Saturday, 28 February 2009

my reading for this semester

This is why I haven't had much spare time this week! My reading list. As I am now approaching the second half of my final semester in education, the pressure is mounting! I am currently trying to read The Grapes of Wrath for Tuesday, which is a 500 page epic. As much as I am enjoying it, it's still an awful lot to read! Then, after that I shall start on another 500 page monster, The Invisible Man. I am studying Modern American Fiction for this module, which I am enjoying so much. It's just a hell of a lot of work.

What are you all reading now? Or are your studies eating up too much of your time?

Friday, 27 February 2009

Malteser Cake

malteser cake

malteser cake

This is another one of my favourite ever cakes. Who doesn't love Maltesers? (Or whoppers as I believe they are called in America).I honestly don't think I have ever encountered someone who wouldn't glady eat a packet of maltesers, with their deliciousy cruncy, then chewy honeycomb and milk chocolate. Yum. Nigella Lawson, the genius that she is, decided to put it into cake form! Cake and maltesers = win. I have made this cake quite a few times and it always goes down well. I never actually got to sample this cake because I was making it for Scott's sister's boyfriend's birthday. It's his birthday today so I hope it goes down well!

The version that Nigella makes simply has icing in the middle and ontop, but that doesn't look like a birthday cake to me. Birthday cakes need to be fully iced and look amazing when cut into! Obviously I haven't got a photo of the cross section, but I can assure you it will look amazing and striking. The cake is a dark, dark chocolate colour, then the icing is a delicate pale brown, making it look impressive when sliced. Nigella just decorates it with a few maltesers ontop, but I decided to crunch some up and decorate the sides with them (also, it helped to cover up some of my messy icing skills!). I thought this would give it a pretty amazing texture, the fluffy cake, smooth icing, then crunch maltesers. Wow. I wish I could have a piece right now!


For the cake
150g soft brown sugar (muscavado sugar is best for flavour)
100g caster sugar
3 large eggs
175ml milk
15g unsalted butter
2 tablespoons Horlicks powder (or ovaltine)
175g plain flour
25g cocoa, sieved
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

For the icing and decoration
250g icing sugar
1 teaspoon cocoa
45g Horlicks
125g soft unsalted butter
2 tablespoons boiling water
2 x 37g packets Maltesers

Take whatever you need out of the fridge so that all the ingredients can come to room temperature (though it’s not so crucial here, since you’re heating the milk and butter and whisking the eggs.

Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 3/170C. Butter and line two 20cm loose-bottomed sandwich cake tins with baking parchment.

Whisk together the sugars and eggs until light and frothy. Heat the milk, butter and Horlicks powder in a small saucepan until the butter has melted and the mixture is hot but not boiling. Beat the milk mixture into the eggs a little at a time. Fold in the dry ingredients thoroughly. Divide the cake batter evenly between the two tins and bake in the oven for 25 minutes, by which time the cakes should have risen and will spring back when pressed gently. Let them cool on a rack for about 5-10 minutes and then turn them out of their tins.

Once the cakes are cold, you can get on with the icing. I use a processor just because it makes life easier: you don’t need to sieve the icing sugar. So: put the icing sugar, cocoa and Horlicks in the processor and blitz to remove all lumps. Add the butter and process again. Stop, scrape down, and start again, pouring the boiling water down the funnel with the motor running until you have a smooth buttercream.

Sandwich the cold sponges with half of the buttercream, and then ice the top with what is left, creating a swirly pattern rather than a smooth surface. Stud the outside edge, about 1cm in, with a ring of Maltesers or use them to decorate the top in which-ever way pleases you.

Makes 8-10 slices.

malteser cake and pepe

Pepe also wishes he could have some!

