Hello Autumn!

Hello Blog Readers. Bet you didn’t think this little treacle would be flinging herself into your inbox again did ya?! But here I am waving a cyber hello to each and everyone of you reading this.

As we slip slide into the darker months of the year, it’s like the blogger in me is waking up from her hibernation ready and raring to go. I don’t know what goes on in my brain running up to June or July time but it’s just like my blogging appetite just seizes up and I revert to a child and just think sod it, I’m off on my Summer holidays I’ll see you in September! So I’m sorry about that; I  feel bad that I have been so inactive over the last few months. Actually all year come to think of it, I’ve been pretty off colour to be quite honest! But I’m hoping, praying I might have finally got my mojo back. I’m also hoping that I can stick to that because I’ve said it in numerous posts beforehand and well if you had a pound for everytime I’ve proclaimed that exact phrase you’d have enough to buy the rights and the domain to this blog and actually post on it yourselves.

 

I feel like the queen of blog post clickbait I’m forever whooping and wailing about all these posts I’m about to drop but they never come to fruition (truth be told they are still there, gathering dust in my draft folder) but I’m hoping, I must have said this about one hundred times now but they’ll be going live sooner rather than later.

So let’s have a little catch up beforehand shall we? Lemme tell you about all the things you’ll be expecting to see from this space in the coming weeks and months and all the things I want to be ranting and raving about. I went on a little Stay-cation  with my family in the middle of September to Devon and Dartmoor which was lovely and tranquil providing the perfect getaway from all the mundane day to day things you get from being at home. I’ve spoken openly about how much I want to explore a lot more of the UK and this provided the perfect opportunity for that as well as eating out plenty too. Expect a lengthy post or two about everything I got up to coming up soon.

Excitingly, I went to my first proper blogger’s event this week (yay!) and I was equal parts excited, intrigued as I was a little bit anxious and nervous. Through blogging, I’ve been lucky enough to have received some fab products all in the name of a gifted asterisk and my humble thoughts, been invited to some incredible places and also forged some wonderful friendships with both bloggers and PR representatives alike. But there was something niggling away at the back of my mind about this particular event; which with hindsight I really regret because I had such a wonderful time. I was super conscious about whether I’d be a massive ball of anxious sweat the whole evening if I agreed. When I was a manager (in a previous job role, which feels like a previous life to me now. I really do feel like I’m the reincarnation of Mr Benn sometimes) and going to regional meetings I’d always be up the night before anxious and worrying about it even though I knew every single person in that room and knew exactly what was going to happen and what pub we’d be going to after… and what drunk train we’d be getting home for that matter.  You wouldn’t believe the types who work in health! I’ve somehow run off on a tangent there, but the more I was overthinking it the more I was putting myself off. I had a superb time, I learnt loads, felt so grateful I was invited and more importantly I learnt the value of leaping outside of my comfort zone. Sometimes there’s really no harm by just saying yes. Unless it’s to drugs. Then really do say a hard no.

By doing this, it’s made me fall head over heels in love with my blog all over again. Making me want to write, to put in the effort and to explore all the different avenues I can go with this. I want to change my tack and where I want to go. I want to write about things that matter to me, things that I want to say not just because I feel like I have to. Off topic slightly but I deleted my Instagram app off of my phone and Ipad in April this year. Mainly because I ran out of storage and it was either Insta or Twitter and I use Twitter to keep in contact with real life people so like that I gave Mr.’Gram the boot. For that time I didn’t feel like I was missing out, if anything I felt much better in myself. It wasn’t being rammed down my throat how chubby I felt compared to everyone else on my feed, that I don’t holiday enough or I’m not living my best life enough. It felt great to switch off from the cyber world and switch back into the real world. I’ve recently joined Instagram again and I’m finding it so much more freeing. I’m posting for me, the here and now and the unairbrushed, honest version.

