- Saturday, 26 December 2015 -

10 Things I was Thankful for This Christmas

Hello you lovely lot and a very Merry Christmas! As I type this post, television blaring in the background and tummy swollen with turkey sandwiches, a feeling of pure, blissful contentment grips me; I'm at home, surrounded by good food and good company and right now, can't imagine anything more perfect. Christmas time has always held a special place in my heart, even as an only child growing up with a single mother, I cherished every single year, putting my worries and woes on hold and just living for the day itself, happy to be with the ones I love. And even though I've experienced my fair share of ups and downs throughout the years, I feel that nothing soothes the soul more than being surrounded by family and friends and remembering all you're thankful for...

1/ The fond familiarity of returning to your childhood home - That feeling of being in your own bed as nostalgia rushes through you truly can't be beaten. I love to see my mum buzzing with excitement as she sees the house fill up with old faces.

2/ Being reunited with friends, regardless of the time or distance apart - I love being able to just pick up where we left off, reminiscing over the good times with a glass of wine in hand.

3/ Giving yourself time to breath after a hectic year - Christmas is all about rest and relaxation; that for one day in the year, you should afford yourself a well-deserved break. There's nothing I love more than allowing myself a lie-in until noon and indulging in all the chocolate I can!

4/ Having nothing to do and all day to do it - Christmas is a time where I like to put work aside, replacing it with a good book or TV series I can really lose myself in. 

5/ Being happy and healthy - This time last year I was just out of hospital getting my gall bladder removed and since then *touch wood* I've had no problems with it whatsoever. Having a gall bladder prohibited me from eating after a certain time, so this year I was especially thankful for my big Christmas dinner! As they say, your health is your wealth.

6/ Being lucky enough to spend another year with my grandmother - At the grand, old age of 93 you'd think she'd be riddled with ailments, memory fading and enthusiasm lacking? Well, you'd be wrong. This woman is as healthy as a horse and is my ultimate inspiration. Even though she shows no signs of slowing down just yet, each and every year with her is a blessing.

7/ Never wanting for anything - When my mum and my boyfriend asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I actually struggled to fathom an answer. And although this may seem like some people's nightmare, not knowing what to buy for a loved one, I felt very lucky knowing that I have everything I wanted and everything I need.

8/ Spending some quality time with my mum - It's no secret that my mum is my best friend; she's my partner in crime and my rock and I especially love this time of year as we really dedicate ourselves to each other. Probably my favourite memory from this Christmas is when we went to see Sisters in the cinema and laughed our heads off as we stuffed our faces with popcorn.

9/ Keeping my mental health in check - With this time of year being understandably triggering for some,  I'm very thankful for all the endless help and support I receive. With my last serious breakdown being in April, I couldn't be more grateful for my family and friends sticking by me.

10/ You - Leaving the best for last, I'm eternally grateful to all the friends I've made and bloggers I've met through this little hub of mine. I live in a constant state of inspiration and admiration because of my fellow bloggers and I couldn't be happier to be spending another year in the blogosphere. 

- Monday, 21 December 2015 -

Have a Lush Christmas!

Hello you lovely lot! As I trudge through the threshold of my flat after a long day at university, my body aches for a strong cup of tea and a hot bath. Having always favoured the handiness of a shower, there's just something so nice about being blanketed by warmth as you slide into a bath after a cold, December day. The past few years have seen a surge in popularity for cosmetics retailer Lush, with their homemade hair, beauty and body products proving a hit amongst bloggers and non-bloggers alike. Lush's bath bombs in particular have gathered quite the reputation - seriously, I can't even scroll through Instagram without being met by someone's nobbly knees poking up from rainbow-stained water, what a time to be alive, eh? So, I decided to treat myself to a few treats from their festive Christmas collection, ready to submerge myself in some magic!

 Give this magical wand a swish and a swirl around in your bath and watch as the water transforms into a sparkly pink pool of bubblegum yumminess - that's right, it smells exactly like bubblegum! Also, because it's quite a sizeable bubble bar, it can be reused if you pop it on the side of the bath to dry, well worth the £5.25!

