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Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Bullet Journal Part Two: How To Start



Welcome back,

Yesterday I posted a kind of introduction/explainer to an organiser called The Bullet Journal, if you missed it you can check it out here. Now for the second part of this little series I'm going to walk you through setting up your own bullet journal. It may seem a bit of a task to set up but once that part is done it promises to make life much easier (I hope!) here’s how to get started...

What you need:

A notebook
A pen

(No seriously that’s all you need! Of course you can add any extras you like such as washi tape, coloured markers or stickers. You can spend a little more on special dotted journals and fancy pens but a plain notebook and ballpoint works perfectly).

Set-Up:

The first thing you need to do which may seem a bit tedious but is worthwhile in the long run is to number all the pages in your notebook. This will make finding everything much easier later.

Once you have that done open the first double spread page in your notebook and write “Index” at the top. Every time you create a new page in your journal come back here and list the title and page number so you can find everything easily.

Title your next two pages “Future Log” and write the page numbers in your index. The future log is basically looking at the coming year as a whole, you don’t need to wait until January just start your calendar from the month we are in now, for me that’s October. I’m using one page as a yearly calendar so I can see what dates fall on which day at a glance. I find this really useful because I’m always asking what day of the week will, say the 24th be for example, you could of course simply stick a small calendar printout here if you don’t want to right it out.  My other page is where I’ll list the birthdays and events I want to remember such as holidays. Some people might prefer to use the whole two pages as a month by month calendar or maybe use one page for your school/college timetable.

The following two pages is for beginning your monthly log so title them with the name of the current month, again I’m writing October. Don’t forget to add the page to your index list. Monthly logging is a place to write all your goals, appointments and events for the upcoming month. You can make a note of everything you want to get done this month as well as anything you didn’t get around to last month.

At this point you can start “Daily Logging” which looks like your standard diary or planner pages. Depending on how much you want to write each day you can use one page per week, one page per day or I’m using each double spread as one week. It doesn’t really matter how much space you use as long as you jot the page numbers in your index. Don’t feel like you need to go counting pages ahead for the next month or rest of the year, I like to draw out my daily log for the week ahead you might want to take it day by day each morning, whatever works for you.

Now here’s where the unique part comes in, it’s time to make your “Key”. This is a list of symbols or “bullets” and their meaning that gives the bullet journal its name by allowing you to take a note of and rearrange things in a way that is super easy, fast and looks nice too. You can come up with any bullets you like just keep it simple, I'll include a picture of my key but I highly recommend looking on Pinterest as there are so many examples of bullet journal layouts there you can use for ideas! Put your key somewhere it is easily found, I had a spare single page before my first double spread so I used my first page, you could use the last page. Another good idea is to use a sheet of card cut to the size of your journal and have a bookmark style key so it is always to hand when writing your daily log.

That’s it! You’re all set up to start rapid logging (using your bullets to fill out your journal). It may seem complicated reading through this post but just take it page by page and work your way down the instructions. Keep an eye out for the next post in this series to learn more about bullet journaling or subscribe to never miss a post! 

If you have any questions feel free to get in touch and as always I hope you enjoyed reading.


A xx



Tuesday, 27 September 2016

The Bullet Journal Part One: What Even Is This ?


Hello everyone!

Now if you're like me and have long been a lover of looking at crafty DIY and lifestyle hacks on the likes of Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook you would have noticed a thing called The Bullet Journal popping up everywhere recently. I’ve spent hours scrolling through pictures of the most beautiful journal layouts but it all looks so complicated and a lot more hassle than it’s worth.

My problem is that I adore stationary but I have about 50 half-filled abandoned little notebooks, organisers, planners and sketchbooks hoarded away. It’s all because I tell myself every new year or back to school time that this is it I’m going to get organised and stick to it but when life gets busy and to-do lists don’t go to plan, let’s face it they never do really do they? I would just give up because I wanted it to look perfect with no big crossed out tasks I never got around to and my planner would be reduced to a life of random doodles and notes or never be seen again!

I needed something that was going to work for real life, that it didn’t matter if I forgot to write in it one day or plans I had took note of changed at the last minute. Somewhere I could write down everything I needed to remember but it was still organised and looked nice, I don’t ask for much do I?

Enter The Bullet Journal

There is an official site for the bullet journal (find it here) describing what it is and a video explaining how to get started but it’s very detailed making it more confusing than I think it needs to be. Yes, you can have a gorgeous elaborate colour coded layout that takes some time or you can strip it back to the quick simple way of organisation that is at the core of bullet journaling. It’s open to making it your own which is something I love.

The site describes the bullet journal as “a customizable and forgiving organization system. It can be your to-do list, sketchbook, notebook, and diary, but most likely, it will be all of the above. It will teach you to do more with less.” At this point I was completely sold and couldn’t wait to get started making my own journal.

So I’ve decided to challenge myself to a month of bullet journaling, get set up, put the journal to the test and see if it is all it’s cracked up to be. After a month I’ll give you an update on how it went. If you’d like to have a go too then stay tuned as tomorrow I'll be posting how to make your own bullet journal which I will link here.

