No, I ain’t no follow back gurl.

It’s been a while since I wrote something thoughts and feelsy on here that wasn’t to do with stuffing my cakehole full of, well, cake. I’ve wanted to write something like this for ages now actually and I was filled with inspiration after spending the night before on social media hating myself and my life a liiiiiittle bit. I really want to talk about all the things that kinda irk me about blogging. I love it don’t get me wrong but sometimes I feel like I want to throw my laptop into a fast flowing river and wonder what I did with my time before all of this. I’ve written and rambled on for an absolute age beneath so if you’d rather not read all this gushy jargon keep scrolling down to the bits I’ll have titled in bold. YOU’RE WELCOME XOX. But if you do wanna read my innermost thoughts and feelings and potentially the lottery numbers (not really soz I just want to entice you in a bit) well settle into your seats and enjoy!

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I’ve been blogging for quite some time now, on and off for nearly 6 years and honestly it’s such a joy to see this community of people all over the planet grow. It actually makes me so happy to see people I interacted with, all those years ago when I was just starting out at 17, back when I really didn’t have a clue what I was doing, not that I do now  to be honest, seeing them progress with their blog and their lives in general really! I mean some have got married, had babies, had a full on bloody glow up whilst I’ve twiddled about on the internet for a couple years, dying my hair and getting a little bit Naomi Campbell’ed at the weekends.

I don’t know whether I have ever touched upon my blogging journey with you all because it’s a bit of a random starter to this. I’ve read some people’s accounts as to why or how they started and they are really touching stories and mine is a bit of an arsy one to say the very least. And it’s kinda full of name drops. It all started in June or July 2012. (If this was the film of my life I would have been narrating this scene and that bit as we travel back in time to this monumental occasion. Ideally Kate Upton would be playing me but i’m going to stop dreaming for a little bit ok. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve had as many thoughts on career changes as Mr Benn and at this moment in time I really wanted to go into journalism or something involved in the media circus. My cousin is celeb and entertainment journo and often is meeting and interviewing all the top names so as a favour to me he said I could be his plus one to go backstage with him at T4 On The Beach. If you don’t remember this (ur too young for me bro) it was a one day music festival held on the beach at Weston-Super-Mare. Super it is not may I add. I had a wristband that said PRESS PERSON on it I felt like I was a teen Fearne Cotton hotfooting my way over to interview Tulisa and Rizzle Kicks. I mean it wasn’t exactly Glasto.

I got to see the perks of all the behind the scenes fun, mingle with famous people and even basically loot the gifting lounge. Having never been inside somewhere like that before I honestly had no idea what I was doing and whether I was supposed to be taking things for free?! FYI Hugo from Made in Chelsea took two soda streams. Who needs one let alone two was my thought as well. It was in there at a table laden with gifts from a cosmetics company, when I was literally breathing in the same air as Alexandra Burke and Rita Ora, (oops soz I’ll just pick up those name I just dropped. *Insert shameless eyeroll emoji*) that the girls from the brand looked at my press band, looked at me (aged 17) and head to toe in Primark and H&M and they asked politely who I was or who I was with.  I quickly swapped my entire life story and gushed on and on to them how I was still in sixth form and was kind of hating it and didn’t know what to do, that my cousin invited me and I wanted to do something similar and love writing. I’m fairly certain I said this all within about 9 seconds in one breath as well. One of the girls just said with total ease in her voice that I should give blogging a go. They handed me loads of their goodies and instructed me to write all about them online. We swapped email addresses and I promised I’d send them my blog info. THUS my blog was born about 7 hours later when I eventually got home. Needless to say my blog journey was a bit of a strange one. I don’t know how I effectively nabbed the PR samples before the blog was even around. I have a lot to thank those girls for. Or you might just think I’m easily swayed and take life advice off of a complete stranger I met in a glorified tent.

Sometimes I absolutely adore this community and other times, like a 0.0001% of the time, I simply loathe it. It’s gone forward in a lot of aspects since I started. In the sense that’s it’s grown huuuuuugely with more and more people, blogging or vlogging or simply being more present online. It’s getting lot more good press, great attention and the respect it deserves. Not a day goes past where I don’t see people reaching out to others asking for their blogging deets to pass on to a PR rep or fellow bloggers posting affiliate links or their latest posts with items in which they’ve been gifted by a brand. I’ve seen some people get hate saying that X blogger only wrote such a rave review about their specific products because they got it for free or whatnot and it just makes me giggle what they must think about the celebrities who are paid to endorse certain products. I know who’s opinion I’d rather trust, someone who’s used it and put it on their blog or Cheryl Cole (or whatever her surname is) on an advert. I’m so hugely impressed and proud of people I’ve never even met, seeing them glow up and basically do so well. It makes me remember why I enjoy and love being part of such a thriving, ambitious group of fab people.

On my old blog, one which I have now hidden from prying eyes, I used to literally post on there about everything or anything. From daily updates on what colour my nail varnish was, what I bought from Oxfam on my lunch break from work or what I was thinking about having for my eleven o’clock snack. NO JOKE. One time I posted four times on my blog in one evening four different nail varnish shades asking you all for your opinions on which one I should go with for sixth form the following day. God knows how I wasn’t ever reported as a bot. Or why Blogger/blogspot didn’t intervene like U ok hun??? We want to report your unusual activity and posting all this verbal poop on our sites.

  • BLOGGING ISN’T WHAT IT USED TO BE. 

