Thursday, October 31

Recently Reading

After a week of being off University due to Reading Week, I have not only been reading library books, but also catching up on my favourite blogs and discovering new, interesting websites. So whilst the weather has been mostly rain and wind, I have had the perfect excuse to cuddle up inside with a cup of herbal tea and read until my hearts content.

1 Ever wondered how some bloggers take amazing photos? It's all about the rule of thirds and more fascinating facts about how to achieve those professional photographs here.

2 Travel to Shanghai and more magical locations with the most talented fashion/photography blogger around, Gary Pepper.

3 Need some inspiration to keep you looking effortlessly fashionable on these bleaker autumn days? Topshop Tumblr is the hub of my fashion inspiration.

4 Grow your Nikkor lens collection with these fantastic sales.

5 Get yourself completely organised and prepared for the Christmas festivities with Martha Stewart.

Tuesday, October 29

Life, Lately #5

If I had to choose one word to describe this past week, it would have to be rewarding. Both on Monday and Friday I was taking part in voluntary work at schools which has strengthened my career goal into becoming a teacher. Not only that, but I have also met some amazing new people along the way. 

Life lately has been quite busy, with once distant deadlines creeping up, but they won't sting me! I'm on top of it and trying to keep calm and not let the pressure get to me.

Ben and myself also celebrated on Sunday our four year anniversary, in which we went to Liverpool to do a spot lot of shopping and try out Jamie's Italian Liverpool (Jamie's Italian, Manchester post here). Sunday was especially lovely as we had fresh pastries from the local bakery before getting ready and setting off for a day in Liverpool. These past four years have been the most exciting, amazing and happy years with countless memories. I am so grateful for my love, Ben, as he always puts a smile on my face and makes me excited for each and every day we spend together. 

I'd love to hear if you've been up to anything this week. What were the peaks and pits of your week? Have you got anything exciting lined up for the upcoming week?

Monday, October 28

Autumn At University

Autumn is my favourite season, the changing colours of the leaves, the crisp cool air and the festivities which occur in this month. The changing colours of the trees is the most magical, there is so much variety among the trees, some deep reds, peachy-pinks and then pumpkin orange. At University Autumn feels even more special this year, as I sit in the library studying for upcoming assignments, I feel cosy looking out the Georgian windows to see leaves spiraling softly to the ground. Grabbing a cup of a coffee also feels much more rewarding, as your hands heat up from the cup, sipping a deliciously creamy coffee.

Saturday, October 26

Breakfast Series | Cinnamon Whirls

One of my passions in life is food, homemade food, whether it be starter, main, desert, lunch, breakfast, drinks - the list is really endless! So, with that in mind, I am going to share my love of food with you, especially breakfasts over the next 4 weeks, to demonstrate how much more enjoyable (and delicious) food is with your special touch of love. 

So what better place to start than with the mouth watering-ly good Cinnamon Swirls. Although I have one thousand and one favourite breakfast dishes that I would happily munch up in an instant, I have always had a love for cinnamon swirls, and always wanted to cook them myself, so I threw myself into the recipe (I wish I could literally) and baked up a delicious breakfast indulgence.

Makes 9, prep: 35 minutes, bake: 10 minutes in total Ingredients:

250ml milk
75g butter, cut into pieces, plus extra for greasing
400g strong plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1/4 tsp salt
3.5g (1/2 sachet) fast-action dried yeast
50g golden caster sugar
Handful of golden brown sugar, sprinkled

For the filling:

35g butter
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
35g golden caster sugar

How To:

