Blog Update: Unmotivated, Creatively Uninspired and K-Drama Trash

I barely ever do update posts. But having been 1 month since my last post, I thought one was needed.

Where have I been? Why haven’t I been active?

I’ve honestly been uninspired and unmotivated.

Not saying I’m going to quit blogging, but it’s going a bit slow at the moment. I had a bunch of posts lined up with photos and everything, ready to write and post. Now looking at them just makes me think, “I was going to post that?” In addition to being ever so slightly repulsed by what past-me was going to do with this blog, I haven’t recently been like “oh, that would make a great blog post!” at all.

Reflecting on my un-motivation, I don’t know if it’s just me, but there have been a plethora of things that I’ve started out completely motivated, and lost interest either because I didn’t like where it was going, I wasn’t getting out of it what I expected, or I just lost interest. Multiple fan accounts on a variety of social media platforms, instagram editing accounts, writing stories on a variety of sites later, and I guess it’s now blogging.

I have no idea where I’m going to take this blog. It’s just such an odd mixture of baking and beauty, and I don’t know which way to go. I love writing baking posts, but the recipe sharing I find tedious, and the majority of what I bake isn’t awfully interesting or pretty. I love writing about makeup, but I kind of suck at it. Also, I never buy brand new products to review, as I’m always the kind of person who does intense research before purchasing anything above $5. It’s almost as if the things that I love just aren’t blog-worthy enough. This might just be a slump I’m going through, but hopefully, it’ll all work out well and I’ll definitely make sure to update you guys.

On a completely different note on where have I been this past month?

I’VE TURNED INTO ABSOLUTE K-DRAMA TRASH.

If you follow my twitter at all, you might’ve noticed your timeline being filled with retweets of gorgeous Korean actresses and hot af Korean guys. Just one of the many products of my recent obsession.

What happened is about a month ago, I started watching this Japanese drama called Good Morning Call (which is amazing, I definitely recommend it!) And somehow, I decided to finally start Descendants of the Sun, as I’ve heard numerous people raving about it and I chose to finally see what the fuss was all about.

MY GOODNESS HOW HAD I NOT GOTTEN INTO KOREAN DRAMAS SOONER?

I originally thought Korean dramas were boring, as years ago I watched Dream High and didn’t like it one bit. I thought it was boring, draggy and just wasn’t interesting. (Now that I’m trash now, I’m attributing my past thoughts to my short attention span).

Descendants of the Sun was one of the greatest combinations of action, romance and comedy and I was in love (and still am) with all the characters, couples and especially the OST. After a week post-drama of me just rewatching the drama over and over and listening to the OST non-stop, I started watching some of the more popular dramas and recommendations from friends. Playful Kiss, W-Two Worlds, Sassy Go Go/Cheer Up!, Healer and K2 I’d gotten through all in just under 3 weeks. Episodes are 1 hour long, and seasons for the above ones range from 12-20 episodes, but are usually around 16. That’s equivalent to around 100 hours of kdrama in 3 weeks. THAT’S ONE FIFTH OF MY TIME WATCHING KDRAMA. THAT’S A LOT.

You think that’s bad? The trashiness really started when I watched Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-Joo.

IT IS ONE OF THE GREATEST DRAMAS TO EVER EXIST. (and I know this is a stupid statement since I’ve barely watched any, but letmehavemymomentok.)

It’s one of the cutest, most adorable dramas that just tackles typical kdrama cliches and stereotypes head on, with amazing characters, comedy and aldfjdls;jgl;asdjf romance. I’m obsessed with Nam Joo-Hyuk and Lee Sung-Kyung and I’m obsessed with the OST (just listen to this song omg it makes me so happy). The show just makes me so happy that when I watched it with friends, I was slapping everyone out of happiness whilst making unintelligible noises of joy. The last episode aired last Thursday, and I’ve been constantly rewatching my favourite parts from the season over and over, furiously trying to get everyone in my life to watch it too by spamming them with cute clips and photos and gifs of the characters and having the OST on repeat. Ijustcan’tletgojustyetok.

I’ve officially become absolute trash, and here’s my twitter for proof. (pls watch it and spam me on twitter how amazing it is ok).

In other news for my life, I’ve been procrastinating my holiday homework/lowkey stressing about Year 11 which I’m starting in like two weeks (so lol wish me luck), trying to set up a small/unofficial baking business and planning a birthday party because it was my birthday last Tuesday! (:

Hope you all are having a lovely day! (: (and pls watch weightlifting fairy kim bok-joo click here or here to watch, here for more information about it, or here for some hot af nam joo-hyuk to further convince you to watch it)

– Jess x

Pinterest: @jeesssx

Twitter: @amessofjess_

Bloglovin: @amessofjess

Colourpop Haul, Review + Swatches

Colourpop, for those who don’t know is a brand of inexpensive makeup that has taken the world by storm, known for their pigmented formulas, large arrays of colours from bold and neon to neutral and their really affordable prices.

Awhile ago, Colourpop had a deal where all orders under $50USD could get $5 international shipping, and all orders over $50USD could get free shipping! I immediately seized the opportunity, since I’d been waiting for over a year for the shipping to be anything less than their previous ridiculous price of $24USD.

(and for those who don’t know, Colourpop are currently having free international shipping for orders over $50 for the rest of the year!)

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I ended up buying one blush, two highlighters, one eyeshadow, one lip pencil, two lipsticks and six ultra satin lipsticks. I wanted to try their ultra matte lips, but I heard they were incredibly drying so I thought I’d save them until my next haul.

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Their blushers and highlighters come with 4.2g of product and their eyeshadows come with 2.1g of product. Their eyeshadows retail for $5USD each and their blushers and highlighters retail for $8USD each.

