Shortbread slices with marshmallow

This was quite a random bake – saw an image of what I thought was caramel shortbread in the Leicester Mercury Saturday supplement and thought boy eck, why not go for it and make them! Covered in chocolate and cut into rough triangles they looked rather scrummy.

Recipe as follows:

200g butter, chilled

100g caster sugar

300g plain flour

200g marshmallows, cut in half

250g raspberry jam ( yeah I was abit wierded by this)

400g milk chocolate, melted.

Method:

1) Preheat the oven to Gas mark 4, 180C. Grease your tin and line with baking parchment with a slight overhang to make the bake easier to remove from the tin. Cut the butter into cubes and put into a bowl, then rub together with your hands until the mixture forms breadcrumbs.

2) Bake in the preheated oven on the middle shelf for 25 minutes until golden. Leave to cool for 10 minutes.

3) Carefully spread the ham over the shortbread base, being careful not to let it reach the edges, then place the halved marshmallows on top spacing them evenly over the jam. Put back in the oven for 10-15 minutes until the marshmallows have melted but not burned. Remove from the oven and leave to cool fully.

4) When the shortbread is cool, melt the chocolate.  [ if you are going to do this in the microwave make sure you put the chocolate into a heatproof bowl and melt quickly in 30 second bursts to prevent the chocolate from burning ]

5) Pour the chocolate over the marshmallows and spread evenly. Leave the chocolate to set in a cool place or put in the fridge for a short while, then chop into triangles or bars.

Verdict: 7/10 Did enjoy these little bakes, the shortbread tasted good and they were quite addictive! However, personally I found the marshmallow texture inside a little odd, and this along with the raspberry jam was quite an odd combination. I would suggest perhaps try adding caramel instead of the jam/ mallows or potentially try adding  pistachios ( i’m thinking more along the lines of Rocky road – they are just brilliant). Nice bake although I think the over-ingredients let it down slightly. Would have actually been really nice on its own I think even as just a chocolate shortbread. Also, measuring wise I used a lot less chocolate ( it was still enough) and I found the marshmallow quantity was actually too much. I again used a little less jam than the recipe advised ( need some for my toast in the mornings!) although could probably have done with a little more jam.

SO MANY MARSHMALLOWS!

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Mary Berry’s Cappuccino coffee cake recipe!

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Now this is a great little recipe (courtesy of my friend) – very intense coffee taste which is essential considering the title of the bake! I think I may have used a little bit too much butter in my icing – there appeared to be a just slightly overwhelming butter taste although I did add a little more than the recipe due to inconsistent butter supply! Brought into the office at work and went down a treat. Unfortunately, seeing as I was lacking a proper baking tin I had to use my standard cake dish and so square slices worked. Definitely would recommend getting a proper cake tin though as I think the slices would have been more manageable!

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/recipes/9948208/Mary-Berrys-cappuccino-coffee-cake-recipe.html

Behind the ink – Women and tattoos

This year marked the Fifth Annual Visionary Tattoo Arts festival held in New Jersey, America. The annual event, which took place at the end of July, celebrates the tattoo as an art form, with some of the world’s greatest tattoo artists in attendance for those eager to have a tattoo themselves. Statistics in a recent poll indicate that between 29% of men and women in the UK aged between 16-44 currently have a tattoo, with the number of women tattoo wearers in particular increasing. Tracy D, a highly respected London based tattoo artist said “It’s more of an art and people love the way that it looks, which is all the justification a woman needs…the new generation is so enamoured with tattoos that they think nothing of having them”.
Jon Jon Lane, the director of the festival in New Jersey said “ It is more respectable for women to get tattooed, before it was seen as a more masculine type of thing”, and further commented how he has noticed a greater number of younger females getting tattoos now than in the past.

The debate surrounding women and tattoos is certainly not new. Traditional perceptions of women tattoo wearers are often linked back to the so called ‘ladette’ culture, with tattoos on women considered a form of masculinity entrenched on to the female form. With 21st century tattooed females often feeling the brunt of negative and often ‘old-fashioned’ views about their identity as a tattooed woman, recent studies have sought to further unravel these perceptions.

