The Handmade Fair @ Bowood House.

bowood x

The weather has been absolutely glorious in England this weekend and it looks like the sunshine will be staying put for a little while yet which makes me and I’m sure the rest of the UK want to stand up and rejoice!! I was lucky enough to have been invited by Rewired PR to an event at Bowood House in Wiltshire at the weekend called The Handmade Fair. The event was over three days from the Friday to the Sunday and was blessed with the most fantastic, sunny weather. As soon as I heard about this I really liked the idea of this fair. Created by Kirstie Allsopp as a great way to get more people into arts and crafts as well as uniting art, craft and handmade lovers far and wide which I really like. This is the ultimate creative day out whether you want to brush up on your skills from experts or if you want to dabble at something new and uncover a hidden crocheting talent there really is something for everyone. There’s plenty of things going on at The Handmade Fair whether, like me, you’re happy ambling round The Shopping Villages. They’re all bursting at the seams with handmade products and full of people  are full to the brim with handmade products of the highest quality by the talented makers and creators. If that doesn’t tickle your pickle you can always head over to The Super Theatre, Skills Workshops and Grand Makes marquee’s where you can learn a new skill or two hosted by the UK’s most renowned experts. Oh and did I mention they had some magnificent street food vans dotted around too? I could have gone around twice collecting my £200 for passing GO everytime. I really loved how inclusive this event was. Since going vegetarian back in November it has been somewhat tricky for me to find foods when out and about that I really like and get excited by. But there was so much choice here from homemade ravioli, to a specific vegetarian/vegan food truck called Eats Shoots and Leaves (I LOVE a good pun, especially a panda related one).

DSCF2923

Nestled in the heart of the Wiltshire countryside, not too far from Chippenham, sits a Grade I listed Georgian country house also known as Bowood House and Gardens. The Fair was held in the Gardens and you have to give The Handmade Fair team their credit for picking some of the most stunning locations. From Ragley Hall in Warwickshire in May to their later dates of being in Hampton Court Palace in September. Such an ideal way to make a weekend of it by visiting the Fair and spending another day having a nose around the house and gardens!

DSCF2921

My sister and I set off on the Saturday morning just before 10. It was a gorgeously sunny and only took about an hour from my house despite getting a tiny bit lost as I thought I knew better than the directions on my phone. Apple 1 – Abbie 0.  As soon as we parked up and got our wristbands from the desk we practically bounced on inside. The staff on the gates and checking tickets were all so friendly, happy and welcoming, asking us if we needed any help or wanted to know where to start and gladly pointed me in the direction of the RewiredPR tent so I could say a quick hello to the lovely team that made this possible. This was my first ever blog related event and I was feeling a bit anxious/nervous about it all. My sister helped me put my mind at ease and so did the PR team. They were so lovely and I found it really nice to meet the people or the person behind the emails and put a face to a name. So with that I went to go for a wander around the site armed with my phone and my camera as I was worried all my storage would be gone in a matter of five photos and a boomerang.

DSCF2943

My sister and I are both big foodies so were naturally drawn to the Artisan Marketplace marquee. It was like someone knew I was coming as it was filled with delectable sweet treats, cakes and several different gins. Naturally I had to sample them all and I was actually surprisingly taken with a coffee infused dark rum from Cornwall.

DSCF2940

As a lover of gin I can safely say how happy I am that it appears to be really having a ‘moment’ and is the ‘in’ spirit of choice. I know a few people who don’t really like it or find the scent of it quite woody or ‘piney’ in their words. But I think with so many different tonics available, flavoured gins and even flavour pairings you could add different herbs and spices, fruits or even a slither or cucumber to give it a rounded, cleaner taste if the taste of juniper isn’t for you!