1. Measure the milk into a glass or plastic jug and add the butter. Microwave on high for 2 minutes until warm. (Alternatively, put the milk and butter into a saucepan and put over a medium heat until the butter is melted and the mixture is warm.) Set aside.
2. Put the flour into a large bowl and add the salt, yeast and caster sugar. Pour the warm milk and butter into the flour mixture. Start mixing with a wooden spoon, then use your hands to mix the dough until it gradually forms a ball and leaves the sides of the bowl clean.
3. Lightly dust a clean work surface with flour and tip the dough out onto it. Stretch and pull the dough for 10 minutes until it is smooth and elastic. Cover the dough with a greased piece of cling film and set aside.
4. Make the filling. Weigh out 25g butter, put it in a small plastic or glass dish and microwave on high for 30 seconds to melt. (Or melt in a pan over a medium heat.) Put the rest of the butter in a bowl with the cinnamon, caster sugar and melted butter, and mix with a wooden spoon until smooth.
5. Take a large sheet of baking paper and put it onto a clean work surface. Sprinkle with flour, then take a rolling pin and lightly sprinkle it with flour. Uncover the dough and roll out on the baking paper to a large rectangle (about 30cm x 40cm).
6. Using a palette knife or flat-bladed knife, spread the cinnamon butter all over the dough, right up to the edges. Lift up the paper along the longest edge of the dough: as you lift, the dough should roll over. Keep lifting the paper until the cinnamon swirl is completely rolled, like a big Swiss roll.
7. Cut the cinnamon swirl into 2cm thick slices - you should make 9 slices. Ease a knife under each piece, then lie on its side on a sheet of baking paper on top of  a baking tray. (Make sure the baking paper is well greased).
8. Crack the egg into a bowl and mix with a fork. Brush over the cinnamon buns, then sprinkle with brown sugar to give it a caramelized effect & dried fruit. Cover the whirls with a greased piece of cling film and leave to prove in a warm place for about 20 minutes.
9. Preheat the oven to 220°C/fan200°C/gas 7. Discard the cling film and bake the cinnamon swirls for 8 minutes, or until risen and golden brown. 

10. Flip over the whirls onto their other side and coat in the egg mixture to cook for a further 2 minutes.

11. Once cooled (for 20 minutes), get 4 tbsp of icing sugar and a drop of hot water, mix this together and then thinly pour the icing over the buns in a zig-zag motion.

Thursday, October 24

Cedar Farm

A little place, nestled in the rolling hills of Lancashire is this quaint assortment of shops, cafes and a farm, known as Cedar Farm. Cedar Farm is the ideal place to go to on a sleepy Sunday, smooching around the crafts and jewellery shops until your hearts content. Not only that, but on the first Saturday of every month there is a highly popular Farmer's Market and a Vintage Fair which comes round monthly on the second Sunday. However on a regular Sunday, this place had a certain charm about it, I don't know whether it was the brewing storm, the picture-perfect families, or the creative vibe. Despite the pumpkin outside the gardening boutique, Christmas was well and truly alive within the craft shops, with endless displays of the most delicate Christmas decorations. After feeling overwhelmingly festive, we headed into our favourite cafe in Cedar Farm, and Ben indulged in their Roberts & Co cappuccino  whilst I sipped a cool diet coke. 

Tuesday, October 22

Life, Lately #4

This week has been remarkably relaxing, especially the weekend. Making time for family members and loved ones is so enjoyable, catching up over a coffee and laughing together over memories. This weekend Ben and I did just that, and of course cooking delicious food. 

With me currently being in second year at University I am now partaking in volunteering with disadvantaged children and also doing work experience at a local primary school. There is seriously nothing more rewarding than giving back to the community and gaining new friendships along the way.

I am so excited for this week, even though it is jam packed busy, I can tell it's going to be a fun one!

Thursday, October 17

Trending: Fall Style Inspiration

Throughout the years of following bloggers and discovering new ones, I have developed a greater appreciation for fashion. I have compiled the five looks which I am loving this season, even though some photographs date back a year; fashion shouldn't be fixated on trends, but how you express yourself. I am currently a big fan of monochrome outfits, especially ones with geometric patterns.

