Friday, 14 June 2013

Four years ago today....

It amazes me that in four years, my daughter has changed from the babes in arms, completely dependent, chubby little sweetheart into the bundle of energy, talkative, caring little girl that she is today. I know that I have also changed in those four years but I look at her and am just in awe... not because she is the cleverest (which of course she is!), or the most advanced (again, goes without saying!) but just because she is her own person who has her own ideas, her own imagination and most of all, knows her own mind. It might not be of the same as mine that often, but I wouldn't change her for the world!

Children are ace and I know just how lucky I am to have two, such special people in my life so, at the risk of switching everyone off my blog for life, I just want to record it now that they are two of the funniest, sweetest and loopiest people ever and by far, my most favourite!

The last time I threw a birthday party for my daughter at home, it was carnage - think every toy in the house out, food walked into every square inch of the house, broken stuff, kids just everywhere! I was determined not to repeat it but you can't not celebrate, especially when you're four! I even went a bit baking mad and made four different delights; lemon and blueberry muffins, coconut macaroons, millionaires shortbread and for the birthday girl, Devils Food Cake! I was up until silly o'clock last night but completely worth it - you can almost see them all in the picture at the back right, minus the birthday cake which I need to download!

I have been quite slack in all other cooking areas lately - haven't made bread for ages and the soup has been off the boil a little too! In my defence, life has really kicked in lately and I am pooped as well as not seeming to have any time. But I might have to knock something out this weekend although am currently trying out the 5:2 diet (where you fast for a couple of days a week). It's supposed to help  you lose weight round your middle as well as improve your defences against dementia and the like. So far, so good - I should probably get some scales to see if it's having any effect though..

Right, it's late - I'm waffling.

If we didn’t have birthdays, you wouldn’t be you.
If you’d never been born, well then what would you do?
If you’d never been born, well then what would you be?
You might be a fish! Or a toad in a tree!

You might be a doorknob! Or three baked potatoes!
You might be a bag full of hard green tomatoes.
Or worse than all that… Why, you might be a WASN’T!
A Wasn’t has no fun at all. No, he doesn’t.
A Wasn’t just isn’t. He just isn’t present.
But you… You ARE YOU! And, now isn’t that pleasant!
Happy Birthday To You!

Dr Seuss

Monday, 20 May 2013

Veggie Cakes and all things Rocky!

It was a busy week in my world last week, hence why I'm a bit behind in my posting. I am also, as you will see, a bit behind in my baking as well but not being the hardened drinker that I used to be, one night on the tiles pretty much rules out the rest of the weekend.

It is the Rocky Horror Picture Show's 40th Anniversary this year (I know!!) and so it felt right to reunite with some fellow fans and head to the tour. Oh, what fun - it's been a long time since I have let myself loose quite so much, helped of course by being dressed up and having a rather healthy dose of red wine before, during and after (not forgetting the vodka once that all ran out). Here are two of my favourite images of the night of two of my favourite people (sorry, lovelies!):

BEFORE:                                                          AFTER:

                   THE END!

As you can imagine, suffered somewhat following and so the weekend was spent sorting out the house and generally rehydrating myself. On the baking front, I took on the challenge posed by my Facebook group, to make something with beetroot. Really not something I have ever even tried before, let alone baked with but, you gotta try these things. I chose a Beetroot Seed Cake and whilst it wasn't completely right (half got stuck in the tin and it's a little bit crumbly), it tastes really good and I LOVE the addition of how crunchy the seeds make it. I will be doing that again!

I managed to knock up some soup for the week too - some Thai style Chicken Noodle. Another first for me, cooking with coconut cream, but has a really nice heat to it which you notice and does make your nose slightly stream but doesn't make your mouth hurt. Really unusual, but pretty typical of thai food - well, the stuff I've eaten anyway!

That was about the total of it this week so in the coming week, I am going to up my game by cooking something very egg based (the challenge) to which I have an idea, as well as a treat for my work team and perhaps something with my daughter as we're home based this coming weekend - although have to fit it around two birthday parties and a visit from another old friend. My social life has never been so full, hmmmm!

To sign off with another one of my favourite people:

"What is there to forgive?. . .Ignore forgive and concentrate on living. Life for you is short; far too short to allow small jealousies to infringe on the happiness which can be yours only for the briefest of times."
Jasper Fforde

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Why do I leave it all until Sunday night?

Title says it all really - I am still in the throes of baking which isn't ideal seeing as I have the school run, work and the dentist to contend with tomorrow! Ah well - you're only young onc.. oh, wait a minute!

Life this week has been pretty hard but good in places. Things are still tough on the separation front - but for those who've been there, done that.. I think it always will be. With children, it's the hardest thing knowing that no matter what, the person that changed it all will be in the rest of your life whether you really want it or not.. and at times this week, it was a definite 'not'. Facebook has an awful lot to answer for!

