Influences and homages

I am not ashamed to say but I am addicted to TV! I have since I was a young age with my favourite place in the house being the lounge. With a love of TV I have found has come a love of spoofs and homages to classics. Family Guy’s Blue Harvest full length spoof of Star Wars, has now become a classic in its own right. It is now common place to see comedies honor their influences or make fun of other shows, celebrities and events.

The most famous one to constantly grace our screen is the infamous class from where many animators have come from – A113.

Woody from Toy story next to a number plate with A113 on it

Seem in every single Pixar film and other infamous animations, this number can be seen on number plates, animal tags, room numbers and even Bart Simpson’s arrest photos.

It is always exciting and fun to suddenly realise when you have spotted a homage or reference but sometimes they appear in the craziest of places! Recently I have been rewatching That 70’s Show and in the final series I came across something rather funny – but also one of the most well known lines from Frozen!

It seems that the writers of Frozen are also big fans of the show with this very cute scene from the final series involving Jackie and Fez. It seems that the famous Sandwich scene originally was a little different!

frozen-70s-show

 

I love this and I’ll now giggle when I watch Frozen next time!

I have many influences when it comes to design, writing and even my style but it is all these influences that I feel make us how we are! While studying at University, the first year group to be studying at the “concrete jungle” campus, the first light from concrete was born! All of the other designs that year were also influenced by the urban surroundings. In previous years the lights had generally been based around the inspiration from the beautiful countryside based campus.

The inspiration from my childhood still plays such a key part to who I am, how I draw and even write. I know that Manga like Sailor Moon and Card Captor, the design work by Philip Stark or the humorous musings of Terry Pratchett  still are as strong now as 10 years ago! Now based in Brighton I am surrounded by the sea, parks and Victorian architecture, I am constantly inspired by the new and old styles around me. I look forward to finding out how being in this vibrant city, with its art shows meetups and festivals, will inspire me over the next few years!

What is your favourite homage within a film or TV series? What is your writing or art influences?


We’re off to see the wizard – and stop off for pizza along the way!

Last month I was lucky enough to be seeing the incredible musical Wicked for a second time while it is on tour in Southampton. Unsurprisingly, as someone is seeing something for a second time, I adored it but it was my foodie adventures while briefly in Southampton that was really interesting.

I have always been hard to feed but then I am a super-taster! If you don't know what this is, it basically means that I have more taste buds than you on my tongue so I can taste everything. This makes food overwhelming or gives me the ability to detect undertones of texture and taste that you might miss. In everyday life though it means that compared to you I eat very boring food! This has made going out to restaurants particularly difficult as I have ordered something I thought was plain only to find that they have added so much pepper (or preservative chemicals) that it makes it impossible to eat. It does also mean though that I have the ability to tell other people whether or not a place is really nice or not.

Now I don't live in Southampton so I am not aware of how often the food market appears on its street, but last Saturday, the main high street was teaming with stalls and vans of food from all around the world. Having turned up early so that I could get a few extra hours to catch up with my mum before the show, and not wanting to be hungry during the 3 hour performance, we strolled up and down to find somewhere suitable, As most of it contains spices and ingredients I know to avoid, my mum and I decided to check out this cute looking Pizza van!Mobile pizza van in Southampton

For me it was an easy choice of Margarita, while my spice loving mum opted for a pepperoni pizza. Quite quickly it was easy to see that not only were we in for a enjoyable food experience, but that we would also enjoy the excitement to see our pizzas made right before our eyes.

Pizza dough being spun

The dough was spun and stretched all while he told us how this was a brand new venture of his and the history of his food.

In all the time to have two pizzas on a busy high street made for us was 6 minutes but all while his expertise shone through his words but nothing could prepare me for the pizza that came out of that mobile oven.

Amazing italian pizza

I have had a proper Italian pizza only a couple of times and usually when I have been abroad. The crust was soft and crisp all at once, there was not too much cheese nor was it overly greasy but it all allowed for the tomato sauce to really shine!

Now if you have been to a proper Italian restaurant, and I am not talking about the chains such as Prezzo, Strada or Pizza Express, you will probably understand the type of pizza that I am talking about. It was something that I would eat again and again - and that for me is a complement.

For both myself and my mum though, as we attended an afternoon performance with all her friends, we popped into a restaurant called Buffalo Bills afterwards. As it was a standard 'YEEEHAR!' kind of place, there were a lot of burgers on the menu. As normal I went boring and went for the very plain burger and chips feeling excited that they clearly state all their burgers are lovingly handmade.

What a disappointment though! The chips were not cooked properly so they were still solid inside, almost as if they were only warmed for 10 seconds, the bap had been burned leaving almost half of it inedible but the burger was a lump of clearly cheap beef pummeled into shape and cooked almost to dead. My bun was so burnt that I used the bun that my mum wasn't using as mine came darker than my clearly burnt burger! I had to leave half of my food as I didn't want to make a fuss in front of my mum's friends but it was not worth the £9 something that I paid for it.

