Macaroni Cheese | Recipe

Despite having what has been referred to, on many occasions, as a 'very Italian' name, I've always identified with my Greek heritage more than anything else, in all but one area; food.
Sundays, when I was a child, would revolve around my father, waking late on his one day off of the week, sorting through cupboards, delving into the back of the fridge, scraping together the leftover vegetables and whipping up a lasagne, or delving out the week's leftover cheese and weaving out a seemingly-elaborate risotto as an early dinner. Paired with the fact that, for most of my teenage years, I was a strict vegetarian, not something that agrees well with the traditional Greek cooking that I might've learned from my mother's family, it's no wonder that, when I first began developing an interest in cooking - for myself and friends - Italian cuisine was what I gravitated to, and it's always where I end up settling, when I'm in need of a little...comfort. 
There's a lot of debate, among (mostly Italian) foodies as to whether Mac 'n' Cheese is actually Italian, at all, but there are various members of my (estranged) family who might just hunt me down and throttle me for daring to suggest it's not based on a traditional version of Carbonara - so I'm going to leave well alone. In the interest of full disclosure, though, I have altered the original recipe, out of both practicality (the Fontina cheese my family claims to be 'vital' isn't sold everywhere), and taste (I found the full-fat cream in my original far too rich, and instead opted for an idea Nigella Lawson suggested, in her version; evaporated milk). Come to think of it, she also uses Red Leicester cheese - so much for my 'traditional roots'!
It's hardly a waistline-friendly meal, so I haven't ever bothered to calculate the nutritional information (I firmly believe the odd 'cheat meal' is good for the soul), but I am working on a healthy option, which I'll (hopefully!) be sharing in the next month or so.
Macaroni Cheese: (Including some adaptations from Nigella Lawson's version, here).
Makes 6 servings.
  • 250g macaroni pasta (I use white, just because it's easier to buy, but you're welcome to try wholegrain).
  • 2 medium eggs. 
  • 200g Red Leicester cheese, grated.
  • 200g mature cheddar cheese, grated.
  • 250ml evaporated milk (you can use cream, if you prefer a richer taste).
  • 3/4 tsp powdered nutmeg.
  •  1/2 tsp salt.
  1. Preheat your oven to gas mark 8, and prepare the macaroni; there should be instructions on your pack, but generally, you want to boil it in lightly salted (we're talking a teaspoon) water for about 12 minutes to get a nice al-dente pasta. It'll soften slightly in the oven, so just be aware.
  2. In the meantime, whisk together your two types of cheese, making sure they're fairly evenly mixed. I'd recommend doing this manually, with a balloon whisk, as it ensures the cheese is relatively coarse.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs until they're just combined, then add the evaporated milk, whisking until it's just incorporated. Throw in your nutmeg and salt.
  4. Add half the egg mixture to your cheese, pouring it over the top slowly, and mixing well. When it's incorporated, add the remaining liquid mix.
  5. Once the macaroni's cooked, take about two tablespoons' worth of the water it was boiling in, and pour it straight into the cheese mix. Then, drain the macaroni and combine that, too.
  6. Pour the macaroni cheese mixture into a pyrex dish (mine's about 33cm x 24cm), and bake for about 10 minutes, or until the top starts to brown slightly.
I have to apologise for the rubbish pictures accompanying this post, but I wasn't really sure I'd bother to share the recipe until I posted on Instagram and there was some interest in it - sorry!
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The University Checklist, Revised (What to Take to University) | Freshers' Fix

A lot of us have been there: the coursework, the mock exams, the last-minute cramming sessions - studying for your A-Levels is intense, at best, and completely maddening, at worst. Add to that the pressure of writing personal statements, calculating your UCAS points, and getting your application in just after your AS exams, and it can feel like the two years between 16-18 pass by in a bit of a blur, like you barely have any time to stop and think, at all.
And then, when the exams are finally over, done, out of the way, there's the waiting - first choice university, second? Clearing? It's not until that's all done with that you can even start thinking about the fact that you're actually leaving home, and that's when, in my case, at least, the frantic Google-ing started; I must have typed in at least ten variations of the phrase 'things to take to university' and 'university packing list', before realising there just wasn't very much out there, in the way of practical, budget-friendly lists for Freshers about to head to I made my own (you can read the original post here).
If you just want the list, you can download it here (or by clicking the PDF file, above), but in this updated version of my original post, I'm going to include some of the products I recommend, below.
I firmly believe that making your university bedroom as personal, and comfortable, as possible is one of the most important factors in making the transition from university to home easier, and because of this, most of the items I'd recommend are 'home comforts' - pictures, trinkets, that kind of thing.
