Monday, 21 May 2018

Baking Lately


My new (well not entirely new) favourite thing is to bake. I love trying new things, and baking things other than standard cupcakes or lemon drizzle cakes gets me really excited. I have been looking through so many recipe blogs and websites looking for things to try, as well as finding inspiration from The Great British Bakeoff which I watch pretty much every morning whilst I am getting ready for work. My favourite thing that I have tried so far is definitely macarons, but I have made some pretty tasty things in the last few weeks.

Something I made last weekend was a carrot cake. I wasn't actually sure I had ever had carrot cake before, but I bought too many carrots in my weekly shop and thought I should use them up - and of course vegetables taste a lot better in cake.

I used this recipe from BBC Good Food - it is actually for a loaf, but I decided to go for a round cake - which I topped with a cream cheese icing. The icing on the recipe was actually way too much, so I froze some in the hope to use it again for the next carrot cake I make (hopefully it will defrost okay!). Because of using oil instead of a lot of butter (something I also had never tried), it took an age to cook, but came out so so moist, and stayed soft for a few days in the fridge which is an absolute winner.

Because I used Sainsbury's basic soft cheese, the icing wasn't as thick as expected, but it tasted great all the same. I used a tip from Cupcake Jemma for the topping as I didn't have any decoration. I evened the top of the cake with a knife and crushed up what I had just cut off to put on top for a little added something. Voila. I can now say I am a definite fan of carrot cake.



Yesterday, I tried out a Babka for the first time too. Again, I hadn't tasted it before, but what I could gather was that it would be a brioche like consistency. I used this recipe from Good Housekeeping, but replaced the filling with Nutella. I am keen to make more bread, so making this sweet dough was a little different from normal white bread I had made before, but I was so happy with how it came out. The bread is soft, but I don't think I put enough chocoalte spread in to be honest, either that or it has all cooked away. Nevertheless, it tastes great with a cup of tea, or a scoop of ice cream which will last my housemates and I quite a while.

What should I try next?

Carrot Cake Recipe: BBC Good Food

Chocolate Babka Recipe: Good Housekeeping 




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Monday, 30 April 2018

10 Lovely Things Last Week





> Picking up a £11 Kanken rucksack (pretty sure it's fake, but I absolutely love it) that will be perfect for the summer.

> Seeing ENO's Chess - a musical I have loved for so long but have never seen live. It was amazing and I shared the experience with two of my favourite people.

> Treating myself to a new Penguin English Library book - reading the classics is so much nicer when it has a beautiful cover.

> Receiving a bursary to attend a conference that will be amazing for my career. I definitely didn't expect to get it and when I got the e-mail, I couldn't stop smiling. Role on July.

> My sourdough starter being ready and my first attempt at making a sourdough loaf was a small success. It was a little flatter than hoped, but it tasted so good. I will definitely not be buying bread ever again.

> Doing more social things with work colleagues -  Last week we had Friday night drinks and this Friday we went to a pub quiz after work, but we came 4th out of 5 teams.

> Hitting my 5 a day of fruit and veg most days last week - it's the little things.

> Going for a run with my housemates - sometimes it is better to do things with other people.

> The weather last week - it was hot enough to go to the beach in a t-shirt last Saturday and I went with a friend I didn't know hugely well. We ate fish and chips, talked for hours and finished off getting ice cream and playing table football in a cafe garden.

> Moving to a temporary open plan office for the week and having a giggle at work.




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Saturday, 28 April 2018

Shit Happens... let's play a game about it


I love moaning about adult life, and when I'm not moaning about adult life, I do love a night in with a few drinks playing a board game. Now, I do enjoy a good game of Cards Against Humanity, especially with a few drinks involved with my house mates, or even my family, so when I was asked to try this new game, Shit Happens, I was instantly intrigued.

The game has 200 cards, or Shitty Situation Cards which each has an event that could happen. They rank from something minor like stepping on lego or your mum complaining about her sex life, to more problematic scenarios like learning your partner is your first cousin and being buried alive.

They are apparently ranked by a panel of 'qualified grown ups'. I can't say I agree with all of the rankings, personally I think losing my laptop or a partner screaming an ex's name during sex would be disastrous, but that's kind of the fun of it too.


To start the game, you pick three cards randomly to start off your 'Lane Of Pain' in numerical order. One player picks up a card, reads the shitty situation and the player to your right has to guess where the card will go in their lane of pain lineup. Guess it right you win the card, guess it wrong and it goes to the next person and so on. If you win a card, you add it to your line up and the game ends when someone gets 10 cards in their lineup.

