a blog about an Essex girl living in Swansea, chatting about baking, rowing, other bits and bobs, and some crazy teaching times in India

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Sing along

Calm song for the morning. I'm sitting here with my cup of tea and my bowl of porridge, completely relaxed, having a flick through a couple of blogs. I have the perfect background music too; my room is filled with the sound of guitar strings, and some thoughtful lyrics are floating through the air. Have a little listen and see what you think of the video below.

This song is by Gabrielle Aplin. Doesn't she have such a beautiful voice! She's been around for a couple of years now, but is slowly receiving more and more attention. Check out her videos on Youtube, especially her cover of Fix You by Coldplay - it's on the BBC Introducing channel. 

Gabrielle's voice is so soft and gentle. I think I'll be taking a nap soon, I'm very chilled out.

I'm hoping to see her live soon... Does anyone want to come with me? 

Big love, stay warm on this chilly Tuesday! xo

Monday, 29 October 2012

Recipe Time: Ghost cupcakes

These could be made to look more like little ghosts - I admit they're a poor effort on my part but I've been almost too busy this weekend for any Halloween cooking. I've been camping out at the marina again... In other words, devoting a lot of my Saturday and Sunday to go get my toes wet and hang around boats. I'm positive I'll end up with trenchfoot one day, the amount of time my feet spend in waterlogged wellies!

These little cuties are simple to make, and barely take any time at all. And you can even use the cocoa powder afterwards to make yourself a nice, warm hot choccie, and snuggle up on the sofa with it and one your Halloween cupcakes! Perfect for those cold nights in.

What you'll need...
75g butter/magarine
125g caster sugar
75g plain flour
35g self-raising flour

2 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
25g cocoa powder
100g plain yoghurt

For the marshmallow topping...
125g caster sugar
60g golden syrup
2 egg whites
Bag of dessicated coconut

Whack the oven up to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 to preheat

1. Sieve the two flours, and the cocoa powder, and put them together in a bowl.
2. In a seperate bowl, cream the margarine/butter so it is soft, then add the caster sugar and cream the two together so the mixture is light and fluffy.
3. Whisk in the egg gradually, add to the butter and sugar mix bit by bit. If the mixture looks like it is about the curdle, add in a tiny bit of the flour mix.
4. Fold in the flour mix gradually.
5. Then add the yoghurt. Make sure it is mixed in well.
6. Spoon the mixture into the cake cases - fill them until they are just over half full.
7. Bake for 15-20 minutes.
8. Take out to cool. Whilst the cakes are cooling down, you can begin to make your marshmallow topping!
9. Pop the caster sugar in a saucepan with the golden syrup and heat until it comes to the boil. Leave this on for about 5 minutes.
10. Whilst it is boiling, whisk the egg whites on a high setting until they stand in peaks.
11. Still whisking the mixture, slowly add the syrup mix.

12. Keep whisking for about 10 minutes, until the topping mixture is stiff.
13. Now decorate your cupcakes! Put the marshmallow topping on with a spoon, layering it in blobs. Then sprinkle on some of the dessicated coconut. (You can make little ghost eyes by putting two strands of chocolate sprinkles on.)

They're like little ghouls! Tasty too.

Big love, and good luck with your Halloween costumes! xo

Saturday, 27 October 2012

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas... Wait, too early?

Oh no, winter is almost upon us. I know weather is the most mundane topic ever, but have you noticed how cold it has become in the past couple of days? I stepped outside my front door yesterday in just my lycra three quarter lengths and a hoodie and ended up retreating to the hallway in search of more clothes. Don't worry, I was going to the gym - I don't love lycra that much to wear it as part of a normal outfit. Most of the time. Even after putting on a chunky cardi (I looked like a bundle of wool, I was so wrapped up), I regretted my decision to not layer up even more for the cycle to the gym.

Where has this hideous weather come from? And why has it struck Wales with such force? Well, I'm demanding that it goes back to where it came from. I'm a big sucker for thick jumpers and big coats, but not arctic conditions. I'm freezing my toes off here. A certain part of me could definitely cut glass right now. Two certain parts of me. Someone whack the heating up please?

With the cold conditions comes the inevitable excitement about a certain holiday that crops up towards the end of the year. Yes, my birthday, obviously! No, sadly, people aren't exactly over the moon about that date, they're more concerned about the event that happens exactly a week afterwards. Starts with a big fat 'c' and ends with a little 's.' Oh, you got it in one! Gold star for you. CHRISTMAS. I'm a total scrooge at this time of year. I'm one of those people that will get excited about Jesus' birthday, but not until the calendar rolls around to late November/December time. I really do not like the fact that, in what seems to be late August now, the department stores and supermarkets begin to make room for their Christmas aisles. It's sneaky, they start off with a small section, perhaps a couple of baubles and some selection boxes. Nothing too noticeable but enough to get people talking. Then BAM, the shelves are piled high with tree decorations, stocking fillers, giant bars of chocolate, Christmas cards... The list is never ending. 