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Fanfarlo are my newest obsession! They are a lovely swedish band and these videos are just as lovely as they are. They are also playing Manchester on Tuesday - to go or not go? That is the question.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009


Out of all of London Fashion Week, all I can think about it Erdem's show. (Please click on the photo to see a larger version so you can fully appreciate it in all it's glory!) The wonderful florals, that perfect little black dress, the combination of mustard, blue and red, the lace, the buns, the red lipstick. Gosh, it's all just perfect. I really do think that the black dress would be my perfect little black dress, the shape of it and the detailing amazes me. I really want it all. But alas, I have to return to the world full of essays, lecture and the reality of a student budget where I will never be able to afford any. It is nice to dream though, isn't it?

Monday, 23 February 2009

Fashion inspiration

Beautiful white dresses from Erin Featherston and Jill Stuary (via

Chic style from The Sartorialist

Lovely combination of red, yellow and navy from Keiko Lynn

Cute, casual girls about London from Face Hunter

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Bettroot cookies!

beetroot cookies

What are these weird, bright pink cookies I hear you cry? Beetroot cookies! Yuck, some of you may think, but think again! I have used beetroot a few times in baking and I love the results everytime. Remember my beetroot brownies? I made these cookies to use up some extra beetrot from baking a beetroot cake for my Mum's birthday (I will blog that later! It is so special it deserves it's own post!). I was thinking of how to use up these 3 beets I had left over. I could've made soup, roasted them, pickled them, but no, I had to bake something of course!

The cake I made uses beetroot in a similar way to carrot, just as my pumpkin cake also does. Then I thought, beetroot/pumpkin/carrot, they're all quite interchangeable root vegetables! So I decided to adapt a pumpkin cookie recipe to make a beetroot cookie recipe!


  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup beetroot puree
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/3 cups quick or old-fashioned oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup of hazelnuts
  • 1 cup dried sultanas

1. Preheat the oven to 350f, gas mark 4.

2. Beat the sugars and butter together until light and fluffy.

3. Add the egg, vanilla extract and beetroot puree.

beetroot cookies

3. In a seperate bowl, combine the flour, oats, baking soda, salt, spices and chopped nuts. Add to the rest of the ingredients, folding together slowly.

4. Fold in the sultanas, then drop onto a lined baking tray with a spoon, and bake for approx. 10-15 minutes.

beetroot cookies

My friend saw this photo and said it looked like raw, bloody beef burgers! Tastes so much better when cooked though :)

beetroot cookies

Saturday, 21 February 2009

tuesday, wednesday, thursday, friday

This is what I've been wearing this week - Tuesday through to Friday. On wednesday, I went to watch Benjamin Button and I loved it. A few friends I have spoken to have been a bit sceptical about it and didn't want to go and see it. I was going to watch it with Scott but he was ill on Wednesday so I decided to just go it alone. And it was so worth it. I actually enjoyed going to the cinema by myself. To be, watching a film can be like reading a book - something to enjoy alone and become fully absorbed in. I can't enjoy it if I'm distracted. Then, at the end, you can discuss with other people what they thought, but the act of watching and reading is quite a solitary act.

Anyway, Benjamin Button was a beautiful film. I adored it. It was full of beautiful quotes like 'I was thinking how nothing lasts, and what a shame that is', 'we're meant to lose the people we love. How else would we know how important they are to us?' and 'Everyone feels different about themselves one way or another, but we all goin' the same way.' It was truly beautiful and I hope it does well at the Oscars. 

Friday, 20 February 2009

Nigella's chocolate guinness cake

chocolate guinness cake

I made this cake yesterday for my future brother-in-law's birthday. I have made it before yet this time I encountered a few problems...all self inflicted. Firstly, because one time I made it, the cake was huge and sagged in the middle and didn't look too pretty, I decided to not put as much batter in the cake tin to make a smaller, unsagged one. However, when it came out the oven, it was, er, tiny. Too small! I thought, I can't use this for a birthday cake! I'd used the rest of the batter up on cupcakes too so the only other option was to bake another layer. So I did, but halved the recipe.

So far, so good... Then I start to make the icing. I'd only got low fat cream cheese - bad idea Helen! It was so runny and watery because the cream cheese was watery. Terrible. It wouldn't thicken up no matter how much icing sugar I put in or how long I beat it for. So I gave up on that...