From the same stand my sister and I purchased some savoury biscuits which were so incredible. We bought three boxes and they didn’t even last as long as 24 hours from unboxing as soon as we got them home. They were from the same company as seen above called Popti and they may be the most delicious biscuits I’ve tried. I love the packaging it’s so simple yet the choice of bold colours makes them really stand out on a shelf. They have a good variety of different flavours which you could snack on, on their own or even as an accompaniment to cheeses. If you ever come across this brand I urge you to try them they were so moreish and buttery. They honestly tasted like a savoury shortbread or something. INCRED. Also the lady we spoke to was so kind and lovely!!

bowoodd

DSCF2953

I even tried a small sample of moonshine. I did read the leaflet and the gentleman selling these did explain what moonshine *actually* is but other than a delicious and smooth alcohol they made in the prohibition era I still can’t quite remember. I tried one that tasted just like ameretto and could have easily drunk that neat all day long.

DSCF2950

A variety of different cheeses were also on offer and I tried a charcoal cheese which was mild, creamy albeit being rich and black in colour. If you had your eyes closes and weren’t any the wiser you wouldn’t have had any idea I don’t think as it didn’t have that overpowering smokiness sometimes charcoal can give. This type of thing would look great on a cheeseboard. BTW this chap is totally caught off guard but I’m living for the pose I might make that my go to pose in photos…White gloves optional.

DSCF2939

These marshmallows were incredible from a company called Grown Up Marshmallows.  I’ve loved marshallows since I was a child and I love seeing the different flavours or the gourmet ones you can get now. I tried the dark chocolate and raspberry one and it was amazing, it was soft and gooey but still had some chewiness to it. To me it tasted just like a normal, regular marshmallow if it wasn’t for the fact the sign and the lady talking to me said it didn’t contain any gluten, fats or egg I wouldn’t have been any the wiser.

DSCF2938

I’ve never in my life seen so many different ways with garlic as I did on this stall. Garlic butters, different types of garlic mayo, whole garlic bulbs, pureed garlic, garlic oil even to garlic beer?! All freshly grown from their Isle of Wight farms.

bow ood

I love these Mighty Fine nuggets of joy so much. My sister got me a peanut butter flavoured pouch for my birthday but my one true love is dark chocolate and it goes so nicely with their honeycomb I had to get this one especially as it was a £1 cheaper than usual shop price. Mighty fine you really are mighty fine.

Around midday we decided to take a bit of respite and get something to eat. You’re spoilt for choice for things to eat whether you want fish and chips, sheeps milk ice cream, gourmet cheese on toast to vegan nachos. You could easily spend all day trying some of each food stall until you burst. Eventually my sister and I decided on a food truck called RaviOllie. I love a good pun me. RaviOllie was born when the chef, Ollie, had spent many years working in top restaurants in London learning every inch of the kitchen including perfecting the art of making fresh and incredible pasta. Taking this love of food and pasta he decided on putting his own stamp on things, specifically ravioli. And I’m blimmin’ glad he did. We had spinach and ricotta filled ravioli topped with Parmesan, cracked black pepper and a choice of different oils.  The pasta was like nothing I’ve ever tried before. It was absolutely sensational. The pasta itself was gorgeous and nothing at all like ones I’ve had in restaurants or shop bought. You could just tell the ingredients were fresh and of good, high quality as it looked and smelt so fresh and vibrant.  The filling was so creamy but not too rich, it was cheesy and delicious and I wish I could have an endless supply for the rest of my life because it is legit the most perfect comfort food.

DSCF2948

bowood x x

Feeling a bit peckish we found somewhere selling a pot of strawberries and cream. But this pot was like a Nigella Lawson style levelled up treat. Like Wimbledon hasn’t got a patch on this. Sweet strawbs topped with a lavender cream, vanilla mini meringues, a homemade gin and tonic jelly and mint leaves. HEAVEN. It was the perfect summery snack on a hot afternoon.

After a leisurely bite to eat and soaking up some of the rays we headed into the Shopping Village tent filled to the brim of everything and anything you can think of when it comes to the world of arts and crafts.