Buffalo bills inedible food

Under cooked and burnt food that was inedible.

So what should you take away from this - one see Wicked as it has now been the number one musical for the last ten years on broadway for a reason, however I would suggest watching it on the west end or Boradway or you will lose some of most impressive bits even though you are paying the same ticket price. Secondly if you are in Southampton and it is running its international street food market, visit the wonderful Fornobello and revel in the culinary delights you are about to behold. You can also visit the facebook page to find out what other events he will be at. Thirdly and most importantly... avoid Buffalo Bills unless you want wrong food orders, terrible food and very cheesy surroundings.

What are your favourite places to eat in Southampton and will you be watching Wicked on tour or at the west end?


Netflix and the power of subtle marketing

For years now Netflix has been the super giant in online streaming. Unlike services like NowTV or Amazon Prime, it needs very little prime time advertising as it wins new customers through word of mouth and subtle marketing. Now it is at is again which means something will be announced very soon and my guess is that it is about Arrested Development!

This morning I have opened up my Netflix and gone to browse for something to have playing in the background when on the second row of titles to browse I spot something different about the title – it is titles watched by a fictional character from Arrested Development.

netflix and the power of subtle marketing

If you are not aware of the series Arrested Development, it was a TV show years ago but only lasted a few series. Through it being available on Netflix, it relived as surge of new fans and cult following and so Netflix developed brand new episodes. Much like the other series on Netflix, the new content was adored by fans and quickly there was cries for more episodes to appear.

Netflix’s clever move to include this line of titles based on the character and his actions throughout the series, due to including no clear advertising, will get people talking and watching the series again. As this is something that has only just occurred, I would not be surprised if there is a buzz that suddenly sparks through the existing customer base across the internet ahead of an announcement by the movie streaming giant.

When and what that announcement might be exactly is not clear, but there are two things that we will all be sure about – the announcement will be about Arrested Development and the series will probably see an up turn in those watching it.

Unlike some of the other streaming services available, Netflix has been a fan of using similar subtle tactics to drive buzz about upcoming announcements. It is a tactic that many company over look, often feeling like they have to dumb down content so that it reaches as many people as possible. It does raise the question, how can you subtly advertise to your audiences and provide exclusives to fans and the power that this can have.

Recently I have worked on a social media campaign for a national organisation that started with a simple teaser image.

Teaser campaign with "it's coming" and snap shot of a new clothing product

Among other posts, this was subtle but provided all those very keen customers and fans know that this new and highly requested item was coming soon. Quickly this spread very quickly among the existing fan base and to new audiences.

Subtle and teaser based campaigns create buzz and speculation – this can sometimes be more powerful than direct calls to action or immediate sales.

How often have you found yourself turning off to hard sell adverts or campaigns yet found yourself discussing whether or not you like Monty the Penguin from John lewis’ Christmas 2014 advert? Or looking to see if the Coca Cola truck is coming to your town at Christmas?

So next time you are thinking about making a big announcement, why not think about how you can give your most avid fans a glimpse or sneak peak to what it might be. Done subtly you might find people writing about something you have yet to announce!

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What are your favourite subtle campaigns? What do you think Netflix will be announcing and when?


Why all social media experts should love Tailwinds new tool

For the last 6 years I have used various tools for managing social media campaigns. While I have my favourites like Hootsuite and IFTTT, I am always constantly looking at the new tools available to use to make my work easier and quicker.

For the last year I have played around with Tailwind to enhance my work and personal Pinterest accounts. For some time I had a paid account and I found this highly useful but none of the tools were exciting as their most recent announcement – it is now possible to queue and schedule pins through their system!

This is a key tool that has alluded many avid pinners as the API for Pinterest has always been a closely guarded thing. Now while this is exciting in having a system to spread out all your amazing pins, it get better – there is also a matching chrome extension!

So why is this such a big deal? Pinterest is an interesting place where while pins do have a much longer life than most social media content, we have all gone on a pin spree. I sometimes don’t pin for weeks and then I will pin enough things to sink a large boat in 30 minutes! When it comes to trying to pin on behalf of a brand, this is a bad move but waiting to spread these out can’t be feasible either in-house or agency side for most people. Now Pinterest joins the likes of Twitter and Facebook where we can pin things at peak times for audience but also limit the spammy type of behaviour which can be off putting.

This added to a feasible service for monitoring and optimising your Pinterest accounts for personal use and varying levels of organisation, Tailwind for me remains the only service for developing this key social media channel.

