20 October 2014

30 before 30 - 11: Learn How to Make Macarons



Number 11 on my 30 before 30 list is 'learn how to make macarons'.

I always held these delicious, dainty, perfect cookies up on a pedestal, accessible only to the pastry chefs or the French.


At the weekend, however, I had the task of taking a few baked goods to a rather special baby shower, so decided to bit the bullet and give macarons a go. The baby shower was for twins, so I wanted two colours, but not pink and blue. I also wanted two very distinct flavours. 


I settled on lemon and blackberry macaroons, both with an additional buttercream filling.


I was lucky to only cook one dodgy batch and immediately know what I'd done wrong. The blackberry ones pictured were the second batch (good) and the lemon ones the third (perfect). In this case, it would seem practice really does make perfect.


There are tips and tricks abound to make macarons successfully, but the one thing I learnt was patience. Whip the whites well. Wait for an hour for a skin to form. Cook them low and slow. Let them cool down fully before you even look at them.

Fickle things, but I am over-joyed to have mastered them!

You can see more of my 30 before 30 here

13 October 2014

Monday Montage: 13.10.14

 
 


  • Having a small, yet brilliant, lie-in on Saturday morning thanks to no phone, new blackout curtains and a super-king bed
  • Reading my new book under the duvet for a hour before dragging the dog out for a chilly hour. Autumn is finally here. 
  • A warming cup of tea later, heading to the gym and enjoying spending time with really fantastic people.
  • Arriving home well after lunch-time so devouring some eggs, and immediately feeling sick
  • Trying to motivate my brain to do some Ph.D, but struggling through it half-heartedly all afternoon
  • Cooking a steak dinner with gravy, and settling down on the sofa for a night of Strictly with a glass of wine, Neom candles and book.
  • Passing out close to 9pm, and thanking my lucky stars I woke up early as I'd forgotten to set my alarm
  • Driving to work in the early morning mist and fog, cursing the bad weather for making me take a wrong turn
  • Thankfully arriving on time, for a day of coffee and cake
  • Driving home feeling remarkably broken, wanting nothing more than a hot shower and a snuggle with the pooch
  • Ordering a Chinese, watching last night's Dr Who and melting into the sofa

9 October 2014

Same old shoes

Image Source


When you walk into a crowded room, and you're running a little late, it can be daunting. There's the 'do I look okay?', 'are they the same?' and the 'am I out of place?'. 

You might not recognise anyone immediately, searching the faces for a familiar one yet trying not to stare. No-one turns to you, because they are deep in conversation with the full room or shouting orders over the din to the poor girl on the bar, clearly overwhelmed by the numbers on her first night. 

As you are beginning to wonder whether you are in the right room, you feel a hand on your shoulder accompanied with a very recognisable 'hello trouble!', a smile, and a massive hug. With a sigh of relief and a Cheshire cat grin, you return the embrace and remember with this group of friends, you step back into the same old shoes the moment you walk into the room.

7 October 2014

WIN! 2 tickets to Country Living Christmas Fair

Happy Tuesday everyone, no ramblings from me today - just a little give-away...



'Christmas may be the last thing on anyone's mind but we're already putting together a fantastic celebration of British craft. Join us at the Country Living Magazine Christmas Fair in Harrogate where you'll be able to pick up unique gifts to delight your loved ones, as well as inspired ideas and decorations to bring that magical Christmas sparkle to your home. Meet hundreds of artisan designers and makers, as well as regional food producers from across the British isles and see the pages of the magazine come to life in this festive extravaganza.'

 

The Country Living Magazine Christmas Fair will be taking place from 27 - 30 November 2014 at the Harrogate International Centre.

 

 You can find out all about the fair here

 

Today then, I have two tickets to giveaway to the fair in Harrogate. I am incredibly jealous of whoever gets to use these tickets - the handmade and crafty goodies on offer look amazing! I am a huge Christmas fan; I love nothing more than the hype and food (and drink!) and family traditions. 

You don't have to like me on twitter, you don't even have to fill out a Rafflecopter form. All I ask is that you leave me a comment telling me your favourite Christmas tradition that feels special to you and your family. In two weeks I shall put you all in a good old fashioned hat (because we know I love a hat), and pick out the lucky winners! 


6 October 2014

Monday Montage: 06.10.14



  • Waking up at 6am on a Saturday, and being eager for a run despite the dark and rain
  • Heading out with the pooch for a few miles, where he was more concerned about stalking the squirrels
  • Feeling a little peaky, so forgoing breakfast for a spot of shoe shopping, interspersed with cappuccinos, lattes and lovely magazines
  • Nearly giving up in defeat, before stumbling across two pairs for £20 in Primark!
  • Feeling better after that little victory and demolishing a cheese and ham panini
  • Trying to motivate myself to do a few hours work in the afternoon by listening to some classic rock
  • Helping my mum alter some items of clothing from her wardrobe, and slowly typing away, yet feeling completely indifferent
  • Seeing that my fingers had turned blue as I'd not noticed I was getting cold, so running myself a large bubble bath to soak in and warm up before dinner.
  • Encouraging myself to eat some dinner, despite still not feeling fantastic, and slipping into some jeans and a pair of my new heels
  • Loving seeing some old friends for a birthday party - its been too long, and I live far too far away. 
  • Waking up, yet again, by 6am and feeling beyond tired. Resenting the fact that I cannot seem to lie in bed awake for longer than 10 minutes without getting restless. 
  • Getting a fair bit of work done whilst the sun rose, with one eye on the Japanese Grand Prix
  • Taking the dog for an hour's run in the sun, letting him dip his toes reluctantly in a lake and play with another dog out on their walk.
  • A quick shower and cuppa later, taking mum to the shops to browse the make-up and perfumes. 
  • A couple of early birthday presents later, heading home to test her bramble jam and sit down to more work.
  • Being quite happy with my progress on my writing for a change, so breaking for a Sunday lunch buffet with my family of quiche and salads, followed by the most excellent apple strudel. 
  • Driving home in the half light, and being thoroughly annoyed I'd gone onto auto-pilot and missed my junction.
  • An evening on the sofa: Countryfile, The Doctor and Strictly on catch-up.
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