I am such a sucker for vanilla-scented things and so jumped for joy when I found this little fella. Just expecting him to be a generic bubble bar, I was quite pleasantly surprised to discover that he's made of moisturising cocoa butter, leaving my skin feel soft, hydrated and smelling like a sweet shop.

This bubble bar is good enough to eat (but please don't). Yes, admittedly it may look a little like unicorn poop but smells divine and makes the most mesmerising, creamy bubbles! As you let it ripple through the water, you'll notice your bath turning pink (can you tell I'm a bit obsessed with the colour?) making it the perfect magical kingdom to lose yourself in.

Boasting the deliciously comforting smell of vanilla, this bath bomb lets you sail away on a cloud of sugary sweetness. It may look like your plain white bubble bar, but actually bursts into colourful, dissolvable stars when met with water, leaving you immersed in an enchanting pool surrounded by the stars.

When you think of the colours of Christmas, you automatically imagine a glistening green and a ravishing red, right? Well, this bath bomb embodies Christmas from the inside out - literally! With a gorgeous green core that fizzes as its red exterior disappears, this bath bomb will make even the biggest of grinch's feel festive this year!

Have you bought anything from Lush's Christmas collection?

- Friday, 4 December 2015 -

What I Want to be When I Grow Up

Hello my lovelies! I remember sitting in a classroom when a mobile phone was shoved in my face, on it a group of 20-something year old girls beamed drunkenly at the camera. They were buffed and bronzed and all donned a different variation of a LBD; they were my friends older sisters, with emphasis on the OLDER, because all my 13 year old self could think was "these girls are so grown up, they have their lives and jobs and relationships." At that moment, as I was just about to buckle down to Key Stage 3s, I pondered what pathway I'd take down life's winding road, I presumed that by age 24, I'd definitely have my shit together and have a stable income and house with mortgage and strong relationship status - what I DIDN'T realise was that life rarely goes to plan, that you frequently get thrown curveballs and just learn to make the best of it.

As an only child with a single mother, I didn't always have the best direction career-wise, I had created a bubble of ambiguity and repeatedly told myself that 'it'll all fall into place.' Due to my above-average art skills, I'd been gently ushered into going down the creative route, with strict but supportive cooing from my elders that it'd "be a sin to waste talent like that". During college and my A-Levels in particular, I decided to comb my brain and explore all options available to me, I'd considered Psychology, Zoology, History, English Literature, Computer Science, Games Design, Graphic Design -  you see what I did there? Eventually, everything just led back to design.

Even though, right now at this very moment in time and chapter in my life, I'm happy to be a designer, it's not something I see myself pursuing until the ripe old age of retirement. I do want to create, but I also want to help people and open my own business and write my own book and be famous (okay, so only some of these may be viable). I feel that the first chunk of my younger years will be dedicated to me climbing the corporate ladder, where I become senior designer at a respected company until bowing out gracefully as soon as I hit 50. I then either envisage myself becoming a nurse or opening my own book store - or eBook store, depending how soon the robots have taken over. 

When I grow up, I think the thing I want the most is to be happy. It may sound like a clich├ęd generalisation, but it's what we all want at the end of the day, right? I want to feel that wave of  satisfaction wash over me upon arriving home from a hard days work. I want to be able to look at myself naked in the mirror when I'm 40 and still think I've got it. When I grow up, I ultimately want to be able to look back at my life and smile, not because of my achievements or memories or experiences, but because I've managed to make it this far and have survived 100% of my worst days. So far, growing up hasn't been the easiest of feats, but with age comes experience and for the first time in a long time, I'm excited to see what the future brings.

- Tuesday, 10 November 2015 -

5 Ways to be More Productive

Hello you lovely lot! There are some days were life just doesn't spur you on; productivity turns into procrastination as you find yourself sat on the kitchen floor alphabetising your spices, shunning your real responsibilities. I find this time of year the hardest to remain spirited, as the evenings fade into darkness, my motivation fades with them as I descend into what I like to call "nap-mode". When you're juggling a job, university and (somewhat of) a social life, it's sometimes easier to just set your brain to auto-pilot and dedicate yourself to an easy routine. However, if you're like me and always pursuing new ways to boost your productivity, then here are a few tips that'll hopefully get you back on track...

