Wednesday, 30 July 2014

July Purchases

Having moved into a new house and being surrounded by lots of lovely shops, I couldn't wait to get out and buy a few new things. And seeing as my term has finished and I was just about to move back home for six weeks, I decided I could afford to go on a bit of a spending spree with the remains of my student loan for the year!

Reed diffuser

First up was this Airwick Reed Diffuser in White Vanilla Bean. I bought a different brand reed diffuser a while back, but the smell was so strong it made me feel sick and I've been a bit wary of buying another one since! But this was on a half price offer at Wilko, so at £3.22 I thought I could try it out- my room had a lingering smoky smell from the previous tenant and I wanted something to cover up the smell when I can't have the window open. This has quite a strong, floral smell that I didn't like at first- I prefer a scent to be more subtle. But one of my housemates said it made the whole flat smell lovely! It was really simple to set up, and three weeks later still has a good amount left in it. I can't really smell it anymore because I'm used to it, but I expected that. I like the fact it works the whole time, unlike scented candles which I don't always fancy lighting. If I see these on offer again once it's run out, I'd definitely think about repurchasing.

Yankee candle tea lights

Sticking with the scented theme, I purchased these Yankee Candle tea lights from their store. It was £6.75 for 12 tea lights. I'd never really used scented candles until I got one as a present a couple of years ago. I can't remember what it was, but I know I bought it again twice- when I get another one I will share it with you! I spent absolutely ages sniffing all the candles, trying to find something light and fresh and this scent is perfect. It's called Champaca Blossom. I'm not great at describing smells, but this is very daytime, girly and summery. It's a subtle, floral smell which will be lovely. I've not actually used these yet, but I'm looking forward to lighting them soon. 

Butterfly tea light holder

After buying the tea lights, I realised I didn't have anything to put them in! I didn't really like any of the holders in the Yankee Candle store, but I spotted this in the Bristol Guild. I loved the light purple colour and the butterflies- there seem to be a lot butterfly things in my room despite this not being deliberate! This was about £3.


Purple notebook

I love stationery nearly as much as I love homeware, so when I started this blog, naturally I needed to buy a pretty notebook to jot down ideas! This was £6 in Paperchase. The outside is thick card, so it should be sturdy enough to survive in my handbag. It's got quite wide ruled lines inside which I don't really like- my handwriting always looks so messy on big lines! However, I'm sure I will manage just fine with it.



Highland Cow Doorstop

And finally, this cute impulse buy! Vinegar Hill in Bristol is one of my favourite shops to browse and I took my sister in there while she was visiting. We came across this Highland Cow doorstop by Dora Designs and simply couldn't leave him on the shelf! At £24.99 he wasn't cheap, but just look at that face!! (Ok, I'm crazy. I know.) I'm planning on taking him home and leaving him in the living room as a surprise for my parents. I really hope they love him as much as I do! His name is Angus by the way. 

Well that's all my interesting purchases of the month, hope you enjoyed this post and thanks for reading! 

xXx

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Monday, 28 July 2014

RECIPE: Coconut Cake

At about half past nine the other night, my sister and I decided that there was nothing in the kitchen that was going to satisfy a sweet tooth, and so we pulled out all the recipe books in search of something simple to whip up. We spotted a recipe for a raspberry coconut cake in 'Sugar and Spice - Cookbook for Girls' which sounded ideal.

Now firstly, I should tell you that I am by no means a baking expert. In fact, I'm not even a baking novice- I struggle with even the simplest cakes! If a cake comes out mostly solid and not too burnt, I consider that a success. But I love the idea of home baked goods, so I'll keep trying anyway. After all- practice makes perfect doesn't it?!
(Therefore, when my sister pulled out what seems to be a kids cookbook, I was delighted, and even more so when it was rated 1/3 for difficulty!)

Coconut cake and raspberries

The finished product. Eaten the next morning for breakfast, of course. The fresh raspberries were a great accompaniment- the actual recipe recommended cream and icing on the top, but we didn't have the ingredients in that night, and were too impatient to wait until morning to finish it off!

Ingredients for coconut cake

Ingredients
4 eggs, separated 
220g white granulated sugar
60g desiccated coconut
275g plain flour (We didn't actually have any, so used self-raising and skipped out the baking powder)
1 tsp baking powder
120g butter, melted
Handful of flaked almonds to top



I whisked the egg whites with 2 tbsp of the sugar until stiff. I did this by hand- mostly out of habit because until recently I didn't have an electric whisk at uni- and also because I find it really satisfying! (Plus it's a great workout if you use both arms. Or so I say...)
At the same time (just because there was two of us), my sister whisked the egg yolks and the rest of the sugar until creamy, then added the flour (and baking powder should be added at this point). Then we added the egg white mixture to this, followed by the butter and mixed until all blended smoothly.

I found that the original recipe was a bit too liquid, so added a bit more flour and coconut- the ingredients I have listed include these adjustments.

Baking a coconut cake
We poured the mixture in a springform cake tin (greased and lined) and scattered almonds on the top. Then baked at 140°c in a fan over for 50 minutes. This was 10 minutes less than instructed, so it's sometimes just a case of knowing your oven.

