Thursday, 25 September 2014

THCF Masquerade Ball

Recently, I popped down to Southampton for a night out with one of my favourite girls!
Georgy and I lived together for all three years of uni, and for the three years since, have tried to visit each other as often as possible.

Georgy is a co-founder of The Hannah Chamberlain Foundation, an incredible charity which raises money for grants to give to young people fighting cancer, all in the name of their good friend Hannah.
You can read a bit more about what they do here.

Each year, they throw a big fundraising event, and having attended all of them, I can safely say that this one was my favourite.
The girls managed to raise an incredible £4,500!

So to celebrate, here's a few photos from an incredible event!

So proud of them, and all the work they put in to achieve it all.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Edinburgh Festival 2013

I've never been to Edinburgh, not even for a weekend, but I've always wanted to. I'd heard it was a beautiful city, and had always wanted to check out the sites for myself.
Little did I know that this summer I would get the opportunity to not only visit Edinburgh, but work there during the festival.

Although I can't divulge exactly what I was working on up there, I can tell you that Edinburgh is indeed a beautiful city, and I cannot recommend it enough. Where else can you take one wrong turn on your walk to work, and end up next to a castle?!

Moreover, Edinburgh during festival season it is just incredible.

The festival is split into venues across the city, ranging from big lecture halls, tents to the basements of restaurants and occasionally, in the middle of the street.
You can't walk three steps up the Royal Mile without being given a leaflet, or striking up a conversation with a stranger. And despite the late nights, and inevitably large amount of alcohol (not for me - our early starts were enough to put us off!), we didn't see one cross word, let alone any fighting. Who wouldn't want to visit a place like that?!

We made the most of our evenings by inhaling our dinners and cocktails, and rushing off to various venues to see shows.

My personal favourite was 'The Boy With Tape On His Face' (@tapefaceboy) - an incredible show which involved no speech whatsoever. Just a lot of miming, props and ridiculous audience participation.

Definitely hoping to go again next year while not working, just to absorb some more of the atmosphere. I think it might be love!

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Lemon Drizzle Birthday Cake

Thought it was about time I got baking again, and what better excuse than my other half's birthday?
I gave him free choice of cake, and he requested a Lemon Drizzle, but I'm a firm believer that you should be able to tell a birthday cake from your average lemon drizzle, so I went all out on the decorations and created this...

I must have had a lot of good karma that day, because I baked in a limited time scale, and everything went to plan. Miraculously, neither half got stuck to the bottom of the tin and I managed to not drop the mixture, while trying to put it in the oven (that has happened - humiliating!).

It was very well received by Laurie, as were the presents you can see in the background. But more on his birthday festivities another time. Here's how I made this spongey lemony goodness!

For the cake:
 - 250g unsalted butter
 - 300g caster sugar
 - 4 large eggs
 - 300g self-raising flour
 - 2tbsp lemon curd

Making the sponge is fairly straight forward, and would definitely be easier with an electric whisk. Sadly, I don't have one of those, so it took a fair amount of time!

Firstly, cream the butter and sugar together.
Beat the eggs, and gradually mix them in with the butter and sugar.
Sift in the selfraising flour, and finally, stir in the lemon curd. Simple!

Pop the mixtures in two greased cake tins and pop in the oven for 25-30 minutes.

Once baked, and a cocktail stick comes out clean, remove the tins from the oven.
Keeping the cakes in the tins, pop them on a cooling rack.

For the glaze:
 - Juice of one lemon
 - 4tbsp granulated sugar

Mix the lemon juice and the sugar together.
Take a cocktail stick and make several smalll shallow holes in the cakes. While they are still warm, pour over the lemony, sugary glaze.
As the cake cools, this will seep through the cake, as well as settling on top.

For the filling:
 - 300g full fat cream cheese
 - 2tbsp lemon curd

Once the cakes are completely cool, remove them from the tins.
To create your filling, mix together the cream cheese and lemon curd, and spread it onto to the top pf one of the cakes with a pallet knife. Place the remaining cake on top.

The glaze would have left a nice shiny topping, but as it was a birthday cake, I felt the need to go all out on the decoration, so I saved half of the filling to go on top too, and finished it off with lemon sugar crunch, which I found in Morrissons, and some colourful birthday candles!

If you try it out, please do let me know how it works for you!
This is one of the simplest cakes I've made, which still has a definite wow factor. Enjoy and bon apetit!

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Ooh Ooh - we got a TATTOO

Getting a tattoo is a big decision, and something that my best friend Chloe and I have been thinking about for a long time.
If you've ever read our blog (and if you haven't, you can do by clicking here), you'll know that a little while ago we decided 2013 was going to be our year, and we devised a bucket list.
Mostly, it consists of small things, but there are a couple of large ones. The first of which, is 'Get a tattoo'.
So we did.

As much as we were joking about being nervous and pulling silly faces, it's fair to say that I've never been more terrified of anything. Ever. As Chloe can vouch for, I'm not a quiet person, but for the hour leading up to it I did not stop talking. Utterly ridiculous.

I babbled while Tony was putting out designs together

And I giggled incessently while we signed our lives away.

Chloe was kind enough to let me go first. Largely because I think if I had seen her in pain, I just wouldn't have gone through with it.

Clearly, I'm really coping with the pain well.

Halfway through Chloe's boyfriend James, and my brother, Jack, came to check in on us.
They were too sweet. They bought us sugary drinks, and chatted away to take my mind off the pain.
Just under an hour later, it was done. I fell in love.

