Sunday, 1 September 2013

Pizza Pinwheels (GBBO #2)

In the second round of The Great British Bakeoff the contestants were asked to produce the following: 

- breadsticks
- English breakfast muffins
- showstopper bread 

I had a (slightly failed!) attempt at making muffins, and although they tasted good, they were very flat! 


Not to be defeated by bread I decided to try a different recipe and create something my weekend guests could be the judge of... My 9 and 5 year old nephews! 

I decided to try pizza pinwheels. I used Jenny's recipe (c/o Paul Hollywood!) for the dough, and after leaving it to rise spectacularly, I rolled it out into a rectangle shape, spread tomato puree as the pizza base and then added pepperoni, mozzarella, cheddar and basil for toppings. 

This was then rolled up tightly, sliced into 10 equal (ish!) pieces, and placed on a baking sheet for another 30 minutes to rise further. 

I then cooked them for around 15 minutes at 200C


 
 

The verdict from my nephews was "Sarah you should go on Masterchef" - haha, so I'll take that as a compliment! Next time I make them I'll add more filling, I was a bit dubious about how much to put in and whether it would all fall out but I think they could handle a bit more pepperoni, or maybe even some pineapple..?!

I'm really enjoying the bake off challenge and attempting to make different things I wouldn't normally do - whether they're a success or not, it's all part of the learning!

If you would like to join in the 'Great Bloggers Bake Off' head over to these two blogs for all of the rules and information:
 
Jenny Berry aka: Mummy Mishaps 
 
Helen Hollywood aka: The Crazy Kitchen
   
mummy mishaps

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Raspberry & Elderflower Sponge Cake (GBBO #1)

I have been persuaded to join the Great Bloggers Bake Off by Jenny over at Mummy Mishaps.

As readers will know, I'm not a very creative baker - I tend to stick to the basic sponge with different decorations so I think this will be a good challenge for me, and hopefully I'll learn a thing or two along the way as well. Although I'm not sure how good it will be for my waistline...Cue willing tasters!

This weeks episode of the Great British Bake Off saw the contestants face three challenges:
 - sandwich sponge
- angel food cake
- chocolate showstopper
I thought I'd keep it simple for week #1 and produce one of my classics - a sandwich sponge!

 
Raspberry & Elderflower Sponge Cake
 
 
Ingredients
200g softened butter
200g caster sugar
200g self raising flour
4 eggs
70g raspberries
 
Method 
Line two sandwich tins
Pre heat oven to 180C
Beat together butter and sugar until pale and creamy
In a separate bowl, beat the eggs
Gradually add the eggs into the butter & sugar mix, beat well
Toss raspberries in flour
Sift flour into mix
Add raspberries
Fold with metal spoon
Divide between two tins
Bake for about 25 minutes
 
Elderflower Frosting 
60ml double cream
200g mascarpone
90g icing sugar
2 teaspoon elderflower cordial
 
Beat together all of the ingredients until the mixture makes peaks
 
Sandwich the frosting between the two (cooled) cakes and then spread a thin layer of frosting around the sides of the cake and over the top. This acts as a 'glue' for the chocolate fingers & raspberries.
 
Enjoy!
 
 
If you would like to join in the 'Great Bloggers Bake Off' head over to these two blogs for all of the rules and information:
 
Jenny Berry aka: Mummy Mishaps 
 
Helen Hollywood aka: The Crazy Kitchen
   
mummy mishaps

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

1st Wedding Anniversary


To celebrate our First Wedding Anniversary, we:
 
had an amazing 3 night stay in North Norfolk at a simply gorgeous 5 star boutique B&B
relished being solely in each others company for 4 whole days
visited Sandringham House, Garden & Museum
became established with lots of lovely local pubs and gardens
walked across expansive beautiful beaches and coastal areas
went seal watching with Beans Boats
enjoyed an exceptional anniversary meal at The Orange Tree
drank lots of celebratory fizz
took the B&B owners dogs for a long walk across roaming fields with views for miles
spent lots of time reminiscing of our truly special day one year ago
 
Happy 1st Wedding Anniversary Mr W xxx
 
 

Midweek Monthly Date Night #1

Last night we enjoyed our first 'Midweek Monthly Date Night'.

No joke, we have actually scheduled in our iPhone calendars the second Tuesday of every month as 'date night'.

We tried (and failed) to stick to once-a-month Alphabet Dating but found that it was near on impossible to find a whole day at a weekend to spend together. Although we are determined to pick that up again and have at least one Alphabet Date at a weekend we are also going to enjoy one midweek date a month as a break away from the normal 'get home from work, make tomorrows pack lunch, cook dinner, eat, watch TV, do some housework/laundry, go to bed' routine.

For our first date we went to Benson Blakes Bar & Grill who have recently won an award. Matt being an avid fan of burgers was not disappointed!

I had studied the menu all day struggling to chose a burger from the extensive list of delicious sounding creations... in the end I went with the basil aioli which was absolute heaven! A scrumptious mix of home made juicy burger, sun dried tomato, rocket and basil aioli - delicious! We shared sides of home made 'slaw, salad and onion rings (Matt cannot go to a restaurant without ordering onion rings...!)

