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5.7.20

The best things I've baked during lockdown (and some things I've learned)



My hobby of choice during the lockdown as undoubtedly been baking stuff. With little else to occupy my busy hands, I have turned to Pinterest, my small collection of cookbooks and my trusty saved recipe folder (a physical folder!) and kneaded, proved, mixed to my heart's content.

Favourite things I have made


The Anna Edit's cookies

The hype is real for these cookies which are based on the recipe from the Levain bakery, with a few tried and tested hacks. They are the thicccccc, gooey cookies you've seen all over Instagram, winking at you with their height and oozing chocolate chips - in short an absolute absolute dream. They are sweet, a tiny bit salty, stuffed to the brim with chocolate and a delicious bite from roasted hazelnuts. I want some now! I have to try the white chocolate and miso ones too.

Cheesy welsh cakes

I made these initially to use up a glut of leeks from my veg box - they love sending a leek and Rich HATES eating a leek so alternative leek routes must be explored in our mission to not be a wasteful household. These savoury nuggets are a delightful discovery - I often use them as a bread substitute for my morning boiled eggs, or just as a umami mid-morning snack.

Decorated Foccacia 

This fun baking project lets your creative juices run wild, is easy and tastes great. You feel clever because you have made bread but you don't need specialist equipment so it's a win win. The only downside is you have to eat it quite quickly because without the tons of preservatives they put in supermarket bread, turns out it goes mouldy more quickly - who'd have thought?

Tea, Lemon and Blueberry Cake 

I made this for my mum's birthday. It is from Tesco magazine and it's the first time I've made a cake larger than two tiers so I was a bit intimidated by it! It turned out great though, and tasted lush. You couldn't really taste the tea in it however, so I would probably leave that out next time as it wasn't
missed. My mum appreciated it greatly and even brought out her best cake knife to cut it. High praise indeed.




Some things I have learned...


Measurements need to be precise...but sometimes it just ain't working

I made a pizza base recently and I swear I followed the instructions to the letter but I just could not get it to stop being so damn sticky. Sometimes, no matter how precise you are, the temperature of the room, how warm your hands are, even your mood definitely makes a difference to how things turn out.

You can substitute stuff

That said, whilst they do say baking is a science, most of the time you can sub in like for like and it's largely the same. Oil instead of butter, lemon zest instead of orange, granulated sugar instead of caster. Trial and error is part of the fun - just need to use your imagination and logic.

Sharing is caring

The only downside about making so many baked goods, is having so many baked goods. I'm lucky that both mine and Rich's parents live nearby so every Sunday we would do a little walk or bike ride round to both households and drop off some excess treats, stopping for a little doorstep chat along the way.

It's not worth making the pastry!

I made shortcrust pastry for a pie and it's just long and an effort and I cannot make it stretch properly to save my life. Shop bought pastry is my friend.



1.7.20

Notes from June 2020





I've decided to change the format of these posts, as they were getting a bit brain dump-y.

Instead of just listing everything I've done, I'm going to write about 7 things I loved across all the categories I used to cover - reading, listening, watching, buying, eating, enjoying on Instagram and so on and so forth, and then some links. Might include something I didn't enjoy as well just for balance.

Last month we moved house! We've managed to get quite a bit done in a short amount of time - painting the hallway and the upstairs, getting the carpets and oven cleaned, ordering furniture, but I'm still getting used to it all. Exciting though! 

Anyway, here are some things I have enjoyed of late.

1. Alexa Chung's YouTube series about Met Gala. 

I look forward to the parade of looks that is the Met Gala so I let out a sad sigh when it was cancelled this year. Luckily, good old Alexa Chung interviewed some designers about the fun Met Gala times they have had in the past and it almost made up for the usual spectacle. 

2. Normal People

I'm only human okay? But srsly, this was a whole emotional punch in the face wasn't it. It's weird, I loved it but at the same time it pained me to watch it. Still wonderful though. And please can there NOT be a second series. Some things just need to exist as they are. 

3. Girlguiding Book

I am the biggest GirlGuiding nerd going and I recently read a book called 'How the Girl Guides won the war', which put the whole lockdown thing in perspective for sure. The bravery, capability and willingness to help from these girls (some as young as 10) is admirable. Brought a tear to my eye. 


4. Finding out about Babysitter's Club on Netflix

I found out there is going to be a Babysitter's Club series on Netflix and my tiny heart sung with joy. Watch the teaser trailer here if you know what's good for you. 


5. "Finishing a book is proof that we aren’t stuck in time – we still have the capacity to begin things, to finish things, to make use of this time in small but comforting ways" 

This is a quote from one of Alice Catherine's recent blog posts. It resonated with me a lot.


6. Pic & Mix

Online pic and mix is a wonderful invention at all times, but particularly when they have stopped selling it in shops because of old auntie 'Rona.  When it's 100% vegan it is even better. This is the one I ordered and I can particularly recommend the foamy ovals. Also the fudge - my gosh. 


7. Anti-Racism Daily

This is a newsletter that sends out daily information about the Black Lives Matter movement, and how we can continue the anti-racism work. So far I have learned what defunding the police actually means, why Black people are more affected by Coronavirus and why facial recognition technology is used to match Black people to crimes but is a highly flawed system. I am so grateful for the amount of research and work that goes into this newsletter FOR FREE (although you can donate or subscribe on Patreon). I would highly recommend subscribing. 

Links of note

21.6.20

Black Lives Matter

image by Clay Banks from Unsplash
I am swapping my May monthly round up to talk about the Black Lives Matter movement. I have always, like many other people, considered myself non-racist. However, it's only been recently that I have been shown that being passively anti-racist is not enough. I need to be actively anti-racist; educate, donate, have discussions. Diversify my social media feed more. So that is what I have been doing. And you should too.

