!

In a clockwise fashion from the bottom, these are the ‘gold’ varnishes I am wearing: Goldeneye (OPI, the clear winner), Gold Coin (Revlon, just not at all what I hoped for, it’s basically just silver!) Glimmer (TopShop, my second favourite, but more of a bronze), Gold (GOSH, another tame looking gold), then Star Dust (Rimmel, another bronzy one).

Here, though, is the clear winner. Isn’t it beautiful? You can purchase this shade from HQHair for £11.

Hunger Games: Plum Stew for Katniss – An Alternative!

I loved reading the Hunger Games – I think if you’re a foodie, you’ll really enjoy the descriptions that author Suzanne Collins put into her books. One of the dishes that stands out is the lamb stew that Katniss enjoys so much from the Capitol, and I’ve seen loads of recipes online which replicate it. However, I’m not a huge fan of sweet and savoury mixed together – unless there’s a whole bunch of spice added in! With that in mind, I really wanted to try a tagine version of this, since lamb and prunes is a fairly common combination. But then I was flicking through 50 Great Curries of India by Camellia Panjabi, and found a plum and lamb curry! Now, this is made with fresh plums, not dried, but the flavour is so delicious that I don’t think anyone will be complaining about accuracy! Here is the recipe, which I have adapted slightly to reduce the calories. The original called for more oil, more lamb, and more plums – I think it would be better with less, hence my changes.

This stew is spicy and rich, and the sharp, sour taste of the plums really balances against the savouriness of the lamb. You can eat this with rice, or naan bread if you prefer. I’m planning on serving this at a Hunger Games-themed party I’m having next month, but you don’t really need an excuse to eat this – it’s great, and not too high in calories, either! Just make sure that you go easy on the oil, and that the lamb is very lean and trimmed of all excess fat.
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INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 x 1/2 inch ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 3 cloves
  • 4 green cardamoms
  • 1 inch piece cinnamon
  • 3 green chillies, finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 500g lean stewing lamb
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 to 1 cup finely chopped ripe plums with skin on
  • 3 tbsp coriander leaves
  • 225ml lamb stock

METHOD

  • Heat oil in a deep pan and add the onions, frying until they’re golden brown – around 10-15 mins. Add the garlic, ginger, cloves, cardamoms, cinnamon, and green chillies. After one minute, add in the turmeric, coriander and chilli powder, and stir well.
  • Add the lamb to your spiced, aromatic mixture, and fry for five minutes. Then, cover and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the lamb is semi-dry. Stir well to make sure everything is coated and beginning to go golden brown.
  • Add the plums and stir. Follow with 2 tbsp of coriander leaves, and the lamb stock, then simmer on low for 30 minutes.
  • Serve sprinkled with additional coriander, and serve with rice.

You can freeze this recipe, which serves four! The calories work out at 312 per serving.

Ultimate Lost Party Menus

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been a loyal Lostie since the show started. While I’m sure I’m not going to love the finale (so many unanswered questions!) I’m sure I’m going to have a blast watching it – because I’m planning my very own Lost finale party! When it comes to parties, there’s only one thing I care about, and that’s the food. So here’s my lowdown on the best menus for a Lost finale party, culled from the interwebs, and in places, my own imagination. I’ve got three ‘menus’ to choose from, although in reality they are just three lists – food inspired by the show, food from the show itself, and an extra special, cos I love ya low-fat/low calorie diet menu. Plus, as an extra special bonus, a list of drink ideas!

Menu from the show universe

  • Peanut butter (Charlie’s present to Claire – bonus points if it’s in a Dharma-labelled jar!)
  • Fish biscuits (from the Polar bear cages – as eaten by Sawyer and Kate) – recipe here.
  • Grilled cheese sandwiches (brought to Jack by Juliet when he was being held captive by Ben)
  • Muffins (cooked by Juliet for her book club)
  • Mr Cluck’s Chicken (fried chicken from Hurley’s fast food chain – use generic fast food fried chicken!)
  • Foraged fruits: mango, banana, passionfruit, guava, papaya, coconut, oranges (for Locke-smiles…). Serve them whole on a chopping board with a hunter’s knife for added drama and authenticity. Or, make them into a fruit salad like Hurley.
  • Hunted meat like boar (cop out and use pork! Roasted pork tenderloin, pork ribs, pulled pork… Mmm!), rabbit and chicken
  • Grilled fish, or sashimi ala Jin
  • Dharma-labelled food, easily created by printing out labels and sticking them on pre-existing packages. Some of the most famous Dharma food includes the aforementioned peanut butter, ranch composite (ranch dressing), Dharmalars (probably a version of Mallomars), and mac and cheese. Click here for an amazing array of Lost labels for your food!
  • Apollo bars (dark chocolate and nuts)
  • Alcohol salvaged from the plane in mini-bottles, or provided by Dharma, including beer, whiskey, rum, red and white wine.

Menu inspired by the show

Low-calorie Lost menu

Lost-inspired drinks

  • Tropical fruit juice
  • MacCutcheon whiskey (stick a fake label over a bottle of whiskey to create ultra-rare Lost whiskey!)
  • Wine from Moriah Vineyards, as made by Desmond the monk (as above)
  • Zombie (2 parts white rum, 1 part dark rum, 1 part golden rum, 2 parts lime juice, 1 part orange juice, 1 part pineapple juice, half part sugar syrup, ice, shaken in a mixer)
  • Pina Colada (1 part white rum, 2 parts coconut cream, 2 parts pineapple juice, shaken and strained)
  • Banana Daiquiri (2 parts white rum, 2 parts lime juice, dash triple sec, 1tsp sugar, crushed ice, 1 ripe banana, blended until smooth)
  • Mai Tai (1 part light rum, 1 part dark rum, 1 part Cointreau, dash Grenadine, tsp lime juice, 3 parts orange juice, 3 parts pineapple juice, shaken over ice and strained)
  • Blue Devil (3 parts gin, 1 part lemon juice, 1 tbsp maraschino, shaken over ice)
  • Blue Lagoon (3 parts vodka, 1 part blue Curacao, 3 parts pineapple juice, shaken over ice and strained)
  • Non-alcoholic fruit cup (2 parts orange juice, 2 parts grapefruit juice, 2 parts pineapple juice, 2 parts apple juice)

You can find some Lost-themed menus, ideas and resources at these sites:

Have fun! And, be sure to tell me what YOUR Lost party menu consisted of…

DISCLAIMER: I didn’t create any of the content linked to here, nor can I vouch for the reliability or deliciousness of any of the recipes, save Nigella’s awesome peanut butter fudge sauce… Click and make at your own risk!