Sunday, 31 May 2015

This is a really simple pudding you can throw together and keep in the freezer for when you have people over. It's not really a recipe, per say, but more of a serving suggestion - just soft ice cream remoulded into a loaf shape with a scattering of tasty toppings. I suppose I'm a bit biased, but I think it looks pretty awesome!

I went for simple vanilla ice cream with some finely chopped mint leaves and dark chocolate chips stirred through. First I let the ice cream thaw before mixing in the ingredients, then I filled my chosen tin half full, sprinkled a layer of frozen cherries (seriously, these things are delicious!) in it and then layered over the rest of the ice cream. It looks messy, so just pop it into the freezer for about half an hour, then you can shape it with the back of a spoon into more of a loaf shape, before topping with the rest of your ingredients. And voila! You can serve it straight from the tin in scoops or lever it out of and slice it like a cake. I recommend leaving keeping in the freezer for a few hours - preferably a few days - so that the mint really infuses the ice cream.

Other toppings to try;
Cherry and toasted coconut
Strawberry and mint
Boozy Baileys and dark chocolate

If you're on a health kick, this would work really well with one-ingredient banana ice cream too!


Friday, 29 May 2015

I've been shy for as long as I can remember - cripplingly shy, where I would rather get lost than ask for directions or buy two of something in a shop because I was too afraid to ask what the difference was. Somewhere along the way I came out of my shell, but for some reason telling people I'm shy is still a comfort blanket I refer to again and again.

I can actually pinpoint the moment where I changed. When I was 16 I got my first job in a cafe and by default, I had to talk to people. And not just talk to them, but make them feel welcome and at mean feat for someone who previously would mutter 'hello' so quietly only a bat would be able to pick up the sound waves. For me, working in a cafe was like a performance - I wasn't really being me, I was playing a part and that made it so much easier to chat, to give suggestions and even the odd joke! I think I still hold that thought with me now - if I think of making the first move in a conversation as something I have to prove, to be the confident and outgoing person that I want to be, then I just dive right in and do it. I think that's why I sometimes seem more confident in typically uncomfortable situations, because I'm biting the bullet and putting myself out there, whereas gatherings with people I sort of know or distant family can be more awkward than meeting someone completely new.

Recently I've been making a conscious effort to push myself outside of my comfort zone a little bit. Entering a TV show was definitely a push for me! I spent half the time telling the camera that I'm really shy and this was a crazy thing for me to do, when in actuality I was coming across super chatty and excited (which I was) - the crew were definitely confused by that and I think that's when I really realised that saying I'm shy had become a default excuse in case I wasn't living up to (my own) standards.

Off the back of that totally nerve-wracking situation, I'm redefining my comfort zone and banning myself from using the word 'shy'. From now on, if I'm uncomfortable, I want to recognise it's because I'm challenging myself to do things that previously - and do still - scare me, and should be something to be proud of, not embarrassed by!


Monday, 25 May 2015

Here's something a little bit fun for a Bank Holiday Monday! Do you have Pinterest? I've been an avid pinner on and off for quite a few years now and recently reorganise all of my boards to be a bit more cohesive. Do you follow me?

Apart from the fact that it's an amazing way to gather inspiration and ideas (and it's changing all the time in what we use it for - my colleague suggested it as a tool for searching for interesting e-mail subject lines!?), I love seeing what people have re-pinned from my boards, whether they're photos from my blog or re-pinning practically a whole board - this always happens with GOOD HAIR! It's fun to see the things that people are still re-pinning even a good few years after I first pinned them myself; it's a perfect way to jog your memory about things you had forgotten about.

Here are a couple of favourites and recent re-discoveries:

Since I added a PIN button feature to my blog, it's been fun to check in and see what people are pinning straight from the blog. If you are curious to see what people pin from your site, you can check using this URL: without http:// or www

Here are a few favourites people have pinned from Sprunting!:

You can find all of these pins and more via my Pinterest account.

