Thursday, 27 October 2011

Cupcake Class

Last night I went along with a colleague and some friends and learnt to decorate cupcakes, thanks to a Groupon we bought a while back.  Held at the Sugar Shack, we played around with piping for a while, learning on a fake cupcake, before being let loose with the colour pastes and glitter.  Whilst there is an awful lot of room for improvement (in both piping and colour selection!) it was a really fun night.

Learning to pipe on fake cupcakesAll of the above, in colour
From this          to this
Roses only
Frills (outside in)
Swirls, starting from the outside finishing in the middle
Frills (inside out, gone wrong, with ears)
Swirls, starting from the inside
Dollops (oversized)
Dollops or splodges or stars (I’d ice the cake before using theses I think.  Or heck, not use them!)

Do you have a favourite?  I like the roses the best or the inside to outside swirl.  Just not the colours I chose.

Wordless Wales


Long weekend on the (old) south Wales coast
Oct 22 - 24 2011

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Autumn Days

Have you seen all the posts around the blogosphere about Autumn? After a late start, it's certainly here now in the UK. The pumpkin spiced lattes aren't but the cooler weather, and darker evenings are. The boots and tights are on, hats at the ready. And the anticipation. Anticipation of Christmas, and of Christmas holidays.

It makes me want to nest. To stay in, bake, cook for others. Tidy. Rearrange. File (but not do tax returns, sadly as mine needs to be done). Rest up and nest up, drink hot chocolate. Or mulled wine. Or warm cider. Or all of the above. Read the books, watch the movies.

I guess Autumn is one of my favourite seasons. One of my four favourites seasons. I like it for what it is, but also for the change. I like all the seasons, and I like that I've always been lucky to live where there are four distinguishable ones.

Happy Autumn All - what do you like about it?

(This post is losely based on the prompt for today "What is your favourite season" on the NaBloPoMo site.  I've tentatively signed up to blog each day in November.  Hades may need to freeze over for it to eventuate but I'd like to give it a shot.  And yes, I realise I didn't answer the prompt exactly, but I don't know that I really have a preference for a particular season). 

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Ten on a Tuesday - 102

I really really like the questions this week.  Stands to reason though, doesn't it, as I really holidays and that's what this week's questions are all about.  Thanks Chelsea for hosting (and thanks Lindsey for the questions).

1. You’re packing for a week long vacation, do you pack ahead of time or wait until the last possible minute to pack?

More or less the last possible minute. So much so that I often stay up into the small hours packing because I am the princess of procrastination. I've usually got a list of sorts or whatnot but actually selecting the clothes etc, very last minute.

2. Are you a light or heavy packer?
Heavy generally but am coming along in leaps and bounds with this. Given we often fly budget airlines, I'm getting much better at just packing carrying on. That, and BA losing my luggage when we went to Italy makes me a bit wary of checking luggage if I don't need to.

3. What are your favourite road trip snacks?
Pringles (can be resealed), lollies/mints. I don't think I've really got any specifics.

4. Do you take any reading material along?
Yep, or pick a book up at the airport.

5. Do you prefer to drive or fly to your vacation destination?
I love a road trip but many of the places I go, flying's a necessity.

6. What is your favourite time of the year to take your vacation?
No bad time right? Love the beach in summer, cities in Autumn, ski fields & Christmas markets in winter and anywhere is good in Spring (especially the countryside).

7. Where is your favourite place to vacation?
The beach. Any beach.

8. You are vacationing in the mountains, what is your favourite thing to do while there?
Ski or walk, depending on season. Drink hot chocolate & curl up and read (not season dependent).

9. You are at the beach for your vacation, do you like to take it easy on the beach or play all day in the water?
Both. Swim a bit, lye a bit, swim a bit, eat a bit, lye a bit. The lying part comes is usually spent reading a book or snoozing.

