Category Archives: 50 Challenges

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.

Let It Grow

Well another tick for me. Well two actually; numbers 11 and 12 – grow your own plant with materials provided by your daughter and then pick out and plant a vegetable of your choice.

I kept putting of this challenge because gardening has never been my thing and I certainly didn’t know what to do with the seeds. I got them out of my box quite a few times and looked at them. I’m not that good with keeping plants either but this 50th year, I did get some practice. Chris bought me this lovely peace lily and orchid They are still living! Jordan also bought us herb seeds and a pot for a stocking filler at Christmas and we have had fresh coriander and parsley. Watching it grow has been fun (we are like kids seeing them sprout up) and actually using them in recipes was rewarding.

I still put this challenge off. Chris had started a contract with a garden centre so that proved helpful. We went along to one of their branches and bought the items we thought we would need. They remained in their bag for several weeks. Last week, I thought I would do something about it. Sunday saw me clutching a present from Chris: a diblet and cell tray trowels (I really didn’t have a clue!), I started to plant seeds in our seed trays. As well as peas and marigolds given to me by Kathryn, I planted carrots, spring onions, rocket leaves and peppers. Tuesday, Chris sent me a photo of the rocket growing. Must have done something right. A week later, everything apart from the peppers have “sprouted” so might need to thing about repotting and then deciding where to plant for the final growing.

Ready to be planted
Planted
Tuesday leaves coming up
No peppers yet
Peas, carrots and marigold

Maybe gardening will be my new hobby.

If You Judge A Book By Its Cover

I think I can put another tick against challenge no 5 – read a book every month of a genre you don’t/don’t often read. I say think as Kathryn suggested my May book and I have only got half way through and decided that I can’t waste anymore of my life on that particular book. I will explain later my reasons.

Here are the books I did read:

June – Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (Kathryn’s choice)
July – Cut – One Woman’s fight against FGM in Britain Today by Hibo Wardere
August – The Sand Men by Christopher Fowler (Jordan’s choice)
September – Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
October – Carrie by Stephen King
November – Our Life on Ice by Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean
December – Mr Stink by David Walliams
January – 50 New Year’s Resolutions -How To Make Them, How To Keep Them by Fiona Steinkemp
February – Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
March – Edinburgh Visitor Guide 2016/2107 by David Wheater
April – Animal Farm by George Orwell
May – How To Be A Woman by Caitlan Moran

I have enjoyed most of the books and I will be reading a lot more of Agatha Christie. Some of them have been hard going; classics in particular. However, I do plan to dedicate September to reading one of this genre. Self help books have not been one of my things but as well as my January read, I have also enjoyed Challenge Yourself, I Dare You so I will be making this type a regular read.

So now I must share with you why I can not read anymore of How To Be A Woman. My relationship might never be the same with Kathryn again.

Should you judge a book by its cover?

The description of the book doesn’t tell you too much but the last paragraph probably explains why I didn’t enjoy it:

“Part memoir, part rant. Caitlin answers the questions that every modern woman is asking”

The book has 313 pages; not a huge book. Why, after 10 days of reading am I only half way through and basically feel like what is the point. One of the points is to realise I am and should be proud of being a feminist. I do think that Caitlin has made a few good points but my problem is I do not enjoy her memoirs at all. Maybe this is because I am a stick in the mud and the thought of my children (one male and one female) behaving in the way she has, is not what I want to know. Don’t get me wrong; they will always be doing something I don’t know about and that’s the way I like it! 160 pages along and it appears that Caitlin is an absolute star; she appears to have landed a job at the age of 16 in a music journal office in London and has her own place to live with her boyfriend at the age of 18. Maybe if I allow myself to be tortured for another 10 days, I will get to find out how to be a woman. Personally, at 50 (okay closer to 51), I am quite happy with the way I have lived my life, know how I want to dress and enjoy the activities I want to. At 18 years old, I experienced the “club scene”, knew it wasn’t for me and found what I wanted. In my mind, making my own choices is being a feminist.

So sorry Kathryn (and Caitlin), I might be being narrow minded, but the book is going into the heading in my kindle of “books I am not enjoying”.

2 out of 3 ain’t bad

Last Saturday, Kathryn and I set off to London on a  coach  to complete 3 of my challenges:

  • Challenge 2 – visit the Ritz (change of venue due to afternoon tea being a little more expensive than poor student (Kathryn) can afford
  • Challenge 3 – while in London for the Ritz, gone and see a show you haven’t seen before
  • Challenge 20 – try some sort of course with your daughter

Due to a change of plan with going to the Ritz, we were combining 2 and 20; Jordan had given us a Christmas present for the Cookery School in London to do a Cookery course. We picked an afternoon tea course so we were going to be shown how to make and also participate in making tea plus eat it afterwards.

With the show, we put the pressure on Jordan; Kathryn and I gave Jordan the name of 2 shows that we wanted to see and got him to pick one and organise the tickets for us. When we set off, we didn’t know each other’s choices and just had an envelope with tickets in and instructions to get us to the theatre. At the coach station, we told each other the choices.

