Saturday, 29 October 2011


Here's what I've been up to today (amongst other things such as running and shopping for things to decorate a wedding cake with):

Felt decorated cards using a kit from Papercraft Inspirations magazine:

Coconut and raspberry sponge:

Monday, 24 October 2011

Not one but three bakes

I've definitely been in need of sugar to get me through the last few days and so todays Tuesday post, traditionally a baking one, has three bakes to share.

Nanaimo bars
When I asked Mr W what he wanted me to bake next he said "those stripey chocolate things". We had seen a recipe for Nanaimo bars in the Boy that bakes cookbook which he liked the look of. In fact, I had a slightly plainer (no double cream!) recipe from a Woman's Weekly magazine which I had been meaning to bake for a while, so I was happy to oblige. The Nanaimo bar originated in the town of Nanaimo in Canada. It has a cocoa and coconut flavoured biscuit base, a layer of custard flavoured buttercream and then a layer of chocolate icing. By coincidence, it was a Canadian colleague's birthday at the weekend and she brought some of these in for us to try - she used a slightly different recipe from here. It was similar to mine, except that the custard buttercream and chocolate layers were thicker. Frustratingly this all got eaten before the camera came out.

Chocolate orange cookies
I had a craving for something chocolately and orangey so consulted my recipe books. I chose a recipe for cookies from my Baking magic book which I haven't had out for a while. The cookie is flavoured with cocoa and orange zest, the chocolate chunks are Terry's chocolate orange. I made them with gluten free flour.

Lemon curd cakes
My friend Geraldine mentioned making lemon curd cakes the other day and I asked for the recipe as I had half a jar of lemon curd lurking in the fridge that wasn't nice enough for spreading but was perfectly good for baking. Geraldine's husband has coeliac disease so she is used to doing gluten free baking and so I was able to enjoy these too. Yummy!

I took the second two bakes into work this Sunday and they were much appreciated.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Persephone Secret Santa

I am very excited to be hosting this year's Persephone Secret Santa with the lovely Claire from Paperback Reader. We've co-hosted a number of Persephone events before, but this is the first time that I have been involved with the running of the Secret Santa, although it is the third time it has happenend! Claire will be co-ordinating the responses and I will be matching up the santas with their santees. I will also be hanging up my stocking and hoping that Santa brings me one of the three new Persephone books which I haven't yet been able to buy...

So without further ado, here are the instructions from Claire:

1. Email Claire at on or before November 6th (two weeks today) with your name, address (all personal information will be destroyed after completion of gift exchange), a list of Persephone titles you have read and/or own/wish for and specify whether or not you are willing to ship your gift internationally.

2. In the following week, names will be randomly drawn and participants will be notified as to who they are playing Santa to (do please look out for this email from Verity - it may possibly go to your junk mail).

3. Using the list of Persephone titles provided by your recipient, go back through your assigned blogger’s posts looking for favored authors or subject matter and choose a title you know the blogger will enjoy.

4. At this point, it is up to you as Santa how creative you wish to be in the workshop. You can order the book, have it gift wrapped and sent straight on to the recipient…or you can have the book sent to you first and go a step further by including a small gift that is homemade, bookish in nature or related to how you celebrate Christmas, then wrap it all up and send it on its way. Either way make sure you include a card revealing your identity. (Please indicate in your email if you will be including an additional gift.)

5. With the increase of packages being sent during the holidays, please aim to have your package delivered before or during the first week of December. Take into account the extra time needed if shipping internationally or if you are going on holiday/to see family over the holidays.

6. On December 16th, have a festive get together by revealing your Secret Santa is in a blog post and sharing what he (or she) brought you.

7. Spread the word … the more the merrier! Please feel free to use the image above and post about the event on your own blogs.

If after signing up, something comes up to where you cannot participate, let me know as soon as possible so that I can make other arrangements. Please consider all costs involved before participating (for the book, for any shipping, the additional gift, etc.). This is meant to be fun, not stressful, and I wouldn’t want anyone to feel overwhelmed by the commitment. Do please note that Persephone Books have recently raised their prices.

If you have any questions, you can leave a comment or email Claire.

