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This geek means business

The Saga continues……. on the property ladder

Keys to the Kingdom

Our solicitor finally handed us the house keys on July 8th, a full year after our quest began. The mortgage advisor called to congratulate us, but we were decidedly unthankful and taciturn, given the rigours that his bank had put us through – an unnecessary structural survey, a hold-back of €10,000, excessive scrutiny and onerous contractual demands. And not once did they offer us a glass of water or a cup of coffee, even though most of those appointments lasted well over an hour. First world problems? Perhaps, but as Einstein famously once said, “It’s all relative”.

We marked the night with two bottles of prosecco and a pot of my world-famous pumpkin chilli.

214HWe immediately got to work on all of the jobs listed on the builder’s costing. Usually, if the bank requests a structural survey, as ours did, the engineer you hire will provide a costing of the required renovations to go along with the survey. Ours didn’t, but thankfully, a friend of the family did us a freebie, so we had a better sense of what we were doing from day one.

We both agreed that I would handle the major home décor ideas and that the mister would help with the implementation of most of those ideas. This suited him perfectly, as he was more than happy to turn his creative eye toward the garden, which had become noticeably overgrown and formless. Finding paint colours that complemented the natural flow of the house was difficult…. in Opposite Land. Seriously, I’ve been dreaming of owning a home since childhood. I’ve been furnishing and decorating my fantasy house since forever, so I felt like I was ready for this.azalea-791914_1280

We began by undoing the sins of the past. The previous owner tried his darnedest to cheap-fix some of the house’s bigger problems, but in doing so, left a legacy of shite so foul and unyielding that it still follows us to this day.

Ripping up his substandard skirting and removing the warped doors was very satisfying. Removing the wallpaper however was a doozy. We had a steamer, which made the job itself relatively easy, but stripping the walls revealed a few superficial cracks here and there. One quick call to a family friend, and the plastering was sorted.

Within a month, we had brought the house up to code. With our canvas blank and a few grand in the war chest, we were ready to turn this old and love-starved house into our home.

But that story is for next week.

Mel x

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Humpday Dining – Avocado Chocolate Mousse

I know this recipe sounds a little bit crazy but stay with me here, it’s worth it. I have a major addiction to sugar and find it so hard to not give in to my sweet tooth, it is a constant battle. With that said one of my goals this year is too try cut my sugar intake by at least half ( i can’t quit sugar entirely, well at least not yet. Baby steps).

I am always on the look out for healthier ways to enjoy the good things in life and my research has led me here. Between Pinterest, blogs and cookbooks this recipe can be found almost everywhere there is a sugar-free trend.

The creaminess of the avocados makes this dessert so decadent and so delicious. Whats not to love about a chocolate dessert.

So here is one take on it all.

This should serve up to 4 people

Ingredients

Nua_naturals_cacao_powder2 ripe avocados (Peeled, stoned and roughly chopped)

1/3 cup cocoa powder

2tbsp rice malt syrup

1 tsp vanilla extract

pinch or smidge of sea salt

2 tbsp unsweetened almond milk

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Method

  1. Throw all those ingredients either in a blender or food processor, whichever one you have handy. Blend until it has all combined. Make sure to scrape down the sided and keep blending until that mousse is nice and airy.
  2. If is is still too thick just add in another splash of almond milk and blend.
  3. All you have to do now is spoon that mousse into small ramekin dishes.
  4. This is ready to serve or you could cover and let it chill in the fridge for a few hours.

 

I love to add some chopped strawberries on top (I told you I can’t quit sugar entirely) to bring the whole dessert to the next level.

Hope you enjoy.

Mel x

Finding our footing on the Property ladder

Nod politely to my neighbours, wipe your feet and come on in.

This is just a few tales, tips and house-hacks to help you up the mortgage ladder (with sanity intact). We’ll also be attempting sizeable home improvement works on a shoestring budget, with no regard whatsoever for Feng Shui or any other passing fads. Just a house that we are happy to live in. So keep an eye out for more posts in the coming months relating to how we are getting on in our new home and all the crazy things we encounter. And with that let the tale begin………

I feel as though I too should, now and again, stare bleakly ahead and utter the word, “Whoa!”. There’s still so much to do, but given that the the house is now ours, we’re hoping to turn this modest chateaux into a maison qui n’est pas un trou de merde (a house that is not a shithole).

