19.8.15

Simple Coffee & Walnut Cake


Now that we're over half way through August, it's only a matter of weeks until the autumn days are here and baking becomes a regular thing in my house. The Great British Bake Off is also back and it inspires those sweet cravings in us all. They baked a walnut cake the other week and as I'm a coffee lover I felt like baking a coffee and walnut cake. I was pleased with how it tasted, not as elegantly decorated as I would have liked but if your Dad says it tastes like a cake from the shop then that's a good sign. I wanted to keep it simple, I'm no expert, I just enjoy baking every now and then. I just found a standard recipe and tweaked it a little. So if you're like me and not very experienced here's how you can get bake your own.

Ingredients 

For the cake 
100 grams butter
50 grams caster sugar
50 grams soft light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
100 grams self-raising flour
50mls strong espresso coffee
50 grams chopped walnuts

For the icing
75 grams butter
100 grams icing sugar
A teaspoon of espresso coffee (if you wish)
Walnut halves to decorate

Preheat the oven to 180C degrees, line and grease a cake tin and leave to the side.
Beat the butter and sugar together into a bowl until light and pale.
Add the eggs one at a time, ensuring the egg is completely mixed in before adding the next egg.
Pour in the coffee and vanilla extract into the bowl and stir well.
Mix in the flour to the wet mixture, then add the walnuts until completely combined.
Spoon the mixture into the cake tin and put in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes until cooked, take out of the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.
While the cake is cooling you can make the icing, cream the butter and sugar together and then add the coffee and mix well until it's a creamy consistency.
When the cake is cool, spread the icing on top and add the walnut to decorate.

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11.8.15

Make the time to do what you love


Sitting on my bed, on a Tuesday evening, half typing and half looking out at the slow moving grey and blue clouds with Spotify Discover Weekly playlist playing, a great new feature by the way. And I have finally found the time to write a little blog post. It makes me feel disheartened when I think about how we can't do what we love all the time, well some lucky souls can but for the most part there are moments when we all would rather be doing something else. For me, it's writing and blogging. How I would love to just sit down at a lovely desk or out in a cafe just thinking and typing away, go out exploring taking photographs everyday. It's so simple but it brings me solace.

Making the time to do what I love is what I want to focus on for a while. As life has become busier with work and summertime antics with friends and family, I have craved quiet time for myself. I'm very much introverted in that way. Finding peace to collect my thoughts, breathe and rest.

I have managed to make the time to workout whether it's cardio or yoga/pilates, albeit not as much as I would like to but enough to be satisfied and create those good endorphins. That has helped curve my yearning as well as helping keep on top of my fitness. The way I have managed that is to set the time, I'll think about my week ahead, see where I can fit it in and just go. No excuses.

Whereas when it's something like writing that's not deemed as 'essential' to my life or 'needs' to be done like pesky errands, it can be so easy to push it to the side. But why should that be the case? It's silly, really. An hour a day that is time for yourself is just as important as the other 23 hours in a day. Not only am I going to make the effort to make time for myself to do what I love I want to encourage all of you to do the same. It will be different for everyone but as long as we make that time like we make time to eat lunch we can do it. No matter what you do with it, as long as YOU are happy with what you're doing or not doing, that is what it's all about.

Little things I want to make time for..

Take a morning walk around some fields and overlook the green landscapes
Colour in my colouring book
Bake an apple crumble
Have a long stretch with yoga in the evening
Read a book
Go outside, see the world and take some snaps
Collect my favourite photos, get them printed and stick them in my photo album
Sketch some jewellery designs
Lay down, get comfy and listen to my favourite songs
Write a little every now and then

What do you want to start making more time for?

29.7.15

Summer Snapshots


Despite the recent rain and the autumnal chill in the air the last few days, summer has been quite good in a different kind of way. As much as I adore the time of year when the low golden sun is beaming through the browning leaves, the layers go on and days feel cosier, summer always holds a place in my heart. I think when you're a summer baby you're wired that way and there is always something to look forward to, even if you don't feel the age you're turning. So far it has been my first summer and month of working full time, no more waking up on a summer weekday and lounging around outside and being spontaneous. Before this new chapter in my life began I had some time to take a breath, do what feels good and soak up the last page. 