Thank you Claire for writing the instructions and I hope lots of people will participate this year!

Saturday, 22 October 2011

This week #3

This week has in some ways been even harder than the previous one. I felt more energised but spent much of the week feeling stressed, and the working week ended with some extremely sad news about a much loved colleague which started to put the feeling stressed into perspective. I'm glad that it is now the weekend and I have some time to reflect and to get caught up with myself.

This week in reading

I haven't done as much reading as I would have liked one way and another, but I still read some books which I enjoyed.

Scarlet Feather by Maeve Binchy - another reread, but I think one of my favourite of her books. Lovely story.

Drowning Rose by Marikka Cobbold was an extremely engrossing novel. it took me a little while to get into it, mainly because the narrative was split between several periods and narrators. But I didn't have a clue how it would work out. Because it needs more writing about it than I can manage right now - look at Fleur Fisher's post about it which was what inspired me to pick it up.

Stealing Stacey by Lynne Reid Banks was a riveting story of a girl who is effectively kidnapped by her grandmother to outback Australia after her family situation in England breaks down. It was an unpredicatable plot that nearly had me back to work late from lunch as I was desperate to finish it.

The Yorkshire pudding club by Milly Johnson was an entertaining chick lit read about three women with very different circumstances as they go through pregnancy together. Nothing terribly memorable but enjoyable nonetheless if one is in the mood for something light.

A dancers world by Deborah Bull featured in the books that I had recently acquired What a lovely book! Written by a former principal with the Royal Ballet it gives a fascinating insight into a life spent dancing both by relating Bull's career path and also by describing a dancer's day and how it all works. Highly recommended to anyone with an interest in the ballet; it's quite simply written so I shall be passing it on to Mr W's eldest niece who is ten or eleven.

I am looking forward to reading some more things over the weekend as I have picked up a lot more books this library including two Libby Purves novels that I haven't read, another Marian Keyes novel and a Richmal Crompton.

This week in cooking

Along with the earl grey cupcakes that I made for Emily, I made some date and walnut biscuits for Mr W's lunchboxes which turned out to have the shape and consistency of bullets. I'm not sure why as I have made them before and they were absolutely fine. But he said that they tasted nice. I have made another new bake which I will share on my weekly baking post next Tuesday, several batches of soup, a batch of hippy spag bol (lentils instead of meat) and am going to attempt to make vegan burgers for supper!

This week in the house

The big event of this week has been The Turning On Of The Heating. I feel that we should have had a special ceremony like when the Christmas lights are turned on. I tried very very hard to hold out for the arrival of our sitting room curtains which we ordered at John Lewis at the weekend but when I got home from my evening duty at 7.30pm on Thursday night and the thermostat read 13.5C I thought it was probably time to give in. I had spent much of the previous evening shivering under 3 jumpers and a blanket. Unfortunately we had omitted to clean the radiators at any point so there is a dreadful smell of hot dust. We will have to try to clean the radiators out as soon as possible...

This week in training

I felt a bit more energised this week which has helped. I did 3 Couch to 5k runs, although I repeated Week 5: run 2 (walk for 5 minutes, run for 8, walk for 5, run for 8) as I wasn't sure I could face Week 5: run 3 (walk for 5, run for 20, walk for 5). My knees are starting to hurt so I might take a break before I attempt that - can you tell I'm a little nervous? I did another Tenerife Training session on Sunday as well as a fast 5km swim on Thursday am which with my other weekday am sessions meant that I covered 18.2km this week - not as far as in the summer when I was training for the 10k but I am doing other sport now too! I cycled 46 miles this week as Mr W kindly picked me up again after my evening duty and I didn't swim last Saturday.

No especial plans for this weekend - it's only a short one as I am back to work tomorrow. Oh how I wish that I had a copy of the new Persephone books to console me... I have read Greenbanks before but I am looking forward to rereading it in due course.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Boy who bakes cookbook

This is a mini post today, as I’ve been very busy. I have things that I want to write about on the blog – whole books even – but my days are hectic and brain consuming at the moment and I feel a bit more like sitting quietly doing some cross stitch (I must share soon the little Christmassy designs and the very unChristmassy design that I’ve been working on since the mumps) or possibly reading a little. Last night I went out for a run even though I was very tired and when I came back I was so tired that Mr W had to make me dinner or I would have just eaten cheesy wotsits and M and S gluten free chocolate cake for dinner.