Christmas shopping panics me. I start early enough, browsing around town a couple of times, buying the majority of my presents. Then it gets to December, usually around the 20th, and I realise that everyone has an uneven amount of presents. I like to be fair, and make sure everyone has near enough the same amount spent on them. Saves arguments. I sound like a parent. "Well, darling, even though your brother's present is the size of an elephant, we did spend the same amount on both of you, so don't complain." 

I'm becoming too sensible I think. Hideous. 

So this fair-share business creates a bit of a tough situation. It's always easier to buy for women, isn't it? You go to Boots and have a whale of time with the 3 for 2 offers, stocking up on bubble bath and hair-care sets; then it dawns upon you that you haven't devoted any of your time to thinking what you're going to buy for those males in your life. They're a pain in the bottom to shop for. I normally end up getting random things, or a lot of Amazon gift vouchers. "There you go - I thought long and hard about this present, appreciate it!"

Or just buy Toblerones. A lot of them. They always go down a storm.

I knew chocolate was the solution to everything...

Big love, xo

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Where's my railcard?

Sometimes you need to take yourself out of a situation to view it entirely. Detaching yourself and looking upon it with fresh eyes is how I think I can get myself through it, or at least help me understand it.

Sitting in a Costa Coffee in Reading is helping me to see some things in a new light. I spotted a sign for it outside the Waterstones in the Oracle shopping centre and ducked inside, scared to venture outside of the main part of the town as I'd never been here before, and didn't want to get lost. I was hoping for a cute cafe in which I could snuggle on a sofa and order a cappucino, but no hope. I'm meant to be waiting for my Dad to come and pick me up - I'm only halfway home after a spur of the moment decision to leave Wales and take a break back at home. It's a very noisy and busy coffee shop; I have an impromptu mother's meeting taking place behind me, where a very pretty and slim tanned woman sat down not too long ago with her two squabbling children, spotting her friend across the not-so-careful arrangement of tables, and motioned for her to join the coffee party. They're now discussing birthday parties.

I feel hopelessly detached from this home-life talk, and am feeling more like a student than ever. At university I sometimes forget children exist, wound up in my bubble of teens, 20-something year olds and the odd mature student. Reading is a university town, but I can't spot anyone pulsing student vibes quite the same as I feel I am. Dressed fairly nicely - for me, anyway, I've actually made an effort past the usual jeans combo - I am still sporting my SURC gilet. It's times like these when I can't wait to grow up properly and surpass the stages of graduation, finding a job, finding a flat... I want to be in control of my future already. I am incredibly excited for the days when I'm not dependent on Student Finance and the perilous worries of overdrafts.

I often wonder what I'll be doing in five, maybe ten, years' time. Will I be just another contribution to the forever increasing percentage of unemployed youths? I don't want to be just a number. Or a fraction of number, even. I want to make something of myself. I want to be self-sufficient with the means to survive comfortably. I'm not aiming for the stars; I could never imagine myself in a slick office suit, sitting at an impeccably tidy desk, with my pens arranged in size order to my right. Not that every high-powered person has a case of OCD. I'm going to be one of those scatty women who are always trying their hardest to keep their shoes shiny and their clothes free from wrinkles. I'll have a desk area, if not my own office (high hopes!), and it'll be littered with cuttings from newspaper articles and magazines that I have found interesting. My stack of Margaret Atwood novels will be to my side, and a couple of books featuring Plath's poetry, maybe a potted plant or two trailing the desk.

In other words, I'm setting myself up for a Bridget Jones-esque life.

Distracting yourself is one way of taking yourself out of a situation. As you can see, I'm pretty good at that. But in all seriousness, being away from Swansea for a couple of hours has already made me feel a bit more revived. Kind of ready to head back? Almost, not quite.

I'm one of those people that has to be constantly on-the-go. If I'm not doing something, or seeing someone, I feel lazy. Apparently, it's important to have a little 'me' time. What are you meant to do with yourself? How do you cope for a couple of hours on your own?

That's HOW you cope though, I've realised. I wrote this on my jotter and then my Dad called so I had to round up my belongings and leave, placing my huge coffee cup (they're more like bowls, aren't they?) on the counter, and running back to the station. Having a time-out isn't being lazy, it's being normal. It's called recovering. I'm finally feeling less ill, and I feel like I have a bit more energy than before, because I was totally drained and having to rely on energy drinks to keep me half-awake. Or once, mistakenly, Lucozade. But that brings back a lot of memories, and I don't want to get started on that one yet.

Sit back, have a cup of tea, get out a good novel or switch on the telly. Make sure you're providing yourself with a little bit of 'R&R,' as my friend referred to it the other day. Rest and relaxation is definitely key!

Big love, xo

P.S. I'm baking Hallowe'en treats before I head back to Swansea. I'm so excited! Praying that I don't fall asleep in the mixing bowl though, my tiredness isn't completely sorted...

