Saturday, 26 December 2015

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone! 

How did you spend your day?

Santa was very good to me this year :) As well as my Kenwood k-mixer I got this pile of presents below!

I got some more baking things including an icing kit and a small heart shaped cake tin; some makeup and face things; and lots of gym gear! I did good! I think I'll be wearing my gym clothes on the plane on the way home...

Can't be a good Christmas without a great Christmas dinner! And that's exactly what my dad made.
We always start off Christmas dinner with salmon roulade and I don't know how, cause it's only two ingredients, but it is really one of the best things ever. Well, if you like salmon that is. Which surprisingly out cat doesn't.

Of course the main part of the meal is the turkey will all the trimmings. Look how piled up my plate is! Turkey, two different types of stuffing, bacon, cranberry sauce, gravy, potatoes, green beans, carrots, parsnips and brussels sprouts with bacon bits. Soooo yummy.

There was obviously dessert as well but I forgot to take a picture of that.. Dad made his famous chocolate log and I made my pumpkin pie cheesecake which was thankfully a success with my parents. 

It was a great day :) Even Phoebe got into the Christmas spirit!

Well actually she looks pretty grumpy.... that hat didn't stay on for long. She was not amused.

Hope everyone else had a great day! What are your Christmas traditions?

Monday, 21 December 2015

Banana Bread Three Ways: Pumpkin Banana Bread; Pumpkin Cheesecake Banana Bread; and Normal Banana Bread

I have found the best recipe for banana bread! And it plays into my love for all pumpkin flavoured things at the moment. I'm still obsessed... 
What's even better about this recipe is that you can make the banana bread 3 ways!

You can make it the way the recipe sets it out and make pumpkin cheesecake banana bread: moist and bursting with pumpkin flavour with a creamy layer of cheesecake in the middle. Combines the best of both world! Banana bread and cheesecake! And it looks pretty impressive with the different layers in it. Loads of people asked me how I managed to get the cheesecake in the middle but its really simple. Just half the banana bread mixture, cheesecake mixture on top and then the other half of the banana bread mixture.

Second way to eat this delicious recipe is to leave the cheesecake layer out and just have the pumpkin banana bread! If you're not a fan of cheesecake or you don't like the texture of it in the middle of your banana bread or you just don't want to do the extra work of making the cheesecake mixture, this is the recipe for you! It is still really moist and packed with so much flavour. 

And the final way to make this banana bread is to leave out the cheesecake mixture and the pumpkin puree and just add in another banana to make plain old banana bread! Call me boring, but this was actually my favourite way of eating this recipe. It is just so delicious. I love pumpkin puree in a lot of things but I could do without it in this banana bread. Its so good by itself and the addition of the pumpkin pie spice gives it a little extra burst of flavour. 

Let me know what you think of this banana bread and which is your favourite way of making it!

Sunday, 13 December 2015

New Kenwood kMix Stand Mixer!

My parents are always so good at getting amazing presents for everyone in the family and this year was no exception. I know its not quite Christmas yet but I got my main present delivered early this year to the flat because I leave Tuesday and it would have been impossible for me to take it on the plane back with me from Singapore. Probably should have waited until after Christmas to use it but I genuinely couldn't help myself and I used it later that day. What was it? A Kenwood kMix Stand Mixer! 
It is actually my pride and joy. It is so beautiful and so amazing and I can't get enough of it. Anyone who's beating around the bush about whether to get one or not for themselves or for someone else, don't wait any longer. Just get it. You won't regret it. 

There's my baby. Its in a gorgeous almond colour and I think it just looks so retro and cool. 

It comes with a mixer attachment, a whisk attachment, a dough hook and a splash guard as well as an information booklet that contains a few different recipe ideas. 

It is so easy to use and it really makes a different to your baking. I didn't think that it would but I don't know if its because it mixes the batter better than you would be able to do by hand, but when the finished product comes out the oven it just looks so much better than it normally would. Its risen well and its even and it looks professional. I've used it to make two different cakes/breads so far [recipes coming soon] and I've just completely fallen in love with it.