The Sundae Dessert menu tickled me... Eenie, Meanie, Miney & Mo!

I washed mine down with a cocktail or two (they were two for £7, it would be rude not to)...

Please Note: 'Date Night' has permission to break the slimming world diet for one night only!


(almost!) a 2 month catch up...!

I can't believe the last time I posted was 15th May.. that's very nearly 2 months ago! Oops! I wasn't deliberately taking a blogging break, but I guess I lost my blogging mojo a little bit and to be honest I have been super busy with general life I haven't had time to sit down and write. Each week that went past I had more to catch up on, so I kept putting it off.

Now almost 2 months down the line I have a huge catch up to do!

So what have I been doing?

CAKE

I have made a mammoth (well, by my standards!) amount of cakes over the past few weeks. Each of them have been for an occasion, more examples of what has been keeping me busy - a family BBQ, visiting a new baby girl, and a friends leaving 'bon voyage' do. I seem to have set a trend...



SLIMMING WORLD

After the previous photos it may sound amusing, but Matt & I have been following the Slimming World 'diet' (I'm not sure you can really call it that..) for the last few weeks. Matt has lost around 6lbs and me almost 9lbs in about 3 weeks. This was brought on after our lovely anniversary break where we divulged in a lot of rather yummy food and drink! More about that in another post!

We have been having Weetabix/Special K for breakfast, a pasta or rice salad for lunch with fruit for snacking, and an extra easy Slimming World recipe for dinner... easy peasy!

I have made up batches of mini meringues to have with fat free yoghurt and fruit for dessert to cure any sweet cravings too.

So far, so good!



GARDEN

We've spent a lot of our spare time in our garden.. It's amazing to see how much it's changed over the last 18 months.


It's also lovely to see flowers starting to come out now, rewards for our work!

 

ROBBIE WILLIAMS

On the 29th June I went with Matt and the two Mums to Wembley for an evening of Mr Robbie Williams and Mr Olly Murs... it was amazing! That's all that needs to be said : )

 
Of course amongst all of that there have also been weekend trips away - down to the South Coast to see my brother and family, a leaving do in Reading, back 'homehome' to see the family... I have been heavily involved setting up the new WI group that I founded and am president of - and of which I have made some really lovely new friends from. We went to a local beer festival a couple of weeks ago with a group of them; and I've had a couple of wine evening, committee meetings and lunch dates.
 
We have reiterated that we need to start up our Alphabet Dating again as that fell to the wayside a  little lot! We're going to start back at 'B' again with a date arranged by Matt in a couple of weeks time. Last night was our first 'mid week date' too - we've decided that the second Tuesday of every month will be a date night for us. This is due to the fact we struggle to find time for ourselves during the weekend.. crazy as it sounds! First Date Night post coming up soon..
 
The most special thing we have done in this 'break' is celebrate our First Wedding Anniversary - more about that in another post too.
 
I think it's safe to say I have been kept pretty busy but I am back on form again now and wont leave it so long between posts! 

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

C is for... {Alphabet Dating}

As I type this, the wind is howling and the rain is coming down hard.. a perfect opportunity to have a spontaneous 'C' date this evening!

Cosy Cinema... (hire a film from Sky to watch in bed!)

image source
 
Chocolate...
 
image source
 
 
Cup of tea...
 
 

 
Dates don't have to be expensive; our alphabet dating is all about spending quality time together, no matter the cost of doing so.
 
 
 

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Cadburys Chocolate Finger & Smarties Cake {Recipe}



Ingredients:
 
Cake:
170g unsalted butter or margarine
170g caster sugar
115g self raising flour
3 large eggs
55g cocoa powder
 
Icing:
100g soft cheese
200g chocolate spread
 
Decoration:
3 packs of Cadburys Fingers
4 tubes of Smarties
 
 
Method:
 
Preheat oven to 190c
Grease and/or line two 7cm sandwich tins
Mix sugar and butter in a bowl until creamy and light in colour
Sieve a third of the flour and cocoa into the bowl with one egg
Mix well
Add another third and second egg
Mix well
Add the rest of the cocoa, flour and third eff
Mix well
Split the mix between the two tins and spread using a knife
Bake for 20 minutes or until 'springy' to touch
Leave to cool
 
 
In a separate bowl, mix the cream cheese & chocolate spread
 
When the sponges are cool, sandwich with some of the cheese & chocolate spread mix
Use the remainder of the mix to cover the top and sides of the cake using a knife
 
Decorate with Fingers and Smarties
 
Enjoy!!
    

Friday, 10 May 2013

Hens {Flashback Friday}

Right about now, this time last year, this was happening:

 
... slightly different scenario as I sit at my desk on a cold Friday in May one year on!

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Spring in Bloom

I don't claim to be a brilliant photographer - in fact I am far from one, but I do like to snap away at things to capture moments of our lives.
 
Last weekend we enjoyed a (very rare) sunny Bank Holiday weekend.
 