FRITTATA REMIX: tomato + pesto

Friday, 22 May 2015
I'm running the risk of sounding a bit like a broken record, but this frittata was too pretty (and tasty!) not to share. Frittatas are my favourite quick and easy supper - this meal would have been on the table in about 15 minutes, had I not made the little roast potatoes. I posted my frittata recipe here before. This one just features halved cherry tomatoes and a healthy dollop of my homemade pesto rippled through it. I'm really enjoying the longer, lighter evenings - not only does it mean I can actually write recipe posts that aren't restricted by how much food I can fit into a weekend, but I ate this one out on the balcony in the last of the evening sun! Make sure to make extra so you can have leftovers for breakfast or as a packed lunch.


Wednesday, 20 May 2015

I wouldn't call myself an expert on the subject, but after going through countless CVs to recruit new people for my team, I definitely have a few ideas of my own about what makes a good CV.

Short and sweet
My CV is one page long - I've always liked to keep things succinct and I've had people comment before that they appreciated the length of my CV. Now that I've been on the other end of the recruitment process, I am completely in agreement that short is good when it comes to CVs. A one-pager shows that you can pick out the best bits of your employment history and other achievements and still sell yourself well without droning on for three pages. I have a slim column down the left side with the headings Employment, Freelance, Skills and Education. On the right-hand side, I have listed my current/previous roles with a heading and a couple of short bullet points with responsibilities and achievements. That waitressing job I had while I was at uni? I finally took it off my CV because it isn't relevant now I have experience in my industry BUT, if you're looking for your first job, anything from waitressing and paper rounds to after-school clubs can show valuable transferable skills.

Do I need a pre-header/mission statement?
While I quite like these - it's a good way to sum up who you are and what you're looking for - I don't think they are essential. If you want to have one, keep it short and to the point with a sentence about what you are looking for in your next job. Don't clutter it with things you think people want to hear like 'hard-working', 'excellent time management', etc. Anyone can make these claims and they aren't really a bonus - any employer, from a shop owner to a big accountancy firm, will want these things as standard. If they like your experience, they will want to meet you and find out these things for themselves.

Is it relevant?
Unless a job application specifically asks for it, you don't have to include a picture or information like your gender, marital status or date of birth. These things are not relevant for most office jobs; there is no need for companies to know your age as recruitment should be based on experience, but they can find this out for themselves anyway from your education dates or via LinkedIn.

What do I put in a cover letter?
Many job applications call for a cover letter, which is why I think the mission statement on a CV is a bit of a moot point. When you are writing a cover letter, tailor it to the job at hand. You can include a little about your current role, personal attributes and skills, but what employers want to know is why they should hire you and how your experience proves that you'd be an asset to their team. Try and use specific examples of achievements or times where you were faced with a challenge and how you overcame it; if you say you have good time management skills, tell them why. It's also worth tailoring the tone of your letter to the company - if it's a large corporate company, keep it professional, but if it's a media company with a reputation for being fun, you can be a little more creative with a well-placed joke. This is a perfect opportunity to show how your personality fits in with the company ethos.

Spell check and spell check again
I know this seems totally obvious, but you'd be amazed how many people make mistakes in their CV. I've seen typos, grammatical errors and even a misspelled blog link! It's worth having a second pair of eyes have a look over it - a friend might spot something that doesn't read properly, even though it's spelled correctly.

Photos from Jo's lovely Bloggers At Their Desks series.


Monday, 18 May 2015

On Friday night I was invited to the re-launch of Dirty Martini in Hanover Square and given free reign on the cocktail menu. Delicious, yes, but totally lethal! The newly-renovated bar is lovely, with lots of modern art, louche '70s furniture and cosy corners, but the best part of the evening was learning how to make my favourite Peach and Wild Tea martini, which was surprisingly easy even though my cocktail-making skills proved a little lacklustre.