I know I sound about 357 years old by saying that and obvs things change over time but back in the day when I was starting out the blogger chats you see on twitter were buzzing with life and activity. I remember Sunday evenings used to be an actual challenge for me, as I was organising myself around the lifestyle bloggers chat at 7, another chat at 8 and getting ready for bed as I had a look at the blog posts mentioned and linked to in the chats and then watching TOWIE at 10. People used to share each others links ALL the time I remember seeing people write specific posts to share their favourite blog posts and or bloggers of that week or month. Or people would often be writing guest posts on each others blogs a lot too. I don’t know whether that’s still a thing as such anymore or whether I’ve got my head up my butt, but I just don’t see the same love in’s anymore.

  • IT CAN BE HARD NOT TO FEEL JEALOUS OR COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS.

I was actually a little unsure how to post this or word it as well. It’s something I’m sure i’m not alone in feeling. It can be difficult to not get a few jealous pangs when you see someone you’re friendly with through blogging getting offered amazing opportunities or pr samples. You want to be super happy for them but also a tiny part of you probably wonders why you didn’t get that email or DM too. You can sit there questioning it, wondering why they have it when your engagement is far better or you’ve been blogging a lot longer and think to yourself whether it was because you missed a week back in November because you went out out one weekend and simply couldn’t be arsed to write about whatever it was the following day so missed your weekly blog catch up. I’m not entirely sure how PR’s find bloggers sometimes if you’re reading this as a blogger/ a PR or even a normal person please do let me know if you have the answer. I’m happy for all my blogger pals and for all they’ve achieved because I know they’ve all worked their socks off for what they get and they deserve it too. You want a tiny slice of that pie too and that’s totally ok, you want to be recognised by someone for all your hard work too.  Just as long as you don’t take this jealousy too far and burn their house down with their new Jo Malone candle we’re all good, ok. But in all seriousness if this thought does niggle away at you just remember you have a blog, so you have internet connection so you’re already a lot better off than a lot of people around the world. Stay humble. 🙂

  • FOLLOWING EVERY BLOGGER.

I’m going to admit it I’ve been guilty of doing this in the past and I hold my hands up to that and apologise to all the people I’ve actually annoyed when I used to be that person popping up on their timeline every now and then. In a blogger world you think numbers are the key to success and as soon as you’ve hit over a certain amount you’ll be jetting off to the Bahamas on a press trip. It doesn’t work that way I’m afraid. You see the word blogger in their bio and click that big blue follow button assuming they’ll follow you right back and not mess up your ratios. if you were in a room full of 200 people chances are you wouldn’t get on with everybody in the said room. So why force it with blogging too? Just because you have a mutual hobby together doesn’t automatically mean you’ll be besties skipping off to Peggy Porschen’s together.

  • FAKING YOUR NUMBERS.

Whether this is from actually buying bots and followers or literally following everyone you can so you have about 120,000 followers but sadly also have to follow 121,000 people. How on earth do you see everything? As mentioned I used to think by following EVERYONE, my numbers would shoot up and my blog would get the following to match too. It didn’t happen. I’ve learnt from my mistakes and I’m a lot happy for it. If someone follows my blog, my Instagram or my Twitter I’m super chuffed as it’s an organic/authentic follower.

  • UNNECESSARY PRESSURE.

Your blog is your own if you want to write about the decline in bumble bee’s I’d be more than happy to read that or if you want to write about why you have started using lipstick as eye shadow I’d also be more than happy to read that too. Or if you’ve just treated yourself to the Urban decay heat palette and really want to write about that even though everyone else has too. Well you open up your browser and you write that review. I used to be quite put off and not want to write those sorts of posts on my old page because there will have been umpteen blog posts about the eyeshadow palette I just got. But don’t let that put you off. The world has yet to read your thoughts and feels on it. Also I’m just going to chuck in here that you can tell when someone slips away from themselves when writing content and it no longer feels or sounds like the same person behind the screen tapping away at their keyboards. There’s the pressure of putting out great content, to have a great, informative, innovative, whatever you want to call it blog. As long as you are happy with it and it makes YOU happy who cares what so and so on the internet thinks.  

  • PODS/TRAINS.

Two words that have a totally different meaning outside the blog world. I’ve been in Instagram pods but I’m not going to lie it was an effort. I was liking pictures I didn’t actually like. Just so I would also get a like on my new selfie. When I put into words it sounds dead sad doesn’t it. I’ve also been in follow trains on twitter too. Congrats if they work for you but I didn’t reap the rewards like everyone else seems to. Not many people seemed to follow back or if they did they’d be gone within a few days. If it works for you then excellent but I know it’s not the way in which I want to project myself.

  • BITCHINESS.

UGH. I’ve seen some pretty nasty things flung around and the vast majority of people I’ve come across have been even lovelier than lovely. I personally am very much looking forward to the day it is not seen as cool or funny for people to be a bitch, or to be petty or to be unnecessarily mean. You do you but don’t bring someone else down for your pleasure.

  • Some people are in it for the freebies/money. 

You can usually spot these people a mile off and do you know what who am I to judge you or them or anyone for that matter. I was friendly with another blogger who would get so ragey if they didn’t get sent something they saw someone else post online. What bugs me about it is that it can give the whole blogger breed a bad rep. Outsiders from this community thinking we are dishonest or suck the buttcheeks off the PR rep in return of a good review.

FOLLOWING TO UNFOLLOW BACK. 

