Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Baking: Oreo Cookie Chocolate Cake

Good news is, I quite like baking.

Bad news is, I quite like eating what I bake. 

Really bad news is that I ate far too much of this! 

This goes completely against my training for Kilimanjaro, but it was my best friend's birthday and it was an occasion for a totally awesome cake (if I do say so myself!) 

I kind of swapped and changed a few details from the classic Hummingbird Cafe's cupcake recipe and this is how it turned out! 


For the cake:

120g plain flour
140g caster sugar
1 ½ tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
40g unsalted butter, at room temperature
120ml whole milk
1 egg
¼tsp vanilla extract

For the oreo cookie frosting:

125g icing sugar, sifted
40g unsalted butter, at room temperature
15ml whole milk
Around 6 mushed up Oreo cookies

For the white chocolate frosting:

250g icing sugar, sifted
80g  unsalted butter, at room temperature
15ml whole milk
150g white chocolate melted


For the cake:

  1. The original recipe says preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F) Gas 3. Mine needed to be slightly higher as it's not fan assisted. 
  2. Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or I used a handheld electric whisk) and beat on slow speed until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined. Gradually pour in half the milk and beat until the milk is just incorporated.
  3. Whisk the egg, vanilla extract and remaining milk together in a separate bowl for a few seconds, then pour into the flour mixture and continue beating until just incorporated. Continue mixing for a couple more minutes until the mixture is smooth. 
  4. Pour into a greased cake tin and bake for about 20-25minutes. 
  5. A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean. Leave the cake to cool slightly in the tray before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
  6. Repeat all over again because there are two layers to this cake baby! (of course if you are really organised, you can double up the measurements and bake the two layers at the same time in two tins. I'm not at that baking stage clearly!)

For the oreo frosting:

  1. Beat the icing sugar and butter together with an electric mixer on medium-slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed.
  2. Turn the mixer down to slow speed. Combine the milk and vanilla extract in a separate bowl, then add to the butter mixture a couple of tablespoons at a time. I used a little bit less than the 25ml.  Then, turn the mixer up to high speed.
  3. Crush some Oreo cookies, big chunks are fine, the blender will do some hard work for you and add the crushed bickies to the frosting!
  4. 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! 
  5. Smooth onto the top of one of the cakes, and place the other on top to create the amazing chocolatey layers! 

For the white chocolate frosting: 

Do the exact same thing as above, except add the melted chocolate in instead of the Oreo cookies! And cover the cake, no need to be pretty about it! Just lash it on! 

Finally, crush a couple of more cookies and sprinkle them on top for decoration! 


Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Your face will thank you for it: Trilogy Cream Cleanser

Swoon.  Swoon. McSwoonerson. Swooney. Swoon.

I love this cleanser: 

Aussie brand Trilogy is probably best known for its Organic Rosehip Oil which has been tooted at The Best facial oil from beauty gurus from hear to Timbuktu, and for very good reason too.

Unlike the rosehip oil which I use every once in a while (when the dreaded dry skin patches rear their ugly head!!) I've been using the Cream Cleanser everyday, twice a day. And it is awesome. 

I used to only use foamy cleansers, goes back to my teen years when I thought a good ol' foam wash was the only way to wash away the dirt and grime that was causing my breakouts...more fool me. But now I am a complete convert! 

Of course it's got the all important rosehip oil, but also evening primrose oil and aloe vera to deeply clean away makeup. But the thing I love is that it's not greasy, there's no gunky feeling afterwards that has you reaching for toner to wipe away the tacky residue. Nope, nada, just nice fresh skin. 

The only thing I can fault it on is that it doesn't 100 per cent remove all my mascara (which is a tough job anyways as I put on lashings of it!) but I'm using a separate cleanser for my eyes which is working a treat. I'll blog about this eye cleanser in a bit - it's under strict 'thou shall not spill the beans' embargo! 

It comes it a pretty pricey £22.50, but I'm just about half way through the bottle now, and I'm guessing I'll get another month out of it! 

Saturday, 31 March 2012

Race for Life: Challenge Accepted

I haven't even completed one challenge yet, and I've already signed up for another! 

The Cancer Research UK Race for Life is always something that I wanted to be part of. Yet, the thought of running 10k was just far beyond impossible that I was more supporter than participant. 

But when my housemate asked if I would do the 5k with her this year, I jumped on it. For the first time in my life, I'm just about comfortable running 5k without keeling over and I thought it would be something to keep my activity level up after Kilimanjaro and for a really good cause!

But after chatting to the half-marathon running ladies from Sexy in the City Bootcamp, I was convinced I could do the 10k if I put in a bit of training after Kilimanjaro - so @Orsii, @RachelAfia and @Danilorium I'm holding you wholly responsible for this one! :) 

So that's it, I've signed up, my race number has arrived and all that's left to do is train up to the 10k. 

Anyone else running it this year? Any tips you'd like to share with this complete running novice - things like "your toe nails may fall off" are not appreciated at this time! :) 

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

How to get a holiday visa to Tanzania

This is the conversation that ensued at the Tanzanian Embassy today.

