In the Kitchen: Mug Cakes

 

So hands up if you got the best Christmas present ever? No you’re all wrong, I most definitely win hands down. As I got this awesome recipe book. A book all about mug cakes. Um, amazing! I’ve been a fan of mug cakes for ages, but I’ve always stuck to bog standard chocolate mug cakes for some reason, but now I can go crazy! There’s a peanut butter one, a honey one, banana bread, coffee and walnut, a blueberry muffin and even a rainbow coloured cake to try! Ooh I can’t wait. Is it wrong to have one a day, do you think?

Mug Cakes - In the Kitchen - This and That Blog

There is really nothing not to love about the mug cake, but in case you’re not sold let me help you out. A mug cake is the best ever because:

1. You only need a couple of spoons and a mug (obvs) to make it. Even the most rubbish homemaker has those. You don’t even need scales, which is often an infrequent bakers first problem.

2. You don’t need lots of friends to help you eat a huge cake and there’s no chance you’ll end up eating ten helpings of cake if you have zero willpower like me.

3. You don’t have to do any washing up. Just put your three utensils in the dishwasher.

4. You can make so many different flavours really easily. Love peanut butter, just add a blob of it. Fancy chocolate orange, simply add some flavouring.

Have I sold you on the wonders of this simple cake? I really hope so. And if I haven’t I’m sure I will when I pop back with the amazingness that is the peanut butter mug cake. So keep your eyes peeled for that. I can make a mug cake advocate of you yet! If you are a mug cake afficionado let me know your favourite flavour combo. I may have this book but that doesn’t mean I’m not open to more ideas. So throw them my way.

– Fi x

Thought of the Day: Be Curious

 

Be Curious - Thought of the Day - This and That Blog

(c) Juskteez Vu via Unsplash

 

Look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see, and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious.

Stephen Hawking

Getting Crafty: A Harry Potter Inspired Gift

Greetings chumlets! Today I’m sharing the easiest present ever to make, honestly this gift took me less than an hour to complete and I was able to use up fabric and thread I had already. The only thing I had to buy was a £2.00 embroidery hoop, so minimal effort and money required. That’s not to say the person receiving the gift isn’t worthy of lots of time and effort. It’s just I knew she’d like the end product – it’s a Harry Potter inspired gift after all! Plus pre-Christmas, when you have 101 things to do, time is hard to find! So yes if you’re after a cheap but thoughtful gift for someone, read on.

Harry Potter Inspired Gift - Getting Crafty - This and That Blog

So above is the end product: a quote embroidery for the wall. What do you think? I chose the word Always because it’s from Lau’s (the lucky recipient) favourite book series, Harry Potter.

This is a series that we’re both so obsessed with that we regularly discuss the books, even though we finished them all years ago, and will squeal when the other uses this word in normal conversation. This is the one word that sums up the Harry Potter series for us, so it had to be in my Harry Potter inspired gift. It’ll always be in our lives, and this one word in that book is one of the best parts and the proof we’d always had that a certain character we’d always championed was worth championing. So yes it’s a word that I knew she’d get straight off and appreciate (even if the rest of our family thought I was insane and needed an explanation!).

I won’t spend hours outlining how you make this item, after all it’s so simple you just need four items (needle, thread, fabric and an embroidery hoop) and the ability to do running stitch. That’s it. If you’ve got those two things you’re good to go. Oh and maybe some felt to back it when you’re done – it depends on how much of a perfectionist you are!

Weirdly I was worried it would be hard to make, so I kept putting it off, but in the end it took me less than an hour to finish it. Doing this small bit of embroidery has definitely given me the bug to try some more in the not too distant future, but what should I go for next, any thoughts? Decisions decisions…

– Fi x

The Book Corner: A Wishlist

There’s nothing I like doing more than making a wishlist. Wishlists are fun. You can mentally shop for something without actually spending money. Then when you do have money you can look back at your wishlist to see what it is that you want to buy. See clever clever things indeed. Plus if anyone ever wants to buy you a present then they have your wishlist right there in front of them too.

Today I wanted to share a reading wishlist. It’s a combination of books in my To Be Read (TBR) pile and those on my ‘want to read but don’t own’ pile. In no particular order they are…

More Than This, Patrick Ness

The Miniaturist, Jessie Burton

Not My Father’s Son, Alan Cumming

The Luminaries, Eleanor Catton

Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel

Coraline, Neil Gaiman

Confessions: The Paris Mysteries, James Patterson

Hello from the Gillespies, Monica McInerney

Life After Life, Kate Atkinson

Half Wild, Sally Green

I’d absolutely love to read all of these this year. But in reality that’s probably unlikely. I doubt I’ll buy them all to start with and then it’s fitting them all in. Plus I need to be in the right mood to read certain books. I am pretty much always in the mood to read crime and YA, but anything else really depends.

