Tuesday, 22 August 2017

What's The Point Of This?

Why do I do this? Why do I have a tiny corner of the internet that I've carved out for myself, invested my time, money and energy in and made my own? It doesn't give any of those things back, taking, taking and taking. So why do I do it? Lately I've been asking myself these questions. What exactly is the point of Spare Oom? 

Orange berries

All month I've been posting every day and honestly, I've hated it. Today is the first day I haven't had a post scheduled ahead of time and I don't know if this will even make it up today. I've been keeping barely a day ahead of myself, generally writing Saturday's post on Friday, Sunday's on Saturday, and so on. It's exhausting and is diminishing my love for this blog. I decided to do All-in August as this is my last month advertising my blog until next year, but also because I'm going on holiday on the 31st, and there's likely to be a bit of a decrease in posts while I'm in Japan. I'm starting to think that All-in August was a big mistake. I did a month of daily blogging back in October 2016, but my circumstances were entirely different. At the time, I was living at home, single and unemployed, with little contact with friends. I threw everything I had into Blogtober, because I could. Now, I work 8-5, five days a week, have a boyfriend and am gradually building a group of friends. Coupled with an upcoming house move and planning for the trip to Japan, my time is much more limited than in October. 

All-in August is causing me stress, amplifying existing tensions in my life, especially at work, and generally making my month less enjoyable than it should be. It's also having a negative effect on my blog; in my desperation to think of 31 blog posts and get them all photographed and written, the quality has dropped. I'm writing things I don't care about, the things I do care about are rushed and the things that are usually my filler posts are becoming boring. I really hate that. 

The solution may seem obvious: go back to my normal writing schedule and forget about All-in August. That may yet be what I end up doing, but the truth is that I can be very stubborn and after saying that I'd post every day for a month, I'm struggling to let go of that. I'm not sure what I'm going to do. Today's post is going up late, and tomorrow's isn't planned yet. Safe to say, I'm struggling with my blog at the moment. I have plans for the future but I'm not sure how to implement them, and right now I'm stuck in the quagmire that is All-in August and my stubbornness. 


This post is part of All-in August, where I attempt to post every single day in August, despite it being one my busiest months. Keep up with it here!

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Monday, 21 August 2017

Monday Medley #5

Another Monday, another load of brilliant things to sink your teeth into; these are the best things I've read and watched in the last week.

 

Monday Medley #5, white sheets and cup of tea
I bought white sheets so I think I can officially call myself a 'proper' blogger.

READING

DIGITAL

The first thing I want to share with you all today is a bit different; it's actually an article from The Atlantic, and if you've any interest in politics, particularly in the US, you should really give this a read. It's extremely long, give yourself a good half an hour to read it, but it's fascinating. In it, Kurt Andersen talks about how the events of the 60s, 70s and 80s gradually led the United States to become disconnected from reality, leading to the current social climate and the ludicrous election of Donald Trump. I didn't quite know what to think when I finished it, simply sitting back and swearing loudly to an empty room. It makes a great deal of sense but brings no comfort. Make a brew before you start.

Next up is someone you're all familiar with by now, it's Gwennan from Twenty Something Meltdown, talking all about how we look for fresh starts as an excuse to wait before starting something. This is something I can seriously relate to, and I almost always end up failing whenever I wait for a new month or year to begin building a habit or making a change. Well worth a read if you're a fellow procrastinator. Find Gwennan here!

This is an extremely useful post for any fellow bloggers out there looking to up their photography game, as Sally talks about photography mistakes she used to make and how her style has developed. If you're into flatlays this is a must-read!

I've talked about my love for houseplants in the past, but I do have a knack for eventually killing them. This post by Wit and Delight is all about six plants that even I would struggle to kill; they've all gone straight onto my to-buy list. Read it here for green-fingered jealousy.

If you frequent Twitter as much as I do, you may have been witness to a storm over a blog post calling for bloggers to write 'meaningful' content and abandon the whimsy of marble worktops and flatlays. Needless to say, the blogging world was enraged; Hayley of Tea Party Beauty wrote the best post I saw about why even the most 'pointless' of blogs has worth. Find it here.

