Fashion, Spring

Shoesday Tuesday x Irregular Choice

Shoesday Tuesday!

Something I occasionally post on my Instagram feed for the crack, and thought why not also post it on the blog? I decided to hold out until Spring as well so I could kick-start it all off with the most beautiful glittery heels I own which are my Irregular  Choice Flaming June sandals.

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I picked these up two years ago direct from the Irregular Choice website and they arrived pretty quickly to be honest and to my delight. I was honestly mesmerised by the colours and how the sunlight caught the glitter as you walk.

I think these may also be the last shoes I purchased from Irregular Choice, as despite being a fan for many many years I have found every collection released since not to be to my taste, which is sad as this brand was always very quirky and unique.

ALSO here is a shit fact I have never worn these babies out of the house! Everytime I debated wearing them the heavens would open and the rain would just pour and pour and pour for hours, meaning my trusty Dr Martens ended up on my feet instead. Hopefully this Spring / Summer will be the perfect oppurtinity to wear them.

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Lavender & Black Bakes

Breads: Mushroom and Garlic stuffed Picnic Loaf

Oh Hi!

It’s been a while since I last blogged here, the beginning of October in fact! I have baked on and off during this 6 month hiatus but not really from the Mary Berry Baking Bible. I’ve also been really uninspired by the recipe numbers I was pulling from my lucky dip pot so a few weeks back I decided instead to have a flick through the book and see what grabbed my attention.

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With Ostara / Spring Equinox occurring back on the 20th, I decided I wanted to make something relevant to the holiday and Mushroom and Garlic stuffed Picnic Loaf screamed at me to be made.  So I toddled to Tesco for the ingredients I didn’t have in our baking cupboard such as; bread flour, a jar of wild mushrooms and (fresh) yeast and off I went home, and I made this bread the next day on my day off, and what a tinydisaster that ended up being! 

Okay so basically, many moons ago, I went to college and did a level one food tech course, where we were taught how to bake breads. I was always told to microwave your part milk part water mixture until it was at room temperature as this is when your yeast will thrive. Too hot – it will die, too cold – it wont activate. So, I did this and stirred in my yeast and set it aside for 10 minutes. Nothing. Nada! What was meant to be happening was little bubbles were meant to be foaming on the surface to indicate my yeast was active, but this did not occur in any of the FOUR attempts / jugs I made. I had one jug in warm water another on top of the oven and the third I had cradled in my hands with the oven door open trying to keep the mixture warm, but not too hot. Madness.

Then, on the fourth attempt I kind of thought fuck it. Not one of these mixes is showing signs of life, I’m just going the throw this yeast mix into my flour and pray something happens. So I did, I did the usual mixing and kneading of the dough by hand, something I didn’t realise I had missed doing over these past 6 years.

I popped the mixture onto my board, placed the bowl over the top and left it as Mary instructed. After 20 minutes I couldn’t help but peak (mainly due to the certainty that this bread was not going to rise and I was wasting my time and life) but to my delight, surprise, possible horror the bread had tripled in size in 20 minutes! The yeast was ALIVE!!!!

Now you may be thinking, to your delight – yes, surprise – yes, horror? Why horror?
Well. I had to take little legs to the doctors meaning I had to leave the bread to prove for around 3 hours? and it had already tripled in size within 20 minutes! So off I went to get ready, came downstairs after an hour and the bread dough was trying to slowly escape under the bowl.

So, I sorted that and off I went. I won’t lie I spent most the journey googling how long you can leave bread to prove for before it goes rank and won’t bake properly anymore, and Paul Hollywood told me (his website not him personally) that I can leave it to prove for up to four hours and it would be fine as long as it was covered and did not form a crust. Get in, there was hope yet.

