I Bake the Cakes – Help Yourself

I love cooking and I have a few challenges to do with cooking.  Host a MacMillan Tea Party, bake a cake you have never tried before, buy some kind of baking machine, make and document something with it and many more.

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I never enjoyed cooking at school but once I had my own kitchen to cook in and a copy of Delia Smith’s Complete Cookery Course (well used as you can see), I was on my way to making wonderful roasts, quick pasta dishes, Monday night curries with leftovers and beautiful cakes.  I discovered Mary Berry and when the children came along, I made traybakes to put in their lunch boxes.

My favourite cake for birthdays is still the good old Victoria sponge which my daughter also makes a mean one too.  Baking with the children was always a favourite thing and my son does experiment now and again.

Birthday Cake
Kathryn baking
Kathryn baking
Jordan's homemade battenburg, swiss roll and shortbread
Jordan’s homemade battenburg, swiss roll and shortbread

Nothing beats a homemade meal or cake and it is also very therapeutic.  It certainly can calm me down after a stressful day at work although sometimes I might just go for the good old fish and chips from the local chippie! I really think cooking lessons should be prescribed by Doctors!

I had friends who always insisted that Birthday and Christmas presents should never be a household item including cooking equipment.  I might object to a vacuum cleaner but I never minded to some new piece that I could bake with.  A few years ago I did say I did not want another thing for the kitchen.  However this turned up and I  happily accepted it!

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My daughter’s boyfriend, Aaron treated me to some wonderful birthday presents for my 50th birthday.  One of them was a subscription to the Bakedin Baking Club.  It has been wonderful.  I have now received three boxes which have a recipe inside with step by step instructions to cook.

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There is also bags of ingredients weighed out in numbered bags.

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All you need to do is add a few ingredients which are normally in my cupboard, a baking tin and bake.  Cherry Crumble Squares were today’s delight.  I quickly whizzed up the cake mixture in my processor, poured into the prepared tin, added the cherries and put in the oven for 10 minutes whilst I made the crumble.  The crumble was then added to the top of the cake mixture and returned to the oven for a further 30 minutes.

The cooking smells were delicious and I couldn’t wait to try.   When cut the cherries had sunk to the bottom and I did wonder if I should have washed and dried before I put on top of the sponge mixture but overall it didn’t take make any difference to the taste which had a lovely spicy taste from the cinnamon.  This had been included in bag 4 with the self raising flour.

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We served it with custard and cream as a dessert and it was a big hit. The instruction card comes with all the ingredients and weights that is included in the kit so I will definitely be baking this again.

My next box has arrived and I can’t wait to bake this.

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Happy baking.

Keep on Running

As previously mentioned in my About Page, I started running three years ago.  I started slowly by following the couch25k programme.  I must admit that whilst I built myself up to run for 30 minutes, I rarely achieved the 5k.  After running a lot in May, I have pushed myself to go further which is a good thing as there are a few running challenges to complete.  Today I managed a tick on Challenge 25 – Change your running route one day.

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Not very adventurous, I normally run round the block a few times.  I change the direction and that is when I am being daring.  I also keep to quite a flat surface and do not cross busy roads.  After joining the Strava community, I try to sign up for a monthly challenge and this month was completing 10k.  I thought I would combine this with changing the route.  So first thing I had to do was to turn right instead of left, cross the road at the traffic lights and head towards the sea.  It was very pleasant and I was soon at what I thought was half way.  Quick look at my phone and I had only run 1.8 miles.  Knowing I wanted to achieve 6.2 miles I thought rather than go back the same way, I would change my route again to make it longer.  I found out the reason I stick to the same route.  If I ever got tired, I was not far away from home.  2 miles from home feeling I could not run any further did not seem fun to me.  I realised that this was psychological and I had to overcome it.

One of the things that helps me with my running is my music.  I always start with a walk to George Micheal’s version of Feeling Good.  Then I go onto my running play list which has a mixture of songs that I love.  I was really needing something to keep me running when Tony Christie’s Is this the Way to Amarillo came on.  Just the inspiration I needed.  One of my Mum’s favourites so I felt she was spurring me on. On the home straight, I was further inspired by Kelly Clarkson’s Stronger, Aston Merryfield’s Get Stupid and the one that kept me going to the end was Keep on Running by The Spencer Davis Group.

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I was overjoyed at managing to actually clock up 6.5 miles and overcome some fears along the way.  Not forgetting the most important – another challenge ticked off.

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I have set myself further goals now – I will change my route once a week.  Now just trying to find the courage to sign up for the Great South Run.  Actually running it will mean another tick.  Both my Husband, Chris and Daughter, Kathryn have run it.  They are both competitive – I would be happy to do it in 2 hours.
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I wouldn’t run now if I hadn’t starting running with the couch25k so would highly recommend it to anyone starting.  If I had started trying to run without this programme, I would have given up.

Now I must keep on running.

Amazing

 

Well I finished my reading challenge for June on 30 June and have been trying to write a review.  That has been challenging in itself.  Once happy with it, I will share.

