8 rewards that keep me motivated to achieve my goals

2018 has been a tough year so far.

Mainly because I’ve set myself some major life goals to achieve and I’ve been hammering at them hard.

Setting hard goals for yourself is a good thing – if you don’t go and build towards the things you truly want to achieve, nobody’s going to do it for you.

But it can also be difficult to stay motivated and keep going.

8 rewards that keep me motivated to achieve my goals / Cake + Whisky

Regardless of your goals and the obstacles you run into to achieve them, I find a reward-based approach to be helpful in keeping your spirits and motivation up.

Setting up a reward ‘programme’ before starting to tackle a new goal, no matter its scale, has two major roles:

  1. Give you the day-to-day motivation to carry on
  2. Allow you to aknowledge important milestones, especially when you’re not fully in control of the goal being ‘achieved’ (e.g. getting a new job or a new client…)

The rewards you choose should not only be a reflection of the scale of the goal/milestone itself and how much achieving it challenged you, but also be things that truly make you happy.

So, of course, they will be different for everyone…

But here are a few ideas of the rewards and treats I found helpful to keep me motivated to achieve my goals.

8 rewards that keep me motivated to achieve my goals / Cake + Whisky

To keep you going on a daily/weekly basis (e.g. to exercise, to file your work expenses every week…):

  • An episode of a series you love

    Pairing an activity you want to indulge in with one you tend to put off is incredibly effective. TV is a very helpful tool to use when working on physical or repetitive tasks that require little brain power.

    Since January, I’ve set this rule that I only watch reality TV programme whilst exercising. And truth be told, Queer Eye and Grace & Frankie are the best thing that’s ever happen to my physical health!

  • An indulgent bath

    When you’re caught up in the most intense, work-heavy phases of goal achievement, it can be very easy to forget to take care of yourself – both physically and mentally.A truly indulgent bath caters for both, giving you a chance to take some time for yourself, pamper and relax.

  • Baking time

    Along the same lines, I tend to do a lot of baking when I’m stressed or am working towards achieving a big goal. The reason for that is simple: for me, baking is the ultimate way to relax. It allows my mind to stop buzzing and rest.Your ‘relaxing time’ might not be baking time – it might be reading, or playing an instrument, or craft projects… Whatever it is, adding some more of that activity into your schedule as a reward is very beneficial when building towards a goal.

  • A nap

    Being quite introverted, having to deal with interaction-heavy environments and situations is a very demanding challenge for me, and the best way to reward myself afterwards is with extra sleep.

    Depending on the nature of your goals, achieving them might be putting a lot of pressure on your body and/or your mind and allowing both to rest is essential to avoid burn-out.

 

To celebrate reaching a milestone:

  • Fresh flowers

    Despite how much I love them, I rarely treat myself to fresh flowers. But a friend recently brought a bunch to me, and it’s be so good at lifting my spirits up.So, I’m going to take the risk of sounding soppy and silly and say that sometimes, something that’s pretty and a little bit useless is an excellent idea.

  • Small treats that would make achieving your goal easier or more enjoyable

    There something extremely motivating about a new gym kit when you’re trying to make exercising a habit. Or great stationary if your goal involves a lot of writing. Or quality boxes if you’re trying to meal-prep more.

    It’s some sort of ‘back to school’ effect, when the idea of using new, better tools/equipment just makes you excited to get up and dig right in!

8 rewards that keep me motivated to achieve my goals / Cake + Whisky

To celebrate achieving a goal:

  • Tickets to a show/event

    If your goal has a set deadline, booking tickets for an event you’re excited to attend for right after is an excellent thing to do.Getting close to deadlines can be a stressful time, but having something positive to look forward to as well makes the dread easier to handle.

    And by the time the event actually rolls around, you’ll be in full celebrations mode, making it even better than you anticipated!

