It’s a Family Affair

I have been back from my holiday for over a week and have been trying to get back into the flow of things. I actually did very well in the first few days and made a great start on my new 50 challenges of this year. Just to recap, I plan to cook 50 recipes from all the lovely cookery books I have in my special corner.

Recipe Books

So I made lots of hints before my birthday and was delighted to receive the new book by Joe Wicks (the Body Coach), Cooking for Family and Friends. Joe has three other books out and whilst Jordan has cooked a few lovely recipes from them and I have cooked a few, I have not followed as a healthy eating plan. What I like about him is he does make food sound like a friend and not an enemy. He takes away the calories as most of the recipes are higher in calories than the normal diet books but he encourages you to exercise. I am a great believer in eating and exercising although I have to confess I am doing far much of the eating and not enough of the exercise lately.

Once I had my holiday washing sorted, I sat with the book and looked for a recipe to try for my first week. There was so many recipes that I wanted to try and I was drooling looking through. As Jordan was going to be home for a week and also Kathryn was around too, it was a good week to be cooking something from the book. In the end, I decided on Baked Chicken Sausage Risotto but before this was cooked, I couldn’t resist trying something from the sides section, Hassleback Potatoes. I know that I shouldn’t be surprised but I was amazed when I finished cooking and the completed dish looked like the picture in the book!

Joe Wicks Hasselback Potatoes
Tina’s Hasselback Potatoes

Now for the baked chicken sausage risotto. I am trying to plan my meals so I have a category for each day. I remember when I was growing up, we had certain food each day of the week. I didn’t have healthy foods but I thought that the they could be incorporated into one day of the week and I would call it “Comfort Tuesday”. It will include all the foods I love to make me feel better about life; simple egg and chips were Monday’s meal, a mince dish for Tuesday (who doesn’t love cottage pie on a cold day) and sausages on a Wednesday. Confession time here; I didn’t like Wednesdays. Rupert was on the TV (I don’t know why I didn’t like him and his checked trousers!) and the sausages were never nice. I love sausages now and always go for healthy ones. I often make meatballs with them and whilst tomato ketchup isn’t a favourite of mine, one of our favourite sausage recipes is sausages marinated in tomato sauce, honey and mustard. So to get Comfort Tuesday started, this was a perfect recipe.

Whilst I think I might have made a risotto before, rice isn’t something I have mastered. I tend to stick to bags otherwise I end up with a sticky mess. The recipe stated that baking risotto is much easier as it only requires a few stirs and the oven does the rest of the hard work. Sounded like my kind of recipe.

Most of the ingredients needed were ingredients I always have in the cupboard or fridge so I didn’t need to buy too many extra bits. I did buy some fresh herbs but think I might actually start growing my own. I am inspired by one of my 50 birthday challenges to grow vegetables that I think growing herbs would be a wonderful thing to do. Although the day I chose to cook this was a particularly hot June day, I did actually enjoy the process of getting the ingredients prepared. The recipe stated 10 minutes preparation; Tina’s time was around 25 minutes! My normal plodding time. The ingredients certainly looked good.

Prepared ingredients

I needed a large hob-proof casserole dish or ovenproof saucepan that I could use on the hob then put in the oven. The pan I used was one that I bought 7 years ago from Lakeland. I have used it quite a lot and it cooks and cleans very well. The only disadvantage is the handles do get very hot so you have to be very careful when cooking with it. I will replace it sometime but it does the job for now.

I had to start with frying the ingredients in coconut oil. As a bit of a Rosemary Conley fan, I don’t tend to use oil but my new attitude to cooking and eating is enjoy the food so I am open to most things now. The frying up didn’t take long and I did manage to cook the dish in the 35 minutes, the time stated.

Stir Fried ingredients
Ready to go into oven

On a warm June Tuesday evening, we were able to sit down to a very tasty meal. It is one that I will make again and hoping to share it with some of my friends.

Joe Wickes Baked Chicken Sausage Risotto

It was a family affair and recipe one completed.

I’ve Got The Recipe And It’s Called Teen’s Magic

50ticks came to an end on 6th June. I had a great birthday followed by a lovely holiday in Gran Canaria again. It has given me a chance to recharge my batteries: the last two weeks of the challenge were very intense and I really didn’t know if I was coming or going! I already had an idea of what I would do with my blog so here is the big reveal.

Puerto De Mogan

Whilst completing the challenges, I certainly found a lot of things I enjoyed and also found I needed to cut a few things down to fit everything in. My completion of my cross stitching kit renewed my love of the hobby and I am planning on spending two hours for five days a week, stitching. Reading has probably been a bit of a casualty. I am still enjoying reading but probably being a bit more select now. I will hopefully get through the library on my Kindle sometime.

