Black Velvet Cupcakes

blackvelvetcakes3blackvelvetcakes4blackvelvetcakes2blackvelvetcakesI came across this recipe in Tesco’s seasonal magazine (have I ever mentioned how much I love the free magazines you get at supermarkets? I normally find at least one recipe I like the look of). I am always on the hunt for blackberry recipes and this was a great one as the blackberries were whizzed up in the cake batter making them sweeter and less bitter than eating alone.

Black Velvet Cupcakes


  • 100g plain chocolate, chopped
  • 100g salted butter
  • 180g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 150g blackberries, crushed

For the frosting

  • 100g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 125g soft cheese, at room temperature
  • 450g icing sugar

Preheat to oven 180C. Line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases.

Put the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of shallow, simmering water. Stir until melted. Remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly.

Stir the sugar into the cooled chocolate mixture, followed by the eggs, then add 75ml boiling water and stir again. Sift in the flour and a pinch of salt, then add the crushed blackberries and mix well.

Divide the batter between the cases. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.

For the frosting, put the butter and soft cheese in a mixing bow. Mix with a hand whisk until smooth. Gradually add the icing sugar, whisking for 2-3 minutes more. Chill until needed.

Using a palette knife, spread the frosting over each cake.


Finished Project: Stitchrovia Hillscape Cross Sitch


I came across this pattern ages ago and had been waiting ages for an excuse to buy the pattern and stitch it up. When I went to France a few weeks ago I wanted to take a cross stitch project with me as I find it really hard to sit about doing nothing and I chose this hillscape scene by Stitchrovia, a shop on etsy. As with all block colour patterns it was lovely and easy to stitch up. I hung it in a plain wooden hoop in the hallway to brighten it up as it doesn’t get much light due to having no windows.

Raw Peanut Butter Cups

peanutbuttercups3peanutbuttercups4peanutbuttercupspeanutbuttercups2As you can probably tell I enjoy making sweet treats. Recently I have been trying to eat better so I researched some healthier sweet bites. I came across this recipe on The Balanced Blonde and decided to try it out. I changed it slightly by using cocoa instead of cocao powder and melted chocolate instead of chocolate chips for a better consistency. I also added in a tablespoon of chia seeds for a bit of crunch and extra nutritional benefit. Although they are better for you than a regular peanut butter cup they should still be eaten in moderation.

YSL: Style is Eternal

ysl12yslysl2ysl3ysl4ysl5ysl9ysl10ysl13ysl14A few weeks ago whilst at home my family and I visited the Bowes Museum to attend the YSL: Style is Eternal exhibition celebrating the work of Yves Saint Laurent. Today I thought I would share some pictures I took of the amazing outfits YSL created during his more than forty highly creative years. The exhibition is split into 3 rooms and examines five specific themes that create a unique dialogue with The Bowes Museum’s collection of historic textiles, beginning with Saint Laurent’s at once traditional and revolutionary approach to Haute Couture, followed by his play on Masculin-Feminin, Transparence, Art, and ending with the lavish display of Spectaculaire. The first room featured a video of a catwalk from 2009 of all the outfits exhibited. The second room incorporated the existing Bowes Museum fashion exhibition with five original YSL designs to explore his design process and influences. The third and final room was a 54 piece installation of some of YSL’s most iconic designs. My particular favourites included the Matisse- and Mondrian-inspired dresses and the loose-fitting chiffon evening gown with black ostrich feathers around the waist from 1968.

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookies

peanutbuttercookiesI always find myself craving something sweet and sugary mid-afternoon so one afternoon I decided to scour BBC food for a sweet treat and came across this Paul Rankin recipe for peanut butter cookies. Originally the recipe didn’t call for chocolate chips but I thought they would work well so included them. The cookies mixture was very short which led to very rich, short little cookies which were perfect as a mid-afternoon pick-me-up.

How To: Make a Terrarium

A terrarium is a glass container and can be interesting decorative objects to create a talking point and add greenery to a room. I have seen a lot on Instagram and on my bloglovin feed recently so I really wanted to make my own. It took me a while to find the right container for relatively cheap (some can be very expensive!) and luckily I found two; a square one from Wilkinsons on sale for £1.99 and a round glass bowl from ASDA Living for £6. The cacti can be found at a variety of shops such as IKEA, Homebase, florists, Wilkinsons and B&Q.


