Friday, October 31, 2014

Q #27

As it's Halloween today, I thought my weekly quote-post could be on a Halloween-theme. I love Macbeth, despite being forced to read it several times at school, over the years. I remember having a cartoon of it as a child and was fascinated by the witches - little did I know that interest would continue for many years..
Don't forget to check out my Halloween tag for some film recommendations for tonight, if you need some inspiration. Have a fun weekend everyone, and keep safe!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

something wicked this way comes: on halloween and witches

As it is Halloween on Friday I thought I'd talk about my fascination with witches... I've been intrigued by witches and witchcraft for as long as I can remember, avidly consuming books about witches, television shows (from the good to the awful) and films. I had little journals where I would write down spells, and collected crystals, incense and candles that I thought were particularly special, me and my friend would get together and talk about whether we thought they worked or not. I dressed up as witches at least three years in a row for book-day at school (Mildred from the Worst Witch, Hermione from Harry Potter and the White Witch from the Chronicles of Narnia): essentially, I devoured as much as I could about witches, my mother would have to supply me endlessly with books because I would read them so fast. Maybe it was growing up with a Catholic influence, but it always felt a little bit illicit to be reading about witches and magic.

I've hidden this obsession well as I've grown up, but every time Halloween rolls around, I find myself returning to those stories, shows and cinema and thinking how fucking cool it would be if it were all real. For 10 months of the year I am generally grounded in reality, but in September, when the air begin to cool, I let my solid footing slip.

Maybe it's the change in the seasons, I have always had romantic notions about nature, and the hidden Pagan inside of me wants to make wicker effigies at harvest. I begin to pay close attention to the cycles of the moon, and wish it was acceptable to wander barefoot over the local common, lighting bonfires and wearing a black cape. I fear it wouldn't go down too well, where I live.

For now, I'll collect crystals, and stones with perfect circles inside, dried herbs and sticks and feathers, pretending that I have my own little tree-stump altar and a circle made from branches..

(Images taken from Pinterest, photo credits where possible are provided on Pinterest.)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

quick and easy breakfast porridge

Porridge is not one of those things I ever considered really for breakfast, I have to say. When I was little, mum used to make it for us before school on cold mornings, or my Grandma would make it when we went to visit her, but the only way I liked it then was with copious amounts of sugar and milk. I stopped having it when I realised there were more fun breakfasts out there, like coco pops...
Flash forward to uni and my friend Amy used to eat a lot of those little instant porridge pots. They never looked that appealing to me, but who knows, I busy was enjoying my sausage bap with extra ketchup. In the supermarket a few months back, I had a flash of intrigue and threw one into my trolley, and it promptly sat in my kitchen cupboard until the weather turned cold enough for me to warrant trying it. 
And it wasn't a pleasant experience, is all I can say. It was pretty much like eating glue, I don't know if thats because I had to add water, or what, but it was like tasteless glue in a little paper cup. More determined this time around, I set out on a mission to buy some oats, and give it a go again. A couple of mornings later and I have it down fine art! I do it in the microwave, because, really, I can't be trusted with fire and gas at 7.30AM.
I'll include my little recipe here, but it's really not a recipe, more a ratio.
For one large serving:
- 1/2 cup oats
- 1 cup semi-skimmed milk
- Toppings of your choice!

1. Place a 1/2 cup of porridge oats in a microwavable bowl. For ease in the morning, I use a 1/2 cup measure, because who can be bothered weighing things that early in the morning? Google tells me it's about 90g.
2. Add the milk to the bowl and microwave for 2 minutes. I microwave it in 30 second blasts, and mix in-between, to make sure all the oats are being covered by the milk.
3. Leave to stand for about 30-60 seconds, whilst finding/preparing your toppings. 
My go-to favourite-topping is a good helping of jam, currently rotating between peach, plum or pear jam, with a handful of raisins or nuts, depending on what I can find in the morning, thought I've experimented with some slightly less healthier versions that involved chocolate chips, but my favourite is with lots of jam. It sort of feels like I'm having rice pudding for breakfast, and I can imagine I'm somewhat decadent.
Have you got any topping recommendations? I'd like to upgrade my porridge-game..