  • Alarm clock (although, personally, I prefer the 'Sleep Cycle' app for iPhone, here, which makes waking up much less painful).
  • Bedding - some universities provide duvets and pillows, but most expect you to bring your own, as well as bed sheets, duvet covers (at least two of each, you'll be washing your own!), blankets and pillow cases; the Argos value range has double duvets from £7.99 and they're pretty good quality - I have this one and it's lasted me well into my third year!
  • Clothes - go without saying, but I'd suggest taking mostly A/W stuff for the first term, and collecting your spring & summer clothes when you're home over the Easter break.
  • Doorstop - wedging your door open when you've unpacked lets everyone know you're ready to socialise! I wouldn't recommend leaving this until you get to university, as they're always pretty much sold out for the first few months. eBay has a great selection, here, or BHS/Wilkinsons always have plenty.
  • Extension cable
  • First-aid kit -this is a pretty important one, when Fresher's flu starts making the rounds, you'll be pleased to have some vitamin c tablets & paracetamol, and plasters and Savlon always come in handy. I'd recommend packing some good burn cream and anti-septic wipes, too, but Boots has a great range of pre-made packs, here, if you're unsure.
  • Hangers
  • Hot water bottle (although, personally, I've come to have a much better relationship with my electric blanket - Tesco Direct has the best selection, here, and you can get it delivered to your local store - or the one nearest your new university, for when you do your first shop!)
  • Laundry bag/basket
  • Noticeboard - some university rooms come with these, but make sure to bring pins - they were sold out everywhere for a good few weeks at the start of term near my campus, nobody had remembered them!
  • Room spray - you're not usually allowed candles on campus, and those rooms can get stuffy.
  • Sewing kit - for ripped dresses & missing buttons...they also come in very handy for customising your own t-shirt on bar crawls etc.
  • Sleeping bag - in case you have friends visiting.
  • Storage boxes - mine are the stackable variety from Tesco Direct, for moving (here), and linen storage boxes with lids from Ikea (there are similar ones here) to keep on display.
  • Wall calendar - although a lot of universities give them out.
  • Waste bin - again, sometimes these are provided.
  • Weekend bag - for those trips home/to visit friends! Besides, did you really need an excuse to buy this gorgeous creation?
  • Home comforts - photographs, trinkets, posters, tickets, anything you think will make you feel more comfortable in your surroundings! Take some white tac with you, as blu tac may stain your walls.
I stuck with self-catered accommodation when I headed off to Kent for the first time, as I couldn't bare the thought of not being able to cook for myself, but feel free to ignore all the cooking utensils included, if you're going to be paying for breakfast & dinner.
  • Baking tray(s) - I'd recommend at least 2, in case you find yourself cooking for others. BHS actually have a great roasting set on sale for £9.99, here.
  • Bottle opener - I had to include this for the beer & cider drinkers out there, but personally, I never used mine, and actually forgot I had it! Ikea's are only 85p (here), so may be worth picking up, just in case.
  • Dishware - bowls, side plates, dinner plates, glasses and mugs - you probably don't need a full set of four, depending on how often you plan on having your family visit, but I'd recommend about 2 of each, in case you break one! Whittard have the best selection, here, and always have offers on.
  • Cutlery - Get a set of four, they will go missing! Ikea sells 16 pieces for £1.20, here!
  • Can opener
  • Colander
  • Flask - for early morning lectures - personally, I've got my eye on this gorgeous one, from Starbucks.
  • Cake tin - if you're into baking, this'll come in handy come your flatmates' birthdays, but in my experience, having a few treats around to offer people never hurts.
  • Frying pan  - I prefer a smaller, personal-sized one, like this Tefal one from Argos, but there are cheaper alternatives, like this set of two, also from Argos.
  • Saucepan - again, I'd stick to Argos for this stuff - I have this set, and it's all lasted me very well.
  • Wok - will come in handy to make stir-frys (one of my Fresher staples!) or if you'd like to try my cheer me up tacos!
  • Pyrex dish - works for brownies, lasagne/pasta bakes, and casseroles.
  • Spatula
  • Tongs
  • Wooden spoon
  • Knives - when it comes to knives, I'd say it's best to opt for two or three more expensive, better quality knives, rather than the 'value' knife blocks which contain 5-6 that may well fall apart on first use. Ideally, you only really need a bread knife, chef's knife and parring knife, and John Lewis has some great choices (here).
  • Chopping board
  • Pizza cutter - I went without, and found myself saying 'I wish I had a pizza cutter' at least five times throughout the first term.
  • Oven gloves
  • Tea towels
  • Kitchen scales & measuring cups - for the bakers and calorie counters out there!
