Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Sugar Pie Cinnamon Bun: The Easiest Cinnamon Buns You'll Ever Make


I LOVE cinnamon buns, I love them so much it hurts. I used to buy bags of cinnamon buns and unrestrained I'd happily eat them all. When were in Vegas my bridesmaid Claire of French for Cupcake got an absurd amount of Cinnabons through a crazy offer, I have to say I had to seriously restrain myself. it was after all the night before the wedding and I think all brides are thinking about how they'll look in their dress. Hardest thing ever turning those down! So now I'm making up for that and decided to bring to you all my favourite easy peasy cinnamon bun recipe.



A lot of cinnamon bun recipes are quite time consuming and technical with milk scalding and all the rest of it, this one has 7 ingredients and bypasses all the technical bits to give you awesome cinnamon buns with no fuss. I found it originally on Minimalist Baker's site, which is a site I adore and I've tweaked it only a little.  

Here's what you'll need:

Ingredients
  • 1 packet instant yeast
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 cup Olive Oil spread (vegan butter), divided
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp sugar, divided

Instructions 

  1. In a large sauce pan (or in a bowl in the microwave at 30 sec increments), heat the almond milk and 3 Tbsp Olive Oil spread until warm and melted, never reaching boiling. Remove from heat and let cool to 110 degrees, or the temperature of bath water. It should be warm but not too hot or it will kill the yeast.
  2. Transfer mixture to a large mixing bowl and sprinkle on yeast. Let activate for 10 minutes, then add 1 Tbsp sugar and the salt and stir.
  3. Next add in flour 1/2 cup at a time, stirring as you go. The dough will be sticky. When it is too thick to stir, transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead for a minute or so until it forms a loose ball. Rinse your mixing bowl out, coat it with canola or grapeseed oil, and add your dough ball back in. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise for about 1 hour, or until doubled in size 


4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a thin rectangle. Brush with 3 Tbsp melted Olive Oil spread and top with 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 - 1Tbsp cinnamon.
5. Starting at one end, tightly roll up the dough and situate seam side down. Then with a serrated knife or a string of floss, cut the dough into 1.5 - 2 inch sections and position in a well-buttered 8x8 square or comparable sized round pan (you should have about 10 rolls). Brush with remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil spread (melted) and cover with plastic wrap. Set on top of the oven to let rise again while you preheat oven to 176 degrees C.
6.Once the oven is hot, bake rolls for 25-30 minutes or until slightly golden brown. Let cool for a few minutes and then serve immediately.
7.Optional: Frost with dairy free cream cheese frosting or a simple mixture of powdered sugar and almond milk.


The Minimalist Baker uses vegan butter, now I couldn't find vegan butter anywhere so I figured as long as it wasn't animal protein it would be ok, and I went with the olive oil spread. It worked really well, complete success as far as I can tell.


And that's really it, isn't it dead easy? Plus they are so tasty. Don't forget to use almond milk not normal dairy milk, the proteins in the dairy milk need scalded which is a stage that has been left out of this recipe to keep it simple. 
I hope you'll try it out and let me know how it goes for you, I'll be making this when we have guests to stay at the weekend.


Much Love 


Thursday, 24 July 2014

Summertime Gladness: One Piece Season Review


It's been my pleasure to be a One Piece, Piece Keeper and as such I get to have a look at the latest offerings from the totally iconic onesie brand. All One Direction fans know One Piece very well as they are the brand that the boys have designed for in the past. For me though the new season stock brings a vintage LA vibe to the brand. 1980s corals and Venice beach greys adds a really relaxed vibe.


I fell off the sofa shortly after this picture, but I was comfy doing it. The One Piece is grey light  fabric, with the stripe detailing, no fleece here. Think classic sweat pants material and you're there. Super duper comfortable and breathable. 


The mid section of the onesie, has pouch pockets but also zip pockets at the sides and the classic One Piece double zips. Moveable and loose.




For today and tomorrow I have a fabulous discount code for you on One Piece  which will give you 15% off any purchase, hooray. Just type INANITY at checkout and get your 15% off on me :)

Much Love and jumpsuits..







Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Join Our Kult: Bio-Kult Interview

Do you supplement? 

I've been a fan of supplements in the past but last year after my milk thistle debacle I pulled back on any supplements I was taking. At one point I was taking 6 or 7 a day,  but as I said after I was on a programme of milk thistle as recommended by Holland and Barratt and consequently poisoned myself on it (horrendous don't recommend it) I have stopped taking anything. 

I stopped taking anything until I'd had two consecutive courses of antibiotics last summer and afterward my body was totally upended. I kept getting small skin infections and I didn't feel right at all. I went to my doctors who gave me steroid creams which had no effect. This was the point I started researching probiotics to repopulate all my good bacteria which had been wiped out by the antibiotics. I'd tried a few which had no noticeable effect and on a message board I saw one of the posters mentioning Bio Kult.

 I bought it immediately and took 3 a day to give my system a boost, within 3 days the skin infections the steroid creams had done nothing for in two months had completely cleared up. That was pretty definitive for me and I've banged on and on about them to anyone who will listen. I definitely think if you're taking antibiotics you should be taking these too. I haven't been paid or sponsored to promote the brand, they're just really, really good. So good I got in touch with them and asked if they would do a Q&A with me about the probiotics. Below is an interview I did with their nutritional therapist Natalie all about the benefits for women of a probiotic. I hope you'll enjoy this and feel informed as well. I can't speak highly enough of them.

1.       What can supplementing with a probiotic do for the body?

We all house trillions of different bacteria in our bodies.  Beneficial bacteria play an essential role as our first line of defence, in supporting efficient digestive function and supporting immunity.  More than 2000 years ago Hippocrates said that “all disease begins in the gut”.  I feel this is still relevant today and believe too that means that optimal health throughout the whole body must also begin in the gut.  A number of factors can compromise an optimal balance of beneficial bacteria throughout the body, including antibiotic therapy, infection, stress, travel or a period of unhealthy nutrition.  Gut flora imbalances could also be indicated in numerous symptoms that may at first not be seen to be related to the gut such as fatigue, poor concentration, anxiety, low mood, headaches etc. 

An effective solution is to supplement the microflora by taking a probiotic to restore the balance.  Probiotics have been defined as ‘live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host’.  Traditionally we consumed fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut and pickles on a daily basis.  Now days we tend to use probiotic supplements offering a standardised dose in an easy to consume capsule.


2.       How do we know what to look for in a probiotic?

A good probiotic supplement should be stable and able to guarantee the bacterial count until the end of the products shelf life, not just at the time of manufacture.  Those products that are more stable do not generally need to be kept in the fridge.  They should also be able to survive the harsh acidic environment of the stomach to reach the small intestine intact.  If in doubt ask the company of any tests they have performed in this area.  Products range in their dosage and strains (specific types of bacteria e.g. Lactobacillus acidophilus PXN 35).  I believe a probiotic that contains a wider number of different strains, similar to how probiotics are provided for us in nature, are able to provide a wider range of benefits for a wider range of people.


3.       Taking antibiotics is necessary at times but I know personally the effect they can have on the good bacteria in your body. Would you recommend Bio-Kult to people who are taking or have just taken antibiotics to get them back to normal again?

We recommend that Bio-Kult should be taken at the same time as antibiotics (although at least 2 hours apart) and continued for 2-4 weeks after at a dose of 4 capsules a day.  Our reasoning is that the beneficial gut flora are likely to be damaged by antibiotics, altering the balance and thereby allowing further pathogenic bacteria to selectively overgrow.  Studies have indicated that probiotics may prevent antibiotic-associated diarrhoea (AAD) via restoration of the gut microflora. 

Johnston BC, Goldenberg JZ, Vandvik PO, Sun X, Guyatt GH. 2011. Probiotics for the prevention of pediatric antibiotic-associated diarrhea. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. Nov 9;(11):CD004827.



4.       We get told a lot about what we should and shouldn't be taking. What are the essential supplements you think women should take?