  • Significant ‘treats’ you rarely indulge in

    Things that you enjoy but don’t really buy for yourself because it feels too extravagant, or doesn’t feel like you’d get a lot of use out of.Now is the time to treat yourself. You deserve it – you’ve worked hard to achieve those big goals.

    And it’ll also be an excellent reminder than you can achieve whatever you put your mind to.

Don’t even think about ‘punishment’

Because you didn’t manage to reach your goal fully doesn’t mean you haven’t moved forward with it.

I’m sure you already feel bad enough about this without needing to put extra pressure onto yourself with a punishment.

Instead, take some time to analyse what hasn’t worked out and why, so you can learn from this experience and do better moving forward.

… And on that note, I’m off to buy myself some shoes to celebrate achieving the biggest goal I had set for myself this year!

Do you find it hard to remain motivated when working towards a big goal? What helps you carrying on? 

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8 rewards that keep me motivated to achieve my goals

Dinner at Xu

Considering my obsession with all things food, you won’t be surprised to hear that recently, I fell down a bit of an Ugly Delicious rabbit hole.

Recently launched on Netflix, the series is all about the interactions between food and culture, and it truly is fascinating. Each episode is better than the next, and it’s probably the best programme about food I’ve watched since Masterchef Australia (back end of April, I’m so excited)!

One particularly interesting episode is the one where David Chang and friends look into the stereotypes around Asian cuisine, often considered unrefined and ‘cheap’ by Westerners.

And though some of the assumptions are offensive on both sides of the board, the premise still rings true, and that despite the fact that China, India and the like actually are masters at matching complex flavours and textures.

Proof (if there ever needed one) can be found at Xu, the latest venture from the incredible successful Bao London team.

Dinner at Xu, London / Taiwanese restaurant review / Cake + WhiskyDinner at Xu, London / Taiwanese restaurant review / Cake + Whisky

Set out in wood-panelled rooms inspired by 1930s Taipei tea rooms, Xu brings the refined flavours of Taiwan to the heart of London.

Dinner at Xu, London / Taiwanese restaurant review / Cake + Whisky

The menu isn’t especially long but is of the intriguing variety through and through.

Dinner at Xu, London / Taiwanese restaurant review / Cake + Whisky

From the Xiao Tsui section, we started with the Beef pancakes.

Dinner at Xu, London / Taiwanese restaurant review / Cake + WhiskyDinner at Xu, London / Taiwanese restaurant review / Cake + Whisky

Melt-in-the-mouth shortrib, bone marrow, pickles, spring onion and potato crumbs to be wrapped up in a pancake and devoured.

A DIY, deeply umami affair and a very good one at that.

Dinner at Xu, London / Taiwanese restaurant review / Cake + Whisky

Xian Bing – pipping hot pan-fried aged pork pancakes served with vinegar & chilli oil.

Very porky, with a touch of ginger, the filling reminded me of my favourite pork dumpling recipe, but wrapped up in the crispest, most delicately folded pastry.

A little dangerous to eat but well worth taking the risk!

Dinner at Xu, London / Taiwanese restaurant review / Cake + Whisky

But the incontested winner of the small plates section were those little Sweet potato & miso taro dumpling beauties.

Dinner at Xu, London / Taiwanese restaurant review / Cake + Whisky

Served in the most vibrant kow choi chilli dressing, there are a masterpiece of balance and depth of flavour.

So sort of dish you want to order doubles of so you don’t have to share!

Dinner at Xu, London / Taiwanese restaurant review / Cake + Whisky

The other highlight of our dinner at Xu was the signature Shou Pa chicken dish.

A beautiful plate of marinated chicken with drippings, ginger and spring onion with white pepper and chicken skin topping, it’s the epitome of roast chicken dishes.

The perfectly cooked meat and the sticky jus took me back to Sunday lunch with my parents, but with added layers of flavours thanks to the Asian aromatics.

Dinner at Xu, London / Taiwanese restaurant review / Cake + Whisky

Delicious in its own right, but even better atop some lardo fried rice.

