It’s got to be perfect


With the summer days getting shorter and Kathryn’s very long student’s holiday coming to the end, we were running out of time to get this challenge completed. We originally set aside last Sunday but weather forecasts did not look good. We rescheduled for this weekend and decided on the Friday. At least if the day hadn’t been good, we had three more days to choose as it was a long bank holiday weekend.

I kept an eye on the forecast and was very hopeful. The weather has certainly been beautiful all week on the south coast and the weather forecast was showing a big yellow blob for Friday. I now had to think about the food I was going to take. Kathryn is now a very health conscious eater so I wanted to incorporate some of this in too. I did have a desire to make some sausage rolls though which I know weren’t that healthy but would be an achievement for me to make. Updating my shopping order on Thursday evening meant I had to abandon that idea as there wasn’t any sausage meat but went for healthy mustard and honey sausages instead, one of our favourites. In the end, I went with quite a 70’s theme and put everything onto cocktail sticks. Friday morning was spent in the kitchen cooking sausages and balsamic chicken strips (Rosemary Conley recipe so healthy). I also put together my childhood favourite, cheese and pineapple. Does that count as being healthy because it has fruit and I used low fat cheese – I can hope!

Whilst putting in my shopping order, I found a recipe for Jaffa Cakes by Mary Berry from the latest Great British Bake Off episode (must catch up with that). I thought they looked quite fun to do so thought they would be perfect for our picnic. I have to say that the recipe lied – it said the only tricky part was getting the chocolate to look perfect – I had trouble getting the jelly to dissolve. As a child, my mum often made us jelly and she didn’t have this problem. Anyway 10 minutes later, I finally put it in the tin for it to set and made the base of the cakes. They were quick and easy to make and putting them together was quite fun and a bit messy but the result was good. I had made jaffa cakes!

Base of cake
Base of cake
With orange jelly on top
With orange jelly on top
The messy bit
The messy bit

I packed up the picnic and walked to the beach to meet Kathryn for our picnic. She added some beautiful ham and juicy sweet strawberries to the haul.

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It was the perfect weather and we found the perfect spot looking over to the Isle of Wight to enjoy the food.



A very good challenge to tick off.

I Will Survive (If someone leaves the cake in the rain!)

Along with keeping fit, I do like to try to eat healthily too but I do love baking so it is hard to combine the two. I have decided that I will bake once a week as it makes me happy but try to be strict with myself. I will try to find some healthy bakes along the way too.


I was overjoyed when I got home from work last Friday to find this package waiting for me.



Kathryn’s boyfriend, Aaron has subscribed to this for me for my birthday and as I had already received three boxes, I had thought the subscription was finished.

I opened up the box and liked what I saw – a recipe and ingredients for white chocolate & cranberry squares. I checked the ingredients that I needed to add – butter, eggs and milk; all items that were coming in my food shop on Saturday so I knew I could make them on Sunday.


Each card does contain the skill level, preparation time and baking time on. The skill level was two chef’s hat so I was confident this would be easy. I decided that I wouldn’t use my kitchen gadgets but use the good old fashioned kitchen bowl and a wooden spoon. I did actually have it prepared in the 10 minutes that it said and I soon had it baking in the oven. The mixture actually contained melted white chocolate and cranberries. The smell was incredible.

Mixing with a wooden spoon
Mixing with a wooden spoon

Whilst I didn’t use my kitchen gadgets, I did use this nifty container from my food processor to measure the small amount of milk I needed. My normal jug was just too big.

Very useful for small measurements
Very useful for small measurements

I took it out of the oven and whilst it was cooling I made the butter icing and bashed the pistachios with a rolling pin to go over the top (okay it said roughly chop but this worked well) . Once again I was adding melted white chocolate to the butter cream and I have to say I was a little concerned. I thought that all the white chocolate would make it too sweet. With this in mind, I cut the cake into 16 pieces.


I could not wait to try it so was very keen to have a cup of tea after my dinner so I could try a piece. I should not have worried about the sweetness at all. It was delicious. I am not ashamed to say I was not strict with myself and enjoyed every piece I ate.

I am enjoying baking with these kits as the ingredients are ready for you to bake with so I plan to keep up the subscription for another year.

I Will Walk Ten Thousand Steps

One of my favourite presents for my birthday (apart from the Pandora ring, bright pink skechers, the Bakedinbaking club subscription, etc) is my fitbit.  I have set up my daily step goal, try to keep active during the hours of 9am and 6pm, set exercise goals for the week and keep track on my sleep.  There is also a facility to keep a count of weight, food I am eating and water I am drinking.  I haven’t used that yet but hopefully will.

