Saturday, 31 October 2015

Halloween Cupcakes

Happy Halloween Eve Everyone! 
(although it's technically halloween now because I took so long to write this post :) haha)

As promised, today's post is going to be all about the halloween-themed cupcakes I made today. I had two designs in mind for decorating my cupcakes, and so I made 12 of them and decorated half with one design and half with another. I've decided to write this post in a step-by-step style so you can make your own halloween-themed cupcakes (or any themed cupcakes).

I used a simple victoria sponge/sandwich cake recipe from Be-ro because I've been using their recipe for as long as I can remember. The only adjustments you need to make to the recipe is the time you bake the cakes for and the temperature. I pop them in the oven for 12-15 minutes and set the temperature to 190°C. Remember to pre-heat your oven before baking your cupcakes. For decorate the cupcakes, I've used Be-ro's buttercream recipe and added food colouring to get the colours I want. Here's a list of ingredients you'll need to make the cupcakes: 

For the cake 
100g self-raising flour
100g margarine 
100g caster sugar
2 medium eggs
(optional, I used this! just add a few drops) vanilla flavouring/essence  

 For the buttercream
100g icing sugar 
50g butter or margarine 
(optional) food colouring
(optional) flavourings 
(optional) cake decorations

Other things you'll need 
Cupcake/Paper cases
Wooden spoon or electronic whisk
A spoon for weighing out the ingredients
Several bowls to put your ingredients into
Kitchen scales 
A large mixing bowl
2 standard sized baking trays

I couldn't resist buying this 'bake for halloween' stork margarine set as soon as I spotted it in Iceland. I always use stork margarine when I'm baking so that's what I used today :) 

The photograph above shows the ingredients needed to make the cupcakes. I always crack my eggs into a seperate bowl and whisk them with a fork because I think it's easier to add a little bit of the egg at a time this way, but you can just crack the eggs straight into the mixture if you prefer to do it that way. I weighed the margarine in the mixing bowl because it can be a little tricky to get all of it out of a seperate bowl into the mixing bowl for step 1. So here's what you do to actually make the cakes. You can use an electronic whisk or like me who prefers to do it all by hand, a wooden spoon. 

Step 1: Mix the margarine and caster sugar together until it's light and fluffy
Step 2: Once you have a light and fluffy mixture, it's time to add the flour and the egg. Do this by adding little bits at a time and slowly folding the mixture at first to prevent lots of air bubbles ending up in your cupcakes and then mix it as normal. 
Step 3: After all the egg and flour is added, you'll have a creamy mixture that's ready to spoon into your paper cases. If you want to add vanilla (or another) flavouring to your cake, add a few drops now and mix in.
Step 4: Place the cupcakes onto a baking tray and put into the middle of oven for 12-15 minutes. After they have been in for 12 mins, check to see if they are done by poking a knife or fork into the centre of a cupcake and if the knife/fork is clear when pulled out, then they are fully baked and ready to come out of the oven.
Step 5: Take the cupcakes off the baking tray and put them onto a plate or a cooling rack, and leave them to cool before adding any buttercream. 

After the cupcakes have cooled, it's time to make the buttercream. If you don't like buttercream, you could add chocolate or icing to your own cupcakes. For my halloween-themed cupcakes, I decided I wanted some covered with green buttercream and the others with orange. I couldn't find these colours in my local ASDA so I bought yellow, blue and red to mix together and create the colours myself. I purchased some sprinkles from B&M Bargains to put on top of the buttercream, and I also bought a little set from Poundland that included cute orange paper cases with frankensteins and bats on and cardboard cake toppers. Into the orange coloured buttercream I decided to add orange flavouring, too (from ASDA). To make the buttercream:

Step 1: Add the butter or margarine (I used stork margarine again) and icing sugar into a large mixing bowl and mix together. At first, the mixture will look similar to a crumble as the icing sugar begins to stick to the margarine. Eventually, it will start to look like a thick paste and will be finished when it is easy to mix and has a creamy texture. 
Step 2: If you want to add flavouring or colour to your buttercream, add it now and stir it until it is fully mixed it. Now it's ready to be added to the top of your cupcakes, either using a piping bag or a spoon (like how I do it!). 
Step 3: Once on top of your cupcakes, you can add all the decoration you like to make them look yummy and pretty.

Here are my completed cupcakes. I hope you enjoyed this step-by-step halloween-themed cupcake post. Let me know if you'd like to see similar baking posts in the future. I love baking!

Thanks for reading


Which is your favourite of my two cake designs?
Who else has done some halloween baking? 