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The two highlighters I grabbed were Butterfly Beach (left) and Wisp (right). Butterfly Beach is a lovely rose golden highlighter, great for tanned skin and Wisp is a lovely deep golden highlighter. The eyeshadow I got was in Wattles which is a satin pink shade and the blush in Between the Sheets, a lovely neutral pink shade.

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And here are the swatches (L-R) Butterfly Beach, Wisp, Between the Sheets, Wattles. These swatches were done with two swipes, producing a lovely, extremely pigmented finish.

The products themselves have a light, creamy mousse texture when touched, but when blended turn to a powder finish. I find that the best way to apply is with the fingers for eyeshadow, as brushes don’t pick the product up that well. For the blush, I like applying with my Real Techniques Sponge or a stippling brush, and for highlighters I apply with my fingers then blend out with my sponge.

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I picked up the Ultra Satin Lip in Echo Park, Alyssa, Dopey, Frick n Frack and Lyin’ King; the Lippie Stix in Brink and Lumiere; and their Lippie Pencil in Lyin’ King.

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Their Ultra Satin Lips come with 3.2g of product and their Lippie Stix and Lippie Pencils come with 1g of product. The Ultra Satin Lips retail for $6USD each and their Lippie Stix and Lippie Pencils retail for $5USD each.

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Here are the swatches (L-R): Lippie Stix in Lumiere (matte), Lippie Stix in Brink (matte), Lippie Pencil in Lyin’ King, USL in Lyin’ King, USL in Frick n Frack, USL in Dopey, USL in Alyssa and USL in Echo Park. They all have extremely pigmented, smooth, moisturising formulas, and the USL’s dry down slightly darker than the swatches in the picture.

The Lippie Stix are extremely moisturising despite being matte, and do transfer like all lipsticks do. Their Lippie Pencils are incredibly creamy and smooth, and don’t drag like most lip pencils from the drugstore do. Their USL dry down to a satin finish, and feel slightly sticky on the lips when you press them together, but nothing unbearable. They do transfer quite a bit, but the product still remains on your lips throughout eating unless the food is incredibly oily. I usually get about 3-4 hours of wear time from the Lippie Stix and 5-6 hours of wear time from the USL.

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And here are all the swatches together! Aren’t they gorgeous?

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Are you going to try out any Colourpop products? If you are, let me know down below! They’re absolutely gorgeous, and I can’t stop using them! I’m thinking of trying out some of the Ultra Matte Lips and their Sculpting Stix next. If you haven’t already, check out my social media links down below. I hope you’re all having a lovely day!

– Jess xx

 

 

Pinterest: @jeesssx

Twitter: @amessofjess_

Bloglovin: @amessofjess

Mini Funfetti Cupcakes with Swiss Meringue Buttercream

It’s still freezing cold where I am, despite it being ‘Spring’. What better way to brighten up a sad, cold, dreary day than with sprinkles?

That’s right, funfetti.

Funfetti is about as fun as cake can get. Delicious, vanilla cupcakes topped with vanilla swiss meringue buttercream and LOADED with sprinkles, both inside and out. And in my opinion, funfetti is even better when they’re fun-sized.

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Recipes adapted from CupcakeJemma and Handle the Heat

Ingredients (cupcakes – makes 12 regular cupcakes or 24 mini)

125g unsalted butter, soft
125g caster sugar
125g self-raising flour
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 large free-range eggs
1 ½ tbsp whole milk
20g multicoloured sprinkles/jimmies
¼ tsp vanilla extract

Ingredients (swiss meringue buttercream)

5 large (150 grams) egg whites
1 1/4 cups (250 grams) caster sugar
3 sticks (340 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature cut into cubes
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon fine salt

Method

  1. Sift self-raising flour, caster sugar and bicarbonate of soda in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add butter and eggs and mix on a medium speed with a hand mixer or a stand mixer until well combined, about 30 seconds.
  3. Add milk and vanilla, then turn up to a medium speed and mix for 30 seconds.
  4. Add sprinkles (preferably ones that don’t leak colour) and mix in gently, either on the lowest speed or by hand for a couple of seconds.
  5. Scoop into 12 cupcake liners or 24 mini cupcake liners.
  6. Bake at 170°C/340°F for 20-22 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
  7. Wipe your mixing bowl and whisk down with a paper towel soaked in lemon juice to remove any traces of fat that might be leftover.
  8. To make the buttercream, place egg whites and sugar in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water to make a double boiler, ensuring the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water.
  9. Whisk the egg whites and sugar constantly until it reaches 140°F, or until the sugar has completely dissolved.
  10. Place in the bowl of a stand mixer, and begin to whisk on medium-high speed until it forms stiff peaks and the meringue feels room temperature and not warm to the touch.
  11. Reduce speed to low-medium, and add butter cubes one at a time, mixing well after each addition until all is added.
  12. Continue beating on a medium speed until buttercream is silky smooth. If it curdles, continue mixing and it will become smooth again. Add vanilla and salt.

 

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I love the combination of funfetti cake and swiss meringue buttercream, especially in mini cupcakes because they complement each other so well. Swiss meringue buttercream is lighter, creamier and not as sweet than your american buttercream, which is usually heavy, sweet and overpowering. With mini cupcakes, you get the perfect amount of buttery cake and the perfect amount of frosting!

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They’re so adorable right? But if fun-sized isn’t your cup of tea, they work fabulously as regular cupcakes too!

