Mini-egg cupcakes (with chocolate chips) & mini-egg cookies.

27.2.11


Last weekend I had an empty Saturday afternoon so I turned to my faithful Hummingbird Bakery book to find a simple cupcake recipe to act as a base for my topping. They do a vanilla cupcake recipe which is very simple and easy to follow. You can find the recipe here.

I whipped up some frosting but I think I used a tad too much milk, so it wasn't my best. I mixed in white chocolate chips, milk chocolate chips and Cadbury's mini-eggs and spooned the mixture onto the top. My boyfriend is addicted to mini-eggs so they went down a treat.

Then I thought, why stop there!? I thought mini-egg biscuits could be a good idea.


The biscuit/cookie idea was a bit of a gamble. I haven't made biscuits since I was about 6 so I had no idea where to start. So, I turned to google and searched for "simple biscuit recipes" and found a couple of good ones. I spliced two recipes together and then halved the ingredients as I didn't want to make too many (complex stuff this baking malarkey y'know). This is one of the recipes which is very simple indeed.

Jonathan loves mini-eggs so I popped a couple of mini-eggs in each one. I didn't go overboard as this could have been disasterous and I didn't want to waste precious mini-eggs. I wanted to cut them into smaller pieces but I wasn't sure how they would cope in the oven. They look like little aliens or something but they taste yummy! Really soft inside and perfect with a cuppa!

Giveaway: OH MY FROCK. (NOW CLOSED)

25.2.11


As promised I have a fab giveaway - one lucky subscriber of Lily loves Lola will have the opportunity to pick one item of their choice from the OH MY FROCK store. Pop on over there and see if anything takes your fancy, then carry on reading to see how you can enter.

All you have to do is hop along to their Facebook page and 'like it'. Then choose your 2 favourite items from the store and comment on the Facebook page with your favourites. It's as simple as that!


Leave me a comment below to let me know you've done the above, then at midnight on Friday 4 March 2011 I'll pick a winner at random and email you to let you know you're the lucky winner. Good luck!

You can read my outfit posts here and here to see my thoughts on the company.

Guest post: 5 good things (by Gem)

5 good things by Gem:

1. A cup of piping hot tea early in the morning.

2. Being able to pick my nail polish off in one whole piece.

3. The smell of a new book.

4. Having my boyfriend warm my feet up with his legs when I get in to bed.

5. Hearing my little brother laugh.

Eden Camp.

23.2.11


As I mentioned here, Jonathan and I visited Eden Camp on one of our days off around my birthday. We both went with our primary schools when we were about 11 but it is exactly how I remember it (which is part of its charm). I was always so fascinated with World War 2 when we studied it at school so I found this particular school trip very interesting, and it was good to go back and have another look around.

Eden Camp is made up of huts, and you work your way around each one. Each hut has a theme (the Blitz, the fashions of the 40s, etc). We thought the layout was very well organised - you start at hut 1 and then it's easy to navigate your way round, winding in and out of each hut. You can't get lost. You can take as much or as little time in each hut as you like. And there is so much information to take in.

We went on a Friday and there were a couple of groups of school children, and a couple of couples, and us. So we barely saw anyone as we were walking round. The children were very noisy and just wanted to get through the whole thing as quickly as possible, so we were often overtaken as I annoyingly read every single snippet of info.

Did you go to Eden Camp with school?

Guest post: 5 good things (by Amey)

5 good things by Amey:

1) A big mug of tea after a day at work

2) Completing something which has been put off for a while

3) Smell of freshly baked goodies

4) Reading and replying to comments on blogs

5) Feeling of a freshly cleaned house :)

Monday summary.

21.2.11

Hello Monday. This time last week I was enjoying a day off with some Valentine's celebrating thrown in for good measure. I can't believe a week has passed since then! Anyway, here are my 5 good things for this week:

1) I've got my knitting lesson tonight. It's going to be 4 hours of learning the basics and making a start on a scarf and basic hat. I'm nervous - I just hope I can get the hang of it! I'll let you all know how I get on.


2) Eliza Doolittle's album. I have listened to it non stop allll weekend. I know this has been out for a while but I'm not exactly down with the kids when it comes to modern music. Give me a bit of Sam Cooke any day! But I really like her voice and sound. Are you a fan?

3) I've got Friday off work so another long weekend is on the cards. 3 day weekends are awesome! Plans for Thursday night = watching ice hockey. Friday = shopping with my birthday vouchers and a possible hair cut. Saturday = cooking with Jonathan for his family. Sunday = relaxing. Lovely! I can't wait.

