Apologies for the grainy pictures, but it's getting to that time of year again when getting blog photos indoors because you're too shy and self conscious to do them outside becomes an issue because there's about 5 hours of "okay" daylight each day. Don't get me wrong though, I am super happy about the weather change still and the leaves have finally started changing so I'm definitely going to need to get out and about with my camera ASAP. This little lacey jumper isn't really the first option most people would have for colder weather, but I just love it. It goes with pretty much everything I own and looks great on its own with a nice bra underneath or as an extra layer over the top of another long sleeved top or a cropped tee. When it eventually get really too cold for this, even underneath a coat, I will be using it as an extra layer to give an outfit just a little bit more texture and a bit of something something. Bury me in this with some high-waisted denim please.

Motel Crop Lace Top | Sisley via Asos Slim Fit Trousers | Asos Belt |
Poor Boy Vintage Saddle Bag | Asos Simone Heels

- A.
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The World's Best Beef Pie

It has been a wee while since I last did a recipe post on NB so today's offering will hopefully make up for the lack of food posts here! It will probably come as no surprise that today's post is based on a Jamie Oliver recipe and it should also come as no surprise to see my trusty kitchen elf Matthew in some of these photos as he is the brains and muscle behind most of our culinary operations. Matt first made this pie for me when we first started dating and boy oh boy did it make me fall in love (with him, but also with the pastry covered slices of heaven I was shovelling into my mouth). If you're British, there's a good chance you enjoy a good stodgy, comforting pie now and again as I know I do. There's something about pie, mash and some gravy that just makes me feel a bit warm and content inside. But this pie? This pie in particular is the best I've ever had. As Jamie mentions in his book, Jamie's Great Britain, he served it to Prince William & Princess Kate on their wedding day so if it's good enough for royalty, it's certainly good enough for me.

Pie is such a good way to get rid of random leftovers and ingredients in one easy way and it's also a super good meal option for those of us who might want to be a little fancy in the kitchen and make our own pastry, or for us lazy bones who buy premade but like the idea of leisurely making a hearty meal on a lazy Sunday afternoon. So throw in some good beef, some beer, and some pearl barley and you've got a winning combination and if you want to make it yourself, keep on reading and I'll tell you how!

Total time: 3.5+ hours
Serves: 10 people (or can be kept refrigerated for a few days if there's just the two of you!)

For the filling:
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 knob of butter
- 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
- 3 sprigs of fresh thyme leaves
- 3 fresh bay leaves
- 2-3 medium red onions
- 1kg shin of beef
- sea salt and ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons of tomato purée
- 400ml of Guiness
- 2 heaped tablespoons of plain flour
- 1.5 litres of beef stock
- 140g pearl barley
- 3 table spoons of English or Dijon mustard
- 100g of cheddar cheese

For the pastry:
- 1 box of Just Roll shortcrust (no one has time for making pastry come on now!)
- 1 large egg, beaten, or milk (for egg/milk wash)

To prep & cook:
1.) Throw the olive oil, butter, and the herbs into a large casserole/chilli pot type pan which you need to have on the hob on a high heat. Roughly chop and add the onions (and the carrots if you have them - they're not part of the original recipe but this is a good leftovers recipe!) with the diced meat, and some salt and pepper. Mix it all together and let it cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Next, add the tomato purée, the guiness or stout beer, flour, and stock, and stir until everything blends togethr and begins to simmer. Now we play the waiting game: turn the heat down really low and pop the lid on the pot, letting it cook for 1 hour - just make sure to check on it occasionally.

After that initial hour, it's time for my favourite ingredient: begin to stir in the pearl barley. Put the lid back on and simmer the mixture for another hour, and once the time is up, simply remove the lid and let the pot simmer for a further 30 minutes or until the meat shreds easily and the gravy has thickened. If there is any oil sitting on the surface, spoon it away and stir in the mustard and finely grate the cheese to add. If you have Worcestershire sauce - add this in too!

Whilst the pie filling is still simmering away, now is the time to get the pastry ready. Don't waste time making some - you can if you want to go all out but Just Roll pastry is just as tasty, less hassle, and takes no where near as much time to make. Simply take the pastry out of the fridge in good time, flour your surface which you are going to roll the pastry out on and your rolling pin and you're good to go! Once you have rolled out the pastry to about 1cm thick, preheat the oven to 180c/350f/gas mark 4. Take the pot off the hob and ladle the stew into a large pie/lasagne dish. Make sure you have beaten your egg/have some milk ready and use it to eggwash/milkwash the edges of the pie dish, ready for adding the pastry soon! If you don't have a pastry brush you can always use a clean foundation brush if you don't mind needing to wash it afterwards. It's also worth noting if you want your pie to be really golden and shiny once baked, an eggwash will get a better finish but it's not a necessity.

Now is your chance to make sure your pastry is big enough to cover your whole dish. If it *just* fits it's not the end of the world - the pastry will just collapse and lie on top of the filling, making it less crisp (this happened this time around for us making it!) but it doesn't ruin it. But to avoid pastry shrinkage, make sure you have rolled your pastry out so it is a little bit bigger than the dish. Carefully place it on top of the pie and then trim off any pastry which is hanging over the edges to stop them from burning. Pinch and squash the edges of the pastry (or use a fork to imprint the edges) for traditional pie deco. If you have any leftover pastry from the edges you can always use them to put some letters/decoration on top of the pie! Eggwash/milkwash the pastry and cook the pie at the bottom of the hot oven found 45 to 50 minutes or until the pastry is looking golden and mouthwateringly good.

