Monday, 30 January 2012

The Weekly

On Monday, on the way to work, I saw the first lambs in the fields. I bought two bunches of daffodils for the house; they are faring as well and as brightly as the ones that have started flowering on the verges. Spring is here, on Exmoor, briefly at least. I fear that the snow forecast for the hills and moors this weekend might put a stop to Spring, at least for a while. But it can't stop the lengthening evenings, nor the fact that it was just about light when I left work at 5pm on Friday. After the long winter nights, the lengthening daylight brings hope, new beginnings. And, all being well, new babies. I washed my first load of baby suits this afternoon, stacked the tiny pile in the airing cupboard, ready, if needed, to be transferred to a hospital bag. Or, I hope, transferred to a new flat. The tiny mitts getting ready to house the tiny hands that are currently poking away at my rib cage. But not too soon; I'm working for another 4 weeks, and then there's another 5 weeks until full term. 5 weeks which I need, to unpack two years of county living back into a London flat and to organise ourselves. By which time, it should well and truly be spring, even in London. 

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Valentines/anniversary cake

Although technically our anniversary is not until next weekend, and Valentines Day obviously not for a couple of weeks, this was husband and my last weekend on our own before either of those events. Usually I would bake a cake from one of my go to recipes but Baking Mad emailed me and asked me if I would try out their valentines cake. So, I thought, why not.

I won't list out all the ingredients here or the method, as you'll find that over at their site, but I thought you might like a few photos.
Notes:

I didn't have any heart shaped tins, so I made a thin flat cake in a Le Creuset dish, which I then used heart shaped cutters to cut out various sizes of hearts, some of which I double layered, some I left single.

As only husband and I were eating the cake, I halved all the ingredients for the actual cake and only used one egg. I also left out the milk. This, coupled with the way I cooked it, thin and flat, gave it a lovely almost brownie like texture, which was easier to cut out with a cutter.

I found I needed more icing sugar than they recommended for the icing sugar. I also omitted the type of chocolate they recommended, opting for 50g of melted dark chocolate, to 70g butter and probably 100g icing sugar. Just keep beating and tasting prior to adding the chocolate. 

I used spreadable butter, which was all I had to hand. It seemed to work ok.

I served the cake with tea, to husband, who seemed very touched that I'd made him a cake.

I think I will repeat this recipe next time I serve a tea party, possibly using a slightly bigger cutter than the mini one but leaving them single layered with icing. A nice bite sized alternative to cupcakes, ideal I'm the heart shape if you were planning valentines cupcakes.

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All photos by me, using my iPad. Which accounts for the poor quality of the snaps, but at least you get the idea.

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This is a sponsored post.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Steel heart necklace (perfect for Valentines Day!)


Aren't these necklaces lovely. If I wasn't on a shopping hiatus pre-Pip then I would be sorely tempted to send Husband this post and show him how beautiful these limited edition heart necklaces are. They are handmade from either stainless steel or brass plated steel and would look fantastic with a plain white tshirt.

Limited edition heart necklace

Sunday, 22 January 2012

The Weekly


This week was hard. But got better, ending with a lovely weekend alone with my Husband and Delilah, sitting in front of the fire and doing basically eff all. This afternoon we went to collect some nappies from freecycle, before having a rather lovely pub lunch (marred only slightly by a bunch of posh tw*ts who had booked seating for 20 and turned up an hour late, rahhing at everything) and then a short walk in the fading afternoon sunshine to Tarr Steps before driving back over the moor listening to Pink Floyd.

As you can see from the photo above, my body shape is changing. I've managed to keep my baby bump fairly well hidden until recently, but this week, I've not been able to get my coat done up all the way, and judging from my increased rib discomfort and heartburn, things are only set to get more uncomfortable. Less than three calender months until my due date though, so in no time at all it won't be rib discomfort keeping me awake...

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Tarr Steps by me using iPhone. Me, by Husband, also using iPhone.

Friday, 20 January 2012

30 (the party)


Husband's best man and one of our closest friends has a birthday 2 days before mine. This was the scene of our joint 30th birthday party last weekend where 15 of our family and closest joint friends headed for a weekend of partying.

It was an amazing weekend. Two wonderful evening meals cooked by my husband and a team of sous-chefs, eaten with all 15 (18 with extra visitors one night) crammed round the dining table. One quieter meal on the Sunday night in the pub down the road over card games and dating apps on someone's phone. Two nights of partying until 5am. (Hence the renting of a self contained house in the middle of nowhere where as much noise can be made as needed and they welcome stag parties). A crisp but sunny walk across the surrounding fields. A laughter filled game of basketball to drive off the hangovers and an afternoon spent pottering in bath (most people drinking, me purchasing a black jumpsuit to wear for the evening party having decided that all maternity wear was too frumpy). Champagne.

