Jess Cantoni

Recipes, reviews & lifestyle

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Let's have a chat... Lylia Rose


Today I am happy to announce a new series on my blog... I'm going to be sitting down and having a chat with as many bloggers out there that I can get my hands on... well not quite literally!

I believe that not one blogger is the same. It could be their blogging style or what inspired them to blog in the first place; they could be a full time blogger with their own office and thousands of followers, or they could be small bloggers who blog in their spare time, with dreams of making it big. I'm making it my challenge to find out the passion behind each person's blog, and what drives them to post on topics daily, weekly and monthly. 

So pull up a chair and make yourself a cuppa, because today I'm sitting down and having a chat with Victoria from Lylia Rose. 


Victoria blogs at www.lyliarose.com - a lifestyle blog from around my neck of the woods - Gloucester, in the South West of England (It's a small world!)
She also runs a fashion boutique through her blog (definitely worth checking out!) Let's see how she does it and what she has to say...




 First things first, how would you describe your blog?

It’s a UK lifestyle blog featuring anything I find fascinating or I’m passionate about.  The main themes are family, natural beauty, vegetarian food, healthy living, blogging tips, home and garden.
So how long have you been blogging for?
Just over four years.
Full time or spare time blogger?
Full time.
What was your main reason for starting Lylia Rose?
I originally started a blog for my online fashion boutique to increase the traffic to my website and hopefully get more sales.  I quickly fell in love with blogging and decided to change to a lifestyle blog instead of a business blog. Now blogging is my main passion.
Do you have a blogging schedule or do you write what you fancy at the time?
I write what I fancy at the time.  I’ll sometimes schedule these posts to go out once per day over the coming week instead of a cluster of posts all at once.
Are you a sofa blogger or do you prefer to sit in an office?
Both. I have an office, but I tend to find sitting on the sofa comfier.  If I really need to concentrate on a task then I’ll sit at the dining table or at my desk.
So where would your idea place to blog be? 
If I could choose anywhere, it would be a beachfront lodge with no one else around and the sea in front of me on a hot summers day!
What's your blogging daily routine? How do you manage your time?
I blog in the morning for around one hour before the children go to school/nursery, if they let me! My son is at nursery weekday mornings, so I have 2.5 hours undisturbed to blog on these days. I will blog in the afternoon if he’s happy playing, sleeping or watching TV and every evening once my children are in bed. If my husband is driving us somewhere I will be working on blog related tasks on my iPhone for the duration of the journey. If I’m not looking after my children, doing housework or out and about then I’ll probably be working on my blog! It’s a full time job around mum duties and I use every spare minute I can find.
We've been chatting for a while now.. do you want a cup of tea, coffee or something herbal?
I love green tea with ginger and honey.
Now you have your beverage, let's talk about future plans. Where do you see your blog in the next year? And next 10 years?
I hope my blog will continue to make a reasonable income in the next year and my sole full time income in ten years, if that’s still possible then.
If you could develop your blog in any way, what would you do? 
I have a small online boutique and I’m just trying to move away from online selling, so I’d prefer to develop my blog in itself rather than adding physical products to sell. Blogging is much more satisfying to me.
Where do you find your inspo for a blog post?
My inspiration comes from everywhere. It can be day to day activities with my children, a rant I feel brewing from something that has irritated me; reading other blog posts, trying something new, travel or sponsored blog post assignments.
Do you always find it easy coming up with ideas?
Yes I always have too many ideas and not enough time to write all the blog posts.
That's great! Any advice for those who find it difficult?
Read more, see more, adventure more and if you still have writers block just take a break. Sometimes a little break is all you need to refresh and restart your mind.
How do you interact with other bloggers? Does this help grow your blog? 
I interact via Twitter and through Facebook groups. I also take part in a regular linky as well as leaving comments on blog posts I enjoy reading.  It definitely helps to raise the profile of my own blog too.
Have you ever collaborated with another blogger? And how would you approach a blogger?
I’ve not collaborated with a blogger on my own blog yet, but I regularly respond to crowdsourcing requests on Facebook and Twitter to help other bloggers who need quotes or ideas. Using hashtags on Twitter such as #bloggerswanted or #bloggersrequired, and asking in blogging groups would be the best way to approach other bloggers.
Do you have a blogging idol?
I wouldn’t say I idolise anyone, but there are some blogs I enjoy reading. I find Slummy Single Mummy enjoyable to read. You Baby Me Mummy is great for blogging tips and The List linky. For making money from home inspiration, I like Emma Drew, The Money Shed and Katykicker.
I'll definitely check them out! Do you think it's better to blog about everything and anything or to have a niche?
I think it’s up to the blogger to decide. I blog abut a variety of topics and I enjoy this. My niche is me! The main advice I see is to blog about one or two topics only and find your niche, but I much more enjoy writing about everything I’m passionate about. I originally tried to blog about one or two topics and I didn’t enjoy it as much.
Great advice, thank you! Let's talk money. What is the biggest blogging cost for you?
My newsletter is my biggest expense at £30 per month. My outgoings are approx £100 per month for my website and the online tools I use.
Have you attended any blogging events? 
No I haven’t attended any. Workload and childcare usually stop me. I’m not too clued up on the events, so I have no idea of which are the best to attend.
Do you feel that there should be more acknowledgement and promotion of bloggers in the press?
I really have no idea. We are our own press in a way.
Interesting. Blogs are used a lot these days to raise awareness on contemporary issues such as mental health. If you could use your blog as a platform to talk about something taboo, what would talk about and why?
I probably already do this through talking about how I believe refined sugar and people’s diets are the cause of many illnesses and disease, especially in later life. We need to wake up today and be responsible for our own health rather than relying on medicines from doctors. I have a few blog posts on the subject, but I could talk about health and food choices all day long!
I totally agree with you. So, any tips for a novice blogger starting out?
Write about what you are passionate about and don’t get too sucked in to the ‘how to blog’ guides. If you want to schedule then schedule, if you don’t, then don’t. If you want a niche then great, but if not then blog about whatever makes you happy! There are too many ‘you must blog like this’ guides out there, and I see bloggers worrying about what they’re doing all the time. Blogs are personal and there are no rules, so as long as you are happy with your content that’s the only thing that matters.

