Friday, 31 October 2014

How To Be One's Self

Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Well, it’s not. And if we’re being honest then I think it’s something that quite a lot of us struggle with. For a really long time I thought that I had no idea what I wanted to do, or be, or even really what I liked, and because of this I didn’t really have a sense of me.

Note that I said ‘thought that I had no idea’ because that’s the whole point really – I did know what I liked and what I wanted to do and be they're pretty much the same as now), I just didn’t think those were the right things. They weren’t the same as my friends or family, or what my teachers thought I should like/do/be and this made me question myself.

Then I found the internet. And everyone on the internet. I know a lot of people think that the internet is a really easy place to be fake and someone else, and they’re right but when that someone else is me then I think that’s totally okay. I found a whole bunch of inspiring weirdoes (I swear that’s a term of endearment) that were being nothing but themselves and doing everything that they wanted to do and liking whatever they wanted to like.

So, at the ripe ol’ age of twenty-one I’ve realised what I want to do and the person that I want to be. And I’ve also realised that it’s okay to admit to liking loving having a slightly unhealthy obsession with Harry Potter, and that instead of going out I’d much rather spend most Friday nights in reading books, in between talking to guinea pigs and having rabbits jump on me. And that looking like a twelve year-old is a good thing because in about twenty years time I am going to look awesome, and thinking that I have fat legs is fine because it’s not like it really bothers me because I dress like a boy anyway, and if on the odd day I want to wear a dress and lipstick then that’s fine too, because guess what self? No one really cares what you look like!

I guess that my point is that all that stuff is what makes me, me. And I quite like me. And I think my family and friends do to. You know who I don’t like though? That girl that said 'no' to every boy who ever asked her out because she didn’t think she was ‘good’ enough. Or that girl who wrote a hundred blog posts but deleted them all because she was worried what the internet would think. Or that girl who would duck out of every photo because ‘MY FACE!’. (I still do that last one, but nobody’s perfect.)

So, how did I come to this self-accepting happy place? I sat myself down and gave myself a talking to (yes, literally – I talk to myself you know.) Here's the gist of what I said;

Life is short – don’t waste it being someone else.

Try things – you never know, you might like them.

Talk to people – you won’t make super friends who you have tons in common with by avoiding eye contact and Twitter stalking.

Admit to liking what you actually like.

Say ‘no’ to doing things that you don’t.

Stop worrying about the future – your future husband/wife/many cats won’t care if you’ve never been drunk and spent a year of your life ‘liking’ cute animal photos on the internet and reading fanfiction.

Learn to like yourself – because you’re going to spend forever with you and no one will ever understand you better!

Friday, 27 June 2014

New to the Crew

(Apologies for the remnants of the old pig sties in the last two photos!)

This is Franny (rhymes with 'Barney'). She is a 6/7 year old, chestnut, Welsh Cob mare. I've had her three days and so far we're friends. She's not yet broken (breaking a horse is basically just training it to let someone ride it) so we'll see how long our friendship lasts once I start getting on her! She was bred by my uncle, so I am a little bias, (and because now she's mine) but I think she's beautiful! :)

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Fifteen Things About Me

1. That was my first ever selfie. (Not counting the blurry one of me spinning in a chair, taken in a mirror).

2. Photos make me uncomfortable, mainly because I've got blinking and pulling odd faces for no apparent reason down to a fine art.

3. Every time it storms (like today) I have the strange urge to run up an down outside.

4. I've read Harry Potter so many times that the books actually fell apart.

5. I've never not had animals. I'm that person that rings home (I'd only been gone one night) and asks about the animals before saying 'hello' to my mother.

6. I've never been drunk.

7. If there's chocolate in it, I'll eat it.

8. When I was a baby I was ginger, now the jury's out on what colour my hair is - it depends what day it is and the lightening ;D

9. I'm 5 foot & 2 inches tall.

10. I had to have my ears pierced twice because they did it wonky the first time.

11. I'm currently watching my dog lick my rabbit's face. This happens a lot.

12. I like the idea of make-up (and all that jazz) but I can rarely find the inclination to put on any more than a bit of mascara.

13. My favourite colour used to be pink, but only because I didn't know that pigs came in other colours. (I realllly wanted a pig.)

14. I was wrist-less (one was sprained and one was chipped) for about two weeks when I was fourteen because my horse slipped and rolled on me.

15. I like spiders. I get excited when I see a new one and usually follow them around for a while. I was sad today because I accidentally drowned one in the bath.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Banana Bread

For the first three quarters of my life I hated bananas - like literally despised the things - the smell, the taste, the texture, I even wasn't too keen on the colour. But, I'm nothing if not persistent and I really wanted to like them, so I kept trying them. Most of the time it ended with a mouthful of mush that made me gag and a bleugh! face to rival the one of my horse when I gave him a sugar-free Polo (I know, the nerve of me!). Then one day, just as I was getting ready for The Face to kick in, it didn't, and voilà! I like bananas. The End.

Or so I thought. I don't know whether you know this or not (you probably do, it's not really that big of a secret (unlike Nicole Kidman using Botox - yes Girlfriend, I did just go there)), but there is a whole world of bananary goodness out there! Banana milkshake, Banoffee pie (OMG so good) and Banana bread. Banana bread is good because it takes hardly any effort to pretend that it's not actually a cake and if you want to put in just a tad more effort you can quite easily convince yourself that it's healthy (as Mother and I did last night as we devoured our second piece). Also you use bananas that are going brown and squidgy and would otherwise be thrown away, so really it's the only option because we all know that wasting food is bad - you're doing the world a favour by making this.

3 bananas
1/2 // 115g butter
1/4 // 50g cup caster sugar
1/4 // 55g cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp // 2.5g cinnamon
1 tsp // 5g baking powder
2 cups // 250g self-raising flour
60g // 1/3 cup chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to gas mark 4 // 180C // 350F and line a loaf tin with butter and baking paper.