DSCF2954DSCF2955

The first stand right by the door took my fancy. You could buy little wooden shapes and paint and decorate them onto to things to make them look so much more decorative and ornate like this little wooden wreath as seen above. This would lovely if you wanted to design a little photoframe for someone as a gift or put a nice picture or even leave it how it is as a wall hanging. These types of things are so versatile if you wanted to make a scrapbook for someone you could make their name out of letter shapes or if you wanted to make a memory box you could decorate it with their products too. The possibilities are endless.

DSCF2980

I love, love, LOVE these quills that were on offer on one stand. You could learn the basics of calligraphy too as their was a workshop on that too! These would make me feel so fancy and like I was in Harry Potter.

DSCF2959DSCF2957

If fabric working or upcycling is much more up your alley there were several different stands selling beautiful prints and fabrics. I’m a magpie for pretty things, bold colours and prints and this whole section really stood out to me. As someone who would love to be able to make their own clothing I looked on at this like a kid in a candy shop. There was another stand that was teaching people to make their own pom poms which I thought was really cute. They would make such good keyrings or decorative pieces.

DSCF2960

This gentleman was showing an older method of weaving wool and attracted quite a crowd. It was really nice to be involved in a day and an event where people with different crafts, hobbies and skill levels came together to celebrate all things homemade. There is something special in having something that you can say I made this. Or I took the time and actually completed this and look how fab it looks!

Other than blogging I’ve never really had a long term hobby that I’ve actually loved, enjoyed and stuck with (maybe playing the recorder at primary school but didn’t everyone do that?!) So I was hoping when I went along to this I would find something that would take my eye and I would develop a new hobby, skill or love away from technology for a little bit of time per day or week.

bowood xx

I stumbled across this stand selling cross stitch kits and naturally the gin related one jumped right out at me. Seeing as I got this on Saturday and today is now Wednesday and I’ve already taken it out of the box to have a go I think that’s a good start compared to other things I’ve bought with good intentions of doing and never quite getting round to doing.

If you’re a literal magpie for all things shiny and pretty just like me there were these gorgeous rings on display that look so glamorous and elegant. I love the sea themes in the first picture, in particular the rose gold seashell earrings.

DSCF2966

There was so much going on at The Handmade Fair it would be an enjoyable day out for people of all ages. You can book tickets in advance for places in their workshops and talks from the experts and having just had a look on their website for the Hampton Court Palace timetable (here) they have got some amazing workshops lined up from learning to do brushwork lettering to making your own beading hoop earrings. Whether you’ve always had a dream to make your own funky willow bird feeder, sew your own kimono or learn to make butterly origami, along with the help of The Handmade Fair’s exceptional team of experts it could make these dreams possible. If you get the opportunity I would definitely recommend going to their next Fair. I really enjoyed my time here and I’m sure you would do too!!

I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone at RewiredPR for asking me along to this event I’m really appreciative of it and I really enjoyed my day. Thank you so much to all the kind people working at The Handmade Fair whether that be all the staff I met, the staff behind the scenes who made this event come together so well or all the kind creators, makers and bakers I met too. I know I’m not the only one who would say I had such a lovely time! I hope this event gets better and better upon each year with even more people going along to their next one!

bowwood

*What I wrote in this post is all 100% genuine from me and my thoughts on it all. I don’t want to mislead readers into thinking I only wrote positive things as I had been invited to attend. 🙂

Coffee Counter – Brighton.

OMG BREAKFAST NAAN NEED I SAY MORE???? FOR A BLOG POST APPARANTLY I NEED TO SAY MORE THAN THIS THO. Ok so sorry for shouting but omG Breakfast Naan?!!?! Ok so now i’ve got that mad scramble out of the way, I visited Coffee Counter on my last day of my trip to Brighton on Jimmy’s recommendation. Unfortunately I can’t seem to find a website or social media page for this place but I was honestly so blown away by the great food and simplicity of it all. It’s a small ish location with a handful of tabled and benches for a quick pit stop for a coffee, a breakfast plate or a great brunch and light lunch spot with friends. I found their Tripadvisor just here and judging by the fact they’ve got 5 star reviews I think means they’ve tapped into something very special indeed!

