Month: May 2017

The Benefits of Baking

A party without a cake is just a meeting

I found that quote on pinterest when I was trying to find a caption for a photo I was posting on Instagram. I love cake, I love making it, decorating it, taking photos of it and eating it (obviously).

I once took annual leave to bake a cake for my brother’s 21st birthday, I took leave on Friday and made three cakes. On Saturday it was his friends party at home, so I went to that and had a bit to drink. On the Sunday, the day of the family party, sleep deprived and mildly hungover, I turned three cakes into one giant six layered caked. The result is pictured above.

This is the first cake I posted on Instagram in April 2012, the photo is taken on a crappy Samsung Galaxy Ace where I added way too many filters. I’ve come a long way as a baker in the past five years.

I hope to make baking a regular feature on this blog so I thought I’d start of with a look at the benefits of baking.

  1.  Baking is meditative – Its an activity which takes your whole attention and once mastered it is some what of a calming exercises. This leads to my next point.
  2. It’s good for your mental health – I find the process of baking is therapeutic and relaxing. John Whaite, a former winner of The Great British Bake Off said that baking helped him deal with his depression. When I am baking I am concentrating on creating a good product, that is my sole focus so I don’t let any other thoughts get in my way that could distract.
  3. Creativity – I was never the best at art, creative writing was intimidating, but now decorating cakes have really become my creative outlet. For inspiration I go online, in particular I follow Cupcake Jemma. I have learnt so much from her videos, she makes it so simple and I always feels inspired and excited to bake after I see her latest creations. Another one is Katherine Sabbath, her cakes are ridiculous, colourful and so creative. I find that when a cake looks challenging on picture, I no longer feel intimidated by it, I’m actually excited to create it myself. “Baking has the benefit of allowing people creative expression,” according to this HuffPost article. There is much research showing the connection between overall wellbeing and creativity.
  4. It’s a great gift idea – Not sure what to get a friend? Bake them some brownies, or some cupcakes. Who doesn’t love food as a gift? Especially a baked good where time and effort has gone in to it. I know I have always been so appreciative of people who have baked for me.
  5. It makes other people happy – One of the best things about baking is that you can give away your creations and make other people feel happy and in turn you feel happy. I’ve only ever baked out of love of doing it, people have always been so complimentary and have even suggested that I set up my own shop, I’ll keep it as a hobby for now, I have so much more to learn.

Learn how to bake, its awesome. If not baking find something that can foster creativity in you. People now and again ask me how I learned how to bake and all I say is my mother gave me her cake recipe around 2011 and that’s what I make to this day. Practice makes perfect, sometimes it will go horribly wrong (and still does), but when you get it right it is incredibly rewarding.

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Happy Tuesday

May I Have This Dance Feat. Chance the Rapper. This song is gorgeous, this video is a delight (anything involving Chance the Rapper is a delight). Francis and the Lights has been around for quite some time, but I only heard of him about a week ago, now I love him.

I write because…

“I write only because
There is a voice within me
That will not be still”
— Sylvia Plath

I write because I love it, that’s it. Do I think I am good at it? I must not be that bad, I have a couple of degrees which proves to me anyway that my writing is alright (although I did write a few atrocious essays). The only way I can get better is if I continue to write… right?

I write because I have always been shy, introverted and at times consumed with anxiety to speak my mind. The idea of raising my hand in a room is something that to this day makes my heart race from nerves, but I am working on it.

I write because I love learning about the world and I want to share that knowledge back. I remember a conversation I had with someone at university who thought it was weird that I was excited to write an essay for my international relations major. If memory serves me correctly she was an accounting major, so writing essays for the field is rather dry (I say dry from experience, I have written an accounting essay). I mean no offense to accounting enthusiasts but I digress, researching and writing about the world is something I want to continue to do.

I write because I can, so I will.

Facebook Holiday

I just deactivated my Facebook account.

The last time I did this it was 2014 and it was to focus on university, I was off for four weeks and it was great. This time around it will only be for 7 days (Facebook automatically reactivates your account after that period) and I am doing it just for me.

