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Graduation

July 22, 2014

ConGRADulations to all you lovely people striding across that stage and officially closing the crazy chapter that is university over the next few months. WE DID IT YO!

 *fist bumps and high fives all round*

Immy May blogger

 

My schooling life has woooshed past in seconds.

It seems like yesterday I was sat in the playground attempting to trade my penguin bar for wagon wheels and iced gems, felt completely euphoric when winning 1st place in Global Rock, all of these (LOL),  revised in the school field for my GCSE’s, travelled by boat erry day for 6th form and having crazy experiences, making memories and meeting people that will stay with me fo’ lyf.

I remember sitting on a packed train three years ago on A level results day and getting a call from my dad saying “weeell, you’re currently in clearing.” I was bladdy gutted that didn’t get my first choice up in Birmingham and the poor lady sat next to the crying 18 year old girl reassured me that everything happens for a reason and it will end up being ok (she was right) I packed my bags, fairy lights and recipe books and hopped in the car up to London where I would embark on 3 of the most incredible years.

I have had spontaneous adventures, learnt important lessons and built so many friendships with amazing people.

All of my experiences and memories from the past three years led up to this day.

Skylon

Kicking off the with drinks and lunch at Skylon with my lovely family (I opted for the cocktail, obvs)

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We haven’t been together as a family for FAR too long, so catching up and feeling completely at ease in each others company (as well as incredible food) was the highlight of my day.

Slightly merry, we shuffled into the auditorium and took our seats.

UAL Graduation

After a few short film, speeches and lots of clapping - it was my time to walk. I was pretty sure this may happen…

Immy May

Immy May

Immy May

But all was well, the whole class cheered each other on as we made our way across the stage in our gowns.

S W A G

Graduation

It was so lovely to see all my classmates so happy and surrounded by their incredibly proud families. You sometimes forget that so many people are there supporting you when you are stuck in your room for what seems like years writing a 12,000 word dissertation but it all seems pretty worth it on this day – I promise!

I shrugged off my gown (ain’t nobody got time for that in 30°C heat) and strolled along to a grassy spot by the London eye for a picnic with my family.

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Picnic

We clinked glasses, ate strawberries and shared various university memories late into the afternoon.

WHAT A DAY. I also received a few presents…

Rules of Life

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Books that everyone should probably read and a handmade necklace from my Dad, what a G.

I had so many lovely words of wisdom for my very supportive family and friends, now really is the perfect time to go out and grab what you really and truly want – whatever that is.

I realise that being a graduate fresh outta uni is tough, you need dollar (I’m getting ready for my first interview as I type) and you also need a structure – calving out a career in the creative industries (or any industry) can make you feel all over the place, but it is SO important to keep on goin’ – even if you have to work on your goals around your day job. I think this video is pretty apt…

Most people who have achieved their dream career have worked insanely hard to get to where they want, and keep up the hard work even when things are quiet and people say no over and over again. Some people are in the right place at the right time, but it is all about dayum hard graft and making your own luck – capish?

So, fellow graduates – keep those wild dreams and visions in tact, lets do this.

Ix

 

Gluten Free G&T Cake

July 20, 2014

When I started this blog, baking was either an attempt to redeem myself for being late or a little treat that brought smiles to media folk, helping me wedge my foot wider into the industry. Y’know, cupcakes, banana loafs, brownies – the norm. As I moved further into the big ole world of blogging, I started to discover a whole new side to baking that I would have never imagined in my wildest culinary dreams.

