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Blood Orange and Almond Muffins

Blood Orange and Almond Muffins with Candied Blood Orange Slices

I’ve made a few howlers in the kitchen recently.  I tried my hand at making Pastel de Nata for the first time the other day, and I don’t know if it was me or whether the recipe was a stinker but I bit into one and it was basically a quiche/scrambled egg cup.  Yeesh!  You win some, you lose some, I guess.  (Try asking Sunny about the chilli and chocolate chicken I once made for him.  *shudders*)

Anyway, I wanted to bake something summery – since the weather’s cheered up over the last few days – but after the whole Pastel de Nata fail wanted to keep things a bit simple, so I came up with these Blood Orange and Almond Muffins.  I made them yesterday morning before it got really hot, then went out for a walk around the field with Bungle.  They were the perfect treat to come back to, but honestly, the best part about them is the candied blood orange segment on top.  Yum.

Blood Orange and Almond Muffins (with candied Blood Orange segments)

Ingredients

  • 200g self raising flour
  • 1stp baking powder
  • 1stp ground cinnamon
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 100g demerara sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 125 ml milk 
  • 4 tbsp melted butter 
  • Zest of 2 Blood Oranges (save the juice for the glaze)

For the candied Blood Oranges and Glaze:

  • 2 Blood Oranges cut into slices
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 200ml water
  • For the glaze gradually add some icing sugar to your blood orange juice until you reach the consistency you want.
  1. Preheat the oven to 180° and fill a muffin tray with muffin cases.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together your dry ingredients – that’s the flours, ground cinnamon, baking powder, ground almonds and sugar.
  3. In a separate bowl whisk together the eggs, milk and melted butter before stirring it into the dry ingredients.  Once combined, mix in your blood orange zest.
  4. Share the batter between twelve muffin cases, then bake for 20 minutes.
  5. Once the muffins are cooked, set them aside and leave them to cool.
  6. To make the candied blood oranges first bring a deep saucepan of water to the boil and soak the blood orange slices for 3 minutes until the peel is soft.  Have a bowl of cold water ready, and drop the slices in there to cool.
  7. Heat up a saucepan with the sugar and water – don’t be tempted to stir, leave it until the sugar all dissolves and then add the blood orange slices.  Let them simmer in the sugar water for 30 minutes, making sure you soak both sides, then put them on a sheet of baking paper and leave to cool.
  8. Glaze the muffins and then top with a candied blood orange segment. 🙂

Have a great weekend everyone – enjoy the sunshine! (…while it lasts!) 🙂

How I Got my Hair Back

Just before I turned thirty, I cut my hair short.  I didn’t tell anyone I was going to do it, I just dropped into a London salon I’d searched up on Google that day at work, went armed with a couple of pictures I’d saved from Pinterest on the train ride, and I had the whole lot lopped off.  SNIP SNIP.  For someone who felt like her long hair had defined her throughout her teens and early twenties, this took guts.  And while the decision was impulsive and was put down by those around me to Saturn’s Return, the truth was that I did it – and decided that I needed to do it – because I felt like I’d completely lost control of my hair.  It was in bad shape and was making me miserable every time I looked in the mirror.

The long, mermaid hair I’d always thought of as “me” had split and thinned out to the extent that I’d actually stopped wearing it down, and just putting it into a lanky, limp ponytail made me upset.  It just looked awful.  Something had changed around the time that I moved to London.  London water is HARD, and the chalky residue it left behind every time I washed my hair was drying it out. It was so damaged that it was falling out in terrifying chunks in the shower or when I brushed it.  And even though Sunny and everyone around me kept telling me that it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was, I refused to hear them.  But then I also refused to do the one thing I could to get it back under control. Instead of getting it cut, I desperately clung on to the meager strands I had even though they were beyond help.

