New Year’s Resolution for 2019- Books!

It’s officially 2019, how did that happen? I know I might be a little bit late to the party, but I have made one proper New Year’s Resolution which I want to put out into the universe- I want to read more books this year.

I know how vague this sounds, so I’m going to put a number on it- I want to read 5 books this year. That’s not a lot for some people, but I can’t remember the last time I finished a book, so this feels like a challenge to me.

I hear people talking about being utterly gripped by books all the time, and I want in on this! I want the escapism, the cosy feeling of reading a book inside under a blanket whilst it’s grey and miserable outside, and I definitely want a break from my phone screen.

Now, the details. I want to read at least 2 fiction books, because I think this is where the proper escapism comes in. I don’t know if I’m ready to commit to a Harry Potter-esque series, but I want to lose myself in a glorious, fictional world. I think the other 3 books will be self-development books because these are the ones that make me excited; not so much the faddy ones which promise to change your life in 30 seconds, but I recently half read a book about near-death experiences, and I found that so interesting. I love the type of books that lift you out of your narrow box of thinking and give you a totally new perspective that you hadn’t thought of before.

So, here are the books I am planning on reading:

  1. My Story by Jo Malone
  2. Light is the New Black by Rebecca Campbell
  3. On The Other Side by Carrie Hope Fletcher
  4. The Universe Has Your Back by Gabrielle Bernstein
  5. I’m still undecided- I need another fiction book to complete my list, so any suggestions would be gratefully received!

I have to admit, the other reason I like this New Year’s Resolution is because it’s totally lazy, and I don’t need to do any extreme exercise or diet to complete this. I don’t even have to leave my sofa, which is an added bonus!

I’ll keep you updated with progress on my New Year’s Resolution but let me know if you’ve read any of the books on my list- I’d love to know what you think of them!

Speak to you soon,

Anna

Blogmas Day 24: Homemade Sausage Rolls and the Last Day of Blogmas!

Oh my goodness, we’ve made it. It’s Christmas Eve and Blogmas is nearly over! I don’t know how to feel about that, but I’m not giving myself any time to think about it yet because last minute Christmas preparations are well and truly underway and I feel like I’m already about 6 hours behind on what I’d planned to do!

Fuelled by almond croissants and homemade sausage rolls, I have been essay writing, preparing vegetables for tomorrow, and I need to do some tidying as well. I’m hoping to get a few more Christmas films in this evening, and of course, start eating my body weight in chocolate! That’s what Christmas is for, right?

But the highlight of my day so far has been these homemade sausage rolls. My grandma definitely makes the best sausage rolls, but hopefully mine come up as a close (ish) second. They were so easy to make, particularly because the pastry and sausagemeat came ready made. I just rolled out the puff pastry, spread some onion chutney on the bottom, put the sausagemeat (which came with almonds and apricots in) on one half of the pastry and used the other half to seal it all up. I brushed it with some beaten egg, and put it in the oven for 20 minutes. Ta da! The perfect Christmas treat.

I had to get this last festive picture in!

It feels strange to say, but that’s it for today and for my Blogmas- I hope you’re having a wonderful Christmas Eve and I hope you have the most amazing Christmas Day and New Year- I can’t wait to see you again in 2019!

Thank you so much for reading!

Speak to you soon,

Anna

Blogmas Day 23: Tinsel and Table Decorations

Blogmas Day 23: Tinsel and Table Decorations

Happy Christmas Eve Eve! It’s getting closer and closer to the big day, there’s only 2 days to go! I have to admit that yesterday I started panic buying very unnecessary things, so today I am staying away from any shops, and instead, I’m going to start decorating the table ready for Christmas Day.

We’ve got tinsel up on every available bookshelf and cabinet, and yesterday I hung up some very pretty pastel bunting. I know it’s not the traditional festive colours, but it still makes me feel like we’re celebrating, and it took me a good few attempts to hang it up so I’m never taking it down!

In terms of table decorations, we’re going for a white, silver and gold theme with our table cloth, plates and napkins, I’m probably going to empty a whole pack of this gold star confetti on and around the table (most of it will probably go on the floor, but at least every inch of the house will be as festive as possible!) and we’re going to have tea lights all around the room. Don’t worry, I have definitely learnt from my lesson yesterday with fire and I promise I will be very careful!

If our dining room still doesn’t look festive enough after all this, I may have to resort to fairy lights, but either way, I can’t wait for everything to look cosy and Christmassy.

I hope all of your festive preparations are going well!

See you tomorrow,

Anna

Blogmas Day 22: Baking Disaster

In my quest to do as many Christmassy things as possible within the next 3 days, today I thought I could try and make a new tradition. I’ve seen these delicious looking Chocolate Torrones all over my Pinterest feed; it looks like a block of chocolate with whole hazelnuts in, what’s not to love?!

So I thought I would try and make one of these this afternoon. In my head, I thought this might be something I could incorporate into my yearly festive traditions, I could make one of these every year and it could be a centrepiece on our Christmas table.

To cut a long story short, it didn’t quite turn out like that. I started off well, I had all my ingredients ready and things were going smoothly- I was melting chocolate, using it to line a loaf tin to get the signature Torrone shape, and everything was going well. But whilst I was melting my chocolate, with my festive music on in the background, I completely forgot the tray of hazelnuts I was roasting. As soon as I opened the oven, a smell that reminded me of burning popcorn filled the kitchen, as well as a thick cloud of smoke.

This was how they turned out!
They looked so perfect before…

So that was the first mishap. The second one came soon after, when I’d put the tray of half burnt hazelnuts on top of the stove whilst I was trying to work out how to salvage the situation. I was still melting some chocolate using the hob very close to the burnt hazelnuts, and you can probably guess what happened next… the baking paper I’d put the hazelnuts on caught fire! Thankfully it was only the corner of the paper which had caught fire, so it didn’t touch the hazelnuts, although it probably wouldn’t have made much difference to them!

This may all sound rather dramatic for a bit of baking, but this was not the perfect new tradition I was planning on making! I did manage to salvage a few hazelnuts from the wreckage and add them into my Torrone, which is more like a big block of chocolate (which will still definitely get eaten within a matter of moments), but I think I’m going to take it as a sign that I should stick to gin cocktails and chutney!

See you tomorrow,

Anna

Blogmas Day 21: Festive Pick Me Up Playlist Tag

I have been tagged by the lovely Charlotte from theoutspokenblonde to take part in the Pick Me Up Playlist tag, and like Charlotte, I wanted to make it festive themed, so here we go!

The Rules:

  • Link back to ‘Pick Me Up Playlist’ creator – Laura Spoonie
  • Tag the blogger who nominated you – theoutspokenblonde
  • Mention how music helps your Mental Health
  • List 10 songs that you would consider to be a part of your ‘Pick Me Up Playlist’ (optional: mention a little bit why each song is on your list)
  • Tag 10 other bloggers to join in with the ‘Pick Me Up Playlist’ Challenge

I always find it so interesting to hear what music other people listen to, so I am very excited to take part in this tag. I wrote in my Blogmas Day 16 post about using music as a festive mood booster, so I also love the fact that this tag focuses on how music helps your mental health.