Then, we're in a rush to get it to my Sister's. The second layer of the cake isn't quite cooled enough, but I'm in a rush and my Mum is on my back too to get it done! So I move it ontop of the first layer after icing it...and it cracks. In half. Well, not perfectly in half, more like in a 1/3, but it was huge. I tried to keep it together. My Mum suggested I put more icing on it...but that makes it worse! Next thing I know it looks like the grand canyon with pure white icing seeping down it.

It wasn't as big a disaster as it sounds though! Honest! As you can see from the photos, it looked half decent and managed to stay in one piece, kind of. None of it fell off or anything anyway. Of course, the most important thing is the taste, and the word on the street is that it was delicious and went down very well.

chocolate guinness cupcakes

The recipe is available here and even if you don't like Guinness, you should try this cake. It's a deliciusly moist, tangy deep chocolate cake. Hmmm.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

It wasn't a very exciting day really. Maybe I should have thought about this more and chose a day that was full of lots of things, but I still managed to get some nice photos.

8am. I woke up. Sleepy, sleepy.

9am, waiting for the train at the train station to go into Uni.

10am, going to a lecture on Fitzgerald

11am, lecture finished and walking into town to buy my Mum a birthday present. Liverpool has two cathedrals because it is that special. This is the Roman Catholic cathedral which is nicknamed 'paddy's wigwam' or the 'mersey funnel'.

12pm, on the train home, having a hot chocolate and writing in my planner.

1pm, after getting home and checking my emails and stuff, I decide to have some lunch. Minestrone soup with cheese.

2pm, browsing on For quite a while...

3pm, I decide I should start planning an essay that is due in next week. It's only 1500 words though.

4pm, read some Tender Is The Night for next week.

5pm, after visiting Scott for a little bit, I put some washing in.

Oops, I missed 6pm. I had my tea, then at 7pm, I blogged a little.

8pm, relaxing with Mr. Pepe.

11pm. Bedtime with F. Scott Fitzgerald. inspiration

I spent quite a bit of time on Monday browsing on I think I could spend forever looking at that website and feeling dazzled by it all. Usually I prefer street style and bloggers over looking at fashion shows, but sometimes you just can't escape the dazzle and wonder of them. They are really captivating.

chanel pre-fall

I love mostly anything Chanel do. Who doesn't? I love this collection, especially that white dress second left. Oh my. To have that in my wardrobe right now. I would easily feel like a Russian princess. Especially if I managed to do my hair like that too.

chloe pre-fall

With myself graduating in July and considering entering the 'real' world of work, I have been considering what I would wear in a 'proper' job. Especially if I were to go into teaching. Me and Scott have had a few, ahem, debates, over what I could get away with in teaching. Anyway, I think this Chloe collection would certainly be teacher-approved, especially that cardigan with the bow on, swoon! Of course I would have to wear a shirt or something under it...without it it is not quite school safe. I love the coats too. So smart and classic.

ruffian fall rtw

This is from a show on saturday at New York fashion week - I wonder what romantic couples attended that? Or if it was just single girlfriends a la Sex and The City? I love this collection so much. Those tights! I have been searching for polka dot tights for a while! (don't think my budget would stretch to these of course). I love the red, black & grey, the structured tailoring yet feminie ruffles and the sheer netting of the tights. I also love the models bright red lipstick too.

united bamboo

Apparently Kanye West is a big fan of United Bamboo, but I myself have never heard of them. Oh well. This collection is cute though, it looks like a collaboration between school girls, librarians and anthropologie, which is never a bad thing is it? I loooove the pattern on the 3rd dress. And that mustard skirt - delicious.

P.S. Please do laugh and mock my terrible photoshop skills.

Monday, 16 February 2009



2 outfits from the past week. The ruffle t-shirt was one of my last purchases in January before I booked a holiday to Paris and declared that I should buy no more clothes. There are so many things on my wishlist but I suppose they will be so much nicer and rewarding when I finally do get them.

