Thursday, 29 January 2009

Scott's birthday cake

scott's birthday cake

It was Scott's birthday on Monday so I spent most of Sunday making him this amazing 4 layer orange chocolate cake. I used a Chockylit chocolate cupcake recipe as the base for the cake, because it is my favourite ever chocolate cupcake recipe. It's so moist. It also turns into a pretty good 'normal' sized cake too! I just added some orange juice and zest to it. Then I used a Rachel Allen icing recipe but triples the quantities! Yes, I needed a LOT of icing. Yum yum yum. Anything less than 3 layers just seems pathetic now...haha.

Ingredients

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1-1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs
Juice & zest of 1 orange

Method

Mix together all the ingredients, except for the eggs. Beat on high for about 2 minutes.

Slowly beat in the eggs. Then beat again on high for about 2 minutes. Pour into lined and greased cake tins and bake for about 20-30 minutes on gas mark 4/350f. They are done once they feel spongy yet still slightly sticky ontop and a skewer comes out of them clean.

Leave to cool in the tins, then remove the cakes onto a wire rack and cool thoroughly before icing.

scott's birthday cake (cross section)

For the icing-

225g butter
3 tbsp milk
3 tbsp cocoa powder
525g icing sugar
zest and juice of 1 orange

Beat the butter until it is very soft, then slowly begin to add the icing sugar & cocoa powder. Add the milk, zest and juice and combine until you get a glossy buttercream icing.

scott's birthday cake

To assemble the cake, I find it easiest to put a blob of icing on the plate or cake stand that you're using, then place the first layer ontop of this. This stops it from moving about as you're icing! Then spread the icing very liberally across the first layer, making sure it is covered right to the edges.Then place the second layer ontop, and comtinue layering like this. Then ice the edges last. I use a spatula first, then a pallette knife to go around the edges with and smooth it all.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

monday - start of a new semester

A new semester started yesterday. Infact it is my final semester as an English undergraduate student! I am not digging the module I'm doing though. I wanted to do Women Writers, but got lumped with my second choice of Early Modern Women Writers, which is from 1590-1790. Not quite my specialist subject... I am missing the more contemporary stuff of last semester. Anyway, this is what I wore to brave my return to uni, my new dress from h&m. Afterwards I went for a coffee with a friend off my course and then did a little bit of shopping.

monday - scott's birthday

I just hope I don't need too much retail therapy because of this module...my bank balance will cry. Anyway, I bought this new skirt from h&m, it was £15. I love the shape of it and the way it nips my waist in. I wore it to eat too much pizza in and then watch Frost/Nixon because it was Scott's birthday. It was a really good film too! I wasn't expecting much of it but I got rather engrossed although I was sleepy because of eating too much pizza beforehand. I hope that my week improves, I already have too much work to do! What are your plans for the rest of the week?

Sunday, 25 January 2009

What I've been wearing recently

Although I haven't been blogging much whilst my exams have been on, I have still been documenting my daily outfits for wardrobe remix on flickr. So, I decided to share some with you all.

My creation
1. friday night, 2. thursday - running errands, 3. saturday night, 4. monday

On the left here, I am wearing my new skirt from topshop. It has a really cute bow on the front and I love it! I am also wearing my new moustache necklace from Sunday Girl. I love it. There are also some other lovely things on that shop, such as the unicorn necklace and the cat locket! All good value too. I love the moustache necklcae though, with my stripy t-shirt on it makes me feel quite french! It also reminds me of my moustache mug which is fab. As my friends will also know, I have quite a penchant for drawing moustaches on myself or dressing up as men, so this is how I can get away with it everyday haha. Here is a close up of it.

moustache necklace

My creation
1. 14th january, 2. friday - shopping & lunch date, 3. new h&m dress!, 4. wednesday - shopping

There is my moustache necklace making an appearance again! I love that new black and white gingham dress from h&m too, it makes me feel like an American housewife, all I need is a cute apron. I first saw it on The Clothes Horse and really liked it. When I walked past h&m in Liverpool I HAD to go in and try it on! It's lined underneath with a netting underskirt and was only £20 which is pretty good for a lined dress. It can be dressed up for night or dressed down for day so it was a good investment I think.

