Saturday, September 23, 2017

Books of the Month - July

I felt like I was in a real reading slump in July. I read four books and most of another, which isn't many for me, and I felt like I had to slog through them all. At the end of the month I picked up a book which I thought would be easy to read and quick, but it ended up being incredibly full of fat hate and I wasn't at all impressed. I'll review it, of course, but man, it's 2017.

Here's what I read:

A Change is Gonna Come - authors of black, Asian, and minority ethnic backgrounds writing YA stories about change. LOVED it
When the Music's Over - Peter Robinson
Attachment - Rainbow Rowell
The Book of Tomorrow - Cecelia Aherne

As always, my review are here on my book blog.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Films of the Month - July

I watched ten films in July which is a lot by my standards. Of those, I hadn't seen five of them before. I make a note of that with an orange dot in my list.

This is one of my favourite films and I watch it when I need comforting. It's the story of two boys falling in love on a London housing estate in a heatwave, and it feels more relevant than ever even though it's 21 years old. Watch it if you haven't ever seen it

This was for my online film club, which is linked to my online book club. It's a musical, only the weirdest and most depressing musical ever. I quite liked it, despite the macabre subject.

Lee wanted me to watch this because I'd made him read The Hate U Give and the subject is quite similar. I don't really like Cuba Gooding Jr but it's a good film

Von and I watched most of this while we were in the Isle of Wight, so I'm counting it

Then Von and I watched this the following night. It's my favourite of the X Men films, mostly because I love Quicksilver. I'd like a whole two hour film of him just messing stuff up, if I'm honest

Someone on Instagram recommend this and it's great! It's on Netflix and it's documentary about yarn artists across the world, and about protest and stuff too. It's really good!

I went to the cinema to see this with two friends. I mostly wanted to see it because Harry Styles is in it and I love him, but it is really good. Yes, it's whitewashed people of colour out of existence, and there are no women in it, but it's well done, and it is panicky, I was on the edge for the whole time. And Harry is great

Something reminded me about how great this film was, so I watched it for maybe the second time? It's about the women of the Ford factory in Dagenham and how they fought for equal pay, it's good

Lee and I watched this over about three nights because it is just so long. It's so good though.

And finally, I watched this at a party a friend threw, which was 90s themed and for which we all had to wear pyjamas. I haven't seen it since I was a kid!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Baby Blanket for a Friend

My friend Gillian had her baby Lily at the beginning of July, and I had already started work on this blanket for the baby. I thought Gillian would like the yellow and grey theme, even though the grey ended up being much darker than I thought it was going to be. Because of that, I only did a few rows of grey and let the yellow speak for itself. I wanted to do simple granny clusters, but didn't want to do a square, so I joined up two squares to make a rectangle, and then started crocheting around them. I felt like it wasn't rectangular enough, so I added three rows on the short side in the yellow. The finished article is around 26" by 22", and oh so squidgy and soft. I really hope Gillian loves it and that Lily grows to love it and plays with it. By the time you read this it'll safely be with Mum and Baby!

Lee held it up for me. It's maybe on the small side for a baby blanket, but I'm sure it's fine anyway! It can be a pram blanket or something

A close up of the colours. I was expecting the grey to be softer

My auntie Chris compliment me on the neatness of my stitches, which is nice!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

What I Wore 29th July

At the end of July Lee and I had a very exciting trip to Ikea. Now, the last time we went there, ten years ago, we argued for ages and it was a nightmare, so I've never been with him since. I'm not a fan of Ikea, I don't find it a fun day out, but we needed shelving for all the books in the back bedroom, so off we went.

We did okay, we didn't argue, we had lunch in the cafe and I tasted the famous meatballs - they were yummy! When it came to getting home, I had to sit in the back of the car behind Lee so that we could put the new unit over the passenger seat. It was ridiculous! We picked up a bookcase, some loose shelves, some boxes for the cellar, a sieve, some funnels, some photo frames, a new washing up brush, and a cuddly toy panda! Haha, it's a good job we didn't go for much...

Anyway this is what I wore to go out in. I really love this Scarlett & Jo skirt and often pull it on because it's easy to wear. The mint green top matches the mint green in the skirt and makes it pop I think. The top actually has a peplum, which I don't like, but I got it in the sale for about a fiver, so it's perfect to tuck into the skirt. Then I popped on my Sprinkle of Glitter wrap cardigan, it is navy blue.

I love the cardigan. I bought it in a 26 to start off with, which I've worn loads and which you've seen before. However, it seemed to stretch really quickly, so when I saw the cardigans in the sale on Simply Be I bought it again in a size 22. I feel like this one looks better on me for a proper 'outfit', but I'll definitely keep the other one too for work days and stuff.

I really ought to have worn my navy blue leggings with this outfit, but I forgot until we got to Ikea!

Definitely no room for me in this passenger seat!

Here's what my view was, instead

And here's my outfit!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

My chocolate cake recipe

Okay this isn't going to be much of a recipe as I'm not a cookery blogger, but at the end of July I made such a perfect chocolate cake that I thought I'd write a post about it. I was proud of myself!