Monday, October 27, 2014

advertise on U+T

If you didn't know already, you can advertise your blog or small business with Uncia + Tigris! I've recently opened some new ad-spots that I am currently trialling on my blog, so don't forget to check out my Work With Me page for more information. Below you'll find an easy to use form that lets you book spots with lots of ease. I have used this system on various blogs and found they really open you up to a new audience. Prices start from as little as 20p a day, please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions. (:

Sunday, October 26, 2014

weekend wanderings #36

(images from, and

Friday, October 24, 2014

Q #26

I think I found this quote whilst on tumblr (pfft, so typical, I know) but I think I must've been in a funny mood that week, because it definitely struck something with me. Sometimes I feel like my emotional history is just a list of all the times someone has taken shots at me, you know? I am aware now that I can come across as quite a confident person, acting like I don't care and things don't bother me (this has come with years of training) but I feel each of those blows.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

the almost perfect cinnamon bun + recipe

The other week I was in the shower, and I cracked open a new bottle of Korres' Vanilla Cinnamon shower gel. Whilst singing along to my music and lathering up, I realised that the smell reminded me exactly of cinnamon buns. So after pottering about for the rest of the day, occasionally stopping to smell my arms because they smelled that good, I decided to just give in and make some cinnamon buns. 
I searched around the internet for a good recipe, and came across this one from the Guardian website. It seemed like a good option, requiring less proving that most recipes, and using ingredients that I nearly all had in at home.
For the buns:
300ml whole milk (I only had semi-skimmed, and it worked fine)
1tsp ground cardamon seeds (about 25 pods)
50g butter
424g plain flour
7g fast action yeast
60g caster sugar
1/4 tsp fine salt
1 egg, beaten lightly
oil, to grease

For the filling:
75g softened butter
50g dark brown sugar (again, I only had light brown, it was fine, a little less treacly)
3 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

For the icing:
125g icing sugar
1.5 tbsp milk
(note: I did not have any cream cheese, or I would've made cream cheese icing!)

1. Put the milk and ground cardamom seeds in a small sauce-pan and bring to just below the boil. Take off the heat, stir in the butter, and then leave to infuse.
2. Mix together all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. When the milk is no longer hot, and is just warm, make a well in the dry ingredients and the egg. Stir the egg in, then pour in the milk through a strainer. Stir until it comes together to make a soft dough that pulls away from the edge of the bowl.
3. Oil your surface well, and your hands, and knead for five minutes. It is a very soft and wet dough, I found, but resist adding more flour. I didn't have a dough scraper, but I recommend using one for this!
4. Wipe out the bowl and oil it lightly, then return the dough to the bowl. Cover, and leave somewhere warm for 30 minutes. (They suggest a cold oven, with a bowl of hot water, but we left hours at the back of the stove-top whilst the oven was on, and that worked well.)
5. Whilst the dough is proving, make the filling by beating all the ingredients together until soft and easily spreadable. (Resist from eating, this mixture tastes so good.)
6. Also whilst waiting, grease a cake tin.
7. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to a rectangle roughly 35 x 25cm. Spread the  filling mixture evenly across the dough, then roll dough into a sausage shape, starting from the long edge (like you would a swiss roll). Cut into eight even slices.
8. Arrange the slices in a tin, evenly spaced, and leave to prove again for 30 minutes.
9. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
So there we go! They're best eaten fresh, obviously, and don't keep amazingly well, and would be much improved with some cream cheese icing and not the sugar icing that I made - but they hit the spot and weren't that hard, despite the multiple proves, etc. Next on my challenge list are croissants and doughnuts...

