• FOOD

    Saturday kitchen: chilli con carne  

    There’s nothing better than a bowl of homemade chilli when it’s cold and grey outside.

    Thanks to my friend I managed to make the best chilli I have ever had to the joy of making. I had to make a few adjustments as I didn’t have 500g of mince, so here’s what I went with.

    250g mince

    2 cloves of garlic 

    1/2 chopped onion

    1 chopped pepper 

    1/2 tin of chopped tomatoes 

    1/2 tin of kidney beans 

    1 beef stock cube 

    300ml boiling water

    1 tsp chilli powder 

    1 tsp coco powder

    3 tsp tomato purée 

    Pinch of cinnemon

    Chedder cheese to sprinkle 

    Basmati rice 

    Voila! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. If you did, please let me know me@leannemacduff.com, and also any other variations of this yummy Mexican dish then please do share!  

     Enjoy! Xox

    Oh I took a snapchat too. ?

     
      

  • BLOG,  LIFESTYLE

    Where’s our great British summer?

    You could say this is the question on everyone’s mind? It’s not exactly been the Indian summer we were promised, but then again I am Scottish and I come from a land where the sight of grey sky, rain and wind is of regular occurrence.

    Sorry to my Scottish friends, and family out there! 🙂 I love you all dearly, and truth be told it sounds like you have seen more of summer than London this year!

    Still, as it is Wednesday and I missed the Great British Bake Off tonight. #GBBO I’m going to have to watch that one on catch-up, so  I thought I’d share some of my favourite pictures from a moment of sunshine in one of my favourite spots in London… the park.

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    This spot in particular was stunning. Despite being deep in conversation, eating M&S cake and drinking coffee – The sunshine, blue sky, park buzz and sound of birds singing softly in the background was bliss. I took a Vine of this moment too.

    *Warning* I hear it’s not good to tilt the camera, so sorry in advance. I was a little excited.

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    I think I have a filter on my iPhone 6 phone…
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    I had a really cool picture of the sunset from my room window tonight. It’s not been as warm as it looks, but I feel these pictures have brought back a moment of sheer bliss and cheering me up this evening.

    So that’s it for me today. These are just a few of the beautiful moments I have captured recently. I’m not sure where the great British summer has gone this year, but if all I had was this one snapshot, I’d be pretty chuffed with this one.

    I hope you’re having a good week. If not, make sure you stop and look for the opportunity in your week and day to appreciate. If the dream or circumstance you’ve been waiting to see seems slow to turn up. Remember the process of growing like the tree above. As long as you’re sowing the right seed into good soil, the harvest will come.  As one of my hero’s today said, “You can’t sow a seed and reap a harvest at the same time. There is always a natural delay in between.” Just because something hasn’t happened yet, or fallen into place, doesn’t mean it won’t.

  • BLOG,  FOOD,  LIFESTYLE

    Spontaneous photography and MasterChef Uk final!

    It’s been so long!

    I’ve been rather busy with life, and all the fun elements that has to offer. I still love my job, challenges and all. I have so much that I want to do and experience, and doing my best to tick them off, whilst staying focused on the main areas of life that I’m building on. There is so much to be thankful for. If anyone follows me on Instagram, you will notice a theme in some of my photos, which I call #30daysofthankful. This hashtag probably rings alarm bells for grammar police, now that I think about it. However, it’s been one of my favourite things to do, and a source of strength on days that aren’t all that fun.


    They say it takes 21 days to form a habit. Thankfulness is something I am particularly working on right now, and it’s serving me well. I also think it helps keep things in perspective.

    I hope this finds you well. I’ve just parked up in Starbucks (my favourite haunt) to push through this my latest writing project. I am so tempted to start the next book, but determined to finish what I’ve started first.

    This week is Colour conference, where thousands of girls will gather to refresh, energise, and challenge each other to be the change in our world. This will be my first Colour conference, and its suffice to say I am expecting a life changing week.

    Have any of you been following @MasterchefUK? I watched the final last night, and it was epic. I’ve followed this programme for a while, but this was by far my favourite episode/series to date. All three finalist were highly skilled, and appeared worthy winners. Watching winner Simon Woods pursue his dream, with humility and great diligence was more than inspiring. It was magical.

