Mr Grey

shocked

Today I found my first grey hair, I can’t say I’m surprised.

There’s no point in denying, it was clearly galvanised.

The brazen strand in question glistened, dazzling in the sun.

Oblivious to my attempt at ‘youthful’ messy bun.

So this is it, the day has come, much to my dismay.

I need to hatch a cunning plan to camouflage this grey.

OK, calm down. DO NOT freak out. It’s not that bad, good heavens,

This brunette was ‘au naturel’ ’til just gone thirty-seven!

So weighing up my options in this tricky hair dilemma.

Davina-style Nutrisse goop or The Body Shop for henna??

It’s been so long (those ‘Sun-In’ days are well and truly gone).

The last time I bought hair dye Byker Grove was blimmin on!

Perhaps I’ll rock this silver streak just like Caitlin Moran

Ah yes, except she’s uber-cool, I’ll just look like her gran.

Apparently it’s ‘in’ you know, silver’s all the rage

But due to lack of collagen, I’ll only look my age.

I’m sorry folks, it’s just no good, I’m not that brave let’s face it.

Surrendering to nature?  Not quite ready to embrace it.

Vanity just won’t allow these glossy locks to fade

‘Ageing gracefully’ ain’t happening, not if I was paid.

The answer then seems pretty clear, it’s obvious no doubt:

I hunted down that little hair and pulled the b*gger out!

 

 

Shove your spiralizer – I’m older and wiser

I’ve written previously about my own experience with diets over the years but when I read recently that leading members of The National Obesity Forum had resigned following a disagreement about their latest diet report I found it unnerving. I mean, if these guys, the ones with the findings of numerous scientific trials and years of medical research under their noses can’t agree on basic guidelines for healthy eating then who can we rely on?!

idk.png

As we know there are no shortage of diet options to consider, from the multinational, multi-billion pound big boys (Weight Watchers, Slim Fast et all) with their processed but convenient offerings to the current wave of self-confessed, (often unqualified) healthy eating ‘foodie’ experts. You know, the ones with the bone-broth recipes and the trust fund? Well I’m the first to hold my hands up and admit to entrusting my diet to all the above and more, certain that it would result in me rocking my bikini on the beach this time.

spiralize

Eventually I realised I was basically funding the industry that was preying on my own insecurities and reinforcing the idea that physically I wasn’t quite up to scratch. It was probably the combination of getting older and having kids that made me realise 1. life’s short, I should probably stop wasting time weighing chia seeds and 2. suddenly wobbly bits aren’t as big a deal when you’re busy keeping humans alive.

My children are 5 and 7 and both understand the basic effects of healthy or (too much) unhealthy food already. Personally I believe this is important but I am all too aware how it can quickly turn into an obsession later in life, especially with girls – not to mention the emotional issues to boot. The best I can do is stress the importance of a healthy balance and raise them to be confident, clued-up individuals (no pressure!)

I completely understand a quick ’emergency health kick’ a few weeks prior to the holidays or following a month of existing on mince pies and green triangles for example, but when half the weekly food shop requires a trip to Holland & Barrett, sorry I’m out.

good fat

So, older and wiser (?) I have finally realised that what has been made to appear difficult, almost impossible all these years, is actually very, very simple. It’s not sexy, it doesn’t involve ground Peruvian root vegetable powder and it won’t get you a book deal. It IS common sense, moderation, a bit of self-discipline, a bit of exercise and a lot of positivity.

Below are a few sources of inspiration I enjoy using these days that don’t promote any type of extreme diets or require any form of food w*nkery. They cover a range of aspects that I consider to be important to my overall health, I hope you enjoy them too and find them useful:

**FOOD**

Food & Nonsense A registered dietitian, Helen tells it like it is and debunks the myths surrounding foods and fads. A really great site for anyone with an interest in health, nutrition and exercise.

