.: How to make the most of your photos :.

Oh wow it’s really been a while since I last wrote something. You’re life changes upside down from the moment you have a baby, especially one so full of energy and that doesn’t sleep or nap.

But baby made me realize how important photos really are! I can’t think about losing all the photos I have from her or even from the travels I did before she was born, like the Japan one (you can see the full trip here).

So what do you do with your precious photos? Do they get stuck in your phone or somewhere in the disk drive? Well, I wanted to share with you my ideas to make them more part of your life again

I – Print them
As opposed to buy some fancy painting what about framing that favourite photo of yours on the wall? We have a couple spread around the house. Like our photos from Lisbon standing side by side. We then make the guest which one was taken by whom (for those who don’t know already)

II – Use them for office supply

There was a point I had a really nice photo on my Samsung photo cover. Unfortunately most websites only support a handful of mobile phones, so can’t do the same anymore. But what about a tea cup with your favourite holiday memory? Or even a cushion?

III – Print them on your debit card

Some banks like Barclays allow you to personalise your debit card. He used a really good photo from Japan and I have to say I love his card!

IV – Print a t-shirt

I remember when I was little I used to draw and once I’ve decided to print a t-shirt with one of my favourite drawings. At least it’s personalised clothing

V – Personalise paperless cards

Today it’s my parents 33th anniversary so I had the idea of using a photo I had taken from them to create a paperless card so they can receive it on their e-mail straight on the day as opposed to wait for mail to be sent out.

Are you running a party at your flat? Why not get a funny picture of yours and  create a personalised  invite? For some cool ideas you can check Paperless Post invitations

Here’s a few examples from https://www.paperlesspost.com/cards/section/invitations

 

Any ideas you would like to share? What do you do with your photos?

Disclamer
The idea of this post was sent by the paperless team. Thank you for contacting me and allowing to get to know your website!

.: Smart Watches :.

Oh how, I hadn’t posted anything in here for ages. This is what happens when I’m trying to maintain too many blogs!
I’ve moved the Lego Mum Diaries into it’s own blog, then there’s also the MissLilly’s Journeys not to mention the To Be Blamed blog. Too many potentially, I might need to revisit which ones I really keep shortly.
Anyway, since the concept of the smart watches came out, I’ve been looking for a decent one I could wear myself, but guess what there weren’t any. It’s all too sporty and too big for a ladies wrist. Recently there’s been some really good models a bit more fashionable.

Main reasons why I want a smart watch:

  • Because it’s cool (I love technology)
  • Not to miss any nursery calls because my phone was I don’t know where

Pretty much I wanted

  • something simple that would fit on my wrist nicely,
  • Android Wear 2.0 (which is the latest Android software) as I own an Android phone
  • NFC so I could use it for payments (Android Pay) without the need to use my wallet or my phone

Sounds a simple request right? What if I tell you that currently there’s no smatch watch that offers the 3 things above? (Not for a lady)

Here’s the ones I’ve considered:

Moto 360 – 2nd Gen

I remember looking into them, and there was even an option called the moto maker where you could design your watch completely, but that’s now gone from UK. I couldn’t find the models I wanted anymore anywhere, not entirely sure what happened with Morotola in UK. This was the closest available on amazon (here) In fact if you go to Motorola’s web page in UK there’s no mention of the smart watches anymore. But they looked pretty nice.

Fossil Q Wander

Well, I’ve been a fan of fossil watches for a long time now and I own a few of them, so when they’ve announced they had an Android Smart Watch I was really in love with it. The design is pretty much the same of the Moto 360

Unlike the Moto 360 there’s no 42mm version, which would be perfect for a women’s wrist, but actually even at 45mm doesn’t feel big. It’s also really light as well.

Pros:

  • From the Android Wear phones this is the best design for ladies
  • Priced at £229 it’s one of the cheapest Android Wear phones as well
  • Interchangeable straps which are really easy to replace

Cons:

  • No NFC! Why oh why! I’ve contacted the customer service and it seems a new generation will be coming out Sep / October but they are not sure yet if they’ll have NFC either. This is quite a big downside (for me at least)
  • The screen is not as good as some of the competition, but in a phone I’m not picky about screen quality as I would be on my mobile phone

Huawei W1 Watch

This looks pretty good as well

This one also priced at £239.