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Note: there’s been a couple of username changes with social media accounts and whatnot, so just check the links below to see what they are now! I  wish I could make all of them the same username, but some accounts are both private/public, and some are purely blog related (along with the issue of usernames being taken), so just to keep as much anonymity as possible, I’ve changed a few! Hope you don’t mind (: (also my instagram is basically dead bc I can’t for the life of me keep one up xD)

I apologise for not being active and reading your posts! It’s just that I’ve been busy with school, work and other things, like trying to write more and working on starting up a small ‘business’ for my baking! I have a two week break now though, so I’ll try and prewrite some posts so that I’m not depriving you guys or anything! Hope you’re having a lovely day wherever you are! (:

– Jess xx

 

Pinterest: @jeesssx

Twitter: @amessofjess_

Bloglovin: @amessofjess

Dark Chocolate Sago Pudding

Sago pudding is one of my favourite all-year round desserts. Sago, for those who don’t know, are little round beads that come from the tapioca plant, and when cooked become soft and slightly chewy, and thicken whatever they’re cooked in because of the starch they release. They’re like smaller versions of the tapioca pearls commonly drunk with bubble tea. Sago pudding is often served warm with an egg custard sauce, served cold in coconut milk with fruit, but this dark chocolate version is amazing! It sounds really odd, but I can assure you that it tastes great. It’s a really short and simple recipe, but is so incredibly delicious!

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Recipe adapted from Chef Nini.

Ingredients

  • 50g of sago (small, white tapioca beads)
  • 50g of dark chocolate
  • 70g caster sugar
  • 800ml full cream milk
  • Shredded coconut for decoration (optional)

Method

  1. In a small saucepan, heat the milk, chocolate, and sugar over low heat.
  2. When it’s hot, place the sago into the saucepan, increase to medium-low heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring regularly.
  3. When the sago are soft and translucent, remove from heat and divide evenly into small glasses or ramekins.
  4. Place in the fridge and chill for 1-2 hours. Before serving, top with shredded coconut if desired.

 

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I haven’t posted in three weeks, and I’m honestly so sorry. I’ve just been super stressed and anxious recently (another post on that later, maybe), have been swamped with schoolwork (actually am writing this instead of studying for a test tomorrow). But in happier news, I just got a job (eeeek, so likely less frequent posting, but as always I’ll try my hardest!)

ALSO I HIT 100 FOLLOWERS HERE A COUPLE DAYS AGO!! IT ACTUALLY MADE ME SO EXCITED!! It’s been one of my blogging goals since I started blogging about a year and half ago, and it made me so happy, so THANK YOU SO MUCH, I can’t thank you enough! I hope you’re having a lovely day! (: x

– Jess xx

 

Twitter: @amessofjessblog

Instagram: @amessofjessblog

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Cannoli Cream Puffs

I love baking anything French. Macarons, éclairs, profiteroles, crème brûlée, mousse, soufflés, they just make me feel so fancy and professional, just like how French, when spoken, sounds so incredibly elegant. (It’s honestly a wonder why past-me decided to drop French for Chinese, thinking it was ‘easier’ and ‘more useful’, pssh).

These cannoli cream puffs are a twist on the classic cream puff with a classic pâte à choux shell, filled with a ricotta and mascarpone cream filling with a slight hint of lemon zest and vanilla.

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Pâte à choux sounds incredibly intimidating, doesn’t it? I thought so too, but I promise that it’s actually incredibly easy, as long as you follow the steps. These are honestly easier to make than muffins or cupcakes, yet they look so much prettier and make a lot less mess. They’re also incredibly versatile, as you can fill them with chantilly cream, pastry cream (for which there are countless varieties of), mousseline cream, and many others.

I also love making pâte à choux, purely because watching them puff up is so incredbily satisfying. You’ll realise why if you make them, what I mean.

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Recipe adapted from Seasons and Supper’s Cannoli Cream Puffs

Ingredients

For the choux pastry:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 4 large eggs

For the filling:

  • 1 cup full-fat ricotta, room temperature*
  • 1 cup mascarpone, room temperature*
  • 1/2 cup thickened cream
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste**
  • Zest of 1 lemon (optional)

 

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 220°C/425°F/210°C fan forced, and line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Place water, butter, sugar and salt in a medium pot over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add plain flour all at once, and immediately start stirring vigorously until the mixture starts to form a ball and peels itself off the sides of the pot. Remove from heat and place in a mixing bowl.
  4. With a hand mixer or in a stand mixer, mix on low speed and add eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly in between. Once all eggs are fully combined, the mixture should be smooth and shiny.
  5. Place batter into a piping bag with a large star tip (I used Wilton’s 1M Open Star Tip), a large round tip or with a large hole cut out of it and pipe round shapes onto the prepared tray, leaving about 4cm between each one. Alternatively, you can just drop balls of the mixture onto the tray with a spoon.
  6. With a small amount of water, dip your finger in it and gently pat down any peaks that might have formed from piping, as it stops them from burning.
  7. Place the tray in the oven and bake for 1o minutes. Without opening the oven***, drop the temperature to 175°C/350°F/165°C fan forced and bake for a further 13-15 minutes until golden brown on the outside and hollow-sounding when tapped. Take out and let them fully cool before filling.
  8. FOR THE FILLING: Place ricotta, mascarpone and powdered sugar in a bowl and whisk with a hand mixer or a stand mixer until smooth and forms soft peaks. In another bowl, whip the thickened cream until it forms firm peaks. With a spatula, fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone and ricotta mixture. Add the vanilla bean paste and lemon zest, and whip with the hand mixture until the mixture has formed firm peaks.
  9. FOR ASSEMBLY: Gently cut pastries in half with a knife. Place filling into a piping bag fitted with a large star tip and pipe filling in a circular motion on the bottom half, ensuring the filling is visible from the sides. Alternatively**** place filling into a piping bag fitted with a long, thin filling tip, and poke holes in the bottom of the pastries and squeeze until filled.
  10. Sprinkle generously with icing sugar if desired, and serve immediately. Alternatively, they can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge, but the longer they stay in the fridge, the softer the pastry becomes.