It is imperative that our gastrointestinal system works effectively so that our body is able to digest and absorb the food we eat in order to gain the adequate fuel (nutrients) for every organ to function optimally.  In women particularly the predominance of lactobacilli in the vagina is known to create an acidic environment that protects women from infection, and its absence is the specific feature in conditions such as bacterial vaginosis, Candida albicans and UTI’s.  Hormonal variations can affect microflora balance in women throughout their lives.  Oestrogen stimulates the proliferation of lactobacillus in the vagina.  UTIs are particularly frequent in post-menopausal women when oestrogen levels fall.  During pregnancy higher levels of the hormone progesterone, relaxes and slows down the peristaltic muscle movement in the intestines possibly contributing to constipation. Beneficial bacteria produce substances that lower the pH in the colon, enhancing peristalsis and subsequently decreasing colonic transit time.  In women probiotics have been shown to significantly improve stool frequency.  I would recommend taking a daily multi-strain probiotic supplement such as Bio-Kult.


5.       There is a lot of research coming out at the moment about gut health, primarily changes in gut flora and its effect on mental health, they are seemingly very interconnected. Could probiotics have a wider use in the future to help with anxiety or depression as that research deepens?

We know that the brain sends signals to the gut, which is why stress and other emotions can contribute to gut symptoms.  New research shows that the signals also travel the opposite way1. Many patients report that they never felt depressed or anxious until they started experiencing problems with their gut.  This could be due to our ‘happy hormone’ serotonin being largely produced in the gut.  In 2011 Messaoudi et al2 found a Lactobacillus helveticus and Bifidobacterium longum significantly improved depression and anxiety.  More recently a multi-strain probiotic was shown to lower levels of activity in the areas of the brain associated with emotion and pain while increasing activity in areas associated with decision making1.  While scientists are looking at the potential future use of probiotics to treat conditions such as autism, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and depression, why not consider optimising a healthy gut flora from birth to prevent the onset of such conditions in the first place? 

Natalie Lamb Dip NT mBANT– Protexin Probiotics
Natalie is a qualified Nutritional Therapist who studied a three year diploma in Nutritional Therapy at the College of Naturopathic Medicine (CNM) in London and is a fully registered member of The British Association of Nutritional Therapists (BANT).  Natalie saw clients in a private clinic in London for 2 years before joining Probiotics International  Ltd (Protexin), manufacturers of Bio-Kult and Lepicol ranges.
Natalie has a BA (Hons) in Business Studies and prior to working as a Nutritional Therapist she spent over 10 years working in food and health related industries, from market research analysis for UK food and drink manufacturers to food preparation and service within the hospitality industry.  For 5 years Natalie worked for a UK cancer charity assisting with their awareness program and researching and preparing information articles for the public and health care professionals.


Much Love


1.        Tillisch K, Labus J, Kilpatrick L, Jiang Z, Stains J, Ebrat B, Guyonnet D, Legrain-Raspaud S, Trotin B, Naliboff B, Mayer EA. 2013. Consumption of fermented milk product with probiotic modulates brain activity. Gastroenterology. Jun;144(7):1394-1401.e4.
2.        Messaoudi M, Lalonde R, Violle N, Javelot H, Desor D, Nejdi A, Bisson JF, Rougeot C, Pichelin M, Cazaubiel M, Cazaubiel JM. 2011. Assessment of psychotropic-like properties of a probiotic formulation (Lactobacillus helveticus R0052 and Bifidobacterium longum R0175) in rats and human subjects. Br J Nutr. Mar;105(5):755-64.




Monday, 21 July 2014

Time for Tea: teapigs Review


I love some tea, to the point where my teacup collection has reached epic proportions. As one of our wedding presents we got a gorgeous glass teapot and I've been meaning to use it since it arrived. Recently I got sent a 12 box sample pack from teapigs and I wanted to try it out with my new teapot. 

I've not been a big tea experimenter, I know what I like and I tend to stick with it, earl grey, white tea, English breakfast, chamomile are all constant favourites of mine. The option though of having the chance to try twelve different sample packs of teas I'd never had before was fabulous though. Each little box contains two tea temples in each flavour!


I took my time and tested all of my teas, check out my instagram for brewing videos, and I found my favourites.