These days I pop potatoes, avocados and dates into my baking (tastes better than it sounds, I promise). Well, ladies and gents – I have reached the next level of madness by chugging half a litre of gin into the mix. G&T is my favourite alcoholic bevy of choice and a few weeks ago ma mate introduced me to the Pudding Lane Blog where I discovered the lovechild of two of ma favourite things. G&T and cake. It HAD to be done, a gluten free version of course – no one deserves to miss out on this…

Gin and Tonic cake

The original recipe uses regular self raising flour, however in order to make it gluten free yet still nice ‘n’ moist I used half ground almonds and half gluten free self raising flour. It’s always a little bit hit and miss with GF recipes – but I reckon I nailed this one, here’s what ya need:

Cake - 

weigh 4 eggs in their shells –  they should end up weighing around 260 grams! weigh the rest of the ingredients with the same measurements. Easy peasy lemon squeeezay.

unsalted butter – room temp.
caster suger
ground almonds (half)
GF self raising flour (half)
4 eggs
6 shots of gin
2 lemons
Icing - 
Icing sugar
1 lemon
a few shots of gin
Pre-heat the oven to about 180°C
Fist of all, weight the eggs in their shells, note it down then continute the same for the butter, sugar and flour.
1. cream the butter and sugar until light in colour and fluffy.
2. whisk up the eggs then gradually add to the mixture whilst still beating.
3.  Mix in the ground almonds and sift in the flour until nice and combined.
4. add the zest of 2 lemons and juice of 1!
5. finally, add in your gin! I used about 6 shots of the stuff.
6. butter and flour your loaf tin then pour in your mixture – wack in the oven for around 50 minutes.

Av’ a gin and tonic.

Start checking your cake at around 50 minutes – I found that mine took a liiiitle longer than the recommended time to bake through completely, this may be due to the almonds – be patient and check around every 10 minutes to make sure the cake is bouncy and golden on top and the skewer comes out clean. poke little holes right through to the bottom of the cake before you pour over the icing, this will get the sweet gin and lemon icing sinking deep into the cake, LAVELY.

Originally I took mine out on 50 minutes, poured on the icing let it cool and then tried to turn it out of the tin. The top of the cake flopped onto my hand exposing the unbaked cake beneath - It was one of those horrid baking despair moments where there is nothing else to do but go ooooooooh aaaah my gaaaaad, try to briefly rectify the situation, failing then eating the cake. So, patience is a virtue my friend.. always wait until the cake is completely cool, cold even before you attempt to remove it from the tin. Thankfully I carefully sliced of the top and re-iced the beast and waiting until the morning to prize it from the tin. Phew.

So. Here you have it, the gluten free gin and tonic cake – it ain’t much of a looker but tastes bloomin’ marvellous.

slice cake

slice of cake

It was chomped down by the May clan whilst ooooh’s aaaah’s and satisfied smiles filled the room. My granny asked for the recipe, it MUST be good.

What are your views on the cake and alcohol combo? Mojito cake next? OOooo.

Happy Monday folks!

Ix

Guest Post: Michaela’s Tiered Princess Cake

July 16, 2014

Hey guys, I’m Michaela and I’m taking over Immy’s joint today (oh gaaad this is my first ever guest blog post so please bear with me!)

I’m a model and baker from Hertfordshire, and I’ve been baking for eight years. I am completely self taught, with the help of some trusty YouTube tutorials and baking forums, which has allowed me to create and perfect my own tried and tested recipes as a basic starting base. Since then, I’ve collected tools, ingredients, equipment, magazine subscriptions and all important experience which has led me to 1. the urgent need for extra storage space for all of this and 2. where I am today!

My most recent project was for my not-so-little sister’s 21st birthday, she wanted a three tier Victoria sponge cake with a fresh cream and strawberry filling, and gave me free rein to decorate it. I got straight on to Pinterest for inspiration and mind mapped a few ideas until I had a complete picture of what I wanted, which was a pink cake with delicate gold piping, with the addition of gems!

I first set out baking the cakes, six cakes in total. I always do this the day before decorating, as the cakes can be clingfilmed and popped into the freezer to keep fresh whilst you ready everything else. A frozen cake is also MUCH easier to carve when you’re evening out the top, or simply carving into a shape.