But again, no NFC! Only the 2nd generation has it, but then it’s a sports watch

Samsung Gear 3

This is, I would say, the best Android Watch. They don’t have Android Pay but that’s because Samsung has their own application. Ultimately you can use pay powered by NFC. Samsung is also the only smart watch (that I know off), that allows to hold a stand alone phone card, so if your phone dies out you can re-route your calls to your phone. This is pretty cool too. But then look at the design

I’ve tried my best to like it. I did. But it looked huge and heavy on my wrist. I was thinking of changing the strap to something like this:

But I just hate the metal crown.

The screen quality of the samsung is also the best available. But ultimately it was double the price of the Fossil one, priced at around £349. Would I pay almost double the price to get NFC but get an uglier watch?

Nah

I’ve ended up going for the Fossil Q Wander, but I’m still upset it doesn’t hold NFC. It is really a big shame. Good that the watches are evolving and there are a lot more options available now 🙂

Do you have a smart watch? Any feedback? Are you considering getting one?

 

.: Lego mum diary – 10 things no one tells you about being a new mum :. 

AH! I could write a whole book by now around what society says about being a new mum,  but will try to focus on only a few. 

1 – Sleep when baby sleeps rubbish 

Every one was telling me, sleep when baby sleeps! I couldn’t take it anymore and was starting to have rage attacks. Even if baby is having a nap during the day, probably mum needs to eat, go to the loo, have a quick shower. Meeting basic needs is a challenge! And some mums still need to cook and do basic shores. Also, it might be that you actually try to sleep and you can’t. For instance in the first week I’ve suffered from insomnia. I went to bed, closed my eyes and couldn’t fall asleep. At some stage baby would wake up anyway. 

2 Breastfeeding is hard

You get lectured as soon as baby is born on how to breastfeed: head back, nose to nipple and then push baby’s head to breast. If they don’t latch is because you’re an idiot! I’ve attended classea before she was born and it was really hard! I didn’t care about the latch, I just wanted to feed her. Ended up with lots of bruises because she had lip tie. So rather than making us look like failures, midwifes should be more supportive. It’s really hard to breastfeed at the beginning! No wonder so many mums give up because there’s no support. 

3 – sleep torture 

At war they use to torture people by sleep deprivation. Guess what a new mum faces? Waking up every hour or more often is a killer, seriously! And it can last months or even years. Some lucky mums have babies sleeping a lot in a row since 7 weeks. At 12 weeks my little one was still behaving like a newborn. So it’s ok to ask for help, either a friend or family so you can have rest. Mum is the most important person for baby, so if you collapse your not doing anyone a favour. 

4 – you will look rubbish 

Yap. No time to pumper myself. Even a quick shower feels a luxury. You might see lots of mums that look gorgeous and seem to have everything under control whereas you don’t even remember last time you’ve brushed your hair! 

5 – leaving the house will take forever 

You know the moment you believe you’re finally ready to leave, baby decides to do a massive poo and needs changing. Or vomits everywhere or both combined. Forget it, you can’t control time anymore, just be ready to be late all time and start preparing before you think you should. 

6 – eau du vomit

That’s my new perfume. Most people used to say babies smell amazing. Well my one smells vomit and so do I. I’ve given up on being clean. 
7 – you’ll miss your old life

Oh you will, loads and it’s ok. It doesn’t mean you don’t love your baby (there’s loads of positive stuff like baby giggles) but you’ll wander all the time about this person that used to be you. Learning to leave the house with baby ia hard. Yes you need to learn it and feel confident. You’ll love the fresh air on your face and if you close your eyes you can almost taste your old life with a smiley or sleepy baby. 
8 – you will despair when baby cries non stop

It’s so heartbreaking to see our little ones in pain, you will feel like running to the hospital all the time. Trust your gut! As I’ve learnt the hard way, gps and health visitors only care about weight. If your baby is putting on weight everything is fine and it’s normal for babies to cry. While that is true it’s not always the case. Colic is just one of the things that might impact your baby. There’s stuff like reflux / silent reflux where baby will arch in pain day and night and you’ll feel ignored by the health professionals. Follow your gut! You know baby better than anyone, if you believe baby is not ok don’t give up until you get help. You might have to fight… Literally! 

9 – you might have to give up on your favourite foods.. 

