What I’m Currently Reading ~ May ~ Part Two

clean cakes front cover

Clean Cakes by Henrietta Inman

Clean Cakes my favourite page

 

Ooh part two! Have you been excitedly waiting?! What were your thoughts on The Knife of Never Letting Go? I’d love to know.

Not surprisingly, my second choice for May is a baking book and one that advocates using whole foods (so no gluten or refined sugar here) and it is… *drumroll

Clean Cakes by Henrietta Inman

Now this book is seriously beautiful. You may just want to just leave it lying around to become part of the decor when you’re not trying out some of the show-stopping patisseries.

However, for me, it’s not all sunshine and roses and I’ll try to explain as best I can.

I have been watching a lot of Bake-Off re-runs while I’ve been in the kitchen and they’ve been inspiring me to try out some more complicated baking and because we’re gluten free, I couldn’t turn to a conventional recipe book on French patisserie. When I came across Henrietta’s book, I was sure that this was going to solve all of my problems. Of course though (I bet you’re already steps ahead of me with this), more complicated baking comes with more complicated recipes (duh!) and usually, a greater number of ingredients.

When looking through the book I suddenly got disheartened and lost a bit of my cooking-confidence. It took me a night to sleep on it before I came to my senses and realised that this is nothing to be shied away from. I LOVE baking, so why shouldn’t I try something with a bit more finesse? Yes, I adore making muffins using only the food processor, but what about giving myself the time to create something truly special? That’s where I think this book comes in. It is the gentle nudge in the right direction to push me past my comfort zone (which was getting very comfortable, I can tell you, I mean – weekly banana bread – what’s not to love)?!

This inner conflict convinced me that I should feature this new book on today’s post, even if next week’s post is entitled ‘A Kitchen Meltdown’.

I’d love to know how you feel about more complicated recipes. Do they make you lose hope a little bit too or do you relish the challenge? Talk soon, H x

 

This post contains an affiliate link – this doesn’t affect you at all, but if people purchase from the linked shop after clicking, it might eventually cause a tiny payout to me. What would I do with it? Probably go out for a cup of tea and a slice of cake! You are welcome to join me. x

Clean Cakes and my hand

 

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What I’m Currently Reading ~ May ~ Part One

What I’m Currently Reading ~ May ~ Part One

 

the knife of never letting go by patrick ness

I was so excited to write this post for you as I am extremely into my two ‘May reads’ at the moment. I’ve separated this post into two parts (the second will follow on Sunday) and when you see the books I think you’ll agree that they needed to be showcased in a blog post of their very own. Two very different books but oh, so good!

The first title is a fiction book and one that I was very glad to indulge in over the warm and sunny bank holiday weekend. Recommended to me by a friend and on Mr D-Fs list to read as soon as I’ve finished is: The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness 

If I say that this book is set in a dystopian future, I don’t feel like I’m doing it justice. Many of you might leap in the air shouting, ‘Whoohoo – that sounds like the book for me!’ While others might be put off by the mere thought of it. I promise it isn’t overly sci-fi at all, it could just as well be set in another country or in another time and the setting is so gently woven into the story.

The story itself is based all around some central, wonderful characters.  The book is heartwarming, heart-wrenching and a wonderful read. Thank goodness it’s the first in a trilogy and I can indulge myself further. Argh! I don’t want to give too much away and if I say almost anything then I might spoil it for you. The best advice from me is this: hop on over to Amazon or wherever and read the proper blurb. Go on, you’ll love it. Plus, there is an adorable dog in the story and he’s my favourite.

Let me know how you get on. H x

 

This post contains an affiliate link – this doesn’t affect you at all, but if people purchase from the linked shop after clicking, it might eventually cause a tiny payout to me. What would I do with it? Probably go out for a cup of tea and a slice of cake! You are welcome to join me. x

 

Embracing My Inner Yogini

rose gold water bottle on yoga mat

Lucy Yin Yoga Teacher

the yoga lounge

Good morning and Happy Sunday!

Some of you may know that I practise yoga regularly at home. Especially on the days when I am sitting at the computer a lot editing photos and writing content, I look forward to getting out my mat in the afternoon, positioning it in the sunshine (when it’s there) and taking the time out to do some Vinyasa.  I have never been to a Yoga class in my life (or rather, had never been), possibly because I struggled to find where my favourite styles were being taught in places near to me or to find times which suited my rather haphazard timetable.

