Let’s go La La

Thursdays have had a bit of change of routine for me this year. I actually went out for the first two which is a change for me on a “school” night.

The first Thursday of the year, Chris and I enjoyed tapas at Antonia’s restaurant. We had been given a voucher from Kathryn and Aaron for Christmas so decided to use that up.

The second Thursday of January, Jordan booked us tickets to see the first showing of La La Land. Jordan is big on films and watches all trailers for new films. He showed me the first trailer some time ago and at first I didn’t see the attraction. Second trailer was released and I was hooked. As well as the dancing and the music, the two leading actors attracted me to it. I don’t remember watching their previous films but both looked natural people and I liked that about them.

I still didn’t know what to expect from the film but was looking forward to it. As this was the first performance, the film wasn’t on until 9 p.m. (on a school night and a very cold one at that).

What can I say about the film? It is a 2 hour film which actually surprised me at the end because I enjoyed it so much, it didn’t feel that long at all. The film started with a singing number whilst sat in traffic. I would certainly loved my commute to work if we all started singing along – that was a bit of make believe there (or la la).

The film centres around Seb (gorgeous Ryan Gosling) who is a jazz pianist (although doesn’t find many opportunities to play it) with a dream to open a jazz bar and Mia (lovely Emma Stone) who is trying very hard to find her break into acting. Well I would have hired her after her first audition but I must remember it is a film! Seb and Mia meet and are drawn together as they encourage each other with their dreams.

The film is like an old familiar musical with a modern theme and I enjoyed every moment of it even the ending! I loved Ryan and Emma’s singing and it was a lovely surprise when I realised the actor playing Seb’s friend Keith was John Legend. Didn’t work that out until he sang!

With this film in mind, last Thursday saw me at home on my own so I thought I would enjoy the night by starting on another challenge:

I settled down to watch Singing In The Rain at 7.30 whilst continuing my cross stitch. I consider this film to be a classic as it was one I would have enjoyed watching with my Nan. I absolutely loved it and I fell in love with Debbie Reynolds. I am a great fan of the 1920s fashions so as this film is based around 1927, I just loved the dresses. All the songs were so familiar too so it was great being able to sing along. As well as enjoying the film, I did manage to get some stitching in. I might just change my Thursdays to a film and stitching night.

Bake along if that’s what you wanna do

I am at my happiest when I am in my kitchen. My iPod plays my dance tracks playlist so I can bake, sing and dance. It is Tina’s special world. Saturdays is a particularly good day for this.  In our house it is turkey burger night. My family are spoilt here because I make my own healthy burgers. I used to make them fresh every week but now, because there might only be two of us for dinner, I prepare in bulk and freeze away.

If I can spend the afternoon baking too than life is wonderful. I have lots of favourite recipes but I am always keen to try new bakes so I was very pleased with my Christmas present from Kathryn’s boyfriend, Aaron –  The Great British Bake Off – Perfect Cakes & Bakes to Make at Home plus, a new spatula (a must for getting all that cake mixture out of the bowl)

Wanting to use the book straight away, I picked a very simple recipe – Greek lemon-yoghurt loaf cake. I love lemon cake and especially Mary Berry’s lemon drizzle traybake which is another easy cake to prepare and so yummy.

This cake was very easy to make and what makes the book so great is the baking tips section. The recipe has parts marked with an asterisk which means that you can refer to the baking tips page for advice. The recipe itself even gives tips about what you do with remaining ground almonds which won’t go through the sieve. At the age of 50, I do know that I can just tip it in my bowl but when I first started baking, I would have been puzzled with what to do with it. There wasn’t even Google then so I couldn’t look there!

The cake was a great success the first time. When I baked it on Saturday for the second time, it was even better. I think it is my January cake of the month! The recipe is the first one in the book. I might just turn the page and try the fresh mango loaf cake next.

Thank you, Aaron for a wonderful Christmas present which is going to make me very happy this year.

Lessons in Life – Could be Better

One of my favourite things to do is read. The challenge to read something of a different genre each month has certainly been difficult. I did think that I might find it hard to find something different to read but I do still have lots of ideas.

I have to admit that I did choose a very easy read for December. I did get Kathryn’s approval though. I read David Walliams’ Mr Stink.

