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I bought new shoes! Mini Primark Haul


I put some new shoes on, and suddenly everything is right.
Paulo Nutini



Shoes are an area of styling that I tend to struggle with. Presently I have a series of shoe genres I stick to: androgynous (brogues and moccasins), feminine (ballet flats), vintage (t bar) and boots (chunky ankle types). I have heels and higher boots, and a few plimsoles but shoes confound me.

I know what I like (strappy, t bar or animal print), and I wear those shoes to death. This is why I found myself in need of some new ballet flats (or dolly shoes if you prefer). I find these shoes go with the majority of my wardrobe, from jeans and tees to smart workwear and ditsy summer dresses. However, because of the nature of these flats I find they don’t last long. I started 2016 with six pairs of flats which I could rotate and love, and I found myself binning the second to last pair of these in August when the soles started separating from the sides.
Cue a need for new ballet flats and a trip to Drake Circus. After trying New Look in search of any bargain flats (I’m a touch cash strapped at present) I ventured to Primark looking for a pair of simple black ballet straps, and I hit the jackpot.

The first things I saw was this lovely pair of black ballet flats with an ankle strap, allowing me to feel all vintagey and retro. These are also lovely as I can alternate them with my pointed T Bar flats I’ve been favouring recently. I can see myself wearing these in a work, or more professional environment.


Just around the corner from these I found some elasticated fold up black flats, and could resist them. I often walk into work with trainers or plimsoles on to offer my feet a bit of support, and slip into a pair of flats when I get in. These fold up smart shoes mean I can easily do this, and not lose space in my bag! I wore these to an interview this week, and they proved very comfortable.


Finally I saw these leopard print flats. I-love-Leopard print. I feel like this print lifts an outfit from simple and pulled together to fashionable and edgy. I tried these on, loved how they looked with my skinny jeans, and popped them straight in my basket. I wore these to the Bridget Jones event this week (post pending!) and around my home town the next day and they looked incredible. They had started to rub a touch the next day, but nothing horrific.

All in all, I don’t think you can beat Primark for ballet flats. And in this case, I cannot wait to see how I can pair the leopard print and strappy flats with more of my wardrobe.
Have you been shoe shopping in Primark recently? Are you a flats or heels fan?
– Emily

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Bake along with Bake Off: Week Two – Viennese Whirls

So this week Bake Off saw biscuit week. My heart sank, as i struggle making biscuits. It comes down to trust, I don’t trust or understand these popular British snacks. As they need to be left to firm up whilst cooling, and I am always worried they’ll be under baked.
I decided to try Viennese Whirls, once again attempting the technical challenge. Again, I found the recipe through the BBC website. After assessing the pantry and realising I had nothing in I popped to the shops. I was lucky to get jam sugar, as there was literally one

left on the shelves at Waitrose (I tried Lidil first, but they didn’t even have raspberry jam!). When I got all the ingredients home, I measured everything out and started on the aspect of this I was most comfortable about: the jam.
I felt nervous about this as I was vaguely aware of how easy it is to get hurt from boiling jam, or to burn jam and damage a pan. I mashed the fruit, and popped it on to boil with the sugar whilst I started mixing the butter cream icing. I always find buttercream is a messy, time consuming aspect of baking. I alternated between mixing my jam and buttercream, to be efficient and stop my jam from catching. At the second stage of the jam, I popped the lid on the pan and left the mix boil away, stopping it from bubbling over by lifting the lid multiple times. When this had finished boiling I put this into a glass dish to cool whilst I worked on the biscuit dough.

The dough came together really easily, and per the recommendations at the bottom of the recipie I decanted the dough into a piping bag and placed it to cool in the fridge for 15 minutes. I them preheated the oven, paced down some grass proof paper and started to line the spots for the paper.

When the 15 minutes were up, I took the dough out of the fridge to start piping the biscuits. The dough was so hard and unforgiving, it as really difficult to pipe into the shapes. I can see why the contestants struggled this week, I warmed the dough between my hands and it far improved this.


When all three trays had the pipped dough, i popped them into the over to bake and removed them after twelve minutes. I left them onto the side to cool, and then transfers them to a wire rack. Next came a stage that mimicked this weeks bake off again: when I applied the jam and buttercream to each biscuit some of them began to crumble and snap. These biscuits needed a gentle hand.
I sandwiched the jam and buttercream sides together and divvied them up between my, and my partners family and tried my first biscuit. Viennese Whirls have never been a favourite biscuit, and they never will be. They tasted nice, and were a touch over sweet for me. My thought whilst eating this, was that I would have far preferred a slice of Victoria Sponge cake.

Ultimately these looked lovely, they received really positive fed back from my family, and when I was next in the kitchen all the biscuits had been eaten. Would I make these again? As a gift for someone who loved them, potentially, otherwise there are many other bakes I prefer.
Now I’m getting nervous for bread week. I’ve made soda bread before, and I often make bread in my bread maker, but kneading dough by hand isn’t something I have a lot of experience with.

Are you baking along too?
-Emily

The Power of Good Girl Friends.