But I do have a bake to share from one of my new cookery books and it is a surprisingly super easy bake that I am likely to make again very soon. The cookbook is The boy who bakes by the winner of last year’s Great British Bake Off Ed Kimber, and the bake is PB and J bars aka shortbread base with a layer of peanut butter with a layer of raspberry jam and topped off with shortbread crumble. I made it with gluten free flour and it was literally melt in the mouth – the saltiness of the PB married up beautifully with the jammy sweetness and I just love crumble toppings. Beautiful (obviously the taste rather than this rubbish picture which was taken at night and doesn’t even get a sense of the layers in it!)

I often find the more baking books I have, the fewer things there are I want to bake from them. It can get a little repetitive. The nice thing is about this book is that it has a good assortment of slightly off centre bakes, and what is particularly good is that there aren’t too many cupcake recipes and those that are included are nice and innovative – chai tea and milk chocolate or tiramisu. It’s nice that this is a book written by a man; I have a number of male friends who bake, and plenty more who should be encouraged to, and I think that having a book of cake recipes by a man is more likely to inspire them than some of the more obviously girly books on the market.

I’m going to have a play around with that recipe, as I think it would be a nice way to use up some of my mincemeat. Not with the peanut butter – I’m not convinced that that would be a winning combination, but the idea of a shortbread base, filling and crumbly topping.

Sunday, 16 October 2011


I've written about my friend Emily who died in 2006 on this blog twice previously, last year, and the year before, as well as mentioned her in passing on other posts such as this one about the Casson Family books. Regular readers will know that she is my motivation for raising money for Mind (and I'm waiting to see whether or not I will get a place to do a non-swimming challenge in 2012!)

The 16th October is always a sad day for me as I grieve for my friend who only had 23 years of life, although I can also feel glad that she has now found some peace from the torment of depression, and I try to remember the many very happy times we spent together and her wonderful support when I was very poorly in 2002-2003. This week has been extremely hard as we have approached the fifth anniversary of her death; I met Mr W six weeks after she died and wish very much that they had been able to meet each other.

As I've said before, Emily was a great reader and a great baker, and traditionally I try to bake something in her memory. I have many memories of her drinking earl grey tea in our favourite coffee shop in Exeter, and us sharing muffins. I have made a couple of earl grey bakes in the last couple of years, so as soon as I spotted the Earl Grey Cupcakes in Fiona Cairn's The birthday cake book, I knew that this was a recipe that I would save for this weekend.

Too bad I couldn't find my piping bag - still the appearance of the icing gave me the excuse I needed for a good cry.

Also this week I found this book of muffins which Emily gave me along with a giant muffin tin after her stay in hospital. I've not made that many things from it, but decided to make the salmon and sour cream scones to go with soup.
It's nice to do something else as well if I can. Last year I went to a John Rutter singing day. This year I was feeling uninspired until I had a text from Emily's Mum on Friday who was on holiday in the Trossachs. She'd had a pedicure and now had "Outrageous Pink Toes" in honour of Emily. I remembered how Mr W and I painted our toes pink for our first Great Swim raising money for Mind and decided to book a mini pedicure at the spa that I visited before our wedding.

Think we will light some candles tonight...

Saturday, 15 October 2011

This week #2

I enjoyed writing a This week post last week, so here I am again. It means I finally get to write down the books that I am reading, albeit in a minimal form. Maybe someday soon I'll get back to writing posts about individual books ;)
This week has been tiring; the two days of the weekend were not quite enough for me to recover from the ravages of the week before. Mr W and I enjoyed a trip on Sunday to see Strictly Gershwin, a theatrical spectacular with full orchestra and the English National Ballet, although we remain unconvinced by whether or not ballet to Gershwin works (the tapdancing did though!). I was intending to go to London today to meet the lovely Claire from Paperback Reader again and sell/buy books in the Notting Hill Books and Comics Exchange and see the Once upon a wartime exhibition at the IWM which I missed earlier in the year. But I decided that I needed to stay at home and be quiet so that I don't end up battling this tiredness all through the term.