I thought I was only restricted while pregnant but no… Because of the reflux I’ve cut out dairy, soya, tomatoes, chocolate also avoiding red meat and I’m hungry all the time. It’s really hard! There’s lots of stuff with hidden milk. Eczema is another reason why you might have to restrict your diet. I miss my Mediterranean diet
10 – everyone believes they know better 

Either its your own mum, your mother in law, the neighbours… Everyone will come with advice on how you should treat your baby. Again follow your gut and just ignore them. Some of the stuff I’ve heard even from strangers in the street

  • Your milk might not be strong enough, you should give formula (my mum’s generation was told this by doctors!) 
  • You shouldn’t carry your baby all the time she will get spoiled (reflux hello????) 
  • Swaddle your baby.. My little one hated it since day 1

There are lots of positive things but I feel expectations are not set correctly and mum’s feel like a failure because they are tired all the time or baby is not growing according to the lines… For any mums out there, you’re doing great! Scream if you need to, we’re only human! 

.: Lego Mum diaries – Planning :.

You know when I’ve said that I wouldn’t just be doing maternity related posts? Well, it seems I’m struggling as I’ve been doing 24h baby, so don’t have much time for any other random thoughts. Although I’ve managed to write a bit a few weeks ago. Normally if baby sleeps I’ll stop everything and will sleep too (there are not many of those opportunities)

Anyway, one of the things I’ve learned during pregnancy is that there is no point in planning. In this particular case I’m talking about labour. And I have no shame in saying that to me labour was always a frightful thought, just the idea of pain for hours (maybe days) and hospitals….  but I’ve decided not to panic and real all about labour.

I’ve also read about hypno-birthing, did pregnancy yoga and was doing meditation.

Hypnobirthing is a complete birth education programme, that teaches simple but specific self hypnosis, relaxation and breathing techniques for a better birth.

this is not how most women feel at labour!!!!

this is not how most women feel at labour!!!!

Because I’m the type that faints in hospitals, I wanted a birth in the natural birth centre ideally in the birthing pool. You are encouraged to write all the details of your birthing plan, as if that was going to happen. I was already expecting it wouldn’t be going to be as per plan, but you always hope….

What I had was a roller coaster. Even on my due week (40 weeks), I was still going for walks, had a small belly (looking like 6 months) and went out for nice tea in the afternoon. After being measured by the midwifes, they’ve said baby wasn’t growing so better to do an additional scan. Based on the scan it was confirmed, baby had stopped growing. So was booked for a c-section for the next morning (they’ve also said she was breech (head up as opposed to head down), which I found surprising.

So I had less than 24h to get used to the idea, no natural birth, it was going to be a c-section. But it was for the best right? At night I guess I’ve started to feel more relaxed, although I’ve ended up not sleeping. Next morning at 06a.m I was already at the hospital. After speaking with the doctors, who’ve explained all the procedure I was ready to go for it. Then they’ve decided to do another scan, and as she was head down (as I was expecting!), they’ve said it was better for me to be induced so she would be born naturally (I wouldn’t be able to use the pool anyway because of her size). I’ve argued a bit, as I was already prepared for the c-section and it would be easier now. As the doctor said, it would be better for baby induction, I’ve decided to go for it.

While I was being prepared for the induction, her heart beat decreased, so the emergency alarm was triggered and I was being sent to the magic room. I was so scared for the baby. Although the journey was really short, I never felt so scared in my life. I remember seeing loads of people in the operation centre and then waking up and not being able to focus, but I knew there was a baby in my arms. So yap, not at all according to plan and it was so stressful that I’ve started to suffer from insomnia and had panic attacks the next 2 weeks….

Not to mention that the recovery is quite a slow one…. still in recovery mode 2 months later. So the conclusion is, whatever you’re about to plan, plan the opposite!

.: Lego Mum Diaries :.

Right, I hadn’t planned to add any baby stuff into my blogs, but I have to admit maybe it isn’t a bad idea to share some experiences, especially because all you will see around is really mommy sweet like blogs. Well, that isn’t me.

Ah oh, why lego? well, because I love lego and I’m really looking forward for her to start playing with them with me.