I have had a really horrible summer. Going through a break up, especially when you had no idea it was coming, is not fun at all. But when I was feeling low and ugly crying who was there…the most amazing females I know.

 

You know you have a great blogging partner and friend when you can turn up to her house and just cry for a few hours. That is what Emily is to me. This woman works in another city, has to commute every day and has her own life stuff going but when I was in need she made herself completely available to me. She was a shoulder for me to cry on, she was an amazing advice giver and a great distracter and I would have struggled so much these last few weeks without her there. I’m half hoping she gets dumped soon so I can make it up to her (I don’t really just trust me she’ll find that funny).

 

Let’s not forget the best friend a girl can have, our mums. When you’re only single figures old she’s your absolute world, then as your grow up she seems like the devil and it’s not until your high teens that you realise she’s just a girl like you but she knows you better than she knows herself. Now, I will argue that my mum is the best in the world and after my break up she really was, she let me be sad but that didn’t stop her telling me some much needed home truths. I am so glad to have that wonderful woman in my life helping to guide me through the best and worst of times, I hope I’m half as good at being a mum as she is.

 

Us girls have this horrible habit of wanting to tear each other down for the most trivial of things, usually because of some stupid boy. Yet when something goes wrong those same girls are the ones we go running to because only they can understand and support us the way we need. So, I am taking an oath, as someone who recently really leaned on the fabulous females in her life, to try every day to only raise women up and support girls in whatever they choose to do. We need each other more than we care to admit and I would like to my bit to end girl hate.

 

Anyway that was just a little thought that’s been going around my head for these last few weeks. Make sure you show your girl friends or anyone who means anything to you that you appreciate them and tell them often.

 

Thanks for reading. Speak soon – SallyπŸ™‚

 

 

 

 

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Bake Along With Bake Off: Week One, Jaffa Cakes


On Wednesday, like many others across the country, I tuned into watch the first episode of Bake Off. With minimal derision I tweeted my way through the show, picking out my early favourites (Selasi, Candice, Benjamina), and commenting that I wanted to attempt either Jaffa Cakes or the Mirror Cake. Cue Alice from Wooden Windowsills asking if I as going to partake in Bake Along With Bake Off, a series created by Amanda and Ala.

So it all started off ok, I inspected the pantry and established the only thing I needed was some Orange Jelly. a quick trip to the local coop saw me returning with two packets, one to act as a back up in case of a mistake.

I got all my ingredients out, and brought Mary Berry’s recipe for Jaffa Cakes up on the BBC Food website. I started by making my Jelly, per the packet instructions and popping it to set in the fridge. Next was the sponge base, after measuring out the ingredients I looked at the orange I had put in the side perplexed and realised I had forgotten to add grated zest to my jelly. I quickly zested the orange, and added it to my jelly mix (crisis averted).


Back to the sponge, I used my electric mixer to get as much air into the eggs and sugar as possible, and after about seven minutes I added the flour by folding it into the mixture. I was really worried when I first saw the ingredients at how this would make twelve Jaffa cakes but I was feeling more confident when everything was combined.


I greased a cupcake tin and added my sponge mix by tea spoon, when I got to my tenth cake I ran out of mixture and did something I never normally would: I took little bits of mixture from the other cake batters to make it up to twelve. Oven preheated at 180 I put my sponges in for seven minutes. They rose beautifully, and smelt gorgeous. Step one complete.

After leaving the cakes to cool I checked on my jelly which didn’t seem to be setting, I checked with the jelly expert in the family (my dad) who advised jelly normally sets in about half an hour. It had been over an hour and there as no sign of a wiggle in the mix, so I made my second jelly.


Another hour later neither had set, I consulted my father again who mocked my choice to make my jelly on baking trays covered in grease proof paper. We decanted the mixes into glass dishes so the jelly was still shallow. Cut forward to eight hours after I had first put my jelly in the fridge, and they are sort of-almost set…


I decided to make the Jaffa Cakes with this Jelly, and it was… Interesting. I couldn’t cut the jelly with a biscuit cutter, so I used a teaspoon to dollop jelly on the cakes. I then melted my dark chocolate (I’ll always chose dark chocolate in cooking, I like the slightly bitter edge) and drizzled it over the cakes and jelly with another spoon. This did not go well.


The chocolate slipped off the jelly, either to the sides or around the jelly. I gave all the cakes a chocolate coating anyway and put them in the fridge. They set within an hour or so and I shared one with my sister and they were definitely edible, so I popped them in a Tupperware container and back in the fridge for a picnic the next day.
These didn’t taste as awful as they looked, I brought them along to Sunday’s Blogger Brunch and everyone ate and complimented me on the way they taste. Either everyone was being very polite, or I made a batch of decent tasting awful looking cakes.

Things I have learnt from this:

  •  Jelly should be made in a glass container, not on grease proof paper in a baking tray.
  • On the next attempt ignore the packet instructions, just add the boiling water.
  • The jelly may not have worked, but the cakes did, and dark chocolate was define let a good call.
  • I probably won’t make Jaffa cakes again, but now I really want a trifle!
  • Jelly makes an awesome snack when you need something sweet, especially when you’ve made three times more than you needed…

Now, I wonder what tomorrow’s bakes will be…


– Emily

Ps, I totally stole Sally’s upload day this week!