Swami and Furnham (2007) purposefully examined the social and physical perceptions of blonde and brunette women with tattoos. Both male and female undergraduates rated a series of 16 line drawings of females which varied in level of tattoo covering and hair colour; blonde or brunette. The results of this particular study revealed overall that those women with tattoos were deemed less physically attractive, more sexually promiscuous and heavier drinkers than their non-tattooed female counter parts. Additionally, blonde haired females were generally rated more negatively than brunette females who have tattoos.

I decided to delve into this slightly further, and find out first-hand how a small group of young people today feel about tattoos on women. All of those questioned were aged between 18-25 and predominantly university students, with one male non-student currently working abroad. Rachel, 20 who has in total six tattoos with a full sleeve on one arm commented how “ridiculous” it is that women with tattoos are considered to be more sexually promiscuous and heavier drinkers. “Men have tattoos but aren’t seen to be like that, you can get a load of women who are promiscuous and don’t have tattoos at-all!” Jamie, 20 contrastingly commented how “I think you have to be a certain type of person to get a tattoo, and normally that type of person is associated with drinking”. Despite this seemingly stereotypical approach to identifying those with tattoos, this latter student overall shared minimal negative feeling towards them, highlighting how they can appear attractive on females in certain contexts.

In terms of attractiveness, the male participants questioned did not overwhelmingly consider tattoos as “unattractive”, with perceptions of the overall attractiveness of a woman ill affected by the presence of a tattoo. Joseph, 21 interestingly commented: “I find women with tattoos more attractive… seeing a girl with tattoos does make me think they are a little more free spirited and likes to do what they do and not follow the rules”. However, overall it was commented that bigger tattoos on a woman can sometimes be ‘overwhelming’, with smaller and more delicate tattoos comparatively seen as more attractive on some females. This latter point is particularly interesting and explained in an article within Stylist magazine. Gemma Angel, from UCL History of Art Department commented: “A dainty little rose is an acceptably discreet decoration, but an entire back piece is much more confronting… western standards of tattoos do not accommodate heavily tattooed women because… it disrupts the idea of what is feminine”.

With such an increase in the numbers of women deciding to have a tattoo, it would seem that perceptions of the phenomenon are gradually altering. Rachel, 20 commented: “I do think perceptions are changing but not dramatically, most people have old fashioned views about women with tattoos even though more and more women are getting them”. This student herself commented how she has personally felt ‘snubbed’ by certain members of the public for showcasing her visible arm tattoo during her part time retail work, although did comment that overall “ there are more people who are accepting of tattoos than not, so this overrides the negativity”.

It seems clear that perceptions of women with tattoos have changed significantly over time, opening up the acceptance for women to be seen in public with tattoos. However, despite the apparent progression made in changing negative perceptions of females with tattoos, there is still a long way to go before tattoos on women become fully acceptable; in all shapes and sizes and on all forms of the female body.

Further information:
Swami V, Furnham A. Unattractive, promiscuous and heavy drinkers: Perceptions of women with tattoos. Body Image, Dec 2007; 4 (4): 343-352.
http://www.stylist.co.uk/beauty/women-and-tattoos
http://www.nj.com/entertainment/index.ssf/2014/08/womens_interest_in_tattoos_rises_at_asbury_park_tattoo_festival.htmlage, De

Women travelling alone

Source: Wikimedia

Source: Wikimedia

I’ve read a good few blogs by women who travel alone, and the main theme drawn from each appears to show great similarity.

The idea of a woman travelling alone can and often does initiate great waves of concern. Friends and family can find it difficult to comprehend why an educated woman would want to risk her life travelling the globe alone, and more often than not, these concerns are rooted in gender inequality issues which unfortunately do still show significance today.

In January of this year, a 51 year old Danish woman was attacked and gang raped in Delhi, India. In 2013, a student was similarly gang raped in Delhi; a city renowned for its drink and drug usage and where attacks on females have shown a recent increase. Of course, Delhi is not the only place where attacks on solo female travellers occur. Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, Istanbul in Turkey, Cairo in Egypt are all cities holding claim to attacks on female solo travellers. However, this is not to say that all of these places are no-go areas; the advice is just to travel with increased caution within these particular regions.