So few hours later, in the door I wandered joking on about how we could be about to enter the kitchen to the blob from goosebumps taking over the house… and there was half of my bread dough all over the pastry board without any form of cover meaning it had developed a crust!! NOOOOO. I lifted the bowl, and there is the other half of my bread dough, without a crust. Shiiiit…

I quickly got to work kneading and smushing and praying that I could fix this disaster as there was no way I had time to start over, and I think I did if truth be told. I just sort of kneaded and kneaded and kneaded the dough until it all came together again and the ‘crust’ was gone, which isn’t what I was supposed to be doing at this stage as I was only meant to be knocking back the air from the bread. I debated leaving it to rise again, but thought better of it. It was probably already fucked so I may as well just keep riding this train right? So I rolled it out, covered one half of the dough with the wonderful mixture of, 1 jar of wild mushrooms, fresh crushed garlic and parsley and then folded the uncovered dough over on top of the mixture and sealed the edges, and at first it looked a little bit like a calzone pizza but I managed to get a weird bread shape in the end, though it looked NOTHING like a traditional loaf! 

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I then glazed the top of the loaf with egg wash, and sprinkled sesame seeds, black pepper and parsley over the top before covering it with cling film so that it did not form a crust (again) during its final prove. After, 45 minutes (and two cooked pizza’s later) I popped it in the oven for 20 minutes until it was golden brown in colour.

I was a bit worried as the bread seemed very flat, but after a quick google I think this is normal for this recipe, and it tasted wonderful. Would I make it again? Probably not if truth be told, but I would consider replacing the wild mushrooms with olives and making an olive loaf instead if truth be told.

Lifestyle, Spring

April

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This is busiest of all the months I find as there are many, many birthdays in my family throughout April, as well as it being the month we lost my wonderful Nanna three years ago. Add to this Easter as well as half term holidays and it is a month packed full of wonderful activities, lots of cake and celebration of life.

Did you know:

  • The month April is named after the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite.
  • The Romans also referred to April as Aprilis which is derived from Aperio meaning ‘to open’ which fits the month well seeing as in the Northern Hemisphere April is the month were many of the trees and flowers buds begin ‘to open’ and bloom.
  • Nobody seems to know where April’s Fools day originates from, but records dating back to 1500 appear in France where it is known as April Fish day. It is still tradition in France and other areas of Europe to attach a paper fish to somebody’s back on April 1st, as well as give chocolate fish as a gift.
  • At the end of April the Earth’s orbit will pass through dust particles left behind from Comet Thatcher which passed us by in 1861! The shower runs from April 16th-25th but peaks around 22nd / 23rd of the month.
  • The first lot of butterflies and bees begin to appear at this time of year.
  • Bluebells appear during the April and May months where they take full advantage of the period between winter ending and the canopy of the spring / summer trees re-growing and blocking out the light. Bluebells are also apparently a ‘indicator species for ancient woodland, so their presence suggests that a wood can date back to at least the 1600s’. It is also illegal to remove Bluebells from woodland areas!

 

Lifestyle, Spring

Ostara

Happy Ostara!

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Did you know that today is the first day of spring? Not only that but it is also a time where both day and night are in complete balance with one another! Yup, that’s right, as of tomorrow the lighter nights start, which means one thing! Summer is coming!

But for now, Spring.

I hope you have had a wonderful day celebrating the spring equinox, I’m off to home to drink some honey tea and make Welsh Rarebit (and maybe to polish off the rest of the beer that will be left over from the recipe).

Lifestyle, Winter

How I’m finding 2019 so far!

Hello, Hello, Hello.

I’m back at last from my mini hiatus. I seem to always become very uninspired during the winter months content wise, possibly due to the lack of sunshine, flowers and the daily slog of going to work and leaving work in the dark. But spring is almost upon us, the flowers are pushing their way out of the ground and the inspiration has began to slowly flow back into my finger tips.

So I thought I’d jump back in with a mini update of what I’ve been up to, which if truth be told isn’t an awful lot but here we go.

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I entered 2019 all ‘this is the year I will travel’ but it turns out this is the year I am going to explore my creative side instead. I’ve picked up knitting during my lunch break at work (when I’m not stuffing my chunky face with food that is) as well as being sucked into the world of Warhammer with little legs and my god is it addictive! I love painting my mini’s and watching as they come to life with each and every layer of paint.

