Lactation cookies: not just for moms

Lactation cookies | Hello Victoria

Yup, you read that correctly. This blog post is all about my recipe for lactation cookies! And no, I am not pregnant or expecting a child anytime soon. I first made these over a year ago for a friend who had just had a baby and was constantly hungry. I can’t recall how I stumbled across the concept of lactation cookies, but Richard is very glad I did. (Jump to Recipe)

For those of you who don’t know what lactation cookies are, it’s pretty simple. No, they do not cause you to lactate. 🤣 They’re just a cookie packed full of really good ingredients that can help sustain you for a long time. They’re called lactation cookies because breastfeeding moms are burning a lot of calories, so it can be handy having something nice like this on hand – kinda like protein balls. Richard and I would often grab one on the way out the house in the morning when we didn’t have time for breakfast. The oats and protein in them help sustain you for a while.

The original recipe that I based my version on is by How Sweet Eats. I converted it to grams and then tweaked the ingredients a bit. Her original recipe called for ‘brewer’s yeast’, which was the only thing I couldn’t find. My local health food store doesn’t stock it, beyond some pricy capsules. It’s not an essential ingredient, but adds some nutritional value (for those of us actually lactating). If you can find it, feel free to add! Oh, and please don’t confuse this with nutritional yeast. They are very different and the latter will make your cookies taste like cheese. 😂

One of my favourite things about this recipe is that it can be tweaked so much. I tend to call this my ‘kitchen sink’ cookie recipe, since I see it as an excuse to use up leftover ingredients. (Hence, everything but the kitchen sink).

Don’t have almond butter? Use peanut! Don’t have enough oats? Substitute some shredded coconut instead! No chia seeds? Throw in some sesame! I’m pretty sure I’ve never made the exact same batch twice. These cookies are pretty darn forgiving, so go nuts. And I mean that literally, add nuts!

Lactation cookies | Hello Victoria

The only thing I definitely use each time (besides some portion of oats) is cranberries. There’s just something about the tangy flavour that helps cut through the sweetness of the other ingredients, which I think is wonderful. I’ve tried other things, but always come back to cranberries.

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DIY secret cat door

DIY secret cat door | Hello Victoria

If you’re not following along on Instagram, then you might not know that we got cats! Yes, like so many other people in the midst of a pandemic induced lockdown, we decided to get a pet. But of course this wasn’t a spur of the moment decision. Richard and I have always wanted pets. We’ve been planning on adopting cats once we moved out of the flat and into someplace with a yard.

When the first lockdown hit, we started to seriously talk about getting cats. We’d always figured we would adopt a couple of older cats, but had intended to wait until the major building work was finished. But after being stuck at home every day, we started really wishing we had something furry to love and care for. I found myself surfing rescue sites in the evenings, but none of the centres were open to allow adoptions. And that’s when it hit me… kittens!

See cats don’t understand things like lockdown. They’re still out there, getting preggers and having kittens. I figured there might be some in our area needing a new home. I’ve always wanted to have kittens, but since we both work 9-5, we wouldn’t be around enough too look after them. But hey, now we’re stuck at home all day every day!! Suddenly this lockdown has an upside – we could get kittens!

So we looked around in our area and sure enough there were some Maine Coon cross kittens available nearby! I’ve always been of the opinion that the larger and fluffier the animal, the better… so a kitten with even a hint of Maine Coon was right up my alley! (Not sure what I’m talking about? Just google Maine Coon and you’ll see!)

Enter the cutest little fluffballs you ever did see… Moose and Smudge!

I can’t handle the cuteness…

They really made lockdown just the absolute best. I still find myself looking back at photos and videos from when they were wee little things and it makes me want to get more kittens aaaaaall over again. (Richard keeps saying no.)

Moose and Smudge | Hello Victoria

So cute!

Anyways, what was this post meant to be about again? Ahh, right. My secret cat door.

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Victoria Cottage: layout + before shots

Victoria Cottage - front of house before | Hello Victoria

Okay, are you ready to meet our new house?! (Side note – did you know that “?!” has a name? It’s called the interrobang, which I think sounds hilarious.) This is going to be a super long post, but full of pictures!

