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Month: October 2016

Baking Fail: A Chocolate Cake from the Hummingbird Book

Baking Fail: A Chocolate Cake from the Hummingbird Book

In my family, we cook our meals from scratch as much as possible. I like cooking but my passion lies in baking. Before having kids, I was regularly trying to find the perfect recipe. The perfect chocolate cake recipe, the perfect cookie recipe, the perfect millionaire’s shortbread…

After birthing my first baby, I felt so overwhelmed with everything, I didn’t find any time for myself. I craved doing something new but found no time. After a few months, I decided to try a recipe from a book that had been on my shelf for a long time.

I had heard so many positive reviews about this book from the Hummingbird bakery but never had the time to actually make anything. Everything inside the book looks delicious. So when I baked for the first time after having a baby, I thought I would go for my favourite dessert, a chocolate cake.

Baking mummy tip number 1, especially for first time mums! Make sure you read through the entire recipe a few times so you can gauge how long it actually takes. Silly me, thought it was a quick recipe, simple steps, not many dishes to use up. How I was wrong! But it looked so delicious in the baking book photo!

So there I was, on my merry way, thinking I would have a baked and decorated cake ready to eat in a few hours. Laugh at me!

The first step is to be fancy and make a fudge. My friends, it is not fudge to me. It is a very hard boiled sweet. It is a plank of hard boiled sweet of toffee, caramely flavour. Tastes nice but keep reading. Here I was, at the stove, with my thermometer, making this fudge or whatever, not really having any idea what I was doing, but feeling like a professional because it was looking alright. Then I was looking at this:

Oh my goodness. It’s a whole plank of toffee flavoured sweets. I had no idea what it was for but shrugged my shoulders. READ THE RECIPE GIRL! I obviously did not look at the photo close enough. This stuff is smashed up and made to look like the crumble part of apple crumble and spread on the cake. It’s not soft and delicate like apple crumble though. Even in this smashed state, my teeth felt like they were going to fall out. It did not feel good.

Looking back, I thought this was part of the actual cake or topping. It was only later I realised it took all that time just to make a bit of crumble for the cake. It does say to spread it in between layers but honestly, there is so much crumbly toffee it made me really concerned for our teeth! Did I make it wrong? I had no time to think.

The next step was making the cake covering. Again, lots of things to do here but it came out looking good. Smooth.

Finally, it was time to make the cake batter! It did smell quite strongly of coffee but I know many chocolate cake recipes have coffee in them. The end was insight.

The end wasn’t really insight. My other half peered into the kitchen, hoping to find it in the oven. Baby wanted mummy milk and I was actually taking forever baking a cake. I panicked. Like really panicked. Looking at the book, there was still a long way to go. I was going to abandon it, but I couldn’t. It was my first time baking after becoming a mother. I needed to accomplish something other than feeding and changing nappies. I needed to see it through till the end!

It looked quite good coming out of the oven.

Now, no more effects with these photos. My camera wasn’t good, but experience this with me. It was a really hot summers day and being in the kitchen with the oven on for ages was tiring but then the cake started feeling the effects of it too. It came out looking promising…

So I left it to cool down. There were some burnt bits so I tried to be clever and slice them off, on a very hot day. It was now evening, and this was my cake:

It’s okay. I can cover this up with cake covering right? And there are three layers of cake. On a very hot summers night. You can see where this is going…?

Oh. Em. Gee. What is my life? The cake was falling apart everywhere. The icing felt too heavy for the cake. It was a cake disaster. I’ve never experienced this. Why, when I was trying something for me, for the first time after becoming a mummy, did I have to face THIS?! I felt so incompetent at baking and decorating.

Ugh. My other half is a very tidy person and after trying to entertain our baby all day (when she clearly knew I was in the other room and wanted cuddles), I felt so guilty and like I had failed. It was awful. This was my slice of cake:

I’m not even joking. It tasted so bad. So bad. The taste of coffee was too much. I don’t drink coffee. I am not a fan of the smell of coffee. It’s a chocolate cake. Why did it not taste of chocolate?! This mama need chocolate!

I then did something drastic. I got a bowl and smashed it all inside it.

And I kept smashing.

Sort of like how you make cake pops. I then got a baking tray and spread the mushed up cake and flattened it:

I really had no plan here. I spread some melted chocolate on it.

And decided to cover the whole thing…

If that wasn’t enough, I added some chocolate sprinkles:

You won’t even BELIEVE what it turned into!!!

