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Thursday, 27 September 2012

Basic recipe - not so basic cake...

Most of you will know I bake alot - I partly blame my mum and nan bless them, for making me help out (and lick the bowl) throughout my childhood and 20 years later I like to put the blame on The Great British Bake Off programme on BBC2 - The programme feeds my needs for yummy cake and a certain yummy silver haired fox (Hello Mr Hollywood) pleases the eyes somewhat, but mostly it gets the baking juices flowing by making me want to perfect my skills.

Today, with the help of Plenty, I show you how to take a simple sponge recipe and make it into a real crowd pleaser, showing that you dont need to be star baker to still make something super yummy. The reason why Plenty is involved I hear you ask? well, Plenty for me, is not just your humble kitchen roll, Plenty has so many other uses and is brilliant in all types of food prep and even more so when dealing with cakes: Dabbing excess grease off the bottoms of sponges, moving the cupcakes to a different surface to cool, serving on a sheet of Plenty rather than a plate or napkin and is great for wrapping round a cake to keep fresh to pass to a friend... that's if you're willing to part with them that is...

This recipe is my Secret surprise chocolate cupcakes...

This recipe makes 12 cupcakes
115g Butter or soft Margarine
115g Caster Sugar
2 eggs - beaten lightly
115g Self-raising Flour
1bsp Milk
3/4 tbsp of good quality Coca powder
Jar of Nutella
150g butter unsalted
280g icing sugar
2 tbsp coca poweder

Step 1:
Preheat your oven to about 180 degrees/Gas mark 4 and line your bun tray with 12 paper cases
Step 2:
Put your butter/marg and your sugar in a mixing bowl, using a wooden spoon or an electric whisk, give it a good beating until the two ingredients are really well combined, pale in colour and slightly fluffy looking
Step 3:
Add your already beaten eggs bit by bit and mix really well every time you add a bit of egg
Step 4:
Add the flour and the coca powder. I say use a good quality coca powder purely from my own personal point of view - I like a good strong chocolatey rich taste, however it is entirely up to you. Fold all the ingredients together until well combined and well mixed.
Step 5:
Add the milk and fold again. Once the mixture is all lovely and smooth it's time to fill your cases - remember dont ram too much into them
Step 6:
Bake in the oven for 15-20 mins or until lovely and golden and slightly firm to touch. Leave to cool in the tray for 10 mins then remove and place on a wire tray to cool completely.
Step 7:
Get a sharp pairing knife and cut a round circle in the top of the cake - make sure you cut approx halfway down into the cake then remove this 'lid' Do this to all the cakes
Step 8:
Spoon a little of the Nutella into each of the holes in the cupcakes and trim a little of the bottoms of the lids so they fit nicely back on. Do this to all cupcakes.
Step 9:
Place butter in the bowl and mix until pale and softer
Step 10:
Gradually add the icing sugar and cocoa powder and mix softly until it is well combined, light and fluffy. You are then ready to ice all over the cakes! Then you're ready to EAT!

Thanks to Plenty for easing the baking prep and Plenty will be at the BBC Good Food Shows this year. Come and see Plenty’s biggest fan, Juan Sheet, at:

BBC Good Food Show London at Olympia from 9-11 November, where Plenty will be sponsoring the 600-seater super theatre

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

An ode to... Imogen Thomas

I could, in reality, write this feature about many more of the mishaps that reality tv star Imogen Thomas has been involved in, but quite frankly she was always another one of 'those' girls that been in the Big Brother house and other rather dreadful programmes to match that I never really care to take notice of her, however it was an article that I read in the, dare I say it, Daily Mail yesterday that made me positively bead my head on my desk with her rather brainless chatter. Imogen Thomas, my ode to you...

The article read like this: "Imogen Thomas has revealed she has 'lost control of her body' after becoming pregnant.
Far from embracing the lumps and bumps that come with impending motherhood, the former beauty queen says that she hates the cellulite and stretchmarks that comes with having a baby.
The glamour model who is five months pregnant says she has gained a stone and feels out of control especially when making her food choices.
'I’m putting on weight on my sides and I’ve got bingo wings. It’s depressing. And my hips have got a lot wider. I tried my jeans on the other day and I couldn’t even get them half way up my leg! 
'I’m really scared about my stretchmarks, too.'