Kathryn’s choices

The Lion King
Book of Mormons

My choices

42nd Street
Stepping Out

On the coach we opened the envelope. Jordan had chosen Stepping Out with Amanda Holden starring.

To relieve some boredom (and to get back at the fact my theatre choice had been chosen), Kathryn decided that I should have a German lesson. Well, I soon got her back for that; remember Phoebe trying to teach Joey French in one of the Friend’s episode. That was exactly what it was like. My pronunciation was definitely not coming out the same as I was hearing it. By the end of the coach journey, I could almost remember the German for:

I am an accountant
On Wednesday, I dance at Zumba
But last week I read

By the end of Saturday, I remembered nothing. Oh well, another challenge on the way.

We had lots of time before the course started so instead of taking the tube, we decided to walk. Walking instructions are easy to find when you have a mobile phone; following the starting instructions are another matter. No idea what go north on this road means. Needless to say, a few wrong directions but we did find our destination. On the way, we did pass the Ritz. We are going to have tea there one day.

We needed food. I spotted a Slug and Lettuce and decided that would be a good place to go. One of my things now I am 50 is to try to avoid the chains but Slug and Lettuce does give you reasonably priced food and a variety of choices. I went semi healthy and chose a chicken Caesar salad in a tortilla bowl. I wasn’t expecting this but it was nice.

It was then time to get wet. My weather app hasn’t been too helpful recently but it had said rain in London between 12 and 2 so I was prepared. Gave us an excuse to pop into some shops. Then we headed to Little Portland Street for our course.

We were both a bit nervous about this. There were eight of us altogether and the other people were very nice. We had a glass of wine at the start; probably not a good thing for me. Course started promptly at 2 p.m. and we were shown how to make a sweet pastry which we were going to be using for small lemon tarts. Then we were shown how to make bread and how to prove it. Some mixture had already been made to use for some rolls. This was our first job; we were expected to roll into rolls. Now something you should know is I hated home economics at school. I was never going to be a cook and I was happy to give up the subject. Ironic that as soon as I had my own kitchen and, with the aid of cookery books, I began to enjoy cooking. Memories of my dread at school came back and whilst I would never shine in this cookery course, I certainly know I had the skill to pull off some, if not all of the recipes. Some would need practice but in Tina’s way, I will do them.

We were soon filling pastry cases, watching lemon curd and jam being made, getting tips on how to make a ganache (I will be trying this), preparing scotch eggs, slicing and buttering bread (really do you need all that butter) and watching scones being made. It was soon time to eat what had been prepared. With a glass of sparkling wine, we sat down and toasted to our tea. It was all yummy and the cucumber in the sandwiches which had been salted and allowed to drain with a saucer on top, was very good. The rather delicious cake with cream in the middle and ganache on top but it was a little too much after all the other delights.

All in all, the course was very good and I came away with some good tips but I am not sure if I would take part in another course like this. I alway follow recipe instructions but do like to have the freedom to make my own mistakes and learn about them in my own.

The streets of London were very crowded and Jordan’s detailed instructions to get us to the theatre had to be abandoned due to the station being closed. We thought we would walk there. Once again, directions proved a little difficult to decipher and it probably took us longer to get there.

The show was at the Vauderville theatre situated in the Strand. On presenting our tickets, we were told to see one of the other ladies who would reseat us. I had given Jordan a budget for our seats and we should have been seated in the upper circle. We were changed to stalls and had a great position. Feeling very good for the change certainly encouraged me to buy a programme for my 50th box.

Stepping Out isn’t one of the singing musicals we normally go for but more a comedy with characters who had sad stories to tell but with a very good feel ending. It was written by Richard Harris as a play and later into a film with Liza Minnelli playing a former Broadway dancer. Mavis now teaching a weekly tap dancer to a group of women and one man who have different personal issues but enjoy their one night trying to learn to tap. Mavis hears about a competition and decides to enter the group in it.

I don’t think I have seen the film but it has always been highly recommended by Lana, our Zumba teacher. Amanda Holden, who plays Vera in the production we saw, actually saw the film and decided she would love to act in a theatre production with some of her acting friends.

I was intrigued by the play and I managed to escape to my own little world watching it. It was a play which I laughed so much at but cried too with the pain each character went through. The cast was fantastic and played each character so well. It was easy to miss something going on in the background. The first half is short. The final half longer and leads you up to the finale which you are expecting.

There are so many shows in the West End that it is hard to pick one to go to. That’s why we gave the choice to Jordan. The theatre wasn’t full which is why we probably had a change of seats but I really enjoyed the show and am pleased that we went to see something different.

On starting this post,2 Kathryn has told me that I am not allowed a tick for challenge 20 which disappointed me. With only 12 days left, I don’t think I’ve enough time to fit a different course in. Oh well, guess 2 out of 3 isn’t bad and going to have to get ready for not getting 50 ticks! We did have a lovely day in London.

Under Pressure

Just 21 days to go. These weeks are going very quickly. Certainly feeling the pressure.

