Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Just One Word

I have taken this from a beauty YouTuber called Julia Graf.  I thought it looked fun! So here goes...

Answer the following questions with one word only: 

Your hair?


Your mother?


Your father?


Your favourite material object?


Your dream from last night?


Your favourite drink?


Your dream car?


The room you're in right now?


Your ex?


Your fear?


What do you want to be in 10 years?


What are you not?


What did you do last night?


What's the last thing you did before this?


What are you wearing?


Your favourite book?


The last thing you ate?


Your life?


Your mood?


Your friends?


What are you thinking about right now?


Your summer?


What's on your TV?


The last time you laughed?


The last time you cried?




Your favourite weekend activity?


Dream job?


Your computer?


Just outside your window?




Mexican food?








On your bed?




I tag everyone to do this post!

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Dark Chocolate and Amaretto Cake

I have accumulated a lot of baking books of late.  Sometimes they are more of an assault on the eyes, rather than on my taste buds as I flick through them in awe of the pictures.  So I am making it my mission to bake from said new books and temporarily turn my back on my faithful books. 

This one is from the Clandestine Cake Club cook book and contributed by Carmela Hayes.

Well, what a delight to make! First of all, it was super easy with the all in one method (so a lot less washing up… phew!) and a lot of fun crushing the amaretti by hand. I feel like Nigella Lawson here as she goes into such detail over how food feels, looks or sounds… however, I felt very satisfied with the sound of the popping biscuits! Amaretti is a delight.  Crunchy, light and airy, yet still has substance.
I have to confess that I didn't use Amaretto (even though we have it in the liquor cabinet) but used the same measurements of almond extract instead.  I made the decision not to use it because I'm very wary of my palette for alcohol in cakes.  The book also doesn’t suggest topping the cake with chocolate or more biscuits, but felt it would turn it into sheer decadence if I did.  The more chocolate the better! So I covered it in milk chocolate as the cake itself had an abundance of dark chocolate in it.  Plus, I prefer licking the bowl of milk than dark chocolate…

This cake is highly recommended for almond addicts.  Super rich, moist and satisfying.  The addition of crushed biscuits is rather different too because I’ve never seen them added to cake mix before.  It turned out brilliantly and makes up for the small amount of sugar added.  The book recommends baking for 40-45 minutes 180 fan, however it only took 30-35 minutes to bake.  Go out and buy the Clandestine Cake Club cook book, you won’t be disappointed!

P.S. has anyone seen Julie and Julia? I watched it yesterday and loved it.  It’s a true story of Julie Powell who cooked/blogged her way through Julia Child’s cook book.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Pastels and Vintage Lace Cupcakes

We had a long awaited family catch up last weekend (we live up north in Nottinghamshire and Sheffield, while they live down south in Essex, Bedfordshire etc) and don’t see each other as much as we’d like to. Life just tends to take over and as we all know, time flies by! However, I have a car now, so I will definitely be seeing more of them.
They have never tasted my baking before, but have said that they’ve ‘regularly drooled over pictures of my baking online’, so I definitely had to provide dessert!
I made some of my best sellers/most loved by family/signature bake, which are my Maltesters cupcakes. I also baked some orange poppy seed cake, which is another household favourite and will get the spotlight in a blog post some time soon.

 It was my Auntie Sylvia’s birthday on the 12th August, so I made her some bespoke cupcakes. I would never trust the postman to deliver a batch unscathed so I was thankful to be able to give them to her in person. It was an absolute delight to give them in person because of her reaction and everyone else’s reactions to them. One of my favourite things in life is to make people smile through my baking and decorating.

I honestly had no clue how I was going to decorate them. I had a few new tools and techniques that I wanted to try out and the rest would be ad-libbed! It takes one completed cupcake for me to then see where I’m going for the rest. That’s the excitement of starting with a blank canvas. My favourite style of decorating is definitely the elegant vintage lace, with pastel shades and bold flowers. I likened all of that to a very well put together outfit (LBD + Tiffany jewellery + statement scarf) with a flawless face of makeup.
What I love the most about cake decorating is how much you can let go of your thoughts. I did not think about anything but those decorations and the task in hand. It was utter bliss, made even better with the perfect play list!

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Some break up advice

Trust me I am not a relationship expert, however I know that these points helped me so far.  Even if this helps just one person out there, my work is done.

1) Friends and family – you have to talk it out.  Every little confusing detail.  Don’t ever think that you are burdening them.  That is what they are there for and quite frankly, they really do show how much they love you in times of need.  A good friend of mine said, “Heather, go home to your family, be all warm and snug and let them take care of you”.  You absolutely should.  You may feel like a child by doing that and lets face it, we are adults, but you are their child.  It’s absolutely instinctual for them to protect you.

2) Watch absolute rubbish on TV, maybe something you thought you’d hate, or something your other half wouldn’t have liked you watching.  I now have a serious love for The Only Way is Essex.  It’s so naf, but it helped me get through this very rough time in my life because it took my mind off my life and my heartache.  Plus it was the only thing that could help me fall asleep!

3) Avoid music for the first few days, or weeks if you love and treasure music like I do. My sister told me that.  She told me point blank, “do not listen to John Mayer, do not listen to the Beatles, don’t even listen to Incubus, they’ll be tainted forever”.  Suffer in silence then?! No, of course not.  Music means a lot to me, so I chose my play list carefully, not involving my most beloved artists.  I knew Taylor Swift’s Red is what I needed.  It’s funny how much you listen to something and it’s so fitting to your situation that you think it was actually written for you.  I would like to give Taylor a hug for writing so poignantly.

