Sunday, 28 August 2016

Back to Blogging

I'm finally back at the blogging game after a (very) busy summer and I can't actually tell you how happy this makes me.  This is just going to be a little update post about what I've been up too recently and what I'm hoping to do with my little blog over the upcoming months.  
Last summer I started a new full time (full on) job.  I work at a Christian outdoor activity centre which meant that this summer was chaotic, busy, non-stop, fulfilling, tiring, craziness.   There were points when I felt so drained that I could have slept for days, and there were times when I didn’t want days to end because I just felt so happy and content.  Overall at this stage in my life I can’t see myself doing anything other than this job because I know it’s where God wants me to be, even if there are tough days.  

I've got a lot of plans and ideas for getting back into blogging again, starting with a new design/layout.  Although this might not happen first, it's definitely going to be something I want to get going soon and it'll be a "work in progress" for a few weeks. 

Something I don’t talk about a lot on my blog is the fact that I’m a Christian, but over the past couple of weeks I’ve found myself really growing in my faith and trying really hard to build a better relationship with God.  Something that’s helping this is the online community for creative Christian women called Delight & Be.  Which is why I’m going to try and start a series on here where I talk about my faith, what Bible passages I’ve been reading, and the work that I’m doing to grow in my faith.  I’m going to call the series “Delight &” because I’m trying to learn how to truly delight in my faith. 

There’s so much music I’ve found over the past couple of months that I’m so excited to share with you all, there’s bands I’ve blogged about before, as well as some new ones, and I have a few album dissection posts lined up that I hope you’ll enjoy.   I'm really excited to get back into sharing the music that I love with you guys

Since April I’ve been attending hospital for something quite important that has been affecting me hugely.  I’m not ready to share it on here yet but it is a huge part of my life that I struggle with and I think it’s an important thing to talk about.  Although I’m not ready too, I hope that I’ll be able to blog about it soon as a way to deal with myself, but also to raise awareness and maybe some understanding about it as well. 

It's been too long since I posted something for my Becoming Your Own hero series, I have a mixture of ideas of where this series could go, I even considered ending the series.  But I don't think I'm quite ready for this yet.  A little series I started to coincide with these posts is my Gold In The Darkest moments series which I miss so, so much because it was a way for me to appreciate the little things in my life that make me happy so I'm really excited to start it up again. 

Sorry this post is more information than anything else, hopefully I'll be able to get back into blogging as regularly as I can while still working full time.  I hope you guys have enjoyed this post, I'm looking forward to writing a more 'proper' blog post for you all soon.

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Thursday, 23 June 2016

Gold In The Darkest Moments #6

So, I started this series on my blog with the intention of posting weekly.  That worked out well - just imagine how much sarcasm is dripping from my voice right now considering I haven't posted for this series in quite a while!  The past few weeks have been a complete rollercoaster of emotions but I'm going to pick through it and share some of my happier moments from the past few weeks. 

1.  Talking to a friend.
This seems like a simple thing but I've been talking to a dear friend recently and it's been helping me a lot.  This person is very special to me and I'm so grateful to be able to talk to them openly and know that I'm not being judged.   

2.  With Confidence

If you read my last post then you'll know that one of my favourite bands is Aussie pop punkers With Confidence.  I started listening to them a couple of months ago and now I'm at that stage were I'm listening to them on repeat and I've pre-ordered their debut album.  Their music makes me really happy.

3.  Weddings.

In the space of two weeks I attended two weddings and it was so lovely.  To be able to witness the marriage of my cousin and her now husband, and then that of two of my closest friends was so beautiful.  I still feel so honoured that I was able to be a part of what was such a special day for both these couples.  It also made the fairy-tale lover/romanticist in me cry like a baby and be completely beside myself with pure happiness during both the ceremonies. 

4.   Flowers. 

One of my favourite things to photograph is flowers.  I don't know why but I just love to photograph flowers.  So I ended up taking way too many photos of flowers at the weddings I attended and also on the walks I've been on recently, it's made me really happy.  I've realised that if I ever had the opportunity to photograph The RHS Chelsea Flower Show I might actually cry in excitement. 

