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Saturday, 30 March 2013

Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

Easter is up there with Valentines as one of the best times of year for the chocolate business and given both the season and the popularity of my cookies I thought I'd share my recipe for these sumptuous treats. This past year I've been well and truly channelling my inner domestic goddess, taking to the kitchen to whip up food from scratch and not only is it very rewarding but I've found the results to be a lot better that shop brought ready made alternatives. But on with the recipe (which I adapted from this one) and makes around 12-14 cookies you'll need:

  • 125g of Softened Butter
  • 125g Caster Sugar
  • 50g Light Brown Soft Sugar
  • 50g  Dark Muscavado Sugar
  • 1 Egg lightly beaten
  • 225g Self Raising Flour or 175g of Self Raising with 50g of Cocoa Powder for Chocolate Cookies
  • 200g Chocolate Chips
  • 1-2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 of Salt
  • 1/2 Tbsp Cinnamon

What you'll need

  • Measuring Scales
  • A Tablespoon
  • A Teaspoon
  • A Mixing Bowl
  • A Regular Bowl 
  • Oven Trays
  • Greaseproof Paper
  • Wire Cooling Rack(s)
  • Sieve
  1. First of all preheat your oven to 180 degrees or gas mark 4.
  2. I like to make sure I'm prepared so grab your oven trays and cut your greaseproof paper to size so they're all ready to be adorned with your cookies.
  3. Measure out all of your ingredients, I reccomend you do all of the dry ingredients first as it stops them sticking to measuring bowl later. Pop the self raising flour in a bowl for now. Measure out your sugars before putting them straight into the mixing bowl. Then you can measure out your butter.
  4. Taking a spoon (I find a metal spoon a lot easier to use than a wooden one for this task) cream the sugars and the butter together.
  5. Now add in your egg and vanilla extract (I'm quite liberal with the vanilla as I love its taste so I use two tsps but one is fine!)
  6. Now using a sieve sift in your flour and/or cocoa powder, cinnamon and salt into the mixing bowl, give this a stir to combine the ingredients.
  7. Add the chocolate chips to the mixture and continue stirring ensuring a thorough combination of all your ingredients. At this point I like to stick my hands in and combine the mixture into one big ball, but this is not essential to the next step, once combined you can leave it as it is if you like.
  8. Roll bits of the mixture between the palms of your hands to create balls of your cookie mixture that can go straight onto your oven tray. Alternatively if you want more precisely shaped cookies roll the whole mixture in a log shape and cut it up. When placing on the trays be sure to leave ample space as the cookies will spread out in the oven. I can fit about 6 to a tray. 
  9. Put your trays of cookies in the oven for 7-10 minutes depending on how soft you'd like them. 7 minutes will make them very soft, 10 will leave them golden brown around the edges but still soft and chewy. From experience I tend to go for 10 minutes. 
  10. Once cooked, immediately place your oven trays on wire racks and cover with a tea towel. Then and I STRESS THIS leave them to cool for 15-30 minutes. The cookies need time to cool down and sort of 'set', if you try to take them off the tray too early theres a chance you'll waste half a cookie! So take a breather- watch tv, do 20 sit ups or whatever you need to do to fill that time. 
  11. Carefully start to peel your cookies away from the greaseproof paper, they should come away whole. Tap the bottoms to make sure they're done cooling before transferring them to a destination of your choice; be it your mouth, plate or biscuit tin. 
Overall these cookies have gone down a massive treat in my house so I find myself making them quite regularly.The great thing about them is not only are they delicious but they don't take an awful long time to make and you can experiment with the skeleton recipe adding ingredients to your taste for instance you could add fruit, nuts, seeds, spices and even confectionary, its up to you! I myself, decided to use three sugars instead of the two in the skeleton recipe as dark muscavado further enhances the end result with dark sweet undertones.These cookies will keep for a few days but you probably won't even have to consider this as they turn out anything like mine they won't last a day or two (at the maximum!) And there you have it your very own homemade decadent treats, perfect with a cup of tea and much better than shop brought ones!

Do you make your own cookies? Will you try this recipe? Let me know your thoughts! And Happy Easter!

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Tea Tuesdays #1- Twinings Double Mint

Introducing a new feature to my blog- Tea Tuesdays where I'll be offering up my thoughts on a different variety of tea I've managed to get my mitts on! As a nation we are known for our unfaltering tea consumption and I am no exception to this rule! 


Twinings are arguably one of the biggest players in the tea industry, for as long as I can remember a varied selection of their infusions have been a permanent feature in my kitchen cupboards at home. They're my go to for all my everyday herbal tea needs. 
As you can see in the pictures Twinings have nailed the packaging, synchronising it's colour with that of the tea. But what of the taste, I hear you ask..

The traditional peppermint leaf recipe has been given a boost with the addition of mint oil, to reap the full benefits of this it is recommended you infuse your teabag in boiling water for 3-4 minutes. Personally I prefer to leave my teabag in for the duration of (my short lived) drinking to get a fuller, stronger taste. Once you have steeped your tea you should be left with a dark green toned tea. 