Dinner at Xu, London / Taiwanese restaurant review / Cake + Whisky

The Mapo tofu was nice and spicy, but paled in comparison.

(It might also have been a classic case of over-ordering, as we enjoyed it much more re-heated the next day…)

Dinner at Xu, London / Taiwanese restaurant review / Cake + Whisky

We finished things off with almond ice cream and black sesame sauce – a combination both delicate and funky!

And the ultimate proof that Far East cuisine is far more complex and elegant that it’s usually given credit for.

It might not be the ultimate ‘grammable restaurant, but it’s a good one when it comes to substance over style. There are no flower walls, but some truly spectacular dishes to be found and I urge try their chicken ASAP. It’s a game changer.

Ugly? Possibly. Delicious? Absolutely!

Xu, 30 Rupert St, London W1D 6DL

(Xu accepts bookings (miracle!) and when we visited (post-theatre on a weekday) there were plenty of tables available for walk-ins)

Other great restaurants near Xu:

The Palomar

Hot Pot Chinatown

Jen Café

Dinner at Xu

Fairy Tale Cocktails at St James Bar

Once upon a time, in the heart of London, there was a magical cocktail bar called St James Bar.

Fairy Tale Cocktails at St James Bar, London / Cake + Whisky

Inspired by Coco Chanel’s 1920’s Paris appartment, it was aluxurious and elegant place, with a dark marble bar, velvet seats and painted paneling.

Fairy Tale Cocktails at St James Bar, London / Cake + Whisky

The bar itself was a bit of an alchemist’s den and hosted a myriad of little vials.

Bitters, shrubs, syrups and liquors lined up on mirror shelves, each a key component for the fairy tale cocktails concocted by the gifted team of bartenders.

Fairy Tale Cocktails at St James Bar, London / Cake + Whisky

The cocktail menu, taking inspiration from classic tales, read like a fables’ book and making a choice was no easy fate.

Should I follow Peter to Neverland or Pinocchio in his mischievious adventures?

Should I watch in awe as Belle’s & the Beast’s love unfold before my eye or join Alice in her race with the White Rabbit?

Fairy Tale Cocktails at St James Bar, London / Cake + WhiskyFairy Tale Cocktails at St James Bar, London / Cake + Whisky

But in the end, diamonds are a girl’s best friend, so it had to be the Satine’s Dilemna.

Fairy Tale Cocktails at St James Bar, London / Cake + WhiskyFairy Tale Cocktails at St James Bar, London / Cake + Whisky

Combining sweet and sour flavours, this subtly floral cocktail arrived topped with red rose petals and an edible diamond.

Just like it’s namesake, it’s entrance definitely made an impression!

Fairy Tale Cocktails at St James Bar, London / Cake + Whisky

A heavenly mix of Botanist gin, rose syrup, plum bitters, lemon juice, homemade grape shrub and bitter foam.

And just like Satine’s aspirations, it’s perfectly balanced.

Fairy Tale Cocktails at St James Bar, London / Cake + Whisky

My second choice was a bit wilder – but that’s just how life is when you’re a Lost Boy Girl!

Fairy Tale Cocktails at St James Bar, London / Cake + Whisky

A playful take on the classic Negroni, the Fear O’ Clock  is a great representation of the story of the boy who doesn’t want to grow up.

Fairy Tale Cocktails at St James Bar, London / Cake + Whisky

And on that note, tick-tock, time’s up!

Race you to St James Bar for Friday celebratory cocktails?

St James Bar at Sofitel London St James, 6 Waterloo Pl, St. James’s, London SW1Y 4AN

More on cocktails

A British Cocktail Masterclass at Hixter

Autumn Cocktails at TwoRuba

Cocktails & Magic at Mr Fogg’s

Fairy Tale Cocktails at St James Bar

Tahini Brownie

I’m not sure what it is, but it seems more and more of my internet friends are falling victims of strange and spectacular baking nightmares.

