Thursday, 31 December 2015

ringing out twenty-fifteen


This time of year seems to be the time to reflect; wishes, hopes, dreams... successes, failures... relationships, jobs, plans...

Yeh, it's a toughie. 

I find myself spending an inordinate amount of time 'reflecting' on those things that went really badly less well, which aside from being pretty self-destructive is more often than not completely futile. We all like to see this time of year as the time for change; being a better person, doing things better and living a better life. Even at a humble twenty-eight years old, I know this is wishful thinking. That's not to say there's anything wrong with striving to be 'the best version of you' (most over-used phrase at NY?), but I can't help but think it's setting yourself up for a fall. 

Let me clarify. 

Rather than setting a whole load of resolutions I know I can't stick to...
eat more healthily, lose weight, read more, have a better work-life balance, do more exercise, be happy...
...I want to live in the moment. Yeh, I know, social media makes that really difficult! I found myself the other night in bed and 1am, aimlessly refreshing various apps. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest. Repeat. I don't know about you, but I do this quite a lot. And I hate it. 
I want to live in the moment. I do enjoy taking (and sharing) photos, but I don't want to just be that person. When we're travelling later this year, I want to experience it all. Yes, I also want to take some amazing snaps which I'll be able to look back on and remember, but I don't want to be living through my lens. 

Hardly clarity... hey?

Don't be hard on yourself, give yourself a break, enjoy life. Take a step back, take a step forward. Try something new, do what you know and love. Do what makes you happy. Push yourself. Take it easy. It's a world of contradictions. 

This quite probably sounds like the ramblings of a mad woman! I don't really know what I'm trying to say or if I've even reached any sort of conclusion, but twenty-sixteen - let's do this. 
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Monday, 28 December 2015

bookclub #8


Welcome back to the final instalment in the Blogger Bookclub series of 2015. This time the book was my choice, and I went for something I'd seen a few times in the 'thriller' section of my local Oxfam Books. 

#8: The Book of You by Claire Kendal

The Book of You tells the story of Clarissa, who lives and works in Bath and becomes increasingly concerned about her colleague Rafe's behaviour towards her. After being persuaded to attend an event celebrating his new book, Clarissa ends up spending the night with Rafe... although has very little memory of the event. This begins what is a truly scary story - stalking, harassment, fear and kidnap. 

This book really reminded me of Into The Darkest Corner, which I really loved. Although this didn't quite have the same terrifying edge to it, it's an excellent account of a victim of stalking. The book is written in two ways; some chapters documenting Clarissa's everyday life and thoughts, and other chapters are her diary account of Rafe's behaviour. You see, Clarissa must collect as much evidence as possible before taking her case to the police - who would believe her otherwise?

What really got me about this story was Clarissa's reluctance to go to the police until she had 'enough' evidence. By about halfway through the book I was screaming "this is enough! Go!". But you can completely see her fear; that she wont be taken seriously and would be dismissed as mad. This is only compounded by the treatment of the victim in the trial she is sitting as jury in - the victim-blaming and undermining of her account is terrifying. 

The characterisation was excellent; Rafe really freaked me out, and I really did think "what will he do next" after each attack or visit. Unhinged.

I really enjoyed The Book of You - have you read it?

Don't forget to check out LornaLeanne and Charli's thoughts.

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Sunday, 13 December 2015

christmas for food lovers



What tops my Christmas list, I hear you ask? Well, this year it's rucksacks, micro towels and sleeping bag liners... yes, Asia I'm coming for you! This is obviously out of the ordinary, however, and most years my Christmas list looks more like the above. What I love most? Cooking... and all things related!

Christmas gift ideas for food lovers.

One of the best presents I was bought last year was a subscription to Delicious Magazine. Twelve issues of mouth-watering recipes and gorgeous photography, it's super inspirational and the perfect Sunday afternoon read. On that note, I also love the idea of a curry subscription - three months of Friday night curry spices delivered to your door? Indian, Caribbean, Sri Lankan and Thai (to name a few) spices measured to fit a specially tailored recipe. Delish. 

Jamie always comes up trumps, right? I love his 30 and 15 Minute Meals books, and of course Comfort Food... what dreams are made of. His recipes are easy to follow and live up to expectation. I loved watching his Everyday Superfood series and the book would make a welcome addition to any bookshelf. 

Equipment. Tools. Gadgets. You can never have enough. Tell me I'm wrong!
If, like me, you love blending spices to make curries from scratch (it's really not that difficult, I promise, and is so worth it) then a pestle and mortar is an essential. Marble, yes please. A cheese baker is another one of those things that seems unessential... until you want to bake your Camembert for maximum festive vibes and you aint got nothin'. We're already two baked cheese sessions into December. Want something a little more indulgent - this is the recipe for you. I love this wooden board from H&M (TK Maxx and Homesense also do a huge range), perfect for cheese and festive nibbles. 

I am always looking for cheats to use in the kitchen, and this chocolate fondant kit takes all the stress out of making those perfect melt in the middle puddings. I love the idea of playing around with the fillings; salted caramel, boozy chocolate...

My top tip? Wear a pinny. I don't cook without donning my trusty apron - apart from the obvious practical advantage it makes me feel chef-fy. I'm sure it makes the food taste better...

Twenty-fifteen was the year I learnt to love coffee. And after trying coffee from one of these Bodum Coffee Makers I knew it had to be my next must-buy. Completely affordable (this one is only twenty quid) and retro beautiful, it's a winner. 

And finally, if you fancy making some edible Christmas gifts, I've got just the ticket. Try these scrumptious fudge-y, tiffin-y squares or these delish chocolate dipped honeycomb shards or these perfectly festive indulgent choccie brownies. Wrap in a greaseproof paper parcel tied with gold ribbon, and give the gift of food to those you love. 


In case you missed them, here are the links for all the products pictured:
Delicious Magazine SubscriptonBodum Coffee MakerJamie's Everyday SuperfoodFriday Night Curry SubscriptionH&M ApronLakeland Camembert BakerLakeland Fondant KitH&M Wooden BoardDunelm Marble Pestle and Mortar.
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Thursday, 10 December 2015

mini festive bundt cakes


What's better than spending a dreary December Sunday afternoon at home, baking? I'm not really feeling the Christmas spirit just yet, but knew what could help swing it. Mini bundt cake? Cute. Gingerbread with cinnamon frosting? Festive. 

I adapted a Mary Berry recipe to make these perfectly festive bakes. This slightly reduced mixture made about 12 mini bundt cakes. 

125g butter / margarine
125g dark brown sugar
55g black treacle
190g plain flour
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
1 small handful crystallised ginger, chopped finely
1 egg
150ml milk
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Follow the instructions of the original recipe, here

I bought my silicone mini bundt cake tray from Lidl the other week for around £3, a bargain! You can also pick them up on AmazonWaitrose also do them, and you can find them on eBay. I've also seen them in TKMaxx and HomeSense, so keep your eyes peeled. 

Tip: liberally grease your bundt tin to ensure they pop out easily. A silicone mould works better with these little mini cakes. 

For the frosting I made a regular icing mix with a few tablespoons of icing sugar, milk and teaspoon of ground cinnamon. You can alter the thickness of the icing by adding more icing sugar or less milk, depending if you want a thicker icing or thinner 'glaze'. 

Pop in greaseproof paper parcels, wrap with ribbon and share the joy!

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