MONA BAKES CAKES

Saturday, 21 July 2012

How Goes It, Creatures?

In case you're a first-time reader, have amnesia, or are an old follower but you only really skim-read my blog, I'm going to tell you something that is blindingly obvious to almost everyone I know. I bloody love baking.

"Quelle dommage! Seriously? A lifestyle blogger who loves baking? No! I've never heard the like!"

Shut up. Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit. 

Anyway. Last night, I found myself in Pix in Soho (blindingly good espresso martinis, ditto sangria, yummy tapas. Go there) with a whole bunch of super-trendy music-industry types. Don't ask how I wound up there. I'm not entirely sure. 

It was mentioned by a friend over the course of the evening that I had a tupperware of freshly baked brownies in my handbag (which, no, I don't always have. Mere coincidence. I'm not that quaint. Quite), and so they were cracked out for everyone to try. 

Luke Pritchard, the singer and lead guitarist from the Kooks, happened to be quite the fan. Of my brownies. As baking cakes for people is basically my bread and butter for the Summer, I asked if I could have a picture for proof. However, I did manage not to majorly fangirl and tell him quite how many times we listened to his first album whilst revising for my GCSEs. So that's something.

Please excuse separated fringe/red cheeks/too much sangria smile. I'm so classy.

I am assured that celebrity endorsement should help my business boom. Let's see, shall we?

If you're in London and would like some cakes, contact me by email at monabakescakes@gmail.com. I deliver. And I promise they're nice.

Luke has now taken my phone number, and requested that I bake from him when he gets back from tour. Ka-ching!

Mona.

OKAY

Hey Kids,

I figured I should let you all know that things with the boy are over. It was wonderful while it lasted, and I really did appreciate all of your well-wishes. During our time together, I had so much fun, and learned and grew so much. And you guys were all lovely, I appreciated all of your advice and kindness so much!

I'm really, really okay though. I ended it. I think I'll tell you why at some point. You're kind enough to follow my blatherings, and you deserve to know the actual story. It wouldn't be fair to paint myself in some kind of rosy glow, and only show you the positive aspects of my tales, or the ones where I come off well. I'm not quite ready yet though, if you don't mind.

So for now, I thought that you should know that we have departed and gone our separate ways, but we are still great friends and I think that we'll always be a part of each other's lives.

*IMAGE SOURCE*
I don't need condolences, or sympathy. I just wanted to let you know. I'll tell you more on the subject soon.

Mona.

CHEAP AS CHIPS

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

I'm going to do something that my Ma told me never to do, because it's vulgar. Right here, right now. 

I'm going to talk to you about money.

If you click back through my last three blog posts, you'll see that I've just come back from a long, and wonderful, weekend in Auberge, in the South of France*. Lots of your lovely comments on the posts commented on how you guys would love to go on holiday, but just can't afford it. 

"This won't do," I thought to myself. 

Because of my enormous love for you all, I saved all of the receipts and did a little maths. Here's what it will cost you to do your own little road-trip, UK to France...

You will need:

A car.
Some friends - the more the better, for splitting the cost. If you take the Channel Tunnel, then you're paying for the car, not the amount of passangers. Hello bargain.
A passport.


A return ticket on the Channel Tunnel will cost you about €100. Assuming your car is normal sized, then this can mean you're paying as little as €20 Euros, or £15.67 (thanks, Google!) to hit France, and get back again. And it only takes 35 minutes.

Over four days, our petrol bill came up to €214.68. And these are your only essentials, if you want to camp, which can be done for as little as €4.20 a night. 

So the total essential bill comes up to €314.68, or £246.60. If this is split between four or five friends, that's less than a single train ticket from London to Manchester. 

Once you hit France, you'd honestly struggle to spend more than €10 a day on food, provided that you use small-town patisseries and grocers. Farmer's Markets are also a good option, they're all over the place, a total bargain, and the food is incredibly fresh! 


As B and I only had a few days to explore France, we were keen to hit the Sunny South. We therefore used toll roads to speed up the journey, which cost us a total of €101.80, or £78.77. Again, split between four people, this is less than the average Londoner spends on their Oyster Card over four days. However, toll roads are easily avoided if you have the time to dawdle, and who knows what kind of adventures you may discover on the scenic route? 

Confession time - I didn't exactly slum it, in France. But using the Michelin Guide app, we managed to find some pretty amazing hotels, which only cost about €80 a night, half board (B&B). But for €80 a night, you can get this...


... Not too shabby, hey? 

In all seriousness, though, hotels are a decadence, and there's really no need. We were so tired from all the river swimming we were getting up to, we could have literally slept anywhere. 

