Friday, 28 May 2010

2 recent outfits

Here are 2 outfits I have wore this week. I'm getting quite back into the swing of outfit posts and enjoying them again. I always think there's no point in blogging about something if you're not enjoying it, it shows. Perhaps it's something to do with the few new purchases I've made lately that have injected a bit of fresh air into my wardrobe. Sometimes your wardrobe can begin to feel a bit stale after no new purchases, especially when you WANT to make new purchases but can't afford to. It becomes so frustrating and then uninspiring.

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What I wore

This is what I wore yesterday to have lunch with my grandparents, sister and mum. The skirt is new and from Zara. I have been searching for the perfect red skirt for so long and this *nearly* meets all of the criteria, except for the buttons on it. However, I could always take them off or change them to just red buttons if I get bored of them. Still, it is a pretty snazzy skirt. And it has pockets! I have so much love for skirts and dresses with pockets.

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This dress also has pockets! I wore this for work on Tuesday. The pockets make it so practical for work, I always end up carrying around pens and pieces of paper so pockets are ideal for this. I prettied up this simple dress with my bow belt, which has been getting quite a lot of wear lately. I would also like one in red. I got lots of compliments on this in work, because it's a bit different to some of the more conservative outfits I wear for work, which consist of a black skirt, white shirt and white cardigan. It can be quite tiresome trying to dress smart for work but I'm slowly getting used to jazzing up my outfits whilst still making them work appropriate.

I also think that the I Know What You Wore This Summer blog has been helping keep me motivated with the outfit posts! You should all check it out and contribute to it, I'd love to see your summery outfits. Or not so summery, as the weather is here. As you can see I'm back to wearing (very thin) tights, because it's just too cold to go bare legged again! This makes me very sad.

And on that note, happy weekend! I'll be a busy bee this bank holiday weekend, working on Saturday and then going to the dot to dot festival in Manchester on Monday, but I'll make sure I enjoy the bank holiday. Do you have any bank holiday plans?

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

My new favourite cookbook

I had been eyeing this up in work (I like to linger around the cookery section when it's quiet and eye up the good books...) and finally got chance to have a proper look through it which sealed my decision to check it out of the library. I have had it just over a week and I've already made 3 recipes from it, all of which have turned out fantastically! I wasn't completely sure about this book, but the recipe for squillionaire's shortbread lured me in. That's the great thing about libraries though, it's like try before you buy. I think I may buy this, because all the recipes have been so good, but there are so many books I've spent about £15 on, tried one recipe, not liked it and shoved it to the back of my bookshelf. Bad, bad librarian. Now I am all for getting cookbooks out before I buy them!

Anyway, enough about the pros of libraries. This book claims to give you natural alternatives to butter laden, unhealthy cakes. Harry Eastwood, the author, decided to create recipes for cakes that leave you feeling guilt free. She replaces most of the butter in the recipes with vegetables for moisture, and uses honey instead of sugar, and rice flour & ground almonds instead of traditional flour. I was a bit dubious about them actually tasting nice, but since I know a few people who are gluten free, trying to diet, diabetic, etc, I thought I'd try them. I was NOT disappointed!

First up, the squillionaire's shortbread. Okay, this one is the least healthy of all the book, as it does use full fat butter, golden syrup, condensed milk & chocolate, but we're all allowed to be naughty now and again!

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Are you drooling yet? Hmmm. So naughty & delicious. This recipe made 12 small pieces, which I thought were a bit too small, but I cut them up anyway. It really isn't too small because it's so rich and sweet. Only for those with real sweet teeth, like me! My Nana on the other hand could only manage one small bite before pulling a face and going 'urgh tooooo sweet!'. So it all depends on taste I guess. Lovely, gooey, biscuity, cracking hmmmm, I loved the contrast of all the textures in these. Top tip: when cutting them up, heat your knife slightly by dipping it in boiling water and pressing very gently on the chocolate to melt through it. Much easier than trying to cut it cold and having it crack everywhere! The recipe is available here (Pt 1 & pt 2)

Next up: chocolate, pistachio & courgette cake. Yes, courgettes.

Chocolate, courgette and pistachio cake

Chocolate, courgette and pistachio cake

This cake was a bit more experimental: no butter in it, ground up pistachios & grated courgettes! Not your traditional cake recipe. The recipe asked for ground rice flour, but I just replaced this with plain flour & it turned out amazingly still. This cake was so lovely, chocolate & pistachios are such a winning combination. Plus, look at the contrast between the chocolate & pistachio green colour: beautiful. This cake turned out looking quite flat and I was a bit worried it would be dense and dry, but I needn't have been. It was gorgeous. The butter cream is made with butter, but we can't be saints all the time can we? It was delicious and dark and contrasted with the light texture of the cake. I will most certainly be making this one again! You can try making it too, with the recipe here.