4) Take time off work if you need to.  There is no shame in that.  I took three days off… I could have done with longer but you can drive yourself mad at home if you don’t throw yourself back into normality.

5) Then, throw yourself into work.  Luckily for me, work was ramped up a fair few notches after my break up which has worked out very well for me.  It’s time to shine.  Hobbies? Throw yourself into those too and find some new ones.

6) Listen to your heart and your most dark thoughts.  Don’t ignore them.  Don’t put on your best brave face, with a copious amount of MAC blush.  It won’t get you anywhere.  Soon enough it would melt off and reveal the real you anyway.  Be the real you from the get go. 

7) In an odd way, soak it all up, feel dreadful, feel sorry for yourself, cry, stay in bed all day if you want to.  You should feel and embrace this in the beginning.  Denial is not nice.  Especially with break ups, sweeping statements such as “oh I’m fine, I knew it was coming, we just weren’t right for each other” – some statements might be true and heavily philosophical, but are you really digging deep into your heart? It’s best to dig deep, let it all out now rather than six months down the line. 

8) Time. Time. Time.  You won’t feel like this forever.  ‘This’ is implied meaning.  You know how you feel right now.  You can’t describe it.  It’s that heavy hearted feeling.  I’m told that time is the most important element for getting over anything in your life.  You may feel like there’s a huge cloud hanging over you all the time and that you’re haunted.  It won’t be like that forever.

Fear is a friend that’s misunderstood

This is not baking related but it explains the last three months of my life. It might even help someone else who is going through the same thing.

Nothing will prepare you for the moment where everything you’ve built comes crumbling down.  Why me? Did I do enough? Did I do too much? The more I tried, the less it worked.

Break ups.  Devastating.  We’ve all been through them and we can all empathise and sympathise.

Once the reality sunk in, I reacted like I was very ill.  As if I had a 24 hour bug and the only thing to do was to get it all out and be left with nothing.  I wasn’t ill though.  But my body reacted like I was.  I couldn’t breathe.  I had moments of sheer panic where I just couldn’t be alone.  I couldn’t sleep.  I cried endlessly.  I lost half a stone.  I was experiencing stress and I always knew in psychology lessons at school, that given the choice of the options: fight or flight, it would always be fight.  Why metaphorically run away and deny?

I locked myself away.  I saw the light of day only when I needed to or when I saw my friends.  I didn’t go out drinking like people tend to encourage.  That would have ended in tears, literally.  I saw my friends and family quietly; we talked about it over and over again, like the same song on repeat.  Forming various flow charts in our heads to try and understand. However many paths they led me down, the end result was always the same.  Powerless. 

I have grieved like this was a real bereavement.  That person is no longer in my life and can never be in it again.  Too much has happened.  He is circa 2006 – 2013.

I gave my relationship postmortem what it deserved.  Time, understanding and respect. I took the time to listen to my head and my heart no matter how conflicted they were.  However, should I have seen it coming? Were the signs there? I just wanted it to work - that’s all I knew.  Nothing like this is logical and straight forward, however much you want it to be. 

What have I learned in this brief three months? Not much as yet.  I am the same person now as I was six years ago when all this begun.  My fundamentals never change.  I always work some moves ahead, like a game of chess.  I like to know where my life is going or at least working towards it.  Some say this is controlling, I prefer ambitious.  My fundamentals is my personal gravity – essential to just being.  What would I do without them? They are my benchmarks.

I have got stronger and wiser from this experience and I now realise I have some serious courage.  I was told I was brave, “I’m proud of you”.  Are you kidding me? You’re proud of me in the state I’m in? I didn’t understand.  But it’s because I had the guts to listen to my intuition, take control and call time on my relationship that could never work.  I had to say goodbye to my first love who I wanted to live out all my fundamentals with.  My gravity was our gravity.  But life isn’t that logical and you don’t always get what you want.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Where have I been?

So I said in my last blog that I would be blogging again soon.  This promise hasn't surfaced. 

My life has massively changed of late and I'm just trying to ride the storm at the moment.

I have experienced bereavement twice since February. The first was the passing of my Grandma. The second wasn't technically bereavement. But it certainly feels like it, even though that person is alive and well. 

Anyway, enough of the cryptic clues. I'll be back to baking when I'm back to normal. However long that will take.

Bye for now fellow baking enthusiasts.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

I'm back after a long break

Okay, so here I am, back to blogging! I have been away for a long time and I feel that I need to get the reasons why on a post to explain.  Time flies doesn't it?

It's pretty simple really, I got a new job at the start of December - same company, just a different role altogether.  I was completely ecstatic when I heard I had got it as it was exactly what I needed - a new challenge and a job that would make me think and use my brain.  I get restless in jobs if I can't use my creativity or my brain...

So basically, I've been focussing all of my efforts and energy on my new job.  By energy I mean that on weeknights I'm almost asleep on the sofa at 8pm! It's a tiring job and my mind works overtime.  Or if I'm not falling asleep at 8pm, I'm completely unwinding watching my new favourite TV show, Breaking Bad - has anyone else watched it?!  So baking has come at the bottom of my priorities of late, which will hopefully change.

I thought that a quick post would be best and then I'll post a baking blog very soon.

Look what the postman brought me today!