1/ Plan your day - People plan their day in different ways; whilst some like to schedule it in scrupulous detail in their diary or organiser, others like to map out the day ahead in their mind just before they drift off to sleep. Tackling a day ahead that's been prepared for seems a lot less daunting than just going with the flow and getting flustered in the process. Even if it's just imagining what you're going to have for breakfast, you'll find your time optimised and productivity boosted.

2/ Make a list - Not only is this one of my favourite things to do, but it's also one of the most effective ways of getting shit done! Whenever you put pen to paper you can physically visualise what needs to be done, making the tasks that are building up in your head seem a lot less intimidating as you tick them off one by one, making list-making a therapeutic exercise as well as a productive one. 

3/ Unplug from the internet - Probably the most dangerous distraction of all when it comes to productivity is freeing yourself from the clutches of the world wide web. When our interest in reality is dwindling, we look to the internet for escape and entertainment, because it's easy to find procrastination at the click of a mouse. However, here's my advice: when you're looking to get stuff done limit your internet usage as much as you can; read a book, go for a walk, and give your mind a break!

4/ Know your environment - Whether you find solace listening to classical music or rock out your workload with something a little louder, do what works for you to make your environment more comfortable. Whenever you've got a mountain of work to face, it's always good to surround yourself with necessities like notepads and plenty of water (or tea where water is not present) to keep the brain hydrated, and your mind active. Keep comfortable by wearing cosy clothes and don't be sat on a stiff chair all day - the more comfortable you are, the more productive you'll be.

5/ Lessen your load - As a self-proclaimed perfectionist, I find it hard letting other people help me. It's easy to say "yes" to everything when you imagine yourself as a strong, independent woman that can take on the world, but it's important to know when to say no too. Know what you can and cannot do and don't think of yourself any less because you turn something down. Ask for help, lessen the load and balance your work with play; you're only human after all.

- Friday, 6 November 2015 -

Fifi Lapin Boots Haul

Hello my lovelies! It pains me to admit that blogging's taken a bit of a backseat recently; with university leading at the forefront, my little blog's been gathering cobwebs and feeling the impact of my negligence. October had me buried in work as I flew off to Switzerland for a design collaboration project, and with my birthday following the week I returned, I was ready to curl up in a ball and sleep for a million years. It wasn't all bad though as I took my birthday as an opportunity to ransack Boots on their 3 for 2 Christmas gift range! And when I discovered that Boots had launched a Fifi Lapin collection in store, I couldn't help but throw my money at a few cute bits and bobs.

Ya'll know I'm a sucker for stationery, right? So the second I clapped eyes on these adorable accessories I knew they were headed straight for my shopping basket! And even though I have an abundance of notebooks sat at home gathering dust on a desk corner, the promise of starting a new one afresh just gripped me so tightly I couldn't resist. I also purchased a few bunny shaped paper clips (for organisational purposes of course) and a set of sticky notes to assist with scheduling. I also picked up the cutest tote bag as well in lieu of forking out 5p per plastic bag - a worthy investment I'm sure you'll agree!

 How perfect are these nail polishes though? They're a pastel lovers dream! Available in a set of four, I just love how they come equipped with the loveliest little charm, each one reminiscent of the Fifi Lapin fashion. Having fallen head over heels for the mint and coffee colours, I can't wait to try out each one, where I think they'll make a prominent staple come springtime. 

I think investing in a new lipbalm is an absolute must for the cold winter months ahead in order to combat those dreaded chapped lips. Although what most attracted me to these particular products was of course the absolutely adorable packaging, if the minty tones and pastel pinks didn't have me already sold it was Fifi's fashionable stance on the front. Also, what especially surprised me about these balms was how gorgeously fragranced they were: the pink emitting a lovely strawberry smell and the white a yummy vanilla. Usually, with a lot of drugstore brands their lip balms tend to be quite generic and unscented so I'll be quite happy to be slathering myself in strawberry and vanilla this Christmas!