Cake
The next day, I made the gems, which were essentially a boiled sweet. I boiled sugar and water until it was at the hard crack stage of 149°C-154°C, added a drop of pink liquid food colour and drizzled the concoction into two sets of silicon gem-shaped moulds, and left to set. I then prepared the cream filling, which I changed into a french Chantilly cream, a sweeter vanilla flavoured version of whipped cream. I sliced the domed top from each cake and neatened up the sides. Having the clingfilm that you wrapped them in spread out underneath the cake makes the cleanup 100000x easier!
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Once this was done I spread over an even layer of Chantilly cream, places as many sliced strawberries into a single layer as I could, and sandwiched each tier together and popped in the fridge.
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Next, I prepared the pink fondant. I use the ones you can buy in the supermarket, as they’re usually cheap and super reliable in texture. I added the smallest drop ever of Wiltons “rose pink” gel colour, which you can see below goes the looooongest way!
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Also if you’re serious about baking and decorating, get a silicone mat as seen above, they cost no more than £10, they’re heatproof, non-stick and are literally a DREAM for when you’re rolling out, measuring and playing with icing and pastry doughs.I kneaded out the fondant until the colour was completely even, then tore it into three pieces, sized appropriately for each cake. I spread some raspberry jam over each cake, which really adheres the fondant to each layer, then carefully placed the fondant over each cake and neatened it all up with a fondant smoother.
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As you might (will 100% defo) see in some pics further on, I didn’t worry too much about the tidiness of the bottom edges as I was piping icing over these areas anyway. I also had to apply a circle of dusted fondant underneath the middle and top cakes whilst I was stacking them up, my sister wanted to dismantle the tiers easily to take and give to family and friends.
Finally I got to decorating, my most favourite part of all!
I made a royal icing mixture from plain old icing sugar, a tiny amount of water and Wilton’s meringue powder, which gives the icing a smooth moussey texture which then completely hardens, perfect for piping delicate details. After this I got to work with a #3 nozzle, making swirls, roping and beading. I became a little worried as the white icing looked completely bloody horrific against the pink but I stayed optimistic as I was to paint it gold later.
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(ew hahaha)
Once all the swirls were in place, I stuck on the gems with water and piped a few decorative bits around each gem. The icing had all set by now so I painted over each bit with metallic light gold food paint, by Rainbow Dust.
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The colour took immediately and so luckily I only had to do a single coat. Once the paint had all dried, I changed my nozzle to a #9 and got to piping large drops around the base of each tier.
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These took a little longer to set as they were quite thick, but once they were dry I coated them again with a single layer of the same gold food paint, which dried looking super reflective! Lastly, I painted some confectioners glaze over the gems to make them ultra glossy and shiny, I’d advise against putting a decorated cake in the fridge as the fondant tends to sweat and can become really saggy and just gross…
So this is the final product!
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I’m always willing to hear people’s comments and to hand out any info and tips that I can! If you fancy it, email me at michaelai91@gmail.com, and check out my Instagram where you can find pretty much all of my recent baking successes.
Thanks again for reading my first ever blog post! Hope you enjoyed xxxx

Wildwood Pizza

July 14, 2014

Social Media is a beautiful thing. Of course, a lot of the time your newsfeed is inundated with dubious hot dogs for legs pictures and 20 things to do in your 20′s Buzfeed articles but sometimes you scroll across a rare gem that enlightens you on something that you would never usually stumble across.

Word on the street is that there is a little van of wood-fired pizza magic cropping up at a different corner of the Island every day, letting people know by post the time and location on their Facebook page - ‘pop up restaurant’ in its most basic sense. After a few phone call exchanges from my chums, we agreed that this was probably the one and only way to spend our Thursday evening so we piled into the car and zoomed across to the other side of the Island to have a little ganders.

car journey on the Isle of Wight

We rolled up to the top of Freshwater bay, clambered out of the car and to the top of the hill where we found the little vintage citroen parked up and surrounded by a little crowd of lucky walkers, families and Facebook savvy folk like us.

