For the Coffee Lovers…

A BBC Good Food Recipe…

Ingredients

170g butter

170g caster sugar

170g self-raising flour

3 eggs

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tbsp of decaf instant coffee or instant coffee (dissolve in 1 tbsp hot water)

For the Icing

225g icing sugar

100g butter

1 1/2 tbsp decaf instant coffee or instant coffee (dissolve in 1 tbsp hot water)

Strawberry jam (optional)

walnuts, cherries or coffee beans to decorate (optional)

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 160C / 140C fan / gas 3. Line and butter two 18 cm sandwich tins.
  1. In a large bowl, add sugar and butter. Mix until pale and fluffy.
  1. Whisk the egg and gradually add it to the mixture with 1 tbsp of flour each time (don’t use all the flour!). When eggs have been fully combined, add the rest of the flour and baking powder and fold it gently.
  1. Add the dissolved coffee to the mixture while still folding.
  1. Divide the mixture into the sandwich tins and cook for 25-30 minutes until risen and skewer comes out clean.
  1. While the cake is cooking, make the icing sugar by beating icing sugar and butter until fluffy. Add the dissolved coffee and whisk.
  1. Spread half the icing on the bottom of one half and on the other cake, spread the jam on one half, if applicable. Then sandwich the cakes together and spread the left over icing on the top.
  1. Time to decorate – I chose coffee beans.

40 Things To-Do This Autumn

Autumn is definitely my favourite season of all! I personally love the changing leaves and the cosy clothes I bury myself in. Not to mention, the idyllic evenings, watching movies with a blanket and hot chocolate. Our autumn to-do lists may be restricted this year, but these 40 activities are everything you can do to soak in the autumn feels.

Photo by Blaz Photo on Unsplash
  1. Go conker picking and pop them in a bowl at home
  2. Visit a pumpkin patch and take some away with you
  3. Pumpkin painting
  4. Pumpkin carving
  5. Roast pumpkin seeds
  6. Collect colourful leaves on your walks
  7. Pick up some pinecones and display them around your house
  8. Have a bonfire or a fire pit in your garden
  9. Cook s’mores on the fire or in the microwave
  10. Go on a bike ride through the woods
  1. Have an autumnal movie night
  2. Bake! Bake! Bake!
  3. Read in your favourite chair with a blanket, hot drink and a candle
  4. Simply stand outside and breath in the fresh, crisp air
  5. Time to dig up all your jumpers
  6. Collect some chestnuts and roast them in your oven
  7. Wake up before dawn and marvel at the sunrise. Sunrises are 10x better in autumn.
  8. Have a firework night with your household or watch them from your window hosted by other people.
  9. Create a den in your living room
  10. Make spiced cider
Photo by Gavin Mills from FreeImages
  1. Find an orchard and go apple picking
  2. Make an autumnal wreath
  3. Make good use out of your slow cooker
  4. Decorate your front door/porch
  5. Get a head start on your Christmas shopping
  6. Make an autumnal music playlist
  7. Take a long drive in the countryside
  8. Have a no-phone day
  9. Have a games night (board games, cards, wii)
  10. Go to the garden centre
  1. Have an autumn themed photoshoot with friends or family
  2. Decorate your house with fairy lights
  3. Get out all your autumnal candles
  4. Try coffee shop autumnal drinks
  5. Paint, draw or embroider
  6. Make a hedgehog house
  7. Buy a birdhouse
  8. Turn the TV on for The Great British Bake Off
  9. Make the most amazing roast dinner
  10. Make your own personal autumnal to-do list

Back to School Anxieties

September has sprinted around the corner and I can already hear school bells in my ears. I start sixth form next week and I’m a little bit nervous, as I’m sure lots of you are. After nearly 6 months of being in my home and a lack of interaction with people in the flesh! It is understandable to feel a bit on edge, so I have found some ways that help me power through the next few weeks.

