How are we all getting on with the last minutes preparations for Christmas! I know I’m definitely not ready!
If you are thinking of what dessert to make for Christmas that isn’t your usually fruit cake or Christmas pudding or even ginger bread men, you should totally try this brownie recipe.
I’m often reluctant to share recipes because I’m skeptical someone would try it and think it’s not as nice as I claim it to be. However… I have come to accept that people are entitled to their opinions and so am I. On that note, in my opinion, this recipe makes very yummy brownies. They are not studgy, hard or cakey, so if you do not like very moist brownies then this recipe is not for you. These brownies simply melt in your mouth with every bite. This means that find yourself eating more and more and more! I assure you that your waistline won’t thank you, but it’s yummy and so worth it as a cheat snack or a quick dessert to make when you have guests coming over.
I have made them so many times, particularly as part of a three course meal for friends who visit, and they have loved them. I also recently took a batch to a birthday party and of the three desserts I baked, these brownies were the first to run out with gushing positive compliments.
I will stop going on about how great they are and just share the recipe! Take this as a Christmas present from me to you!
This recipe is adapted from my take on trying various brownie recipes.
Yummy melt in the mouth chocolate brownies
240 grams caster sugar
180g dark chocolate
100g plain flour
100g white chocolate (or 50g white chocolate and 50g dark chocolate)
Preheat your oven to 160C for fan ovens, 180C otherwise. Also line your brownie tin. I used a 34 X 20cm tin.
Break your dark chocolate into small pieces and place in a microwaveable bowl with all of the butter. Cover the bowl with cling film and put it in the microwave for two minutes. Use a spatula or other suitable crockery to mix the chocolate with the melted butter, this should help the rest of the chocolate melt. Leave aside to cool.
Crack your eggs into a separate clean and dry bowl and pour in the caster sugar. Whisk the two together at high speed until it looks thick and the colour of the mixture is paler than you started. This is to incorporate a lot of air into your brownie mixture. This can take some time. If when you switch off your whisker, the drops of the sugar and egg mixture leaves a trail for a few seconds, you can stop whisking then.
Break your white chocolate into a small pieces in a separate bowl. By preference, I use only white chocolate because I like the colour contrast between the dark chocolate for the brownies and the white chocolate inside the brownies. You could choose to use half milk chocolate and half white chocolate if you wish.
Carefully pour your melted butter and dark chocolate mixture from step 2 above into the egg sugar mixture and mix it gently, being careful not to knock out all the air you incorpirated in step 3. After incorporating the two mixtures, the colours should be like adull milk chocolate shade.
Incorporate the sifted flour into the mixture, being careful not to knock out too much air.
Incorporate the broken pieces of white chocolate (or half and half milk and white chocolate).
Carefully pour your mixture into a brownie tin and bake in the middle shelf for 25 minutes.
Once ready, the top of the brownie should be shinny with some cracks. Leave it to cool completely before cutting.
Enjoy your brownie by itself, or warm with some good quality vanilla icecream.
Please let me know how you get on, whether or not you agree with me that they are yummy!
*The examples in the blog below is in relation to female experiences. However, the concept and benefits of sharing should apply equally to men*
In the world we live in today, sharing knowledge or encouragement could often been seen as helping the competition of helping someone else become better than you are. However, I have come to realise that encouraging people who have discovered their purpose and are running with it, is way better than saving all the tips and encouragement for yourself. In addition, we say love is what the world needs, I see encouraging and sharing tips as one a way of expressing love. If you love someone, you won’t watch them do something wrong or not as effectively when you know of a better way they could have done it. There, I said it.
Applying this to businesses, if you look around you, you will find that there is hardly a business that is a monopoly. From coffee shops to bakeries to restaurants to law firms and so on. I remember when I was toying with different business ideas I was considering doing and while I was mulling over the details and discussing this with my friend, within a few days or sometimes on the same day, I would see on Instagram or another social media platform that another friend who I haven’t shared this dream or idea with is already doing something similar. I will be honest with you and say that this often discouraged me because I felt like, argh that was my idea, now she’s doing it, there is no point in me doing the same thing or something similar, she would think I copied her. I was more concerned about people thinking I copied their ideas, even though I genuinely think up similar ideas.