I got my fancy dessert glasses out, some custard and cream and layered it with the failed cake. Topped with Cadbury’s flake, because flake makes it all better.

I’m not even joking. It tasted awesome!!! The coffee smell had completely vanished and the cake had this rich, delicious chocolate fudge fudge taste to it. GORGEOUS! It was mouth watering. SUCCESS!!!

I made a few in these glasses and invited friends and family to eat. Hands down, a good response. Okay the response was great but I don’t want to hype it up as it took way more effort than needed to get to this, LOL!

BUT I still had so much cake left in that tray, so I decided to make cake pops, without the pop. More like a truffle, but it’s a cake. Most of them looked pretty unprofessional when covered in chocolate.

They tasted good but too rich for my liking. It was much better layered with the custard and cream.

So in the end, I made a big version to give to a family who also noticed the beautiful fudgey taste. Maybe it takes a day for the flavour to settle?

Despite not having my chocolate fudge cake in a round cake form, I did get it in dessert form. It took a long, long time (2 days?) to get to the end result which seems like forever when you have a baby and although I felt like a failure, I turned it around to a positive. This mummy failure turned around and tasted delicious. Next time, I’d choose something much simpler.

With the Great British Bake Off coming to the end, I will miss the Extra Slice show even more. It is hilarious seeing baking fails as I’ve had many myself so I thought I would share one of my own.

Now I’m craving cake.

How to be a Amazon Reviewer – UK style

How to be a Amazon Reviewer – UK style

I had this long, detailed post typed up all about reviewing on Amazon but with the recent changes to Amazon US, I feel it is becoming slightly irrelevant.

Amazon is a much loved marketplace for many. They have a review programme called Amazon Vine. In this post, I am not talking about their own review programme. I am going to write about the sellers on Amazon who offer their products to try out in exchange for a honest review.

Over the past 8 months, I have received many free or heavily discounted products from sellers, mainly via Amazon Review Trader. Sellers want you to review their products in a positive light, so other customers read your review and buy it. The big change is that Amazon US has recently banned any such reviews and the rest of the world are wondering when the rule will apply to them.  For now, we are okay to do this.

I’ll give a example. A seller has a pair of earphones listed as free for review. Based on this, here are my tips:

With Amazon prime, you can receive products really quickly. However, I advise to wait 5 days before leaving a review. Use the week to test out the product well as opinions can change the more you use a product.

When leaving a review, try to write about everything you’d want to know about it if you were to purchase it at full price. You don’t need to go on and on and try to write 500 word reviews. Write as much as is needed.

Don’t be afraid to leave a honest review. If it is rubbish, say so, and give it 1, 2 or 3 stars. Many people are ‘worried’ they won’t be offered more products if they leave negative reviews. In my experience, this is not true. I have been approved for many more, despite leaving negative reviews. Some sellers insist on you changing it to 5 stars, but ignore them, even if they sell products you really want. There are many more stores that sell the same or similar. It is not worth working for a shady seller.

This is from experience, as I have reviewed all sorts of products. Things like cameras, bluetooth speakers, phones and smaller items like toys, household goods and more.

I would also recommend not reviewing things that cost more than £1. You will see the same items in the future for free, just be patient. I remember when I first started, I wanted bluetooth headphones and applied to review items that were over £7! Luckily I wasn’t approved and soon enough I was being offered free headphones left, right and centre that I ended up giving them away.

That leads me to my next point. At the beginning, I would request anything and everything and had a pile of rubbish things sat at home! Soon enough I realised, there is so much tat out there and I really didn’t want to encourage downvotes on my profile, so I became very selective in what I wanted to review. It’s worked out well for me.

Reviewing items from sellers has nothing to do with Amazon and there are many fake profiles giving fake reviews that Amazon are clamping down, to the extent the US site has been completely banned from reviewing items offered by sellers for free or discounted. Your profile could be deleted in a second and there is no chance you will get it back. That’s why it is better to take it slow and review a bit at a time, as if you were paying full price.

Leave photos for reviews, especially when in use. It helps others know you are reviewing it as a genuine customer.

Lastly, have fun with it. It does take time and effort to review items and with a big pile of stuff to review, it can become tiresome. The aim of the game is to request products you would buy, that are free or almost free, use it, then share your opinion with the rest of the world. It’s cool having neat gadgets around your home that would otherwise set you backs hundreds of pounds.

If you have any questions, let me know! I’ll be happy to answer them.