Nic’s Nutrition Also a registered dietitian,  I have followed Nic online for a few years and although she does incorporate foods that could fit into the ‘trendy’ category, the recipes on the site are generally very doable and usually offer alternative ingredient options. Not a fan of protein powder? No problem, use hot chocolate powder instead! There are also recipes for special dietary requirements and many articles on nutrition.

**FITNESS**

Fitness Blender Free workouts for any fitness level – so many home workouts to choose from. You can tailor your programme to suit your own needs, oh did I mention,  IT’S COMPLETELY FREE?!

Food For Fitness I first discovered Scott through his podcasts when I was looking for something fitness related to listen to while I was out walking. His guests come from a wide range of health and fitness industry professions and cover topics such as motivation, eating disorders, mindfulness, food quackery and much more. Bonus points for the healthy, high protein recipes made from – wait for it – normal food!

**HEALTHY MIND**

The Moderation Movement brilliant, interesting, no BS articles with a common sense approach to health, fitness and body image. I could spend my entire day on this site!

Honest Mum Vicki’s site is jam packed full of articles on food, fashion, blogging tips, lifestyle, family (her adorable boys!) and much more. Most importantly for me, Vicki is all about encouraging women to believe in themselves and helping you to achieve success (however you define it). Her positivity is contagious, building women up and leading by example! This article actually inspired me to ‘go public’ as a blogger which was a huge step in self-belief for me, as someone with no writing experience.

Headspace “Gym membership for the mind”. A great little meditation app for when things are getting a bit much and you just need to Ctrl-Alt-Delete your mind. I used the free trial and then took out an annual subscription which gives you lots of options to choose from based on what you need. Cheaper than therapy and more socially acceptable than gin before lunchtime.

Deliciously Stella Yes I did spell it correctly, no I don’t mean the other one. If laughter is the best medicine then there is nobody better to tickle your ribs when it comes to mocking the current wave of Insta-foodies. Follow her on twitter or Pinterest for ‘alternative’ options to green juice or avocado on toast. Oh and she does podcasts too!

So there you have it. Now I’d love to hear any recommendations you have for similar no-nonsense inspiration or body positive champions. If you enjoyed this please feel free to comment below and share the love. X

Carry on Blogging!

THE (1)square

After last week’s epiphany following my weekend break from blogging I’ve been enjoying a newfound sense of balance and sanity (well, where blogging is concerned anyway). I usually take an ‘all or nothing’ approach so trying not to get bogged down with ALL THE THINGS  is taking a bit of restraint but overall I feel much better for it. There’s no limit to the amount we can do in a bid to grow and promote; interacting via linkies and twitter chats or just enjoying reading a few posts with a cuppa for the hell of it.

Generally, you get out what you put in and rightly so. I know there are pro bloggers out there who work day and night growing their brand and running their blog as an actual business. There are also parents who work full-time and yet find the time to post regularly, run linkies and competitions, hang out on Twitter and still remember to bring the PE kits on the right day and fashion a solar system costume out of some loo roll tubes and a grapefruit the night before ‘Space Day’ (HOW?!). I am neither of these people and unfortunately have no plans to be anytime soon so I need to accept that and be realistic about what I can  achieve in the time I’m willing to dedicate to my little blog baby.

So that’s that all sorted, jolly good. This zen-like approach lasted all of a week before it suddenly dawned on me: OH MY GOD IT’S ONLY THREE WEEKS UNTIL THE SCHOOL HOLIDAYS!!!!!!

scream

If I’m struggling to keep up now how on earth will I manage a whole 6 weeks (8 in Ireland) with the kids at home?! Over half term there was an understandable lull in activity amongst a lot of my fellow parent bloggers; however that was only a week or two, hardly a huge deal but the whole of the school holiday? How the hell does that go?  Seriously seasoned #pbloggers , what are we looking at here? 6 weeks of tumbleweed or an enormous increase in ‘pre-loved’ posts? (Actually I don’t really mind these unless they are about how to make a Minion Jack-o-lantern in the middle of April). I had considered entitling this post ‘EVERYBODY PANIC!’ but then realised it may just be an overreaction on my part, the pros have probably been preparing for this since new year.