This week in reading.

I read another Maeve Binchy, The copper beech, not one of her better ones, or maybe I was just a bit too tired to enjoy another saga, and this one is more short stories than novel, although the same characters recur.
I read The understudy by David Nicholls of One Day and Starter for Ten fame. I found it rather tedious and certainly not as gripping as either of his other two. I wouldn't suggest that anyone seeks it out, even on the basis of having enjoyed the other two.
I was initially disappointed by Gervase Phinn's Little Village School. I guess I was hoping for Miss Read or Rebecca Shaw, which it wasn't, quite. But I did get into it after a bit and ended up enjoying the tale and the characters, although I didn't think it was as good as his more autobiographical books.
I was hooked by Sinead Moriarty's Me and my sisters. Light reading at its best - characters which I cared about, a plot which kept me reading, and believable.
I also enjoyed Bethan Darwin's Back Home. More than just a story about a modern woman and her relationships, it interweaves a beautiful story of a Welsh war bride and her families. I would really really recommend this to anyone who likes both "chick lit" and second world war stories; chick lit isn't a great way to describe it as it is so much more than this, but I guess I wanted to emphasise that it is an easy and enjoyable read with plenty of depth.
Finally, I have reread Sleeping Beauty by Elizabeth Taylor, a Virago Modern Classic which I shall blog on my other blog soon, it's being reissued at the start of next month and has a beautiful pink cover!
This week in the house
Mr W has been revising hard for his Open University exam on Monday, but he did start to paint the hall walls. And he finally bought and fitted a light into the bathroom so we no longer have a bulb dangling from the ceiling. We've also been grown up and bought two smoke detectors and a carbon monoxide detector, but we haven't been grown up enough to install them yet. A job for the weekend.
This week in cooking
Unfortunately we ate most of the things that I'd got in the freezer last week. I did make a fish pie over the weekend which did for two nights, and a large couscous salad for several weekday meals, as well as a large veggie chilli for the freezer. I've done some baking too from a new cookbook and with my mincemeat and I'll be sharing those recipes in due course.
This week in training
I definitely overdid things a bit last week, so a much gentler week this week. I cycled a total of 52 miles this week, a little less than last week as Mr W picked me up from my late shift at work on Thursday. I've only managed 19km in the pool (over 8 sessions) due to being tired, but also due to starting the pre-Tenerife training. This involves some interval training rather than plodding up and down, and I think it is actually harder work even though I don't swim as far as the aim is to do different exercises and then do short bursts of swimming as fast as you can. I've done the other two Week 4 Couch to 5 k runs and today went out on a longer run. I wanted to try a new route which I can only do at the weekend as it's not very well lit, and I started with the first Week 5 session, but then continued running/walking until I got back. It was over 3.5 miles so quite pleased with that!
Time for a rest....

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Homemade chutney with home produce!

I know I was excited about making my Christmas chutney, but how much more excited did I get about making chutney With Things That I Grew Myself?! (actually, I didn't grow the pears, they just "appeared" on our tree that is in our garden, but I picked them and Mr W will prune the tree next year, or whenever it is that you prune them). I've made pear chutney and green tomato chutney! (The green tomato chutney is a Nigel Slater and actually includes some red ones too as Mr Slater advises that this makes the mixture taste better)

I'm not quite convinced by the Nigel Slater green tomato chutney - I think it was my fault for leaving the lid on the saucepan (in an attempt to try to make the house less vinegary), but, it meant that none of the liquid evaporated off. I drained some of it off but the chutney is quite runny. I would have another go, but the astonishingly unseasonal sunshine the other weekend brought all of my tomatoes on!

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Library loot

This library loot post is for the benefit of my colleague who looked longingly at my bagful of library books at lunchtime on Monday. I was gulping down soup and crunching on rice cakes so I had to disappoint her by not getting them out, but my readers here can benefit too from my laziness earlier in the week! I seem to have been doing well at the library recently, and what with the cross stitching that I have on the go and my frazzled brain I think I am probably taking them home faster than I can read them...