Train of thought…

​I catch the train for work five days a week, and have done so for spot on six months today. In some waus this is an improvement on how I previously commuted (bus) and there are many ways that it drives me crazy, so I thought I would collate a list of bugbears about trains:

Overcrowding 

For some reason Great Western Railway feel that a three or four carriage train is sufficient for the evening commuter train, meaning the 17:24 train home is generally standing room only until the third or fourth stop, on a good day. 

Doors 

I cannot deal will the responsibility of opening the train door when it reaches the station. I’m not talking about the button operated doors, but the ones where you need to stick your arm through the window and manoeuvre the handle. If I’m at the front I will muck it up to or three times and look like an idiot who can’t open the door. 

Unreliability 

The reliability of trains is a running joke and should just go without saying. My train will either be slightly late which can make me about 2 or 3 minutes late for work or what you do is be an hour late 2 hours late and completely screw with my plans. Thanks trains. 

On the flip side…


My morning train is not only spacious, I can charge my phone, I can read a book and I can just switch off and relax for an hour. And 4 out of 5 days of the week my train will be on time. 

As much as the train might drive me crazy on occasion, it still allowed me to take a chance on an amazing opportunity in Truro with a job that has really challenged me and given me with some real moment pride.

Trains I might hate you on occasion, but I’m also incredibly grateful for you.

Emily 

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I would rather be readingΒ 

​I am on a self imposed reading break, and its making me slightly sad. Instead of getting lost in the pages of a new world I’m studying for an industry certificate, and I thought my graduation heralded the end of academic exams…

If I was reading right now, I’d be flicking through one of these :

The Night Circus 
Circuses and magic, why wouldn’t I want to read this.

On the road 
A gift from my brother a few years back (is there anything better than a gifted book) that came with the dvd which we watched together. This is a reference to our mutual The O C obsession.

Elizabeth is missing 
A mystery novel that I passed to my mum the minute I got it home, after meeting her seal of approval I can’t wait to read this.

Yes please 
I love Army Poehler, and want nothing more than to spend hours with her steam of consciousness.

It 
I probably have around 300 pages left of this bad boy and really need to finish this to make some headway through my reading challenge 

Have you read any of these books, or are they on your to read list?

Emily 

Spinach and Cheese Muffins: Meal Prep

 Whenever someone asks what my hobbies are, or what I do simply because I enjoy it, my first response is always reading then baking. I’ve touched on our love of books here a lot (evidence) but beyond a reference to the brownies I made for the first blogger event I attended, my other love has been neglected.
The bake I’m introducing to you is adapted from The Hummingbird Bakery, and I make a batch of these most weeks.  They freeze really well, lending  themselves perfectly to meal prepping and are, as far as I’m concerned, a fairly healthy snack. On a side note, I made these for my works bake off and they were snapped up pretty quickly!
Cheese and Spinach Muffins with a kick
Makes approximately 8 Muffins.
You will need:

  • A muffin tray. I use a 6 muffin tray and either a mini loaf tin or cupcake wrappers.
  • Muffin cases
  • A spatula
  • A big mixing bowl
  • A few smaller bowls
  • An electric mixer
  • A wooden spoon
  • Some elbow grease

Ingredients

  • 350g plain flour
  • 2.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 250g mature cheddar cheese, grated
  • 220 ml milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 130 g shredded baby spinach (you can use frozen if you prefer, but I prefer fresh Spinach in this recipe)
  • Optional: half teaspoon cayenne pepper

Method
Shred your Spinach, disposing of the stalks, and grate your cheddar, put both to one side.
Add the muffin cases to the muffin tray and pre heat your oven to 170 C.

Crack and beat your egg lightly into the milk.
In a separate large mixing bowl combine the flour, baking powder, cayenne pepper and cheese.

Using your electric mixer slowly add the wet ingredients (milk, egg) to the dry ingredients (baking powder, flour, cheese, pepper). Once all has combined put your electric mixer to one side (after scraping the beaters).
Add the Spinach to the mix and stir with a wooden spoon to combine. You will have a very elastic dough, meaning this is the most tedious aspect of the recipie as mixing takes ages.

Once well combined spoon your elastic dough into the muffin cases, aim for 2/3 full.
If you have extra dough add this to the cupcake cases or mini loaf tin. Be aware the cooking time for these will differ. (less for the cupcakes more for the mini loaf)

Bake for 30 about minutes. Once you reach 30 minutes pop a fork/cocktail stick into a muffin, if it comes out clean they’re done! Other wise give it a few more minutes and test again.

Take your muffins out of the oven, after about ten minutes carefully move them to a wire cooling rack.

Either leave to cool completely and freeze the surplus, or eat whilst they’re still hot with a bit of butter.

Nb: these will spoil after a couple days so always freeze the excess. Take a muffin out the night before, and it will be perfect for a healthy mid morning snack. 



You will also need to justify these muffins when you eat them, people often seem perplexed by these.

There you go! If you make these let me know what you think of them!


– Emily