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Recipe: My Gluten Free Cake!

Baking has been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember. As a child I must admit I was drawn to it mainly because it involved eating a lot of the ingredients along the way!

Now, I’d been lying if I said that was a habit I’d grown out of! However, baking and cooking means so much more to me today. There is something so therapeutic about being in the kitchen after a stressful week, watching back-to-back episodes of ‘Friends‘ while pretending you’re Mary Berry.

Some of my most treasured memories are of making cakes for my family members for their birthdays and celebrations and due to my cousin’s gluten intolerance, I started to use a Gluten Free recipe. However, I have found that it has stood the test of time and it is now the recipe I use most often, regardless of who I am making a cake for.

It is super simple and easy to follow, and very versatile. You can use it to make one big cake or each batch will make around 12 cupcakes.

Ingredients:

125g unsalted butter

125g caster sugar

125g Gluten-Free self raising flour

2 medium eggs

1/2 teaspoon glycerine

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 tablespoons milk

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees celsius and either line a 12-hole cupcake tray or grease a cake tin.

2. Weigh the butter and place in the microwave until melted

3. This recipe uses the all-the-one method, so then all you need to do is mix all the weighed ingredients together in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy.

4. Once mixed, transfer the mixture evenly into the cupcake cases or as desired into your cake tin.

5. Place in the preheated oven for 18 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

You can have a little bit of fun with the recipe!

  • To make chocolate cakes you can substitute 20g of flour for cocoa powder.
  • Add a generous amount of food colouring to the mixture to make rainbow cake!

Any type of frosting suits these Vanilla cakes well. For simplicity, I often used whipped cream mixed with a little bit of icing sugar.

But you can use buttercream, cream cheese frosting or whatever is your favourite!

Happy Baking! 🙂

Recipe: Flippin’ Great American Pancakes!

Shrove Tuesday may be long gone, but that doesn’t mean we have to wait a year to enjoy Pancakes again.

If I had my way, every day would be Pancake Day!

This weekend, I decided to make American-style pancakes for the first time.

If you haven’t already, I definitely recommend trying them – they are light, fluffy and go perfectly with butter and tons of maple syrup – delish!

Ingredients:

Makes 12 pancakes

1 cup (120g) plain flour

2 tablespoons caster sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

Pinch of salt

1 egg

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 cup milk

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 90C and place a heatproof baking tin in the oven to keep the pancakes warm once made.
  2. Mix the dry ingredients together in a small bowl.
  3. Whisk together the wet ingredients in a large mixing bowl and then add in the flour mixture.
  4. Stir both mixtures together in the large mixing bowl until it becomes a thick batter.
  5. Melt some butter and oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Once it starts to sizzle, place 2-3 teaspoon of the mixture in the pan. (I found that I could fit 2-3 small pancakes in the pan at one time.
  6. Leave to cook until bubbles start to appear on the surface – when this starts to happen it is time to flip!
  7. Flip the pancakes and continue to cook on the other side for around a minute.
  8. While you cook the rest of the pancakes, put the ready-made ones in the oven, covered by foil to keep them warm.

Once you have made your desired number of pancakes, place them on top of one another in a stack!

A blob of butter on the top and lots of maple syrup compliments these pancakes perfectly.

You can even add some crispy bacon if you like, for that extremely indulgent, truly American breakfast.

Enjoy! 😉

Recipe from DelsCookingTwist.com

Recipe: Utterly Amazing Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Credit: Kathryn Austin

I don’t know about you fellow bakers out there, but for me, it has always seemed impossible to create the perfect chocolate chip cookie – crispy on the outside, melted and gooey on the inside.

There have always been 2 parts to my problem:

  1. The recipe (quantities of flour, types of sugar etc)
  2. Getting the baking process right

They go hand in hand, mastering one is useless if you can’t master the other.

So, not one to let a baking disaster (or twelve) get me down, I set about trying to solve both of my problems.

  1. The recipe

Believe me, I’ve tried every single recipe out there – all to no avail.

That is, until I found this one!

I would like to thank Tasty for finally introducing me to a recipe that works!

(Click here to see it)

I substituted the dark chocolate for milk (which I recommend) and added white chocolate chips (because why not?!)

