homemade Christmas pressies

29 Dec

A bit late to inspire anyone so this is more just a post to show-off!!  As i posted last time i hand made a few Christmas pressies this year for my family.  I couldn’t post about it because my sister reads my blog and it would’ve spoiled the surprise.  So here’s how it all turned out.

Firstly I made toffee for my father in law.  This is the single most terrifying thing i have ever cooked.  Me being anywhere near boiling fat and sugar seemed like a recipe for disaster but actually it turned out OK.  I covered part of the toffee with chocolate and left the other half plain.

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Next I made vanilla essence for my Dad, my big sis and my Gran who are all keen bakers (and very accomplished at it too i might add).  This just basically involves splitting vanilla pods and adding to vodka.  I poured the mix into these cute Kilner bottles.  The hardest part of this recipe is trying not to drink all the vodka (particularly while trying to steady nerves when making toffee!!) – especially after you’ve added the vanilla as it smells divine.

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I then placed stickers on the bottles that i found here.  The finished product is below.  The essence slowly turns brown and is ready to use in three months.

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Finally I made candied nuts for my mother in law.  These are super easy to make – you whisk up an egg with a load of sugar and whatever spice you wish to use (i used cinnamon on pecans and almonds) then bake on a really low heat, turning occasionally, for an hour.  A side effect is that the house smells amazing for a good while after (and you get to eat any nuts that don’t fit in the jars or that happen to fall into your mouth!!).

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I put the toffee and nuts into Kilner jars and added labels that I found here.  It’s amazing that such talented people are willing to share things like this.  I’m sure you’ll agree they are great.


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I’m really pleased with the results and my recipients seemed to be happy.  Above all no-one has seemed to suffer any poisoning after eating any of the products i made.  So that’s a bonus.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday.  Looking forward to the New Year now.

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this is how i fly

22 Dec

A week or so ago i had to attend a conference on another Island close by so i got to fly there on what we call a Trislander.  If you happen to be a plane geek their real name is a Britten Norman BN2A Mk. III Trislander.

The planes are tiny little twin props that take fifteen passengers.  You’re loaded in like a car and the staff size you up before you get on.  Safe to say if you keep getting seated in certain seats you may need to re-think your New Year’s Resolutions!

I got stupidly excited about being on this tiny plane as the sun was coming up (after i got over the nerves when it took the pilot three goes to get the engine started!) and took these pics with my iPhone (which explains the dubious quality)….

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That’s the sun rising over France.

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That’s the pilot with his SatNav despite the fact that you can pretty much see your destination as soon as you take off.  You can (and we did) chat to the pilot if you so wish he’s that close.

This is surely the only way to travel.  I’m a lucky girl that i get to do these things.

I’ve been a domestic goddess this evening making some edible Christmas pressies.  I can’t wait to show you the fruits of my labour but one of the recipients reads my blog so you’ll have to wait until after Christmas.  Safe to say my house smells A-MAZE-ING!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend – I’m off to wrap pressies X

another day another medal – Santa 5K

17 Dec

Yesterday I ran a Santa Fun Run in aid of a local charity which raises funds for carefully chosen projects where children are in distress through whatever life has thrown at them, war/disaster zones, poverty, sickness, homeless and on larger scales children that are orphaned.  A brilliant charity I’m sure you’ll agree.

Check out my Christmas socks. They go so well with my Nikes don’t you think?  I knew it was going to be cold so i layered these over my running tights and my normal running socks.  I wore a fetching Santa jacket and hat to go with this hip ensemble.  Vogue should be on the phone any minute…

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The race was a 5K although my trusty Garmin informed me it was actually about 3.75 miles which i reckon to be 6K.  Who’s counting though?  The weather was horrendous – we suffered a hailstorm halfway through (in between the gusting winds) which was fun,  and i promise i wasn’t grumpy at all (ahem!). I managed to warm myself up with this delight afterwards…

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You can always trust Mr Marks & Mr Spencer to make you a good soup – and one that’s Christmas dinner in a bowl to boot!  Yes purlease!!

We got this little trinket for our troubles and I hung it on the Christmas Tree:

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And finally, in case you were concerned i’d gone all normal cat lady on you let me just cement my crazy cat lady status by showing you this cutey:

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You didn’t know Amazon delivered adorable little cats now did you?

Did anyone else take part in a Santa Fun Run this weekend?  I hope the weather was nicer to you.