Anyway, I was never a really mommy type person. I never held a baby until she was born, I never wanted to. Even as a kid, I never really played with dolls. Maybe some barbies but not anything baby-similar. But now here I am, making giggly sounds to ensure she’s happy. I have to admit that is really easy for me, as I’m the kid in the house. They say it’s really good if you speak baby-like language to your baby as they will learn faster. Such an easy task for me, as at home (with my other half and sis) I have a kinda baby like language anyway. So being a kid? Easy peasy!

Another point to clarify, I never had the deep dream of being a mum. That’s something I thought about, but wasn’t even ready yet. I just wondered. At the same time was afraid of the impact of a baby in our relationship. And then it happened. During the pregnancy I had time to become more ready. But one thing is for sure, I don’t want to stop being me, the childish me, because it feels good.

So here it is, I’ve decided to share all my thoughts and experiences on maternity as they are. No fluffy around and say the things everyone expects you to. Being a Mum is really really hard, I had no idea about that. So I totally get if some people prefer not to have any kids. I never blamed them, and now it all makes even more sense. But every time she smiles at me, my heart melts. It’s really hard to explain, even for me.

Anyway, so I’ll be sharing some stuff on pregnancy and maternity overall. I promise the blog won’t just be about the baby, as I hope I’ll start having some life back at some stage. For the moment it’s 24h baby, and even a bath feels like a luxurious trip to Bahamas.

.: Carrot Cake :.

I’ve been doing lots of cooking recently. From home-made pizza, Brownies (with 90% dark chocolate, so yum!) and today decided to try a carrot cake. I’ve followed the Hummingbird’s recipe for this one. As usual I didn’t follow the sugar quantities. For instance in the brownies I’ve used half of the sugar, this time rather than the 300g I’ve used only 200g

Ingredients

For the cake

300g soft light brown sugar (In my version I’ve used 200g)
3 eggs
300ml sunflower oil
300g plain flour
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
1tsp baking powder
1tsp ground cinnamon (plus extra to decorate) (I’ve added a bit more)
1/2tsp ground ginger (forgot to buy ginger, so used nutmeg instead)
1/2tsp salt
1/4tsp vanilla extract
300g carrots, grated
100g shelled walnuts, chopped (plus extra chopped and whole to decorate)

For the frosting (this is the official version)
600g icing sugar, sifted
100g unsalted butter (at room temp)
250g cream cheese, cold

What I’ve used instead (pretty much replacing the butter or the cream with greek yogurt)

1/4 cup plus 3 tbsp cream cheese (I’ve rounded to 80g)
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp plain Greek yogurt – (I’ve rounded to 80g too)
4-5 tbsp powdered sugar
scant 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

As you can see, it’s a much smaller quantity of frosting which only allows to cover the top of the cake. If you want to have a bigger quantity, just follow the official recipe and replace the butter with greek yogurt + vanilla extract

And here’s the result

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Since it was my first time doing this cake, I’m really happy with the result. It’s really moist, it tastes really nice and it doesn’t feel too sugary. I’ll have to do it again!

Do you like Carrot Cake? What’s your favourite version?

.: Sunlight and brownies :.

