Autumn Wish List

HORRAY!!! Autumn is almost here and its my favourite time of year! Finally I get to wear my beloved collection of jumpers and heavy coats. I love the crispness of the air, the crunching of leaves beneath your feet and the golden glow of afternoon light as the sun goes down, heaven! 

As its a new season its time to pack away my summer wardrobe and make a wish list of some autumn goodies! I feel most comfortable when I resemble a cartoon character so these bright, fun pieces are some of my favourites. 

I also included 2 hair colours that I'm going to be trying out together like in this picture. I love the bright colours and the ombre effect, seems more seasonally appreciate than pretty summery pastels. 

Does your style change in autumn? I think its always fun to try new looks!
Chat soon!

Elsa's Blueberry, White Chocolate and Popping Candy Cheesecake Recipe

Its Great Blogger Bake Off time again and this week we're making desserts! As you can tell, my go-to baking theme is Disney films! I really enjoyed Frozen and thought that I would make a chilled blue cheesecake inspired by Elsa. 

I think the simple white chocolate snow flake design worked really well and of course, sprinkle some edible glitter and edible blue lustre dust on top for a beautiful "frozen" effect! PLUS add some popping candy for an exciting cheesecake to mimic cracking ice just like Elisa creates!

To make my Elsa's Blueberry, White Chocolate and Popping Candy Cheesecake you'll need:
2 cups of crushed digestive biscuits
3/4 cup butter, softened

1 cup of cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup icing sugar sifted
1 cup heavy cream, whipped with 2 TBS powdered sugar
1 TBS vanilla essence
1-1/2 cups blueberries
1 cup of melted white chocolate
Blue food colouring

1 packet of popping candy
1/2 cup of melted white chocolate for snowflake
Edible glitter
Edible blue lustre dust

PREHEAT oven to 350 degrees. (This is just for the crust)
Mix together crushed biscuit and butter in a bowl until well incorporated and crumbly. Press into a pan and bake for 8 minutes; cool completely.

Beat together the cream cheese, icing sugar and vanilla and set aside. Beat the heavy whipping cream and 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar until peaks form. Add this to the cream cheese mixture and mix well. 

 Add your blueberries, white chocolate and blue food colouring. 

Spoon the cream cheese filling into prepared crust. Smooth the top with a spatula, and refrigerate until firm, about 2 to 3 hours.

I should have left mine in a little longer but I couldn't wait to decorate it!

Spoon your cooled melted chocolate into a piping bag to make the large snowflake. Simply draw lines across the cheesecake and then add smaller lines to them to create the snowflake effect. I drew 1 too many lines across my cheesecake so removed it!

Sprinkle lots edible glitter and edible blue lustre dust on top, go crazy! And don't forget the popping candy!

This is such a tasty and simple cheesecake recipe, I think children and adults would love this for a Frozen themed party and it would be a fab dessert at Christmas!

I'll be munching this during tonights episode of The Great British Bake Off and you can follow mine and all the other baking bloggers progress on instgram #thegreatbloggerbakeoff.

Heres some other delectable dessert recipes made by the lovely Great Blogger Bake Off bloggers:

Fancy some more baking? Take a look at my other Great Blogger Bake Off recipes here:
Next week is pies and tarts week! I've got some ideas and I think its gonna be cute! 

How to fit a Summer Holiday into 1 day

Life's got super busy since having Lux. I'm still learning to juggle being a Mummy, working on my jewellery business (I Love Crafty) from home, taking Bellamy the dog for afternoon strolls, occasionally tidying the house and regularly burning dinner, so when summer seemed to be ending we realised we'd completely forgot to take some time out to relax and get away from it all. 
We didn't manage to go away last summer as Lux arrived on the scene 3 months early (you can read Lux's birth story here) so we really needed a break. As we live in Bristol, Weston-super-mare is only 40mins away so its perfect for a day trip and we decided to make that special day our summer holiday! Heres some of my tips on how to fit a summer vacation into 1 day plus what my 1 day holiday looked like. 

This is one of the rare moments when it didn't rain and the sun came out!

The pier is crazy big with tons of game machines! Good job I brought my old change with me. 

Lux had fun putting money in the machines and she loved all the colourful lights. 

My seaside obsession - claw machines! I won't tell you how many times I tried to win one of these cuties! The games fixed I tell ya, fixed! 

My favourite Paul Frank beach bag that I bought years ago. I have to take it with me when on holiday!

Lux and Jon eyeing up our ice cream sundaes in another rare moment of sunshine.

A ghostly looking abandoned pier that looked like something from a horror movie that we happened to come across, how exciting!

Make a check list.
Heres my essential holiday activities list. Its fun to write down all your favourite things and it helps to make sure you do them.
  • Eat fish and chips.
  • Play penny slot machines at a games arcade.
  • Scoff a large ice cream on a pier.
  • Build a sand castle. 
  • Wear my special beach bag (my favourite trusty bag perfect for a holiday.)
  • Gaze longingly at the sea. 
  • Discover something new (the abandoned pier, so exciting!)