What was interesting for me was the addition of espresso powder – I had never done this before, but definitely noticed a difference. It seems to give the cookies a richer flavour and deeper, darker colour.

2. The baking

As the recipe suggests, I baked the cookies on 180C, for around 10-12 minutes.

You will find that they do not look cooked when you take them out, but if you leave them to cool for a little while, you will find that they soon solidify.

If in doubt however, give them a little bit longer in the oven – they’ll still be delicious!

At long last, this temperature and time worked perfectly!

They do have a ‘wrinkle’ to them, but I think that just proves how impressively homemade they are! 😉

I have even frozen some of the dough so I can experience the cookie joy again soon – hassle free!

Top Tip: Only put a maximum of three cookies on the a lined baking sheet at one time. This is more time consuming, but it avoids the possibility of the dreaded spread into one ginormous cookie – something I have experienced many a time!

So, if you’re like me and have never been able to master the chocolate chip cookie – have a go at this recipe, and, as the nights grow colder, spend the time you are at home wisely by cozying up with one of your creations and a cold glass of milk…

You won’t regret it! 🙂

“The Forgotten Army” of World War II – 75 years on

Saturday 15th August 2020 is the 75th anniversary of Imperial Japan’s surrender, which brought the Second World War’s six years of fighting to an end.

Yesterday was marked by a series of events to honour those who fought and those who lost their lives in the Far East.

I have always been aware of the significance of V-E Day, but had ignorantly never paid attention to the equal importance of V-J Day. After hearing the incredible stories on the news yesterday morning, I decided to broaden my knowledge.

Allied military personnel celebrate VJ Day in Paris – 1945 : Credit

Although the allies’ fight against Nazi rule in Germany came to an end with their surrender on V-E (Victory in Europe) Day in May 1945, Japan’s militarist government – a key German ally – stood firm and thousands remained fighting in the South-East Asian theatre.

August 15 marks the day of Japanese surrender, thus ending the war once and for all. Surrender documents were not formally signed until September 2 – hence why the US observe V-J Day on this date instead.

In Japan, the day is also commemorated on the 15th August and continues to be known as “memorial day for the end of the war”.

An insanely brutal, yet overlooked theatre.

It is estimated that casualties sustained in the Pacific War (in countries such as Burma, India, Thailand and Singapore) totalled 36 million – 50% of the war’s total casualties.

According to the BBC, 50,000 servicemen were held as Japanese prisoners of war. A quarter of whom died as a result of the dire conditions and brutal treatment.

Many were incredibly malnourished, leading to loss of vision and nerve pain.

Diseases such as malaria and dysentery were also rife, and the prisoners were subject to slave labour, random beating and torture – despite many having surrendered.

There are reports of prisoners being used as subjects for horrific medical experiments, under the impression they were being taken to be treated for their existing injuries.

Flight Army Sargeant Bill Tate spent two years in captivity after his plane crashed in Burma. His son William converted his experiences into a memoir shortly after his death in 2007.

The book – Surviving the Japanese Onslaught – reveals harrowing details of his torture by the guards.

On one occasion, Flt Sgt Tate spoke of being starved for 24 hours, before being restrained and force-fed rice. He was then held down on the cell floor while a guard jumped on his stomach.

He weighed just six stone when he was found alive in Burma in May 1945.

Flt Sgt Tate was so traumatised from his experiences that he waited 50 years before telling his story to his son. Even then, he could only speak about it for 30 minutes at a time.

The Pacific Theatre of World War II was described by one historian as “hands down the war’s most hated theater in which to fight.”

The Burma Campaign was one of the longest in history : Credit

The Pacific War also sparked racism and tensions across America after they joined the war in 1941. Despite being US citizens, 120,000 Japanese-Americans were forced into brutal internment camps, locked up purely for their heritage.

Despite the existence of these horrific racial differences, the campaigns fought in the Asia-Pacific during WWII also managed to see the creation of one of the most diverse armies in history.

The Fourteenth Army played a vital role during the Burma campaign.

The army consisted of over 600,000 troops. More than 85% were from pre-partition India, as well as Ghurkas from Nepal and soldiers from 12 African nations.

More than 40 languages were spoken among the troops and every one of the world’s major religions were represented.