This is the recipe that my mum taught me when I was about nine. I know it off the top of my head and it's barely even a recipe. I use the same recipe to make a Victoria sponge, only omitting the cocoa powder. Lee likes it when I make a cake and he often helps me, especially tidying up. I tend to make a mess when I bake. The last few times I've made a cake it's been a bit rubbish - tasted nice enough, but not amazing. I was thinking about it and this time I made some changes, which I'll detail below. The cake turned out PERFECT. Seriously, it is the most gorgeous cake I've made in FOREVER. Here's what to do:

First of all, preheat the oven to gas mark 6 or whatever that is in electric ovens. Prepare your sandwich tins by greasing them with margarine and kitchen roll, and then dusting them with flour. You can use greasproof paper too I suppose, but I like my method better. I used to have a cookery teacher called Miss Brown, who also taught my mum, who used to say 'grease' like it rhymed with 'sleaze' not like it rhymed with 'crease'. She was odd.

Weigh out six ounces of sugar and six ounces of margarine. I always use Stork for cakes, it seems to work better than butter. I use a hand mixer and a plastic bowl. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Crack in three eggs, one at a time, whisking thoroughly in between each one. If the mixture looks like it might split, chuck in a handful of flour.

Weigh five ounces of self raising flour and once ounce of cocoa and sift, because cocoa always has those really annoying lumps in it. Add a little at a time to the egg/sugar/margarine mixture, like maybe a fifth at a time. Now, I usually use a metal spoon to fold the flour into the mixture, but this has seemed to knock all the air out of my cake. This was one of the things I wanted to try to do differently, so I used the hand mixer to mix the flour in. My hand mixer has three speed settings, and when mixing up the other stuff I had it on the highest one. But when I was folding in the flour I had it on the lowest setting, and I was gentle with the mixture. I felt like it really helped, and my mixture was beautifully smooth.

Divide the mixture between the sandwich tins and bake for about twenty minutes. Again, I usually left it longer and my cakes were getting burnt. So instead we checked it at twenty minutes, by sticking a skewer into the middle of the tin. It came out clean, so the cake was done!

Take out of the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes. Then run a knife round the edge of the tin and sort of wobble the cake out. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

When totally cool, make the buttercream. For this, I use proper butter, icing sugar, and cocoa powder. Again I changed what I did. My mum's method is to use a little bit of boiling water to make a paste out of the cocoa powder, then to add this to the butter and icing sugar and beat them all together. She manages to get this to taste really nice, but I have been having mixed results. So this time I weighed out four ounces of icing sugar and one ounce of cocoa powder. I sifted them together in a bowl and added cubes of butter. I honestly couldn't say how much, but about half of a 250g packet. I kept mixing until it was nice and smooth. I would definitely do this again rather than my mum's method.

I spread a very thin layer of the buttercream on each side of the cake, the so-called "crumb layer" which makes the rest of it stick together better. Then I glooped all the delicious stuff on to one side of the cake, and sandwiched them together.

Meanwhile, Lee melted some Dairy Milk in a bowl in the microwave (something which I couldn't do, I'd burn it! I would melt the chocolate over a pan of hot water) and we spread that on top, taking care to not let it drip down the sides. Leave to set, preferably overnight, and then cut and enjoy!

I should really definitely make a Victoria sponge sometime soon...

Just made, with everything setting. The very edges of the cake look slightly burnt here, but they definitely don't taste it. 

And the very first piece! The buttercream tastes almost fudgy, it's delicious. 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

What I Wore 19th July

I went to work on the 19th of July, to a new client where I had to do payroll for the first time in four years, which took me nearly all day and was tiring and confusing. I had to do pensions for the first time, which is a useful skill set I'm sure. It was just very tiring!

Anyway, since I had talen this top on holiday but not worn it I decided to put it on with my black skirt and my plain black shoes. It's gorgeous quality and I love the stripes. The sleeves aren't 3/4 length as I'd thought, but are longer and tighter than a normal t-shirt. I would like t-shirts like this in every colour and pattern ever, please!

I wore this new lightning bolt necklace that I got on eBay for like £2, such a bargain! I had painted my nails this cheery blue too, I felt like it was a real summer colour. It is Royal Botanical Gardens by Nails Inc, and it had separated badly in the bottle so the application was a bit streaky, but I don't care.

Pink striped t-shirt, Sprinkle of Glitter via Simply Be

Lightning bolt necklace, eBay

Nails Inc nail polish

Sunday, September 10, 2017

What I Wore 16th July

I didn't take many clothes on holiday and they were mostly older stuff that I knew would be comfortable to wear in any weather but especially in the sun. I did however know that we would be dining out in the evenings, so I packed this skirt from Sprinkle of Glitter that I got in the Simply Be sale recently. I really liked it - it's got a purple satin lining (which is actually quite tight, so size up if you can) and then this netting over the top with gorgeous sequins and beads sewn on to it.

I had packed the stripy Sprinkle of Glitter top, but it's got 3/4 length sleeves and it was just too hot, so I put on my Girl Gang t-shirt instead, which I've worn before. I had to buy a new bag on Friday afternoon, because the strap snapped on the bag I'd taken with me. This one was from Marks & Spencer and was just under £20. I really like it! Not my usual kind of thing but I like it.

I'm also wearing my Karrimor sandals which I bought from Sports Direct a few weeks ago. They're really comfortable.

And here's my bag. It's got a striped purse inside which is secured with press studs, which I've been keeping my purse and phone in.