Thursday, 29 October 2015

Almost Halloween

Yayy! There's only 2 days left until Halloween and I'm so excited! I love the week building up to this awesome day as there are so many things to do in preparation... I've carved my pumpkin, done some halloween-themed baking, brought all my fancy dress ideas together to create my costume for my friend's party and put up all my decorations. Speaking of decorations, that's what today's post is all about. Yesterday, I filled my bedroom with decorations, some bought and some drawn. If it was up to me, the whole house would be covered in decorations and I'd probably decorate the garden, too! So, here's another photo filled post for you! 

I'm quite proud of my hand-drawn witch decoration

How adorable are these Cadbury's spider chocolates that my mum picked up from Home Bargins? 

The little wind-up grim reaper and the spider are keepsakes from my 16th birthday. My mum made me a spooky cake :) Here's a photo...

Finally, I decorated the dining room window with some orange pumpkin tinsel & my Nightmare Before Christmas Jack Skellington inspired pumpkin, and today I added a witch and a spiderweb decoration. 

Who else has put decorations up? I'd love to hear all about them so please leave comments below. If you've written a blog post all about your decorations then let me know!

 Tomorrow, I'll be posting about my Halloween cupcakes. 


Hope you've all had a great day!



Wednesday, 28 October 2015

International Plush Animal Lover's Day

I don't usually post on a Wednesday but today is International Plush Animal Lover's Day so I just had to share with you all my love of Amuse plushies Amuse is a Japanese company that make many things, including adorable plushies with their most well known probably being Alpacasso. I have always collected plushies (or teddies as we mostly call them in the UK). I remember having a massive collection of TY beanie babies when I was little and because I was so interested in animals, everytime I saw a teddy of a new species, I wanted it. My passion for teddy animals has not changed, if not it's grown because of all the kawaii plushies that are available online. I first noticed Alpacasso's on tumblr, and how I have lots of products by Amuse. This post is going to be very photo heavy! 

 If you follow me on instagram, you may have seen this photograph of my favourite Amuse plushie. This alpacasso was the first amuse item I bought and yellow is one of my favourite colours, so this is why it's my favourite. I named 'her' Lemony. Who else names their plushies? 

 This is the second alpacasso plushie I bought, because how I resist purchasing a giant rainbow alpaca!? Alpacas are one of my favourite animals, and the mixture of bright & pastel colours are just gorgeous! I named this alpacasso 'Sherbet' because 'he' reminded me the rainbow dust straws that I used to eat when I was little, which was sherbet. 

 This is the only medium-sized alpacasso in my collection. How adorable does he look with his little spotty scarf & earmuffs? It's from a winter themed set, and I bought him this year at MCM Manchester Comic Con. I was determined to come home with a blue alpacasso, so I did! I named him Icegem, inspired by the McVities snacks 'Iced Gems'. 

 Are you starting to think I'm slightly obsessed with alpacasso's yet? If so, you'd be right! I love them! I also purchased these two cuties at comic con this year. It was like paradise for me there, filled with so many stalls selling kawaii Japanese & Korean plushies. These two small alpacasso's are from the Makiba Kids collection and Makiba translates as 'prairie' but they remind me of the traditional outfits of Switzerland. I've named the blue one Hansel and the pink one Heidi. I love the detail of their ribbons with the cute mini bells!

This is the final alpacasso in my Amuse plush collection and is the last one I bought. I got her from the super kawaii UK store Tofu Cute. She is from the Goodnight collection and is wearing an old fashioned night cap. She's a mini-sized  keychain, and I've named her violet after Parma Voilet sweets because of her pretty lavender colour. 

The next few plushies in this post are some of the other awesome 'characters' designed by Amuse. This giant ball of adorableness is from the Coroham Coron series and is a hamster! He's my second favourite Amuse plushie because he is soooo squishy and soft, and I use him as a pillow! He was another comic con purchase and I am so glad I went back to the stall before we left to get him. I found out that this hamster is called Coron, but at the moment, I just call him Ham-Ham. Does anyone else a Coroham Coron plush?

This is another plushie from the Coroham Coron collection, and he's a mini keychain. He reminds me so much of a Syrian hamster I had when I was younger. I want to put him on one of my bags but I don't want him to get dirty or ruined. I checked online and found out his name is 'Purin' which means pudding in Japanese. I think this name is adorable and so I'll keep it as that. 

Ignore the state of my backpack, it needs a good wash! I bought this adorable little bunny keychain in my first ever order from Tofu Cute, and it's from the Pote Usa Loppy bunny series. It's tiny and cute, and I immediately put it on my backpack as soon as I got it! Below is another Pote Usa Loppy plush that I bought at comic con. It is really really soft and feels like the fur of a Rex rabbit. 