5.   Watching Jacks Gap on YouTube. 

Jack and Finn Harries are definitely some of my favourite creators on YouTube.  Their videos are unique and exciting, although they haven't released a video in about 6 months they still have one of my favourite channels on YouTube

Like I said earlier, these past few weeks have been an absolute rollercoaster for me.  There's a few things that I'm struggling with that have been weighing down on my heart immensely, it hurts so much.  But being able to find some gold amongst the black is helping me along.  Let me know in the comments what's made you happy over the past few weeks, I'd love to hear from you. 


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Sunday, 12 June 2016

A Spotlight On: Voldemort by With Confidence

With Confidence are releasing their debut album on the 17th of June and I'm pretty excited for it.  They're one of the biggest upcoming bands in pop punk this year having signed to Hopeless Records at the start of the year, are set to be touring America as part of Warped Tour in the summer, and their debut album is being released within a matter of days. 

They're released a few singles from the album (one of which I wrote about in this post) and during last week they released the official stream for their song Voldemort.  I've been playing it quite a lot so I thought I'd share it with you. 

The song starts of with a kick as the vocals are there from the start, accompanied by shorts burst from the lead guitar and drums.   When the instruments properly kick in during the first verse there's an energy which is tangible.  Lyrically I really like the first verse, especially how they include their upcoming album title "Better Weather" in the lyrics. 

The momentum from the first verse leads straight into the chorus, there's a high energy from all the members of the band.  Lyrically I love how the theme from the first verse continues into the chorus and is till themed around the album name. 

In the transition between the chorus and the second verse I really like the guitar and how smoothly it continues throughout the second verse.  Lyrically the verse begins with a line similar to that of the first verse and I love that they're continued this, and I also really like that they've ended with the same bridge:

"And I know that you're holding out for better weather
And I can't promise you that I'll be round forever
If there's one thing I know it's that we're good together
(If there's one thing I know it's that we're good together)"

The guitar transition between the second verse and final chorus makes a great third verse, it would be incredible to hear live because of the chance it gives for a guitar solo. 
The final chorus is probably my favourite part of the song because of the gang vocals accompanied by the percussion.  If you've been reading my blog for a while then you'll know that I love gang vocals, but what makes this more unique is the additional backing vocals from the lead singer, Jayden Seeley. 

Also, it's a great build up to the final part of the chorus which is filled with high energy from all the band members, I especially love how clear the drum fills come through with this and work alongside the backing vocals.  The song ends with an acoustic guitar piece and what I'm assuming is the recording from after they recorded the gang vocals, which I think is a great touch. 

You can listen to the song on the video above.  I've pre-ordered my copy of Better Weather and I am so excited for it to arrive.  Although With Confidence are a band that are just breaking into the spotlight in alternative music I have pretty high hopes for the album and I'm looking forward to seeing where it takes them. 


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Saturday, 14 May 2016

Gold In The Darkest Moments #5

Yes I know, it isn't a Wednesday but I'm writing a Gold In The Darkest Moments post.  But, I haven't been able to blog in a couple of weeks because having a unique, full time job is pretty time consuming.  I have a day off so I wanted to write a post and share some of the things from the past few weeks that have made me happy. 

1.  BBQ at the beach.
Last Monday evening I went out with a bunch of my friends for a BBQ at the beach and it was so lovely.  The weather was great and it was nice to hang out with my closest friends. 

2.  Changing my wardrobe.
If you've been hanging around my blog for a while then you might remember me writing this post.  When I wrote that post my wardrobe mainly consisted of black jeans, black hoodies, and band t-shirts.
I've recently started wearing more dresses, skirts, cardigans, and plain t-shirts.  I've been styling myself on Dodie Clark and Tanya Burr for inspiration.  This has made me really happy and I'm enjoying finding new clothes to wear and having some fun when putting together outfits. 

3. FaceTime with Dani. 
A little while ago my friend Gordy let me hijack his phone so I could FaceTime my friend Dani who lives in Canada.  It was so  nice to talk to her, meet one of her housemates over video, and get excited over how cute her pet cats are.  Dani is one of my best friends and I miss her dearly, but I was so happy to have the chance to actually talk to her. 