Like I have said several times, it is good to surround yourself with people that will encourage you, spur you on and would generally give you good positive advice. What a good friend said to me was filled with wisdom. She shared her own experiences with me and how seeing other people doing similar things has not stopped her in pursuing her goals and dreams. She said, it is possible for people to have similar ideas, however, what makes you different is your unique selling point. What else do you bring to this idea you both have that makes it special. Let me try to break it down. There are loads of bakeries out there, some are unique because their customers are in specific local areas, some because of the texture of the bread, the shape of the bread, or the bread is low in fat or not made with gluten and so on, I could go on. Basically, there are different wants to make bread and in most cases, each type of bread has a specific group of customers. So in as much as you have similar ideas, you will find that if you do your research well, you could be targeting completely different groups of customers and both be excelling in the same field.
I am now going to apply this same idea to our personal lives. The general (key word here being general) pathway of life is this. You are born, you go to school, you get a job, get married, have kids and then at some point we all die. However, even as most of us have similar experiences in life with a few differences here and there, in my experience, I find that we only share selective life lessons with each other, in most cases, the good and interesting parts of our lives as opposed to the challenging parts. I’m not fully sure why this is the case. One of my biggest flaw and assets is the fact I am an open book. I love to share, particularly because I wished more people shared with me before I got into certain situations.
Reading books and watching movies often feed us with this perfect idea of life and how things work. Our friends and family could also, unconciously give away the same vibe. I remember my wedding night, oh my goodness. Nothing people told me and nothing I watched on tv/read in books could have prepared me for what was going to happen. However, when you watch movies and speak to some friends, it sounds like having sex just involves the both of you laying down and viola the deed is done. I learnt the hard way it doesn’t just happen like that. Of course after this experience, I was quick to let my friends behind me know it is not as easy as it looks or sounds and it could take several attempts. Of course it gets better eventually and easier. I initially thought after my own experience that I was weird or the odd one out but soon after, my friends had similar experiences and I stopped feeling weird!
Moving swiftly on from that. What about childbirth? This was a whole different case. Once again, no one can prepare you for this and every woman’s experience is different, however, the process is usually the same. I always encourage first time mums to have an open mind while doing their research and to also speak to people who are willing to share their own experience. It is also important that you don’t narrow your research early on. For example, for ladies who do not want to have a Caesarian section, it is still useful to research into what is involved with this. This is because childbirth can be very unpredictable and some ladies start off having a natural birth and things change so quickly they find themselves in a theatre. It is in the same way it is important for ladies who do not want epidural or pain killers to also do some research into pain killers because you will find that often, a lot of women change their minds when they are in pain. The more knowledge you have, the more likely you are to make an informed decision. For example, epidural can o ky be administered at certain stages during labour. Some women find that by the time they ask for it, it is too late. If you have this informstion before hand and you decide you want epidural, at least you will know to ask for it sooner rather than later, or ask for your midwife’s opinion on when to get it.
Still on childbirth, I didn’t realise until I was pregnant, that pushing out a baby was by the end of it. No one told me before I stumbled on the information on an online community that I would also have to push out the placenta. To be fair, the work involved with this is not as bad as pushing a baby out but it is still uncomfortable. You can either choose to push out the placenta naturally, or your midwife can give you an injection to speed up the process. Totally up to you.
I also did not know, until it happened to me that for days after birth, I would still be contracting. I understand this is because your uterus is shrinking back to its original size, or trying to. I was glad when this stopped though. Another thing I did not know was that for up to six weeks after childbirth, you are encouraged to take it easy and not do anything too tasking to allow the body heal. Tasking activities, my friends, includes sex. How does one even prepare for this?
I won’t say anymore on childbirth but I think I have shared most of what I can remember anyway. Having a child is a beautiful thing, but if I knew these things at least I would have been mentally prepared for what was coming my way. Some friends I have shared my experience with have been very grateful for my honesty and my willingness to discuss the gory details with them.