This shit really is bananas. I’m sure I speak for many when I say this is SO annoying. Please stop I beg. I’m yet to understand how these types gain followings at all because it is so blatantly obvious that’s what they’re up to. I had someone on twitter follow me 3 times over one weekend. There they were lurking on my page like a weirdo in a trench coat so I followed them back then they immediately unfollowed me?!! I mean kinda the whole point of this whole post but when I say ‘Few times I’ve been round that track, So it’s not just gonna happen like that…’Cause I ain’t no followback girllllllllllllll no I ain’t no followback girl.’

  • EVERYTHING LOOKING PERFECT.

I understand this is kinda the way of the social media world. No one posts a picture of their sad bowl of Rice Krispies it’s always the decadent avo on rye that gets the likes. The trials and tribulations of being a lifestyle blogger can be that your brand is your life and effectively your life is your brand. You want to portray this picture perfect image that you’re living your best life and just so happen to have a candid shot taken over lunch at Spoons. Don’t get me wrong I kinda obsess over these accounts that everything is pastel and pretty and annoyingly perfect. But for once can you just stand in some dog poop and post that to really go with your aesthetic. K THNX.

  • SOMETIMES IT TAKES AGES TO WRITE A BLOG POST AND THEN YOU REALISE YOU DON’T HAVE ENOUGH PICTURES FOR IT. OR ANY PICTURES AT ALL FOR THAT MATTER. 

This was me as I was writing this post. Like I was close to just scrolling through my phone pics and clicking one at random until I realised the one I picked was close ups of me drunk my friend took. No one needs to see those.

  • SELF DOUBT.

SOMETIMES i have the fear when I go to click that cute little publish button. These crippling moments of self doubt. Like this stuff I put out online that I pour my heart, soul and fingertips into no one *really* gives a crap about. But it’s like the grown up, modern day self soothing and I feel a lot better putting this stuff out there. Even if it’s for my own benefit.

  • LOVELY.

Why do we call everyone lovely??????

  • DRAFTS. 

I have countless drafted posts that are either blank with random jumbled writing, a half written post, something I wrote when I was drunk that I thought was heartfelt but when I read it back it’s actually quite terrifying. Who knew I could squeeze Monica Gellar and Tennis Shoe into the same paragraph and what on earth was the point I thought I was making?!!?

  • When did blogging become so intense?

I log into twitter and sometimes I feel like I’ve got lost in a foreign country without a map and everyone is speaking in code. What’s a DA? Who on earth is Moz when they’re at home? I haven’t a clue about affiliate links or how to fix broken links to come to that either. I’ve only just learnt how to schedule posts and I don’t have strict timings or a plan each week for posting either. Does that make me a bad blogger? You may be tutting and shaking your head in disdain but I don’t think so. Personally I don’t think anyone will be on the edge of their seats on a Sunday evening refreshing their inbox awaiting my new post to bounce on in. I don’t think anyone would be that bothered and also I don’t need that added pressure and you sure as hell don’t either.

Your blog can evolve.

Just as you mature, and your crowd/friends/audience/rabble mature at the same time too. So if you used to post about what you carry with you in your school bag don’t worry about disrupting your niche to suddenly posting about holiday hot spots or how to spot a terrible tinder guy. ALSO whilst I’m on the subject, how do I put this, IT IS YOUR BLOG. In the words of Sheryl Crow ‘ If it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad’. Unless it’s olives, they’re gross Sheryl.

After all that ramble about the things I dislike about the world of blogging I want to reiterate how much I also do love it. I’ve made so many fantastic friends who are going to be my friends for life whether they like it or not sorry guys. It’s given me more confidence in myself and being able to speak my mind and say what’s bothering me and also it gives me a sense of belonging and community. Something I can say I’ve never really had before.

 

It’s gone midnight and I’ve just finished writing all this. I couldn’t have done it without the help of Gemma who I simply adore so if you haven’t given her some love then I reckon you should do it now. Find her blog here. or find her chatting away to the small hours on Twitter here.  BIG LOVE X

I’m buzzing with the fact I got the phrase lurking on my page like a weirdo in a trench coat into this post btw. Oh and also Gwen Stefani lyrics. x

 

 

Redroaster – Brighton.

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I don’t think I’ve ever seen anywhere like this place in real life before. It felt like I had crossed into a parallel universe where I was actually *IN* Instagram. And heck no I wasn’t complaining, I’ve never felt so cool and on point in my life. The decor inside Redroaster was a cool mix of clean white tiles, golds, coppers and marble textures and delicate hanging plants. It felt edgy, botanical and just really cool. We were lucky enough to be able to sit outside as the weather was glorious even at about 8 or 9 in the morning when we got there.

I ordered a vegetarian shakshuka and an iced coffee and it was delightful. I felt quite smug as I sipped my coffee watching the hustle and bustle of the commuters passing by to their jobs as I had an enjoyable morning breakfast. It was the first time I had a shakshuka and I really liked it. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a Middle Eastern / North African dish made of a thick, spiced tomato sauce, spiked with onions, peppers and poached eggs. Sounds delicious and savoury right? Beforehand I’d have much preferred to have had a sweet breakfast plate but I must say I think my taste palette is finally growing up a bit.

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The one I ordered usually comes with chorizo but I asked for that to be removed or whether the dish was possible to be made more veggie friendly and the waitress and kitchen seemed more than accommodating for that. Jewelled with black olives and edamame beans it gave the skillet a lovely richness and umami flavour. I don’t usually like olives, mainly because the ones I’ve tried have always tasted like they’ve been steeped in salt and I just found the texture quite unpleasant but I think they added a lot of flavour to this dish. On top of that it had very generous handful of crumbly feta decorated over the top. Feta might be my favourite cheese. Contrary to olives, I really love the fresh, saltiness feta holds. It reminds me of summer holidays gorging on Greek salads.

