Thursday, 30 May 2013

For the Love of Pinterest - Pin it forward UK.

I am sure you are all aware of the internet phenomenon that is Pinterest. If perchance you are not, then you are totally missing out on not only an awesome website, but one of the best procrastination tools ever invented.

I am a bit of a Pinterest addict, it is the perfect visual platform to while away the hours and get lost in pretty pretty pretty things. I have also come to appreciate it as a tool for driving traffic to my blog. Although, unlike a lot of site *cough* google+ *cough* it is not dullsville.

I use pinterest like a visual pinboard, pinning anything and everything that catching my interest. Whether it be recipes I love the look of, food styling I fancy trying or am inspired by, clothes I want to own, people I admire... The possibilities are endless. The thing I find most useful about Pinterest is the recipe inspiration. Its so easy to skim through a board looking for flavour combinations, decorating tips, new recipe ideas... Even if I don't follow the recipe verbatim, it acts as a launching pad for my own imagination!

Pinterest have now launched in the UK, so I thought I would take this opportunity to show you how I use pinterest and why I love it so...

This is one of my most used boards, as you can see it is dedicated to cake. I could literally spend hours scrolling through this beautiful collection of cakes. If I am trying to come up with an interesting idea for Cake Club, or just looking for something to rustle up of a weekend, I can usually find something that sparks an idea, or a recipe that peaks my interest. I also have boards for lots of different food groups; pizza, pie, drinks, meat, dough, and some more healthy eats too!

It is also a great way to pin-it-forward. If you love a particular blogger or blog post and pin it to your board. The people who follow you will see your pin and hopefully click or even re-pin. I see this as my own way to personally recommend things to people. I don't tend to pin everything and anything, I am quite selective and feel that I have built a good reputation on Pinterest.

So if you haven't already discovered the wonder of Pinterest, click on this registration link, give me a follow and wave goodbye to any free-time you once possessed.

As part of the Pin it Forward campaign I was asked to introduce you to a fellow pinner, this is part of a long chain (some of you may even be here because The Lone Gourmet introduced me!). So *drumroll* introducing the wonderful Caitlin from The Vegan Word *round of applause*. Check her out, there are some delicious vegan recipes on her blog.

If you are looking for some other fabulous foodie types to follow to get you started, here are some of my favourite UK pinners:

  • Roswensian

  • The Cake Hunter

  • The Littlest Bakehouse

  • The Grazer

  • Claire Bakes

  • Mulia

  • London Bakes

  • Jimsyjampots (She cooks, she eats)

    If you are a UK pinner, please feel free to leave your profile link below so I and anyone reading this can follow.

    If you have yet to discover the wonders of Pinterest, you can sign up here.

  • Sunday, 26 May 2013

    Sunday Summary and Holidays

    Hey guys, so its been a little quiet on the blog-front recently. Work and real life commitments just keep getting in the way. I mean, you know how it goes.

    So what have I been up to? To quote Joy the Baker, an awful lot of super important unimportant things. (I am completely hooked on the Joy the Baker podcast, you should check it out)

    I have been getting my exercise on, so more Lazy Girl posts are on the way. These will include Zumba, spinning and joining a gym! Or as I prefer to call the the good, the bad and the down right ugly!

    I've also done a little baking, mostly quick, dirty, late-night baking. Which of course results in terrible photos but delicious midnight snacks.

    The Weight Watchers is still going strong, I have now lost 1 stone 12 lbs in total and am sticking to the slow and steady approach. It can be pretty frustrating at times but in the long run it is so much more manageable for me, and means I can still indulge in the odd cake and/or doughnut.

    Speaking of doughnuts, I tried Krispy Kreme for the first time the other day. I was expecting something sickly sweet and plastic-y. I was pleasantly surprised, they were light, fluffy and downright delicious!

    While we are on the topic of sweet things, I had a tooth removed this week and good lord! It was awful! I really assumed that dentistry and tooth extraction had moved past the barbaric practices of yester-year but oh no! They literally pry the tooth from your face with pliers! PLIERS! *gag*

    Well, I am off on my Holidays this week, I am staying in the UK; Milton Keynes to be precise. I am off on a roadtrip with my friend and her children. I am really excited and I am sure I will be sharing all of my fun times over on twitter and instagram.

    So have a lovely bank holiday everyone! See you on the other side.

    Tuesday, 14 May 2013

    Boiler Shop Steamer Event - Newcastle.