IMG_6687

The inside decor was eclectic with cool graffiti covered walls and mismatched seating. The windows bi-fold so you can get the warm breeze from the outside as you can watch the world go by. I ordered  an Iced latte and the breakfast naan as I had never heard of anything like it before.

breakfast naan

It was a warm plain naan bread filled with halloumi in bombay spices in a mild curry sauce, spinach, cucumber and mint in greek yoghurt, mango chutney, a perfectly poached egg topped with crispy onions. I know it doesn’t sound like usual breakfast fare but this was actually incredible and would make for incredible street food too. I told the owner of Coffee Counter just how much I adored this and he explained where the dish he came from. His Grandmother was indian and he really didn’t like spicy or indian foods so in an effort to get him to like it more she would make him these naan bread wraps. Shoutout to this fella’s granny because this was an actual dream.

Would I go back? 100000% I’m not just saying that cos he told me their secret family recipe for this but also because the staff were so friendly and gave Jimmy and I each a loyalty card for a free coffee on return! Little things like this really go a long way I think in terms of building customer relations. Even though that I live in deepest darkest Dorset and they’re Brighton based if I was ever back that I really would pop back in.

Burgers & Cocktails – Brighton.

Funnily enough that is what I had. I had amaretto sours and a cauli burger. Lives up to it’s name very well indeed. Welcome to the final stop of the Brighton food tour huns we made it!!! We originally just popped in here for a drink or two as it looked nice, quiet and more importantly air conditioned. I had a fresh and lemony amaretto sour as we played board games in a near on empty Burgers & Cocktails restaurant.

I wasn’t actually aware beforehand that Burgers & Cocktails are actually owned by the same chain that are Giraffe. It’s stylish, quirky and preeeeeetty peachy and their menus totally match that as well. The menu has a good variety of things for meat eaters as well as accommodating to those that may be vegetarians or those whom have intolerances too. After copious amounts of cocktails and there’s only so much scrabble with your pal you can take we got a bit hungry and both decided to try the cauli wobble burger and share some skin on fries.  I also had a lotus biscuit milkshake, cos yknow calories don’t really count when you’re on holiday do they?!

burgers and cocktails fries

These rustic skin on fries were a dream. Salty, hot and sprinkled with herbs and spices. I’m 23 and am still yet to find a carb I don’t like.

cauli burger

This was the cauli wobble burg and not going to lie I pictured it a little differently. It contains some deep fried chunks of cauliflower, halloumi, red peppers and greens all on a layer of sriracha mayonnaise. I for some reason thought it would be like two cauli steaks acting as the buns and the halloumi, peppers and greens sandwiched in between. It was quite difficult to eat as I kept losing cauli bits, I mean I’m not the most dignified at the best of times with messy foods. The sriracha mayo added that extra kick which I think the burg really needed as some find that cauli can be quite bland.

lotus milkshake

This milkshake was insanely gorgeous. Lotus biscuits are so moreish and this was just fab. Top marks Burgers & Cocktails people.

The staff were attentive and lovely to us during our visit, even though they couldn’t help with my scrabble pieces; I HAD NO VOWELS.

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.”

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.

giant jaffa cake

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.

image_6483441

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.

image_6483441 (3)

image_6483441 (2)

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.

the ritz

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.

theritz

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.

IMG_4951

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?

IMG_4953

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!

IMG_4958

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.

cake cake cake

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!

image_6483441 (1)

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.

How do you like your eggs in the morning? I like mine in a cake.

Now if you didn’t read that or sing it in the exact same way and tune as Dean Martin then maybe that joke was a wee bit lost on you. Poached, scrambled, fried or delicately placed ontop of some fancy avo I love eggs in any which, way, shape or form. However my all time favourite type would probably be, beaten with some sugar and made into a cake. Juuuuust saying! Cake is great. Cheesecake, carrot cake, birthday cake, maaaaybe even Christmas cake at a push but I loooove them all so, so much. Which probably explains why i’m a bit of a chubby funster these days.