Today I have copied The Clothes Horse and have documented my day hour by hour. I shall share that with you tomorrow. It is mostly boring really, I suppose I could have picked a more exciting day. But it is a typical day in my life when I have no special plans.

Friday, 13 February 2009

Valentine's love songs

valentines day

So Valentines Day is tomorrow! I don't really have any specific plans, I'm going to make some Macaroons and maybe have an indoors picnic with Scott, but I think Valentines day is just a nice day to dedicate some time to your loved one! You don't need extravagant presents or gestures, just enjoy the time you have together! I was listening to The Lucksmiths the other day and I thought how lovely Sunlight in a Jar was, so I decided to share some lovely love songs with you. They are not typical, soppy love songs, but may help you find the words to say what you want to your object of desire!

The Lucksmiths - Sunlight in a jar
Can't quite find the words to describe your amour? Neither can The Lucksmiths, but they manage to make this lovely song about it.
Complex, completely credible love
The kind that is made not handed to you from above
Is difficult to talk about and harder to write
Like the rhythm of a pulse, or the contours of firelight

Belle & Sebastian - If you find yourself caught in love
This is a song to be grateful about the love in our life!
If you find yourself caught in love
Say a prayer to the man above
Thank him for everything you know
You should thank him for every breath you blow

Stars - What I'm trying to say
I am trying to say
What I want to say
Without having to say
"I love you"

This is for basically telling someone you like them but don't looooove them. It can be quite difficult to say 'I like you' so let Stars help you!

Pelle Carlberg - I Love you, you imbecile
I love this song - it's very cheery and is about loving someone despite all their imperfections! Most lovesongs are a bit OTT, portraying an unrealistic view of love where the significant other they're singing about is just perrrrrfect - but we all know this isn't true. But that's why we love who we do!

I love the way you talk
I love the way you stalk
me with your mobile phone
I love the way you smile
The way you're juvenile
I love the way you moan

And one last one for people suffering from unrequited love...because we all know how hard valentines day can be!

The Smiths - I want the one I can't have
I want the one I can't have
And it's driving me mad
It's written all over my face
Trust Morrissey to sum it all up so succintly.

Hope you all have a lovely day whether you're single or not - it's just an excuse to have lots of chocolates really!

Wednesday, 11 February 2009


This is what I've wore to go into Uni this week. My uni week is over now - I'm only in on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays which means I get a super long weekend which is good, but it also means I lack a routine on those days which I need! Anyway. This week I have been feeling so ill and poorly, ever since going out on Saturday night. I think I was exposed to the cold for too long or something. Now I'm full of a cold, headache, sore throat, blocked nose. My throat is so croaky and in my tutorial the other day, when I was trying to say clever & witty things about Hemingway, I said 'appwoipriate' instead of 'approriate' and then ended up sounded stupid and like Jonathan Ross! Damned cold.

So, to make myself feel better, I have been getting dressed up and putting on the lippie. I always find that when I make an effort, I instantly feel 10 times better than when I just wear scruffy jeans and a uni hoodie. Although that is insanely comfy for lounging around in, when I go out in it I feel scared to bump into anyone I know! The dress on the right I have had for over a year now - I bought it in September '07 to wear for mine and Scott's first anniversary celebrations and I still love it now. It's from Topshop's Petite section so the fit is wonderful on me and it doesn't look dated yet I don't think. I still love it now like I did back then. Tea dresses are always a classic.

Today I was getting in the mood for valentines day with my heart print cardigan. I love hearts all year round though. I went through a phase of buying loads and loads of heart shaped pendant necklaces back in 2006. I recently purchased some heart shaped sunglasses from Primark that I am dying to wear already, but it isn't sunny enough. Maybe I can wear them on Saturday. Hearts should be for all year round - not just the 14th February!

new primark sunglasses!

