Baking Shortbread!

What I’ve been baking lately

I’ve recently got really into baking and trying different online recipes, even though I’m a beginner (in other words I am no Delia Smith… yet), I like to think that the cakes and biscuits I have made so far are pretty good and my critics (friends and family.. maybe a bit bias) say they love them.

I really think sticking to the recipe is key especially if you’re a beginner. I’ve decided that every two/three weeks I’ll show you how I bake something!

Here are some pictures of what I’ve made so far!

Shortbread,

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Mums Chocolate Fairy cakes and Buns,

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Chocolate Brownies (nuts optional),

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And Chocolate Chip Cookies.

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In this blog I’m going to show how I make shortbread, I made them for the first time a week ago and they went really well! I used the BBC online recipe, and this is a breakdown of what I did.

Ingredients

6oz Plain Flour
2oz Caster Sugar
4oz Butter

Oven Temperature: 190C/Gas 5.

1. Measure out your ingredients, I always do this first because I like to be organised. If you don’t have any scales I was taught by my Mum to get a table spoon…

One big spoon of your ingredient (eg flour) =one ounce! (Also grease your baking tray now before you forget).

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2. Put the butter and sugar into a bowl and beat until smooth.

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3. Gradually stir the flour in until it’s like smooth paste (Basically you don’t want it to be a sloppy mess when you attempt to roll it out)

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4. Put some flour on your work surface and roll out your mixture so that it’s roughly 1cm thick.

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5. Cut the mixture and place it on a baking tray, sprinkling the tops with caster sugar (this isn’t the time to ration, completely cover them!)

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6. Leave the shortbread to chill out in the fridge for 20 minutes 😉

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  1. Then put them in the oven for 20-25 minutes (basically until they go a tiny bit brown and don’t feel like clay when you press on them).Picture11
  2. Finally, let them cool on a wire rack and then put them on a pretty plate and finally, enjoy them!

My Summer So Far In Pictures!

My Summer so far in pictures

So I’ve been out of the blogging scene for a couple of weeks now because I simply haven’t had the time to post anything! I thought I’d use this blog post to keep you all up to speed on what I’ve been up to in the past 4 weeks!

1. I’ve been to Dubai with my boyfriend!

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We enjoyed plenty of relaxing beach days on the Palm Jumeriah’s private residents beach (Thanks Tom’s dad!) Spent many an hour window shopping around designer shops (that kind where they don’t even price the clothes) and got a Henna tattoo from an Arabic Henna artist, it was beautiful!

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We had an amazing holiday in Dubai, the first meal we had was on a Dhow dinner cruise. It was so mesmerising going through all the different buildings in Dubai Marina, even had a cheeky go with my boyfriend’s camera! There was a three course traditional Arabic dinner, Anis-Cinnamon Tea and Musical performances from an amazing Oud player.

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The second meal we went out for in Dubai was at The Fairmont Hotel on the Palm in a Brazilian restaurant called The Frevo, on the opening night of the World Cup… The atmosphere was immense! The Frevo served authentic Brazilian Churrascaria and we tried around twenty different cuts of beef, lamb and chicken, all cooked to order. The party theme continued long into the night with Carnival style dancing and live music!

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whilst in Dubai we went to the top of the Burj Khalifa (world’s tallest building.. no biggy 😉 we went up to the viewing deck on the 124th floor which had a 360 view of Dubai. When finished we also experienced the Dubai fountains. These are set in the Burj Khalifa Lake which spans almost 30 acres, the LED jets shoot water up to 150 meters into the air!

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We spent a day at Atlantis in the Aquaventure Water Park…  Water roller coasters, speedslides, lazy river rapids and more (soooo much fun!) We also had a look around the Lost Chambers aquarium whilst we were there!

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We also travelled to the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, it was such a beautiful and HUGE building.  The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque has the  capacity for an astonishing 40,000 worshippers. 82 domes, over 1,000 structural columns, 24 carat gold gilded chandeliers and the world’s largest hand knotted carpet… If you’re ever in the middle east, put this onto your list of places to visit!

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On the last night we went to a desert meal in the resort Bab al Shams, it was such a fun night, filled with entertainment such as belly dancing and traditional male Tanoura Dancing!

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And of course I had a cheeky go myself 😉

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2. Cyprus Family Holiday!

A day after I got back from Dubai I travelled to Paphos with my family, we had a lovely chilled out holiday in a resort right on the beach!

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We relaxed on our sun beds day after day, soaking up the sun and cooled off by swimming in the sea..
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We drank lots of cocktails at happy hour every night and went out for nice meals..

