Baked Goods

Skip to the end for my White Chocolate and Strawberry Muffin recipe!

For the better part of the year, my over has been broken. This has led to me mastering all things stove top, grill, slow cooker and microwave oven (A gem of a cookbook I found in my mum’s house, “Microwave for Health” was great for a laugh in its over the top 90’s fashion).

The one thing I really missed was baking. Whipping up the classic chocolate mug cake really isn’t the same, as delicious as it is. As someone who had once wowed everyone at Christmas with my individual mini croquembouches with spun sugar, I missed the more challenging and technical aspect of baking.

Passion-fruit Microwave Sponge

Passion-fruit Microwave Sponge

Trying to get it fixed turned out to be harder than I thought. I called the repairman, and he visited within a week and said that a par needed replacing, but he should have it within a few days and he would call.

It was 2 weeks later and I hadn’t heard anything, so I phoned him. He had the part and wanted to come over to fix the oven right at that moment. I told him that since I was at work, I’d be unable to leave, but was available every morning until 11am. He, once again, said he’d call. After a few weeks, I phoned back, only to be given the “I’ll call you back” line.

After nearly 4 months, I was more than a little bit fed up, and told my partner to phone the repairman. The repairman said he could be over at our house in 30 minutes. He turns up, part in hand, and tells us there’s another part that needs replacing. It took 3 days to come in, and he came back that same day he received it and fitted it.

I didn’t care so much that it took my partner to call to get anything done, I was just so glad to have my oven back!

Over the weekend, I decided to make a few batches of cupcakes and muffins for an event I was going to.

BAKED GOODS!

BAKED GOODS!

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Marbled Chocolate Cupcakes

Pictured above is my Marbled Chocolate Cupcakes (of which I am making a few batches of tonight).

Cookies and Cream Cupcakes

Cookies and Cream Cupcakes

Pictured above is my Cookies and Cream Cupcakes, complete with mini Oreo.

And, as requested on the night; My recipe for my White Chocolate and Strawberry Muffins:

White Chocolate and Strawberry Muffins

White Chocolate and Strawberry Muffins

Ingredients:
375g Self Raising Flour
1 1/2 tsp Bicarb Soda
150g Caster Sugar
250g White Chocolate, roughly chopped
Pinch of Salt
3 Eggs, lightly beaten
150g Unsalted Butter, melted.
200g Natural Yoghurt
2 tbs Milk
12 Strawberries, washed and hulled
Raw Sugar, to sprinkle

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 200 °C and line a 12 hole muffin pan with paper cases
2. Mix flour, bicarb soda, sugar and chocolate in a large bowl with the pinch of salt.
3. Beat together the eggs, butter, yoghurt and milk and then stir briskly into the dry ingredients. Do not overmix! This will make the muffins tough. The mixture will be lumpy.

4.Divide mixture amongst paper cases and insert a strawberry into centre of each cake, making sure that each berry is completely covered in batter.
5. Sprinkle with raw sugar and bake in oven for 20-25 minutes, until golden and skewer inserted into the centre of the cakes comes out clean.
6. Cool in pan for 5 minutes, before turning out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

7. ENJOY!

It’s Not You, It’s Me

Look, we’ve had some amazing times together. You’ve helped give me insight into the lives of those I know and love (and even those I don’t know, but we’ll keep that between us). You’re always asking me what I’m doing or how I am feeling; helping me put my best self on display. Although, sometimes you don’t stop me from breaking my filter and having an all out whinge. Which you should, because, lets face it, me whining is not very becoming.

So, it has come to this, Facebook. We’ve come to that inevitable fork in the road and we will part ways at the end of this week. I have uninstalled you from my phone and started to make sure I have my dearest and nearest’s up to date contact information. Come Friday, I will deactivate you.

This isn’t to say I won’t be back. For now it is the best thing I can do for me. I have found myself spending most nights staring at you, wondering what my friends are doing. It isn’t healthy.