Today was planning to go out for a walk but after baking brownies in the kitchen, I’m feeling a bit tired. Probably the heat doesn’t help either (30 degrees in the living room!)
So instead of going out now, just decided to detox in the room.
I’m actually struggling to find a position where I can actually held my notebook and write while the music is playing in the room and you are moving inside me. It smells brownies all over the house, such a delicious dark chocolate smell.
It would be quite tempting to go back to my computer and get distracted with social media… but sometimes we need to disconnect. No e-mails, no flashing notifications, no distractions, just the here and now. Appreciating the warm light that tries to enter the room, the music playing and the dark chocolate smell.
Considering you are just days before coming out, I should be feeling more stressed and anxious, but actually I’m feeling calm and peaceful. Not because I’m not scared (because I am) but because I’m determined to rest and take it easy. You’ll be born when you decide you are ready, so I’m trying to be ready for you as well.
All I did pretty much this year was to let stress take the best out of me. I felt miserable for a long time (something tells me the hormones had a say on it as well), but it felt I wasn’t being me.
I was moaning and complaining every single day and I even ended up crying on my way back home after a shitty day at the office.
Well you know what? That’s not what I want for me and surely not for you either.
Truth to be told I still don’t know what I want to be and what I should be doing career wise, but I do know who I don’t want to become.
I don’t want to let the child in me die, and I hope the creative me will start to wake up again bit by bit. With so many options out there do I how do I know which road to take? All I know for sure is that I want to spend good quality time with you and dad and give you the same childhood memories as the ones I grew up with.
We never had a luxurious life, on the contrary quite a modest one, but looking back we had the luxury of time well spent together. Running in the beach, gathering sea-shells, building castles in the sand. Running in the fields on the back of our house, grabbing lemons below the tree or grabbing fresh oranges on a sunny day. Or maybe a drive to the mountains where we would jump on the rocks and try not to fall into the river (most likely I would end up doing that and getting my feet wet, whereas my sis would jump faster and more skillfully than clumsy me). We didn’t need any more than that.
Not many of my friends who had better houses, better toys and branded clothing can say the same and I don’t remember being that bothered either even as a kid. Because time is priceless so I want to give the same to you.
There is no point in getting fooled by “lady boss” and “women on leadership” and let’s continue to try to grow as high as I can if that means I won’t have enough time for you. I know for a few years now that I don’t want that life, just haven’t figured out what is my middle ground yet. There’s a part of me that hopes you’ll bring clarity into my head and I’ll end up figuring out what’s best for all of us.
Because in the end all I want is afternoons like this, where I’m here with you, relaxing, stretching my feet, feeling free and enjoying the sun through the windows. Because moments like this have no price, they are memories that will stay with me forever.

.: The cheesecake and the blank page :.

Is there something more liberating than having time for myself and a blank page staring at you? No pressure, no compromises either. It doesn’t matter what happened yesterday or what happens next, just being here now and go with the flow.
If you spend all your life following schedules that you can barely control yourself and rushing against time, isn’t it great when nothing else matters, just enjoying the freedom of every single second? You can stop and just stare outside, you can grab the pen and just follow your own words. So many possibilities left to unfold waiting for you.
This feels something we used to have as kids, this type of freedom of being but as we grow older the world seems to build it’s own special rules on us. Be on time for work, prepare an important meeting, leave on time to reach the doctor appointment or pick the kids from school.
And now, while I’m staring at everyone else around me follow the clock outside I realise this might be one of the last times in a long time I’ll be able to do this. Just me, no one else, not even my own expectations of me. I guess the more the reason for me to enjoy it well. Although I’m not necessarily alone anymore either. You are making sure I don’t forget about you, kicking inside of me (Probably as a reaction to the amazing cheesecake I’m having). It’s hard to believe it’s only a matter of days before we finally meet! That is probably going to be THE moment of my life Because of that I’ve been full of worries in my head: Are you ok? Are you going to reach outside safely? Are you going to be healthy? Am I going to be the Mom you deserve?