Thank you Victoria! If you want to check out Lylia Rose, go visit:
www.lyliarose.com / Victoria tweets at: @LyliaRose
Next week I'll be chatting with another fellow blogger. Follow me at @fessjarmer for updates.
If you want to take part, drop me a tweet with your email address. 



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Sunday, 26 February 2017

Weekly Meal Plan Feb 26th


I've been a bit nicer to myself this week. Last week I really struggled with cooking all the dishes I had planned, due to feeling knackered and also ill towards the end of the week (stupid Storm Doris and the British rail system!!) This week I've gone for comfort over health. I don't care if my body doesn't thank me for it - I know future me will certainly thank me instead. 

Most of my choices have been chosen with the idea that the leftovers will be used for our work lunches. 

Monday

Tesco Pizza - Don't judge - A few weeks ago we tried one of Tesco's homemade pizzas from their deli (a bit like the ones Asda do), and they were really nice! I decided we'd have one this week, and as it goes off tomorrow (Monday), I guess we have to have it then! Making evenings a bit easier for myself...


Tuesday

Aubergine Daal - The same meal we were meant to have last Thursday, but because of Storm Doris, I didn't arrive home until 9pm! I also had a headache and didn't feel hungry. The aubergine is still fine, so we'll have it on Tuesday. No waste! I'll also use this meal for our lunches on Wed.