It actually took us a while for anyone to win any cards as some cards were surprising with their scoring, but maybe I am not a totally qualified adult like the ones who picked the ratings! The game got a lot harder with the more cards you win, as trying to predict where they would come up in your lineup was difficult when some ratings were so close together. We did actually have quite a giggle with some of the scenarios which were totally bonkers.

This is a fun idea for a game, and a great starter to a pre drinks (or a night in like us!) in a house share or university halls. If you're looking for a new card game to add to your growing stash, this is a good one to try, and you can realise, or reaffirm, how shitty adult life is at the same time.

Thank you Cheatwell games for providing me with the game to play and try out - you can buy the game here.


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Sunday, 15 April 2018

Improve Your Meal Plan Game



If anything makes me feel adult, it's making a meal plan, and actually sticking to it. I love that I can come in from work and know exactly what I am going to eat, and usually put it in the microwave to heat up. It means no food wastage, I'm spending less money in my weekly shop, and I know that I am getting some pretty good healthy meals. I have also started eating veggie which is a total game changer and makes me cook more things from scratch rather than reaching for a jar of sauce.

1. Plan ahead and research
Spend Friday night researching and planning for the week - obviously unless you have a much ore active social life than I do. I usually head over to Pinterest, BBC Good Food, or browse some supermarket websites (thrilling Friday night activities, I know), to think of inspiration and what kind of products are out there. Factor in cooking time, whether you'll make it in advance and freeze, or cook when you get in from work. A lot of the things I have are made in advance and frozen.

2. Write a shopping list and stick to it!
After planning lunch and dinners for each day, I write a shopping list and head off to Lidl early on a Saturday morning. I try to stick to it as much as I can, grabbing the occasional things if they are on offer, but I try and stick as much as I can to my list.

3. Make batches in advance
Especially if your meals include a lot of vegetables and to stop them from going off very quickly, I will make my meals in advance, probably on the Sunday afternoon or evening. Therefore, the vegetables won't go to waste before you get to use them, plus all you have to do when it's done is freeze it in freezer bags or pots, and put in the fridge before you go to work.

4. Have a few easy good recipes up your sleeve and basic ingredients in your cupboard
Know how to make recipes like a simple carbonara, a jacket potato or sweet potato fries. You can slot these into your week so you don't end up eating the same thing every night. I also make sure I always have chopped tomatoes or pasatta, oil, garlic (I use lazy garlic), pasta, pesto, and more recently, chickpeas in my cupboard.

My Go To Make Ahead And Freeze Meals
- Vegetable fajitas 
- Vegetable curry
- Enchiladas
- Chilli Con Carne

Go out and smash that adulting.


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Monday, 9 April 2018

The Graduate Diaries | Two Years On...


Maybe I should start calling The Graduate Diaries, The Adulting Diaries, but I still feel like I am trying to navigate life after university, even though it has almost been two years.

This stage of life is very strange, and no one really prepares you for it at all. There are some friends who are moving in with their boyfriends / girlfriends, some married, some pregnant, some still in university, some in amazing jobs and some who are still struggling two years on to find something permanent.

I have to remember that everyone has different timelines and everyone wants different things. There is no one size fits all for life after university. Not only are you adjusting to moving back home, or moving somewhere completely new, you're losing the safety university life. For me, adapting to the working world, was a massive step and is much harder than it is given credit for.

The last seven months in my second job have been an eye opening experience. I've had to grow up, take risks and speak up more than I have ever had to do before. I'm given real responsibility and have to bear the consequences if things go wrong. I have to balance working professional relationships, personal relationships whilst trying to eat healthily, fit in some form of exercise (because that's what adults seem to be able to do) and resist the urge to buy homeware I definitely don't need. So things could be a lot worse, I don't have a romantic relationship, a family or kids to have to think about, but even then, the thing with different time lines is that I see other people achieving different things.

Now, let's move onto social media in this life post-university. During university, posting selfies, pre-drink poses and club photos was seen as the done thing, to show everyone what an amazing time you are having. You don't post about all the times you were in the library, stressing over an essay or dissertation. I feel that with a lot of my friends, and even my self, you have to show yourself in working life that you can have it all, a relationship, friendships, eat healthily and have a job. Bonus points if your job is something really exciting. It's like we're all trying to prove that we can do it and function. It isn't until you see those people in real life where you realise that things aren't all as they seem. They're having problems living at home, they hate their job or they just broke up with someone and not taking it well.