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2208285/Imogen-Thomas-admits-shes-struggling-pregnancy-weight-gain-poses-unairbrushed-photoshoot.html#ixzz27aGBFjBv 

Errr, excuse me, but how irresponsible does this girl want to be? Granted I didn't really expect anything less from her and I certainly wasn't expecting her to release a 'how to be a perfect mum' book, but seriously love, you are pregnant, it is kinda a given that your body will change - a child does not come in a Burberry bag. I dont have any children and I am sure there are plenty of women out there who have possibly disliked the way their bodies have changed when going through their pregnancies, but to go into length about how much you 'hate' certain aspects of your baby bearing body is just ludicrous. In a world where young girls are forced to look at too-thin models as an 'ideal' and where the latest fad diet is thrust onto our plates on a weekly basis I wouldve liked to of thought that when a woman decides to get pregnant the last thing she frigging needs concentrate on is how bad your ruddy stretch marks are?!?! Seriously, isn't there more important things to worry about?

I have no want to have children at the moment but nor do I know if I am able to even conceive and even for me to hear this woman moan about her horrid (which in truth is amazing) pregnant body is enough to make me want to gouge my own eyes out. For me, every pregnant woman is gorgeous - some get bigger and curvier than others but ultimately what those women are doing,bearing a child, is probably the most amazing thing a human being can do in life. I sure as hell know that the day I get pregnant and get huge, that I am going to embrace it all, because quite frankly my body has allowed me to get pregnant in the first place and carry this child, I sure aint going to worry about the size of my bingo wings - I may just even use them to help fly me around, sorry that is the type of idiotic world that this woman lives in.

I find it disgusting that she even has the audacity to say such things and for Now magazine to even include this drivel in their magazine it's just brain dead. Eating disorders are a big big problem in our country and some people are not even getting the help they need as these illnesses are not often recognised. Cases of eating disorders in pregnant women is on the rise and even more dangerous, it pains me to think that a woman cannot enjoy the accomplishment of having a child and watching her body change with awe, surely there is plenty of time in this world to worry about a little bit of excess fat, can we not spare a thought for the baby inside? Women will read this article and some may compare themselves and their bodies to this woman... What kind of example or support is this showing?

Some of you may disagree with my views and some of you may have experienced the same as Ms Thomas but I bet you dont feel the same way now when you look into your children's eyes....

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

A new PB....

*coughs* Well hello there....I do feel slightly nervous writing this blog post for fear of some thinking I'm boasting, I can assure you I am not normally a boaster nor do I really like to write too much about myself, but I just had to share this with you.

On Sunday 16th September I ran the Great North Run half marathon and got a Personal Best. Not by far, only by 3mins, but the sense of achievement is massive. I'm obviously not a natural born runner: I am 5 ft nothing, a little bit tubby, lack any muscle strength and well, I'm a little lazy and like cake too much but I still managed to run my little legs off and get a pb in a run that I wasn't at all prepared for. After taking over 2 weeks off through Dr's orders after surgery, I had missed a number of 'long runs' on my training plan, so in the couple of weeks in the run up to the GNR I was only running 5 odd miles, I knew this run was going to be hard.

It rained for the entire length of the run, it gave me massive blisters, and made me pant/heave when going up the many hills but what the GNR did give me was a massive feeling of success, gratitude and pride. Most of all I got to run this amazing occasion with a collection of women that have changed my views on well, having female friends. No bitchiness or snide comments, all I got from these amazing group of females was full-on support and love. I cannot thank my second mama run, Sam, who not only made me believe I could do this run but also had the horror of putting me up for the entire weekend - she deserves another medal.

