Thursday, 15 June 2017

Terry's Chocolate Orange Recipes

terrys chocolate orange chocolate orange recipes


Father’s Day is quite literally around the corner and, if you need a last minute gift or some delicious treats for the day, these recipes are the perfect solution. Terry’s chocolate oranges have always been a big hit though I do admit to thinking it was more of a Christmas affair. Obviously not so, as I found plenty stocked in Tesco and I’m very happy to say we can eat them all year round.

I’m sharing two recipes today that can be made with Terry’s Chocolate Orange - both simple and perfect for a special occasion. The first is the great Rocky Road, and the second, an easy Millionaire's Shortbread.

I made these a couple of weeks ago as a ‘test run’ and can confirm they are both easy to make and absolutely delicious. They look really impressive too, and after taking them into work they were completely devoured within a couple of hours. If that’s not a thumbs up, I don’t know what is!

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Rocky road is one of my staple bakes - every family occasion must include my rocky road for desert - otherwise I’m in trouble! This is my usual recipe (adapted from Nigella) with the addition of the chocolate orange - which just makes it all the more decadent. The method is simple and involves a lot of chocolate. Melt the chocolate with the golden syrup and butter. It’s important to let this cool once it’s all combined, otherwise the chocolate pieces in the next step will just melt into it.

Crush up the digestive biscuits and add to the mix, along with raisins and mini marshmallows. Chop up the white and dark chocolate into small pieces (or you use chocolate chips), along with the Terrys Chocolate orange. I chopped up about 3/4 of a whole ball. This recipe is so adaptable so you can add anything you like here - including cherries, mixed fruit, nuts, or even more chocolate orange - whatever is your dad’s favourite!

Finally, pop it in the fridge to set. When you’re ready to serve (or present!), dust it with icing sugar and chop into bars.

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I was a little nervous for the shortbread recipe - I usually stick to my tried and tested baking repertoire, but this sounded so delicious I had to try it. I was so surprised by how easy it was - making shortbread and a ‘cheats’ caramel was not difficult at all and easy for the most in-experienced baker.

Start by making the shortbread. Preheat the oven to 180c (160c fan) and combine the butter and flour together. The recipe calls for a food processor, but I just used my stand mixer. Once it looks like breadcrumbs, add in the orange zest and then mix again. Take the dough out and work it with your hands to form a ball.

Flatten the dough into a disk, and then place into a lined square tin - you'll want one with relatively high sides so I just used a brownie tin. Use your fingers and push the dough all the way to the edges - it's very malleable so you can push and squish from other areas until it's all even.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Set it aside and leave it in the tin. While that's cooling, it's time to make the cheats caramel. It's not as fiddly as proper caramel, with no thermometers in sight, but it will need your attention as it needs to be stirred constantly. In a saucepan, combine the tin of condensed milk with the golden syrup, butter and sugar. Once it comes to a boil, turn down the heat so it's a simmer. Keep stirring so it doesn't burn, until it becomes a golden brown colour, which will take about ten minutes. Take it off the heat and transfer it to a heatproof bowl to cool and thicken slightly.

By now, your shortbread will have cooled so pour the caramel on top. It's an easy recipe but does require cooling time, as you'll now need to wait for the caramel to set slightly. I put mine in the fridge which worked well, and then started with the third and final layer.

Break apart and melt two and a half of the chocolate oranges. You can do this in a bain-marie but I just used the microwave for ease. After about ten minutes of the shortbread and caramel cooling in the fridge, you'll be able to pour the melted chocolate on top. Use the remaining chocolate segments to decorate the top and then pop it back in the fridge.

Once set, it’s ready to cut up into slices and eat! When presenting homemade edible gifts, I like to present them in a tin, with either tissue paper or just greaseproof paper on the bottom. It also means they’re air tight so will last a good few days. If you make these recipes, I’d love to see a photo! I’d also be interested to know which is your favourite, and which one went down the best with your Dad :) Send me a tweet on Twitter or pop a comment down below. Happy baking!


easy millionaires shortbread
uk blog recipe
rocky road recipe


Rocky Road:
125g soft
300g chocolate
3 tbsp golden syrup
150g digestive biscuits
100g mini marshmallows
Raisins
100g white chocolate
100g dark chocolate
1 Terry’s chocolate orange
Icing sugar for dusting

Shortbread:
135g butter
175g plain flour
55g sugar
1 orange, zested

Topping:
379g can Condensed Milk
75ml golden syrup
150g butter
100g sugar
3 Terry’s Chocolate Oranges

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Friday, 2 June 2017

SHOP LAUNCH

Instagram and blogging


I've opened an Etsy shop!
yippee!