In commemorating V-J Day, we are also honouring the coming together of many communities in the fight for peace. Their actions and sense of camaraderie has helped lead to the increased sense of multiculturalism that we have today.

The Forgotten War

Soldiers who fought fascism in the Far East have often been overlooked as a result of more focus being afforded to action in Europe.

As a result of a “Hitler First” strategy, the fighting and affect being had on civilians and soldiers in the Far East has always been referred to as the ‘Forgotten War’ and the soldiers known as the ‘Forgotten Army’.

It is for this reason why it is even more important to speak of V-J Day, so that the sacrifices of these men and women do not go unnoticed and the stories unheard.

Image of Captain Sir Tom Moore courtesy of Flickr

NHS fundraising hero, Captain Sir Tom Moore, was stationed in Burma during the war.

He told the National Army Museum this week: “Victory over Japan is as important a part of our history as Victory in Europe and I hope that it is never really forgotten”.

The Kissing Sailor

Once you are made aware of the atrocities faced by all in the Pacific Theatre of World War II, it is made even clearer how wonderful it must have felt for the 15th August to finally arrive.

V-J Day in Times Square

A remarkable event from celebrations is the story behind this photograph, taken in New York City.

Amid the celebrations, Alfred Eisenstaedt captured the moment a sailor passionately kissed a woman in a nurses uniform in Times Square.

The photograph went on to be featured in ‘Life’ magazine, and has since become one of the most famous images of the 20th century.

The woman – whose name is Greta Freidman – later revealed that the couple were in fact complete strangers, and the kiss came as quite a surprise to her!

Over the years, many people have claimed to be the sailor. However, facial recognition technology was able to confirm his identity to be US navy sailor George Mendonsa.

He told CBS News in 2012 that the impromptu moment came as a result of a perfect combination of excitement, relief, and a celebratory drink or two!

“It was the moment,” he said. “You come back from the Pacific and finally, the war ends. The excitement of the war being over, plus I had a few drinks. So when I saw the nurse, I grabbed her and I kissed her.”

Perhaps the most shocking part of the story is that Mendonsa was actually on a date with another woman at the time – who can actually be seen in the background of the photograph!

His actual date, Rita Petrie, has since said that she did not object to him kissing another woman upon hearing news that the war was over – in fact, she was so unfazed by it that she later became his wife of 70 years!

Civilians and service personnel in London celebrating V-J Day on August 15, 1945 : Credit

August 15th 1945 is said to have been a day full of joy and relief, that so many years of fighting had come to an end – yet also a day of such great sadness at the devastation left behind.

I think it is so important to continue to honour this day for generations to come.

We should continue to do as they did, striking a balance between celebration for what had been gained, but also honouring and remembering what has been lost and so greatly missed.

We should also use the devastation of war across the globe to teach us that lessons in respect, empathy and kindness are paramount.

As part of yesterday’s events marking 75 years since the war ended, The Duke of Cambridge led a moving programme featuring music and stories from the often forgotten Pacific War.

We must not forget our responsibility to learn the lessons of the past, and ensure that the horrors of the Second World War are never repeated.

We owe that to our veterans, to their families, and to the generations who will come after us.

HRH Prince William, The Duke of Cambridge

Facts and information from BBC News, Metro, The Guardian, allthatsinteresting.com and The Royal British Legion.

Recipe: Gooey Chocolate Brownie Deliciousness!

Credit: Kathryn Austin

I have been an avid baker for several years now.

I am however, ashamed to say that during all this time, I have never attempted to make the worlds most indulgent creation – the brownie.

This is, until now…

Taking inspiration from and combining recipes by Tasty and Preppy Kitchen (modified to my own taste and what I had in the cupboard), I set about trying to create the perfect brownie.

I proceeded to make a huge brownie traybake, with the added extra of yummy meringue frosting.

My mum and I just couldn’t resist keep going to the kitchen for another sneaky forkful!

Ingredients:

For the brownie:

180g milk chocolate

45g white chocolate buttons

170g butter

250g caster sugar

2 eggs

95g plain flour

30g cocoa powder

1 teaspoon salt

For the chewy meringue frosting:

3 egg whites

60ml water

200g granulated sugar

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a baking dish with parchment (I used a 8-inch one).