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Some recent outfits

Okay, so throughout February I have decided not to buy any new clothes at all. My wardrobe is seriously bulging. If it goes well, I will carry this on through March. The reality is that I don't actually need any clothes and I want to save the money to spend on macaroons in Paris! However, I have my eye on a few things already...a dress from Topshop and a skirt from Asos. I am so easily tempted but will NOT give in! My wardrobe is already full of many pretty things.


This is what I wore last Tuesday for Uni. I had 2 pairs of really thick red tights on and yet I was still so so cold, especially my toes. I also re-found that grey cardigan recently after it got lost in the depths of the wardrobe. I like it because it's warm and cosy and goes with anything. Yet again, Nina wanted to get in on the photo! Here it looks like she is looking at me and thinking 'what are you doing? you poser!'


This is what I wore on friday because I had a looooong day ahead of me: a meeting about my dissertation and then preparing for a small conference that I was speaking at for the rest of the day! The conference went on until 5 - I am not used to such long days at all. So I wanted to be comfortable yet smart. I also wore my gold name necklace that I got for my 18th birthday and it yielded a few compliments. I have obviously been feeling very French this week with all my stripy t-shirts.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Magnolia vanilla cupcakes

vanilla cupcakes

Today I decided to make some cupcakes for Scott to take into Uni to share in the tea room. I have so many recipe books with so many cupcake recipes, but some of them are too faffy and include ingredients that aren't exactlt store cupboard essentials, like sour cream or canola oil! However, I looked at my poor neglected Magnolia Bakery recipe book (usually I only like recipe books with lots of pretty photos which this one lacks...) and decided to try out their vanilla cupcake recipe. It seemed simple enough and I had everything on hand. They are so delicious too! I think they will be my staple vanilla cupcake recipe now. I used to use the standard victoria sponge recipe for them, but this one is more moist I think.

vanilla cupcakes

Ingredients for cupcakes

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 cups self raising flour
1 1/4 cups plain flour
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Preheat oven to 350f/gas mark 4. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners

2. Cream the butter until smooth with an electric whisk. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 mins.

3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

4. Combine the flours and add in 4 parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. Beat well after each addition.

5. Spoon batter into cupcake cases and bake for about 20 minutes. Remove once the tops are just turning golden. Leave to cool completely before frosting.

For the icing

1 cup butter, softened
5 cups icing sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pink or red food colouring.

Cream the butter with an electric whisk then add the icing sugar a cup at a time and the remaining ingredients. Add more icing sugar if you want (the magnolia recipe said between 4-8 cups, but mine was at the consistency I wanted after 5 cups)

Pipe onto cupcakes, sprinkle with hundred and thousands and enjoy!

vanilla cupcake

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Who loves Nutella?

I do! I do! Hmm that lovely chocolatey hazelnut spread. Who doesn't love it smothered on toast or straight from the jar? Turns out people love Nutella so much that 2 bloggers decided to dedicate a whole day to it! The 5th February is World Nutella day! I found this out last night, luckily in time for me to go out and buy a jar last night so I could be ready to join in the celebrations.

I wanted to make something simple and easy that didn't need any fancy ingredients, since all I had was the store cupboard essentials and nutella! So I stumbled across this recipe in a chocolate recipe book I had and it looked perfect. They are chocolate melting moments, sandwiched together with nutella. The recipe uses icing sugar and cornflour which gives it an immensely soft crumbly texture, that really does just melt in the mouth. Yum.

chocolate melting moments with nutella


125g butter
2 tablespoons icing sugar
3/4 cup of plain flour
2 tablespoons cornflour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
a little bit of milk


1. Mix together the butter and the icing sugar until soft and fluffy

2. Sift in the dry ingredients in 2 goes until you get a smoth paste.

3. Add a little milk to the mixture to make it smoother - this will make it easier to pipe.

4. Pipe them onto agreased baking tray and put in an oven preheated to gas mark 5/350c for approximately 10 minutes, or until firm.

5. Leave to cool, then sandwich together with nutella!


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