I've been a big fan of Alice's blog for a while now, but I absolutely loved this post about the jobs she aspired towards as a child. It's a really fun and interesting read and I really want to pinch the idea for myself. For the record, I still think she could make it as a writer. Click for childhood-dream nostalgia.

Finally, Holly's post about levelling up in blogging is way too real. I've encountered some of these walls myself, but it's strange and reassuring to know that even the #goals bloggers like Holly have gone through the same things as all us regular joes. Read it here!

WATCHING


Rather than repeat myself talking about Game of Thrones, I thought I'd talk about the other thing I've been obsessed with this week, which is Child Genius on Channel Four. It lasted all week with the final on Saturday, and man, it was intense. I won't spoil who won in case you decide to go and watch it on All4 (which you should). I'm not really a fan of the host, Richard Osman, but the kids and parents completely stole the show. You will no doubt end up with very strong opinions about some children and their families, both good and bad. 

EATING


I'm currently rather unwell and have no appetite, but Olivia's salted caramel brownies might just do the trick. I consider it my sacred duty to try anything containing salted caramel, so these are definitely something I need to make and scoff at some point.

And finally,


I wanted to share these crocheted pigeon costumes because did you even read that sentence? CROCHETED PIGEON COSTUMES. Also, make yourself a cape like in Thrones with this handy-dandy IKEA manual.



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Sunday, 20 August 2017

Sick Days Ramble

Honestly, I didn't know what to write for today. If I'm being completely honest, I still don't know what I'm writing. I was supposed to spend my Saturday out and about in Manchester, running errands and generally having a fun time working on blogging bits in some of my favourite coffee shops around town and snapping a few photos in the process. Instead, I spent the day coughing up a lung and sweating like crazy, my temperature swinging from my normal 36.5 to 39.5 throughout the day. Safe to say, I'm not feeling my best. Yesterday's post was written late at night, and it the fact that it's borderline incoherent in parts attests to how out of it I was. 

Eating fruit in the park
Happier and healthier times, last weekend

I always find sick days strange. I woke up this morning feeling kind of okay, feeling like I wanted to make the most of the day and to make up for lost time, and I kind of did. I cleaned my flat, did a load of washing, changed my sheets and cleared out the junk cupboard. Unfortunately, at this point, my temperature rocketed and I could no longer think straight. This, combined with PMS and hunger left me a shaking mess on the floor ringing my mother, brother and boyfriend in intervals to ask what I should do. My brother read out a list of fruit and vegetables that are full of vitamins, meaning I should go to Aldi and buy some. I, in my feverish state, misunderstood. FeverBethany found a yellow pepper in the fridge and ate the whole damn thing except for the stem. Raw. I ate the seeds and everything and then apparently complained because it was weird and was convinced he told me to eat it. He did not; FeverBethany decided to eat it because she makes no sense. 

I did eventually make it to Aldi, and the Superdrug next door, where I bought medicine and tampons because I was running low on those as well. After sitting in the car park for about fifteen minutes, waiting for the ibuprofen to kick and my temperature to drop, probably looking like a lunatic at the time I finally made it into Aldi, where I bought a fairly eclectic mix of foodstuffs but enough to make a half decent meal. It should be noted that it was about 10 degrees out and incredibly windy and I was wearing a vest top, rolled-up trousers and sandals and sweating like mad. Everyone else was wearing jackets at the very least. I have genuinely spent most of the day looking like a madwoman.

I'm just kind of rambling here. I'm still not very well but at least my boyfriend is here to keep an eye on me. 

Here's hoping that I'm feeling better by Monday!

This post is part of All-in August, where I attempt to post every single day in August, despite it being one my busiest months. Keep up with it here!

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Saturday, 19 August 2017

Not Giving A Fuck

I'm writing this late at night with a 38.5 degree fever waiting for my oven chips to finish cooking, so WHO KNOWS how this will go. It's due to go up first thing in the morning so the odds are good and you're about to get raw, unfiltered and slightly delusional Bethany. For real though, so excited for these chips as I have garlic mayo, baconnaise and tomato sauce so this is gonna be LIT.

You've probably read The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a Fuck or at least seen it if you're a regular in the blogosphere, but in case you don't know what it is, the title is basically a riff on Marie Kondo's The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up (also great). 