  1. Darjeeling Earl Grey- A really perfumed bold tea, I loved it, as an earl grey fan this one was really good quality. The tea temples were really full of flavour.
  2. Mao Feng Green Tea- A very light green tea, slightly perfumed.
  3. Tung Ting Oolong- This one had quite a punch , it really is between green and black, it had a sharp bite.
  4. Tummy Tonic Peppermint Leaves- I'm not a fan of mint teas, this one was a light and sweet peppermint.
  5. Chamomile Flowers- A lovely gentle chamomile, this is better quality than most chamomiles, the flowers add a gentler edge to the tea. I'm definitely repurchasing this.
  6. Yerba Mate- This is a really full on tea, its a bit bitter, I wasn't keen on it but my husband loved it, it also made a big difference to energy levels mid afternoon.
  7. Super Fruit- I loved this tea, I've never been a fruit tea drinker but this one has me converted. Watching the brewing was like a scene out of Dexter as the red flowed into the water, mesmerizing. Really full of bursting fruit, the bags smell amazing, blueberries and cranberries. I'm going to be checking out more of teapigs fruit teas and re ordering this tea in bulk. Highly recommend.
  8. Popcorn Tea- This is a really nutty tea, it's really potent. I wasn't a fan of this but my husband again loved it.
  9. Lemon and Ginger- A lovely flavoured tea, warm undertones, this is a really nice morning tea, especially those of you who start the day with warm lemon water. 
  10. Liquorice and Mint- This is a sweet tea, a little too sweet for me but I can imagine those of you who have a sweet tooth it will be right up your street. Almost syrupy and minty. 
  11. Rooibos- This is a very potent tea, I have to say I really enjoyed it, lovely red overtones.
  12. Pure Lemongrass Tea- A light and fresh infusion, I really liked it as a mid morning pick me up.


                                

I have another sample pack to give away to a reader. If you want to win your own sample pack just leave me a comment below with your favourite tea!

That's all!

Much Love




Sunday, 20 July 2014

Atomic Tutorial : How To Put Together A Vintage Home

Lots of atomic legs! Gorgeous girls in my art and the obligatory pug cushion


One of the things I've loved and been totally trepidatious about in equal measure has been decorating our house. When we moved in everything was white, flat and clear, it was like looking at an empty page and I had no idea what the heck I was going to put on it.

As the months have passed, I took a real shine to atomic mid century design. What's that? For those of you who are looking at me quizzically, it's 1950's decor from the era of space races, atomic bombs, scientific advances and so on. I've mixed it with a little modernism and fabulous Scandinavian design, show me some atomic legs and I am in bliss!

 

Our living room is lots of green, we've mixed original mid century starburst clocks in with sconces, modern and original art and fun things from our travels. In our hallway I've gone a bit mad and delved into the world of geometric walls! I love the strong grey tones and also there's something seriously satisfying about the geometric fit. It's actually not that difficult to do once you get to grips with the rules.



I've just ordered this rather fabulous flamingo wallpaper for my bedroom, I love the tiki flamingo motif which some of you may have noticed from my blog and also from my hen party! I'm loving the odd mixture of animals we have in our house and curios, from silver rhinos, pelicans, hares, penguins and of course pugs. I have to say I like random pieces in a house, they give it character, and I guess ours is a little odd...

 

I've been seriously indulging my vintage crockery habit with the help of Etsy and Hope and Gloria, fabulous mid century shapes and colours that make me drool. I've just ordered a new set from Florida and I will be putting it up when it arrives, I think I need more shelves though. 

1930s Salem Tricorne tea cups and saucers, just gorgeous

I thought I would put together some tips for those of you who want to add a vintage flavour to your house. I am no expert by any means but I'm happy to share with you what worked for me.