Exhibit A
So, what are you waiting for? Get your butt off the sofa and convince three friends to scrape together £100, and get yourself over to France! I promise, promise, promise that you won't regret it...


I've clearly missed my vocation. I should have been an accountant, or a travel agent, or something.

Mona.

*Note - not as in the Champagne-swigging, yacht-hosting "South of France". This is a bit higher up, much cheaper and far less pretentious. But geographically, it's quite South. And in France.

JOIE DE VIVRE

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Bonjour!

A perfect day in the mountains; I was so in love with last night's hotel, that B had a hard time convincing me to leave this morning. However, he eventually managed to persuade me that road-tripping was all about finding new adventures every day, and so after a dip in the infinity pool and a gushing thanks in rather shoddy French to the family who owned the hotel (full review to come soon), we packed up the car and took it in turns to make 'executive decisions' about which turnings to take. This soon brought us to a little roadside farmers market, which had everything needed for the makings of a perfect picnic.


As B is the stronger French speaker, I left him in charge of the essentials, (cheese, bread, and meats), while I wandered off in search of slightly more frivolous items; a perfectly ripe mango, some wonderful peaches and a bottle of apricot nectar (if ever offered the stuff, just say yes).

Hat - Topshop; Sunglasses - ASOS; Dress - Vintage via Notting Hill Buy Sell Exchange; Handbag - Vida Vida

Back in the car and a hop, skip and a jump took us to a reasonably secluded spot on the nearest river.



Truly a feast fit for a King - After having had real soft goat's cheese with fresh herbs, I don't know how I'll survive off of Boursin when back in the UK. 

After waiting the obligatory half an hour after eating (safety first, kids!), we took a refreshing dip (I dipped; B front-flipped) in the river, careful to avoid the occassional kayaker who passed us.

Bikini Top and Bottoms - Topshop

This is how the rest of the day was spent, interjected with the odd bit of sunbathing on the bank. 


When the sun went in, we returned to the car, and after cheekily consulting the Michelin guide, managed to find a little hotel overlooking a town square in a little village. Exhausted from all the swimming and stuffed full of cheese, we collapsed into our beds, where I am writing to you from now.

Tomorrow poor B has the unenviable task of driving the nine hours back to Calais. If you can think of any seriously banging driving tunes to keep his spirits up, well then, you know what to do.

Night night everyone,

Mona.

SNAPS

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Honestly, chickens, I'm a bit too sleepy from all the cheese and sun and red wine to write a lot, but rest assured we found cheese. And sun. And red wine. Anyway, I thought I'd show you a few of the five billion (almost) holiday snaps I've taken, so you can't accuse me of not keeping you all in the loop.

A photo of my ass
Picnicking 
Caught in the rain 
Waterfall climbing
Waterfall climbing (again) 
By the Wagon of Dreams
Exploring Joyeuse
River swimming
And again 
B discovers planking (badly) 
More river swimming
I can't actually think of a caption. Trop de vin. Je suis desole. (Alcoholique!)
I promise to write up a well crafted, wordsy blog post tomorrow. Big love.

Mona.

ON THE ROAD AGAIN

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Howdy Cool Cats,

For a little while I've been feeling a little bit "meh". A combination of not enough play, too much work, and a total lack of substantial sunshine have left me with the blues. In light of this situation, I decided that there was only one course of action.
Basically I'm just sick to death of the sodding rain.
My good friend B and I are currently waiting for our train at the Channel Tunnel. I've taken a whole four days (!) off of work, and we have absolutely no destination in mind. Using some sneaky 3G on his iPad, we plan to search each morning for the most desirable location and weather combination, and hit the road, cross-referencing with the Michelin Restaurant Guide to ensure that we hit ace locations.

B is driving, and has packed nothing. I am d-jing (I really must pass my driving test soon) and have literally brought my whole wardrobe. The glorious thing about a road trip is that there's no baggage allowance. Now that's what I call a holiday! 

Here's a snap of the two of us. The reason for the horribly offensive yellow wall (the terminal is covered in white walls, what kind of fashion blogger am I?!) is that we are in the kid's play area. Wifi signal is really strong here, and to boot, they're playing Kung Fu Panda on the TV. Now that's what I call multitasking. 

Beanie - ASOS; Jacket - Topshop; Scarf - Vintage via Blue Rinse; Rucksack - Topshop; Leggings - Zara; Plimsoles - Converse
The plan is to eat cheese, drink wine, and swim in lakes. I am doing a little jig I'm so excited.

Au Reviour, mon petite pois!*

Mona.


*Also, that is basically all the French I know. Any handy phrases would be most gratefully received.