In my downtime, I’ve been relaxing by binge watching a new series or listening to a podcast. I adore Chris and Rosie Ramsey’s podcast Shagged, Married, Annoyed and it genuinely makes me howl laughing. They’re such a funny pair and I love their relationship. You can’t help but smile when listening to this. Which can often lead to some funny looks when in the public domain. I listen to this when I’m walking my dog and wonder if people catch me grinning and chuckling away like a mad woman.  Similarly, I really like the Off Menu podcast with James Acaster and Ed Gamble. As you can tell I love the simple discussion of food, introduce these two funny lads and a different celebrity each Wednesday and you’ve got yourself a party. It’s really interesting sometimes hearing about the heartwarming reasons why a certain dish or foodie item has become someone’s favourite. Whether it’s your mum’s cracking roast potatoes, the warming cup of tea your dad makes you when coming home to from a bad day or something exotic from far and wide it’s so interesting to hear the stories behind each person’s dream meal. It’s like Desert Island Discs for those who think with their bellies. Also why it’s not called Dessert Island Dish is beyond me.

What have I been watching I hear you ask???? Well I’m super glad that The Good Place is back with it’s fourth and final season. It’s one of my favourite shows to grace the small screen and I love the creativity, the weirdness and the ease of watching of this show. I’m going to be a little bit sad when it comes to an end but I think it’ll be at the right time and it won’t be like one of those shows that keeps getting dragged out and gradually gets worse and worse ’til it reaches its bitter end *How I Met Your Mother and The Big Bang Theory I’m looking at you*. I binge watched all of Unbelievable over a weekend and it’s a really thought provoking watch. It contains some quite heavy themes about sexual assault and rape so if you’re sensitive to viewing those types of things it can be quite triggering. I don’t want to give too much of the storyline and the plot away but I was moved by the kick-ass female casting of this show, the stark portrayals of assault and the horrible realities of what it’s actually like. It’s raw and heartbreaking.

Since the last time we spoke I’ve been to the cinema twice, groundbreaking information coming straight to ya. Expect this as a breaking news headline imminently. In the days of streaming services, a gazillion different choices of channels and shows on Sky, endless creative content to watch on Youtube, for me, going to the cinema and actually seeing a new release is quite a big deal. In June or July time, I went to see Danny Boyle’s summer feelgood flick Yesterday and am still happily listening to the soundtrack now. I love The Beatles and I love that this film put a sprinkling of a modern twist on so many of their classic and much loved songs. It’s a perfect Sunday afternoon watch. More recently, however I went to go see It Chapter Two in the cinema with a friend. We saw the first film together, scared ourselves half to death in the circus clown maze at Thorpe Park’s Fright Night shortly after and then promised we’d see the second one together as well. The evening was a mixture of emotions, my car overheated on the way to the cinema, but then we made up for it by gorging on a totaaaaally vegan bbq chicken pizza which was glorious. I’ve been vegetarian for coming up to two years and I’m really noticing the places that have GREAT options or so-so food options. I was so overjoyed to see they did different things aside from a margherita pizza or a mushroom risotto.

On the flipside from our delightful supper, It Chapter Two was about 100 times scarier than the first and everything I read about and more. I’m not sure if I can really, officially count me watching it however, as I had my fingers in my ears for about two thirds of the film and was thinking about what playlist to listen to on the way home and not the big scary clown on screen! Jokes aside though, cinematically it was excellent. The casting for the grown up Losers Club was spot on making the story evolution so natural, believable and perfect. Plus Pennywise was just as frightening as ever. Real talk though, if I lived in Derry, my first words to my parents would be take me to the estate agents I want to move please, please, please. Naturally, it doesn’t go into as much detail as it does in the books (find me a movie that does though) It’s nearly three hours long but so worth it as it really ties everything from the entire franchise so well together.

Soooo I think that’s it from me for now?! I feel like I’ve just spoke at you for about 20 minutes, which is essentially what blogging is when you think about it. Hopefully you’ll be seeing a lot more of me round here. I feel like I say that every few weeks but I’m not going to punish myself if that’s not the case and I’m sure you’re not going to either cos you’re a right lovely bunch. Happy FRIDAY though everyone. I can’t wait to hear/read about what you’re all up to. I’m trying to catch up with my WordPress Reader!