Still one of my favourite things
Still one of my favourite things

At the moment I have set up the following per day:

  1. Steps 10,000
  2. Active Minutes 30
  3. Hourly Activity goal – 250 steps each hour between 9am – 6pm
  4. Active Minutes – 30 minutes
  5. Weekly exercise goals – 15 min plus on 5 days
  6. Time Asleep goal – 7 hrs 30 mins – suggested bedtime 10.15pm wake up time 6.00

Even though I am particularly active, I do have a job which involves sitting down so I do have to make sure that I put in extra walks.  I find it very hard to achieve my goals of 250 steps each hour on the days I work as well.

Another “fun” activity with the Fitbit is the challenges which you can do with your friends.  Every week I take part in the workweek hustle and weekend warrior with my Son, Jordan.  I don’t stand a chance with the workweek hustle as Jordan works in London and he uses public transport.  I work in a village which I can only get to by driving.  Weekends can be better as I do try to include a longer run at the weekends.  One of the weekend wins I had does make me laugh.  Jordan had got back to London and was feeling quite smug as he thought he had won.  He didn’t realise I hadn’t updated my steps.  I did have to get up out of bed and walk downstairs for good measure.  He was so upset the next day when he realised and goes out to beat me now! I did only win by 145 steps so it was a good job I made the extra effort!

A few weeks ago I had a very busy week at work and I didn’t achieve my steps two days. I only went to zumba one day and didn’t go running at all.  By the weekend I was so tired.  I decided that it would be a good idea to have a week of making sure I met my 10,000 steps and to see what activities I need to do to accomplish it.

3 walks – 3,000
5,900 House
1,338 other
4,731 House
3 walks – 12,350
2 walks – 
2 walks – 5,000
1,000 house 
2 walks-6,700
Normally I work Monday to Thursday but this week I swapped to Tuesday to Friday.   The table shows that my count for work is low.  I try to do some exercise in the mornings before going to work but this week I opted to stay in bed.  It did mean that I had to push myself after work to get in the extra steps.  Not too much of a problem on zumba day but Thursday I found that I was 1,000 under and it became dark at 9pm so I thought I would have a little game with myself and see how long it would take to get to 1,000 steps.  I cleared the dinner table (late dinner that night) and took the plates one by one to the kitchen, emptied bins (one by one again), went up and down the stairs around 5 times and swept the bathroom and kitchen.  All in all it took me 40 minutes.  Next day I thought I would walk for the same amount of time.  I did 5,000 steps in that time.


A lunch time walk along the beach
A lunch time walk along the beach

Although last week, I didn’t do any DVDs, I had previously found that the Gillian Michaels DVD I do only uses 900 steps for a 20 minute routine.  Walking 10 minutes uses 1,000 steps.  Whilst I could think I would rather walk, the DVD is quite a punishing routine and one that I know if I do regularly, my body shape will improve (well only if I stop baking!).  I do think that I will continue to do everything I can to do the 10,000 steps but I also recognise that it is important to do the exercises that aren’t going to have too much of an impact because they are just as important.

The other lesson is to make sure I get up early to do some of those steps in so that I am not trying to gain the 10,000 in the last hour of the day so I can sit down and make progress on my cross stitch challenge!
Day 2 of my stitching
Day 2 of my stitching

I’m Sew Excited


Well this is quite a challenge. Why? It is because I am well known for starting a cross stitch project and not finishing it.

I started cross stitch in my 20s when Chris bought me a small kit for a stocking filler. He had to show me what to do as it did look double dutch to me but I soon got the hang of it. I was soon investing in bigger projects and every cross stitch magazine going. I joined round robins and found quite a community of people taking part. If this wasn’t enough, Chris set us up with a cross stitch website selling cross stitch kits from home. That was quite fun for a while too. When I went back to working again we closed the website down. I was now 40 and all of sudden I needed glasses for close work. I was also addicted to the internet so cross stitch was hard to fit in. I have tried to get a project in every now and then but never managed to finish so I am determined that I will complete this.

Now just choosing a project has been so difficult. I have spent 3 evenings over the last two months going through Sew and So’s site and have had so many different sorts in my shopping cart. Should I stitch for someone else? I did have threads so was I being a coward looking at a cross stitch kit.  How about Christmas stitching which is my favourite; look a completed design and one that comes out many years (word is children will not share this with any children they may have!).

