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Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Life Recently.

Bit of a different one for you today. Grab a cuppa and a biscuit. I have a packet. That's a lie. But I wish I did.

So it's a Tuesday afternoon and I am sat with my feet up on the sofa - after turfing the dog off because the "no dogs on the sofa" rule lasted all of two seconds - with Pitch Perfect on in the background for company. And it's the first time, in what feels like forever, I have stopped.

Life has been....turbulent recently and any down time I have had has been filled up with trying to counteract all the rubbish or spent trying to make sense of everything. It never is simple, is it?

Between the every day bits of work and house responsibilities, and the not so every day of life-changing decisions and revelations I have been feeling pretty spent, leaving this little place to be put on the back burner.

It's not just the releif of writing on here that has fallen by the wayside it's writing for eveything, it's organising blog things that I've had in the pipeline for a year, it's understanding what I want from my time, and at some points it was my integrety. Which is the worst of the bunch. Obviously.

Way back three years ago - wait, three years?!...........just checked....three years! Wow bad blog owner for not noticing that before now - anyway, way back when I started this blog I decided it might be a good way to "find out more about myself". The truth of it is that it hasn't. At least not in the revolutionary way that I had hoped.

You know that saying "Life is what happens while you're making other plans"? It's bloody true. So is "time is a healer". I aged up recently and every time that happens I like to have a look over the last year and judge on the progress I have or haven't made. It's an accidental kind of thing and I only really ever realise I'm doing it after I've done it.This year was the first year that it was a conscious thought. On the surface of it all this year nothing much has changed at all. I'm living in the same house, I have the same job and all in all everything has remained the same.

Be that as it may on the surface underneath a lot has changed. For the first time in a long time I am starting to understand myself and live my life by that, rather than resisting it. Funnily enough, once you learn to do that things start to feel a whole lot easier. You get happier, and happiness - in the interest of complete honesty - is not something I have had much of in my past.

With this new revelation on my mind I have made some decisions. Some huge. Some not so much. One of these decisions - I'll let you decide which end of the scale it belongs on - is that I'm going to strip this space back to what it originally was: mine. I'm pretty positive that to you guys nothing much will really change but to me it really needs to. I need to take it back. To have it in my control again. Much like my decision to start using night cream on my face - seriously, aging up is a tough gig on the face. I'm pretty certain I woke up the other day and instantly had twenty new wrinkles. Sleep lines are real!

Gravity is not a friend of age, my friends.

Another decision I've made is that I want to discover more blogs. My list is ageing nearly as quickly as I am and blogs that I used to read seem to be dropping off the face of the earth. I need more, so hit me up in the comments with your links and I'll get reading.

Going back a paragraph or brilliant is Pitch Perfect?! Love a good predictable American teen film.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

The World Tea Party with Strawberry Ganache Cake

This weekend we paid a visit to Scaddows Farm for our annual tradition of strawberry picking. One of the best things about growing up and being an adult is setting your own traditions, and this is one of my favourites.

A photo posted by Becki Explorer (@theexplorerblog) on
Little in life beats wandering through a field of fruit in the sunshine searching for the biggest, juiciest strawberry you can find. This weekend the weather was little more erratic and saw Mr M leaving me at the weighing point as he ran to the car in torrential downpour which spontaneously erupted from the sky onto his summer shirt (I was wearing a coat with a hood so took one for the team). 

Once I'd weighed and paid I headed back to the car with drenched shoe, soaked jeans and a smile on my face; nothing makes me happier than a punnet bursting at the seams with freshly picked British strawberries!

As usual - and I'm pretty certain this is Pick Your Own law - we picked far more than two people are ever going to eat, which gave me a good excuse to get in the kitchen and get my bake on.

This year I made the decision that whatever I did with the fruit it had to be more than just putting it into something or using it as a topping. Delicious though it is I need to start challenging myself in the bake department so I opted for trying something entirely new. 

Inspired by the great Lily Vanilli - if you don't follow this baker and you're into baking you must check her out! - I went down the route of natural flavouring and colouring; Strawberry ripple cake with strawberry ganache. 

