Dissertation Diaries: Making a start

Hello! I hope you had a pleasant week and a lovely weekend. I spent mine shopping, getting some reading done and wishing I had more of the spooky chocolate brownies  I made for Halloween!

If you’ve been keeping up with my posts on Sundays, you’ll know that I’ve started writing my “Dissertation Diaries”: a series of posts about my dissertation, what progress I’m making and any advice/tips I’ve learnt along the way.

Well, everyone, I’m happy to report that I’ve come a long way since my first Dissertation Diaries entry. In that entry, I wrote about how nervous and less than optimistic I was feeling about my dissertation (I mean, being forced to write 8,000 words with limited guidance? Who wouldn’t feel horrible about that?). In my second Dissertation Diaries entry, I spoke about getting passed the so-called ‘planning stage’ (which is pretty difficult if you’re comfortable just planning and not ready to actually write, like me most of the time!). Thankfully, my third Dissertation Diaries entry moved on towards ‘next steps’, as I spoke about what to do once the proposal’s over.

So now, it’s a matter of waiting for feedback on my proposal and- well- actually writing the dissertation! I’m actually terrified of the feedback for this proposal. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy with what I’ve done (minus, I came to realise when I started quoting a source today, using the WRONG surname in my proposal and bibliography!) but it’s by no means my best work. Plus, despite how lovely my adviser is, I’ve got a feeling there might be a harsh mark coming my way.

Of course, I have two options once I get my grade:

  1. If it’s good, I know my line of argument for my dissertation has some legs and I’ll happily go from there
  2. If I’m not happy with my grade, I’ll look closely at the feedback, read more and write the actual dissertation as best as I can

I can let out a sigh of relief now, considering the fact that that’s one hurdle jumped over. Now, my next thing is my draft chapter. This part is due mid-December, and should be 2,000 words. Of course, being who I am, I’d ideally like to get a good bit of my dissertation done before second semester starts (considering the fact that I’m taking three modules in that semester, rather than two).

It feels a bit nerve wrecking at the moment, knowing that 8,000 words can’t write themselves and (eventually) they’ll have to be done. I’m making sure I look at how these types of essays are structured, plus I’m ensuring I’ve read into the subject carefully and precisely. I know that, from now, a few library trips will be essential but what’s truly getting me through, minus keeping positive and the encouragement from family, is the end result: I’ll have produced something I’m proud of and be on my way to finishing my degree and whatever the future holds for me awaits.

On that note, I’ll leave this entry here. This Wednesday I’ll be trialing something new: talking about books. It’s a bit nerve wracking going from talking about one thing, gaining some love from that, to then talk about something different. As much as this blog is to get myself out there as a writer, it is always about me talking about what I love and, if you haven’t guessed it already, I love books.

As part of this new direction, I’ll be taking a bit of a different route: What I read last summer. I’ve put so much effort into the baking side of my blog, and I’ve began on the student aspect, but books haven’t really had a look-in. So, I’m hoping after Wednesday’s post that I’ll start talking about books more….and I hope you guys like that direction.

Word count: 654 words

Spooky chocolate brownies

Hello! I know Halloween has well and truly ended, in place of loud fireworks, Christmas cups and the inevitable two month build up to one day (I’m probably only being cynical considering the fact I’ll be getting through deadlines over Christmas!) but that won’t stop me posting my spooky brownies.

[Plus, the person who predicted the Bake Off result last week, which I mentioned in my blog on the Great British Bake Off final, will probably be happy to see this one.. and I’d definitely encourage them (and YOU, the person reading this) to give these a go!]

I know, I know, “what makes them so spooky, Jen?”. These aren’t normal brownies, really. They’re not possessed by a ghost or cursed by a witch, but- for a little spooky touch- I scattered a few M&Ms into the mix which not only added a brilliant crunch, they also gave the brownies an even more chocolatey flavour.

Of course, those of you who’ve been following me since the beginning (I’m so glad you are!) will know I’ve posted Chocolate brownies before. So, in a way, I am repeating myself but- with the Halloween version- there were a few tweaks I’ll have to make clear.

Ingredients:

140g dark brown sugar (I didn’t have any light brown to hand, but using this sugar actually produced richer, fudgier brownies so- if that’s how you like yours- dark brown sugar is the way to go!)

2 large eggs

100g butter

100g chocolate (I used half dark chocolate, half milk)

100g plain flour

Red, yellow, orange and brown M&Ms (though other spooky sweets would work here, too. A friend suggested Reece’s Pieces which I think would be incredible!)

Method:

1. Preheat your oven to 170/180 and line a square tin with baking parchment.

2. Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl over a pan of water then leave to cool.

3. Whisk together the butter and sugar until the mix is incorporated (by using dark brown sugar the mixture isn’t as pale as my first version of brownies was).

4. Add eggs and the chocolate mixture and fold together until combined.

5. Add the flour until the mixture is incorporated, then place the mixture in the lined tin, scatter your chosen spooky sweets evenly over the mix (don’t press them in, just leave them on top) and bake for 20 minutes (I found these ones took a little longer, so it might be a matter of taking them out and putting them back in again).

6. Leave to chill and, once chilled, cut into slices and enjoy.

I baked these for a Halloween social at uni and the people who were there (plus my family afterwards, as there wasn’t many people at the event) loved them. Even though I have a trusty brownie recipe (thanks Mum), the addition of dark brown sugar to the usual mix produced rich brownies that were so intense and fudgy I couldn’t resist another piece! Plus, the M&Ms made them even nicer somehow and it was really interesting to see the pop of colour at the top (not to mention, this recipe can easily be tweaked so you can add whatever chocolate you like to it).

Today’s a busy posting day (just because I didn’t want to miss the window for posting Halloween stuff, with Christmas rearing its ugly head) so, later on, you can expect the latest instalment of my “Dissertation Diaries”. I’ll let you into a secret….I’ve made progress so, if that means anything, I think I deserve a brownie!