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Speckled and freckled with a sprinkling of sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds with two slices of warm, buttery toast for dipping in and serving it up with. This dish is the perfect comfort food. It was full of flavour, but wasn’t too overpowering. Plus I felt so full for the rest of the day too so what more could you want with a brek out?? ALSO did I mention they have their own blend of coffee? The iced coffee I had was LUSH. It was smooth and had citrusy notes so I felt like I didn’t actually need to add any sugar which I would normally do.

Would I go back to Redroaster? Yes. I loved the laidback ambience, the menu contained things that I’d never seen before and that sounded really interesting. Would I order the shakshuka again? Possibly. Nothing against the dish itself I thought it was really nice but there were other things on their menu I’d also like to try. From raspberry croissants to the veggie english breakfast with an avo mousse. They both sound like things I DEFO want to eat/inhale.

Street Thai – Brighton.

When I’m in a new place I absolutely love trying the local restaurant scene or sampling the best rated places that I may not be able to get at home. I love trying new foods and well eating in general really so during my few days away in Brighton my friend and I wanted to be able to say we had some great fun, great memories and great food too. We spent our first evening wandering the streets, not in a lonely Oliver Twist type of way but in a neither of us could make up our silly minds where we wanted to eat we instead sat on the promenade googling nearby suggestions. We would pass somewhere that I liked the look of but Jimmy did not and vice versa until we both just got too hungry we agreed the next place we saw we would go into. Finding our bearings a bit we realized we were not too far from where Choccywoccydoodah was in one of the Lanes and there before us like a glowing light, to which we were two starving little moths, was Street Thai. Lit up like the empire state and will it’s kitchen aroma filling the streets we were in, almost like in a cartoon we followed the piquant smell, and the sign for the 3 course dinner for £12.99 special.

Street Thai specialises in staple Thai dinners and traditional Thai street foods and I was really keen to try something a little bit different or something traditionally Thai. As long as it wasn’t crickets on sticks, I draw the line there. Perusing the special three course offer we both opted for that as it was really good value and also need I mention again how starving we were?!?

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I ordered the spicy green papaya salad for a starter. Which was hot. Like a lot hotter than I anticipated. Over the years I’ve grown a lot better with spicy foods although I much prefer foods with plenty of flavours over a lot of heat, you will never catch me chomping down on a vindaloo is what I’m saying. Nevertheless this was enjoyable once I got myself over the initial heat of the dish. It was crunchy, flavourful and tangy. Plus I really like added nuts in any food really. From chocolate to curries and stir frys I like the added texture it adds to something and it didn’t disappoint. Within seconds of finishing our first course, our main meal came whizzing out. I ordered a red curry with pumpkin and mixed vegetables and a side of jasmine rice. It was warming, fragrant and just plain lush to be honest.

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However I was most looking forward to the final course, the best course in my opinion, the dessert course. Jimmy went with a green tea cheesecake and I opted for banana and coconut fritters. Which unfortunately I think they forgot about as it was getting late and they took off the bill. It was annoying but at least we didn’t have to pay for something we didn’t get. As this was my first experience of traditional thai foods outside of my local thai takeaway, Koh Thai Tapas and Giggling Squid restaurant chains. I really liked the food we had. If I were to go back I think I’d quite like to jump outside of my comfort zone a little bit more and try something a bit different.

Summery Courgette Salad.

Hello you! We are now entering into the month of May and that means Summer is just around the corner! In the summer months all I want to be doing is eating vibrant and fresh ingredients (ideally on a idyllic Greek island but you can’t win ’em all) I am lucky to have great parents who from a very young age instilled in me and my sister to have a big fat love of pretty much all fruits and vegetables. I could quite easily snack on cherry tomatoes or sugarsnap peas all day errrday.

I thought I’d share with you a very quick and very easy salad recipe; if you can even call it a salad or even call it a recipe for that matter this is so simply and easy.  This is refreshing, so easy and can transform any meal. Perfect as a side dish to a meal, incorporated into a gorgeous barbecue and looks great too if you fancy showing off a bit to friends and family. You could also add more greens like some washed kale and spinach, celery chopped into little pieces, cucumber and rocket to create a lovely and healthy green salad. Full of flavour and totally not boring! Who could say no to all these delicious greens?! To recreate this you will need:

  • 2 courgettes
  • Juice from half a lemon
  • Handful of mint leaves crushed and diced
  • A drizzle of olive oil
  • A pinch of salt.

This gave me a full bowl that I shared between my family of four on the side of a veggie lasagne I made. Of course chop and change the recipe and ingredients to suit you and your taste buds. Throwing a handful of flaked almonds or sesame seeds over the top would give the dish an extra texture and giving it a little source of protein too. Or you could even griddle the courgette ribbons lightly so it’s got those flecks of charred bits to it and that lovely smokey taste. If you don’t have a griddle pan (neither do I but I badly want one) In the summer you could lay them over a smoking barbecue and let them do their thang.

courgette salad x x

You could use a mandolin if you have one to create the courgette ribbons however I just used a vegetable peeler.If you’re knife skills are a lot better than mine you could also use a knife and an incredibly steady hand! Placing on a large tray I dabbed them with some kitchen towel. Courgettes can be kinda wet and I didn’t want to make this a super sloppy side so that took some of the extra wetness away. I served mine totally raw and it was delicious. I’m a big fan of eating veggies raw as a snack and as salads or sides go this is a bit different. As mentioned above you could also grill these perhaps also serve with some grilled peppers, tomatoes and red onions and you’ve got a wonderful grilled vegetable Mediterranean side dish.