Gorjuss Puddles of Love – next project

The challenges that stretched me sometimes were the cooking and baking challenges. I have a pasta machine which I do plan to use regularly. I realised that choux pastry was quite easy. Even when things went wrong, I did find that it was “fun” trying to correct it.

These challenges made me realise that cooking and baking is my release from life’s daily routine and stresses. I might have found making croissants a little bit stressful but it was a good feeling when the family tasted them and said “they were just like croissants” ! Making jammy dodgers were so much fun on a beautiful winter’s day.

I decided to keep with my 50ticks for my theme of my blog but this year it will be around cooking. I have shared my wonderful cookery book selection and have to admit that some of the books haven’t been used. I am going to try to cook/bake 50 different recipes using the books I have. Along the way, I want to try different recipes and methods to find the best Victoria sandwich(I actually do like the one I use but different methods do change the texture), try to perfect pastry, create a set weekly menu (meat free Monday and maybe fishy friday) as well as trying 12 dishes I would like to cook (I love lemon meringue pie but I have tried twice unsuccessfully to make this). A bake from my past and one I remember my Grandad baking was cream horns. I was reminded of these by my uncle a few weeks back and thought these would be great to share with my own family. A lot of jam will go in mine!

Recipe Books
Lemon Meringue Pie

I have carried on with my baking club subscription so will also share the boxes I receive.

Baking Subscription

I have thrown away the scales (well I refuse to get on them anyway), and know that I have increased my weight because my trousers are a bit tight so to begin with I plan to find some healthy recipes. Eating sensibly along with a good fitness routine should be all I need.

I did have two recipe books for my birthday:, one is about the Ritz teas. Kathryn bought me that as it was a challenge to go there. The price was a problem there but this little book tells me about the history of the Ritz teas plus different afternoon teas . I will try some in a few months. The other book, which should be very useful at the moment is Joe Wicks new book, Cooking for Family and friends. Joe is the big name at the moment to tone up and lose weight. Jordan has all his other books and recipes are good so I am looking forward to trying this one.

Book of Afternoon Tea
Joe Wicks Cooking For Family and Friends

I’m looking forward to taking on this challenge and hopefully will be able to share lots of successful cooking and eating experiences over the next year.

Bake Yourself Happy
Bake Yourself Happy

I’ve Had The Time Of My Life

On 6th June on your blog, write about how you found being 50

How do I start this post? This morning I read my post about turning 50. Reading it made me feel very happy about the past year. I have actually found myself feeling a bit sad over the last couple of weeks that my 50th year is nearly over; however, what I should be doing is embracing the rest of the nine years in my 50s. Maybe I should make nine goals to complete in the run up to my 60th. Now that sounds a good idea.

So how have I found being 50? I realise it is just a number; how you find life is about how you live it. This does also depends on your health too. Certainly having the challenges have made this year a lot more interesting and it is something I would recommend whatever the age or the digit at the end. It makes the day worth getting up for even when the sun isn’t shining, gets you to try to do things you might not have done before and just makes you so happy that you grin like an idiot when you achieve something.

Grinning like an idiot

There is a part of me that wants to say that being 50 has been the best year of my life but that would take away the wonderful things that have happened previously:

My 20s – marriage and starting a family
My 30s – watching my children blossom
My 40s – restarting my career (being a mother is a wonderful career) and finding the courage to start running (taught me you could do anything you set your mind to)

I think the difference at 50 is I am a bit more carefree. The year certainly didn’t start off as a bed of roses; there has certainly been a few obstacles thrown in the way. One thing I have had though, is total support from my family to complete the challenges which is the best thing you can ask for in life.

In the last month, I have had a foot pain which has put a bit of a stop on some of my exercising. I realised that the exercising is a huge part of my life; as well as keeping me fit, it does make me very happy. I did feel down that I couldn’t run, had to drive to work more times in the last month than I had done in the last six months and had that niggle that this maybe a sign I am getting old. I had a bit of a chat to myself and told myself that the foot will get better. Just rest up a bit and it will be fine. I still might run tomorrow though; it is global running day so would be rude not to!

So before I gave you my top 10 of my favourite challenges ( in no particular order), what have I found about the challenges? The challenges have meant that I tried things that I wouldn’t normally try. Whilst I have run for 4 years now, I would never have believed that I could do the Great South run and actually enjoy it. I have found a lipstick I like and use, enjoy buying myself and others flowers, surprised myself by painting up a frame and found it great to plant seeds and watch them grow. I have appreciated reading more; I always enjoyed it but instead of just buying a book because it is cheap on Amazon, I plan to make sure I read my favourite authors regularly. Through Kathryn’s challenge of reading her favourite books, I have certainly discovered some new authors that I will continue to enjoy.