Finally deciding to let those dead ends rest in peace was the first step I took to getting my hair back, and three years of hard work later, it’s looking so much thicker and healthier.  I mean, it’s not perfect by any means, but I’m happy with it.  I think I’ve finally found a routine that works. 🙂

Of all my weird patterned shirts (and there are a lot.  A LOT.), I think this mermaid one is my favourite.  Unfortunately, it’s a few years old now but I did find a link to one selling on eBay if anyone’s interested. 🙂

Regular Trims

When I was seventeen I had hair down to my waist and my whole hair care regime involved my Mum dragging me to her hairdresser once a year where I mournfully parted with an inch of a dead ends.  Then, during my twenties it became horribly clear that the old ways just weren’t cutting it anymore (…see what I did there 😉 ).  My fine, dry hair was far more prone to breakage than it used to be (thanks London water!) and so far more susceptible to splits.  That meant that the longer I left it between trims, the thinner my hair got as the split ends made their way up the hair shaft.  Nowadays I’m still a bit lacsy-daisy about getting my ass down to the hairdressers regularly, but as soon as I see the ends drying out and splitting, I go and part with as much hair as I need to to keep the hair I do have looking healthy.

Less Washing & Heat Styling

I used to wash my hair every day – and sure it kept my hair clean and restyled, but by doing so I stripped it of all its natural oils.  Plus heat styling every day on top of that made it dry, which in turn left it brittle.  These days I wash my hair no more than three times a week (I like the Garnier Ultimate Blends Sensitive Scalp Shampoo and Conditioner) and heat style it as little as possible.  (It also helps that the water here in Cardiff is nice and soft).

I’m a huge fan of Toni&Guy’s styling products; they smell amazing, they don’t weigh my fine hair down and they’re usually on a two for one offer either at the supermarket or Boots! 😉 I can’t rave about Vitapointe enough; it’s basically a leave in conditioner that you put on dry hair and I like to put it on my ends after styling or whenever they’re looking a little frazzled.  You don’t need a lot of it, it’s not greasy and it’s cheap!  Aaaaand, I like to put a coconut oil mask on my ends once a week – usually when I’m in the bath – just to keep those split ends at bay.

Keep it Simple when it comes to Products

When my hair was at its worst I started buying expensive shampoos, conditioners and miracle oils to sort it out.  But that was a waste of time and money.  My hair was already broken, and layering heavy moisture-rich products on top just weighed it down, stressed out my scalp and no matter how expensive they were they were never going to be able to bring my dead ends back to life.  These days I’ve stripped my products back and only use ones that work with my hair type – and, they’re all cheap as chips! 😉  Oh, and I stick with them – no more chopping and changing.

Ditch the Hair Ties

It got to a point where I was so depressed about my hair that I stopped wearing it down and instead scraped it back into a bun every day.  But using hair ties was just making things worse and left me with flyaways and split ends halfway up the hair shaft.  I know there are supposedly hair ties out there that claim not to cause breakages, but for me, going cold turkey on all hair ties was the only thing that worked.  Clips and pins all the way!

No Dye

When I was at Uni I went through a whole pink hair phase – which was fun at the time, but did horrible things to my hair and scalp!  I had highlights and balayage throughout my twenties and although I loved how my hair looked with a bit of blonde through the ends, it just made it drier.  I made the decision to go Au Natural a few years ago and it’s definitely helped my hair spring back to its former glory.  I mean, I’m tempted all the time to foil up again like I used to… but I’ve worked so hard to get my hair back that I just can’t bring myself to do it.

Be Happy With What you Have!

Last time I went to the hairdressers there was teen in the chair next to me getting highlights put in.  She had the most gorgeous mass of curls I’ve ever seen and hair envy hit me HARD.  But, sometimes you’ve just got to roll with what you’ve got and be grateful for it.  Did cutting my hair short suddenly give me thick, curly hair?  Nnnnope.  But, it improved the condition of it and put me on the path to healthier locks. Sadly, thick, curly hair just isn’t in my genes.  I have fine hair.  I have dry hair.  I have annoying baby hairs around my face that like to stick up.  And, I’m probably never going to have the mermaid hair I was blessed with in my teens again.  But that’s okay.  The problem with wanting what you don’t have is that you forget to appreciate what you do have.

