Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Oozy baked camembert

While in France a few weeks ago my mum was pondering what to do with a leftover camembert. I quick ventured outside to pluck some thyme and garlic from the veggie patch and we were all set. A deliciously oozy lunchtime treat that takes just 20 mins to make.

All you need is a camembert in a wooden box, a couple of garlic cloves, some fresh thyme, olive oil and some crusty bread.

Baked camembert

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees. Remove the lid of the camembert and leave it sitting in the wooden base. Make a few slits in the camembert and slot in peeled garlic cloves and sprigs of fresh thyme. Drizzle over a little olive oil and pop it in the oven for 15-20 mins until it's starting to ooze.

Baked camembert

Take some hunks of fresh crusty bread and dunk them in the oozy cheese before devouring. YUM!

Baked camembert

sally

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Monday, 15 December 2014

Will your pet insurance pay out?

A must-have addition to my Christmas shopping list is of course my two cats, Socks and Splodge. I class them as quite difficult characters to buy for, namely because I could easily fork out some serious dosh on one of those kitty scratching-post-cum-climbing-frames only to discover that they infinitely prefer the box it came in. So when More Than sent me details of their pet present finder app I came up with the perfect treat: an automatic cat feeder. Granted it's not something that they can pounce on or sleep in, but given that we tend to dip away for the odd night, it means the little mites don't have to go hungry, which is great.

While the pet gift app is brilliant, I must admit to having a slightly ulterior motive for writing about More Than, who I am insured upto the eyeballs with for both my home contents and pet insurance. You see, recently, every morning that I've arrived at the office I've been greeted not with 'how are you?' but 'how's Splodge?' instead. For an indoor cat, Splodge has managed to get herself into a fair bit of bother over the years, and 2014 has been no exception. Just last week my veterinary nurse asked about a long scar Splodge has on her tummy from a few years ago. When I explained that she'd dug a 1.5m piece of thread from the waste paper basket and eaten it (they had to make three incisions in her bowel to remove it) she laughed and said "she strikes me as that kind of cat..." and I had to agree. Just yesterday I caught her chewing on the Christmas tree before promptly throwing up three times. As cats go, she's pretty cheeky.

This little miss is on the blog today. Advice on getting a house cat http://www.queenieandthedew.com/2014/06/so-youre-thinking-of-getting-house-cat.html

But to her credit, Splodge's latest vet trip hasn't been down to naughtiness. A few weeks ago I noticed her going into the litter tray far more than normal. When this didn't clear up, I sighed, braced myself for a hefty bill and took her to the vet.

To cut a very long story short, Splodge had a urine infection and bladder stones, which needed surgery. These are pretty minor issues, but the ultrasounds, painkillers, blood and urine tests, overnight stays and an operation resulted in a whopping £2,000 vet bill. Ouch. Or was it? No doubt I'm a bit of a bore when I bleat on about this topic, but I can't say enough how important I've found pet insurance to be. Apart from a minor excess of £75, every single penny is covered by my insurance.

IMG-20141214-WA0000

But I've also realised that there's pet insurance and pet insurance. After my first scare with Splodge (the thread incident, which also cost in the region of £2k), I made sure I had the best possible level of insurance, which amounts to around £9 a month per cat. Many insurers don't cover pre-existing conditions, or else will insure you once but then won't cover you if your cat has the same problem in the future (and bladder stones are inclined to come back).Take for example diabetes. Many insurers will cover you for the first year of treatment, but imagine then having to pay for 10+ years of diabetes treatment for your pet? That's a heck of a lot of dosh.

Puss cats

Needless to say over the past few weeks I've spent many a lunch time on the phone to More Than, checking this, that and the other - what I'm covered for and what I'm not. Not only do they offer that awesome call-back service so you're not sitting on the end of a phone queue for hours, they are kind, informative and helpful. I'm not sure whether it's a prerequisite for the the call centre people to have pets, but every time I've found them understanding, always asking me how Splodge is doing, giving me tips on how to process my claim and advising me on anything I might need to do. One thing's for sure - I wouldn't have my pet insurance with anyone else.

Granted it would be fab if an 'NHS for pets' existed, but I'll settle for my £9 a month and the fab experience I've had with More Than. What could have resulted in a flat broke Christmas (not to mention a severely depleted wedding fund) has simply been a couple of phone calls and a claim form, so I can concentrate on getting Splodge better rather than worrying where the money was going to come from to pay for her treatment.

I guess the moral of the story is if you do have a pet but no pet insurance, get it now! And if you do have pet insurance, make it your new year's resolution to check over the policy and check if you'll be covered for pre-existing illnesses and the lifetime of a condition.

sally

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This site contains links to outside sources including paid affiliates. Queenie and the Dew is not responsible for the content of any third party website.
Post written in collaboration with brand but all experiences are my own. 

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Round-up: Christmas gift ideas, crafts, decorations and tunes

Now that I've been blogging for a few years I find it's quite nice to dip back into my archives from time to time to rediscover old recipes, product reviews, books and outfits that I've written about in the past. A couple of weeks ago for example I was pondering what to have for lunch and remembered a falafel recipe I posted last year that I'd completely forgotten about. Another day I woke up with disastrous birds' nest hair and rediscovered a quick updo tutorial I'd written last September that was the perfect solution. Sometimes the momentum of a blog means I mislay useful tips and tricks and they fall through the net of my regular routine. It's so satisfying to rediscover these little gems and put them to good use again.

