I love baking, so when I was introduced to the Baking Mad website, I couldn’t wait to have a look around. Baking Mad contains hundreds of tried and tested recipes from cakes to cookies to pies to macarons. There’s something on there for everyone, no matter how good you are at baking. Last weekend my eleven year old cousin came round for the day so I decided it was the perfect opportunity to test out the website – there’s no better way to bond than over cakes. I’d been sent a selection of baking goodies including some dark chocolate chips and Heather decided she wanted to have a go at making chocolate chip fairy cakes – simple but delicious!

200g butter or margarine
200g golden caster sugar
200g self raising flour
3 eggs
1tsp vanilla extract
50g dark chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line some cake tins with paper cake cases.
2. Beat together the butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla extract until the mixture is smooth.
3. Sieve the flour and fold into the mixture.
4. Add the chocolate chips and stir into the mixture ensuring they’re evenly distributed.
5. Spoon the mixture into 12 cake cases and bake in the centre of the oven for 12-15 minutes until golden.

We decided not to decorate the cakes as they’re delicious just the way they are. They certainly went down well with the rest of the family anyway!

On Monday it was Chloe‘s 19th birthday so we headed down to London for a spontaneous day of shopping and sightseeing.

As soon as we arrived, we went straight to the Natural History Museum as Chloe had never been before, then went on to Harrods and had some macarons in Ladurée before heading to Oxford Street to do some shopping. We spent aaages in Topshop and ended up coming out with the same pair of tartan leggings and then went over the road to Liberty. Neither of us had been before and we weren’t really impressed. Give me Selfridges any day!

After the shopping, we wandered off to Soho in search of somewhere to eat. We ended up stumbling upon Jamie Oliver’s Diner on Shaftsbury Avenue where we had a delicious meal and Chloe fell in love with the waiter. This is just a pop up diner and won’t be around for long but I really recommend you visit, even if it’s just to marvel at the dinosaur themed decor! We then fancied a bubble tea so we headed to a Bubbleology that we’d spotted earlier on, it was delicious but still not as nice as my favourite Moo-Cha.

We then walked to Covent Garden and ended up in Urban Outfitters where we both bought the same rug (?) and I got a couple of mugs and a necklace in the sale. It was then time to hop on our Virgin train back to Birmingham. It was a brilliant day and I can’t wait until London Fashion Week next month!

On Tuesday, I was invited to the exclusive blogger launch of the newly refurbished restaurant in Selfridges, The Balcony. The Balcony is ran by Searcy’s who are well known for a number of champagne bars around the country and especially the private member’s club at the top of the Gherkin in London.

On arrival, I was greeted by the staff and offered a drink from a selection of cocktails or champagne. I chose the ‘Selfridges Passion’ which contains passion fruit vodka, passoa, mint, lime, apple juice and fresh passion fruit. It was very strong but so tasty as well.The decor is amazing, so stylish and modern. It’s also great to be able to look over at the busy Bullring and see everyone frantically buying Christmas presents while you sip on a delicious cocktail. 

We were treated to a selection of mini versions of the dishes from the menu, as well as canapes, bread and cheese. I’m a really fussy eater so I didn’t try a lot but I did end up eating most of the cheese on the cheeseboard (sorry, not sorry – the brie was delicious) and I found a new favourite – Berkswell. I could have eaten that cheese all night!

“The Balcony looks to provide a stylish menu for the city’s fashionistas, serving quirky food and drinks in a contemporary environment. Skinny cocktails, afternoon tea and plant pot cakes are among the items on the menu, offering Birmingham’s shoppers and visitors an indulgent and unique experience.”

The Balcony is definitely worth a visit if you fancy getting away from all of the hustle and bustle of the city centre and the Bullring. I’ll be going back when I feel like treating myself!