Baking, fan fiction, and flowers.
Hello my loves. I am full of much joy today! The two months of the year that I find the most difficult are over and I there have been snowdrops, crocuses, winter irises, daphne blossoms and so many other glorious signs that winter is currently taking its curtain call and spring is hovering on the edge of the stage, ready to wow us with their best turn.
If you’d like to see more of the flowers I mentioned above, my daily #TheSmallThings tweets here are where you will find them
A recipe for you all
I made some truly delicious dark chocolate chip cupcakes in the middle of the month and I thought I would share in case you’d like some chocolately goodness in your lives.
tbsp and tsp measures
a large mixing bowl
a wooden spoon
a hand held electric mixer (you can beat it together by hand it’s just quicker and easier if you have an electric one)
a twelve hole muffin tin lined with cupcake cases
a wire rack to cool the cupcakes on
and, if you have reasonable will power, a tin to keep them in once they’ve cooled.
40g Cocoa powder (I use Cadbury Bournville)
4 tbsp of boiling water
3 large eggs
175g unsalted butter
165g golden caster sugar (I use Billington’s)
115g self raising flour (I use McDougall’s pre-sifted)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract (you can use essense if you prefer)
100g dark chocolate chips (I use Asda’s own)
Preheat the oven to 200C (if your oven is not fan assisted like mine you may need to increase the heat slightly)
I prefer to measure the invidual ingredients into seperate small bowls before I start combining anything in the main mixing bowl as I find it easier; the flour gets the tsp of baking powder added, the eggs are beaten together and have the vanilla extract added directly to them, the butter gets cut into small cubes. This is personal choice and you can measure as you go if you prefer.
Sift the cocoa powder into the bottom of your mixing bowl, pour the 4 tbsp of boiling water over it and mix into a thick paste with a wooden spoon.
Add the butter and use the wooden spoon to mix roughly, then scrape the wooden spoon with one of the electric mixer blades and set the wooden spoon aside.
Add the sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, flour and baking powder to the bowl and mix thoroughly using the electric mixer. Remember to start on the lowest power setting so you do not laminate your walls, worksurface and yourself with the cake mix.
Once mixed use the spatula to get as much off the mixer blades as you can and then add the chocolate chips, folding them gently into the mixture.
Share the mixture evenly between the twelve cake cases and then put into the oven for at least 15 mins (do not open the oven door before the 15 mins are up).
You want them well risen and springy to the touch and if you still aren’t sure they’re cooked all the way through, check by sticking a metal skewer into the middle of them, if it comes out clean they’re fine.
Let them rest in the muffin tin for a couple of minutes and then transfer them to the wire rack and leave them to cool.
Enjoy with your favourite warm beverage as a morning or afternoon snack!
I don’t often top my cupcakes (time is valuable and most of my household doesn’t much like icing/buttercream) but if you do like yours decorated then I find Betty Crocker’s vanilla buttercream and some chocolate sprinkles work really well (and saves making my own).
My ability to get my butt in my chair and words on the page continues to flourish (I do worry I might jinx myself by saying this but can you jinx yourself with the truth?) to the extent that I have in fact written every day this month and am currently on a forty one day writing streak. I shall almost definitely break the streak next month but for now it, and the nineteen thousand words I generated in February, are going to be celebrated.
Oh, I hear you cry, your worldbuilding for the Arthurian novel must be going really well. And uh … well … look, I am an easily distracted wee beastie and when I started to re-read some of the myths and legends my brain went “well this bit would work well in some BBC Merlin fan fic” and then I re-watched the entire tv series and spat out seven thousand words of fic and a thousand word blog post about what parts of the legend the show kept, what they changed and my thoughts about both of thos things.
The fan fic may never see the light of day but I’m having a blast with it and this year is the ‘write for fun’ year so I’m quite happy with where I’m at.
Having mentioned the blog, this is the list of what went up over the month should you wish to read any of it:
Working with the Wheel: Imbolc; my witchcraft focused series.
You’ve been doing what? (the BBC Merlin post)
Laughing Betsy and the Village Wassail; the second tale in my Flashes of Feathers series.
All my crochet wips continue to be items that I will be gifting to beloved friends who may, conceivably, be reading this so no pictures of anything again. All I can say is that I’m still working on them and they’re all more finished than they were last month! That said I have come across a really clever way to change yarns that looks far more solid than the way I usually do it, just go and have look at this TikTok:
Life, the universe and everything
This newsletter feels a bit short but then February is a short month and whilst I do have many thoughts on the state of the world right now I have no wish to either depress anyone or fill your inboxes with expletives so I’m disinclined to share my views in this space.
I did, however, do my best to alleviate the distress that thoughts created by taking some good long walks and providing myself with a few budget friendly treats during the month. The cupcake baking was one such small joy, buying a few stems from the flower stall at my local market and arranging them in my favourite vase was other. I cannot share how beautifully scented they were but this picture does at least show their prettiness:
If you are interested in what each stem is, this is the run down; retama (the spray covered in tiny pinkish flowers at the back of the arrangement), chrysanthemum (pink blooms top left), sea holly (on right of the chrysanthemum), verbena (many budded purple single stalk on right of sea holly), clematis (large pale purple five petalled flowers on right of arrangement) and sea lavender (small purple spray at bottom of arrangement).
The house clearance has resumed and the local charity shops are once again receiving bounty from the tardis cupboards. The tip is also being visited regularly and we are at the point were we have begun to consider hiring a skip. So yes, there is definite progress and I will focus on that, on what I have acheived, rather then bemoan how much is still to do. I would bemoan the state of the loft but then I’d actually have to get into the loft and … I’m not ready for that level of stress yet.
And, finally, what might next month bring?
As always I have drawn one tarot card to give us all a little hint about what March may hold:
Open your heart and your arms to the reawakening world and the creative energy bubbling up out there. It’s time to recognise the joy in the lives we’re already leading even as we find new energy and opportunities to make changes that will garner us even great rewards.
What have you been keeping on the back burner that might benefit you if you bring it forward and pour some time and thought into it again?
Or is there a person you’ve been keeping at arms length who you’d really like to get to know better?
Either way, this month is the month where you should seize as many days as you have the energy to seize.
Until next month, dearest ones, and may March bring you both what you need and the energy to make best use of it.
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