Tag Archives: Catherine


9 Jun

If you follow our tumblr you might’ve seen the brilliant advice we reblogged a few weeks ago: “How to get a bikini body: put a bikini on your body”. Inspired by that here are a few of my picks for the summer.


1. Panache. Top £31. 30D-38G. Available from ASOS (the ASOS version is slightly different to the top pictured, with a heart replacing the buttons) and Tesco.
Bottoms £16.50. Sizes 8-20. Available from ASOS and Tesco.

2. Miss Selfridge. £26. Sizes 6-16. Available from Miss Selfridge.

3. Pour Moi. Top £24. Available in 32B-36F from ASOS and 30D-38G from Bravissimo.
Bottoms £15. Sizes 8-18. Available from ASOS.

4. John Lewis. Top £12. Sizes 10-20. Available from John Lewis.
Bottoms £12. Sizes 10-20. Available from John Lewis.

5. Zoggs. £35. Sizes 8-22. Available from Zoggs online.


1. ASOS. Top £16. Sizes 8-16. Available from ASOS.
Bottoms £12. Sizes 8-16. Available from ASOS.

2. Marie Meili. Top £14. Sizes 8-18. Available from ASOS. New Look have a few sizes left on sale here.
Bottoms £12. Sizes 8-18. Available from ASOS. New Look have a few sizes left on sale here.

3. H&M. Top £12.99. Sizes 34A-38D. Available from H&M.
Bottoms £7.99. Sizes 8-18. Available from H&M.

4. New Look. Top £12.99. Sizes 6-20. Available from New Look.
Bottoms £9.99. Sizes 6-20. Available from New Look.

About the writer: Catherine is a biology geek by day and cake baker by night. When she’s not in the kitchen you’ll be able to find her writing, tending to her tomato plant or curled up reading one of her many cookbooks.


Things I wish I’d been told before going to university

17 May

If any of you are in your last couple of years at school then the chances are that you’ve put some thought into university. Will you go, won’t you go? And if you do go, where will you go and what will you study? At my school we were made to feel like university was the only real option and that the decisions we were making would determine the rest of our lives. These are the things I wish someone had told me before I went:

1. You don’t have to go straight away.
If you don’t know what you want to do then it’s okay to take a year out. Take some time to think about it, maybe see if you can get some work experience in jobs you might be interested in. If you utterly screwed up your A-levels like a certain Yellow Bunting writer (ahem…) then you can take them again, you don’t have to settle for whatever terrible university will take you. One year (or two or three!) is nothing in the grand scheme of things, it’s worth it to make sure you’re making the right decision for yourself instead of rushing into something that’s all wrong.

2. You don’t have to go at all. Seriously.
When I was in year 11 we were told “if you don’t go to sixth form and get A-levels you’ll never get a good job”, in sixth form we were told “if you don’t go to university you’ll never get a decent job”. It’s not true. Yes, there are some jobs that require a degree but there are also plenty that don’t. If you know what you want to do then look at the ways of getting into it; do you need a degree or are there other routes? And if you don’t know what you want to do then go back to point 1!

3. It’s not that big a deal. Relax.
It’s pretty scary to think that the decisions you make as a 17 or 18 year old are going to determine the rest of your life. Don’t worry. They aren’t. Say you come out of uni with a degree in chemistry, you aren’t then doomed to be a chemist forevermore. There are graduate schemes for all sorts of careers that take applications from graduates in any subject. There are graduate entry degrees in things like medicine and law. And remember point 2; there are all sorts of jobs that don’t require a degree at all.

About the writer: Catherine is a biology geek by day and cake baker by night. When she’s not in the kitchen you’ll be able to find her writing, tending to her tomato plant or curled up reading one of her many cookbooks.

Five Good Things #2

30 Mar

1. A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush – Eric Newby

image from here

image from here

Perhaps it’s because the weather has been so utterly and intensely grey that I’ve found myself reading a lot of travel writing recently, allowing me to travel to far flung corners of the world without ever having to leave the comfort of my bed.