Despite being initially upset at once again not managing sub 2 hours, I do however believe that I will get there one day. What it did make me realise more of, was how much I do love running. I hate it when I'm doing it but nothing can beat the feeling post run (I know right!?) and so my next challenge awaits. I have another half marathon to complete in 5 weeks time at Run To The Beat in London and then a Halloween 5K fun run. I hope to fit in some 10K competitive runs also, but my real target is the Brighton Half Marathon come Feb 2013! However,  most of all I need to work on how I'm feeling inside and more importantly what I'm putting inside. I am a self proclaimed sugar-a-holic and an avid cake eater.... I don't have an off button when it comes to anything remotely sweet and therefore regularly binge eat, which obviously is no good for this sub 2hrs I need to gain - I've tried many of times to act like a one woman rehab unit but still I have never manage to last a couple of days without chocolate/cake/biscuits. Next step forward - getting some help!

I've decided  to enlist the help of Purple Patch Running - I shall divulge more information on them as the weeks progress, but all I know is that I have set them the challenge to help me achieve a sub 2hr if not a 1hr 50min target for the Brighton Half Marathon next year and to lose a stone..... I'm already so excited and look forward to sharing my trials and journey to you all.. now if only I could put down the cake.

Lastly, I want to say a massive thank you to all that sponsored me and gave me words of advice and encouragement, it was all genuinely needed and without you lot there is no way I would've finished.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Fashion For Home...

Have I told you lately about my house renovation? no? well, are you sitting comfortably? then I shall begin! In the last 2-3 years I have had the rather laborious task of renovating or going DIY crazy on my first house. "ooo thats exciting" you all say to me, and whilst I smile and nod at you on the outside, inside I'm crying and screaming obscenities aimed at the time/money situation that comes together with putting a house together. Bet you  envy me now right? And so, when I'm not fighting with boilers, RSJ's, or licking the pages of every interior decorating magazine, you can be sure that I am throwing ideas around about what 'theme' each and every room should be like... I have yet to be fixed on any one idea so far.

Apart from spending my lifetime either at the local Homebase or B+Q I am finding I am spending a lot more time shopping/staring at various furniture and housey websites - nearly all with price tags only Kanye West could probably afford., however enter Fashion For Home  The name already got me excited - yeah, Fashion (my fave, who said shoes!?!?) and home (that thing Ive hated for a while)

This website, if like me, you are on a tight budget but still want that house of our dreams, is the one site for you, it's exactly that: Affordable but luxury furniture and homeware - I love it! Not only do you have innovative designs at more than affordable prices, the actual products are of amazing quality - strong and sturdy and will certainly withstand my dear Scruffy chewing.

Here are my top picks from the site:

Harry Dark Armchair £599.00
Poetique Chest of Drawers £749.00
Box Base Set II Shoe Cabinet £269.00
Indus 8-Armed Pendant Lamp £199.00

Damian Cofee Table £329.00

Let's be honest here, as someone who has never ever been to an Ikea and no wish to, this website is the only place I shall be visiting to make my home suitable for a visit from the queen and enough for it to rival those that are on my fave interior mags!

Go follow their twitter page at: https://twitter.com/ffh_uk 

*This blog post is sponsored, however all views are honest*

Thursday, 13 September 2012

An explanation, a thank you and a half marathon...

I have just three days left........ three days.

Three days until I run my second half marathon. Running The Great North Run has been something I have wanted to take part in since I first started running... and well, here I am. This year I am running for a charity and that charity is Mind. I'm sure most of you know that Mind is a really worthy charity that give support to all those affected by mental health problems. I knew as soon as I got a place in the GNR that Mind was the charity I had to support, a charity close to my heart, a charity that I fully 100% supported, a charity that I wished I had known more about.

Why you ask? I shan't give you a long ass sob story, this post is more to those who have supported me and even sponsored me to run this half marathon, it's an explanation.

Half of my problems in my life are my own doing. Ever since I was a young girl I was known for being spirited, forever laughing, forever chatting and without being a little annoying, I was very much a people person. I was known for it... Fast forward until teenage/adult life happened, neurosis happened, paranoia happened and so came my inability to deal with my emotions happened.