4) Exercise. I'm currently exercising every day, with one rest day a week, and I'm really getting into it. I hope I can keep it up - I feel amazing!

5) 5 months with Jonathan and I get happier every day :)

Homemade pizza.

20.2.11

Last weekend we decided to make some pizzas and it was a lot of fun, so I took a few snaps to share with you. We cheated ever so slightly and bought 2 ready-made bases, but to make up for that we got loads of cool stuff for toppings. We weren't sure how they would turn out but they were delicious and so easy to make!


We used passata as the base on both. On our first pizza we loaded on some mozzarella cheese and a drizzle of olive oil and popped it in the oven, and added parma ham and rocket just before serving. Our second pizza consisted of cheddar cheese (lots of), mushrooms and pancetta.

They were so tasty - I can't wait to make pizza again, or maybe a calzone? Yum!

What is your favourite pizza topping? Mine is ham (proper ham) and pineapple but I have yet to find someone else who can stomach it!

Pug cuddles.

19.2.11

I found Lola literally hugging Lily the other day, and I thought it was the cutest thing ever.

Guest post: 5 good things (by Charlotte)

5 good things by Charlotte:

1) Acoustic type music
Addicted to Birdy's cover of Skinny Love at the moment

2) A visit from my sister
I do love being at Uni but miss my sister so it's always nice when she pops to Sheffield to see me

3) So bad it's good tv
I couldn't be more addicted to things like Tool Academy and Big Fat Gypsy Wedding

4) A good strong, sweet cuppa
Who doesn't love tea?

5) Nail varnish
I have over 60 and still want more colours

OH MY FROCK - take 2.

18.2.11

I mentioned here that I'd been sent some goodies from OH MY FROCK and this is the second thing I received - a black top with ruffled shoulders. I love it! I wore it out to tea last Friday night with a little black vest underneath, skinny jeans and pumps and I thought it looked lovely. I also think it would be suitable for work with some smart trousers, so I'll give that a whirl next week.

It's a 'one size fits all' top but I think this would fit a size 10 to 14 best.

Don't forget to look out for my giveaway which is coming soon!


Guest post: 5 good things (by Sarah)

5 good things by Sarah:

1) My Fiancé - one of the best men in the world, the other being my dad.
 
2) Wedding planning - which ties in with my Fiancé. I can't wait to get married. I am loving the planning and will definately miss it once we are married. We have nearly sorted everything now just got the little bits to finish off and sort out.

3) Blogging - I have learnt such a lot and started talking to lots of lovely people. I would love to be able to go to events to meet the girls behind the blogs.

4) Twitter - my way of keeping in touch with my lovely blogger friends it so easy to keep in contact with people without sending hundreds of emails.

5) Exercise - I never thought I would say this but I am starting to love exercise especially my cave women training :)

OH MY FROCK - part 1.

16.2.11

When OH MY FROCK said I could choose 2 items from their lovely website and do a giveaway for my wonderful readers I jumped for joy! Keep your eyes peeled over the next few weeks for the giveaway where one lucky person can choose an item from the online store - anything you like! What a fab prize ay!

I instantly loved this loose collar thick coat in grey which I snapped a few photos of on my way out to work earlier in the week. It's really chunky material and keeps me toasty warm. I probably could have benefited from the next size up (I have no idea what size I am anymore, I can't keep up!) and I haven't worn it with the belt yet, but I can't wait to try it on with different outfits. I love grey - I'm drawn to this colour whenever I go shopping, so this is a welcome addition to my wardrobe.

The shipping was SO quick - I received my parcel of goodies quicker than I've received some post from within the UK!

Excuse my ridiculous posing - I need more practice obviously

Guest post: 5 good things (by Isabella)

5 good things by Isabella:
 
1) My 'Pugs Not Drugs' tote bag that I got from hannahzakari.com. You may have seen it. I searched and searched for it so when I got it in the post yesterday it felt SO good to finally have it! 

2) My boyfriend making me cupcakes for lunch today. He isn't much a baker ... or one for cute little cupcakes so him donning oven gloves and getting happy with sprinkles and pink frosting was SUCH a lovely thing. He makes me feel so special. 

3) My own black pug Petula and my kitty Boo who only has three legs! I couldn't wish for better pets, both get along so well and play together (well... most of the time haha) and they're always getting into mischief and making me laugh, right now they're sleeping together on top of the washing pile and it's SO cute! 