 I just had to take a photo of the label because those bunnies are incredibly kawaii! I hope you all enjoyed this post dedicated to Amuse plushies! They are such lovely, well-made plushies and there are so many animals available, ranging from otters, to fennec foxes, to sheep! There's something for everyone and I highly recommend them for any teddy lover!


Does anyone else have an Amuse plush? or a favourite plush of another brand?  

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

I've got mail! #2

I hope you all enjoyed my last incoming mail post (find it here). It's almost the end of October & so I've decided it's time to show you all what I've been sent this month. I haven't received as much mail as I usually do because I've been both ill and busy and so I haven't swapped many postcards with other postcrossers, and the majority of my money has gone towards halloween preparations for the day itself and also the fancy dress party I'm going to. This means I haven't done as much online shopping as I'd have liked, but here's what I got through my letterbox this month...*this post is pic heavy*

Firstly, my first ever Lucky Dip Club box arrived this morning, and the theme this month is Biscuit Box. I'm so excited to open it and I'll be doing a separate post all about it soon :) 

 This adorable puffin postcard was sent to me from Iceland. Quite a few weeks ago now, I spotted a photo on one of the facebook pages dedicated to postcrossing of a group of Icelandic high school students asking for people to send them postcards (and receive one back in return) for their international communication class. I sent the students a postcard of the Robin Hood statue at Nottingham castle that I'd bought when I was still studying at NTU, and in return one of the students sent me this postcard. At the beginning of October, they had collected 580 postcards from lovely people all over the world :) 

How pretty is this fox postcard? I wanted to receive at least one autumn-themed postcard this month so when I saw this one on a fellow postcard swappers instagram, I asked if I could swap. It's really easy to swap postcards online, if you know where to look and you have a nice selection of postcards for people to choose from. I'm really happy to add this adorable postcard to my collection! The stamps used were traditional Chinese art and a cute Beijing olympics 2008 illustration stamp, and lovely swapper also added cute stickers and teddy bear washi tape. 

I did another postcard swap via instagram and we decided to exchange two postcards each because sometimes there's too many awesome postcards to decide on your favourite. I am in love with this adorable shiba inu postcard I think they have eaten too much food, after researching the meaning of the word 'wagamama'. I love shiba inus, especially their tails! Can you spot the little pug? 

 This is the other postcard from our swap and its so kawaii and awesome! I really really wanted a halloween postcard this year so swapping for this made me so happy. I love all the little details... the oijipan panda dressed as a wizard, the hamsters dressed as a ghost, vampire, mummy and frankenstein, the witch penguin, and my favourite the little witch tortoise! This is one of my favourite postcards that I've received since I started postcrossing. 

 These are the beautiful stamps that came on the two postcards above. I think they are from the 2015 Taiwanese valentine's day collection and I've wanted to be sent some for ages! They are so pretty and colourful, with such lovely illustrations :) 

Lastly, the final mail I received this month are some stamps that I ordered from the Royal Mail website. The other week my mum picked me up some official Royal Mail postcards from one of our local post offices and I decided to buy the matching stamps. I love whenever they release stamps with a nature theme & I always try to get them. In celebration of the new Star Wars Movie (Star Was: The Force Awakens) the Royal Mail have released a Star Wars collection so I just had to buy those, too!

Thanks for reading!


Does anyone else collect postcards or stamps? or anything else? I'd love to know! 


Saturday, 24 October 2015

What I've been watching | October Edition

I've decided to start another monthly post on my blog telling you all about any tv shows or movies I've watched each month that I've found particularly interesting, educational or I've just really enjoyed watching it! I spend a lot of my time watching tv shows and movies online and catch-up TV on my phone so I'd probably consider it as a kind of hobby. I have to warn you that there may be little **spoilers** in these posts if you haven't seen any of the shows/movies I'm discussing, but I'll make sure I don't mention any major events or storylines. Anyhow, I hope you all enjoy this post. 

  Awkward S05
I really enjoyed this show when I first started watching it because it was different from other teen comedies I'd watched & I thought the characters were funny, realistic and really relatable. It's a show about a teenager girl who is described as an 'outcast' who's searching for her identity. She also writes a blog! Something happens (I won't spoil it by telling you what) which causes her to have a minor accident which makes everyone think that she has tried to commit suicide. The show features other sensitive issues such as bullying, relationships, heartbreak, sexuality and much more. I wasn't so much of a fan as I watched each next season but I was too invested in the storyline of the characters that I had to keep watching. Now that I'm well into season 5, I just hoping for good things to happen for Jenna (the lead character). 

