Friday, 27 February 2015




I've been asked a few times (okay twice).  What's the deal with your dog?  Do you take her everywhere with you?  How can you describe your dog as a best friend?!  I once had someone tell me that I should post her less on here.  We all remember that hilarious farce of an email, right?



Well, this Sunday (1st March) is her 12th Birthday, so if there ever was a time to dedicate a chunk of space to my furry crap-machine, this would be it.

When I was 13, my parents tried to bribe me into being less of a narcissistic lazy butt-lord by promising me a puppy.  It would be my puppy.  The deal was I had to train it, clean up after it, feed it, name it and generally take care of it.  For life.

I spent nights laying awake, imagining life with my future best buddy.  I expected a happy-go-lucky mutt, that would bring me my Mizz & smash hits magazines and basically be a mix of every dog from any Disney movie ever. 

Spoilet alert: This Didn't Happen

What I got was this sassy little package of black fur....


 
Here's a tip;  13 year olds don't have the best ideas for dog names.  She was called Princess FuFu for about an hour, then Black beauty, before my dad shut that down and I settled on Genna.  I'm pretty sure I picked that name because it sorta sounded like mine.  I am cool.

So she had her name, and her place by my bed.  I patiently awaited my instant Disney dog and instead I got a dog who adopted the personality of a teenage girl, the eye-roll of Tiny Fey and the sarcastic glare of Chandler Bing.

Thing is; I wouldn't have it any other way.  She's the dogs bollocks, even without dog bollocks. 


We can laugh about my school uniform later, ok?

So, you've given a dramatic 13 year old a puppy.  You'll given her complete control over this animals life.  You bet your ass that dog ended up in a wig.


OKAY MULTIPLE WIGS.

NAILED IT.


Now let's deal with the reality.  Puppies are hard work.  Most 13 year olds are completely immune to this word.  I was NO exception.  Life is pretty sweet at this age, yeah you're hormonal and you hate everyone, but your mum still makes you dinner and you're biggest problem is which cast member of Harry Potter to crush on this week.

Okay, there was no decision.  It was mostly this guy.

ENTER RESPONSIBILITY.

I remember crying because I had to miss top of the pops by carrying a gleely weeing Genna outside.  There were a lot of times I was annoyed because she didn't want to sit quietly with me when I was reading.  I remember every time she nipped me playfully, I would scream SHE HATES ME and dramatically fall into my bed.

And she ate ALOT of shoes.

I can't remember the turning point, probably around the time I stopped making it all about me, but we became inseparable.

I mean, yes, She deals with most problems in life by putting her arse on it.  She wipes her butt on anything I value and then looks like she's done me a favour.  I'm going to cut this whole paragraph short and just say I deal with her butt for about 60% of the day.

Seriously, she's more butt obsessed than Kim Kardigimon, or whatever her name is.

Anyone obsessively watch and play digimon as a kid?
Are you seriously wearing that today?  I haven't rubbed my arse on it yet.

So yes, she will sometimes ditch me for food, and she can be really uppity, but she's also my soul mate.  We grew up together.  Even as I write this, she's sitting on my feet.  It's 12 years later, I'm on my lunch break at work - My best bud is by my side.

Unless the heater is on, or a new man to impress turns up, and she's gone like a light if she hears someone opening up a sandwich.

But apart from that.  We're inseparable.



She pulled all-nighters with me during exam season.  During my first break up, she refused to leave my side.  In fact, as I moped over blurry Nokia pictures whilst screaming Rasmus lyrics, she would reverse up and stick her arse in my face.  Her universal sign of "Everything is going to be okay, look, here's my butt"

We even went through our difficult teenage emo stages at the same time.  We perfected our myspace poses together.  As a team.



It's a running joke in my family that if I'm ill, Gen is my nurse.  If I'm sick, she barges her way into the toilet to sit with me.  If she can't get in she'll scratch and bash on the door until someone opens it.  Then, she is just there for me.  Every 20 minutes or so, she will nudge me to check I'm still alive, and then lay back down on my feet. 

From the common cold, or the flu, she will not leave my side until I am better.  I got glandular fever when I was 15, and she had a permanent spot on my sickbed.  When I was at my worst she had to be tempted away from me to even eat.  Walks were out of the question, which was fine by her.  She was too busy offering me her butt and keeping me warm to bother with that.



When I was 16, I met Kris,  now known as husband.  Other boyfriends hadn't really given Gen much thought, but suddenly, Gen had a number one fan.  He loved to come on walks with us and always suggested new places to take her.  He didn't mind when she plonked herself between us, or that he needed her approval to win mine and he would turn up with food for her.  As a result,  she fell haplessly and completely in love with him.