    His passion for food, and gift for cooking was evident for all to see. I think what touched me the most is his endurance to push through the nerves, to be open and teachable, and his determination to not give up. I’m sure he has felt like giving up many times over the years of his life, and what we see in the final few steps of his breakthrough is only a snippet to the years of perseverance he has endured.

    “Perseverance produces character, and character hope.”

    Here’s few of my favourite pictures from memories I’ve create over the last month.

               
    Until next time.

    Xx

  • LIFESTYLE

    January shopping haul; on a budget

    It’s been another great week, and a momentous last day for me. I’m starting a new job next week, and extremely excited. Check out my present to myself below;

     

    Channel perfume

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    Cook book…

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    I’ve not been filling you in on some of the cool things I’ve been getting up too, so I’m going to give you a little glimpse today. Before heading to American Sniper last night, with Bradley Cooper. That guy is becoming more handsome by the minute. I’ll hopefully review this movie soon, but I wanted to stop by and show you a few steals found in my favourite store, Zara.

     

    I’ve just spent the best part of £30, in perfume, but Zara’s version (below) smells just as expensive as Chanel and cost a mere £14.99. They have three scents in this range, Cannes, Milano, and… wait I can’t remember the other one, but Cannes was my favourite.

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    I almost skipped past this shirt for £29.99. I think it’d look great with tight leather leggings, and some heeled boots.

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    I have a few black dresses already, but I love this little cheeky number for work. It’s also under £30! So if you’re on a tight budget this January and would still like to treat yourself, then perhaps one of these three items will inspire you.

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    If you like shopping in Topshop, then you might be interested in my previous post, Stripes v Spots.

     

    Catch ya later!

    xOx

     

     

     

  • LIFESTYLE

    Sunset adventures

    Hello,

    Sorry it’s been a bit quite on the blog front. I’ve been busy writing, and working on a few new projects. After a busy Christmas break back home, I’ve been catching up on some sleep and working hard to finish editing my long awaited novel. Thanks to a generous gift from mum and dad, I’ve been blessed with a rather nazi DSLR, which has served as a great distraction and fuelled my passion for taking pictures to a new level. I can’t express how much I love this camera, and how excited I am to have just received my tripod and light box, (which I still have to set up).

    Until, I get round to that I wanted to share a few of my first photographs. If you follow me on Instagram, you will know I love a good sunset, or landscape photograph. Often these photo’s inspire me to write. I took the next two pictures whilst on a cold crisp Saturday afternoon. The third picture down was taken at a bus stop near Victoria Station, Oxford bound. I can’t wait to share more of my life with you as I continue to grow my blog/vlog this year.

    So far 2015 has been a year of new starts in many ways. I’ve set my goals, which I’ve decided to go along the route of routine this year. On Friday, I got word of a new job, which I am super excited about. I get to spend more time writing, working on perfecting Vines, Instagram and infographics for a fantastic community online. Stay tuned for more info on that.

    Oh, and I turn 30 years young in 16 DAYS! I don’t quite know how I feel about that, but I’ve just discovered my friends are flying me home to celebrate with them Scotland. It’s been a week of turn around, from distraction and challenge, to seed and fruit. If that doesn’t make sense to you, sorry; maybe I’ll get to expand and explain one day.

    l hope you enjoy my photography below. I’d love to hear what inspires you to do what you do in the box below.

    Xox

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    I love this picture. It makes me think of New York, and I feel like it would be a great shot for a scene in a movie. Perhaps, it will feature in my own movie one day. It may just look like any other building to some, but to me it gave me inspiration for a new story. They say a picture holds 1000 words, I say a picture sparks a 1000 words…

  • BLOG,  BOOKS,  COMMUNITY

    If you like a lot of biscuit, join a club

    Does anyone remember the catchy tune for CLUB biscuits? If you do, then you’ll recognise the tag line that I used to title today’s post. It’s just a quick one. I’m currently prompting myself up in Starbucks with a Carmel Macchiato (and oddly not a Toffee Nut latte). Starbucks white cups are bag. The red cups are being phased out. As a fan of Starbucks’s marketing efforts, and a shameful gold card holder I notice these things. However, before I go on a rant about Starbucks, and carmel drizzle I want to introduce to you my new book and club.