boy-scout-4

The obvious solution would be scheduling posts and while I totally get why a pro would go down this route, it just doesn’t sit well with me personally. My little blog is mainly ramblings on what’s happening in real-time, a natural progression from one post to the next depending very much on what I’ve experienced/read/discovered prior to writing the post. Rightly or wrongly, I want my posts to be authentic, reactive or even just a good old chinwag depending on how I am feeling, not something premeditated or written under duress because I feel I should be ‘keeping the blog ticking over’. I am not saying scheduling is a bad thing for other bloggers, just that it doesn’t fit naturally with my approach right now. Like I say, I’m not a professional blogger so this may not do me any favours or could be perceived as detrimental to my success, whatever that may be, but I can only make decisions based on my gut – hey, my blog, my rules!

Ok so I think we’ve gathered that scheduling probably isn’t going to be a way round this little dilemma (unless we’re scheduling extended toilet breaks?), so what are my options?  How can I cobble together something remotely cohesive without it taking even longer despite 649,352 interruptions, mainly due to snack demands, tending to imaginary injuries and bum-wiping requests?

Now I know you may think I’m overreacting slightly here, I mean it’s not like I post every day but every blogger knows it’s not just about firing out a post, it’s as much about joining in and sharing the love too. So here’s my master plan, or how I intend to juggle a decent amount of blogging while actually enjoying the holidays with my little cherubs:

 

1. Time Management: It takes me bloody ages to write a post. I am simply unable to bang out a post without agonising over whether or not it’s perfect. At least 80% of that time is spent faffing, so there’s definitely a case for just trying to minimise the faffery and getting on with it. In truth faffery is to blame for most of my time-wasting sins including getting distracted by notifications of posts I follow (I’ll just have a quick peek…an hour later I’ve commented, clicked on 3 in-post links, signed up for a free subscription box and started a 7 day trial on PicMonkey!)

I’m experimenting with setting a timer while writing this post and so far I’ve had a phone call from my brother and a man turn up 4 hours early to quote me for replacing the garden fence panels. Both of which are great but also perfect examples of how my futile attempt at time management has gone to pot without the kids even being here!

Cunning Plan: It’s pretty obvious that most of these distractions can be avoided by just switching my phone off for an hour. NEXT!

2. Choose Your Moment: Now onto minimising interruptions of the non-technological variety AKA kids, who unfortunately don’t come with a ‘silent mode’. Of course I don’t expect them to let me get on with anything uninterrupted for longer than 3 minutes despite my desperate pleas for a bit of peace ; (in a similar way to how they suddenly have no end of urgent questions and require an abnormal amount of trips to the loo when you’ve asked them to get into bed!)

All parents waved goodbye to the certainty of uninterrupted time lonnnnnnng ago and it would be selfish of me to expect them to behave like anything other than normal, inquisitive, rambunctious little scamps anyway.

Cunning Plan: Time to get clever, think about what really holds their attention. An afternoon film and popcorn is usually a winner in our house when the kids are hot and tired and should guarantee some peace once a week. 

3. The Notebook: A trip to the playgroynd, moochingat the library or a scoot around the park. There’s a good 30 minutes where I am basically surplus to requirements (in their eyes) with the exception of the odd swing-pushing request.

Cunning Plan: With my trusty pad and pen by my side that’s just enough time to plan out the bones of a post, catch up on a linky, enjoy reading that post I bookmarked or reply to blog comments.

FullSizeRender [106641].jpg

4. Brucie Bonus: Sunny day? Fill that paddling pool, slap on the factor 50 and the kids are good to go for the day. Arrange a playdate rota with friends so you have a day child free couple of hours every so often. Suss out what’s on locally for kids; lots of councils, sports clubs and churches run free or reasonably priced sessions over the holiday- take advantage of them.