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I hate being active. Like actually hate it. My body aches during exercise and after for DAYS. It is truly awful. However, I’m getting older which means I’m getting fatter so it is now becoming a must. I started (and failed) the couch to 5K straight after new year, but the awful weather and being full of cold made me feel really unwell so I’ve put that idea to one side and decided I will accomplish it once the light nights come in so I can go running more than twice a week. I have however picked up my hula hoop again! Last year I lost A LOT of weight just from playing with this outside for half an hour everyday during the summer so I am back on it! Granted not as much as I would like as it’s still cold and miserable outside and my house isn’t big enough to hula hoop indoors, but on the nights were the rain doesn’t fall I am straight outside with my music and a wooly jumper on hooping away.

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During the half term break we went away with my wonderful friends to Scotland for a few days and it was beautiful. We stayed near Galloway’s national park  in a small wooden barn that had been renovated into a fantastic but very back to basics lodge located on a working farm. It basically look’s very posh and swanky and we had a wonderful wood burning stove to keep us warm but my god when it wasn’t on it was bloody freezing and impossible to cook on. I think the only things we managed to eat from it was some sausages I prayed I had cooked properly and some giant marshmallows we had toasted in the flames. Thankfully there was lots of wonderful pubs around so we managed to keep our feet warm and our stomachs full.

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I have become more confident going out and about on my own which is fantastic, and I am very content just sitting on my own for an hour or two in a coffee shop with a good book to keep me company, as well as managing to go to the cinema alone for the first time in my life back in January. I have also started meeting up with friends once a month for food and a natter which is fantastic seeing as 2018 was the year I became a hermit. So yes! Out the house events! Lots of them, and hopefully lots more to come over the next few months.

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So far this year I have been trying to find more time to read as I find a good book will help you escape the realities of the world and your mind, even if just for a few hours. One of my worst traits I think is that I always have multiple books on the go at once, and I never ever end up finishing any of them. Yes, I am that person. Half read books litter my room and I am slowly trying to work my way to the end of every single one (before I add more to the pile).

And that’s that! What have you been up to so far in 2019 and what do you want to do in the next few months ahead? I am really excited to be back blogging and finding the time to bake again for the Lavender and Black bakes series, though I will admit topic wise will probably become a hell of a lot more scattered then normal, so let me know what post’s you would like to see.

Lifestyle, Winter

my top 9 of 2018 & my mental health

So the end of 2018 and the start of 2019 seems to have everybody uploading their Top 9 posts and re-caps about their year. So here we go, below you will find my personal top 9 images linked to some but not all of my happy memories that happened last year.

But first a brief description of my year. 2018 was the year I had a breakdown, not my first and not my most spectacular but definitely the hardest one to bounce back from as leaving the house became a very, very hard task. It was also the year I discovered I suffer from Sensorimotor Obsessive Compulsion Disorder. I won’t go on too much about it but basically Sensory OCD is ‘obsessions which include a heightened awareness and focus on involuntary bodily activities and processes… Common examples include hyper awareness of swallowing, breathing or blinking’. It is also said that these types of obsessions can be particularly brutal as they involve everyday bodily processes that you need to do to survive which means there is no escape.

It is brutal, and hard to bounce back from. But I am, slowly. Happy Dance.

 

 

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So first up! July, after a few weeks of going to therapy I took on head first the challenge of walking down to the Quayside from Newcastle City Centre to get some Halloumi Fries from The Little Fishy pop up bar next to the NE1 Quayside beach. I think this was my first and furthest solo outing, other than the trip to M&S a week earlier which had seen me fight through two panic attacks as I refused to turn back to work (aka my ‘safe space’). I remember the Summer sun had vanished and it was really dark and gloomy but it didn’t dampen my spirits or stop me from taking a photo to record my achievement.