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Getting in shape

Before you do anything else, start saving into an actual savings account (your current account just won’t cut it). Six months of a weekly standing order should do it, and it should reflect the value of your prospective monthly mortgage repayments (i.e. If you intend on borrowing €200,000, bank €800 monthly. If the principle is €300,000, lodge €1200 and so on). If your money is tied up in rent payments or other fixed charges, show evidence of these to the mortgage advisor of your preferred lending institution, such as a statement or receipt and you’re as good as in.

Saving can be an awful pain in the arse. Close your eyes and imagine, if you will, having €100 less to spend on ‘the finer things’. Now open them. You were imagining a Mad Max-style future dystopia, weren’t you? Well, it’s not that bad, but still….

Bid a tired farewell to your morning Starbucks, take away those takeaway menus and leap forth, armed with the mantra, ‘Nothing worth having comes without sacrifice’.

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Wunch of Bankers

Choosing the right bank or mortgage broker can be tricky; AIB has an attractive this, BOI has a competitive that… It’s all worth getting into, but what’s even better is having a friend who works in the banking sector, to give you the gist of it. We didn’t, and that’s why we opted for Permanent TSB, after being convinced by a PTSB radio ad half-heard by my impressionable boyfriend. Don’t get me wrong – it was a cracking ad with a belter of a jingle but we should’ve done more research, if for nothing else but to prevent the painful year-long journey that ensued.

My partner opened a current account and a 21 Day Saver account with Permanent TSB in July 2014. I drew a weekly standing order for €100, from my banks current account to the PTSB 21 Day Saver account, acting on advice given by our the senior mortgage advisor at my local branch of Permanent TSB. After six joyless months of saving, we were ready for our second meeting with the mortgage advisor.

We had a brief meeting with him in January 2015 to discuss the next phase of our mortgage application. He informed us that in the following months we’d be required to provide: photo I.D, salary certificate from current employer, 6 recent payslips, P60 (tax form), statements from any existing loans, savings or current accounts and proof of the existence of God. Okay, that last one I just made up, but you get the picture.

At our third and penultimate meeting, we submitted these most vital documents, along with details of the offer we’d made on the house (learn more about this in the next episode). We were then issued with a Loan Pack, which we submitted to our solicitor, who kept the ball rolling from there.

That’s the hardest part of it, in black and white but as with most horrors, our frustrations lay within the grey areas of botched paperwork and structural surveys. My advice? Each and every time you dare to traverse the taut red tape of banking bureaucracy, make sure that the relevant documents and forms are officially stamped, signed and dated.

So that brings us to what we thought was the final hurdle of owning a property. Oh, how naive we were, that long process was only the beginning.

To be continued……….

Mel x

Christmas Wishlist

Gift Ideas for a #girlboss

Let me start off by saying how sorry I am that I have been a little MIA on my blog lately. The reason being ;the lifeline that is my laptop has decided to give up on me so I have been using whatever laptop I can get my hands until I source a new one for myself.

I won’t keep jabbering on about my first world problems, let’s get to the good stuff – here is my top picks for that girlboss in your life this Christmas:

Kate Spade Spiral Notebook

Kate Spade Notebook 2
Kate Spade Spiral Notebook €17.50 hippenings.com

I am a huge fan of the whole Kate Spade stationery range, it’s hard to choose an item with all the amazing designs.

I wanted to put up their 2016 Agenda but its almost sold out everywhere (I bagged myself one back in early October on hippenings.com, check out my instagram for a pic). This notebook is in the same design, just no dates inside.

It is a lovely gift for someone who is stationery obsessed (like me) and so handy for taking notes when inspiration hits. I always carry  a notebook with me as you never know when inspiration may strike.

Kate Spade Rose Gold Stapler

Kate Spade stapler
Kate Spade Rose Gold Stapler €39 Hippenings.com

How amazing is this stapler. never ever has there been a functional piece of office equipment look so fabulous.

It will enhance any #girlbosses desk, its just one of those items we need in our lives.

 

 

CEO Mug

CEO Mug 2
CEO Mug €7  urbanoutfitters.ie

In 2012 Lauren Conrad was asked an extremely inappropiate question live on air with SiriusXM. From a mystery bag of questions she pulled out the question; “What’s your favourite position?” She read the question aloud, paused for a second and replied with “CEO”.  One of my favourite answers to such a sexist question.