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Man, I love college

"Freshmen! Freshmen! Freshmen! Do somethin' crazy, do somethin' crazy, do somethin' crazy."

Beware of the marker pen.

You MUST have heard that song. If you haven't, I'm sorry, but I'm going to discount you as a university student. Don't worry if you're not a student, I'll let that one pass, just make sure you take a peek on Youtube. I think the amount of times we played I Love College by Asher Roth in my flat in Fresher's Week when I started first year totalled a stupid number. "Ooohhh, this song is about Freshers! Totally relates to us, right?" It's the same with the Tinie Tempah song, Pass Out. There's a line that talks about raving with the Freshers. I remember always shouting that part when I sang along. If I'm singing along, I'll always shout the parts of a song that I think relate to me.

"Fresher Flat Photo!" I look so young.

First year makes you feel like you're super special and you're the first ever people to go to university. Like, ever! I know, I've been there. I've felt the same, got the t-shirt. Or actually, all the t-shirts, and I now use them for the gym. Seems a bit ironic sometimes, sporting a Smirnoff-or-similar-sponsored top when you're on a mad one on the cross-trainer.

Back on topic. You do feel like you're brand new and shiny when you become a first year undergraduate at uni. It's partly because you are. But the same goes for all the other people in previous years that began their time in higher education - they lived in your halls, they partied as hard as you, they had a bit of spending spree with their loans, too. It's really odd to think it's just the same thing every single year, and that the university staff must see the same thing happen all the time. They can probably predict how you'll lead your educational life from just watching a couple of your actions. It's just a repetition. A circle. Round and round we go, through the motions, turning like cogs in a machine.

Don't become just one of those cogs though. You want to break the mould, right? I certainly do. I don't want to just be that girl that went off to Swansea, studied some humanities degree, ended up with an alright result, and got some monotonous office job. That's not what I want my life to become. I have ambitions, finally. It took me the entirety of my teenage years to actually form them, but they are here. They've taken up residency in me; I don't want any flimsy dream-like plans that have only arrived on the basis that they're taking out a short-term rental agreement.

First years: make sure you're making full use of your time learning about the big wide world. Being away from home means you should take all those opportunities that you're presented with. Don't shy away. If you could believe, I was one of those shy people last year who was so scared of trying new things because I didn't know whether I was allowed, or if I would fit in. It's the big U.N.I. for crying out loud: everyone is in the same boat and we're all desperate to make friends and try new things!

JOIN THOSE CLUBS I know it seems a bit late on in the term to be announcing this, but there's still time. You can just drop an email to the club, and usually they'll be really friendly and let you know when their practice sessions are, or when they meet up. There are so many things to choose from too, so try a couple of things out until you find your new passion.

Swansea Uni Rowing Club 2011-12

GO TO SOCIALS - Either join in with your new flatmates, or go to your society's socials, and get yourself along to those nights out. This is how you'll meet new people; this is how you're probably going to end up with friends that you'll have for the rest of your life. They're not always nights out either. My club is probably a bad example because it is oriented towards the Wednesday-night-out scene, but we also have sober socials too where we go to buffets and meals out and things. There are plenty of things you can do without drinking.

SURC Varsity Dinner

KEEP ON TOP OF YOUR WORK - It's easy to think, 'Oh, it's first year, it doesn't count.' No. No that's not true. It does count, you can make foundations for your next couple of years at uni now. Do those essays properly, listen out in lectures, attend your seminars. Those notes that you have now, all that feedback you receive, that could be useful for future modules you take. First year is definitely more laid back but don't take it with too much of a breeze.

KEEP AN EYE ON YOUR BANK BALANCE - Don't hide from the account total like I love to do. Just because you're not checking how much is in there doesn't mean it's not slowly decreasing. Just make sure you're double checking the amount you spend every week. Keep enough in there for your rent! Set a budget for the week, and only get out the money you intend on spending, and hide your card in your room to prevent yourself getting it out again.

UTILISE YOUR NEW STUDENT STATUS - Start getting student-savvy. Student discounts are everywhere. Make sure you ask in the shops, because it will get you a reasonable amount off your purchases. Some restaurants are the same, too, so watch out for meal deals. Oh, and get a railcard. I have one and it saves me extraordinary amounts. I can get home without forking out an arm and a leg.

Big love, xo

Friday, 19 October 2012

Fancy dress queen

I'm on a blogging high. Hello multiple posts! I'm actually organising myself for once; finding the time to do everything I so desperately need to do. And I think it helps that I only have one lecture today, so I can begin to fit things in, and possibly get my geek on and spend some well needed time in the library.