Take all of your aggression out on the bananas until they look like baby food. To the mushed up bananas add the butter and squash together (don't be put off  by how this looks - it's meant to look gross at this stage). Add the sugar and once combined add each egg one at a time. Next add the cinnamon, baking powder and flour (you can sift if you want but I've never bothered for this recipe) and fold in. Last (but certainly not least) fold in the chocolate chips - you can use whatever one you have/like but I don't like to discriminate so I just emptied what was left in the bottom of all three bags I had in the cupboard (white, milk and plain).

Pour into the tin and bake in the centre of the oven for forty minutes (or until brown on top).

You can either eat it straight away or after it's cooled.

3 favourite ways to eat banana bread
Toasted with butter
Hot (or cold) with ice cream
Spread with Nutella

Friday, 9 May 2014

Chocolate Cupcakes with Ganache & Caramac Buttercream

The first time I made these was over a ago for a friends birthday. I took them to the stables to give to her and the poor little cupcakes were never seen again - they were gone in fifteen seconds, I swear it. I made them again last night, and my sister who had never had one before said, and I quote 'It was the nicest thing I've ever eaten' (she did eat it with crème brûlée ice cream as well but I'm sure it was the cake...). I think it's the Caramac buttercream that does it - I always make extra because I (and everyone else who is in the general vicinity ends up eating spoonfuls of it before it makes it onto the cake). If you haven't had Caramac before then firstly, you've been missing out, it's a caramel flavoured sort of white chocolate which is delicious. You should probably go and buy a multi-pack shortly. But on with the cakes for now.

Makes 9-12 (depending on how deep you want them)

Cupcake Ingredients:
1/2 cup // 115g butter
1/2 cup // 110g brown sugar
2 medium eggs
2 tbsp // 30ml milk
1 tsp // 5ml vanilla extract
1 tsp // 5g baking powder
2 tbsp // 15g cocoa powder
1 cup // 130g plain flour
50g dark 70% chocolate

Ganache Ingredients:
100g dark chocolate
2 tbsp // 35ml cream
1 tsp // 15g butter

Buttercream Ingredients:
2/3 cup // 150g butter
3/4 cup // 100g icing sugar
1 bar // 20g Caramac

Preheat your oven to gas mark 4 // 180C // 350F.

Using the bain marie method (a bowl rested over another bowl/pan of hot water), set the chocolate aside to melt.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar. Once creamy add the eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth and slightly frothy. Sift in the flour, cocoa and baking powder. Fold in the melted chocolate. If your mixture is still a bit stiff (it should be 'stable' but able to just 'plop' - technical term - off of a spoon itself) add the milk. If it's of a spoon-able consistency already, leave the milk out. Spoon into cupcake/muffin cases - I put a heaped, tablespoon in each one and put in the oven to bake for 15 minutes.

While the cakes are baking I like to make the buttercream so that I can put it in the fridge to firm up. Melt the Caramac (the same way as above) and let cool slightly. Cream together the butter and sifted sugar until smooth and airy. Add the Caramac and mix.

Once the cupcakes are cool enough to ice you can make the ganache by using the ban marie method again but adding the butter and cream to the chocolate. Stir all of the ingredient together and place a teaspoon on top of each cake. The ganache should still be runny enough to settle itself over the top of the cake, but if not just using the back of the spoon to spread it.

It's really up to you how you put the buttercream on - it'll all taste the same in the end - but this time I used to teaspoons to make the cream into little quennelles and placed one on top of each cake.

Best eaten on the day but still pretty good the day after too!

Friday, 14 February 2014

Where I Live Now

On the day before Christmas Eve I moved a hundred miles from East London to North Cambridgeshire. It was in a storm and with over a hundred animals. I didn't get there until half past ten at night - there being a place I had only seen pictures of before - and didn't go to bed until half past four in the morning.

Our new house is a hundred and forty-seven yearold railway worker's cottage, complete with ticket office under the stairs. It's the middle house of three and came with the twelve old railway arches and the old well [although it has had a lid put on it] where the trains used to fill up from. Our field feels like it goes on forever, is so overgrown that you can't see the end of it and I'm pretty sure that I could get lost on it - to be fair though, that's not really saying much - I could get lost in a toilet cubicle.

The people that used to live here were in their seventies and had been born here. There's a shed here that their niece had had as a playhouse, complete with window, carpet and hand-painted sign. They obviously had a lot of pigs - there's a dozen pig sties, and I think that they grew lots of their own vegetable and fruit - there's a couple of old poly-tunnels on the field and a greenhouse in the garden that looks so old I'm surprised when I get up in the morning and it's still there [we've been having hurricane force winds].

The carpet in my room is horrendous and the kitchen isn't big enough to swing even our smallest cat in [don't worry - I haven't actually tested that theory...]. There's a shower on the landing - for realls - just plonked at the top of the stairs, and there's a window in my cupboard. There's also a witch hanging from my light, which doesn't really fit in with my planned decor, but I'm a little bit worried about taking her down in case she's there for a reason [I read/watch to many horrors]. There's also a a shed that has an entire wall made out of doors.

There's a Chinese restaurant across the road that used to be a pub and a dozen or so houses up the road a bit, other than that there's lot's of fields and rivers.

I grew up in the East end of London and haven't spent longer than two weeks anywhere else. From my bedroom window you could see lot's of houses, a tower block and in the distance, Canary Wharf and the London skyline. Here I can see fields.

I couldn't have taken myself further from what I consider normal, and I don't know how long it will be before the novelty of having my own field and railway arches wears off, or if it ever will. All I really know is that I am happier and more content than I have been in a very long time.