Have you bought anything in Boots recently?

- Sunday, 11 October 2015 -

Banishing Those Sunday Blues

Hello you lovely lot! Like a dark cloud descending above us, as soon as Sunday night comes around our stomachs are in knots as we so badly grasp onto the remaining remnants of the weekend. During the winter months especially as the days grow darker, I find this anxiety tends to intensity as Monday looms over you and a new week of challenges lie ahead. However, over the past years I've come to learn that this feeling of dread is completely natural and that there are in fact a few tips and tricks to combat those dreaded Sunday night blues.

1/ Make plans for Monday - In order to defuse the building dread of the week ahead, why not plan for some things that are worth looking forward to - lunch with a friend, a night at the cinema, post-work drinks - you may not be able to shrink the responsibilities of the coming week, but you can make Monday's more fun.

2/ Have a little 'me time' - Why not dedicate those dreaded Sundays to a much-needed pamper session? Turn your Sunday into something to get excited about, like curling up with your favourite book or having a well-deserved binge on Netflix.

3/ Busy yourself - You know the old saying, time flies when you're having fun, so make Sunday go by in a blink by making yourself busy! Make Sunday a designated day for hobbies or chores, you'll find that the more you do, the less you'll think about the looming week ahead.

4/ Sleep, sleep and more sleep - Sunday is commonly referred to as the day of rest, so have a duvet day and unplug for a while. Don't feel guilty for being "unproductive", this is your day off and you can do with it as you wish!

5/ Identify the problem - Just can't seem to relax? Then take some time to reflect upon your worries and woes to pinpoint the problem. Perhaps getting in touch with some friends or colleagues can help alleviate your fears. And remember, you've survived countless Mondays in the past, you CAN do this.

6/ Escape - Cabin fever sometimes tends to set in when we're home alone with no tasks to spur us on. Don't sit in staring at the four walls - go out and make your own entertainment. Get a breath of fresh air by heading to the shops or hitting the gym, you'll find Sunday will go faster if you fill it with activities!

7/ Make a change - If you find yourself repeatedly anxious week after week, perhaps a short-term solution isn't the answer. Ask yourself if what you're currently doing makes you happy, maybe it's your job or your university course that fills you full of dread. Remember that it's YOUR life and that you deserve every happiness!

- Friday, 9 October 2015 -

Review: Too Faced Love Flush

Hello my lovelies! It's pink and it looks like a Polly Pocket compact, what's not to love? Not one to alternate between blushes too much, I thought I'd treat myself and opt for a new one (thank you student loan!). Having previously purchased from Too Faced, I deemed this a worthy investment even if it did come to £24 in total, I mean, come on look at it! Not available in the UK yet, I bought this from an online import store and was counting down the minutes until it finally popped through my postbox. In the past, I've had a few bad experiences when ordering power-based products - due to carelessness in the postal service I have been victim to a few blushes arriving in absolute smithereens, powder everywhere and no word of an apology from the company. 

I held my breath as I tentatively opened the tiny compact, pleasantly relieved to find the powder intact! With 5 other shades to choose from, I of course opted for the pinkest and prettiest of the collection 'Justify My Love', which is a lovely pale pink peppered with subtle little flecks of glitter. I love the attention to detail that went into creating this compact, with a floral frame and tiny bunny motifs pressed into the powder, I'm actually a bit reluctant to use it, afraid to brush away the adorable design. After studying the intricate detail of the blush I managed to move my eyes north to notice the gorgeous little mirror included in the compact, something a girl on the go can never be short of!

Too Faced's Love Flush blush boasts an impressive 16 hour long resistance, which is good for people like me who hate taking the time to top up their makeup regularly. Never straying away from the pastel pinks, I'm quite excited to give this a go and replace it with my current go-to blush from Benefit. Additionally, the compact itself isn't so big to make it inconvenient and not so small to make it fiddly and losable, so I absolutely love how you can just pop in in your purse and even use it for the cute mirror if you're not using it as the blush, win-win!