Here's what I got!

Little village school (Gervase Phinn). I've loved his books about being a school inspector so I couldn't resist picking up this copy of what is his first novel even though it was a hardback.

Suddenly (Bonnie Burnard) is a book I think I read about on the Virago website; it's been on my library wishlist for a while and was finally in. I think it will be quite a challenging book as it's all about death, so one to read when I am in a suitable frame of mind.

Back home (Bethan Darwin). I picked this novel up simply because it is published by Honno Press who do for Welsh women's literature what Virago do for women's literature in general.

Uncoupling (Meg Wolitzer). I read a review of this a while ago and have been waiting for it o appear in the library; I greatly enjoyed her last novel, The position, which I think was on the Orange prize list.

Stealing Stacey (Lynne Reid Banks). This is actually a teen novel, but I have loved her adult novels, especially The L Shaped Room trilogy, and I couldn't resist picking it up when I spotted it. She seems to write a lot of childrens books these days which is a shame as I have read all of her adult novels.

Me and my sisters (Sinead Moriarty) and The very picture of you (Isabel Wolff) - chicklit by authors who I have previously read.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

The Vintage Tea Party Book

I picked up The vintage tea party book by Angel Adoree when I spotted it in the library, partly because I can't resist a baking book, but also because I knew that a couple of friends had raved about it.

What a lovely book it is! Divided into three main sections to cover brunch tea parties, afternoon tea parties, and evening tea parties with appropriate recipes (e.g. tea related cocktails for the evening), there were a wealth of recipes that I wanted to make immediately. But it is more than a recipe book - there is advice on hunting for vintage china, instructions on how to make decorations and vintage style aprons to wear whilst serving, illustrated descriptions of vintage hair styles such as the victory roll and make-up suggestions. The book is beautifully presented, and somehow both modern and retro.

I've already made two things from it:

Here are the spinach and parmesan muffins which I served for lunch with soup:

I also made the chocolate and coconut granola. I've made granola several times before and Mr W really likes it for breakfast, far more than muesli, but I've never made a chocolate version before.

I am planning to make two more recipes from the book in the next week or so, so I'll show those in due course.

Monday, 10 October 2011

New acquisitions - part 1

I have a number of recent acquisitions to share, some inspired by other bloggers.

Two VMCs:

Simon at Stuck in a Book recommended Red Pottage on his blog a couple of weeks ago.

Jane at Fleur Fisher recommended Woman in the wall on her blog last week. It's good to have recommendations for the VMCs that I haven't yet read as it helps me through my challenge.

Campfire, a commenter on my blog, recommended the Madeleine books and found a cheap copy of the first one, The little Madeleine on ebay for me.

Finally, a dance biography, The everyday dancer by Deborah Bull. We are approaching ballet going season - in fact, Mr W and I went to see Strictly Gershwin yesterday, and we have tickets for Nutcracker (traditional), Nutcracker (Matthew Bourne), and Sleeping Beauty over the next 6 months - so this will make a nice accompaniment.

There are also an embarassing number of cookbooks that I've purchased in the last few weeks (I blame the mumps and having too much time to peruse Amazon).

I've already blogged about the Great British Bakeoff book, and I'll be blogging about the other ones as I bake things from them (I still have 3 of them to even open!). With the possible exception of the Beas at Bloomsbury book which I found really disappointing - I wasn't enticed to make anything when I read it!

Sunday, 9 October 2011


Having had a large bag of apples from a colleague in exchange for a bag of our pears, I decided to make mincemeat again - it's always good to get ahead for Christmas, even though I still have a jar left from last year! I used Nigella's no suet recipe, and as I could only buy a 500ml bottle of cider (and the recipe calls for 250ml), I decided to make a double quantity. It only just fitted into my Mum's pressure cooker (I don't use the pressure bit - I wouldn't know how - but it is the most cauldron like receptacle that I have). I've somehow ended up with 13 jars of the stuff! As I ran out of jam jars, I had to use an old Nutella jar and an old coffee jar which obviously don't seal properly - I'm keeping them in the fridge for now. But this is where my readers come in - please share with me your favourite things to do with mincemeat apart from mince pies as I'm going to have to try to use it up in the next couple of weeks. I'm thinking about an apple and mincemeat sponge pudding or maybe crumble, but does anyone have any other ideas?