So what are my top 10. Well here goes (I am sorry if I left you off but have enjoyed everything!):

  1. Cooking a three course meal consisting of three different cultures
  2. Sign up and run the Great South run
  3. Frame a photograph you have always wanted to
  4. Visit your daughter in Cardiff (loved all the outings but welsh cakes are lovely)
  5. Visit your son in London
  6. Visit somewhere in England you never have before (I miss George but his music will live on forever)
  7. Start and complete a sewing project
  8. Make croissants (now that one is a surprise)
  9. Write a short story of 1,500 – 3,000 (I surprised myself with this one)
  10. Make blog! (I will continue a blog but on a bit of a different theme. More to come)

Buying a new lipstick nearly made it but writing a short story had it!

Being 50 has been great – 51 is going to be just as good.

The final point is have I made 50 ticks? We did do Shbam as the different dance class which was enjoyable. Loved the teacher and even think I might return to the centre we used to try some different classes there. Aquafit next on the list to try. Kathryn was a bit cross at me with the languages but after making a chocolate cake for work last night, I put in a little bit of practice and after work today I tried to practice. I promised that I would continue. Tonight after giving me a present for completing the challenges, Kathryn and I had our own spa evening. We soaked our feet and painted our nails whilst toasting with the prosecco.

50 ticks

Thank you for the longest birthday I have had, Kathryn. I even enjoyed the challenges I moaned about! I have had the time of my life x

A Winner Never Quits (Don’t Give Up)

Tomorrow is the final day that I have to complete the challenges. Today I have 6 left to get a tick against. They are:

Challenge 4 – Revisit learning French – I got this changed to Spanish. If I am very honest, this isn’t going too well. I did sign up for a course on Future Learn. First part of course needed me to type answers with the correct accents over. I work from a laptop and the process of downloading the keyboard was so complicated – very foreign to me. Next I tried a website Kathryn told me to use – Saysomethingin. I have to say it was very good but I have so far only managed one lesson. I need a compromise here.

Challenge 18 – Learn 7 – 10 (new) German words a week. Another foreign language one that I haven’t mastered. There is a pattern here – I am only just mastering English!

Challenge 19 –  Spa day with your daughter. Partly achieved whereby we did go swimming yesterday completing another of my challenges; no 48  – take up swimming on some level. I had been trying to pluck up the courage to do this for sometime. I can swim but I have a confidence issue. I had found a small private pool and evantually booked to go yesterday. It was great having the pool to ourselves and we managed 100 lengths (I did say a small pool!). It was enjoyable but I am slightly deaf now due to water in my ear! I do think I might try aqua-size in my local pool now as I do think I would get a lot of benefits from exercising in water. To complete this challenge, we are aiming to get our nails done on Tuesday. I think a proper spa day might be on the cards later in the year.

Challenge 28 – Take a dance class with your daughter. We are completing tonight. Going to do Shbam. I have no idea either but should be interesting!!

Challenge 49 – Make blog! I think I can have that one although I will share with you tomorrow more on how I will continue.

Challenge 50 – On 6th June on your blog, write about how you found being 50. That can’t be done until tomorrow!

Apart from the first two challenges which I am going to have to strike a deal with Kathryn so I get a rollover challenge, I will get this completed.

The challenge I did complete yesterday which I enjoyed more than I thought I would was reading Kathryn’s 10 favourite books in “proper” book format. She does have more so I plan to read a few more. The books, in no particular order, were:

Dream a little Dream by Giovanna Fletcher
Stolen by Lucy Christopher
I Was Here by Gayle Forman
Looking for Alaska by John Green
I am Malala by Malala Yousasafzai and Patricia McCormick
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The Invoice by Jonas Karlsson
The Truth about Forever by Sarah Desen
Scarlett by Cathy Cassidy
Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

Writing the list, I realise I can not count (which is very bad news for the clients!) and have actually read 11. How did I not notice this?!!

I was a little negative at first about reading a “proper” book but I did enjoy reading them all. I know that Kathryn would like to know what my favourite was and that is a very hard question. They all had something about them that I loved and a lot of different issues were tackled in each. I am Malala and Reasons to Stay Alive are non-fiction and were telling you about problems faced by both authors. I think that my favourite has to be The Truth about Forever. The book is about Macy, who at 17 years old is still coming to terms with her father’s death by trying to be perfect whilst her mother and sister cope with it in different ways. Macy starts working for a catering firm and becomes friends with an interesting group of people and finally allows herself to open up. I loved the characters in the book and whilst it is written for teens, it was a book I couldn’t put down.

See you tomorrow for the final chapter of my challenges. I will not quit!

Sisters are doing it for themselves (well for mums, dads and everyone really)

Well there was two more ticks today – a few problems with both challenges but I think Kathryn has passed both with ticks.

