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Monday, 27 February 2017

Quick & Delicious Millionaire's Shortbread Pancakes


The day for flipping pancakes and challenging ourselves to make different yummy pancake
creations is just around the corner! It's tomorrow and it's Pancake Day of course!

And here's the ultimate pancake recipe which you do not want to miss out on...Millionaire's Shortbread Pancakes! You heard right - all of the yummy toppings and flavours of Millionare's Shortbread but on a pancake! What could be better?! They are super simple to make and sure to have you flippin' with excitement.

Ingredients
The topping amount is not specific, simply use as much as you desire.

Method
1. Make a batch of basic pancakes and allow to cool slightly on a flat plate.

I know the majority of us 'pancakers' all have our favourite recipes which we stick to but here is Delia Smith's basic pancake recipe; we always use this recipe in my house and my mother swears by it because "adding butter to the pancake mix makes all the difference". The only thing you need to adjust is step 5 and instead add the amazing, scrumptious toppings (below) to turn ordinary pancakes into Millionaire's Shortbread pancakes.

2. Crumble the shortbread over the pancake and spoon the caramel sauce over the top.

3. Melt the chocolate in the microwave, in short bursts, stirring in between.

4. Drizzle the chocolate over the pancake with a spoon.

Enjoy the mouthwatering taste of Millionaire's Shortbread pancakes!

Will you be making Millionaire's Shortbread pancakes? What is your favourite pancake creation?

Saturday, 25 February 2017

6 Creative Blogs You Need to Read

We all have our favourite blogs safely pinned to our reading list and whilst settling down to read our favourites is great, we can either seem to get stuck in a rut or too wrapped up in our own blogs; it's easy to forget about all the alternative, innovative blogs in the blogosphere.

So to break free from my reading habits I spent some time exploring other inspiring and creative blogs. After all, we need other blogs for inspiration for our own. From vintage DIY and paper love to crazy cupcake creations and the food blogger we all recognise as Deliciously Ella these are 6 blogs you need to add to your reading list.

CakeSpy
http://cakespy.com Follow CakeSpy on Bloglovin'
The clue is in the clever name of this blog - Started by writer, illustrator and baker Jessie Oleson in 2007 CakeSpy claims to be a 'dessert detective agency' with a mission to 'seek sweetness in everyday life' by writing about bakeries, conducting baking experiments and picking the brains of bakers and food artists. It features some original and sweet ideas which are definitely worth checking out.

Design*Sponge
http://designsponge.com Follow Design*Sponge on Bloglovin'
You may have already heard of Design*Sponge because it attracts over 1 million readers per day. And I can see why - Brooklyn based writer, Grace Bonney, began Design*Sponge in 2004 as a space to share her energy and excitement for design. Updated 3-5 times daily it continues this featuring everything design from interior and food & drink designs to design DIY's and tips for the business environment. But covering the story behind the designs is the blogs secret to success.

Deliciously Ella
https://deliciouslyella.com/ Follow Deliciously Ella on Bloglovin' 
The majority of us have heard of food blogger Deliciously Ella and even made some of her recipes but how many of us have actually read her blog? Deliciously Ella (real name Ella Woodward) has taken on a plant based diet following being diagnosed with Postural Tachycardia Syndrome and she formed her blog which celebrates what you can do with plant based ingredients. However, her blog is not just for sufferers of the illness and, many of her recipes can be adapted to suit each individual. Her raspberry & banana breakfast bars regularly get me through a long shift at work so check it out.

Pikaland: The Illustrated Life
http://pikaland.com Follow Pikaland on Bloglovin'
One for aspiring artists and illustrators, Pikaland combines creativity, illustration and entrepreneurship. Pikaland, founded by Amy NG in 2008, advocates living the illustrated life and features a regularly updated collection of inspirations and creations produced by illustrators and artists.


http://papercrave.com Follow Paper Crave on Bloglovin' 
Another blog which 'does what it says on the tin'. Author of PaperCrave, Kristen Magee, literally has a craving for all things paper; she declares "if it's made out of paper, then I'm interested" and she shares her paper obsession by featuring stationery, greetings cards, posters and art prints, paper crafts, papercuts, paper sculptures and paper art on her blog. Who knew a whole blog could be made around paper?! Fascinating.

RecipeGirl 
http://recipegirl.com Follow RecipeGirl on Bloglovin' 
Lori Lange has been the go to girl for recipe trends and tasty food creations since 2006. Previously a school teacher she swapped the classroom for the kitchen and food fanatics all over the internet are glad she did. RecipeGirl is home to over 3,000 original and adapted recipes which cater for a variety of tastes, diets and occassions including seasonal snacks, party picks and vegan & gluten free ideas.

What are your favourite blogs? Have any of these made your reading list?

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

A Spa Break is the Way to Mindfulness: Mindfulness of the Month

Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the outside world, the choice of a quick dip in the pool or lounging by it with a good book, a lunch prepared and brought to you without having to lift a finger...Sounding like the break we all dream of? Well, good news, you don't have to travel miles for a holiday to experience this.

