Thursday, 24 December 2015

christmas is a time for cake

It's Christmas Eve!!!

How did that even happen?

I am completely unprepared for Christmas this year...

Presents? Haven't bought any..

Baking? Umm.. Sorry family, but I've got nothing for you this year...

I do however, have something I prepared earlier for you, lovely readers :)

A  C A N D Y  C A N E  C A K E

(Proudly brought to you by 2014 Andie who was obviously far more festive and prepared...)

candy cane cake >> STARTS WITH CUPCAKES

220g butter
220g dark chocolate, chopped
125g self-raising flour
125g plain flour
50g unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp bicarb soda
480g caster sugar
4 eggs
7 tsps vegetable oil
100ml buttermilk.

Preheat your oven to 160C.
Melt the butter and chocolate in a saucepan with 160ml of water
Sift the flours, cocoa and bicarb soda into a large bowl
Stir in the sugar
Add combined egg, oil and buttermilk
Then stir in the chocolate mixture until completely combined
Pour mixture into greased cake tin and pop into the oven

Bake for 1 hour 40 minutes

Frost with cream cheese frosting, flavoured with a little peppermint essence;
Sprinkle with crushed candy canes;
and poke a few in the top for decoration.

M E R R Y  C H R I S T M A S !


Tuesday, 1 December 2015

goodbye 20's

Social media is flooded today with everyone making a big deal about it being the First of December.

Obviously, this is newsworthy because it's The First Day of Summer.

But for me it marks the end of Birthday Month.

Let's all take a moment of silence and let that sink in.




B I R T H D A Y   M O N T H   I S   O F F I C I A L L Y   O V E R

Oh.. And yes - So are my 20's.

F U C K 

goodbye 20's >> STARTS WITH CUPCAKES

Birthday month consisted of a carefully orchestrated series of events to ensure I didn't lock myself in my house, and eat my feelings in darkness, whilst wallowing in self pity and questioning every single decision I have made in my life up until this point.

I have had the most incredible month celebrating life with my favourite people.
aka Birthday Month was a HUGE SUCCESS.

Laying poolside with a cocktail in my hand and the Balinese sun on my body, 
I took a moment (just one...) to reflect on the last ten years.

This pretty much sums it up - 

goodbye 20's >> STARTS WITH CUPCAKES

So, without too much emotion (hopefully...) here's a quick list of 

T H I N G S   I   L E A R N T   I N   M Y   2 0 ' S

• It is impossible to find happiness by doing things just because everyone else is.

 Nothing superficial has the power to fill the void of unhappiness. Binge eating and manic shopping sprees are the emotional equivalent of putting a bandaid on a gunshot wound.

• It takes two to tango. But only one person to leave the dance floor.

• There is no cure for the Travel Bug.

• Family is everything. Get to know your parents. Like, really know who they are as a person, rather than just as 'Mum' or 'Dad'. Sit with them and share a bottle of wine. I guarantee you will learn something new about them every.single.time.

• You can make fairly accurate assumptions about a person based on their shoes.

• Having goals and ambition is imperative. Fear of failure is a waste of time.

• Negative self talk is an epidemic. Everyone has insecurities. There is not enough emphasis or energy put towards positive thinking or support of others.

• Moving house is a pain in the ass... Unless you consider it as an 'adventure' rather than a 'chore'.

• Ignorance is not bliss. It is important to have an opinion. About music. Current events. Icecream flavours.

• It is equally as important to be willing to consider others opinions. I am not opposed to judging them later.. but only after listening to their justifications and considering their perspective. 

• White linen in your home creates a feeling of opulence akin to a 5-star hotel.

• It is Murphy's Law that when you have booked a 5-star hotel, you will be out all night and never actually sleep in the bed or enjoy any of the luxurious facilities; but when you have 'settled' for a lower standard of accommodation, you will spend more time in the hotel than you anticipated.

• Everybody has a story. Some people may never share it with you and that's their prerogative. Sharing your story with others is also optional.

• A self-preservation and/or self-development routine is imperative. Money well-spent on YOU is an investment. Facials. Gym memberships (if that's what you're into). Life coaching. Education. You are worthy of your own affection.

• Being in someone's wedding is not a contractually binding agreement that you will remain in their lives (even if it is your own....)

• Some of the most disastrous events/situations will make for a great story in a few minutes/days/months/years. Time heals all wounds. Eventually.

• Nobody else knows what they are doing either.

• Never say Never. Yes - I just quoted Justin Bieber. Watch this space for a new post all about my not-so-secret crush on this guy...