Like dog like owner, AMIRIGHT?!



When I met Kris' family, it wasn't long before Gen came along to meet them as well.  They are now our family too.  She is queen of us all.



I've been told multiple times that it's like we have a secret club that no one else is invited too.  We share all of life's adventures.  From breakfast, to dinner to other minor stuff like moving house, getting married and growing old.  My friends, are her friends.  My family, is her family.  Apparently, my food is her food.  When I have to leave her, my mental family makes sure I'm never really without her.




She likes balloons (she picks them up by their nibs), any ball that she can squish and ice cubes.  If she hears a glass clinking with ice in it, she will be right at your side, giving you puppy eyes worthy of an Oscar.  If someone is fighting with me, or shouts at me in front of her, She will stand in front of me and give them the dirtiest look possible.  She truly is my best friend.  Just a lot hairier.

I've got her butt back and she's got mine.


Look, do you mind?  We're having a private conversation here.





She lost weight with me, another massive change that we tackled together.  I was told to exercise more, and Gen came along.  As the doctor told me to put more vegetables in my dinner, the Vet told me to do the same for Gen.  Which leads to a lot of scenes like this...

Screw your carrots.

Plus, she's put up with 12 years of me putting her in hats, glasses & wigs.

There's a lot of folders like this on my computer.

F*ck.  I'm picking up signals with this thing.

Don't hate me 'cause you ain't me.


#Flawless  #Eyeroll

So there you have it.  That's why she's my best bud, that's why she appears a lot on here.   I'm not saying it's been easy, I'm not saying she's been perfect, she's naughty, moody and sometimes incredibly stubborn, but I love her anyway - even if I come home to mess, or a disemboweled recycling bin or my personal favourite, a massive bum wipe from one end of the room to the other.

It's kind of her trademark.


I
Happy Birthday Gen.  Cheers for 12 years of offering me your butt.

You're welcome, pleb.


Thursday, 19 February 2015


Let's not skate around the obvious thing here.  Being a blogger means you get offered free stuff.  Usually by big brands.  You write your review, people read it and either buy it or disregard your opinion because you got free stuff, and everyone loves free stuff.

I had a bad experience where someone tried to change my 'tone', another wanted me to remove something because it didn't fit with 'their brand' and it's ridiculous.  I didn't start this blog to become a advertiser bought off with tea and frying pans.  This is my blog.  It's where I was supposed to share things I'm passionate about.

I want to open up my own little cafe, full of homemade treats, or stuff made by other small businesses.  I want to build a nice little community where I know my customers by name and their orders by heart.  My biggest dream is to be a small business owner.

So why the hell aren't I supporting others who have taken the leap and already done it?!

Small, independent businesses are awesome.  Their isn't anything small about their commitment. They spend their days creating, inventing and putting their heart into what they sell.  I love that.  Why?  Because these people live and breathe what they do.

You will usually find:

a)  They are passionate about what they do
b)  They are amazingly skilled at what they do.
c)  They are lovely.



So, without much more an introduction, I'd like to introduce to you all to Mello Mallo.  Laura ticks all three of these boxes, and I'm going to spend this post telling you why I think her shop is awesome and why giving her money in exchange for her treats will be the best decision you can make in the next 10 minutes.

and yes, you can bet that all these opinions are mine.  Sigh.  I haven't been paid to write this review.

So why do I love Mello Mallo?

To start with, I can appreciate how difficult creating the perfect marshmallow can be.  I've tried many different recipes, and only a few turned out okay.


Laura creates magic fluffy pillows of happiness.  Ugh.  Hold on.  That did not sound like me at all.  All this pink is turning me into a overly positive Disney sidekick.

The moment I placed my first Mello Mallo treat on my mouth, this was my reaction:


Replace the unicorn with a marshmallow and that could almost be a picture of the exact moment.

From the beautifully decorated raspberry and white chocolate hearts, to her moreish mint chocolate marshmallows, each hand made and hand cut marshmallow that I tasted,  was spot on.  They were almost bubbly, like how a certain brand of bubbly chocolate feels as it melts in your mouth.

Apparently being a badass at Marshmallow creation wasn't enough because she also creates chocolates.

Chocolate diamonds, to be exact.




I opened my bag the day before I was due to take some pictures.  Which is why I only had about 8 left to take pictures with.  Oops.  You know what they say, Diamonds are a girls best friend, Chocolate Diamonds will probably make her happier.