A xx

Friday, 16 September 2016

Saying Goodbye to Summer & Garden Tepee Fun


Hello lovely people!


I can’t believe we are half way through September already! When the 1st of the month came around all of a sudden the weather here just completely changed, in the blink of an eye summer was gone and it felt like Autumn was well and truly here. It got colder, rainy, I wanted to start wearing boots again and light the fire at night. Not only that but I was actually excited for all those things, I adore cosy nights in by the fire, falling leaves and of course Halloween! I had accepted the little summer we got here in Ireland was over, until the last couple days which shouldn’t really have surprised me as much as it did considering the bizarre Irish weather. For the past couple of days, the weather was warm and sunny, not quite an Indian Summer but as if summer just wanted a better send off before it left us!



With that in mind, a little inspiration from Zoella, Pinterest and my little sister as my helper, we built a sort of tepee/den/fort in our backyard and had a picnic to say goodbye to summer. We didn’t have anything fancy, we just had our washing line as a sort of frame/support but you could use some trees, rope or maybe you already have a tent you can jazz up a little. We used some bed sheets as material for the actual tepee, then decorated it with some bunting and fairy lights (if I had my way every room would be decorated with bunting and lights!). Some blankets and cushions on the ground made it even cosier and it was just the perfect place to relax in the sun.

I think this would be a really cute idea for next summer or even a birthday party, even if it wasn’t sunny outside you could make an indoors version! I’ll definitely be trying this again with more preparation but we had such a good time with something so simple I wanted to share it and I hope you like it too.

xx

Thursday, 15 September 2016

How To Dry/Press Flowers




Hello Everyone!


Today's post is a DIY tutorial on how to press your own flowers. Maybe they have a sentimental meaning to you, you want to use dry flowers for a craft project or maybe you just have some really pretty flowers you want to keep forever.



Either way for the best results chose flowers which are naturally flat and are in their best condition without any blemishes, bruising or dry patches. 



I know you want the best value from your flowers so it's tempting to leave them out on display especially if they're part of a bouquet but trust me you want to press them at their best if you want to keep them.


There's a few different ways you can do this, I'm going to show you a traditional way which takes a few days and a little trick which is much faster.









What you need:


Flowers (flat ones work best)
Large heavy book
2 sheets of paper (or if you have oil blotting sheets for makeup this works great!)


Method:



Open up your book roughly in the middle, make sure you use the heaviest book you can find, I used a cookbook or if you still have one in your house a phonebook is ideal!





Put a sheet of paper in the book to protect the pages of the book and absorb any oil or moisture that might come out of the flower as it dries.


Place your flower face down on the sheet of paper and make sure it lies flat that no petals/leaves are bent or curled up before putting the second sheet on top and closing the book.


If your flowers are pretty big like mine you may need to stack some more books on top to keep the book closed.






Then just leave your flowers in the book for at least 10 days to dry out. It may take a little longer but just give it time!


If you can't wait up to 2 weeks for your flowers to dry out then I have a little trick to speed up the whole thing.


Take out your iron and make sure that it has no water in it and is on the lowest setting or a dry setting if you have one. 



Place a sheet of paper on your ironing board, put your flower face down on the sheet and cover with another sheet of paper just like before.

Now use your iron to press down flattening the flower but be very careful not to drag or sweep the iron across the paper like you would when ironing clothes.


You just want to press and hold for about 10 seconds and repeat all over the flower until it is completely flat and dry.


This way only takes a few minutes and you'll have perfect pressed flowers but be very careful not to scorch them!


As always if you give this a go yourself please let me know how you get on and have fun!






A xx


Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Perfect Pancakes




Hey guys!

Today we're talking about how to get the perfect pancakes every time, whether you like a thin crêpe style pancakes or fluffy American style this is the easiest method ever. I use a recipe created by the culinary genius Mr Jamie Oliver (I have a profound love for that man!) and it's really so simple that I taught my little sister when she was just 4 years old. Children love pancakes and getting them to help make them gets kids interested in food and cooking and parents are happy because it's a fool proof method, has no added sugar and is very easily made allergy friendly by swapping the milk for a non-dairy milk or the plain flour for a gluten free option. As for toppings you can go as healthy or as crazy as you like! Firm favourites in our house will always be lemon and sugar or banana and nutella!
This is a really fun recipe so get creative and let me know what's your favourite way to have pancakes?



What you need:

non-stick frying pan (essential for pancakes)
regular builder's size mug (approx 300ml)
mixing bowl
whisk
ladle/ tablespoon

Ingredients:

plain flour
milk (of your choice)
1 egg
1 teaspoon of baking powder (only for American style)
oil/butter for greasing (I like to use a spray oil)


Method:

Take your builder's mug and fill it to the very top with flour, then put it into your mixing bowl. If you are making American style pancakes then add some baking powder too and whisk to remove any lumps.

Use the whisk to push the flour up the sides of the bowl making a little hole in the middle called a well. Crack your egg into the cup and plop it in the well, cracking the egg into the cup first means you can check it isn't a bad egg and you can take out any bits of broken shell which might happen especially if you have some little helpers!

Now again take your trusty mug and fill it to the very top with milk and pour it in on top of your egg.