Things burn, don’t raise, turn out to be weird colours… and it’s happened so much in the past few weeks I’m starting to worry it’s not just a coincidence!

No way that’ll stop be from baking though – I absolutely need both the process and the resulting cake to face the very stressful period of change I’m currently into! – so I more than ever rely on tried-and-tested, fool- (and catastrophy-) proof recipe.

Tahini Brownie Recipe // Cake + Whisky

On top of that list comes brownies.

SO easy to make (no fuss whatsoever), SO delicious (moist and dense and chocolatey and everything a good brownie should be).

I’ve been using the base recipe for years (about 10 of them!) and it’s simply perfect.

And, as it turns out, even better with added tahini to create those dreamy squares of tahini brownie goodness!

Tahini Brownie Recipe // Cake + Whisky

Because it tastes best the day after it’s baked, this tahini brownie is the ultimate make-ahead treat…

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And, if you don’t look too closely, you might even say it’s a fantastic square meal!

Pin for later:

Tahini Brownie Recipe // Cake + Whisky

More foolproof cake recipes:

Banana bread (V, Vg & DF options)

Simple lemon cake (V)

Cranberry oatmeal cake (V)

The best carrot cake (V)

Tahini Brownie

9 fun things to do in London in March

You wouldn’t guess it if you look through the window (SO MUCH SNOW out there, not quite what I was hoping for in March Storm Emma!) but Spring is on its way…

And with it a lot of fun things to do are blooming up in London this month.

You know the drill – Calendars at the ready. Set. Goooooooooo!

9 of the best things to do in London in March 2018 / London event calendar / What to do in London in March? / Your guide to the best things to do, see and eat in London during March 2018 // Cake + Whisky

Cool things to do in London in March

Holi in the City at Cinnamon Kitchen

Holi, the Indian festival announcing the arrival of spring and the passing of winter, is a time where families traditionally gather together and cover each other in coloured paint.

But Londoners needn’t miss out because #HouseofHoli is back at Cinnamon City- bigger, better and brighter than ever!

So step out of the grey City and step into the coloured powder madness of the House of Holi, followed by an Indian feast at Vivek Singh’s City outpost.

2-10 March, more info and tickets

St Patrick’s day

There’s no party like an Irish party! So put your best green outfit on and join the Trafalgar Square-centric celebrations.

Expect three days of fun, cultimating with the St Patrick’s Parade taking place in central London on 18th March.

16-18 March, more info

Kew Garden’s Orchid Festival

Now in its 23rd edition, Kew Garden’s annual Orchid Festival, brings a tropical paradise to London’s far-from-balmy environment.

In 2018, the festival is a celebration of Thailand’s vibrant colours, culture, and magnificent plant life and a unique opportunity to look into the significance of orchids in Thai cuisine, medicine and culture.

Until 11 March, more info and tickets

Garden of Light at Paternoster Square

To mark the launch of the 2018 Great Daffodil Appeal, Marie Curie has ‘planted’ a garden of 4,000 illuminated daffodils in Paternoster Square.

Representing all the people Marie Curie will support this March, the Garden of Light has been conceived as a place to reflect, as well as a place to showcase the organsation’s tremendous work. Whilst they walk among the flowers, visitors will be able to listen to letters from patient’s families, describing the vital care and support their relatives received from Marie Curie Nurses.

1-11 March, more info

Oxford & Cambridge Boat Race

A highly-disputed competition since 1829, the Boat Race is an annual contest between two rowing teams from Oxford and Cambridge universities.

The Boat Race is 4 miles, 374 yards or 6.8 Km long and stretches between Putney and Mortlake on the River Thames, giving observers plenty of room to follow the race from, as well as many opportunity to help fundraise money for Cancer Research UK, the event’s nominated charity.