Unwinding with a spa break can be a great way to help you feel more mindful and relaxed. For February's mindfulness of the month post I am reviewing Stratford-upon-Avon's The Billesley Manor Hotel where I enjoyed a spa day earlier in the month.

The Billesley Manor Hotel, Stratford-upon-Avon
Set amongst 11 acres of land, and just 3 miles from the town centre, the 16th century rural retreat offers a luxurious alternative to your average spa break which all adds to the relaxation.

The 4 star hotel, part of The Hotel Collection, guarantees "by the time you leave you'll feel like a new person." I couldn't agree more; I left rejuvenated and ready to conquer anything.

During your visit you can choose from "an array of luxury treatments designed to make you feel your best" such as massages and body treatments, manicures and pedicures and facials and waxing as well as having access to the indoor pool, sauna, steam room and fitness suite.

And there is an option to suit every budget. You can either pop in just for an hour, escape for a whole spa day or extend your visit with a pamper break. Treatment prices start at just £16 and until the end of February you can take advantage of the Winter Warmer, which includes a 55 minute Body Warmer Wrap, use of the facilities and lunch, in addition to robe and slipper hire, at just £60 per person. Deals are also often advertised on discount websites such as Wowcher.

I personally recommend the back, neck and shoulder massage because it relieves any tension.

The good spa guide confirms "the human touch releases the hormone oxytocin, which helps to counteract the stress hormones". If we are feeling less stressed then we are able to be more mindful.

For further information you can visit The Billesley Manor Hotel website or call 01789 279 955.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

New Art West Midlands 2017 Has Arrived: Exclusive Highlights & Prize Awards

Yesterday saw the official launch of New Art West Midlands (NAWM) 2017.

A private view was held at mac Birmingham, on Thursday, providing an exclusive insight into the visual art which can be seen at this venue. The vibrant atmosphere accurately reflected the work on display.

I was lucky enough to attend and I am sharing a slideshow of my personal highlights. These vary from Milly Rowland's vibrant marine life, which instantly captures the audience's attention, to pieces which can be initially disturbing to the viewer. An inspiration to us bloggers is Sarah Zacharek who incorporates her travel blog into her artwork. Check these out below.
"artists make a difference and New Art West Midlands enables this"

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow
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The evening included speeches from mac's CEO and artistic director, Deborah Kermode, and the director of NAWM, Craig Ashley.

Craig said: "artists make a difference and New Art West Midlands enables this."

10 of the 31 artists also received prize awards. The lucky few included Hereford graduate Lorna Brown who won a voucher for, NAWM 2017's sponsor, Cass Art and Poppy Twist and Henry Rice who both received £1,000. BCU's Yazmin Boyle also won an award.

NAWM, the largest exhibition of its kind in the region, showcases the latest trends and concerns in contemporary art through artworks produced by graduates of 6 universities.

The fifth edition is being displayed across 4 galleries: Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, Wolverhampton Art Gallery and mac Birmingham where you can view the exhibition until May 14 2017. And this year Worcester City Art Gallery is participating and offering an extended view of the region's talent until June 3 2017.

Deborah urged us all to "do a grand tour of all four of the galleries" because "the work and curation in each venue is very different". I definitely agree - whilst you can gain a peek from my slideshow the true impact of these large scale pieces can only be felt when in the same room.

Watch out for more posts about NAWM 2017 as I will be taking Deborah's advice and touring the other galleries.

For more information view my preview post and visit the NAWM website.

Monday, 13 February 2017

10 Things to do on Valentine's Day if You're Single


Dreading Valentine's Day? All that love and soppiness, all of the red merchandise that shops shove in our faces at least a month beforehand, all of the couples. Us singles either can't wait for it to be over or quite frankly wish it wasn't happening.

Well dread it no more!
As a newly singleton I only know the feeling too well this year and so I came up with my own creative list of activities to get stuck into on Valentine's if you're single. They are sure to make you enjoy the day and appreciate being single.

10 Creative Things to do on Valentine's Day if You're Single

1 Guys have a 'mate date' and if you're a girl let this be the year you celebrate Galentine's Day - Never heard of Galentine's? Neither had I until recently - it comes from the American comedy TV series Parks and Recreation and you don't even need to be single to take part because it occurs the day before, on February 13, it is just about getting together with your girls and having fun. And I'm terming the guys equivalent a 'mate date'.

2 Make the unhealthiest dessert ever and indulge - Go on, you deserve it. It doesn't even have to take long; check out my 2 minute chocolate fondant mug cake.

3 Create a photo collage of you and all your friends - This is both creative and a feel-good activity. Doing this will make you feel good when you remember the great people you have around you.


4 Lose yourself with colouring - With all these emerging, innovative colouring ideas around, including colouring books and dot-to-dots for adults, there is no excuse not to get creative and colour.

5 Shop for your self-love - There is no greater reward than treating yourself to something new so go on a shopping spree and spend the money you would've spent, on a present or meal for a valentine, on yourself.