And, finally, today I made the orange & rosemary drizzle cake! It didn't taste too much of rosemary, because I was scared to let the syrup steep for too long, but it was wonderful and moist. Perfect for a glorious sunny day like it was on Sunday.

Orange & Rosemary drizzle cake

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Ooh cross section! Look at how moist it is. You can see how the drizzle has drizzled in from where I stabbed it with a skewer. This isn't a very sweet cake so I didn't go completely nuts over it, although I'm sure my Nana would have preferred this over my squillionaire's shortbread. The secret, healthy ingredient to this is... swede purée! I really love adding veg to cakes, it always surprises people, plus it makes them so much moister and a wee bit healthier. The recipe for this is here.

So yes, I think I shall be investing in this book myself, instead of just hogging the libraries copy. It won't quite replace the hummingbird bakery cookbook (by the way, did you know they were releasing a new book next Spring? I am so excited! Over 100 recipes in it apparently!) but it gives some interesting ideas for healthier cakes. I think I'll keep coming back to it over and over again. Do you have any cook books you rely on so much? I love getting recommendations for new cook books!

Monday, 24 May 2010

Summer is here! (for a bit, anyway)

This weekend has been so glorious in England, I'm really sad that it's going to go back to it's cool, cloudy ways for the rest of the week. The hot weather gets me dreaming of summer holidays in Italy or Paris and I adore being ever so slightly sunkissed. I guess it would become a bit tiresome if it was constantly in the mid 20s from May until September... Actually, no. I would love that, but I know most people in England wouldn't! Whilst I was declaring my love for the warm weather and wishing it could be this hot all summer, Scott said that he would hate it because he'd end up spending so much money on sun block! Haha.

24th May 2010

But yeah, bare legs! And sandals! It's hard work having to shave your legs and paint your toe nails though, I could see it becoming slightly tiresome after a while. But for now, I'm loving it. I have a slight line on the tops of my legs from sitting outside in my dress yesterday. If it was this hot for one week solid, I would be positively bronze. Today is slightly cooler here, but still sunny. This little dress is perfect for spring/summer days. The belt that came with it always get so tangled up, so I decided to use this cute bow belt from ASOS last year. I think it makes a cute dress even cuter. My sandals are old Primark. Not worn much because of the wonderful climate in the UK, so I am getting the most out of them now. I have spent all weekend reading this book:

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and I finished it this afternoon. I noticed how it matched my dress slightly so thought it would make for a good photo for fashionable bookworms. This is also nominated for the Orange Prize and I think I enjoyed this much more than The White Woman on The Green Bicycle (although the last 100 or so pages of that were really, really good!). I started reading it on Saturday night and whizzed through all 322 pages of it by Monday afternoon. I love it when I'm that engrossed in a book that I finish it so so quickly, but in other ways I sometimes wish I could read it slower and enjoy it more. I guess it's kind of like when you have a big bowl of ice cream: sometimes you want to savour it and enjoy every mouthful, but other times you just have to gobble it up as quickly as possible.

Oh I also wanted to share with you this lovely blog, I know what you wore this Summer, that Gem created and people can submit their summery outfits too. I've already submitted today's outfit.

Have you been enjoying the sunshine this weekend? Are you fed up of it already or sad to see it go? I am very sad to see it go! But maybe I will be more productive indoors instead of just reading outside all the time haha.

Friday, 21 May 2010

What's in my bag?

My second vlog! I am such a noob to videos though, as you can tell. My camera decided to only film in 10 minute blocks, which I didn't know! So this is 2 videos clipped together. It also ends abruptly, as I didn't realise I was nearly at the end of my time. Oh well. I ramble a lot more in this, but you get to have a good nose at what's in my bag. This is a clearer photo of my new Cath Kidston bag that my Mum bought for me. I've used it every single day since I got it.

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It's the perfect size for carrying around the essentials; not too small, not too big. I always have to have a bottle of water and a book in my bag (along with the other essentials such as phone, purse, etc). What do you always have to have in your bag?

Thursday, 20 May 2010

'Red' any good books lately?



I can't resist a pretty book cover and these are no exception. I saw them announced on the Penguin Books twitter today; they are the result of a collaboration between (Product) Red and Penguin Books. They have released a set of 8 classics, with reworked covers all in red. Half of the profits go towards (Product) Red, which is a charity trying to eliminate aids in Africa. So not only do the books look great, but they can help do great things too. I ordered a copy of Therese Raquin by Emile Zola this morning. I also love the cover for The House of Mirth, but since I already have a copy of that book my common sense told me not to buy it. I am such a sucker for pretty books though. I constantly walk around the library in work picking up books that I want to read based solely on the cover. Shallow, moi? Do you judge a book by it's cover?