If you're looking for Christmas ideas to give to someone who is a major foodie, this would be an amazing gift to give and they would love you forever!

Saturday, 5 December 2015

An Essay on Abortion

The topic of abortion is a highly sensitive and controversial topic, that often leads to very heated debates. People get so riled up about the subject that it can lead to them doing terrible things. Just at the end of November a gunman stormed a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic, killing three people and injuring nine others, presumably as a way to express his hatred for abortion and the clinics that provide such services. 

What the abortion debate comes down to is the conflict between, on the one hand, the fetal interests in life, and on the other a woman's right to control her own body. This is such a difficult moral conflict to resolve that it's no wonder that it leaves people so divided on the subject. I personally am a supporter of the pro-choice view i.e. that a woman has the choice to do what she pleases with her own body. I understand that a lot of people will not share my view, and may even be extremely offended by it but this post is not meant to cause offence. Its merely a place for me to talk about the conflict surrounding the topic of abortion.

By not allowing a woman to terminate a pregnancy, even though this goes against her right to bodily integrity or dignity, you are essentially diminishing a pregnant woman to something less than a whole, self-determining, rights-bearing individual. Many would argue that by denying a foetus the right to life, you are also diminishing it to something less than a whole, self-determining, rights-bearing individual. However, [and here comes the controversial part] I don't believe that a foetus can be classified as an 'individual'... I know that this can be a very unpopular view, but its what I believe. A foetus cannot think. It has no concept of existence let alone death. It has no fears and no desires. Unlike the woman who is carrying it. By not allowing abortions to take place, you are essentially giving more weight to something which cannot yet be classified as an individual, over an actual person who has a life and their own personal autonomy. Of course there are debates over when a foetus becomes an 'individual', and this relates to the threshold of when an abortion can take place and whether or not it should be lowered. Once you get to the later stages in a pregnancy, things become even more complicated and confusing because you are dealing with an actual baby. However, at the moment, I'm talking only about the very early stages of pregnancy when the foetus has not yet fully developed.
A lot of people view an abortion as an 'easy' way out. However, just because a woman is having an abortion does not mean that she is taking the experience lightly. I read something once that I thought was very poignant, and it links in well with this point:
"No woman wants an abortion like she wants an ice cream cone or a Porsche. She wants an abortion like an animal caught in a trap wants to gnaw off its own leg."
Often an abortion is not just care-free process that a woman undergoes. It is a means to an end of a desperate situation.

There are two different reasons that a woman chooses to have an abortion: medical or social reasons. People often view one of these as more worthwhile than the other. Many people would have more sympathy for a woman who has an abortion because of medical reasons i.e. if she continues on with the pregnancy there is a risk of death to her or the potential baby or both, than for social reasons. We still view reproductive rights through a lense of there being a hierarchy of 'good' or 'bad' abortions. However, social reasons can be just as worthwhile as medical ones. For example, a teenage girl from a poor background becomes pregnant. She does not have the experience, help, finances or ability to look after the child, and therefore it would be better for her life if she aborted, not to mention the fact that the potential child would suffer from being brought up in such circumstances.

At the same time, even if there is not a desperate situation like the one I've mentioned above and maybe the woman just doesn't want a baby right now, I think her personal autonomy and reproductive rights should be respected. It does not mean that I pesonally would have an abortion, but I think that everyone should have the right to control their own bodies and not have them controlled by the State. One of the presumptions of liberal democracies is that citizens should be free to make their own choices with regard to their own values, whether or not these choices and values are acceptable to the majority. Just because others do not like it or are made uncomfortable by it, this is not enough for the right of an individual to be limited; in the current case, the reproductive rights of a woman. Furthermore, if you reduce personal autonomy when it comes to a woman's choices over her own reproductive wishes, it paves the way for individual's autonomy to be reduced in other areas, where there is a risk that others will be offended by their choices 

Personally I believe that the autonomy of a pregnant woman should be respected. Not because the foetus is insignificant, but rather because pregnant women are significant.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

What's on My Bedside Table

Our bedroom is our place for rest and recuperation after a long and stressful day, and a good bedside table is as important as a comfortable bed in order to help us relax. I'm not talking about the make and design of the table, but more what it has on it. It has to have everything on it, within arms reach of your bed, that will help you unwind and chill out after a long day.