4) Blogging I'm very new to it but it's so much fun coming across new blogs that I find interesting or funny or thought provoking and following them, I find a lot of people who are inspiring and I hope my own blog can be as interesting someday! 

5) St Albans, a town near where I live in the south of England that's so full of life and fun, I love walking in the park with my family or boyfriend and taking trips with my girlfriends to the town centre where we shop till we drop! There's always fun people there too, last time we went there was a preacher with a big cross stood on a box telling us the end is coming, and the time before there were people in Batman and Superman costumes posing for pictures with people! I love being in such a vibrant place :)

Source

Hummingbird marshmallow cupcakes.

15.2.11

At the weekend we decided to have another whirl at some baking from the Hummingbird Bakery book (you may remember our Lemon Meringue Pie disaster) but we thought with my new electric whisk and an easier recipe it was bound to be a success. And a success it was! The instructions were easy to follow and the cupcakes turned out perfectly.. if I do say so myself.

The thing I like about baking is, once you start baking regularly you accumulate the ingredients and it reduces the need to keep buying new items each time. We just needed to buy butter, marshmallows and whole milk along with a pot of baking powder which I'm sure will come in handy for future baking!


The cupcake mixture came together nicely. We could have done with smaller cupcake cases, as we didn't quite make 12 like the book suggested, but apart from that everything was spot on. Plus bigger bun cases equal bigger buns and that can only be a good thing! After 30 minutes in the oven we took them out to cool and after a short tea break got to work on the marshmallow centre.

We placed some marshmallows in a bowl on top of a pan of boiling water, and waited until the marshmallows had melted. I had numerous spoonfuls of this as it was yummy, but left enough to fill in the small holes I had scooped out of each bun.


Presentation was tricky at this point - the marshmallow had a mind of its own. But there is a topping that completely covers the top of each bun so it's not a problem at all.

While they were cooling we got to work making the vanilla icing which we mixed with the remainder of our marshmallows which we had chopped into little pieces (the recipe calls for mini marshmallows but Morrisons had sold out). The vanilla icing and marshmallow mixture could then be spooned on top of each bun and spread over to cover the top of the bun entirely.

They taste absolutely yummy. I can't wait to make these again! They weren't too difficult at all and I'm a huge marshmallow fan so the marshmallow centre goes down an absolute treat. Do let me know if you've made these before and how they turned out!


This is the recipe for the cupcakes, and below is the vanilla frosting recipe:

250g icing sugar, sifted
80g unsalted butter, at room temperature
25ml whole milk
a couple of drops of vanilla extract

(makes enough for 12 cupcakes)

Beat the icing sugar and butter together in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) on a medium-slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed. Turn the mixer down to slow sleed. Combine the milk and vanilla extract in a seperate bowl, then add it to the butter mixture a couple of tablespoons at a time. 
nce all the milk has been incorporated, turn the mixer up to high speed. Continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes. The longer the frosting is beaten, the fluffier and lighter it becomes.

Guest post: 5 good things (by Charli)

5 good things by Charli:

1) Turning the music up, singing at the top of my voice and dancing like a loony - This never fails to lift my mood whenever I feel down I know its time for a good old sing song :)

2) My daughter - She has to be one of the most entertaining kids I have ever met (I'm not just saying that either) she plans on taking the world by storm and being famous at aged 5, and comes out with some of the cutest quotes like 'if you blow me a kiss I will eat it so it goes straight in my heart' Awwww!

3) Seeing my friends - Some of my friends live so far from me but when we see eachother it's like we have never been apart, I really treasure the moments we spend together and our friendships are stronger than ever.

4) Cooking - My dad taught me how to cook from a young age and every time I do it makes me smile and I don't mean bunging something in the oven either I mean from scratch, its really nice to achieve something and be like yeah I made that!

5) Reading - Getting lost in a book is something I love! I do get really disappointed when they make movies of books I have read though because it's never the same.

Monday summary.

14.2.11

Happy Valentine's Day! This Monday summary and '5 good things' post may contain slush and lovey dovey matter so please look away now if you are avoiding romantic nonsense. I feel I'm allowed to be slightly smug as I spent many years being single whilst every single one of my friends were loved up/moving in together/going on holiday. I thought I'd NEVER find 'the one' so now that I have, I'm very happy indeed. And of course every day we tell each other how much we love the other, but if you can't shout about it on Valentine's Day then when can you?!