I offered Kris one.  A small one.  Even that was quite hard.

They were by far, my favourite thing I tried from this delivery.  Come pay-day, I shall be ordering myself some more of these.

photo by Mello Mallo

The Raspberry and pistachio Belgian White Chocolate Hearts were well appreciated by family members.  I shared these out amongst people as I'd already eaten pretty much everything else myself and was feeling a little guilty.


The mint chocolate chip marshmallows also tasted amazing on top of my evening hot chocolate.  A perfect combination.

Laura is passionate about what she does and that shows in what comes out of her kitchen.  I could kiss ass until the cows come home, but instead I'll end this post with the magician herself.

A few questions with Mello Mallo:


photo by Mello mallo


How do you come up with new flavour ideas?
I come up with new flavour ideas all the time but only a few make it through to the end. I am inspired by existing foods, so for example the way a chocolate bar is made up, I think about doing that in marshmallow form (I'm thinking along the lines of a twix for example - shortbread base, caramel layer, marshmallow then chocolate). I love citrus so am hoping a lemon flavoured mallow makes a comeback soon. On the more regimented side of things I have a great book called the Flavour Thesaurus which is a quick check for flavour pairings and can get me started on a recipe path.

photo by Mello mallo

What do you love about making marshmallows?
I love that marshmallows are so versatile when it comes to flavour, and that you don't need to use any artificial flavours because they work so well with fruits etc. I also love the feel of a freshly-made and cut mallow - it's soft and silky and would make the best (if not a bit sticky) pillow

photo by Mello mallo

What’s your favourite thing you sell?
I think my favourite thing I sell is the chocolate flavour marshmallow. So many people say to me they've never had a chocolate marshmallow, and that it's a strange concept to them. They then taste it and are so surprised with the intensity of the chocolate flavour. Definitely worth a try!

photo by Mello mallo


So big up a small business and check out her shop here.  She definitely has a fan in me.  If you hadn't guessed from this love letter to marshmallows I just wrote.

Can you tell I like Marshmallows?  I tried to make it subtle. ;)







Friday, 13 February 2015


There's a reason I haven't been blogging lately and that's because life has thrown a nice pile of crap my way and I'm currently clearing through it. -Waves from my crap mountain, where I have made myself queen-

Don't worry, I'm not going to go into details.

I love to tell a good story, I'm renowned for turning a short tale about how I fell over in the street into an alluring 8-part drama worthy of BBC adaption, but I don't do moping 'feel sorry for me' rants.  I don't write them well and they make me feel worse.

It's like feeling on top of the world, and having someone come and ask you "Are you okay?  You don't look well" and suddenly you start thinking "You know what, I don't feel so good..."

It's all about mind-frame.  As Billy Ocean once sang, when the going gets tough, the tough get going.

When a string of bad luck hits you, it's tempting to revel in it.  Alas, just as there's bad stuff around you when the good times hit, there is good stuff around you when the bad times hit.  You just have to look a little bit harder for it.

Which is why, during my own personal run of crappy luck, I've decided to tempt fate (COME AND GET ME A-HOLE) and write about it on Friday 13th.  Boom.

I've scoured the internet and the deep recesses of my own personal experience to come up with this guide to making 2015 bow down to your greatness.  Time is passing, might as well grab it by the nuts and make the most of it.


SAY YES TO THINGS

via giphy
I'm not talking about going mental and bungee jumping into the abyss, (unless that's your thing) you don't have to risk your life or do crazy stunts to be living life to the full.  Just get out of your comfort zone once in a while.  This was the best piece of advice ever given to me.  Don't think, just say yes.

My natural instinct when offered things out of my realm of comfort is to say no.  I go to the worst case scenario.  I think about the bad things that could happen.  I have let opportunities pass me by instead of grabbing them by the collar and screaming TAKE ME WITH YOU.

By saying yes, you open up a whole new world of stuff to experience.  Last year, from saying yes I made new friends, got to spend a day baking with a Great British Bake Off winner, got to travel and see shows I wouldn't of otherwise, I got some cool stuff and best of all, I got to spend hours with some hilariously awesome people.

Before I did all of these things, I was a nervous wreck, but I did them anyway and about 98% of them were brilliant.  Obviously there are things you should say no too:  For instance getting into a cage with a bear or going to see 50 shades of grey because 'everyone else is'.  But use your common sense, and the worse thing that can happen is you will make a boob of yourself.