I haven’t shared much about this on my blog, but if you follow me on Twitter or Instagram you probably know about it... I've opened an online shop selling prints and cards of my illustrations! You can visit it by clicking here.

I actually mentioned this plan back in January when I posted my New Year resolutions. I had an initial deadline as March, then April… It wasn’t until recently that I had to put my butt into gear and get going. I set myself a date and it’s been full steam ahead ever since!

I’ve wanted to launch an online shop for years (I used to have one quite a few years ago, though only a few prints and it was a very soft launch). With my plans of self employment and ideas to create a career for myself as a creative business owner, a shop was very much in the pipeline. The problem was, I always convinced myself that I wasn’t ready. ‘I don’t have enough work’, ‘I don’t have enough products’. It was always pushed to the next month, when I had ‘more time’. Inevitably, I never did, so in the end (and I’ll share more about this soon) I set a date and that was it.

It really has been a labour of love – a lot more work than I first anticipated but I’m so proud of the result. Of course, this isn’t just it – I plan on expanding my range of products, though for now it’s prints and cards. I’m always creating so I’ll be adding new designs and updating stock and products as we go on – and I’ll share my adventure here on the blog, too. I’ve also set up a newsletter, so if you’d like to hear more in-depth about the behind-the-scenes and what I’ve been up to, you can sign up here. If you’d like special discounts and to know of any sales or special offers, that’s where they’ll be so I’d definitely recommend signing up to hear about it all – and I promise no spam!

I hope you like what you see, and I’d absolutely be overjoyed if you like something enough to buy it! The thought of having my art in people’s homes is just incredible. Pop me a comment down below if you have a particular favourite product!


uk blogger instagram chat

(Look how cute my little helper was!)

Monday, 15 May 2017

TEN props to use in instagram photos

photo styling props for instagram



One of the main reasons I love instagram, is that it allows me to practice styling. You see it quite often in magazines and blog editorials – stylists aren’t just limited to clothes.

I absolutely love adding props and creating little dioramas, collecting props and displaying them in a pretty way. A lot of photos you’ll see are staged and I guess some people may feel a little cheated at this. But just like makeup can enhance a face, adding extra bits to a scene can make that photo go from a good, to a great. I know a lot of artists have ‘prop boxes’. For me though, I just use what I have dotted around the house, but charity shops and car boot sales are a great place to look for ornaments and props that don’t break the bank. Here are ten ideas for how to style your photos.




1. Plants

Adding greenery is a great way to add extra colour and freshness into your photo. It adds an element of life and growth, as well as being pretty! Vases of fresh flowers or even just cacti and succulents, they add height and vibrance to a plain photo.




instagram prop ideas




2. Drinks

I love adding a mug of tea or coffee to a shot, and it’s a great excuse for drinking an extra cuppa! This adds in a human element too – it reminds the viewer that there’s a person behind this photo and solidifies your brand as being personal. You don’t have to be limited to hot drinks either (though a hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows definitely looks comforting!) Tall cups, beakers or glasses also look nice in the background of a shot – especially for that ‘lived in’ look.




instagram photo styling ideas




3. Snacks

I feel like the inevitable comes after drink – food! Cake is always a beautiful thing, and when added to a photo it just makes the whole shot even more scrumptious! Obviously not all food looks appetising, but things like cookies, fruit and sweets add colour to your shot and won’t melt while you’re playing photographer!




insta blog photo ideas




4. Ornaments

This one is definitely one of my favourites! This is quite a broad category but a great way to add some of your personal style into your photos. Things such as book ends, photo frames, ceramics, patterned boxes, vases and candles look lovely in the background of a photo. I usually use these to dress an image that just needs something else – usually to enhance the main focus of what I’m trying to shoot, but have that soft focus interest in the background.




how to style instagram




5. Your hands!

Just like the drinks, this definitely adds a human element to your photos. I like to do this now and then, because it shows I’m the creator behind the profile – and as someone who is a little camera shy, this is enough to show viewers I am there! I was in a twitter chat the other month and a couple of creators said that photos with hands showing results in more likes – so it’s definitely one to try if you haven’t already!




social media prop ideas




6. Notebooks and books

I really like this one to add some height into the background of an image. It’s good to have things on multiple levels, and books in the background add interest, colour and depth. I try to choose books that don’t have distracting covers, and often line them up with spines showing, or have them lying down in a stack. I also use plain covered notebooks behind a piece of paper, or have it lying open to show some of my scribbles and notes.