Saturday, 8 October 2011

This week

This week has been tough. It's what Oxford University calls "0th week" (the weeks of term are numbered 1 - 8, so the week before term starts is obviously week 0...), and in Michaelmas (Autumn) term, this is when all of the new students arrive. I spent a day and a half delivering library induction presentations to new historians (a total of 7 times, more than any of the other history library staff!); only 2 students fell asleep, and I managed to stay awake. Combine this with starting a slightly different role and trying to bond with the two members of staff new to my team, some shortlisting, and firefighting a number of other issues, I was absolutely shattered! Consequently I haven't done as much of anything other than work as I would have liked this week really, and I even missed a card making evening that I'd been really looking forward to as I needed to go to bed! Today, Saturday, I am feeling quite frayed around the edges, and although I managed to go for a run/walk, I had to give up on my swim after 1km.

This week in reading
Last weekend I enjoyed reading The Easter Party by Vita Sackville-West, one of her novels that hadn't made it into the Virago Modern Classics series and which I had been inspired to seek out after my visit to Knole at the August Bank Holiday weekend.
I also reread my favourite Famous Five Book - Five go on a hike together - which bore rereading. I love that book!
I reread Circle of Friends by Maeve Binchy as part of my rereading her oevre - I think this is one of her best ones.
I read a memoir of a man who moved to Tenerife to run a bar (having been unable to find a book about Tenerife to read ahead of my trip there in February), called More ketchup than salsa, which was really quite tedious and told me next to nothing about Tenerife.
I read A sense of an ending by Julian Barnes which Claire had lent me when I was poorly with mumps. I find Julian Barnes work very variable - I loved Metroland, lent to me by Mr W's predecessor, and Talking it over, and also Nothing to be frightened of, but most of the rest of his work has left me cold. I liked the story in this but found it quite pretentious.
I also read The vintage tea party book by Angel Adoree which I will post about separately in the coming week.

This week in training
Since getting my running shoes, I have been back on the Couch to 5k programme and been out 3 times. I am now up to running for 16 minutes during the half hour session.
I have cycled 57 miles (2 x 6 mile round trip to the pool, 5 x 9 mile round trip to work) and am astonished to find that my legs are 50% less flabby than they were a week ago. Seriously! I'm still trying to learn to love my bike, it's helped that the weather has been ok, but I find it hard going cycling back with my panniers.
I have swum about 21km, and even made it to a Tri Club swim session (hadn't been for over 2 months). I'm being given access to special training sessions to do on my own ahead of my swim camp in Tenerife, so have got to do the first one tomorrow!

This week in cooking
I've made my Christmas mincemeat (post to follow), and a couple of recipes from the Vintage Tea Party book (also post to follow!), but otherwise I have been defrosting things from the freezer to feed Mr W and I in the evenings.

This week in the house
We are now fully double glazed following new windows in the bathroom, hall and kitchen. Annoyingly they are far nicer than the already double glazed windows in the rest of the house which we see more often. We opted not to have frosted glass in the kitchen like the window it replaced, and it has made the kitchen so much lighter.
As I type Mr W is putting a light fitting into the bathroom light, so no more light bulb dangling from the ceiling, and if he has any time left this afternoon he's going to get on with painting the walls in the hall.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

New PINK laptop!

Look at Cardigan Girl's new toy! I've had it since the start of the week but today is the first day I've been able to wrestle it from Mr W...I thought the pink would act as a deterrent but evidently not. It was only the arrival of his new bike that meant I got my hands on it.
I hope it'll make my blogging easier - it's better all round as it has an English keyboard (our PC has a Russian one), and I can use it when Mr W is using his. But mainly we got it so I can stay connected when I go to Tenerife in Feb - given the HUUGE bill I had for using my phone in Austria when I had Mr W's company, a laptop seems like a bargain as long as I can find somewhere with some wifi. It's got a webcam too so I might even be able to show off my suntan to Mr W.

