Saturday, 29 June 2013

Easy weekend pizza recipe

Sometimes at the weekend I have a real craving for pizza but a big ol' Dominos doesn't really fit in the healthy living diet that I try (badly) to lead...not to worry though I've found an easy recipe for home made pizza. You need a spare hour to let the dough rise but it will be worth it!

Recipe for the dough (makes 4 pizzas)

375g strong bread flour
1tsp salt
3g dried yeast (I use a fast action one that comes in 7g sachets...just use half)
225ml warm water
A glug of olive oil!

In a large bowl mix together all the dry ingredients with a spoon

Add the liquid in 2 goes, mix with the spoon initially, then if needed use your hands to combine into a soft dough.


Turn the dough into a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes by hand. Put the kneaded dough back into a large bowl and cover with cling film. Leave in a warm place for 45 minutes to double in size.


Preheat the oven to 220C and place a baking sheet into the oven.

Knock the dough back down using your fingers and divide into 4 balls.


Roll each base out on a floured surface, you will find that it will keep its shape better if you turn it regularly.


Prepare your choosen toppings. For the tomato sauce I use 2tbsp of tomato purée water down with 2tbsp of water.


Using oven gloves take out the baking sheet, shake some flour onto the sheet and place a pizza base onto it. Load up with your toppings and bake for 10-12 minutes or until crispy.



Repeat as necessary!!
Enjoy your weekends everyone! 

Friday, 28 June 2013

Weekend Plans....

Finally it's Friday...and payday too...even better!

The wine is chilling in the fridge, but first the dreaded payday food shop will need to be done. We reward ourselves with buying a cheese & tomato tear & share bread...with very little sharing, so perhaps we'll be extravagant and buy ourselves one each!

Then its an early-ish class tomorrow morning, followed by a cycle to the pub to watch the Lions in action and an evening with friends eating their home-made curry and playing Trivial Pursuit...last time it was boys v girls but us girls just got drunk and giggly so I think the teams are being mixed up to keep us in line!

Hopefully, maybe, on Sunday my brother and his family may come down for a day at the seaside - I can already taste the fish & chips! Then there will be an evening of batch cooking for the freezer...risotto, lasagne, thai green curry & spicy prawn curry...I just need to take pictures ready for future Sunday recipe posts!

Have a good weekend everyone - whatever it is you're up to!

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Mundane Midweek Part 2

Hump day...Wednesday...middle of the week, too many days have past since last weekend and the weekend ahead is just too far into the future to get excited about...nothing exciting is ever planned for a Wednesday, nothing exciting ever happens on a Wednesday...let me prove my point using yesterday as an example...

4.57am The other half wakes me to ask what the time is, his phone ran out of charge overnight. It's a whole 2 hours before I need to get up.

7am My alarm goes off. I reset it for 20 minutes later and vow to get ready for work in super quick time so I can still be out the door at 8am

7.30am I decide to try on dresses because we are going to Ascot Races for the day...in 3 weeks. As I am trying dresses on I tell myself that I probably should be using this time to get ready for work, but I carry on - finally decide on a floaty blue number from Coast because I need to decrease the cost per wear (currently £150 for 1 wear!)

7.50am Eat granola, put on make up, get dressed, find lunch, lose keys, find keys, lose phone, find phone, brush teeth, run out the door getting tangled in the Other Half's very expensive mountain bike...we need a bigger home!

Spend the morning doing Accountant-ty type jobs at my desk, broken up with the occasional (4) cup of tea and quick glances at blogs, Facebook and news websites.


Take an early lunch to make a quick run to the shops which turns into a supermarket dash for life's essentials - milk & wine (well it is payday!); the greengrocers where everything is still priced per pound (doesn't help me, I still have no idea how many tomatoes are in a pound), the butchers to buy traditional BBQ meat products even though we don't have a garden, sunshine or BBQ...the grill will do, and the card shop for cards and presents that need to be posted to Cambridge then taken in someone's luggage to Chile...surprising how few small, light gifts I could find!!

Come back to the office to eat last night's leftovers of pasta & ratatouille (so unappealing I couldn't bring myself to photograph it, but it filled a hole) and play with my dancing desk monkeys.


The afternoon disappeared in a haze of tea, telephone calls and filing but I did start to get excited about my first hula hoop gym class at 6 o'clock.

5.03pm Leave the office and spend the next 15 minutes travelling one mile down the road.