I know most of what I have shared today has been about the childbirthing process, but the concept of sharing equally applies to everything really – from tips to applying for jobs to things to do while on holiday.
We are often too much in a hurry or too engrossed in our own lives (or smart phones) to share our experiences or notice that the person right next to us is struggling and needs our help. But we can change that today by making a concious effort to care more and share more appropriately.
I hope this encourages someone out there to share!
Good day darling readers!
It’s been a busy few weeks with a poorly toddler. Finally, the light is so bright at the end of the tunnel! It’s amazing how they pick up all sorts of virus from nursery! I can only hope his immune system is being developed to be extremely sturdy so in future he is sickness proof!
So now that we are over the sick spell, it is time for us to start planning for a few holidays we have coming up over the next few weeks. I remember the second time we travelled with our son, he was 9 months old then. We were only flying less than 2 hours to Nice for a long weekend and we packed the whole world! I think it is safe to say we have since picked up a few tips here and there for more efficient travelling with a baby/toddler.
Here are a few tips which were useful for us. As always, feel free to share your tips as well.
1. Where are you going?
I know this sounds like a silly question. However, whether you pack the whole world because you are travelling with a child or just enough, for us, depends on where we are going. If we are having a city break, travelling to the states or to Europe, or to a country where we are staying with family members who have kids, we tend to pack more conservatively. This is because, often you find you can pop into the local supermarket to top up on essentials if you happen to run out of supplies.
However, if you are going on an adventurous holiday or to a country you have never been to before and you don’t have family there, my rule of thumb is – I’ll rather be safe than sorry. Pack as much as you can for your baby or toddler, within reason of course.
2. Ditch the hand luggage!
I remember the first time my sister-in-laws suggested this, I looked at them like, what are they saying? How can I ditch my hand luggage? However, the last couple of trips we have taken with our son has been a lot better without hand luggage or with minimal hand-luggage. Let’s break this down a little.
Imagine you are at the airport, for the ladies, you have your handbag and a hand-luggage to wheel around. If you are travelling with your partner, he too maybe has a laptop bag, and a hand luggage to wheel about. Between the both of you, you have a child in a push-chair, who also has a baby bag with his nappies and food and toys and change of clothes in. Now tell me, how do you intend on juggling all of your luggage with a cranky toddler? Exactly, I thought so too.
Ditch the hand-luggage or limit it to two pieces so one person can handle the luggage while another handles your kid(s). It is even more important when you are travelling alone with your kid(s). If you can get away with travelling with just your baby bag, just do it! This can obviously change when you have a child old enough to carry his own luggage. Good luck!
3. Are your kid(s) diesease proof?
Are you kids up to date with their jabs/immunisation? If for whatever reason you are anti-immunisation, I’m not even going to argue with you. Just ask yourself if the country you are going to may impose serious health risks. If the answer is yes, either change your plans or get the child the jab! I should add that the fact you are up to date with your jabs does not necessarily mean that your child will not fall ill. However, it reduces the chances of contacting anything serious. I remember the first time my son went back to Nigeria with us, I think that was the day he started being weary of going to the doctor’s surgery as he had to get three jabs in one day. Did I enjoy seeing him go through all that? No. Was I happy I had done everything in my power to make sure he was protected for his upcoming trip, yes. Better safe than sorry.
4. Snack up!
Most kids snack inbetween meals anyway. However, I find that being prepared with a variety of snacks in my son’s baby bag helps pass time and keeps him busy while waiting to board the plane / during the flights. We have never been fans of giving kids sugary snacks (except they are natural sugars). This is not to say he hasn’t had the odd one here and there but we encourage him to have snacks like breadsticks, raisins and fruits instead. He is more than happy with these. So, his baby bag is always prepared with small bowls of fruits, raisins and breadsticks snapped into two. Some kids also enjoy vegetables like carrot sticks and cucumber sticks. However, I haven’t been lucky enough to receive the OK response from my son when I tried this (I won’t give up though).