I had a really good night last night. Thursday is officially known as Hangover Day in my circle of friends. Wednesday nights out are unforgiving, and you've been blessed with a miracle if you don't wake up with some sort of bad head or dodgy stomach. Usually I like to treat myself by ignoring any semblance of a meal plan for the day, and eating whenever I want, and however much I want. Calories don't count after a night out - that's my motto, anyway. Yesterday I was obviously in life's good books, because I woke up and didn't feel totally wrecked. I went to Nando's after my lecture, with Lucy and one of the rowing boys, and ordered a bit of a feast. Normally I over-exaggerate. I think I might be under-exaggerating this time. Does a double chicken burger with cheese, peas, and also chips sound enough? I was absolutely stuffed by the time I'd finished. And of course I finished my meal. Never leave food behind at restaurants. Ever. Just don't do it. I don't know whether it's the student mentality kicking in - 'I will not waste ANYTHING! I paid for this!' - or just my appetite, which seems to be equivalent to that of a very hungry walrus at the moment.

Salivating. Again.

Want to see some pictures? Wednesday night the rowers were dressed to the nines in their finest army gear. I'm telling you, face paint isn't easy to get off. I spent about half the morning scrubbing my face red-raw to get it off. I wasn't hugely keen on wandering through campus covered in paint from the night before - that kind of thing lies in the same realm as the ever-famous walk of shame. I am dreading the day I buy the wrong sort of face paint and it sticks permanently to my face and I have to sit in lectures covered in it. And that day will come. And it will be some horrifically bright glow paint or something similar. It might happen.

Reporting for duty. Cringe poses by my housemates and I.

Why sit on a chair when you have the floor?

Outfit: courtesy of one of the girls' housemate's boyfriend (bit of a mouthful, that was). He had a huge bag of army kit he no longer wanted. So I bagsied an army jacket, which I cut up a bit, and belted round my waist. Being short has its disadvantages. Then I had a lovely time running riot with the paint, covering my legs, arms and face with streaks of camouflage-like colours. Also I splodged my nails with various different dark colours. Bit of a mish-mash (the nails, not me, although that is kind of true as well), and they looked slightly pre-schoolian. I didn't take a picture because I'm slightly embarrassed by my efforts.

'OLD MCDONALD HAD A FARM... EE-I EE-I EE-I OH!' Last Wednesday I dressed up as a farmer. Or, more accurately, I was meant to be shepherd. The first social for the rowers is notoriously known as sheep-and-shepherd night. To put it simply - previous rowers (dressed as farmers) and new rowers (dressed as sheep) get paired off with the opposite sex. They're tied together for the night, and the farmer pretty much has full say on how the night will go.

It's safe to say that night was a messy one. I think everyone had a whale of a time (hopefully). There were trails of cotton wool across the street, so you could kind of map where everyone had been. Cotton wool being from the sheep, obviously... It was like shearing season on a farm; even super-strength glue doesn't seem to stand a chance.

Just getting ready to round up our sheep...

Sofa smiles

I have more pictures, but I'm getting a bit bored of seeing my face. I'll finish up now. Have a lovely day, enjoy the sun if you're in Swansea!

Big love, xo

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Recipe Time: Cookie Craving Cupcakes

These little things are possibly the most chocolatey things I have made in a while. Whilst I'm not the biggest fan of overly chocolate cake, I like chocolate pieces. Would you believe I used to hate chocolate cake? Those were crazy days... I don't look back on that phase very fondly. All the slices of birthday cake, all the chunks of brownie, all the gooey chocolate fudge cake that I didn't have a problem turning my nose up at... I would definitely be waddling with the weight of my chocolate belly now though if I'd have accepted all those offers, so I suppose there are upsides.

You're going to need to pop down to somewhere like Lidl to do some industrial stocking up on chocolate, okay? Fill those cupboards to the brim. I may have also bought enough so that in the event I would snack on my ingredients I would still have enough for the cake. Of course I snacked. I don't advise eating an entire bar of chocolate and also a couple of large spoonfuls of chocolate spread whilst baking. You will feel slightly sick afterwards.

What You'll Need...
150g caster sugar
150g butter/margarine
3 medium eggs - beaten together
Pinch of baking powder
2 halves of large bars of chocolate, milk and white, chopped into small pieces
225g self-raising flour, sifted

And for the buttercream...
140g butter or margarine
300g icing sugar
1 tbsp milk
2 tsp vanilla extract 

To top it all off...
Jar of chocolate spread, preferably one of the 'duo' ones with white and milk swirled
The other halves of the milk and white chocolate bars, also chopped
Chocolate sprinkles
Cookie pieces

Turn your oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 to preheat, and fill your cupcake mould with the cases.

1. Cream the butter and sugar together. Make sure it's nice and soft when you're done.
2. Now start beating in the egg, bit by bit. If the mix looks like it's about to curdle, pop in some of the sieved flour.
3. Now stir in the rest of the flour and baking powder gradually. 
4. Now empty the chopped chocolate into the bowl, and mix it in well.

5. Spoon the mixture into the cake cases, filling to about three quarters full.

6. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.

7. After taking them out and letting them cool, cut out the centre of each one of the cakes, keeping the leftover cake on the side. You'll need it later.