Homemade coconut cake
Out of the oven, looking lovely and golden! It didn't stay like this for long. Finally being ready at about 11pm, we couldn't wait for it to cool down and so had a teeny-tiny slice each while it was still warm.

I love coconut in cakes, and this tastes so good even if I do say so myself! Although, it was every so slightly dry so maybe a creamy topping would have been a good idea after all. I would definitely give this recipe another go, especially as it seems quite simple, and maybe keep fiddling around with the quantities to get the perfect texture. Or cook at a more reasonable hour so I can go out and buy the right flour haha!

Sugar and Spice cookbook for girls
Sugar and Spice Cookbook for Girls, Hinkler Books (ISBN 978 1 7430 8638 4)
The recipe book this is adapted from

If you try this recipe, or have your own to share, or want to give me any tips on cake baking (those especially would be appreciated!!) then leave a comment or get in touch via my email or twitter.

Jennifer
xXx








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Saturday, 26 July 2014

Making my room MINE!

At the start of the month, I moved into a new flat with a group of friends. This is our third house at uni- not including halls and our accommodation during placement!

Something I love about moving to a new house, is the ability to transform a blank room into my own personal space, and seeing as this is uni bedroom number five I'm becoming rather practiced! I'm still no expert though, and I love looking online for inspiration of new ways to do up a room.

I live in rented accommodation which brings its own challenges- I can't change wall colours or put up loads of new furniture. In fact, I'm not even supposed to blu-tac things to the wall! But being limited by the rules of my contract doesn't mean I can't make my bedroom look lovely.

I didn't take a 'before' photo of my latest bedroom- but I can tell you it was previously lived in by a boy and was very dark, smoky and messy. Luckily I moved in a week after the other girls who were kind enough to make sure it got a good airing out before I arrived.

I've now been here three weeks and think I've already put my own stamp on the space. Have a look through the pictures and see what you think!

University Bedroom desk and shelves
My desk- I haven't actually had much work to do yet so it's looking very clear and tidy right now!
I love photos, and all the silver frames were a bargain at 50p each from Wilko!

University bedroom photo frames on shelf
Sadly the flowers are fake, but at least they'll last all year round. They were £12 from Wilko (includes the vase). I'm not sure where the little cloth tea pot things are from, but they've been a staple in decorating my rooms since before uni!

University bedroom desk
Hopefully the framed holiday snaps will keep me calm while working. The flowery box (bottom) is the packaging from a Cath Kidston cake stand my sister bought me the other day. The purple candle holder was a lovely little purchase from Bristol Guild, I think it was only about £3.


University Bedroom, homemade bunting
The bunting was homemade, so it's a really cheap and creative way of decorating. I will share how to do it in a future post. 
University bedroom


I don't really have a strict colour scheme to my room- just light, girly colours! Seeing as I can't blu-tac photos this year, I've hung a few from a piece of string instead, and I think it's really effective.

Dressing table and postcards, university bedroom
My dressing table also looks very uncluttered right now- just wait until I move back after summer with all the make up I need though! 

Postcards in university bedroom
Postcards and birthday cards are such an easy way to brighten up the room. The postcards were bought a couple of years ago from Paperchase, who have a beautiful selection still- and they're only 60p each!


Cake stand as jewellery stand in university bedroom
And here is the Cath Kidston cake stand my sister bought me, in Clifton Rose pattern. It's a gift, so I feel a bit cheeky looking up the price- but I'm sure it's not hard to find out! I'm currently doubling up it's use as a stand for things on my dressing table because it's too pretty to hide away.

University bedroom, bedding and cushions


I always think bedding really makes the bedroom. I can't remember where mine came from, but there's a lot of pretty floral designs out there. Cushions are great for making a bed look even comfier. I've had these for years and they are from a number of different places.

Fairy lights in university bedroom
Mum bought me these battery operated lights that I've hung along my bed. I think they came from Marks and Spencers last Christmas.

Bedside table, university bedroom
Photo frame and lamp both from Wilko.
Student house furniture isn't always especially pretty, so I use this scarf from Yumi to cover up my bedside table!

Hope you've enjoyed this post and maybe gained some inspiration- especially if you'll be moving into your first student house after summer! I'll continue to keep you updated of new purchases, and maybe even dig out some photos of my past rooms! If you want to share you own ideas for decorating a student room, let me know :)

xXx

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Friday, 25 July 2014

Hello and welcome!

Hiya, my name is Jennifer- I’m 21 and a student at university. This is my first venture into the world of blogging, and I’m super excited!
Over the past couple of years, I’ve really enjoyed reading other people’s blogs about beauty, fashion and lifestyle and it is these people I would love to thank for inspiring me to start my own. I love having the chance to read about someone else’s life and get ideas on a whole heap of things for my own life.
I want my blog to have a sort of home-and-lifestyle theme to it, although no doubt I’ll end up writing on other topics too. Since moving out and starting university, I’ve become the sort of person who gets really excited shopping in the home sections of department stores- I think I might even prefer that to clothes shopping!
I can’t wait to get started on sharing with you my own tips, purchases and just general things about me, so I hope you enjoy the blog.


Love,

Jennifer
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