I am always happiest when I have my earphones in, when I can just shut out the world for a bit. I don’t feel like I’ve started my day off right until I’ve been able to put my earphones in and strut around, so music really helps my mental health, particularly in the mornings when I know I can be a bit grumpy! I find that music definitely has the power to lift your mood, even by just a little bit, so I want to share with you the festive songs that make me feel good:

  1. Michael Bublé- It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas- this song signifies the beginning of Christmas for me. Any Christmas song sung by Michael Bublé instantly makes me feel 1000% more festive.
  2. Coldplay- Christmas Lights- I love this song, it’s one of my favourites. I think the piano is so calming and atmospheric, and just makes me think of cosy evenings in when it’s dark outside!
  3. East 17- Stay Another Day- I don’t know why this is a Christmas song, but the video is so good that I had to include it in this list!
  4. Mariah Carey- All I Want For Christmas Is You- a song that needs no explanation, it never gets old! You know whenever you hear that twinkle at the beginning of the song that it’s about to get full-on Christmassy wherever you go!
  5. Bing Crosby and David Bowie- Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy- the perfect classic, traditional song that everyone goes quiet for when it comes on.
  6. Ariana Grande- Santa Tell Me- I know this is more like Christmas pop rather than the traditional ones, but I could listen to this on repeat for hours. I think it’s such a good song to have on in the background when you’re doing a bit of Christmas baking, because you can sing along to it at the top of your lungs while you’re eating cookie dough straight from the bowl!
  7. Nina Nesbitt- Oh Holy Night- this is such a beautiful version of this song, it gives me shivers when I listen to it!
  8. Sam Smith- Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas- this is another one that I found on the Spotify Singles Christmas playlist, and it’s just brilliant and echoey and cosy; all the good things.
  9. George Ezra- White Christmas- I spoke about how much I love this song in my blog post the other day, but I had to include it on this list because it’s so good!
  10. Lily Allen- Somewhere Only We Know- I don’t think this one is technically a Christmas song but it was on the John Lewis Christmas advert a few years ago and ever since then, every time I’ve heard it it makes me smile and think of Christmas decorations and twinkly lights.

So those are all of the songs which are getting me through the festive season- I haven’t been blogging for very long, so instead of tagging other bloggers to do this tag, I’d love to hear in the comments which Christmas songs give you that instant burst of happiness, or which really help your mental health.

See you tomorrow,

Anna

Blogmas Day 20: Christmas Wrapping

I’ve just got a small, cosy post for today because this afternoon, I have been wrapping my Christmas presents. In my head, this is one of those activities which is always one of the most exciting parts of Christmas, where you put a film on, wear some kind of festive article of clothing and happily wrap your presents by your tree. In reality, it’s more like spending half your time finding the end of the sellotape and choppily cutting just the right amount of paper to fit whatever you’re wrapping. Nonetheless, I enjoyed it.

I’ve gone for plain brown paper this year for my wrapping, with gold string (doesn’t this make you think of the song from the Sound of Music? I’ve had it stuck in my head for DAYS now), and as a bit of a curveball, I’ve got some gold star confetti which I might haphazardly stick on top as well!

I know they might look a little bit plain, but I like the simplicity of it. I can’t say that I don’t miss seeing cute little cartoons of festive creatures on the presents, but for this year, it’ll do.

See you tomorrow,

Anna

Blogmas Day 19: Cruelty-Free Christmas Box Exchange with theoutspokenblonde

Blogmas Day 19: Cruelty-Free Christmas Box Exchange with theoutspokenblonde

Charlotte from theoutspokenblonde and I are exchanging Christmas boxes today! When Charlotte and I were talking through ideas for this Christmas box, she came up with the idea of basing it around a cruelty-free theme, which I loved. For me, the main thing that excited me about this theme was delving into the vegan recipe side of Pinterest (heads up, it’s amazing).

She is going to tell you all about the box that I made for her over on her blog, theoutspokenblonde, but I am going to tell you all about what was in my cruelty-free Christmas box, let’s do it!

So, first things first, I have to admire the box- isn’t it beautiful?! The lid is pale pink with gold spots on the top, and the base is cream with pink spots and gold Christmas trees- the perfect colour combination in my opinion.

What was in the box:

  1. This adorable llama decoration- I honestly thought this was homemade for a moment until Charlotte reminded me that there’s a tag on it!
    Isn’t this so cute?!

    This makes me smile every time I look at it- it’s gone straight on my tree.

  2. A gorgeous trinket dish- this dish has got little pastel and gold coloured teardrops, and I love these little dishes for putting my jewellery on.
  3. A pair of fluffy socks- these socks are cream and pale pink, and they feel so soft and warm. I can’t wait to wear these on Christmas Eve; it is a rare occasion when I can find matching socks, so I will make sure they stay as a pair so that they can stay looking so pretty together!
  4. A Candy Cane Lush Bubble Bar- I have always been intrigued by the Lush Bubble Bars. Every time I’ve been to Lush during the Christmas season, I stop by these and think they smell amazing, but I’ve never bought one for myself before, so I’m very excited to try this. It smells SO good, and Lush is well-known for its cruelty-free promise, which is great as well.
  5. Lavender Shampoo Bar- you can’t see it very well in the picture, but it’s the purple bar next to the llama decoration. Charlotte was explaining to me how this shampoo bar works, so you hold it under the shower until it lathers, and it’s supposed to make your hair amazingly soft. She also explained to me that she bought this bar from a local seller, which I thought was really cool. I love receiving a gift that you can properly try, and I’m definitely going to do that with this shampoo bar!

Thank you so much Charlotte, I love my box! If you didn’t already know, she is taking part in Blogmas as well, so you should check out her glorious festive posts, especially her baking ones! 

I also really enjoyed putting Charlotte’s box together and doing a whole box exchange with her. I think it’s a great idea to do something like this with your friends or family, because who wouldn’t get excited about a box of festive goodies?!

See you tomorrow,

Anna

Blogmas Day 18: Is It Wrong To Buy Yourself a Christmas Present?

One of the best parts about Christmas is showing people that you love them by giving them a thoughtful present. Don’t get me wrong, I know that this is not the only way that you can show somebody that you love them, and I know that stuff is just stuff, but it can still be a nice thing to do. That feeling you get when you receive a present from somebody, and it’s something so specific and thoughtful, that it makes you feel so loved, that’s an incredible feeling.

But sometimes, I think we put in so much effort into making and buying these lovely, thoughtful presents for everybody else, that we forget to treat ourselves too. There are only 7 days to go until Christmas now, we’re at the peak of the festivities, and we’ve all been working really hard, so it’s only fair that we treat ourselves!

With this thought in mind, I have treated myself to a Christmas present. It’s nothing too fancy, but it’s something that I probably wouldn’t have bought for myself had it not have been Christmas. I actually bought this as a present for somebody else, but when I was wrapping it, I thought about how much I would love to receive it, so I kept it for myself! (Don’t worry, I did replace the present I was going to get the person this was originally meant for, I don’t want you to think that I short changed anybody!)

As I’m typing this, it’s still all wrapped up, but I am going to unwrap it right now to show you. It’s this really pretty navy weekly planner with copper constellations on the front cover, how very hipster!