 

 

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I text my friend as we were traveling to Brockbrushes saying how scared I was to be going but also so happy I had left the house and was going on an outing. It was also so warm which did not help my fuzzy brain issues but I didn’t die! Horray! I did however help pick enough raspberries and strawberries to keep us going for weeks.

 

 

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Holiday time! I was so lucky that after the most heartbreaking news I was able to escape reality for a week and hang out in such a peaceful setting. Ironically I was at my most anxious here, but also in the most safest and calmest space with my favourite people and I returned home feeling motivated to change my life and live everyday to the full.

 

 

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 Jam! I made my first batch of blackberry jam (or just my first batch of jam full stop) and it was hella tasty too. My family is probably going to hate me this year as come the Summer / Autumn months I am going to be making jams and pickles like it’s going out of fashion.

 

 

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The day I decided I wasn’t going to sit in the house and be a hermit alone, no I was going to go sit in the pub and be a hermit alone with a gin, and some nice warm food. The weather was also crazy this day as well, I went out in my wellies and jumped in every puddle on the way to the pub and when I left it was lashing it down with rain! I was absolutely soaking by the time I got home. Well worth it though.

 

 

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My first night out in over a year! Where I was able to dress up nice and my god, I was SO nervous heading out alone as I was worried I had forgotten how to talk to people or that people would wonder why the hell I was there but I was overwhelmed by the amount of wonderful friends who took their time to talk to me like a normal person, which to them they would be thinking well why the hell wouldn’t we but to me it meant the absolute world. My skin was also so clear that night as I had been dairy free for a month and lost a crazy amount of weight due to hula hooping. I need to invest in contact lenses though as my dorky glasses ruined that outfit. Ha!

 

 

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Cake! My last bake of 2018 which was disgustingly only bake number 11 from my Mary Berry / Lavender and Black Bakes challenge I had set myself on halfway through last year. This one is here as it was the first thing I have ever baked where I have ever given it to anyone other than my poor family who get lumbered with my baking 24/7. It seemed to receive good comments back as well so it certainly boosted my confidence slightly. And as wonderful as the festive period has been I can not wait to get back into baking and catching up on this challenge.

 

 

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Aghhh! Fireball tour! This one made me feel sick for months on the lead up. It was my second night out in 2018 / since I became unwell and I was so nervous about being in such a crowded and busy environment but honestly I had nothing to fear. A few times I felt a bit uneasy but I just took myself off, calmed down and came back in and by the time the last band came on stage I was a lot more at ease with my nerves and ended up in the pub afterwards for a pint.

 

 

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I know, I know! All my top 9s are nights out. Sorry. But also not sorry! This one was amazing, my wonderful friend text me an hour before my crazy busy shift ended and asked if I fancied going for a pint. Well, we’ve all seen the meme. One pint means you wake up four days later missing a shoe and probably some of your dignity, I woke up the next morning massively hungover but absolutely over the moon that I had gone out for a spontaneous night out! No planning, no panicking and not a single sign of my anxiety when I was shit faced, just an embarrassing IG story of me screaming along to meatloaf and a memory of telling my brother I brought him some chicken nuggets home, when eating the last of said chicken nuggets.

 

 

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And finally, the last and most beautiful sunset of 2018. I was awe-struck at how beautiful the sky looked on the way home from work that I decided to sit on my doorstep and watch it play out. I thought of the year that had passed, the loved ones I had lost and what I want to have accomplished within the next 12 months. I probably also looked mental to my neighbour sitting on the cold, damp floor in the dark with a bottle of beer in my hand staring at the night sky, but whatever.

 

 

I think I’ve written 10 not 9. Oops… Oh well, have the last one for luck.

If you got this far through my post then well done! Please let me know your highlight of  2018 or what you hope 2019 brings you. I’m hoping to just keep continuing taking those little steps forwards, and to see my loved ones more often, because if 2018 taught me anything it is that life is far, far too short.

 

Autumn, Beauty

A very merry Lush-mas: Goddess

Technically speaking this is not a Christmas bath bomb so I am being a teeny tiny bit naughty sneaking it in here. HOWEVER it is new, it is fantastic and it is 100% worth you running out your front door to your local Lush store to pick one of these up. After you’ve finished reading this post obvs.