Wednesday

Meatball Marinara - Another meal from Miguel Barclay's One Pound Meals. This recipe is more New York than Italy, but it looks so good; very comforting! It's basically spaghetti and meatballs drenched in a tomato sauce with lots and lots of melted cheese.. yum. I'll use this meal for our lunches on Thursday too.

Thursday

Cabbage and Bacon Pasta - Another One Pound Meal recipe. I love the simplicity of this recipe. I also really like the combination of bacon and cabbage. It reminds me of brussel sprouts and bacon at Christmas. A nice and easy recipe to round off the week. I'll also have this for lunch on Friday.

Friday

On Fridays we tend to play it by ear. Sometimes I plan something but don't end up making it (naughty, I know!) So again, I've decided to see what happens! Last Friday we ended up having KFC because I was staarrving due to not eating all day from a migraine. KFC was actually the perfect medicine, i'm sorry to say! 

What have you got planned for your meals this week? 


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Saturday, 25 February 2017

Passion Fruit Filled Sponge Cake


I love a good sponge cake like the next person, but this sponge cake is a bit different to the normal Victoria Sponge version. You don't feel heavy after eating a slice, and you kind of feel like you're eating something healthy (1 of your 5 fruit a day!) as it's filled with seasonal passion fruit, paired wonderfully with refreshing and silky mascarpone and fromage frais. Honestly, this could be eaten for breakfast. 

My husband particularly like this cake, and he's not normally a cake fan! So that's saying something!


Tin size needed: two 8 inch (20cm) x 1.5 inch (4cm) deep sponge tins

Ingredients
For the sponge cake

175g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
3 large eggs
175g soft butter
175g golden caster sugar
1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
Icing sugar for sifting

For the filling
6 passion fruit
250g mascarpone
200ml fromage frais
1 tbsp golden caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 170c/gas mark 3/fan 160c. Line the two sponge tin bases with greaseproof paper.

2. To make the sponge: sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl, and add the eggs, butter, golden caster sugar and vanilla extract. Mix with a mixer or electric whisk until light and airy and can drop off a spoon easily. 

3. Divide mix between two tins (I weigh mine just to be sure) and bake in the centre of the oven for 30 minutes, or until well-risen and will bounce back when pressed with a finger. My oven is really hot and it only took 20 minutes (although I don't think this is normal!)Leave to cool on a wire rack once baked.


4. Whilst baking, prepare the filling: Slice the passion fruits and scoop out the middle into a bowl.

5. In another bowl combine the mascarpone, fromage frais, sugar and vanilla extract. Whisk using a balloon whisk until nice a fluffy. Fold in over half of the passion fruit seeds. 


6. Once the sponge has cooled down, spread half of the mixture on one half of the sponge and top with the rest of the passion fruit seeds. Spread the remaining mixture on top and sandwich the other sponge on top.



7. Dust with icing sugar and serve! 


 Have you used passion fruit in a cake before? Let me know down in the comments! 



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Sunday, 19 February 2017

Buttermilk Pancakes


It's nearly pancakes day! Wooooo! Yeaaah! I do love me a pancake or five, and since I haven't done a pancake recipe yet for this blog (I know!!!), i'm long overdue to do one for you guys!

I've chosen a recipe which is a bit unusual to the normal crepe-style pancake and even the popular American style. This pancake is sorta in-between the two. The texture is a bit crepe-like, but the size of them represent the American-style.. can't really work it out myself, but they're bloody yummy! 

Ingredients

Makes 6

150g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
120ml buttermilk
75ml cold water
3 large freerange eggs, beaten
Pinch of salt
Butter for frying

Maple syrup
Creme Fraiche

Method

1. Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre.

2. Whisk the buttermilk with the water and gradually whisk in with the flour mix. 

3. Add the eggs gradually, until you have a smooth batter.



4. Fry some butter in a pan and pour in about 3 spoonfuls (a small glug) worth of mix. Wait for a minute and then flip over and brown on that side for about a minute more. They should puff up slightly.