I bought it in TK Maxx for about £6, so I didn’t splash out majorly on it, but I really love it. I love any type of notebook, and this one is split into weeks, which I think is really useful- I want to use it to plan some very cool blog posts for 2019.

I know that this has been another rambling blog post, but this was what I wanted to write about today, and the main thing I wanted to communicate through my ramblings is that as we delve deeper into December, it is time to treat yourself to a few nice bits!

See you tomorrow,

Anna

Blogmas Day 17: 15 Minute Vegan Chocolate Buttons

I love the idea of making home made Christmas presents, preferably food ones, and popping them all in a hamper, with a pretty bow on top. But the reality is that often we don’t have time to make these gorgeous hampers, so we need to find quicker alternatives. This is where these chocolate buttons come in. They honestly only take 15 minutes to put together, which is great. And they’re totally vegan! 

What you will need (to make about 15 buttons):

  • 200g chocolate (I used vegan chocolate, but you could use non-vegan chocolate instead)
  • 100g walnuts
  • 150g glacé cherries

Method:

  1. First things first, melt the chocolate. Break it into chunks, pop it into a microwaveable bowl, and then blast it in 30 second spurts in the microwave until it has melted, which I think is the easiest way to do it.
  2. Decant the melted chocolate into either a piping bag, or a sandwich bag with a tiny corner cut off
  3. Lay down a sheet of greaseproof paper, and pipe generous circles of chocolate onto the paper
  4. Chop the cherries and walnuts into small chunks, and then place a few chunks of each onto the chocolate buttons
  5. Finally, leave the buttons somewhere cool to let them set

That’s it! They’re so easy to make, and I’ve actually made these as part of an upcoming blog post (which will be coming very soon).

I have to admit, as much as I would love to go totally vegan, and hopefully one day I will, I was a bit wary of this chocolate. I’ve tried vegan alternatives to chocolate before and was unsure, but I was so pleasantly surprised by this! It tasted so similar to non-vegan chocolate, the texture was the same, I really enjoyed it.

The main thing that I love about these chocolate buttons is that they are completely customisable, so you can put whichever toppings you want on them- fruit, nuts, seeds, honeycomb, the possibilities are endless!

See you tomorrow,

Anna

Blogmas Day 16: Festive Mood Boosters

I always find on a Sunday afternoon that my mood can dip as the thought of another week looms over me, and the realisation that I can’t have a lie in for a few days hits me! So for today, I wanted to share a few festive things that I use to help boost my mood:

  1. Festive Spotify Singles: I absolutely LOVE all of the festive song covers they have on Spotify. As I’m writing this right now, I’m listening to George Ezra’s cover of A White Christmas, and it’s helping me get through a lot of essay writing! I can’t recommend these festive covers enough, I think there’s even a playlist on there which has all of them in one place, which will definitely help to get you feeling festive.
  2. A Chilly Walk: When it’s grey and rainy outside, you don’t really feel like venturing out into the cold, however I really like bundling up in a warm coat, scarf and gloves and going for a quick walk. This really helps me to clear my thoughts, and breathing in the cold air definitely wakes you up!
  3.  Having a Cosy Evening: There’s only 9 days until Christmas now, and it’s only going to start getting more chaotic from here on in. I think this is the perfect opportunity to have a cosy evening in, so I am going to put on some fluffy socks, turn on the Christmas tree lights, wrap up under a blanket and watch something festive. The Gavin and Stacey Christmas special is definitely the next thing on my festive watching list!
  4. Eat Some Party Food: I don’t know about you, but one of my highlights of the festive season is the party food. I love any food that comes in miniature form, and now whenever I go to the supermarket, I get transfixed by the displays of beautifully arranged mini mac and cheese pots, burgers and beef wellingtons on the shelves. I’ve already bought some of those mini mac and cheese pots, so I might treat myself to a few!
  5. Watching/Reading Other Peoples’ Vlogmas and Blogmas: I love watching and reading about how people enjoy the festive season, and the Christmas challenges they do, and YouTube and WordPress are goldmines for this type of mood booster- I even used to watch Vlogmas videos in the Summer whenever I wasn’t feeling my best, to lift my mood! You almost feel like they’re your family as you’re watching them, which I think is so lovely. You can watch and read about people decorating gingerbread houses, doing a bit of Christmas shopping, wrapping their Christmas presents, it’s great for escapism for a few minutes.

So there are my recommendations for boosting your mood throughout December- let me know if you do any of these as well, or if you have any other recommendations, I’d love to hear them!

See you tomorrow,

Anna

Blogmas Day 15: My Thoughts on Blogmas So Far & Elderflower Champagne Tea

We’re definitely over halfway through Blogmas this year, and as it’s my first time doing this, I wanted to make myself a cup of Elderflower Champagne Tea (we have to go fancy, it’s Christmas!) and mull over Blogmas so far. My tea is just perfectly warm, so let’s get into it, shall we?

Here are my predominant thoughts so far:

  1. I’m really enjoying putting up a daily post on my blog. That is the thing I’ve struggled with on here the most, posting consistently and on a regular schedule, but it’s nice to put down my daily thoughts, it feels a bit like a tinsel-covered diary!
  2. My plan went out the window. I made and rewrote my plans for what I wanted to blog about, day by day, but even though I’ve done pretty much what I planned to, it’s definitely not in the perfectly planned order I wanted to.
  3. It is lovely being festive, but it’s also important to take breaks every third evening or so from doing all the Christmassy bits so that I don’t lose my mind.
  4. As rewarding as it is, it takes a lot of planning and commitment to do a daily post. I like the fact that I’ve had the Christmas theme to stick to, I feel like it’s given my posts a sense of purpose, but it’s made me realise how much admiration I have for daily bloggers!
  5. This is going way better than expected! I didn’t expect anybody to read my posts, so to have you lovely readers liking and commenting on my posts means a lot, thank you ever so much. I hope you are all having a lovely festive month so far!

See you tomorrow,

Anna

Blogmas Day 14: Christmas Film of The Day & Brownies From a Box

Whilst buying ingredients to do some other festive baking, this box of DIY brownies caught my eye– they are chocolate brownies with a mint icing, and the green icing made me think of The Grinch! I haven’t made brownies from a box in so long, and I love how easy and quick it is to throw everything together and pop it in the oven, but you still feel like you’ve done some baking!

In the box, there was the brownie mix, the mint icing and some chocolate sprinkles:

All I had to do was add an egg, oil and water to the brownie mix, put the batter into a pan, bake it, then add the icing and sprinkles on top. I also saw these really cute snowflake decorations in ASDA, so I thought I’d adorn my brownies with them as well.

My kitchen smelt amazing even whilst I was mixing all the ingredients together, and it made me remember how much I used to love these boxed cake mixes when I was younger!

Now, of course, you don’t need an occasion to eat brownies, but I thought it would be nice to have one (or more) of these brownies whilst watching a Christmas film, to get into the festive spirit and all that. I mean, this pack says that it serves 16 but I’ve probably already eaten about 3 servings in 5 bites.