Seasoning it with a generous pinch of seasalt (totally did the salt bae action too, you can’t not can ya?!) I rolled and chopped the fresh mint leaves finely, squeezed over some lemon juice and a little drizzle of olive oil too. You could use some spoons to mix it all together and coat it all but I just chucked my hands in (washed i’ll have you know) and mixed it all round. Making sure every strand was coated. Because the courgette has a high water content I’d say it might be more preferable to make this closer to the time as you don’t want a soggy salad and serve as soon as you can.

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This went down a treat in my household and I’m really looking forward to creating more healthy, summer dishes. If the warm weather wants to stick around pls England or I’ll have no choice but to up sticks and move to France. OK.

Frome Independent Market.

bumble and wildHello again and HAPPY EASTER! I hope you all had a lovely day whatever you got up to and ate, drank and got merry with your loved ones celebrating all things Easter, Spring and chocolate. My family and I went to Frome Independent market today which is a town about 30 minutes away from where I live. Frome is a town in lovely Somerset which has a lovely mix of both highstreet retailers and a lot of cute independent shops. I’m a big fan of any town or high street that isn’t like no other and quite often in the UK you could walk down any high street or shopping town centre and be greeted with the exact same shops, the exact same closed down shops and end up in the same chain coffee shop drinking the same skinny vanilla latte. Eurgh. Not for me. Don’t get me wrong I do shop in these places and photograph the life out of my seasonal hot chocolates on the ‘Gram but I do like to support local and support smaller businesses more. See pic above of the very pretty florist’s shop Bramble and Wild. Their window display’s truly are wonderful. Continue reading “Frome Independent Market.”

Chocolate & Coffee Battenberg cake.

HEY HUNS it ya gurl abfab here hitting you up with an absolute belter of a cake recipe. I am posting this later than it was due to go up because I’m a little bit of an unprepared/unorganised fairy. Recently in the UK it was Mothering Sunday or Mother’s Day as it is more often named. For this special mummy day this year, me and my little big sis decided to treat our lovely Mumsy by making and baking some of her favourite delectable treats.  We made a little afternoon tea for her to put her feet up with a glass of prosecco and enjoy with. And I only went and baked a special cake for her too. I actually baked two cakes but I’ll just tell you about this one for now. Star baker and star daughter award goes to me I think????

Cake is my favourite and it is a family favourite in my household too. There’s nothing a bit of carbs don’t make better in my book. Having pretty much always made classic Victoria sponge cakes or something like a carrot cake I wanted to try something a little bit different for a change. Continue reading “Chocolate & Coffee Battenberg cake.”

Sea Salt & Dark Chocolate Torte.

I know, I know. Last time I posted on here I said I was going to be posting more regularly once on a Wednesday and once on a Sunday. Well me and scheduling/any form of organisation is like Donald Trump to rational thinking and not being a total div. Sorry team I really do wish I was one of those super organised, elegant gals that arrive at events 10 minutes early with immaculate hair and makeup and always know what’s what. But that’s not me. I’m trying me best at scheduling and drafts and what not so gimme some time for this to actually start. Thanks for being all so wondrous, so supportive and so damn fit. LY mean it. Anywho, I have a foodie post to whet your metaphorical and internetty appetite with today, so sit back (or however you want to sit idm) relax and have a read of this little gem. This was super easy and dead showy offy to make as well, so enjoy!

When I get sad I bake. When I bake I eat more. When I eat more I get fat. When I get fat I get sad. YA SEE HOW THIS CYCLE GOES ON. Everything in moderation is something I should live my life by more often but the sad truth is a slice of chocolate cake and a large vino tastes infinitely better than a wheatgrass shot and some bulgar wheat grains. I’ve been feeling a little bit rubbish, a bit low and not quite myself for a few weeks now, with me putting it down to hormones or just feeling a bit lost in life. I’ve made some changes in my personal life and am starting to put me first a lot more from now on, I’ll talk more about this in my lifey post which’ll put up in the next few days. So after a bit of a grotty week I decided to traipse into town and do some food shopping yesterday and to get a few ingredients. Cue all the adulty adults having a good old chuckle as I ATTEMPTED to food shop on a Saturday. At Midday. uGH. This is going to be much more of a chatty recipe post so I hope you’re not expecting a fine cuisine recipe for this one, I kinda just made it up as I went along and it happened to turn out pretty yum. It’s a torte not a tart as the dictionary definition is that a tart contains flour and a torte has more of a crumbly/no floury base. So not only are you making something delish it also sounds dead fancy!? So if you want to emulate me and this recipe you’ll need to put on your comfiest clothes, scrunch up your hair into an incredibly messy high bun and follow de rulez.

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So to make this little babe you will need:

  • A loose bottom tart/flan tin. (I used a 9.5 x 1.4’inch one).
  • 200g of shortbread biscuits.
  • 100g melted unsalted butter.
  • 400g dark chocolate.
  • 300ml double cream or whipping cream.
  • 100g caster sugar.
  • 50g unsalted butter.
  • Sea salt flakes.
  • 1tsp vanilla extract

It starts off with a cheesecake buttery biscuit base whereas normally digestive biscuits are used I fancied using some shortbread. I don’t know why I thought it would bind together a bit better and a sweeter over flavour to it. Which it did. After this I did think you could blend two different types of biscuits together to make it a bit different, maybe add some oats or maybe some chopped nuts to give it a crunchier more interesting texture. So smash up the biscuits to a fine crumb, picture that ex, that crap friend, that manager that made you work overtime on a Friday. Bash that pack of biscuits til it’s all the same fine sand consistency or ’til you’ve stopped being angry. Either way! Pour in the melted butter until the the biscuits have bound together and you can press it into the tart tin. Pressing it up the sides and across the base with about an inch thickness I left to chill for about 20 minutes. The torte that is. Not me.