It would seem ignorant to assume that the global media does not play a large part in generalising depictions of ‘the safest places to travel’. Much of the Eastern world is swallowed by the media in a cape of conflict and danger, perceived totally untouchable by the normal civilian who has hopes of exploring the local culture and staying safe. Indeed, these representations similarly apply to the freak attacks on females which are highlighted in the press, increasingly the seeming vulnerability of the lone woman traveller. How often do you hear about the rape of male solo travellers in the media? Not very often, if at all I presume.

Connotations of the sole male traveller greatly contrast the representations of the lone female traveller. These men are ‘explorers’ and great adventurers with solo female travellers by contrast often perceived as naïve, misunderstanding the great dangers that appear to lurk at every nation’s border. The truth is, awful things can happen anywhere and often closer to home than you think. Travel writer, Shannon O’Donnell writes in her blog about her three awful incidences where she was severely groped; one of these happened in her home country… and further, whilst she was surrounded by her friends. Society’s view of women has great steps for development, and this is not exclusive to certain nations, and in this example certain social contexts.

It’s fascinating to consider the extent to which gender inequalities do exist today, with solo female travellers unfortunately often feeling the need to just accept their oppression rather than fight it. It is incredibly saddening that in many countries these inequalities prevail, and the want to disentangle these patriarchal structures seems a desire that is far from the reaches of reality. ‘Being lucky’ to escape any physical attack as a sole woman traveller really highlights the flaws in society; it shouldn’t be a case of being ‘lucky’, as though it is just accepted that these incidences will happen to women travelling alone.

From reading around, the general advice that many of the lone female bloggers give is one of education; understanding the culture of the area you’ll be travelling to, the relationships between men and women, and being adamant in your sole strength. Just because you’re a woman, travelling alone does not mean you are immediately incompatible to survive the struggles that any traveller, male or female can encounter. If you’re considering travelling as a sole female, it seems one of the most important factors is not to feel undermined by others perceptions of ‘ the accepted things to do’ as either a male or female, and strive to explore the world in ways that you desire. I guess the main message from this article is to try not to fall into the trap of just ‘accepting’ the oppression experienced by the solo female traveller, but similarly don’t try to fight it. Be cautious, and be aware of the cultural surroundings; globally, it seems that society has still got a long way to go before women’s oppression and the perceptions of female strength witness significant change.

Published here: http://the-ripple.co.uk/the-lone-female-traveller/

Blog links:
http://www.news.com.au/travel/travel-advice/the-truth-about-travelling-alone-as-a-woman/story-e6frfqfr-1226729177996

http://hellogiggles.com/women-traveling-alone-the-risks-and-the-danger

Japanese women transform their appearance with the new B-style trend

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From regular tanning to hair braiding, these women are taking all measures to be like the American black woman

The B-style trend, also known as the Black lifestyle ‘trend’ is the latest rage to hit Tokyo, with those Japanese women eager to alter their appearance to mirror their favourite American black celebrities.
Hina, the main ‘poster girl‘ for this trend works at Baby Shoop; a hip hop inspired boutique and spends her time having her hair braided and in tanning shops to ensure her appearance fits with the black American image. According to Hina, “it is a tribute to black culture, and also to their music, fashion and dance”. For her, it all started when her hair began to frizz in secondary school, and whilst flicking through magazines Hina soon realised her potential to look like the hip hop stars she so admired, and so adopted the trend.
This isn’t the only craze to have received recognition in Japan. The Lolitta girls, who look like mini Barbie dolls, as well as Harakjuku kids have also been influential in Japanese fashion.
In comparison to the British ‘P’ posh spice trends that have found fame over the years, this doesn’t really compare to the extremes of the Japanese efforts. Interesting stuff!
Find out more about Hina: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Qe4AZRkFYE
The ‘P’ fashion trends: https://uk.celebrity.yahoo.com/gossip/celeb-news/6-posh–p–fashion-trends-victoria-beckham-initiated-210314274.html
Little bit about Lolitta fashion: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lolita_fashion