5. Continue this until you have used up all your mix, adding butter to the pan for each pancake. Serve with lashings of maple syrup and a dollop of creme fraiche.


Happy Shrove Tuesday everyone!



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Weekly Meal Plan Feb 20th



Today is one of those Sundays where it has started out where I'm thinking i've got nothing to do, and now it has amounted to a list as long as my arm! I don't know why I do it to myself, but some how I create so many things that need doing... I need to learn to chill! Anywho, one thing which I have ticked off my list on Friday was my meal plan for next week. This week, all of my recipes come from (a book I keep preaching about on all social media without realising!) the One Pound Meals book by Miguel Barclay. I cannot rave anymore about how wonderful this book is, and I won't, as you've probably heard enough! 

All of my choices have been chosen with the idea that the leftovers will be used for our work lunches. 

Monday

Chicken Lentil Korma - I had some red lentils in the larder, so I thought I'd better use them up!

Tuesday

Huevos con Chorizo - The Spanish make the best, flavoursome dishes! The only thing is that I won't take a fried egg to work as I don't like thought of re-heating it..ew. I'll just take the potatoes, peppers and chorizo.

Wednesday

Chicken Tartiflette - Things will be turning a bit French in my kitchen on Wednesday. This is basically like an Irish stew, with potatoes layered on top, overlapping. If it's anything like my Irish stew in my last meal plan, I'll be wishing I have leftovers a million times over! 

Thursday

Aubergine Daal - A veggie meal for us both, which also uses red lentils, which is great because I already had some! We need to eat less meat in our household, so i'm happy I chose this one. 

Friday

On Fridays we tend to play it by ear. Sometimes I plan something but don't end up making it (naughty, I know!) So this time I've decided to not bother and just see what happens. We may end up just getting a takeaway!

What have you got planned for your meals this week? Do you plan your meals for your lunches too?



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Monday, 13 February 2017

Marshmallow and Nutella Trifle for Two


Are you in the mood for something super sweet, chocolatey and just the right size that you can share it with your valentine tomorrow? If so, then this epic dessert is your answer. It literally doesn't take that long to make and is super easy because all the ingredients are either pre-prepared or only take 5 minutes to whip up. Just beware because when I say it's sweet, I mean it's sweeeeeeeet (like A LOT - but it's also very nice, or else I wouldn't be promoting it for you guys to make!)

It has 6 layers of heaven.. read on to find out...


Perfect for two

Note - the mousse requires one hour ahead preparation.

Ingredients: 

Mini chocolate doughnuts
160ml of whipping cream
160g Nutella
5 big spoons of Marshmallow fluff
Askeys milk chocolate sauce
150ml double cream
3 custard cream biscuits

- You will also need a small pyrex dish or glass bowl like mine below




Method

1. Layer as many doughnuts as you can fit at the bottom of your bowl (only one layer though).

2. Begin making the chocolate mousse: measure out your nutella and put it in the microwave for 10 seconds to loosen up. Meanwhile, whip up your whipping cream until soft peaks form. 

3. Once whipped, add a quarter of your cream to your nutella and slowly incorporate. Add the rest of your cream and fold to form a soft mousse. Pour all of your mousse over your doughnuts and level with a spoon.

4. Layer one more layer of doughnuts over the mousse. Cool in the fridge for an hour or until the mousse has set.

5. Once set, spoon your marshmallow fluff into a bowl and put in the microwave for 20 seconds. Once slightly melted and soft, pour evenly over the mousse. Place in the fridge and move on to the next step.


6. Begin to whip up your double cream to form soft peaks. Once whipped, remove the bowl from the fridge and squirt a thick layer of milk chocolate sauce over the marshmallow. 

7. Using a star nozzle, pipe the double cream to form a circle, copying the pattern below. Put the 3 custard cream biscuits in the piped cream for decoration. Serve and indulge with a loved one.. or by yourself (that's perfectly fine too!)





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