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Category Archives: cake

Five Friday Favourites #11

Soreen

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How have I reached my thirties and not discovered the chewy delights of malt loaf?! Ian introduced me to this treat and I have had it every morning for breakfast with butter and sliced banana.

A New Primer

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Lumene is a Finnish skincare brand and I bought this Beauty Base over the summer when we did a little Scandi tour. It claims to be a moisturising, illuminating primer and I think it ticks those boxes. My foundation looks great on top of it too – a fab little find!

Bloodline

We have almost finished season one of this Netflix series and it’s really good. It has also made us want to take a Florida road trip one summer.

A Wardrobe Overhaul

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Last Sunday, I had a huge sort-out of my wardrobe…I even dragged Ian into it too! I tried almost everything on, put some stuff into storage and donated a pile of things too. It has felt good knowing everything in my wardrobe now fits and is something I love and I rediscovered some treasures too.

The Longs Arms

I had a full-on week at work and on Thursday I felt like I wanted to go out to dinner just to celebrate getting everything done! My absolute favourite place to eat near us is The Longs Arms in South Wraxall. The food is exceptional and I especially enjoy their amazing ice-cream flavours. Last night, I opted for a scoop of Turkish Delight and one of Cadbury’s Crème Egg…delicious!

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Five Friday Favourites #8

A slightly belated Friday Favourites this week but I have been away this weekend and wanted to switch off and relax a bit, so better late than never!

Weezer’s White Album

I used to absolutely LOVE this band (the Green Album is one of my all-time favourites) but I didn’t know what to expect when I listened to their new album. Luckily, it didn’t disappoint and I have been playing it non-stop for the past week. My favourite tracks are ‘California Kids’ and ‘Jacked Up’.

A New Lasagne Recipe

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I get really excited when I discover a new twist on a classic recipe and I followed Gino D’Acampo’s lasagne recipe which adds homemade pesto to the white sauce, giving it a new flavour that really works well.

Ricky Gervais

I went to see Ricky Gervais’ new stand-up show ‘Humanity’ this week. He actually had a bit of a funny turn and had to leave the stage for a bit and we weren’t sure whether it was all part of the act or serious! As well as the live show, we had amazing pizzas beforehand at Beerd – the chestnut mushroom, truffle and parmesan one was divine!

The OA

We finished watching this Netflix series this week and whilst it wasn’t one of my all-time favourites, it was entertaining and a bit different…if a little weird.

Banana Bread

It feels like I haven’t baked anything for ages so I was really excited to try a slice of this. I made banana bread with Mini Eggs and hazelnuts and it turned out to be so delicious!

Travel Diaries – Helsinki

Our final stop on the Scandi cruise we did this summer was to Finland. I always think Denmark and Sweden have a reputation for the ‘cool’ Scandinavian countries to visit but there was something about Helsinki that captivated all of us. I still can’t quite put my finger on exactly why but we had a really great day here and I would love to return.

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We were greeted in the port by this rather magnificent sculpture (!) before wandering further into the city centre.

One thing we noticed straight away is that the Finns love a good car boot sale! We passed several open air markets selling a variety of vintage items.

Just walking along the streets made me fall in love with Helsinki. The buildings were beautiful, the streets themselves spotless, the cafes and restaurants lovely, the interior shops amazing and the people friendly and welcoming. We ended up spending a little while in a lovely homeware shop chatting to the owner about travel, Brexit, Scandi culture and our general attitudes towards Europe.

We made our way to the port area and found a lovely little food market where Ian had some tasty fresh fish and my friend Lucie and I found more souvenirs to admire.

We climbed the hill to visit Uspenski Orthodox Cathedral which was beautiful.

It was then time for more tea, cake and people-watching (one of my favourite holiday pastimes!) and a wander around the city centre.

We walked the long way back, enjoying a bracing walk in the sunshine along the coastline back to our ship. I can imagine this part of the city being quite bleak in the winter months but we picked a beautiful day to visit and I think this really painted it in its best light. fd833f15-d1d2-443a-a141-874435683251

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Travel Diaries – St. Petersburg

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I realised I never finished writing about the last two destinations on our Scandinavian mini-cruise this summer so today I wanted to share our day in St. Petersburg!

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We arrived at the port and made it through immigration before making our way into the city centre. It started out as quite a grey and drizzly day which felt almost fitting for Russia.

I knew a little of St. Petersburg’s history after reading The Siege but it is a huge city with so much to see. Given the limited time we had there and the weather, we decided to get on a hop-on-hop-off bus tour so we could see most of the highlights as well as hearing some history too.