So, as the perfect accompaniment to these brownies, today’s Christmas Film of the Day is Elf. This feels like one of those Christmas films you can only watch when it starts getting into proper Christmas, and it’s already the 14th December, so I’m calling it! There are 11 days to go until Christmas, so we need to keep up the festive vibes as we get into the 10 day countdown!

See you tomorrow,

Anna

Blogmas Day 13: A Festive Tipple

After the slight failure of yesterday’s paper Christmas tree crafting, I felt like I needed a win today. And it’s Christmas, which means treating yourself to little joys all throughout December, which is why I treated myself to a festive tipple tonight.

We recently bought some elderflower liqueur, which smells AMAZING, but is quite strong, so I wanted to incorporate it into a cocktail of some sort. I’m a big fan of gin, so this was the basis for my cocktail.

Before we go any further, I feel like we need a name for this cocktail… I mean, there is probably a name for this type of cocktail already, but let’s make a name for it anyway. After a solid 5 minutes of thinking, I can’t come up with a decent name, so I’m going to call it a Gin Bauble for the time being. It had to be a festive name!

It’s really simple to make, all I did was:

  • Mix 2 parts elderflower cordial with 5 parts gin
  • Top up with tonic until well diluted
  • Give it a quick stir, and that’s it!

Cheers!

See you tomorrow,

Anna

Blogmas Day 12: Questionable Christmas Crafting

Okay, so let’s recap. So far, we’ve done a little bit of baking (more to come very soon!), but if I want to be on the same level of Christmas mastery as Kirstie Allsopp, I need to do a bit of Christmas crafting. Some kind of homemade decoration, which looks easy when somebody else is doing it, but then when you do it, it never goes as smoothly. That is what today is all about.

This is how they’re supposed to look… really cool, right?

So, today I was shown how to make a Christmas tree out of one piece of paper, that you fold in all sorts of ways, and cut out little chunks of, a bit like when you make a paper chain of people, or a snowflake decoration in primary school. If done successfully, you get a really cool looking 3D paper Christmas tree that stands up on its own, and that you could decorate if you wanted.

When I was being shown what to do, I thought, pfft, I’ve got this. How hard can it be? As it turned out, very hard! I got about five folds in until intervention was needed. And once I started trying to work out how I could fix the situation, that was it. I’d made one wrong fold and now my Christmas tree looked like someone had all but cut off the back part of it.

I tried to salvage it as best as I could and followed the rest of the steps, but I think my dream of becoming Kirstie Allsopp is still a long way off…I’ll let you guess which one of these trees is mine!

See you tomorrow,

Anna

Blogmas Day 11: Gingerbread Loaf

This is my first bake of Blogmas… what a momentous occasion! I’m really surprised that this is the first bit of proper baking I’ve put up on here, particularly during Blogmas. If you read my Blogmas Day 3, where I rambled about running out of time to do all the baking that I wanted to a few days ago, you’ll know that I was planning to do loads of baking, all in one day. It’s taken a lot of motivation to get up off the sofa, but I’ve finally gotten around to doing it. 

*In my best Masterchef contestant voice* So today, I have made an iced gingerbread loaf, complete with some little gingerbread people around it.

I found the recipe for this gingerbread loaf online, I think it was on the BBC Good Food website, and then I freestyled with the icing. It was a risky move, I know, because I really wanted to make a salted caramel icing, but I couldn’t find any salted caramel in the supermarket and was so distracted with the idea of where I was going to place my gingerbread people on top of the loaf that I couldn’t be bothered to make my own salted caramel. Instead, I made a golden syrup frosting and sprinkled in some sea salt, which I thought was a close second to my original plan.

I really love this gingerbread loaf, because it’s packed with ginger and allspice, which are two of the most important aspects of any good Christmas bake. When the loaf was cooking, my kitchen smelled like a Christmas grotto!

This loaf also makes me imagine a Hansel and Gretel style world, where the loaf is a little village, and the icing is like mini mountain peaks. All the gingerbread people are gossiping and chatting whilst the snow (icing sugar) starts falling around them…I’m probably a little overtired if you can’t already tell, but this is what came to my mind as I was decorating it earlier!

See you tomorrow,

Anna     

 

Blogmas Day 10: My Top 5 Festive Supermarket Snack Picks

For today’s festive offering, I wanted to show you some of the things I’ve been excitedly throwing into my basket whilst I’ve been going grocery shopping:

  1. Cracker crisps- I’ll cut to the chase with these ones, you know they’re good. I love the sour cream and chive ones, and although in the picture this tub looks full, it’s completely empty. That’s how good they are. Perfect for nibbling at over the festive period, but definitely dangerous!
  2. White chocolate covered Oreos- I saw these on Amazon last year and was intrigued, but never ended up buying them- but I found these in Lidl last week and actually bought them this time. I love white chocolate, so these are right up my street!
  3. Waitrose Black Forest Fudge- usually I don’t like black forest flavoured things, but this fudge tastes like a soft, gooey brownie and we are currently on our third pack of these. On a side note, I also think these would make a really good stocking filler!
  4. Prosecco and Pink Peppercorn Pringles- I know what you’re thinking, these sound a bit weird. I totally thought that too, but they’re actually pretty good. They taste mostly like peppercorns, so don’t worry, they’re not sweet pringles, and it may just be me imagining things, but they taste fizzy?! It’s a bit like a savoury sherbet taste on top. So I would say if you’re willing to branch out with your crisp choices, then go for these, they’re a bit different.
  5. Quorn Mini Savoury Eggs and Burger Sauce- okay, so this isn’t strictly a Christmas choice, and I know it sounds like a strange combination, but this is really good. I am obsessed! I love a good veggie snack, particularly if it’s in mini scotch egg form, and this ticks all of the right boxes.

So if you’re watching Elf, Love Actually or Home Alone and need some snack suggestions, then why not try all of these? You can never have too many snacks!

See you tomorrow,

Anna

Blogmas Day 9: My Festive Food Prep So Far

I like to think of myself as an organised person, because if I don’t stay organised, I get flustered. So you can only imagine the length of my December To Do list- so far it’s two pages long, and it’s growing every day! I do love a list, particularly if I can draw some holly and ivy in the corner of the page to make it less intimidating.

One of the things I want to try this year is cooking Christmas dinner, so near the top of my To Do list is to research Christmassy recipes on Pinterest, so that I can then plan my grocery shopping list way in advance.

Luckily, I have already squirrelled away some festive provisions which have been made and packaged up for me by my grandparents, as well as my jars of homemade chutney (scroll down to see Blogmas Day 7!) which makes the organised part of me very happy!

So, today I thought I’d take you through my box of festive food preparations so far:

  • Homemade Christmas puddings- every year we make proper, traditional Christmas puddings- the boozier, the better. This year they were generously fed with brandy, and you also have to make a wish when you stir the batter for good luck, which is my main job in the process every year!
  • Homemade chutney- this is the latest addition to the box, and my contribution!
  • Pickled eggs & onions- I have to admit, I’ve always been unsure about pickled things, but I’m intrigued to try these properly. They always look really good on a cheeseboard, and I think it will be lovely to have these with cheese, my chutney and some flavoured crackers on Boxing Day.
  • Blackberry jam- this is my Grandma’s homemade jam. It’s really lovely because it’s not too sweet, and I think it would go perfectly in a wintery Victoria Sponge- that’s what I’m planning on using some of it for. Of course, that and just having it on a hot piece of toast in the morning, or straight out the jar with a spoon…

It will be a miracle if all of these jars remain untouched before Christmas, but at least this post is proof that at one point in time, they were all pristine and unopened!