DON'T BE ANYONE BUT YOURSELF


Via reaction gifs

I am a short arse,  naturally clumsy, and a bit of a tit.  It used to bother me immensely, but then I realised I'm surrounded by friends and family that either find it endearing or put up with it anyway because of my other amazing qualities (like my modesty for instance.)  It's so tiring trying to be something you're not, and I had less incredible friends when I was pretending. (Circa 2004 Emma who was really cool, and had more than two bras and didn't set herself on fire regularly)

You're probably not that bad!  I hear you say.  Oh yeah?   I've sat on an old mans lap because he blended into the chair, I was quite fat then so he actually made a sound like a whoopee cushion.  I dyed my whole mouth blue eating macaroons at a blogger meet up.  I told someone dealing with divorce to open her legs to new opportunities when I meant to say heart, so I can't do soppy either apparently.  I'm so bad at small talk I usually end up talking about something weird like farts.   I'm awkward as hell and it makes me uncomfortable at times, but at the end of the day, I'm cool with that.

You either read that and thought "Fantastic, when can we hang out?"  Or are thanking the heavens we're separated by miles of virtual internet.

The fact is, that even though it's not nice when people don't like you, if you're the latter it doesn't end my world because I know I can have fun with the like-minded former.

I can't change the fact that I'm short, or that sometimes I am the reason everyone stops talking because I accidently shoved my fat ass into an old mans face.  My thinking is as long as your kind to yourself, and accepting of the parts of you that you can't help, and do the same for others, then life can be brilliant.

STOP LETTING YOUR WEIGHT BE YOUR AWESOMENESS MEASURE.

via Tumblr

It's important to be healthy.  It's important to eat right and do some exercise.  I'm not debating these things, but in my life, I try not to focus on much else regarding my weight.  In my opinion, If I can move about, have barely any health issues and can afford to eat lovely nourishing meals every day, then I feel like a bit of a twat complaining about a tiny belly that I gained just before Christmas because I ate too much chocolate.

I've covered this subject before, numerous times, because it's an important issue to me.  There isn't single one of my friends or family who is bed bound from obesity, or struggles to exercise.  They are all brilliant, talented people.... and nearly every single one of them has complained to me that they are fat, cannot be seen in public and need to change.

It makes me mad, not because they feel that way, but because they measure their worth on the amount of fat on their bodies when I think they are the bees knees just being themselves no matter what their weight.

I mean I could be alone here but straight away if someone mentions a friend or family member of mine,  Their personality is their image.  Whilst none of them claim to be beautiful, they are to me.  When I describe them to people I brag about the amazing things they do, how fun they are or the hilarity they provide.

I never say "Oh yeah, bla di bla...?  Well, she's got a bit of an arse on her, but her rack is on point." 


SET YOUR OWN EXPECTATIONS


via giphy

We are constantly bombarded with expectations.  For instance, Now I've been married for nearly a year, I'm receiving pressure to procreate when I'd much rather travel, spend a few years being selfish and having lie-ins.  We're told we should have our careers sorted out, have perfect relationships, be grown ups, have mortgages etc etc.  Whilst it's good to set goals, sometimes, these expectations are damaging.

What about those of us who don't know what we want to do yet?  What if you are struggling to find a job at all?  There isn't an age where you wake up and have things suddenly figured out.  So ignore everyone elses expectations, and set your own.

This year, I'm going to travel, and spend my money on experiences.  I am going to write this blog how I like it and not worry too much about appearing grown up or put together.

Screw the expectations, and if anyone says "You're too old to do that"  or "You're too young to do that" or "You're eggs are dying"  tell them to bog off because it's your life and if it makes you happy and doesn't seriously hurt anyone else, then keep on truckin'.


GET CLEVER WITH YOUR MONEY

via giphy
Have you ever sat there at the end of a month and thought "Where the hell has all my money gone?"  If so, then welcome to adult-hood.  A place where bills, home repairs and travel take up your hard earned money.  The problem is, unless you've recently headed up a meth empire, become a professional footballer or have written a best selling book that sold millions - you can't really impulse book a holiday, or spend a large amount of your pennies on non-essential stuff. (At least not without some hard saving.)

The thing is, with some advice and realistic ideas, you can save up for something without taking a major hit on your social life / outgoings.  At the moment, husband and I are saving for a year of travels, shows and trips with friends.  So we went over our spending to see where we could cut back.

Well you could blow me over when we worked out that we'd spent over £650 on lunchtime coffees and roughly £400 on shop-bought lunches and close to £500 from 'spur of the moment' purchases that ended up being a waste of time and money.  That's over a thousand pounds on non essential expenses that we don't miss by cutting out.