Do you have a reading wishlist for the coming month or year? What’s on your TBR pile? Any thoughts on which of these beauties I should immerse myself in first?

Laura xx

Getting Crafty: New Wall Art

So the time has come for us to show the awesome presents our little sister made for us for Christmas. We both got new wall art and both pieces were just perfect. She really did an amazing job in making the two gifts really personal. I’m definitely going to steal these two ideas in the future!

First up is the brill present she made Laura, just using a frame, string and some pins she managed to create an amazing piece of artwork – a black and silver ‘L’. A cool idea right. Plus it’s beautiful and looks like it was created by a professional? Honestly I’m sure she could charge a small fortune for making another.

 

And now to my awesome new wall art. She only went and copied out one of my all-time favourite quotes from a favourite film. Isn’t it awesome?

New Wall Art - Getting Crafty - This and That Blo

 

{For those of you not obsessed with Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, this is the speech that Aragorn (swoon) makes near the end of the film. I love this part of the film so much that I know the quote off by heart!}. Can you believe that Becca thought it was rubbish and warned me I wouldn’t be impressed with the gift? What a crazy cake she is, hey?!

Is anyone else massively inspired to have a whirl at making something similar in the future? I know I am!

– Fi x

Clothes Rail: American Eagle Love

Guys, the most amazing thing happened at the end of last year. One of my two favourite America-only shops, appeared in our own fair isle. Eek I can not tell you how excited I was when I spotted American Eagle in the UK. It’s the sort of shop where I could buy all of the things I see. But alas my shopping there has been limited as I’ve only been able to take advantage of it when I’m in the US, which if I’m honest has not been enough recently. I don’t think I’ve been over to the States for four years (cripes how did that happen?!?!) so as you can imagine American Eagle shopping has been non-existent.

 

American Eagle Love - Clothes Rail - This and That Blog

Flower patterned Jumper / Grey bootcut trousers

So as you can imagine my excitement on that December morning at Westfield when I stepped through those hallowed doors. I say excitement but if I’m honest there was a fair amount of trepidation occurring too, what if the shop didn’t live up to my memories of its awesomness, what if the sizings were rubbish, what if everything was stupidly priced, just what if I’d been pinning all my hopes of an awesome wardrobe on this shop that could never deliver?

I should not have worried as it was every bit as amazing as I remembered and everything about that trip was just perfect. There were lovely snuggly jumpers that I struggled not to buy straight away, there were jeans that fitted perfectly (and that were on offer) and there were loads of gorgeous pjs and scarves that I just wanted to snuggle up in. In short, my perfect shop was still simply perfect. Hooray!

American Eagle Love - Clothes Rail - This and That Blog

 

Gold Bag / Leopard Print Shoes

On that first day I refrained from buying anything – I know, gold star to me – but I did add a lot of things to my Christmas list. And come Christmas Day I was the very proud owner of these lovely chelsea boots, this perfect snood and this snuggly jumper that goes with everything. I was definitely one happy person on Christmas day (not to mention lucky).

I’ve not been back since that first day as without Christmas to stop me buying stuff I know I’d spend all my money in just one shop. However, that’s not stopped me sneaking a look online on a regular basis. So far I want to buy the lovely things sprinkled throughout this post. Not a bad selection, right?

American Eagle Love - Clothes Rail - This and That Blog

 

Gemstone Necklace / Lace Skirt

What about you, is there a shop you’ve been waiting to appear in the UK and when it did what was your reaction? Was it happy or had you built up the shops awesomeness?

Smiley Happy Things: My Top Ten of Now

Greetings chums. Here I am again to share a few of my favourite recent events, also known as my top ten of now!
Into the Woods. Has anyone else seen this film yet? I went last night {Orange Wednesdays for the win} and really enjoyed it. If I’m honest it wasn’t what I was expecting, but still good. Does that makes sense. I guess I forgot that it was originally a musical so there’s that musical humour in their. I thought all the singing was good and I’ve got some of the songs stuck in my head still. So that’s a good sign!
Getting organised. I’m in full on planning mode right now. I’ve got one Feb weekend all booked up with my two sisters in a cottage and plans are forming for something similar over my birthday weekend. Fun times. There’s nothing better than planning holibobs.
Birthday party planning. On the whole planning theme I’m also starting to organise a joint 21st and 30th birthday celebration. Oh how I wish I was only turning 21!
Vanilla Spice Lattes are back! Yep they are back in Starbucks – I think I like the VSL more than the red cups and PSL. Yep I said it.