I’d love to know if you’ve started pre-making anything in advance for Christmas, so let me know in the comments if you’ve got anything stored away!

See you tomorrow,

Anna

Blogmas Day 8: 5 Ways to Stay Calm in Amongst The Festive Chaos

Real talk for a moment. Christmas is wonderful and exciting, but it’s also quite stressful. Your lifestyle changes for the whole month of December- you’re expected to go to lots of social functions and be around lots of people, there’s the emotional and financial stress of finding the perfect presents for your friends and family, and you feel like you need to stay happy all the time because it’s December, which is supposed to be magical.

But sometimes it’s all a little too much, and you’re just not in the mood. You are totally allowed to feel this way, it’s normal, so here are 5 pieces of advice that I have to help you survive the festive season:

1) Keep your routine- this is so important. Make sure you’re meeting all your needs before you do all the festive extras. If you’d normally go for a walk on a Sunday afternoon, don’t shun it because you have a million other Christmassy things to do. Your needs come first, everything else can wait.

2) Remind yourself that this stress is very temporary- December is just one month, and it’ll all be over soon, so if Christmas isn’t your thing, or if it’s becoming overwhelming, don’t worry, just count down the days until January!

3) Have a day off if it’s too much- you are allowed to pick and choose the parts of Christmas that you like, so why not just eat your advent calendar chocolate then forget all about it being December for the rest of the day?

4) Prioritise the fun bits- if you feel ready to get back into the festive spirit, then put your favourite Christmas film on, and put on a pair of fluffy socks, and just let yourself enjoy it-leave any stresses about buying presents until tomorrow.

5) Take each activity for what it is-  there is no expectation on you to have a ‘perfect’ Christmas, you’re totally allowed to just observe each activity for what it is, whether it’s the nice dinner you eat on Christmas Day, listening to people singing Christmas carols, whatever it may be. You don’t have to over-complicate it. Take note of how your senses are interpreting each of these things, and just see how it makes you feel. You might really enjoy it, you might hate it, either way is completely cool. 

So if you’re stressing, just take five minutes to yourself, re-read these 5 pieces of advice and remember that everything is fine and you’re doing a great job.

See you tomorrow,

Anna

Blogmas Day 7: Christmas Chutney

Blogmas Day 7: Christmas Chutney

Christmas is all about the build up, and doing all those little things throughout December that make you feel festive and happy. For me, making chutney is something that a) makes me feel like a domestic goddess, and b) is something that you wouldn’t think people would really appreciate, but they do.

This is the second or third time I’ve followed the recipe for Mary Berry’s Christmas chutney, and firstly, it’s really tasty, and secondly, it always goes down a treat with my family. It’s a tomato chutney, with red and green peppers, aubergine, onion and spices.

The main part of making this chutney is chopping everything- oh my, by the end of chopping all the peppers, tomatoes, aubergine and onions, your hand feels broken. After that, it’s pretty much plain sailing, so the main bulk of my advice is about how to survive the endurance test that is doing all that chopping.

Tip #1: blast some festive music on to keep you chopping at a decent rhythm, it’ll go much faster, I promise.

Tip #2: treat yourself to a festive beverage whilst you chop, so that you have something good to aim for behind the Mount Everest of vegetables on your chopping board.

Tip #3: schedule yourself a break halfway through, to take a glug of your chosen festive beverage and motivate yourself to do the other half!

Tips aside though, once this chutney is made and has had a few days for the flavour to mature, it is delicious. So if you have family coming over, or if you fancy a mid-week treat, bring out your jars of totally homemade Christmas chutney, get yourself some cheese and biscuits, generously dollop some of this on top and enjoy.

I definitely recommend this recipe- it goes without saying, but Mary Berry is the queen of everything!

See you tomorrow,

Anna

Blogmas Day 6: Christmas Tree Foraging

Blogmas Day 6: Christmas Tree Foraging

I feel like I’m a bit late in the game showing you my Christmas tree, it’s already the 6th of December! The reason for this is because as much as I love everything about Christmas, I don’t put my decorations up until it is officially December; I stick to the same rule with listening to Christmas music too. Don’t get me wrong, nothing brings me more joy than seeing a picture on Instagram of someone putting their tree up in mid-September, but I like to stick to December so that I don’t peak too early.

Anyway, this year, when December finally dawned upon us, we wanted to try something new. We visited a Christmas tree farm, which was a cool but weird experience. I’d heard of a Christmas tree farm before, but I’d never actually thought about what it would look like- it’s just lots of Christmas trees of all shapes and sizes in rows, which doesn’t sound too strange in theory, but it really threw me!

When you arrive at the farm, you’re given a tag to take around with you, so that you can pop it on the tree that you would like. 

Luckily it was quite quiet when we went, so we just ambled around for a while with our tags, talking very seriously about how full each tree was, and trying not to look too suspicious as we sniffed them to see if they smelt like proper Christmas trees (don’t judge me, you have to for scientific purposes… and heads up, the ones with pine cones smell the best).

We didn’t actually choose any of the trees that were still growing, but we chose one which had already been chopped down (that just sounds so horrible though, doesn’t it?!), and I even netted it myself.

We had a slight issue when we got it back… it seemed to be so much bigger than when we saw it at the farm- there’s only a few centimetres between the top of the tree and the ceiling, and I don’t know if you’ve seen the National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, but it felt like the part in that where they un-net their tree and it’s so big that all the branches smash through the windows in their living room! Luckily ours wasn’t quite that dramatic, but it’s still a mighty tree.

I know that lots of people have a theme for their decorations, some people even change their theme annually, but we don’t really have a theme that we stick to rigidly. Our mix of Christmas decorations is a bit of everything, mostly red, green and gold decorations, as well as a string of white lights, but there are definitely a few wildcard baubles in there. I mean, in my dream home, I would love for everything to be copper and navy themed, but we take more of a rustic approach here!

So here are a few close up pictures of my our tree- I would have loved to have got the whole tree in there but I couldn’t get it all in the frame at the right angle!

If you haven’t already got your decorations up, happy decorating to you!

See you tomorrow,

Anna

Blogmas Day 5: The Christmas Tag

I thought I’d do a Christmas Tag for today to ramp up the festivities! So here are a few festive themed questions that I thought I’d answer, and I’d love to know your answers as well!

#1. Mince Pies: love them or hate them? Definitely love! I think they’re best when they’re cold.

#2. Best Christmas memory? The excitement on Christmas Eve- my family used to go for breakfast on Christmas Eve, and this was when I would start to get deliriously excited.

#3. Do I have any Christmas traditions? Usually I just eat a lot, but last year I made my first Christmas Eve box for my family filled with pyjamas, snacks and a Christmas film which we all enjoyed, so I would love to do that again this year.