"Natural" baking is a trend that has fascinated me for a while but I've only just built up the courage to have a go. Lily Vanilli is a great source of inspiration with her approach being natural with a flair. I've always wanted to make my cherries metallic!

This cake is perfect material for a tea party, so spurred on by the increasing flour clouds, cake batter dribbles and sticky strawberry juice that had boiled over the pan (sorry Mr M!) what better than a it of biscuit baking?

In honour of SPANA's World Tea Party day on 9th July (this Saturday) I opted to utilise their fabulous donkey and camel shaped cutters. 

Aren't they just adorable? Although I do feel kind of bad eating a donkey.....

SPANA (Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad) is holding a tea party this weekend to raise awareness for animals that by tradition work. They provide support for the animals owners to make sure that the camels, donkeys, horses, even elephants, are all cared for properly and that their welfare is looked after. You can find out more about the Tea Party over on their website.

It's a great excuse to get in the kitchen and have a knees up with the family. 

Animal welfare has a huge place in my heart so I'm dedicating this cake-turned-tea-party to them. This Saturday, if you're having a cup of tea or a slice of cake and you decide to instagram it think about adding #worldteaparty to your post if you want to support the cause.



250g butter
250g caster sugar
5 eggs
250g self raising flour
1 teaspoons baking powder
2 tbsp strawberry jam

Pre heat your oven to 180°.
Cream together your butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add in the eggs one at a time with a spoon full of flour each time and whisk until light and fluffy.
Combine the baking powder and the flour then add to the mix, gently fold in until mixed.
Add in the jam and gently ripple through the sponge mix.
Bake until golden brown and springy to the touch.

Strawberry Ganache

300g white chocolate
200g strawberry puree

Heat your strawberry puree up in a pan until it bubbles gently at the edges.
Pour your hot puree over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate is fully melted.
Allow to cool then pop in the fridge until it's set enough to cover the cake. 

*This is not a sponsored post. SPANA kindly sent me these cutters after I had agreed to help them spread the word about their campaign. I was not asked to write a blog post about this but chose to do so myself as it is a charity that I believe in.  

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Cosy Club, Derby

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending a blogger meet in Derby. Organised by the wonderful Monet from Munching with Monet this was the first meet in Derby that hasn't been organised by a brand. I met with a great bunch of local blogger's to brunch at the new Cosy Club.

Slowly but surely Derby is really growing into a foodie haven. There seems to be a real development in hitting all of the trends. Between Byron's and Hide Burger (which I'm yet to get to - damn it being so popular!) the burger trend is ticked. We have Sushi in the form of Yo Shushi! and Ebi Shushi, we have Cuban cuisine covered by Revolution De Cuba, comfort food is more than covered by Turtle Bay and Joe's Kitchen, and now the brunch trend has been added to the checked list.

Set in the beautiful building that once housed The Royal Hotel, the team at Cosy Club have really brought a breathe of fresh air into what was once a practically derelict building.

Derby as a city is shrouded in history which over the years has been plastered over by attempts to modernise, slowly this is being turned in its head and people like Cosy Club are coming in to take it back to it's former glory.

Once we had all arrived and had taken in the beauty of the place it was time for food, and for me there is only one way to do brunch right: A Maple syrup and crispy bacon pancake stack.

The pancakes were beautifully light and fluffy with the bottom most 'cake soaking up the pool of syrup it sat it. The bacon was cooked to perfection and was just salty enough to take the sickly sweet edge off of the syrup.

I could easily have eaten another three. Platefuls that is.

All washed down with a nice Fresh lemonade.

We all sat and chatted for a while. I got chatting with Olivia from Living on a shoestring who live on a boat with her pup and soon to be husband, before we all ended up chatting weddings and blogs. There really is something marvellous about being able to sit and chat blogging with people that blog. Getting down and into the nitty gritty of HTML, SEO and the perils of photography with people who are as interested in it as you is just perfect. We chatted for so long that we ended up being asked to vacate the table by the very lovely staff.

When it came down to the bill we were all pleasantly surprised on how little it came to, mine rang in at a purse pinching £9.30.

It was a wonderful brunch in a beautiful setting with some equally beautiful bloggers. And to be honest, I hope we do it again sometime soon.