I just shook the chips up on the tray so they don't stick and my glasses steamed up. Also I've lost my smoothie.

The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving A Fuck
Lol I almost published this with the wrong picture, the one from my last post, what a knob eh?

ANYWAY, Marie Kondo's method basically involves chucking out anything that doesn't "spark joy". Twee and slightly sickening terminology but the method makes sense and works. Sarah Knight's book is all about applying that thought process of sorting out your "fucks" and discarding the ones that are a waste of your time, energy and money.

The problem with this though, is that you need to add in an extra step. You can't just throw out responsibilities and people after deciding not to give a fuck about them, you have to do it in such a way that is polite and truthful; basically, you need to tell people you're not putting up with their shit without being a wanker. This book takes a long time to say not a huge amount, but I am so on board with the general sentiment behind it. BRB chips are done gonna eat them and watch dumb YouTube videos for 10 mins.

Chips were great; baconnaise is life. SO YEAH, essentially, Knight recommends splitting up your fucks into Things; Work; Friends, Acquaintances and Strangers; and Family, and work through them in that order. This helps you to build up to the trickiest category, Family, so that you're already practiced at not giving a fuck politely by the time you have to tell your Grandma that you don't want to go to bingo with her. She talks about the Not Sorry method and walking the thin line between bowing to other people's wants and being unhappy, or potentially hurting other people's feelings but not having to do things you don't want to do. 

Without further ado, here's my current list of things I've decided to no longer give a fuck about. If I'm being completely honest, I'll probably end up continuing to give a fuck about these things, but if I gain any time, energy or money from this process I'll call it a success.

Blogging every day; I'll try and stick with this for August since I said I would, but doing this with a full time job is exhausting.
Arguing with my Mum that she needs a new laptop; this is too much like hard work. The battle shall resume near to Christmas. For context, her current laptop is practically run on steam.
The bastards at work; stressing about them is not worth my time, even if I do love a gossip.
Working quickly/working slowly; I'll work at my own damn pace!
Buffer schedules; 'nuff said.
Pinterest; it's fun, but I can't be bothered using it every day.
Work dress code; half the office doesn't stick to it, why should I?
Instagramming regularly; I'm enjoying using stories at the weekend but I cannot be bother posting every day.

This is just a small snippet of a very long list but I won't bore you with them all. As an aside, I am sweating like nothing on earth and would like my fever to stop now. Let's check my temperature...38! That's an improvement. I'm completely zazzed from this fever and can't sleep so I think I'll read a load of blog posts until I'm tired again. Peace out y'all, hope this wasn't too incoherent.

Have you ever decided to just not give a shit about something?



This post is part of All-in August, where I attempt to post every single day in August, despite it being one my busiest months. Keep up with it here!

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Friday, 18 August 2017

Travel Bucket List

I've been fortunate enough to travel a fair amount in my twenty four years, thanks to my family's love of cruising. However, while I've seen a hell of a lot of Europe and a few far-flung places, a lot of those places I've spent single days in spread out over many years (#cruiseproblems). As a result, there are several places on this travel bucket list that I've actually been to before and liked, but want to return to and explore properly. Rambling aside, these are the X places at the top of my list at the moment.

Japan Guide Books

Japan

Fortunately, I'm about to cross this one off the list! I've always wanted to go to Japan as it seems like the country most different to the culture I've grown up in. I'm a fan of the sensation of a culture shock, of having my whole world-view changed by different ways of life. I'm sounding very airy-fairy and kind of preachy, but yeah Japan looks cool. My brother is moving there for a year, despite never having visited and speaking no Japanese, so I'm going with him a week in advance to help smooth the transition. Expect a tonne of blog content when I get back!


Copenhagen

I visited Copenhagen for six days in October 2015 (WOW that does not seem that long ago), mostly to show my now ex-boyfriend that I too could be independent and have fun alone. Our relationship was already deteriorating at that point, and I spent the entire trip feeling lonely and insecure. However, I love the city, and I did it a disservice my not exploring when I was last there. I'm determined to return, alone, and prove to myself that I can travel alone and actually enjoy it.