#4. Favourite Christmas food? My grandma makes the most amazing sausage rolls, which I will hopefully be trying to recreate later this month!

#5. Anything I don’t like about Christmas? The recurring nightmare I have that I will have forgotten to buy someone a present. 

#6. When do I start Christmas planning? I used to start getting excited in mid-September, but now I usually start properly thinking about the festivities in mid to late November. I don’t know if that makes me more restrained or more boring?!

#7. The thing that makes me the most excited about Christmas? The food. 100%.

#8. Secret Santa: yay or nay? I am always dubious about Secret Santa- as you will have probably guessed by now, I like to plan my Christmas out to the inch, and Secret Santa is all about surprises, which terrifies me! If it’s a funny Secret Santa though, then I quite like it, because it takes the seriousness out of picking the perfect gift.

#9. Which is the best Christmas cracker present? The one that comes to my mind is the measuring tape, because I always put it in a drawer because I think it’ll be useful one day, then when that day comes it will have inevitably disappeared.  I do think the best bit of the Christmas crackers are the paper party hats that rip as soon as you put them on though!

#10. Do I have an ugly Christmas jumper? I don’t actually, I just have a grey snowman jumper that I bought from Matalan a few years ago. I want to invest in a new one this year because my jumper is gradually getting shorter and shorter, so I’m going to have a look online for a suitably ugly one!

Please leave your answers to these questions in the comments, I’d love to hear what your festive traditions are, and your favourite Christmas foods!

See you tomorrow,

Anna

Blogmas Day 4: Chocolate Orange Hot Chocolate

This idea has been in my mind for a while now, ever since I saw the chocolate oranges come out in the supermarket…that’s when you know the good stuff is coming! I’ve also spent the last few weeks totally immersed in Blogmas planning and writing essays, so I’m going to treat myself to a nice hot chocolate and you should too! What you’ll need:

  1. Terry’s Chocolate Orange (as much as you fancy, I went for 6 segments)
  2. 350ml milk
  3. Marshmallows (Christmas tree shaped aren’t mandatory, but are preferable)
  4. A festive mug

All you need to do is warm up the milk in a saucepan until it starts bubbling away, then take it off the heat, add the chocolate orange in, and stir the mixture until the chocolate has melted and your kitchen smells amazing!

Final step, decant the hot chocolate into your mug and add the marshmallows on top. You could always add some squirty cream to the top if you want. Voila, enjoy!

See you tomorrow,

Anna

Blogmas Day 3: Festive Ramblings and Advent Calendars

Okay, so it’s currently 14:15 and I’ve just started baking. My plan for this year was to bake as much as humanly possible, and I set aside today for a bumper baking day. But in amongst waiting for shopping to be delivered and finally getting my butt in gear to go out to the shops for some essential ingredients (I always forget butter), I haven’t been as organised as I wanted to be. I planned to make a gingerbread loaf and a chocolate torrone as well, which I now have all of the ingredients for, I just need that last spurt of motivation to get it all prepared. 

To help with motivation, I’ve put The Princess Switch on Netflix. Have you watched The Princess Switch yet? I’ve seen it hyped up on Buzzfeed and I wanted to see what it would be like. I’m only half way through, but I’m enjoying it so far- I thought it was quite apt putting this one on, seen as it’s all based around a baking competition. It’s also giving me major Parent Trap vibes- the twin thing, one putting on a British accent, it’s like a dream Parent Trap/High School Musical crossover, with Vanessa Hudgens playing both parts. I have to admit that as much as I enjoy the classic Christmas films, I do love the modern ones as well, the cheesy, predictable ones they put on Channel 5. I watched A Christmas Prince last year when it was all over social media, and it was gloriously cheesy!

In other news, it’s just occurred to me this very second that I haven’t even eaten my advent calendar chocolate today; what have I been doing all day?! Let me introduce you to my advent calendar for this year, it is a Hotel Chocolat Supermilk one, which is supposed to be milk chocolate, but with less sugar in. I think the packaging on this calendar is very regal because it’s gold, and look, it even folds out- it feels very grown up! 

I need to get back to my baking now, but thank you for reading my ramblings today, and I hope you remembered to eat your advent calendar chocolate this morning- I’m off to devour mine now!

 

See you tomorrow,

Anna

Blogmas Day 2: My Favourite Christmas Books for Inspiration

Blogmas Day 2: My Favourite Christmas Books for Inspiration

So, Day 2- what have we got in store for today? We’re still early on in the game here, so festive inspiration is a must. Here are a few books and websites which I come back to every year which I wanted to share with you:

For All Round Festive Glory

  • Christmas Crafts by Kirstie Allsopp: this book has everything you could possibly need for a picture perfect Christmas, from the queen of all things festive, Kirstie Allsopp. It’s got a bit of everything in; home decor, tree decorations, suggestions for table decorations and even recipes for homemade gifts. I’ve used this book to make a homemade advent calendar, I tried to make some homemade baubles (mine probably could pass for a primary school project, but I’m going to call it rustic) and the recipes look brilliant too- I would definitely recommend this one.

 

Can you spot the difference between my UFO and Kirstie’s perfect decoration?!
  • Pinterest: as I’ve mentioned before, I am a huge fan of Pinterest, particularly for Christmas ideas- it is so exciting to make the Christmas Pinterest board of your dreams! I have a separate board for the Christmas projects I would love to do (most of them are food!) but this platform is brilliant for getting your creative juices flowing and giving you that festive feeling. You can find ideas for table spreads, vegan and vegetarian alternative Christmas dinner recipes, it is essentially a goldmine of festive tips and inspiration.

 

For Food Inspiration

  • Sweet! Celebrations by Elise Strachan: I purchased this book earlier on this year after having watched Elise on YouTube and admired all of her baking creations, and this book has so many good ideas for foodie Christmas projects. This book has a dedicated section for Christmas baking ideas, and there’s a ‘Candy Cottage’ made completely out of chocolate and sweets which I really want to have a go at making this year.

 

For Escapism

  • The Christmas Cookie Club by Ann Pearlman: I don’t really read many fiction books, but the idea of cuddling up on the sofa with a blanket and a Christmas themed book sounds like the epitome of a perfect Winter afternoon to me. This book is all about an annual cookie club that takes between a group of friends, and each chapter starts with each character’s cookie recipe, which I thought was such a cool idea to include in a fiction book. I would love to host my own Christmas cookie club, I love the idea of spending a whole day surrounded by sugar and flour, making hundreds of different biscuits and bars ready for a party in the evening, so this book gives me endless amounts of inspiration! So if you need a break from all the busyness of December, I highly recommend shutting yourself away from the world for a few hours and losing yourself in this, or any of the other books instead.

See you tomorrow,

Anna

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Blogmas! : Day 1

Hello lovely festive reader!

As the title of this post explains, it is December 1st, which means that it’s finally time to dust off your Santa hat, bulk buy the mince pies and justify every lazy decision with the phrase ‘it doesn’t matter, it’s Christmas’! The festive season has arrived, and I’m excited for every minute of it.