On the plus side, weekend with the kiddies and so we ended up going to the funfair in town where for a small entrance fee, all the rides were free and you could meet the legendary Peppa and George Pig. Of course, weather was shite so we were either frozen, windswept, wet or all three. Kids had fun - have discovered my son does not take being removed from the kids carousel (you know the ones with buses and motorbikes and taxis on them!) well at all.. Luckily it was towards the end of the day so we just stayed on... for what felt like forever! Luckily, instead of the normal banging tunes, the guy in charge was playing 'Help' by the Beatles so I could sing along!

On the baking front, well - it's been a busy one. I belong to a rather excellent group on Facebook called 'Whats for Dinner Mum' (I have no idea how to link to groups on FB, so I do apologise in advance if you end up nowhere!) and the last couple of weekly challenges have been baking orientated, so have given them a whirl..

The swiss roll challenge didn't go badly except I used the wrong flour - I through in loads of strong bread flour instead of nice floaty light self raising flour - so it worked and looked ok'ish but wasn't especially airy like it should be! Kids ate it though which I would say is a good sign, but they will eat almost any form of cake! This week was scones and I thought I'd try savoury.. hmmm - not my finest hour but they tasted ok (cheese and parsley ones in case you're interested!) but I wasn't sure if scones work like cakes - in that once the oven is opened, they sink like stones? I think they look a bit anaemic and could've done with a little bit longer... Next week, beetroot - uhm....

For me, I made tomato soup (well, mediterranean tomato soup except I didn't have plum tomatoes and forgot the onion), florentines for my friends at work and some sticky date flapjacks for the kids. I haven't tried the flapjacks yet - still baking - but am actually a bit concerned as the middle went sort of like tar. I am hoping they taste better than they looked before they went in.. actually they should be done about now! Do you like the way I tried to make my 'too big' baking tin, the right size.

Anyways, enough waffling! I made the 'mistake' of getting my daughter a Dr Seuss compendium for Xmas (from my son) so bedtime now takes twice as long as I tongue twister my way through such delights as 'Fox in Socks', 'The Sleep Book' and my personal favourite, 'If I owned the Circus'  - Sneelock makes that story the best of the bunch. I am delighted my daughter seems to love a good book though as:

“I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves.” 
Anna Quindlen

Sunday, 5 May 2013

I'm back - better than ever!?

It has been four months since my last post as things in my personal life went a  bit haywire.

 If you read my last one, I was planning for my husbands 30th birthday, full of the joy of Christmas and had just finished celebrating my sons 1st birthday. The day before New Year, my husband decided he didn't want to be a part of our family anymore and left and it's been a bit of an uphill battle ever since.

I am blessed to be surrounded by lovely, genuine friends as I have found it incredibly hard to pick myself back up - I might come across as cold to those who know my husband, but this is a desperate self-defence mechanism to stop myself breaking down. It still hurts - a lot - but I need to move on, if not for me then for my fabulous children!

So, as you can probably tell - this blog is going to be more personal than before, less stats and facts based and more a way for me to express myself as well as allowing me to waffle on about baking and the like!

I never did make a birthday cake for my husband. In fact, I didn't bake for weeks or try anything new - just got by! However, a few weeks ago, the 'creative' part of me decided enough was enough and I needed to get back into it. And I have branched out!!

I now try to make soup on a weekend too as this gives me lunch for the week and saves me spending lots of money in the work canteen. So far, I have managed Beef Ghoulash, Mushroom and, my favourite Mulligatawny. On the stove as I write is the beginnings of Cocky Leeky - we'll see how that goes. It's interesting though as I have never been that into soup before but I find making my own, makes the difference and, provided it doesn't have half a ton of cream, it's even quite healthy!

I have also started focussing on making some bread to go with my soup. I am not very confident in this area - AT ALL - but I have tried a few things - the oddest of which was some Gorgonzola, Walnut and Pear rolls (a la Paul Hollywood)... I love Paul but I think the pear was a step too far! Yesterday, I made baguettes - and when I pulled them out the oven they were sooooo good - crunchy and fluffy, oh soooo good! Today, less so - in fact a little bit chewy really [sad face!]

As to sweet stuff - as I don't have the children this weekend (we're doing every other weekend), I am going to try and make a couple of bits... Florentines for work and a nice, bog standard Swiss Roll for me and the kids. I bought myself a new tin for the swiss roll - it can't just be me who loves browsing the kitchen aisle in Asda! - but discovered yesterday it doesn't fit in my oven properly.. I will have to cobble something together with a loaf tin and some strategic balancing!

Right - I think I've gone on enough to be honest! So to sign off:

"Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end."