10. While your on vacation do you prefer to eat out every night or cook some of your own meals?
I like eating out but it depends on the length of the trip. I usually crave fresh veggies or salads towards the end of trips.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Smiling today

After my whingy ranty whiny post of yesterday, I'm feeling much more positive today. Here's why:

  • 10 hours sleep.  man, I needed that.  Not every night, but last night I did

  • Yummy food.  I've been craving veggies the last week or so and I'm feeding that craving.  Last night included leeks, broccoli & mushrooms ftw.

  • Quiet time reading last night.  I'm currently getting stuck into the second book of The Hunger Games trilogy, Catching Fire. Have you read this series or planning on reading it? I was a little unsure but my colleague has been passing me them as she finishes them and I've got to say - I quite enjoy it. Easy to read (duh, it's young adult fiction) and a welcome change from chic lit and biographies etc.

  • A bath.  For no reason other than I could.  A relaxing bath, last night whilst reading.

  • Family.  My cousin is coming over to Europe for a few months, starting Sunday.  I don't know what/where or why but I shall see him and cuddle him and enjoy him.  Have I mentioned how much I love seeing my family? He's the mug in the pic at the end of this post.  That was when he was over last year and we daytripped it to Leeds.

  • This blog. It's the latest in a long line of old-but-new-to-me blogs I've been finding and loving.  Elise is super creative, super talented and seems sweet to boot.  Go check her out.

  • These tea bags.  They're provided one the client floors here at work and are super pretty and tasty to boot.  Win.


Friday, 14 October 2011

The real picture

I'm not sure I can work it all out. I can work out some things amiss but I can't work out all the answers. My head and heart are heavy right now and for no real reason. To the outside, my life probably looks pretty peachy. And it is. Good job, great friends, frequent holidays etc.

But really, this is only part of it.

I'm pretty much tired and sluggish all the time. It needs to change because it's no fun. I think it's a combination of poor diet, lack of exercise, excess weight and too much on. All of these things feed each other. I'm tired so I don't cook proper meals. I don't cook proper meals so I'm tired. I don't cook proper meals to I'm overweight. I'm overweight so I'm tired. I don't exercise much so I'm tired. I'm tired so I don't exercise. It's all a big messy circle.

The thing is that some days (like today when my stupidly broken toe is throbbing and my throats/tonsils aching (still! Or again!!) I don't know where to start. I can't eat better, get fit, loose weight and not be tired overnight. So where do I start?

For now, I think I'm going to focus on food. It's the easiest most do-able change.

As to what I'm going to do about food - that's a little obvious (eat better food) and a little complicated (like, what is "better" food?). Food shall be my focus for a little bit.  I know things like eating out for lunch or dinner 4-8 times a week doesn't help (I buy lunch every day but I'm not counting sandwiches or salads as eating out).  And my sweet tooth that kicks in with 3.30itis?  It's bad. 

Food also includes drinking.  We've had a lot of big nights out lately.  Partying like you are 18 is only fun when you are indeed 18. Well, it's fun when you're 29 too, but it's not worth it and I should know better.  Know that my hangovers are terrible and that I don't always make good (food) choices etc.

In terms of exercise - I'm limited because I've ill health and injuries right now. I'm going to schedule a new gym program, focussing on my upper body (I'm wearing a strapless bridesmaids dress in 2 short months kids!!). Then as my foot heels, build it up some.

In terms of plans. I'm going to cut back. Not on those I've made, but on making more. I want to see everyone and do everything all the time. It doesn't work. I'm a home body. I want me time. I need me time. I'm going to take me time.

In terms of weight - well, that's covered in the food/exercise parts. And really, whilst I can call it weight, I'll also call is size. I've always been a big girl (well, since puberty, darn you puberty) but I feel like in the last 6 months and gone from big girl to fat girl. Like, it's on my mind. All the time. Like, I'm hating photos of me. Hating photos at a time when I'm seeing some really super cool places is not ok. So baby steps, but I need to work on this.

Sorry for being all debbie downer but I needed to get it out.  Now, who wants a hug?  I like hugs.