I could sit and talk here about all my outfits but then it would just be rambling! If you want more info, just click on the links below the photos.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Muffins

blueberry muffins

Hello, it has been over a week since I last posted! Gosh I hate exams. Luckily they are all over now so I have been enjoying relaxing, shopping and baking! I made some muffins yesterday using Rachel Allen's 30-day muffin recipe. Once you've made this batter you can keep it in the fridge for up to 30 days so you can have freshly baked muffins every morning - when and as you want them! You can also experiment with a varity of flavours. Yesterday I made blueberry ones (above) and honey and nut ones (below). These muffins aren't super sweet like some shop bought muffins - which makes them perfect for breakfast. They use a combination of white and wholemeal flour and have no butter in them, just oil, making them a healthier choice than a cupcake.

honey and nut muffins

Ingredients

3 eggs
125g soft dark brown sugar
100g caster sugar
500ml milk
125ml sunflower oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
300g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 rounded tsp bicarbonate of soda
160g wholemeal plain flour
25g bran (I had no idea what this was, but it can be found in the cereal aisle with the oats, etc. It's like an unprocessed wheat)

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180c, gas mark 4. Place the muffin cases in a muffin tin.

2. Whisk the eggs and sugars together in a big bowl. Add the oil, milk and vanilla and mix well.

3. Sift the plain flour, salt, bicarb into another bowl and then add the wholemeal flour and bran. Combine these with your wet ingredients. This is your basic batter to which you can add whatever you like!

3a. For the blueberry muffins I added 75g blueberries (fresh or frozen - not dried) to 400ml of the batter.

3b. For the honey and nut muffins I squirted in 2 tbsp runny honey and a good handful of mixed chopped nuts to 400ml of batter, then sprinkled some nuts on top.

4. Fill the muffin cases and bake for about 20 minutes. Enjoy for breakfast!


I am also going to try these with apple and cinnamon with the remaining batter. From each batch of 400ml I got about 7 large muffins, then over 500ml of batter remaning which I should maybe get about 10 muffins out of? I'm going to try them later.


Thursday, 15 January 2009

thursday

This is what I am wearing today to do some revision. I am drinking hot blackcurrant juice to keep warm and thinking of planning a trip to Paris (maybe...if I can afford it). I am also wearing my new blue shoes from Topshop, than can be seen better here. If my cream tights were dry I would have worn this outfit with them, making the blue POP even more. With the black tights they don't stand out that much but oh well. They are rather comfy too which is always good. My t-shirt was bought after my exam on Tuesday, when I suddenly decided I needed more stripes in my wardrobe, as the only stripy t-shirt I own is this. Nina also decided to sneak in on this photo! You can see how small she is in comparison with me - we think she's stopped growing now too. She's a teeny tiny ball of cuteness.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Chocolate orange cupcakes

chocolate orange cupcakes

I had my first exam yesterday, and my last one isn't for another week so today I decided to take it easy (especially after I'd been a bit poorly again). I had a leisurely bath and then decided to bake these cupcakes. The recipe is a Rachel Allen recipe for chocolate cake, but it suggested adding some orange zest and since I love chocolate oranges I thought I would try this. It is also a text run for Scott's birthday cake in 2 weeks which will be a big chocolate orange cake!

Ingredients

125g dark chocolate, chopped up
3 tbsp milk
150g butter, at room temperature
150g caster sugar
3 eggs
200g plain flour
1 tbsp good quality cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp bicarbonate soda
Zest of one orange
2 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice


Method

1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4. Place cupcake cases in a muffin tin.

2. Melt the chocolate and milk in a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water. Keep stirring until it's melted thoroughly, then remove from the heat. Leave to cool slightly.

3. Soften the butter with a fork, then add the caster sugar and beat together until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. It may look curdled a bit at this point but don't worry! It'll look like a cake batter more at the next step.

4. Stir in the melted chocolate and milk mixture. Then, sift the flour, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder into the mixture and fold in gently. Do this in about 4 stages, folding everything in thoroughly, then adding more of the dry ingredients. Stir in the orange zest and juice at this stage.

5. Pour the cake mixture into the cake cases and bake for approximately 20 minutes. I used rather large cupcake cases and it look slightly longer, but smaller cases may need less time. Remove from the oven once the top feels spongy when pressed lightly or a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool and make the icing.

chocolate orange cupcakes

For the icing

150g butter, at room temperature
2 tbsp milk
2 tbsp cocoa
250g icing sugar
Zest of 1/2 orange
1 tbsp orange juice

1. Soften the butter gently until it is very soft and easy to stir. Then, gradually mix in the icing sugar.

2. Add the cocoa powder, milk and orange zest and juice and the remaining icing sugar, then mix until it is a smooth mixture. Pop into a piping bag and pipe onto your cupcakes, or simply spread it over them with a pallette knife and decorate as desired.