If you follow me on Instagram (or you’re related to me) you’ve probably seen these spaces as we work on them. They’re a long way from done, but already look so different! The few months since we got the house have been crazy, so we haven’t been able to do as much as we wanted before moving in.

The layout of the house hasn’t changed drastically since it was built, way back in 1890-ish (still researching to nail the exact date). It was built as a two up, two down. So there are two main rooms on both the ground and first floors, divided by a very narrow staircase.

On the ground floor, the two original rooms are the living room to the front of the house and dining towards the rear. Back when the house was built, the dining was most likely the kitchen, with a scullery and toilet out the back. I found plans at our local council’s archives of a near identical house built on our street, which had them labelled such. Will I ever know for certain? Nope. But hey, I like to make uneducated guesses. (more…)

Hello… Victoria Cottage!

Introducing Victoria Cottage | Hello Victoria

That’s right folks, the upcoming project that I alluded to a few weeks ago is our new house! We bought a house! I feel like a proper adult now…

Waaaaay back in March, we listed our flat on the market and started hunting for the perfect house. We debated a few areas and neighbourhoods, but in the end came back to the good ol’ London Borough of Bexley. Our new house is actually just around the corner from the flat!

When it came to the neighbourhood pros and cons, we looked at commute (we both work in London), schools (both for resale and in case we’re still living here by then), house prices (could we afford to live there), resale potential (could we make money) and the overall ‘feel’ of the neighbourhood. Some of the areas seemed amazing on paper but when we visited them and walked around… just didn’t feel right.

Some neighbourhoods were too ‘up-and-coming’ (to put it nicely). We knew the value could go up over the next 5-10 years but didn’t really feel comfortable living there. Others were too pricey (here’s looking at you Hither Green); we debated Sevenoaks, because we liked it’s ‘quintessential English’ feel, but the commute and prices just made it unsuitable.

So we sat down, talked through everywhere we had looked at and realised that we both actually liked living in Sidcup! It’s not that we were lazy and didn’t want to move – Sidcup has a lot going for it. I actually can’t understand why the market here isn’t more expensive!

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Our Custom Industrial Bookshelf

Custom industrial bookshelf | Hello Victoria

Victorian properties are known for having amazing character – detailed coving, stained glass windows, etc. You know what they aren’t known for? Storage! I’m guessing that the Victorians really loved free standing wardrobes, because they definitely weren’t fans of closets.

Our flat isn’t exactly spacious. Don’t get me wrong, it could be smaller, but the only storage we have (besides our bedroom wardrobe) is one tiny closet in the hallway.

I wanted someplace to store books, computers, cables/cords… and plants! I wanted more plants! Oh, and whatever it was had to fit perfectly between our living room doorway and tv cabinet.

Custom metal and wood shelving | Hello Victoria

Measuring out the height and shelf spacing

I started hunting around for a perfect bookshelf – something visually open, interesting and tall. Our flat might not be big on square meters, but it has really high ceilings – why not make the most of them? Since this bookshelf was going beside the doorway, the shelves couldn’t block sight lines into the room. Hence my ‘open’ requirement.

The perfect bookshelf was the helix from CB2. But, not only did I want it to be cheaper (international shipping and all), I also wanted it to be wider and taller. I figured that it couldn’t be too hard to make something similar myself – after all, it’s just a couple of metal poles and wood, right?

Well… nothing’s ever easy, is it?

I found a website that not only supplied the metal I needed, but would even cut the mitre corners for the top! Cool right? They also had metal lugs that I could get welded on as shelf supports. Now, all I needed was someone to weld those 16 joins (for the corners, and attaching the lugs).