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

everyday jewellery + rings

The other day I was thinking about the jewellery that I wear every day and the sentimental reasons behind me wearing it, and thought I'd show you a little peek at the kind of things I decorate my hands with. Generally, I'm not a superstitious person, but around the time I lost one of my favourite rings, I went through a very tough time at uni. I know these things are stupid and unrelated coincidences, but part of me holds these jewels a little tighter when I'm feeling shitty. I think it helps that most of them were either gifts from the women in my family, or bought for me by the women in my family, so it makes me feel like they've got my back, in a stupid way.

I wear on a regular basis quite a lot of jewellery, actually.. I have some pieces that belonged to my grandmother: a gold sovereign necklace and a beautiful sapphire and diamond eternity ring given to her by my grandfather. I also wear a little silver band with flowers engraved into it that I got with my mother in Florence for my 21st birthday. On the other hand, I wear a really special gold ring that was my great-aunts and given to me when she died. The other things I wear are bits and bobs I've collected over the years, like a skinny silver band found when I was at uni, or a plethora of moonstones because I've always been fascinated with them.. 

I could go on and on and on about how special these things are to me, but I think everyone has a piece or two that is special to them. And really, I shouldn't be so superstitious with these things, the memories I have connected to those people carry on even if I'm not wearing those rings, but I feel like they're little reminders of them, when things are shit or I'm really down. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

weekend wanderings #35

(photos from,, and

Q #25

I'm feeling a lot better about life in general this week, though I haven't blogged as much as I would've liked, so that is making me a bit annoyed with myself. It's weird, going from having a load of free-time, to very limited time. I guess this is why I blogged a lot more as a part-time worker.. Who knows, but things are definitely different, now.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

on learning how to make jam, or, post-harvest musings

Now that we've had the first frost (why did it have to be a Sunday morning when I leave for work at 8AM, though?!), I feel like summer and, subsequently, harvest-time have finally drawn to a close, and we're officially into the colder months. This weekend I was walking along the hill at Alexandra Palace and enjoying the very fresh wind - as I regretted my decision to not bring a coat, I realised that meant summer was over. I know that Halloween is officially yet to come, and the pagan in me feels like that is the real end of the summer, but the frost, dark and misty mornings, low sun when driving home and orange crescent moons are telling me it's come already.
Anyway, I digress - this year my mum has taken it upon herself to unofficially teach me how to make jam, jelly, chutney, curd and other preserves, so thought I'd show you a few photos I snapped of all the preserving-work we've been upto this year whilst I sat and labelled all our jars the other day.

  • It is hot work; I didn't really think about how warm it gets standing over a hot pan of sticky, sugary juice and fruit. 
  • Chutney makes your house stink like vinegar, no-matter how many windows you open - but making it on the most humid day of the year before a giant thunderstorm probably didn't help, either.
  • I miss the allotment, and the excitement of bringing home whatever was ready to eat. Although we didn't exactly make jam from the potatoes, it just makes me miss everything. Now the only place I'll be harvesting, for the foreseeable future, is the reduced soft-fruit section at Waitrose..
  • I enjoy quince jelly more than I thought I would - I had no idea it would smell so good cooking. It's weirdly floral, but yeah.
  • I also really enjoy eating jam straight from the jar, and that is generally how I consume it most. I feel like Joey in the one with the jam....
  • There is nothing greater than a jar of home-made lemon curd.
  • I want to try out some more adventurous things now that I've realised it's really not that hard. I still think it's stupid that they make them make their own jam for a victoria sponge on Great British Bake-Off, but it's really not that hard. 
  • Jam/sugar thermometers are really irritating. The jam gets caught underneath + behind them and then catches and burns and you end up with burnt jam bits in your lovely pear-jelly.
  • Licking the spoon until I feel sick makes me think I can never eat jam again. I always manage to eat some more the next day.
  • Bulk buying 50 jam-jars from Amazon may seem absurd when you receive that giant box one morning, but you'll be surprised and how many you've used. I think we have about twenty left?
  • People legitimately enjoy receiving it as presents, I've discovered, and even given the jars back for more, which is even more pleasing to know as it gives me an excuse to make more lemon curd. 
  • You'll find yourself rearranging your cupboards or fridge to make space for the jars.
I might joke about how it's dirty work, but I love it. I'm weirdly sentimental, but both my grandmothers made jam and jelly and stuff, and it's something I associate so inherently with my mum - I think she's made some form of blackberry jam every year of my life since I can remember, and probably longer than that. It makes me smile to know that I'm learning too, and now I can scoff at those pretty jars of Bonne Maman jam when they're on offer in the shops, as I know I've got something nicer and tastier at home.