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To make the ganache filling put the cream, sugar and vanilla extract into a pan and brought it to a slow, gentle boil. Whilst the cream is coming to a boil break the dark chocolate into small squares in a bowl and put the butter in with it too. Pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and leave to rest for about 30 seconds to a minute. Stirring the two together til the chocolate melts into the cream and thickens, forming that gorgeously glossy ganache. The added butter might seem a little bit odd but it give the ganache that lovely sheen to it. I sprinkled some sea salt over the top and then placed in the fridge for 2+hours. Once it’s set serve with a dollop of creme fraiche, some fresh berries or maybe some crushed hazelnuts. YUMMMMM.

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I don’t know how many kcals this contains and frankly I don’t care as it tasted blimmin’ well great. If you try this please do let me know what you think, I found it so easy I don’t even think I can call it baking?!

The World According to She.

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Now this is a story all about how my life got flipped-turned upside down and I’d like to take a minute and just sit right there and I’ll tell you how I became the princess of a town called Bel-Air. In West Philadelphia, born and raised, on the playground was where I spent most of my days, chillin’ out maxin’ relaxin’ all cool and eatin’ some push-pops outside of the school when a couple of guys who were up to no good started making trouble in my neighborhood, I got in one little fight and my mum got scared she said, “You’re movin’ with your auntie and uncle in Bel-Air”.

I have a super active imagination if you couldn’t already tell…But when I was a kid and even now if I watched a tv show or film religiously my brain would get it confused with my reality and the made up show. So much so one time I had a dream I was in Egypt then a few weeks later in a geography lesson at school the teacher asked if anyone had ever been to Egypt and for some weird-out-of-body-experience and reason my arm flung up into the air as if I was the one that discovered Tutankhamen’s tomb. OBVIOUSLY no one else in my class had been to Egypt in real life or in a dream as it turns out so I had to very quickly think about what I loved about the holiday. If in doubt say it was lovely weather and the Cornetto selection was much better. BUT UNLESS YOU COULDN’T ALREADY TELL and if you didn’t know well soz beauts but you’re in for a shocker, I am not Will Smith (sorry to disappoint) nor am I cool and my aunt and uncle live in a quiet village outside of the social hub of the south west of England otherwise known as Southampton. Sadly sarcasm doesn’t convert well in written word but unless you like skinny chavlads or girls that are more lip filler than woman and would start a fight with you for a tenner, spitfires or the Titanic then maybs just maybs Southampton isn’t the place for you. Soz Southampton normal people if you’re reading this.

I digress again. See, I’ve always had this problem in life, I get distracted and go off on tangents both in conversation and in my head. I’ll be doing something or talking to someone about something fairly serious and the next thing I know a random thought bubble has crash landed through my brain and we’re discussing the rising cost prices of sausage rolls in Greggs or why just WHY no one says croopy down north of the A303. For you educated folk the term “Croopy Down” is the act of squatting down but in the most ladylike fashion I believe. I remember my Nan used to say it to us when we were small little babes. Now we’re big babes we still croopy now and then. I’m hitting you up with a more thoughts and feelsy post again today, think of this like our virtual coffee date, so grab a cuppa, maybe a few biscuits, because what’s a tea without a few hobnobs and we can have a good old chinwag on here and in the comment section.

SO where do I start I hear you cry?! I think with work. Everyone always asks that question when you see a friend or neighbour it’s always “hey how are you? You look tired? how’s work?”. Since we last had a little chit chat I am now working two and a bit jobs. Which is tough. I start work at five in the morning and finish at two in the afternoon. I am suffering with all of the typical toddler symptoms of tiredness, constantly hungry just that if I throw myself on the floor in the middle of the biscuit aisle in Asda no one will pick me up and tell me it’ll be alright as they rub my back (maybs they know it won’t??? oh gosh let’s not open that can of worms.) The people I work with all tend to be really nice (there’s always one though and you get that anywhere I guess) In the daytime officey role I have, I work next to a gent from Indonesia with the thickest Indonesian accent so when he’s dictating an email or an invoice for me to send over to someone we can often get fairly lost in translation. He’s lovely but he must think I’m stupid or like a telly presenter on time delay as I have to really listen to what he’s saying. Equally doing telesales with an important client can be a bit of a challenge when he’s yelling down the phone to his wife in loud Indonesian (she’s Indonesian too I should, he’s not like a sociopath shouting at the poor love in a language she can’t even understand. Can you imagine tho?) Anyway. It’s not all bad, without sounding like a complete pretentious twonk. It’s character building and teaching me mad skillz and the more I work the less time I’m either out shopping or sat at home buying things online I don’t need (Insert frog shape jelly mould heeerrreee yeah I don’t know what I was thinking either tbh) But I am still looking and keeping my eye out for something that doesn’t have me up even before the crack of dawn and something that makes me happy. I shall keep ya updated babes.

I can’t remember if I’ve wrote on here since my birthday & day of birth but I turned 23 at the end of January. Yayhoo! I went to London for a fancy pants lunch at The Ritz with my mum and sister as my stepdad was struck down with the flu. I didn’t do anything young or fun like getting more smashed than your avo on toast this Saturday at brunch which was a bit of a bummer. I really wanted to go out and let my hair down and celebrate an important year but unfortunately my pals either didn’t want to or didn’t have the funds so I had a quiet family time instead. I’m hoping I’ll be able to plan something fun for my 24th next year and well hell if everyone bails I’m just going to head to ‘Spoons and cry into my fishbowls (yes plural, I plan on a maaaaad old night on my jack. Well as mad as you can get in Salisbury Wetherspoons…on your own as well.)