All the love,

Abbie x

Recreating seasonal hot drinks at home.

I love hot drinks and have at least three cups of tea each day. To some that may seem like loads or to some it may seem like hardly anything at all. A warm drink is like a hug in a cup so when the Autumn/Winter months roll around, the red cups in Starbucks come out to play it can only mean one thing; seasonal drinks time!!

I love a gingerbread latte, the subtle warmth and spiciness makes me feel so cosy. Or a black forest hot chocolate puts me in the wintry mood instantly. In an effort to save money because those £3 coffee shop treats do add up!! I’ve decided to try and recreate these at home for a fraction of the price, you can make them just how you like them, to impress family, friends and guests at home plus you could put it in a funky travel mug for commuting to work or college.

Anyone who knows me knows that I adore TK Maxx/Homesense and they stock SO many gorgeous homeware pieces and such an interesting foodie section. I used to be a little bit sceptical of the food section in a TK Maxx, where was it all from? How long had it been there for?? But then I thought if I thought the same about foods in an actual Supermarket would I actually want to know that answer? Probably not!

They stock so many wonderful teas, coffees and so many syrups too. They have such a huge variety of them as well so you’re literally so spoilt for choice. Most supermarkets and even some coffee shops like Costa stock bottles of syrups you can add to your hot drinks to make them that extra bit more decadent.

I want to share with you a simple, easy way of making barista style drinks from home and you don’t need any fancy machinery. I got ya covered!

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So for a super rich hot chocolate I usually measure the milk out in the mug I’m using and warm it in a pan with a split vanilla pod and the seeds scraped out on the hob. Bring it to the boil and then add in 1tsp of cocoa powder and 40g of chopped dark chocolate shards per serving. Stir it all together off the heat and whisk it vigorously til it’s frothy on top. If you wanted to add a syrup you could pop one or two pumps into the bottom of your glass/mug/travel mug/shoe/I do not mind what container you use. Or you could put it straight into the milk before you warm it.

To make this extra decadent you could use equal quantities of cream and milk or if you want it extra chocolatey try using a chocolate milk with the same quantities of chocolate shards, cocoa powder and cream.

To make a white hot chocolate just don’t add the cocoa powder and substitue the chocolate for white chocolate instead. If you’re aiming for mad gainzzzzzz try using a skimmed milk or oat or coconut mylk with a scoop of chocolate/unflavoured/vanilla protein powder and some chocolate and cocoa powder.

If you’re like me and are lowkey obsessed with the black forest hot chocolate, use your normal hot chocolate and add a pump or two of

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Ok so this was the one that I was most looking forward to because it is super simple to get a frothy coffee at home. Without any technical thingymibobs and you can totally show off to your guests with your fancy pants coffee. If they want a ultra tricky macchiato with camel milk welllllll you’ve come to the wrong blog but I can teach you a simple way to make a latte.

So not too dissimilar from the hot chocolate, I pour milk into the cup/mug/glass whichever receptacle of choice measuring out how much I’ll need. I usually fill it about 3/4s full. I love a milky coffee.

I boil the kettle and add a teaspoon of coffee granules into a mug. At that point if you want any sugar, syrups, jazzy bits etc now is the time to add that in. Fill the cup about a third full and mix it altogether making sure all the coffee granules have fully dissolved and it’s smooth.

Going back to the milk bit,  you can either warm it up in the microwave first or wait to shake it up first. I actually then put it into a protein shaker or the breville active blender (use some sort of bottle or container with a lid that can also go in the microwave) and shake the milk up for about 30 seconds until its grown frothy and bubbly on top.

If you’ve warmed up your milk first you can then shake it up and pour it into the glass or if you haven’t you can then warm your shaken up milk in the microwave until hot.

Pour the milk straight into the glass and then quickly pour the coffee on top of that. Careful not to knock out any of the lovely froth. If you want to make better coffee art then I do, as you pour the coffee, pour it narrowly down one side of the glass and then filter it off into the middle and it’s supposed to make a heart shape.