Have you tried making jam yet? I promise you, it's insanely satisfying to see those colourful jars all laid out on the work-top and neatly labelled. Almost as satisfying as not knowing what kind of jam to have on my toast - do I go for the pear, plum, quince, damson, blackberry, apple, raspberry, strawberry...

Sunday, October 12, 2014

weekend wanderings #34

(images from, and

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

hibernation season

To me, Autumn-fashion is synonymous with big sweaters, long socks, wooly scarves and hats. But when I'm at home and lounging about, and find myself chilly I resort to lugging around my hand-made quilt, dragging it about the house and wrapping myself up in it. This is partly because I'm cold, yes, but also because it's made from flannel (like a fleece!) and is oh-so-soft and cosy.. Unfortunately, this isn't always practical.

A few weeks ago I was having a cheeky evening hot chocolate in Next with my friend Gemma and stumbled across this oh-so-soft and cosy sweater which I really just wanted straight away. I resisted for about a week, but then just caved, and went back and bought it. I do not regret that decision in the slightest. It's incredible soft, if I haven't said that enough already, but it really is. Like baby sheep fleeces or some crap, I don't even know. It's got a really lovely roll neck that you can pull up and keep your neck all warm, or let flop over. I particularly love the little thumb-holes in the sleeves that you can keep hooked down.

Generally, it's just a really great winter-investment, and I can see me getting such a lot of wear out of it in the coming months. I'm really loving getting all comfy in bed or on the sofa and settling down with my laptop for some quiet-time, such a nice thing to do. I'm really pleased with the quality and price actually, for Next, normally I find their quality doesn't match up to their price - like they price their clothes at a higher point than they're really worth - but this I felt was spot on. £20 for something I can even wear out of the house (and have popped to the shops in!) is actually pretty reasonable. I got a bigger size than a needed (XL) because I want to be able to cuddle up in it. 

This isn't a sponsored post or anything, by the way, I just really wanted to share this all with you because I love it show much, and have barely taken it off since I bought it. And it's still in the shops if you want to pick one up!

Monday, October 06, 2014

taking stock #4

Making: a Christmas cushion, getting started early!
Cooking: Peach jam and cinnamon buns.
Drinking: Hot chocolate, yup it's that time of year again.
Reading: The Witches of Eastwick, by John Updike.
Wanting: a good nights sleep for a change.
Watching: the Royal Swedish Ballet, last weekend, perform Juliet and Romeo.
Eating: one of my mum's plum and cinnamon muffins.
Deciding: on some future decisions.
Wishing: for a new watch..
Enjoying: misty mornings, cooler evenings, fresher air.
Waiting: for all my favourite TV shows to come back..! I'm caught up on Scandal and I'm excited for AHS..
Loving: the cinnamon buns I made, they're perfect.
Hoping: things go well this week.
Needing: to get organised.
Smelling: my new Frankincense and Myrrh candle, and my mum cooking some quince jelly.
Wearing: grey PJ pants, red sweater, bare feet,
Thinking: about Christmas, yes, already!
Hearing: I posted this mix earlier in the week and I've been listening to it non-stop, it's just a really good mixture of songs.
Feeling: cozy in my thick, winter duvet - you know that feeling is really good.
Admiring: my skin, whatever I'm doing at the moment, its working, it's slowly improving.
Buying: a shiny new iPhone 5s.. It's
Getting: very excited for the Knit & Stitch this weekend!