I am collaborating with a very wonderful company called bakerdays with this post as they’ve sent me an early birthday cake (my birthday is on the 27th January so only 10 days time, eeeek!) I’ve seen them all over social media before, they’re really popular amongst other fellow bloggers on Twitter and i’ve always wanted to give them a try. In this day and age I love how accessible presents, gifts and food items like this are. If you want to send your pal a foodie present it has become so much easier. Or even if you just want to treat yourself or even a loved one than why the heck not send yourself a handmade and designed cake.

I was really blown away with how many different types and designs you can get, from standard celebration cakes, ones with celebrities on, ones you can get a picture printed on, literally the list could go on and on. AND if you’re a relatively fussy Gus a little like me there’s a list of different cake flavours as well to suit whomever. Vanilla sponge, which is what I opted for, comes  sandwiched with buttercream between the cake and the icing layer keeping the cake nice and moist on the inside still. You can get fruit cake accompanied with a jam layer, chocolate cake laden with chocolate chips, a gluten and wheat free sponge with jam and buttercream. You can get a half traditional sponge and half chocolate sponge with chocolate chip cake. So in the words of Hannah Montana you really would get The Best of Both Worlds. Blonde wig not included. A dairy free cake is available, a vanilla and chocolate marble cake as well as seasonal options like the lemon drizzle and gorgeous red velvet. The list doesn’t end there, you can also get cupcakes and balloons alongside it too!

After chatting back and forth with the lovely Anna I was left to choose which type of cake I wanted and what I wanted on it. I didn’t think it would take me nearly as long as it did but I eventually decided on the Pink Princess Upload cake and sent one of my fave selfies to make myself A REAL LIFE ROYAL. Well not really, but if you can’t pretend to be a Princess on your birthday when can you!?

77FD61D6-AADB-41A2-BA3B-96B810D61EB4

Seeing as I spoke with bakerdays only on Monday, it went into the design studio and got dispatched on Tuesday and arrived mid morning today (Wednesday) I couldn’t have asked for better speed of service. They are really efficient and I felt like there would be no problem too big or too small that they couldn’t accommodate too. They made my dreams come true of being a pretty in pink princess soooooo?

219D6100-8690-4435-9FB6-EF1C0B32105B

The cake itself is really light and fluffy. In my eyes a dry cake is up there with Instagram going down and your phone dying at 20% battery life for first world annoyances. I have a major sweet tooth so loved the personalised fondant icing topping.

I opted for the letterbox cake which comes in a tin inside a letterbox sized package. It wasn’t damaged or broken on delivery at all if anything it looked pretty damn perfect to be quite honest! The cake has 3-4 serving sizes so you could share it with others or have a gorge on it all on your own! Your secret is safe with me if you do. The tin is a lovely added extra especially as I’m feeling particularly thrifty at the moment and am already thinking how I could reuse it. It also came with some candles, some balloons and a paper party blower. I’d definitely like to order from bakerdays again. I found the website was really easy to navigate around. You can have as much creative input into what flavour or picture you want on the cake, whether you want any added text on there too. The team are all really kind and nothing seemed too much trouble. I know a lot of people who have food intolerances or have speciality diets so the fact they have a wheat/gluten free cake and a dairy free one too is really special. Myself having recently undertaken a vegetarian diet and lifestyle I am more often now on the lookout for things like this or even seeing if  they offer anything vegan. Whether that’s something that bakerdays would have in the pipelines at the moment or at some point in the distant future would be great as vegan snacks can sometimes be quite difficult to come by. Especially ones that taste this good and can get delivered to your door!