Library loot

I thought I'd do a quick library loot post since I popped to the library at lunchtime. I have to say that I am heavily aware of every library book that I borrow now that they have to be added to my panniers (which are already laden with swimming kit and change of clothes) for me to take them home.

More ketchup than salsa: confessions of a tenerife barman (Joe Cawley)

What I really wanted was a book about Tenerife; I have booked the swimming camp that I mentioned the other day and since I've never been anywhere like Tenerife I thought it would be prudent to get a book about it. I know that it is a volcanic island and that the beaches won't be white beaches of my imagination, but rather black sand, but I know very little else. Sadly, all that was in at the library was this book by an expat barman. Still - it was better than nothing so I've taken it.

Scarlett Feather/Copper Beech (Maeve Binchy)

My brain has been fried again this week so it's been back to Maeve again. They're chunky books and I've read them before but they're lovely to sink into at the end of the day.

The brightest star in the sky (Marian Keyes)

Like Maeve is Marian Keyes. I'm not too sure if I've read this one or not, but it looks like a good "end of the day" book for me.

Vintage tea party book (Angel Adoree)

You can never have too many baking/tea books. Actually, you can (umm yes, there might be a bit of a confession coming up in a few days time...), and that is why, despite hearing good reports about it, I haven't actually bought this. So I was delighted to see it in the library. Lots of lovely picturs. Again, that makes a nice "end of the day" book for me when I am too tired to actually read.

What have you been borrowing from the library recently? What do you like to read for a good "end of the day" book.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Cake makes everything better

Yesterday was a hard day; I was absolutely flat out at work and by the time I eventually got home there was no way that I was going out to make Christmas cards :( I had dinner of a mars bar and some peanut M and Ms and went to bed at 9.15. I got up in the middle of the night to have cake as I was hungry and there wasn't anything else that didn't require cooking. This is the cake:

It's an apple, pecan, gingerbread cake, and I spotted the recipe here.
I have a strong belief in the healing properties of cake. Today has been far better, I managed coffee and tea breaks, had lunch with a friend (and bought her flowers to cheer her up), I've eaten healthily and got in my 5 a day (although I know I really should have had 10), and I fleetingly met Yvann from Reading Fuelled By Tea. It's also the final of the Great British Bake Off tonight - I have sent Mr W out to his cycling training session so that I can concentrate on it properly. It is a busy week though, so please bear with me on the posting front!

Sunday, 2 October 2011


Well, September wasn't the best month was it?! I learned that I am bored at home on my own, I got plantar fasciitis and had to abandon a 9 week running programme after only two sessions, and THEN I got mumps. I didn't manage a chore free evening...

But I am determined that October will be better! I bought some running shoes yesterday and today I made it out for a 30 min run/walk. I then cycled down to the swimming pool (3 miles) and swam 3km before cycling back again. (Isn't it funny that I cycle and run in miles and swim in km?). I hope my legs will be ok tomorrow - the swim stretched them out - and although I was worried that my foot would start hurting again, it didn't seem to. I hope to go out running again on Wednesday evening.

Tomorrow will be a chore free evening! I am going round to make Christmas cards with my wedding lunch photographer. If I'm honest, the hot weather has made me lose some interest in Christmas - I'm cross stitching a mini beach hut at the moment.

Otherwise in October I'm looking forward to a trip to the theatre, a trip to London and a singalonga Faure Requiem!

With regard to reading, I have no especial plans. I would love to get back on track with the Virago Modern Classics books but it is a bit of a struggle to be honest. I am hoping to write a post once a week mentioning all of the books that I have read each week - I think it would be nice to share what I am reading a bit more, even though I lack time and brain function to write "reviews" this time.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Finished cross stitches

I managed to procure the thread to finish off my Boofle cross stitch earlier in the week, and I have to say that gentle stitching in the rest of the feet and fact was a very relaxing activity at the end of some mega busy days this week.

I also finished this Christmas bauble from the set of designs that I found in the cross stitch magazine. I rather like it as it is so colourful.
What next? I have to confess to having bought another Boofle design when I bought the thread; it's not Christmassy though and perhaps I should stick to more mini card designs. I did enjoy the bauble, so maybe another one of those...