8. Using a teaspoon, put the chocolate spread into middle of each of the cakes. Be generous with your helpings! :)

9. Now for the buttercream. Make sure the butter is soft, and beat it a bit before gradually adding the icing sugar.

10. If it is hard to cream the two together, start adding the milk. Then add the vanilla.
11. As messy as you like, top the cupcakes in the buttercream.
12. In whatever way you fancy, arrange the toppings on top of each cupcake. I put the cookie in the middle then went crazy with the chocolate. With the leftover cake from the middle of each cupcake, you can crumble and put on the top too.

13. Perfect! Now eat.

Hope you enjoy these guys!

Big love, xo


The last post I did originally write a couple of days ago, when I was at a bit of a low point. Now I'm having a good week. I think. I'm having Nando's tonight, so surely that's a good thing too? With my best pal, Lucy. This girl is one of my absolute favourites at university. Last year saw me encounter a couple of hurdles, but she's always been there to help me get over them. I only met her about this sort of time last year, when we both joined the rowing club, but it feels like I've known her for ages. She's the person whose door I can knock on whenever I fancy and come into her room and have a little rant, or chat about silly stuff, or crawl onto her bed and annoy the hell out of her, and she won't mind. Well, I think she does secretly, but maybe not too much.

What does being a brilliant friend mean to you? What does your best friend do? What do you do for your best friend? Everyone's different, aren't they? I know boys are. Their relationships seem so much more casual, but also easier. They seem to not get caught up on all the tiny little things, and worry more about the big things. They can have a full on 'let's-get-lairy' fight and throw a couple of punches (maybe not too hard though, and maybe not aimed at the face), sleep on it, and be right as rain in the morning. Back to being best buds. Girls are so much more complicated, I find. Why are our minds more complex and intricate? Why do we worry about the silly things that, in reality, don't really matter? I like to think I possess that boy-like demeanor of not actually caring, but I know I'm just kidding myself. I also get wound up by small things my friends sometimes do. I am quite a laid-back person with certain situations; trying not to let things get under my skin, because I know if I give them time to pass, they won't matter anymore.

Back to best friends. If you type into Google 'How to be a best friend' a wide variety of things come up on the search. WikiHow boasts a step-by-step plan on how to create that 'perfect' friendship. But isn't everyone different? There are some good points. It suggests to love yourself first, and also not to be fake. That's true. Don't push things that aren't going to happen. It won't work otherwise. If you're chalk and cheese, you're always probably going to be just that: chalk and cheese. I could not be friends with someone that didn't share at least some of my interests. I can't talk about things I'm not really into. I find it really, really difficult. It's like small talk. You get past the courteous "how are you," "what are you doing nowadays?" and after nodding a couple of times and saying "that's nice," the conversation begins to peter out, and you're left struggling for topics you can discuss; staring at your shoes and fiddling with your jumper sleeve.

Mmm, tasty. I do love a good bit of chalk with my cheese

I think it's all about common ground. It's all about being able to giggle together. It's about being able to share all your little secrets, even those really dark ones. "Well, this happened last night... I am so ashamed." Then you can make a big joke out of it. You can dance to rubbish music together. You can take lots of silly photos on nights out. You can take lots of silly photos in general. You can have pig-out evenings together and eat more Dominoes than you thought your stomach could handle. You can even wander into their room in your lycra gym shorts and your bra, talking some rubbish about how many battered sausages you've eaten this week. 

Just a couple of thoughts that were knocking around in my head. Phew, at least they're out now.

Big love, xo

Because chocolate makes everything better

I'm not having the greatest of weeks, I will admit. Lots of little things that I've pent up inside, stored away for a rainy day (or a day that I hoped and prayed wouldn't ever come), have been building and building. Like a big bottle of Coke, I've been knocked around and shaken up for a while now, and someone's unscrewed the cap and all my feelings have come shooting out. Explosion like no other.

But it's good to get things out, right? I promise you, it is the answer. Storing things away in that brain of yours will do no good. Chat to someone. Write it down. Go find a hilltop and scream until your lungs are sore. Just LET IT ALL OUT. Go find your best friend and hug them until it hurts. My friends are amazing. They know I'm being a proper loser right now, getting a bit down over silly things, writing cryptic Facebook statuses, being totally detached from the real world, but they're still there for me; as completely annoying as I am at present.

I'm going to be a massive cringe and copy and paste a One Tree Hill quote. It's the one TV show I've managed to stay addicted to for the majority of its series. Partly because I'm slightly in love with James Lafferty (that really hot guy that plays Nathan Scott) but also because of all the drama and little phrases the characters come out with from time to time; they stick in my head and don't go away.

In life, if you let it, you can always come up with reasons to give up, but if you don’t, you might just find love in place you've never imagined. In a new relationship, or work, or your children. Whatever it is, just don’t give up on it, and if you don’t get it, well, you might just get something better.

