Monday, 29 January 2018

HOW TO: COOKIES OF CATAN

It's been an age since I last shared a baking post on here, so I wanted to share my absolute favourite thing that I baked last year... an entirely edible (and playable) Settlers of Catan cookie board. Cookies of Catan!

Cookies of Catan edible Settlers of Catan playing board

If you've never heard of Settlers of Catan, where have you been? It's a seriously-addictive German strategy board game. You play as a settler on the island of Catan, building houses and roads while trading and getting resources from the land you've built. It's really competitive, and you have to try and outwit your pals, whilst also keeping them on your side so you can trade with them. Does that sound mega complicated? I promise it's really fun!

My friend said she wanted to have a chilled birthday, staying in and playing Catan, so Josh and I decided to do one better and surprise her with a totally edible board. It took us HOURS to make, but it was so satisfying, the surprise totally worked,

Cookies of Catan edible Settlers of Catan playing board

I used a simple sugar cookie recipe to make the biscuits, as we needed something that would keep its shape pretty well, and would be sturdy enough to hold all the decorations. We actually made half the batch using a chocolate sugar cookie recipe (this one, I believe), but Nigella's was far better - if you're going to do this, I'd keep it simple!

The Catan board is made up of hexagonal tiles. I used a 3D printed cookie cutter (the benefits of being pals with Edinburgh International Science Festival!), but you can buy hexagon cutters online easily enough.

We cut the dough into hexagons and went over each cookie with the cutter again, once it was out the oven and had cooled slightly, just to make sure the lines were sharp and the cookies were the same size - the board had to slot together, so it was important to try and be as precise as possible!

Cookies of Catan edible Settlers of Catan playing board how to

The board is made up of six different types of tile: wheat, sheep, wood, red brick, stone ore and the sea (with one extra desert tile where the robber lives). For each type of tile we made a fondant base: light green for the sheep, dark green for the forest,  yellow for the wheat, a red brick pattern for the brick, and swirly grey for the stone ore and swirly blue for the sea. This obviously took AGES, but was well worth it, and much better than just using icing - I think it's so much cleaner looking and it's obvious what each tile is meant to be!

The fun bit was making decorations for each tile. We made tiny sheep out of marshmallows with fondant heads, tiny fondant trees (with little red icing dots for apples), and little fondant stones with silver decorative balls.

Each tile had to have a number - these match the dice you roll during the game, so these were made out of fondant using an edible ink pen.

Cookies of Catan edible Settlers of Catan playing board

It took an entire day to bake and assemble, but it was so much fun, and it totally worked as a playable board (it's a little rough around the edges, but shhh, it doesn't matter). Definitely worth trying if you also happen to share a love of intense board games, biscuits, and fiddly decorating!

Monday, 22 January 2018

A TRIP TO GENEVA

One of the nicest things of the last few years is that I've started going on annual trips with my mum and sisters (#tweediesontour). In 2016 we went to super-cool Copenhagen, and in 2017 we went to Geneva, a place I absolutely wouldn't have been able to go to without the kindness of my mum (thanks mum!).

A trip to Geneva

I didn't really know much about Geneva, other than it being the European home of the UN, and a place of peace, built on cash, clocks, and chocolate. That's kind of true? It's a beautiful city, with old streets and gorgeous parks, chocolate shops on every corner, and is packed with art galleries, museums and interesting designers. It's also one of the most expensive cities in the world - brace yourself.

WHERE WE STAYED

Where to stay in Geneva

We stayed in Hotel Montbrillant, which was a really great base for exploring the city. It is literally next door to the train station, which made it so easy for getting to and from the airport, and it was only a ten minute walk from the Old Town, and very close to tram and bus stops, so everything was a breeze.

The hotel also gave us free travel cards, which meant buses, trams, trains and taxi-boats were all free of charge - this seems to be a common thing if you stay at a hotel, hostel or campsite in Geneva.

WHAT WE DID

What to do in Geneva

Geneva is a beautiful city, and looking out over Lake Geneva is just breath-taking. The huge fountain (the Jet d'Eau) is 140m high and has 500 litres of water passing through it per second. Madness. My family all love boats, so of course we took the water shuttle across the lake, but we also had a nice wander around it.

We did loads of exploring in the Old Town (the largest historic town in Switzerland), climbed the steps of St Peter's Cathedral, explored the parks, rummaged through the Plainpalais flea market, visited the Palace of Nations, and had a lovely wander round the Natural History Museum.

Possibly the best part of the trip was visiting Mont Saleve, a mountain just on the edge of Geneva (that's actually in French territory), with incredible views over Lake Geneva, the Jura mountains and Mont Blanc (the highest mountain in the Alps!). You get a cable car up the mountain, and then there's loads of lovely trails you can explore - we climbed trees and scrambled around and pretended to be in Sound of Music and it was brilliant.