After doing The Great South Run which I will always be proud of doing and will always be grateful for Kathryn setting me this challenge, today’s challenge of running a 10k run with Kathryn should have been just a run in the park! Unfortunately my body had other ideas! I had been determined to prepare for this run and make sure I did 10k practice every month. January 1st was my first 10k of the year so I was on to a great start. I was running regularly in April but after a run on April 29th, I found myself limping. I had a pain in the bottom heel area of my right foot. I carried on walking to work but it got very painful. With my race for life 10k run looming, it was not good news. I did manage to go to zumba and tried to take it easier than normal but managed to hurt my knee! It was great yesterday when I had my first day without a limp so I was hopeful that I would be able to run today.

Finding a 10K run before Tuesday proved difficult locally so today’s run was for a great cause, Race for Life, at Royal Windsor Racecourse. It did mean a very early start with Chris driving us up at 7 a.m. Luckily the day was gorgeous and the venue for the run was stunning. Before the start of the race there was a guest speaker from a survivor of cancer; a great inspiration as to why we were running this race. After a warm up, we found ourselves near the front for the start of the run. I would love to say I ran the whole of the race but with being a bit out of practice and the heat of the day, I did have to ask Kathryn to walk a few times (okay more than a few times!).  I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t run all the way this time but it was great running with Kathryn and running for such a great cause. I do have a bit of pain in my foot but not as bad as previously. Once it is fully healed, hopefully I will take on another running challenge.

My second tick today was challenge number 35 – DVD night with your kids (one film chosen by each). This has been very difficult to arrange with Kathryn being in her final year at university and Jordan back in London and having restricted time at home. We decided to change to just one film and all of us sat (well collapsed) in front of the TV this afternoon and watched Kathryn’s choice, Me Before You. Kathryn and I had seen this at the cinema but it was just as emotional watching it the second time. It was a hit with Chris and Jordan too. I still want to watch the film I would have chosen so we will find some time in the next couple of months. One of my favourites, and one that Jordan and Kathryn haven’t watched, Sixth Sense.

I only have 8 more to do but with only a few more days, can it be done! I will have a good try.

With A Little Help From My Friends

40 out of 50 ticks completed!!!

I have only got 4 days left until deadline day. In my job, I often have deadline day, and whilst my new job still has deadlines, I don’t have anywhere near the pressures of my last job. The day I left my last job wasn’t just a day of bringing a cake in and saying goodbye; I worked until home time (actually I think I worked later), with the added pressure of a power cut thrown in. A little bit of pressure makes you stronger, right?! So midnight on June the 6th (or should I say 12 a.m. on June the 7th), I will hopefully have completed 50 challenges.

Leaving cake

So what have I been up to the last 5 days. Well I would love to tell you I had completed most of the challenges but that would be fantasy. I have been exhausted but it is time to get on with the show! Actually I had spent most of the bank holiday weekend cooking for one of the challenges I have made a little harder on myself. Challenge number 8 was to host a MacMillan Tea Party. I did make a lovely cake for Macmillan coffee morning and take it into work. We raised £11 but I didn’t think that was good enough for the challenge.

There are so many charities that I would love to raise money for but I do think it is hard to ask for people to part with their money. Charity runs etc are brilliant but sometimes I think if a person is actually taking part in the event, and charged for it, it is a bit easier. Kathryn and I paid £10 each to do a 3 hour zumbathon in April; got fit, had fun and helped raise £1,000 for 2 charities on a Saturday morning.

Our local radio station have a special charity called Cash for Kids to “support local children under the age of 18, who are financially, socially, emotionally or physically disadvantaged”. They hold auctions, collect Christmas presents, wrap and present to the less fortunate, hold quiz nights, take part in local event etc. One of the fundraising events I wanted to take part in was the 1,000 faces where you have to raise £100 in whatever way you want. You have to do it by December. I decided to change challenge 8 a little bit, signed up and instead of going out with family and friends, invite them round and ask them to donate something to cash for kids. The grand total so far is £75 (would love to have made £100 by D day but it will be a great excuse to continue). Here are some of the things I have done so far:

Mother’s Day breakfast prepared by Jordan

Breakfast with Jordan

Lunch with Leanne and Kelly (first try of cheesecake. Dessert of 2017)

Kelly and Leanne

Tea with my sister to celebrate what would have been our mum’s 75th birthday

Chocolate Honeycomb Cake

Tea party with Ellis

Scones for tea

Early birthday celebrations with Joan and Lyn. Vegetarian food with 2nd outing of yummy cheesecake)

Yummy Cheesecake

I do plan to continue having people round; it is hard work but so worth it. My food is made with love so hopefully it tastes as good as what we would have in the pubs, restaurants and cafes. Everything I have done so far has been relaxed (once the cooking is done that is!) and I am enjoying it.

With a little help with my friends, we can hopefully raise a bit more than £100 whilst gaining a tick for the challenge. Tomorrow is the 10k run; I have a poorly foot but if I can’t run it all, I will walk it.

P.S. Kathryn let me have the course challenge.