We also realised that by swapping supermarkets and with occasional meal planning, we could save over £30 a week on food.  That £30 a week is a saving I don't even notice and it's pocketing us £1560 a year.  So, already I've got nearly £3,000 staring at me from my savings account before I've ever tackled my tea, DVD and book addiction.  That's a pretty snazzy rainy day fund.


The deal is, it's up to us to make 2015 an awesome year, no matter what life throws at us.  Wether we are travelling, having babies, learning to like ourselves or starting a new venture.  Whatever this year brings you, I hope it kicks ass.  Bring it on.

Have a great weekend.



Thursday, 22 January 2015



Pancakes.  Mother-flipping pancakes.



But OH NO, not just any pancakes, a proper traditional English pancake, with a tasty Earl Grey tea syrup.


Here's my thinking;

English Pancakes need an English topping, can you get more English than tea?

What goes well with pancakes?  LEMONS!

What tea traditionally is served with lemons?  EARL GREY!

What tastes good on pancakes?  SYRUP.

Hence, EARL GREY TEA SYRUP.  BOOM.



You may be thinking "Hey Em, that Syrup looks a little like spilled treacle."

Let me stop you there, random person.  We took these pictures outside, in the middle of winter WHEN IT WAS BLOODY SNOWING.  What you see there, is the result of extremly hot syrup cooling in the frosty January air.

This recipe makes 10 small pancakes and a jug full of syrup.

The pancake recipe in this post is one my Nan taught me, so all credit goes to her on that.

Put your oven on low to store freshly made pancakes whilst you make the rest.

Finally it's possible to make this without a sugar thermometer, but I highly recommend you get one as they are amazing and you will get the best results.

YOU WILL NEED

For the pancakes
125g (roughly 4oz) of plain flour
2 eggs
300ml whole milk mixed with tablespoon of water
pinch of salt

For the syrup
2 heaped tablespoons loose earl grey tea
350ml boiling water
200g brown sugar

You will also need a lemon, all sliced up.


FIRST OF ALL
In a large bowl, sift your flour and salt.  Make a small well and crack your eggs into it.  Add about a quarter of your milk and mix it up, good and proper.  Then gradually beat in the rest of the milk, bit by bit.  Beat it real good.  You want it nice and smooth.  Once you've beat the hell out of it, leave it to one side to rest whilst we get to work on the syrup.


BREW TIME
You're going to need to brew your tea first, so add your tea leaves and boiling water to a jug.  Leave for about 3-4 minutes (you want it a little stronger than if you were drinking it to get the flavours in the syrup.)  Whilst that's brewing, empty your sugar into a large saucepan.  Then once your brew is brewed, strain out the leaves and add the tea to the pan as well.

Pour in the tea, keep a close eye on it's temperature while it's cooking.

HEAT IT UP
Next, put the heat on high.  With a thermometer, you're going to want to cook it to about 105° C - 215° F.  If you're doing by eye, cook until all the sugar is dissolved and let it boil for roughly 3-4 minutes.  The test is to drop the syrup into a glass of cold water (if it goes stringy, it's done.)  I'm aware the picture up there doesn't have the correct temperature on it, but there is no time to waste taking pictures when it gets to the correct one.

ICE ICE BABY
Next, immediately place the bottom of your saucepan into a bowl of icy water to stop it cooking.  Then leave to one side.

PAN-TASTIC
It's time to cook the pancakes.  Add a tiny drop of oil to a frying pan, and let it heat.  The size I used was 24cm.  Once it's heated, add a ladle's worth of pancake batter.  Let it cook for roughly 3-4 minutes each side (or until nicely browned).  Once one is done, add it to a plate, and pop it in your slightly warmed oven.  Repeat this process for as many ladles worth of batter you can make.


SERVING TIME
Finally, stack your English lovelies (five on each plate if possible.) Drizzle them with syrup and add a squidge of lemon to the top.  Perfection.  If you want to go full-English pancake, roll up the goodness into a tube and then syrup & lemon them that way.  Hell, serve them which ever way you please!

CUE THE PORN MUSIC.


Duh duh duh duhh - Oh yeah!  Look at those bad boys.  They need some syrup.



Oh god, look at that.  JUST LOOK AT IT.  IT'S ALMOST NSFW.


Don't you just hate me a bit right now?  Don't you just really want some syrup smothered pancakes?  Are you even reading this?


Hello?

If you're interested in the pan I used from Tower, - view it here.

I'll leave you guys to it.  Until next time!



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