I’ve been curled up with Eric Newby’s A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush for the past few days. I have found myself not only transported to the Hindu Kush, a mountain range stretching between central Afghanistan and northern Pakistan, but also back in time to the mid fifties when Newby made his expedition. The book is charming, witty and, as Evelyn Waugh writes in the preface “intensely English”. There is nothing more I can say other than to agree with Waugh’s advice, “Dear reader, if you have any softness left for the idiosyncrasies of our rough island race, fall to and enjoy this characteristic artefact.”

2. This tumblr

Yeah, I totally remember saying that.

I can’t count the number of times I laughed/cringed/sympathised when I read through this tumblr. Suzy of Chronicles of an 8th Grade Mallgoth posts her diary entries from 2002-2003 along with songs from that era and earlier. If you were a burgeoning rock kid during 2003 and still consider it to be one of the best years for music then you’ll love this blog. Fishnet, shag bands, The Ataris, spiked jewellery from Claire’s and crushes on rockstars; it’s all there.

There’s a dream about being proposed to by Kris Roe on there too, “His hair was dyed black for some reason” writes 8th grade Suzy. Unfortunately that actually happened. And then he shaved it off and started throwing drums at people. Oh Kris, if only we could go back to 2003. ❤

3. Thirty Whacks- The Dresden Dolls

I bought Amanda Palmer’s Theatre is Evil album and the Dresden Dolls’ A is for Accident earlier this week. The two albums are almost like two sides of a coin; A is for Accident came out in 2003 (it was a great year for music!) and is the first release by the Dresden Dolls, a duo made up of Amanda Palmer and Brian Viglione, whilst Theatre is Evil is Amanda Palmer’s latest solo album released in 2012.

I’m not a huge fan of Theatre is Evil, there are some gems on there (Olly Olly Oxen Free and The Bed Song for example) but for me it just doesn’t measure up to Amanda Palmer’s previous work. I’d heard a lot of the songs from the album beforehand so I was kind of expecting it. On the other hand the Dresden Dolls can do no wrong in my eyes so I was anticipating loving A is for Accident, I’m pleased to say that it did not disappoint. Several of the songs on the album can also be found on their self titled album and Yes, Viginia, albeit it as different recordings, and the recording quality is pretty poor but –ohmygosh– Thirty Whacks is incredible. The piano music is sublime. It’s exactly the sort of music I want from the Dresden Dolls and I can only keep my fingers crossed that Amanda Palmer might head back in that direction for her next album.

This cover is also worth a listen for the brilliant piano playing.

4. Fear/Excitement/Change

I’ve got a lot going on at the moment; a lot of change and a lot of uncertainty. I’m not generally a glass half full kind of girl but I’m trying to embrace the change and be excited about what might be around the corner. Change is good, right? (Right?!)

5. TEA!

Picture (and wall stickers!) from here.

It’s true.

You know how they say humans are about two thirds water? Well, I’m two thirds tea (okay, there might be some gin in there somewhere…) This week I’ve mostly been drinking an unlabelled Jasmine from the Chinese supermarket and Twinings Lady Grey.

Do it right – teapot, loose leaf and a nice teacup. A nice cup of tea makes everything better.

About the writer: Catherine is a biology geek by day and cake baker by night. When she’s not in the kitchen you’ll be able to find her writing, tending to her tomato plant or curled up reading one of her many cookbooks.

Five Good Things

13 Mar

Back at the beginning of the year I made a resolution to find five little things each week that made me smile, inspired me or that I adored. As with virtually every other resolution I’ve ever made it took all of about three seconds for me to forget about it. I was reminded about it earlier this week and so – better late than never – I decided to have another go.

1. Nostalgic sweets


When I was younger Wonka brand sweets were all the rage. Getting my little hands on a box of Nerds was pretty much the high point of my life back then. And does anyone else remember the purple chocolate bar with green Nerds inside? Amazing. Wikipedia tells me it was called a Wonkalate and the Nerds were snozzberry flavoured. It also tells me that they’ve been discontinued which is just wrong.