An amazing weekend, which was over too quickly. All too soon, everyone else departed for London and I drove back to Somerset, collecting Delilah, us both sobbing all the way home from the cattery. I once thought the flatness after a weekend of partying was a hangover. I think it's more than that. That and pregnancy hormones.

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And, if anyone is looking for a property that sleeps up to 16 for a hen party (or any other kind of party), I can highly recommend this place. Lots of bedrooms, lots of space, 2 lounges, plenty of bathrooms and hot water, plenty of outside space, decent well equipped kitchen - 2 dishwashers! - and separate dining room with a huge table. Just outside Bath so easy to get in for shopping and the spa, just off a main road so easy access but you can't hear it from inside and parking for about 10 cars. Decent manager who makes dealing with him easy and a pleasure. Email me if you want the details.

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House photo taken by my father (we invited our parents to join us for lunch on the Sunday).

Sponsored Post: Theatre Breaks

We're not really ones for celebrating Valentine's Day, Husband and I, given that the anniversary of the day that we met is so close to it, we usually celebrate both at the same time. However, I am one for celebrating and to that end, when Theatre Breaks asked me to share their link to their website which helps you find romantic theatre breaks I thought one or two of you might find it useful. Who wouldn't want to have a Valentines theatre break in London organised and booked for them :)

The offers really aren't bad. I found two tickets to Legally Blonde with a night in a townhouse hotel in Kensington for £153. The seats are in the stalls and the hotel stay includes breakfast. When I was poking around on the website, I also found that you can pre-book supper at a nearby restaurant pre or post show at a very reasonable rate, although I can't vouch for the food that you'd receive.

Still, if you're looking for a Valentine's day break, or to celebrate for any other reason, it's got to be worth checking out to see what's available.

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This is a sponsored post

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Sponsored Post: Twinings Green Tea

One of the many changes that I have had to make to my life, and diet, since becoming pregnant is cutting down on caffeine and drinking more fluids. One of the ways that this is possible is by swapping some of my cups of tea and coffee each day for a herbal or green tea (which still contains caffeine but much less than coffee) . It was therefore fitting that Twinings contacted me to tell me about their new range of teas and to inform me of the benefits of drinking green tea. They say that "because they're a natural source of anti-oxidents", green tea "may help protect the body from damage caused by free radicals". Wikipedia also says that "studies suggest that green tea can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, dental cavities, kidney stones, and cancer, while improving bone density and cognitive function". 


Got to be worth a try at least. 


Buy green tea here from the Twinings tea shop.

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This is a sponsored post

Monday, 9 January 2012

30


As birthdays inevitably do, 30 came and went before I'd really had a chance to be present.  A day that started with presents over breakfast in bed, which continued by us hearing Pip's heartbeat at our 25 week antenatal appointment, included cupcakes made by my husband (which I am still getting compliments about at work), home made crispy duck pancakes for supper and then lunch out at a nice pub on Saturday.

My sister gave me a card which reads "29 forever". A fantastic card and one which I plan to frame, but, somehow, 30 actually feels right. I've dreaded it for so many months; hated the thought of getting old, leaving my youth behind. But actually, I'm pretty excited about the year ahead. A baby! Living with my husband again after 2 years! A new decade. New challenges.

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Me, Pip and Delilah. By Husband.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

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As my twenties draw to a close, I feel surprisingly much better about it than I ever thought I might. I have gradually realised that anticipation is far worse than the actual event and, given that there is fuck all I can do about it, accept that it is inevitable and actually enjoy it.

As the clock turned midnight and 2012 arrived, I stood there with my husband, completely sober, for what must have been the first time since I turned 16, and realised that the year had come that I had dreamed about for years previous. You don't dream about turning 28, but, as a little girl, I often wondered what 30 might be like. And, I always thought and hoped I might have a baby at 30. And now here I am, on the eve of turning 30, 25 weeks pregnant. 

Later on that evening, husband and I stood together in the quiet peace and quiet of north London, in the middle of the road, watching the fireworks go off across the whole of the city. They were at once right in front of us and yet, tiny in the distance. Which is exactly what life feels like at the moment.

To celebrate 30, we are heading to Bath next weekend with our family and some of our closest friends, for a joint celebration with husband's best man, who was 30 yesterday. We have, for the past 8 years, had joint parties. In expensive cocktail bars in west London, overpriced nightclubs in Notting Hill (25), dinners, house parties and with various themes, mostly fuelled by large amounts of alcohol. Of all the photos, these were the only ones I could find of me on my own, safe for sharing.

Turning 28 in Stockholm/ 26 in London