***Valentine’s Day***

Good day my darlings. And a very Happy Valentine’s Day to you!

Firstly, a serious note. It makes me sad to see how miserable people get around this time of year, or how people feel if they don’t have a boyfriend/girlfriend, their life isn’t worth living, and they should just go and hide under the duvet for the entire day, and sob about the fact that no cards have come through the door, no flowers, or they haven’t had a text/Facebook message/call from that person they sort of thought they were going out with but….

What’s possibly worse than that is the couples who use it as an excuse to put all the details of their relationship out in the open – Facebook, I’m blaming you – instead of just keeping it to themselves. I personally think love becomes a bit tarnished once it’s splashed all over Facebook. It makes me wonder why they can’t just talk to their actual boyfriend/girlfriend directly…

We’re morphing into a society where the concept of discretion no longer exists, where everything has to be laid out in the open, to inspire jealousy or sympathy in others. Now, I am most certainly not above reproach. This is my 6th blog, for goodness sake; I’m hardly a virgin to the world of oversharing. I too have felt the needling longing to post some vicious, biting, self-pitying status on Facebook, just because someone, ANYONE else must feel my pain, because otherwise it’s too much to deal with on my own…And equally, you want everyone to know when something has gone really super duper well for you.

BUT, I still can’t get my head round all the ‘oh, puppy, I wuv you so so so so much’ messages. Firstly, Cringefest 2011. Secondly, if you’re that close, why don’t you actually just, you know, TALK TO EACH OTHER. IN REAL LIFE. You remember that, don’t you? That thing where you move your mouth, and someone else utilises their ears. Yes. I’m terribly glad for you that you’ve found someone madly special, but please, a little Facebook etiquette. This ranting is usually better left to A A Gill; it’s not really my style, so I do apologise.

I happen to have a lovely chap myself, but as a seasoned Facebookphobic, I wouldn’t dream of embarrassing him with splashy declarations of my love and lust (I’ll just do that in this blog. I kid, I kid). But I for one will be telling him how marvellous I think he is via a less public forum.

Now, moaning all done and dusted, here’s the real crux of the post. I love Valentine’s Day. I literally, absolutely, and totally love it. Always have done, always will do, unless an acrimonious divorce gets in the way. I remember when I was about 10, getting up mega early on Valentine’s Day morning, and decorating our whole sitting room with purple crepe paper hearts I’d made myself, chiffon-y sheets, hearts dangling from the ceiling, flowers etc, to surprise my parents with. It’s pretty much my Christmas.

Perhaps it’s the time of year it comes at – just when that first tingle of Spring sunshine is starting to make an appearance, but still cool enough to retreat to your bed for hours and not feel guilty. I love this time of year, as I’ve mentioned before. I start skipping around like a lamb. Val’s Day is the cherry on top of the cake. It’s about LOVE, which to me means every kind of love. It’s about family and friends, not just romantic love. It’s a day to think about someone else, be a bit nicer, and as Annie Lennox and Al Green once sang ‘think of your fellow man, give him a helping hand, put a little love in your heart…’

So, think not of the red roses, the love hearts, or the Godiva chocolates you feel you’re missing out on. You are loved, you are not lonely, and it’s nearly Spring. I’m sorry for the rant, it’s really not my territory, and I’ve probably massively offended half of you. But I don’t think anyone should ever be made to feel bad by the behaviour of others, and no one should EVER have to feel rotten about being single, because there’s nothing wrong with it whasoever. Anyway, go out and spread some serious love. Send an old fashioned letter to a lover, go and see your grandma, give your dad a hug, take a friend out for cocktails.

Share the love!



Things that make you go OOH.

On Wednesday this week, I got the call I’d been waiting for. As of Monday 21st February, I will be the newest Account Executive at a rather wonderful Ad Agency in Tunbridge Wells. I am madly overexcited.