4.  Oh Wonder. 
I've started listening to the group Oh Wonder and I love them so much.  I bought their self titled album today, I'm listening to it while typing this post and I'm really enjoying it.  Their music is pretty different to what I normally listen too but I really love it, it's so unique and captivating. 

5.  Chocolate chats.
Sometimes you just need to sit on a big industrial freezer, break open a galaxy bar, and have a good talk with 3 of your closest friends. 

6.  Flip flops!
I bought a pair of flip flops from Primark recently and I've been wearing them as often as I can, it feels so good to be in them!  They are so comfy and it makes me feel very summer-y when I'm wearing flip flops.  Also, a fun thing that myself and the two girls I share an office with have started is 'Flip Flop Fridays' and it's a fun little thing to have together! 

7.  The Selection Series by Kiera Cass 
For quite a while I've wanted to read The Selection series but for some reason I kept putting it off.  I finally bought the first book and got hooked very quickly.  From the ball gowns, to the romance, to the rebels, I've loved this series and have found myself immersing myself in the regal world of The Selection.  Today I bought the book of short stories to accompany the series as well as the fourth book and I'm so excited to start reading them! 

I hope you've enjoyed this update post, if you'd like to read the other posts in my Gold In The Darkest Moments series then click here.  Although I'm struggling with running my blog while having a full time job I'm hoping to find a balance soon and get back into posting regularly.
Let me know in the comments about some of the things that have made you happy over the past week.  Ha


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Saturday, 16 April 2016

All Time Low Back To The Future Hearts Tour 2016

Back in February I went to see All Time Low in Glasgow for their Back To The Future Hearts Tour.  On Facebook I described the day as "seeing one of my favourite bands with two of my favourite people" because I had a great time.  We spent the day together in Glasgow, window shopping and eating Millie's Cookies then went to the SSE Hydro in the evening for the concert. 

We arrived at the venue about half an hour before the doors opened, I was panicking slightly as we had standing tickets and thought that by arriving this late we wouldn't get a good spot.  But we somehow managed to end up in the queue which got let in the quickest, and ended up pretty near the end of the catwalk - yes, there was a freaking catwalk!

All Time Low are getting bigger and bigger over here in the UK but you can still bet on their audiences still being mostly filled with a core of people who are dedicated fans of not only this band but alternative music in general. 

The opening acts for this tour were Against The Current and Good Charlotte.  Their music styles are quiet different but both had the crowd getting hyped up, and put on a great show.  Against The Current displayed a lot of musical ability for a fairly new band and seeing them live has made me listen to their music more.  Good Charlotte performing was like being at an old punk show, it was brilliant.  They played a range of their older music as well as a few new songs, and their onstage banter was great. 


During the opening acts I got split up from my two friends but ended up two rows from the front and made small talk with a few of the people around me.   Adam Elmakias (one of my favourite music photographers) was one of the official photographers for this tour and went round the front of the catwalk handing out some of his wristbands and I managed to get some for me and my friend Becca which was great. 

When All Time Low came on they entered the stage through a rising platform and the energy in the arena was ecstatic.  Their set was a good mixture of their older and newer music, hearing songs from their Put Up or Shut Up EP was incredible as a it gave a sense of how far this band has come.  I only took a few photos throughout the concert, the majority of the photos I have are from my wonderful friend Becca.

Seeing Alex Gaskarth perform Therapy so up close was pretty emotional, but not as emotional as being one of the voices in an arena full of people singing along with him.

Overall it was a pretty amazing concert.  The first time I saw All Time Low was at the SSE Hydro I February last year when they toured with You Me At Six which I was sitting pretty far back for.  The second time I saw All Time Low was at the Corn exchange in Edinburgh for their Reading & Leeds warm up gig in ugust last year.  That was a very small venue in comparison, hot, all standing, and one of the best concerts I've been too.  This cncert was like a combination of my other two times seeing All Time Low.  Yet this was a milestone for a band, they knew and so did the fans. 

This was All Time Low's first time headlinging an arena tour in UK where they weren't co-headlining,  The had the crew and the equipment to not just put on a gig put a show and the most certainly did that.  It was a punk show with the fun of the pyro and fire, and the usual ridiculous banter from Alex Gaskarth and Jack Barakat. 