Currently there are limited slots available to free accounts with Tailwind so check it out now! Will this change how you will be managing your Pinterest accounts? What Pinterest tools do you love to use? I would love to hear from you!


Simply scones

After watching old episodes of Great British Bake off and being obsessed with Tea, I was really inspired to my scones while recovering from the flu at the weekend!

Before you worry about me making others sick, I was getting over it and ate most of them… well 7 of the 9 I made….

I love scones as a treat as you can add as much (or in my case) little cream and jam as you want. For super tasters desserts can sometimes be a bit of a problem with such rich sweet flavours. I love food, especially desserts, where I have control over how rich it is. If you are looking for a treat for a super taster, this is perfect!

The great thing about this recipe, not only is it quick and simple but it also is just made of ingredients that you generally have around the house anyway! For my first batch of scones that I have made, they came out really well and I can’t wait to make more again very soon.

To make these simple scones you need the following:

  • 225g self-raising flour (and extra for dusting stuff)
  • 2 tbsp caster sugarr
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • 55g unsalted butter
  • 125ml milk (I used semi skimmed but whole fat milk is apparently much better!)

You can also add lemon and chopped ginger, but as a supertaster (and through being lazy) I didn’t.

Remember you will also need whatever it is that you want to include in your scone once finished. I went for the traditional clotted cream and jam coz you sometimes can’t beat the classics.

So how do you make these nice and simple scone you ask?

First the basics, pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees or gas mark 6 and get everything cleaned up and ready. Lucky this is a great recipe that you don’t need any mixing equipment other than a butter knife, decent sized bowl, scales and baking tray! I also used a small glass cup to cut out the mix so it is a really handy recipe to do with kids.

Get everything you need ready

Get everything you need ready

Now I am lucky as I do have cute measuring spoons and if you are going to cook regularly I highly recommend them. Unlike trying to using normal spoons and trying to work out how heaped or unheaped you want it, these are designed so that you can get an exact same amount every time!

IMG_6773

Put the flour, sugar and salt into a bowl

Now you are ready put the flour, sugar and salt into the bowl. Then chop up the butter into small cubes. The smaller the better as this will make the next bit a lot easier! Put the butter into the bowl, but try to spread it out otherwise it tries to stick to its self rather than mix in with the other stuff in there.

Now is the fun (but messy part), you need to work in the butter to the mixture. This basically means that you try to squish and smoosh the all the mixture together so that the butter and mixed into the flour, sugar and salt until it all is a breadcrumb consistency. Really make sure that you get the butter throughout the whole mixture and keep going until you are really sure that the butter is throughout the mixture.

Work the butter, flour, sugar and salt until a breadcumb consistency

Work the butter, flour, sugar and salt until a breadcumb consistency

Now this is the part where if you want to add lemon and ginger, this is when you add 2 tbsp of chopped ginger and 1 tbsp of lemon juice to the 125ml of milk, otherwise just pour in the milk to the breadcumb like mixture.

Now the next bit may sound werid but rather than using your finger, a mixer or other normal mixing utensils, you actually use a plain old butter knife to roughly mix everything together. This means that you get a really rough mixture that you associate with scones. Mix it up too much and it will be more like cake.

Stop when you get a nice looking mix like this

Stop when you get a nice looking mix like this

Now you need to knead the mix briefly (again remember that too much pounding and you won’t get that scone texture we are looking for).

Pat out the mixture

Pat out the mixture

Using your hands, pat flat the mixture till it is about 2cm thick. Remember if you are pat it too thin you won’t get good height on your scone. It is quite deceiving so don’t make it too flat! Patting it flat gives it that nice top texture and makes it harder to make it too flat.

I used a small glass to cut out the scones (in fact I used an old nutella glass) but you can use other cutters. You should get about 6 scones, however you will need to roll together the leftovers to make the final scone. If you pat the mixture too thin, you will find you get more than 6.

Cut out the scones

Cut out the scones

Now is time to take those cut out scones and put them on a baking tray lightly dusted with flour.

Almost ready

Almost ready

Lightly brush the scones with milk. You can do this with clean fingers or with a pastry brush.

Brush the scones lightly with milk

Brush the scones lightly with milk

Now it is time to put your scones in the oven for 18-20 minutes until nice and golden. Let them cool and then gobble up with clotted cream and jam!

Yummy looking simple scones

Yummy looking simple scones

These are quick and simple scones that will be sure to please most people. Because of the nice simple texture and taste, even super tasters will love this as they will be able to add as much or little filling as possible.

Mine came out really well but I would love to hear how yours came out! Will you be adding any additional flavours or ingredient? Or any tips that you have that you found when making yours?

Now the famous debate… do you put clotted cream or jam on your scones first?