If we'd had more time I'd have loved to visit the CERN laboratory... I'll just need to go back!

WHAT WE ATE

Where to eat in Geneva

Switzerland is big on coffee and chocolate, so we did a really good job of making sure we sampled loads of these! There were lovely little cafes dotted all around Geneva's Old Town, which were perfect to pause at - you could easily spend an afternoon happily in one of Geneva's courtyard cafes (assuming you have enough money to cover cakes that cost ONE MILLION POUNDS).

One of my sisters can't eat gluten, so we had to be on the lookout for places that were gluten-free friendly... which felt a bit tricky, but might have been down to us being picky. Right in the middle of the touristy bit there's Spaghetti Factory Geneva, which offers gluten-free pasta and is sorta affordable, Pizza Leggera do gluten-free pizzas, and we found a Le Pain Quotidien near the Museum which did really nice salads (which also cost ONE MILLION POUNDS. Seriously, Geneva is painfully expensive).

My favourite place we went to was Chez Ma Cousine, a roast chicken restaurant that was cheap, informal, and really tasty (so good that we had to wait an age before we could get in, but I reckon it was worth it).

We also drank wine and many gins, as is the new Tweedie tradition. I'm so lucky getting to go on trips like this with my family, it's so nice to get to spend actual, proper time with them and see places I couldn't do on my own. We're starting to talk about our 2018 trip, I'm excited already!

Monday, 15 January 2018

STATIONERY WISHLIST

Let's get organised! As with most lifestyle bloggers, I am a sucker for beautiful stationery, and I definitely feel ten times more motivated if I have beautiful things to write in. I'm trying to not spend much money in January (because it's January, and I spent it all in December), but come payday, I am treating myself!

Here's a look at some of my favourite stationery and desk accessories out there... all super cute, and guaranteed to help you get your life in order!

Stationery wishlist


1. I'm a big fan of ban.do in general (everything they do is so cute and sassy), but I seriously love this colour block notebook. It's filled with graph paper, making it a pretty perfect bullet journal, or good for people like me who hate large lined notebooks with a burning fury.

2. Colour coding just makes life easier, so I would quite like all of MUJI's highlighters please (I'd also like this gel ink set if anyone's buying. No?).

3. Tidy up your desk by putting your pens in this super cute pencil shaving desk tidy.

4. Make adulting that little bit easier by storing important/boring life stuff in lovely file folders!

5. I know I'm kind of veering into desk accessories here, but you need to make space so you can display all of your beautiful books! This neon letter holder is great, and will help sort your life out.

6. Who knew you needed a desk doughnut? Organise your pins in the sweetest way.

7. So it's not the cutest paper planner out there, but this paper mousepad has honestly changed my working life! I am so much more productive using it, and it has brought sanity to my worklife, helped me handle clashing deadlines and pre-festival panic, and is also mega cheap.

8. I've talked before how much I love personalised things, so hold me back from buying one of everything in Papier's stationery range. I want a notebook for work, and a notebook for blogging, and a sketch book, and aargh it's all really lovely and surprisingly cheap!

9. If you've not got yourself a planner yet, you're in luck as they are all on sale! This A6 planner is undated, meaning you can dip into it at any time of year.

Monday, 8 January 2018

HELLO 2018

I remember this time last year. I was sitting at this desk feeling so very, very tired after a year that taught me so much, but took every ounce of determination and will to get through it. It was a few days before the start of 2017 and I was heavy of heart, but there was also hope. So I painted this (sulking in self-reflection) and made myself a promise - I was going to be hopeful for what came next.


2017 was a good year for me. Turns out, the lessons of the previous year had given me so much. I knew more about who I am and what I want and what's important, and I'm willing to work towards it and take chances on things that are scary.

I learned to cook and finally realised how rewarding and relaxing it is to do so. I felt more comfortable in my job, and feel so so lucky to have a gang of work pals that keep me sane and motivated and are a joy to spend stressful days with. I got to go on wonderful holidays with wonderful people. I played loads of video games and read books and slept in and ate excellent breakfasts and it was great.

To top it off, we ended the year going to see Hamilton for my birthday (!) and my very thoughtful boyfriend somehow managed to organise a secret backstage tour afterwards (!!!). I was blown away. Christmas was spent with him, who I love so much, and wonderful pals, making wonderful food and drinking loads of wine. It feels good. Life is good.

I've found a lot of peace in recent years by realising that you can't predict what's going to happen next. Change is constant, people will surprise you. But you can pick the attitude you have to that change, realise life is just a series of moments, and delight in those moments. And that's what I want for 2018. I want to give less energy to stressful things that are beyond my control. I want to see more shooting stars, to move more (let 2018 be the year I enjoy running?), to take time to paint, to make more time for my brilliant friends, and to keep picking hope.

So here's to this year! Let's be kind and have a good one.
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