 

Notes

  • * Having the ricotta and mascarpone at room temperature is essential, as I tried whipping cold mascarpone into thickened cream before, and it split almost immediately. Having them at room temperature ensures a smooth and creamy mixture.
  • ** Vanilla bean paste isn’t essential, I just like a stronger vanilla taste and the little seeds speckled throughout almost everything. Feel free to use vanilla extract too, as it’ll work just as well.
  • *** Ensure you don’t open the oven whilst the choux pastry is baking, as this will cause the puffs to deflate and be…not puffy. The rise of choux pastry is dependent on steam causing the pastry to rise and puff up, and opening the oven will allow for all the steam to escape.
  • **** I would recommend to cut and pipe the filling into these puffs, as the filling is quite thick. If you would prefer to use the alternative method of filling, I would recommend making a more fluid filling by using chantilly cream, or substituting either all the mascarpone or all the ricotta for thickened cream. This is because it would be a lot harder trying to fill them all with such a thick filling and a small tip that you’d likely give up and end up pulling apart the puffs and dipping them in the filling.

 

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Perfectly golden, hollow, and puffed up shells! I think they look gorgeous when piped like this, but they still look just as great when piped in a circular motion or spooned. These puffs ended up being about the size of my palm, but you can always make them smaller if you’d like. Just ensure that you alter the baking times, and keep a close eye on them.

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If you look at the filling you can see speckled with vanilla seeds. I used the same piping tip for both the shells and the filling and I love the look that it gives the puffs!

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I hope you liked this recipe! As always, if you recreate it, make sure to tag me on any of my social medias; which are all linked below; or tag me in your blog post as I’d love to see! I’ve been wasting way too much time of my life on Pinterest recently, so if you’d like to see my abundance of food pins, check it out! I’m going to attempt to post more on Instagram and tweet more, but I can’t promise anything! I hope you’re having a lovely day!

– Jess xx

 

 

Twitter: @amessofjessblog

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10 Sweet Recipes for Leftover Egg Whites

About a week ago I posted a recipe for Crème Brûlée Cheesecake which used up a whopping 10 egg yolks, leaving 10 spare egg whites. To help you out if you ever make that cheesecake, I thought I’d compile 10 of my favourite sweet recipes (in both the literal and informal sense) for using up spare egg whites, as well as a couple spare savoury ideas. I also included storing instructions for spare egg whites if you just don’t want to bake again just yet (since you may or may not have a huge cheesecake to get through first).

Sweet Recipes with Egg Whites

Macarons are one of my favourite pastries to make as you can flavour them, fill them and decorate them in many different ways. They need 2 egg whites and additionally are made up of powdered sugar, almond meal and a lot of meticulous work. I have a detailed post with a recipe and tips on achieving the perfect macaron here.

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Meringues can be used in many different ways: to decorate cakes, to decorate cupcakes, to eat, to crumble, to use in desserts and many more. They can be flavoured and decorated in many different ways, and are one of the primary recipes that are thought of when thinking of what to do with leftover egg whites. I made rainbow striped meringue kisses awhile back using this recipe by CupcakeJemma which uses up 4 egg whites. (Both header image and image below from CupcakeJemma’s video, linked above – second link.)

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Pavlova is a classic Australian meringue-based dessert that is crispy on the outside and sweet and soft on the inside. It’s usually served in summer topped with whipped cream and fresh berries. Here’s a fabulous recipe from Sweet and Savoury by Shinee which will use up 6 egg whites. (Image from Shinee’s recipe, linked above.)

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Friands are a moist and crumbly as well as delicate cake that are primarily made up of almond meal, powdered sugar, flour and egg whites. You can find a post of a recipe for apple and raspberry friands here which will use up 5 egg whites.

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Swiss Meringue Buttercream is a beautiful icing that is commonly used to frost cupcakes and cakes. Whilst normal buttercream can be heavy and often overly sweet to consume, swiss meringue buttercream is made airy and light by whipping of egg whites to form meringues (which are heated prior to kill any bacteria that could make you sick from raw egg whites) and have a silky smooth texture and not as sweet taste as regular buttercream. This is the recipe that I usually use, which will leave you 5 egg whites short.

Royal Icing is another icing that is commonly used to frost cookies such as sugar cookies and gingerbread because it sets hard. Royal icing is made up of egg whites and powdered sugar, and a little goes a long way. Here’s a recipe that will use 5 egg whites, and here’s a recipe that will use 4 egg whites, both of which can be easily divided to make much smaller batches.

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Marshmallow Fluff is an extremely sweet, unhealthy spread usually bought in store, but it can easily be made at home without all the extra sweeteners, preservatives and likely artificial ingredients. There’s a recipe by Krissy’s Creations here that will only use up 2 egg whites, or here’s a recipe that will use up 3 egg whites by Gemma Stafford who makes so many basic baking recipes and is famous for her two ingredient no machine ice-cream videos which are absolutely amazing. (Image from Krissy’s creation’s recipe, linked above – first link.)

Hokkaido Cupcakes are a Japanese chiffon cupcake that are light and fluffy and filled with your choice of cream or custard like filling. These cupcakes are so light, that you can easily eat a few without feeling that heavy feeling you might get after eating a normal cupcake. This recipe will leave you 3 egg whites and 5 eggs short, and you can find a post with a recipe of them filled with chantilly cream here.

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Angel Food Cupcakes are a smaller version of the classic angel food cake, and are made of plain cake flour, powdered sugar and rely on egg whites to provide air and lightness. I made this recipe by The Cake Blog for a fundraiser in nice white cupcake cups with the chantilly cream and raspberries on top, and they were an absolute hit, and people were raving about them. This recipe uses a whopping 12 egg whites, so they’re perfect if you really have a lot of egg whites to use. (Image from The Cake Blog, linked above)

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Of course, there’s also the classic angel food cake made in a ring cake pan, which also uses 12 egg whites, so you can pick and choose. (Image from Chef in Training, linked above.)