  ♥ American Horror Story  
I'm seriously behind when it comes to American Horror Story, considering it was first aired in 2011 and I've only just started watching it this month. I hadn't heard about it until my 2nd year of uni and not many of my friends were fans so I didn't really know what it was about. I added it to my 'to watch' list (yes, I have a very lengthy to watch list!) and after reading some stuff online about how excited everyone was for Lady Gaga to be appearing in the new S05, I decided it was time to get it watched! & I absolutely LOVE it! I've only been watching it over the last 2 weeks and I'm already onto S03. I was a little confused when the story changed for S02 since I had loved the initial season’s storyline and characters so much, especially Tate, even though I had a love/hate opinion when it came to him. Now that I'm on S03, I have gathered that the theme/story of each season is going to be different (sorry for the spoiler for those who haven't watched it yet!)  and even though I still prefer the contents of S01 and want to know what happens next, I'm enjoying the change and it's showing me how versatile the actors are. 10/10 for this series & I cannot wait to watch more!

The Tale of Princess Kaguya
I am a huge fan of the Japanese animation film company, Studio Ghibli. I love all of their movies, with my favourite being Howl’s Moving Castle, Princess Mononoke and My Neighbour Totoro. Who else loves Studio Ghibli? If so, what’s your favourite movie? I had yet to watch one of their newest productions, the tale of princess Kaguya so I decided this month it was about time I did. The animation was different from other Ghibli movies I’ve seen but it was still amazing nonetheless. They always pay such attention to detail when it comes to their nature and animals, and that’s one of the reasons I adore their movies. They always look so realistic and focus on little elements that other animation companies seem to miss.It had a very beautiful story, which at first reminded me a little of Thumbelina. It was like a fairytale and as I was watching it, I was thinking that it seemed like something from a myth/legend which I found out is true. It’s based on a Japanese folklore tale called ‘The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter’. The movie did not end how I thought it would and it made me cry (though most things do to be honest!) but I will say no more. I recommend this movie to everyone who loves animation movies! It's so cute and lovely! 

MasterChef Australia S07
I really enjoy cooking shows like MasterChef and now that I’ve been watching it for a few years, I much prefer the Australia version to the British one, which I don’t watch anymore. I love everything about the Australia show: the judges, the challenges, the guest chefs and just the whole set-up of the show. I find cooking shows very educational when it comes to learning about new foods, and this is helpful because I’m a really fussy eater and watching shows like these encourages me to try new things. I love mystery box challenges; they are my favourite because I love watching the contestants come up with ideas for the perfect dish. I am also fascinated with the level of skill and creativity of the contestants, especially when it comes to the presentation of their dishes. This year so far the contestant I want to win is Georgia Barnes. If you watch it, who do you want to win? 

Downton Abbey
Currently in England, every Sunday on ITV there’s an episode of Downton Abbey on and it is unfortunately, the 6th and final season *cries* I’ve really enjoyed watching Downton Abbey and I’ll be a little sad when it’s over, especially since there will no longer be a Christmas episode! As I’ve said before I’m abit of a history nerd and if I didn’t want to work with animals, my 2nd choice degree subject would have been history-related, so I’m a lover of period dramas which makes Downton Abbey perfect for me. It was interesting to watch something set in War time Britain because I’ve not watched too many movies/shows set in this period. I’m hoping that nothing drastic or horrible happens to any of the characters and I hope there’s a lovely ending in store for everyone.

Channel 4 Documentaries
I do love watching channel 4 documentaries and next to facebook & instagram, 4od is probably one of the most used apps on my iPhone. I like the multitude of different topics produced by Channel 4 and this month the most interesting I’ve watched are ‘Girls to Men’ and ‘My Transgender Summer Camp’. I think it’s really important for topics like this to be shown to the general public so they can gain an understanding of what it means to be transgender, and I feel that educating people this way will contribute towards ending the bullying and hate crime committed towards transgender people. Although, I was already fairly knowledgeable about the topics discussed in the show as I have friends who have and currently are transitioning and I’ve read some articles about the summer camp in America, it was still educational and I recommend that you watch the documentaries if you would like to learn more about the experiences of both transgender children and adults. 
That’s it for this month... I’ve watched some other shows but this post would be huge if I discussed every single one. Comment if you’ve watched or are watching any of the shows/movies I’ve mentioned here and let me know what you think. Also, I need some recommendations to add to my 'to watch' list, so any suggestions will be super appreciated :)

Thankyou for reading!
What has everyone else been watching lately? 

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