    Earlier this month I went along to the Boiler Shop Steamer event at the Stephenson Works in Newcastle. I had been to Urban Night Feast in the same venue last September and absolutely loved it. So I had rather high hopes for this event too.

    The event is basically a combination of live music, street food and awesome people. Each month (on the first weekend of the month) there will be a selection of street food vendors, bands and musicians, boutiques, comedy etc... etc... All coming together to make for a rather enjoyable evening.

    We arrived for the event opening at 5:30pm, which meant it was free. After 6pm its £2 entry.

    Being one of the first to arrive meant we got a table, then took it in turns to go to the various food vendors to try their wares. I started by inhaling a pork bun from Lulus Chinese, quickly followed by a vegeable samosa from Dabawal. The samosa was so full of flavour and spice I had to wash it down with a sloe gin and tonic from The Cumberland Arms.

    After a brief rest I grabbed a mini pizza from the Pizzette van outside. Wild board, ricotta and artichokes (although there didnt seem to be any artichokes on mine). The pizza was OK, but to be honest I have had better. <>

    After the pizza I was pretty full, so spent the rest of the evening listening to great music, chatting with friends and generally having a blast.

    It started to get pretty busy by 8:30pm, so I headed home early to avoid the crazinesses of Newcastle on a Friday night.

    It is so exciting to have an event like this in Newcastle on a regular basis (the first weekend of each month, on both the Friday night and the Saturday from 12pm). I look forward to going along to other events and trying different vendors, and hearing different music. My suggestions for future one would be more sweet options, like ice cream or even cake! Also, the porta-potties are pretty grim, proper toilets please!

    Did you attend the event? What did you think? If you didn't go, seriously, get yourself there next month! (If you are not local, hop on a train, totally worth it!)

    Monday, 13 May 2013

    Lazy Girl: Barre Class

    When I decided to broaden my fitness horizons and try new things, Barre was at the top of my list. A lot of people I follow on twitter are barre regulars and rave about the benefits. I have been wanting to try it for a while now but always came up with excuses not to. I watched youtube videos and decided it was far too intense and I was far to unfit to even attempt it. Of course this is utterly ridiculous but that little nagging voice of doubt tends to be pretty ridiculous.

    So back to The Barre. What is it I hear you ask? Well, it is based around ballet/dance. It is a series of small intense movements which targets individual muscle groups to achieve a burn, followed by stretching. The workout not only burns fat but also tones and improves flexibility.

    The Barre studio in Newcastle is located behind central station in one of the railway arches. It is a little on the small side, with room for only 10 people in each class. While this does make for a nice atmosphere, and ensures one-on-one attention from the instructer, it does mean that the cost of each class is quite high.

    Each 60 minute session is £12, although the first one is half price. You can also purchase blocks to bring the cost down slightly.

    So how did I find the class? Well, I did feel a little like one of those hippos from fantasia trying to get my legs up on the bar, and get into certain positions. However, I did really feel a good burn and got complete jelly legs afterwards which must mean it was doing something good right?

    Personally, I would love to incorporate Barre into my weekly workout. It is low energy yet effective and really conveniently located for me. Unfortunately I just cannot afford to spend £12 a week (or fortnight) on it.

    Here is me after the class, I worked up a bit of a sweat and felt pleasantly sore. I definitely was feeling those lovely endorphins at this point.

    So I give The Barre 3/5 stars. The place and the people were amazing, but the cost just isn't practical for me at the moment.

    Have you tired a fun new exercise class or routine? I am always looking for new things to try.

    Photos courtesy of The-Barre.com, used with permission

    Friday, 10 May 2013

    Noughts, Crosses and Monkeys. Oh my!

    Crisps, potato chips (for my American pals), beautiful little morsels of potato and pure heaven, am I right?

    Despite my blog being named after a sweet little cupcake, I am much more of a savoury snacker. My total weakness is big ol' share bags of kettle chips. I could rather easily sit in front of Netflix and munch my way through a whole bag without batting an eyelid, and team that with a pot of hummus and I am in snack heaven.

    Since being on Weight Watchers I have avoided crisps completely. A lot of the "healthy" alternatives masquerading as crisps leave a lot to be desired. So I think it best to just avoid them and dip cucumber and carrot in my hummus.

    Walkers sent me some of these new "Noughts & Crosses" to try. They are 85 calories a bag and 2 Propoints. Which is perfect for a pack lunch, or mid-afternoon snack for me at work. Often if I am having a sandwich or wrap for lunch I miss having something crunchy for afterwards.