- Wednesday, 7 October 2015 -

Telling Your Friends About Your Blog

Hello my lovelies! Growing up there was a gaping hole in my life, with friends pursuing sport, music, drama and art, I felt barren in my achievements. I looked on with green eyes as friends would gush about their array of medals, trophies and awards, completely bewildered over how someone could keep their studies-to-hobbies ratio balanced (all the while battling through puberty and teenagerism? Pffft, come on!). It wasn't until I got cosy on this little corner of the internet where I began to feel that I'd finally found 'my thing'.

For the longest time, my mum was my blog's biggest (and only) fan, apart from sharing snippets here and there of blogposts on Twitter - a social platform that the majority of my friends refrain from having - blogging remained one of those things that only celebrities and fashion companies kept. However, as I began to promote more posts on the likes of a more universally used platform like Instagram, messages began to trickle in from friends and family alike.

In this internet-dominated era of 2015, blogging still remains a hobby shrouded in mystery to the general public. I get quizzed a lot about what exactly it is I write about on this little blog 'o mine, to which I answer: "anything and everything." As my blog began to gain more momentum in my social circles, I did find it difficult opening up and discussing more sensitive topics, such as my mental health and past experiences with bullying. I was afraid of what people would say, imagining a tidal wave of whispers behind my back, judging me for being so candid. 

The reality however, turned out to be quite the opposite. Not only was there support flooding in from friends and family, but even people whom I'd went to school with were taking the time to send me their kind words, it was a really humbling feeling. I guess it's because nothing fun or out of the ordinary ever happens back in the little town where I grew up, so seeing someone really relish in doing something different can bring confidence to those wanting to do something different with their lives too.

Now, when I'm home and visiting friends their questions go something like this: "So how's university? How's your other half? How's the blog?" And I can't begin to tell you how elated I am that they now recognise this little corner of the web as being part of my life! It now feels good being able to let your hair down and go into crazy photographer mode as you get that shot "for the blog" without feeling any prior judgement from them, you can finally be yourself without having to explain your obsessive love of peonies and marble.

So, dear readers, let your friends in on your blog, let them be a part of your journey, and who knows, one day maybe they could even start a blog, wouldn't it be amazing to think that it was you who inspired them? 

- Monday, 21 September 2015 -

Why I Don't Wear Makeup

Hello my lovelies! Growing up a teenager riddled with acne wasn't easy, even more so when you find yourself lacking in sisters to confide in over what concealer to use when breakouts start becoming the bane of your life. My mother didn't wear makeup and with no close cousins to learn from, I took it upon myself and timidly picked up my first jar of Dream Matte Mousse and slathered it over my face in the avid hope of hiding this hideous affliction. My acne was a regular cause for concern as children and grown adults alike would frequently question me of my (non-existent) chicken pox, resulting in my voice cracking and tears forming in my eyes as I told them "it's just my face".

From the tender age of twelve I began experimenting with makeup; every morning awakening at the crack of dawn to begin a meticulous ritual that would rid me of any bumps or blotches. With my newfound skills, I would craft myself a new face, a better face, free from my own self-loathing - this was more than a vanity thing, this was about finding the courage to love myself. I felt powerful spreading my lipstick on in the mornings, ready to take on a new day, my eyeliner so sharp it could cut anyone standing in my way.

Secondary school was like a battleground and I wore my makeup like warpaint. Regardless of the inner war that was waging inside me as I was bullied throughout school, my mascara didn't budge an inch. I was more beautiful than them even if I was breaking inside. Looking back, there was rarely a time where you'd see me without makeup and I find that sad. As the years rolled on and I grew older, I began to realise that people shouldn't love you based on your makeup, that the people you surround yourself with should love you for being you.

So, I took the mask off. It wasn't a speedy process, as more days I'd feel more self conscience than others, but slowly and surely, I simply began to not give a fuck. Understandably, many of you reading this can't imagine going a day without makeup as its part of your routine, it gives you a confidence boost etc and that's okay, but that's not me anymore. I don't wear it going to the shops, I don't wear it to university or work. I feel free and raw and open and I LOVE how I can scratch the shit out of my eyes without the concern of messing up my mascara. For the longest time I was wearing makeup to impress others and satisfy the demon inside me who was picking me apart.