In more exciting news, I BECAME AN AMBASSADOR FOR SOMETHING SUPER COOL AND IMPORTANT!!! YES you read them caps locked letters correctly. So this fabulous, wonderful, brilliant (all the good and shiny adjectives ever) charity organisation want my face, alongside many beautiful others, representing them so to speak. It is for a wonderful mental health charity called Exhale, whom I am SUPER DUPER excited to be working with. Can ya tell by all the inappropriate big letters and excessive exclamation marks?!? Find out more info about them here as I’ll be posting on there, like things about my experiences with my mental health, stress and anxiety. How I’ve coped and tips and tricks on how I’ve learnt about managing my stresses and/or triggers. Mental health in general is a topic which is really important to me because of my experiences and also me suffering with it. A lot of those close to me do as well,  and I would love to be able to help share my experiences and if that helped someone else that would mean so much to me.

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I can’t remember if I wrote much about it on here but I went vegetarian back in November. As you may have seen in my last post I have a very gorgeous and adorable little pooch who I think the absolute world of and he basically inspired my decision. To cement all your thoughts that I’m easily swayed, I did fall victim to watching certain documentaries beforehand on Netflix and looked out of the corner of my eye to see my loyal little pal beaming up at me. The thought of anyone eating him or suchlike really broke my heart and I got a bit deep thinking about what the difference between him and a cow,fish,chicken, lamb was in my mind. Literally overnight I cut meat and fish out and have been living a vegetarian diet ever since. I’ve found it a lot easier and a lot tastier than I actually thought I would. I’ve dabbled with it in the past and only lasted a week or so but this was when I was about 13/14. I am now absolutely hooooooked on Linda McCartney sausages, other than I’ve Just Seen a Face I’d say it’s the second best thing to come out of The Beatles. I am also super impressed with how lush Quorn or any meat free meat style products actually taste. They don’t taste exactly the same but they are actually so delicious I can’t really believe I didn’t try some of it sooner.

I’ve also hit a bit of a slump in terms of the way I look and feel about myself at the moment. I’m a bit bigger than the size I wish to be and want to focus my body and my mind on healthy eating and more regular exercise (there is a blog post soon to come) This pic was a totally gorgeous and a totally healthy salad I had at the cool and quirky chain Bills in Salisbury on a summery day last year. Inevitably I do want to get back to the healthier size I was a few years ago where I felt a lot more comfortable in my own skin and in my body. Cos I can’t really change into someone elses?! Way to go Abfab making it weird. But you get what I mean? I want to be able to wear nice dresses, or skinny jeans without feeling like an overly stuffed sausage. That is my go-to feeling chub analogy at the minute.

I’ve been thinking about posting more regularly on here too. So little miss Downton Abbie can get herself into a routine with you all and vice versa. I’m thinking about posting a lifestyle/misc/random wordsy (thoughts and feelsy if you want) on Wednesdays and a more foodie related topic on a Sunday. I haven’t done anything in terms of cooking or baking that has been very exciting or pretty (unless you want to see my cheesey beans on toast on a weekday?) but I’m hoping to get back into it soon. But enough about me now, what about you babes? What have you all been up to?

I MADE A GIANT JAFFA CAKE.

I’ve conjured up a sure fire way to put end to the age old debate as to whether the humble Jaffa cake is a biscuit or a cake, by making my own version larger than my own blimmin’ face! No seriously this is huge and delicious. Just like me amirite? I found this recipe through UniLad would you actually believe it. No offence you absolute lads buuuuut I never had this site synonymous with baking cakes especially chuffing good caked bakes at that! Not only is a gigantic Jaffa Cake totally heavenly to gorge on but it’s also super pretty to look at too PLUS the recipe and method is really easy to follow too! win win eh!

I haven’t done any fun bakes in a while and as soon as I found this I couldn’t wait to put it into practice and share it with you all! I’ve tweaked it a little bit here and there to make it more suitable for how I wanted it but as you can see on the link above you can follow that straight through to the UniLad version.

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So, before I get too into this recipe post, a word to the wise this cake can take a little while to fully create so if you’re hoping for a quick and easy bake to show off to your friends, frenemies and exes on IG maybe give yourself a a good few hours!

You will need:

  • A frying pan lined with baking paper.
  • A round cake tin smaller than your saucepan lined with cling film.
  • 135g packet of orange jelly cubes.
  • 250ml boiling water.
  • 200g unsalted butter.
  • 200g caster sugar.
  • 3 medium eggs.
  • 200g self raising flour.
  • 1 tsp baking powder.
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract.
  • Zest and juice of half an orange.
  • 200g dark chocolate.

Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.

To give the sponge that bouncy, half spherical shape a lot of websites/recipes suggest baking the cake itself in a frying pan. Sounds weird I know but it works so go with me on that.  I covered the base of the pan with a circle of baking parchment and sprayed the sides with some coconut oil frylite spray to make it easier to get out of the pan.

Cutting the jelly into cubes (who else used to just eat the cubes as a kid??No me neither that would be weird…) I line a round cake tin with some cling film at the same time putting the kettle on to boil. Multitasking check me out eh!? Pouring the boiling water over the top of the jelly cubes and stirring til all the jelly lumps have melted away. I add the zest and the juice of half an orange into the jelly giving it a super orangey kick. One of your five a day right??? I then pour into the cake tin to set up and chill in the fridge for a few hours.