Many girlbosses will know about this story and would love a gift like this. How powerful would fyou feel using this cup for your morning coffee.

Inissia White Coffee Machine with Milk Frother

Inissia White Coffee Machine
Nespresso Inissia Coffee            Machine €169 Nespresso.ie

Available in a range of colours, this is the perfect gift for that girlboss who needs her caffeine hit (for me its more like 5 hits a day).

With their beautiful design and minimalist feel, this bad boy looks super stylish on any counter-top and makes one awesome cup of coffee.

 

 

 

 

All of these are on my wishlist this Christmas for sure. Check out my blog early next week for some more items I have been keeping my eye on this christmas season.

Mel x

 

 

Christmas Gift Guides

As it’s finally cool to talk about Christmas, I thought I would kick things off with some gift guides to help you through the stressful process that can be gift buying.

Personally, I love online shopping and look forward to buying presents each year, so I hope the research I did  can ease the burden somewhat of trying to choose and navigate through the jungle of online retailing.

The guys in our lives can be tough to buy for, below you will find a selection and there isn’t one pair of socks to be found.

For The Dudes

The Dark Net
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The Dark Net by Jamie Bartlett

Over 90% of the web’s content is housed within the dark web. This book is a insight to what exists beyond what we know in our everyday usage of the  internet.

A must read for the tech lover.

 

Fallout_4
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Fallout 4 -Available on Xbox One, Playstation & PC.

However you should be warned – Buy him this and you will be buying yourself hours of alone time. #gamingwidow

 

Drone
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Quad Copter Drone

American Aviation Authority considers recreational drones to be more of a threat to traffic within US domestic flight paths than terrorist activity.

That fact to most men is both cool and pretty damn impressive. Buy him one today and give him that false  and undeserved sense of empowerment or he could just use it to spy on the neighbours.

 

Moscow Mule Mug

Moscow Mule Mug
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The famous Moscow Mule drink (Which is mix of some decent vodka, a spicy ginger beer with a little lime juice) that you traditionally serve in a copper mug.

This keeps any chilled beverage cold for such a long time and you look so slick when holding it so that is just an added bonus.

 

Well enough about the  guys, check back here in a few days for some gift ideas for her and  future girlbosses.

Mel x

 

My Favourite Cookbooks

It takes roughly 10,000 hours to break through the ‘shite barrier’ and become expert/ fluent at something. Cooking’s no different. I’m ages away from my own 10k but I can feel my skills improving with every dish. And I love cookbooks. They’re a great source of inspiration and guidance for budding gourmands like ourselves.

Here are four of my favourites:

Virtuous Tart  by Susan Jane White

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This book’s a real winner. It’s packed with interesting and delicious dessert/sweets recipes for the health-conscious eater.

Almost every recipe has been designed with respect for nutritive value, while all are aimed at boosting energy and endorphin levels, to leave you feeling and looking better.

Susan Jane White’s bites seem scrumptiously naughty (especially when they hit your palette), but they are practically sinless. Good going, considering that this cookbook is so dessert-heavy.

 

Thug Kitchen  by Michelle Davis & Matt Holloway

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I love Thug Kitchen’s style. Their no-bullshit approach to cooking is really ace and their reluctance to use processed ingredients in their work is admirable. Not only that, but Thug Kitchen’s vegan recipes are awesome, as are the numerous articles concerning food preparation and shopping on a budget.

It’s my go-to guide for those days when I just want to go meatless.

Try their Pumpkin Chilli dish from one of my previous posts, it’s amazing.

 

Deliciously Ella  by Ella Woodward

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Beset by health problems and motivated by a desire to improve her quality of life. The result, Deliciously Ella, is an essential blog for the health conscious and foodies alike. It boasts over two million views a month and it ain’t hard to see why.

Deliciously Ella is all about embracing natural foods and creating fresh, simple dishes and the book captures that perfectly.

 

The Lookbook Cookbook  by Jessica Milan

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Jessica Milan is a well-known model and fashion photographer. She turned her attention to the culinary arts, and was inspired to create a website and a recipe book that would both look as sexy as they do delicious. And so began ‘The Lookbook Cookbook’.

This gorgeous cookbook contains some truly mouth-watering vegan and gluten-free recipes. Each meal is sumptuously photographed, with models who also look good enough to eat. However it’s not all style over substance. I’ve tried a few of the desserts from The Lookbook Cookbook. Quite frankly, they’re to die for.

