The Power of a List

I’ve always loved a list.  And a note book.  I’ve got thousands but lately for some reason I’ve got out of the list habit and I’m not sure why.  My favourite list when I was younger was the holiday packing list.  The clothes part, working out how many tops and shorts I’d need, and then the more exciting part – which books to take… do I take a hairdryer or risk it with what they might have there… do I really need that fifth pair of flip flops…

These days, well recently anyway, the only lists I seem to make are the scrambled ones written in the supermarket car park on the back of a receipt I should have filed ages ago.  So my head quite often now feels a bit jumbled.  I forget things (I very nearly forgot an order this week I have to admit… I remembered in time and it was delivered in time but someone was very nearly lacking in brownie goodness.  And no-one wants to be lacking in brownie goodness.)

I was moaning to my sister the other day about it – half my brain is a flowery wedding mess, the other half consists of uncooked brownie batter.   She said make lists!  Make lists that have stupid little things on just so you can tick the stupid little things off and feel better!  My own pro list tip is this:  if you make a list a little late in the day – add on the stuff you’ve already done.  And then tick it off.  Genius.


Anyway.  Today I wrote a list.  It included things like ‘make lunch’ and ‘make tea’ and even ‘hang the washing out’ alongside ‘make 4 million trays of brownies’ and ‘make 2000 batches of caramel’.  I got on with it all, ticked it all off and here I am at 5.20pm rushing this out so that I can squeeze in a run (yes, a real run, outside and everything. Not even sure who I am anymore.) before dropping my mum somewhere then racing back, prettifying myself up and heading out for dinner.  All in a day’s work.

Seriously, write a list.  It might just change your life.

Nic X


I’m going to put it out there – I’ve got a bit of an addictive personality. I kicked the nicotine habit a year and a half ago (one of my proudest accomplishments I think) but daren’t even look at my caffeine intake… I do love a good coffee. I buy green tea and peppermint tea and all of those virtuous things with the best of intentions but if you try and talk to me in the morning before my coffee don’t expect more than a glare and quite possibly a mouthful of abuse.

My addictive tendencies extend to other aspects of my life too. Like biscuits. I don’t even buy them anymore, I don’t even like to walk down that aisle in the supermarket. I’m an all or nothing kinda girl, and I can’t understand people who open the packet and savour one custard cream with their cup of tea for elevensies. If you let me loose with a pack of custard creams 10 minutes later I’d be sat there surrounded only in crumbs and a cloud of shame…

My main addiction since losing the fags though is one I’ve been nursing since I was about 6. Whenever my parents uttered those words ‘come on; we have to do the food shopping, get your coat on’, my response would always be something along the lines of ‘can I get a magazine??’

Those bright colours and their tempting freebies were just too much to resist. Who wouldn’t want a pink plastic tambourine with a comic on the side? As I got older, late primary school and early secondary, I loved Shout, Sugar and Bliss. Free nail varnishes, free combs (one of which I. Still. Own. ) free God knows what else….

[quick anecdote: once, in primary school, I was sat in the school office over lunch, not sure why, but I was reading one of my magazines (Sugar) and didn’t understand a particular word. So I did the sensible thing and asked my teacher what it meant.  My dad was called, the magazines confiscated never to be bought again until I was older and as far as I was concerned my life was ruined. All I’ll say is the word was on the problem page and it’s probably not something to say to your elderly year 5 teacher.]

Anyway! I progressed to fashion magazines and gossip magazines.  I’ve been through a phase of buying the weekly ones with the intention of winning all the competitions but never actually entering even one. I used to buy every hair magazine when I was getting a haircut. (Not now, Google image saved me on that one)

Now, I buy any magazine to do with food. Or health. Or fitness. Or weddings. All of them. They shout at to me as I try and walk past and grab me in! I can’t resist. I don’t even read them, or I do but approximately 10 months later once I’ve caught up on all the rest I’ve got. Here’s just one box I have filled with magazines I’ve bought but am yet to read…


I’ve got about 3 piles upstairs too, plus more dotted about here and there.  So there you have it. I’d love to say I’m ashamed but I’m not. I opened that box this afternoon and was filled with excitement, especially when I realised I hadn’t even opened the plastic on some of them!

So there you have it. My name is Nicola and I’m an addict.