Christmas cupcakes and Tabata training

9 Dec

In my world cupcakes and Tabata training go together like cheese & wine (or Sunday and roast dinner).  If you don’t agree let me tell you now – you are wrong.

At my work this week we had a craft/culinary competition based on the theme of Christmas trees.  Naturally I stalked Pinterest for several evenings before deciding on attempting Martha Stewart’s Christmas Tree Cupcakes.  Here is the making of…

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I placed my sponge mixture into ice cream cones and my mini cupcake mould.  I used my own tried and tested recipe (read: much easier recipe) than hers but i’m sure it would have come out much the same.

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I attached each cone shaped cake to a mini cupcake and then attempted to ice with buttercream to make them look like snowy Christmas trees.  I added silver balls for extra Christmassyness (and that is a real word). Here is the end result:

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They weren’t terrible, and people recognised them for what they were supposed to be, but Martha Stewart I am not!!  For some reason most of them had a bit of a lean on.  Safe to say i didn’t win any prizes – they are some seriously talented people at my work and i’m going to have to spend the whole of 2013 practising if i’m going to win anything next year.

To burn off all those calories from my cook’s treats (you know – licking out the bowl, sucking the icing out of the icing bag…) i did two Fitnessista workout videos today.  The Six Pack in a Sweater workout and this Tabata workout.  Both of which seriously got my sweat on!  I reckon my abs are going to be sore tomorrow.  If you’ve never heard of Tabata it’s a type of interval training – you only work out for 4 minutes (plus warm up and cool down) but it’s supposed to singe those calories and the after burn continues for quite a while meaning i’m burning more calories as i type this right now.  Awesome.

If you haven’t checked out Gina’s blog or her YouTube channel i urge you to do so now – there’s something for everyone and she is soooo lovely.

On a side note i’ve noticed from my stats that i’ve got quite a lot of people checking in from my home town on a daily basis.  So either my sister is going overboard on checking my blog or i’ve got some new friendly faces watching!!  So this is a big hello to all my fellow donkeys!

running the Great South Run

22 Nov

Don’t ever say i don’t give you timely posts on all my sporting achievements!!! Haha!

Last month John and I ran the Bupa Great South Run (thanks for running with me hubby!).  The GSR is one of a series of running events Bupa sponsors in the UK.  It’s 10 miles on a fast flat course, 25,000 people run it including elites, and it takes place in the lovely city of Portsmouth.

Here’s my proud little face shortly after finishing…

Oh yeah – bringing back the bumbag single handedly baby!! I am so cool and it was so cold!  It’s not the world’s most attractive pic of me but its what you get when i’m shouting at John to take a pic of me on my phone for the blog before i seize up in the freezing cold while trying to smile.

Regular readers of my blog will know that i tore the ACL in my knee back in May which hampered my training quite a bit but with the help of an awesome physiotherapist and about a gazillion squats I finished in 2 hours 13 minutes with no pain.  Well…no pain in my knee anyway!

I’d only run a maximum distance of 7 miles in training hoping that the atmosphere of the day would pull me through.  It was such an amazing atmosphere – so well supported – but around about mile 8 i gotta say i got a bit emotional.  Tell me this happens to other people but even when i’m training sometimes i’m known to tear up – even on a 4 miler!  Just me that’s a pansy then huh?  So when they gave out handfuls of jelly babies around mile 8.5 it was like the best moment of my life.  Ever!  I ran around the women offering smears of vaseline though.  That’s just weird.

We got a fab goodie bag at the end which looked like this…

Thanks Bupa!!  Pretty much all food related items were consumed on the train ride to the airport.

The best part is i got to raise more than £800 for my local cancer treatment unit.  Yay!

So now my medal collection since August looks like this…

I’m not entirely sure i’d do this race again – i’m thinking maybe a 10K might be more my style.  I’ve got no more races planned apart from a charity 5K Santa Dash in December.  I’m hoping this is enough to keep my motivation up during these wet and windy winter evenings.  I might have to start plotting for next year now.

Happy Thanksgiving to all American readers (and to everyone else).  I’m thankful that i’m healthy enough to do stuff like this and thankful that people actually read the rubbish I write.