What are your top hair care tips or holy grail products?  Let everyone know in the comments! 💇

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Dutch Baby

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If there’s one thing I love about weekends (…there are many things, obviously, but here’s one for free) it’s brunch.  Bungle’s waking up before 6am most mornings at the moment, so during the week I get up and walk him, while Sunny gets ready for work.  We always eat breakfast together but it’s rushed and we’re both far too dog-tired (I’m starting to understand the origin of that phrase…) to care what we quickly swallow down before the day gets going.

But on the weekend?  Oh the weekend!  We take it in turns to have a lie in and then once we’re both up, we eat a fancy brunch.  No half burnt toast or lukewarm porridge… nope, we celebrate the weekend with something a bit special – whether that’s pancakes, a full English, or pink poached eggs… or, a new fave of mine: Dutch Babies.


Not babies wearing clogs, let’s call these what they really are, and what they are is basically a massive, sweet Yorkshire Pudding.  It’s what happens when you pour pancake batter into a hot skillet, and instead of frying, you bake it in the oven for thirty minutes.  It goes golden brown, the edges puff up and and go crispy and create a bowl for whatever filling you fancy!  And, they’re really easy to make; you can whip up the batter the night before and there’s nothing technical to worry about.  Perfect for lazy weekends 🙂

Dutch Baby (makes two mini babies, or one big baby 😉)

Ingredients

  • 200ml Milk
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Tbsp Caster Sugar
  • 70g Plain Flour
  • A little butter for greasing
  • Filling of choice: I used grilled nectarines, strawberries, shaved coconut and a bit of cream
  • A little icing sugar for dusting
  1. In a measuring jug, whisk together the milk, eggs and sugar.  Gradually add the flour, ensuring the mixture is smooth and without any lumps or bumps.
  2. Leave the mixture in the fridge overnight or for an hour.  Then, when you’re ready to cook, stir and allow it to warm to room temperature.
  3. Set the oven to 220°, putting your skillet or heatproof dish inside to heat up with it.  Once both have heated up, remove the skillet/dish from the oven and grease with butter.  Pour in the batter, then bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
  4. After twenty minutes, the sides should have puffed up and turned golden brown.  Turn down the temperature to 160°, and bake for a further 10 minutes whilst you prepare your filling of choice!
  5. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve.  Yum!

Have a great weekend everyone!  (Hopefully we’ve finally seen the back of Spring-ter…) 🙂

5 ways to get that Spring feeling (when it’s not Springing outside)

Is it just me or has this felt like the longest winter ever?  True to form the British weather has been a right old tease the past couple of months, from that false flash of Spring back in February to the March deep freeze.  And despite the fact that we’re now over a week into April, Spring seems to still be playing hard to get.  So, if like me you’re getting tired of waiting for warmer weather to arrive, here are few things you can do around that house to get that Spring feeling. 🙂

T Shirt & Sunglasses – Primark, Trainers – H&M (similar here), Scarf – really old! (similar here)

Have a Wardrobe Clear-out

On a soggy Sunday afternoon a couple of weeks ago, I was bored enough to feel like tackling my wardrobe.  I made myself a cuppa, put Youtube on, scooped out my clothes and chucked them on the bed, and then I slowly started putting them into piles.  It actually didn’t take very long, but at the end of it I’d sifted out all the clothes I didn’t wear anymore and the ones I wasn’t going to need until next winter (I held a few jumpers back knowing full well that 1. Spring got lost in the post this year, and 2. Uh, Wales).  And bonus, I found some clothes I’d completely forgotten about, worked out what I was missing and made some room for some fresh Spring/Summer togs (you should see my ASOS wishlist…).  Ah!  That felt goooooood.