Wyoming

This may seem like a slightly odd choice, but years ago I watched a nature programme in Wyoming that I can't remember the name of and thought it looked spectacular. It's an amazing combination of mountain ranges and plains and I just want to go and stay in a cabin at the foot of the mountains on the edge of the plains for a week or so; it would be an amazing place to run wild. It's also home to Yellowstone National Park which looks well worth a visit.


Bath

Despite having seen basically all of the Mediterranean coast, I've not seen that much of the UK. While I've travelled more in the UK in the last year or so, there are still so many places in the UK that I need to visit. Bath is on this list because it's beauuutiful. The city is a World Heritage site and is crammed full of gorgeous Georgian architecture and museums, and I'd get the best damn photos while I was there.


New York City

I think this is on everyone's bucket list, even if you've visted before. I really want to somehow get tickets for SNL and take my boyfriend there as he loves it, but there's no way I could afford to spontaneously book flights and a hotel. Even so, NYC looks amazing any time of year, and I just want to go and explore the city I've seen so much of on screens and never in real life.


  Are any of these places on your travel bucket list?



This post is part of All-in August, where I attempt to post every single day in August, despite it being one my busiest months. Keep up with it here!

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Thursday, 17 August 2017

On My Lips This Summer

I realised the other day just how few lipsticks I've been wearing of late. I've basically been reaching for one of these three every single day for the past few months, and I thought it was about time I shared them with you.

Nivea Original Care Lip Balm

Most days I go for a fairly neutral lip colour, simply because having to be aware of smudging and transferral all day is a pain. Charlotte Tilbury's Very Victoria is still my favourite for this, as a brown-pink nude and pigmented enough to cover my natural lip colour. It's so easy to wear and I just throw it on with anything and everything, although lately, I've been craving something with a bit more pink but still on the nude end of the scale. Perhaps Pillow Talk or Amazing Grace since I love the Charlotte Tilbury formula.

Charlotte Tilbury Very Victoria

If I'm the mood for something bold and bright, an orange-red is my failsafe. I love the deeper hue of MAC's Chili for the Winter and Autumn, but in Summer I tend to go for something slightly brighter, but still that nice warm-toned red that I love. At the moment, that's been in the form of Urban Decay's Comfort Matte formula in the shade Temper. It's a seriously bright shade that I adore and it's been my go-to for nights out for a while now.

Finally, I'm pretty sure this is something we all own. I've had issues with dry lips of late, and as such have been wearing this as much as I have actual lipstick. Vaseline just doesn't measure up to good old Nivea, and my boyfriend can attest to the actual panic every time I can't find it. I should really buy some back ups, and at £1.65 it's hardly pricey.

Urban Decay Comfort Matte in Temper

Let me know what lip products you've been loving this Summer!


This post is part of All-in August, where I attempt to post every single day in August, despite it being one my busiest months. Keep up with it here!

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Wednesday, 16 August 2017

10 Things About Me

Oooh you can tell I'm running out of steam can't you? It's been a tough few weeks at work and I'm running on empty, in desperate need of a few days off. Coupled with the fact that my thighs are still killing me from my first ever personal training session, this post is going to be a fairly quick and easy one for me. I have mad respect for anyone who produces quality content every day all the time, as I'm struggling with it even for a month. For today though, here are ten things you almost certainly don't know about me.


Lurking in Manchester alley
Enjoy this photo of me lurking in an alley in Manchester, as I am wont to do.


  1. When I went to university my Mum replaced me with a black cat named Willow who is the best cat in the world (if snooty af).
  2. My full name is longer than the alphabet.
  3. My nicknames as a small child were Sluggy or Puddin.
  4. I own well over a thousand books but they're almost all at my Mum's house.
  5. I once got hit in the mouth by a hockey ball and somehow didn't lose any teeth! There's a still a bloodstain on the old hockey pitch.
  6. I was ALWAYS the narrator in school plays, even if I wanted to be Sandy/an angel/Dorothy.
  7. I only have two cousins, both girls, both very different. One is a high-flying neuroscientist who likes the finer things in the life, the other built a cabin in the woods for herself and lives off the land like a badass. I'm the boring one.
  8. I've visited most of coastal Europe because my family bloody loves cruises.
  9. I did ballet for one week when I was five because I wanted the outfit, which I generally wore with wellingtons.
  10. My eyesight is truly shocking and I spend a small fortune on contact lenses and glasses.