Take your whisk and mix the egg and milk together making little circular movements first getting bigger as you add in all of the flour beating until all the ingredients are completely combined and there's no more lumps.

Put the non-stick pan on a medium heat and add a small about of butter or oil, if you are using butter just rub it onto the pan, I like to use a spray oil but if you don't have one don't go overboard on the oil less than a teaspoon if enough or you won't be able to flip your pancakes. The fat is more for getting that golden colour and adding flavour because you're using a non-stick pan.

Use a ladle or a tablespoon to add your batter to the pan. For American style pancakes make three little puddles of mixture and let them rise up, for crêpe style pancakes make a puddle of 2tbsps or half a ladle of mixture to the center of the pan and swirl the pan in a circle allowing the batter to spread all over the pan. When the top begins to look set and little bubbles are coming to the top use a fish slice to flip them over. Or have a go at tossing the pan to flip your pancakes, it's all part of the fun even if it doesn't go to plan every time!

It only needs a minute or 2 on each side then remove from the pan, add toppings of your choice and enjoy your delicious pancakes. You should get about 8-10 pancakes from this recipe depending on the size of your pan and how thick you make your pancakes. So there you go guys, give it a go and let me know how it goes!

A xx




Monday, 5 September 2016

Chocolate Biscuit Cake (Shh..Top Secret Family Recipe !)



Hello everybody!

As you can see this post is a recipe, in case you didn't know I am a huge cooking enthusiast, I love everything about kitchens and food especially baking! So it seems about time I posted some of my favourite recipes, share them with you guys and hope you love them as much as I do. This chocolate biscuit cake has been made for every single family event I can remember, I actually think my mam learned the recipe in school and we have made so many times since that we can't have a party without it (and I'm from a big family we have a lot of parties!). It's always a big hit with everyone, it keeps really well for a few days although we never have any left and I find kids much prefer it over a sponge cake.

The best part is that this chocolate biscuit cake is super easy and quick to make, it costs very little and you don't even need to bake it just put it in the fridge to set (so this recipe unfortunately is not suitable for pregnant women sorry ladies). I hope you give it a try and let me know if you do, here we go ...


What you need:

wooden spoon
saucepan
weighing scales
whisk
2 mixing bowls
clingfilm
mould/cake tin (I used a 2lb loaf tin in these pictures but this cake is ideal for shaped cakes using moulds or you could use a 6inch cake tin, the recipe is easily doubled for a bigger cake if needed)

Ingredients:

4 eggs
250g butter (or margarine)
250g caster sugar
40g coco powder
400g rich tea biscuits
400g digestive biscuits

(Of course you can use any biscuits you like or make your own even but I do recommend keeping at least 200g of rich tea as I find they really help set the cake).




Method:

Use the clingfilm to line your tin leaving some overhang to wrap over the top of the cake (if you are using a silicone mould you can skip this step).

Crack your 4 eggs into a mixing bowl, beat and set aside for later.





Put the butter and sugar in a saucepan and melt over a medium heat until they have melted together and began to look like a syrup then remove from the heat.

Whisk in the coco powder to your syrup and resist the urge to stick your finger in or taste any of that chocolately goodness! I know its tough but it's simply too hot at this stage, hold on in there I promise it's worth it.


While you allow the chocolate mix to cool slightly break up all your biscuits into small pieces in your mixing bowl using your hands, you could use a food processor but be very careful not to turn the biscuits to crumbs or the cake won't set. At this point you could also add any extra tasty treats to make the  cake your own, such as 50g of raisins, nuts, maltesers, mini marshmallows or any other sweets you like!




Baking should be fun so experiment with it.


Now your need to work a little quickly to stop the cake setting in the bowl, whisk your eggs into your chocolate syrup mixture. Then pour the wet ingredients over your biscuits and mix well making sure all the biscuits are coated in that delicious chocolate!



Put the cake mixture into your prepared tin and press down with a wooden spoon, really compact the mix into the tin to get rid of any air bubbles, Wrap the clingfilm over the top and place it in the fridge to set for at least 4 hours or overnight if possible.

Then all that's left to do is slice it up and enjoy your yummy chocie bickie cake!

xx








Thursday, 1 September 2016

My Happy Place


Hello everybody!





I'm really very lucky to be from the beautiful sunny (sometimes!) southeast of Ireland. I have the best of both worlds living in the countryside surrounded by gorgeous green fields but with loads of lovely beaches right on my doorstep I’m spoilt for choice when it comes to finding a nice quiet spot to relax.









I think it’s really important to have a place where you can go, even if it’s just going there in your head when things are getting you down. A place to ground you, calm you and remind you of happy memories. For me, my happy place will always be the beach, anywhere I can hear the sea and watch the waves, what could be more therapeutic?! I would sit on the beach all day, anytime of year and the seaside has a special place in my heart.





So I’ve decided to share some pictures of my “happy place” with you and encourage you to think of a place that has special meaning to you the next time you feel a bit down because it’s the little things like this that may seem a bit silly but can help more than you think.


video

Let me know what you think and I’d love to hear what places make you smile when you visit them ?

xx