I started asking local metal fabricators but the quotes I got were insane! I mean, the metal was going to be delivered to them, already cut to size – they just had to weld it. They were trying to charge £200 to make 16 weld joins. Bat-shit crazy…

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Simple Art Ledges

Simple art ledges | Hello Victoria

Now that I’m back to being my productive self ?, I figured I should really post a few projects I made last year that never made it onto the old bloggity blog – like this one! Queue the endless ramblings…

Do you ever look around your place and think that something’s missing? You have all the essentials (furniture etc.), but for some reason, the room lacks personality. For me, there are two ways to solve this problem – plants or artwork! Or both! Ooooooohhh…

Our flat was seriously lacking in the personality department for a while, so I started to remedy it through an assortment of items (juju hat, abstract paintings, baskets, an old flag), but the wall above our tiny dining table still needed help.

Antique dining table and chairs | Hello Victoria

Now, I’m a big fan of gallery walls (done them 3 times in previous apartments) but I wanted something ‘looser’ this time. Something that I could adjust when the mood struck. Maybe it’s because I’m feeling inspired by everything that Jenny Komenda does lately, or maybe it’s the fact that I feel loath to fill a million nail holes someday.

Art ledge inspiration | Hello Victoria

image via

Enter the art ledge! Dun dun dun… The perfect option for those feeling a bit lazy in the whole hanging-a-gallery-wall department. Not to mention – is it just me or are we all getting a bit tired of gallery walls?

I mean, don’t get me wrong, when they are done right they are amazeballs… but they just feel a bit overdone these days. Since I didn’t feel like I had the right wall or a great collection of pieces to display as a gallery, it didn’t feel like the right move here.

Back to the art ledge!

Art ledge inspiration | Hello Victoria

Art ledge inspiration | Hello Victoria

images via

Aren’t the above rooms gorgeous?

The space I had in mind for them wasn’t huge, but when I looked around at ready-made options, they were all too short (or not solid wood – so cutting them down wasn’t an option). I wanted something the same length as the table itself, so figured why not make my own? (more…)

Procrastination… sucks

Hiking Pen y Fan in Brecon, Wales | Hello Victoria

Hello, it’s me again… been a while, hasn’t it? Almost a whole year since I did anything with this blog. It’s been so long that not only did I end up getting that short fringe (and a couple of successive trims) but I’ve almost grown it out! And as anyone who has ever had bangs knows, they take eons to grow out…

Why has it taken so long? Well, because procrastination is a bitch.

As most people who suffer from procrastination will probably agree, it comes from this place of not feeling like you can start anything because of the sheer magnitude of stuff to do. It feels overwhelming – so rather than doing something, you end up putting it off, again and again. It doesn’t help when you’re also in a bit of a sucky mental place due to injury and lack of motivation.

See, I tore my knee on a family vacation almost two years ago, and that torn piece of meniscus was flipped over and stuck in the wrong spot. It meant that I couldn’t go back to work as a baker until after surgery – all it would take was one slip to damage my knee even further. (Fun fact – commercial bakers in the UK are almost all male, because it’s a very physically demanding job!) Then, after being told it would only take 3 months to get surgery, the NHS took almost a full year to finally get me booked in. By that point, I had already arranged to get it done privately in Lithuania (a different story for another time).

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Ginger Cake with Poached Pears and Caramel Sauce

Ginger cake with poached pears and caramel sauce | Hello Victoria

Now, many people know Justin Gellatly for his doughnuts (I’ve used his recipe to make Paska and Rhubarb + Custard ones), but he makes something else just as good! Some may even say it’s better – I’m talking about his cracking ginger cake! Rich, moist, and very moreish. And if you pick up a copy of Justin Gellatly’s book Bread, Cake, Doughnut, Pudding you can try his recipe yourself! Or just keep reading to make my slight adaptation.

You can bake this cake in a simple 9×9″ tin, and cut it into squares. Serve it warm, adding a scoop of vanilla ice cream – it’s the perfect end to a meal! Or, you can fancy it up a notch like I did here – baking it in two round tins to make a layered cake. I used a vanilla German buttercream between the layers (and a thin layer on the outside for a ‘naked cake’ look), then topped it with a caramel sauce, poached pears and some candied nuts.