You will need:

  • a glass container
  • soil
  • drainage stones
  • decorative white stones
  • cactus
  • optional: moss/fern


  1. Place a 1-2cm layer of small stones in the bottom of the container (this is for drainage).
  2. Then place 2-3cm of soil on top of the stones. Make a little well in the centre of the soil and place cactus in, pack soil around the cactus (make sure you gently tease the roots of the cactus before putting it in the container).
  3. Place an even layer of white stones on top of the soil. Add moss or fern if desired.
  4. Lightly water.

GBBO September Recipe: Apple and Oat Muffins

This month’s recipe for fruity, crumble-topped muffins are perfect for sliding into the autumn months. I even found some brown rustic-looking muffin cases in Sainsbury’s to complete the autumnal look of this recipe.

Apple and Oat Muffins

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Ingredients for the topping

  • 50g porridge oats
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 50g plain flour
  • 50g unsalted butter

For the base

  • 250g plain flour
  • 25g porridge oats
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 150g unsalted butter, diced
  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • 100ml milk at room temperature
  • 1 apple, cored and cut into small pieces

Heat oven to 190C. Make the crumble topping first. Put the oats, sugar and flour into a mixing bowl and combine with your hand. Cut the butter into pieces, add to the bowl and rub into the dry ingredients with your fingertips until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Then gently squeeze the mixture together until it forms pea-like clumps. Set aside until needed.

Now make the base. Put the flour, oats, sugar, baking powder and lemon zest into a small mixing bowl and mix together thoroughly with a wooden spoon. Gently melt the butter in a small pan, leave to cool. Beat the eggs and milk in a small bowl with a fork until just combined. Add the melted butter and the milk mixture to the flour mix in the bowl and stir gently until just combined – there is no need to beat this mixture.

Spoon the mixture into 12 paper cases in a muffin tray so they are evenly filled. Top each with an equal amount of chopped apple and gently press the pieces into the muffin mixture. Cover with the crumble topping, dividing it equally among the muffins, and gently press down on to the base.

Place in the heated oven and bake for 30-35 minutes until golden and just firm when gently pressed in the centre. Set the tray on a wire rack and cool for a few minutes, then carefully lift the muffins out of the tray on to the rack.

Stilton, Butternut Squash and Chutney Quiche

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My boyfriend and I cooked up this stilton, butternut squash and chutney quiche a few weeks ago for lunch with my family. The recipe originally used membrillo (quince paste) but as we couldn’t find any in the shops near us we opted for an apple and plum chutney which worked really well too (any fruity chutney would work in this as it needs something sweet to offset the stilton). It is quite rich due to double cream and crème fraiche used in the egg mixture so goes well with a light salad and is perfect for the coming autumn months.

Finished Project: A Trio of Cacti

As you may have already noticed if you read this blog regularly, I like cacti (although I did kill one a couple of months ago, oh dear) which made this cross stitch pattern perfect for me. The pattern is by The Stranded Stitch and I love the finished cacti. However, I did mess up the colours of the plant pots by using bright rather than a duller, browner orange thread. I decided to hang them vertically near three (real) cacti I have displayed horizontally.

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Creating a Postcard Wall


Today I thought I would share how to create a simple ‘postcard wall’. My boyfriend and I have collected so many postcards from museums, art galleries, holidays, etc which we kept in a tin. This seemed silly as some of them hold such great memories or are simply nice to look at. At a few smaller galleries we had seen bulldog clips used to hold prints and photos so we thought this idea would be great for some of our postcards. You can pick these sort of bulldog clips up from stationery shops and we decided to start with four to see if we liked the look of them of the wall. We also thought we could change the postcards every so often to showcase our favourites. All I did was to measure 4 equal distances on a plain white wall, bang some thin silver nails into the wall and hang the bulldog clip with the postcard clipped in onto the nail. Simple! I think this bulldog clip idea would also look good using bigger clips on larger pictures. You could also do several rows of smaller bulldog clips if you wanted to display more pictures.