Monday, 27 July 2015

One Year of Blogging + The Blogs That Have Inspired Me

Well, I've made it. It's been exactly a year since I first created this little space on the internet for myself, and of that I'm rather proud! I never really thought I'd keep this blog going for so long - I'd thought maybe four or five months at the absolute most. So to be still be writing a whole year later feels like something of achievement to me. Thank you to everyone who's popped by at some point to read a post or two, and a huge thanks to those who visit regularly and leave such lovely comments!

To celebrate a year of blogging, I've decided to list some of my favourite bloggers. Their blogs have been the inspiration to keep going, and many of them are also names that pop up frequently in my comments. It's lovely to know that people do come back to my blog and seem to like what I write and this is what keeps me going.

I love this blog for showing just how much you can pack into life without having to break the bank! Chloe always seems to be up to something fun - whether that's experimenting with new meals or exploring new places - and she still finds the time to write about it all, and hold down full time work or studying. 

A fellow medical student, Hannah is also a dedicated blogger who's been blogging daily for two years. Her blog began as a project to help manage depression, and it's full of positivity, while still being down to earth and realistic. I love reading about what Hannah's been up to at medical school, as well as her excellent photography. (And an eye for fashion that always looks amazing on her!)

Jasmine from Jasmin Charlotte
From her posts and comments, I just get the feeling that Jasmin is a really lovely person! She knows all about the best places for afternoon tea, but is also something of a tech expert and willingly shares her knowledge on her blog.

Jane from Deluminators
Jane's also a medical student - but all the way over in Australia. I'm slightly jealous of how often she seems to be at a beach or travelling somewhere exciting, but it's also interesting just to read about life on the other side of the world.

Rachael from Broomfie
Blogs that encompass a little bit of everything are my favourites, and Rachael certainly achieves that. I've been so impressed with how brave Rachael was spending a year of her Chemistry degree abroad in Canada, and her blog is full of the experiences from this. Rachael blogs about everything from travel to fashion to studying. 

Sam from All I Know Now
Like all my favourite bloggers, Sam just seems like a real person with a very down to earth blog. Having just finished her Psychology degree, Sam's had lots of interesting posts about her time as a student, as well as eye opening pieces on mental health and great posts on books, food and travel.

Katy from Little Miss Katy
Even before you start reading, Katy's blog feels bright and happy- full of colour and beautiful photos! Another of those little bit of everything blogs, Katy successfully writes about fashion, food, travelling and just generally what makes her happy. Funny, positive and guaranteed to make you smile.

These are just some of the many bloggers out there that have inspired and encouraged me to keep going, on top of all the readers out there who aren't bloggers. 

Now that I've reached a year, I'm not about to stop blogging! Hopefully there will be many more posts to come. If it goes quite over the next couple of weeks, don't panic - I'll be road tripping round Ireland and will fill you in when I'm back.



Thursday, 23 July 2015

RECIPE: Lemon Drizzle Cake with Summer Fruits

Lemon Drizzle Cake

Perhaps its the sight of Mary Berry whirling round in a field singing about the smell of baking, or just the fact that I'm home for summer with all the time and kitchen space I could need, but the other day I was in the mood to bake something tasty. And lemony. 

Lemon Drizzle Cake

Lemon Drizzle Cake

I settled on a lemon drizzle cake, the perfect combination of sweet sugar, bitter lemon and soft sponge. Not a complicated cake, but just what I needed - especially if I try to bake each week when the bake off returns!

I used this recipe by Tana Ramsay from BBC Good Food, but decided it was lacking a little in style and added a few finishing touches with the fruit and icing.

To make this Lemon Drizzle Cake I used:

For the Cake
225g softened butter
225g caster sugar
4 medium eggs
Zest of one large lemon
225g self-raising flour

Juice of one and half large lemons
85g caster sugar
150g icing sugar
2tbsp warm water
Fresh raspberries and strawberries

And a loaf tin, greased and lined with baking paper

Start by pre-heating the oven to 180°c (170°c fan oven), then grease and line the loaf tin.

Cream the butter and caster sugar together in a cake mixer until light, then slowly add the eggs and mix together. Add the lemon zest, then add the flour and fold it in. When it is all well mixed, pour into the loaf tin and smooth the top. Bake in the oven for 45-55 minutes. Test with a skewer to see if it is done - a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake should come out clean.

When cooked, remove from the oven but keep the cake in the tin. Prepare the drizzle topping by juicing the lemons and mixing the juice with the caster sugar to form a runny paste. Use a fork to prick holes over the top of the cake and then pour the drizzle over the top. It should sink into the cake.

Leave the cake to cool completely before preparing the final decoration. When it is cooled, remove from the tin. Mix the icing sugar with a little water until it is smooth and runny, but still with a fairly firm consistency. Use a spoon to drizzle the icing across the cake in a smooth zigzag motion. Top with fruit and serve.