So I am taking on the challenge of Blogmas- I will be making a lot of food, doing some festive decorating, and trying out some new traditions as well as the old tried and tested ones, every day leading up to Christmas Day. And I’ll be documenting them here for you to come along with me for the triumphs (fingers crossed!) and fails (there will be some, without doubt).

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My festive breakfast!

So, to start with, I wanted to ease into Blogmas by showing you what I had for breakfast this morning- of course my Blogmas was going to start with food- what else would you expect?

I really love the novelty of all the normal foods you buy suddenly being turned into festive shapes, so the fact that my crumpet this morning was shaped like a Christmas tree was a definite highlight of my day.

In other news, I have spent the rest of my day preparing some upcoming Blogmas posts with Michael Bublé blaring through my earphones, we’ve dug out the Christmas decorations (it was a dusty and painful experience trying to rummage through the damp garage), and I had a gin and tonic at 3 o’clock this afternoon, because hey, it doesn’t matter, it’s Christmas!

See you tomorrow,

Anna

Soul Exploring with Anna- #1

Hello lovely reader, I have a question for you. Have you ever thought of there being more to life than what you experience with your five senses and emotions? What if there is more to it than that?

I want you to properly take stock of how you feel about the possibility of there being more to life than you are currently experiencing. Don’t worry if you’re sceptical, that’s totally fine, but how would you feel if you knew that there is a whole support system around you that you may not be aware of, whom you can call upon in any moment, who can calm your worries, listen to you when you need somebody to talk to, and inspire you to do the things you really want to do. How would it change your perspective if you felt with every fibre of your being that you were connected to everyone and everything on this planet, right now. Does that feeling make you totally uncomfortable? Does that seem totally impossible? I know how weird it sounds, but these are the things I’ve learnt about over the past year, and this is what I really want to share with you.

I know you may not know me very well yet, but just trust me on this. I will be sharing my story with you as time goes on, but if you want to get to know me a bit better in the meantime, here are 10 things about me.

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So getting back to the aim of the question, how do you feel about the possibility of angels, of guides, of there being a higher purpose than what we are led to believe? I’m going to break down this huge question into smaller chunks or else it is all totally overwhelming, but for the time being, this is the question that I want you to mull over with a cup of tea and some cake, and see if it brings up any emotions. If this isn’t your thing, that is completely fine, but if you are curious, then stick around and let’s see what happens, shall we? I’m really excited to see where this takes us.

Anna

 

10 Things About Me

Hello there! If you’re new to this blog, then welcome, my name is Anna, and I want to introduce myself to you with 10 things about me, which might help you to get to know me a little better.

So without further ado, here they are:

  1. I am a Capricorn, and I know a lot of people get instantly put off when you mention star signs, but I love it all, even the sometimes questionable horoscopes!
  2. I have a black cat called Ruby, she is fluffy, sassy, and my favourite thing in the world
  3. My favourite food is bread and butter- a bit basic, I know, but it is always the thing I fancy, it always seems to fit the mood- you can have it for every meal and it’s completely socially acceptable
  4. My biggest fear? I get totally freaked out by people wearing costumes, I know it’s a bit weird, but it just gives me the creeps
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  5. My greatest achievement- I made and decorated a birthday cake a few years ago for my friend’s 18th birthday. I absolutely loved doing it, it was the best thing I’ve ever done and I’d love to do more cake decorating in the future!
  6. My hobbies- On the same note as #5, I used to bake loads, but I’ve gotten out of the habit of doing it and I would love to get back into it a bit more- my absolute dream is to do some of the Peggy Porschen masterclasses in London where you learn all about how to decorate wedding cakes, pure heaven!
  7. My favourite TV show- I was obsessed with Narcos on Netflix, and lately I have really enjoyed watching Killing Eve on BBC iPlayer
  8. I started this blog because- well, I’d been wanting to start one for ages, firstly about food and baking, but then more recently to talk about things which are really important to me, the things that have helped me to get through some tough times, and I hope they might be able to help you too (all will be coming soon!)
  9. I am a big fan of vision boards- I’ve already made three, and I will be making a blog post about how to make an incredible vision board because it makes me so excited!
  10. I really love cheese puffs and a glass of fizzy- totally unclassy, I know, but it’s my ultimate weekend treat. I also recently bought some pink champagne flutes from IKEA so now I feel like I’m Elle Woods whilst I’m happily sipping!
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Me with my favourite (if not slightly burnt) things!

There you go, a bit more about me, please feel free to ask me any more questions in the comments section and let me know a bit more about yourself, I’d love to know!

Anna

Why You Should Have a Space That You Love

I’ve never really been one for decorating, but I have recently discovered the joys of the interior decorating side of Pinterest, and oh my, is there a way that you can live in your Pinterest feed? Please let me know if this is possible. Anyway, when I started this blog, I decided that I wanted to create a calm and cosy space where I could write, so I claimed the space under the stairs as my new ‘nook’, and got totally lost in my wildest Pinterest fantasies.

In order to make sure that I wouldn’t end up spending my life’s savings on the Homewares section of the Anthropologie website, I had to set boundaries for myself. Originally, I planned to stick to a tight budget, but that went out the window when I got too impatient to wait for things to arrive from the internet. So I opted for TK Maxx instead, plus a few belated purchases from IKEA to round it off.

As much as I could tell you all about the candle I bought which smells incredible and just like sunflowers, the point of this post isn’t about all the stuff I bought for my space. I had originally planned to make this post all about the mini-haul I did, and how I decorated my space, but something wasn’t clicking when I tried to write that, it didn’t resonate with me. I realised that what I really wanted to write about is why I think you should have a space that you love.

A space is more than just a load of pretty things arranged on a desk, in my mind, it’s more about being somewhere that is all yours, where your thoughts can flow freely without judgement.

What this space should bring:

1. Freedom: When you’re in this space, you can let yourself get inspired by something, like a book, a blog, writing, an Instagram page or whatever it is that completely absorbs you and makes you feel excited about life.

2. Motivation: It’s important to have a space where you feel free to find out what you like to do, where you can dream about your perfect life, and plan what you can do to make it happen.

3. Comfort: It should also serve as your place to come back to after a tough day, where you can remind yourself of who you really are, what you love and what you want to do with your time here. So it should be full of things that you love as well. I know I said that this post wouldn’t be all about what I bought, but I love a blanket and some fairy lights to make my space feel cosy, so this is what I made sure to incorporate into my space.

What my space brings me:

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Here is my space!

I love my space, because it feels good- I can turn the fairy lights on, put my headphones on and hide from the world here. I can gather my thoughts on whatever’s happened in the day, and process what I want to do next; it’s like my mini retreat. When I sit at my desk in my nook, I can calm down (as an introvert, this is a must) and just completely forget about the outside world.

So whether it’s a desk, a chair, a space on the floor by the radiator, wherever it is and whatever it looks like, your space should make you feel really special. Because it’s really important, and it can be the place where you have the idea that changes everything. And you deserve it.

I really hope that you have a special space like this, and if not, I hope this inspires you to curate a little space of your own.

Anna

Healthy Baking?!

I could quite happily eat a whole batch of cookies in one sitting. Any baked good for that matter, I love them all equally. But if there is a way that I can eat a whole batch of cookies and gain some kind of nutritional benefit from it, then I am all in for it. Sign me up! So when I came across the concept of healthy baking, I was eager to delve head first into this new world.