Ginger cake with poached pears and caramel sauce | Hello Victoria

Now, I made this once before with the same amounts used in Justin’s original recipe – and found that it didn’t taste quite as strong as the cakes sold in Justin’s bakery (Bread Ahead). So this time, I increased the amount of chopped stem ginger, and ground spices. It’s such a great cake – sticky and full of ginger flavour.

Ginger cake with poached pears and caramel sauce | Hello Victoria

For the caramel sauce – I really wanted to use a recipe that only had a couple of ingredients. Caramel sauce isn’t complicated – just sugar and a fat (butter and/or cream) that has been heated to a specific temperature for the consistency you want. I adapted this recipe slightly, using a dry caramel (I can’t be bothered adding water only to then boil it away) to make a sauce with the right thickness to top a cake. Not too runny, but you can still get some nice drips on the edges. Of course I accidentally boiled it too long (distracted) and it was super thick, so I just thinned it a bit with some hot water! You could also add more cream instead. (more…)

DIY Snowy Pinecone Christmas Wreath

DIY snowy pinecone Christmas wreath | Hello Victoria

I’ve always loved making things at Christmas time. Whether it’s baking cookies, or making salt dough ornaments – Christmas for me always means creating something! And this year, my big craft was this winter wonderland wreath!

I actually made a pinecone wreath in the same way about 5-6 years ago when I was back in Canada. I had always intended to make it snowy, but chickened-out. See, I was worried that I was going to mess it up, and you can’t really go back once you start painting pinecones. It already looked nice just brown, so I ended up leaving it.

DIY snowy pinecone Christmas wreath | Hello Victoria

But this time, I was determined to get the snowy wreath I had pictured! And you know what? It turned out amazing!!!

I find that it’s rare when a craft turns out exactly as awesome as I intended it to be. I tend to have these grandiose ideas, which never execute quite as well as I hoped. I mean, they look good, just not exactly like my imagination. But not this wreath!! It’s almost better than I pictured it! But the bad part is that I have no where to store it!

DIY snowy pinecone Christmas wreath | Hello Victoria

I promised Richard (when I first started gathering pinecones) that we could throw it out at the end of the year (can you compost hot glue?!). But, now that it’s done… I am not sure I can bear the thought! Anyone else want to give it a home once Christmas is over?!

DIY pine cone wreath | Hello Victoria

Anyways, back to the tutorial!

This wreath is dead simple, and just takes time. It’s also super cheap if you can get a good deal on hot glue sticks (it used a ton!). (more…)

To Fringe or Not to Fringe: Debating Baby Bangs

Baby bangs inspiration | Hello Victoria

Amazing short fringe via

Okay… random post time! So a number of years back (actually, just after I met Richard) I got a fringe (bangs) for the first time since I was a little kid. I had just been traveling for over three months and wanted a drastic change. However, my stylist told me to get bangs first, and then if I still wanted to get a bob, I could come back in a couple months. Man, I miss him… he always gave such great haircuts… I digress…

Back to the fringe! For some reason, allllll the parents in the 80s decided little girls should have bangs, and so my sisters and I spent what felt like years growing them out once we got old enough. I remember clipping them to either side, and braiding them back. Other girls opted for butterfly clips (remember those?!) but I was a total tomboy. After all that agony growing them out, I hated the very idea of a fringe.

Should I get a fringe: Debating bangs | Hello Victoria

Man I love everything in this photo – it just screams early 90s!

Should I get a fringe: Debating bangs | Hello Victoria

For their sake, I blurred out my family – ha! Also, I love my faces in old family portraits – I could never just smile nicely.

But when I first got bangs again at the age of 19, I looooved them! They just gave me such a different look, and set off my cheekbones. However, my skin at that time was quite oily (something I’ve struggled with for years), and I would find that by 3pm they got all greasy, and I would have to wash them and dry them if I was going out that night.

So once my bangs started to become a bit long and get in my eyes, I decided to grow them out rather than trim them. I vowed never to get them again. (ha!) As you can imagine, about four years later I was bored with my hair, and missed my fringe. I remembered how cool it looked, and stylish. I remembered all the good stuff, and forgot the bad. So I got bangs again. (more…)