Happy Easter

Bit of a random post tonight but what I want to say is a little bigger than a Facebook status so here goes…

Opening statement: Easter isn’t big enough.  Christmas is huge – the build up, the cost, the decorating, the wrapping, the card writing, the food (one of my favourite parts – since I started cooking Christmas dinner in my own home I feel the need to constantly beat Last Year Me… it’s stressful yet exhilarating…) and ultimately the excitement.  I just reminded myself of a Monica moment in a Friends episode with that Last Year Me thing.  I love Friends.  But back to the point.  Easter isn’t big enough.  We get four days off work (most of us anyway..) and we kind of don’t do enough with them!  If you go into any reputable cheapo pound shop or any beautiful Paperchase store you can buy loads of fancy and fun Easter decorations but who buys them?  My mum, to decorate her stall (she runs simplyTrue Jewellery) because she is forever enthusiastic about everything in the best way possible, but who else?  Maybe families to decorate for Easter Egg hunts for their little ones I guess… but I’m going to hazard a guess that most people don’t decorate for Easter.  And I really, really wish we did.


It’s like Halloween.  I love the way America does it.  In 2014 we were in California for the first part of October and already in some places they had amazing displays outside of the shops – huge scary figures and just such an amount of effort.  I love Halloween but we just don’t bother over here.  It became a bit of a tradition when I was at school that my best friend and I would hold Halloween parties that just we were invited to (no we weren’t really the cool kids….) and we would have loads of sweets, we would dress up a bit and watch scary movies in her lounge in the dark.  And if we are ever both free around Halloween these days then we do the same.  Because it’s fun!


Anyway.  Maybe I’ve eaten too much chocolate today (I don’t have an off switch.  I actually don’t.  And I ordered my wedding dress in a size too small so if you see me with anything other than a bloody apple in my hand between now and September then for God’s sake TACKLE ME).  Maybe the chocolate is what has inspired this post because I’m not entirely sure there’s much of a point to it other than a bit of a vent… I just think that life is pretty hard sometimes but everyone looks forward to Christmas.  I’m not suggesting we go as crazy as we do at Christmas – it can get a little out of hand sometimes – but just a little bigger, you know? A few decorations… a few sweets…. a party… maybe a little fancy dress!  Let’s go a little American on Easter’s ass!


Well that’s pretty much it I think.  To summarise: at Easter let’s decorate, at Halloween let’s dress up and watch scary films, I love Friends a lot and finally, if you see me shovelling food into my mouth then for the sake of the dress, stop me.


Happy Easter y’all ;)

#awks! It’s been a while…

Oh God. It’s been like 5 or 6 months since I last posted. Forgive me brownie fiends for I have sinned.  I’m sorry!

So quite a bit has happened… whether I can remember what exactly is another thing but let’s go with random bullet points and see where we end up…

1. Lots of wedding planning had occurred – ok not strictly business but my personal life tends to spill into my business life especially with this! And no I’m not making my own cake or my own favours – I have hand picked the best market producers ever for those jobs!

2. We attended our first Broadstairs Food Festival and were overwhelmed by the support you all gave and, to be frank, by how many brownies can actually be consumed throughout a 3 day event by the sea. To quote Peter Andre (because why not?) it was ‘insania’.


3. We were battered and bruised by horrific winds in the run up to Christmas! A couple of cancelled events, a lot of clinging to gazebos,  tables and brownies and a fair amount of swearing ensued.

4. Leading on from 3 out of fear the Green Gazebo may well fall apart, a brand spanking new gazebo was purchased! This was probably more exciting than it should have been or would have been for the normal person but oh my I love it. ❤ The old green one is the original – bought in 2011 when I first started trading. It still resides in the garage as I can’t bring myself to formally say goodbye.

5. The Super Brownie was born. Marshmallow baked into brownie to create an even more gooey texture.


Plus a layer of Golden Oreos. Seriously what more do you want? This range is going to be expanded too so keep your eyes peeled!


Ok 5 things for now to keep you going. But I’ll be back. Just like Arnie only with slightly less muscle and a little more sugar.


Nic X

Frozen, BBQ’s and Onion Marmalade

I’m having one of those days where everything is frustrating and you feel really on edge and agitated.  I’ve done some baking, some cleaning and had lunch, and I’ve started working on a playlist for our wedding reception (I’ve got a whole page of songs and not one of them is from this century… I’m a cheesy nostalgic kinda gal..).  I still feel super agitated so I’ve done what any sensible person would do.  I’ve made a coffee in my favourite mug, put my trusty Frozen DVD on (I know it’s bad when I need the film not just the soundtrack) and sat down to tell you all about some market buddies of mine.

Who doesn’t love a good barbecue?  It’s so British isn’t it, as soon as the weather looks a little brighter out come the coals and the lighter fluid and so ensues a season of burnt burgers and crusty rolls.


And of course, we need our accompaniments.  I mean, we’ve all got ketchup, mayo and salad cream but let’s open our minds a little bit…. to onion marmalade…. I promise you, there’ll be no looking back.  It’s tangy, oniony, and just a little bit different.  Make your barbecue stand out from the crowd!  Break the BBQ Rules!  This came highly recommended by Sandra from M Farmers Market, who actually makes this one.  She has regular competitions with her husband Brian as to which sells best, the red onion marmalade or the onion marmalade, the former made by Brian.  Apparently Brian is super competitive and sometimes hides the jars of onion marmalade so that he always wins with his red onion variety!