Until next time…

 

 

cycling with Victoria Pendleton

10 Oct

I did it!!!!  Last Sunday i took park in Cycletta at Tatton Park in Cheshire.  Cycletta is a series of cycling events round the country designed to get women on their bikes “for fitness and for fun”.  You have the choice of doing a 40k or 50k distance.  As I’d never done a cycling event before i chose the 40k distance which took us through lots of beautiful Cheshire countryside.

the start line, that’s me in the middle

The event itself was really well organised but it was super cold to start off with which i wasn’t prepared for.  All sorts of levels and cyclists take part (I even spied a woman on an electric bike – gotta say i was jealous!).  I of course took my beautiful new(ish) road bike.  Victoria Pendleton (the Olympic Gold medal cyclist) took part and at the end we all got the chance to meet her. She was very patient and lovely given the huge amount of women that queued up for the chance to have a pic taken with her.  I actually got ridiculously excited before meeting her…i’m pretty much a super fan.  She looks so pleased to be meeting me huh?!?  I got my bib signed by her too.

I need to master helmet hair!!

By the way it’s pretty much impossible to look good next to her so i didn’t even try.  Don’t judge me!

I cycled the race with a friend who i hadn’t seen or caught up with in ages so we took the course at a fairly leisurely rate and chatted most of the way, filling our pockets with sweets at the feed stations (that’s what you’re supposed to do right?).  I broke away for about the last three miles and raced them which was sooooo much fun.

The goodie bag we all got at the end was amazing.  It included a cloth rucksack, lots of free samples, two magazines and a loaf of bread (not pictured below).  There were also free massages, manicures and helmet hair rescue stations for all participants.

That evening we stayed in Liverpool at a place called Base2Stay.  Base2Stay is a hybrid hotel/apartment.  I’m definitely a fan of renting an apartment rather than staying in a hotel when i’m staying in cities.  The staff at Base2Stay were super accommodating and housed our bikes for us.  The bathroom in our room was so massive i had to get a photo.  I mean there were two sinks!!  What the?!?!?!

this picture does not do it justice – there’s a huge rainforest type shower hidden in the corner

And yes i am that easily pleased.

So i know i’ve said this in like, thirteen other posts but i’ve soooo got the cycling bug now.  It’s so much more fun than running (although still doing that a bit due to impending Great South Run in two and a half weeks!).  I even own a little collection of padded lycra shorts that i would never have dreamed of owning (let alone admitted to owning) just six months ago.

Roll on more cycling events!!!  There’s one more Cycletta event left this year so if you’re interested check out the Cycletta website.  I would if i could but i’ll definitely be signing up for 2013.

let’s catch up (or my cycle tour of Devon)

16 Sep

i know i don’t write or call as often as i should.  I am a bad blogger.  I wish i was sorry but there is such a good reason.  Basically i have a new love.  Don’t worry the hubby needn’t be jealous for my new love has two wheels…

Yes i am the proud owner of a beautiful road bike (and i don’t cut my hedges often enough).  Isn’t she lovely?  Not sure whether it was the Tour de France or the Olympics that got me but either way i have been totally seduced by cycling!

Both John and i have been cycling lots, not least because in three weeks time i’m taking part in Cycletta in Cheshire to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support.  This is a 40K cycle ride so i need all the training i can get.  Did i mention Victoria Pendleton will be there also?  Eeek, very excited!

Recently John and i spent a week in a cottage in Devon for our holidays. It was absolute bliss, gorgeous sunshine and totally surrounded by nature.  What’s not to love.  The view from our cottage:

We cycled the Tarka Trail and the Granite Way, both great traffic free trails suitable for road bikes and for our third ride we did a 20 mile round trip to a lake.  Although it is VERY hilly it’s wonderful country to be cycling round (did i mention it’s hilly?  Oh yeah, it’s hilly).  The lanes are very quiet.  You’re more likely to meet a tractor or a horse than a car.  Plus there are plenty of establishments selling wonderful local cider and cream teas (the essential cycling nutrition combo).  We were extremely lucky with the weather – if it had rained all week it may have been a different story but if you are lucky enough to spend a week in Devon in the sunshine i would totally recommend getting on two wheels.

In other news…I also recently ran the Guernsey Marathon as part of a relay team.

Yes this is the best picture my hubby could take of me.  I think i was running faster than the speed of light!!  I shall do a proper recap of this race in a separate post (although don’t hold your breath with my current track record) but it’s safe to say my leg of the race was fairly unpleasant.  I tore my ACL back in May and although my rehab is going well my knee is still fairly unstable and i couldn’t get in as much training as i’d like to have done.  The leg was 4.2 miles of hills (up and down).  It has taken my knee nearly two weeks to recover.  The team part was awesome though and i would do it again in a heartbeat!

Until next time X