The more I think about it the more I realise that I don’t really gain much from being on Facebook. People (including myself) are so caught up in getting likes, its a source of validation which is not healthy. The site has caused me more stress and anxiety than anything else.

I hardly post on there anyway so this should not be much of an issue, when I do it makes me nervous, what if people don’t like my post? I really shouldn’t care that much. I’ve kept messenger purely due to the fact I live in different country to 99% of my friends and family and may need to get in touch.

Benefits I hope to get out of these 7 days:

  • Be less distracted, be more present.
  • I only ever go on Facebook only out of habit so this will help me develop a new one, not going on it.
  • In general just make better use of my time.

This is no social media blackout I have kept Twitter, I love it. Instagram is there too, I get all my baking inspiration from it.

Its just a holiday, and like any other holiday I hope to return feeling relaxed, and longing for the days I was on holiday. I’ll tell all my friends how amazing it was and recommend they take that trip too.

 

Happy Monday

One of my favourite things to do is share music with friends. So I’m going to make this a regular thing. For much of 2016 I think I was only really listening to the Hamilton Broadway Cast Recording. I can’t say I was actively following the latest music releases all that much. I had tickets to see Coldplay live in Auckland last year and about day before the gig found out that this lady, Lianne La Havas, was one of the support acts. I had no idea who she was but clearly a lot of other people did, and she had high praise. She was a protege of Prince’s! I was so happy I managed to catch half of her set and hear her sing this song, the next day I found her album Blood on Apple Music and I’ve been obsessed since.

Positivity Friday

Tomorrow marks one year since I graduated with my Masters degree in International Relations, pretty big deal, I only just got through my final year in High School and struggled through the first few years of university, so getting a Masters degree was a tremendous achievement and I am proud of my accomplishment.

This week has been hard though, I’m missing my friends and family and knowing that it has been a year since I graduated I am naturally in self reflection mode. Have I accomplished anything? Kind of? But not really, my friends and family will likely disagree but I know I could have done better. When I self reflect I am usually very hard on myself, and I have been doing that this week, self doubt usually punches me in the face and I just think I am not good enough at anything. That is obviously not true, I know I’m good and capable and that I am taking small steps in the right direction.

Everyone is telling me to stay positive and I am trying, but nearly three months in to the job search the struggle is real. No matter how much you prepare for it, when the job rejections are rolling in, its very hard to feel good about yourself.

What am I doing to stay positive?

A number of things I have already outlined in this post Apparently I’m An Adult?

But further to that I write, just writing this post alone is therapeutic. I write down my feelings and acknowledge the fact that I feel negative but then I move on. I acknowledge the fact that I will likely feel negative again but I know I have to keep going. At the end of each week I try and either write down or make a mental note of positive things that happened. My list for this week is as follows:

  • I applied for several jobs and I will apply for some more.
  • I didn’t feel as nervous about applying for jobs this week, which is progress.
  • I showed up to Toastmasters again, and although I was a little socially awkward I got through.
  • I went through the site Meet Up and joined a bunch of groups, next step is to actually attend an event.
  • I treated myself to a foot massage on Monday.
  • I also treated myself to Zumbo Macarons and a Krispy Kreme Doughnut.
  • I started exercising again and I am drinking more water.
  • I’m sleeping a little better, and I’m starting to get out of bed before 11am.
  • I started tidying my room on the regular and did not let my room get too messy.
  • I am continuing to make progress on the book I am reading Insane Clown President.

So in a week where I had struggled greatly, missed home, and had a good cry I also managed to take some steps forward, mixed bag but it was alright. I’m taking positivity from the little things. I hope you had an alright week too.

There is too much news, how do you keep up?

I am a self confessed news junkie, but I admit I can struggle to keep up with all that is happening in the world. We’re living in an age of information overload, which has only gone into overdrive in the past year. So I thought I’d have a go at answering the question: how to keep up with the news.

(more…)

Happy Monday

This is my favourite song and I thought I would share it with you at the start of a new week. I first heard this song when I was 19, its a song that for reasons unexplained gives me a lot of hope, its romantic, it makes me nostalgic for experiences and memories that aren’t my own. Its just so darn beautiful, more people have to hear it.