happy new year everybody! may your 2017 be filled with all the sweeter things in life.
how do I feel about this year? every year, I have the “it’s gonna be a good one” feeling but this year, I think it’s gonna be a great one! I guess I should tell you about my goals and hopes and dreams for this year. although completely unoriginal and possibly a little bit cringe in its cliche, 2017 is the year of self-love etc. under the “etc.” comes appreciating myself more, looking after myself more, doing more of the things that I love, valuing myself more and putting myself first where I need to. and I’m so proud to say that I have already started taking my first steps!
at the end of last year, having completed a term of uni, I decided to put a pause on my studies to take some time out this year. I didn’t have a terrible time at uni at all. quite the contrary, I had quite a wonderful time really: I made some friends for life, I learnt beginner’s Italian, I got a first in my one and only essay, I was appointed star baker in the two baking society meetings I attended, I discovered a new passion (anthropology), I became a member of the British Library… I dont regret those few months I spent at uni for a minute. I lived and I laughed and I learned. it just wasn’t quite right for me, I don’t think. the thing is that, although I may be able to thrive in an academic environment, I don’t really want to – I want to be c r e a t i v e! creativity is the very essence of my personality. I love to write, to paint, to play the guitar, to sing, to daydream, to take photographs, to cook, to bake… I love to create! I didn’t seem to have time to do these things that make me happy anymore, which was making feel like I’d lost a sense of balance in life and making me feel a little less “me.”
so this year is the year to do all those splendid things! I’m going to travel to amazing places, I’m going to write about food to my heart’s content, I’m going to take courses to better myself in the things I love doing, I’m going to explore and get inspired by the wonderful world around us and the wonderful people in it! I couldn’t be more excited and full of hope. honestly, I feel the happiest I’ve felt in a long time. ok, things aren’t perfect, but are they ever?
when I was making the decision I felt unsure, but I knew it was right as soon as I’d done it. I felt a massive weight lifted off my shoulders and passion and motivation and creativity came rushing back.
(proof) an exerpt from a blog post that I wrote on my first day out of university that sadly got lost in the swamp of unpublished posts that exist in my “blogging” folder:
“I’m very happy to be sitting here in the British Library writing about cakes instead of art works, scribbling and sketching with a silly, childish cupcake-scented smelly pencil rather than studiously writing with a black Bic biro, wearing dad’s old jumper and Pippy Longstocking plaits rather than a trendy, artsy outfit, which I must wear to fulfil my role as an art historian – hey presto, creativity is back! I’m watching people reading books about this and that and these books are thick. and then there is me. I’m listening to a bit of Elvis, a bit of Buble, editing this photo of gingerbread cupcakes; I am excited to get my head out of the muddle of art history books, citation guides and journals and to e x p l o r e the beautiful things that life has to offer. let my mind run free!”
I’m being sure to manage my expectations because (when I’m not being pessimistic) I’m a bit overly optimistic and idealistic, which often results in unhelpful feelings of ‘disappointment’ and ‘failure,’ when I don’t achieve those often unrealistic standards. I will take each day as it comes, set small goals and take pleasure from the little things. I’m going to take time to slow down and appreciate every special little moment because there’s no rush. I really want to focus on those little things and little moments when the bigger picture gets a little overwhelming and distressing. A nice little example: january/winter can seem a bit gloomy for some with the rainy weather and all that, but if we take a moment to appreciate the beauty in the water droplets hanging off a leaf or the magic in a misty morning, it doesn’t seem so bad!
I encourage you to be kind to yourself too and not to put too much pressure on yourself (with new years resolutions etc.). january/new year is a time where we are flooded with adverts for new fad diets and fitness DVDs, or things that tell us that our original selves are not good enough and need improving. the truth is that you are you and you are perfectly imperfect! yes, everybody has their flaws because thats what makes us humans and unique and interesting. and yes, we can improve those flaws, if we’d like to, because we should do it for ourselves and because we want to. all I’m saying is we shouldn’t feel pressured by the idea of a new year and the idea that we need to change, change drastically and quickly, we should go at our own pace, make the little tweaks we feel will make us happier and do things our own way. (side note: if you put on a little bit of weight at christmas it aint’ a bad thing because that little belly is good times and good food with good company to create good memories! beautiful.)
so with all this happy news and an exciting year to look forward to, let’s start on a s w e e t note shall we? here is a recipe for what Fay Ripley calls her “Nutty Nuggets of Deliciousness” – some may say this title is a little wordy and excessive and a little bit funny but when you taste ’em… oh boy, you’ll be shouting from the rooftops for “Nutty Nuggets of Deliciousness” all day longggg! imagine this: two fat little hazelnut cookies, so aromatic with roasted nuts that they drive you half-insane whilst baking and so melt-in-the-mouth they’re gone before you even got a chance to say “yum” (a simple solution: have another!). with the help of their trusty friend ‘nutella’ they become the cutest, crumbliest, most delicious cookies around!
with all this spare time you can expect to hear from me more often! I may try to devise some kind of upload schedule or I may just simply write and upload when I like – we shall see!
“Nutty Nuggets of Deliciousness” – Recipe (from “What’s For Dinner?” By Fay Ripley)
100g whole blanched hazelnuts
100g ground almonds
150g plain flour
60g golden caster sugar
150g butter, softened
0.3 x 400g jar of chocolate hazelnut spread (nutella)
Preheat the oven to 180oc/fan oven 160oc/gas mark 4.
Line 2 baking trays with baking parchment. Spread the hazelnuts out on a roasting tray and place in the oven for 8-10 minutes, or until lightly golden. Leave to cool slightly, then blitz the nuts in a food processor into fine crumbs.
Add the almonds, flour, sugar and butter to the processor and whizz until it all comes together.
Roll little teaspoon-sized amounts of the mixture in your hands to make balls of dough the size of large marbles. Slightly flatten, then space out on baking trays and bake for 15-20 minutes.
Cool completely on the trays then sandwich together with a blob of chocolate spread. Store in the fridge and take out shortly before serving.
Happy Baking and Happy New Year! ❤