On Saturday I was feeling a little rough around the edges but, faced with a glut of tomatoes after an online order gone wrong, I decided to see if I could recreate the fresh Bloody Mary that I still dream about from Qunci Villas in Lombok. I know hair of the dog is meant to be a miracle cure, but I couldn't face any more alcohol so I made a virgin version I've christened the Coco Mary, mixing homemade tomato juice with all the necessary condiments and topping with coconut water for a super refreshing hit of hydration.

Making your own tomato juice tastes amazing, but you do need a lot of tomatoes, even just to make a small amount of juice, so be warned. If you are making a big batch for friends, it might end up being more cost effective to buy tomato juice, but try and get a good quality brand rather than the thick stuff everyone seems to drink on airplanes. If you find yourself, like me, with an overflow of toms, then make it yourself and you won't regret it.

For the tomato juice (makes 350ml)
20 small tomatoes
Half a stick of celery
A pinch of salt, pepper and sugar

Halve the tomatoes and place in a stainless steel pan with the celery, sugar, salt and pepper. On a medium heat, simmer for around 25 minutes until you have a soupy consistency. Don't worry about using any oil - as the tomatoes heat up they will let out quite a lot of water, so they shouldn't stick to the pan.

Pass the mixture through a colander or, if you want a completely smooth, seedless juice, through a fine sieve. Allow to cool and keep in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week.

When cooked slowly, tomatoes release the antioxidant lycopene, which has been potentially linked to preventing cancer and heart disease and apparently helps to protect your skin from sunburn (don't skip the SPF just yet though!).

For the Coco Mary (per glass)
1 part coconut water
2 parts tomato juice
A squeeze of lemon
5 dashes of Tobasco sauce
5 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
A pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Mix together all of the ingredients in a glass, adding Tobasco sauce and Worcestershire sauce to taste. I like mine quite spicy and tangy, but taste as you go to find your perfect balance. Top with plenty of ice and garnish with a stick of celery and straw! If you want a more refreshing, lighter drink, use 2 parts coconut water to 1 part tomato juice instead.

I actually prefer a Virgin Mary to a Bloody Mary and the addition of coconut water makes for a really light and fresh drink that is super-hydrating and nutritious. It kept my martini-induced hangover at bay and was satisfying enough to keep me going until lunchtime too. Enjoy any time of day, though breakfast is an obvious choice - see my favourite breakfast recipes here.


Friday, 15 May 2015

I did a massive spring clean last month and, while I didn't quite hit my target of throwing away 100 things, I did make a big dent in unwanted stuff. I took these photos on a bright morning when I was feeling so happy just to be at home.


I tried Koya - Frith's Street's Japanese udon bar - for the first time last night, which is a sad thing in itself, made all the more upsetting by the fact the restaurant is closing its doors at the end of May (facepalm).

Koya is a typical Japanese eatery, in that it serves just one thing, udon, plus a variety of small plate starters to share (or not!). The Japanese pride themselves on doing things to perfection and unlike in, say, an Italian restaurant where you're likely to eat everything from pasta and risotto to hearty stews and steaks, restaurants are usually more specialised, for example just serving ramen, tonkatsu or tempura or, as my dad genuinely once experienced, a whole  11 course tasting menu revolving around sardines. But back to the udon! 

The interesting thing about Koya is that it's perfectly suited to this mad, temperamental May weather we've been having. There are three types of dishes on offer - hot noodles in hot soup, cold noodles next to hot soup and cold noodles to be dipped in cold dipping sauce - plus sides like tempura, grilled chicken and seaweed. Wednesday was blazing sunshine and verging on sandals territory but yesterday was miserable; it poured with rain all day, my feet were soaked through the holes in my shoes and you'd be forgiven for thinking it was February, so hot noodles in hot soup proved the perfect foil to the merciless English elements. 