    I “borrowed” this book from my dad’s bookshelf when home at Christmas. Dare I expose myself and reveal that I was originally attracted by the cover of the book. I have been keen to speak to writers and other creatives for sometime now. It played a hand in my move to London, but as of yet I haven’t found a club to join. It seems the bigger the city, the harder it is to discern which ones are worthwhile going too.

    As I am currently developing my first novel I thought this would be a nice to get some perspective from someone further down the line. It’s early days and I’ve just started reading this. Maeve states from the outside that this is meant to be a journal for writers, and I am so excited to discover what looks to be invaluable advise layered within the pages. I feel like I’ve finally found my own club! Ok, it’s a book, but perhaps it will help me in my search to find a like minded group.

    Have you read this book? Do you know of or would you recommend any writing groups in London?

    I’ve also just finished reading T.D Jakes book Instinct, which I highly recommend. He also prompted me to search outside the parameters of what is familiar, to network with those who aren’t necessarily going in my direction. In other words, branch out and get to know people who are skilled in different areas. I guess he was encouraging me to be open minded, which in today’s world is a pearl of wisdom we can all treasure.

    I’ve talked about different ideals, but equally helpful for writers, or anyone looking to grow from their current stance in life. We can’t do it alone. We’re built for relationships, and should try our best to value the variety of those around us.

    Come back for my next post Friday where I will be reviewing food!
    Xox

  • BLOG,  BOOKS,  COMMUNITY,  LIFESTYLE

    My Hunger Games obsession

    Oh my goodness. I’ve just watched part two of the Hunger Games, and I loved it! I put off watching the Hunger Games for so long because truth be told, I found it scary. I know, I’m a geek.

    I watched the first instalment back in March, or May with some friends. It’s safe to say I now want to read the books, and starting with part 3 so I can see what happens to Peeta. I absolutely loved ‘the lovebirds’ of district 12; Katniss and Peeta. I am a sucker for a good love story, and find Josh Hutcherson way too cute in this film! As if that’s possible?

    I am probably breaking a thousand rules in this post, and I know they always say the book is better than the film, but I happen to believe different.  I love books, however; I love them just as much as watching the movie (so long as it’s made well). I love watching movies because I find the good ones are extremely powerful in pulling you into a world where the make believe becomes believable. I love books because I get to create and write those scenes that I want to watch. It’s magical. Truly magical.

    Okay, if anyone reads this they are most likely going to think I’m crazy, but this is an overspill of excitement from watching a fantastic movie on a spontaneous whim.

    Are you a fan of the Hunger Games? Is anyone willing to spill what happens next? I want to know!

    As you can probably tell, I’m not the most patient of readers. No one ever likes to let me in on the ending, but seriously I don’t mind. I’ll still enjoy it just as much±

    I’m off to buy the books on Amazon! I’ll be back in a few months? 😉

    Joke.

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  • BLOG

    Dancing Feet Continued…

    During my 5 year wait to join a dance school, I would carefully watch my favourite music videos, practice and listen to my favourite songs about 100 times until I knew the words and steps off by heart. On Saturday’s my mum and aunt would take me shopping, and I still remember that time in Asda when my aunt said she was no longer coming back with me if I didn’t stop dancing down the aisles. I was shocked and appalled at her lack of support for a second, but then I decided to take myself off to the next aisle, and dance there; when no one was watching. I loved it.

    Eventually after one of our holiday trips to to Blackpool, I managed to convince mum to take me along to dance class. It came pretty soon after an incident at The Pepsi Max Roller coaster where I refused to go on, (due to fear of heights and fast moving cars that I can’t control), but instead I decided to make the most of a dull situation, and dance to the music beside that said roller coster. My friend and her mum went ahead to queue for the ride, and mum and me held the coats at the bottom, with the biggest smile on my face. Gosh the butterflies from just the thought of going on that thing back then was enough adrenalin for me at that time. My Mum, being the social bee that she is was on the phone to my aunt when I decided to let the beat take me to a different place.

    I would get pictures of moves in my head that I picked up from the many RnB/Hip Hop music video I would watch for hours on end. I found a confidence in me that when I danced, I didn’t just enjoy it, but it felt like a release of energy that for some may have been to jump on a roller coaster ride, but this was my way of having fun. This is where I could just be me.