While on the hunt for a little Christmas inspiration, I decided to once again trawl my archives for suitably festive content. I thought it might be helpful to me and you guys of course to do a little round-up of Christmas posts, including DIY crafty gift ideas, musings on Christmas, music, film and decorations. It reminded me that I still have some ingredients left to make some more soap gifts, and I'll definitely be whipping up some popcirn garlands and paper snowflakes this weekend while listening to my Christmas mix! I hope you find it useful!

Gift ideas

The 12 days of Christmas
^ The 12 dates of Christmas

Me Things laser cut family tree
^ Laser cut paper family tree picture

How to make a sock monkey instructions
^ Sock monkey

Soap-making
^ Handmade soap

Knitted bear
^ Knitted bear

Lavender salt scrub tutorial
^ Other Christmas craft ideas, including apricot jam, lavender salt scrub and patchwork cushions.

Music and movies

Christmas decorations

Christmas garlands
^ Homemade Christmas decorations

Christmas tree
^ Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree

Dunelm cosy night in
^ Christmas decorations from Dunelm

Poundland Christmas decorations
^ Christmas decorations from Poundland

Christmas musing

5 tips for buying clothes as gifts
Quirky Christmas traditions


sally

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Friday, 12 December 2014

Christmas dreaming

Over the past few days I’ve fielded a few texts from family asking what I might like for Christmas, along with some subtle probing from Frank. While I love shopping for others, I’m less inspired when it comes to thinking what I might like myself and mostly make quite unhelpful statements like 'oh don't worry about me'. Infuriating I know.

I’ve had to impose a temporary ban on big purchases until we’ve moved house, largely because the recent acquisition of a leather sofa caused our removals quote to shoot up (whoops!). So while patio furniture, a barbecue, lawn mower and gardening tools would be absolutely perfect, instead my Christmas wishlist has turned towards smaller items that I wouldn’t normally buy for myself. For some strange reason there are certain items that I never treat myself to, like perfume, spirits, watches and nice jewellery (although this certainly doesn’t stop me spritzing testers on my wrists or gazing at window displays for longer than can be considered necessary!) Given that hulking big presents are off the list this year, it seemed fitting that jewellery would make the perfect basis for my Christmas list (and the best presents are the little ones right?!)


I'm under no illusion that I'm being a little cheeky with this wishlist. It's certainly aspirational and I can picture my mum laughing at me asking for diamonds instead of Christmas socks, but if money were no object, it's always nice to dream. It's not every year that a girl has diamonds bought for her, and I must admit that twice in one year is probably pushing it (I did get an engagement ring this year after all...) Still, if I do miraculously win the lottery before Christmas, I've picked out some utterly perfect bits from Vashi that would be top of my list. In fact, that vintage-style ring would be the perfect addition for a certain big life event next year!

Vashi Christmas wishlist
1. Antique Diamond Ring in 18k White Gold (£1,199) | 2. Angular Aesthetic Art Deco Necklace (POA) | 3. Diamond and Freshwater Pearl Pendant in Platinum (£699) | 4. 0.33 Carat Diamond Drop Earrings in 9k White Gold (£659) 5. Vintage-style Diamond Wedding Ring (£469) | 6. 9k White Gold Stud Diamond Earrings (£579)

sally

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This site contains links to outside sources including paid affiliates. Queenie and the Dew is not responsible for the content of any third party website.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Christmas, home and away

There’s been some discussion in the office recently about people’s various Christmas plans this year. I’m intrigued by different family traditions at Christmas. Everyone seems to have a similar itinerary of presents, Christmas games and a slap-up meal, but even a slight shift in order, such as having dinner at 1pm instead of 4pm or, heaven forbid, opening gifts after dinner is enough to create quite a stir. Last year I got to grips with my first northern Christmas, which was a little chillier and boozier than I’m used to I have to admit! One couple I know have been together 6 years but have never spent Christmas together, instead travelling back to their respective family homes. Others alternate each year or else spend most of Christmas Day in the car sprinting back and forth between houses. Either way, year-on-year people seem to follow the same routines.

Christmas 2013

Poundland Christmas decorations

Then there are those who buck the trend and do something a little crazy. One story that caused my ears to prick up is a girl in my team who has booked flights to South America for Christmas, much to the horror of her parents who were hoping for their usual family traditions to trundle along as usual. Although I’m not particularly wedded to a family Christmas, I’d never considered going abroad. But as she shared her excitement about basking in the sunshine on Christmas Day while I inevitably brace myself against the freezing cold and drizzly grey skies, I felt a little pang of roguishness that got me wanderlusting for Christmasses abroad.

A few years ago I checked out some hotels on venere.com in January and visited Venice, where Christmas was very much still in the air. Naturally it wasn’t the warmest of winter visits (in fact I think it was probably colder than London), but there was something magical about the fairy lit canals and the warm glow of the Trattorias. I could definitely imagine myself going somewhere completely different (perhaps even warmer) for Christmas one day. It’s not like I’m likely to miss a white Christmas now is it?

I can’t say that I’ve had much of a routine myself over the past few years, and I certainly don’t feel as tied to Christmas family traditions as I once did. This year has proved tricky due to our move on 3 January, so Frank and I are staying put in London and spending a final Christmas soaking up the sights of the city. We’ll certainly feel a pang for our families, but I’m looking forward to making the most of our last Christmas in London, visiting the cathedral for midnight mass and having a long wander across the river on Christmas Day morning. Who knows, in a couple of years’ time we could be spending Christmas Day having a barbecue on the beach or seeing the real Father Christmas in Lapland…

Where would you spend your ideal Christmas?
sally

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This site contains links to outside sources including paid affiliates. Queenie and the Dew is not responsible for the content of any third party website.