As of today, the position is:

33 completed
9 are ongoing or in planning stages
3 will be completed on Saturday
5 to do

On Sunday, after feeling very under pressure with making croissants, I did finish one of my other challenges; up cycle/DIY something from a charity shop. I bought a frame just after Christmas and thought I would have ago at trying to paint it shabby chic style. The frame cost £3 and was a metallic gold style. Not the most perfect for shabby chic but as I am not the most creative, anything was going to be a challenge.

Original frame

To make life easier for me, I decided that with help from Chris, I would take the frames apart and just paint one. To find out how I should do it, I just typed how to shabby chic a picture frame. I found some great tips and needed to buy paint, sandpaper, paint brushes and a white candle.

There were 9 points on my instructions to follow. I actually started it three weeks ago and then left the final step. I was a bit concerned here that I would get it wrong. Just in case I did, I thought I would paint a second frame too.

Not being very creative, I was actually impressed with each step. I did find that I was a bit too rough with the sandpaper but the effect was better than I thought I would achieve.

Challenge 43

When I was first given these challenges, Kathryn asked me what I thought of them. I had some that I was a bit frightened about and this was certainly one. One thing I struggle with is creativity. As I say, the result is not perfect but it was a wonderful way to pass a Sunday afternoon. I will certainly have a go at doing something like this again. Hopefully Christmas will see some creativity.

Okay, so 17 challenges left to get a tick. I am going to make my children feel the pressure as I need their help on my to do list. Apart from my 50th task, which I can’t do until 6th June, the other four need their help because they are involved. I accept that this has been difficult because Kathryn has been doing her final exams, and Jordan is living in London and appears to have a life (note Kathryn that for once, you are put first. Youngest children are always mentioned last normally but this is your present to me!).

So pressure on and help me with the following quickly:

Challenge 18 – Learn 7 – 10 (new) German words a week – arrange weekly vocal tests with your daughter. I really need your help here, Kathryn. Languages scare me and I don’t think this is achievable – putting pressure on.

Challenge 19 – Spa day with your daughter* (*paid for by your daughter too!)!!!! Pressure on again, Kathryn. We can forget about you paying for it. Poor students can’t afford that!

Challenge 28 – Take a dance class with your daughter. Come on, get those dancing shoes on.

Challenge 35 – DVD night with your kids – one film chosen by each. Jordan, you don’t get let off. We need a date for this and soon. I know the film I am choosing.

Now kids, a bit of pressure on you. HELP! An extra pressure for Kathryn: SEND ME THE PHOTOS FOR CHALLENGE 26!

The language challenges are going to be tough for me. I am hoping that Kathryn is going to let me have a tick if I make an effort and promise I will keep up. So under pressure.

Voulez-vous faire des croissants?

Challenge 30 – Make croissants. Now did I want to make croissants? I can say after reading the recipe from Paul Hollywood’s How To Bake, I really didn’t want to make croissants. I was so frightened about this challenge and I kept putting it off.

First of all, about Paul Hollywood. When I first saw Paul Hollywood on Great British Bake Off, he came over like a Simon Cowell type judge of the baking world; the villain you want to hiss at like you would in the pantomime. Just like Simon Cowell, he is the bad boy you can’t help liking and all contestants want to impress. Jordan has bought me two of his books, the one I was using for the croissants and British Baking. I have used British Baking more but both books do have a good layout; the croissant recipe explains what ingredients to use and there is a step-by-step photograph section. Easy stuff!!

First part of the recipe is easy enough. The good old food processor was used and the instructions are very clear for this. The first part of the dough was made easily. Croissants take a long time to do because there is a lot of chilling to do; the dough needed to go in the fridge for an hour.

Next part didn’t seem too difficult but I didn’t achieve what Paul was asking. The butter has to be chilled and you have to bash it with a rolling pin. I did not have the skills for this at all. Not to be put off, I consulted other books; my favourites let me down and didn’t have any recipes but the food processor book did. It said to dot the with butter. I took that method but folded as Paul’s recipe. I was not convinced and, at this stage, I thought I was doing this recipe for a tick and would never make croissants ever again. The shop over the road sold them so why should I! I put the dough back in the fridge for another hour.

I had to roll out and fold into three, three more times chilling for an hour in-between each folding; the dough, not me! I was at this stage thinking are these ever going to be edible. To make up for the likelihood of them failing, I baked a Victoria sponge just to prove I could bake!

After the last roll out and fold, the dough had to be put back in the fridge overnight. Despite my changing the method a little, I did actually think that it did look like Paul’s photo so was hoping it would turn out okay. That didn’t stop me waking up at 6.15 a.m. and rushing down the stairs to check I had added the yeast correctly at stage 1. Huge relief when I found I had.

The final process of making the croissants needed to be done; rolling the dough to a particular size, cutting the pastry into 12 triangles and then rolling up into a croissant. I had convinced myself this would be hard but it was much easier. Had to leave to rise for 2 hours before baking. By 9.50 a.m. we had croissants which, surprise, surprise, looked like croissants and tasted like them too!

I ask myself the question again; voulez-vous faire des croissants? The answer is yes I will make you croissants. Would you like normal, almond or pain au chocolat?