Friday, 26 July 2013

How to Win Work Colleagues (with Blondie recipe)

In my last post I was ranting and raving about motivation and inspiration and jobs and bits.

Well another good announcement about the job which I didn't really want. After a ridiculously busy shift I thought: 
My heart isn't in this job. I'm done with it.
So, I quit. Thats right. Done. Finished. You only live once so why be unhappy about it? 

After a week later, after CV-ing all over the place, I found another job and here I am. 

But with a new job comes new work colleagues. Brand new scary people that you have to work with who already know each others names, and have their own in jokes. It can be pretty daunting. 
So, I could do two things that would make me feel much better about a situation: Stuff my face with Nandos/chocolate/endless episodes of Supernatural or I BAKE!

I decided to make an impression with my baking skills. Nothing wins a group of females co-workers like chocolate cake. Especially if its a Chocolate Cola Cake. Now I've opened the door to getting to know my colleagues better. All done with cake, of course.

However, before I rejoice in my new job, there is a something I would like to say to my former office work colleagues:

  •  Chris- You taught me to be firm with really annoying customers and to be experimental with the most strangest food. More importantly, Chris, I wish you all the best with your new husband! Your going to make a fab wife and an awesome mummy one day!
  • Hannah- You are just adorable and I loved our little chats and you were seriously missed when you left!
  • Lucy H- Lu-lu you are a wonderful cousin and you don't know it because I'm kinda shy about saying it (I don't do chick flick crap) but I have always looked up to you and you constantly inspire me. 
  • Ben- What can say? Our 'witty' (used loosely) banter back and forth about 'Bakery Story' or general zombie related stuff. We are officially the most prepared people for a zombie apocalypse. 
  • Lucy Madz- Our sneaky shopping trips and 'Fat Fridays' and the general chats about life in general. Its hard to find another kindred (crazy) spirit. Luc, your the sister I wish I had because you are just generally awesome and beautiful. For goodness sake don't change! 
I didn't really get to say a proper good-bye and thank-you for all the good times we shared. Thank-you Ladies! (and Ben)

So as promised I did some baking before I left my previous workplace I made some farewell Blondies and dished them out to my lovely work colleagues. 
Blondies are basicaly the 'anti Brownie' meaning that they are made with white chocolate rather milk or dark chocolate. 
Here's that recipe:

Recipe: Makes 18 squares (recipe adapted from Cookies Galore by Jacqueline Bellafontaine)
·       500g white chocolate
·       75g butter, at room temperature
·       3 eggs
·       180g caster sugar
·       180g self-raising flour
·       1 teaspoon vanilla extract
·       (180g macadamia nuts roughly chopped, optional)

·       Baking pan lined with silicone paper
·       Chopping board
·       Sharp knife
·       Heat proof bowl
·       Saucepan
·       Mixing bowl

1.    Preheat oven to Gas Mark 5/ 190c/375f. Grease and base line a baking pan.
2.    Roughly chop 400g of the chocolate and put aside.
I ran out of chocolate and had to use an easter egg that I received but never got around to eating. It was of a pretty 'Hello Kitty' which got smashed to pieces
After-Oh the chocolate humanity! 

3.    Melt the remaining chocolate and butter in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Cool slightly.
4.    Beat the eggs and sugar together in a bowl and gradually beat in the melted chocolate.
5.    Sift the flour over the mixture and fold together with the reserved chocolate, vanilla extract and nuts if using.
6.    Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 30-35 minutes until the centre is only just only just firm to touch. Cool in the tin. Cut into squares when cold.

Happy Saturday and Have a Good Weekend

Bake On! Penny x

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Life lesson, Job hunting, Motivation and Inspiration.

Its funny how inspiration hits you just at the right time.
I know its been awhile since I've posted but I've been in between moving from London, back to the Isle of Wight. Its been hard because I'm leaving my friends and family behind along with my crazy work colleagues which are always a pleasure to work with.
You guys made the day go so much faster with laughter and jokes. I really looked forward to work because you were there to make the day brighter.

So about the inspiration thing. I believe in signs all around us (not the film or aliens or those crop circle things). We're often so absorbed in our mobile phones or getting from one place to the other, that we don't take the time to notice the signs that the universe has to give us. 

I'm blah blah blahing about this because I've had 2 weeks of learning about how life's little signs can inspire and motivate.

To start with 2 weeks ago, I had an interview for a bakery/coffee shop/cool vintage shop and I was successful! So that interview turned into a trail shift and for 6 and 1/2 hours I worked to the best of my abilities. The job was making coffees, teas, serving customers and a little baking. Baking was the magic word for me! 
I really enjoyed the trail shift and the owners were pleasant to work with. When asking for feedback they said: "We'll email you with the details by the end of next week."

One week and 3 days went by and still nothing. That week was the longest week in the world. I was waiting for what seemed like an eternity. Anyone who has been through the job waiting process, it's not a nice one is it?  
So I thought that I would email to say that I was going to drop by if she wasn't too busy, I thought that it would should that I'm really keen and enthusiastic. No Reply 
The very next day I went for it, I went into the bakery/coffee shop/cool vintage shop so that I could stop being in limbo. 
I go in, and before I can even finish my "Hello, How are you?"
The owner said: "I'll email you next week, Penny. We've been busy.
Thrown off and deflated, I muttered "Oh ok. I'll hear from you when you get the chance. Thanks and see you soon."
I walked away flat and very unwanted. 