I love the excitement of choosing the next book to read.  I had bought the follow up to Me Before You written by Jojo Moyes, After You, but did not want to read that before I had seen the film so I chose to read a book I had bought when it was on special last year, Summer of ’76 by Isabel Ashdown.

This appealed to me for so many reasons

  1. Everyone talks about the hot summer of 76 (well us who have experienced it).  I was only 10 at the time but I do remember not being sent home from school whilst the students from the local senior school where only too happy to taunt us because it had been too hot for them and they were allowed home early.
  2. It is based in the Isle of Wight –  just across the water from me – and a place I would have spent some of my summer holidays.
  3. The main character, Luke, is due to go to Brighton Polytechnic after the summer holidays.  Again, Brighton was another childhood favourite of mine and somewhere I have really enjoyed going with my children  and where I was going on an adventure with my friend Karen.

I have been reading the book for a week and just like my holidays in the Isle of Wight, the book is following a slow pace.  Each chapter starts with the temperature in Fahrenheit.  I wasn’t impressed with the May temperatures at all but now I am in June and it is 91° and I want that now!  There is also a secret that is waiting to be told which is likely to increase temperatures again.

I am enjoying reading about the food and music from the era.  Luke’s mum is trying to make her own wine which brings back memories of my dad brewing his own beer.   Luke is also working on a holiday camp which is somewhere I would have stayed at during my visits to Isle of Wight.

Once finished, I can finally start After You because I finally went to see Me Before You last night.  Me Before You was the first book I read by Jojo Moyes.

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To say I enjoyed it seems so wrong as the subject isn’t something you would talk about openly.   Whilst tissues are needed for the book, there is certainly a great deal of real life and humour.  Lou, one of the main characters, is just so fun and loving.  I knew I would not be disappointed with the film because when I saw interviews with the lovely Emilia Clarke, I was so impressed with how she was the perfect Lou that I had read about.  I loved so much about Lou but especially her shoe collection.  Wouldn’t it be great to have those lovely shoes and to have the nerve to wear them – mind you, I do wear bright pink skechers.  I also remember my daughter wearing woolly tights and wellington boots on a summer’s day so hearing Lou describe her favourite things with her stripey tights at top of her list did put a smile on my face.

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Sometimes when I watch a film after reading a book, I can be disappointed.  This film was everything I imagined and the cast were fantastic.  It is an extremely sad story and there will be always be strong opinions around the subject.  I could never express an opinion on the subject but I do think the story allowed me to see sides to everybody involved in the decision making.  I am looking forward to reading After You even more now.

I do love my kindle but challenge number 6 is to read my daughter’s 10 favourite books in paperback.  I have been given the collection and will also be choosing something from that very soon.

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My Secret Love

As mentioned in my about page, one of my favourite things   is my Kindle.  That is no secret but here are my reasons for loving it:

  1. It fits into my bag and can easily be brought out to read if I am hanging around waiting.
  2. Nobody knows what I am reading.
  3. It doesn’t take up much room when I am travelling so not adding to luggage allowance when I am flying.
  4. It is so easy to download books.
  5. I said it was easy to download – nobody but me knows how many books I have.  Let’s say that if I get stranded somewhere, it will be many years before I run out of reading material!

There are a few things I miss about having a physical book.  Opening the first page of a book is such an enjoyable experience.  Going into a bookshop and buying a book (yes I sometimes feel guilty about contributing to the closure of small bookshops.  You’ve Got Mail is one of my favourite films).  I do sometimes wander in to look at the books.  One of the things I miss most is not having books as presents. I do get vouchers to buy but sometimes someone buying you an unexpected book is just an enjoyable experience.

That said, my daughter is a very keen reader, (at 20 years old, she only reads proper books.  She has to carry her books in her own hand luggage!) and she often gives me the money with strict instructions on what book I have to buy with it.

Challenge 5 is to read a book every month of a genre you don’t/ don’t often read with June’s book chosen by her and August by her brother.

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Challenge 6 is to read her 10 favourite books in paperback.

The June book chosen by her is Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell and is a book for teenagers.  I started reading it a week ago and was given a quick brief about the book by my daughter.  The main character of the book is Cath who is an identical twin, horribly shy and writes fan fiction.  Not really understanding fan fiction, I did have to put it into the search engine.  From what I understand it is where fans of books write there own stories of  characters or scenes.  I think that if it had been around when I was a young girl, I would have enjoyed writing stories about the characters of Mallory Towers although it would not have taken the same route as Cath’s characters.

In Kindle terms, I am 62% through the book and I would have liked nothing more than to finish the book today but unfortunately I have other things I have to do (guiltily watching ELO at the moment).  I will certainly finish it by the end of the month though.  I am enjoying the book and I do like most of the characters.  There are a few characters that I haven’t got to like or meet yet.  Maybe my opinion will change.  I will hopefully review it later.

 

 

Turning 50

Challenge no 50, and should hopefully be the last of the challenges ticked off, is on the 6th June on your blog, write about how you found being 50.  I thought that to begin with I should try to sum up how I felt about turning 50.