At my lowest, I had reached a stage in my life that I didn't like anything about me, I didn't enjoy life: everything was a chore. There was no sun, no brightness in my world - only clouds, a fog even. I couldn't clear the fog, it followed me around - everything I did in my life this fog would follow me around, it would tell me I was worthless, not to smile as I don't deserve to be happy. Every treat in life ended in me unable to enjoy it, I felt guilty. I didn't like talking to people, the people involved in my conversation would surely look at me and think I was horrifically ugly, horrendously fat, inarticulate and dumb I was - why should I be allowed to talk to people when I was that bad. I lost touch with people, I didn't wanna spread this fog, it was contagious - it took over my life, surely it'd do the same to others. I refused to be loved, refused affection, refused my family and told many people I didn't care about them because they didn't care about me: how could they. That is what the fog done to me. The fog was depression.

At the time I didn't know what was going on with me or my life, why I was feeling this way - I didn't feel like me anymore, I was someone I didn't know. I was unable to talk about my feelings. Who was I to think anyone would want to listen to me, no-one would understand. I wish I knew then what I know now and mostly I wish I had known of Mind. I went through, and wasted years of my life on emptiness, leading an empty life. Mind are there for people who suffer from kinds of mental health problems including depression: no questions asked, no judgement. I picked myself up (mostly alone and some aided by medication) I am here today a better person. I am not healed from this illness, I never will be, but I am through the fog, I found a way out. All I feel now is guilt for letting the fog desolate me for so long, I wished I had looked into Mind and called them, they do amazing work, so amazing I have no words to describe it further, only other than I wish I had turned to them, they are lifesavers.

I don't want anyone to waste their precious life, this is why I support Mind and this is why I cannot thank any of you enough: those people who have supported and sponsored me give me hope, they allow me to run this half marathon journey with a real cause. I thank you for believing in me.

If you would like to sponsor me on my Great North Run half marathon please click HERE

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

The Wednesday Wanted...

Alona Shelemy is the brains behind this gorgeous jewellery world. This necklace just screams 'Cool' to me, its the type of necklace that I feel I need to own in my life, I imagine any woman who owns this will be a woman I want to be. The combination of Turquoise and Hematite is almost crazy, hard, cool - this necklace gives off a vibe of freshness.

I need sleep, I think we all need sleep and I have heard so many amazing things about this pillow/body mist and quite frankly at only £10, I'm willing to try it! Zzzz

These shoes are pretty much the sex... look at them! If the heel doesn't scream  at you to be worn in the bedroom aswell as the street, just take in the velvet. These are beyond sublime and I need these like I need air right now

This often brutally honest book is pretty much a god send. Often at times a little harsh, this book is all for those single ladies who well, find themselves a little stuck and asking why. This is no namby pamby self help book, this makes you truly ask yourself why and what is going on with you.

This A/W, our kitty friends are going to be seen everywhere. This Markus Lupfer jumper is extravagant as it is stylish, this will be your 'go-to' item this Winter. No-one needs to know I dont actually own a cat do they?!

 6 - Ted Baker Sweet Treat purse sprays £15 Boots
As a long standing fan of Ted Baker, as soon as I saw these mini purse sprays I knew I had to own one... or all of them! Perfect for those night outs!

You didn't think I'd include a list of must-haves without including something rabbity did you!?!? This cushion belongs in my house.. It's def more of a grown-up rabbit item and would look amazing in my living room.

I dont need to remind you all how amazing this collection is, I pretty much want all of it, but this bag took my eye first and has done ever since. This bag is just a classic must-have that quite frankly will last you a lifetime.

9 - Essie 'Recessionista' Nail Varnish £7.99 Boots
I love love love this new style of brick-red. It's sassy  and confident looking. Dressy enough for those rich nights out and indulgent enough for those winter days.

Perfect for the Mary Poppins-esque of us all! This bag really is a bag of tricks! I just quite simply adore.

The party season will be upon us before you know it and every single shop will be displaying their best party dresses so now is the time to get stocked up on pretty slinky tops for those impromptu events or dates. This top is just stunning to look at and would look amazing with the most casual of trousers.