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I found a recipe for these flourless fudge cookies that I found quite interesting because I’ve never made cookies without flour. These cookies sound incredibly sweet, but absolutely delicious and uses up 4 egg whites. I will definitely try these out if I’m ever out of flour and need to bake something!

 

Want Something Savoury?

Egg whites are often used in Chinese cooking along with cornstarch to tenderise drier cuts of meat (chicken breast, pork and beef) before frying or stir frying. In many Chinese stir fry recipes, you’ll see the meat being ‘velveted’ by letting the meat sit in mixture of cornstarch, a rice wine like sake or commonly, Shaoxing wine, salt, sugar, a bit of water and flavours like chopped ginger and garlic for 30 minutes of longer. Add an egg white to that mixture, and it helps the meat become even more tender on the inside and slightly crispy on the outside due to the cornstarch. Here’s a video recipe of Kung Pao Chicken (Gong Bao Ji Ding/宫保鸡丁) that is commonly made in my house where the addition of an egg white makes the chicken all the much better.

Have you ever had corn soup with egg? Grab a tin of creamed corn (or some fresh corn kernels), pour it in a pot with about a cup of water or so and half a chicken stock cube and bring to the boil. Once it’s warm, whisk an egg (or some egg whites) and drizzle into the soup whilst stirring. It sounds unappetising, but it’s one of my favourites as it’s such a childhood dish for me.

If none of those take your fancy, you can always add one egg white in with another egg to up the protein of your breakfast, lunch or dinner if you have small amounts.

 

Storing Egg Whites

Egg whites can be stored for up to two days in the fridge, but I find that many recipes don’t call for one or two like I’m usually left with. I love that egg whites freeze well, and I have my freezer stocked with frozen egg whites. I fill ice cube trays with them, or put them in plastic disposable containers in batches that I know I’ll use, such as 12 for snow angel cupcakes, or 5 for swiss meringue buttercream and friands.

 

I hope this post helped you come up with some ideas or inspired you if you had any spare egg whites to use up (because of of those images are damn good looking!) I’m currently on holidays which feels SO GREAT to be able to sleep away my life. Be sure to give this post a like, a comment or even a share, and a follow on my social medias which are linked below! Hope you’re having a lovely day wherever you are!

– Jess xx

Twitter: @amessofjessblog

Instagram: @amessofjessblog

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Crème Brûlée Cheesecake

I know I wrote about my love for crème brûlée only two or so posts ago, but my love for creme brulee is almost infinite. It’s smooth, creamy, has a delightful crackling surface (which I will never get tired of) and just such an elegant dessert.

As soon as I came across this recipe, I knew I just had to make it.

Crème brûlée cheesecake is the hybrid of all things beautiful, and is definitely a match made in heaven. This cheesecake has a custard-like consistency, is rich, smooth, creamy, filled with vanilla, topped with the classic caramelised topping and is absolutely delicious. If you’d like to know how to make this, the recipe is below!

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Recipe adapted from The Food Charlatan

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cup of plain biscuits/cookies, crushed
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 5 tbsp (100g) butter
  • 680g cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/3 cup of caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups cream
  • 10 large egg yolks
  • Caster sugar (for torching)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 175°C or 160°C fan forced. Line the bottom of an 8-inch springform or loose bottom cake pan and spray the sides with oil to prevent sticking. Take 3 pieces of heavy duty foil (I did 5 or 6 of my weaker foil to be extra safe) and wrap the outside of the cake pan with it, making sure it covers the edges and is secure.
  2. FOR THE CRUST: Crush the biscuits in a bag with a rolling pin, or pulse with a food processor. Add the sugar, salt and butter and stir/pulse to combine. Press the mixture evenly into the bottom of the cake pan. Bake for 10 minutes, and set aside to cool.
  3. FOR THE CHEESECAKE: Lower the oven temperature to 160°C or 150°C fan forced.
  4. Beat the cream cheese on a low speed until smooth and no lumps remain. Try to incorporate as little air as you can, as too much air leads to the cheesecake flopping.
  5. Add the sugar, vanilla bean paste and salt, and beat to combine.
  6. Heat the cream in a pot on the stove until just simmering, then take it off the heat. Whilst this occurs, separate 10 eggs and keep those egg whites for something else (I may or may not post on what to do with egg whites later this week!)
  7. Beat the egg yolks until they have lightened in colour.
  8. Pour the heated cream through a sieve into a pouring measuring jug.
  9. While beating with an electric mixer, slowly incorporate the hot cream into the egg yolks. Pour it back into the pouring measuring jug through the sieve.
  10. While beating with an electric mixer, slowly incorporate the cream mixture into the cream cheese mixture in sections, ensuring the batter is lump free by scraping it down with a spatula.
  11. Pour the cheesecake mixture into the cake pan. Tap it on the kitchen counter to remove any air bubbles, and place it in a deep tray.
  12. Fill the tray with hot water from the tap so that it reaches halfway up the cheesecake. This water bath method helps the cheesecake slowly bake and keeps it moist, and it is also the method used for making creme brulee (see my post about creme brulee here!)
  13. Place in the oven and set a timer for 45 minutes at first, and continue to bake until it’s done. Mine took 1 hour. Check that it’s mostly set, and when you shake it, it jiggles slightly in the centre. Once it’s cooked, crack the oven door open slightly and let it cool slowly.
  14. Once the pan is room temperature or lukewarm to the touch, cover with cling wrap or place a baking sheet over the top and place in the fridge to cool completely for overnight, or at least 4 hours.
  15. Before serving, remove the cake from the cake pan slowly and gently. If the edges are rough, grab a palette knife, dip it in hot water, wipe it off and run it along the sides of the cake, wiping off any cake that builds up on the knife.
  16. Sprinkle a layer of sugar over the cheesecake and torch it with a blowtorch. (I have a small blowtorch and I’m pretty sure I sat there for about 30-40 minutes, just for aesthetics). If you’re not planning to take pretty photos, just caramelise the area you’re going to eat, because, sadly, the cracking topping doesn’t stay cracking once back in the fridge.