M Farmers Market, run by Sandra and Brian, has been going from strength to strength for years now.  They are a little different from most other stallholders as they actually run a lot of farmers markets as well as trade at them.  And it all started in my hometown of Rochester!  The market is coming up to its 15th birthday next month, and all those years ago there were no farmers markets in the area.  Sandra and Brian ran a one off market which the council loved and they got the go ahead for a 6 month trial run.  They muddled through and worked things out themselves as there were so little rules and regulations back then, and the rest, as they say, is history!  Rochester is still going strong, run by different people now, and M Farmers Market run a range of successful markets across Kent including West Malling, Chislehurst and Hall Place, Bexley.

M Farmers Markets sell a huge variety jams and marmalades – in fact they sell 23 varieties of jams, a quarter of which (including the delicious banana jam that my fiancé is addicted to) were requested by customers.  So if in their plentiful supply you can’t find that specific jam flavour then don’t be afraid to ask!!  Why not come and have a peek at what they have to offer this Sunday at West Malling Farmers Market?  It’s open from 930 – 130 and we will be there too, along with loads and loads of other stallholders!

Find out more about M Farmers Markets on their website or follow them on Twitter!

I Heart Crepes

A couple of months ago I promised a few people I would try their products and write a few thoughts about them, and then life got in the way just a little bit and all of a sudden that was quite a while ago and I still haven’t written anything…  I’m sorry!!  The thing is, everything I tried was amazing and so worth writing about, so time delay or no time delay I’m going to get these out!!

First up, I had a crepe…  It was a little crispy on the edges and lovely and soft in the middle.  It had sweet, warm strawberries and it had oozing melted milk chocolate.  It was messy, it was mouthwatering and it was bliss.  Actual bliss.  The sign of a good crepe is when your fiancé looks at you with two raised eyebrows and retorts ‘Are you kidding…?  You have a chocolate smile across your face!?’  And when you reluctantly give it to him to finish he gets chocolate everywhere…  Including on his nose.


I know what you’re thinking, ‘Where did this piece of crepe magic come from?  I need to get me one of those babies!’  Well it came from Little Brittany Creperie, regulars at many farmers markets across Kent, and further afield, including West Malling and Tonbridge.  Each crepe is made fresh to order and you can choose from approximately 1000 savoury and sweet options (slight exaggeration, but if you’re an indecisive person then it might be worth leaving yourself a few extra minutes..).


It’s hard to believe but it is a little bit by luck that we are able to enjoy Little Brittany Creperie each month!  Vicky, the brains behind the operation, used to travel a lot to faraway, exotic places like Thailand, and used to sell industrial heating tubes, of all the exciting things to sell!  One day she was wandering around a local market and there was a little stall selling French crepes with a ‘For Sale’ sign.  Having travelled a lot to France and owning property over there it made sense, and the rest, as they say, is history!  The gentleman selling his business taught Victoria his trade and from then on she has been bringing French crepes to the masses.  Her business has continued to grow, now running from two units and being hired for weddings and other big events.  Victoria still travels to France regularly and brings back classic French produce which is also sold on her stall.


So if you’re looking for something delicious to start your day, or maybe something delicious for lunch, or even just elevenses then head over!  I’ve had  one with cheese, mushrooms and garlic oil before too and seriously, it doesn’t take long to chomp down, it’s that good.  Find out more direct from the source, on their website or on Twitter @LitBritCreperie

Nic X

Rochester Farmers Market Tomorrow!

Tomorrow is the third Sunday of the month which means for me it is Rochester Farmers Market!  Only a 5 minute drive from where I live this is my local.  And its the last chance you have to come and see us in our old location, Corporation Street Car Park!  As of September the market will have moved to Blue Boar Lane car park, opposite Casino Rooms.

So make a bit of time tomorrow and come and do some shopping.  We are open from 9am til 1pm and its not just brownies and bars you can buy!  Grab a tea and wander around local crafts handmade by simplyTrue and Gaia Creations, grab a burger from Giggly Pig or a crepe from Kent in Crepe.  Buy a couple of sausage rolls from Dine Thyme and some samosas from Cinnamon Girl to take home.  Stock up on jams and chutneys from Jo’s Preserves and olives from Daniel!  Get your bread from McCarthys and some hot smoked salmon from Margate Smokehouse.  Get tea from Tiger Spring Tea!  Booze from Kent Cider, Nip from the Hip or Kent Ales!  Get your meat from MB Farms or from VJ Game, your fish from Steve the Fish and your veg from Whitegates Farm (I hear they have a variety of plums available now too…!)