It is a children’s book so it is different for me. I used to be able to indulge with them when bedtime came around for my children. I had watched Mr Stink on the T.V. 4 years ago and I fell in love with the story. I had planned to read it on Boxing Day but other events took over and I hadn’t finished a book I was reading. In the end I started it on the 28th and finished it in a day.

The description of the book begins with:

“Mr Stink stank. He also stunk. And if it was correct English to say he stinked, then he stinked as well…”

The book is about when Chloe makes friends with Mr Stink, the local tramp. As well as being a funny read with the most wonderful illustrations by Quentin Blake, it does have lots of valuable lessons; the main one being that you can’t always judge the book by the cover or, in this case, just because Mr Stink is a tramp, he is also a real person with a background too.

Reading this book, I couldn’t help but read it with David Walliams’ voice. If I was still reading bedtime stories to my children, as well as the favourites from Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl and C.S. Lewis, I would have to include David’s books too.

On my kindle, I have lots of “self help” books. I download them, read them and always intend to use the plans. I decided that due to the fact that January is the month that we make resolutions, only to break them in February, I would download a new book as part of my challenge and actually try to put a plan in action. I downloaded a book called 50 New Year’s Resolutions – How to Make Them, How do Keep Them.

One of the things I believe in is that you don’t need to start a resolution at the beginning of the year and I have certainly never believed you need to start a “diet” on a Monday.  This author does say this in her introduction and she also makes a point to say that the book doesn’t guarantee success but will show you how to increase your chances of keeping your resolutions. There are three main steps to take and this is how the book is broken down:

* The Five Rules of resolve – these should be followed to be able to keep the resolutions
* Ten Wishes waiting to be Resolutions – these are wishes we want to make resolutions. The author then suggests resolutions from these wishes
* The 50 resolutions – suggested resolutions to fulfil your wishes

At the end of the book, the author gives you a checklist of 6 questions which you should answer yes to:
  1. Have you chosen just one resolution?
  2. Do you know when you will do it?
  3. Are you feeling enthusiastic?
  4. Does it fit in with your lifestyle?
  5. Have you told others about it?
  6. Have you allowed for off days?
I couldn’t answer question 1 straight away so I had to ask myself what I wanted to achieve.  One of my objectives this year is to complete my challenges (by June 6th!!).  A lot of my challenges actually fit into the resolutions but one of the reasons I don’t allow myself to get on with the challenges is because of housework – something I don’t find exciting but it will hold me back from doing something I want to do.  During the Christmas period, I finally tidied my larder.  I have a lovely larder and it was so messy.  I so love the finished result and it makes my life so easy.  I have a lot of places like that so decided I would do resolution 48 – clear clutter so I can now answer yes to all of the above.  So here is the plan:


1. Resolution 48 – clear the clutter
2. Saturday mornings – two hours
3. Feeling very enthusiastic
4. It will; and it will make it better
5. I have written it in a blog post so yes
6. If it can’t be done on a Saturday due to other plans, I will do it on a Friday

So now I have made this, I will begin as soon as possible and share my progress. I will also be referring to this book a lot so hopefully a very successful read.


A Winter’s Bake

Challenge No 41

I do love baking and it is great when I bake with Kathryn or Jordan. Kathryn has such a busy lifestyle that it so hard fitting the time in plus it can be even more exhausting than Zumba! An example of this was making a cake for her boyfriend’s birthday. Kathryn was very busy studying at Cardiff so there was a very limited time when she was home; plus she wanted to do something with salted caramel icing. We found a recipe and planned to make a chocolate Victoria sandwich. The cake itself wasn’t hard but as we hadn’t read the recipe fully for the icing, we didn’t realise we needed some standing time. Kathryn didn’t really have standing time, time! She had to wrap presents and get ready to go out. We had to hurry and luckily Jordan came home to help us with the scientific function of dissolving sugar. I can say that thanks to him, Kathryn had a perfect salted caramel butter icing. It was very tight but we finished the cake before I had to taxi her to her next social event!

Lovely icing – quick decorating job by me!