  1. Keep busy

This may be obvious but if you are constantly focusing on the thing that makes you anxious, you will never feel at ease and waste days or hours worrying. Most of the things people worry about never happen. Some things you could do to distract yourself are:

  • Read a book
  • Watch a movie
  • Start a new series on Netflix
  • Bake (check out my baking recipes that I’ve tried and loved)
  • Tidy your room
  • Cuddle your pets
  • Listen to soothing music
  • Have a cup of tea, coffee or hot chocolate
  • Do some exercise
  • Write and journal (get your creative juices flowing and write a story)
  1. Write it all out

One thing I always do when I feel anxious is write it all out. Everything you are feeling, dump it out on paper and move on. You will feel relieved if it is out of your head and clear in words in front of you. I have a journal which I take everywhere and it is a mess! I don’t try to keep it neat, I just fill it with my thoughts, ideas, to-do lists and more. I highly recommend doing this, it is proven to manage stress, health, happiness and it’s fun!

Another method is writing a spider diagram. Start with the problem in the centre of the page and write down all the solutions or steps to solve it. For example, going back to school this year; I will pack my bag with everything I need including a mask, hand sanitiser, a plastic bag for the mask and normal school supplies; read through all the guidelines the school has put in place for our safety, so I’m aware of what’s different and new; plan my outfit for the day and lay it out so it’s ready; check homework is complete and schoolwork is up to date. Once I have that organised, my mind feels clear, I know that everything is sorted and prepared for the day.

  1. Contact friends

Tell your friends how you’re feeling, chances are they are feeling the exact same way. It is scary and that’s a fact but once you have started school/college/sixth form again, it will feel almost normal. You need to remember that everyone is in the same boat. Classic phrase but very apt right now because it’s the whole country you’re sailing with!

  1. Contact a teacher

This isn’t for everybody but I had a million questions that I needed to ask before starting back and once I had contacted my tutor, I felt more able to prepare for the day and instantly I was relaxed. I told my teacher I was nervous and she gave me lots of advice and help she would offer if I needed it. I would try to contact a teacher you like and have known for a few years to receive a response that will comfort you and be a bit more personal.


I hope these small tips will help you for getting back to a new normal. I am experiencing all these fears too, so if you need to contact me you can on the Get in Touch Page and I will reply as soon as possible! Have a great first day back : )

A Cookies Lovers Dream!

A BBC Good Food Recipe : )

Ingredients

200g softened butter

300g soft brown sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 eggs

300g self raising flour

80g cocoa powder

1 tsp baking powder

300g choc chips

(place the chocolate chips on a plate and pop it in the fridge before you start baking)

Method

  1. First, preheat your oven to 180 c / gas 4
  1. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Then, beat in vanilla extract and eggs.
  1. In another bowl sift in the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder.
  1. Add the flour mix to the creamed mix in stages (around about a third of the mixture at a time) and mix well.
  1. Fold in the chocolate chips until just combined.
  1. Spoon a tablespoon of the mixture on to a baking tray and repeat until all the mixture is used up.
  1. Bake in the preheated oven for 12 minutes.
  1. When you take out the cookies they will be soft. Leave it to cool on the baking tray and when completely cold you can remove it.
  1. Then, you can dig in : )

This is such an easy recipe and makes the most delicious chocolate chip cookies! It was a favourite from my family and they have been my taster testers for years. Hope you have fun baking!

Bye x

Book Review: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Title: The Book Thief

Author: Markus Zusak

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf

Rating: 5/5

Where do I even begin? When reading this novel, I went through all the emotions; laughing, crying, bitterness and anger. It was a weighty novel but I begged for more when I flipped over the last page. I will not spoil the ending, but tears would not stop streaming down my face! I was transfixed to Liesel’s character and related to her rebellious tendencies and infant perplexities that I had as a child. This immediate love for the child only made it harder when she faced death, pain and separation; her heavy emotions are passed onto the reader, however, it heightened the content and innocent moments too.