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I was blown away with the smell of this bath bomb which was a combination of sandalwood and jasmine, however and I could have sworn I could smell lavender in there as well when it first began to fizz after hitting the water.

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The creamy lilac colouring was truly magical as well as adding to the calming effect that the fragrance was already having on my mood. I have also seen that this bath bomb has a lot of silver lustre which I could imagine as the bath bomb itself before I placed it in the bath was sparkling on its own, however I went into the bath on a Friday afternoon with just the December light coming through my window and a few candles I had dotted about, so to me the water was this fantastic matt lavender colour.

So would I buy this again? Yes I would! It was everything I needed after a stressful six days working in the crazy christmas retail chaos.

Autumn, Beauty

A Very Merry Lush-mas: Perle De Sel

This was the second bath bomb I used from this years Christmas line up from Lush and it was beautiful. The water that this product left was honestly beyond breathtaking! In a strange-sounding way it looked as if I was wrapped in beautiful expensive satin when I looked down into the water, like I say I know that sounds beyond mad but seriously you need to grab this bath bomb and experience it for yourself!

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Scent wise, Perle De Sel had a floral and slightly musky fragrance but not in a heavy or overpowering way. No in fact it was quite the opposite and it was just a nice smelling bath and reminded me greatly of the snow cake soap lush released last christmas but sadly did not re-release this season.

All in all this bath screamed luxury from the delicate fragrance to the way the fine glitter particles swirled around my body and the calming colour of the water. Would I buy again? Yes! I think I need to stock up on these to get me through the rough days of 2019!

Autumn, Beauty

A Very Merry Lush-mas: Shoot for the Stars

Hello and welcome to the first ever A Very Merry Lush-mas, which is basically just an excuse I have given myself to go out and buy six of this years festive bath bombs from Lush without feeling guilty for spending money on myself and not presents for other people. It’s wonderful how much guilt you can rid yourself of by just saying ‘ooohh I know, I’ll write a blog post about it’!

Over the next six days I will be posting about a different bath bomb from the Lush 2018 Christmas range and writing a tiny review. So to kick-start the week off I thought I would write about a bath bomb that always re-appears at this time of the year and it is one of my favourite products from Lush’s range, Shoot for the Stars.

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This bath bomb ticks all the boxes. You get spectacular bath art, vivid blue moisturising bath water and a scent that lasts on your skin and around the house for hours after you pull the plug. It is also from the Honey, I washed the kids scent family so you know that it is going to smell mouth-watering just from reading the ingredients list on Lush’s website.

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This is most certainly one of the only bath bombs I look forward to all year around and get excited about when I see it is back listed as being back in stock on Lush’s website. Would I buy again? Yes, Yes and Yes!!

 

Autumn, Fashion, Lifestyle

Favourite Christmas Eve PJs

I honestly think I own more sets of PJs then I do going out outfits, I am like the queen of Pjs with how many I own, and every time I try to have a clear out I can not for the life of me part with any of them! So the last thing I need for Christmas is more PJs. HOWEVER, I’m pretty sure it is some unwritten law that you must have a new set of PJs for Santa coming! I have honestly known myself to run around on Christmas Eve after work just to pick up some new PJs for myself if I haven’t done so already. Little Leg’s PJs are always bought well in advance and are wrapped up and delivered on Christmas Eve evening.

So here are a few PJ’s that have caught my eye this December.

 

Next’s Family Sprout PJ

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Next Family Penguin Pjs

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Next’s Classic Black Penguin Pjs

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Next Ghost Pjs
(My Christmas Eve Pjs)

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Asos Cany Cane Pjs

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Asos wide legged polka dot Pjs

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Asos Star Wide Legged Pjs

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Debenhams Reindeer PJs

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All of these images are from the websites I have linked to and are not my own. Also none of these links have been sponsored, just PJs I really like when scrolling through various websites. Happy Shopping!