*DIY Insta Heart Collage

I first got into photography back in University.  Only back then I didn’t call it “photography”, it was just something I did.  Taking photographs to capture moments was something that – for whatever reason – I felt was important. Long before I had a fancy DSLR and was obsessed with Instagram (it didn’t even exist back then!), I lugged around disposable cameras on drunken nights out, drunken nights in, adventures away and trips down the beach (Swansea University is literally right on the beach).  It was a point, click, fingers-crossed world where you never knew how the photographs were going to turn out until you popped down to Boots to get them developed, and then laughed at them with housemates as you stuck them up on the wall with all the others. Photographs really were – as Angela Carter once wrote – chunks of time you could hold in your hands.  Good times!  And that’s probably the last time I actually got a proper film of photographs developed.

Nowadays I’m taking more photographs than I ever have in my life – and yet they remain in digital suspense on Instagram, my blog and on Facebook.  They can be seen by the entire world and yet I only get to see them if I log in and scroll!  What happened to those walls covered in photographs? So when Printiki got in touch with me recently and asked if I’d like to try their photo printing service, I said, yes please!

You can order prints, posters and albums of your favourite grams straight to your front door in varying sizes and shapes (matte or glossy), from retro Polaroid-style photographs to the square ones I chose.  You can even add text to them in their easy to use editor.  Choosing which photographs to print was the hardest part, and once I’d ordered them they dropped onto my doormat barely three days later! 🙂  I was really impressed with the colour and quality – and you guys know how much I love colourful things!

There’s a very boring bare wall above my sofa at the moment that Sunny and I have been having arguments over what to put up there, so I took a tip from my university days and decided to brighten it up with a heart shaped collage made with my new prints!



What do you think?  ♥  Do you ever print your photographs?  What do you do with them?

Brigadeiros

These Brazillian Truffles are dangerously easy to make.  They’re a little bit different from normal truffles; they’re softer and a little gooey, a cross between caramel and fudge.  I’d never heard of them before, but as soon as the recipe popped up on my Pinterest feed when I was mindlessly scrolling one night I knew I had to give them a go.  Bombs of gooey chocolate, I mean, what’s not to like?  Just four ingredients, a little heat, a wooden spoon and a refrigerator is all you need!

Brigadeiros – Brazillian Truffles

Ingredients

  • 1 can of sweetened condensed milk (mine was 379ml)
  • 50g milk chocolate
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder (and a little more for dusting)
  • 25g of butter
  1. Combine the condensed milk, chocolate, cocoa and butter into a pan and warm on a medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  You’ll know it’s ready when it starts to thicken and pull away from the sides.
  2. Pour the mix into a bowl and refrigerate for a couple of hours – by that time it should have cooled completely and become much firmer and easier to handle.
  3. Mould into balls and dust in cocoa powder then return to fridge until you’re ready to scoff them.  And that’s it! 

I think these would make a great DIY gift and could easily be adapted with different flavours (next time I’m trying white chocolate!).  Whaddya reckon? 🙂

Why building self-esteem involves building up everyone else’s first

I’m standing in the queue at H&M.  I only popped in to “have a quick look” but whaddya know?  In the space of twenty minutes I’ve managed to rummage the rails, make not one but two trips to the fitting room, snap an awkward mirror selfie and ended up in the queue for the tills with half the shop draped over my arm.  And that’s when it happens.  There are a couple of girls at the head of the queue who are talking and laughing.  They’re looking my way, I’m sure of it.

Thirty seconds ago my full attention was on the pink off the shoulder top I picked up and whether it’s going to make me look like a bottle of Pepto Bismol, but now it’s 100% on the girls and the way they’re laughing.  At me?

Oh God.  It’s my hair isn’t it?  They’re laughing at my hair (who isn’t?), I think to myself, running a self-conscious hand through the back just in case it’s sticking up.  Nope.  Okay, well maybe there’s something on my face?  I did inhale a Lidl cinnamon bun earlier and what’s the betting the icing is all over my chin? I wonder, as my tongue takes a sneaky swipe at my lips.

I come up empty.  They could be laughing about last night’s episode of Love Island for all I know, but no, they were looking at me so immediately in my head I wage war.  I laugh inwardly at them, taking pot shots at their bad eyebrows, their clothes, the claw-like fake nails and even faker fake tan.  I’m throwing thought-daggers at them until they pay for their stuff and walk away, without even a glance in my direction; completely unaware of the poisonous thoughts I’ve been brewing.