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Cracking the top was just as satisfying as you might think. Sadly, it was a challenge to get a nice clean cut of the cake, as it ended up falling apart as I think the centre of my cheesecake was a bit too custardy, so no slice photos this time. Hopefully, you’ll have better luck.

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If the crackling top didn’t sell you over, the side of the cake littered with vanilla seeds has got to work.

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I hope you enjoyed this as much as I enjoyed making (and eating) this cheesecake! If you recreate, please tag me in a photo on Twitter or Instagram (links are below as always!) or in a blog post, as I’d love to see! I hope you’re having a lovely day!

– Jess x

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Apple Pie Cinnamon Streusel Muffins

Sometimes, you just want something comforting, homey, and extremely autumnal. I’ve been on a muffin craze recently (which you will soon find out more about), where I discovered that I actually can make a good muffin, and I rediscovered the reason why muffins have always been above cupcakes in my hierarchy of favourite baked goods.

A couple weeks ago, I sat down, scouring through pinterest for a recipe that would satisfy my need for something comforting, homey and autumnal. Cinnamon rolls, cinnamon cupcakes, cinnamon muffins, apple-cinnamon muffins, apple stuffed cupcakes, raspberry streusel mufffins, snickerdoodle muffins with a cinnamon sugar crust, apple pie…the list was endless. All very comforting, homey and autumnal (not to mention looked delicious) but I needed something more. So I decided to grab a bunch of recipes, mash them all together and put my own spin on it.

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I call it my apple-pie cinnamon streusel muffin: a moist, fluffy, cinnamon muffin with a delicious apple-pie filling, topped with cinnamon streusel. Honestly, what can get better than that? (I mean just look at that centre. If you’re not wishing for one right in front of you, or for it to be autumn right now…I just have no words for you.) As always, the recipe is a scroll away if you just can’t resist!

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Makes about 12-16 Muffins (Recipe adapted from/inspired by the following recipes: cinnamon muffinapple pie filling and streusel)

Muffins

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg (optional)
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 tbsp yoghurt (optional)

Apple Pie Filling

  • 4 medium apples – peeled, cored and cut into small, roughly 1/2 inch cubes
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon cornflour
  • 2 tablespoons water

Streusel Topping

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 stick butter – melted
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

 

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 375°F/190°C/170°C fan forced and line a 12 pan muffin tray (and an extra couple or a mini muffin tray in case) with muffin paper or cupcake liners.
  2. FOR THE APPLE PIE FILLING: Melt the butter and cinnamon together in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add in the cubed apples, 3 tbsp of water and the sugar. Cover with a lid and cook for 4-6 minutes, stirring every now and again. Mix the cornflour and 2 tbsp of water together in a small dish. Once the apples are soft at the edges, add the cornflour and water mixture to the saucepan and mix until the mixture is thick. Set aside to cool.
  3. FOR THE STREUSEL: Mix flour, sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl until well combined. Add in the melted butter and mix until the mixture resembles rough crumbs and set aside.
  4. FOR THE MUFFIN: Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg (optional) in a medium sized bowl and mix throughly. Set aside.
  5. Cream the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl until pale and fluffy.
  6. Add in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Follow up with the vanilla, beating well.
  7. Fold in half of the flour mixture until mostly combined. Add in the milk and mix until half-combined. Add in the rest of the flour mixture and mix until just combined, making sure not to overmix.
  8. Place one tablespoon of muffin mix into each muffin liner (until 1/3 full). Place a heaped teaspoon (or however much you’d like) of the apple pie filling into the centre. Cover with another tablespoon of muffin mix, and repeat until all the mixture is gone.
  9. Sprinkle the muffins generously with the pre-prepared streusel topping.
  10. Place in preheated oven and bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown on top. Test the muffin portion with a skewer to ensure it comes out clean or with moist crumbs sticking on to it. If it is still wet, bake for an additional 5 minutes and check again.
  11. Take muffins out and let them cool in their trays for 10 minutes, before removing and placing on a wire rack to fully cool (or to be eaten while still warm, they are honestly the best this way).

Notes

  • Store those that survived the cooling process without being eaten in an airtight container at room temperature. These taste best the day they’re made, but taste pretty good up until around the 4th day.
  • These are definitely best served warm. Eat them right out of the oven, or pop them in your oven or microwave for a couple of minutes or seconds just to get that filling all nice and warm. Eating them cold has an advantage too though: you don’t compromise on the possibility of the streusel getting soggy!
  • I’d recommend the nutmeg. It gives the muffin just that extra bit of warmth. Honestly, I just add it in because it reminds me of baking from my childhood; for nostalgia’s sake.

 

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Here’s that filling again, just because it’s too beautiful to look at only once.

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I’m sorry for being basically on a hiatus for almost a month. I’ve just been super busy with exams (which just finished!), pile-loads of schoolwork (which teachers just love to give just before exams), and just everything else that honestly, the last month has just been a blur. Despite that, I haven’t forgotten and have many posts planned (many recipes, of course as I just couldn’t give up on my baking) and I can’t wait to start catching up on your blog posts again! I’d love it if you could comment with some of your recent blog posts for me to have a read of! (:

Thank you for all the support, I love being able to blog about things that I’m passionate about and share it with you all, and I’m so grateful for you guys even though there may be only a few. Hope you’re having a lovely day wherever you are!