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And me and my brothers went on the ‘crazy shark/UFO’ (Would 100% recommend).
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But all holidays have to end sooner or later, 2 weeks ago I was back in sunny England for good! In that time I have still been very busy…

3- I started my volunteering at the Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle!

Once a week I now help with the archives in the Library of the Bowes Museum, last week I had my first day and I found it really interesting reading old letters from John Bowes himself and cataloguing them for the museum! 

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4- My final news is that last week I got a job in my home town after being interviewed, it’s now time to stop holidaying and earn some pennies! 

Hope your summers are full of fun memories! 

Packing Drama.

How organised are you when you go on holiday? Packing drama.

A holiday is a time to de-stress, relax, and forget your troubles. We book holidays to get a bit of sun and to escape the dull, unpredictable British weather and to have a break from everyday life…

Imagine this: you’re on a beach, lying on a sun lounger, the heat is beating down on your soon to be ‘tan-tastic’ skin. Gentle waves are providing a tranquil soundscape in the background, it’s 11am and you have a cocktail in your hand (why shouldn’t you, you’re on your holidays?). That feeling of walking along the beach, sand between your toes… sounds lovely doesn’t it?

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Now think of this: The night before you go on holiday, you’re sat relaxing, with no stress, you’ve been so organised and have nothing left to do…
If only that were the case.

The night before you go on holiday is anything but calming. Stress takes over, a whole range of things can go wrong the night before you depart for your ‘hassle free’ holiday; someone always ‘misplaces’ their passport, someone else may have forgotten to exchange their money, you might even forget to check-in online and of course, there’s always the person who hasn’t packed yet…

Packing to me is by far the worst part about going on holiday and I’m sure a lot of people will agree with me. I can think of many ‘holiday packing styles’.

1.The person who packs wayyyyyy too much. (aka me)

This person basically try’s to fit their entire wardrobe into one small suitcase probably knowing it’s never all going to fit.

“You’re only going for a weekend! Do you really need 10 pairs of heels, 3 hats, 10 bikinis, 4 pairs of jeans, 12 summer dresses, 5 ‘going out’ dresses and 5 skirts?” The over packer will come up with any excuse to take everything they have with them. “Just in case” will constantly be said.

The things that they’ve packed will include clothes they haven’t worn in decades as well as the mammoth amount they will have bought with their new ‘holiday shopping’ which will include three more bikinis and 4 dresses, the same amount they buy every year because apparently the things we buy the year before aren’t good enough anymore.

These people will sit on their suitcase for half an hour with their sibling, partner or friend zipping it up for them like they’re trying to get into a tight pair of jeans. They think a ‘compromise’ or a ‘sacrifice’ when packing is only taking 3 out of 5 pairs of shorts or just taking one pair of sunglasses (because that’ll make a difference).

These people are generally the people at the airport that everyone has to wait for when they have to pay a heavy fine because they’ve gone over the personal baggage allowance, that or they end up taking half their clothes in their hand luggage.

Once they’re back home after their holiday they realise they haven’t used half of their clothes and ask themselves “why did I take that?”… Without a doubt, they will do exactly the same next time!

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2. The ‘What if’ packer.

This person will spend the entire time when packing coming up with scenarios as to why they might need an item of clothing. For example:

“What if it’s cold? Better take some jumpers”
This is usually said by the packer who’s going to the sunniest place, but will still take three jumpers just in case the climate suddenly takes a dramatic fall. I don’t know what these people are expecting… it’s as if they think a hot holiday destination like Tenerife will suddenly drop to arctic-like conditions as they depart for their annual getaway!

“What if I run out of sun cream”… 10 bottles of sun cream will be taken, just in case they run out. They take every factor possible, 10, 20, 30 and 50, oh… and that water resistant rubbish! They always end up using one bottle… what do these people think is going to happen? Is someone really going to to steal the sun cream?

“What if I want to read”…They take 5 different books, 4 of which they will probably never read.

“Better take some snacks just in case I don’t like the food”… Apparently there is a shortage of food where they are going. Apparently they don’t have food like soup, biscuits or crisps at their holiday destination, so they decide to take it all with them.

3.The organised packer.

3 weeks before the holiday. This packer will have a detailed list of exactly what they will be wearing and when. They’ll repack over and over to check that they haven’t forgotten anything, their suitcase will look like pristine, perfectly folded shirts, carefully seam following folds in trousers etc, the suitcase will look as if it had been packed at some expensive laundrette.

4.The Last Minute Packer.