I had a great time at this concert and hope to see All Time Low again.  Let me know in the comments about what concerts you've been too, I'd love to hear about your experiences.


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Saturday, 9 April 2016

The Baking Diaries | Madeira Cupcakes with Orange Frosting

It feels so good to be having a quite day where I can just sit at my laptop and type up a blog post (and by this I mean sitting on my roommates bed, stealing chips from her KFC and listening to James Blunt).  This past week has been extremely busy workwise for me, it was full of ups and downs and I'm so tired but I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would.  My week ahead is yet another busy work week but I'm looking forward to it. 

I haven't baked in a while because I've been working but I thought I'd share a recipe with you all that I tried a while ago and loved.  The madeira cupcake recipe that I use is from a Marks & Spencer cupcake book that was published in 2008 and is one of my favourite baking books that I own. 


For the cupcakes:

180g unsalted butter (softened)
170g caster sugar (superfine)
3 eggs
165g plain flour
2tsp plain flour
1tsp finely grated orange zest
1tbspn orange juice

For the icing:

250g icing sugar (sifted)
125g unsalted butter (softened)
1tbspn orange juice

Firstly you need to preheat your oven to 180 degrees (I use a fan oven) and line a standard muffin tin with 12 paper cases. 

Next you need to beat together the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl until the mixture is light and fluffy.  Then add the eggs one at a time, beating the mixture after adding each egg.   Sift the flour and baking powder into the mixing bowl and fold into the mixture.  Then fold in the orange zest and orange juice until all the ingredients are combined. 

Divide the mixture evenly between the cases then bake in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes (or until a skewer placed in the cakes comes out clean).  Place the cupcakes on a wire cooling rack. 

While waiting for your cupcakes to cool you can, make the orange flavoured icing.  Measure out the butter and orange juice into a large mixing bowl.  Gradually add the icing sugar to the bowl, mixing together after each addition.  Continue to mix the icing until you have a smooth consistency to the mixture.  If you wish you can add orange food colouring, however I prefer not to add this. 
Using an icing knife, spread the icing on top of each cupcake then decorate as desired.  I decorated mine with silver sugar balls. 

I really enjoyed baking these cupcakes and they taste divine, the texture of the sponge is so unique for a cupcake but is still really yummy!  Let me know in the comments what you think of the recipe, I'd love to hear your opinions, and let me know if you try baking them yourself! 


Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Gold In The Darkest Moments #4

Another week gone already.  This week has seemed really long for me, it feels like ages since I last posted, even though it's only been seven days.  My emotions have been a rollercoaster this week, although I've doing pretty good which has been nice.  I'm going to share some of the highlights with you. 

1.  Amazing photo opportunities. 
I've been trying really hard to photograph more often, it's something that I love doing but haven't been doing often enough.  There have been a few gorgeous sunrises this week and I've been fortunate enough to capture them before I go to work. 

2.  Spending time with my friends at work.
I've been making more of an effort to hang out with the people that I work with in the evenings, even if it meant four of us in the kitchen dancing to uptown funk, sitting up chatting with a handful of people talking till one am, or rearranging one of our rooms into chair/blanket forts and watching a movie on a projector screen. 

3.  Pizza party. 
One of the things that we done as a group was have a pizza making party which then resulted in us building chair forts and watching a movie.  It was so much fun and I had a great time.  Shopping beforehand in Asda was even fun, ten of us walking around with various trolleys, me falling over cause my shoes were really slippy, and one of my friends walking around in his bare feet cause 'who needs shoes?'. 
We also had good drives with great music to Asda and back and it was a really fun evening. 

4.  Meals out.
On my day off I went out for lunch with a few of my friends and then almost everyone from my work ended up going out for tea together.  I ate way too much food that day!  When we went out for tea I only ordered a pudding, I was so full!!

5. Baking. 
I baked S'more Brownies last night and I'm really pleased with how they turned out.  It was so fun to make them, especially since I won't be able to bake over the next couple of weeks cause work is going to be really busy. 

I hope you enjoyed this post, I really enjoyed writing it.  I probably won't be able to post in this series next week due to being extremely busy at work cause our Easter camps are starting.  But hopefully I'll be able to share something.  Please let me know in the comments how your weeks have been, I'd love to hear from you.