6 Snuggle up for a film night - Wear your comfiest clothes and watch a film - don't watch a soppy romcom though; I recommend the recently released How To Be Single (2016) which offers a great motto for single life. It's only £5.99 to buy from TalkTalk.

7 Distract yourself with a new hobby - You know that hobby you have been on about "getting around to" or have always said "I'll do it tomorrow" well Valentine's Day is the perfect day to start it. As a single pringle there's no one to focus on except you so start it - no excuses!

8 Buy a pet - Forget boyfriends/girlfriends, nothing can give you more love than a pet. So go to your local pet store and pick up your furry, or not so furry, friend.

9 Make exercise fun with trampolining - All you fitness fanatics can go crazy with this one, or if you just fancy something other than the gym, get a group together and go trampolining. Exercise makes you feel great and this exercise is so much fun it feels effortless. Local places to bounce include Rush Birmingham and Jump Nation.


10 Play 'the ultimate Valentine's Day drinking game' with your pals - Drinking games are always fun but Buzzfeed's is especially for Valentine's and can turn an evening you haven't been looking forward to into one to remember! Check it out.

Friday, 10 February 2017

3 Step Amaretto & Vodka Jelly Shots

Want to add something unique to that Friday or Saturday night party but don't want to spend ages making it? Purple Passion jelly alcoshots are the answer! They are the perfect party treat and delicious too.

And what's even better is they literally take minutes to make leaving you more time to party.

Ingredients
TIP 1:

  • The official recipe suggests you should use blackcurrant or grape jelly but I always use Hartley's Blackcherry jelly (which you can purchase from most supermarkets) because it tastes amazing! 



TIP 2: An important step, before you begin, is to brush the insides of the jelly mould with a thin layer of cooking oil. It won't affect the taste it just maintains the shape of the shot and makes removing the it easier. Remember this because I forgot once and the result was unsual shaped jelly shots!


Method
1. Mix the jelly with the boiling water until the powder/block is fully dissolved.
2. Then add the cold water, amaretto and vodka. (I use Disaronno because it is my fave).
3. Finally, place in the fridge for mixture to set.


TIP 3: Get the jelly shots out of fridge at least 15 mins before you want to serve them because they will melt slightly allowing them to slip easily out of the mould.

You're done; surprise your guests with your tasty jellies.



Tuesday, 7 February 2017

New Art West Midlands 2017: Preview

It’s that time of year when we get to explore exciting, new contemporary art produced by graduates within the West Midlands.

Following its previous success New Art West Midlands (NAWM) is back for, its fifth year in, 2017 and it is better than ever!

Expect to be sent on an eye-opening journey around creative venues within the region. Three favourites, including Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, mac birmingham and Wolverhampton Art Gallery, will be returning to display the artworks. However, for the first year Worcester City Art Gallery will also be participating.

After receiving over 180 applications experts and artists Jason E Bowman, Angela Kingston and Barbara Walker selected the chosen, few, lucky graduates who will be exhibiting their work.

31 emerging names will be installing a range of creations within the exhibition walls. Highlights to look out for are:

Yazmin Boyle’s (BCU) monumental 3-metre-long sculpture Orbita
Orbita (2016) by Yazmin Boyle

Hereford graduate Lorna Brown’s photographic portrayal of race and beauty
Nice Middle Class White Girl by Lorna Brown

Pondering by Henry Rice which explores digital manipulation
Pondering by Henry Rice

Poppy Twist's scarves featuring famous 60’s girl group lyrics
Poppy Twist's scarves series

Megan Evans who uses the alternative medium of make-up in her cosmetic surgery series
A portrait from Megan Evans' cosmetic surgery series
With 4 venues, 6 universities and colleges and 31 artists NAWM is the region's largest exhibition of its kind. It showcases the latest trends and concerns in contemporary art through artworks of various media produced by graduates of the 6 universities.

NAWM opens to the public at from February 18 until May 14 2017 across the 4 venues.

Visit the NAWM website for details about curators, exhibitors and exhibitions.

It is definitely an original, diverse and inspirational programme which we creatives should all get behind! Look out for my review of NAWM 2017 featuring more of these artistic talents.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

DIY, Jelly Shots, Valentines, Pancakes: A Creative February Ahead

A Note From Gemma: February Posts Preview

'Tis the month of love and...pancakes!

February may have less days than other months but that certainly doesn't mean less creativity.

During fabulous February you can expect posts surrounding valentines and yummy pancakes as well as jelly shots, wallpaper designs, DIY vintage crafts, spa days in Stratford, and not to mention the area's first art exhibition on water!

And it all starts next week with a preview into New Art West Midlands (NAWM) 2017. An exhibition, across various local venues, showcasing current contemporary art trends and issues through artworks produced by the regions emerging graduate artists.

I will say no more but there is definitely a creative February ahead. You will have to keep following The Creative Palette to check it all out.

Also, I always want to hear from my readers so if you have any post ideas then please comment below! Stay creative guys :)