5.45pm Get home and realise the time and that I have 15 minutes to get myself and my hoop to the gym

5.52pm Finally accept that my hula hoop won't fit in my car. As I'm taking it apart I manage to scratch the paintwork on the car.

5.57pm Find out the road to the gym is closed, thankfully the diversion is a short one. Spend the next hour trying to get the hula hoop to stay where it should while laughing manically.

7.06pm open the bottle of wine and cook chicken kebabs on the griddle pan...even get the burnt BBQ effect...ahem...

 

Then Apprentice...the Other Half is Welsh...he was not happy...and The Apprentice Your Fired. Checked some old Euromillion tickets...no winners, no raffle winners. A quick snuggle with the boy and to Bedfordshire to zzzzzzz! 

If you thought this was really mundane head over to Charlotte's Web as this has been written as part of her Mundane Midweek link up and there are sure to be far funnier posts than this one!

10 Reasons to be cheerful - June

As June comes to a close its good to look back and remember those little (and some not so little) moments that made me smile. I thought that I would share my top 10 with you...and so, in no particular order....

 
 
1 - Welcome to the family Baby M! My nephew was born at the end of May but I had my first cuddle in June - gosh that baby smell, love it!
 
 
2 - Hearing that my younger brother and family are moving from Chile to Italy...still a plane ride away but now its 2 hours rather than 14. I can't wait to book our first trip to see them in their new home
 
 

 
 
3 - Random pictures of Monkey and Baby Bear being sent to my phone...so far they have been to Bournemouth and Wales! Soon to be going to Cornwall - yay!
 

 
4 - Sunny evenings and having our dinner on the beach. Sausages and ribs...simple but so yummy.
 
 
5 - Getting into blogging. Its great to see that I have had my pages read, better to see that I have a new follower, but even better still to find great new blogs to follow myself. I'm pretty sure that its these blogs that will give me reasons to smile in future months!
 
 
6 - Learning to hula hoop. I could never hula hoop as a child, I have no co-ordination...I trip over constantly. I brought a weighted hula hoop and now I can keep a hula hoop for long enough to do a class...this is a BIG achievement for me!!
 
 
7 - Seeing the results of endless gym classes. It's now 6 weeks into classes 4 days a week. Some days its the last thing I want to do...I have no enthusiasm for exercise classes...I drag myself to the gym...and now I see the result of my efforts. There is still a long way to go before our holiday in November, but I will keep going.
 
 
8 - Re-connecting with old work friends. When I left my last job I felt like I had let my colleagues down, I thought they would think less of me. Its been more than 6 months and I finally made the call to them. They were lovely, they understood, turns out it was all in my head. We've booked a night out - I can't wait!

 

 
9  - Making healthy homemade pizzas in my stove top electric pizza oven. They taste amazing and are a regular dinner in our repertoire!
 
 
10 - The Other Half being healthy. He recently had a health scare, he tried not to show that he was worried, I tried to show I was not worried. He had tests and scans...everything is A OK. All of his symptoms have gone away by themselves. He is back to normal and I am so thankful.
 
 
This post has ben inspired by Emmy Mom. She is hosting a link up here Please pop over and say Hi to her!


Tuesday, 25 June 2013

The (wo)man from Del Monte say yes!

In the depths of my wardrobe lies a floaty light top that I fell in love with over 2 years ago. I saw it pictured in a magazine and channelled my inner-stalker to track it down. Was it out of my price range? Yes! Did I have lots of places I could wear it to? No! Did I buy it anyway? Hell Yeah!!
 
Because I had brought this summery floaty top that spoke to me of balmy summery days. I was convinced that I would be whisked away to some tropical island to lounge 1920's style under a parasol, gently sipping afternoon cocktails...or at the very least get a decent days weather so I could stick it on when I went to the pub. That day never came.
 
When the other half asked me to move in with him I knew I would have to be ruthless with my wardrobe. Much loved items were dumped into charity bags, jeans that I was convinced I would one day magically fit into were given to friends, floor length gowns that would be prefect for cruises and posh dinners were sold to a dress agency...but my top remained.
 
My lovely new blogging friend Jane at Flight Platform Living has started a Shiny T Tuesday link up and this week's theme is Patterns so I of course knew what patterned item I had that speaks to me.
 