What are you wanting this Wednesday?

Monday, 10 September 2012

New Season A/W With Baukjen...

On my recent break from the blogging world there have been some changes in one my favourite brands, Isabella Oliver 365 - not a massive change, just a little name change to Baukjen, why I hear you ask? Aptly named after the co-founder Baukjen de Swaan Arons, as always you can still guarantee that the styling, the clothes and accessories are going to be 'dribble on your keyboard' good. One of the best things I find with Baukjen is the ability to give me a ready made,stylish outfit there and then. I never have to worry that what I like isnt going to merge well with the rest of my wardrobe, or that I wont ever find anything I can buy or team with it (not like over high st stores hey Topshop?!) It's great for someone like me, that doesn't really have all that much time to faff around with putting together the right outfit. Through each season (and every catalogue) I always feel drawn to Baukjen/Isabella Oliver 365, I know I don't have the figure or the looks of their amazing models but there is something about the classic nature of the styling that always makes me feel confident.

As we are now verging into A/W season (please dont hit me) I happen to adore everything about the colder weather and pretty much thrive in wearing jumpers and layers (I do love hiding away the excesses) and Baukjen's new A/W collection is once again so wearable. I will however be honest (as always) and admit that even though everything is just dribble-worthy, the prices are not always as purse friendly. As a woman on a tight budget (seriously, houses cost so much) I often find myself wincing at some of the prices on the site,but you have also got to bear in mind there is quality with their clothes, and with the sort of style that isn't just for one season alone! Short of showing you everything from their lookbook, because I really could, Here are my fashion forward picks for A/W, that are all teamed with other high street pieces to make your Baukjen piece really worthwhile:
The Romee Biker Jacket: £249 Baukjen
     - Skinny Jeans £26 Next
     - Bat jumper £19 H + M
     - Long line top £7.99 H + M
     - Bobble Hat £10 ASOS
     - Spin bottle ring £29.95 Me + Zena at whatsabouttown.com
     - Lineker shoeboot £80 Dune

The Ross Rib dress £115 Baukje
     - Leather Look leggings £38 Topshop
     - Obi wrap belt £20 ASOS
     - Leopard Print boot £65 River Island
     - Spike Necklace £12.99 Newlook
     - Black quilted bag £28 Dorothy Perkins

Rosie Maxi dress £139 Baukjen
     - Pixelate curve heels £90 Topshop
     - Confetti handbag £24.99 Newlook
      - Angular bib necklace £10.65 Forever21.com

Aside from the above, the below are investment pieces in themselves and well worth buying as they will become staple items and last you for years:
Maryna Kick Dress £139 
This piece will do for both work and pleasure and would create the most amazing line on both a curvy and slim figure. Cinch in at the waist with a skinny belt and team with sky-high heels, or team with long boots, layer up with scarves and shawls and go for a brisk walk to the nearest pub
I literally get so excited over this piece! This is a wardrobe staple and you need it now! team with skinny jeans for all manner of occasions - do up or let hang loose. A great alternative to a heavier jacket, layer with loose tees and gentle gold jewellery.
I have dreams about this item regularly and have wanted a faux fur gilet for years, all I need now is to save for this exact one. This gilet will always give your outfits a little certain something extra that helps with the transition over to the older weather. Team with a leather jacket and bright red lips to vamp it up, or team with jumpers, florals and tan accessories to go all boho.

What do you think of my A/W picks from Baukjen? What will you be buying?

Friday, 7 September 2012

Fashion Night Out and why my sofa is more important..

I don't pretend to be at the forefront of style, I never really 'get' what is happening in the window displays of my local Topshop or what the hell their assistants are wearing, I often flick through several glossy magazines and (loudly) proclaim 'OH MY GOD, HOW MUCH' at alot of the items on show, and well, I'm the one who is currently sitting in here in tropical print leggings and a flame orange tee... I'm hurting even my own eyes. However, for the stylish and possibly non stylish of you, last night was the annual Vogue Fashion Night Out.

The Vogue Fashion Night Out official tee!