ON TO THE MORE EXCITING PART OF THIS POST. Having teamed up with bakerdays and them sending me a birthday cake, means only one thing. My birthday is only round the corner. YAY. I share my birthday with my beautiful Mum and for the first time in a few years I am not rushing round, going here, there and everywhere partying. I’ve made no secret of the fact a lot of my friends I’ve formed with you wonderful people online and after speaking to bakerdays they’ve kindly offered a free letterbox cake of choice for me to giveaway on my twitter page (Whatabbiesays_) to one of my UK tweetie pals. The competition is running from Thursday 18th January to Wednesday 24th January at 12pm. We decided to finish it then so the lucky winner will receive their cake on the same day as my birthday and will be able to celebrate with me, but not technically with me if that makes sense? I’m super excited to be doing this and so happy to be working alongside bakerdays. I want to thank them so, so much for all the help and support with this and also for making damn good cake!

Print

Even though bakerdays sent me a cake and are helping with the giveaway I was 100% myself and honest with my thoughts and opinions in this post.

What I have planned for 2018.

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas time and banging New Year celebrations whatever you all got up too! I am not usually the type of person to make New Years Resolutions, simply because I tend to completely forget all about them and then I end up feeling bad about those people who have a long old memory that may remember the silly little idea or ditty I may have had about losing weight or learning another language or skill and me giving up 2 weeks into January with the fat tummy podge still very much there and very much comfy.  But for the first time in a long time I’ve decided I want to set myself a few of my own little personal goals, nothing major and nothing huge but to add to my year ahead and make me feel like the best me I can be. These are all things that I actually really want to do and achieve so I’m feeling like they’ll be a lot more attainable right? Plus I’m thinking if I share it with you all i’ll be more likely to keep up with it all cos you lovely lot can pester me if they aren’t being completed!?

spreadpositivity0aas0athickas0acreamcheese0aona0abagel0a0a28heart29-default

Shape up.

I want or need to lose a few extra pounds here and there. I am not completely happy in the way I look at all and want to be able to exercise more, eat healthier and be happier with the Abbie I see looking back in the mirror.

Improve my blogging life.

I am terrible for being organised with my blog. I’m terrible at being organised in general if I’m completely honest. I’m always at least ten minutes late for everything. But I want to be able to post a lot more consistently on here whether that be every week on a set day or the same time on a set day. I would also really love to be able to grow my blog a lot more this year with a wider readership and improve my content and photography.

Job life. 

I haven’t exactly made it a secret that I struggled in my last job role and my goal for the end of 2018 is that i’d have either found or be in a job that I really enjoy. It can be a bit of a challenge where I live (the backend of the middle of nowhere, if you know it???) opportunities aren’t exactly rife in the countryside.

Become a better cook.

I turned vegetarian in November which was actually a lot easier than I would have first anticipated. I love animals and my dog is my best friend and one day it really hurt me in the feels the thought of someone harming him that it dawned on me there isn’t any difference between him, a cow, or a pig. They are all animals and have feelings and from that day forward I haven’t eaten any meat. I chose to give it up so I don’t lecture those that still eat meat. But this year I want to be able to cook more vegetarian dishes as they are just as wholesome and delicious as any others. Plus I’m not the world’s best chef by any stretch so if I hope to move out of my parent’s home I’ve kinda got to be able to fend for myself and not just live off of Linda McCartney sausages. Even though they are incredible.

Read more. 

Social media is taking over my brain ever so slowly and surely. If I like what someone says or what they’re wearing I don’t tell them I just shout FAVOURITED in their face and I’ve started actually following people in real life too to see what they’re ordering in Starbucks or Pret. HA ok i’m totally kidding please don’t arrest me but you get my drift! Social media can be a very negative environment at times and I want to be able to be able to switch off quite literally and read the fifty ish books I’ve got stacked up in my room.

Do more charity work.

I want to be able to do a lot more this year. Whether that be actually working for a charity, donating a lot more to good causes or doing a charitable event of any sort. I want to be able to do more good things this year that’ll make feel good and that I’m proud of.

Live more positively.

I feel this one maybe slightly more self explanatory buuuuut I want to live more for me this year, do things that make me happy or do things outside of my comfort zone. Life is life and should be the best thing you do. For instance I’ve been thinking for ages about trying to work on my funnybone and get into stand up and even my sister said she’d help me or support me if I tried out a comedy gig.