When I found Nerds for sale at the weekend I couldn’t resist picking up a box. The small print on the label warned that they may cause hyperactivity in children, surely a good sign?

They tasted horrible, like sugar and chemistry lab. But that’s not really the point is it?

2. Getting in touch with old friends

Another bit of nostalgia. Someone I was once very good friends with and haven’t spoken to in years sent me a facebook message out of the blue. We shot messages back and forth for a few hours before falling back into silence. It might be years before we speak again, it might even be never, but it’s nice to think that even though we aren’t in the same circle anymore, we once were and that still means something.
Also, she called me Cat which is a name I haven’t heard in about five years, I’d half forgotten being that person and it was good to be reminded.

3. This bread


This year I decided to give up bagged sliced bread, miraculously it’s a resolution I’ve actually managed to stick to. It means I’ve been baking a lot of bread and this oatmeal loaf has been one of my favourites. Really easy and really tasty, it goes amazingly with nutella.

(The only change I made was to up the yeast to 4g because 2g seemed really low. I’m glad I did because even with extra yeast the dough was slow to rise.)

4. The days are getting longer

This one doesn’t really need an explanation. It won’t be that long before we can sit out in the garden on an evening, speaking of which…

5. My plans for the garden are starting to take shape


The seeds for my vegetable patch arrived a few days ago. I’ve bought a couple of new fruit trees (peach and plum), a rhubarb crown and a Japanese Wineberry plant (a raspberry-like fruit). I’ve even been out to wage war on the weeds (they won).

It’s my first time growing all my vegetables from seed and I’m both excited and terrified!

About the Writer: Catherine is a biology geek by day and cake baker by night. When she’s not in the kitchen you’ll be able to find her writing, tending to her tomato plant or curled up reading one of her many cookbooks.

Gok’s Style Secrets

2 Feb

Have any of you been watching the Gok’s Style Secrets recently? For those of you that haven’t here’s the basic premise; Gok takes a single, undatable woman under his wing and makes her datable. He dresses her up, he teaches her how to flirt, he tells her how to behave on dates.

Over the past few weeks we’ve been treated to a film lover being told she shouldn’t talk about her passion for film on dates and a champion kick-boxer told not to talk about boxing because it was intimidating. Women with visible tattoos or quirky fashion sense have been accused of using these things to scare men off. One woman was told she wasn’t showing enough skin – “get your cleavage out, men love big boobs” – the next week another woman was chastised for showing too much skin – “that skirt’s so short I could be your gynaecologist! You should leave something to the imagination”.

Here’s the problem though; most women come with interests and talents that they want to talk about, some have tattoos and dress in a certain way because it reflects who they are, and some really, really resent that the length of their skirt defines them as matron or slut. This programme assumes that everything a woman does, from kick-boxing to what she wears, is done solely to send a message to men. A woman wearing a dress that shows her tattoos can’t possibly be doing so because she loves her tattoos, it’s got to be because she’s trying to intimidate men. (Another assumption is that all women are incessantly searching for Mr Right because being single is a terrible affliction, but that’s another rant for another day).

It’s easy to watch these sorts of programmes and not really think too much about the underlying message they’re sending out, it’s just a bit of light entertainment on an evening, right? But at its core this programme seems to be telling us that it’s not alright to be yourself, if you ever want to find a man you have to tone down your personality and hide the things that make you unique.

Gok told us at the end of the latest episode that it’s all about confidence, and he’s actually right on that one. Be confident in who you are and embrace the things that make you unique, if a man doesn’t like you because of it then he’s just not the right man, it’s not because you aren’t the right woman. If you’re looking for a relationship put yourself out there and you’ll find someone who is interested in you, quirks and all, and in the meantime enjoy being single!

Agree or disagree? Leave a comment and let us know!