– Jess xx

 

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The Perfect Crème Brûlée

An absolute French classic. Creamy, custardy and vanilla-y, with an absolutely delightful caramelised sugar crust that is just as enjoyable to crack as it is to consume. It’s a delectable treat that I’ve made over and over, and will never stop making until I’m not satisfied with cracking the surface with the back of my spoon anymore (which will be never). It’s a definite must try for anyone who enjoys the simple pleasures in life. Or just anything sweet and fun.

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Recipe adapted from BBC Good Food

Ingredients/Utensils

  • 430ml thickened cream
  • 100ml full cream milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 50g caster sugar + extra
  • Kitchen blowtorch
  • 4x 175ml ramekins
  • Deep oven-safe dish
  • Whisk
  • Small saucepan
  • Fine mesh sieve
  • Measuring jug with a pouring spout

 

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C.
  2. Pour the cream, milk and vanilla bean paste into a small saucepan and whisk.
  3. Place the egg yolks and sugar in a medium bowl and whisk with a hand mixer until light, pale and fluffy.
  4. Place the small saucepan on the stove and heat over medium heat, whisking constantly, until simmering, and immediately take off the heat.
  5. Slowly pour the hot cream mixture into the egg mixture and whisk constantly.
  6. Scoop the foam off of the top of the mixture dispose of (the foam causes the top of the custard to not be smooth).
  7. Strain the cream-egg mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a measuring jug with a pouring spout.
  8. Place 4 small ramekins (175ml) in a deep oven-safe dish and fill with water 2cm deep.
  9. Pour the mixture evenly into the ramekins and bake for 30 minutes until set. The custard should be firm on the edges and jiggle in the centre.
  10. Let them cool for 10 minutes, then place in the fridge to set and cool completely for 4 hours to overnight.
  11. Just before serving, sieve caster sugar in a layer over the surface of the custard and using a kitchen blowtorch, caramelise until golden brown in colour.
  12. Set aside until it cools and the top is hard and set. Serve immediately.

 

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Honestly, I just love to make this dessert because I am obsessed with using my blowtorch. I love watching the sugar dissolve, crystallise and caramelise right before my eyes, and I will likely never stop being fascinated by it.

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*crack*! The most satisfying part about this dessert; after the feeling of smooth, delicate, vanilla-y custard on your tongue.

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If I’m honest, this one’s a tad lumpy because I was lazy and didn’t scrape off the foam (it still tastes great if you’re lazy, just the top scoops won’t be as smooth as the rest). This image is to show that there’s more to scraping off the foam than just wasting precious mixture like I thought.

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This is one of my favourite recipes and is easily adaptable to many other flavours by infusing various ingredients, as it’s such a flexible, simple dessert. Infuse it with earl grey, add a touch of matcha, incorporate a bit of lavender – the possibilities are endless.

If you do make it, let me know how it goes, I’d love to know! Hope you’re having a lovely day wherever you are!

– Jess x

 

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My Braces Experience | Braces vs Invisalign

I recently got my braces off. It was honestly a bittersweet moment for me, and I’m here to share all the little details of my experience, knock down some myths about braces and compare all the positives and negatives of braces and Invisalign that you are often not told about.

I’m Australian, so prices/facts/availability may differ for every country/practice/individual depending on your teeth’s needs.

I originally wanted Invisalign. My teeth were pretty crooked, and I wasn’t happy with them at all. I’d heard about Invisalign, and I loved the idea that I could straighten my teeth clearly and with less pain since I have a very low pain tolerance. It seemed like the obvious choice to me, because I only knew the positives of Invisalign, and the negatives of braces.

(Information was provided to me by an orthodontic assistant when I was considering my options + extra research)

Braces

  • Straighten your teeth with brackets (glued onto teeth), wires and sometimes elastics with checkups usually ever 6 weeks
  • Cheaper (usually around $2000 less, were about $6000 for me)
  • Hurt (I mean your teeth are trying to move..?)
  • Get food stuck everywhere
  • Don’t look too great
  • Give you ulcers (from brackets rubbing against the inside of your mouth)
  • Move your teeth quicker (was estimated for 1.5-2 years for my treatment)
  • Broken brackets can be replaced
  • Flexible for almost all kinds of orthodontic treatment
  • Can get ceramic brackets instead of full metal (a couple hundred more but are harder to see)
  • Not great for those playing lots of sports regularly, unless you buy an orthodontic mouthguard

 

Invisalign

  • Straighten your teeth with clear aligners, changing them out every 2 weeks with checkups every 8 weeks
  • More expensive (were about $8500 for my predicted treatment)
  • Hurt (your teeth will have to move, so they’re going to hurt either way whether you get Invisalign or braces)
  • You take them out to eat and brush your teeth
  • Look great, as they’re clear
  • Will give you ulcers (from hooks on certain parts of aligners so elastics can be hooked on rubbing against the inside of your mouth)
  • Are a lot slower at moving your teeth and take longer to initially start your treatment (was estimated 3 years for my treatment)
  • Limiting for many other treatments (for me, I would’ve had to wear this other thing for 6 months before I got Invisalign to fix a problem I had)
  • Require a lot more maintenance: have to ensure all food is cleaned out of teeth so it doesn’t rot in your teeth –> daily flossing, regular brushing (after meals too), cleaning aligners and taking very meticulous care of your teeth
  • Require a lot more responsibility: the aligners have to be put on immediately after eating and brushing your teeth, as your teeth can move and not fit your aligners. If this happens, it will compromise your entire treatment as all the aligners for your treatment are pre-designed, created and shipped from the USA.