Leave early.
This is a no brainer but if you want to get the most out of your 1 day holiday then its a good idea to get to your destination early. You don't want to spend half your holiday stuck in traffic, thats no ones idea of fun plus its not on your check list! 

Go on a week day.
We went on a Tuesday so had no traffic problems and all the attractions were less busy so we could fit more in. Winner! 

Try a new destination.
Do a little bit of research and look at places that aren't so popular as say Brighton or Blackpool. These hidden gems may mean less traffic, cheaper prices, you'll feel like your going on a proper adventure plus you may just discover your new favourite place! 

Don't be afraid to give yourself a budget.
Some of us (meaning me) go a bit crazy on holiday and spend more money than they planned, extra treats here and there, eating out, accommodation, they all add up. Doing a summer holiday in 1 day can mean that a little goes a long way so why not give yourself a budget, that way you can always save some money for another 1 day holiday soon! 

Have fun!
Don't put too much pressure on yourself to make the day perfect. It may rain, you might spend way to much time finding the right fish and chip shop and you might not win that Care Bear from the arcade (all happened to me) but this is your holiday and just enjoy the little moments. I forgot to pack a umbrella and got drenched in the rain but the sun did finally come out and that ice-cream sunday was amazing. 

I had a really lovely summer holiday and I hope you have a fab one too, theres still time! 

Babies First Birthday Cake Recipe

Lux turned 1 the other week (yay) and I wanted to celebrate by baking her her very own first birthday cake! I looked around for advice on cakes for babies (I figured a Dark Chocolate Rum cake would be inappropriate) and the general consensus was that sugar free cakes are best for little ones so I baked her this Sugar Free Carrot Cake with Honey Cream Cheese Frosting! Its perfect for any little bubas out there needing a little cake fix.

You'll need: 
  • 2 cups (500 mL) whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 mL) salt
  • 1 1/4 cups (300 mL) water
  • 1/3 cup (75 mL) orange juice or sugar free squash
  • 1 cup (250 mL) shredded carrots
  • 2 cup (250 mL) golden raisins

Preheat oven to 350°F (180° C) and line your cake tin with grease proof paper. Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan, then stir in 1 cup of raisins and the orange juice.
Turn off heat and allow to cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.  In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and salt.  Mix the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients, then stir in carrots and the rest of the raisins until combined.  Transfer the mix to the prepared pan and bake for 50-55 minutes.

To make the frosting just use a tub of cream cheese and add a little honey to taste. Easy peasy. For decoration I used these cute plastic toys that normally sit on Lux's bedside table. I made them little party hats and suddenly there was a party on the cake! I also used a number 1 birthday sparkler for added birthday magic!

I thought the cake was a little dry (since theres no butter or eggs) and quite like a malt loaf but the taste was quite yummy.

Most importantly Lux loved her first birthday cake, I wonder what I'll be baking for her next year! 

Rapunzel Plait Bread Recipe

Its Great Blogger Bake Off time again and this week we're baking bread! I was not looking forward to bread week at all as all my bread making efforts in the past have been pretty disastrous, hence why a friend of mine kindly gave me her bread maker! But I've managed to surprise myself and bake some tasty bread!

My bread recipe is called Rapunzel Plait Bread because its inspired by Disney's Tangled and Rapunzel's beautiful flowery braid plus, as my partner puts it, its a all in one bread that you can munch on while sitting in a tower! I slightly over baked mine (due to putting it in the oven and forgetting to put my timer on) but I'm really happy with the "plait" effect which was pretty easy to do.

This is like a "sandwich" bread so you could just butter it and theres no need to fill it as it already contains kalamata olives, sun dried tomatoes and German smoked cheese! I'm a veggie hence no meat but you could add some pancetta or chorizo for the carnivores in your life. I'm thinking about baking a sweet version with cinnamon and chocolate! Just need a good excuse.

To make my Rapunzel Plait Bread with kalamata olives, sun dried tomatoes and German smoked cheese you'll need:

  • 6 1/2 cups of plain flour
  • 1 1/2 tbs yeast
  • 1 1/2 tbs salt
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 3/4 cup luke warm water (just warm to the touch)
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pitted kalamata olives
  • 1 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes
  • 1 cup of smoked cheese but you could try cheddar 

1. Combine the flour, salt, yeast, sugar and mix ingredients together in a large bowl. Add water and olive oil and begin to mix with a wooden spoon and if you have a mixer, lucky you!. Half way until a wet dough is formed, add the olives, sun dried tomatoes and smoked cheese. 

2. Cover loosely with plastic wrap, leaving a small opening and allow it to rise at room temperature, about 2-4 hours.

3. When ready to bake sprinkle a small amount of flour on the dough mixture and cut the dough into 3 equal pieces using a knife. Roll each section into long baguette shapes and pinch at the top before we start plaiting. 