Cunning Plan: When opportunity knocks……………BLOG!

5. Bribery: So the post is ready to publish and you literally need FIVE MINUTES to do a final read through. Suddenly a little person appears at your side requesting the entire contents of Hobbycraft for something really cool they just saw on Mr Maker.

Cunning Plan: The promise of ‘getting the paints out’ in exchange for a few precious minutes if perfectly acceptable in such an emergency.

6. Lower your expectations: When I had my first child one of the pearls of wisdom many parents offered me in relation to housework was ‘lower your expectations’. You will never again have the ‘luxury’ of being bored enough to wash down the skirting boards or vacuum the curtains. Similarly, with little people around to keep you busy, lowering your expectations of what you can realistically achieve with your blog will save you a lot of stress.

Cunning Plan: Relax. Remind yourself you are not the only one short on time at the moment. I’m a Mummy before everything, that’s my priority and I refuse to feel guilty about enjoying that time with my kids free from the pressure to post. 

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I’d love to hear what your blogging plans are in preparation for the holidays – are you a fan of scheduling or just planning to take a bit of a step back and enjoy the Summer?

XX

 

 

This post is an entry for BritMums Confessions of a Summer Parent Challenge, sponsored by Anchor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blog : OFF

After the months of excitement and build up, one of the biggest blogging events in the calendar finally arrived last weekend: BML16. A day of talks, workshops and networking opportunities for bloggers and a great excuse to share an actual bottle of bubbles (rather than the usual virtual emoji variety) with all those fellow online chatterboxes we’ve been looking forward to meeting.

If you saw my last post you already know I couldn’t actually make it which I’m still a bit gutted about to be honest. However, my alternative plans involved flying to Amsterdam with a group of girlfriends for the weekend, which softened the blow a little (pun intended).

So while a lot of those who made the trip to Fancylondontown for BML16 will be writing up their experience of the event, I can crack on with a post about my weekend’s shenanigans in another awesome capital. Except I won’t.

While it seemed like a perfect opportunity to write about something exciting, I just didn’t want my weekend with the girls to be blog fodder. This was a getaway- from normality, from being a mum/wife/daughter/sister/blogger, from shopping lists and meal plans, after-school and weekend clubs. A brief, but much appreciated break from the routine of day-to-day life. Sorry guys, what happens in Amsterdam….

blogging-break

Image: Defining Hopes

So I had made the decision in advance that I wasn’t going to blog about my little Dutch adventure. I neatly folded my Blogger pants, put them to one side and mentally switched the blog OFF. Then chucked my Party pants in the case and headed straight to the departure lounge bar.

However, my Twitter feed was obviously awash with #BML16 excitement and the temptation to have a quick peek was there as long as I had my mobile attached to my hand.

In an attempt to keep my nose firmly out of Blogland for a couple of days (harder than you’d think, even without the BML buzz!) I had to be strict with myself on a few occasions and in hindsight it was definitely the right decision. I really did manage to completely switch off and enjoy just being Charlie Brown for a few days and I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone who is struggling to find the blog/life balance (actually leaving the country is optional).

So if you feel like you’re becoming a slave to your blog, or it’s seriously impacting on other areas of your life (she says, currently avoiding eye-contact with the vacuum cleaner), here are my 10 tips on how to survive going cold-turkey. Think of it as a quick stint at The Priory for some blogger rehab, you’ll come out the other side with an empowering, newfound sense of balance.