2. Chop the milk chocolate block into chunks. Melt 110g in the microwave (stirring every 20-seconds) and leave to cool down. Save the rest of the milk and white chocolate for later.

3. Mix the sugar and butter together, then beat in the eggs for 1-2 minutes until light and fluffy.

4. Whisk in the melted milk chocolate.

5. Sift in the plain flour, salt and cocoa powder. Fold the mixture just enough to incorporate the dry ingredients. If you overmix, you will end up with a more ‘cakey’ brownie.

6. Fold in the rest of the chocolate chunks, and transfer to the baking tin.

7. Bake for 20-25 minutes and leave to cool completely. For super fudgey brownies, I’ve found that a baking time of just under 20 minutes is perfect!

Now, onto the frosting…

8. Whisk the egg whites together with 49g of granulated sugar until soft peaks form.

9. Heat 60ml of water with the rest of the sugar (151g) in a small saucepan to make a sugar syrup. Heat until a candy thermometer reads 235F.

10. With the mixer running on low, pour the sugar syrup into the egg white mixture in a steady stream. *Be careful* – the sugar syrup will be very hot. The heat from the sugar will cook the egg whites.

12. Continue to whisk the mixture until the frosting becomes cool and looks glossy and fluffy.

13. Assemble the brownie by using a palette knife to spread the meringue frosting to your desired thickness.

TIP: You can use melted chocolate and a cocktail stick to make a chocolate pattern on your brownie! Simple – yet very effective!

*Voila!* – you’re done!

Enjoy your trip to chocolate heaven!

Keep happy, healthy and safe.

Kathryn 🙂

The world’s most talked about fitness phenomenon? – “Yoga to try it!”

Oops! Apologies for the cringe-worthy headline. Believe it or not, it took me a while to come up with it!

Anyway…

Welcome to my latest blog post – a beginners guide to yoga, written by a beginner.

Credit

Yoga is thought to have originated in Northern India, some 5,000 years ago.

Despite being such an ancient practice, it is arguable that yoga is trendier than ever in the 21st century.

Business Standard estimates that by the end of 2020, there will be 55 million people worldwide using yoga to keep fit and relieve stress.

Which begs the question – what is all the fuss about?

I have always been cynical, yet somewhat intrigued. So, during lockdown I succumbed to the pressure from society and decided to join the millions.

After two months of my self-imposed, often regrettable “lockdown health-kick”, the ‘Down Dog’ app has certainly been my favourite.

You can choose how long you would like your workout to be and what you would like to focus on. No two practices are the same, with the app providing you with a different workout, tailored to your skill level every day.

You can also choose what type of yoga you would like to practice. Many are available on the app, including:

  • Hatha – the most popular form. Hatha incorporates basic slow movements with breathing exercises.
  • Vinyasa – a gentle warmup moves into a mix of standing poses and deep floor stretches.
  • Chair Yoga – modified poses which can be done while seated.
  • Yoga Nidra – meditation, allows you to fall into a ‘yogic sleep’.

I’m not going to lie, a great deal of the initial attraction was the excuse to invest in all the “essential” yoga attire and equipment I was going to need.

Throughout, I have used the ladies of ‘Sex and the City’ as my inspiration, determined to mirror their glamorous yoga image. Those girls even made combining their gossip sessions with yoga classes look effortless.

Needless to say, I started on this mission by raiding the ‘Gymshark’, ‘House of Fraser’ and ‘Sweaty Betty’ websites. (You know, for essential research purposes).

Credit

Then once I got my mat and app, I was “home-yoga” ready!

After just a few practices, I was able to see the possibility of many benefits to my overall physical and mental health, I also realised that I had many “I told you so’s” coming my way.

The body benefits

Although not a massive calorie burner (I burn around 50 calories in a 30 minute practice), doing yoga alongside some cardio has made me see such a difference in my body in just 2 months.

I have found that the workouts are already beginning to tone and strengthen my arms, legs and core.

However, the most impressive thing would have to be early signs of changes in my flexibility, including my ability to touch my toes for the first time in forever! (Impressive, I know.)

The brain benefits

I suffer from terrible anxiety.

The stress and self doubt in my mind is often infuriating and terrifying. My mind is often consumed by worries about the past, present and future, to the point where it severely limits how much I enjoy life.