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So for now it feels good just to be here: me, you, us. Just enjoying the cheesecake and occupying this once blank page. The world carries on, but for this once I just stop and stare. No distractions (no e-mail, no social medial). That’s right, to make the most of it all I have is pen and paper – and a big window in front of me. I can also stop and just imagine what the other people are doing. There are 2 other people in the room with me, both of them with their own computers. I used to play a game while I was in public transport trying to read people’s minds and creating stories behind their lives. You don’t even notice time goes by. Now I tend to do what everyone else does, which is to stare at stuff on my phone and occasionally read. I miss a bit of the old days, so let’s try to play it again.
The guy on the right and side of the window seems to be a programmer or a web designer doing some work. He looks really quiet actually. He’s probably used to work from places like this, feels somehow better than to work from home. Less lonely I guess, even if you’re not interacting with anyone. Also in London not many people have the luxury of space for an office.
I would probably fancy finding such a job, that would allow me to work from everywhere. Today this lovely cafe, tomorrow maybe sitting in front of the river. That would be quite a creative boost wouldn’t it?
The lady on my left working with a mac I suspect is a creative of some sort. She’s also quite young (not even sure if she’s even 20!). She just ordered another round of coffee. Probably she’s working at a startup in the marketing or fashion industry. She looks the type that could easily be a blogger and actually be working as such (yap, nowadays being a blogger can be a profession as well).
I have a blog too but I use it mostly to share photos and thoughts. Doubt I could ever make a life out of it.
Next to the counter people are chatting and socialising, but my attention keeps getting drawn to these two silently working from different corners of the room.
Would they actually benefit from talking to each other? I suspect so, but that would be awkward for them I guess, because at first glance, aside from both working from the same space they don’t seem to have anything in common. Also I guess in their heads there’s also an invisible cube around them. It doesn’t matter who else is in the room, who comes or goes. The chatter in the counter doesn’t seem to bother them either – I guess the same way it doesn’t bother me either.
Uh…. just realise my cheesecake is almost gone! It’s really good (one can’t resist happy calories, I surely can’t). I wish I could bake like this! Although I’m certainly improving. The brownies we’ve baked over the weekend were really good and my scones tend to make my friends smile (baby I suspect you will like them as well).
Shall we have the last bit of cheesecake? Let’s do it… and that’s it, gone. Now I’m staring at the plate with nostalgia, when the cheesecake was still there. While the last sweet sensation from the cheesecake goes down, you’re kicking (you recognise the sweet taste don’t you?).
I stop to admire the lights in the room as well as my real life telly (I mean the big window) of people coming and going outside. I’m also starting to feel I need a bit of a break because I’m not used to write this long in pen & paper anymore (need to train my hands on that old school process again). While that, I look at the newcomers, a mom and 2 really well behaved kids. They are quietly enjoying their cake and fresh milk. I’m sure our 2 workers are as impressed as me, as probably they thought that they would be disturbed. They haven’t. Although I suspect a bit of distraction would be a good welcome break to whatever they are doing. Ah, guess I was right, as he got up and he’s looking through the window outside. A mini break before getting back to work. Isn’t it amazing how small little breaks can be such a productivity boost? Which reminds me of an interesting paper I wrote back at uni (we were tasked with interview people and explore around the breaks they did at work and how that affected their productivity). I definitely miss writing. But as soon as I would have the pressure to write to meet deadlines that’s it, all the worlds would take holiday from me and vanish somewhere else. So I guess that’s not something I will be doing either. Just stick to blogging when the words come even if no one else reads it.
There’s a newcomer in the room, a nice guy and a dog. Yap, I know, I’m already assuming he’s a nice guy. But you can actually judge people by the way they treat animals. He’s caressing the dog and the dog seems so happy. I’m seriously smiling as it’s such a tender moment happening right in front of me. Mr worker seems to have noticed as well and he’s smiling, while the young lady is still striking back her keyboard completely distracted of what goes around her. I’m happy I’ve noticed and that I’m actually here right now to see it. Dog seems happy and so am I. Happy that I left the house and the distractions to appreciate moments like this.
I have no idea how long I have been here. I didn’t checked time when I arrived and certainly not checking it now either, but it feels time to go for a walk and stretch my legs a little bit.
The luxury of time does indeed wonders . I feel absolutely peaceful and free from any worries. It doesn’t matter what happens next but I’m just happy that I’ve stopped the clock and just came to my once cheesecake and blank page.

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.: In the Kitchen – Brownies :.

So they say, couples that cook together stay together

Photo from google

And I don’t mean one being in the kitchen to make each other’s company, I mean really doing some proper team work. We actually enjoy doing quite a lot. We just don’t do it more often because we’re both lazy, so we end up doing something in the lines of: if one cooks the other is responsible for cleaning the kitchen afterwards.

Yesterday, we were talking about childhood memories and one of his sweetest memories (literally) was to cook brownies with his best mate. He said that they had done the recipe so many times they knew the page by heart, plus the mess was so big that the page was full of chocolate! Once we’ve started living together we’ve ended up buying the book just so we could do the brownies recipe.

This is the book: the joy of cooking (available on amazon here) and you can read it all about it here.

Unlike today’s books it’s doesn’t contain pictures of how the dishes look like and the instructions follow a more classical approach. I have to admit that apart from the brownies I haven’t tried anything else yet. But have flagged a few to try in a near future.

Here’s the recipe

Preheat oven to 350 F / 180C

1/2 cup butter (around 115g of butter)
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate (we’ve used 125g)
4 eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar (400g)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted (around 136g)
1 cup pecan meats

Melt the butter and chocolate in a double-broiler (or a pot over another pot of boiling water). Let this mixture cool, or the brownies will be heavy and dry. Beat the eggs and salt until light in color and foamy in texture. Add the sugar and vanilla gradually and continue beating until well creamed.