4. Remember plaiting your friends hair at school? Well we're gonna do the exact same thing with our bread so it ends up looking like above and for a clean finish pinch the dough together at the end.  

5. Allow to rest about 40 minutes. 20 minutes before baking, pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Once rested you can give your bread an egg wash, just mix an egg with a splash of milk. This will help your bread have a golden crust, but not as golden as mine!

6. Pop a bowl of water in the oven on the tray under where you'll place your bread. This will create steam and give your bread a crunchy crust. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the crust is browned and firm to the touch.

To decorate I used a few Busy Lizzies from my garden and yes you can eat them! This bread is pretty simple for a bread recipe hence why I can make it! I hope you give it a try and make your own Rapunzel Plait Bread flavour combinations! I'll be munching during tonights episode of The Great British Bake Off and you can follow mine and all the other baking bloggers progress on instgram #thegreatbloggerbakeoff.

Heres some other delicious bread recipes made by the lovely Great Blogger Bake Off bloggers:
Fancy some more baking? Take a look at my other Great Blogger Bake Off recipes here:
Next week is desert week so think tiramisu, cheese cake and baked alaska! All will be happy in my house next week! 

5 Blog Makeover Tips

Last month for ILC's 5th birthday I gave myself a present - a blog makeover! It wasn't in terrible shape and I'd sporadically retouched it here and there but I decided to give it a proper tidy and restyle, I hope you like it! I spent days researching blog design, coding (which I love), enrolled on the Blog Life course and analysed my favourite blogs to figure out why I liked them. Heres some blog makeover tips I learnt along the way :)

1. Think like a designer. Start with your favourite blogs and analyse them aesthetically. Take note of their colour pallet, fonts and the organisation of their sidebars, what is it about them that you like? Never copy another bloggers style, make your blog special and unique just like you! Once you've got an idea,  make a blog mood board, choose your colour pallet (3 or 4 at the most) and 2 to 3 fonts. Consider this your blogs branding and stick with it.

2. Put a template on it. I love coding but why stress yourself out when you can get a gorgeous template for a reasonable price designed by someone who knows what they're doing? My template is called Fox and Feather theme by Envye, designed by the helpful and inspiring Dana from Wonder Forest. She has tons of fab themes for blogger and wordpress, I'd defiantly check them out. She also has a YouTube channel called The Blog Beautician where she posts handy videos all about blogging and she also reviews blogs if you leave her a link! I was lucky enough to have my old blog design reviewed by her and her advise was very helpful and encouraging.     

3. Back to basics. I know it seems obvious but make sure that your navigation is simple and easy to follow. Make sure that you have an about page, contact page, clear menu bar, search box and follow button. You want your followers to enjoy reading your posts and browse through them easily so make it fun and simple to do so. Keep your sidebar uncluttered and only have links that will help readers navigate through your blog. 

4. Back to class. Why not learn from the professionals? I enrolled on A Beautiful Mess's Blog Life course to help me get back into blogging after a long break and its been amazing! Its so helpful and insightful, starting with blogging basics to in-depth sessions about creating features, photography tips and finding your own voice. I really recommend it if you need a little blogging boost and they also have a E-course called Design Love 2.0 all about revamping your blog, I'm going check that one out next! I've also got my eye on The Blogcademy Home School as they come in handy individual courses so you can pick and choose which subjects you want to learn about. Great idea!

5. Know your strengths and weaknesses. I'm not good at drawing so when I wanted some cute hand drawn pictures to accent my blog I tried my best, but all I ended up doing was frustrating myself! I put my pencil down and contacted an artist that I had been secretly stalking for a while, A Thousand Daisies. Manjit drawings are so beautiful and unique so when she agreed to do some custom work for me I knew it would be great! She was a pleasure to work with, so quick and from the short descriptions I gave her, she drew the most beautiful illustrations that you can see on my blog today. I put my ego aside and chose to work with someone who could do a way better job than I ever could. If your no good at a particular design element think about collaborating with someone who inspires you, you won't regret it.
I hope you find these tips useful, if you have any tips of your own please leave a comment. Feel free to share them and if your blog needs a little "spring clean" leave me a link so I can see your good work!

Into the woods

The summers here and the time is right, for walking in the woods.

One of Bellamy's the dogs favourite walks is Leigh Woods, across the Clifton Suspension Bridge. Its lovely when the suns out, as its cool in the shade of the trees and the views are quite spectacular.  

Its the first time we've taken Lux but she just seemed to want to play with my Calypso Parrot Necklace

Lux is now 1 and just started crawling! She's even started standing on her own so I guess my baby's growing up! As she was 3 months premature (you can read her birth story here) her "corrected" age is 9 months so she's doing really well for her age group but I find it hard not to compare her to other 1 year olds who have teeth and can do lots of things. She'll catch up one day.  

We packed a picnic and Jon had to defend his lunch from hungry eyes! 

This is me playing around pretending to be in Vogue! I need to practise my posing! HA!