Thursday, 12 November 2015

please don't leave me a voicemail...

I have a problem with voicemail.
And more specifically - people who leave voicemail messages.

But before we go any further, you might want to brace yourselves...
Because this is what I would describe is a Truth Bomb Post;
aka Harsh But Fair.

* * *

To The People Who Call My Phone and Find It Necessary To Talk To The Robot Lady Who Is Responsible For My Voice Mail,

(Her name is Samantha.)

My phone is always near me.

Like, rarely arms length away from me.

So if I don't answer -
It's because I literally can't right now;
or (much more likely) I DON'T WANT TO.

I sat down and wrote a list of all the times it is appropriate for you to leave a voice message -


If you are calling me, it means that you know me.
Which means I know you.
And you have my number.
So it's fair to assume that I have yours.
Stored right there in my contacts list.
So... When you call me (with the magic that is Mobile Phone Technology) your name comes up my screen.

If we're good friends - well... You should know me better than this by now... and I may start to question our friendship - and a photo I have carefully selected and assigned to your profile will also dominate my screen (interrupting my highly-likely Insta-scrolling) until you stop calling.
Which means if I don't answer, and by some miracle my phone wasn't visible to me in that exact moment -
My oh-so-smart phone notifies me of your missed call automatically.

If I don't answer your phone call -
P L E A S E   S E N D   M E   A   T E X T

I promise, I will read your text and respond IMMEDIATELY*.

But that little notification that tells me I have a voicemail?
Well... I can ignore that FOR DAYS.

I don't always check my voicemail...  >> STARTS WITH CUPCAKES

Let's have a look at that in a pie chart...

reasons I check my voicemail >> STARTS WITH CUPCAKES

In summary - If I don't answer my phone, I am either dead or busy.

Don't bother Samantha^.

Send me a text. Summarise the reason why you're calling.


"Hi! It's meeee... Call me back!"

That's annoying.

Yup... Russell Brand know's where I'm coming from -

russell brand voicemail >> STARTS WITH CUPCAKES


^Unless you sing to me. 

I'm totally OK with you calling to serenade Samantha and I.
It's lovely.
We appreciate it.

Or maybe, like, in a few hours.
Definitely immediately if it's urgent though.
Promise. xx

Friday, 6 November 2015

paparazzi of our own lives

Earlier this week, a teenage girl whose name I no longer remember, got her 15 minutes of fame in mainstream media for admitting that everything she posted on social media to gain likes and followers was not a true reflection of her real life.

Apparently she feels like a fraud, and wants to call bullshit on the online charade.

This is the kind of 'news' that I would like to label -
A   S T O R M   I N   A   T E A C U P

Not because I don't agree with her new desire to empower young girls to live authentically;
Or because I don't applaud her new decision to use her position of power to speak truthfully to her followers;
Or because I, like several others, can't help but question if this was a clever marketing ploy to further her 'brand'.

But because it feels like we've just discovered that magazine editors use photoshop to enhance their images.

Or that reality shows like The Bachelor, Masterchef, (and dare I suggest it) Keeping Up With The Kardashians, employ an entourage of behind-the-scenes producers and editors to manufacture events and carefully manipulate situations to illicit more drama.


Social media posts are edited versions of reality.

That's a fact.

Photos posted by most #fitspiration accounts are no more candid than a carefully planned Lorna Jane photoshoot with strategic product placement and clever styling.

That's why we follow them.

It's why posts with hashtags like #inspiration; #foodporn; and #homedecor are in the millions.

Surely you too have taken countless near-identical shots before choosing 'the one' to post;
Added a valencia filter;
Or artfully cropped the image to showcase the best element?!

You won't find many terrible photos on my Facebook or Instagram accounts; 
And likewise, you won't find any framed and hung on the walls in my house.

Nobody wants to see my bedroom floor covered with the entire contents of my wardrobe because I couldn't find anything to wear to work 3 days in a row..
Or the state of my kitchen mid-baking, with dishes piled in the sink and the remnants of an icing sugar explosion across my bench top.

I publicly display the good stuff - ON and OFF line.

paparazzi of our lives >> STARTS WITH CUPCAKES


Sunday, 1 November 2015

birthday month 2015

Happy 1st of November!

Or as I like to call it -

birthday month >> STARTS WITH CUPCAKES

Rather than look back, and recap my life, as I have done in the past...
(here, herehere, here. Interestingly I didn't bother with a post last year...)

I'm taking a different approach to Birthday Month today.

I ' M   L O O K I N G   F O R W A R D

Perhaps I'm somehow inspired by a terrible quote I heard recently,
which had something to do with looking back giving you nothing but a sore neck...