Any product that bears the word 'sensation' should live up to its name and I can confirm that the use of mint oil in the blend induces a certain menthol zingy aftertaste which I can only compare to that feeling of breathing out fog on a cold morning except the fog is the taste of peppermint. Double Mint Sensation is also naturally caffeine free. Peppermint tea itself has been said to be beneficial to the digestive system so I'd suggest the best time to drink it is after a meal! 

Overall I really enjoyed this brew and I'm delighted Twinings have delivered on the sensation front with a tea that not only tastes great when you're drinking it but also stays with you that little while longer.

Disclaimer: This blog post is not compensated nor sponsored by Twinings or anybody else. Twinings regularly allow people to request samples of their tea via their website and this is what I did!

What do you think of the new feature? Have you tried Double Mint Sensation? 
Let me know your thoughts!
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Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Learning To Layer: Leather Jacket Over Hoodie

Heeli Leather Jacket, Primark Men's Hoodie.

This time last year if you'd asked me how to layer effectively I probably would have responded with 'Just throw on a jumper' or a mumsy 'Make sure you wear a coat out!' however with the weather being what it has been here in Merry England, I've learnt a little bit..

Thursday, 14 March 2013

A Visual Catch Up

Hanging upside down on the stairs | Baking Cookies | Illustrating Practice  Of Devendra Banhart| Discarded Flowers| Lighting Practice| Brownie Baking

I wanted to check in with all of those that read my blog and let you know what I've been up to recently. Whilst I may not always be modelling I have been keeping myself busy with other activities!  
I've recently been getting stuck in with my video production course, experimenting with lighting setups and occupying myself with both the planning and pre production of a horror special effects project.  As part of the pre production process I've got to revisit some of my favourite horror productions like Dead Set and the spanish horror film Rec , studying sure comes a lot easier when you get to watch movies you love as 'research'! One of the tasks we were set was to select a shot from a film and emulate it, thats what I'm doing in the shot above for her a fellow film student- lying upside down on some stairs.

Elsewhere I've been baking ALOT, it started out about two weeks ago with ONE batch of cookies. They were so popular in our house that I've been chained to the stove and forced to cook more sweet treats. Slight exaggeration aside, I really do enjoy cooking from scratch, experimenting with different ingredients and giving all retailers of cookies and brownies a run for their money. Theres pasta in the pipeline, I also made my own pesto last week. Can we tick off Domestic Goddess yet?

I recently got round to listening to Devendra Banhart's new album 'Mala', another album of the dreamboat's folk flavouring. It was a delight with my favourite tracks being; 'Never Been Such Good Things', 'You're Fine Petting Duck' and 'Golden Girls'.  Listening to Banhart's soothing sounds and finely tuned instrumentation really should be done with a glass of vino in hand, whilst lounging in an hammock- that is the only thing missing! This inspired me to play around with a photograph of his, I was very keen to attempt a digital illustration but I couldn't bring myself to destroy him! Practice makes perfect though!

I've also been pitching lots of new reviews to publications, there are so many gigs I want to go to in the coming months, ones not to be missed and that will hopefully provide good reading. I'm soon to be blogging on the Huffington Post's new student blog section too! I'm so excited about writing this year and I'm snapping up any opportunities to do just that, so stay tuned!

I'm working flat out at the moment, aiming to be in a constant state of 'beta' creation and grab those opportunities with both hands! So I just want to say thank you to all those who take the time to read this and say that I look forward to sharing my journey with you.

Abitha xo

Tweet me your thoughts @abitha_arabella | Email me:| Or leave a comment!

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Kitty Prints

Feline catty? Kitty prints have been around for awhile with naturally some patterns being better than others. Here are my two favourites of the moment:

Rip N Dip's Nermal Button Down

If you're a cat lover than cat prints are great, especially this one. I love how the pattern is continuous making for a very bold statement. If I was to wear this I'd team it with some very minimal items such as a white scoop necked, long sleeved pullover or a fitted blazer. The last thing you want to do is clash two very busy patterns! I am an absolute sucker for button down shirts, shirts in general as one of my main looks lends itself to the dapper/twee category. But you could also put an urban spin on this shirt by sporting a five panel or a snapback. Its 100% Cotton and has an reinforced collar, keeping it nice and twee. The shirt currently retails at $70.00 from RIPNDIP .
Cream Car Print Skirt @ River Island.

Close Up Of Print

Yesterday, I took one of my younger sisters into town to spend her birthday vouchers and money on some new clothing. Whilst we were out and about I spotted this lovely skirt print in River Island. I immediately fell in love with the skirt as the cats in the design resembled my own, the skinny tan belt is also a plus. I have a small collection of print skirts and from experience I've learnt not to be too enthusiastic when picking out garments to go with them, maybe I'm being a bit shy? However again I'd keep the accompanying items minimal but create a folky, vintage look around the skirt. With a cream long sleeved top, a sheepskin gillet perhaps and black tights with brogues.  This skirt currently retails at £25.00 at River Island

Ooh and just as closer- here's one of my beloved cats!
"Why are all these humans stealing my style- purrrrlease"

What do you think of cat prints? Meow or plain no? Let me know your thoughts!