You have become my social life. I can’t remember when I last actually went out with my friends. That’s not to say I haven’t tried. More and more I would text my friends and ask them if they wanted to catch up over coffee, only to be told that they were busy or to check in another time. Both of which are fair responses.

But I started to notice, some time ago, that my friends were expecting me to see their status updates as us “catching up”. I’d send a text asking the good old, “Hey, how’ve you been?” only to log onto you, Facebook, minutes later and see that they’ve been out to lunch with their mum, who is visiting and their boyfriend proposed! I’d never get a reply to a text asking “How are you?”

I know that’s a silly example, as with things like proposals, it is impossible to tell everyone in person, so a mass text replaced the newspaper announcement, and now you, Facebook seem to have replaced the mass text message. And look out if you don’t “like” that life event. That makes you a bad friend.

It is the politics that I won’t miss. Or the incredibly lonely feeling that you, Facebook, have brought out in me. After reading something as glorious as a proposal or pregnancy announcement on Facebook  I’d try to catch up with those people to celebrate in person. It would get planned, but never actually happen. So the next time I logged in, I would see photos of these people out at lunch with other engaged friends or hanging out with their new found “mummy friends”, I’d feel hurt (not hurt enough, though to then air my dirty laundry all over my wall).

I don’t want that. I do think that ignorance is bliss. So I would very much like to think that when I have made lunch plans with a friend and they get cancelled the day of, that we will catch up “some other time”, and know that I won’t be logging on to Facebook to see who or what they have done instead. I won’t miss the gossip or snarkiness or oversharing that you brought out in my friends, either.

Life will be simpler and I know I will be surrounded with those that do care and that I care about. If there is something I want to know about them, I will just ask and make more of an effort, instead of stalking them online.

I very much look forward to this breath of fresh air. Thank you, Facebook, for the good times. I will admit, when my ego needed inflating, you did a pretty smashing job most of the time, but it is time for me to come back down to Earth and join the real people.

With love,

Emma

New hair cut

Well, I have been back at work for a week now and boy has it been busy with silly changes,  which I won’t get into here. Lets just say that as a member of the local repertory club, I have enough scripted conversations in my day without having to have them at work.

My week off involved a lot of nothing. It. Was. Great. First off, I chopped my hair off

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Then I got a pet guinea pig.

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I haven’t had one since I was 15, and I am glad to be back in the ranks of guinea pig ownership.

I got my eyes tested and it turns out a job that requires you to spend 95% of your time staring at a computer screen isn’t very good for your eyes. So I am getting glasses. I must say though, I think I pull them off. They should arrive next week.

Other things that I got up to was doodling in my visual diary. I wasn’t all that inspired creatively. I did cook up a storm though. I made jars of fig jam, tomato relish, a batch of butter chicken and some baby cakes for my friend’s baby shower.

It was my first baby shower that I’d been to and it set a really high standard. We all brought a bead to the shower and made a necklace for my friend. The idea was that she would be able to draw on the positive energy of her friends during labour. There were cards to decorate and write positive messages to mum to be and baby, a belly cast to decorate and squares of canvas that we could paint on. These would be turned into bunting for the baby’s room.

It was such a cute day.

My pigeon appreciated all of the extra attention during my week off, too.

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Not Your Typical Resolutions Post

So 2012 was not the kindest to me.

Now I don’t want to sound like a whiny bitch, because I know that so many people had a much worse year than me, and I definitely have plenty to be thankful for going into 2013, but this year is going to be all about fixing last year’s mess.

I will start this story at the end of 2011. At the age of 21, I had successfully purchased my first house after saving for 18 months, started a new job which came with a pay increase, and moved my little family (my partner, pigeon and dog) into our big, shiny new house!

2012 was looking to be a year of new starts. It was going to be awesome and I was excited. Our local repertory club put on a production of Chicago. Not being the biggest fan of the director, I had my hang ups about auditioning, but decided that hey, I am at my peak of physical fitness, can sing and dance, so why not?!