Initially I was suspicious; no way can healthy baking be a really thing, what would be the point in that? I thought it had to be a trap. Whenever I think of baking, I imagine an endless stream of chocolate chips being poured into a bowl filled with flour, sugar, eggs and butter. That feeling you get when you eat your warm, freshly-baked cookie and feel so satisfied, so accomplished that you’ve made this delicious thing out of just a few ingredients, this is what makes me love baking. And of course, the look on people’s faces when you mention you’ve brought a freshly-made cake to an event, that always makes you feel good (and all of a sudden very popular!).

But the idea of healthy baking filled my mind with images of me grimacing whilst trying to swallow down some kind of mash of green vegetables, fashioned into a shape that vaguely resembled a cupcake.

So when I came across food blogs like Chocolate Covered Katie and Cookie and Kate (both are so cool, you should definitely check them out) that had recipes incorporating vegetables and beans into their baked goods, I was slightly suspicious but nonetheless intrigued. I decided to follow a recipe for Black Bean Brownies from Chocolate Covered Katie, I thought this would be a great first step into the whole healthy baking thing- I didn’t know if I was quite ready to dive straight into the vegetable/cake combination yet! Small steps, guys.

This recipe was so easy to follow and fast, which was a bonus- it only took about 15 minutes to get everything together and in the oven. This was great for me, because I think time goes twice as slowly when you’re waiting for brownies to cook. But I waited patiently, I had to give this healthy baking thing my whole effort, I couldn’t let my impatient side win this one!

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They looked good, they smelled good, these were all great signs. Most importantly though, they tasted good, like reaallyyy good. Now, full credit to this recipe, these brownies have a whole tin of black beans in them, but hand on heart, you honestly can’t taste them. They just taste like delicious, fudgy brownies. I mean they still have some sugar in, but nowhere near as much as I would usually put in. The only suggestion I would have for this recipe is would be to use a smaller tin than suggested because mine came out slightly flatter than I thought, however I am officially a convert.

In addition to getting a batch of freshly baked brownies, you also get the added bonuses of a) feeling very virtuous when you eat them, and b) in theory you could eat the whole batch and probably still feel pretty good.

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Now, of course there are days when you just really need a massive slice of chocolate cake, I totally understand that, but spurred on by this unexpected success, I am ready to see what other healthy baking recipes are out there to try.

So if you have any suggestions for healthy baking recipes or even any zero waste recipes (another area that also fascinates me) that you want me to road test for you, let me know!

I hope you’re having a lovely weekend!

Anna

3 Things That Made Me Smile This Week

It’s amazing how quickly a week can fly by. One minute you’re eating breakfast in your pyjamas on a Sunday morning, then the next thing you know it’s Wednesday evening and you’re wondering how you’ve gotten half way through the week without even realising.

Life can be so chaotic sometimes that you end up spending most of your time on autopilot, just crossing things off your to do list. I think it’s so important to recognise the things that bring you a little bit of joy throughout your week, because they help you to pinpoint specific moments where you felt that wash of contentment pass over you.

I want to make a conscious effort to be more conscious of the world, and less on auto pilot. So, I thought that picking out 3 things that made me smile this week would help me to acknowledge all the lovely things that are out there!

So here are my 3 highlights from the week:

1. This Emily Coxhead mug.

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I’ve been following Emily Coxhead a lot on Instagram and I love the messages she puts out into the world, they’re always so lovely and filled with positivity. When I saw that she had started selling homeware with her prints on, I was excited to see the whole range, and I loved this mug, it instantly brought a smile to my face!

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I’ve been working on redecorating my office space (a post will be coming up shortly on this) and this mug will be a firm fixture on my desk.

It also has the added bonus of this message on the inside! So as soon as you finish your drink, you get an extra little boost of motivation, which is often what you need when you realise you’ve run out of hot chocolate.

2.  Redecorating my desk space.

As I mentioned above, I’ve been experimenting with a bit of interior design (obsessing over beautiful Pinterest boards of dream offices) and I’m loving it.

I’ve been planning, painting and pretending to be one of those cool interior designers on YouTube that can redesign a whole house in a day without breaking a sweat. I definitely haven’t been as cool as that as I’m still finding paint in my hair, but a girl can dream, can’t she?

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Here’s a sneak preview!

3. Cooler evenings.

I don’t know how this has happened, but we seem to have had a Summer heatwave from about May onwards that hasn’t ended (I have the uneven tan lines to prove it). Coats and warm winter boots feel like a distant memory, and I miss being able to go outside without feeling some part of my body burning.

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Since it’s still 1000 degrees outside during the day, an evening walk has become one of my daily highlights, right when the sun is setting and everything is a bit less sweaty.

I took this photo last night when I went out for a walk- I swear I could almost feel a breeze at one point which was very exciting, and I thought this picture of the sunset behind the trees with this filter on (I think it was the vivid cool filter) looked mystical.

Although I must admit that everything looks more beautiful in the sunshine, and it has been rare not to see someone walking around gleefully holding onto a rapidly melting ice cream every day, I am definitely counting down the days until I can go full-on Autumn; hoodies, blankets, the lot.

So there they are, my 3 highlights of this week. I hope you’re having a lovely week so far, and that you’ve had countless amounts of beautiful moments.

Let me know what’s made you smile this week!

 

Anna

The Beginning & Banana Bread

Hello!

Welcome to my small space of the internet. It’s a pleasure to meet you, my name is Anna, and you can find out a little bit more about me here.

I’ve been wanting to start this blog for a while now, because I have become aware of a whole new way of looking at life which has, quite honestly, changed everything I thought I knew about my existence, and has also brought me a lot of happiness; which I want to share with you through this blog. I’ve also learnt some lessons about life which are helping me to make sense of my human experience a bit better, and I hope that some of them will resonate with you as well.

It’s important for me to add that I am utterly obsessed with food as well, particularly goods of the baked variety. So I thought, what better way to merge my two favourite things, baking and learning about this whole life thing, than by navigating my way through these lessons with food?

I have been trying to decide what would be the best thing I could create to introduce myself to you properly; I had the existential crisis of trying to work out which baked good would best represent me as a person, which is utterly ridiculous. I thought about baking all sorts of fancy things with chocolate shards sticking out at all angles (that would have been a health hazard waiting to happen), but tonight, as an interim bake between the fancy recipe planning, I made a banana loaf.

The reason I am so ecstatic to be writing about banana bread (with loads of cinnamon in, just to help your senses fully capture the majesty of this loaf) is because it was so simple. I saw the bananas, thankfully and serendipitously (on a side note, isn’t that a magical word?!) had the ingredients to make it, and an hour and a bit later, it’s ready. I love that. No frills or shards necessary. I think it’s the perfect way for me to say hello to you, because firstly, who doesn’t love banana bread? And secondly, I intend for this blog to be soul warming, like a loaf of banana bread, so this is the ideal way to start proceedings.

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So, welcome! It’s great to be finally talking to you, and I’m excited for what is to come. I have big plans for this blog, and I hope you’ll join me to see them all unfold…