Saturday was a early wake up for me, so I spent the best part of an hour finding the floaty top - so floaty that it had slipped off its hanger and sunk to the depths of the bottom of the wardrobe. I tried it on with summery white jeans that miraculously do fit from last year...they have stretch! The other half blearily asked from the bed what I was doing and so I said..."Its for Jane's blog posting, this pattern speaks to me! Get up, get up... we have to go somewhere sunny so you can take pictures of me". With one arm he lazily reached behind the headboard, pulled open the curtains and showed the drizzle that had for the last 2 years thwarted any attempt I had of wearing this top in the UK, the arm dropped back, he turned over...I was on my own for this mission.
 
I grabbed my panama hat at went to the only room possible for selfies - the bathroom, and happily started snapping...my joyful giggles must have disturbed sleeping beauty...In he walked to dryly comment "You look like the man from Del Monte"
 
Hat H&M, Top Misguided, Jeans Joe Brown, Bathroom tile stickers Amazon!!
 
 
I...Do...Not...Care.
 
I will be taking this top in November when we go to Cuba, and I will lounge like a starlet, sipping my cocktail...Until then I shall just try to wear it whenever I can!
 

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Sunday sweet treat

For today's baking I decided to try a recipe I haven't done before for Italian chocolate and nut biscotti. These contain no butter so have less than 75 calories per biscotti. I have added an additional dark chocolate twist to this which will result in a slightly less sweet biscuit. If you prefer the more traditional style biscotti drop the cocoa from the recipe below. This should make about 15-20 biscuits that will keep for up to 4 weeks in an airtight container.


125g sifted plain flour
25g cocoa powder
75g golden caster sugar
1/4 tsp baking powder
Pinch of cinnamon
Pinch of salt
1 large egg
1 tbsp milk
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
25g hazelnuts, almonds or pecans
25g plain chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 200C (gas mark 6)

Put the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, cinnamon and salt into a large bowl and mix.

Make a well in the bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Use a folk to form a sticky dough. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and gently knead into a ball. Roll into a 25cm (10in) log shape. 


Put onto a non stick baking sheet, flatten the top slightly then bake for 20-25 minutes until a cracked crust has formed.

Lower the oven temp to 150C (gas mark 2). Gently transfer the biscotti log onto a chopping board and slice diagonally at 1cm intervals.


 Arrange the slices on the baking tray and put back in the oven for 15 minutes or until dough is dry. Cool completely before dunking and enjoying!


Friday, 21 June 2013

Out of the mouths of babes...

I love FaceTime, it helps me to interact with my family when we can't meet up and now that my niece is 3 she loves being able to tell me what she's been getting up to. As great as it is though it seems that to have the real gems of conversations you need to be face to face - I thought I would note down some of her funniest chats, if only to remind her of them when she's older!!



One evening when we were lying on her bed reading her bedtime story;

E- ooh Auntie Carrie you are going to be a lovely mummy

Me - why is that?

E - because your boobies are all squishy and comfy!


In the car with my brother and sister in law, shortly before my nephew was born

E- Auntie Carrie my mummy is having a baby. Are you having a baby too?

Me - No E, I'm not having a baby

E - Oh. You've just got big boobies then.


In the run up to her birthday, I told E that I would make her a special birthday cake, like last year;

Me- What sort of birthday cake would you like this year E?

E - One from the shops.






Thursday, 20 June 2013

Mundane Midweek link up

Charlotte, over at the fab blog Charlottes Web has had the genius idea of an injection of reality into blog post by creating a link up called Mundane Midweek and you can check it out here

This is my first ever Mundane Midweek (only a day late!) so here goes...

Wednesday started with the usual scramble over our obscenely large bed to get to the bathroom, came back into the room and got shouted at for not forewarning the other half that I was about to turn the light on...it was 7.30am - he does the same thing on his work days at 5.30am...I never complain...out loud!!

Got my lunchbox out to fill with lovely healthy goodness for lunch and realised that the only food in our fridge was 2 lots of goats cheese and some cucumber...made do with a carton of spicy corn chowder soup - didn't need the lunchbox after all. I sat watching the weather presenter saying it was goingto be the hottest day of the year - excitedly looked out of the window at grey cloud and decided that my black trousers, black vest and black top were just right for the actual weather conditions.

Once in work I spent all morning entering invoices one by one onto a government website, same information over and over, not helped by sneakily checking out Facebook and accidently closing both sites without saving, when my boss came in. As the morning dragged on I noticed it was getting warmer and warmer in my glass cube, windows opened, hayfever flared up, windows shut, fan on, paperwork blew off desk, fan off, cardi off, comment after comment of "I didn't know you had a tattoo.." (I've worked there for a year).