Images: 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5

Tuesday, October 15

Life, Lately #3

October is in full swing and I'm loving every minute of it. This past weekend was very relaxing, on Saturday we headed out to Ben's relatives 80th birthday with his family which was fun. I hadn't really seen that side of the family before so it was great to meet new people and put names to faces. Sunday was even more lethargic  with Ben ever so kindly heading out in the morning to buy the newspaper and pastries (he knows how to put a smile on my face) and we drank endless cups of coffee. Sunday night we watched Django Unchained which was an exceptional film, Tarantino is a truly talented director. Also, I have started watching Breaking Bad Season 5 and I am literally obsessed with it, so anxious to see what happens throughout this series! Apart from that, this past week has been extra busy at University, with deadlines galore, but I am enjoying the challenge of these assignments. 

Monday, October 14

Jamie's Italian, King Street

Manchester is like a labyrinth, full of secret hideaways where everyone disappears to, full of delicious restaurants, bars, brasseries. And once you take a turn into King Street, you are filled with awe and an unusual rumbling stomach, aching to visit each and every buzzing restaurant. 

A while ago I noticed Jamie's Italian and added it to my Fall To-Do List and restaurant bucket list. With my friend, Mimi in tow, we ventured up into King Street and through the dominating marble entrance into a restaurant which looked remarkably similar to a scene in Sex and The City

Jamie's Italian, King Street, is a restaurant chain throughout Britain by the ever so talented celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver. So, with this in mind, I could already tell we were in for a treat and my goodness how right I was. The service was impeccable, the cocktails were devilishly good and the food was mouth wateringly yummy. We took quite a long time to decide, with the menu having so many wonderful options. 

For starters, Mimi and I shared a selection of bread, which we managed to save some of to accompany our mains, mine was a Wild Mushroom & Cheese Risotto, whilst Mimi's was Mortadella & Ricotta Caramelle. However after the meal we were still hungry to try out the deserts, so we ordered a mammoth of a brownie each which came with amaretto popcorn and vanilla ice cream. The brownie was so dense and chocolaty, it really was heaven on a plate.

Thursday, October 10

Fall To-Do List

Fall is definitely my favourite season, being able to try out new recipes, snuggle up by the fire and have movie/series marathons with your friends. I also love how many things there are to do in fall, such as Halloween, Bon Fire Night and celebrate anniversaries & birthdays (such as mine). This year I have quite a substantial list of what I want to do this fall.

1 Buy The Great British Bake Off cookbook and bake lots of cakes.

2 Have a Sex and The City marathon with my lovely friend, Mimi.

3 Try out new restaurants.

4 Re-organize all of my closets, draws and anything else which could do with some reshuffling.

5 Host a grown up Halloween party.

6 Watch Hocus Pocus (a childhood tradition).

7 Capture the changing seasons and compile into a short film.

8 Keep on top of my University work.

9 Compile my summer holiday photographs into a scrapbook.

10 Purchase some moodier nail polishes.

Tuesday, October 8

Life, Lately #2

The past week since my first Life, Lately post, I have been super busy. It's funny how when you're off for a whole summer you forget how demanding University is of your free time. Well, that is exactly what's been on my mind this week - work. I've been reading all sorts of articles and chapters for my subjects, from feminism, the history of Jewish-Christian relations, all the way to the study of myth. So it's been pretty heavy going, to say the least. 

However not all is lost with University work as it is so interesting to read about new topics and realize your own philosophical standpoint. On the bright side, with work comes coffee breaks, or shall I say fruit punch tea breaks with your friends in your favourite cafe. Whenever me and my very good friends got a chance in-between lectures and seminars, we'd head off to the local cafe and snuggle ourselves into the big, leather sofas.

As I've got a new part time job, on Saturdays I am working, but I really do look forward to my Sunday as me and Ben get to spend quality time together. So on Sunday morning, we popped down to the new local bakery and bought a scone for Ben and a jam/custard pastry for me. However being the foodies that we are, we couldn't resist also frying up some pancakes and also devulged ourselves into them as well. Keeping it low key, we visited Ben's parents and then went for an afternoon walk around Mere Sands. 

Although the weekend has ended now and it is officially a new week, with more readings and fruit punch teas, I am looking forward to the weekend with my calendar being particularly busy. 

But until next Tuesday's installment of Life, Lately; I hope you have a fantastic week and tell me about all the things you're looking forward to this upcoming week!