When I was 30, I had a three year old and a young baby so it never felt old.  At 40, I didn’t feel a lot different.  When I thought of being 50, I felt I was getting old.  I didn’t feel it; I was fit, healthy and positive.  In fact, I still felt like I was 25 but the number itself seemed frightening.

One thing I was certain about was that I didn’t want any big or surprise party to celebrate my birthday.  In the end, I opted for a holiday in the sun with my Son and Daughter.  We flew to Lanzarote two days before my birthday so birthday celebrations actually started a few days before that. My last day of 49 reading by the pool was perfect.

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The big day came and apart from having my daughter singing Happy Birthday to me at 3.30 am, it didn’t feel any different.   After opening so many presents from my wonderful children, and with my 50 badge proudly on, we set off to take the boat across the water to visit Fuerteventura.   The weather was glorious.  We enjoyed shopping in Correlejo, walking bare feet on the sand dunes then jumping through the waves at the beach.  The journey back on the boat was very memorable watching the crew run around with sick bags as the ride was very bumpy.  This is not something they tell you about when booking the excursion!

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We were not affected by the boat ride and walked back to our hotel stopping for one of the many delicious ice-cream we enjoyed on holiday.

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The good news is 50 is only a number and I still feel good.  I am still able to put on my trainers and enjoyed running along the beach on holiday,  I even took on a few of my challenges:

1 Learn how to skip – I managed 5 – will try to improve!

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47 Buy and use a nail varnish colour you wouldn’t normally – note the lovely ring!

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I am having the longest birthday and enjoying it too.  It will come to the end in a just over a week’s time when I will be enjoying celebrating with my friend who will be 50 in August.  Looking forward to sharing that adventure with you.

 

 

50 things to do in my 50th year

Your mission: to complete all 50 tasks between 7th June 2016 – 6 June 2017

The Rules

1  You can complete the the tasks in any order.

2 When completed you must:

a) tick the box on the task’s page

b) create or keep a keepsake in the the 50th year box/scrapbookIMG_20160620_215950

c) HAVE THE BEST YEAR EVER

  1. Learn how to skip
  2. Visit The Ritz
  3. While in London for The Ritz,  go and see a show you haven’t seen before
  4. Revisit learning French
  5. Read a book every month of a genre you don’t/don’t often read – June will be chosen by your daughter – August will be chosen by your son.  Write a review in your scrapbook
  6. Read your daughter’s 10 favourite books …. in paperback!
  7. Cook a three course meal consisting of three dishes which belong to three different cultures.  Rule: there must be something in each dish you haven’t made before
  8. Host a MacMillan Tea Party
  9. Sign up for a 10 k and run with your daughter
  10. Sign up and run the Great South Run
  11. Grow your own plant
  12. Pick out and plant a vegetable of your choice
  13. Bake a cake you never have before
  14. Frame a photograph you have always wanted to
  15. Go and pick yourself out a new outfit
  16. Visit your daughter in Cardiff
  17. Visit your son in London
  18. Learn 7 – 10 (new) German words a week
  19. Spa day with your daughter
  20. Try some sort of course with your daughter
  21. Watch 3 “classic” films of your choice
  22. Visit somewhere in England you never have before
  23. Day trip with your daughter this summer
  24. On a sunny day:  make your own ginger beer, make a salmon & cream cheese bagel, make banana muffins…..and sit outside and enjoy
  25. Change your running route one day
  26. Take an arty picture, print it and put in in your scrapbook
  27. Buy yourself some flowers
  28. Take a dance class with your daughter
  29. Start and complete a new sewing project
  30. Make croissants
  31. Buy some kind of baking machine
  32. Make “something” with the baking machine and document in scrapbook with a photo and maybe the recipe and tips
  33. This Summer, go to Brighton with your daughter
  34. In Brighton, take pictures in a photo booth together
  35. DVD night with your kids
  36. Buy a physical copy of copy of an album
  37. Buy a new lipstick
  38. Have a pamper night – use lush bath bomb, light a newly bought candle and use face mask
  39. Mum and daughter pamper evening – bake whoopie cakes, eat cakes and watch 13 going on 30 and paint nails
  40. On a perfect summer’s day, make a picnic (including all of the traditional stuff) and eat it down the beach with your daughter
  41. At Christmas make……yule logs, mince pies and cookies for Santa
  42. At Easter make an Easter show-stopper
  43. Upcycle/DIY something from a charity shop
  44. Go out for dinner and pick something that sounds awesome but you wouldn’t normally pick
  45. Write a short story of 1500-3000 words.  RULE: write final version out nicely on lined paper and stick and fold into scrapbook
  46. In Lanzarote buy a “LANZAROTE” frame and at home print and put a picture or you, your son and your daughter in Lanzarote in it
  47. Buy and use a nail varnish colour you wouldn’t normally
  48. Take up swimming on some level
  49. Make blog
  50. On 6th June on your blog, write about how you found being 50