With a few swift strokes, combine the cooled chocolate mixture and the eggs and sugar. Do this by hand instead of using a hand mixer. Before it’s well mixed, fold in the flour. Add the nuts if desired. Stir gently until mixed. Try not to beat the mixture too heavily. Bake in a greased 9 X 13 inch pan for about 25 minutes at 350 F. Cover the pan with a towel and leave it to sit between 30 and 45 minutes. Don’t cut until the brownies are cool as the interiors are still moist when fresh from the oven.

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We’ve managed to get the 3 C’s (Crunchy, chewy and creamy inside), although it could have cooked a few minutes more than the instructions said.

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I had mine with a bit of my home-made banana / nutella ice cream

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My own notes:

  • Next time I’ll actually use half of the sugar and use brown sugar instead. Although the flavour was amazing, it felt like too much sugar
  • I’ve added a small espresso into the mixture because same as the salt, it enhances the flavour of the chocolate. I could really feel it in the end result.
  • I didn’t use pecan meats but I’ve used some mixed nuts

To think that we hadn’t done brownies for almost 6 years! Last time I had replaced the nuts with pears (chopped thinly) and it was so good and so moist!

Have you done brownies before? What is your favourite recipe?

.: More random thoughts :.

If there’s a thought there’s been in my head for a while is how to live more and worry less. We’ve all seen the latest trends: minimalism, declutter, meditation but somehow it seems a lot easier said than done.
I have started meditation back in May and have been doing it daily ever since (I don’t regret it at all). It feels liberating to take 10/15m out of your time to try not to think about anything. Not the past, not the future, just being there and learning to breathe too. A bit later started yoga, which I’m planning to go back into as soon as I have the chance as well.
But, there’s one thing that still bothers me, and that’s the constant worries, that sense I could be doing so much more out of my life than I’m actually doing. That constant sense that somehow I’ve lost the real me, or even worst, that I don’t even know who the real me is. Life for me is changing, for sure, the biggest change of them all and I guess that will force me to look myself in the mirror and try to understand: where next? What is really really important.
Should I carry on my life as it is? Am I feeling fulfilled with what I’m doing? Probably not, but from this moment on I can’t also just leave it all behind be crazy and start something new. Responsibilities and commitments are about to change. But surely, something can still be done. Can I find the right balance and wake up every morning feeling calm knowing that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing?
This must be the billion dollar question that all of us try to answer. The other day I was talking about this with a friend. I was saying that most of us talk a lot of time about work, it tends to be to complain about it. And then there are those, like my sister who talk about their work and feel excitement, feel passion as if they are doing the right job in that moment in time. I take job and commitment way too seriously and it’s really easy to let it control me and take priority over everything else. I miss the days when I used to feel creative and having time to wonder and just enjoy the things around me, without this constant worry to follow me as a shadow.
If you read what I’ve been doing the past few years you’ll easily notice the trend. I know for a while now I need to chance, except I haven’t yet figure out what. So I carry on, with the stuff I know, not daring, not stopping to look around. I still hope that the answer will come magically knocking on my door, but then again I was never one to trust luck. I guess it could help if I focus in what I know I like and move from there, step by step and try to discard everything else I know I don’t enjoy either. Like a brain declutter ultimately. Probably I should try to do one of those spiritual breakaways, which I kinda experienced last year over a long weekend in lake district. It was so beautiful around me, so relaxing, I just felt like walking slowly and enjoy the beauty around me. It made me realise I really need more moments like that, and they shouldn’t resume to just be over the holidays. Somehow I should be ensuring that I have more moments like that continuously during the week. Or maybe I just need to ensure I just relax more and let everything happen. Rather than keep on trying to find solutions let myself relax and let the solutions pop up in my head while I’m doing something I enjoy, let’s say while listening to music and enjoying the sun on my face or just feeling the wind in my face. Maybe and only maybe the key for finding the solution is to stop searching for it. Maybe and only maybe I’ll start to feel the weight on my shoulders reduce and feel that it can be ok to just wait and try to find a way of making each day matter, at my own rhythm, at my own pace. Maybe and only maybe, when I’m least expecting, I’ll discover all the things I’m searching for are just standing here, by my side waiting for me to grab them and hold them.