Fitting time in to do our Christmas baking session was tough but 7 p.m. on Friday 23rd December, we started the challenge. Armed with Mary Berry’s Christmas Collection and an icing sugar packet, we began with mince pies. Now Kathryn is traditional and does like to make cakes with a wooden spoon; me, I prefer any electrical method available. Good old Mary had instructions for us to make pastry using the food processor. Memories came flooding back of my first food processor over 30 years ago and the joy of the pastry rolling together all by itself. Kathryn was impressed with this too. Surprisingly making and rolling the pastry out didn’t take long. We had decided to put star tops on the pies. Our cutter was a bit too big so most of the time was spent with Kathryn modifying the stars to fit. We were overjoyed with the finish product though.

Kathryn is very proud of our mince pies!

Next we prepared the cake for the chocolate log. We had found a simple recipe on the icing sugar box and quickly used that using my electric hand mixer. Swiss rolls don’t take too long to bake so I quickly read the instructions on how to roll it up.We were so pleased when that went well.

We did think we might make the biscuit mixture (manual method with these) but not bake them until the next day. Surprisingly,we had a lot more time than we thought. We actually decided to roll half the mixture out, make pretty Christmas shapes and bake the other half after Christmas.

3 and a half hours later, we had mince pies, a yummy looking chocolate log and un-iced (need some practice with that) but lovely biscuits. We made a great team.

A good evening’s work

Another challenge ticked and one which we will be repeating.

I’ve been to the year 2016 and now I’m going to party like it’s 2017

Well not exactly party but I now have to work very hard to complete my challenges. Do I have doubts; I do but 2017 is going to start as I mean to go on – my glass will always be half full.

My 2016 started very well – or so I thought for me anyway. I felt positive, was happy in my job and I was loving life. I even shifted a few lbs that I wanted to lose. Sometimes things happen that become totally out of your control and it can be very hard to take the knocks and bounce back. This did happen in the first half of the year but although there were lots of days I wanted to crawl under that duvet, I bounced off the bed and got on with my life. My memories of 2016 are full of the positive things and some great achievements. Definitely these challenges have given me a lot to enjoy and be proud of.

My greatest achievement

Has to be running 10 miles in the Great South Run. Who knows I may do this again.

Funniest moments – more than 1!

  1. Trip to Fuerteventura – the trip back to Lanzarote on the ferry was a bit rocky. Funny watching the crew running round with sick bags. Okay I know I can say that because we were okay and enjoyed an ice cream when we got back!
  2. Making Viennese Whirls with Jordan. Great achievement but it was amusing watching Jordan doing some of the preparation!
  3. Learning how to skip – who would have thought that something I could do so easily as a child could be so hard
  4. Trying to sit back-to-back with Kathryn, putting our feed down and pushing back until we both stand up – there is a video of this – maybe I will share sometime!

Favourite Days out with the kids

Jordan – trip to London. We had a great day wandering around and going on the cable cars. A beautiful sunny day too.
Kathryn – On another beautiful day, we visited Brighton, a favourite place for me and the kids. Enjoyed seeing Brighton from the BA i360 and having our photos taken

Favourite Music this year

Justin Timberlake – Can’t Stop the Feeling. This song is the song I think of when I remember the Great South Run. Inspired me at the beginning and is a favourite when running although I do have to be careful I don’t dance and clap my hands.

Craig David and Sigala – Ain’t Giving Up. I just loved this record. On listening to the words, it does sum up my year.

George Michael – December Song (I Dreamed of Christmas). This song used to be my ringtone at Christmas until I changed phones. After hearing it on a shopping trip before Christmas, I realised it was missing from my music collection. I kept hearing it after that and it is truly a beautiful song. It is now on my iPod and I will not be losing it again.

I have enjoyed my challenges so far. It is certainly making my 50th birthday last and I can’t wait to share more completed challenges with you.

One of the challenges I have found more challenging than I thought it would be was reading a different book in a genre I would normally. I love reading and some I have chosen have been tough. For January, I have decided to pick a book (this might lead to more than one) as a reference book to help goals. In the past, I have downloaded a few of this type and get fed up with them but thought I would buy one and give it my best shot. I have gone for one called 50 New Year’s Resolutions – How to Make Them, How to Keep Them. I don’t normally make resolutions, just goals and not normally at the beginning of the year. Hopefully this will help me complete my challenges. Will share later.

Happy New Year.