That's definitely something to think about. If you're feeling a bit poo, and we all have our moments from time to time, remember not to give up. There's always something worth fighting for, there's always something to keep you busy. KEEP SMILING. 

So after all that 'I've had a depressing week, feel sorry for me' stuff, I've got a cheeky something to show you. When things go wrong, what do you do? Obviously get yourself down to the shops and buy yourself a big fat slab of chocolate. I would go so far as to call it a lifesaver. Obviously it does have its downsides - if I keep eating it in the quantity I am at the moment, I will be popping out of my jeans. And I definitely can't afford a new pair right now. But on the other hand, its good qualities outweigh the bad ones. Releases good endorphins... Tastes really good... Tastes really, really good.

So what did I do? I made some VERY chocolatey cupcakes. Cookie cupcakes to be precise. Want to try? Of course you do. I'll post the recipe later today. They are gorgeous, and I definitely will be making them again. 

Big love, xo

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

'I'm never drinking again' - You're a big fat liar.

I went through a phase of deciding I didn't want to drink anymore. That phase was short-lived and very brief... If you want to be precise, I'll put a number on it. A week is long enough, right? I came down with the inevitable Freshers' Flu, dosing myself up on a lot of vitamins, eating copious amounts of oranges and popping cold and flu pills like there was no tomorrow. It's hideous when you're ill but not ill enough to lie in bed all day. Just seems a bit unjustifiable. I like being up and about, but not when I'm full of cold and sound really snotty when I talk. It's just embarrassing really, and highly unattractive. Not saying that I am the epitome of beauty when I am in full health, probably pretty much the opposite, but it just highlights it even more when I'm all bunged up.

I had a bit of a dramatic night out in Freshers' Week, going through my post-break-up stages, and therefore decided it was probably for the best to take a back seat and get my head sorted. No more drinky. I love the stages you're meant to go through. I remember when I was younger and I used to read The Princess Diaries - you have to read it at some point in your life, it's like a ritual for thirteen year old girls, along with all the other Meg Cabot fiction books - and one of the characters used the Kübler-Ross model to help one of the girls along with her break up. This is usually when someone is grieving after the death of someone, so it's all a bit dramatic and a bit over the top, but it definitely has some truth in it. So the stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. I'd like to say I've surpassed all these stages and that I'm a super strong person and have completely and utterly moved on. Unfortunately not. Little things like to pop up at really awkward times to remind you of that person, or of things you used to do together. It's cringey and embarrassing, seeing as I used to be flying the anti-relationship flag this time last year. 

Angry girly picture.

I want to get back to the stage of getting grossed out when people kiss in public, or when people are intimate together - even holding hands. Now it's more like jealousy. You look at a couple and think, where did I go wrong? Why do I no longer have that? My break-up wasn't bitter, that's the thing. It was mutual and was definitely for the best. When feelings aren't the same, what's the point in carrying on? It's time to walk out with your head held high and not watch the leftover parts of the relationship crumble around you. It's sad when you see people trying their hardest to make something work, because it genuinely did work once upon a time, but because the people in that situation have changed it's no longer is possible. Watch Like Crazy - it's a prime example of this. It's also one of my favourite films. I'll chat about it at some point.

I blame summer.

Growing up and shaping yourself is what is happening right now. You're becoming the person you're going to be like for the rest of your life. Obviously no one is ever complete; you're never a made-up person whose personality is defined one hundred percent, but you're going to be acting similarly until the day you die. You're making the foundations for the rest of your life. Especially if you go to university. Not just because I do, but because it's the stage in your life when you've left home (but you're still kind of in limbo, to-ing and fro-ing from home life) and you're becoming that little bit more independent. You're discovering yourself. I feel like I know myself a lot more than a couple of years ago. I am happier with myself, I know what kind of girl I am and I know what I want to do with my life, for the most part.

I was talking about relationships wasn't I?

Back to Kübler-Ross. I've definitely got past the angry stage. I know that for a fact. And I've kind of accepted it, too. I want to be friends, and not friends with a hidden agenda; just genuine friends. He's a good guy, and he deserves a lot of recognition to come his way soon. I don't hate him. I don't even dislike him. I want what's best. Maybe I am properly growing up after all?

That was pretty deep. Now I'm going to go get dressed and maybe eat some more porridge. Oh, and get ready for lectures - almost forgot about that one... Sitting here in my dressing gown on my rug isn't getting anything done, apart from giving me an incredibly achey bottom. Numb bum!

Sorry this was all a bit mish-mash but I wanted to get it out. I know I sound like a proper moaney-pot, but sometimes you just need to get things off your chest, right?

Big love, and keep smiling, whatever happens. The world deserves to see that cheeky little grin of yours! xo

Recipe Time: Apple and Cinnamon Cupcakes

To make the Apple and Cinnamon cupcakes, you’ll need to refer to the Vanilla Cupcakes recipe I have posted previously. I’ll do a little run through the basics, but I won’t add in any extras, it will be nice and simple! So don’t worry about me nattering on as usual.