The author’s choice of narrator is thought-provoking. I have never read a book from death’s perspective; it enhanced the sorrowful atmosphere of world war two and revealed facts and opinions you never thought of. The notes from the narrator in bold forebodes events later on in the story and this small structural addition makes the reader never want to put the book down. His messages are blatant on what will happen in the future, but, fails to present any sort of detail about how, who, when, what. Very infuriating! The narrator also (thankfully) helps the reader to pronounce or translate the German words! So, don’t worry about that.

If you’re like me and melt at the love of family and friends, then this is defiantly the book for you. Liesel’s passionate admiration for Max (a Jew, based at the bottom of the Hubermann’s basement) was eye-opening and without their friendship, the story would not be the same. She was his only friend and she helped him through suffering and resentment; making his last look at the sky positive, rather than bitter. The family love between Hans, Rosa and Liesel was another relationship to live vicariously through, although they did have a strange way of showing they liked each other. Rosa would call her husband and daughter rude names, like “Saumensch,” but it truly meant she loved them (as stated by death at the end). The father, Hans, was the selfless man every reader loves. He was strong for his family and Max but also demonstrated his true strength in his objection to be loyal to Hitler, when everyone else found it easier to follow. He was the stories hero. Not to mention his kindness and positivity towards his daughter was heart-warming. Finally, the mischievous couple of Rudy and Liesel. Their youthful friendship made me smile and I wanted to be eleven again. This was my favourite pair of all, as they stood by each other through thick and thin, hiding their true love that was sadly never said but shown in Liesel’s tears.

One last point. The chapter headings are gravitating and by that I mean, the ambiguity of them makes a reader never want to stop looking through the story. However, when I did admit defeat and have to put the book down, it made me very excited for when I next sit down with it, to reveal what was happening next from glancing at the upcoming titles. My love-hate relationship with ‘Death’s’ chapters were insightful but mainly agitated me as I watched Himmel Street decay and I knew it was coming from chapter one.


The Easiest Cake Ever!

Pot = 125 ml

Ingredients

1 pot of natural (sugar free) yogurt

2 pots of self raising flour

1 pot of white sugar

Half a pot of mild olive oil (or vegetable/coconut oil if you would prefer)

3 large eggs (free-range)

Splash of vanilla essence

Small pinch of salt

Handful of raspberries, chocolate chips, blueberries, blackberries, whatever takes your fancy!

Icing Sugar for decoration

A loaf or cake tin

Pre-heat your oven to 175C/155C/4

Method

  1. Add two pots of flour and one pot of sugar into a large bowl.
  1. Throw in a pinch of salt
  1. Add half a pot of oil and a splash of vanilla essence.
  1. Add 3 large eggs
  1. Beat together until smooth and shiny!
  1. Grease your cake tin or use a silicone one.
  1. Pour in the mixture.
  1. This is where you add your extra ingredients. Today, I lined raspberries down the cake tin. If you want, you can add the ingredients halfway through your pour to scatter them around more.
  1. Bake for 45 minutes – 1 hour. If the knife or skewer is not clean or if you shake it and it’s still wobbly then leave it in for 10 more minutes.
  1. (Optional) Pop it onto a plate and use a sieve to sprinkle some icing sugar over it.
The before photo!
The after photos!

It tastes amazing! Raspberries is defiantly a go to ingredient for this recipe.

Enjoy 🙂

25 Self-love Journal Prompts

Self-love journalling helps you become more self-aware and unravels ways you can be content and happy more often. Journalling, in general, helps improve your mood and it prioritises fears, concerns and problems but also, gratitude, acceptance and self-love.