  • Decide which dates you’ll be checking into rehab and make them official, put them in the diary and tell someone, preferably someone who will be happy to have your full attention again, well for a while anyway.
  • Try to avoid dates that coincide with a MASSIVE blogging event but if this is the case, drop a tweet to explain your absence and wish your pals a fab time. There’s always next year.
  • Plan alternative coping mechanisms. Preferably something you’ll look forward to, this is no time to be ‘getting on with stuff’, the whole point is to remember what life was like before writing posts about everything. Remember the good old days when you did stuff purely so you could brag about it on Facebook?
  • Do some pre-rehab admin. If you’ve joined in a linky every week from day dot without fail, warn the host of your plans in advance to avoid a serious case of dreaded blogger’s guilt.
  • DO NOT schedule a post. Although this may seem like a good way to ‘keep the blog going’ in your absence, this is about realising you can just STOP for a while and the sky will not fall in. Scheduling posts is cheating, plus the temptation to read or reply to comments may be too much!
  • Ditto scheduled tweets. In fact delete the Twitter app for the duration or just switch to your personal account if you have one. You don’t want your phone having a fit everytime you enter a wi-fi hotspot as the result of a bunch of Twitter notifications- avoid the red circle of temptation.
  • Take a tonne of photos if you fancy but do not actively seek out or set up Instagram friendly shots. I’ll admit to posting one teeny shot over the weekend, but that was because it made me smile and was too lovely not to share – I mean, a ceiling of clogs – how cute?clogs
  • Once you’ve successfully completed your rehab session take a moment to reflect. Hopefully, after the initial shock wore off, you will have experienced a strange sense of freedom, the blog fog will have lifted and it is almost as if you are seeing the world through the eyes of a normal person. Congratulations – you’ve regained your grip on reality!
  • Where you go from here is up to you. Try to avoid diving headfirst into 3 days worth of tweets  (sooooo tempting with all the exciting ‘stuff’ happening this weekend) or binge reading the backlog of posts from every blog you’ve subscribed to. Nobody will be offended, trust me. More importantly, you will realise that nobody has forgotten who you are, a few tweets in it’ll be like you were never away.
  • Chill yer boots. Don’t feel pressurised into panic posting! Grab a cuppa, choose a few posts to read and enjoy. Actually enjoy. I went with

6 personal reflections on #BML16

by  Tim at Slouching Towards Thatcham – a great honest review of the 1 day event this year versus the 2 day format of last year.

I’m a Loser – Britmums #BML16

by Stevie from A Cornish Mum, her words, definitely not mine! A refreshingly honest, funny, (sorry Stevie- it did make me chuckle!) ‘losers’ view. If you ask me she’s totally winning at Blogs.

Finally a totally BML16 unrelated, but great, personal post on a sensitive issue by Vicki at Honest Mum

Let’s Talk About Race, Racism & Feeling Like The ‘Other’

So there you have it, my slightly tongue in cheek, but (mostly) failsafe 10 step plan to recalibrating your blog/life settings to suit you and realising the importance of maintaining a healthy balance going forward.

I hope you enjoyed it, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject and if/how you try to achieve the right balance for you?

 

cinderella-crying

I’m (not) going to BML16!

When I hit ‘publish’ on my first post back in January I had very little idea what blogging actually entailed, I just knew I wanted to try something new. I’d read a few ‘Blogging For Dummies’ type articles, decided on a name and purchased a domain. After waaaaaaay too long faffing about on WordPress, Mess & Merlot was finally born.

I felt sick with nerves. What was I doing?! At this point nobody knew about the blog (including Himself until a fair while later!) I was mortified at the thought of even saying the words out loud; “Oh, I started a blog by the way” – CRINGE!!!

Luckily I discovered the world of linkies pretty early on and was blown away by the kindness of fellow bloggers, not only reading but actually commenting on my nonsense. As the weeks passed by I eventually started to remember which linkies to join on which day and who hosted them*. I soon got chatting, as you do, and as well as discovering a shed load of new blogs to explore I struck up some virtual friendships with wonderfully supportive, like minded bloggers. That support meant the world to me, honestly it’s probably the only reason I had enough faith in myself to keep up this blogging malarkey.

(* Lies. I have a shocking memory and go through the same rigmarole of checking I’ve actually tweeted the right hosts for the corresponding linky most days!! I am getting slightly better though.)

goldfish

 

After a few months in Blogland I noticed whisperings of nominations, pleas for support and whoops of excitement from successful applicants – yes awards season was evidently upon us!