So, upon hearing stories about how much yoga can clear your mind and transform your outlook – I was desperate to find out.

Switching off from the outside world during the workouts helps to put my worries into perspective and has boosted my self-confidence no end.

If I begin to feel anxious or doubt myself, I now know that yoga is an excellent quick fix – even if it is just for a small period of time. Yoga has helped to reduce my heart rate and helped me to regulate my breathing and find calm during moments of panic.

Top Tip: Essential Oils

It was my birthday recently, and a good friend treated me to a set of essential oils.

A yoga enthusiast herself, she suggested I use them during yoga. Since then, I put a few drops on my mat and I would highly recommend it.

These really help you to get into your workout and feel even more tranquil, each carrying their own benefits.

Take a look at the infographic below to find the best one for you!

Made by Kathryn Austin using Piktochart. Information via Lagunamoon

Taking all this into account, I have one thing to say to anybody considering taking up yoga – believe the hype.

Unfortunately, I’m not sure I have the yoga glamour and confidence of a ‘Sex and the City’ lady *yet* – but I’m getting there, lockdown isn’t over yet!

I’m here to tell you that you do NOT have to be a professional, be super fit or flexible to see benefits from yoga.

Just take your time, relax and don’t push yourself too far.

Credit: Kathryn Austin

If I can do it, anybody can!

Take care,

Kathryn 🙂

“I Can’t Breathe” – the death of George Floyd

I didn’t want to write a blog post without addressing the horrific act of violence which has shaped events over the past week.

George Floyd was murdered outside Cup Foods, where he was a regular customer. Credit: Flickr

On May 25, a teenage Minneapolis deli employee called 911, believing that a 46-year-old black man who ‘appeared drunk’ had just tried to buy cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill.

The owner of Cup Foods, Mike Abumayyaleh told NBC that his employee was following protocol and that the man – later identified as George Floyd – was a regular, pleasant customer who never caused any trouble.

Witnesses have recalled how, upon arriving at the scene, the police used a gun to demand Floyd raise his hands, before pulling him out of his car.

In camera footage, a white police officer can be seen restraining Mr. Floyd – by kneeling on his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds.

During this time Mr. Floyd, who was unarmed, repeatedly said: “I can’t breathe”, while pleading for his mother and begging “please, please, please”.

Around six minutes into the incident, Mr. Floyd – described by his family as a devoted father and ‘gentle giant’ – became unresponsive and bystanders encouraged officers to check for his pulse.

Despite one of four officers, JA Kueng, checking his right wrist and announcing that he “couldn’t find one”, nobody moved and the officers knee remained on his neck for almost 3 minutes more.

After almost 9 minutes, the officer finally stood and Mr Floyd was taken to hospital, where he was pronounced dead an hour later.

The four police officers seen on camera have since been fired from their jobs and officer Derek Chauvin, 44, has been charged with third degree murder.

Credit: Flickr

In the days following the incident there have been riots, looting and protests across the USA, on a scale not seen since the 1960’s.

Replica protests in other countries have taken place, showing solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

Terrence Floyd speaks at his brothers memorial in Minnesota. Credit: Flickr

The murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis is something that has angered and disgusted me.

He is by no means the first to lose his life due to police brutality and racism, and it has opened my eyes to just how massive these issues continue to be in our world.

According to statistics by CNBC.com, in 2019, the American police force killed 3 people per day, a total of almost 1,100 killings.

Black people accounted for 24% of those killed, despite making up only 13% of the population.

Shockingly, 99% of killings by police between 2013-2019 resulted in officers not being charged with any crime.

Police officers in the US are protected under a federal law known as “qualified immunity”.

US Capitol – Washington DC. Credit: Wikipedia

The qualified immunity doctrine protects government officials who performed an action within their official capacity, unless it violates a “clearly established” law or constitutional right.

Blackout Tuesday

Today (Tuesday 2 June), has been labelled Blackout Tuesday.

People across the globe have been encouraged to post a black screen on social media with the hashtag #blackouttuesday and spend the day researching and being educated, raising awareness and showing solidarity with the movement.

It began with Atlantic Records marketing executives Brianna Agyemang and Jamila Thomas, who wrote: “Tuesday, June 2nd is meant to intentionally distrupt the work week”.