Experiment with my looks more.

I’ve dyed my hair a lot the last 12 months from brown to pink to red to blonde again and I really fancy getting a tattoo or my nose pierced too. I fancy doing a Sinead O’Connor (the singer not the roughen from Hollyoaks a few years back) and shaving my head and starting again. Cos Nothing Compares to U or a brand new ‘do?!

BE THE COOLEST ABFAB EVER.

2018 will no doubt be better than 2017 mainly because 2017 was pure poop. So I’m planning on making this year as jam packed as a double stuffed Oreo would be if they were filled with jam (???) and make it the coolest time for me yet. I am really hoping this will be my year. I will no doubt keep you all updated as well. Much loves as always pups x

 

Why quitting my job was the best thing I’ve ever done.

I’ve been wanting to write this for a while now and actually put the thoughts and feelings that are sitting pretty in my head and heart into words for a long time. I was umming and ahhing about whether to write this for a lot of reasons; some of which you may not quite understand some of which may seem silly.  I didn’t want to be seen as ‘dragging’ or ‘slaying’ my previous employer and workplace for everything they failed to do for me, I also didn’t want to give the people who made my life a living nightmare a platform to make them seem like they’ve won when they really, really haven’t whatsoever. Moreover I didn’t want to seem like I wasn’t over it and that I was stuck in the past. Because I’ve got to the point by myself where I can reflect on it all and see it for what it was. A learning curve. And also I might be able to share and bond with those of you who may have or had similar experiences.

ginigigig

I was in my old role from the age of 17 to 22. Those five years can be quite crucial in a young person’s life. That’s the time when you may typically go to university or go travelling and find yourself on a moonlight beach party on the shores of Thailand (cliche I know but ya get my drift!) I’ve always been one of those people that have constantly gone through life flitting from one idea to the other. When I was a child; I wanted to be a banker when I grew up. When other little girls were dreaming of being a ballet dancer or a fairy I had high hopes of working in Barclays. It was like I had the Clarks shoes equivalent of job aspirations. Sturdy, reliable albeit rigid and a wee bit BORING. I’d like to inject some excitement and adventure and claim the only reason I dreamt this was it would be a surefire and easy way to steal money and screw over the general public (can you tell I’ve been petty since birth) but in reality it was probably just that I was a big fan of their endless ballpoint pen collection and fine examples of neckerchiefs.

I mean, I’m sure if you took five seconds out of your day right now as you’re reading this to think back to seventeen year old you, compared to you  right now you’d certainly be a lot different, no? It’s only a natural part of life for you to change and flow freely with the direction life takes you. I am a strong believer, over the last few years in particular,  that life is fluid and everything that happens to you, that you go through or the people you surround yourself with shape you. I’ve never been the type of person to plan anything for a number of reasons. I love spontaneity and the actual thought of setting dates and goals for things leads to my very quick attention span getting bored; very quickly. Without going too hippy and quotesy on your butts but I like to think everything happens for a reason, sometimes I’m dumb and make bad decisions but it’ll still lead to something awesome…maybe. Hopefully.

In my full time role I quit in July I was a manager of a shop which was seen as quite an accomplishment aged 21/22. A lot of my friends, family and even strangers would comment on how great it was to get to that position at my age. I never really saw it as that brilliant if I’m completely honest, as it was merely I was in the right place in the right time and my boss wanted the position filled and I was happy to say yes to whatever was needed. A lot of the people I worked with weren’t really qualified to be in their positions they were in either. Nothing against them or the jobs they do because in my role it was more if you had more than one brain cell and could pressure sell you were basically ‘in’ with the in crowd. It was a role I never really aspired and dreamed of in the first place, it felt somewhat grown up, gave me a full time job that had a salary yet still paid peanuts compared to other positions in store management in other places. I didn’t want to go to university simply for the reasons I didn’t know what I wanted to do at all and I couldn’t stand sixth form so what hope would I have at getting through uni?! I was never truly happy in this role and it was something that I never felt that I excelled at in my heart more so something to help pass the time and to help fund my ASOS addiction too.