Baking White Bread

Three years ago I met my wonderful other half who introduced me to making food from scratch. Previously food was difficult to explore for me as everything tastes so potent or rubbish as a super taster. By making everything from scratch, I am able to experiment and find out what it is that I do and don’t like, as well as why!

Bread has always been a favourite food of mine because as super taster it can really be incredibly delicious and different. When my mum first found out that I was a super taster, she helped me start to love food by exploring different bread. Now that she understood that I could taste all the little differences, we started to experiment with different bread.

10 years on I made bread from scratch with BF shortly after we started dating and now I make it regularly. Through experimenting I know have a bread recipe that everyone loves more than any other bread they have tried. The other day I was given bread by a specialist food store when they found out I was a super taster and I was going home to make bread. They believed that I would love their bread so much that I would come back and purchase more. What they did not account for was just how good my bread is.

Everyone has a favourite type of bread, so always remember to experiment to achieve yours but this is how I make mine:

  1. Measure out 500 grams of bread flour. I like to use Allisons Strong White Bread Flour, or Waitrose Strong White Bread Flour. Put it into the mixing bowl. Now I have Kenwood Chef with a bread hook, which I would highly recommend getting. Bread hooks are a must if you plan to make bread regularly.
    measuring out 1tsp of yeast in a spoon
  2. Measure out 2 Tsp of quick acting yeast. I use Dove Farms Quick Yeast.
    measuring out salt in spoon
  3. Add 1/4-1/2 tsp of salt to the mix.
  4. Start slowly mixing the flour, salt and yeast together. I put my Kenwood to under 1 while I prepare the water mixture.
    pouring filtered water into measuring jug
  5. In a measuring jug, add 200ml of filtered water, 1 tsp of caster sugar, 100ml of boiling water and a splash of olive oil (I personnaly like to use Jamie Oliver Olive Oil). Mix together and then very slowly add to the flour mix as it continues to mix together.
    Slowly pour in the water mix
  6. Once all the liquid has been added I turn up to 1. After 10 minutes of mixing, I remove the bread hook. Check however that the mix is together in a ball of dough. Put a wet cloth over the bowl and leave for an hour.
    Hour timer
  7. After an hour wait (I either clean or watch TV for an hour)
    Dough fully risen
  8. Turn the oven on to 190 degrees.
  9. Prepare a floury side for you to manage the dough. I personally use a silicon mat and put flour on top. This allows for me to quickly clean and use the side for other purposes. This is really useful when you have limited space in the kitchen.
  10. I cover my hands in dough before pulling all the dough out and putting on my flour mat.
    folded dough
  11. Fold the dough repeatedly for 5 minutes. I do this by flattening the dough, folding in half and repeating. Keep regularly re flouring the side/mat and hands to keep dough from sticking everywhere.
    cutting dough
  12. Break into 8 equally sized pieces. I do this by getting the dough into a ball and then cutting the dough with a knife. I have found this gets it equal and makes it easy to quickly roll into a neat little balls
    Thumb in dough ball
  13. Now I roll the pieces into a ball before placing over my thumb to create a deep dip, and pulling the dough together over the now hole formed. I have found that this reduces the likelihood of big air bubbles (ironically) forming and gives an interesting bottom to the bread.
  14. Leave for 10 minutes (for me usually until the oven has warmed up enough). This will allow the bred to rise further and grow before going back in the oven.
    Dough on baking tray
  15. After 8 minutes, turn the rolls around and leave in the oven for another 6-8 minutes
  16. Take out of the oven and rest on a cooling tray for 10-25 minutes depending on how warm you want them (I love to get Brie melting in them as soon as possible personally!)
  17. Enjoy!
    Freshly made bread rolls

My biggest tip with bread is experimenting. You might find that you like your bread differently than me. I know that BF loves his with 1/2 a tsp of salt compared to me who prefers it with only 1/4 tsp of salt!

What are your biggest tips in making bread? What is your favourite type of bread?

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Undomestic Goddess

In the last year I have fallen in love with cooking, baking and sewing so I have decided to start writing about it. I am still very new to it all still so there is a lot for me to learn a long the way.

I have always been curvy since I was 14, so I have always struggled to find clothes that properly fit. At one point I had a size 6 waist and a size 14 bust… you can imagine the Jessica Rabbit shape made me popular with certain people! On top of this, I am a super taster, so I have more taste buds than normal people. At 14 I was curvy and found out why it was so difficult to find food I could eat.

Now over 10 years on, I have been able to explore food and sewing again now that my life has settled down, and it is fantastic! As there is so much I am learning with each bake, cook and sewing project, I thought that I would share this with everyone.

I have struggled to find healthy food that super tasters can eat, so I will also be creating a super taster recipe series for those who are looking to eat well but struggle with the overly flavoured healthy options.

I really hope that you follow me on this adventure, and I would love to hear about your sewing projects and dishes!