Don't get me wrong though, I still love nothing more than giving myself a good pamper session and slapping on as many layers as possible in preparation for a night out, because I'm only human, right? I still buy makeup regularly for events or special occasions but generally, if you meet me down the street, I will have literally woken up like this (winking eye emoji). Yes, I do savour those precious extra minutes I have in bed more where I could be goin' all MUA on my ass, but for the most part, I'm just happy to finally feel content in my own skin.

- Tuesday, 15 September 2015 -

Cute Paperchase Haul!

Hello my lovelies! So, that time of year has managed to roll around again, with Freshers students flocking the streets and people derivatively rhyming off Green Day lyrics, I couldn't be happier to bid farewell to summer and welcome Autumn with open arms! This September marks my third (and final, eek!) year at university, where I'll not only be preparing my final projects but will also be jetting off to Switzerland for an exciting design collaboration in Zurich. With this academic year already proving pretty hectic, I wanted to kick-start my motivation with an obligatory stationery order, from Paperchase no less!

I could easily spend an eternity trawling through Paperchase, eyes completely captivated by quirky gifts and colourful stationery. As soon as I enter a store, I always find myself gravitating towards the twirling stall that showcases all the stickers, and that's it - I'm lost in time, spinning it endlessly and collecting the cutest I can find. Each year I purchase a selection of stickers to smother my uni notebooks with just to make them that little bit more me!

In keeping with the cat theme I apparently have goin' on, I also snapped up this adorable lined notebook for jotting down ideas, inspirations and everything in between. Decorated with various breeds of cats, I love how colourful the cover is and I actually can't stop awwing at the little kitties in their little outfits! Presented in hardback, this notebook will be perfect at withstanding any bumps and bangs it may retain in my university schoolbag.

Probably my favourite purchase of the lot, this fairy princess writing set is too cute for words! Shaped like a miniature wardrobe and garnished with glitter, it opens up to produce an assortment of beautiful letters, envelopes and even stickers, my eyes practically glistening with excitement at the thought of all the happy mail I'll be sending! Adorned with princesses, unicorns, rainbows and castles, Paperchase have really outdone themselves with this magical set.

No stationery haul would be complete without a brand-spanking new set of pencils! Like a moth to a flame, I was of course drawn to the pencil tin covered in cupcakes, and with 36 dazzling colours to choose from, I can imagine that my new cat notebook will soon be resembling a rainbow. As I take four modules per semester, I like to colour coordinate my notes, making them more fun to interact with and get the creative juices going. Probably one of my cuter hauls from Paperchase, I'm excited to get stuck into my studies and get colourful!

- Sunday, 30 August 2015 -

Getting Through a Bad Day

Hello you lovely lot! It's been rather quiet over here at Fine and Dandy hasn't it? With the hustle and bustle of moving back home coupled with my intense desire to do absolutely nothing at all, I've been badly neglecting this little corner of the web. It's been a whirlwind of a summer, and after wrapping up my time at my design internship, I felt that I deserved to unplug from the online world, if only temporarily. 

I'll admit - it's been hard getting back up on the horse and mustering the motivation to blog again, as recently my mum took ill and my commitment seemed to sway from one responsibility to the other. Its incidences like these that put everything into perspective, that family, friends, health and happiness should always take priority to everything else, and even when you're at your lowest, it does well to remember all you have going for you, even if your mind's telling you otherwise.

When you're having a bad day, it's easy to admit defeat and retreat to your bed with only your best friend Netflix to comfort you. Whereas this may seem like the perfect remedy for some, it's important that you don't wallow in your own self pity and actually practice some self-care. In other words, that gallon of cookie dough ice cream you're about to hoover up may seem like a good idea at the time, but it retrospect, you'll probably regret it! 

1/ Remove yourself from the negative space - Sometimes easier said than done when you're having a full on panic attack in your works bathroom. Even if it means stepping outside for 2 minutes to process your emotions and take a few deep breaths. Remember, EVERYONE suffers from bad days, keep in mind that this is only temporary and that tomorrow's a new day.