Maybe it's because I've got lots of exciting things on the horizon?

Or maybe I am finally getting wiser in my old age?!

This month I will say goodbye to my 20's; 

And I have sooo many things for which to be grateful,

I'm not worried about 'The Big 3-0' at all.


Wednesday, 28 October 2015

putting the FUN in funfetti

It's been a while since I turned on my oven to bake.
(Unless you count last weekend when I 'baked' then demolished a packet of frozen curly fries....?! 
Which were pretty awesome, but don't technically fall into the official 'baking' category...)

Yeah... so it's been a while.

But as I prepare to dust off the cake tins and create a dinosaur birthday cake for my favourite mini human and (self-appointed) God-Son, I realised I never posted the recipe for the cake I baked his Mama months ago for her special day.

So (through the magic of the blogesphere)
Here's a little somethin' I prepared earlier....

T H E   F U N F E T T I   C A K E

(For one of my favourite adult humans - xx)

putting the FUN in funfetti >> STARTS WITH CUPCAKES

T H E   C A K E 

1 and 2/3 cup plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup greek yogurt 
3/4 cup milk
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup sprinkles

Preheat oven to 180C degrees. Spray cake tin generously with nonstick spray. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt butter in the microwave.
Whisk in the sugars vigorously getting out any brown sugar lumps - mixture will be gritty.
Whisk in egg, yogurt, milk, and vanilla extract until combined.
Slowly mix in dry ingredients until no lumps remain.
Batter will be thick. Slowly stir in sprinkles, but do not overmix because the sprinkles will bleed their colour.
Pour batter into prepared cake tin.
Bake for approx. 35 minutes.
Allow to cool.

putting the FUN in funfetti >> STARTS WITH CUPCAKES

T H E   I C I N G : 
W H I T E   C H O C O L A T E   B U T T E R C R E A M

300g unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
750g icing sugar
150g  white chocolate, melted

Cream the butter, vanilla and icing sugar together in a bowl until light and fluffy. 
Stir in the melted chocolate.
Cake stays fresh covered at room temperature or in the refrigerator for 5 days.

H O T   T I P
This cake was dense.
Best served warm.
With icecream.
For breakfast.

(because why not?!)


Monday, 26 October 2015


I went to the movies yesterday.

A lazy Sunday afternoon reclined in a Gold Class lounge chair with a glass of bubbles was a rare indulgence.

The movie?



 Here's a list of reasons you should go see this movie :

1. Bradley Cooper

2. Bradley Cooper

burnt with Bradley Cooper > STARTS WITH CUPCAKES

Oh.. You need other reasons?! 

Well, that's unexpected.

Perhaps it would help if you knew what it was about?
(Although I didn't before I saw it, so perhaps the element of surprise contributed to my enjoyment)

Adam Jones (Bradley Cooper) is a Chef who destroyed his career with drugs and diva behavior. He cleans up and returns to London, determined to redeem himself by spearheading a top restaurant that can gain three Michelin stars.

It is a sneak peak behind the scenes at the kind of restaurant people like me aspire to eat in.
And the dishes created are works of art. 
The very definition of the word #foodporn

I don't know what the critics are saying about this movie;
And I'm not raving about it - But I did enjoy it.

Did I mention Bradley Cooper?!

Although, at one point, mid-film, it did occur to me that his character embodied may traits  I (unintentionally) seem to find attractive in a guy -

Driven, talented, narcissistic.
Intelligent yet clueless.
Arrogant but irresistible.

(Yes - I realise this is kind of a problem........)

Lucky he's so damn good looking!

burnt with Bradley Cooper > STARTS WITH CUPCAKES


Friday, 23 October 2015

pinky promise

To be honest, I don't often know where they come from, but I am repeatedly guilty of adopting random phrases, pop-culture buzz words or figures of speech.

I'm not gonna lie - I hear myself saying them over and over and it's like a snowball down the mountain, gathering momentum and impossible to stop.

"To be honest..."

"I'm not gonna lie..."

I would confidently estimate that I mean 99% of the things I say, at the time I a say them.

I am - for better, or worse - ridiculously honest. 

This essentially makes these latest additions to my vocabulary redundant.

These phrases are designed to give a person more conviction.

Which is why I am amused that they have crept into my regular every day conversations.

There is rarely a time when I would say something I did not believe.

And that is why I consider the Pinky Promise to be a 
B I N D I N G   V E R B A L   A G R E E M E N T

promise is a big word >> STARTS WITH CUPCAKES

To pinky swear, or make a pinky promise, is the entwining of the little fingers ("pinkies") of two people to signify that a promise has been made.