You can use whatever apples you have at home, or happen to buy, I had Royal Gala ones at the time so used those. Tasty tasty!

What You'll Need...
100g caster sugar
100g butter/margarine
2 medium eggs - beaten together
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
150g self-raising flour, sifted
Pinch of baking powder
2 apples, peeled and chopped finely
Tub of extra thick cream, or whip some double cream until it stands in peaks
Cadbury's Fudge Bar, chopped finely


1. Cream the butter and sugar together. Make sure it's a nice soft consistency by the end.
2. Now start beating in the eggs, a little bit at the time. If the mix looks like it's about to curdle, pop in some of the sieved flour.
3. Now stir in the rest of the flour, bit by bit, as well as the cinnamon and baking powder. If you prefer it to have a bit more spice, you can always pop more cinnamon in. Which is what I always do!

4. Now mix in the majority of the chopped apple. Use about three quarters of it, and the rest you'll need to pop in the oven.

5. The leftover apple I coated in a bit of oil and cinnamon and baked, to use on top of the cakes. So place it on a baking tray and put it in to cook too.

6. Now spoon the mixture into the cake cases. You'll need to leave the mixture in the oven for about 15-20 minutes, until the cakes look golden-brown in colour.
6. When you take the cakes out, you'll need to take the apple pieces out as well. Then leave it to cool.

7. When cool, you can put about a teaspoonful of cream on top of each one, adding the chopped Fudge and baked apple pieces. I sprinkled on a bit of cinnamon too, just to make them look more interesting.
8. Now you have gorgeously cinnamon-ey cupcakes, all autumnal and easy to bake. Yum yum yum, perfect for those cold winter nights.

Another option you could try is having the cakes warm, put one in a bowl and dab the cream on top, and the apple and fudge. Warm apple cake! What a treat.

Go bake, you lovely people!

"Eat me please!"

Big love, xo

Friday, 5 October 2012

Back to Basics

So being a student means you're low on funds, right? Baking suddenly becomes not quite the same when you're on a budget - no more skipping round the aisles of Tesco or Asda, picking up whatever you fancy and flinging it into your mother's shopping trolley. Or, more often than not, going on a mad dash around the local Co-Op with one of those hideous plastic baskets (when did they introduce these? I like the old school wire-mesh ones, they might be smaller and more awkward but I feel like a real shopper when I carry one of these about) and paying for your goods with that little bit of extra money you earned from your summer job.

But no. The days are gone when I can afford high-class ingredients, no more Tesco Finest or big-brand names, I am back to the basics. And because I can't fit in the time to go for a humongous 'big-shop,' as I call it, I am rooting round my cupboards for the remnants of the shopping trip that my parents kindly did with me when I first arrived. Bearing in mind this was almost three weeks ago now, so my shelves are looking fairly empty of fresh things. All I see in my cupboard when I open the door are stacks of baked beans, my vitamin collection, some packet soups and an unusually large amount of porridge. If I could eat anything for the rest of my life, I'd have to be boring and say porridge. I get through it by the bucketload. Every morning without fail, hangover or not, I will have a steaming bowl of porridge. Two minutes or so in the microwave, made with water, and sometimes milk if I fancy; and out comes my breakfast, looking more like a flapjack than the creamy mix that porridge normally resembles. Chuck on some sugar and you're good to go. It's my perfect way to start the day - I don't know what would happen if I didn't. Probably nothing bad but I like to think that without it I'd behave similarly to how Superman does when he is exposed to Kryptonite. I'd dramatically fall to the floor in lectures, no longer able to grasp my pen. Porridge is my power-food.

I definitely tried doing a search on Google for superman and porridge. Sadly no pictures with both in, I was very disappointed.

That's definitely not what this recipe is about though. No way am I making porridge cupcakes. Don't be disgusting. Maybe oatey ones at some point? That sounds good. And healthy. But I don't like healthy, not with cakes anyway. If you're sticking sugar in the mix, why compromise on other ingredients? Go the whole hog and make that fatty cake. It will do you good, I promise!

So these cupcakes were made with my usual cupcake recipe, but I threw in some other bits as well. If you're at university, you probably don't eat a huge amount of fruit. I try to be an exception, and have been making some sneaky one off trips to the supermarket to stock up on the fresh stuff, but all I seemed to have in my little pink fruit basket (pleaded with my Dad for it to be pink, I am overly girly when I want to be) was a couple of apples. So I popped on some wellies and my coat and headed round the corner to the lifesaver that is Sainsburys Local. Bought some ground cinnamon and a little Cadbury's Fudge bar, and also a bit of double cream. It took a lot of willpower not to scoff the Fudge on the way home; gave myself a little pat on the back for that one. Or I probably would have ended up like this...

So check out the next post, it's going to be the full-fledged recipe for Apple and Cinnamon Cupcakes. Spice is definitely needed in this weather.

Keep dry, and make sure you have that umbrella on you at all times!