Wildwood Pizza

I nipped round the side to get a closer peek inside the van. The vintage van has been transformed into a little cave of pizza wonders, kitted out with a legit wood-fire oven and dough rolling machine that had me mesmerised for far longer than it should have. It must have been as hot as the surface of the sun inside, but the amount of smiling faces at the sight of their fresh, delicious lookin’ pizzas must be worth it.

Ya see, the wood-fire way of cooking pizza is nothing like your usual think ‘n’ heavy slab from dominos. As the heat is so high, the pizza cooks evenly – crusts are crisp, cheese beautifully molten but the rest of the toppers remain fresh, flavoursome and crunchy.

Pizza van

The view wasn’t so bad either.

Freshwater Bay

sunset sky Isle of Wight

After a little wait and a thousand wafts of a-mazing pizza later, we were at the front of the que. Feeling VERY hungry, we hastily scribbled down our orders and walked (ran) to the pub, grabbed a frosty beer and returned ready to go.

Tim and Penny roll out the dough, pop on the toppings and poke in the oven for a brief 90 seconds before being slipped onto a plate and handed over to you. The moment they yelled ‘IMMY!’ I knew it was my time to die and fall happily into pizza heaven. I went for the special of beetroot, feta and cashew (£7) the other ladies went for ham and pineapple and classic margarita. We sat ourselves down by the shore and the chatter ceased into a comfortable silence between satisfied groans as the waves lapped and bottles clinked.

Wildwood Pizza

It was one of those pizzas that was just so good you end up folding it together and eat like a sandwich with all cheese dribbling down your chin – whilst still smiling. Everything was just right, all the favours worked together retaining the beautiful fresh taste of beetroot, crunch of the cashew nuts and soft creamy texture of the feta. Are you feeling hungry yet?

Pizza by the beach

Pizza by the sea

After munching down our pizzas till a mere crumb was left, we noticed the glowing sunest casting a deep orange hue across the cliffs, without leaving anymore time for the sun to dip beneath the ocean, we said our thank yous and hopped back into the car to try and catch the last of the sunset.

Isle of Wight sunset

Going…

Isle of Wight sunset

Going…

Isle of Wight sunset

Gone!

Feeling full and happy, we drove back home listening to Ben Howard through the windy country roads – classic.

Make sure you check out Wildwood pizza and nip a long down to their van when their in your neck of the woods, it is absolutely worth it. I assure you.

Ix

The Isle of Wight Tea & Cake Guide

July 10, 2014

There’s nothing that can’t be solved over a good pot of tea and slab of cake tucked up in a cosy cafe for a few hours with lovely company. Usually in the heat of a cake and tea craving moment, you find yourself nipping into the nearest coffee chain and settling for synthetic, factory produced cake with overpriced, poorly brewed tea. To stop you settling to mediocre cake experiences (no one deserves that) I’ve popped together a few of my favourite spots on the Island to grab cake, tea and any other hot bevvy you desire when it gets drizzly and the beach or Black Gang Chine is off the cards.

The Island is (not a lot) more than rolling hills, beaches and a few festivals. There are new local businesses popping up all over the place, most of the time it’s only proper Islanders that know about these little gems and I think it is my duty to share them with y’all. Next time you’re down these ends for a long weekend or either side of Bestival and crave some good, hearty cake and fresh leaf tea, you’ll know where to find it – promise you will invite me along too, yeah?

There are SO MANY beautiful places to visit on the Isle of Wight but here’s a little selection to get you started.

Chocolate Apothecary, Ryde

Formerly a Victorian Chemists and still kitted out with the original interior, however selling chocolates rather than antibiotics – basically does the same thing, right? You will find this little chocolatier and patisserie amongst the ice cream vendors and jelly shoe sellers – just as you set foot on the Island from the Fast Cat (by ‘fast cat’ I mean Wightlink ferry). Chocolate Apothecary is the perfect place to sweep you in when the weather suddenly takes a downturn and you’re in need of a mug of something lovely to warm your cockles – with a few handmade chocolates on the side, naturally.