So what’s your favourite cookbook? Feel free to share your own recommendations or troll me at #thisgeekmeansbusiness

Melissa

 

Cajun Turkey Spaghetti

Hump Day Dining

I’m feeling a little overwhelmed this week. I don’t mind feeling whelmed, and ‘underwhelmed’ is a walk in the park, compared to the never ending to-do list which my life has become. I’ve always had strong time management and organizational skills. That being said, My new job, college, assignments etc. all going on at the same time,things can get on top of me.

To clarify, I’m not complaining about my lot in life. My new job’s gotten me all fired up (in a good way), the house is coming along nicely and Melissa: The College Years is nearing the finale. Keeping all these plates spinning is a privilege and a bit of a headache, and sometimes I find it hard to get a handle on things. Stress is a killer (and not in a cool Dexter-y kind of way). So for this week’s edition of Hump Day Dining, take the stress out of chow time with this quick and easy pasta dish. It could save your life.

Serves 4

Ingriedents

CTS 1

450g Turkey fillets or steaks

2tsp cajun seasoning

1 punnet of mushrooms

1 head of Brocolli

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tbsp of coconut oilCTS 5

About 300g dried wholewheat spaghetti (Half a packet)

1 1/2 Cups of chicken stock

1 cup of milk

Grated parmesan cheese for topping

Instructions

  1. Add the coconut oil in a large pot. Place over a medium heat. Once the oil is heated add in the turkey and cajun seasoning. After 2 minutes still in the minced garlic and mix together for a further 4 minutes or until the turkey is starting to brown up nicely.CTS 6
  2. Now add the Chicken stock and milk.  Chuck in the chopped mushrooms and broccoli and then the dried pasta. Cover and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  3. After about 5 minutes, reduce the heat to a lower heat and allow the mixture to simmer, covered for about 10 minutes. Stir every 2 minutes to prevent any sticking.
  4. Simmer until there is only about an inch of liquid left. Then take off the heat and you are ready to serve.

When serving sprinkle on a little parmesan to give it another depth of flavour.

CTS 3

This dish will have you feeling all warm and gooey inside but most of all satisfied.

Hope you enjoy.

Mel x

Shepard’s Pie 2.0

#Humpdaydining

The weather this past week has been a bit of an arsehole. When i feel weathered and worn, the one thing I crave is a food hug-some good ol’ comfort food that never hurts, it only helps.

One of my favourite comfort foods is a classic Shepard’s Pie is not a particularly healthy dish, even with all the fresh vegetables and spices added. It can be quite rich, and its creamy mashed potato topping can often leave people feeling bloated and overall a little bit shitty.

So i’ve cleaned things up a bit, but belive me – Shepards pie 2.0 is still a beast.  I used a little bit of butter in the sweet potato topping, because I believe that a hump day such as this one is hard enough already, without removing butter form the equation.  The Shepard’s Pie 2.0 is healthier version of Shepard’s Pie, without a doubt.  This recipe feeds four, so don’t go eating the whole thing.

Ingriedents

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400g Turkey Mince

2 large Sweet potatoes

1 punnet mushrooms

1 red onion

1/3 cup frozen peas

1 Red Pepper

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2 cloves garlic

1 cup chicken stock

1 can of chopped tomatoes

1tsp coconut oil

knob of butter

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  2. Brown up that turkey in a tsp of coconut oil, once cooked set aside in a bowl.
  3. In a large pot add in a dash of coconut oil along with the onion, red pepper, mushrooms and peas. Cook on a medium heat for 6-7 minutes or until they have softened up.
  4. Add in the garlic and some chilli if you want some heat and cook for another 2 minutes.
  5. Add in the chicken stock and chopped tomatoes and let that simmer for 4 minutes. Sppon back in the cooked mince.
  6. Bring to boil, then bring that down to simmer for 15 minutes to reduce the liquid.

Topping

  1. Steam or boil the sweet potato until tender.
  2. Get that masher out and squish that sweet potato into a smooth mash while adding in that knob of butter.
  3. Fill your casserole dish 2/3 of the way with mince mixture. Then spoon in the sweet potato on top, using a fork to spread it all out evenly.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes until the top is turning a lovely golden shade.IMG_3950

What I love about this dish is that you can make this for one-two people and freeze the rest for lunches for the next few days, enabling you to keep up the healthy eating on the go.

Hope you enjoy.

Mel x

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