Thursday, 27 February 2014

Down where the walls start shaking, I'm waiting for you to find out

I can never resist a cheeky wander around the home section of Primark, and so when I was back at home over half term I fully made the most of having the huge Liverpool store on my doorstep. A while ago I'd spent ages on a hunt for some fairy lights to match the blue and red theme I've accidentally ended up with in my bedroom. I found some really pretty lanterns from Sass and Belle in Oklahoma in Manchester (anyone else bloomin' love that shop?!) but the colours just weren't quite right so I resigned myself to the fact I was going to have to continue living a lantern free lifestyle. 

Anyway, whilst having a wander about in Primark with one of my buddies, I stumbled upon these little beauts. Plus they were only £6... as if I needed any more incentive to march myself straight to the tills with them. They're absolutely perfect for evenings like today when quality time in my pjs nestled up amongst my millions of cushions is just what the doctor ordered. There's normally nothing more I love than spending as much time out and about as possible, but when you've had the longest week in existence (the inevitable consequence of having a laughably short working week last week) sometimes you just need to snuggle up in bed surrounded by pretty lights.

Fairy Light Lanterns: Primark, cushions: Primark/ Cath Kidston/ Sass and Belle/ homemade, bedding: Ikea

Saturday, 22 February 2014

I go crazy cos here isn't where I wanna be

I've had a pretty decent week as far as working weeks go... although that may be because my *ahem* working week was only one day long. Don't get me wrong, I bloomin' love my job, but its the best feeling in the world knowing you've got a few days of freedom ahead. I spent the start of the week at home catching up with my friends (including a trip to an awesome wedding cake shop with my friend who's getting married this year!) and family. My Dad and I spent some quality time together on a photography course which was run through Jessops in Manchester, I wasn't sure what to expect but I was really impressed... the guy made a real effort to find out what we all wanted to develop our skills in and made sure that we didn't leave without the right advice. I feel like I learnt a few tricks to make the most out of the billions of settings my SLR has which I probably wouldn't have got to grips with by just reading a book about it. 

Today I took a trip into town and ended up having an impromptu lunch date with my friend Coral as I'd popped into her work to say hello just as she was being told she could take her break. Perfect timing. We couldn't have planned it better if we'd tried.

Anyway, I ended up wearing my new favourite top (how is it that sometimes you can fall massively in love with the simplest, most unexciting items of clothing?!) for about the 3rd time this week today (thank god for Mama T and her superhuman talents with the washing machine) along with my absolute bargain of a skirt from New Look. I think I paid a tenner for it back in January but they've reduced them down to £7 now... I'm contemplating filling my whole wardrobe with them at that price!

top: Topshop, skirt: New Look, boots: Topshop, socks: Primark, necklaces: Topshop/ Kukee, watch: Urban Outfitters

Anyway, I'm off to get excited that there's still a whole weekend left before Monday rolls around again. Can I just work one day a week every week please?!

(In honour of their awesome performance and Alex Turner's hilariously cringey rambling speech at the Brits)

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Iron Cupcake

I know, I know, Valentines day has long been and passed now, but I've been separated from my memory card and my laptop so haven't had a chance to post these pictures from the latest Iron Cupcake competition until now. If you've not seen me post about the competition before then I'll fill you in a little first. My lovely friend Charlie runs Iron Cupcake monthly in Leeds and every month there's a different theme to challenge bakers skills. You can then go along to the competition as either a baker or an eater (or both if you really want to get involved!) and spend your Sunday evening surrounded by cake. There's always some great prizes for the bakers, and eaters get to eat tonnes of cake (can you tell why I like going so much?!).

This month's theme was a seasonal one, "Valentines: Love it or Hate it". I was slightly disappointed that there weren't more entries on the hate it side of things as I'm really not a fan of Valentine's day, I just don't like the whole forced sentiment around it and the abundance of unoriginal pictures of roses that took over Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for the weekend, but the standard was impressive and there were some pretty beautiful (and very, very tasty) cakes to try! 

The cakes above won two prizes on the night, the Baker's Panel (chosen by bakers who also took part in the judging) and the Best in Show. They were lovely passionfruit and raspberry flavoured cakes and everybody seemed to love the marshmallows!

I found it really difficult to pick a favourite as they were all so yummy, but these cute little Bee My Valentine cupcakes pipped the others to the post in my eyes as I'm an absolute sucker for anything lemon flavoured, give me homemade lemon curd and I'm yours forever.

 Next month's competition falls on my birthday (9th March) and the theme is Vegan cakes... Charlie didn't take me up on my suggestion to make the theme Kaz's Birthday sadly. I'm intrigued to see what the bakers come up with as I'm sure it'll be out of a lot of people's comfort zones! There's one baker who comes every month to the competition who always makes really tasty vegan cakes so I've got high expectations of the other bakers! 

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

If anybody wants to know, our love is getting low

 Last week, everyone at work was (semi) jokingly talking about how I haven't provided them with cake in a while, I fully blame this on the massive quantity of Christmas chocolate we still had in every corner of the office throughout January... working in education is possibly the most chocolate filled career ever. Teachers always have tonnes of the stuff! Towards the end of last week, we miraculously polished off the last of our supplies, so I agreed that we probably needed something to get us through so we weren't all experiencing withdrawal symptoms from a lack of Roses in our lives.

And so, not wanting to do things by halves, I went for possibly the most gooey, unhealthy option ever. Salted Caramel Brownies. They're quickly becoming my favourite thing in the world to make and they went down an absolute treat with everyone at work (which I'm not sure is the highest accolade really as we'll literally eat ANYTHING if its left on the table for more than five minutes!). The recipe is based on this one from The Boy Who Bakes and its surprisingly easy to do!

Salted Caramel Brownies

180g plain flour
3tbsp cocoa powder
1/4tsp salt
300g dark chocolate
150g butter
150g caster sugar
220g soft brown sugar
4 eggs
1tsp vanilla extract

for the filling:
1 tin of Caramel
1 or 2 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 160C (fan) and grease your baking tin (I'd probably suggest using some baking paper to line it with but I didn't have any in the cupboard... the brownies still came out ok though!). 

Place the chocolate and butter into a heatproof bowl over a pan of water and stir on a medium heat until all has melted.

Add the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract to a bowl, add the chocolate and mix together until smooth. Sieve in the flour and cocoa powder and beat the mixture until it is all combined. 

Pour half of the mixture into the tin, making sure it is evenly spread across the whole tin. 

Take the tin of caramel and add the salt to the tin, mixing thoroughly. 

Add a layer of caramel on top of the brownie mixture in the tin- make sure you don't get the caramel too near to the edge of the brownie- leave a gap of about 1-2 cm. 

Layer the remaining brownie mixture on top of the caramel, making sure none of the caramel is visible afterwards.

Bake the brownies in the oven for about 30 mins and then leave to cool before serving (unless you're as lazy/greedy as I am... in which case tuck in- they taste pretty damn good warm!).

Let me know if you try these!