  1. What is your best personality trait?
  2. Write a love letter to yourself.
  3. Write a thank you letter for your body that keeps you alive.
  4. What’s the last compliment you received?
  5. What’s the compliment you desire most? Tell yourself that.
  6. List the positive changes that have happened to you in the last year.
  7. Write a letter accepting who you are.
  8. Write down ten affirmations about your insecurities.
  9. What are three things you do daily that makes you love yourself?
  10. What’s one thing you’re proud of yourself for? (no matter how small)
  11. Write down 5 positive things about yourself.
  12. Write down all your mistakes and forgive yourself.
  13. What makes you feel loved?
  14. If your closest friends were to write down your best traits, what would they be?
  15. Have you met your flaws with acceptance and love today?
  16. What makes you laugh?
  17. What’s your life going to look like in 5 years? 10 years?
  18. What do you need to get off your chest right now?
  19. Ten interesting facts about yourself?
  20. Write down 5 things you’re grateful for.
  21. What are your priorities in life?
  22. What were your highs and lows today?
  23. What would you say to your teenage self?
  24. Three things you do well.
  25. What are your biggest goals?

“Gratitude helps you fall in love with the life you already have”

Habit Tracker Ideas

There is a weird satisfaction that you get from having a habit tracker. Looking over your week and seeing how much you’ve actually done feels good. It helps divert the idea of getting the result immediately and instead makes the process a bit more enjoyable. It’s a strange way of motivating yourself but it really works!

Ideas

Mindful

  1. Meditate
  2. Journal
  3. Gratitude
  4. Stretching
  5. Affirmations
  6. Read

Lifestyle

  1. Exercise
  2. 8 hours sleep
  3. Going to bed early
  4. Waking up early
  5. Studying
  6. Cleaning chores (empty and load dishwasher, clear island)
  7. Make bed

Self-care

  1. Morning skincare routine
  2. Night skincare routine
  3. Nail care
  4. Eyebrow care
  5. Mouthwash
  6. Floss
  7. Brush teeth
  8. Retainers
  9. Water intake

Social Media

  1. Instagram post
  2. Twitter post
  3. Blog post
  4. Pinterest
  5. Tumblr
  6. Phone detox
  7. Connected with friends
  8. Connected with family

Diet

  1. Five fruit and veg a day
  2. Vitamins
  3. Healthy breakfast
  4. Pack lunch for work
  5. No coffee
  6. No fizzy drinks

Pastime

  1. Sewing
  2. Drawing
  3. Writing
  4. Colouring
  5. Knitting
  6. Crafting
  7. Baking
  8. Walking

How to Walk Aimlessly

How to master walking around aimlessly…

Pack a bag

  1. Water
  2. Snacks
  3. A wallet/purse
  4. A portable charger and phone
  5. Headphones (optional)
  6. Reusable camera or polaroid
  7. A book

Rules

  1. Turn off phone. You’ll only need it for emergencies. Everyone needs a break once in a while from social media and the news etc.
  1. Don’t use a map. Trust your own instinct and if you are ready to come home and have no clue where you are, this is when you call someone to pick you up or use google maps.
  1. Have no time limit. When you feel you have been out long enough, you’ll know, but don’t rush it! If you think you’re wasting time, then you’re doing it right!
  1. Keep going. Pay attention to every detail and lose all sense of time and place.
  1. Do the opposite of what you think you should do.

Enjoy your aimless walk ; )

July’s Novel Pick

The Book Thief

GoodReads Synopsis

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will be busier still.

By her brother’s graveside, Liesel’s life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Gravedigger’s Handbook, left behind there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery. So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordian-playing foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor’s wife’s library, wherever there are books to be found.

But these are dangerous times. When Liesel’s foster family hides a Jew in their basement, Liesel’s world is both opened up, and closed down.

In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.


I’m trying to go through all the classic and most popular novels during lockdown, so I’m sorry if you’ve already read the books I chose. But, if you haven’t read The Book Thief yet, I hope you enjoy it! I’ve heard so many great things about it and my sister has recommended it to me for years, so it’s about time I started reading it. Although the size of it is a bit daunting…

Bye x