This type of packer is the person the organised packer hates. These are the ones that complain when they’ve forgotten something, make you late to the airport and upon opening there case, will look like a small bomb has hit it.

Days before they go on holiday they say, “I should pack” but won’t get round to it until an hour before they leave the house, sending everyone to a big panic. They’ll ask other people in the group: “have you seen my shorts!”, “Where’s my passport?” or “Has anyone already packed my underwear?” causing hysteria to the rest of the holiday goers.

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Is this you? Let me know what type of packer you are by taking the poll, Or post a comment to let me know where you’re going this summer… Enjoy your packing, and the holiday of course!

 

 

 

The Illusion of the ‘Classy’ Cocktail Night.

The illusion of the ‘classy’ cocktail night.

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We girls love our cocktail nights, it’s a chance to un-wind, gossip and dress up. We tell ourselves that we have these cocktail nights to have a ‘quiet’, but fun time with friends.

“I’m only out for one” will constantly be said beforehand. This very rarely happens. After one drink, you say “I’ll just have one more” and before you know it, you’re on your forth cocktail, falling down the stairs of the cocktail bar, with no money but still every intention of moving onto another bar or club with your bank card in hand.

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We pretend we’re being classy because that’s what ‘cocktails’ are associated with. When we say the word ‘cocktail’, we think of films with Sarah Jessica Parker looking elegant as she looks for some handsome man at the bar, with her hand caressing her Martini glass, which with little sips, will last her the whole night.

When my friends and I go out for cocktails, this is an entirely different story. The story of our cocktail endeavours involves a night of getting increasingly ladette-like and drunk. But with this said, we always end up having a goodnight.

Note to all: Cocktail nights always end up with a hangover and an empty purse in the morning.

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Let’s face it, everyone has to admit that some cocktails taste great!.. which often means you don’t realise how much you’re drinking. However in return, some taste so bad you know exactly how much you’re drinking. The only thing I hate about the cocktail experience is you never really know what you’re getting. It’s really pot luck if you get a nice drink.

You can go for one of the classics: a Martini, Margaritas (my personal favourite) or a Cosmopolitan…you generally know where you’re at with these choices. Sometimes there may even be a lemon wedge attached to the glass or an olive stick in to add that extra bit of class 😉

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You can be a bit more adventurous and go for an unusual name like “Sex on the Beach” or “Gin and Sonic”, looking down the menu for the words “vodka”, “gin” (alcohols you recognise) or “orange”, “mango” (flavours that you hope will make it drinkable) and usually these drinks will not disappoint.

However, we all have that one friend that’s feeling perhaps a little bit too adventurous and ends up buying a cocktail that has a shocking after taste. These cocktails generally taste like every alcohol in the world is mixed together in a small glass (which is probably the correct assumption in some cases). In my friendship group, this friend is Rachel. A couple of weeks ago my friends and I went out for cocktails and Rachel decided to be a bit wild and order something a bit different…

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Going through the cocktail list, cracking the codes of some of the alcohols mentioned like we’re trying to decipher hieroglyphics, with one of our other friends pretending they know everything about alcohol (there’s always one), Rachel looked for something out of the ordinary. After searching the list Rachel chose the “Green Fairy” cocktail from the menu.

Don’t be fooled: the name may sound nice and sweet but this cocktail had more of a kick to it.

She was very sure of herself, whilst we all bought the ‘safe’ cocktails from the list, she chose the one with absinthe and various other alcohols in. Rach took one sip and looked like she had bitten into a sour lemon. After trying to palm it off on our other friends Amy and Kath, we all ended up drinking it together, I mean… what are friends are for 😉 

Warning: A cocktail may look and sound nice from a distance, but this doesn’t always translate in the taste.

P.s. For all the students on a budget, making your own cocktails is a great way to Prink (pre-drink). My friends fave is Sex on the Beach (cranberry and orange juice, vodka and peach schnapps) split the cost between you all and have a great night!

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The scale of revision.

The scale of revision.

I’ve been going through exams recently, I thought I would do this blog to give a bit of light humour to the time we all dread.

Here’s to my first blog post. Enjoy.

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1-      “I need to start revision”

This stage involves no worries, more of a passing thought in your mind. You think “I could do revision, but I don’t want to and I don’t really need to yet”. You basically tell yourself you have plenty of time, and more often than not you don’t.

2-      “Okay, I really need to start my revision”

You’re getting a little bit nervous now, you look at the time, 3 o’clock, and you think “the day’s gone now anyway… I’ll start tomorrow”. You put a DVD on or see your friends and think “it’s okay, I can chill now because I’m starting revision tomorrow”.