Tips For Creating Your Vintage Home

  1. Look around and see what you're drawn to, I know it's cliched but set up a Pinterest board and pull together the shapes, themes and decades that make you happy.
  2. Once you're decided on the eras you like, look at what key pieces can speak of that era. For me my atomic leanings meant that slanted legs and starburst clocks were design pieces which allowed me to speak of the era. You can illustrate an era with these shapes, or fabrics very easily without spending hundreds or even thousands of pounds on original furniture (unless you want to and if you do will you send me pictures).
  3. Accessories and colour palettes are your friends, find colour charts from your era of choice, there's loads on the net. Add to this simple accessories or even pieces from the period and you're well on your way. Patterns from the era are a simple and easy way to add some serious period chops to your decor and are a great place to start.
  4. Don't be a slave to your era. If you see something you like that's modern, don't be afraid to add it, you aren't designing a museum to the era, it's your home after all. 
  5. Take it one room at a time, it can get very overwhelming otherwise. Don't try and plan the whole house in a week. Cohesion is a good tact, if your colours all work together, front door to attic the house will feel cohesive. If in doubt use neutrals in your large areas, like hallways etc.
I'd love your tips as well, what way have you decorated your house? What tips do you have?

Much Love


Friday, 13 June 2014

Inanity Gets Married, Part Four: The Reception


Part four, crikey. Well after our wedding ceremony and photos in Caesar's Palace we jumped in our limo where the lovely driver had some cold beers at the ready for us. In 30 degree heat I have to say we really needed them. We drove back onto The Strip and over to The Venetian for our reception. Thankfully our guests had already been taken over in their limos and were being treated to a cocktail reception.



We had picked one of the gorgeous private dining floors at Canalettos overlooking St Mark's Square for our reception. There were fabulous singers in the square outside singing Tosca, which drifted its way through the windows. We had the most enormous dinner, all six courses, I'm not even joking I was in a corsetted wedding dress. I COULD NOT MOVE. It was so lovely though, just the eleven of us, getting spoiled by the staff and relaxing. It felt really private and lovely.



Our view was lovely and we did some quick posing for photos. Before we knew it dinner was over and we were moving on. It seemed to go by in such a flash, it was 8pm and we got ready to leave The Venetian so we could go to our final destination and party.




We headed down to Nine Fine Irishmen, the very fabulous Irish bar and restaurant to complete our night with drinks and dancing. I decided the best option was to get changed into my second dress, which was the cream version of my bridesmaids dresses. It was so nice to get my legs back again. Although I loved my wedding dress it was not suited to dancing. So a much lighter dress was brought in!



It was nice to grab a picture with my bridesmaid in our dresses!


We had a big table of food, that none of us could manage, I think when I booked that I must have been hungry! We sat back and relaxed to the fantastic live band and obviously got some excellent requests in. Myself and the new Mr did some dancing, of course! We also sat outside on the patio, and because this is Vegas, even though it's midnight it was still warm and lovely. It was so relaxing.


Finally, nothing quite says end of a wedding than the late night trip to the 24 hour Starbucks in the hotel to get a cup of tea before bed. I know rock and roll or what?

My mum managed to get my red rose and dahlia bouquet home to Ireland, where she put it on my grandmother's grave, which made me a little tearful but it was nice that she was included. I had my two lucky sixpences in my shoes which have been in my mother and my great aunts shoes on their wedding days, I had my great great aunts 200 year old silk hanky which again all the brides in our family have had. It was just the most wonderful day. It goes so quickly and I was looking forward to our reception back home as I was so looking forward to wearing my dress again!

So that was my Vegas day!

Next up Belfast.



Wednesday, 11 June 2014

That's The Way The Cookie Crumbles: Chef n' Cookie Stamp Review


Recently I was sent a very cute cookie stamp for me to try out in my new kitchen. As I know I already told you all, I love baking. I love it, it's such good stress relief for me, my only issue is I tend to give it away once I'm done. So the new cookie stamp gave me an opportunity to do two things. Firstly I got to use my new Kitchenaid mixer, hurrah! Secondly it gave me the chance to perfect my sugar cookie recipe. I've been trying to get one that avoids a long chill and doesn't make the cookies swell when baked. 