Next up, it was Chloe. The bravest girl I know.
The amount I was wincing, moaning and swearing would have been enough to put most people off. But not Chloe Satch.

Still smiling, she takes to the chair!

And here's a little picture just to proove that I wasn't THAT much of a wuss. It hurt her too!
But, strangely, the pain was entirely worth it. Tony from South Coast Tattoo did a fantastic job, and was so kind to us throughout.

Happy faces with our post-pain euphoria!

I think I speak for both of us, when I say this is something we'll never regret.
Each of us picked something very meaningful to ourselves. I won't divulge Chloe's, or go into too much soppy detail, but each flower on my foot represents someone, or a situation thats important to me, or shaped who I am as a person.
Chlo and I also got matching leaves, to symbolise our friendship. N'aww. So cute!

And with that, we were cling-filmed up and sent on our way!
So obviously, we went to our favourite pub. Jack bought us celebratory Pimms and Chloe took a cheeky tatoo selfie in public. Shameless!

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Back to Cardiff

I've only been out of Cardiff for a month, and I miss it already - the people, the places, everything!
So when Katy invited me back down for her birthday celebrations and a bank holiday weekend in the sun, I could hardly refuse!

I caught my train early Sunday morning from a chilly Manchester, and arrived in Cardiff four hours later in sunshine. Bliss! After a lunch date in town, I wandered over to Katy's flat down in the bay, where I was greeted with a big hug, and an even bigger glass of Cheeky V!

We watched Katy open her presents, drank prosecco, and waited for the rest of the party to arrive, before leisurely wandering down to the Las Iguanas in the sunshine for our dinner reservation.
Katy and I have been to Las Iguanas for drinks together a few times before, and new instantly what we wanted to order for our happy hour drinks - the Brazillian Bellini - there really is no other option! Prosecco and Mango heaven!

Apparently, not so pleasant if you're forced to down it!
I would have taken photos of the food, (which was lovely - and a bargain) but somebody drew a moustache on my finger, and that was a lot more fun to take pictures of!

After we'd eaten, we walked back up to Katy's flat to meet the taxis, but en route, were ridiculously  excited to see a carosel, and couldn't resist a ride!

We waitied for our taxis in the Welsh sunshine, and took more photos

Before ending at our final destination: Revolution De Cuba!
We were greeted with cocktails that we'd pre-ordered, and they flowed freely after that!

At half ten, the staff came round handing out maracas, hats and leis, before forming a conga chain that went around the entire bar, taking most of the patrons with it!

I even got bought a drink with a sparkler in it. What more could you possibly ask for?

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Instagram Frame

I, like most other people on the planet Earth, am a bit obsessed with instagram. In fact, after iPhone-gate (an unfortunate series of events involving two iphones, a theft, and a washing machine), the thing I missed most about having a smartphone, was instagram.

Sure, its slowly getting crowded with pictures of food, which is especially annoying when I'm on a fasting day! And yes, every so often you get spam messages as you would have seen on myspace circa 2007 ("PC 4 PC? - No, I think not!).

But, it makes my mediocre little snaps look lovely, and has given a whole new definition to the word 'Selfie' - shameless, I know.

So when it came around to Laurie and I's first year anniversary, I wanted to find a way of documenting our first year together in a not too girly sort of way. At uni i lived with a boy, whose girlfriend constantly sent him canvases that she'd made, adorned with pictures of the two of them kissing, surrounded by song lyrics, sequins and love hearts. Cute, but in no way is this my style, let alone Laurie's!

It just so happened that Laurie had just moved into his flat in London too, so I wanted to try and incorporate something that he could use to liven up his room, but wouldn't be embarassing and too coupley to display.

Luckily, if there's anyone who loves instagram as much as I do, its Mr Beamont. Admittedly, he mostly takes pictures of his feet and/or tube trains, but occassionally there's nice ones of us on our adventures. Even having not had Instagram for four months of the year, I had plenty of pictures to choose from.

I found the website Printstagram, logged in with my instagram password, and voila, our photos were there for printing! They offer all sorts of products, but I just picked up a set of small square prints. They're 2.5 x 2.5 inches and you can buy 48 of them for $12. In English money, it turned out to be around £15 with shipping added on too.
They warned there could be a three week wait for them, so I left plenty of time, but the little FedEx box arrived on my desk eight days later!

They arrived beautifully packaged, and wrapped up really carefully, so they didn't get bent on the journey. But despite this, I couldn't help opening the packaging there and then and flicking through them at my desk!

They were all perfectly printed and have a really nice matte finish to them. It made my creative juices flare and I thought up so many different things I could do with them, that I nearly ordered another batch there and then!

Next stop was IKEA, to find a frame. I took my time trying to find something that suited the pictures, as well as Laurie's style. I decided on the 'Ribba', which was a bargain at £9.

Then came the tricky part - the actual construction.
I used the white backing paper that came with the frame as a background and removed the cardboard mount altogether.

I then did a quick bit of maths, and worked out that in a 15 x 17.5 inch rectangle, I could fit 42 of my 48 prints.

I drew the rectangle on the backing paper in pencil, and starte sifting through the photos to find my favourites, and put them in a nice order. I tried not to put too many with the same filter together, but thats just me being picky! Have a play and see what works! 
Once I decided on the order of the photos, it was time to stick them down. In hindsight, spray mount would have been more effective, but a good quality Pritt Stick worked well for me.

And voila - the finished product! I'm really chuffed with how this worked out, and will definitely be making one for myself when I'm not moving house every six months! Laurie loved it too, and it looks lovely and homely hanging on his new wall!