To cut a very long story short this FNO 'thing' is where alot of the err, *coughs* higher end brands keep their wonderful boutiques open until late and throw a little soiree: think cupcakes (cos, y'know theyre always around) lots of champers (a.k.a cheap plonk darlink) and some nibbles (not enough food to feed a small mouse) now all this sounds really exciting and being on twitter last night was something to behold with photo's everywhere! These were some fancy shin digs these brands were holding, lots of fab, amazing, glossy looking photo's of various items: dresses, shoes, scarves and funny dressed models, but what I really need help with all you people that go: do you actually buy anything?

I mean it all looks fabulous and wow, to get invites to go - you lucky sausages and if I was maybe younger and more in 'fashion' (oh and get invites right) I'd probably go and down that 'champers' good and proper but I dont understand... if you people go, and there are all these new season collections on show, are you buying them!? Help me understand, what do you get out of it?

It's amazing for the brands to hold these events on a now annual basis, you cant deny that having all the photo's plastered everywhere, on all social media networks and on various blogs and websites is just good, plain and simple publicity, but ultimately does it enable us, you and me, who buy Asda's own brand of tea bags to afford that coveted new Burberry coat? Dont know about you, I still cant afford a Burberry handkerchief.

Some might call me jealous - I don't get invites so I slag it off, but don't tell me that you haven't wondered the same thing? or gone to these events and drooled over various items knowing that Mr bank manager will not be happy should you open your purse. What were you doing last night? me? I was in my see-through leggings (the bad kind), no makeup, unwashed hair and have set up camp on the sofa.... I still would've loved to of been a part of this 'FNO' thing but why oh why do you want me to leave my sofa? It's not going to happen. Firstly, I've eaten dinner, I eat alot. Secondly, I live in Berkshire, it takes me 50 mins to get to Pads and well, to get to countless shops in heels?? hmm. Lastly, I still cant afford anything and for a shopping event I want to come home with goodies! So, here it goes, High Street? Get with the programme and do your own affordable events across the uk and Vogue FNO? Get it online too.... 

Did you go to 'FNO' what did you get out of it? am I missing out? what are your thoughts!

Time to re-invent, time to grow..

Err, *ahem* hi everyone... I know, it's been a while, weeks even, I suddenly feel like the new kid at school, walking into a room with no-one I know... Well thank you to those who have bared with me whilst I took a little break for health reasons and for those that didn't know/care, then please feel free to not leave a mess on your way out!

It is rather amazing what 3 weeks of rest can do for you (and your brain) not only am I feeling really well rested (so is my somewhat squidgy thighs and bum) but my brain is feeling, how do I put this, clearer. Some of you may assume this is down to the oodles of mind numbingly boring daytime TV and yes I am pretty sure I have gone a little soft in the head, but other aspects in my life has suddenly become a little clearer, it's a rather grand feeling I'll have you know. I haven't figured out how to win the lottery, or discovered cures for the worlds ailments, but what I have seemed to gained is some clarity and dare I say it, focus. Why am I telling you? well, my blog - what started as a crappy blog to air my feelings then turned into a blog which was all about style and fashion which then turned to a bigger load of crap by me simply regurgitating press releases, it then moved into more of a lifestyle blog featuring moi but as with life and the trials that happen to us all, my posts became fewer and far between, the content was err, just a whole load of crap and everything that I did get the urge to write about? well, I never had time... and so a new era has come. With me feeling like I've grown up away from this blog and in life I feel the blog should really reflect it... I mean no-one wants to see me TRY to be 18 again do they? (it was bad enough the first time round) It took me a while to come to terms with even carrying on with the blog - should I stop altogether? I'm still not sure if I know the answer of this question, but what I do know is that I intend on making this blog more about me and less about concentrating whether you all 'may' like it.... Don't get me wrong, I do care, but as in life, I'm more comfortable with me and well, that is exactly where I want the blog to be moving... kinda....

Some things are never written in stone, that I do know, but hey, here's to a new chapter, now go get a mug of tea and clink me some love!

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