Top Ten of Now - Smiley Happy Things- This and That Blog

A weekend in Leeds; birthday shenanigans for the gorgeous Mrs G, prosecco, good food and marvelous friends.
The fluffiest cat in the world. ^^^This fluff ball is also in Leeds. All I wanted to do was shout “He’s so fluffy, I could die!” all weekend.
Unexpected midweek dinners with the immediate family. There’s really nothing better than an Evans catch up over Venison pappadelle.
First class train travel. It makes a two and a half hour journey on a Sunday much more bearable!
A quiet night in on the sofa. Literally this is all I have planned for tonight. I’m clearly winning at life right now.
What’s been getting you lovely lot through the first two weeks of January?
Laura xx
p.s. I am aware that there’s only 9 points here. But hey who. Clearly it’s been a long week!

Thought of the Day: Take Criticism and Smash It

Spencer from Criminal Minds is one of my favourite TV people and it turns out Matthew Gray Gubler, the actor who plays Spencer, is also pretty awesome too. Don’t believe me? Just read the below. An inspiring quote we could all do well to remember when faced with criticism or negativity. And it features unicorns. He’s basically winning at everything.

Take Criticism - Thought of the Day - This and That Blog

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All Things Fitness: Half Marathon Training

So Fi and I are running a half marathon in March. Yes, this might have been mentioned once or twice already, but hey, here we go again!

Half marathon training officially started the Monday after Christmas and includes running, swimming and some circuit training. It’s brilliant to get back into running properly again. But I have to admit that I’m just a little bit scared and here’s why…

~ In an ideal world I would prefer to have more miles under my belt. In 2014 I dropped the running ball a little, I was hoping to have six miles as my normal run before I started training, but at the moment it’s more like 3.

~ Also it’s such a big commitment with 5 workouts a week during the training and with the unpredictable weather of the UK I know it’s going to be hard sometimes to make myself get out of bed and go for that early run or swim. That being said I have done this before, so I know I can do it again.

~ Finally I’m worried that I will rest on my laurels too much. Having completed this training and a half marathon before there’s a danger of being over confident and maybe not working as hard as I should do at this.

Half Marathon Training - All Things Fitness - This and That Blog

 

New running shoes are a go. {please ignore the pink legs, it was very cold at 9 am on the first Sunday of 2015}

So there we have it, my worries for the next few weeks for half marathon training. I think I just need to keep reminding myself that I signed up for this race to have fun. At the end of the day I don’t have any huge goals for this race. Worrying isn’t necessary as all I need to do is go and run in the beautiful county of Surrey and enjoy myself. If I do that then all will be well. Ignore other people, ignore my pace and the clock.

What races or fitness plans does everyone else have this year?

Laura xxx

In the Kitchen: Peanut Butter and Chocolate Granola

Synonymous with the start of a New Year is cutting out all the bad foods from your life. So instead of that 600 calorie sandwich you eat a healthy salad or switch a hot chocolate with whipped cream for a skinny latte, or better yet the Americano. Hands up if you’re making those sots of changes right now? I’m going to try to, but realistically removing all the bad stuff at the same time as training for a half marathon is probably a stretch too far. However, I’m going to try!

As part of my attempt to be good I spent last weekend making a few of my favourite foods ahead of a week back at work, after all experience tells me that being healthy is far easier if you’re prepared. So I made cous cous and roasted veg, cooked up lots of fish and chicken and mixed up a big bowl of crushed and minted new potatoes, which kept us both well fed last week!

 

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Granola

The other thing that I made was a massive batch of granola, just perfect with a generous helping of yogurt each morning. Granola is one of those foods I could eat all day long. I love the crunch and the sheer variety of flavours you can find granola in. Plus it keeps me full all morning, definitely what you need when you’re cutting out the snacking. It’s been a while since I made a batch so I decided to play around with a recipe and come up with something new to me. The result? A delicious peanut butter and chocolate concoction which is amazing. I’ve had it every day this week sprinkled on yogurt and it was just what the healthy police ordered.

  • 25g butter
  • 4 tbsp agave syrup
  • 5 tbsp crunchy peanut butter
  • 300g rolled oats
  • 15g cacao nibs
  • 50g roughly chopped almonds
  • 15g flax, sunflower, pumpkin, sesame seeds and goji berries mix
  1. Melt the butter, agave syrup and peanut butter in the microwave (1 minute on high should do it)
  2. Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients and mix well
  3. Grease and line a baking sheet before pressing the mixture into it (ideally no more than 1 cm thick)
  4. Bake on 180C for 15 minutes on the middle shelf

See I told you it was easy! The best bit of this particular granola? The tiny hints of chocolate in the form of cacao nibs and the sweetness of the agave syrup. Two simple ways to be a little bit healthy whilst still getting your sugar kick. Just what I need each morning when I’m steering clear of the hazelnut latte and going for the americano instead. So if you’re jumping on the healthy bandwagon and want to stay on it (the important part!), give it a try. You’ll love it – promise!

– Fi x