A mere spectator in the excitement of it all, even that demanded more concentration than my brain can handle most days. Oooh who’s nominated themselves? Have they made the shortlist? YES! I was hoping they’d get through. OK, voting for them, them, them…oh, there are finalists now. Am I voting again then? Hang on, I’ve definitely voted already, was that the MADS or the BiBs though, not sure.

And so I try my best to make sense of the whole voting system in the same way I endeavoured to understand the ‘First Past The Post’ system in the last election, but minus the help of David Dimbleby with his screen full of fancy graphics.

Of course this all culminates in the main event: Brit Mums Live 2016!

Having watched from the sidelines, from the “Eek, I’m going to #BML16” tweets to the ‘Meet my Sponsor’ posts, I have to say I am so, so sad that I will not be able to be part of the whole experience

cinderella-crying.

I will not be:

  • Fretting about what to wear in the days leading up to the event,regularly checking every weather app on my phone to gauge roughly what the heck the weather has in store and if I have anything that would pass as acceptable attire.
  • Packing excitedly and jumping on a train to Fancylondontown.
  • Buzzing with excitement at the prospect of meeting all you virtual chatterboxes in the flesh.
  • Getting into the BML16 spirit with you at the Friday Fringe party.
  • Spending the next day enjoying a range of talks from an awesome line up of speakers.
  • Partaking in any post-conference shenanigans with my new blogging buddies.
  • Engaging in Twitter conversations about any of the above

I am however looking forward enormously to all the follow up posts and hearing ALL the goss next week!! To all of you who are going I hope you have an amazing time, best of luck to all those up for awards and enjoy the weekend!!

P.S Don’t feel too sad for me, I’m actually in Amsterdam with the girls this weekend, so while I am gutted that it clashes with BML16 I’ll still be having fun! Every cloud eh?

Next year I shall go to the ball…

glass slipper

 

Charlie and the Chocolate Cake

This week has seen the good people of Britain out in their thousands to celebrate the birthday of a very special lady. Up and down the country tea parties on The Common were held in her honour as people huddled under soggy gazebos to enjoy a cucumber sandwich and a cuppa. Ladies and gentlemen, today the marks the culmination of events with the big day itself, my birthday.

shorty.jpef

Whoop, whoop! Go shorty, it’s your birthday…. gonna party like, eh well a 37 year old Mum on a Tuesday. School run followed by Scouts then football practice, YESSSSSSSSS! Fear not though, this day shall not pass without ridiculous amounts of cake scoffing to mark the occasion. And not just any old cake either, noooooooooo no no; the chocolate cake of all chocolate cakes, with copious amounts of amaretto incorporated at every possible opportunity.

Regular readers will know that I make a lot of cakes for other people. From cascading roses on a wedding cake to towering superhero birthday cakes, most weeks I can be found fiddling around with fondant. So it will come as no surprise that when my birthday rolls around a Madeira / Jam / Fondant combo doesn’t quite do it for me. Out goes the fluffy vanilla sponge in favour of dense, moist, alcohol soaked chocolatey-ness. Buttercream is replaced with the darkest of thick ganache; no form of fancy decor required bar dark chocolate truffles and a dusting of gold lustre because it makes me happy .

 

It’s a great big lump of a thing, in no danger of winning any beauty contests, but to me it’s the epitome of utter gorgeousness! The ultimate in self indulgence, each individual component made just the way I like it. This one is for the serious chocolate lovers:

Dense chocolate sponge layers, moist and laced with enough amaretto to produce a satisfying ‘squidge’ factor. This cake laughs in the face of Death By Chocolate!

Sandwiched with chocolate ganache, whipped to a spreadable consistency.

Coated in a layer of white amaretto buttercream, an aesthetically pleasing contrast to the thick dark chocolate (with a glug of amaretto) ganache topping.

