Coffee & Walnut Bundt Cake


This coffee and walnut cake has been one of my biggest successes thus far; the day I made this bundt style bake for my mum's birthday, I also brought a 11-inch sponge (with coffee buttercream) into work - and it was gone by the end of the day! I received a lot of compliments on the taste and texture, so I'll definitely be whipping this recipe up again. This recipe is based off a BBC Good Food one with quite a few amends to change up icing an increase flavour strength.

cake:
300g butter/marg
130ml strong black coffee (made with 3 tbsp coffee granules)
300g self-raising flour
320g golden caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
5 medium eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
100g walnut halves

icing:
20g walnut halves
150g royal icing powder
50ml strong black coffee

one. pre-heat oven to 160 degrees C and grease your cake tins; this amount fills 2x bundt tins.
two. combine sugar, butter and vanilla in bowl and beat until smooth and light in colour; make coffee ahead of time to allow to cool.
three. slowly mix in cooled coffee and eggs (one at a time)
four. fold in flour, baking powder and walnut halves to form final batter; pour into baking pans and bake in oven for 30-35 minutes, or until cake is baked through as per baking skewer
five. after five minutes, pray to the bundt gods for whole cakes and turn out onto cooling rack
six. mix together cooled coffee and royal icing to form thick liquid paste, pour over cooled cakes
seven. decorate with walnut and icing sugar as require



Top 5 iPhone 6S iOS Apps

After being an Android advocate for several years, I recently decided to give the iPhone 6S a try when my contract was up for renewal. There were a couple reasons for this; the primary one being I wanted something fully compatible with my iPad Mini 2 tablet, and also there are far more choices for cases! Of course, I had to opt for the rose gold version, and we've been getting on famously ever since. Here are my top five app picks for those thinking about picking up an iPhone or wanting to know how to utilise their phone better;

one. pennies
Pennies is a great budgeting app for iOS. Originally I was using Wallet by Budget Bakers on Android but I found it really didn't translate well - Pennies is far more intuitive, easy to use and above all easy to track. It's a simple few swipes and clicks to pop in all your spends for the day and keep track of your money situation before payday. The app has a one-off cost of $4.99 and you can can find it here.

two. forest
If you're a next level procrastinator like I am, Forest is a great app to keep you focused. The idea is that you plant a tree and allow it to grow in a fixed amount of time whilst you work - look at Facebook or Twitter and your tree dies. You wouldn't think this would be such an incentive, but it really is and you get a sense of accomplishment looking at your mini forest at the end of each day. The app has a one-off cost of $1.99 and is available for most phones and web browsers. Get it here.

three. CARROT
If you enjoy GLaDOS, you'll enjoy CARROT. A sarcastic computer voice combined with a to do list and reward tiers for achieving your goals are what makes up this app, and it's too funny to pass up. It's another good way to keep you motivated as CARROT gets angry if you start slacking! The app costs $2.99 and you can get it here.

four. a color story
If you're on Instagram, you'll know about A Color Story. Currently exclusive to iOS, this app is fantastic for editing phone snaps to make them lighter, brighter and generally better. There are a load of in-app purchases to complete the 'kit' but overall the cost isn't so high it's unreasonable; as someone who pays for Photoshop CC per month many things seem reasonable when it comes to editing! You can get the app here, it's free for the basics.

five. CARROT weather
Yes, another CARROT app! This one provides snide commentary alongside cute weather illustrations, plus a little widget for your drop down iOS menu. I like that it shows different amounts of time and that a weather app can have so much personality. You can pick it up here for $3.99, and it's also available for Mac.

I'd love to know of other apps anyone has found really useful, convenient or even just plain funny - let me know if there's anything else I should give a try!

NARS Luminous Foundation & Creamy Concealer

NARS is a brand I've heard a lot about in my quest to find a good foundation/concealer combo; alongside MAC, they have a wide variety of different shades and reviews suggest great results in terms of coverage if you choose the correct shade for your skin tone. I'm on the hunt for a good, full coverage combination that can stay flawless all day for wedding purposes, so with my bank card wincing a little(!) I opted to give two of the products with the best overall reviews a try; the Radiant Creamy Concealer and All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation.