    So as I my dancing feet continued to move to the background music, it later came to my attention that I was gathering a crowd of folks watching. There was one woman also standing next to us, and seemingly waiting on her party to come off the ride, who also witnessed me dancing – I used to be so careful to dance when no one was watching, but unfortunately on this occasion I failed. The woman approached my mum and said, ‘You have a great little dancer there. She’s a good one.’ The next thing I remember I was entering our local community hall where I witnessed a flood of young girls in black leotards, with black and white leggings and white tap shoes, and some with red bows in their hair. I’m not quite sure if this was the straw that broke the camels back, but I will be forever grateful to that woman! And I love my mum!

    You can imagine my amazement though. I think I had a t-shirt, shorts and some barbie trainers to begin with on my first day. We bought the tap shoes, and jazz shoes, which were required, but my Mum wanted to wait and find out if I’d stick the class before going on a spending spree. I was invited along for a trial session. Who needs a trial when you’ve been begging for 5 years to get here? I was so excited that I’d kind of jump and shuffle as I walked, hoping to the sound of the dance music billowing out of the big hall. The teachers looked very serious and scary though. I walked in to a small room, as everyone seemed to be split between several rooms. There were older girls too, tall ones, and small ones. In my room there were twelve. They all had batons, which I quickly noticed I was without.  The dark haired teacher with short curly hair called me to the front, and asked me to stretch out my arm. Why did she need my arm? I wondered. Just then she stuck a small metal stick, with two white rubber ends under my arm and measured it to find the right fit. The first one didn’t seem good enough. I think it was too small, so she went to fetch the next size up. ‘There you go. Now you stand over here.’ She said as she shuffled me into a space on the front row, and moved the other girls along accordingly. I didn’t seem to recognise any of the girls in my class, except one girl who was from my school. I kept looking out the big bay windows in front of us, and watching the older girls go by with black and red dance bags, and co-ordinated jackets that looked super cool. I wanted to be one of them. The teacher starts the track, and begins to demonstrate some basic moves with the baton. I found it interesting that she would use the analogy of strawberry and chocolate ice cream when taking us through the motion of a horizontal spin. Stripped back we were to imagine dipping our stick into a two bowls of ice cream, one on each side. I think if she had actually bought some ice cream in for the illustration then I would have picked that skill up faster, but looking back I was pretty sold by the idea and willing to do what it took to learn.

    The first few weeks seemed to be so simple. The steps didn’t look like the fancy ones I saw advertised on TV. Many years later, I now understand the importance of those basic steps, and how they set me up to win the trophies, medals and awards years to come. Now I understand that to be good at anything in life it starts with taking a few simple steps.

    Xox

    #dancingfeet #DancePrincessDance

  • BLOG,  BOOKS,  COMMUNITY

    Imagination encircles the world

    I love this quote from Albert Einstein! There is a proverbs that says, “as a man thinks, so is he.” I have been studying a lot about the thoughts that enter our minds, and how they can impact our lives. Take a look how Google define the meaning of imagination:

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    Isn’t it amazing. The ability of the mind to be creative or resourceful. Hmm… what can I imagine for the character in my new up and coming online story. That’s right folks; I’m starting an online short, so that you can get to see me write AND get involved in shaping the story too. Today I’m looking for a perfect UK location to set this budding short. Post your recommendations below, and tell me why you like this spot so much. It could be a country spot somewhere north, it may be by the sea, or amongst the bustle of UK city. You have one week, so get stretching your imagination and post below.

    *Any ideas used in this online story, will give full credit to those who first suggested.

  • BLOG

    Welcome to my blog space

    Hello and welcome to my central blog. Yes I have been known to write a blog, or two in the past. However, this will be the place where you get to find out about me, and my life as a writer. I don’t want to box myself in, but you’ll probably find lots of instagram pictures (my favourite social channel), and posts on food, books, writing, travel, being the change and making a difference in our communities; and quite possibly touch on fashion and beauty. You’re in for a whole host of treats here, so do stick around say hello! I love a good natter. Oh, and I’ll be starting my first online story very soon, on this website, so do stay tuned and find out how you can get involved in helping me create it too!! x