Artisan Update

As I previously mentioned I made a promise to myself to create more art this year and here is a little photo update of what I've been up to...

I started a series of motivational digital art pieces made up of marbled jazzy backgrounds with overlays of inspirational text I've dreamed up. I begin with a blank canvas in photoshop and then choose three colours and various different shades/tones with which to create my background. I think of it as a painting process, smearing smidges of colour onto the canvas before smudge them all together to create the backdrop of the piece. This series is based on observations of both my self and others negative tendencies and reworked to have a positive vibe. This is done by juxtaposing the positive words before the negative. It's an experiment but I do hope they inspire at least one person out there. 
I've also been drawing a little, taking inspiration from nature,culture and again sociology- I'm finding it very therapeutic, enjoying it rather than chiding myself for not being as good as I'd like. I keep doodling all over my assignment papers too oopsy but its all good practice! I've recently come across this amazing Pentel Color Brush which has helped to create watercolour-esque effects in my work and is great for tone which I struggle with. The ink is water based and you can refill the cartridges which is very handy and means you won't have to throw away the pen once you are finished with it! I like the way it is essentially a brush but its pen attributes give the artist more control. 
And as for the photography that is still a work in progress, my point and shoot film camera never leaves my bag and is ever ready for any photo opportunity the world throws at it. I must go get my film developed though it is so expensive! I'm hoping at some point this year to attain all the paraphernalia to develop my films at home, fingers crossed!

I've also been admiring the work of other artists, predominantly the street artists of the Shoreditch/Brick Lane area. I really love #thebriancoxeffect posters and admire the artist for creating them. Brian Cox is proving to be science's new pin up. He's young (in comparison to his peers) though Attenborough you are still thoroughly adored, he's charismatic and his programmes are enjoyable as well as educational to watch. I snapped these whilst I was out modelling in the area and wanted to take many more photos but just didn't have the time! The bottom picture is a poster my friend Kevin brought me back from  ART13 at the Olympia  by Stuart Semple. This is something he did alongside mind,  the mental health charity and I love it's message synonmous with the Time To Change television adverts- Its okay to talk about mental health. I also like the obvious typography format as its something I am exploring in my own little creations currently.

What do you think of my art, does it inspire you? Have you experimented with the color brush yourself? What do you think of the art featured in this post?

Saturday, 2 March 2013

To Love Kuvaa Part 2

Having previously shot with; photographer Pip Wass, Stylist Rie Williams and MUA Chloe Hilaire we shot more of the 'To Love Kuvaa' collection this Friday again around the hip hangout that is Brick Lane. 
With a bit of initiative learnt from our last session we worked notably more efficiently, employing the use of another model and alternating between one being shot and the other in hair and makeup. It also meant less warmth was lost for all involved!

Chloe created a fresh feminine look with the makeup utilising rose, pink shades and using fresh flowers in our hair as well as adding frizzed hair to the front of Amy's hair as you can see in the image above. It was lovely chatting with her in the intervals between shooting, she describes herself as having 'The sauciest affair with the fashion industry' at the moment, working extremely hard on up to four shoots a week and being in her prime as an MUA. The results of her toil are clear to see and her enthusiasm is second to none, so if you're looking for an make up artist look no further! 
Rie was also on hand to style the outfits and pick out the looks, pairing floral jumpers with bloomer shorts and dresses with heels. With an ever poised clip in hand and an eye on how the garments fell she made sure the clothing was shown at it's best throughout the shoot. And she was in charge of reflecting which can be trying on the arms after long periods of time! As spring is only beginning to ever so slightly break through this long winter we were working against the natural light so the use of a reflector can be the difference between a beautifully lit image and a dreary grey one which wouldn't be  best for a lookbook influencing the sale of the clothing!

Once again, Pip kept an eye out for the great locations we'd use; pastel walls, doorways, steps and the various bits of street art to be found in the area as well as contributing the odd bit of direction and employing techniques such as requesting we walk as she took pictures. She wound up with well into the thousands of image files, so lots to review and edit! 

The time flew and a working day starting at 10AM finished around 5PM with some great shots of the spring/summer 13 collection. The collection is a great mix of jumpers, shorts, slip dresses with the recurring patterns of both floral and gingham.  My particular favourites are the daisy patterned jumper pictured above with it's boxy fit and ribbed sleeves which I think would work well teamed with skinny jeans or over a collared shirt and a plain skater skirt or even with a shorts-tights combination. Its way too cold to consider shorts and bare legs right now! I also loved the bloomer shorts, lightweight and reminiscent of nostalgic eras gone by they're great to consider if you're planning a holiday this year somewhere hot! And third and last favourite, the nightie come slip style dress that comes in various colours/patterns with a silky satin finish and a definite feminine air to them. 

Photographer: Pip Wass
Stylist: Ana-Marie (Rie) Williams
MUA: Chloe Ellis Hilaire
Models: Abitha Pallett and Amy Spavins