The sun has a great way of making the world a much more beautiful place.

I captured this photo in our garden and I love it - the simplicity of the flowers; the beautiful colours; and the way that the flowers are just doing their own thing.

 

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Happy, Healthy Pregnancy - 50 Things You Really Need to Know {Review}

It will probably come as no surprise to my readers that we will be thinking about starting our family in the near future.

Being a complete 'worry wart', I am trying to read up on every thing I possibly can when it comes to pregnancy. Hand over a fresh new born baby to me and I think I could cope pretty well having grown up with baby cousins and since had three nephews to help out with. However, throw me in to a pregnancy situation (not to mention the actual birth), I would be terrified at the daunting prospect!

When I was asked if I would like to review the "Happy, Healthy Pregnancy - 50 Things You Really Need to Know" book by Ali Monaghan (an author who has a masters degree in midwifery, a young family and has delivered over 400 babies) I was intrigued. What would this book offer that those I had already seen wouldn't?

The book is condensed into 50 sections - covering everything from announcing your pregnancy to dealing with change in hormones, to safe guarding & baby proofing your home, to birth and everything in between.

There are tips from real life parents which I found really useful - rather than just the 'textbook' style of parenting.

I really like the way that the book has been split into easy to digest sections. I have been able to pick the book up and read a section at a time without having to take in lots of information filled with medical terms that are difficult to understand (and will probably make me worry even more!)

We were also sent the "Fantastic First-Time Father - 50 Things You Really Need to Know" by Tim Mungeam (the Chief Executive of Springboard for Children, Director of Dads Unlimited, Father of three sons and married to a midwife)

So I am told by my husband, this book is also written in 50 sections - digestible bite sized chunks. A book that can be picked up as and when, to be referred to when needed. With real life experience tips it is a great guide for first time Dads to help them feel prepared and helpful during the pregnancy.

After flicking through both of these books, I will definitely be reading through them in more detail as and when our time comes. I can see them being used as reference & reassurance guides quite a lot!


"Happy, Healthy Pregnancy - 50 Things You Really Need to Know" is currently available on Amazon for £6.89

"Fantastic First-Time Father - 50 Things You Really Need to Know" is currently available on Amazon for £7.99


Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of both books for the purpose of this review. All words are honest and my own

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Tesco Italian Stir Through Sauces {Review}

99.9% of the time, all of our meals are cooked from scratch - I literally can't remember the last time we bought a pre-made sauce.

Over the winter we have been eating lots of soup for our week day lunches whilst trying to follow our "weightloss journey". As the sun starts to show it's face, the thought of a hot soup in the middle of the day is not quite so attractive.

One bonus of soup is that it takes very little, or no, preparation in the mornings - crucial when Matt is out of the door before 7am!

When I was asked if I would like to try Tescos new Italian Stir Through pasta sauces I thought they would make a good, tasty, quick alternative for our lunches.

Each pot serves 2 and is recommended to be stirred into 200g of cooked pasta. 

I was sent 'tomato & pancetta' and 'tomato & garlic'. They also do 'tomato & chilli' and 'sweet pepper'. 





I actually stirred one pack in to 400g of cooked pasta to make up a couple of days worth of lunch for both of us, and it worked well. I imagine if you stirred it into the recommended 200g, you would have lots more sauce to pasta than we did.

The sauce had a lovely tomato flavour with little chunks of pancetta.

If you wanted to be creative or 'fill out' the meal further, you could add whatever you wanted - I added a few chopped baby plum tomatos to mine - but having said that, the sauce is tasty on it's own.

I portioned the pasta into tubs and kept in the fridge over night, and then microwaved them for lunch the following day and they were very tasty!

As a pre-made sauce, I was pleasently surprised to read the fat, sugar and calorie content were reasonably low. Although we won't be having these sauces every day, I would certainly buy them again as a quick fix, tasty meal idea. We'll be tasting the tomato & garlic sauce next week!

At £1.29 for a 155g pot of sauce, they are great value too.  

Disclaimer: I was sent two stir through sauces for the purpose of this review. All words are honest and my own


Wednesday, 1 May 2013

B is for... {Alphabet Dating}

Last weekend we had planned to enjoy a 'B' date planned by Matt... however, we had such wonderful weather it would have been crazy not to make the most of it - it doesn't happen very often!

With no house work, laundry or garden work to do.. we literally enjoyed the sunshine and a delicious...


Bbq...
 








Tuesday, 30 April 2013

ChokaBlok Ice Cream Sticks {Review}

Recently I discovered ChokaBlok's hot chocolate big dippers and tweeted saying how much I enjoyed them.

When I was asked if I'd like to review their ice cream sticks I could hardly refuse!

ChokaBlok promise "a little bit of magic" - and they certainly don't disappoint.

In order to compile a fair review, to begin with I tried the 'Millionaires Dynamite' and Matt the 'Cookie Crumb Mon-Star'

Matt's opinion came after only a couple of bites/licks  "they are much nicer than a ****** (well known competitor!)"