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Thinking of Christmas, I started looking at Heritage, DMC and anchor designs. How about Country Companion or Tatty Ted? I have a few uncompleted Country Companions and I don’t know why as they are fantastic but have actually finished this lovely Tatty Ted.

Beautiful Tatty
Beautiful Tatty

Determined I was going to make my purchase on Friday before 1pm so I could have it delivered Saturday, I found my latest Sew and So brochure with a code for free needles, and a Bothy Threads kit from their Sew Dinky range caught my eye. I had stitched a Lowry kit from their range many years ago so thought I would have a look.

A very early stitching
A very early stitching

I found a Christmas kit in the range so put it in my trolley. Still not satisfied I searched for another hour. Time was ticking by but I was still determined I was going to make the purchase by 1pm. Finally after reading reviews and falling in love with Gorjuss range in the Bothy Threads collection, I thought I would actually stitch something for myself. Another big choice as there were so many designs but I wanted to fit it in with something I liked too. In the end I chose Sweet Tea cross stitch kit. Order in and delivered Saturday.


Cross stitch is like choosing a book and the excitement of opening the package, sorting the threads (some dedicated stitchers will say sorting through the threads for the different colours is fun but not me) and starting it is exactly the same as starting a new book for me. I am pleased to say that the kit came with the material, needles, two thread cards with all numbered threads attached (hooray for me), large charts (I can see them), one for the cross stitch and one for the back stitching plus some beading and one french knot and also a sheet explaining where to start and the strands needed for the cross stitch and back stitch. They have given lots of advice so any beginner could stitch this kit. After reading it, I hope I don’t have too many problems. I have even joined Bothy Thread’s facebook group so I can hopefully get tips and encouragement.


I plan to put the first stitch in tonight whilst watching Andy Murray win a gold medal! Will keep you posted with updates of how the project is coming along.

Flash, Bang, Wallop – what a picture

I have mentioned before that I love my iPod and on it is stored lots of different music.  Included is music from West End Shows which I love.  As a child, I was lucky to go to some great shows at the local Kings Theatre in Southsea as our teacher was the Conductor with the Portsmouth Players.  I first went to a West End show on 18th October 1991 to see what will probably be my favourite show, Miss Saigon.  I remember seeing it being performed on the Terry Wogan show in 1989 and knew that I had to see it. It was a Friday night and going to see the show in Drury Lane was just magical.  It was an experience that will stay with me forever.

25 years after this and I have seen many musicals.  I say Miss Saigon is my favourite but each time I go to see a show, I love them all for different reasons.  The theatre experience is not the cheapest of night’s out but such an enjoyable one for me.  Even before I hit 50, my daughter insisted my birthday should start early and treated me to see Guys and Dolls.  We both went in not knowing what the musical was about and were treated to a brilliant show with some wonderful talent.  Hearing Richard Fleeshman sing just brought tears to our eyes – what a voice.  This is certainly one of the reasons why I love going to the theatre, and whether it is professionals or amateurs, I can’t help get goosebumps when I hear amazing voices.

I am lucky to live close to many theatres so do have quite a good choice of shows.  One of the theatres is Chichester Festival Theatre in one of our favourite cities which we love to shop in.  The theatre does have a lot of new musicals appearing in the Summer season and I have always said “I wish I had seen that show”.  When I saw that Half A Sixpence was going to be there for the summer season, I was determined to go.  I remembered watching the film many times as a child and loving Tommy Steele’s big grin in it.  Tickets purchased, we made our way to Chichester and I thought it would be a good idea to achieve challenge 37 – buy a new lipstick.

I decided that I would treat myself to a special one and as I haven’t got a clue when it comes to make up, I headed to the Clarin’s counter at House of Fraser and ask for assistance.  A lovely lady called Alicia tried three lipsticks on me.  She got the sale before even trying them on as she told me my lips were beautiful!  I liked all three but decided to go for the in between one called Rosewood.  Not too bold but would be fine for day time to night time.  It was a bit of an expensive purchase for someone who doesn’t spend on make up but it was worth it.

New make up to put into a birthday present
New make up to put into a birthday present

After a downpour of rain which meant we stayed in House of Fraser for lunch, we made our way to the theatre in sunshine.  The grounds of the theatre are lovely and I did refuse a glass of champagne from the Nyetimber bus.  Reason being I would have probably fallen asleep whilst watching the show.


Well there wasn’t any chance of me doing that.  I do get so engrossed in musicals.  I did love the singing and the familiar songs but I couldn’t keep my eyes of the lead, Charlie Stemp.  His dancing was fantastic.  I did love the Money to Burn song with the banjo music. The finale was the familiar Flash, Bang, Wallop which is such a joyful end to the show.  I certainly came away loving the show.