I had a lovely weekend (as always!). On Friday night Jonathan and I went out for tea in Leeds with my friend from work and her boyfriend. Between us we ate lots of yummy food and had a good laugh. Saturday involved baking and making pizza. Then yesterday we went to Jonathan's sister and husbands house and lots of family were there for Sunday dinner, quizzes, board games and relaxing. I had a lovely spot in front of the roaring fire while we caught the end of the rugby.


My 5 good things:

1) I've got the day off today (not for Valentine's Day specifically; just to use up some annual leave!) So far we've had a lazy morning drinking tea and eating hot cross buns, we took the dogs on a walk and my hands nearly dropped off from the cold, and I've done a little bit of blogging while the boy catches up with Top Gear. And of course I swapped cards with the boy (he always makes his cards = adorable!) and swapped presents. He has bought some surprise ingredients for our dinner and will be cooking up a storm a little bit later. Yum!

2) My knitting lessons are booked! I'm terribly excited about my class, but worried I won't pick it up as quickly as I did at Brownies when I was a wee young thing. The older I get the more my patience disappears! There are SO many things I want to knit so I really hope I get the knitting bug!

3) I must say a quick THANK YOU for the wonderful comments on this post. You have said such kind words and told me about your weight loss journeys and I've really enjoyed reading every single comment. Keep them coming! The support of others is so helpful when you're trying to lose weight or get fit, so if you're feeling a bit stuck feel free to email or tweet me and I'll be happy to reply :)

4) We've got lots of good films lined up to watch today/this week. Next up is The Girl Who Played With Fire. I can't wait to watch it!

5) My boyfriend. He is truly the kindest, funniest, most generous person I've ever met. He puts up with my silly mood swings once a month. He makes me laugh when I'm feeling down. He listens when I talk. He is very silly and we always have so much fun, no matter what we're doing. And I fancy him to bits. Jonathan - I love you :)

How I lost (almost) 2 stone.

13.2.11

This post has been a long time coming. Lots of people have commented on my weight loss and I've had a few emails asking me to share my story but it's just been one of those things I've put off. However, I know so many people are looking for inspiration and most women I know want to lose weight and get fit, so if I can inspire a couple of people to go for it then that's brilliant.

A year ago I weighed, at most, about 11 stone 3lbs. I now weigh around 9 stone 5lbs. I was never terribly unhappy with my weight. In fact I thought I looked okay. But I felt terrible. An unhappy relationship, lack of exercise and poor diet was making me feel rubbish.

This was me 1 year ago:

And this is me now:
 

Losing weight for me was very simple. I just needed to get into the right frame of mind and I had to really want to do it. Once I got to that place I found that the weight started to come off, I felt amazing and I actually WANTED to exercise.

Initially, my break up triggered my weight loss. Now I'm not saying to go and be single to lose a few pounds, of course that would be very silly. But I had been through a lot, and finally being free of those restraints gave me a whole new lease of life. I had something I could focus on, and I just knew I could really do it and make myself look and feel happier.

This is when I stepped things up a gear. I started to exercise, I swapped sweets and biscuits for fruit, I learnt how to cook basic but healthy meals, and I turned to fellow bloggers for inspiration. Then I fell in love.. and became the happiest I've ever been in every aspect of my life, and this has rubbed off onto my desire to be fit and healthy.

Now I'm not saying I'm perfect now. There are days when I don't do any exercise and I consume biscuits like they're going out of fashion, but most days I give my body good, healthy food and get my butt into gear by exercising, even if it's just for 30 minutes.

I hope the tips in this post helps some of you to give your weight loss journey a kick start in the right direction.


Eat breakfast
I always used to skip breakfast. Now I have it every day without fail - muesli or bran flakes with semi-skimmed milk or 2 slices of toast with butter. I can't eat when I first wake up so I make it at work at about 8.45am and it's the perfect time. I have it with a cup of tea and it sets me up nicely for the day. 

What do I drink
I have never been one for fizzy pop so I mainly drink water, cups of tea (no sugar) and sometimes fruity squash. I don't drink nearly enough water as I should and I'm working on this one. I definitely feel better in myself for drinking more of the stuff. 

Meals and snacking
As mentioned above I always have breakfast. I have cut down on snacking, especially boredom-related snacking. At work I keep busy so I don't have time to sit munching at my desk but I always keep bananas, apples and satsumas close by for when I'm feeling peckish. I almost always have a sugary treat in the afternoon with a cup of tea but the key is not to go overboard. I won't deny myself anything because it only makes me feel miserable and then I want that thing more. 