Want to see what mine looks like?

There you go! All my necessities and things I need to relax on one table. 

First off, a good book. What better way to relax then immersing yourself in another world, completely different from the one where all your worries and stress live. I'm reading Persuasion by Jane Austen at the moment. Its taking a while for me to get into it, but its still a good way to unwind at night. After going through my usual Facebook, DailyMail, Bloglovin' and Tumblr ritual at night, I need to turn off all my electronics and just read for a bit to be able to get to sleep. The longer I read, the easier it is for me to fall asleep.

Also a necessity to be able to read at night, a bedside lamp. Mine is just a £5 simple black one from Tesco. Cheap and cheerful.

And just a necessity for everyday life really - a bottle of water. Its a well known fact that its good to stay hydrated and there's no better way to accomplish that than to have a bottle of water sitting right beside you to remind you that you have to drink. I should really invest in a proper water bottle instead of relying on filling up my old Strawberry Flavoured Volvic water bottle... maybe I'll ask for one for Christmas!

Three new additions to my bedside table, and two of them are from my November wishlist post! These are actually my Christmas presents from my sister and her husband! A bit early, I know, but I was down there a few days ago and it seemed pointless for them to wrap up my presents and send them to me when I could just take them back myself. Also, I wanted to see her open her present from me, and so it was only fair that I got to open mine at the same time...

First off, a really pretty silver photoframe with my favourite picture of myself and Faith and John from her wedding day. I just adore that picture and it makes me happy and smile when I look at it. I think you need something in your room that cheers you up just by looking at it, and that picture right next to my bed does that job.

Second, my personalised strawberry and prosecco candle from Kisses and Creation []. I cannot explain how amazing this candle smells. I haven't even lit it yet, and yet my entire room smells amazing and sweet as soon as I walk into it. I'm waiting until after Christmas to actually light it, just so it makes it feel like it is an actual Christmas present. But to be honest, you don't even need to light it to be able to benefit from the smell. Seriously, you need to buy this candle. It smells so good that you just want to eat it. Also, light and fragrance are the most effective and easiest way to improve your rooms mood and ambiance and so a candle is the best way to combine both of these things, to make your bedroom the most relaxing place possible. 

And third, my new strawberry and prosecco lipbalm. [] I did not stick to my rule of waiting until after Christmas to use this present... As I've probably said before, I am completely addicted to lipbalm of any form and so I can't really relax unless I have one within reach which is why I always have lipbalm on my bedside table. Again, this lipbalm smells so amazing that you'll want to eat it straight out of the tin. It also makes your lips feel so silky and smooth.

Another necessity for me, are hairties. Because I have such long hair, I am constantly putting my hair up to get it off my face and to help cool me down. Anyone who uses hairties know that they are constantly going missing. You need a box or something to keep them all together and contained in one place. A couples of years ago, my friend James made this oragami box for me for Christmas, and filled it with chocolates. I've obviously eaten the chocolates since then and I now use the box to put all my hairties in. Its so handy to have them within reach when I'm lying in or on my bed and to have them in such a compact and pretty little box is an added bonus. 

And lastly, my ring stand. I have two rings that I wear every single day and I don't like sleeping with them on because my fingers swell during the night and they just don't feel comfortable and I feel odd with them on at night. So what better place to put them, than on my 'rockstar' ring stand from Urban Outfitters? They don't sell this particular one anymore, but they do have a really nice marble jewellery hand for £15,
And just behind the ring stand, is a picture of me and my mum at Colleen's wedding in a really pretty pink picture frame. What better place to have pictures of your family, than right next to your bed?

So there is my bedside table! 
What are the necessities that you have to have next to your bed? What do you have on your bedside table that makes your room your centre of relaxation?
Let me know!