That's your lot for today, I'll try and produce some slightly more original content over the next week or so but like I said, I'm running on empty.


This post is part of All-in August, where I attempt to post every single day in August, despite it being one my busiest months. Keep up with it here!

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Tuesday, 15 August 2017

My First Ever Personal Training Session

I'm writing this the day after, so although it may not feel like it, I survived. My legs feel like they're made of lead and I think my arms are missing entirely. My body image, fitness and general health are all things I've struggled with since I was a teenager; I've suffered from eating disorders and have generally always had something going on that's affected my self-confidence. This time last year I made real progress with the Couch to 5K which I absolutely loved. However, since moving back to Manchester, I haven't felt safe enough in the area I live to run frequently in the evenings. Since I moved here in November I've done almost no exercise, and it shows. I'm at my heaviest ever, despite eating quite healthily. 

Personal Training in the park
I did join a gym, briefly, at the beginning of the year. It wasn't for me though; I walked into that gym, did an awkward loop and walked out again. I had forgotten my sports bra so there was no way I was doing any exercise, but I also never went back. The tall, tanned fit people pounding away at treadmills were unintentionally intimidating, and I was intensely aware of my pale, podgy self. The thought of squeezing myself into my gym gear and jogging slowly beside some bronzed fitness buffs was less than appealing.

Eight months later, tipsy in a bar at a work leaving do, I asked the office big, buff, teddy-bear guy if he knew of any good workout routines; this led to him agreeing to be my personal trainer. I didn't quite know what to expect when we met for my first session, but safe to say I was not prepared. I knew I was unfit, but god damn it, I was really unfit. For the record, he is a proper personal trainer and has worked with lots of people over the years.

We headed to the nearby park and started out with stretches and a light jog to get me warm. Safe to say that he was pretty much only picking his feet up while I was basically running. We then stopped to do some leg exercises, which I managed but absolutely killed me. Then it was back to jogging for a few minutes, followed by arms. I managed one circuit of the arms exercise and had to stop before I threw up. At this point, I was feeling dizzy and sick, but he let me sit for a few minutes before getting me up and walking to keep the blood flowing and to prevent my muscles from seizing up and going cold. Once I felt better, we went back to jogging and moved onto abs. After a cool down, we retired to a cafe for coffee and a chance to catch my breath. 

Personal Training in the park

Over coffee, he gave me a breakdown of everything he'd learnt from that short session, and a lot of it surprised me! Apparently, I'm quite flexible, and I did really well at the abs and legs portions, but my arms are a serious area of improvement. My main aim is to lose fat rather than weight, which he thinks is completely feasible. We've decided that the best routine for me is to work out twice a week on my own since I can't afford to work with him more than once a week, and then I'll meet with him on a weekend for an hour or so. Every week we'll mix things up, and we're going to gradually make changes to my diet. If I'm going to be working out as much as we plan to, then I need to up my calorie intake, which I'm very happy about! I've been trying to lose weight for pretty much my entire adult life, so I'm hoping that serious exercise will be the thing that will make the difference.

I'll keep you posted on how this goes! Today my entire body feels like it belongs to someone else so I'm not looking forward to repeating the routine alone tomorrow. I've written up the whole thing below for anyone looking for a new routine!

Have you ever worked with a personal trainer?


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BETHANY'S PERSONAL TRAINING ROUTINE, WEEK ONE
Dynamic stretches
Five minutes of jogging
LEGS
Squats for 40 seconds
Lunges for 40 seconds
Side steps with ground touches for 40 seconds
REPEAT
Jog for five minutes
ARMS
Wall push ups for 40 seconds
Tricep dips for 40 seconds
Low bar pull ups for 40 seconds
Jog for five minutes
REPEAT
ABS
Crunches for 40 seconds
Leg raises for 40 seconds
"Penguins" for 40 seconds (basically where you lie on the ground with your feet flat on the floor, knees bent, twisting from side to side and tapping your heels with each hand, as fast as you can)
REPEAT
Light jog and static stretches to cool down
DIE 
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Monday, 14 August 2017

Monday Medley #4

Mamma Mia, here we go again (aaaand now that's stuck in your head all day), but yes, it's time for Monday Medley number four, with everything I loved reading, watching and eating in the last week. This is a particularly packed edition as I came across so much amazing stuff this week and really struggled to whittle it down. Without further ado, here's everything you need to catch up on!