Sunday, October 05, 2014

weekend wanderings #33

(images from, dbillustrations @ etsy, and

Friday, October 03, 2014

Q #23

A lot of the quotes I post are generally little reminders to myself - this is quite a big one. This time last week I felt awful, like, sobbing on the floor of my bedroom because I felt so bad, and I didn't know how it would ever go away. But it passed, eventually. That makes it sound very easy, or instantaneous - it isn't and it wasn't. It is like dragging your feet through tar each day, crawling back out of that very dark place, to a place that feels better but finally you get there. 
So if you're feeling like that today, maybe this will help? 

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

on losing weight: workout clothes

I was going to write about maintaining momentum with your weight loss journey - about ways to keep you motivated. However, sometimes when you start writing, you realise that's not what your brain wants to write about, today.
So, workout gear. Obviously, you can go to to the gym in anything you want as long as it makes you go: sweats and t-shirts are just as good as the fanciest things you can buy - but in my experience, if you buy yourself some nice clothes or fancy trainers, it gives you a reason to go. Back in January I got myself some decent yoga pants (not the creepy see-through kind) and a fairly decent sports bra, I already had some trainers, but I felt like these were the important things. Everything else could wait, I thought, to see how well I'd stick this out. Over the last eight months, I have built up a collection of things that I thought I would talk about here...

Trainers: After six months of going to the gym at least four days a week I decided to treat myself to some proper trainers. I got myself some Nike Free Runs - which probably aren't necessary, considering what I use them for.. However, they stop me from turning my ankles over as much, and because they're cushioned, they're so comfortable. Plus, they're bright blue and fluorescent yellow. This shouldn't be a factor, but I basically live in an all black uniform, so injecting colour with shoes like this makes me happy. 

Leggings: Personally, I don't like wearing the super skinny kind of leggings, as I'm pretty tall and find that they're never long enough. I actually managed to find a pair similar to these from H+M, which I really love: they're long enough (which being almost five eleven is a difficult ask!) and fit really well around the waist and are made of a nice material. As a bigger girl, I know how hard it is to find comfortable trousers to fit you, so I would try anywhere and everywhere - I've found nice ones in Tesco, Marks & Spencers, TK Maxx, Decathlon, H+M, often in places that I wouldn't normally shop. Websites aimed at plus-size women actually have a pretty poor selection, I've found.

Tops: Like I said above, I used to just go in a t-shirt, most of the time, which I think is more than fine. As I've got a bit thinner, though, I've been enjoying more fitted, lycra vests, usually in bright colours or with bright trim. I also am guilty of wearing a thin vest over a brightly coloured crop top. This is where you can have more fun and pick really bright things, if you like that, or stick to tried-and-true black.

Sports bras: This is more of a tricky one to advise you on - as it's a personal thing about what kind of bra you need. I have fairly average size boobs for my frame, but that's still pretty big (a D cup) so I need something with a lot of support. I like buying those flimsy little brightly coloured crop-tops, but they don't have anywhere near enough support, so I would probably wear my regular sports bra underneath. John Lewis have a good selection of high impact sports bras, I know Bravissimo have them for the larger chested lady, and M&S have good affordable options.

Water bottle: A friend of my mothers jokingly made fun of me for having a 'fashionable' water bottle - but she is a serious-cyclist. I, however, am not. Going to the gym once a day doesn't require a fancy water bottle, but I do like to have a big one, as I get dehydrated easily. I like the Aladdin reusable bottles that you can find in places like Tesco (or sometimes TK Maxx) because they have the little fabric handle that is very convenient.

That turned into a long post! If you have any tips, feel free to share down below, I love finding new things.
For more weight-loss related posts, be sure to follow on Bloglovin, or check out my previous post on the subject here.