I don't really know where I'm going with this, but talking to a lot of my friends who are graduating this summer and friends who I haven't seen for a long time, that there is no one way to navigate life after university. It's hard, you'll feel lonely, you'll feel like you're falling behind whilst simultaneously feeling ahead.  You'll sometimes crumble under the pressure of adult life and adult responsibilities, but you'll also thrive and grow more as a person. Start focusing on yourself - self care is so important in whichever way you find best, surround yourself with supportive people, but come out of your comfort zone every once in a while. Everyone's still learning. We can do it.







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Thursday, 5 April 2018

8 Happy Things This Week


I love reading posts like this. It always makes me feel happy seeing other people's good things that have happened to them lately. So here are some of mine - it really has been a brilliant Easter weekend.

1. Catching Up With Old Friends

For the long Easter weekend, I went to see some friends from university who I hadn't seen since I graduated a year and a half ago. It was such a lovely weekend filled with singing, laughing, walking and cooking. It was utterly perfect.

2. Hamilton Lottery

To top off my awesome Easter weekend, I won the Hamilton lottery on the app for Easter Monday. If you win, you have the chance to buy up to two tickets for £10 each. I jumped at the chance having already seen it in January (review here) and took a work colleague who really wanted to see it but couldn't get tickets. We ended up sitting in the front row which was incredible. I laughed and cried all over again and got the chance to see some of the alternate cast members (who were insane). It was the perfect weekend and I feel very very lucky to have seen Hamilton twice!

3. Baking Macarons

My latest baking attempt has been macarons. It has taken a few tries, but I think I have now figured out how to get them with feet - the crinkly bit around the bottom - and with flat tops. Watch this space for recipe and tips.

4. Work

Work is finally getting busy, I actually came home and caught up with some things which is so unlike me. I am also feeling crazy inspired at the moment having met some great people in the industry and generally getting excited for the future.

5. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine

This book is something I wasn't expecting to like so much. The character and story was not hugely relate able and I didn't really like Eleanor as a character at the beginning, but the story was so cleverly written, covering aspects of living alone, navigating work and relationships, mental health and childhood. Definitely check it out if you fancy something a little different.

6. Light Evenings

Thank goodness Winter is over and Spring is here (well, except with the amount of rain we are having at the moment!). Light evenings make me want to be a lot more productive, which will hopefully mean I will start doing productive things - well, a girl can dream.

7. Netflix Binging

I am currently watching A Series Of Unfortunate Events, Ru Paul's Drag Race and of course, my favourite show, The Great British Bake Off - and I'm going to join in with all the internet by saying, how strange is the first series! I have actually been following Ed Kimble, who won the series, on Instagram for ages and din't realise he won the Bake-Off (sorry Ed), I clearly wasn't a huge fan of the show back when it started. It however is giving me a lot of inspiration for my next baking project, which I think is going to be bread.

8. 4 Day Working Weeks

Two in a row... fantastic.




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Saturday, 24 March 2018

Books I've Read In March


With my aim to read 20 books in 2018, I slacked in February and turned my hand to listening to podcasts. But with the recent realisation that my local Oxfam Bookshop is actually great (nothing can beat the one in Leamington Spa which had so many new books in every time I went in), I have been reading quite a few this month. 

I bought Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty to fill up an Amazon order - because I can't afford that Amazon Prime life, but I am willing to spend £20 a time to get free delivery... Anyway, I didn't know much about it as a story, but I heard about the TV show. This was different than some of the other  chick lit books I usually find myself reading - not usually on purpose but because I don't know what else to try. It's a really good read, with flawed, but great characters and a gritty story. 

Back to chick lit, I picked up My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella. I actually read this in only three sittings which is so unlike me, partly because I thought the story was good, but also because my house mate was keeping me up by being loud in the kitchen, but I digress. Without sounding like a cliche, this book was really relatable as Katie (or Cat as she tries to reinvent herself when she moves from Sommerset to London), who wants to live the perfect London life, is working in a low paid job and spending all of her wages on rent. I always used to think that having a job in London was the dream, but now, I'm not so sure. The stories flirts some romance, which was actually my least favourite part of the story, but it shows that not everyone's life is how it appears on social media, which is a good message to shout about. 

Wonder by R.J Palacio is also an Oxfam Bookshop find. Having seen the trailer for the film that has come out, I grabbed the book. It tells the story of August - a young boy with facial deformities - go to school for the first time. August is pretty inspiring as a character as he makes jokes and doesn't always feel sorry for himself. The friendships he finds are also lovely to read, realising that there are good people in the world. The book also had chapters from other members of his family and children at the school who Auggie does, or doesn't, make friends with. It was a very lovely read.

I have just started The Keeper Of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan and looking for the next few books to get going on, especially as I have a 3 hour train journey to see Friends on Easter weekend.

Are there any books you would recommend?


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