READING


PRINT

I was recently lent Paul Neilan's Apathy and Other Small Victories by a friend from work, and although I haven't quite finished it, I'm loving it. It's a completely pessimistic and nihilistic take down of modern society, and while I wouldn't recommend reading it to cheer yourself up if you're a twenty-something like me, it's still a hilarious read.

DIGITAL

Oh my godddd there were so many amazing blog posts this week that I'm even sneaking a few extra in at the end of this post. These are just a few of my absolute faves.

Sarah is back! HOORAY! It's Sarah Ann has been updated and she's back and I can't wait to see what she's going to be writing about over the next few months. Go and say hi!

Lily of Pint Sized Beauty churns out great content all the time, but I loved this post about making a home feel light and without compromising cosiness. Basically, plants and soft furnishings are everything and you should read this right now.

The funniest and most relatable thing I read this week was definitely Rosy's post about all the strange things she still owns for some reason. I won't spoil it, but anyone who grew up in the late nineties and early noughties will be in hysterics. Click for nostalgia.

Okay, you may not know this about me, but I freaking love seals. I used to think I was a selkie as a child and basically just wanted to swim away with the seals in Scotland. As such, it's no surprise that I loved Paris' post on Horsey Beach (great name) in Norfolk and her time seal spotting. Click for cute sea dogs.

Rachel is great and clearly has impeccable taste because she mentioned my post about my current favourite cookbooks in her Friday Favourites, so you should read it and have a nosey at all the other things she's loved lately. G'wan.

I've mentioned Sophie Cliff here before, and she's back again with the last post in her series about the details of her wedding, with her final post talking about her advice for future brides. Anyone who is planning a wedding or anyone who just likes looking at happy people should give this a read, because not only was her wedding stunning, she and her husband look so incredibly happy. Read it here.

Katie's post on buying a home and the process of getting a mortgage is invaluable to anyone considering buying anytime soon (like me!) or worth bookmarking for future reference. They should teach this in school.


WATCHING


OH MY GOD. OH MY GOD GAME OF THRONES. I'm enjoying this series so much and I'm going to be so disappointed when it ends. I can't talk about it too much because of spoilers but DAMN the last episode was great and I can't wait to watch episode five tonight! 

I received a text from my boyfriend telling me to turn on BBC1 immediately because there were tiny animals on TV and nearly broke my ankle lunging for the remote. Can confirm, Super Small Animals was amazing, from the ridiculously small snakes and chameleons to the teeny bats and fennec foxes it's definitely worth a watch. 


EATING


I have three sweet treats for you this week! Tori's chocolate lava cake looks utterly incredible, David Lebovitz is as awesome as always with his Summer Fruit Galette and (shameless plug) I made chocolate chip banana bread because why not?


That's yer lot for this week, but it's worth having a nosey at some super-cool glass jellyfish sculptures, some gorgeously bright paper collages and these larger than life scenes made with tiny model people

Okay, I'm finally out of things to talk about! I'm always after some new blogs to read for this series so, by all means, pop links to your favourite blogs in the comments. See you next Monday!



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Sunday, 13 August 2017

Best Damn Banana Bread

Okay, so first things first, this is not something to bake while you're on a diet, which I am. This is a banana bread recipe I haven't made for a few years that my brother adores, but I must admit, having tried it again in my old age, I would pretty much halve the chocolate and sugar content because it's crazy rich and sweet. As such, there are two sets of measurements for a few of the ingredients, depending on whether you have an extremely sweet tooth or just a normal person sweet tooth. This also contains macadamia nuts, but you could easily leave those out or substitute something else if you're allergic to nuts. 