I’ve probably forgotten a couple but I hope that’s enough to tempt you!

See you there :)

Nic X

A Herb-Tastic Cake Test

Every year when Great British Bake Off comes back to my screen I spend my Wednesday nights salivating and battling the urge to eat 5 cakes. But I also spend some time each episode complaining about the contestant’s obsession with putting herbs and spices into their bakes. I can handle ginger and cinnamon but that’s about as exotic as I get. Maybe I’m a purist, maybe I’m too old fashioned… maybe I just don’t like changing things up! For me, a cake is a cake. It should have chocolate, or nuts, or fruit, or caramel…. not fennel seeds or caraway seeds! Keep your herbs for your focaccia or your soups! Or so I believed. Today, I might have changed my mind. Yes, I think I’m admitting maybe I was wrong…

After spending last night’s Bake Off messaging my sister, both of us yet again bemoaning the use of herbs in sweet dishes I decided this morning that I should try something for myself, so I could fully cement my ‘herbs are for savoury’ belief. Rosemary seemed the obvious way to go seeing as I have a garden full of it (It’s taken over. The rosemary owns the garden. ) Now I am a rosemary fan – but I reserve its use for sprinkling on my potatoes before chucking them in the oven to roast for our Sunday dinner…


I delved into my personal recipe book library and after browsing a few books I decided on a Nigella recipe from her classic ‘How to be a Domestic Goddess’. It’s the third recipe in the book and is based around a Madeira cake. I waited for a break in the storm to run out to the rosemary and pinch a bit of a branch off, then pulled all the leaves off and chopped them up fairly finely, shoving them to one side until I needed them.


The recipe itself was easy enough – cream 250g butter until super soft, then chuck in 200g golden caster sugar and cream until its light and fluffy. Measure 210g self raising flour and 90g plain flour into a bowl. Add in 3 eggs to the butter mix, one by one, and a tablespoon of flour with each one to prevent the curdling issue, then chuck a bit of vanilla extract in. Fold in the rest of the flour mix and then it’s time. I stifled a sob as I tossed in the chopped rosemary – a beautiful cake, I thought, ruined! I dolloped the mix into a loaf tin and put it in the oven, 150 fan and timed an hour. In hindsight I might have overfilled my loaf tin as I did have a bit of an overhang, but personally I quite like a bit of an overhang… Then I went and sat in the living room and pondered the meaning of life, and herbs.

I baked for a total of 75 minutes, then got it out, let it cool in the tin for a bit, then turned it out onto a wire rack to chill out. I didn’t wait for it to cool, I nabbed a bit of the overhang and had a munch. Then I ate my words. Because it was bloody scrummy. The rosemary, like Nigella suggests, bounces perfectly off the vanilla and produces just a rosemary aroma taste, if that makes any sense at all.


The whole herb/cake thing works! Don’t get me wrong, I’d still take a big old chocolate fudge cake with chocolate buttercream and chocolate shavings and topped with Aero bubbles (or something similar, I’m not that fussy) over this, but it makes a nice change. I’ve spent the afternoon having little slithers with my Earl Grey tea with my candles lit while its poured with rain outside, pretending to be more posh that I am. I reckon Nigella kind of nailed ‘the art of comfort cooking’ promised on the front cover with this one :)

Nigella4 Continue reading »

Oh The Possibilities!

One of my favourite things to do is to wander around shops seeking out new products to play with and today I found a new twist on a retro tuck shop treat, and some different editions of my favourite, the humble Oreo!

Can’t wait to try out some limited edition goodies with these bad boys!


Coming to a Farmers Market near you soon and for a limited time only! ;)

Keep your eyes peeled…!

Nic X

California Dreamin’

Have you ever been on a holiday that was more than just a holiday?

Around this time last year my now-fiancé and I were reading reviews, booking hotels and planning our route for driving down the West Coast of America through California.


Excited was an understatement! Growing up, my family owned a little touring caravan (seriously, people have porches bigger than this caravan..) and we had many a staycation involving outside toilets, rainy days and board games. I wouldn’t change these trips for the world (let’s say they were character building..) but never in my wildest dreams did I think one day I would go to America,  Land of Dreams, and see some of the best it has to offer for myself.

We experienced breathtaking scenery, amazing food and some of the friendliest people we’ve ever met and I can’t squish all of that into one little blog post… so I’ve decided to start a little mini series just for you guys! Little snapshots of our Cali escapades…

Because when you come home and you actually grieve for a holiday that’s finished then it’s probably worth telling people about it.


This isn’t a travel blog, I know, so the mini series will be interspersed amongst baking posts, market posts, moaning posts… all the usual. And let’s be honest, a lot will revolve around food because I love it and I live for it and if I’m truly honest I’m just a little bit greedy.

So until the next one…. have a nice day y’all!

Nic X