Big love, xo

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Always keep your promises

So you know I promised a recipe for the cider cupcakes? It's on this blog post. If you click the link, it'll lead you to the uni blog I am writing for... And the first recipe up this term is none other than my own little cakies. Tasty cider cupcakes that YOU can make too. I am super excited to have my work somewhere else other than here. Cue phone call to my Mumma yelling at her to check the internet immediately. She wasn't overly impressed with my semi-shouted monologue where I proclaimed my love for baking; but seemed quite proud I had actually written up one of recipes rather than kept it to myself. I suppose this is more motivation to begin the scrapbook I've been really keen to compile with all my baking pictures and recipes. Ideas please?

Strawberry and Lime Cider Cupcakes - via the Swansea Siren Blog for Swansea University

So, go on, try them out. I dare you.

Big love, xo

P.S. Don't get too tipsy on the leftovers.

Monday, 1 October 2012

3 for 2 on vitamins? Why don't I just buy the whole shelf.

Freshers has had its toll on me. After going out five consecutive nights on the trot, and two nights the week before, I feel like I can't hack any more drinking or partying. I'm getting too old for this! It's not surprising the past two nights have been a lot more casual. Saturday night my housemates and I had a bit of a dinner party with some of the guys we know, nothing too fancy, just fajitas and a couple of glasses of wine! And last night was spent curled up on the sofa in our duvets watching X Factor and Downton Abbey. Middle-aged before our time? I think so.

Lots of beautiful Swansea Students

This week has been overly crazy, I feel like I've been on the go the whole time. I reviewed a little bakery in Mumbles this week, which I have now decided is my new favourite place. I'm going to post the review on my blog here. Not only have I been going out every night, I've been trying to fit in gym sessions, catching up with friends, going down to the marina, going to town to get those essentials my house seems to always run out of, and completing blog posts. I am writing for the Swansea Siren blog now, which I am terribly pleased about, as I get to blab on about baking the whole time. Perfect!

One of the meals I made for myself and a friend this week - went overboard on the creamy rosemary sauce, there are pork chops underneath!

I made that tart I was talking about this week (with the Disaster Buttercream, as I have officially called it), and it turned out looking fairly messy but was sufficiently creamy and sweet, the right kind of thing we needed midway through the day at Freshers' Fayre, which is where I brought it to. I was helping out at the rowing stall, so I cut out SURC (Swansea Uni Rowing Club) in capitals to place on the top with some of the leftover pastry. Repping my club, of course! It was incredibly busy, and I was high on sugar from all the freebies that I was continuously collecting from the other booths; jumping around, and more often than not, jumping on various different students to get them to join the club. But all I think I did was scare people.

Apparently I only took a picture of the pastry... Next time I'm going to double check I take a finished product picture before it's all eaten, sorry guys.

I am excited to begin my course this year as well. Going into second year is going to be a lot harder and I'll need to be paying more attention to lectures and seminars, and actually making sure I attend them all. Other than a lecture clash, my timetable seems to be panning out quite well. I was hoping to have Fridays off (I was hoping to have a luxurious three day weekend) but I think if I'm shuffling my options around, I'll be in on that day too... Learning about the political economy, which sounds really interesting but I'm kind of scared that I will freak out about all the facts and figures and end up panicking when it comes to writing essays. Either that or I'll become too bored that I'll resort to napping on the the lecture desks, which can be incredibly embarrassing. I'd know, I've done it before - that moment where you haven't had enough sleep the night before and you are holding your eyelids open with your fingertips, only to twitch and wake yourself up five minutes later, with your lecturer looking at you, less than impressed.

Hey organised!

I used to love beginning a new year at school, and the same goes for university. I get all my notepads and pens ready (always Bic. I can't hold other pens quite as well because of my claw-like grip when I write) and my 'schoolbag,' which has developed to be just an ordinary shoulder bag over the years, and go about my day feeling all professional and motivated. Sometimes I like to pretend I am going to the office, and dress up in my best suit-like clothing, with my patent shoes on, and my smart mac. It's my version of the dress-up games I used to love playing as a child. I can no longer get away with pretending I am a princess - I would probably get laughed at if I wore a tiara on campus - so office-lady dress up is quite a nice substitute. Today isn't one of those days unfortunately. I am feeling a bit ill and have dosed myself up on my 3 for 2 vitamins from Tesco (I have a lot of love for the chewy kids tablets and the Berocca right now, Freshers' flu you better not catch me) so am going for the casual and comfy look. Also known as 'I-can't-be-bothered-so-I'm-just-chucking-on-jeans-and-a-massive-coat.' Big love for the slobby student dress sense. I feel more conscious at home in my trackies or a big hoodie, but I like the fact that coming back to Swansea I am at the height of the trend of student wear.

Good luck at beginning uni if you're doing so this week, or you already have done so. This year's going to a good 'un, I can feel it. Keep on track, it'll be worth it, I promise!

Big love, xo