A note to all: this phase is a false sense of security unless you actually sit down and do work the next day.

3-      “I really really need to do some work now”

Tomorrow comes. You open your book/folder/computer. You have every intention of doing your revision. Everything’s set out, you have your coloured pens, highlighters, every colour of card possible and sticky notes (basic revision kit).

Then you look at your first page of notes and think “Where the hell do I start?”

Motivation gone.

4-      “How do I revise?”

The age old question. You sit and kid yourself you’re doing revision by making a list of topics you need to revise. Maybe using the different coloured pens and the card you should be using for your actual revision to make it look “Pretty”.

You think you’re doing something productive, what you’re really doing is stopping yourself from revising (procrastinating… there’s a word none of us need to revise).

5-      “Better check Facebook”

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You take a ‘well deserved’ break. Make yourself a cuppa, maybe listen to some music, chill out, and open your Facebook news feed.

Refresh, refresh, refresh. You refresh your home page on Facebook religiously thinking something drastic has changed in the last 30 seconds since you last checked.

By the time you do this, have a shower, brush your hair, have another tea break, chat to your best friend on Facebook chat about how boring revision is and raid the fridge. Your day has gone again.

6-      “Where did the day go??”

The day has gone, the number of days you have to revise is decreasing. You comfort yourself and say “If I get up earlier tomorrow I’ll work through the whole day.”

You set your alarm for 7:30 in the morning and at that moment you are so confident you’ll have a productive day tomorrow. At that second you think you actually have every intention of getting up and doing work in the morning… how naive you are.

7-      “BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP”

7:30 am. Next Day. You snooze your alarm. Who were you kidding thinking you were going to get up early? You’re a student, you’re lucky if you get up before 9.

You look at your clock… 11:30. DAMN IT. You think: “I was going to be productive today”.

You get out of bed and walk to your desk, look at your revision and as luck would have it, this is the day the sun has decided to show its face. You are now a loner, locked in your room, reading inside on the sunniest day of the year.

In the end you decide to have the day off out of fear you’ll miss the only nice day in England ever.

8-      “hey, you want to go out?”

Peer pressure, all your friends are going out for ice cream, or a coffee or a night out etc. You say “I can’t I have to revise”. They say “aww come on, we won’t be out for long”. You go (you probably didn’t take much persuading).

7 hours later you come in. Today was yet another write off.

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9-      “Omg, my exam’s in two days”

You ring up one of your friends, hoping they’ll be as hopeless as you and not started to revise yet. The nerves are beginning to set it, but you fight it, you still have 48 hours.

10-   “Hey how much revision have you done?”

Possibly the worst question you can ask anyone at this point. This can result in two answers, one leaves you with a sinking feeling in your stomach and a sense of hatred. The other makes you more calm and gives you a sense of hope.

Number one – “Oh I’ve done a lot, I’m really struggling with it, it’s taken me days” (Show off) this answer makes you want to die. You think “Omg. Not only have I done no revision, but you’re saying the revision is hard, not a hope in hell am I going to pass.”

Number two- “I haven’t started yet to be honest”. If this is true (which it probably isn’t, people like to pretend they’re too cool for revision), you gain a sense of hope, you are not alone. You can do this.

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11-   “Okay, this is it, revision time”

You spend your day making revision cards or writing notes on everything because you literally still have no idea how to revise. You leave the day again feeling like you know nothing, but hey. At least you’ve been productive, right?

The next day you forget everything you’ve done. Another day wasted.

12-   “It’s tomorrow”

This day is spent cramming every aspect of everything you’ve learnt over the year.

Pages of notes + revision cards + books + 20 different topics = one day of revision = I’m going to fail.

Your room looks like it’s been attacked by an angry librarian. Your exam still doesn’t seem real, you still think you have time. You don’t, and you secretly know it too.

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13-   Panic.

Meltdown. You’ve finally cracked. It gets to 7/8 pm and you realise your exam is at 9am the next day, you start to have a mental breakdown, you stare at your mountain of ‘revision’ like your staring into space hoping that anything will go in.

At 2am in the morning you decide to call it a night. Pointless. No one ever has a goodnight sleep before an exam.

14-  “If I don’t know it now, I’ll never know it”

Exam Day. It’s actually arrived. The day you thought and hoped would never come is finally here. Where did the weeks go?

After a sleepless night you go into your exam resembling a depressed zombie, hearing people recite information you’ve never heard before. Time to go in. It’s too late. Nothing can save you now.

15-   You come out of the exam. And utter the words “I should have revised more.”

But we all know this never happens.