My first impressions were not as I expected – it was a much prettier city with beautiful boulevards, grand buildings and fascinating history.

We got off the bus at the iconic Hermitage. This was a vast building with a huge square in front of it. We decided that we couldn’t do such a massive art museum justice by simply popping in for an hour so we admired the exterior before having a wander along the river.

Ian hates the ‘tat shops’ I always manage to find on holiday but I do love a good gift shop and we stumbled upon babushka gold.

The highlight of the day was visiting the Church of the Saviour of Spilled Blood. This was breathtaking inside with gold, marble and colours everywhere you looked.

After a good walk we decided some tea and cake were in order so we found a coffee shop on Nevsky Prospect (the main street of St. Petersburg) in an excellent people-watching position!

Having spent the day walking around quite a beautiful city, it was interesting to see how the buildings changed to a more stark and ‘Soviet’ style as we neared the port.

St. Petersburg was a fascinating city. Not high on my list of places to visit but I think that’s what made it even more special – I wasn’t expecting much so was pleasantly surprised by our day there.

 

 

Recipe – Mince Pie Pastries

After yesterday’s blog post, I had a little notification pop up on my WordPress app informing me that it was actually my 1000th post which feels like something of a milestone! I can flit between hobbies but I am so pleased I have actually stuck with this one as it brings me real happiness to write blog posts. I know my photography is not the slickest, and there is the occasional spelling mistake or two, but I do love looking back on what I have written and seeing how much things have changed.

Today, I wanted to share a really easy festive baking recipe that is a twist on a classic mince pie and would make a perfect breakfast pastry if you have family staying over Christmas.

Ingredients

A sheet of puff pastry (feel free to make your own but I always buy puff pastry!)

A jar of mincemeat (again, you can make your own. I bought some from Sainsburys and jazzed it up with some extra cranberries, mixed peel and a dash of orange liquor)

How to make it

  • Preheat your oven to Gas Mark 4/ 180°C
  • Roll your pastry out on a floured surface
  • Spoon over the mincemeat, leaving a gap of about an inch the whole way round

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  • Gently but firmly roll the pastry up into a swiss roll-style log

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  • Slice into rounds about 2cm thick

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  • Put each round between a sheet of greaseproof paper and lightly flatten with a rolling pin or your palm

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  • Place the slices onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper

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  • Bake for around 20 minutes until golden brown

These went down a treat with my colleagues and were tasty warm and once cold. The filling can catch and caramelise on the bottom if you’re not careful so make sure they don’t overcook and burn.

Travel Diaries – A Week in Boston (Part Two)

Day Four

Our fourth day in Boston started with my first ever cronut! Man, this was delicious.

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We got the train to Salem which was about 40 minutes away. I have to say that we were both kind of disappointed by it. You would think that Salem, a place renowned for its spooky heritage, would be great around Halloween but it was all a bit try-hard and tired. There were some street performances which were fun to see and the graveyard and memorial sites were interesting but there were too many witch museums and haunted houses – all claiming to be the original/ scariest/ most authentic.

We had a walk along the coast before visiting Salem Beer Works. Here we did two beer flights, working our way through some East coast beers and some seasonal specials. I had a delicious cinnamon beer and a fruity one with real blueberries floating in it. I think there was a fairground and parade that opened in the evenings in Salem which may have been better to see.

After returning to the city, we found a bar to watch the Liverpool game then headed to TD Garden for our first ever ice hockey game. We were watching the Boston Bruins who are meant to be quite good but ended up losing. However I was happy as we got to see a fight within the first few minutes followed by regular scuffles throughout the game!

Day 5

The next morning, we were up and out early for a tour of Sam Adams craft brewery…yep drinking before 10am! This was a great little tour where we found out a bit about how the brewery started and worked our way through some samples.

Afterwards we got the T to Chinatown and had the best lunch. We ordered a Mongolian hotpot which came in a split bowl filled with two different types of stock, placed on an electric hob on the table. Separately, we had plates of fresh vegetables, raw prawns and beef, cooked rice and some noodles which you drop into the stock and allow to cook. This was a bit messy but a really fun lunch!

We did a spot of shopping that afternoon then headed back to TD Garden, this time to watch Boston Celtics. This was our first basketball game and it was really fun. There was a bit more atmosphere than the previous night (and it wasn’t as cold!) and we won too! We also had free t-shirts as it was the first game of the season.

Day 6

Our last full day started with a big walk along the river. We had some lovely  views of the city and wandered down Charles Street to Boston Common to enjoy pumpkin-spiced lattes in the park surrounded by squirrels.