Unfortunately, this has triggered a chain of events in my head. Because I will now be earning enough to finally move out, I’ll be looking at getting my own little place in good old T Dubz, if I manage to pass my probation period, that is….this won’t be for a few months, but what am I already doing? Looking up places to view, and choosing furniture. Shutup brain.

If the weather continues to be quite so disgusting, I’ll be forced to postpone this weeks gardening project, but I have a couple of other ideas up my sleeve, and also 10 days before starting the new job, and therefore a lot of time to play around with craftiness 🙂

Mission statement

Hello. My name’s Amelia, and welcome to my brand spanking new blog. I’ve been keeping a cookery blog for a few months, and while I’ll still be running that, I’ve been leaning towards doing something new. But what, I wondered? I adore fashion, but I’m not confident enough to post photos of myself in my various ‘creations’, so that was out. I tried keeping a blog of my daily life when I was about 15, and it was a) nauseatingly self-indulgent, and b) entirely pointless. I wanted it to be creative and constructive, and something to motivate me, yet not be solely ABOUT me.

Now, in the third week of January, I find myself fast losing motivation. I’m jobless, aimless, unfit (just read my cookery blog to find out why….), and all the dreams, ideas, and in fact ideals I had in my ‘yoof’ seem to be growing ever more distant. Why? Because every day I lose sight of who I want to be – and once that diminuishes, I simply don’t know what to do with myself every day. At school, my days were made up of things that would lead me towards my goal – of going to university, of being an actor. At university, it was the same. Then, in my third year, the quiet but creeping realisation that acting wasn’t, in fact, what I wanted to do, followed by several dispiriting post-uni jobs, and here I am today. I have simply no idea what I want to do, who I want to be, and I have (and this is the important one) NO IDEA HOW TO BE HAPPY.

There are beautiful, wonderful, brilliant things all around us. You might find your beauty in, say, the sea. Or, a blackbird. Or, a candy necklace (that last one’s mine. Candy necklaces are pure uninhibited JOY.) I can take marvellous, total, childish glee from small things, but recently it’s like I haven’t been able to see them. The clashing, roaring noise of self-doubt, self-pity, and Will Self (sorry, ran out of ‘selfs’) grows ever louder in my ears, and I forget to just be happy. Or, in fact, to just…be.

So, I hear you asking, where do you, the reader, come into this? I can see you shaking your head and thinking ‘she’s already said she wouldn’t do a misery memoir! It says it right there in the first paragraph! Give me my coinage back’, etc etc. But fear no more, because this is where the misery STOPS, and the happiness BEGINS. All that ‘orrible stuff above was just to give you a background as to who I am, and why I need to bring a little bit of sunshine into my – and hopefully, your – life.

Alright, then. So what’s the blog actually about?
Good question, maestro. Each week, I’ll be setting myself a project, or a challenge. It might be small, or it might be as big as climbing Everest (disclaimer: I almost certainly will not be climbing Everest). I want to push myself out of my comfort zone, get up off the sofa, and do something new. I’ll keep a record of what I’m up to, why I’m up to it, as well as lots of lovely jubbly pictures so you don’t snooze off.

It’s not just about making me a better person (it is really…) But I hope (get ready for naff) that I can perhaps inspire someone else to do something new. You can join in with me, or cheer me on, or heckle me, or just read my blog secretly and never write me anything, because that’s also cool.

If you’re interested, then stick with me. I’ll be posting details of my first project very shortly, as well as some pictures or videos that might cheer you up if you’re having a bad day, you poor sausage.

Well, that’s me. Erm – watch this space?

Amelia xxx

Backstreet’s back….ALRIGHT

I’m back! I’ve been terribly lame at actually doing my beloved blog of late, and having just signed in after an EXTREMELY long absence, I’ve seen you wonderful, beautiful darlings are still reading! Thank you!
So here’s the thing. It’s my birthday this week, and for the first time ever, I’m going to make my own cake. See below for inspiration/cake porn.

Here’s what I’ll be making (and subsequently blogging): French Fancies, raspberry swirl meringues (sssh, they’re secretly marshmellowy clouds), pink champagne and raspberry jellies, more cupcakes, and of course, a huge and disgustingly creamy, pink and sweet birthday cake.