Topped off with gold dusted truffles and a halo of gold confetti. 

*A choir of Angels sing*

I wish I could share a slice with you all but I’m afraid it’s virtual cake for now, sorry!

P.S. This cake is the realisation of my deepest darkest cakey fantasies but should anyone fancy giving it a go the recipe is below. Ironically this post was going to be about the backlash of the new National Obesity Forum report on low fat diets but it’s my birthday so sod it, here’s a cake with enough double cream to feed a Mall full of Royalists instead.

 

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II waves as sh

Chocolate Amaretto Cake of Dreams

Sponge 
135g plain flour
200g caster sugar
50g cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 large egg
150ml milk
75ml vegetable oil
75ml boiling water
75ml amaretto

Buttercream
120g butter, very soft
300g icing sugar
1 tblsp amaretto

Chocolate Ganache
400g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
200ml double cream
1 tblsp amaretto
cocoa for dusting

(You will use this ganache 3 ways, more on that later)

Heat oven to 180c. To make the sponge, mix all ingredients except boiling water and amaretto until well combined. Slowly add the boiling water and amaretto. This will give you a very wet looking mix – don’t panic. This is nothing like the sponge mix I would use for a standard cake – it’s more like a mud cake, very moist and dense.

Pour into a lined 6″ cake tin and bake for 1hr (checking with a skewer from around 45mins if the centre is baked, I usually cover the top of the cake in foil for the last 15mins). Allow the cake to cool completely in the tin, wrap in cellophane and transfer it to the fridge. I do this part a day or two in advance as I find it is easier to work with and also it means you can break the stages up depending on how much time you want to spend in the kitchen in one go!

To prepare the buttercream add icing sugar to butter and mix until fluffy, add amaretto very gradually to loosen the mixture to a spreadable consistency (you may not need all of it). Again you can prepare this a day or so in advance if you prefer. I don’t refrigerate mine as I don’t want it to firm up.

Next, the ganache mix, which will be used 3 ways. To sandwich the layers together, to cover the top of the cake and to make the decorative truffles. Place the chocolate chunks in a large bowl. In a saucepan bring the cream to a boil on medium heat, once it starts to boil immediately pour it over the chocolate and leave alone. The heat of the cream should be enough to melt the chocolate. After about 5 mins mix gently and allow to cool for a further 10 mins. Very slowly add the amaretto until combined.

Once cool separate the ganache mix into 3 – I use tupperware boxes. Place 1/3 in the fridge. Put 1/3 aside and pour 1/3 into the mixer. Whisk on high until the ganache starts to thicken and lightens in colour.

Remove sponge from fridge and slice into 3 equal layers. Use the whipped ganache to sandwich the layers together.

Use a thin layer of the  buttercream to cover the outside of the cake in a crumb layer. This should ‘catch’ most of the dark crumbs so they don’t ruin the end appearance. Refrigerate for 30mins and use the remaining buttercream to coat the cake. If you prefer a smooth finish on the cake run a large spatula knife around the edge and across the top to remove any lumps and bumps.Return to the fridge to allow the buttercream to firm up.

In the meantime take the fondant from the fridge which should be firm by now. Use a teaspoon to scoop a lump (however big you like your truffles!) and roll between your hands to make a ball shape. Roll in cocoa until covered. Set aside to firm up and repeat with remaining ganache.

Remove cake from fridge and pour the remaining 1/3 ganache on top so it overflows down the sides (use the back of a spoon to ‘help’ it if needed). Depending on how hot/cold your kitchen is this ganache may have started to set so you might need to loosen it up with a few seconds in the microwave to get a nice pourable consistency.

Finally top the cake with the truffles and whatever decoration takes your fancy (I used edible gold lustre and gold confetti). Voila! The most decadent, moist and sexy looking cake you’ve ever laid eyes on – ENJOY!