  • Tupperware 
  • Food bags & clips
  • Any dried food you can take with you - in case you don't get to shop on the first day!
I managed to nab one of the few en-suite accommodation options my university offers, so what you'll need really depends on your personal circumstances; I've tried to include as much as I could think of, though.
  • Bathroom scales
  • Towels - two bath towels and two hand towels - you might want to take a couple of old towels if you dye/bleach your hair etc. I swear by the BHS range, here.
  • Flannels, two.
  • Body lotion
  • Cosmetics
  • Cotton wool pads
  • Deoderant
  • Exfoliators
  • Face wash 
  • Face wipes
  • Moisturiser
  • Razor & blades - do yourself a favour, and buy the largest possible pack of blades for your razor - you'll thank yourself, once the budgeting kicks in!
  • Shampoo & conditioner
  • Toothbrush & paste
Stationary shops in and around campus tend to sell out of the basics pretty quickly, once everyone's over their Freshers' Flu, so do yourself a favour and stock up on the necessities before you leave.
  • Academic diary - you're not going to be constantly reminded of your deadlines, so it's best to make a note of everything. Personally, I think the 'DodoPad' range are the best available, here.
  • Cellotape
  • Desk tidy
  • Folder(s) - I use one of these giant Paperchase ones per term, for organisation.
  • Highlighters - do yourself a favour, and get the printer-safe variety, here.
  • Hole punch
  • Pencil case - along with pens, pencils, erasers, and a math set if you need one.
  • Post-its - I can't live without a pad (or several).
  • Printer & spare inks - I got an all-in-one printer from Amazon (here), because it worked out cheaper than paying 5p per sheet at the campus library - some lecturers expect you to take lecture slides to make notes on, so it's a worthwhile investment!
  • Pritt stick
  • Scissors
  • Stapler & staples
  • Superglue - it sounds stupid, but I used mine so much!
  • USB sticks
There are a couple of essentials you're going to need for your first few weeks as a Fresher in a new city; whilst they're not all completely necessary, they may just make the transition to life at university a little easier.
  • CV copies - if you're intending to work through your first year, you'll want to get applying ASAP, so having CVs to hand is a huge bonus.
  • Exam certificates - I was never asked for mine, but they might be handy to have, depending on your degree.
  • Housing contract - as well as any details about your rent.
  • Local map - A-Z maps cover most cities, and you can order them online here.
  • Passport & photocopies - you'll need your passport (or driver's license!) for ID, and photocopies come in handy for job applications etc. 
  • Student finance letter - you'll need to give this to your university when you enroll, so they can process your tuition loan.
I really hope this revised list helps anyone who's heading off to university this year; make the most of your year as a Fresher, because there's nothing else like it! Meet as many people as you can, try out as many societies and classes as sound interesting to you, and try not to worry about all the studying - it feels overwhelming, at first, I know, but it's not as bad as it sounds!
To everyone who's heading to university; what are you most excited about?
And to everyone who's already been, what would be your top tip for new Freshers?
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Mikas Pond Stacy Wallet by Kate Spade | New In

I think every girl I know is guilty of a fashion 'obsession'; shoes, scarves, rings...I even have one friend who collects various styles and shades of tights(!), and keeps them all lined up in a special drawer. Personally, though, my biggest love has to be handbags. Barely a month goes by where I haven't splurged on some new style or other that I just have to have. 
Because of this, I guess always came as a bit of a surprise to my friends when I reached into whatever gorgeous new piece of arm candy I was carrying that week, and plucked out the same, old, tattered River Island purse I'd been dragging around since I was 15. 
Luckily, though, I just had a pretty big birthday, and decided this was the best time to get a stylish upgrade to a slightly swankier wallet. After what felt like months of indecision (Miu Miu? Marc Jacobs? Mulberry?), I eventually settled on one of my favourite designers' offerings - Kate Spade's 'Mika's Pond' Stacy wallet, in 'Fresh Air' (or, as I prefer to refer to it, 'Tiffany-box-blue').
Like most students I know, I rarely carry cash around with me, and rely instead on debit cards, student cards, and loyalty cards to get me through my serious shopping addiction, so the 12 card slots that the Stacy wallet offers is pretty much ideal - and, being a part time Londoner, the ID compartment is perfect for Oyster card storage, so I don't have to fumble around in my bag when I'm about to hop on the bus or tube.
It's probably too soon to call it, but honestly, I think it might be love.

The 'Mikas Pond' Stacy wallet is available in the UK, for an RRP of £80, from Kate Spade stores (store locator here), or you can browse the selection online, here.
What's your most overlooked accessory?
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