Later this week, I’ll do recipes and pictures for hopefully all of the above, so keep your eyes peeled, and good things will come your way!

Oh, the weather outside is frightful…

…No, really, it is.

Just a teensy apology to you, my beauties, for being a selfish and terrible blogger. Having started a new job recently means I’ve had less time to blog, not to mention the fact that I’ve actually just made the Snowdrift Shortbread three Sundays in a row, so nothing new to add…

Next weekend I’m going to start making Festive fancies, as it’s now justifiably Winter. I’ll also be sharing with you my latest macaroon tale of woe.

All my love, stay warm! xxx

Munching on a Winter Wonderland

Oh gosh. I hate to start out by being negative, and I really, truly love the book ‘Eat Me!’….but. And it’s a big ‘but’. (Like the kind you’ll get if you eat too many of my cakes.) But, the recipes often just don’t work, or are missing vital instructions. It’s a shame, and a good example of when style wins out over substance. Sadly, in cooking, substance is what you need. My pledge to you, beautiful readers, is to give you the most accurate recipes I can, so I’ve tweaked this one. In the next few weeks, I’m going to be making the transition from testing out the recipes of others, to making up my own, so please stay with me!

Shortbread base ingredients
3oz caster sugar
80z plain flour
40z unsalted butter, fridge-cold and cut into pieces

1. Fire up the ol’ oven to 170C, and then set to greasing up a baking tin measuring 20 x 30cm. If you really can’t handle that, then 8 x 12in. Greasing up. Greeeeeeasing up. Yuck. You’ll most likely want to do this, and/or line it with parchment paper, unless you’ve got the best ever baking tin in the world, that never sticks (private message me if you do. I’ll be having that please.)

2. Grab yourself a bowl, and mix together flour and sugar and butter. Yay! You’re done!

3. So kidding. You’re not back in Kansas yet, Dorothy. Get the butter and rub it in, until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

4. Press the mixture into the baking tin, evening it up as you go, making sure it reaches into the corners. Bake in the oven for around 25 minutes, or until golden brown.

For the fudge filling:

1 x 397g can condensed milk

2oz soft light brown sugar

2oz unsalted butter

1. I’ve never, ever had condensed milk before. I found the experience really rather exciting….

2. So easy peasy – all you have to do is pour the condensed milk, sugar and butter into a pan. Bring it to the boil, then turn the heat down, and cook for around 7-8 minutes, stirring regularly. The Eat Me book by ‘Cookie Girl’ says something COMPLETELY different. Ignore. Me and Cookie Girl will be on Jeremy Kyle next Wednesday, working out our difficulties.

3. What you’re looking for is a slight darkening in colour. Don’t worry too much texture-wise. It’ll thicken up a bit, but when you leave it to cool, it will thicken even more so.

4. So, um, yeah….leave it to cool.

For the topping
6oz white chocolate
2oz desiccated coconut

1. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. You’ll want to do this JUST before you need it, because otherwise, it’ll go from solid to liquid, then back to solid again. Kind of like the way Cheryl Cole went from being Pugnacious Chav, to Nation’s Sweetheart, to Public Enemy No1 again.

2. Once the shortbread is cooked, cover with the fudge filling, then spread the white chocolate across, with a spatula. This will be tough! In fact, spreading white chocolate over fudge doesn’t get much tougher than this, as they always say on Masterchef.

3. While the chocolate’s still molten (brilliant word), sprinkle over the desiccated coconut and leave to cool, before cutting into squares.

4. Before you eat, you might want to book in with your local Weightwatchers group. Just a heads up.

All my love, and while my blog may have made you laugh (massive presumption on my part), please don’t forget that today is Remembrance Sunday, and take some time to think about what that means to you.

Curiouser and curiouser….