5 a day
I don't always achieve 5 portions of fruit and veg a day but I get pretty close on most days. As mentioned above I always keep fruit by my desk at work so I usually have an apple and a banana per day, and my evening meal (if it's pasta for example) will always include veg such as mushrooms, peppers, carrots, etc.. The more chunky bits of veg the better! 

Exercise
On 1 January I kicked myself up the backside and told myself I had to do more exercise. The only way I was ever going to get the body I wanted was to do a considerable amount more than I've ever done before. I want to do even more than I currently do because it makes me feel so much fitter and firmer, however currently on average I do my Jillian Michaels workout 5 or 6 days a week and some jogging in between or instead of. I'd like to do an exercise class once a week and jog more.. and push myself harder. 

Don't lose hope
Reducing portions, cutting out/down on snacking and exercising can be difficult at first. And results won't happen overnight. But if you stick with it you WILL see results and that's what makes you want to carry on. 

I'm always working on my diet and on my exercise routine. This is an ongoing thing for me - I've lost the weight but now I want to tone up and increase my fitness levels. It's hard but stick with it!

 I'd quite like to look like this (Source)
Remember:

- Nothing happens overnight. The key is not to get disheartened when you don't see results straight away. I used to give up on exercise and dieting after a week because I didn't look any different and I thought "what's the point". Well, the point is hard work DOES pay off and once you start to enjoy exercise and build it into your daily routine then you're bound to see results.

- Be realistic. Set yourself realistic goals. I know people who lose a couple of pounds a week and they're disappointed. To me it's a fantastic achievement and a gradual loss, week by week, is going to be easier to maintain.

- Don't be tempted by quick fixes. I've tried crash diets before - the maple syrup one, the soup one, the shake one. Yes they can work, but you will be miserable/get bad breath/pass out/think about food ALL the time/put the weight back on once you eat proper meals again.

- Discover fruit and veg that you love. Give me a Royal Gala apple over a bag of sweets any day! (I'm being serious).

- Be happy. Don't jog if you hate it. Find something that you do enjoy.  Don't eat food that makes you miserable. Make changes to things that are bringing you down in life.

You only get one chance at life.. make it a happy and healthy one!

Birthday.

12.2.11

I turned 26 on the 3 of February and to celebrate, myself and the boy made some nice plans and took 2 days off (thank God for having lots of annual leave left to take before the end of March!)

The night before my birthday we checked into a little hotel in the centre of Leeds (thanks for Pug-sitting Mum!) and went to Bibi's in Leeds - an amazing Italian restaurant with gorgeous art deco decor and wonderful food. We went on one of their "Showtime" nights so there was a 6 piece live band playing ALL of my favourites - My Girl, Stand by Me, Sitting on the Dock of the Bay.. just brilliant!


I wore my new Dorothy Perkins skinny jeans (£12 in the sale, perfect fit? Yes please!) and my oldie but goodie Topshop platforms, and a black Topshop top with ruffles on the sleeves.

We had a wonderful time. I had a goats cheese tart to start, salmon for my main, and a cup of tea to finish things off, and a few glasses of wine in between. The salmon was cooked to perfection and came with lots of tasty veg and potatoes.

The band were amazing and so talented, and we had a great time singing along. We went on for a little drink afterwards and then headed back to the hotel for some zzzz's.


The next day we got up feeling a little bit tired (we're not getting any younger and we're usually in bed asleep by 10pm! hehe). After a sneaky McDonald's breakfast we picked up the Pugs and I got my cards and presents from my Mum and Dad's house and took them back to my little house to open, along with a few bits and bobs from people at work. My friend from work got me a gorgeous River Island scarf - I love scarves at the moment so it was a perfect gift. My friends in the Training Dept got me some lovely Avon smellies and chocolate. 

From my family I mainly got money and vouchers for River Island and Primark. I've done very well indeed! Losing weight means the majority of my clothes are too big so I'm in need of some new things. As mentioned here I got a blender, and an electric whisk, from Jonathan's parents so expect lots of baking posts now we can whisk properly! And Jonathan got me knitting lessons amongst other things which I'm SO excited about.

After a spot of lunch we headed out to a place called Newmillerdam to have a nosy at houses and to have a little wander. We found some very friendly fellas along the way...


Jonathan cooked me a wonderful tea of salmon with hollandaise sauce and a few trimmings followed by a little sneaky treat from Waitrose. I opted for a giant strawberry fondant fancy and I can honestly say it was YUMMY.

We settled down to watch The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo which we both thoroughly enjoyed, ready for an exciting day at Eden Camp the following day. But I'll talk about that another time :)