24 March, more info

9 of the best things to do in London in March 2018 / London event calendar / What to do in London in March? / Your guide to the best things to do, see and eat in London during March 2018 // Cake + Whisky 9 of the best things to do in London in March 2018 / London event calendar / What to do in London in March? / Your guide to the best things to do, see and eat in London during March 2018 // Cake + Whisky

Delicious things to do in London in March

Mother’s Day Tipsy Tea at Mr Fogg’s

Show Mother Dearest how out of this world she is this Mother’s Day. The ultimate way to do so? Treating her to something equaly extraordinary: a spiffing Tipsy Tea at Phileas Fogg’s -not so- humble Mayfair abode.

There’ll be a teapot of luxurious libations, alongside a delicious selection of sweet and savory treats, to be enjoyed with the soft sound of a harpist and Phileas extraordinary collection in the background. For that added spoiling touch, Mothers will receive a box of chocolate truffles and complimentary ‘caricature’ sketch service.

11 May, more info & bookings

Honi Poké Fenchurch Street launch

To celebrate the launch of their second site in the City near Fenchurch Street, Honi Poké will be offering 50% off poké bowls on Monday 12th and Tuesday 13th March, all day long.

Dishing up Hawaiian poké, their signature bowls come served with flame-torched octopus, tuna, salmon, chicken teriyaki or tofu, on a base of sushi rice, brown rice or veg slaw, with yummy extra thrown in for added deliciousness.

So look out for the Honi Poké surf boards and ride the wave to a quick and healthy flavour-packed meal!

12-13 March, 4-6 New London Street, EC3R 7NA

9 of the best things to do in London in March 2018 / London event calendar / What to do in London in March? / Your guide to the best things to do, see and eat in London during March 2018 // Cake + Whisky

Cultural things to do in London in March

International Women’s Day

Following last year’s highly successful International Women’s Day celebrations, a lots of events are popping up again in 2018.

Care International is organising a #March4Women on 4 March (more info). Seven Dials’ will be celebrating the inspirational women behind a number of the area leading brands (1-8 March, more info & events calendar). South Bank plays host to another edition of its Women Of the World festival, celebrating women and girls around the world, and looking at the obstacles stopping them from achieving their potential (7-11 March, more info & tickets). You can learn about the history of underwear whilst helping stop period poverty with Crimson Tea Parties (6 March, more info & tickets)….

So many great ways to celebrate the wonderful women in your life!

Hope to Nope: Graphics and Politics 2008-2018 opening at the Design Museum

With public engagement in politics having changed dramatically since 2008, the Design Museum’s latest exhibition looks into how graphic design and technology have played a pivotal role in dictating and reacting to the major political moments of the last 10 years.

From 28 March, more info & tickets

Know about more fantastic things to do in London in March? Get in touch!

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9 of the best things to do in London in March 2018 / London event calendar / What to do in London in March? / Your guide to the best things to do, see and eat in London during March 2018 // Cake + Whisky

9 fun things to do in London in March

Banana Bread

You know what I like more than the smell of a cake baking in my oven?

Very few things, to be honest.

Unless said cake is not only delicious, but also the ultimate way to turn a bunch of over-ripe bananas into the sweetest treat.

Which is why banana bread is the most genius cake recipe there is.

Banana Bread Recipe / Easy baking / Cake + WhiskyBanana Bread Recipe / Easy baking / Cake + Whisky

Yesterday, after having spent the vast majority of the afternoon laying on the sofa in a desperate attempt to try and digest the feast of a lunch we had at St John’s, I spotted said bunch of sad-looking, brown, not very appeeling bananas in the fruit basket, begging to be made into banana bread.

How could I say no?

Banana Bread Recipe / Easy baking / Cake + Whisky

Banana loaf is seriously one of the easiest things to bake.

It’s very adaptable -as long as you have bananas, you’re good, quite healthy as far as cake go, packs in a lot of fruit and good-for-you things, yet it make for such an indulgent breakfast/snack/pudding.