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Gill's chocolate cake

Gill's chocolate cake

I made this chocolate cake after trying some that my colleague Gill had made and loving it. It was an amazing chocolate cake, not too rich, not too dry, just right. So I asked her for her recipe and she printed it off for me in work. She always makes cakes to bring into work and gets asked for the recipes so often that she has them all on her computer in work! Libraries and librarians really love cake. It's true.

122/365 Gill's chocolate cake

So this is my attempt at her cake! It was really easy. I made it in 2 cake tins instead of 1, which is what she does, because I am lazy and thought it was too much effort to cut the cake in half. Plus, it cooked a lot quicker this way. And I am always impatient for cake!

Gill's chocolate cake

Wow, look at that close up. The icing is an amazing fudgey icing and it was wonderful if you popped the cake in the microwave for 30 seconds because it created a lovely fudgey sauce for the cake.

Recipe

Ingredients

75g cocoa powder
350ml boiling water
175g butter
275g caster sugar
3 eggs, beaten
275g plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 180c/gas mark 4. Grease 2 8 inch cake tins.

Dissolve the cocoa powder in the boiling water and allow to cool.

Cream the butter and sugar until pale and creamy. Then gradually beat in the eggs.

Sift the flour, bicarb & baking powder. Fold the flour and cocoa mixture alternately into the creamed mixture.

Pour this into the cake tins and bake in the middle of the oven for about 40 minutes, or until firm to touch.

Remove from the oven and leave in the tin to cool completely.

Icing

150g plain chocolate, broken up into small chunks
75g butter, cubed
3 tablespoons milk
225g icing sugar, sifted

Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl over a pan of hot water. Gradually beat the melted mixture into the icing sugar until the mixture is smooth. Beat in the milk & mix well. Sandwich the cake with about 1/3 of the icing and spread the rest on the top & sides of cake.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Stripes


Now, I may be known as the girl with all the polka dots, but I also have a soft spot for stripes. Now, this causes great difficulty because I never feel like I can pull off wearing stripes and polka dots together, so limits what I can wear together. I love a good bit of pattern mixing on other people, but on me it just looks a bit funny. Maybe it's because I'm quite small so I can't quite carry off the patterns? Or maybe it's just something to do with my confidence.

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Behold my new skirt! This is actually my first ever purchase from River Island (except for a necklace in like 2004). River Island is one of those shops that I always see nice things in, but then when I get closer I realise it's been 'River Islanded'. This means it's had unnecessary embroidery, sequins, studs or beading put on it (usually saying 'RIVER ISLAND', in an obnoxious way). This really destroys potentially nice clothes for me. However, a River Island has just opened in my town so I thought I'd pop in and see what River Islanded goods they had to offer. I was quite surprised when I saw this skirt, I found it rather fetching. I inspected it for any unnecessary embellishment, but to my relief found none. So, there is the story of my first purchase of clothing from River Island.

I do like a good stripy garment though. I had a browse through my wardrobe remix set and found some great stripy outfits from the archive. However, I think I do prefer polka dots just by a smidgen.

good friday

tuesday


what i'm wearing today

Stripes or polka dots?

Finally, I just wanted to thank you all for your lovely comments on my video post. I will most certainly try to do one again soon. For those of you who complimented me on my accent: extra thanks! I'm from a little town just outside Liverpool, but lots of people always say I don't sound like I'm from around here so I'm not quite sure where my accent is from really. It does have a very slight scouse tinge to it, but not too much.

Friday, 7 May 2010

My first vlog!

I decided to have my first foray into vlogging yesterday! I was having a break from some Uni work (after I'd been to vote) and thought 'hey, why don't I do a vlog'. I didn't really know what to talk about. Watching it over is quite weird, you realise lots of things about yourself. Who knew that I flutter my eyelashes so much? I already knew that I talked with my hands so nothing new there. Oh and also prizes to the first person to spot my unattractive flesh coloured bra behind me, haha.





what I wore to vote

This is what I wore to vote, my dress is from New Look and the hair bow is from Oasis. I wore red to represent who I was voting for, just a lucky coincidence that red is also my favourite colour (I am not shallow enough to just vote by colour by the way!). I voted Labour because I believe in equality for all, not just for some. I admit I am a bit worried about this hung parliament with a Tory majority. My only hope now is that I win the Euro Millions over the weekend, as the Tories only seem to care about the rich. Big society my arse. Anyway, I'll get off my political soap box now.