uk art lifestyle blog




7. Stationery

Ahh, another fave! I’m sure we all have plenty of stationery lying around that can be added to a shot. I like to add this when shooting a desk scene, showing works in progress or behind the scenes. I often like to use media that have been used when creating the artwork, such as coloured pencils or tubes of paint places strategically to the edge. Pots of pens and pencils add colour, as do the many rolls of washi tape we all hoard. Mini binder clips and paperclips also add interest. You can also draw the viewer’s eye to your point of interest if you place it around the edge of the focal point.




photo styling props




8. Wallpaper samples

A bloggers secret staple – using wallpaper for backdrops! Don’t worry if you don’t have any pretty work surfaces – any grubby old table can be hidden using these. You can get lots of different wallpaper styles from DIY shops and many look like wood, brickwork or even lining paper if you’re after something plain. I like to use clean white surfaces for styling products, so I bought a white table top from Ikea that I grab whenever I need it and it can easily be placed by a window for good lighting. Plus, I don’t have to rearrange and clear my messy desk every time I want a photo!




instagram ideas




9. Seasonal items

When Christmas comes around, I love adding in candy canes and baubles to style up my photos. You can also use love heart sweets (and heart shapes in general, of course) around Valentine’s day, seashells in the summer and crisp coloured leaves in the autumn.




how to style photos




10. Lighting

Not a prop but an essential element when photographing, is lighting. Just like a prop can add interest and emotion, so can lighting. A dark, moody photo can dramatically change the look of an image than a brightly lit one – even if the subject is the same. Harsh shadows can be used to your advantage if you’re after a sultry, mysterious photo. Though I tend to go for light and airy, instagrammers such as Sara from Me & Orla and Marte Marie Forsberg do this wonderfully.




It’s totally up to you and your personal choice as to how many props you want to add when styling photos. You can pair it back if you’d like your focal point to really stand out, or add lots of items if you’re showing a specific scene.

Is there anything I’ve missed off the list? I’m always in awe of the variety of photos you see on social media and how intuitive people can be when showing something off!

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

an instagram chat

Instagram and blogging


A chat about Instagram
And a plan...

I like Instagram. I’m a very visual person so an image-led social media platform is clearly going to tick my boxes, and I know I’m not the only one. With the algorithm changes, and the recent inundation of spam comments and bots, it’s lost it’s charm in terms of follower engagement. There’s been a lot of articles written about the issues lately - from how to spot spammers and users using automated likes, to the new outrage that is shadow banning.
I know we're all struggling with engagement - I don't think I've seen anyone praising the algorithm changes (at least on my timeline), and most are battling against it. Followers go up slowly and then drop in bunches, comments are harder to come by and likes are slow to arrive.
I've felt discouraged about it, and that no matter how much I try to improve my content, engage more and focus on this social platform, it doesn't seem to make a dent or a difference. BUT (Don't worry, there's a but!) I love sharing photos. I love the process of drawing and setting up the flat lays, and 'showing off' what I've created. I like sharing my work, even if the audience isn't huge. I like having a portfolio and a page that just showcases my photos.

With that in mind, and as hard as it is, I'm going to try not to focus on numbers. I know that as someone who is planning on launching an online business, and as a freelancer who has to promote her work on the internet, this is probably not what is advised. The thing is though, I don't want to fall out of love completely. Sometimes, focusing on numbers (and especially if you're doing all you can to boost them) takes the fun out of creation. I'm mostly focusing on Instagram here, because for me, that's my most 'formal' social media. It's my portfolio, and as a creator who designs and illustrates, it makes sense that the most visual platform is the main draw. Twitter is more for communication and random thoughts, though I do have Instagram linked to post there too.

As well as focusing less on the numbers, I'm planning to focus on others instead. I love that feeling when I get a genuine comment (not one of those generic emoji thumbs up), or a thoughtful message. I notice the people who always like my photo, every time I post. As the engagement and general feeling about Instagram is on the negative side, I want to at least share a bit more love. I'm trying to comment on posts more, discover more artists and smaller instagrammers from the tags and the explore page, and leave meaningful comments. I want them, and the people I follow, to know I appreciate their content and find it inspirational - even if the general consensus of likes are down. I know I am only a small fish in a very large pond, but a thoughtful comment outweighs the spam bots hugely. It's not much, but I urge you to do the same.

It seems a bit counter-intuitive to round off the post with some self promotion, but if you did want to follow my creative endeavours, you can find my on Instagram right here: katie_moody

I'd love to hear your own thoughts about it all - have you fallen out of love with it? Are you posting less now the numbers are more difficult to come by?


uk blogger instagram chat