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Inside are groups of friends, mothers, daughters and grandmas huddled around the coffee tables catching up over a large glass of rich, creamy chocolate indulge or a steamy mug of tea – there are about 10239 varieties to choose from.

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The shop smells deliciously of fresh, ground coffee and chocolate, with folk in aprons nipping in and out of the kitchen delivering trays of fresh, handmade chocolates and cakes.

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If you are – or know someone who is – a big ole chocolate fan, this place thoroughly hits the spot!

Find em’ here:

4 Esplanade, Town Centre, Ryde PO33 2DY

Mrs Jones Tea Depot, East Cowes 

Like all good tea rooms, this new haunt pitched up in the sleepy side of the Island and makes you feel like you’ve popped into ya Grandmas living room for a much-needed brew and slab of freshly baked cake, or if you are really peckish – a hefty doorstop sandwich or all day breakfast.

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Make yourself comfortable in a reclaimed armchair (blanket inc.) and sift through piles of vintage magazines, postcard albums whilst surrounded by wartime memorabilia from the 1940’s all wrapped up with 1940′s music humming in the background as you sip your tea.

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There is a cake for everyone here, a large slice of springy viccy sponge, indulgent chocolate cake or and incredibly delicious gluten and dairy free chocolate cake.  There’s nothing better than pouring loose leaf tea (only £2 for a big pot) as the rain pours outside; we chingwagged and ordered more rounds of cake for hours, I mean a haaauge slice for 1.90 – how could you not? Smiley staff, great prices and bloody good cake.

Find em’ here:

28 Castle St, East Cowes, Isle of Wight PO32 6RD

House of Zabre, Marchesa Bar –  Ryde

Ryde is where you will find most of the shops (be sure to check out the charity shops) bars and pubs. I only discovered this secret gem a year ago, through a little inconspicuous arch at the back of a clothes shop.

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Through this archway you enter a small, boutique cake and tea haven leading out to a garden full of flowers, potted plants and water features providing you with a little hideaway when your feet get tired of souvenir shopping.

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Also do check out their FaceBook to get a heads up on little shindigs they hold in the evenings where people in the know through on their glad rags, drink red wine and listen to jazz. How incredibly suave.

Find em’ here:

12 Union St, Ryde, Isle of Wight PO33 2DU

 2. LP’s, Seaview 

I blogged about this lovely pastel seaside spot last year. I will never tire of the white washed floors, dainty tea cups and beautiful cakes.

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Based in Seaview and the perfect place to nip in after a dip in the sea with sandy feet and grumbling tummies. With the cakes freshly baked each day in the kitchen, there are always new ones to try – I went for the GF brownie. As we sat and gobbled our cakes, we saw the most incredible lookin’ sundaes making there way outside and cream teas being devoured by bright trousered and stripy shirt wearing locals.

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As well as a marvellous selection of cakes and ice-cream, they also do pizza nights (2 for 1 on Saturday nights FYI)

Cake, tea, ice cream AND pizza. Yup, LP’s you have definitely got it goooiin on.

Find em’ here:

1 High St, Seaview PO34 5EU

I hope this gives you a little heads up when you next find yourself down on the Island. Feel free to give me a cheeky tweet at @ImogenMay_ if you discover any new spots or try any of the above; let me know what you think – and more importantly what cake you ordered!

Ix

 