X

 

 

 

 

Back in the game- ish

Helloooooooooooooooo!! Good to be back after a fun filled half-term. I took a whole week off playing blogs to enjoy the break with the kiddos without my phone being attached to my face. Am I allowed to say it was really rather nice? With the exception my New Year’s Resolution FAIL post (in conjunction with Robinsons #enjoymore water campaign), a weeny bit of linky lurking and Twitter-ing I spent zero time in the old Blogosphere.

I’d love to say I’m back feeling pumped and raring to go but the truth is, as far as my blog is concerned, I’m feeling a bit like this little guy right now…

uninspired

It’s not so much that I’m feeling bad about it, just a bit erm…flummoxed? I’m still pretty new to this game and over my ‘week off’ have been thinking about where, if anywhere, I want my blog to go from here. Do I want to step it up a bit in terms of posting, promoting, analysing stats etc etc or just carry on as I am happily tapping away as and when the notion takes me and enjoying the many brilliant blogs I’ve discovered over the past 5 months? Ooooh decisions decisions…..

I don’t want blogging to become a chore, that sounds like no fun at all, but if I do manage to get my act together and actually plan stuff in advance (!) will it be worth it or am I just creating one massive headache for myself ? I’d hate for that to happen but let’s be realistic, there are only so many hours in the day I can get away with ignoring the long list of Mum jobs and cake orders before it’s school pick up time and therefor only so many hours I can actually don my blogger pants . Obviously it’s do-able, I just don’t know if I’m ready to be that dedicated (yes I’m admitting it!), just yet.

Funnily enough, writing this post has made it quite apparent that I’m not ready to become a slave to the Blogger’s Checklist just yet (are you sensing that??) but I could definitely be more organised in my approach, with a view to gradually ramping things up a bit in the months to come.

That leads me onto the next quandary – THE IDENTITY CRISIS!

whoisshe

See what happens when I take time off and am allowed to think? Dangerous I tell you. Niche, tribe, category, whatever you want to call it, it’s something I am very aware of in the world of blogging but have no clue where I fit in? I’m a Mum, and sometimes I mention my children but I wouldn’t really describe my blog as a Mummy/Parenting Blog – God help you if you ever needed to come to me for advise on that sort of stuff. I appreciate peonies, cute stationery and a beautifully arranged shelf as much as the next person but I’m not a Lifestyle blog. I love reading other people’s fashion blogs, but I’m quite happy in my T-shirt/skinnies/Converse uniform thank you very much. There are LOADS of categories that I know I don’t fit into but none that I really do. I know it’s early days and I’m still learning SO MUCH STUFF about blogging having never even written before (in the professional sense, obviously I know how to write, although my 7 yr old’s knowledge of grammar puts me to shame. I still don’t know my graphemes from my phonemes!).

Write what you’re interested in, write what you would want to read. Good advice. Christ, we all know that sinking feeling when the linky post in front of yours that you know you now have to read is sooooooooo not your thing right?! And I do write what I’d want to read, even if it’s a review post I like to combine it with something I actually want to write about and would enjoy reading myself. Recently I posted ‘Why Body Shamers Can Kiss My (Squidgy) Butt!‘ and ‘All The Carbs Please‘, two posts that were quite personal, on a subject I feel very strongly about. I really enjoyed writing these posts, for the most part the words came quite naturally and I had the most amazing response from a lot of those who read and identified in their own way. I’m also aware that that this may not be everyone’s cup of tea, here she goes, banging on about diets again (SPOILER: If that is your cup of tea my next post is me, banging on about diets again!!) However, some days I might just feel like writing about my lovely new nail varnish (still going strong btw!). I’ve read articles about how not focusing on one main genre is detrimental to your following etc etc but I started this blog for me and it’s still wet behind the ears in comparison to most. I don’t want to become a people pleaser for the sake of my stats – surely that’s what page tabs were invented for right? To sort posts nicely into various categories.

Basically, I just need to figure out how to add tabs.

Images giphy.com