The decision that led to me leaving without a clear plan with what to do next started off as quite a difficult. I didn’t want to end up jumping from fat to frying pan as my dear parents would say and as I mentioned previously I was never truly happy in this role. For months and months I was constantly looking for something better to turn up or hoping a winning lottery ticket would fly into my hand on a rather blustery day.  I had bosses making my working life a misery, day in and day out, denying me annual leave, time off in lieu I was owed and throwing any obstacle in the way they possibly could. One of them infamously saying I couldn’t cope because I was a woman and had too many emotions. No hun, I worked three solid weeks without a single day off. You should have tried it some time? And another one saying he would never give any praise for anything as it is simply not his style. Misogyny and pigheadedness was though huh? I had a problems with my team members and not enough support where it was needed. So one fateful  day in May  a friend and I decided to go and see a psychic and she even said I wouldn’t be in the job I’m in for much longer. Little did she know I went back to work and a few days later my boss berated me for about 2 hours so I just decided enough was enough and handed in my four week notice without a care in the world.

This decision has taught me a lot of things and I can use this all as life experience to reflect on and learn from (God how annoying does this all make me sound)

To stand up for myself:

I was the youngest on my area and I didn’t have anyone ever stood with me when the going got tough, no support and no help. The way I would get spoken to sometimes by fellow employees, bosses and even the customers would often be completely unacceptable. I could laugh at it all at the time but the way retail workers get spoken to sometimes is completely shocking.

I grew guts:

Often I felt too scared to say anything other than yes to my boss in a weird innate sense to always look like a good employee and to please him (goodness knows why really) but now if anyone from work colleagues or even friends do something that I am not ok with I will be the first one to voice my concerns. So much so I went to a handful of interviews and even started a job and felt it feeling like my old position I knew I had to get away from.

I cut off toxic friends:

Similar to the above two points, I got treated badly by a workplace I am no longer accepting it in my life. It may seem fickle and fierce but I would much rather have one or two friends I could totally rely on that treat me with kindness and respect than a larger amount that follow the same values.

How to handle criticism:

I got a lot of stick from a lot of people I didn’t even think would judge me or care about my life decisions. A lot of people I thought I was close to spread it like wildfire and that really offended me as I didn’t want something that had really affected me mentally to be treated like playground chitter chatter. A lot of people felt like I needed an intervention for quitting my day job but to be honest I didn’t care about them and still don’t anymore to this day. They weren’t aware of the ins and outs of it all and the decision I made I don’t regret and still stand by.

I’ve learnt to accept the way it all affected me:

I didn’t realise how much it all had affected me mentally and emotionally working in such a nonsensically highly strung environment. Going from working 40+ hours a week to suddenly having all the time in the world on my hands took some getting used to. I felt very mentally bruised, paranoid and bitter and still do a little bit to this day but I have a new job now and I am feeling exponentially happier than I did ever.

I’ve learnt how to handle money better: 

Going from a full time job to nothing has the obvious concern of OMG HOW ON EARTH AM I GOING TO SURVIVE which is often what puts a lot of people off. I think it’s the main thing that puts a lot of people off. If it wasn’t for money and paying the bills would you be in the job you are in today? Luckily for me I had a good last payslip, got an amount of the holiday pay I was owed, have savings and still live at home with my parents to rely on as much as I like to be independent. I was adamant I wasn’t going to race back into a job and wanted to have some time to breath and actually enjoy my summer for once. I wanted to get back into the proper working environment at my own pace and into something I thrive in and makes my heart and soul happy.

cropped-a13b72ed-73b8-4289-8b22-7aea1f61bce1.jpg

I don’t think I’ve ever felt as happy in myself as I have done at this present moment (maybe because i’m chilling at home in my comfies eating the remainder of the Christmas food) but I have a really positive and cheshire cat style smile on my face at the thought of a New Year and a new and improved Abbie for 2018.