I did my usual style of nibbling the outside chocolate off before tackling the ice cream. I was really surprised at how thick the chocolate was, and loved the mix of chocolate and honeycomb.

Usually I find white chocolate too sickly, this wasn't the case when it was my turn to try the 'Cookie Crumb Mon-Star'.. The mix of the creamy vanilla ice cream, the sweet cookie crumble, milk chocolate drops and Belgian white chocolate was heavenly!

They were both a delicious after dinner treat and more than satisfied our sweet cravings!

We are still yet to try the 'Totally Minted' -  a classic combination of mint ice cream with a stream of chocolate mint fondant, packed with real dark chocolate covered mint pieces smothered in Belgian milk chocolate and sugar mint pieces.

At the usual price of £1.99 for a box of 3, I think that they are great value.

Better still, they are currently on offer in Tescos 2 boxes for £3 - you cannot go wrong!


 
Disclaimer: I was sent a voucher for the purpose of this review. All words are honest and my own

Monday, 15 April 2013

A is for... {Alphabet Dating}

Adventure in Southwold...
 
 
To enjoy... 
 
Adnams...
 
 
Arcades...

 
Antipasti...




Friday, 12 April 2013

April Showers

Earlier in the week we had a promise of 'Spring' this coming weekend; yet this morning all the forecasters could talk about is 'April Showers'.

What did I have in my head as I drove to work this morning?

This.....

(Source: Youtube )
 
Enjoy : )
 


Thursday, 11 April 2013

Proud Moment

Last night was one of those nights where I drove home with a beaming smile on my face.. I did something, all by myself, for myself.

You may have previously read about my radio debut and setting the wheels in motion for a new WI group in my area.

When I researched what you needed to set up a new WI, I worried about how I would find 8 ladies to start a group on an estate where I knew no-one.

I set up a Facebook and Twitter account, I starred on the local BBC radio, I sent press releases to the local papers & magazines, before I knew it word was getting around and ladies were interested.

A date was set for our 'exploratory meeting' and as the day grew closer, I became nervous of being the little fish in a big pond .

Never, ever, did I expect to stand up in front of over 70 ladies last night! All 70 of these women had come to the meeting because they were interested in the group - the group that I had created, I had worked hard to set up, and the group that I thought I would struggle to achieve.

It was extremely rewarding and made it all worthwhile when several of them came up to thank me, to congratulate me and to say how much they appreciated my efforts.

The only negative is that we are restricted to 60 members so will have to introduce a 'first come, first served' rule. I never saw that one coming!

Super excited for our next meeting to make us all 'official' and to confirm our committee. I can see myself having social evenings, enjoying new crafts and skills and making lots of new local friends!

I'm just grateful I didn't chicken out!

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Little Fish, Big Pond

When I was younger nothing really seemed to phase me; I wasn't afraid of driving across the country to see friends or family on my own; wouldn't think twice of hopping on an aeroplane to meet friends in another country; I'd happily walk to town on my own without worrying about getting attacked/run over or tripping over; and I would confidently stand up to talk in front of a few hundred people.

The school I went to was small, less than 15 students per class and less than 500 pupils in total. Everyone knew each other by name, knew which house they were in, who's sibling was whose, which bus they took home and what games they played. There were pro's and cons to this; everyone knew each others business, but on the plus, you felt like one big community, a family. I had the extra benefit of being selected as Head Girl in my final year (swot!) which meant I was a role model (ha..ha..ha), the BIG fish in a little pond; the go-to student for those who had concerns and wanted someone to talk to. It also meant I had to do a lot of public speaking; a verse at the annual Christmas Carol concert in the local Cathedral in front of the whole school and their parents; a poem at Burns Night dinner; and a speech at the end of year Speech Day awards.

I left school and sixth form, a very confident and independent female ready to face the challenges that lay ahead.

Little did I realise or appreciate, that I'd very quickly become the little fish in a BIG pond once I got to University. No longer did I know everyone by name; or where they were from; or what course they were studying (although these became the standard questions students asked each other!), I was just one single person amongst several thousand fresh faced students. My confidence took a huge knock. I dreaded having to do group presentations in lectures to the other students in my class; I would never have put my hand up and volunteered to give a solo presentation, I hid away at the back of the room and 'blended in'.

I soon made friends and loved every second of my three years spent at University, but I can't help feeling that it did alter the person I am today.

From then I have worked in 3 different companies - a medium size, a very large size and now I work for a very small business. All of which have taken me time to adjust and find my feet before I open up and 'become me'. I didn't step in the door on my first day with a beaming confident smile and a firm confident handshake, it has taken time for me to feel comfortable in these companies.

For those that have been reading my blog, I now face a new challenge... the WI. I have been the face behind the computer screen organising the setting up of the group, the Facebook comments, the Tweets, the person updating the blog and responding to member enquiries by emails. That, I can do, no problem.