I was so excited when, a few weeks ago, the Yoga Lounge in Bournemouth invited me to join them for a morning to try out a class. I spent hours (oh yes, many, many hours) scouring their timetable trying to decide… did I feel like Aerial yoga (oh my goodness, yes I did) or hot Bikram or warming Yin. I was so tempted by the Aerial Yoga but the timings didn’t work out for me, I was not sure that I wanted to put myself through something extreme like Bikram for my first ever class and so I happily chose the warming blanket of a Yin session.

Our teacher Lucy couldn’t have made me feel more welcome. The class was busy and a wonderfully supportive atmosphere emanated from all of the Yogis and Yoginis. The studio was beautifully warm and I felt myself properly relax. After a good hour of holding positions and stretching I felt AMAZING! Honestly, I’m not over-exaggerating; it was one of the best experiences ever and if I lived a bit closer to Bournemouth I would be regularly attending that class. I felt the effects for the rest of this week, especially when practising Yoga on my own and when I went to my usual Zumba class.


miffy the dog on the counter top

miffy the dog

After the class, look who was in the reception area?! How cute is she?

The whole place has such a great vibe; dogs on the counter tops, friendly conversations and large open spaces. If you feel like trying out a new class or you are completely new to Yoga and want to see if it’s for you, I can heartily recommend The Yoga Lounge. My nerves at going to my first ever class in an unfamiliar place, pretty much disappeared the moment I walked in.

Please let me know in the comments if you have already tried out The Yoga Lounge, if you’re a regular or if you, like me, are an at home Yogini!

Have a wonderful rest of your day. H x

 

 

This post was sponsored by The Yoga Lounge, in that they invited me to join them for a morning and try out a class, however, my opinions are completely my own and my general rule is that if I don’t love something, I tend to not write about it! 

My Newest Haunt (Yes It’s A Place With Food)!

the interior of Joshuas in Sturminster Newton Dorset

lemon and amaretto biscotti

coffee and walnut cake

a worried looking Miles

You are completely forgiven if you think that my life almost completely revolves around food (well, it does a bit) or that I spend the majority of my time, going out to eat cake and drink tea. There are two explanations for this; firstly, the weather has, once again, turned dismal and if I don’t get out and do something I can end up being marooned at home by the rain. Secondly, I am on a mission to discover as many Dorset places and events as possible and where better to start than the county’s myriad of wonderful cafes and tea shops.

The weather was so utterly wet on Friday that my friend and I (and her gorgeous son, Miles) took off to Sturminster Newton to seek a warm refuge in Joshua’s cafe. It is such a friendly, relaxed place to go. You receive a lovely welcome (from Joshua himself) and their cakes and chai lattes are delicious. We had heaps of coffee and walnut cake, pots of tea, chai lattes and it didn’t take much persuading for us to try their amaretto and lemon biscotti.  Miles was more interested in chewing the head of his squeaky giraffe than in our treats, but he did spend a fair amount of time covering a large radius of space around us in home-made sweet potato muffins and pea fritters.

If you are out near Stur and feel like enjoying a calm cup of tea without feeling hassled, head for Joshua’s… and if you see me (probably with empty tea cups surrounding me), please come and say hi!

x

Ooh, and I need to add… if you have any interesting suggestions for my next excursion, please drop them in a comment below. H x

A Sweet Send-Off

sweet potato and butternut squash soup

pretty glass tea light candle

stag head on the wall at the barn cafe

the most amazing rocky road cake

In my day-job-life as opposed to my blog-life, I am about to start at a new workplace.  An exciting change but also a sad departure from a place where I have been very happy for many years.  On my last few days, I was spoilt with cakes and presents, beautiful cards and good wishes and last Friday, we went out for a wonderfully indulgent lunch at The Barn Cafe.

Situated on the outskirts of Lytchett Matravers and nestled within a courtyard of shops, the Barn Cafe boasts a mesmerising selection of beautiful cakes and a great lunch menu, which includes freshly made soups and sandwiches.