They hope that it will provoke reflection and trigger widespread change.

Some businesses have announced that they will not be conducting any business for the day.

Although it originated within the music industry, TV channels and radio stations have also got involved, with MTV falling silent for eight minutes.

“The time is always right to do what is right.”

– Martin Luther King Jr. (1929 – 1968)

We all have learning to do, and I have found that life is full of disputes and misunderstandings. However, treating somebody differently based on the colour of their skin is despicable and should not be happening.

It scares me to think of what it will take for us to realise the importance of treating everyone equally, with kindness and respect.

Even though it has been nearly 60 years since Martin Luther King Jr fought for justice, we have not made 60 years worth of progress.

Until next time,

Stay safe. Stay well. Be kind.

Kathryn.

Follow this link to see how you can help – https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co

Function of Beauty – it’s always a good hair day!

The new beauty trend – customisable haircare

I have realised over these past few weeks that quarantine life has the potential to be an unhappy life.

Especially when my top talents on a down day are apparently overthinking, having emotional meltdowns and frequent overeating.

Fortunately, for help in times like these, I also have another talent – online shopping.

My most recent purchase, my very own custom shampoo.

For anybody who hasn’t heard of Function of Beauty, it is a company selling personalised hair care, formulated just for you.

Being a lover of all things extravagant and having never really found the right shampoo, the advertisements taunted me on social media for months.

Finally, on the night of the 28th of March, the right combination of bravery and the aforementioned ‘lockdown meltdown’ resulted in me (and my credit card) giving in.

I have to say, it was a very good decision.

  1. Placing my order.

When you arrive on the website, you are invited to take the ‘hair quiz’ to determine your unique formula.

First, you enter your hair profile (type, thickness, moisture). There is even a section on how to tell what yours is like if you are unsure.

You then select your hair “goals” – what you want your hair to be like. There are 18 to choose from, and you can pick up to five.

When pressed, there is a definition to describe each “goal” and what ingredients are used.

I chose to hydrate, lengthen, control oil, give thermal protection and to add shine.

Next, you can add your name to the bottle, choose your fragrance, fragrance strength and colour. I went for the natural eucalyptus and peppermint scent, in pale green to suit. Dye and fragrance free are also available.

The shampoo and conditioner are available in 16 or 8oz bottles – you can buy them both the same size, can mix and match the sizes depending on which you use most, or just buy one.

You can also buy other products such as customised leave-in treatment, hair masks and even travel bottles on the website.

I would definitely recommend subscribing to Function Plus when you order.

It is free to do and means you get free shipping and access to exclusive, limited edition fragrances. You can choose what delivery schedule you would like (every 2, 3 or 6 months) and can cancel or amend your formula at any time if it isn’t for you.

2. Receiving my order.

If you are in the UK like me, you can expect your order to take around 2 weeks to arrive. Understandable, considering the personalisation and fact it is coming from the US.

My pale green eucalyptus hair care

My order actually arrived a day earlier than expected (always a bonus).

I was so excited when I saw that my new purchase had arrived on my doorstep, I think I actually hung up on my Dad (sorry Dad!).

A little manual was included in the box

When I opened the package, the bottles did not disappoint. They arrived with a little card detailing the ingredients and how to use the product according to my hair goals. They also came with gorgeous stickers for me to further personalise the bottles.

The product came with little stickers to make the bottles even more personal!

3. The results – is it worth the hefty price tag?

After almost one week of using my new shampoo and conditioner, I have to say that my hair feels the healthiest it has ever been.

I went for the strongest fragrance and it is just enough to leave my hair smelling great for the couple of days in-between washes!

However, at an average of £30 per order – is it too pricey for a fad that could do the same job as something you can purchase at the supermarket?

My biggest problems were dry, dull and frizzy ends, but quite greasy at the top. But now, after every wash, my hair feels salon smooth, healthy and soft. It has also been able to rejuvenate my blonde highlights – something I’ve never been able to achieve with other brands.

It has personally been the most successful and most exciting shampoo purchase I have ever made!

So, for a customisable product which boasts factors such as being vegan and cruelty free and which WORKS – I expect to pay a lot for it, so don’t mind as much.