Tomorrow, however, is the first meeting - the one that I have organised, and (very proudly) managed to market it well so that we have around 50-60 ladies coming along, the one where I have to stand up and introduce myself, give the "this is me, the name behind the tweets and messages... hello" and when I think about that, my stomach knots up and I worry that I won't be able to do it, that I'll chicken out and find an excuse.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Alphabet Dating

Tomorrow Matt & I will have been married for 10 months. A very busy 10 months! I think we could probably count on one hand how many of those weekends we've actually spent on our own as Mr & Mrs.

Over the next few months we've made a point of keeping 2 weekends a month to ourselves, not only to try and save a bit of money; to work on our house & garden; but also to enjoy each others company.

Any time we have spent together since saying 'I do' has been mainly doing housework, grocery shopping, and other grown-up things; or sat at home watching rubbish on TV, dinner on laps, iphones/laptops/ipads in hand, conversation to a minimum. Not very romantic or glam, hey?

I exaggerate (slightly) but, now the spring/summer and lighter evenings are hopefully here, we have decided that we're going to start Alphabet Dating to enjoy quality time together, having fun and doing new things.

The process is very straight forward - we take it in turns to plan a date in surprise using each letter from the alphabet.

I picked the short straw and will be starting with the letter 'A' this weekend.

The dates don't have to be expensive; they can be a whole weekend, a day, half a day or even an hour, it's all about finding something different to do and getting out of the usual day-to-day rut.

I'm really looking forward to our 26 dates!


Weightloss Journey Week #8 - 10

I have to confess that the last 2-3 weeks I haven't kept an eye on what I have been eating.. or drinking, for that matter!

Time and time again when 'healthy eating' I really struggle when it comes to socialising. I struggle to find something on a menu that I can chose and know I will enjoy without feeling guilty. I am weak at switching from a large glass of Sauvignon to a gin & slimline tonic.

These last couple of weeks we have stuck to plan Mon-Friday but with various things on at weekends I haven't dared brave the scales!

Tonight we are out for dinner for the 3rd time this week.

As of tomorrow though, I will get on the scales and back on track. I've already been shopping for this week so know that we have SW meals planned for the rest of the week. No excuses.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

What was I doing....

Like a lot of people, as the snow falls outside, I find myself thinking "What was I doing this time last year.."

This is why I have grown to love my blog - I can look back and read exactly what I was doing this time last year and see how things have changed (or not, as the case may be).

I didn't post anything this week of 2012, but I did write two posts the following week which you can read here and here.

This time last year... we had just celebrated my nephews birthday, Mothers Day & Easter - all occasions we have also celebrated in March 2013, except this year my nephew was two:


 
I absolutely ADORE this little man. He has developed so much over the last few months; he can now sing the ABC song, count the numbers 1-20, talks LOTS and is beginning to put together lots of little sentences.
 
I am sad we don't get to see him as much as we would like, but it melts my heart to see his face light up when I walk in to the room and walk towards me for a hug! I always worry that he'll forget who I am in between visits, but this shows me that he doesn't.
 
We had a little birthday party (George Pig themed of course!) at my mums house. Matt's equally adorable nephews came to play and the birthday boy could not take his eyes of the two older boys! He LOVED them! They were brilliant with him and entertained him for hours. It was so special to see them all interact despite their age gaps.
 
 
This time last year.. we had just turfed the garden. Easter Monday 2013 Matt mowed, scarified and fed the lawn! (excuse the washing in the photo!!)
 
 
Hopefully by the time we actually have some sunshine (ha..ha..ha) we will have a beautiful green lawn to enjoy.
 
 
This time last year... we were really busy with our wedmin and were about to book our honeymoon to Sharm El Sheikh... right now a sunny, warm place seems like a (very) distant dream! Sadly I don't have anything similar to write about for 2013!
 
 
It's unbelievable to think that it is already the 4th April... we will have been married 300 days tomorrow and it's only just over 2 months until we celebrate our 1st Anniversary.
 
April is going to be a relatively quiet month for us... to recharge our batteries and (attempt) to save some pennies.

What were you doing this time last year? 

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Wheels in Motion - WI



Tonight I will be meeting a WI adviser from the Suffolk East Federation to discuss plans ahead of an exploratory meeting in a couple of weeks for a brand spanking new, modern & new wave WI group that I (yes, little old me) have set up!

You can read a bit more about it in my Radio Debut post, but basically... not knowing anyone in the area we now live, I decided to see if there was an interest in forming a new group. Little did I know, or expect, that I would have almost 100 people interested!

Tonight is really the first (scary!) step in everything falling into place. Tonight I will have made the commitment to go ahead with it. I'm not really sure how I'm feeling; excited, PROUD, scared, and curious I think as I'm not really sure what to expect.

Going forward a committee will need to be formed - in all honesty, I don't mind if I'm not part of that committee because I will have done what I set out to achieve - to form a new group, to do all of the organising it has taken, the radio interview, the press articles in local publications, the social media aspect... and for that, I am proud! All of this has been done without knowing a SINGLE SOUL in the area.

Most of all, I am looking forward to meeting new people, experiencing new things and having a couple of hours of female social-ness once a month!

Tonight is the Wheels in Motion night!