For a long, long time, that’s what I did.  Throughout High School and my early twenties I was obsessed about what other people were thinking about me and I automatically assumed that whatever it was and without any evidence, it was bound to be bad.  I dealt with it by doing exactly what I thought they were doing; I thought bad thoughts about them.  It was a quick way of reassuring myself, of feeling better about my own “faults”.  I poked fun of badly blended foundation to feel a little bit better about my terrible acne.  I pulled faces at people’s clothes to feel a bit better about what I’d thrown on that morning.  I snorted at bad writing and sloppy grammar and assumed stupidity to make myself feel more confident about my own words and feel better about being a “swot”.  Of course, I never spoke those thoughts out loud, though.  Honest.  I was far too shy and uncertain of myself to do that.

I thought that in doing this I was building up my own self-esteem, but in fact all I was really doing was just making myself more and more insecure.  Distrustful of others and spewing negative thoughts – and negativity in general – all over the place like vomit.

Then, in my late twenties something clicked.  Call it Saturn’s Return or the impending approach of the big 3-0, but something changed.  It wasn’t so much that I stopped caring about what other people thought of me, I was just tired of going to war over it.  I was bored of wasting my time and energy in pursuit of something I’d never know, and wasn’t really any of my business anyway!  I wasn’t ever going to be able to root around in people’s minds and find out what they really thought of me.

So I gradually changed my mindset.  Instead of throwing mental daggers at someone when I thought they were talking about me, or thinking about me – I shook it off and countered with a compliment.  I thought something nice about them.  I complimented their smile, or their attitude, talents, clothes, makeup.  They were just thoughts to begin with, but soon enough I started to say them out loud too.

Soon, instead of assuming that everyone was thinking bad things about me, I started to realise that it was entirely possible they might be thinking nice things too.  If I was doing it, then other people must be too, right?  Suddenly, I wanted to know what those nice thoughts could be.  Maybe they thought my hair looked good, or that I’d killed it with my liquid eyeliner for once?  Maybe they liked what I was wearing or – who knows – maybe they thought that I was funny, pretty, smart… talented even?  Wow.  People are actually really nice!  (…Mostly.)  And maybe I am all those things.

By building up everyone else’s self-esteem, I’d somehow inadvertently built up a great big tower of self-esteem for myself.  The truth is, if you go shooting negative thoughts at others, you’ll be just as wounded by the kick-back.  So send out some positive ones instead and maybe you’ll get some positivity back 🙂

Have a good weekend everyone! ♥

Cacti Cupcakes

I’m going to be totally upfront and admit that I’m not 100% sure I nailed these… I think by looking at them it’s pretty clear that my playdough skills are a little rusty!  Oh well!  The recipe works in theory, but definitely required a little more patience to get the icing right!  They look better from far away!  But, here they are anyway – Cacti Cupcakes! 🙂

Cacti Cupcakes

Ingredients

For the cakes:

  • 175g soft butter/marg
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 225g self raising flour
  • 120ml milk

For the topping:

  • Green Packet Icing
  • Purple Food colouring
  • Crushed light biscuits (I used malted milks)
  • Buttercream
  1. Set the oven to 180° and line a cupcake/muffin tin with twelve cases.
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar and then whisk in the eggs.
  3. Gradually stir in the flour and milk, alternating between the two.
  4. Pour into the cupcake cases and bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.
  5. Once the cupcakes are cooled, spread the tops with a layer of buttercream and then sprinkle with crushed biscuits to create a sand effect.  
  6. Give the green icing a more succulent appropriate shade by adding a little purple food colouring, then carefully (unlike me!) mould into leaf and cactus shapes.  This is the most fiddly bit and requires some time and patience to get right.  It might be worth using flower or star-shaped cutouts to get the right shape.

Summer Fashion Update

Maxi Skirt – Primark, Votes for Women Charity T Shirt from Literary Emporium

I don’t tend to blog a lot about fashion, but there’s something about warm weather that makes me hightail it to the shops.  I love summer fashion and dressing for good weather; I love the colours and (at risk of sounding like Sheryl from Rhode Island ala Miss Congeniality) there’s no need for layers and light jackets.  I’ve picked up a few bargains recently – all under £20 – that (weather permitting, obvs!) I’ll be wearing all summer long.

Got to be honest, I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to pull off the whole off-the-shoulder thing that everyone seems to be going crazy for this year (don’t get me started on flared sleeves, they look lovely but I’d be forever dragging them through my food), but then I saw this lovely embroidered top in F&F at my local Tesco and fell in love with it.  It goes so well with this little straw bag and scarf I picked up in Marks and Spencer’s.


I parted ways with a lot of old shoes over the last few months (let’s not talk about the boots that became the winter rental of a family of field mice… no joke…) and so I’ve been stocking up on pointed flats when I see them.  As well as the striped flats I picked up in Primark (if you follow me on Instagram you’re probably sick of seeing them by now…!), I saw these blue suede ones in Matalan and couldn’t leave without them 🙂

What’s your favourite summer bargain you’ve picked up this year?