- 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!

- Sunday, 9 August 2015 -

The Cutest Planner Ever

Hello my lovelies! Not long ago I found myself scouring the realms of the internet in search of a new organiser, having succumbed to the Filofax fad last year, this time round I decided to try something a bit different. As soon as September comes rounds, I have an army of stationery prepared for the new academic year and half of the Paperchase store in my schoolbag, because there's nothing better than breaking in a fresh new notebook and decorating it with doodles and stickers galore. I may sound ancient when I say this but I love making notes and jotting things down, whether it's scheduling a blogpost or scribbling a shopping list, I always feel a hundred times more efficient when I'm putting pen to paper.

The moment I laid eyes on the ban.do 'I Am Very Busy' pink planner, I knew I had to have it. An American brand, ban.do specialises in all things cute and colourful, with a distinctive quirky design, this planner couldn't be more made for me. Spanning for 17 months, the ban.do planner takes productivity to the next level and puts the fun in functional, crammed with charming illustrations and a page full of stickers, you won't want to put this badboy down! So, with September just around the corner and school time looming, this is definitely the planner worth investing in. Not yet convinced? Well, let's just take a peek and see what all the fuss is about...

- Monday, 3 August 2015 -

Mog On The Tyne: That Time I Visited a Cat Café

Hello my lovelies! This weekend saw the grand opening of Newcastle's first cat café, located in the heart of the city centre, Mog on the Tyne provides you with a hefty dose of cuteness while you sit back and sip a Catacino or two. The brainchild of colourful owner Katie Jane Glazier, the café has become a haven for cats and cat lovers alike. Having lived in Newcastle for nearly 4 years now and sorely missing the company of a furry friend, I couldn't be more thankful for the arrival of Mog on the Tyne, where I can finally get my feline fix.

 Due to popularity, booking online is required to secure your place at the café, as there's a customer turnaround every hour to maintain the kitties routine and keep them as relaxed as possible. Upon entering, you're ushered in quickly, so no little bundles of mischief can make their escape, and are asked to remove your shoes. The atmosphere is different here; with grown adults down on all fours in the hope of coaxing a cat out of its hideaway. There are kittens weaving in and out of your legs as you settle down with some coffee and cake and for a split second, I couldn't remember the last time I was so content.

Beautifully furnished with quirky accessories and pastel paint, I foresee Mog on the Tyne becoming a regular haunt of mine. The menu features favourites with a twist, from Pawninis to Catte Lattes, you'll be the cat that's got the cream when visiting (sorry, I couldn't resist!). Straight after wolfing down my Catacino and cake, I found myself sat cross-legged in the centre of the floor with a cat toy in one hand and a camera in the other. So, a little disclaimer - this is a photo-heavy post, because let's face it, if there's one thing the internet loves, it's cats!