That being said, if you do end up taking the quiz incorrectly, resulting in a formula that doesn’t agree with your hair type, I can understand how you could easily think that you have wasted quite a large amount of money.

If this ends up being the case for you – I have contacted the Function of Beauty team on Facebook and via email with questions throughout my time shopping with them, and they are always prompt and helpful in their replies, so I do have faith that they would sort any issue for you.

In future, thanks to Function of Beauty, even if I’m having the biggest of lockdown meltdowns – I can rest assured that my hair won’t be!

I hope you are all staying safe, happy and well.

Kathryn 🙂

P.S. If you do decide to place an order, contact me via my Instagram @_thelifeofkathryn and I can refer you for $5 off!

Recipe: Perfect Lemon & White Chocolate Muffins

With the clocks going forward this weekend, I thought it fitting to look forward to some spring sunshine with the most yummy lemon cupcakes to fit!

They were insanely soft and squidgy, perfect for breakfast or an afternoon snack!

I found the recipe online, but tweaked it to fit my ingredients and what I fancied!

You can’t really taste the ground almond, so don’t worry if you are not a fan. They just provide a great texture! The addition of oil in the recipe is also brilliant, as it makes the muffins last a little bit longer.

If, for some weird reason, you haven’t eaten them all by the time they start to go a bit stale, you can pop them in the microwave for a few seconds until they go soft again. As good as new!

You don’t have to use lemon! The recipe would be really good with any flavourings. For example, orange and milk chocolate would be a good alternative!

Ingredients

For the muffins:

275g plain flour

225g caster sugar

50g ground almonds

2 tsp baking powder

Zest of 2 lemons

20g white chocolate (grated) plus white chocolate chips

150ml semi-skimmed milk

100g unsalted butter (melted)

50ml sunflower or vegetable oil

2 large eggs

1/2 vanilla extract

2 tbsp lemon juice

For the glaze:

4 tbsp lemon juice

50g golden caster sugar

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/Gas Mark 6 and line a 12-hole tray with large cupcake or muffin cases.

2. Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl – sifted flour, caster sugar, almond, baking powder, lemon zest and white chocolate (or alternative flavours)

3. Beat the oil, eggs, vanilla extract, melted butter, milk and lemon juice (if using) together in a jug or bowl and pour over the previously combined dry ingredients.

4. Mix together until fully combined (be careful not the over-work the mixture)

5. Spoon equal quantities of the mixture into each of the 12 cake cases.

6. *Leave some batter in the bowl to eat while cakes are cooking* (optional, but in my opinion, vital)

7. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

8. Mix the golden caster sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl and brush onto the tops of the cakes when they are warm and fresh out of the oven.

This is the best part.

The lemon juice absorbs into the sponge and the sugar crystallises to provide a sweet, almost glittery finish.

Wait for the muffins to cool a little and then enjoy!!

Kathryn 🙂

My Tips for Keeping Entertained during Lockdown!

Needless to say, the world feels weird right now. It is full of a kind of uncertainty that I am pretty sure is new to all of us.

For me, the idea of being alone with my thoughts during this time is not one that excites me.

So, I thought I would share some things that I have found are helping to keep me occupied. Things that I am doing to “keep the Goblins away”, as my wonderful Grandpa used to say.

  • Keep a Diary

Something I have recently starting doing is keeping a daily diary. It is a really good way to wind down before going to bed and I have found that I no longer carry as many negative thoughts and feelings into the next day.

“Journalism is the first rough draft of history”

Philip L. Graham

This sums up perfectly one of the reasons that journalism is very important and is a field that I am very passionate about.

What a reporter documents today, becomes history tomorrow.

We are living through the biggest crisis of our generation. The number of people I have spoken to who, despite their varying ages, have all said that they have never experienced anything like this before is extraordinary.

Pink notebook with a silver laptop and a camera, diary, business, HD wallpaper
Pink notebook with a silver laptop and a camera, diary, business, HD wallpaper

As a result, another benefit of keeping a diary or journal during this time is that we are all have the power to document history. Whether you just decide to keep it private for you to show to your Grandchildren or you choose to write a book about your experiences and share it with the world at a later date, having your experiences during these days documented would be invaluable.