At the start of summer I bought myself a blender, I've been enjoying making fresh smoothies, so refreshing and no matter what you put in everything tastes good. I read most of Still Alice outside when we had some seriously gorgeous weather, I couldn't put it down. I want to read more but it slips my mind until my eyes are too heavy to stay open long enough to read a paragraph. Once I've got into the swing of a 9 to 5 job I'm sure I'll get back into reading again. My sister got me some books for my birthday so no excuses.  Made trips to the park, Trent Park is one of my favourites. It's a special place for me as I spent my first year of uni right around the corner and it looks so beautiful in spring with all the daffodils.

My grandparents came down from Scotland for a week, I always love seeing them but a little sad that I didn't get to see them as much this time. My Grandma is a huge tennis fan and came down for Wimbledon. She got the final day, not the men's final but I would have gone with her in a heartbeat. As fate would have it, it was the same day I was seeing Ed Sheeran at Wembley Stadium. He was pretty amazing, him on his own, a guitar, and thousands of people. Everyone was on their feet singing out loud and dancing away. 

So I became another year older, 23. My mind doesn't feel like that's my age. It's hard to explain, I think I don't feel I'm doing what I believe a 23 year old should be doing. Although there is no right or wrong way. It's that whole expectations versus reality dilema. I'm looking forward to seeing what this year will bring me. For the first time in a few years I entered a new age without having an existential crisis, questioning what I'm doing with my life. I'm moving forward, steadily and I can't wait to keep doing great things with my life, experiencing more and do what I want to do.

21.7.15

Life After Graduating: Finding Internships & Work Experience

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It's been 2 years since I graduated university. In that time I feel like I've learnt a lot and grown more into the person I am today. It has not all been smooth sailing that's for sure but as I have discovered that is just the reality of life. It's what happens when you're busy making plans. Since then, I have been on and off focusing on my 'career' and putting my knowledge and skills from the 3 years at university to use. I think those of you who have been or are in a similar situation know exactly what it's like. For any graduate but especially those of us in the creative arts circle.

At times I felt like I couldn't breathe, like I was underwater, reaching out for air that I knew was there but the sea was keeping me below the surface. Until after many, many hours of applying for jobs, several interviews and a couple of internships I was finally offered a job in marketing. I almost couldn't believe I did it. After feeling defeated again and again, holding out for a job I had a background in from university, the relief that washed over me was so incredibly satisfying.

Even though I'm not an expert I wanted to write down my experience with life after graduating, starting with finding internships and work experience. I believed that it was important to gain as much experience as I possibly could so that I would have what employers were looking for when I went for jobs I desired. As awful as it sounds, working for free was the easiest and for the most part the only way to get experience.

Depending on your hours, what your daily tasks are and how far you have to travel is ridiculous in my opinion but I won't get into that, for now. So the way I looked at it, I was investing my time in my future and ny experience is good. It will be different for everyone, whatever works for you. You might be able to survive financially to work full time for free (a lot of companies offer expenses), you could fit in some volunteer work one day a week or freelance work from home. I was looking for either paid internships (they were just as difficult as finding a job) or freelance/work from home positions.

5 Tips when applying for internships and work experience

1, Find a position that will benefit YOU and will give you what you want from it.
2, Prepare a cover letter template and tweak it for each role you're applying for.
3, Be realistic. If you don't meet any of the requirements forget about it but if you're half way there give it a go.
4, Have flexible methods. Try a mixture of websites, e-mail individual companies, look locally and search on social media. There is more than one path you can take.
5, Put in the time and effot. It's a long and draining process but it will be worth it in the end. 

It's a give and take act working for free. For the employer they are getting an extra pair of hands for a small price. And you're getting that extra bit of experience to add to your CV. You can learn a lot too, not only the actual job responsibilities but about what you want in a job. You get an insight into your future career, it truly makes you appreciate it when you get to where you want to be.

I'm so grateful for all of the little jobs I did, from being an intern at a magazine, contributing writer and social media coordinator. It got me to where I am now, a step closer to the dream job and over that time it has influenced me and inspired me to keep going. It may be difficult to begin with and in the end you'll be proud of yourself for it.

If you're going through this I wish you all the luck in the world! And if you have any questions or want to know more about life after graduating, please do let me know.