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Bring the Outside Inside

Ever since Bungle moved in, I’ve become a really neglectful plant parent, and over the winter my indoor greenhouse kind of turned into a plant mortuary.  Oops!  Last week I decided enough was enough and had a crispy leaf clear-out.  I got rid of all the dead plants, cleaned their pots and then trimmed, fed and re-potted the survivors (…there weren’t many… *ahem*).  It’s surprising how empty and bland the house feels without a bit of greenery though, and so – even though I should probably be banned from ever owning vegetation again – I’m going to think about buying some new plants. 🙂

Make a Spring/Summer Bucket List

Okay, so the weather’s crap and it’s just too miserable to go out.  So, I’m going to start making a list of everything I do want to do when the weather eventually cheers up.  That way, as soon as the sun makes an appearance there won’t be any dithering and deciding where to go and what to do!  I’m ready and raring.

Eat Fresh

I find it so hard to eat healthy when it’s cold and wet!  All I want to do is stuff my face with chocolate and pizza.  But I always feel so much better and more like summer is on its way when I ditch the heavy comfort food and start eating more fruit.  Time to look up some new recipes to try!

Deep Clean the House

There’s nothing better than having a good old Spring clean, and this year – let me tell you guys – a deep clean was definitely needed.  It’s been a wet winter and Bungle’s muddy paws had not only done a number on our carpets and skirting boards, but he’d flicked wet mud off on the walls so much that they were starting to look like a Jackson Pollock painting.  Before Easter I took a couple of days and cleaned the house from top to bottom.  And I mean really cleaned.  I washed the curtains, wiped and repainted the skirting boards and went through about five bottles of Zoflora, but IT. WAS. WORTH. IT. 

So whenever Spring actually feels like turning up, I’m ready for it!  Have a great week everyone! 🙂

A Lingering Winter

It’s almost hard to believe it’s April; it seems like just yesterday that everyone was moaning about how January was dragging into its third millennium – and yet, here we are!  Although, the weather still doesn’t seem to have gotten the message and most days it feels a lot more like February.  Over Easter, I made the decision to step away from the computer for a bit and because Sunny had a week off we both got really excited about getting out and about together. But – surprise, surprise – it pretty much rained ALL WEEK.  In the end, we managed a trip to Costco (…fair play, their hot dogs are banging) and a run down to Penarth to take Bungle for a bath.  I mean, we also got some major adulting done around the house like washing curtains and painting skirting boards (…and also got very close to completing Assassin’s Creed Origins.  Priorities people, come on.).  But, that’s it.  We got rained off.  And although that’s kind of expected when you live in Wales, there are limits.

It’s funny.  I’ve always thought of myself as an autumn/winter kinda gal, but this year?   The endless darkness and the lingering cold and wet and not being able to get out has made me miserable.  I’ve really, honestly struggled.  It’s been hard being cooped up and old anxieties have at times really gotten the better of me.  I’ve felt tired constantly, haven’t been eating well and have found it really hard to feel inspired.  And while the weather always seems like an easy scapegoat when it comes to finding a reason for feeling blue, it’s contributed massively.

But!  Yesterday the sun came out and I actually put the air con on my car for all of ten minutes (…until my fingers froze and my eyeliner started to run down my face…), so I’ll take that!  Spring is on it’s way and there are loads of exciting things ahead, so onwards and upwards! 🙂


Anyway, it’s always great taking Bungle down to Penarth.  You might laugh about the whole bathing him in the sea thing, but actually it really works!  Salt water is great for his coat and because Penarth has a pebble beach, he doesn’t get any sand stuck in his fur.  Plus, he LOVES the sea and swimming.  Just look at his happy little face! 🙂





Once Bungle had shaken off and was rocking some beachy blonde waves, we went onto the pier and stopped in Waterloo Tea for a cuppa and a cake.  🙂

Have a great weekend everyone!  Hopefully the sunshine will finally make a comeback, eh?  🙂