Review: MATOA Gili Handmade Wooden Watch

Review: MATOA Gili Handmade Wooden Watch

The truth: I used to wear watches a lot as a kid and would often get a new one when the old stopped working. I always used to go for some kids character watch. One day, I stopped being interested in them altogether. Since then, I tend to look at watches and walk away as, like rings, I feel like I don’t ‘suit’ them anymore.

Then one day I opened the door to the postman who had this simple box to hand over to me:

I didn’t think much of it at all and handed it to my other half, but he wanted me to open it. Inside was this wood tree stump thing:

My other half knows how much I love wood, so I was fascinated by this thing, nicely engraved with the brand name on top.

I have a wooden key ring from a part of a tree with my name engraved, so this is totally up my ally.

This wooden tree box unravelled a wonderful watch inside:

Truth: It wowed us both when we opened it. The colour of the watch is a intense brown wood, which stands out against the gold detailing.

Since he was occupied doing something, I decided to wear it. Okay, it was a little big but it looked pretty awesome on my wrist, and I claimed it mine.

I’ve seen wooden watches online and I guess I am not a fan of the paler shades of wood as a watch colour but the dark brown does have a formal, business-like look to it when worn. I felt like it would stand out (in a good way) against a casual outfit and would be the star of the show.

I do love the gold detailing against the dark wood but the best part is looking at all those wood grains on the watch. It has character to it which I can’t say the same for other watches.

To top all of that, the watch box can be used as a plant pot too so the team behind this product have really put thought into every aspect of it.

The conclusion to this is, my other half wants to get some links taken off to fit his wrist, but I’d need more taken off for my wrist, so who’s it gonna be? And my dad keeps asking me to bring his watch every time we talk on the phone. It is a impressive watch.

You can find it on Amazon here.

The Diet Starts Now

The Diet Starts Now

The diet has started.

I was doing so well! I was eating healthily. I fought every single thing that made me eat food for comfort. And then what happened?!

It’s not like pre kids days you know. When eating 4 bars of chocolate didn’t show up.

That’s it. The diet doesn’t start now. No. It has started.

Gimme some strawberries.

Pregnancy & Breastfeeding Clothing Haul – Primark and Some Thoughts

Pregnancy & Breastfeeding Clothing Haul – Primark and Some Thoughts

 

The Truth: For me, during my second pregnancy and onwards, I felt really awkward about extra weight on my body. I put a lot of it down to what I was going through, leading me to eat and eat for comfort (no excuse) and so I bought several sizes up to keep everything loose and hidden. However, even if I wore the right size, the style of clothing above is still the right type for breastfeeding.

Vest tops

Breastfeeding and hot June, July and August is one of the things that make me feel agitated at times. I feel way hotter since having kids, so stocking up on vest tops in every colour is exactly what I did. These are perfect for feeding in as they stretch so easily. Primark has lots to choose from and are so affordable you can get one in every colour!

Shirts

I find shirts great for when guests are over and I want to cover up quickly. They are also easy to unbutton when baby wants milk. I also think if you choose a nice pattern or a light denim shirt, it really can transform your look. I looked ‘fresh’ when wearing the denim shirt, even if I had crazy hair.

Trousers

When patterned trousers came out, I really didn’t see myself ever wearing one. They’re now one of my faves! It’s been a really hot summer, and I’ve been camped out in strappy vests, mostly plain ones, so having wild trousers really gave something to my look. Haha! Really, the first few months after birth takes some getting used to for me, so it’s just a silly thing that can make a difference in the day.

PJs

Most of my PJs were tops, no buttons. Lots of wintery ones. I found this nice pink set from Primark with buttons! It’s lightweight so I thought I could use it in the summer and winter too. I gave the bottoms away as they weren’t my size.

Whilst shopping in Primark I happened to find myself in the home section. They had a really nice selection of campervan products (obsessed with them this year) so I picked up some duvet covers and a flask. They look great and have lasted well so far!

I find pregnancy this amazing and wonderful time but at the same time it can be overwhelming. Having a little shopping spree for essentials is a nice little something for me. I did find shopping very difficult too but when I was back in the comfort of my home, it was nice getting all the clothes ready for after birth. Primark has a great selection of clothes and a huge variety, even in the smaller stores so I recommend going there. The prices are great for every day fashion but even better for pregnancy and after birth when I’m unsure about my size. I never feel like I’ve overspent in Primark. It’s always a great deal.