    The packaging and branding seems to be geared towards kids, and the promotional material was all about increasing how much wholegrain we eat. I am not too concerned about this, but if I had a child it would definitely be a factor.

    Me and the Boyfriend sampled the Roast Beef flavour which I personally did not enjoy, not because they were bad in any way, I just don't like roast beef flavoured crisps. The Boyfriend however really enjoyed them! He likened them to Monster Munch in texture with the signature walkers flavour. I would definitely be up for trying the salt & vinegar flavour, and a little birdie told me they are on special in Asda and Tesco.

    So that is next weeks packed lunches sorted.

    Along with my sample bag I got this adorbs little monkey toy. Although I am a big kid at heart I decided to gift this little cutie to my little godson Louie. He is nearly 2 and loved the little cuddly monkey.

    What are your thoughts on "healthy" crisps? Worth the effort, or just not as good?

    This is a sponsored post, all opinions are my own

    Wednesday, 8 May 2013

    Quick One-Banana Bread.

    We've all been there, you are all ready for a nice lazy weekend when unexpected guests descend. Maybe they just were passing and popped in, or maybe your boyfriend claimed he told you weeks ago, but alas you completely forgot. Either way, I am the kind of person who likes to be prepared for visitors.

    I like the bathroom scrubbed, living room looking semi-respectable and smelling nice, and something yummy in the kitchen. However, when you roll out of bed at 10:30am and they are arriving at 12pm it really doesn't give a lot of time for rustling up a tasty treat.

    If in doubt, bake banana bread.

    I stumbled upon some lovely looking banana breads on pinterest and thought it would be the perfect sweet treat to go with a cup of tea. I set about weighing ingredients for my usual recipe when I suddenly realised I only had one banana! The downside of my new running habit, is I love a nice banana afterwards, so I go through them twice a fast now.

    In desperation I quickly googled "Can I make banana bread with just one banana?" and I found that you can! There were lots of american recipes and a couple of scaled down versions so I sort of combined them all into this delicious recipe...

    print recipe
    Quick One-Banana Loaf
    Ingredients
    • 1 ripe Banana
    • 75g Plain Flour
    • 75g Caster Sugar
    • 50g Butter (Softened)
    • 1 Tablespoon Milk
    • 1/2 teaspoon Bicarb of soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
    • 1 whole Egg
    • 50g Blueberries (frozen or fresh)
    • a pinch Ground Cassia or Cinnamon
    Instructions
    This is an all-in-one cake, so I just popped all of the above in my Kitchenaid and mixed until a batter formed.Pour the batter into a small greased loaf tin. I sprinkled the top with some demerera sugar for crunch.Bake at 180C for 25-35 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.

    I managed to cut this small loaf into 12 slices, which worked out at 2pp per slice. *bonus*

    I threw in some frozen blueberries and some ground Cassia (cinnamon bark), it added a little more interest to a plain banana bread. I wish I had had some walnuts or hazlenuts to hand, as they would of made a perfect addition.

    What is your go-to recipe for last minute guests?

    Saturday, 4 May 2013

    Lazy Girl - a new adventure.

    Well, you all know I have been following the Weight Watchers plan for about 21 weeks now. With around a stone and a half lost I am finally getting around to upping my activity levels. I am inherently lazy so gaining motivation and momentum is a rare thing indeed. So I have decided to incorporate some of this new found fitness into this blog.

    With the warmer weather and lighter nights I seem to have come out of my winter hibernation with an unnatural (for me) desire to exercise! Needless to say I am taking advantage of this rare moment of energy.

    I know this is a bit of a departure from the usual food-related fare, but I hope you don't mind. I mean this blog is a bit of an extension of me, so if I am running/zumba-ing/bootcamping etc... Expect to hear all about it.

    Don't panic though, I shall still be cooking and baking up a storm.

    So, where does the Lazy Girl element come into it? Well, I have spend an exorbitant amount of time googling various fitness classes, gyms, crazes etc... And there is so much out there but a lot of it seems to be targeted at people who know what they are doing or who already exercise a lot.

    What I really want is someone like me to try these things, then tell me honestly how horrible/tiring/impossible it all is, or hopefully the opposite. So, rather than wait for this magical person to do this I decided to simply try things myself and review them from my unique slightly lazy perspective.

    So these posts will all be entitled - Lazy Girl's review.

    If you have any recommendations, tips, tricks, warnings please feel free to share. Wish me luck!

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