Chocolate and Macadamia Banana Bread

Ingredients

250g plain flour
2tsp baking powder
3 bananas
125g unsalted butter (room temperature)
2 eggs
125g light brown sugar (or 75g for normal folks)
125g dark brown sugar (75g ditto)
100g good quality dark chocolate
100g good quality milk chocolate
1 tsp vanilla essence
pinch of cinnamon
100g macadamia nuts



Method

  1. Find large loaf tin of around 900g capacity, and grease the hell out of it with some extra butter. I mean, you can use any tin you want to be honest, but bigger is better. My tin was too small I and had leftover mixture that I ended up chucking in a ramekin to make a mini one. Better to have too big a tin than too small. If you have baking paper, by all means, use that as well, but with a good greasing you should be fine.
  2. Preheat your oven to 180C (fan), 200 (who even has a non-fan oven?) or gas mark 4.
  3. In your largest mixing bowl, sift the flour and baking powder together.
  4. In another mixing bowl (or just a big soup bowl if you're desperate) mash your bananas. 
  5. Whisk your two eggs a little, then add them and the butter to your banana mush.
  6. Mix it up a little (not too much) then add your sugar. Mix that all together carefully, by which point it should be looking pretty gross. That's a good thing as you don't want to over-mix it. 
  7. Add the vanilla essence, pinch of cinnamon, chocolate and macadamia nuts, and mix it all up, again, not too much.
  8. Make a little dip or well in the middle of your pile of sifted flour, and add your big messy sugary banana mixture, and mix with a wooden spoon until there's no visible flour. Make sure you really get down to the bottom for any flour that's sitting underneath all of the liquid.
  9. Once it's all combined, carefully tip your mixture into the tin.
  10. Whack it in the oven for at least an hour, checking it halfway through with a skewer/knife in the centre. You don't want to overbake it, so if your knife is coming out chocolatey but without raw mixture on it you're probably okay. This can take a while to cook depending on your oven; mine took an hour and forty minutes! 
  11. If the top starts to catch and turn black as mine did, a cunning foil hat is generally a good solution to enable it to keep cooking but prevent the top from burning.  
  12. Once it's done, resist the urge to eat it right away as the banana mixture isn't massively stable until it's cooled and it will collapse pretty easily. Give it at least twenty minutes before turning it out of the tin!
And that's it! I genuinely regret making this banana bread because I live alone and shouldn't even really eat it. I think I'm going to take it into work and leave it in the kitchen with a sign on begging people to eat it for me. 
Chocolate and Macadamia Banana Bread

Seriously, if you're in Manchester and you want some just tell me where to send it.

 
This post is part of All-in August, where I attempt to post every single day in August, despite it being one my busiest months. Keep up with it here!

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Saturday, 12 August 2017

Planning For Long-Haul Holidays

In less than three weeks I'll be flying to Japan with my younger brother, and I will be leaving him there. He's starting a year abroad at a university in Osaka as part of his degree, but never having been to Japan or even Asia, he's understandably a little nervous. We'll be flying out a week before he starts university to get a feel for the place, try and make sense of the train system and generally help him feel more at home there. I probably won't see him until August next year, and I'm really going to miss him. 

However, I get a trip to Japan out of it! I've blown my savings on this trip, but it will be worth it to see him settled and my being there for the first few days has put our Mum's mind at ease as well. It should be said that my brother isn't exactly an 18 year old who's afraid of the dark, he's 6"3 and built like a rugby player, but I've travelled a lot more than him. As a result, even though he's the one who's moving there instead of going on holiday I'm the one who's ended up organising everything. 

Planning for a holiday to Japan

An awful lot of planning goes into organising a long-haul holiday; there's the obvious things like booking your flights and hotels, and then there's the less obvious stuff, like visas and vaccinations, how to get to and from the airport at your destination, checking laws about medicines and travel insurance. I've made a printable checklist for all the bits and bobs that need doing in the planning stages for a holiday in a far-off land and made them available for download in PDF and word document formats, for anyone who might also find them useful.

I've done the majority of them, but if I'm honest, even though it's less than three weeks away I still need to order my currency and print all my paperwork, as well as general planning of day-to-day activities. I feel like the three or so days before I'm going to be very busy! I should really listen to my own advice.

What are your planning tips for holidays?


This post is part of All-in August, where I attempt to post every single day in August, despite it being one my busiest months. Keep up with it here!

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