During the audition (a group audition by the way, which is 10 times worse for the nerves) I had my small fumbles. My voice cracked during my audition piece, and I apologised for my anxiety induced moment of pubescence. We then moved on to the monologue. I nailed it. So I was counting on the dance section of the audition to bring it home.

They wanted us to audition as a group, showed us the routine and we had to memorise and do it. It was pretty basic, with plenty of jazz hands and a couple of high kicks. I was brilliant, in time, tits and teeth out – then came the high kick.

It was not high at all. I put it down to not being properly warmed up. I am someone who did gymnastics and ballet as a child, stopped as a teenager, piled on a bucket of weight at 13 (30 kg to be exact), decided to be healthy again at 17, picked up my dancing again (with the addition of yoga and pilates, naturally), and lost 33kg.

I was nimble, light and flexible. High kicks shouldn’t have been an issue. But it was. I was cast as a space filler, but went in with the aim of having fun.

Over the next few weeks I noticed I was stumbling, tripping, had numbness in my left leg,pain in my lower back and a lump protruding from my lower back. So I decided it was time I see a doctor. To cut an already long story short, the wait to find out if this lump was cancer was agonising, but it wasn’t and I was so relieved  That was one thing to be thankful for last year.

The bad news was, this little space invader was a tumour of the non cancerous kind. It had appeared so fast that it had done a number on my body and made my muscles in my stomach, leg and foot forget what they were meant to be doing. So the solution was to scale back my physical activity so I wouldn’t risk injuring myself further and start the long road to recovery with physiotherapy.

So I had to drop out of the play, which was a big drama unto itself. Apparently that was the last time I’d ever be cast in one of her plays. No loss there really.

The best decision I ever made during all of this was keeping my personal drama off of the big book of face. I knew if I posted about my non cancerous tumour, word would spread and, as Chinese whispers goes, I’d become “The girl that lied about having cancer”. My reputation could not take a hit like that and I would hate for anyone to think I was trying to pull focus onto myself.

So began the gruelling process of recovery. Having once been so physical and then being so restrained was really hard. The inevitable weight gain was the worst. My new job required me to be seated for 8 hours anyway, and because I was so restricted in my activity at home, watching the weight creep on was, at first, very difficult.

I then decided that, instead of wallowing, I would just go with it. I certainly couldn’t help being in the position I was in, so 2012 would be the year of being chubby.

Now we are in 2013 and last week, after months and months of physical therapy, I was given the all clear to start building back up to what I used to do, under the guidance of my beautiful physiotherapist.

So this isn’t your normal “This year, I will be fit and healthy” , this is the promise I made to myself to let my body recover and take it one step at a time. This year is about getting back to normal and loving my body for the amazing things it can do and how resilient it has been in the past 12 months.

I couldn’t imagine how much worse this scenario would have been if I couldn’t keep up the light walking I’ve been doing to try to maintain some of my fitness.

To reward myself for all the hard work I am about to do, again, for the second time in my life, I booked a walking tour of the Bordeaux region in France.

2013 will be all about shedding these 10 kg I have gained this past year and enjoying every day and every bit of movement I am able to do. I am thinking of signing back up for dance classes too.

Cheesy? Absolutely, but I am game! Thanks you to those who stayed with me for that essay of sorts. It means the world to me to be able to share it. I look forward to posting updates about my progress.

Ye First Blog Post

So after taking a 4 year hiatus from blogging (because blogging is soooo 2008), I’ve decided to pick it back up again.

I will be detailing the ever monotonous day to day, the dreary and drab, but also the fantastic and fab facets of my life.

Mostly this will be a platform for me to get back on the artistic horse and share my passion for art with the world.

 

Not the most original, but hey, with blogs being “so 2008”, I’d hardly be the first, right?

Now that the awkward first post is out of the way, lets get cracking!