Decided to cool off at lunchtime by going for a 30 minute power walk and following it up with eating the spicy corn chowder...didn't know if I was hot inside, hot outside or just hotttttttttt.

Spent all afternoon entering invoices one by one onto a government website, same information over and over, not helped by sneakily checking out Facebook and accidently closing both sites without saving, when my boss came in (yep, exactly the same as the morning)

Got home after work to no wine and no ice, forced to go to the local pub just to bring my body temperature down. Did not feel guilty AT ALL about missing my legs, bums and tums class - women need curves!

Apprentice, Apprentice Your Fired then scrambling back into the stupidly too large bed, before other half told me I'd left the damn light on...arghhhhh!!

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Middle row and proud

I  seem to spend A LOT of my time at our local gym. I tried working out by myself on the gym equipment, but oh. my. god. it was soooo boring!  Slowly I started adding a class every so often and now I only do classes and no gym time. I'm at the gym 5 days a week...5 days, sometimes 2 classes back to back...I've turned into a bloody regular...yet I'm nowhere near being accepted into the Elite Clique!

You know the group...front row of EVERY class, best friends with the instructors, with their funny "in" jokes and phases, they huddle together before every class in their super slick outfits and super slick bodies...blughh!



Not so long ago I would slink into to the back row of the class, go through the motions of throwing myself around until I felt sick and then stumble out feeling de-motivated and unfit...until one day someone else looking hot, sweaty and bloody knackered, smiled at me and asked me what I thought of the class...I made a gym friend...and then another one, and another.

I'll be honest, I don't really even know what their names are, where they live or what they do. What I do know is how hard being healthy is for each of us, how we all need support and encouragement and how slowly, slowly our energy levels are rising and our body shapes are changing.



Most of us have moved up from the back row to the middle row, there are now new people scared and un-coordinated on the back row. But every class I make sure I turn around and smile, or make a comment about how the instructor is trying to kill us all.

You can keep your perfect front row clique, who have forgotten what it's like to feel like you. just. can't. keep. going...I don't aspire to be you. I'm happy with my middle row!

Sunday, 16 June 2013

A sweet treat for the weekend

As its been a bit of a dreary morning I thought I would get out one of the many recipe books that we seem to have collected and bake some biscuits.

I do bake cakes but they are pretty time consuming and you then have to eat your way through an entire cake...I have no problem doing that but I can't add on even more gym classes to burn off cake calories too!

I decided to make Viennese Fingers and they can be prepared, baked and eaten within an hour!

Recipe

125g soft butter
35g icing sugar
125g plain flour
1/4 tsp baking powder 
A few drops of vanilla essence
100g chocolate (dark or milk depending on your own preference)

Preheat your oven to 190C (gas mark 5) and line one large or two small baking sheets.
Beat the butter until it is smooth, add the icing sugar and mix until pale and fluffy.
Sift in the flour and baking powder into the butter mix and beat well, adding the vanilla essence. This makes a fairly dry, dense batter mix bit it will combine eventually!
Put the mix into a piping bag with a medium star nozzle. Pipe out finger shapes about 3in long onto the baking paper, well spaced apart.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until they are just starting to colour and cool on a rack. Because they are so buttery try are very delicate so take care moving them.
While the biscuits are cooling melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Dip the ends of the diners into the chocolate, place back onto baking paper to allow the chocolate to re-harden (if you can't wait for the chocolate to harden, pop them into the fridge to speed the process up).


Either store them in an airtight container for up to a week, share them with friends or just make yourself a big cup of tea and eat away!

Have a good Sunday!

Saturday, 15 June 2013

A weekend of nothingness

What is everyone up to this weekend? 

The other half is working both days and it seems to be one of those weekends that everyone else seems to be up to something so I'm scratching around trying to find things to keep myself occupied - I've realised I'm not so good at just sitting and having some me time, I always feel like I should be doing something...anything...other than nothing!!

In between the grey clouds I did get to the gym for another class today, I feel like a weekend class is worth double the goodness points of a midweek class and I walked back through a little copse near us. I turned a corner, the sun shone through and I managed to grab this picture on my phone


It's so nice to see a bit of colour after a long winter of grey.

I feel like there could be some baking happening this afternoon-I'm still not ready to sit still!!

Friday, 14 June 2013

Like a butterfly, she too will spread her wings and fly someday...enjoy her caterpillar years




I struggle with this time of year. Everywhere you look there are signs reminding you to "Remember to treat your Dad", "Father's Day 16th June".... I lost my dad quite a few years ago, but there is still a big gap in my life that he once filled.