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

The Alternative Shot Glass Use

Have you ever been given a shot glass as a gift? Perhaps as a thank you for being an usher or bridesmaid? Or as a souveneir from a holiday? 

If you're anything like us, we rarely (if ever!) drink shots at home so the shot glasses find their way to a cupboard where they sit. 

When I was contacted by GiftsOnline4U to see if I could help them out with a project to find alternative uses for Personalised Shot Glasses, I set myself a challenge! 

Knowing we had newly-engaged friends coming to visit soon (read about that post here) I was sure I could find a use for them. 

GiftsOnline4U have produced a video with ideas for 'shot glass desserts' which all looked great, but as I knew I was going to make cupcakes, I didn't want to make desserts that would go to waste.

Here is their video:
 

Having already made toothpick toppers for the cupcakes, I tried to think of something I could combine the shot glasses with. 

Then I remembered my friend loved olives! 

Ta-da! The shot glasses make perfect little holders for olives:


As they were personalised with "Congratulations Tom & Suzanna" they make a great little gift for my friends, and now they have also seen that shot glasses can have alternative uses rather than sit in a cupboard collecting dust!

I think they also look pretty great on my table spread of nibbles & drinks on my friends arrival:



Have a look at "Personalised Shot GlassesWith A Shot Of Fun" post for more ideas for using shot glasses. I'm definitely going to have a go at making candles & desserts!

Disclaimer: I was sent two personalised shot glasses for the purpose of this review. All words are honest and my own

Celebrations

One of my University Housemates recently got engaged. We only get to see each other 2 or 3 times a year as she's a West Coast girl, and I'm an East Coast girl.

Quite conveniently we'd booked in for them (my friend and her new fiance!) to come and stay this past weekend - we didn't let the snow stop us!

So when Tom proposed a couple of weeks ago, I was very excited that we could celebrate with them at ours. 

As March has been such a busy & expensive month, I tried to find ways that I could make the weekend a little bit special without breaking the bank. 

I baked some cupcakes & made little toothpick toppers with their initials, hearts & the word 'engaged'

The Royal Doulton (wedding present) champagne flutes made an appearance

I had personalised banners printed

The table was decorated with confetti

I cooked dinner ready for their arrival
 
.. and of course the glasses were filled with fizz!


Friday, 22 March 2013

March {Flashback Friday}

March 2013 has been a very busy month of celebrations! Not only was it Mother's Day & Easter, it's also the month of my nephew's second birthday, a lovely friends baby shower, and some very special friends got engaged! 

My blog has been pretty quiet apart from my weigh-ins, recipes and the occasional review as I have been super occupied and haven't managed to draft posts for scheduling. 

I promise to do posts on each celebration very soon, but here is a peak at what I have been upto: 


(p.s. the chocolate eggs weren't for me!)

Why, Why, Why

Saw this being shared around online and it amused me so thought I would share:  

Why, Why, Why,

Why do we press harder on a remote control when we know the batteries are almost dead?

Why do banks charge a fee on 'insufficient funds' when they already know there is not enough money?

Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars; but have to check when you say the paint is still wet?

Why doesn't Tarzan have a beard?

Why does Superman stop bullets with his chest, but ducks when you throw a revolver at him?

Why do Kamikaze pilots wear helmets?

Whose idea was it to put an 'S' in the word 'lisp'?

If people evolved from apes,why are there still apes?

Why is it that no matter what colour bubble bath you use the bubbles are always white?

Is there ever a day that sofas are not in a Sale ?

Why do people constantly return to the refrigerator with hopes that something new to eat will have materialised?

Why do people keep running over a string a dozen times with their vacuum cleaner, then reach down, pick it up, examine it, then put it down to give the vacuum one more chance?

Why is it that no plastic bag will open from the end on your first try?

Why is it that whenever you attempt to catch something that's falling off the table you always manage to knock something else over?

In winter why do we try to keep the house as warm as it was in summer when we complained about the heat?

How come you never hear father-in-law jokes?

The statistics on sanity is that one out of every four persons is suffering from some sort of mental illness. Think of your three best friends -- if they're okay, then it's you.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Weightloss Journey Week #7



I'm feeling a bit bleurrrrgh about my weightloss journey this week - not sure whether it's because I have had a stinking cold for about 5 days now, or whether it's the miserable weather.. or just because I haven't been losing as much, as quickly, as I would like.

We've had another good week, sticking to slimming world meals - and both of us seem to be really enjoying the new recipes we've tried. This week, we've tried Rigatoni alla Amatriciana and the Mediterranean Chicken Bake (above photo) which have both been really nice and will feature on our meal plans again.

This coming week our meals are: SW chilli, grilled chicken with a cheesy broccoli and potato bake, bacon, spinach, mushroom & tomato pasta, jacket potato with baked beans, and as we have friends who are vegetarians coming to stay this weekend, I plan to make the spinach, red pepper & tomato cannelloni on Friday night (unless I find another SW vegetarian dish.. although we know this one is yummy!)