2/ Let it all out - I find it very cathartic to have a good cry every once in a while, as the pent up emotions flow out of you, you can find yourself feeling refreshed. Some also find it therapeutic by blasting their favourite angry music or screaming into a pillow to gain closure of a colossally bad day. Writing can also alleviate anxiety, and by physically getting it out there and putting pen to paper, it can greatly put things into perspective. 

3/ Find your escapism - Whilst some like to lay back and listen to their favourite tunes to chill, others find solace in channeling their emotions through creativity. Whether you're affording yourself some me-time by getting lost in a good book or just hitting the gym to blow off some steam, it's important to have something enjoyable to fall back on when life gets you down.

4/ Don't suffer alone - As tempting as it may seem to retreat into isolation, some have the tendency to dwell on their emotions or experiences if they're not kept busy. Whenever I feel those dark clouds looming, I like to reach out to my mum to sooth my dampened spirits. Don't feel up to human interaction? Show your pet some love as behavioural therapists have deduced that animal contact reduces stress and helps with healing.

5/ Things will look brighter in the morning... - Sleep is an amazing healer. I can't count the amount of times where a nap has done me the world of good where I wake up wondering what the hell I was worrying about in the first place. It's horrendously cliched, but sleeping on your worries and woes makes a lot of sense as a new day brings a lot of promise. 

How do you handle a bad day?

- Friday, 14 August 2015 -

Recipe: Strawberries and Cream Cupcakes

Hello my lovelies! With the recent return of the Great British Bake Off, Wednesday nights have become a particular source of inspiration as I find myself itching to bake. However, before I could cause any chaos in the kitchen, a quick visit to the shops was in order to load up on all the necessary baking utensils, and that's when I stumbled across the terrific cupcake moulds you see before you! Shaped like teacups, these silicone cupcake moulds can withstand a heat up to 260° in the oven - oh and did I mention that they came to the grand total of £1 from Poundland? I'll just let you heist that jaw of yours back up from the floor...

Armed with a piping bag in one hand and my trusty whisk in the other, I wanted to make something summery and indulgent and who doesn't love a good old strawberries and cream combo? Having been bitten by the baking bug a little later on in life, I'll be the first to admit that I've never been skilled in the culinary arts, however I promise you that if I can make these delicious cupcakes, anyone can! They're quick, easy and oh so scrumptious, so let's get started!

You will need:

For the cakes - 
175g (6oz) caster sugar
175g (6oz) self-raising flour, sifted
175g (6oz) unsalted butter, softened
3 large free-range eggs, beaten
1 tsp of vanilla extract

For the icing - 
400g (14oz) full-fat Philadelphia cheese
300g (10oz) icing sugar, sifted
250g (9oz) strawberries, blended to a puree

1/ Firstly, you want to preheat your oven to 180 C, 160 C for fan assisted ovens, or Gas 4. Line a 12-tin muffin tray with 8-12 of your silicone (or regular) cupcake cases. I also like to lightly butter the insides of my cases so that the sponge doesn't stick or burn

2/ Mix the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy - note, this could take some time, so be patient! Gradually incorporate your eggs into the mixture, adding a sprinkle of flour where you see fit if you fear the batter may split

3/ When the eggs are neatly mixed, you may then continue to add your vanilla extract and fold in your flour. I did this gradually as there is the tendency of the mixture turning congealed if done too fast

4/ Divide your mixture between your cupcake cases - remember only to fill them half way as your cupcakes WILL rise! Cook on a middle shelf for about 20 minutes, checking when needed. When risen and golden, you may then transfer them onto a clean surface for cooling

5/ For the icing, simply beat your cream cheese, icing sugar and strawberry puree together to form a thick, shiny icing. Admittedly, this did take me up to 20 minutes to achieve as the mixture appears watery at first. Don't fret! Just keep whisking until it thickens. 

6/ Carefully apply your icing via piping bag or spoon onto the cooled cupcakes. If you prefer your icing hardened, store them in the fridge for about an hour. Top with chopped strawberries or sprinkles (I did both!) and enjoy!