Lemon Drizzle Cake

I'm usually in two minds about whether it's worth baking a cake at home as we often don't finish them before they go stale. This one however was down to a single slice left the very same evening! Perfect as an afternoon treat whilst enjoying the sunshine, or after dinner.

Saffy was also keen to try out a few crumbs!

Let me know if you try this out, or if you have any other suggestions for cakes I should have a go at!

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Bristol Harbour Festival

Bristol Harbour Festival

Spending July at university isn't all bad - it means I get to experience the summer in Bristol and all the fun things it has to offer. (Except the Balloon Fiesta - sadly I've missed that every year as it's in August!)

Seeing as Sundays are definitely not meant for essay writing, my housemate and I decided to make the most of the sunshine and visit the Bristol Harbour Festival.

99 Flake Ice Cream with Strawberry Sauce

Of course, the first thing we did on getting to the harbour was get ice creams before wandering along the waterfront just taking it all in. We visited the stalls selling everything from flower headdresses to baked goods for dogs.

Baked Dog Biscuits

Although altogether we only really spent a couple of hours at the festival, it would be easy to spend much longer and sit and watch some of the music and dance acts taking place. But even in just a short time we were able to just soak up the atmosphere and admire the city.

Bristol Harbour

Bristol Harbour

Bristol Harbour SS Great Britain

The harbourside isn't a part of Bristol I ever spend much time at, which is a shame as it's actually a really lovely part of the city! It looked especially busy and interesting with the number of boats that had arrived as part of the flotilla.

Bristol Harbour Boat

Bristol Harbour Festival

In Millenium Square we found a huge tent full of sweets - which somehow we resisted buying, simply because I would have had to have a piece of everything!





There were people of all ages enjoying themselves at the festival and there was plenty going on to entertain the crowds - including what seemed to be an improptu 'Tan-Off' competition, a world record colouring book and lots of places encouraging the visitors to dance.

I love living in Bristol and having events like this right on my doorstep. If you find yourself in Bristol next summer, I'd highly recommend spending a few hours at the Harbour Festival!


Sunday, 19 July 2015

Little Things I've Loved This Week #6

It feels so long since I've been able to write one of these! That's not to say there haven't been things I've loved recently, just that I've not really taken the time write about them. But as the end of term approaches, there's definitely a feeling of slowing down, and that always makes it a bit easier to appreciate what's happening.

First of all, it's got to be the fact that I passed all my fourth year assessments! I'm pretty good at believing in myself and having confidence in the fact that my hard work should lead to good results, but it's still a great feeling knowing that I've passed. This also (slightly scarily) means that the end is now in sight. Come September I'll be a final year medical student with under a year until I actually become a doctor. Help!

Secondly, I had a lovely evening out with a few friends celebrating the fact that we'd all passed fourth year with some delicious cocktails. 

Third - flowers. I've really enjoyed making our new flat home, and my flatmate and a friend buying flowers for the flat has really helped with this. There's something rather grown up about having flowers in the house, no?

Number four is banana bread. As well as the banana pancakes I made the other morning, I also used a couple of super-ripe bananas to make banana bread. It's been absolutely ages since I last ate any. Although I came to the realisation that baked goods for a flat of two is totally different to having six people help to eat them!

And finally, the #ImInWorkJeremy hashtag has been a blend of hilarity and seriousness that I think represents the workers of the NHS pretty well. It's been great to see the doctors (and other staff) hit back at unfair criticisms and show just how hard they work. You do an incredible job, so thanks!

It's been a beautiful week in Bristol, and with just an essay to write and not much else to be doing, it's been so lovely to just enjoy the days and take them a bit slower. What have you loved this week?


Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Are banana pancakes really that good?!

It wasn't until I started blogging myself that I read enough blogs to appreciate the fact that there is such thing as a 'blogging trend'. Whether that's fairy lights and rose gold bowls, or blogging advice posts, there's usually something that becomes a bit of theme in my Bloglovin' feed. And just recently, the blogs I follow seem to have become the Banana Pancake Brigade. 

Now, banana pancakes might not be a new concept, but when I see something three times within the space of thirty minutes I start to get rather curious. Especially as everyone was raving about how delicious and simple these pancakes are. 

My sceptical mind whirred into action. I'm not the most skilled cook in the world (just check my baking bloopers post!) and I failed to see how anyone could possibly make an actual real life pancake from just banana and egg. But of course, you should never dismiss anything until you try it...

A spontaneous weekend at home from uni meant that I left some just-ripe bananas sitting in a warm kitchen for days, and when I returned they were so ripe they were almost peeling themselves. So staying true to my word on all the comments I left on various banana pancake themed blog posts, yesterday morning I made use of a super ripe banana to experiment...