 

After hearing all this, I was set on getting metal braces, but then my orthodontic assistant offered an upgrade to the ceramic braces for free, since I initially really wanted Invisalign.

Luckily, I didn’t have to get any teeth pulled out, so I was super happy about that. When I got my braces on, it took about an hour. I brought my iPod with me to listen to music, but honestly, I couldn’t really hear it half the time. They did a bunch of various procedures which I assumed was to clean my teeth before the brackets were actually applied. I remember they used this one liquid which was really sour and it sprayed to the back of my throat. I was trying my hardest not to choke and ruin whatever they were doing in my mouth by my violent coughing, but considering I had no idea what it did you may or may not have it. They also use these plates and bits of dry cotton to keep your lips out of the way so they get stretched everywhere. It wasn’t incredibly uncomfortable besides my lips and that odd sour spray thing. (I’d highly recommending drinking a lot of water before your procedure starts because if you don’t, halfway through you’ll wish you had.)

Just expect to come out with super dry lips that feel like they’ve been murdered, a parched tongue, what feels like a massive obtrusion in your mouth and a dull pain in your teeth which amplifies when the slightest of pressure is applied.

Also, expect to be eating mashed potato, jelly, and smoothies for the next four or more days because this is where it’s going to hurt the most. You feel like you can’t move your lips, there are wires and metal poking everywhere, ulcers here and there and this constant ache from your teeth moving. It gets better, I promise.

You’ll have checkups with your orthodontist about once every 6 weeks where you’ll likely get your braces tightened. Getting them tightened is like…that dull ache from getting them on, but it only lasts a couple of hours. (Also, every time my orthodontist would take the wires out of my brackets and put new ones in really made me cringe.)

Ulcers you get from really annoying brackets rubbing against the inside of your mouth. Sometimes, they get so bad that the bracket will find a flap of skin in your mouth and constantly hook around it. To save you the trouble, as your orthodontist for some dental wax, and ask for more every time you visit. They are literal life savers, and you’ll likely be like me and have one on your desk, bedside table, locker at school, three of your purses and your shelf. You also may or may not lose them easily and go through them like lollies.

Not going to lie, braces are kind of a nuisance. Every time you eat (bread and apples especially) you have to either cut it into bite sized pieces, can’t bite with your front teeth and you’re constantly making this face of “pushing food out of your brackets with your tongue”. It’s not attractive in the slightest, but the triumphant feeling you have when you get all of the food out makes up for it. I would definitely recommend staying away from whole apples, raw whole carrots, popcorn, corn, broccoli, and poppyseeds. Those are always a pain to get out without having to pick them out yourself with your nails.

Despite braces’ shortcomings, I’m so glad I got them over Invisalign. Not only did I save money, but I didn’t have to worry about a thing when eating, brushing my teeth or going about my life. I have retainers now, and it is SO easy to forget to put them in. With braces, they’re just always there so there’s no need to remember anything, and no upkeep for your braces to keep them clean or anything!

After the pain of tightening, ulcers, food stuck everywhere and just random aches and pains, the time comes to FINALLY GET THEM OFF.

Note to oneself: NOBODY TELLS YOU THAT GETTING CERAMIC BRACKETS OF FEELS LIKE YOUR TEETH ARE BEING RIPPED OUT OF YOUR MOUTH. The metal brackets being removed – I didn’t feel a thing. Ceramic brackets, however, make this horrible, screeching, scraping, clicking sound and it feels like your teeth are being scraped off and being murdered from the opposing pressure of getting them off. Pretty sure I shed a tear from squeezing my eyes shut so tight from the pain.

After that, IT FEELS GREAT. No metal, no anything catching on anything, no food stuck everywhere, your teeth feel super smooth, and you’ll be running your tongue over your teeth everytime you eat for the next week (it’s kinda habitual). Your teeth also look really white for the first two days or so, and you kind of look and feel really weird, but at the same time great.

To be honest, I would rather have braces for a year than retainers 24/7 for a year. I have the plastic ones that are moulded to your teeth because apparently I grind my teeth. (Your other choice is a metal wire that goes across your teeth to keep them in place). Now that I’m wearing them, mine are (for some reason) quite a thick plastic – a lot thicker than I thought they would be. Every time I take them out, there’s saliva everywhere which is NOT a pretty sight. Also, all that trapped saliva smells real bad after a couple of hours which for some reason I didn’t expect at all, which means you have to clean them quite often with soap to get rid of that smell. Also, my retainer covers my bonded lingual wire that I have on the inside of my teeth (extra reassurance that act like a backup retainer) and I end up with a lisp because of it which I hate ):

Honestly, I think that Invisalign is only great for someone who maybe performs a lot (a teen actor/actress) or those who are older who wish to get their teeth straightened (as they generally can afford it more than your average teen. Yes, Invisalign gives you more confidence, but after your treatment’s over you’ll gain more confidence and (almost) forget you ever had braces. Also, generally most teens get braces somewhere between year 7-9, and I’m telling you that high school is when people’s opinions of you don’t matter anyway. If Invisalign is an option for you, you can afford it, your parents are okay with it and you’re ready to deal with the upkeep, go for it! If you’re slightly lazier/forgetful like me and prefer to save money, I’d say go with braces (I mean, it’s been about than a month since I got my braces off and I’m already forgetting to wear my retainers a whole lot more than I should be which is never).

I hope that this post was detailed enough, and my experience helped you get a better insight about what braces was like for me personally, and if you’re thinking of your choices to straighten your teeth, this post helped you too!

I’m sorry I haven’t been posting often as I’ve been quite busy (with a couple obsessions taking up what free time I have, but I’ll save that for another post another day), but I will be back into the swing of things soon enough! Next up will be quite a few recipes, so I hope you’re ready for that! Until next time, I hope you’re having a lovely day! (:

– Jess x

 

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