 

If you want to get your hands on some syrups or extras or even find some great places to get some teas/coffee granules/syrups other than supermarkets, tea shops or the OG TK Maxx I’d recommend:

Next Day Coffee

Discount Cream

The Protein Works

Skinny Mixes

Verde Coffee

Cardiff Sport Nutrition

Syrups and Stuff

You can also try Amazon or just using food essences or even more naturally with herbs and spices, I love popping in a cinnamon stick. So yum!

MUCH LOVE. X

Irish Apple Crumble Cake.

I saw this recipe online a few months ago, from Donal Skehan’s website here,  and it quickly became one of my favourites and one of my family’s too. Even though I live in  Dorset so you may have thought that the famous Dorset Apple cake would have stolen that top spot for me however I enjoy the cake/crumble hybrid that comes with this teatime treat. It has a light, fluffy sponge, delicately spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger topped with a smooth, buttery crumble top adding an extra dimension of texture and flavour.

This bake isn’t really for the fainthearted judging by the amount of butter and sugar you throw (not literally) into the bowl. It won’t be one you can take to a weight watchers bake off to be honest but it’s so deliciously decadent that it won’t even matter. I based my recipe off of Donal’s, he’s one of my favourite chefs with his fun approach to cooking and baking. I have added a bit of a twist to this recipe which some Irish folk may think is absolute blasphemy and I’ll be banned from the Emerald Isle for life but i’ve baked this for family and friends and it went down a treat.

For this bake you will need:

  • 110g butter, I used unsalted.
  • 150g soft brown sugar or demerara sugar whatever is easier or what you’ve got in your cupboards.
  • 2 eggs
  • 210g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp of almond or vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1 tsp ginger, 1tsp nutmeg.
  • 300g peeled, cored and sliced cooking apple is Donal’s recommendation but I tend to use 2 or 3 small eating apples.

For the crumble top you will need:

  • 50g caster sugar
  • 50g plain flour
  • 50g cold, diced butter.

 

HOW TO:

So first off I would recommend preheating your oven to 180 degrees and lining a cake tin. Then you can peel and dice your apple. Depending on how apple-y you like your bake you could add more or less. We like ours quite fruity so add a good amount. To keep them from browning I put them in a bowl of water with a squeeze of lemon juice until I add them to the mixture.

Like any other cake, cream the butter and sugar together until pale and smooth. Add in the eggs with a spoonful of flour with each egg. This helps the mixture from not looking claggy and a bit gross and enables it to mix together more smoothly.

Add in the rest of the flour along with the salt and baking powder too. Once that’s all fully combined I pop in the almond extract and the spices too. I really like these flavours so sometimes adjust the amount I use depending on my personal tastes and whether I want to use some of these Christmassy flavours too. I think the cinnamon is definitely a good addition but things like ginger, nutmeg or even something like allspice or mixed spice are all optional.

Draining the apples from the water completely and patting them dry in a tea towel, stopping any excess water getting the batter wetter than it needs to be, I pop them straight into the batter giving it a quick stir until it’s completely combined.

At this stage you could also add things like a handful of crushed mixed nuts, raisins or other dried fruits like raisins, cranberries or chopped apricots or even jewel the lined cake tin with blackberries or raspberries ready for when you pour the mixture over it.

Once the cake mix is evenly spread into the tin you can sprinkle on top the crumble mix.

To make the crumble mixture all you need to do is rub the sugar, butter and flour to a rough breadcrumb consistency. I like to add some spices to the mix of mine too, giving it that lovely golden sand colour. Similarly if you want an extra crunchy texture, crumble in some crushed up biscuits or shortbread, flaked almonds or even some rolled oats then evenly coat the top of the cake batter.

Cook in the oven for 40-45 minutes or until you poke a skewer or knife in and it comes out clean. I sometimes find that bit difficult with a recipe with fruit in so sometimes it’s easier to poke a couple holes in just to be on the safe side.

Once cooled it is perfect served with a generous dollop of cream or even have it slightly warmed up too. It is glorious. If I do say so myself.

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The Autumn Tag!