During the flights when your child is getting restless, offer them snacks. It is always best when these are snacks they recognise, like and are used to. There is no point trying something new when you are thousands of feet in the sky.
You should also pack enough of these snacks (not necessarily fruits as I’m sure you can buy these everywhere) to last you your entire trip and the flight back home.
5. Prepare for ear popping
Some people have issues with their ears when they fly, particularly at take off and landing. I know there have been some occassions when my ears would just feel really blocked or hurt during these periods. An adult will usually try a series of things including sucking on a sweet. As sugar is not really encouraged in kids (as it can make them over active particularly if you are trying to keep them calm during a flight), you could invest in some sugar-free sweets for kids that are old enough to have sweets. For younger kids, babies for example, you could either breastfeed them, or give them their bottle of milk during take off and landing, so that they are doing the sucking motion at this time which will help their ears if necessary.
I’m sorry to admit that I don’t really have any tips for kids who aren’t old enough for sweets but too old for milk! Maybe when my son is at that age I will be forced to be innovative and share then!
6. Capol? Check!, Nurofen? Check! Thermometer? Check! Make sure you have travel insurance!
Kids are unpredictable. In as much as we never pray or plan for them to fall ill, you wouldn’t want to be unprepared. Pack a bottle of capol and nurofen and your thermometer just in case. If things get worse (hopefully it won’t) contact your travel insurance company to see what your medical options are before you head back home.
7. Pack for all weather
If you are going on a sunny break, pack a few long sleeve tops and trousers for the kids as often, in the evenings, it gets windy and colder than during the day. Also, you may want to go on a boat trip or something similar which usually involves cold winds.
I remember on one occasion, we went to South Africa at the beginning of their summer. The plan was to stay in Johannesburg but plans quickly changed which meant we got to spend a couple of days in Cape Town. It was equally warm however, as tourists, we found ourselves at the top of the Table Moutain, which is 1,085m above sea level, with our then 9 months old son, in his summery outfit! Of course it was colder up there. Thankfully we had all sorts of outfits in his baby bag. We quickly layered him up and wore a pair of socks for him as gloves! It was a great experience though. I can’t wait to tell him the story when he is much older.
8. Pack their favourite toy or activity
To the extent their favourite toy or activity is portable, take it with you on your trip, you won’t regret it. Our son loved his toddle bike which we took everywhere with us. When he outgrew that, he got a foldable tricycle from his uncle or Christmas which we now take anytime we travel. He loves riding on it when he gets bored during our vacations. I also pack his bath toys and a couple of books to read at bed time.
Obviously, I’m aware kids are entitled to limited luggage space when they travel. I happily sacrifice some of my own luggage space for him because I know if he is okay and happy, I too will have a lovely time.
9. Room service is your best friend
Now, South Africa was the first trip we made with our son and I have to say we learnt a lot on that trip. I remember naively planning to have dinner out in restaurants after his bed time, thinking it will be lovely as a couple. We quickly learnt that there is nothing lovely about a cranky crying baby in a restaurant at dinner time! We soon learnt to either have dinner and ensure we are back at our hotel before 7pm, or order room service. This way, our son could also be in bed at his usual bed time.
Also, for breakfast, we find it is worth the investment paying the extra 5 pounds or whatever the equivalent is to have breakfast in our room. This is because I don’t have to worry about my son running around in the breakfast room at the hotel, or disturbing other people who are trying to eat. In the comfort of our room, he can make as much of a mess he wants, as much noise as he wants and eat at his own pace. This has absolutely worked for us and I would recommend this tip in particular for anyone who can afford it.
10. Manage your expectations
Remember that travelling as a couple or alone is completely different from travelling with a child. Children need to be entertained, children have their routine and often struggle when this changes. Children will also often get bored by activities that adults enjoy. So I encourage you to manage your expectations. Try to plan a balanced routine that both you and your kids will enjoy. Leave the more mature outings for when you travel without the kids. If you are lucky enough to be able to afford travelling with your nanny, do your mature activities while your nanny babysit your kids. However, remember you are all on holiday together as a family and so don’t go off by yourselves too often, no matter how tempting this may be!