Hey y’all! I’m baaaack! I’ve had a bit of a mental couple of weeks so unfortunately, the baking has had to take a back seat. Sad face. For my fourth year, I headed off for the wild green fields of Glastonbury. I spent almost a week washing using baby wipes, going to sleep with the bass vibrating the floor from a giant fire breathing mechanical spider from the field next door and waking up every morning to the sound of someone doing a sound check. It is such a magical place but also incredibly hard work, you need another week off when you get back just to recover! I watched Pharell, Lionel, Years and Years (AMAZING) and Paul Weller to name just a few. There is something there for everybody and would recommend it to almost anyone. I recently decided to move down south as well which coincided gloriously with Glasto as the day I returned from Somerset, I had to start packing my life into boxes! Eugh. So last weekend I trundled my stuff all the way to the bottom of the M40 to start again as a Southerner. The most exciting part of all is that my new pad has a brand spanking new double oven *swoon*.
Eeeeeekkkkkk I’ve been bouncing off the walls all day and I hardly slept last night due to the Glastonbury butterflies! Yes it is that giddy time of the year again when I pack up my wellies and an inflatable mattress (always flat as a pancake within 24 hours) and head to the green fields. The Glastonbury butterflies are similar to that excitable feeling of going on holiday except times it by ten and add a bit more. There’s me and 25 of my pals all driving down through the night so we are one of the first in the queue ready for when the gates open at 8am. Then we spend half a day trying to erect tents (which probably haven’t seen the light of day since last year, still covered in mud and smelling… questionable) whilst half asleep then head off to the nearest cider bus. I’m really looking forward to seeing Lionel Ritchie this year on Sunday afternoon, perfect to sing along to whilst nursing a hang over from an epic Saturday night. I’ve just checked out the weather forecast and it looks like a real mix but thankfully no heavy rain at any point (the weather man never gets it wrong…). I’ve already had two showers today, it’ll be another week before I can have a wash that doesn’t involve baby wipes…
I remember when I started baking and being told that baking is a science, its not like cooking where you can throw a little bit of this or that and it will probably be a taste sensation. You have to stick to the recipe or it will be a disaster! I’ve come to learn (often the hard way) that actually, you can go against the rules and shake things up if you understand how your ingredients work. So I’m going to tell you what I have learnt about different kinds of sugar when baking and how you can confidently change them around in a recipe.
So as if I wasn’t busy enough already what with the baking, blog, sewing, job that keeps me away from home 4 nights a week plus the long distance relationship, I now also have yoga to keep me occupied. Over the last two or three weeks, I have been doing an hour of yoga 6 days a week and already, I can’t imagine life without it! Around a year ago, I slipped a disc in my lower back and had to have a week off work. Ever since then, if I picked up too much weight or did certain exercises I would agitate it and the pain would return. This was very frustrating as I have always been into keeping fit and was a regular runner, boxer and regularly attended a boot camp, but if I did a squat too fast or threw a punch too hard, I would be in agony. Lifting cast iron pots at Le Creuset for a job didn’t help! I eventually went to see a chiropractor who said my spine was now also out of line and the back muscles are super tight. He advised most of the activity I was used to doing probably wasn’t doing me any favours, I kept trying for a couple of weeks to do exercises that were more back-friendly such as spin class and using a cross trainer. But still the pain persisted (sad face). So I did some research, spoke to a few people and the advise always seemed to be yoga. I kinda just ignored it at first, my perception of it was that it was just slow and boring, how could it possibly give me the workout I was used to? In the end, I reluctantly gave it a go. I started off with a beginners YouTube video. I could hardly hold the moves or even get into position!
They say you should never meet your idols, you will only be disappointed. So understandably, I was feeling apprehensive yet super excited about meeting my favourite French sugar god, Eric Lanlard. I have been swooning over his books for a few years and had visited his shamazing café, Cake Boy, in Battersea so when I had to choose what I wanted for my 25th (ok, ok, 30th) birthday present, there was no doubt in my mind what to ask for. A baking tutorial day at Cake Boy with Eric. A whole day with Eric! A whole day! Me! And Eric! ERIC! He does a variety of different baking days and I plumped for the French Baking day complete with breakfast patisseries, lunch with wine and you get to take home everything you bake. The cakes we were going to make were almond and lavender provencal cake (gluten free), a gateaux Breton (even I had to google that one, a buttery crumbly flakey gorgeousness apparently) and a pear and juniper tart tatin. Major yummo.
So another January, another attempt at being a Gwyneth Paltrow-esque model of perfect health. Every year comes the endless promises to my body that I will only feed it whole foods, nothing will pass my lips unless it is dense with nutrition and completely lacking in any fun (ie. sugar, fat, carbohydrate, alcohol, yawn). I dream that by February, my skin will be glowing, I will be wearing a size 8 and I will be participating in triathlons. And by the second week in January, I have always conveniently forgotten all these promises to my body. Ohh just one glass/bottle of Prosecco tonight won’t hurt, it’s a special occasion, it’s the dogs birthday. Ohh I’ll just lick the spoon, I need to make sure this cake mix isn’t poisonous. Ohh I’ll just walk this bit of the run so I can take in all the scenery. And before I know it. I am back to old habits and feeling a bit of a failure. So after 29 years of failed resolutions, this years I decided to set myself something a little more achievable rather than trying to completely over haul my lifestyle. As you can tell from the blog that sugar is pretty important to me but I am also very aware that it is not so good for my waistline. I couldn’t possibly ban it altogether (What would become of this blog?! Hollylovescarrots? Hollyloveslentils?) so I am making one little resolution. I am making a conscious effort to cut out refined sugar from my every day diet. That’s it. Sure I can still enjoy licking the bowl after baking and enjoy a slice of my own cake because it’s a once a week treat but day-to-day sugar is no more. If something needs a little sweetening mid week, a bit of raw honey or organic maple syrup does the trick and still offers nutritional benefits. Little changes like this go a long way and mean I am less likely to fail, this morning I made amazing spelt and coconut milk pancakes drizzled with a local honey, totes delish and guilt free (recipe coming soon). So this year, I’m not going to be a resolution failure (don’t quote me on that…)
It is such a wonderful thing when someone goes out of their way for you, to do something that they really didn’t need to do but they did it anyway. It is these little (and sadly, sometimes way too few) acts of kindness that make the day so much sweeter and make you smile. This week, I was contacted by a lovely lady (Girl? Bird? Lass? Lady sounds scarily formal and old…) who requested some of my cakes for a photo shoot at Unionweddings.co.uk! I read the message and did my usual dance of joy around the room. As if someone seriously requested my cakes for a photo shoot! AS IF! And how did the lovely lady find out about me? Through the new wife of one of my oldest friends, Sam. Now, I’ve known Sam for 14 years through college and then we moved to university in Manchester together where he sported a hair doo similar to an Afghan hound and pranced his way around Indie dance floors thinking he was Jagger. We kinda lost touch over the past few years but met up for dinner last week in London with his new wife, Jo, and me with the BF (We went to Boho Mexicana in Shoreditch if you are interested, lots of tequila which makes me VERY happy). This was the first time I had met Jo and filled her in about my cake blog, obvs. She passed on my details to her friend who happens to be the lovely lady at unionweddings.co.uk. Jo did not need to take a minute out of her day to do this but she did and I am so grateful she did, I owe her several tequilas. As soon as I know where and when my cakes will be featured I will post it on here (if I can stop doing my dance of joy around the room).