I found this guide to be helpful in listing tangible ways to help and action to take, both big and small.

I have a long list of content I want to read, listen to and watch. Here is a list of things of things I can personally recommend. These are illuminating, devastating, funny, moving, interesting, entertaining; sometimes all of the above.

To watch

  • Mo Gilligan live (Netflix) 
I love comedian Mo Gilligan's Instagram, and this live show cracked me UP. 
  • When They See Us (Netflix)
This 4 part Netflix series is the story of the Central Park Five, a group of black kids who were wrongfully convicted of murder. It is heartbreaking but so powerful, especially the last episode. The acting from Jharrel Jerome especially is incredible. 
  • Beyonce: Live at Coachella (Netflix)
This is a joyful thing to watch. 
  • Boyz N The Hood (Netflix)
This film has some great explanations of systemic racism, poverty, police brutality shown through the life of Tre, a young black male in the 1990s trying to navigate living in LA following the 1992 riots. 
The story of a Brownie troop in America who are also black activists. 
  • Menace to Society (Rent on Amazon Prime)
Another 90s film set in LA which explores similar themes as Boyz N The Hood, but takes a bleaker, more violent stance to drum the points home. 
  • Do the Right Thing (Rent on Amazon Prime)
This Spike Lee film explores racial tensions in NYC during a swelteringly hot day - it's impactful but witty, plus the colours and cinematography are very pleasing. 
  • Styling Hollywood (Netflix)
This show follows a black gay couple, Jason (stylist) and Adair (interior designer) and they are both so compelling and likeable. And hilaire. Hoping for a second series please! 

To read 

  • The Fruit of the Lemon Andrea Levy
  • Americanah Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Purple Hibiscus Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • That Thing Around Your Neck Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Interpreter of Maladies Jhumpa Lahiri 
  • The Namesake Jhumpa Lahiri
  • My Sister the Serial Killer Oyinkan Braithwaite
  • Black Boy Richard Wright
  • Queenie Candice Carty Williams
  • The Hate u Give Angie Thomas
  • The Longest Memory Fred D'Aguiar

To listen to


Black Lives Matter.


27.5.20

My working from home routine

Since my first foray into documenting my morning routine, a lot has changed. I still love a routine though. Sets me up for the day and reminds me that I am, in fact, a person and not just a stretchy waistband blob who has to set an actual alarm on the Alexa to stop me from scrolling Tik Tok until my eyes start bleeding and fall out.

So this is what we do now.

Please note, all times are now (ish) due to the flexibility of time in this new world.




6am


Alarm goes off. I have always been an early bird and I enjoy having an hour in the morning to myself much more than I enjoy sleeping. My alarm of choice is Alexa telling me the weather. This is a  gentle alarm and I like it. It's preferable to an actual Alexa alarm because that requires me having to tell her to stop, and I highly dislike having to talk as soon as I wake up, especially when she doesn't listen and I have to shout, making me feel annoyed as soon as I open my eyes. No-one wants that. However, as a counterpoint, sometimes this alarm is so gentle that I just go straight on back to sleep, as there is no sound I have to stop and nothing time sensitive I need to get up for. So sometimes 6am turns into 6:15am or 6:30am.


6:05am


My cat, who used to be so pleased that I was getting up, could not care less about me anymore so I do a quick look around to see if she is going to grace me with her presence, or hide under the bed in safety. If she is around I might get a rare stand up cuddle which is cherished morning treat.

6:10am


If my cat is nowhere to be found, I go ahead and make myself a lemon and ginger tea and do a quick tidy of the kitchen.




6:15am


I retreat to my cosy armchair with my current book and a magazine. I read at least a chapter of my book and a bit of the magazine whilst I drink my tea. My magazines of choice are Heat, Grazia, Guardian Weekend and Vogue. I will also occasionally read interiors magazines and other newspaper supplements foisted upon me by my mother. Thanks mum!

6:50am


Yoga time. I have made it my mission to do yoga every single day this year and so far I haven't missed a day! My favourite person is Sarah Beth Yoga, who is very calm and doesn't feel the need to fill every silence with flim flam. She also tells me well done a lot and says 'you are right where you need to be' which I find comforting but not wanky. I do a lot of Yoga With Adriene videos too, like everyone else. I appreciate very much that she has given us free yoga content for every ailment imaginable, but I have to confess I do find her a tiny bit annoying! It's the combination of talking for the sake of it, being 'goofy' and saying things that make 0 sense, like 'float to the top of the mat'. Rant over.



7:15 

Sometimes I do a little bit more exercise from the Nike app, which is my fave working out resource because again there is no chat or 'encouraging' waffle, just a demo of the movements and then time to do the movements, punctuated by helpful beeps. This means I can listen to my own workout music which motivates me a whole lot more.

7:30

I swap my workout clothes for my dressing gown and take my vitamins before doing my morning skincare, then have a quick shower and get dressed in either jogging bottoms, shorts or if I'm feeling really fancy, pleather trousers. Never jeans though. I'm not a psychopath.

7:50

If it's a putting on make up day, I will shove on some concealer, blusher and mascara, or if I have more time, follow a make up tutorial for something to do. I like the tutorials from Lisa Eldridge and Jamie Genevieve.


8:00

Time to begin work. I start by checking my emails and to-do list.

9:30

I don't like eating as soon as I get up and only start to get hungry about 9am - most days I have a boiled egg or avocado on sourdough or rye toast with watercress or whatever herbs are hanging around in the fridge that need to be consumed. The other week I had pickled red cabbage which added a lovely tang to the proceedings. Sometimes I swap the bread for savoury welsh cakes which are delicious and pair perfectly with the egg.

That's basically it - I must say this routine is a lot nicer and more relaxing than my previous schedule. I could get used to it!

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