DIY SUNGLASSES

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Hello Creatures,

Yesterday, whilst browsing Company Magazine on the train, I came across a fantastic pair of A-Morir Floral Sunnies. It was love at first sight. 

Sadly, however, I lack the £255 required to own the beauties, so this morning I popped my DIY cap on and went mad...

Here was the result, modelled by the beautiful Fran. 

Isn't she just a peach?
If you, too, would like some crazy sunglasses, then you will need:

Cheap round sunglasses: £2.99
Superglue: £3.99
Fake Flowers: £4.39 (I picked mine up from a cake decoration shop, but arts-and-craft shops and haberdasheries are also a good bet. 

Total Cost: £11.37


Hints and Tips:

Apply the glue to the frame of the glasses, not the flowers, for better sticking power.

Don't put the sunglasses on before the glue dries... The superglue fumes will STING YOUR EYES.

Here's the finished result!


What do you think?

Mona.

BRUNCH-TIME

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

This is my go-to recipe when (like today) a friend decides to pop round for brunch late notice. It's a quick, easy way to mix up Apple and Cinnamon Pancakes, which I serve with Maple Syrup Butter and strawberries. It's a guaranteed crowd pleaser, although, admittedly, not ideal for those watching the figures. It's a good one because it's a bit of a twist on traditional pancakes, but you'll probably have most of the ingredients in your cupboards.


INGREDIENTS:

200g self-raising flour
100g caster sugar
200ml whole milk
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 egg
2 Granny Smiths, peeled and grated

85g salted butter
3tbsp maple syrup

METHOD:

Mix the dry ingredients together. Beat the egg into the milk, and stir into the dry ingredients until the mixture is smooth. Stir in the grated apple.

Melt a little butter in a pan, and cook the pancakes. This is a recipe for thick, Scotch pancakes, by the way. 

Whilst cooking your pancakes, melt your butter in a pan and mix in the maple syrup.

Chop up some strawberries to serve.


Serve with a steaming pot of English Breakfast tea, good company, and some Nina Simone to chill out to in the background.

Munch away, kids!

Mona.

OUTFIT

Monday, 9 July 2012

Howdy Creatures,

Crikey, I've been a terrible blogger lately, haven't I? Never fear, I'm still about, and now spend a lot of time running around London like a loon delivering cupcakes... The little business is going well, and involves me throwing on my dungarees, mixing, baking and icing (whilst listening to old classics like this), and then putting on a girly dress to hand-deliver my baked goods in pretty tins. I suppose it's all about "being the brand", and people like to know that they've paid for home-made treats that come from a happy, wholesome kitchen. 

Here's what I wore today to drop off some of my coffee cupcakes...

Faux-fur collar - Joules; Cardigan - H&M; Dress - Free People; Ankle Socks - Topshop; Loafers - Russell and Bromley

Oh look, my face looks weird again! Classic. 

If you're London-based, and would like some home-made cakes to munch on in your office/bed/bath etc. then for goodness sake please get in touch, this crippling overdraft ain't going to pay itself off (although, to be fair, I'm almost there)! 

And delivery always comes with a big fringey smile. 


Mona.

ON DATING

Monday, 2 July 2012

After the initial highs and lows of early dating, you come to a very cool little place. It's five months since I found the boy in a bar in Leeds, and it is with utmost relief that I say that it seems to be the case that the games are over. The pressure's off. I don't have to be "on it" when we're together. I can be sad. I can be mad. I can turn up at his house after a shift at work, sticky and smelly and covered in ale (bar-work is so glamourous!), and tired to the point of exhaustion, and just have a snuggle and a sleep. 

The mystery's gone, but the excitement's still there, which is perfect. I've stopped seeing the boy as an adversary in the game of Getting What You Want, I've stopped thinking to myself "I win!" when I get my way, and I've stopped worrying if a text goes unanswered. It doesn't mean he's not interested, it's just that he's a bit useless. No worries, I'll just call him. Look at me, being all zen! 

Instead, I've found myself a sound-board for my madder ideas; a chaperone if I want to go out and shake my tail-feathers; someone who can always make me laugh, and who seems to find me equally entertaining. It's quite lovely, all in all. 

Those embarrassing little things that I told you about? The moments that made me want to curl up and die, because I so wanted to impress him, but coudn't help revealing my true nature (ungainly and totally lacking in grace, FYI)? Yeah, they still happen. They happen a lot. But it doesn't matter. 

*image source*

After the initial highs and lows of early dating, you come to a very cool little place. It's been five months since I found the boy in a bar in Leeds, and it's with upmost relief that I say...

... I'm finally comfortable. And that's just ace. 

Sorry for being all soppy. Normal services will resume soon, I promise. 

Mona.
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