Well Flash, Bang Wallop brings me on to another completed challenge.  I had to buy a Lanzarote frame when in Lanzarote.  That was the easy part.


I then had to print a picture of myself with my son and daughter taken whilst we were in Lanzarote.  Whilst we took lots of pictures, the only photos we had together were when we took the day trip on my 50th to Fuerteventura. Hopefully I will be allowed this one.

Flash, Bang, Wallop
Flash, Bang, Wallop

Now printing it wasn’t as easy as I thought.  It needed cropping and after a few failed attempts, Chris took pity on me and almost fitting some of the lyrics in Flash, Bang, Wallop, it was “stuck in the fam’ly album” – well frame!


So there are two more challenges completed.  Must get on with a few more now.

Read All About It

Since my post of Amazing, I have now finished reading Summer of 76 and read a further 2 books. Not read as much this month due to a busy work load. Hopefully I will make up for that in August.

Summer of 76 carried on to be a slow pace read but enjoyable too. It never visited Brighton where Luke was going to be going to Brighton Polytechnic. I particularly love the fact they were polytechnics then and do remember them being that. Now of course, they are universities.  As I was only 10, I think I was disappointed when the rain fell after the heatwave of 1976 which is still talked about now. I wonder if I would feel like that now if I had to work in that heat. There was a slight twist in the plot which I had worked out in the middle of the book.

Once finished, I was able to start on After You by Jojo Moyes, the follow up to Me Before You.

Daughter's copy - she read at the same time as me
Daughter’s copy – she read at the same time as me

I was looking forward to catching up with Lou and was so hoping she wasn’t going to let me down. It had been 18 months since we left Lou and we are brought up with what happened in that time in the first few chapters. Considering the subject, I was still surprised with how Lou had been treated by family and friends and that is probably because my opinion is quite open on the subject raised in Me Before You.

The Lou I had loved so much had changed but I was very optimistic she was still there. When a young girl seeks questions from Lou, the question Lou needs to find out is she really who she claims she is. Can she answer all the stranger’s questions and can she start living again.

Reading it brought many tears but also laughter too. This time I found that I was reading the book in the voice of all the characters Me Before You film!

My next book was to continue with challenge number 5 – read a book each month of a different genre that you don’t often read. I had downloaded a few books ready for this but then there was a book on Amazon’s daily deal that caught my eye. It was on a subject I had heard about in the news but I must confess that I was very ignorant about – Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). The book is written by Hibo Wardere and tells her story about the procedure forced on her when she was 6 years old whilst she lived in Somalia. Hibo was left bitter towards her mother and didn’t learn the truth about it until a civil war in her country forced her to become a refugee in our Country.

Despite the horrific procedure, Hibo has gone on to have 7 children. She had told her husband that she would not allow her daughters to have this procedure and although they both faced opposition from their families, they made sure their children were kept safe from this.

Hibo was finally able to open up to what she had gone through after being asked to attend a meeting, at the school where she had started working, between parents of one of the students, whereby the headteacher suspected the student was going to be taken out of school and flown to their homeland to be cut. Hibo decided to share her story as part of an assignment for her job and also with her three eldest children. This actually lead to Hibo becoming a FGM campaigner to help prevent girls being taken out of this country for this treatment and also to make people aware of this being a British problem.

I would never have chosen to read this book if I had not been given this challenge and would have remained very ignorant about this barbaric procedure. I can not understand why anybody would put their daughters through this.

I also greatly admire Hibo and also the wonderful people that she talked about who are trying to prevent young girls having to go through this. This book is a must read.

I decided that I needed some lighter reading so thought I would start to  tackle challenge 6 – read 10 of your daughter’s favourite books in paperback.

This is quite frightening as first of all I have to try to keep the book in the same condition as my daughter keeps them – pristine. This means they won’t come out with me in my bag! Also, how do you drink a cup of tea whilst trying to turn the pages of a book. I have the kindle down to a fine art with that. Before the kindle, I read proper books so I’m sure I can do it again.

I have chosen to read a book by Giovanni Fletcher – Dream a Little Dream. I will update how I get on with this task later.


For the month of August, it is the turn of my son to choose a book for me. I am hoping he doesn’t get me to read his current read.

War and Peace – Jordan’s light reading

As you can see from the picture, he has trouble travelling on the tube and keeping it pristine. I can’t understand why my children don’t get a kindle!