Breakfast has been two wheat biscuits with milk (HeA & B) and lunches have been either a tin of spaghetti in tomato sauce, or leftovers from the previous dinner... snacks of fruit (usually a banana, an apple and a plum) and fat free yoghurt. Last night we had a treat of meringue, strawberries and fat free strawberry yoghurt.

Our 1st wedding anniversary is just under 12 weeks away & I'm going to set myself a goal to lose 1 stone by then.

Hopefully the weather will be a bit warmer soon and I'll be more willing to go for walks in the evening which should help too. It's been so cold during the day I have spent most lunchtimes sat at my desk - I need to change that.

Here's to week #7 & hopefully some positivity!


Week #6 = 1lb loss

  

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Rigatoni alla Amatriciana {Recipe}

You may have noticed that quite a lot of our meals are pasta based - this is because it's fairly cheap, easy, slimming world friendly, and very versatile! Plus it works well as a leftovers lunch the following day.

Last night we tried another Slimming World pasta recipe - Rigatoni alla Amatriciana. The ingredients sounded a bit odd to me - bacon, chilli, garlic, basil, carrot, tomato & celery..?! But... it works, and it is super yummy! I love all of these alternatives to the classic spag bol, lasagnes and carbonara based pasta dishes and they certainly stop us from getting bored of eating the same thing over.
 
 

Rigatoni alla Amatriciana (Slimming World - extra easy 0 syns)
 
 
 
Ingredients
Bacon - visible fat removed
2 x carrots (grated or chopped)
2 x sticks of celery (chopped)
1-2 red chillies (chopped)
2 x garlic cloves (crushed)
1 x onion (chopped)
1 x tin chopped tomatoes
fresh basil
pasta
 
Method
Stirfry bacon, onion, garlic & chilli until browned slightly
Add celery, carrot & chopped tomatoes
Stir and bring to boil
Add basil and leave to simmer for 20-25 minutes
Cook pasta to taste
 
ta-da!
 

Monday, 11 March 2013

Weightloss Diary Week #6

I'm proud to say that the scales showed me a different number this morning - I have come down to the next stone and have lost the first 1/2 stone. If I was attending SW meetings I would have received a shiny sticker!

It's taken 5 weeks to lost 1/2 stone but I believe that taking baby steps and losing it gradually helps to keep it off in the long run.

This week has been another strange one - it's the week of a ladies month where she *needs* chocolate, in any shape or form! I have tried my hardest to control that with cadburys highlights but I did have to cave and buy some Curly Wurlys towards the end of last week. From memory they are fairly low in syns - 5 or 6, and as we're not really using syns for much else I thought they wouldn't be too harmful.

As far as lunches go, I was trying to get back into salads but as I sit here typing this snow is falling quite heavily outside and salad is quite possibly the last thing on my mind! So, today I have had a tin of Heinz Spaghetti in tomato sauce for my lunch! Not exactly nutritious (although, did you know that is 1 of your 5 a day?!) but, I was reliably informed that they are free on SW extra easy. I also have a plum, and apple & a yoghurt.

Evening meals were fine during the week - lots of fresh fruit & vegetables and low-to-no fat grilled meat. The weekend was "ok" but Mr Sauvy B did make an appearence on Saturday night again... along with two scoops of chocolate ice cream when we went out for Mothers Day lunch.

This weeks meals include: grilled chicken with home made wedges, salad & mango salsa; mince in gravy with mash potato & vegetables; and a vegetable based pasta & sauce with bacon.

Progress is slow but steady!

Week #5 = 1lb loss

Friday, 8 March 2013

Radio Debut {Flashback Friday}

On Wednesday 6th March I had my first ever experience of speaking live on radio!

A couple of months ago now the lovely Lauren asked if I would like to join a WI group that is in the middle of where we both live (about a 45 minute drive for each of us). This is something I had been thinking about doing for a while. Having moved to a new area with my husband over a year ago, working in the neighbouring town, and not having any children yet as an excuse to meet people at mother & baby groups or school, I was trying to find ways of meeting new people.

When Lauren asked if I'd like to go along with her, I thought it would be a great "push" for me to actually do something, so of course I agreed! Our first meeting will be next Tuesday - the 12th.

After agreeing to go along with Lauren to that WI it got me thinking about groups more local to me as ideally I would like to meet other ladies who I can "pop round to see for a cup of tea" or someone who would accompany me on walks with a pram (when the time comes!) It worries me that when we do decide to have children, I will be stuck indoors with a newborn and I'd really like to know other people locally as our nearest friends and family live around an hour away. I did some research and discovered that a brand new community centre and facilities is about to be completed on our estate and are looking for clubs to hold their meetings there. I enquired about what sort of clubs had already signed up - the usual mother & baby, Rosemary Conley, and Jujitsu or whatever, but no 'social' groups as such.

I got in touch with the regional federation of the WI who told me that all you need to set up a new WI group is 8 member - 3 of who are prepared to hold positions of President, Secretary & Treasurer. Surely I could find 8 people?!