Visa Man: Hello, how can I help?

Me: I'd like to apply  for a holiday visa for June please.

Visa Man: You look very young to be travelling so far...(examines passport). 

Me: Ahhh, I'm older than I look...(awkward pause while man calculates how old I'm meant to be, then looks at my un-makeuped face through the glass). 

Visa Man: Let me guess, you're going to try climb Kilimanjaro.

Me: Yes, I'm really looking forward to it! (excited face, beaming through glass)

Visa Man: Well, my brother died on that, you know...

Me: ....ohh, ehmmm, gosh, I'm so sorry for your loss, that must have been terrible for your family.... (I'm seriously awkward now). 

Visa Man: Bahhhaahaahaaaahaaa, Lady, you have just made my day - the look on your face was priceless. It never gets old. I say it to everyone who gets a visa for Kilimanjaro! (Chuckles to himself in a hearty 'ho ho ho, I got this one good!' fashion).

Me: (stunned and silent). 

Visa Man: Ok, you're all set, collect it on Monday.

So there you have it ladies and gents, let the visa man scare the living pants off you about your forthcoming adventure holiday and the visa shall be granted.

(Subnote: I immediately Googled how many people die on Kilimanjaro each year. 10 people apparently. Ohhhh pants.)

Could I be a runner?

Note I left to my housemates before embarking on my run today. 

Before we go any further, I am not a runner. Nor am I a jogger. And before Christmas I could barely make it 100 feet without keeling over and breathing as if I had run a marathon.

And I used every excuse in the book. My feet are too flat. It's really bad for your joints. I'm too 'top heavy'. The list was endless as to why I couldn't get my arse up off the couch and around the park.

But, as I started to seriously train for Kilimanjaro, there are a certain amount of kilos that need to be lost before I can be properly satisfied with my physical health. So, I started doing little jogs on the treadmill at the gym, started hauling myself out of bed on a Saturday to jog around the common. And today something amazing happened.

I actually enjoyed my run. Now, it could have something to do with the two glasses of bubbly I had at a press event at about 5pm, or it could be down to the amazing weather we had today, or it could be because I named my ipod playlist 'I like to run' in some kind of subliminal message to myself. But whatever it was down to, it worked.

I managed 2.5miles, (this is a huge distance for me) without collapsing or turning into Darth Vadar.


Sunday, 11 March 2012

Kilimanjaro Training: Hyde Park walk

The gloves are off...or should I say, the boots are on!

The route has been mapped, the rucksack is filled (to about 10kg, because that's what we'll be carrying up Kilimanjaro) and the ipod is fully charged.

Following the advice of every Kilimanjaro related blog I could find, breaking in your boots is so important. The last thing you want on the side of a mountain is to be wincing with pain every step because of a blister. I'll have enough things like altitude sickness and muscle spasms to worry about, thanks very much.

I bought a pair of Meindl SoftLine Ladies boots in Cotswolds in early Feb, just as the sales were finishing for £109. I think they were around £150 originally. I picked Meindl (after trying on about a dozen pairs!) because I had an old pair of Meindl Burmas to muck around the horses with when I was living at home, and they would have lived a very long and happy life, and I probably would have worn them for Kili too, if they hadn't had an unfortunate run in with a teething puppy. The ankle support was sadly knawed off, still wearable of course, but lost a bit of the important support factor.

So last weekend I took myself out at the crack of dawn (read: 10am) to walk the streets of London with the boots for the first time!

Here's the route:

Clapham > Battersea > Sloane Street to Knightsbridge > round Hyde Park > and back again = 11miles!

And here's some pretty pictures I took along the way.

What I learned from the walk: stretch. Always stretch. My shins were aching the next day and I'm pretty sure it was simply because I didnt stretch out before and after. Lesson learned!

Great Skincare Mystery: Revealed!!


The brand behind the Big Skincare Mystery was Clearasil! 

Although I thought a teen brand was behind the mysterious green gloop facewash-cum-mask I had completely forgotten about Clearasil! Thinking about it, the brand was well overdue a overhaul. 

I think almost everyone has at some stage in their teens reached for a bottle of Clearasil in the hopes that it would clear up spots and blemishes. I know the only think I was left with (after religiously cleansing with the old version twice a day) was super dry, itchy and reddened skin. But, luckily, the new formula has had nothing short of a complete transformation and the Clearasil Vitamins and Extracts range is much, much kinder to skin. 

At the big reveal in the rather swanky venue of 24 Kingley Street, the complete new range was revealed. 

Apart from the Daily Clear Vitamins and Extracts Wash and Mask - which was  the mystery green gloop - the range includes an exfoliator, facewipes and their hero product the PerfectaWash system. 

The touch-free, motion activated dispenser delivers the perfect amount of cleanser to the palm of your hand - guaranteeing that you don't use too much or too little of the product. No risk of over-drying, no unexpectadily running out of cleanser (each see through refill bottle has 100 doses, so around six weeks of morning and evening cleansing) and no forking out hard earned cash - the whole system costs just £12.99. 

Good move Clearasil, very good move!