And in my world - 
A   P I N K   P R O M I S E   IS  U N B R E A K A B L E.

pinky promise >> STARTS WITH CUPCAKES


Sunday, 11 October 2015

the retrograde cake

I've said it before; And I'll say it again - 

I   E A T   M Y   F E E L I N G S

and they taste

D E L I C I O U S !

the retrograde cake >> STARTS WITH CUPCAKES

Hands up if you agree it's been a strange few weeks...

Let's blame Mercury.

Apparently it's been in retrograde.

Although, even though it's not something I follow closely, 
I swear, it seems to be in retrograde an awful lot lately...

Never fear though! It's over now.

But if you are still feeling a little down,
I've got just the thing for you - 

F E R R E R O   C A K E

the retrograde cake >> STARTS WITH CUPCAKES

2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

Grease cake tin. Heat oven to 180 C.

In a large mixing bowl - stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla. 
Beat on medium speed for one minute.

Stir in boiling water (the batter will be really runny).

Fill cake tin with batter.

Bake for approximately 50 minutes.
Allow to cool. 
Dress up with Ferrero Rochers.

the retrograde cake >> STARTS WITH CUPCAKES


Thursday, 8 October 2015


Here's a little note to you and to me today;
in honour of 

M E N T A L   H E A L T H   A W A R E N E S S   W E E K

.:  5-11 October 2015  :.

D I D   Y O U   K N O W ? ?

 The average person tells 4 lies a day or 1460 a year; 
a total of 87,600 by the age of 60. 
And the most common is: 
I'm Fine.

"That's the stigma, because, unfortunately, we live in a world where if you break your arm, everyone runs over to sign your cast, but if you tell people you're depressed, everyone runs the other way. That's the stigma. We are so, so, so accepting of any body part breaking down, other than our brains. And that's ignorance. That's pure ignorance. And that ignorance has created a world that doesn't understand depression, that doesn't understand mental health."


Friday, 21 August 2015

this one's a bit sombre

Death; Loss; Sadness.

These are the kind of taboo topics that no one likes to talk about.

But here I am today, writing in a somewhat sombre tone.

And I won't apologise, because life is not always sunshine and happiness.

And that's OK.

It is in moments of loss that I become reflective.

I think most people do...

On the life of the one who has left us;
And perhaps also on the life we have led ourselves.

I become quiet.

I retreat.

I go inwards with my thoughts.

And then I judge my own emotions.

"There are others, all over the world, in a much worse situation than you, right now"

But that dust-yourself-off-and-move-on attitude is not reasonable.
It is not fair.

If you did not allow yourself to feel sadness because someone else may have it worse,
Then you should never permit yourself to feel happiness, 
because by the same logic - someone else may have it better.

Lesson of the Week :
You cannot logic yourself through emotion.

Y O U R   F E E L I N G S   A R E   V A L I D
B E C A U S E   Y O U   F E E L   T H E M

this one's a bit sombre.... your feelings are valid because you feel them >> STARTS WITH CUPCAKES
-- Iain Thomas


Monday, 17 August 2015

colour me pretty

 Picture this...

T H E  T I M E
Sunday afternoon.

T H E   L O C A T I O N
My lounge room;
Sun streaming through my window.

T H E  S E T T I N G
Me, on my couch, under a blanket;
Music on;
A pot of textas by my side;
And a colouring book in my lap.

T H E   A C T I V I T Y
Colouring In.

T H E   J U S T I F I C A T I O N
Experts say it generates wellness, quietness
and also stimulates brain areas related to motor skills, the senses and creativity.

T H E   P S Y C H O L O G Y
(aka the 'super official justification'
that brings back all kinds of memories of first year uni and Psychology 101)
"The action involves both logic, by which we colour forms, and creativity, when mixing and matching colours. This incorporates the areas of the cerebral cortex involved in vision and fine motor skills [coordination necessary to make small, precise movements]. The relaxation that it provides lowers the activity of the amygdala, a basic part of our brain involved in controlling emotion that is affected by stress" says psychologist Gloria Martínez Ayala

T H E  O U T C O M E
Total Bliss.


* * *

I feel in every girl there lives a spirit,
a wild pixie,
that if let go, would run and dance in grassy fields
until the end of the world.

And when that girl grows up, that pixie hides,
but it's always there,
peeking out behind old eyes and reading glasses,
to one day dance again.

                                          -- source unknown

Connect with your inner-child again.
Colouring just got cool.


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