THE SPONGE

This recipe was a standard sponge. Cream the butter and the sugar together til light and smooth. Slowly add the eggs and the vanilla extract. Fold in the flour and baking powder and once its all delightfully mixed to perfection pour into the frying pan. Sounds proper mental and to be honest I was a bit nervous I was going to catch fire to my Mum’s fancy pants frying pan but all is well in team What Abbie Says camp. They recommended the baking time of about 30-40 minutes. I’d keep checking on it from that time onwards, as mine actually took somewhere up to 45 minutes altogether as it was still uncooked in the centre.

Once done, transfer the cake on to a wire, cooling rack and leave til its cooled completely. Making sure the jelly is chilled like Snoop Dogg on a day between the 19th and 21st April I melted the dark chocolate over a pan of water. Also known as a bain marie if you will. Wait til the chocolate has fully melted and leave to cool; if it’s too warm it’ll melt the jelly when you pour it over and you’ll either have to eat it on your own VERY QUICKLY or serve a sad jaffa pud. Placing the jelly circle in the middle on top of the cake I poured the melted chocolate over the top, making sure the entirety of the top was covered and that it didn’t drip down onto the edge. Dipping the knife into the top  drawing lines both horizontally and vertically. Quickly putting back into the fridge to set up for the fiiiiiinal time and once it’s cool you can serve it. YOU’RE WELCOME. Jaffa cakes are fab, bigger jaffa cakes are extra fabulous.

If you fancy making this recipe, I would totally recommend. It was super fun, totally easy to do and looks really impressive as well. To give this recipe a little twist how about using a dark chocolate and lime jelly or even raspberry. Equally you could use something like a tropical or pineapple flavour jelly with a white chocolate coating and coconut sponge like a pina colada without the hangover!

 

Lunch at The Ritz, London.

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Your birthday is the one day of the year for the good majority of people when you will be completely and utterly doted on and treated like an absolute QUEEN. So imagine my joy when I was lucky enough to be able to spend my birthday this year in London having a lavish three course lunch date with my family in the very beautiful and the very palatial The Ritz, London. I can only imagine I’d never been before and was so excited at just the sheer thought. The grandeur building standing as elegant and tall as ever, peering over the rest of Mayfair is an iconic London landmark. It opened in 1906 and was known as the ultimate stay for opulence and luxury. The whole experience was utterly divine and completely faultless. From the outside every doorway is adorned with one of their impeccably dressed doormen greeting you on arrival, holding the door or hailing a taxi to help you on your journey. I wish I took more pictures of decor inside but believe me when I say it is all absolutely stunning. With the smell of gorgeous fresh flowers, the sound of beautiful harp music and chatter filling the air, The Ritz has such a decadent feel and ambience to the whole place.

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Having placed our coats in their cloakroom we made our way to their dining room to be seated.  The waiters, just like every other employee couldn’t be faulted and waited on you hand and foot. The attention to detail was incredulous. My sister and Mum were given their usual menu whereas I had a seperate, vegetarian one. The menu wasn’t extensive offering three choices for all three courses with every single option sounding as luxurious and decadent as the next. The ever attentive waiting team came to our table and treated us like royalty, pouring glasses of water, wine, homemade breads, melba toast and a selection of canapes.  Savoury macarons filled with cream cheese and smoked salmon, chicken cigarellos and a gorgeous creamed goats cheese biscuit sandwich.

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As I said the attention to detail was absolutely stunning, the food was just as beautiful to look at as it was to taste. For my starter as seen above I opted for the artichoke royale. It was crowned with coils of carrots, truffle and pear nibs and then adorned with edible flower petals. The artichoke royale was so smooth and creamy accompanied with the tang of the pear it really went down a treat.

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For my main course I chose the cauliflower dish. With the menu they didn’t really give a lot away about what was what. The other options were a pasta dish and another one with wild mushrooms and as a self confessed mushroom hater that one didn’t appeal to me at all. Plus as I was dining in one of the finest restaurants in the country with a Michelin star I wanted to try something a little bit different. My main dish was a slice of cauliflower steak, with seperate cauliflower florets. Romanesco florets dotted around the plate like little trees, toasted hazelnuts and toasted yeast with a mini potato croquette and then finished off in a rich white sauce. Divine.

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For dessert, already feeling pleasantly sated I chose the blueberry souffle with a tart buttermilk sorbet. The souffle was light, fluffy and flavourful. It was so beautifully rich in colour; perfectly purple inside. The sharp, piquant flavours of the sorbet cut through the sweetness of the sorbet. It was blimmin’ well glorious. Can I eat you again please Mr Souffle?

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Finishing off the meal was some petit fours from top to bottom they consisted of, some creme anglaise filled macaroons with a slight coconut flavour. Orange and passionfruit jellies, a brown sugar biscuit topped with a citrus and mango cream finished with some gold leaf and finally a handmade chocolate filled with salted caramel. Careful I might get used to this extravagant lifestyle!

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As this very luxurious and special occasion was to celebrate mine and my Mum’s birthday we had a fancy Ritz birthday cake of a genoise sponge, filled with fresh cream and raspberries.

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Considering I can barely write in a straight line with a pen I was completely blown away how anyone can do this in chocolate. Perfect!

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I had such a tremendous time and feel well and truly spoilt rotten by it all. The whole experience simply cannot be faulted and was absolutely perfect from start to finish.