  • Hobbies

Now is the perfect time to do those things and learn those skills that you haven’t had the time to do.

I am using it to write more blog posts (hi!), to expand on my baking and cooking skills and to get some more exercise by doing videos and going for a walk each day. OH, and beat my Mum at a serious game of monopoly.

As much as I love journalists, and believe that their work is vital, I also think that there is such a thing as too much news. Obviously it is important to stay informed, but try to limit the time spent watching the news and looking at your phone. It will do wonders for your mind, believe me.

It’s also easy to stay in your PJ’s all day because you won’t be seeing anyone. However, I have found it effective to keep doing my hair and makeup putting on my nice clothes each day.

Image Credit: Needpix.com

So, put the Spotify playlist on loud, dance around and make a fool of yourself whilst getting ready and I can guarantee an improvement in your mood – even if it’s only temporary. (Please be careful with the mascara wand though!!)

  • Friends and Family

Another inevitable symptom of this self-isolation is desperately missing family and friends. I usually see my family much more than I am doing now, but we are staying apart in an effort to keep everybody safe.

Our family Whatsapp group has become very active of late. We have been taking part in a daily, very competitive ‘Kahoot’ quiz and daily phone calls, which are compensating for not being able to see each other.

It is also hard not being able to see your friends as often as usual, but use this time to reconnect with those you may have lost contact with and you will feel a lot less alone, and so will they.

I saw a advert by mental health charity CALM yesterday, that I thought was important to share. They teamed up with television channel Dave to deliver their #BeTheMateYoudWant campaign.

Although the charity aims are to bring attention to male mental health, this message is important for everyone.

Reach out to someone in the way you would want them to reach out to you. It doesn’t take long to just send them a text even, just to let them know that you’re there.

I spent the night before last on FaceTime with my best friend Khadijah who has just arrived home from travelling.

Take a look at her amazing blog here.

Although we have kept in touch, we haven’t had a proper catchup in ages.

So, we ‘met up for a drink’ the way we would in person, which just ended up being water as we were both very thirsty (hardcore, I know).

Before I knew it, a day that started off as being quite lonely ended with a long conversation that had heartfelt words and laughter in equal measure.

But even if you don’t get the response from someone that you were hoping for.

Don’t worry.

Before this lockdown, I spent 3 weeks at home alone with Scarlet Fever and really needed people. These tough times really make you assess your relationships, work out what is important and has definitely shown who I can rely on.

During this time, it is important to stay positive, stay grateful, abide by the rules and a time that we can all get together again will arrive sooner than we think.

Stay safe, healthy and happy.

Kathryn 🙂

Recipe: Japanese Souffle Pancakes

How to make Japanese Souflee Pancakes at home!

After seeing so many other people making them, I decided that I too had to jump on the ‘Souflee Pancake’ band-wagon.

After being in the house for a whole week, I began to feel a little down. So, I thought a little therapeutic cooking session would boost my spirits.

The pancakes I made were extremely delicious, sweet and fluffy. I would recommend them to anybody!

I served them with whipped cream, as well as bananas cooked in cinnamon and rum for an after-dinner treat, but I can imagine they would be tasty with anything!

Ingredients

2 eggs

1 tbsp milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tbsp lemon juice (this helped to ‘cut through’ the richness of the pancake)

33g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

22g caster sugar

Method

  1. Combine the egg yolks with the milk, lemon juice and vanilla extract in a bowl and add the sifted flour and baking powder.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites and gradually add the sugar until the mixture forms glossy, stiff peaks.

3. Gently fold the egg white mixture into the yolk mixture a bit at a time until fully combined.

4. Lightly coat a frying pan in vegetable oil and allow to warm on a low heat.

5. Next, I used an ice-cream scoop to get blobs of batter of similar size and placed them in the pan far enough apart to prevent them from touching in case they grew in size.

6. Allow to cook on a low heat for 3-4 minutes.

7. IMPORTANT STEP! Put a splash of water in the pan at the sides of the pancakes and cover the pan with the lid.

This may seem futile but it is one of the most important parts because the water turns to steam which allows the pancakes to rise, giving them their fluffy texture.

8. Carefully flip the pancakes onto the other side and cook for a further 3 minutes.

9. Top with your favourite ingredients!

Enjoy! 🙂