The next thing I did was set up a facebook & twitter account and was astounded at the interest! So far we have almost 60 'likers' and almost 30 'followers' - and that's in just 2 weeks.

We now have an "exploratory" meeting set up next month to gauge genuine interest and ideas, and hope to have our first official meeting in the new Community Centre in May!

Through twitter I contacted local newspapers & magazines asking them to help spread the word and the lovely Lesley Dolphin from BBC Radio Suffolk emailed me asking if I would do a live telephone call-in during their afternoon show discussing WI's - perfect timing!

So during my lunchbreak on Wednesday I sat at my desk talking live on BBC Suffolk! It was one of the strangest experiences of my life; in one way it felt like I was just having a chat with someone on the other end of the phone, but at the back of my mind I knew there could be hundreds of people listening to me! I had no idea of the questions I'd be asked so I couldn't even prepare ahead.

One of the questions I was asked was "What sort of things do you hope to do in the meetings" - and my mind went completely blank, all I could think about was wine tasting (surprised?!) but could only muster up "cup cake decorating and sugarcraft" - not very inspiring, is it?!

Although Matt was listening and text me after saying how proud of me he was, how well I came across, and how little "ermmmm's" I gave, so I guess I did ok if I had his seal of approval ;-)

It was a fantastic experience and if just one listener contacts me or comes to the meeting then it will have been worthwhile!

You can also read Laurens post about Joining the WI here

Monday, 4 March 2013

Spinach, Tomato, and Red Pepper Cannelloni

For dinner last night we tried a new recipe from the 'extra easy' slimming world book we have. At the moment we are both loving anything with spinach in so are keen to try new ways of bringing it in to our meals. This meal took a bit of prep time, but it is so worth it!
 

(I can comfirm that this is equally yummy heated up for lunch the next day!)
 
Ingredients:
1 onion, choppes
1 red pepper, deseeded & sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
low calorie cooking spray
2 level tbsp tomato puree
400g can chopped tomatoes
500g pack spinach, washed
250g tub quark
salt & pepper
large pinch of ground nutmeg
1/2 pint skimmed milk
2 level tbsp cornflour
12 cannelloni pasta tubes
28g bunch basil, leaves only
57g reduced fat cheddar cheese, grated
 
 
Method:
Spray a pan with low calorie cooking spray and cook the onion, red pepper and garlic for 10 minutes. Stir in the tomato purée and chopped tomatoes with 113ml/4fl oz of water. Cover and cook for 15 minutes.
 
Cook the spinach, according to the pack instructions. Drain well and squeeze out all the water. Cool a little and chop roughly. Place in a bowl and mix with the quark, some seasoning and the nutmeg.
 
Mix 4 tablespoons of the milk with the cornflour and whisk into the remaining milk. Pour into a saucepan and heat gently, stirring. Bring up to a simmer and cook for 1 minute.
 
Spread half the tomato and pepper sauce in a large ovenproof dish. Stuff the cannelloni tubes with the spinach mixture, arrange in the dish and spoon over the remaining sauce. Scatter over the basil leaves and finish with the white sauce. Sprinkle over the cheese and bake in the oven at 190°C/Gas 5 for 40 minutes.
 
Serve with a large mixed salad.
 
Slimming World Syns per serving = 5 (on Extra Easy plan)
 

Weightloss Diary Week #5

Another week over, and the end of February - my first month of weightloss.
 
I am really pleased to say I lost 2lbs this week which means a total of 6lbs lost in my first month. Just one more 1lb before I've lost 1/2 stone and I'll also be in the next stone range.
 
I wouldn't say I have been extreme dieting this month, just thinking more about what I put in my mouth.

Weekends have been the hardest as we often have friends staying so drink was involved and sometimes lunch or dinner out too.
 
This week has been a funny one for us as we're not normally vegetarians, but Matt didn't get a chance to go to the butchers so we've had a lot of pasta & vegetables - trying to vary it each day with a different home made, extra easy SW sauce.
 
Friday Matt treated me to steak as I had a pay review at work, but instead of frying it and then having a creamy sauce with it, Matt grilled it and served with new potatoes, beef tomato & roasted mediteranean vegetables which was equally yummy - if not nicer!
 
On Saturday we went out for lunch to Cafe Rouge with a friend... my favourite in there is usually croque monsieur with frites. Instead I opted for a salad.
 
Saturday night I made a SW spaghetti bolognaise and served with a salad.
 
Sunday we had a SW brunch and then cooked a lovely spinach & quark canelloni recipe from a slimming world book.
 
This weeks meal choices have been made by Matt, but from memory some of them are: pork stirfry, gammon, egg & home made wedges, and griddled chicken with roasted vegetables.
 
I really think it's important to try & vary the meals as much as possible so that we don't get bored. So far though we have both enjoyed all of the new SW recipes we have tried.
 
One major factor for us also is portion control. We have improved that this past week and when we have made too much pasta for dinner, I have kept it for my lunch the following day.
 
Looking forward to the week ahead and seeing the next stone down at the beginning of the scales!
 
 
Week #4 = 2lbs Loss