The baking began, for those of you who want to try it out here's the recipe:

1 cup butter
1 cup granulated white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 almond extract
1 egg
2 tsp baking powder
3 cups all purpose flour


Preheat oven to 176 C
Cream butter and sugar till smooth
Beat in extracts and egg
In a different bowl, mix baking powder with flour then add a little at a time to the wet mix
Turn out on counter, divide and section, use flour to stop sticking
Roll out to about 1/4 of an inch, then use cutter to cut out the cookies and place on a baking tray, DO NOT CHILL THEM.
Baking for 6-8 minutes




I found using the cookie stamp was really easy. Just push into the dough, push down the stamp button, it pops up again and lift the cookie off. I especially liked that I could just change the stamp by twisting a different one inside, and how self contained it is. Also it is very handy that it cuts and stamps the cookies in one utensil as I have cookie stampers but they have to be used after the cookies are cut and it tends to flatten them.


I just mixed up a small amount of royal icing and coloured it, then using a little piping nozzle let it flood into the pre stamped cookies. It was actually very quick and simple. I also added a buttercream so I could sandwich the cookies and make them a nice little treat.



In all, very straightforward and easy, I really enjoyed using it. This one would be very good for kids and also for people who want their cookies to look great without a lot of hassle. 

My suggestions to the manufacturers would be to bring out some new shapes or even to bring out a range of cutter and stamp shapes. Who wouldn't like a heart cutter with lots of different heart stamps inside!

Much Love










Sunday, 8 June 2014

Inanity Gets Married Part Three: The Wedding

Finally, the wedding!

Well I was all made up and ready to go, laced into my dress my bridesmaids, mum and dad and I left our hotel rooms. For those of you not familiar with Vegas, you have to walk through casinos and they're quite busy, so the girls walked one in front and one behind, to run any interception but also to carry my veil! When we hit the casino floor filled with restaurants and bars people shouted 'Congratulations' and my favourite 'Now that's a bride!' I was a little embarrassed to start with but people meant it with such happiness that it was hard not to smile at these strangers wishing me well. We made our way out to the lobby as people continued to wish us well. Our limousine driver was waiting for us at the doors to take us to Caesar's Palace.

The black limo pulled out and onto The Strip and I had the most surreal moment of my life, sitting there in the back of this enormous black limo, surrounded by my parents and bridesmaids, in a wedding dress as we drove through the Las Vegas sunshine. I still wasn't particularly nervous though, but I was trying to soak it all in.
My bridesmaid snapped a picture in the back of the limo!

We got to Caesar's very quickly and I grabbed one of the concierges to take me and the rest of the wedding party to our bridal room. It seemed to make more sense, Caesar's is shaped like a giant wheel and I didn't really know where I was going, we certainly didn't want to run into the boys. We got ensconced in the bridal room, which had an enormous mirror, all of our flowers. My wedding planner came in to pin the flowers on the men and take two out for Dave and Ali, who had arrived. My bouquet was also there, red roses and red dahlias, I loved it. The girls had their white roses because of their red dresses. We gave ourselves a few quick primps in the mirror, decided this was as good as it would get. Then the pianist started.

That's when I got nervous, standing in the room waiting for the Minister to check the ceremony with me. When he finally arrived we checked name pronunciations and ran through the participation aspects of the ceremony. Then it all felt blindingly real. The wedding coordinator lined up the girls and off they went. Then the bridal march started and it was me, and my dad and I walked out into the sunshine.

The ceremony itself is pretty much a blur, I don't think there were any issues, I didn't notice the photographers or the videographer. I saw Himself and that was pretty much it, I was very proud as he managed to hold it together, I kept making funny faces at him to lighten the mood. I'm sure my photographers loved that. Then, the ceremony was over and we were wed!

Just Married

As you guys all know, I had been DREADING the pictures so when my photographer stepped up and said, 'lets go' I took a deep breath and just decided to calm down about it. We posed, we stood, we walked what seemed like miles through the hotel (the huge lobby at Caesar's all gave us cheers and a round of applause) for the best shots!

Totally cheesy shot but I love it

At one point we were running out of time, and I had to run, (no joke) up The Strip carrying my dress while people shouted congratulations, all for the perfect picture. 

Me in my dress!

Finally I grabbed my dress as we ran up the escalators. Our time was nearly done and the limo was waiting to take us to The Venetian for dinner. We finally got the shot we wanted though...

The final shot, I worked hard for it!

Running up and down, my heels were actually bleeding, I was feeling a bit Romy and Michelle but it was well worth it! 

Next time, our reception in Vegas!

Much Love









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