Now I'm not going to be so unprofessional that I'm going to name the place. But I do feel that it was unprofessional, that I didn't get an honest direct answer. It's bad business sense to mess people around about like that. If I wasn't good enough for the job: Tell me in an email, on the phone or even when I finished my trail shift. But I suppose that's the way life goes sometimes, they got a free day's work out of me and I got a life lesson: If it's too good to be true, often it is.

Moving back to now, I've been CV-ing it to many places on the IOW trying to lick my wounds and determined to find a summer job. I have had another 2 interviews, 1 trail shift and another trail shift to come. I got a job- Hold your yay's and congratulations. I started out doing the trail shift and I'm not sure what happened because all of a sudden, I got drafted. Officially I got the job, but I don't want to sound ungrateful but it was a huge step down for me. I so desperately wanted to learn new skills in baking or learn something completely different. 
So now I'm at the next hurdle. I'm stuck in a job that I've done before, using none of my epic baking skills and is making me- unhappy and very flat. (That btw is a great title for a TV show. EPIC BAKING SKILLS!) 

Ok, after that long story, I'm coming back to the motivation and inspiration thing. See I told you it was linked in there didn't I? I went out in the blazing sunshine for a drive, on my day off my drafted work and was contemplating what to do. I was having a mental argument with myself!

Should I jack this job in? 
That means no money coming in for 6 weeks. 
That's true. Better stick with it. 
But it's doing nothing for your career, it's the same job but with different people. What about your amazing pastry dream?
Also true, Ok I'm done with it! It's not making me happy so that's the end of it!
But that means you've failed in sticking down a proper job. What's wrong with you? You're an absolute failure. 

Now this is where I nearly chocked, failure is not a word I get along with. In fact the meaning and word makes my toes curl with rage. I don't flop, I fail. I don't mess up, I fail. I don't make mistakes, I fail
That's one of my biggest downfalls, being too hard on myself. Of course, I make mistakes and yes I do mess it up, everyone does. That's what makes us human. 

My first sign came in the form of an already read email from Cheryl who writes Make Me Joyful, which I accidentally got up on my mobile. The line that struck me was this:
"Persistently dwelling on the disappointments or the frustrations or the things we lack won't give us the happiness that we seek."

I chose to ignore this as I was still fretting what to do, or what people will think of me and about a thought away from complete and utter panic. 
The second sign, I had to stop off in a couple of touristy shops with the guests I have staying over and one lady in a flower shop was happily busying herself when I commented on how lovely the shop was. She replied:
"It's hard work and the hours can be bothersome at times. But it's my pride and brings me so much joy that I can't think of any better job."
The shop was her's and she  worked on her own and is trying to build her flower shop from the ground up and I tell you what, it was like lightening struck me. This little voice in my head perked up finally and went:
Is what your doing at this job, this second, right now, making you happy?
Well, no.
Then fix it.

See it's funny how inspiration can hit you at the most funniest of times. I think my next little life lesson is: Try taking a step back to observe the big picture to catch those signs. 
For now folks, I'm going to have to posted on my next move.
Bake On!

Bake On! Penny x

Friday, 5 July 2013

The Last Pastry Class

I've always been a little slow with technology. Most people nowadays have facebook and twitter very young (I know an 8 year old on facebook. It's just weird ok? Why? Don't even get me started on this), I was 18 when I first got facebook. The last of my friends to get it. 
I got twitter about 6 months ago. I was the last of my friends to become a twit. I mean erm, twitter-er. Is there even a word for it?

Anyways, yet again I am the last of my friends to do this. I now have Instagram! Now I'm not going to lie, I haven't got a clue what I'm doing but hey, I'm never against learning something new. If you wanna follow me check out the camera icon on the right here.

Another really cool announcement is that I've officially finished my pastry course. Thats right little old me has a ABC Level 2 in Pastry and Confectionery. Which means wooo! Please don't all clap at once :D
Essentially, it was 36 weeks of  the theory behind pastries and bread, learning about different pastry products and then there was the practical classes, which was my favourite part. I'm so happy that I've passed which is great, it's just a case of when I officially get qualified. So come on examiners get those red pens moving. 

But I'm also kind of sad because I'm leaving behind such a good part of my little life. You see, the people just friendly and just as enthusiastic as I am. They were wonderful people to work with and it's such a shame that I wont be able to see them for a long while or even at all. (If any of you read this one day, please email me or drop me a lineIn fact, most of the class are going back to do the level 3 pastry course. I, sadly, can't due to my studies at university. I am gutted, I mean really really gutted because I wanted to expand my learning and generally have some fun with pastry. 
I'm not really an emotional person. I'm dramatic.
Oh wait that wasn't very dramatic enough, how about this:
I am dramatic!!
I find it difficult to get across how I feel to people. I'm not sure about the rest of you, but I was conditioned to believe that it was stupid to express how you feel, crying at the fact that you just dropped the last damn cupcake, or waving your arms in excitement because you know that you're going out shopping for baking bits. What I'm saying is that I don't get all mooshy like that.    
But I will say this to my pastry tutor (if she finds this, hopefully one day she will):
Faye, thank-you for your endless patience and your belief that anyone can bake and produce something amazing. You have really influenced me and helped me become more confident in my pastry abilities. Thanks to you I may have a new job in the works, thanks to you I have an excellent interview for my dissertation and lastly, thanks to you no amount of complicated pastry scares me! (Ok maybe choux pastry but I'm working on it)

Bake On! Penny x
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