To make my pancakes I used:
1 very ripe banana
1 medium egg
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

I started by melting a small piece of butter into a large frying pan, making sure to coat the surface and then waited for it to get really hot.

I mashed the banana in a small bowl, added the egg, baking powder and vanilla essence and whisked it all together using a fork. 

I'd done a bit of pre-reading before attempting these, and the common theme in the advice was to make your pancakes small in order to make it easier to flip them. So I used probably the equivalent of just over a tablespoon each time, doing them two at a time.

As the first two dollops of mixture sat in the pan looking decidedly un-pancake-like, I was sure that this experiment was doomed. I was right, pancakes without flour cannot be a thing. But then, slowly, they began to solidify. And if I poked the edges very gently, they seemed to lift! Maybe this would work after all...

After another minute or so of hesitant expectation, I decided to try and flip the first pancake. Which was really more a case of me chasing it around the frying pan with a plastic spatula, rolling it into a ball rather than flipping it. But it was solid, if rather messy. And that was the main thing. I eventually gave up pushing it round the pan, lifted it out and onto a plate and tasted it...

I was actually really rather surprised - it tasted good! Sweet, fluffy... and well, rather pancake-like! So I carried on making them, and with a bit of practice I started to get the hang of just when to turn them over in the pan, how to flip them so that if a bit spilled, the pancake landed on top of it and picked it back up. 

Eventually I had enough pancakes to make a pancake stack. A pretty sad looking one I'll admit, but a definite stack nonetheless. Drizzled with a little honey, they were delicious. Sweet, but not sickly. Fluffy like a really good omelette, but not eggy in taste. And actually rather filling considering how little went into them.

So, are banana pancakes really that good?
Verdict: Yes! They took a bit of time and patience (not always my strength in the kitchen), but were the ideal way to use up an overripe banana, tasted great and actually formed solid pancakes. (They do come with the side effect of having the Jack Johnson 'Banana Pancakes' song stuck on repeat in your head all day long)

I should never have doubted them. If I find myself with a free morning, a ripe banana and an egg again in future, I'll certainly give them another go. (Although perhaps I'll serve them on a slightly smaller plate next time)

Have you tried banana pancakes?

Saturday, 11 July 2015

8 Photos of Happiness Tag

I love appreciating the happy moments of life, and one of the most positive bloggers I know, Hannah from Pull Yourself Together, nominated me to to do this post. Make sure you take a look at her blog for plenty more happy posts!

Here are the rules:
1) Thank your nominator/s and link them in the post
3) Post your 8 photos of happiness - the photos can be anything that represents a moment, object, place or feeling that makes you happy.
4) Pop in a brief description of the photo, why you chose it or just let the photos do the talking!
5) Spread the happiness and tag up to ten other bloggers!

1 - This was taken one evening a few years ago on a beach in Spain, just outside of Marbella. I was on holiday with two great friends and we had a wonderful week of Monopoly, pizzas, cocktails, reading by the pool and sunset walks on the beach. 

2 - I took this photo last year on my way back to my flat in Bristol. Since our clinical years are longer, I've been spending part of the summers there. I didn't know that hot air balloons were so closely associated with Bristol, but as soon as the weather gets good, they start appearing in the evenings. Summer evenings with sights like this are definitely something that make me smile.

3 - This was taken during my holiday to Malta, which, as well as being a fabulous holiday destination, is home to the Playmobil factory. I have many, many, many years of happy memories playing with Playmobil and I do sometimes regret selling our collection (even if it was worth a lot of money!).

4 - A few years ago, me and one of my best friends from home went to the Emirates experience at Greenwich and had a go on a plane simulator. We could both just about manage to fly the plane, however the landings weren't very smooth! I love spending a day doing something totally different to usual.

5 - Well, of course Saffy was going to feature in here somewhere! Saffy always makes me happy - especially with the huge welcome she gives me whenever I come home from uni.

6 - Another photo from Malta, and another sunset walk on the beach! They might be a bit of a cliché, but there is something incredibly calming about being by the sea as the sun goes down.

7 - This was a riding competition from quite a few years ago now, but I remember being so happy as this picture was taken. It's the final fence of a cross-country course that we had just made our way round. Neither me nor the horse had ever actually done a whole cross-country course before, so I was so pleased that he'd managed to get round without any problems at all!

8 - The London Olympics was such an incredible time. I'm so pleased that I got to experience an Olympic Games in my home city during my lifetime. I was lucky enough to get to go and watch the dressage phase of the three day eventing competition at Greenwich.

I'm always rubbish at nominating other people for these kinds of things - I generally get to them so late that most people I'd nominate seem to have done them already! But please, please feel free to have a go if you haven't already - and do send me a link if you write your own post!

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