The first product I picked up was the concealer, which I got on ASOS for £22. I opted for Vanilla, as it was the lightest shade on offer and at the time I thought it was the lightest shade in the brand. After a bit more research I've discovered that's not the case, and I wish I'd picked up a lighter shade elsewhere though this colour isn't too dark to blend well. My overall impression of this concealer is that it's a lovely, thick formula and a small amount really does go a long way and provides great coverage without being cakey or drying. Overall a win though I need to try the lighter shade too.

The foundation was a second purchase, which I got in a John Lewis order for £32. The foundation is described as a 'bestseller' on the site and on picking up a few hints from the reviews (paler is better!) I decided to go for the Siberia shade. When I first used this foundation I thought that I just hadn't shaken the bottle enough as it was so runny, but I've since realised this foundation really is watery! It's unlike anything I've used before, and provides a really sheer coverage. I had trouble applying it without streaks using a foundation brush but I found patting it on then buffing it in gave a really nice finish. I'm not sure I'd repurchase but topped with a finishing powder it really does stay on all day.


Person-Planner.com Custom Life Planner

I mentioned in my last post on Planner Stickers that I was really excited for my custom personal life planner to turn up in the post; well, here it is! It's every bit as good as I imagined, and for the price I paid the quality is great. The parcel took around 2-3 weeks to arrive (I can't remember exactly when I ordered!) and turned up in perfect condition. The book itself is made up of a sturdy spiral binding and frosted plastic cover which feels like it would survive being thrown into my handbag every day, which is always a plus! I loved that I got to choose the colour of my elastic closure too.

Personal-Planner.com is one of the first sites I came across whilst looking to create my own planner, and at just over £20 for the square planner that I opted for, it was one of the best price-wise. Though these were lots of custom options to choose from in terms of covers and text, I opted to create something myself that actually mimics my wedding stationary; so is very personal to me. The only thing I was a little disappointed in was the headers of the pages, which couldn't be altered with your own images, so I opted for a pretty watercolour style. I can't wait to get using my planner and hopefully get myself a bit more organised!



Happy Cutie Studio Planner Stickers

In a bid to get my life more organised (and to stop putting off responsibilities until the flat/my life is a tip!) I've decided to give a Life Planner a go. I've created a custom one on Personal-Planner.com and am currently waiting for it to pop through the postbox, but in the meantime what is a planner without a bunch of cute stickers to keep track of all your important things to do? Well, it's definitely going to make keeping it updated a lot more fun!

After a quick hunt around Etsy I happened upon Happy Cutie Studio, a store based in London specialising in kawaii planner stickers; right up my alley as you might imagine! The stickers all come in at around £2/sheet plus postage, which isn't too bad a price at all considering how long one sheet can last you. Unlike some other sticker sellers you don't get a choice of gloss or matte, but I like the finish on these stickers as you're able to write on them easily. I spent just under £18 for my sticker haul including postage costs, and my parcel arrived really quickly with sweet packaging and some free 'thank you' stickers. Overall, I'm really impressed and can't wait to get organising with these cuties.


Kawaii Box March 2016

This my third review for the wonderful Kawaii Box, and I still get super excited every time the little cardboard box with its cute pink branding makes its way onto my desk at work! I'm a massive fan of cutesy Japanese culture and anything kawaii; so you can imagine these little bits and pieces are right up my alley. If you're interested in my previous reviews take a look here and here, and you can pick up your own subscription from $17.90 per month.

My favourite pieces this time around were the super cute 'MY friend' padlock, I'm not sure how useful it will actually be as it's pretty plasticky but the packaging is really sweet, which wins it points in my book. My other favourite is the Meiji DIY candy kit; I'm so excited to give this a try as I love the Meiji candy I've had in the past and the instructions seem relatively easy to follow, even though they're in Japanese.

Once more, the lovely people over at Kawaii Box are offering one of my readers the chance to win their own free Kawaii Box. For a chance to get your own little slice of kawaii, enter below;

a Rafflecopter giveaway