I was feeling pretty morose today but came across this link via Emily Schuman's blog - cupcakes & cashmere

In it a dad gives his 50 rules of raising a daughter and I mentally started ticking off those that I could relate to my dad...he did loads of them which, I think, officially made my Dad pretty amazing.

It brought back memories of my Dad teaching me crabbing (the crab bit my finger so hard I went to A&E), learning to ride my bike (a wall acted as my brake) and taking me camping (I got scared in a thunderstorm) and there he was by my side.

It brought back memories of sitting on a bench , crying at the injustice of a broken relationship; celebrating getting my first proper part-time job and fighting homesickness during those first few weeks of University life and there he was by my side.

It brought back memories of waiting at the window for him to come home from work; turning round to show him the most perfect, cute puppy that I had chosen; looking for him at my brother's wedding when it was time for the families to dance and then he was by my side.

My Dad was an ordinary man but he showered us with love, support and a sense of peace. He told us how proud he was of us and he told each of us at individual times "My job is done, you're grown up now", he lessened his parental role and became our friend and I'm pretty sure he knew how great a Dad he was.

And so Dad, wherever you are, I know, when I marry; when I have my children; when I need guidance and when I raise a glass of Chateauneuf-du-Pape in your honour you will be by my side.

xx
 
 

My uncle, brother and Dad

Thursday, 13 June 2013

A Sprinkle of naughtiness!

The other half is away for a few days visiting family in Wales and his sister very kindly offered to cook me dinner last night...until she mentioned a new ice cream parlour had opened...cue dinner being changed for ice cream sundaes!! We both jumped in the car and headed off to Sprinkles Gelato in Portswood.

For a wet and windy Wednesday the place was packed. We found a little perch and both ordered a pistachio and coconut sundae, it arrived very quickly and was eaten equally quickly, but I did manage to get a snap before I dug in! 


I didn't need to have any other snack when I got home so it was pretty filling, and eating it has given me the incentive to do my gym classes after work tonight rather than meet the other half off the train...now all I need to do it find the incentive to do a healthy food shop tonight rather than going to the pub for dinner-this healthy living stuff is hard!!


Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Now to get back in the Blogging Saddle...

It's been a while since my last post, I must admit that I found myself overwhelmed by the huge number of amazing blogs out there...amazing photographs and links galore just made me feel that my sorry little blog was somehow less worthy of space and energy.

But so much has happened in the last few months that I want to continue doing this and its only by regularly posting that I can learn and develop this little teeny tiny blog into something a little more interesting

This post is going to be a bit of a photo dump to introduce important people in my life and a little snapshot of what I have been up to;

1 - The Other Half...the one who completes me

 

 He works a different pattern to me so we often spend our days off apart. We had beautiful weather last week so met each other in a local country park when he finished work and sat on the beach having sausages cooked on a disposable BBQ, drinking a beer, before cycling home together...very simple, very cheap, but a lovely way to connect and just be.

2 - My niece E and nephew M

 

God love them, these are two beautiful children! E has just turned 3 and her favourite phase (other than "I is biiiiiiiig sister now!) is "What is called?" followed by a point to whatever object she's unsure of. Her equally cute baby brother M was born only a few weeks ago and he can melt your heart with one of his baby snuffles. Their parents are pretty awesome too, they are showing me the kind of parent I can only hope to become.

So recently we've had a busy, busy time of it. My cousin married in late April in Yorkshire and while it was freezing cold the dancing and champagne kept us warm. A lot of the decorations and little touches were crafted by family and friends - hopefully this picture will give a little sense of it -


 

This was followed by E's 3rd birthday and the birth of her baby brother 3 weeks later. All these parties and celebrating was not helping my fitness campaign so I'm back on the healthy eating and gym work...Sha'Bam has been my saviour - it's like Zumba on speed and lots of fun, I'm aiming for 8 hours of classes a week but seem stuck on 6-7 hours and while I'm not using My Fitness Pal app as much it has focused me to reduce my sugar intake. This blasted sugar is in everything - milk, yogurts, fruit...I figure fruit gives me more goodness than anything else so the fruit stays and the dairy has been replaced mostly with unsweetened soya...I'm topping up my calcium with a supplement until I can find alternative food items that are high calcium but low sugar - anyone with any ideas?!!

Quiet weekend coming up. The other half is on this last full weekend rotation so I'll either be sunbathing in the park or painting the bathroom - I'm hoping for sunshine, but preparing the room in case!!