With just a few weeks before Koya closes its doors for good, I'd definitely recommend a visit, whether it's cold and wet or blazing hot. I'm crossing my fingers the sun will be out again before the month is out so I can go back and try those cold noodles!


Monday, 11 May 2015

It's been a busy couple of weeks so I thought I'd do a quick little life update. I made absolutely no plans at the weekend so I could take the days as they came and it was the perfect mix of relaxing, seeing friends and catching up on things around the house.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I entered a TV cooking competition and I'm excited to say that I got through! After a week or two of terrible nerves (stomach aches, light headedness and more than a few urges to pull out at the last minute), we filmed the episode last Thursday and Friday! It won't be on TV until the end of summer so I can't really say too much right now, but make sure you're following me on twitter (@catherinesprunt) as I'm sure I'll be tweeting about it nearer the time. I can't wait to share the recipes that I made and also a couple of things about what it's like to film a TV show...but I'll have to keep it all to myself for a few more months!

Sadly, around the same time, we discovered that there was something wrong with Scampi - he had a big growth underneath his chin and a rabbit's health can deteriorate ridiculously quickly, so we were really worried. Luckily, our vet is just around the corner and we were able to book him in to have what turned out to be an abscess treated. Poor thing had half the fur shaved off one side of his face and is looking rather bald! All I can say is make sure you have insurance for your pets! We discovered you can't take a new policy out on a rabbit over four years old, so we had to shell out from our own pockets, but of course it's worth it to have him still with us.

I've also taken on a new role at work, managing the team that I'm part of. I don't like to share too much about my work - partly because the ins and outs are not all that interesting and also because it's not my place to put everything about my work on my blog - but it's been amazing so far. I had a bit of a wobble at the beginning, but I'm taking everything in my stride and I'm really excited for the rest of the year to play out.

Anyway, it's safe to say that everything that's happened over the past month has been giving me some serious anxiety. I've taken some risks and I've really pushed myself, so now I'm giving myself a pat on the back and a bit of a breather for a while. Next weekend I'm planning to not make any plans either and create some more recipes so I can line up a good batch of foodie posts over here. Wishing you all a good start to the week!

p.s. follow me on instagram! I'm loving the new filter updates.


Friday, 8 May 2015

My brother chooses the cleverest, most unique presents (his gifts inspired me to start the birthday book club, which has turned out to be one of my most popular posts) so I just wanted to do a quick post about the gifts he got me for my birthday this year.

1. Made by Hand by Lena Corwin is a cool crafting book packed with DIYs I want to try like tie-dye pillowcases, olive oil soap, screen-printed fabric and beeswax birthday candles. It's like he pre-empted my musings from this post!

2. A Household Box is like a manual for the modern home. I'm not entirely sure what it's for just yet, but as a lover of guides, boardgames and mantras, this little box is filled with quizzes to answer about your home, plus little games like charts and diagrams for rearranging your room (like a Buddhist cave or a dynamic open plan office) and spinners to assign household chores like washing-up and seeing difficult people (ha!).

3. SUCKUK's Cooking Guide Apron was perfectly timed because I'm going to be on a cooking challenge tv show! You put on the apron and when you lift up the hem towards you, it's filled with useful information like how long certain things take to cook or portion sizes...but obviously I won't be able to take it with me!


Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Remember that post about making friends in your twenties where I mentioned an inspiring bunch of blogger friends? Well, Siobhan is one of those good eggs who has come into my life over the past year (or two?) who is inspiring, entrepreneurial and a real 'do-er', which makes me extra excited to introduce her just-launched online store, Calder & Byrne. Stocked with beautiful handmade goodies from around the UK, Calder & Byrne connects makers with people across the world who are committed to seeking out unique products beyond the usual high street offering. From ceramics and beautiful jewellery to prints, cosmetics and Siobhan's very own Bless The Weather knits, there's a little something to inspire the 'shop local' mantra in everyone.