Me.  Not really smiling and certanily not relaxing because a fully body photo was being taken. 
This is effectively the before shot (taken Sunday).  Smile, skin and size hopefully improved upon.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Majorca Magic

Majorca’s the largest of the Balearic Islands, off the coast of Spain.  It’s a reasonably well known holiday destination and to Australians, home of the late Christopher Skase (Australian fugitive).

We booked a weekend here a few weeks ago to try and catch some late Summer sun.  We were thinking some sun, sand and sea would be fun and had high hopes.

Well, it delivered.  It delivered sun, sand, sea and so much more (including broken toe bones for yours truly). 

I’ll let the pictures tell the story for I can’t really.

Friday Night (a la Magaluf)

Saturday night (a la the beginning of the day for me.  The beginning of the day that we’ll talk about.  We won’t count the first 5 hours of the day.  We’ll chalk that up against Friday)

Sunday (a la the best day of the weekend – the day that had sun, sand and sea as planned)

Whilst I didn’t see a lot of the place, I loved what I saw.  Notice the lack of Saturday pictures?  That would be because I was living through one of the worst hangovers of my life.

Would I return to the island of Majorca?  For sure
Would I return to the town of Magaluf?  No.  No, no, no, no NO.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Ten on a Tuesday - 101

The pasta edition.

Thanks Chelsea (and Kristin) for the questions.  I sort of contradict myself throughout with my answers but really, the main takeaway is that I just like pasta.

It’s a family thing though, not just me – check my nephew out (way back in 2008, the night before I moved to the UK).  He was a spag bol machine that night, eating two plates of it!


1. Red Sauce or White Sauce?
Red if I’m cooking.  Red or white out (red & white combined is my favourite)

2. Do you prefer pasta you can twirl or stab?
Twirling is usually saved for at home, stabby out.

3. Baked or boiled?
Happy with either

4. Do you like meat in your sauce or do you kick it vegetarian style?
Nope, but then I don’t like meat.

5. Where have you had your very best pasta ever?
Vernazza, Cinque Terre.  Here’s the view from the restaurant that lunch time:
It was a prawn and zucchini papardelle with a wee curry hint in a mainly creamy sauce.  Amazing food.

6. What is your favourite pasta dish?
Tuna pasta bake is my go to staple comfort food.  Tinned tuna, tinned tomato soup, cheese and small pasta (preferable shells or rigatoni).  Baked in the oven.

7. Do you serve meatballs when you make spaghetti or just do a meat sauce?
Nope, never.  I’ll cook a traditional spag bol but have not once made meat balls.

8. Why type (rice, whole wheat, egg, etc.) of noodles do you use?
Indifferent.  I tend to have whole wheat at home though.

9. What type of meats or vegetables do you put in your sauce?
Mushrooms are my go to. Red peppers, olives, whatever else is going.

10. Do you make a “Sunday gravy” to use throughout the week or do you just open a jar of whatever and heat it up? (No judgment on this one!)
Jar of whatever or tin of cherry tomatoes.

Budapest Birthday Bash –Sziget Festival

On the back of the Isle of Wight music festival for Penny’s 30th, Matt (another school friend) celebrated his 30th at Sziget Festival in Budapest.  Being a week long and in August, I wasn’t able to get the leave (regulatory deadlines at work – oh joy).  That said, those kids were having so much fun there that the only cure for my FOMO (fear of missing out) was to join them for the weekend.  I've just loaded the pics on to fb and whilst I'm at it, I'm sharing here as well.

Booking a Saturday festival ticked and the flights on the Thursday, I scooted out of work Friday afternoon and off to Budapest to surprise the crew in the sweet apartment they’d booked online.

The weekend was large.  Sunny, funny and large.  So glad I made the trip and I wish I could have been there for longer. 

There was a wee bit of sightseeing/relaxing

And there was a lot of music and festival fun.  The Saturday line up included Hindi Zahra, Kaiser Chiefs (always fantastic live!), Kate Nash and 30 Seconds to Mars.  The line-up was secondary to me being there but was still great.  As far as festivals go, Sziget’s the one I’d recommend above all others I’ve been to.

Happy Birthday Matt!