Alice in Wonderland Cupcakes from the wonderful ‘Crabapple Bakery Cupcake Cookbook’. These are stunners, and they will blow your mind. Even better, they will blow the mind of anyone you give them to. Ok cake fans, time to cook. This is an Aussie recipe, so all in cups…

Coconut and cherry cake ingredients
2 1/4 cups plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup desiccated coconut
2/3 cup milk
400g sour cream
200g softened butter
1/2 teaspoon coconut essence
1/2 cups caster sugar
3 eggs
1 cup chopped glace cherries

Makes 24

1. Preheat oven to 160C. Line two 12-hole muffin trays with cupcake cases, as bright as you like. Pink is obviously preferable, as ever.

2. Sift together the flour and baking powder, then add the desiccated coconut and mix, using your hands. Damn girl! You don’t need no wooden spoons!

3. In another bowl, mix together the milk and sour cream until smooth. If your cream isn’t sour enough, tell it it’s wife cheated on it. That should help. Inappropriate?

4. In yet ANOTHER bowl, cream the butter and coconut essence together for 1-2 minutes – this should really help add a ‘heart’ of coconut to the recipe, instead of just adding it to the mixture later.

5. Add the castor sugar a third at a time, and beat for 2 minutes between each addition. It may sound labour intensive, but you really won’t regret it – when you’re using something like desiccated coconut, the rest of the cake needs to be EXTREMELY SMOOTH. As smooth as…no, no, I do that joke every blog entry. After the last addition of sugar, keep beating until you can hardly feel your wrist. You want it to look as though the sugar has almost completely dissolved into the mixture.

6. Add eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each. It’s tres tres important that the mixture is light and fluffy, or your friends won’t ever speak to you again.

7. Add a third of the flour mixture at a time to the creamed mixture, and beat until just combined. Add half of the sour cream mixture and also beat until just combined. Repeat this until all the ingredients are combined. After the remaining third of the flour is combined, beat until mixed but not ‘tough’.

8. Add glace cherries and beat until…until what? Yes! JUST COMBINED.

9. Spoon mixture into your cupcake cases, filling until half full. Bake for between 18-20 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.

10. Once removed from the oven, take the cakes out and leave them to cool on a rack for around 30 minutes, otherwise when you ice it you’ll get soup instead.
Pink Coconut Ice Frosting

9 egg whites
6 cups dessicated coconut
9 cups icing sugar
pink food colouring

1. Industrial quantities of coconut ice!

2. Beat the egg whites for 15 seconds using a mixer on low speed. The minute it solidifies, you will get a rush of incredible wellbeing. I’d imagine that’s how it feels to have a baby – not 15 seconds ago, you were cradling a sloppy mixing bowl of egg whites, and now look! A glorious mountain range, carved out in stiff egg….it’s a miracle! Now hold it above your head to prove you’ve done your job properly.

3. Right campers – add the coconut, sifted icing sugar and 3-4 drops pink food colouring, or however much it takes to satisfy your cravings for pinkness. For me it’s a lot more than 3-4 drops, I’ll tell you that for free.

4. Listen up and listen well, and listen….good. This will SET. And it will set QUICKLY. So what you have to do is pretend you’re in a sequel to ‘Speed’. ‘Speed 4: Race Against Coconut Ice’. (Apologies if there already has been a Speed 4. Apologies because it was undoubtely crap.) Goddammit you! You’re gonna have to work fast! If you don’t…..YOU’LL HAVE TO THROW YOUR ICING IN THE BIN.

5. Sorry, might have got a tad carried away. Now, I’m afraid there are no pictures of the following steps, because of Speed 4 syndrome – I couldn’t possibly pause to photograph. Take my word for it. Here’s what you do: Use your hands to roll a large spoonful of icing into a ball, around the size of a tiny peach. Place it (QUICKLY) on top of your cake, and shape it. Sprinkle with more desiccated coconut and top with half a cherry.

Alternative names I have for ‘desiccated coconut’:
Decimated coconut
Desegregated coconut
Disingenuous coconut
Disgraced coconutYou may know it by many others. It is a master of disguise.