Banana Bread Recipe / Easy baking / Cake + Whisky

I’m not sure why it is, but it seems like bananas are somewhat magic when it comes to baking and allow for quite a lot of substitutions/omissions, which is great if you have food allergies or preferences.

Or very bare cupboards.

No eggs? No problem (maybe add a bit more mashed banana if your batter’s too dense).

No dairy – it works perfectly fine with margarine too.

Want to reduce the sugar? Go ahead.

Switch the baking flour for a gluten-free one? Since banana bread is quite dense, it doesn’t really matter.

Want to make it extra indulgent? Nothing’s easier! Simply add chocolate chips or crushed nuts to the batter, swirl some Nutella through, serve with a nutty or caramely ice cream… There are so many options!

Banana Bread Recipe / Easy baking / Cake + Whisky

So few ingredients, so many possibilities… Just bananas!

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:56]

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Banana Bread Recipe / Easy baking / Cake + Whisky

More easy pudding recipe

Simple lemon cake (V)

The best (frosting-free) carrot cake (V)

Easy bread & butter pudding (V)

Vegan chocolate mousse (VE)

Banana Bread

My Low Key Valentine’s

When it comes to Valentine’s Day, there are two kinds of people.

The ones that loooooove it – they start thinking about it the minute Christmas has come and gone, count the days, make elaborate plans, buy presents… And the ones that hate it – it’s too commercial they say, why celebrate love only one day of the year, they ask.

My low-key Valentine's / How to celebrate February 14th without making a big deal of it / Cake + Whisky

And then there’s the rest of us, stuck in the middle and sort of lost about it all.

The Valentine’s Day haters are probably right – there’s no reason why any and everyone should go above and beyond to showcase their love on February the 14th. But at the same time, why not take the opportunity and make the day a touch more special than your average Wednesday?

My low-key Valentine's / How to celebrate February 14th without making a big deal of it / Cake + Whisky My low-key Valentine's / How to celebrate February 14th without making a big deal of it / Cake + Whisky

Enters the low key Valentine’s day.

The idea is to seize the chance to celebrate the ‘Day of Love’ with the one(s) you, ahem, love, but without making a big deal of it.

A loosely-planned evening at home (over-crowded, over-priced restaurant meals are a hard-no for me) with simple treats to celebrate love in its simplicity. Something intimate, and all about making the most of your Valentine(s).

My low-key Valentine's / How to celebrate February 14th without making a big deal of it / Cake + Whisky

Depending on what feels ‘specials’ to you, you might decide to get food to take away or delivered.

Or you might want to try your hand at cooking a simple but delicious meal.

My low-key Valentine's / How to celebrate February 14th without making a big deal of it / Cake + Whisky

This year, my BF’s actually in charge of V-Day cooking. He’ll be making my absolute favourite dish –pasta carbonara. I’ll put together a walnut salad. Then we’ll have ice cream (I’ve gotten my hands on the limited edition Haagen Dazs Cherry Blossom*, which I tried in paris last summer and can’t wait to have again!) and watch a movie (possibly Moulin Rouge because it’s been too long).

And that’s it. Not too different from our usual weekday evening routine, but still something a bit different to be excited about.

And truth be told, I can’t wait!

My low-key Valentine's / How to celebrate February 14th without making a big deal of it / Cake + Whisky

Are you team No-Valentine’s, All-Out Valentine’s or Low Key Valentine’s? I’d love to know how you plan your ‘day of love’!

Great low-key Valentine’s (or any other date!) recipes

Lazy fish tacos

Tray roast salad (V+GF options)

Tomato + coconut pasta (VE)

Simple lemon cake (V)

Pin for later

My low-key Valentine's / How to celebrate February 14th without making a big deal of it / Cake + Whisky

*This product was sent to me by the brand or their PR agency to review. All flower-flavour ice cream loving my own.  

My Low Key Valentine’s