Siobhan's shop has a back-to-basics approach that makes me yearn for the simple things in life. In this modern age, where we hardly do anything with our own bare hands, Calder & Byrne bridges the gap between being and doing and has inspired me to take that long-talked-about jewellery course. Who knows, maybe I'll be part of the Calder & Byrne family in 2016!

Have a browse, fill your shopping basket and support local makers!

{pictured; 1,23,4,5}


Friday, 1 May 2015

Lucca was a total dream and if you live in the UK and you're looking for a quick weekend getaway, I would definitely recommend it!

We arrived on Saturday (via 3 train changes) from Cinque Terre in time for a late lunch, but Lucca is only a 30 minute train from Pisa Centrale (a quick 10 minute bus from Pisa airport). This is what makes it so perfect from the UK - you can leave home at lunchtime and make it to Lucca in time for dinner! The city is very sweet and you can walk everywhere - though you will get lost. By the time we went to bed on our first night we had already been lost multiple times, but the city is so small you can walk around its whole circumference in the best part of half a day. It's also on the train route from Pisa to Florence, so would make a good stop on the way or a base to explore Florence from if you're looking to stay somewhere a little quieter.

Where we stayed
We lucked out with a perfect airbnb apartment overlooking the Piazza Anfiteatro itself. That window view just won me over! I was a little concerned that it would be noisy but Lucca is a very sleepy town. On our first night there was a '70s disco concert happening in the square and it was pretty noisy, but it was packed up by midnight and we had the best sleep ever! The bedroom window backed onto the narrow round that rings around the piazza but we didn't hear a peep until about 8:30am when the street cleaning trucks started their rounds. I found a lot of cute places to stay and I think as long as you are within the walls of the old town, you can't really go wrong.

What we did
We felt like a bit of culture was in order so we stopped by the Museum of Torture on our first afternoon. I suggested it because I thought it would cheer Darren up a bit after I had gotten us really lost looking for our apartment, but it was a bit grim to be honest (yeah, obviously Catherine!) and too small to warrant the 10 Euro price tag. After that we popped by the Tower Guinigi to see the amazing panoramic view from above. I wish we'd gone at sunset though! On Sunday (our only full day) we had a leisurely morning searching for the antiques market. This was when I realised that I'd been wrong about where our apartment was the whole time, so of course we ended up going round in circles for a while, but serendipitously found the market anyway. I think it's on the third Saturday and Sunday of every month and it's huge. There were so many knick knacks, plus tons of furniture and art I wish we could have taken with us. We left our apartment on Monday morning and headed to Pisa to see the Leaning Tower before our flight in the afternoon. FYI, that is totally enough time to see the tower, which is so much smaller than we were expecting (note Darren's unimpressed face above).

What we ate
The food was everything I dreamed Italian food would be and Tuscany is definitely somewhere I would come back to purely for a big plate of ragu. We had a really memorable meal at Osteria Barralla, on the same road as our apartment, where we shared a mammoth antipasti to start, followed by pumpkin ravioli with pecorino fondue, papardelle with venison ragu, slow-cooked rabbit, roast lamb and, of course, that house white wine by the litre! For our second night, our host recommended Trattoria da Ubaldo, also on the same road of our apartment, which was equally memorable. It's owned by a pretty eccentric guy who runs the restaurant with his two sons and the place was packed - actually we tried to go on our first night and had to book to come back the second night instead - and we ate like kings with more antipasto, delicious ravioli and a steak the size of a football. I'm still dreaming about that meal!

Despite what I said in my last post about remembering that places don't always look like they do in the pictures...Lucca looks exactly like it does in my photos and I really recommend it. We only spent 1 full day and 2 half days there and the beauty is that that was enough time, but we could easily have stayed another week and still wanted to come back. We got our flights with EasyJet for £75 each and the apartment is only £49 a night in low season, so you could have 2 really enjoyable nights there for the princely sum of £250 for two people (and the flat can actually sleep 4!).