About the writer: Catherine is a biology geek by day and cake baker by night. When she’s not in the kitchen you’ll be able to find her writing, tending to her tomato plant or curled up reading one of her many cookbooks.

In A Word

19 Jan

I’m the sort of girl who spends weeks compiling a list of New Year’s resolutions as long as my arm (and then only needs a few hours to break half of them), so when I saw Daisy’s post about picking a word to live by for the year I was intrigued. One solitary word to sum up all I want from this year? Was that even possible? Even the shortest of my resolutions clocked in at 2 words – ‘be healthier’ – which seemed so vague that I ended up writing a page of bullet points on what that actually meant. Short and to the point isn’t really something I know how to do.

I flicked through my lists of resolutions from the past three years hoping to find some sort of theme for inspiration. What I found was three virtually identical lists and this comment scrawled underneath last year’s list: “Two days in and I’ve already given up on half of my resolutions. Every year it’s ‘this will be the year’ and then when it isn’t I think ‘next year will be the year’ and even then it probably won’t be.

Well, you know what? This year will be the year because my word is NOW! I am a huge procrastinator and generally live by the mantra “leave it and see what happens”, but I’m at a point where if I choose to do nothing, nothing is exactly what’s going to happen. I know opportunities aren’t going to be handed to me on a plate, I even know what I need to be doing to get to where I want to be, all I need now is to do it.

It’s not a million miles away from Daisy’s ‘proactive’, so hopefully we can push each other to get out there are do what needs to be done. And maybe, just maybe, this time next year we’ll both be where we want to be. Fingers crossed!

About the writer: Catherine is a biology geek by day and cake baker by night. When she’s not in the kitchen you’ll be able to find her writing, tending to her tomato plant or curled up reading one of her many cookbooks.

Mince Pies

22 Dec

You can’t have Christmas without mince pies!

Makes about 12*

150g (6oz) plain flour
100g (4oz)  very cold unsalted butter, cubed
50g (2oz) icing sugar
Pinch of salt
1 egg, beaten
411g jar of mincemeat
Granulated or caster sugar (optional)

Put the flour, butter, icing sugar and salt into a large bowl. Rub the butter into the flour using your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs and there are no big pieces of butter left in the mix (there’s a video here if you’re unsure of how to do this).

Add the egg bit by bit, stirring it through with a table knife after every addition. You want to add just enough that your dough starts to clump together, you might not need it all but hold on to any leftover – we’ll use it up later. It’s time to get your hands in now, gather the dough up and form it into a ball. Wrap your dough up in clingfilm and leave it to rest and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 200oC/400oF/Gas6. Get your chilled pastry out of the fridge and roll it to a thickness of 2-3mm on a floured work surface. Using a round pastry cutter cut out 12 circles of pastry large enough to line the indentations of the tin. Gently press the pastry into each hole and then fill with mincemeat.

Cut 12 smaller circles out of the remaining pastry (you may have to gather it up and re-roll it). Put these on top of the mincemeat to form lids and press around the edges to attach the lid to the base. Using a sharp knife make a couple of small slits in the lid, this is for steam to escape from when the pies are baking. Brush the lids with the leftover beaten egg (if you don’t think you have enough to cover them all you can add a splash of milk to the egg). A nice optional extra is to sprinkle each tart with a little sugar before baking, it gives them a nice sparkle.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until beautifully golden. (And, as difficult as it is, leave them to cool before tucking in – mincemeat gets HOT in the oven).

*How many the recipe makes depends entirely on the tin you use. I use a fairly standard shallow bun tin like this and I get 12. You could use mini tart tins for bite size pies or a muffin tin for deeper pies, just remember if your pies are much smaller they’ll take a little less time to cook (check at about 15 minutes) and if they’re much bigger they’ll take a little longer and you might need extra mincemeat.

About the writer: Catherine is a biology geek by day and cake baker by night. When she’s not in the kitchen you’ll be able to find her writing, tending to her tomato plant or curled up reading one of her many cookbooks.