P.S. This is my 100th post! Wahey!

Friday, 9 January 2009

Study days

study day

This is what I am wearing today to spend all day studying and finishing off my last essay. I have been searching for some blue tights for a while, but couldn't manage to find the right shade of blue. Royal blue is my favourite shade! It's so bold and goes well with pillarbox red. My shoes were a recent sales purchase from Urban Outfitters - £12.99 for leather shoes, which is quite good. Grey shoes were also something else that had been in mental wishlist.

I decided to get up early today, jump straight in the shower, have a nice breakfast and get straight on with my work, which is an essay on The Sleeper Awakes and 1984. I have done a bit so far so have decided to take a break. Getting dressed fairly nice, instead of my usual scruffy study-wear, is making me feel more motivated too. After getting more work done I'm going to take a study break on the Wii fit to burn off all the chocolate I've been eating due to essay/exam stress! What do you do to combat study stress?

Oh I was also tagged by Claire to do that photo thing

1. Go to the 4th folder in your computer where you store your pictures.
2. Pick the 4th picture in that folder.
3. Explain the picture.
 

A lovely photo of me and Scott from last february! We had gone for a meal with my family to the West Tower, which is where my cousin works as a chef (yes, my love of food is certainly a family-thing!). It was so lovely. My dress is from Miss Selfridges, I really like it. My hair has grown quite a bit since then too!

Friday, 2 January 2009

hats

poladroid

Today I have done some uni work (I have lots to do in the next 2 weeks- it's scary) and then I took Pepe and Nina for a walk with Scott. I have also been playing with Poladroid which I am so pleased has now released a version for Windows! (Yes, I'm a PC). I wore my new hat from the Urban Outfitters sale, which I had had my eye on for a while. It was £32 originally and I tried it on instore and loved it, but I couldn't quite justify £32 on a hat. Then it was reduced so I snapped it up! I love the big bow.

poladroid

I love wearing hats, I've been a 'hat-person' all my life. I remember in year 3 I had a wonderful navy velvet hat, with a red flower and a green flower on the brim. I would never have that off my head in the winter! Then when I was a pre-teen you could never see me without a baseball cap on to hide my scruffy hair. Whilst in college I had a wonderful red flat-cap that I wore to hide my fringe that I hated and almost cried when my teacher told me to take it off (the embarassment!). Now, I love berets and knitted hats and am wanting a cute bowler hat too! Some people however just hate hats. Are you a hat lover or a hat hater?

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Goodbye 2008, Hello 2009

2008
1. betty's!, 2. nina and pepe on their walk, 3. blackberry crumble bars, 4. minnie mouse and a rat!, 5. strawberry picking, 6. pepe, 7. kingsbarns golf course, 8. bigben, 9. Italy, 10. trevi fountain, 11. bath abbey at night, 12. albert dock, 13. bypass traffic, 14. sparkler fun!, 15. nom nom nom, 16. scott's graduation

I made this little mosiac of some of the lovely things I did in 2008. Honourable mentions include (in no order)-

  • Swimming the Swimathon for Marie Curie Cancer Care! Going to do it again this year, but maybe the 2.5km one instead of 1.5km. I raised over £300 for them and got fit in the process!
  • Scott graduating (and getting on his master's too)
  • Went to London with my friends to see some exhibitions and got (too) drunk in Camden.
  • Visited Emma in York for her birthday again! Hopefully I shall do this again this year for her 21st (exams and uni work permittng)
  • I went to Scotland with Emma again for a lovely week with lots of food, fresh air and piggies!
  • Then I flew to Italy the day after getting back from that for a nice summer break on Lake Bracciano and visited Rome also.
  • We got a new puppy in September! I love having 2 dogs now, Nina is an adorable addition to our family.
  • Started my 3rd year in university (scary - I graduate this year)
  • Visited Bath for a lovely weekend away with Scott before Christmas.
Looking back on it, it has been a very good year really. I just hope this year is even better! I graduate, turn 21 and my sister also gets married this year, so it is shaping up to be quite a good one really (although kind of scary and grown up too)


Nearly 2009

I've got my new diary ready to plan my year in! Mostly it will be full of revision schedules for the next 3 weeks which is sad, but I'm going to write down some resolutions and things I want to do in 2009, which I shall share with you all later.

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