Tai Chi

July 5, 2014
I’m gonna be honest. I NEVER thought I would be that gal in the park getting spiritual with tai chi (or chai tea as I seem to keep calling it). Exercise to me usually takes the form of a hefty 10k run followed by squats, planks, sit ups and maybe a spot of Blogilates or Carly Rowena if it’s raining.
The other day I got an email asking if I fancied trying Tai Chi as part of Legal & Generals #fitforfree campaign. I said, well why on earth not? So I popped up to Camden to get my tree on with a bunch of other bloggers.
The weather has continued to be glorious, so we headed up to Primrose Hill to get relaxed and reenergised outdoors, best place for it in my opinion. Kitted out with gold satin trousers, Liu QuanJun showed us da moves.
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After a couple of minutes feeling a bit strange and getting some odd looks (and photos) from passers by, you learn to just think WATEVA and let yourself fall into a trance of moves. Tai chi is all about finding balance, working from the opposing elements of ying and yang. A lot of the time it is called meditation in movement due to it’s focus on energy and mindfulness. It is rare that I find the time to be mindful and relax my crazy brain, so this was a really nice experience.
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What I’m tryna say is that you don’t need to pay £99 for a month at the gym (yup, been there, done that, got the t-shirt). All you need to do is grab a few mates, learn some moves from YouTooob or a free app on ye old smartphone (I love Nike Training Club) and get yourselves to the park/beach/field. Improving your fitness outside It is WAY nicer than werkin’ it in a hot ’n’ sweaty gym draining your dollar where you’re running for miles moving nowhere. Also, I know it can be really daunting to get your sweat owwwn in a gym full of people so being outside with less people looking over your trial and error fitness moves (collapsing press ups and ‘interval’ training)
There’s loads of different classes that you can get involved with outside – if not, lots of apps that are completely free. Whilst the weather is decent, get out there and go for a walk, run or whatever pilates moves you can remember in the park. Improving your fitness, getting fresh air, tanning and saving money all at the same time, winning.
Here’s a few tips for getting fit outdoors:
1. I either go really early in the morning, have a quick bite to eat as I wake up, usually a banana or toasted rye bread with a dollop of peanut butter – when its early its nice and cool and there is hardly anyone about. It also energises you and prepares you for the day ahead.
2. Get a buddy. It is really nice and motivating to have a pal to exercise with – unless you’re like me and chinwag the whole way round. Running or exercising outside on your own can initially be a bit daunting in public n all so having someone with you will make you feel more comfortable.
3. When the weather is hot, try to either work out at the crack of dawn or at around dusk when it is nice and cool. There is nothing worse than getting all overheated and delirious in the middle of a run.
5. Free outside gyms. There are so many fitness bits and bobs in parks, have a go at em’ they might not be that effective but they are bladdy funny. Or have a go on the swings, they are pretty darn good for those abs!
6. Get a good playlist. It is so important to get grooving and bobbing your head when attempting a good exercise sesh. It will give you that boost when you need it most. There are some really good ones on 8tracks and Spotify, I think I’m going to have a go at creating a exercise motivation playlist on YouTube.
Where do you exercise? What do ya reckon, outside or gym?
Thank you again Legal & General for a lovely experience!
Ix

4th of July Ice Cream Mugs.

July 4, 2014

AAAAPPY 4TH OF JULY Y’ALL!

365 days ago today I was baking patriotic cupcakes, heading down through the city to the Hudson River and watching the Macy’s fireworks erupt white, red and blue over the nights sky. A year later and I am sat on my diamond shape spec of an island on the south coast of England, how times change eyyyyy!

I’m not in Americuuuuh but I thought I would join the celebrations with some red, white ‘n’ blue healthy ice-cream mugs. They are super easy, healthy and perfect for hot weather, it’s gon be scorchio over there.

Here’s what ya need:

2 chopped and frozen nanas

Coconut milk

a few handfuls of strawberries, raspberries and blueberries.
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Pop your bananas into the freezer overnight, then blend em up with a few tablespoons of coconut milk to loosen up the mixture. When it is nice n shmoooth, spoon into a bowl. Slice your strawbs and raspberries into chucks.
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thats the hard work done, now its time to stack!
scoop some ice cream into the bottom of your mug…
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then add a layer of raspberries…
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And repeat! I alternated between raspberries and strawberries then topped it off with blueberries. TADAAA.
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Lovely lookin’ breakfast/desert idea, simple and packed with good stuff without any added sugar.
Happy Independence to all ma American home fries, have a blast. I’LL BE BACK.
Ix.
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