We decided to have a final blow-out seafood lunch and I had read good things about The Barking Crab. We started with clams and prawns in garlic butter then I had a lobster roll and Ian had a mixed seafood platter. You really do have to indulge in seafood in Boston – it was so fresh and tasty.

I had been building up to a Sephora visit so I sent Ian back to the hotel and indulged in an hour of me-time, coming away with quite a hefty bag which I will share soon!

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For our last night, I had booked us tickets to ‘Rise of the Jack ‘o’ Lanterns’: an art exhibition made entirely of carved pumpkins. We went out for Mexican first then headed to the show.

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It was really amazing to see the skill involved and the exhibition took place in a darkened room which really added to the atmosphere – I took a lot of photos…

Day 7

We were travelling home today so spent the morning packing before a trip to the Boston Public Library. This is such a beautiful building and it had a really cool map exhibition too.

We had our final meal at 5 Napkins Burgers where I had one of the tastiest burgers of my life topped with smoked onion and rosemary relish and melted gruyere cheese…wow!

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I don’t feel I can write about a trip to America without mentioning the result of the elections this week. In the UK, Trump was presented as a total buffoon with Hillary as the voice of reason but when we were in the States, the constant adverts on TV painted a very different picture with Trump being a ‘true American’ whereas Hillary was a ‘criminal’ following the email scandal. Ian and I even remarked that it looked like quite an even race between the two of them which is why I wasn’t totally surprised at the result.

However, that isn’t to say that I am not completely gutted at the result either. I hope Trump has enough skilled, sensible and experienced people around him to keep him in check but bigger than that is the message of sexism, racism and homophobia that I feel has triumphed. Polls have shown that young Americans mostly voted in favour of Hillary so you can only hope this is just a four year blip in the history of a country that I truly love to visit.

Travel Diaries – A Week in Boston (Part One)

After a busy week back at work, I have finally found a spare evening to start writing up our amazing trip to Boston last month. I had always wanted to visit New England during Fall and Halloween and this trip did not disappoint. As well as the seasonal joys of everything being pumpkin flavoured (beer, coffee, doughnuts…you name it!), it was fascinating to see the final run-up to the US elections and enjoy some amazing seafood. I also tried to master the Boston accent which was a little less successful!

Day One

We flew from Heathrow Terminal 5 with British Airways and it was a pleasant enough flight. I watched the films Money Monster, The Shallows and Finding Dory all of which I would recommend for different reasons. We landed in the evening and got a free shuttle from Logan Airport into Boston then a taxi to our hotel.

We stayed at The Chandler Inn Hotel in South End and I really liked it. South End is seen as quite a hip, cool area and our hotel was surrounded by beautiful brownstones. We were about two blocks away from the T (Boston’s subway system) which made it really easy to get around.

I was struggling to stay awake at this point but managed a short walk around the neighbourhood to pick up some essentials – pizza, root beer and M&Ms!

Day Two

Well, I was awake at about 4am on our first morning and itching to get outside and start exploring! We started with another walk around the surrounding area to get our bearings and delight in the pretty window boxes most houses had. It was a beautifully sunny, crisp autumn day and my first impressions of Boston were great.

For breakfast, we headed to The Pour House for eggs and homefries which would keep us going all morning.

I love a good bus tour and really do think it is a great way to see a city, especially if the tour guide is a local. We did a trolley tour and struck gold with our driver who was hilarious and had lots of funny tales about the city. Boston is a very historical city and we saw all the main sights with a little bit of history thrown in too.

An added extra with this bus tour was a mini-cruise around the harbour. This was really fun and gave us a different view of the city…plus they sold beer on the boat!

That afternoon, we visited Quincy Market where there is an amazing selection of food vendors. We wandered past the mouth-watering stalls before deciding on clam chowder and lobster rolls for lunch. We ate this whilst enjoying an Acapella contest! It wasn’t quite Pitch Perfect but very cool to watch.

We caught the last of the autumn sunshine at Boston Common (where there was a cute kids pumpkin decorating event happening) before going to Octoberfest, a beer festival complete with pumpkin beer, pretzels and live music.

Day Three

Our third day started with bagels at Berkeley Perk Café followed by a trip across the water to Cambridge. I had really wanted to visit Harvard University and we had a great tour from a student. I found the history fascinating and the grounds were beautiful…almost as pretty as Birmingham Uni!

We headed back to Quincy Market for lunch, stopping at an amazing little farmers’ market on the way, and had lobster mac and cheese in the sunshine before an afternoon of shopping, trying a Blackbird Bakery doughnut and burritos for dinner.