Once it's ready, take it out of the oven and give it a few minutes to rest and cool down. The best thing about this pie is that it is great on it's own or with a multitude veggies/side dishes. As you can see, Matt & I had it will far too much mustard mash and tasty wee sweet peas but we also had it with mash and beans, with wedges, or you could just simply have it with lots of good veggies if you don't want anything extra stodgy.

And that's it! This pie is such a nice idea for any big gathering or to impress family members! It's a nice meal for any time of the year but it's obviously especially good during the autumn/winter months because it's such a comforting dish which is warming on a chilly evening. It's also a nice alternative to your traditional Sunday roast if somehow that sort of meal is getting boring. Like I mentioned earlier, it's a good one for serving larger groups but also for small groups with leftovers. Matt made this pie on Sunday and we were still working our way through it on Thursday - it lasts quite well in the fridge so you can definitely save it and keep it for lunches/dinners later in the week, making it quite a cheap and cheery meal to make too!

As always, our recipes are either missing or adding ingredients when compared to the originals, but let me know how you get on if you decide to make it!

- A.
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Foundation Free & Happy

For a girl who loves makeup and has always worn it if she has needed to leave the house since around the age of 12, this blog title was something I never expected to sit down and type yet, here we are. A couple of months ago I posted all about why I wear makeup and how my reasons for doing so have changed dramatically over the years, but one thing I never thought I'd do is be foundation free everyday and most shockingly, feel confident about it. If you've read this blog from the start, or my previous blogs from the last several years, or you know me, you will be well acquainted with an Amyleigh who used to wear a mask of matte foundation and nothing else would do. I was an Estée Lauder Double Wear, topped with MAC's Studio Fix powder girl through and through and that was my daily routine for such a long time. As I got older, I dabbled more and more with other brands and I guess I just started to look for other things. Being extremely oily and fighting acne meant I always wanted to keep my skin looking as matte as possible but now? I guess I'm getting used to that being an option only for the first hour or two of my day.

So this all came about when I went to visit my best friend during July. I had been away to Rome with Matt, melted in the heat everyday, wearing either no foundation or barely any and came back to the UK super pleased to hide my blemishes and oils again. But then I went up to Manchester, got far too drunk and wanted/proceeded to vomit my guts up after my first night there so putting on foundation was the *last* thing on my mind. I managed to slap on some concealer and steady my shaking hungover hands enough to draw on my brows and that was enough effort for the day. Funnily enough, I couldn't be bothered to put any foundation on again the next day. Or the next. Or yep, the next. I came back home to Winchester and didn't wear any for a few days then put a full face on one day to go and get tattooed and I have never felt so gross, tacky to the touch, and self-conscious in my life. As soon as I left the house I had an overwhelming feeling to wash my face and start again. It just felt so restricting. I felt like I didn't look like me and I felt like the makeup was actually making my oils worse when I used to think they were helping mask them.

So once I got home that day, I swore I wouldn't wear any unless I felt it was really necessary and I've not looked back since. I'm still wearing everything else - concealer, translucent powder, brows, and mascara - but foundation? Good riddance. My skin has been so grateful for the transition too. I no longer worry so much about my blemishes and just deal with the fact that they're there and sometimes they can't be covered up that well if at all and oh well, what a shame. It's not the end of the world. I've noticed that, although my skin is still pretty oily, it doesn't look *that* bad even if I've not been able to check my face in a mirror for over 7 hours whilst I've been at work because the oil hasn't had any foundation to break up and make look cakey. Not wearing it is giving my pores a chance to breathe too and yeah they might be big and noticeable, but I feel so much cleaner and fresher each day, all day.

I absolutely adore makeup if you couldn't tell by a weekly theme of posts on this blog, but I also love the fact that my interest in it and my reasons for being interested in it have changed. No longer am I trying lots of new and different products because I need to find something to cover up my skin; something to hide behind. No longer am I so self-conscious that I'm checking in the mirror every half hour to make sure my face hasn't slipped or started to crack and crease. Sure, I still don't have the level of confidence I think every girl *should* have. I'm not sitting here saying I love myself but I am getting there and that's what's important. I'm starting to accept the fact that I'm always going to have acne and you know what? That's fine. I'm always going to be an oily son of a gun and that's okay too. It's just something I need to learn to manage and come to terms with, not something I have to disguise in fear of what other people might think. I also totally need to come to terms with the fact that my brows are just non-existent and that you all now are probably looking at them thinking "wow, Amy, you really do need to paint them on everyday don't you" but that will be the next step for me to work on.

I don't really know what I wanted to get out of this post but I just wanted to make others aware that if you think positively and push yourself out of your comfort zone just that little bit more and more, you can begin to accept the parts of you that used to make you dislike yourself - the things that made you feel ugly as a person. It might seem like a vain thing to be so hung up on and you know what? It completely is but if you're someone who suffers from acne, someone who doesn't have the time or energy to apply makeup everyday, or if you're just someone who thinks they rely on it too much. Try having some makeup free days and see how it goes. If it doesn't empower you, I don't know what will.

- A.
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