Should I do another vlog then? Give me some ideas of things to ramble on about!

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Vote!


Tomorrow is the first UK general election that I have been able to vote in and I am so excited to go and use my vote. I always think of the suffragettes who fought for the female vote and it makes me feel privileged to be able to vote and have a say in the future of our country. People may be cynical about politics and say things like 'Oh it doesn't effect me' or 'they're all the same aren't they?', but they are wrong! Politics affects everyone. Every time you fill up your tank with petrol, have a pint of beer, go to the Dr's, have your bin collected, claim benefits, pay taxes, try to get a mortgage or go to Uni, you are affected by politics.

I have been reading up on all of the parties and what their policies are, and then looking at my local candidates and seeing what they are saying they'll do in my local area. I think I've decided who to vote for now and will be running to the polling station tomorrow morning to put my X on the ballot. Then I shall await eagerly the results. All that I am hoping for is that the Tories do not get in, the thought of it scares me. I'm not going to go on a big rant, because this isn't a political blog nor do I wish to influence anyone the wrong way. If you're unsure of who to vote for, visit the BBC website here to compare party policies on different topics, and then visit the Sky News website here for a little quiz which will help you decide. An uneducated vote is a wasted vote I believe!

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Off duty librarian

3rd May 2010
skirt - topshop, t-shirt - belle and sebastian, cardigan - zara.

This outfit is quite amusing because although I would say that this skirt is 'workwear' I can actually only wear it when I'm not in work. It is slightly tight and therefore very impractical for librarians - too much reaching or bending down for books and carrying things! Also, in the library where I work I have to go up and down lots of stairs from floor to floor (sure I could take the lift, but I like to think of it as a mini work out) and this skirt is too tight around my thighs to allow my legs to actually move properly. I have learnt since working in a library that it is difficult to wear pretty things and still be able to run around, kneel on the floor, get dusty, carry lots of books, bend down and still feel pretty and dignified. It's not as glamorous as you would think! (if you ever did...)

librarian

I got this badge for Christmas and I love it! It's red and states exactly what my profession is (although my official job title is 'Casual trainee librarian'). I don't wear this for work either, because, well, I would feel a bit silly. Kind of like a teacher wearing a teacher badge - I don't need a badge to tell people what my profession is when I'm in work. But when I'm not in work I like it in a kitsch way, plus people are like 'You're not really a librarian?' and I can be like 'yes, yes I am!'. Plus I'm very lucky and love my job so why not walk around with a badge saying it? Ugh yeah I know that makes me sound like a right geek but what can I say.

Also: how long is my hair getting?! Haven't had a hair cut since January and even that was a minuscule amount I'm not sure it can count. I'm unsure what to do with my hair. Grow it more? Get a trim and tidy it up? More layers? Bobbed? It's certainly getting a bit impractical because it takes so long to wash and dry and brush and then it also gets caught on pretty much everything and I moult everywhere. But, on the other hand, I love swishing it about and it's long enough to experiment with braids now.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Picnics!

picnics

What better than a picnic on a May bank holiday weekend?! Well, maybe if the weather improved... I think I shall have to wait a bit longer to have a lovely picnic in the sunshine, but yesterday I bought the most perfect picnic box, at Dagfield's Crafts & Antiques in Cheshire. Yes, picnic baskets do have that 'classic' picnic feel about them, but these picnic boxes by Brexton are so retro that I couldn't resist them! Plus because they're a box, no nasty creepy crawlies can climb inside your picnic either. (I remember once a wasp climbed into my sister's can on a childhood picnic and then she drank from the can not knowing and much squealing commenced!). I suppose creepy crawlies are all a part of the picnic experience though, along with soggy sandwiches and being unable to find the perfect spot to put your blanket on (too high! too steep! too wet!).


picnic box



picnic box

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picnic boxes

This is the second of my picnic boxes, as you can see. I've already got a nice blue one, although that came empty without any of the plates or cutlery, so I mostly just use it for storage. This new one though shall most definitely get used!

On our family picnics, we would ALWAYS have cheese and tomato sandwiches and the tomato would make the bread go soggy, but in a strangely nice way. Then when we got home, if there were ever any leftover sandwiches, my Nana would soak them in egg and fry them. The best were fried ham butties! Oh and Scotch Eggs are also a picnic must. What's your favourite picnic food? Hope you all have had a lovely weekend and are enjoying the bank holiday if you're off work! Mine sadly won't be spent picnicking but instead doing Uni work - full steam ahead now!

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