So I thought for Blogtober day 4 I would write all about my favourite season of them all. I don’t know if you’ve picked up on the idea that I actually rrrrrreeeeeeeaaaaaally do like Autumn. I mean I’ve only been banging on about it on Twitter, Instagram and on here for what seems like a full month now ha! I’ve seen a few blog tags floating around over the last few years similar to this one and seeing as I haven’t done a tag post in a while, I thought now would be as good a time as ever. I’ve taken a few questions from this post from a few years ago on Makeup Savvy’s blog (seen here) and added some of my own questions to it as well.

The Autumn Tag!

What signifies the start of Autumn for you?

It would either be when the leaves start to change colour or when it’s really cold in the mornings and sunny and bright in the afternoons. I absolutely love that weather, even if it is a bit annoying when trying to dress appropriately for it!

What is your favourite Autumn scent?

I really like spicy scents in general but even more so at this time of year. Apple cinnamon and baked gingerbread are always firm favourites of mine. Similarly I also really like the smell of wood. We have a log fire at open and it just smells really good. 

What is you favourite Autumn colour?

I love rich dark reds all year round but maroon and burgundy especially right now.

Are you a fan of a PSL (pumpkin spice latte) ?

No.

What is your favourite Autumn drink? 

A gingerbread latte usually but I haven’t actually been into any coffee chains and tried any of their seasonal drinks yet! I’m super into the sound of Starbucks Caramel Brulee latte this year though!

What’s your favourite coffee shop and their drink of choice?

It’s usually Costa just as that’s the only chain in my closest town but I do like Starbucks gingerbread latte or their seasonal hot chocolates!

Apple pie or Pumpkin pie?

Apple pie. Hands down!

What TV show, new or old are you looking forward to in the next few months?

You always know Christmas is drawing in when X Factor and The Apprentice is back on tv! I don’t really watch either to be honest I’ve not been watching much tv at all recently. But I am really excited that The Good Place season three is on Netflix. I need a Janet in my life!

What is your favorite Autumn fashion trend?

I love an accessory especially a hat. I really want to get a beret or invest in a really nice coat this year.

What is your favourite comfort food to enjoy in the colder months?

I love a jacket potato with cheese and beans. It’s not very classy but it’s my fave!

What is your favourite Autumn activity?

I feel like in the UK there’s not much you can really do compared to like in the US. I might be wrong though! There aren’t any pumpkin patches near me and I’m a bit too old to be going trick or treating I reckon! But there’s a National Trust place near me called Stourhead and it always looks really beautiful in the Autumn colours so we usually make a visit as a family there.

Are you a fan of horror movies?

I like watching them behind a pillow does that count? I quite like thriller films and jumpy ones. I just don’t like blood and gore.

Do you ever do anything fun for Halloween? 

I went to Fright Night at Thorpe Park last year with one of my best mates and it was such good fun. It took us about five hours to get home in the end.

What was your favourite part about halloween as a child?

Obvs getting all the sweets when trick or treating. I was a little chub though so of course I liked all the free sweets.

Are you a bigger fan of Bonfire night or Halloween?

Um I’d probably say Halloween just because I’m not bothered by bonfire night! Lowkey afraid of fireworks as a child.

Where is your dream destination to visit in the Autumn?

CANADA. It looks perfect and like I should be eating poutine and wearing plaid shirts and posing in Banff. Not like I’ve thought this through or anything…..

Do you always forget about the clocks going back?

YES. It confuses me everytime. Although with smartphones you no longer have to worry about manually adjusting the time. I was out at the pub one year when the clocks went back and I’ve never seen so many confused people to go through 1am twice.

When do you usually start preparing for Christmas?

Christmas Eve? I know it’s awful I hate myself for it but I am so unorganised and am usually up until 2am wrapping presents still.

autumn tag post flatlay

I’m tagging these absolute huns to take part in this because I’d love, love, LOVE to know what they’d say. And because they’re all absolutely great jus saying.

Laura

Ross

Esther

Jess

Danielle

Gillian

Zara

Michael

Jo

Thanks for reading!!

MUCH LOVE X