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Archive for the ‘Ramblings’ Category

Half measures

As successful as my last baking attempt was, I was left with the usual cake-based problem: What to do with 12 portions of cake?! The obvious answer is to eat it, but with only 2 people at Three Small Apples HQ, that means 6 slices of cake each before it goes stale. We’re looking at 2 slices of cake a day for 3 days. Not going to happen. I’m as big a cake fan as anyone, but I was looking at cake overload. The solution? Not feeding (stale) cake to guests (not because it’s a bad idea, but because I wasn’t allowed to), but half a cake in the bin. I may as well  have plugged up the oven and thrown my whisk over the wall. Or something like that.

But a couple of weeks later, and with a bit of spare time on my hands, I decided to retrieve the whisk from the other side of the wall.

Now, I know cupcakes have been done to death, but they still appeal to me. Not because Carrie and Miranda ate them that time. Or because of the pretty one-cake boxes they come in when you buy them from Hummingbird. But because they’re fun to make, easy to give away and they can be baked in tiny batches.

Primrose Hill Bakery, cupcakes, amaretto cupcakes

Yesterdays little batch of 6 amaretto flavoured cupcakes not only satisfied my sponge making urge, but should be easy enough to finish, without that Gawd-Must-Keep-Eating-Cake feeling.

The result: cake success!

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Homework, exams, PE (PE!! Whose idea was that?!), those are a few reasons that I’m glad I’m not still at school. But the 6 week summer holiday? I’d happily take that back. Even if I did spend many a summer holiday waiting for it to stop raining (you don’t get summer in Scotland. You get Raining and Not Raining).

Wouldn’t it be great if you could still get 6 weeks off once you’d left school?  Yes, yes it would.

Well unfortunately you can’t, but the 9 days I’ve got off between after my old job and starting my next is pretty damn exciting. In fact, it’ll probably feel better than school holidays, because I won’t have spent my pittance pocket money on Hubba Bubba and will be able to afford to entertain myself.

But what to do?! The longest, uninterrupted time off I’ve had recently was Christmas, and what with panicked, last minute Christmas shopping, pickling livers, visiting family and constant eating, it didn’t leave much time to relax.

With 9 full days off in London, I want to make sure I use my time wisely, so I made a list:

** Get my hair done: it’s time for my yearly hair cut (my hair cut routine usually goes as follows: get bored of hair so cut it short(er). Hate short(er hair) so grow hair.) and this time I’m getting a Brazilian Blow Dry! Shinier, smoother, easier to manage hair? Might just die of excitement.

** Replant dead window box: someone needs to encourage the bees in London!

**Play with(or bother) kittens: I don’t want to do this, but it just can’t help myself. I fear I’m going to lose 90% of my time off with this.

Kittens, Celia Hammond

Kittens, Celia Hammond

Har Gao is such an attention seeker that she’ll roll over at the first sign of a tickle.

Celia Hammond, Kittens

Siu Mai won’t.

**Wedding planning: Erm… it’s less than 6 months away. Sh*t.

**Update wardrobe: It’s time for a serious overhaul. These are some things have already been added :

Eva by Topshop £32

Little floral Tee from Oasis. £20 reduced from £38 (who pays £38 for a t shirt?! Hello?)

Such a bargain that I bought both colours.

A summery little number from H&M, which has the added bonus of not weighing a ton even when filled with crap. £15.

And don’t get my started with that bloody My So Called Life box set that I bought impulsively on Amazon a year ago. I don’t think I’m ever going to have time for that.

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… a birthday gift from someone who knows me too well…

Oh dear…

If it wasn’t for the fringe, I’d think I was looking in a mirror!

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A lazy (hungover!) Friday night is so much better when you’ve got some new Chanel to play with.

Chanel Le Vernis, Vendetta

Chanel, Le Vernis

Nails – Vendetta by Chanel 

Chanel, Vendetta, Emerald

I’ve been painting my nails for so long that I can still work with shaky hangover hands.