I was relieved that we had reserved a table as it was so busy and the day was too cold to make use of the pretty outside seating area. In the short breaks in-between all of the chatting, we ordered rounds of pea and mint soup, butternut squash and sweet potato soup, as well as brie and bacon paninis with tortilla chips and salad.  Everyone had their eyes on a particular cake for pudding and it wasn’t long after our main course had been polished off, that we welcomed the arrival of enormous slices of Rocky Road, a rice crispy cake with chocolate topping, lemon sponge and a creamy chai latte (for me)! I am having a serious chai latte obsession right now (I think it’s because of the cold weather that we’ve been having and it’s just so warming and yummy)!

Our table was booked for someone else at 3:30pm and we’d all exclaimed at the beginning of the lunch how we would be long-gone by then… we all had different plans for the afternoon and in any case, we’d arrived at 12pm – what could we have to chat about for that long?! So you can imagine the shrieks when we realised that it was well past 3 and we were likely to be turfed out at any moment!

H x

 

What’s Growing On My Windowsill?

thyme seedlings in hand

cornflower seedlings on my windowsill

rosemary seeds on my palm

Dark and moody photos for a dark and moody few days.  Having not been able to get out into the garden to do any jobs, I’ve been resorting to greening up my kitchen windowsill in the hope that I can get seeds started before they have to cope with the crazy weather outside.

I was given a packet of Cornflower seeds by a friend along with a pretty, greeny-blue bucket to plant them in (I think you can get these in Marks and Spencer).  Although it is supposed to be a patio arrangement, the instructions suggested planting inside first, which I did.  I couldn’t get over how fast these seeds germinated; there were mounds of soil being pushed up by the sprouting seeds within 2 days. By the end of day 4, there were little green heads covering the soil’s surface.  The only downside to their speediness is that they have been very quickly bending their leaves to face the light and I need to continually turn the bucket around to encourage them to grow straight up. The minute the weather looks as if it is going to settle, I’ll put them outside to be surrounded by sunlight (ha)!

Mr D-F bought me a little present the last time he was out – a packet of Thyme and a packet of Rosemary seeds. Isn’t he a cutie?! The Thyme has germinated quickly, thanks to the warmth in the kitchen, but the small shoots have grown on much more slowly compared to the lightening-fast Cornflowers. I’ve been a bit disappointed with the Rosemary seeds as they haven’t germinated at all. It’s been roughly two weeks now and not a sign. I think I’ll need to ditch the seed idea and buy a small Rosemary plant instead.  At least that will mean that I can use the leaves in my cooking much sooner!

Please leave me a comment below if you’ve done any planting recently and let me know what you went for. x

A Large Fish And A Celebrity Dog ~ Oh, And A Trip To Compton Acres


pretty pink pom pom plant
view of the pond at Compton Acres in Dorsetlight pink camelia

The sun appeared a little this week – did you manage to see it?! And although it was pretty windy, nothing was going to stop me from getting outside, so a friend and I headed out to Compton Acres (a privately owned garden in Poole, Dorset). The plan was to have a walk around the gardens, stop for tea and have a wander in amongst the plants in their garden shop.

Even though the recent cold weather seemed to have had an effect and many plants were only just showing their faces (or leaves), there were still Magnolia, Camellia and alpine plants to enjoy.  We also spent time gawping at the enormous leaves on some of the rhododendron specimens. They were so big – like bigger than your head big!

My friend brought her beautiful little dog (a jack russell/border terrier cross in case you are wondering – we got asked so many times)! Her dog is amazingly well-behaved and she has such an expressive face that she quickly became a celebrity: we were stopped, talked to, had photos taken… all because of little madam here. It was really funny and she loved every minute.

little dog sniffing the waters edgelittle jack russell border terrier crossbeautiful little jack russell border terrier crosslittle dog and coi carp almost kissing

She was particularly taken with the gargantuan Koi Carp in the Japanese gardens. They almost had a kiss at one point! She wasn’t growling or barking at them, we think that she just wanted to get close enough for a sniff and to check out what sort of thing they were. There were three very dark coloured Koi, that would appear from the shadows like stealthy ninjas and they were quite sinister in the way that they lurked about.

brie and cranberry sandwich

After an hour or so walking through the various parts of the gardens and taking funny photos with the statues, we were hungry and in need of a cup of tea. The people in the cafe were incredibly helpful, friendly and had no problem with us bringing a little dog in to sit beneath our feet.  The only issue with this was that we spent most of our lunchtime in deep conversation with a couple sitting next to us about the pros and cons of different dog breeds, how beautiful our little companion terrier was and wasn’t she a good girl?…

You get the picture!

x