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Jam Companion

I live with a jam consuming fiend. If there’s jam at Three Small Apples HQ, it’s already between 2 slices of bread. So imagine my surprise when I found a lone jar of home-made blackberry and apple jam…! I thought I should mark this monumental, unlikely to be repeated, occasion, and there’s no better way to eat jam than with scones!

The recipe was meant to make 8-12… how come I only ended up with 7 (plus a midget scone)?

So easy that if I wasn’t sickened by the amount of clotted cream I consumed (probably 5 times the amount above), I’d bake these every week!

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I think most people know I spend far too much time in Starbucks. And I’ve got a Gold Level reward card to prove it.  But super sweet coffee (“Can I have a tall, skinny hazelnut latte please?” Yes, I know what I sound like) and free Wi-fi? There isn’t actually a better way to spend lunchtime while at work. Although that might be because I work in a slightly disappointing area of West London.

Thankfully, I don’t live in the aforementioned disappointing area of West London. Instead, I live in an area of North London that is so bloody amazing that I honestly dwell on how great it is ALL THE TIME, as well as constantly wonder out loud why I didn’t move there sooner? (Answer: I didn’t want to. I’m reminded of the answer every time I do choose to wonder out loud within earshot of the people who tried to convince me to move…).  And in this amazing area of North London, not only is there NOT a Starbucks nearby, but there is such an abundance of coffee shops, tea rooms and cafés, that I probably wouldn’t visit even if one was to crop up.

Fred & Fran is one of the abundance. Found on a quiet residential road, a minute away from Stoke Newington Church Street, Fred & Fran is a small, simply decorated and cosy ‘Artisan Coffee House’, serving, as well as Square Mile coffee, a good selection of drinks, homemade sandwiches and cakes.

Cappucino

Free serve yourself water, so you can hang round and rehydrate while you ogle the food choices of others.

My chocolate, mandarin and almond cake was worth braving the rain for in itself. Sweet and tangy with just the right amount of almond, I was a bit sorry that I had to share this with Mr Three Small Apples. If I hadn’t borrowed the money off him (it’s cash only) to buy the cake and coffees in the first place, I might have told him to get him own.

Fred & Fran:  55 Kynaston Road, London N16 0EB

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Perfect when you’re thirsty, perfect for dunking biscuits and perfect for cold hands, tea does it all. I’ve got so many teas at Three Small Apples HQ that not only do I have a shelf for them, but it takes me ages to answer the seemingly simple question “Cup of tea?”. Oolong? Earl Grey? White Tea with rose buds? It’s not a decision to take lightly.

Anthropologie

These gorgeous floral mugs from Anthropologie are almost a bit too pretty to be stored away in the mug cupboard… but they are going to make for the prettiest (and girliest) cup of builder’s tea.

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February, it’s dark, it’s depressing and it’s the month of my birth.

Still, it’s not all bad… because I get presents:

What a cutie.

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What do you do when it’s too cold to leave the house, and you’re too poor to leave even if you could scrape together a few pence? You bake.

Butter, flour and sugar

This idiot proof Millionaire Shortbread recipe might not make you any richer, but it sure is tasty.

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My freezer compartment has been filled with home-grown (I say home-grown, I didn’t actually grow them… they were already growing in the garden when I moved in!) blackberries (well, actually 49% blackberries and 51% frost and ice) since I moved in to Three Small Apples HQ almost 18 months ago. And since I’m probably not going to get around to thawing out the freezer anytime soon, I decided that it was probably quicker and easier to make blackberry and apple jam!

Blackberries, Ice, frozen, fresh frozen berries

Home grown berries. And home frozen ice.

Three Large Apples

Three BIG apples.

chopped apples, green apples

…gulp…(poor apples).

Sieve… Look how fast the spoon is moving!

Add a wee bit of sugar…

Actually, add body weight in sugar.

Ta-da!!

TA-DA!!! x 6

Now, to lounge around, eating jammy toast and feelin’ smug.

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