{Ordinary Moments} #4 Let us eat cake

My mum has a bit of a landmark birthday this week – the big 70.  Normally for birthdays I get cakes made, I have a fab friend who has a real talent and does it as a hobby (although I think she should make it her career) or I use Paula at The Perfect Cake Company – who I have to say is the most amazing cake decorator.  She has done numerous cakes for me over the years for my girls birthdays and I’ve loved each and everyone of them.

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But, I’d left it a bit late to order one, and given its the holidays I decided to try my hand at a cake myself.. or rather, do one with the girls.  Whilst I cook often, and think I’m ok at it (kids eat most of what I put in front of the, Ron eats everything I put in front of him, but he hates waste, so will eat it whether he likes it or not!), I rarely bake.  I’m a bit of a throw it all together type of cook so generally limit myself to baking flapjack or scones.  I think to bake successfully (cakes etc) you have to be precise or it all goes terribly wrong in my experience, and I’m not too good at precision!

But I thought, hey, no matter how it turns out, I’ll just say the girls did it and everyone will think its wonderful.

My girls certainly have their priorities right .. In their own true style they decided on at the outset was who was going to get to lick the spoon and who was going to get to scrape out the bowl!  I know its the best bit, and boy did they make the most of it.

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My friend had given me a Mary Berry Victoria Sponge recipe that she said had never failed her and was the easiest out there. We set about weighing, measuring, cracking eggs in to the mixer

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It wasn’t long before the kitchen looked like a flour bomb had gone off in it, but the cake was in the oven, and the kids were glued to the oven door waiting for it to rise (I stood there with my fingers crossed that it would actually rise!)

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Decorations were in order – I had in my mind to make lovely pretty roses, and cut outs of flowers and butterflies – all looked so simple in the pictures.  In reality.. not quite as easy as I thought, but we gave it a go and overall, did a reasonable job.  The girls loved using the cutters and we had enough to decorate 3 cakes never mind one.

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I actually had a try at covering the cake in icing, not the most professional job, but given it was my first time I was pretty pleased with myself.

We sat around the cake together, deciding on placement of roses, butterflies and flowers, stood back and admired our handy work.  Ok, so entry in to the Great British Bake off is not going to happen anytime soon – but I think Grandma loved her birthday cake so much more than anything professional I could have had made for her.  There’s nothing quite like something thats home made, slightly wonky, but done with much love and effort.

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As soon as we’d finished, the next words spoken – ‘can we eat the cake now mummy?’

The finished article, made with love (and lots of buttercream) and presented with a rather charming if quite loud rendition of Happy Birthday To You from the girls!

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Getting lean in 2015

A bit of a health kick is in order.  Just 7 weeks before our holiday which means my thoughts have turned to shorts, strappy tops, bikini’s and if the health kick fails more maxi dresses that you can shake a stick at.

Weight issues have plagued my life, as they do for many people.  I have been pretty stable for the past few years and comfortable in my own skin, but over the past 6 or 7 months I’ve seen a bit of a creeping up of the numbers on the scales. Some people call it happy contentment, I call it stuffing my face more often than I should!

I became more concerned of the ‘gain’ a few months ago as I noticed a few items of clothing were not quite as comfortable and made a concerted effort to shift a few pounds.  I did – but boy was it hard work – gym everyday, watching every mouthful of food.. when did dieting get this hard.. oh yes.. after I turned 40!

Complacency has crept back in, and a few of those pounds lost have returned. I don’t mind so much being squishy round the edges, the wobbly bits are generally well hidden, but I know from experience that weight gain is a slow burn.  A few pounds leads to a stone, leads to 2 stone and it goes on.

Having once been one of life’s larger ladies (in fact a very large lady), and taking extreme measures along with years of hard work to get where I am now, my weight is something I am conscious of and keep a close eye on.  I will always have the brain and mentality of a fat bird,  what I see in the mirror isn’t what other people see (or at least that’s what I’m told!). How I looked 10 years ago, is not a look I want to return to.

So here goes the health kick – dusting off the trainers (they are the scruffiest, oldest things ever – but comfy like slippers) –  its been a few weeks since I hit the gym (blaming this on being busy with house selling preparations), fruit bowl full to busting, and getting the brain in gear to ditch the choccie biscuits and embrace the carrot sticks.

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I have always said I enjoy cooking,but in reality, its that I enjoy eating!  Everything I cook I want to taste good, but it also has to be fast to prepare, fast to cook – from start to on table within 40 – 50 mins is generally my rule.  Providing balanced family meals is not the easiest in my house.  Jess thinks a vegetable is swear word, Natalie deffo takes after me, an appetite for pretty much anything, anytime, anywhere – so I do try to keep a watchful eye over what she has, and then there’s the fact that I’m married to a wheat sensitive vegetarian!

I used to be really good – I would menu plan at least a month in advance.  It worked a treat, shopping bills reduced, I always knew what we were having, so could get things out of the freezer if needed, make sure we’d not run out of anything etc.  I’d often batch cook – so double up on the bolognaise, and make a lasagna out of the left over etc.

Time to re-introduce it I think.

Off to the leisure centre we went tonight – I’m lucky that both girls are competent swimmers and don’t need me at their sides constantly, they are quite happy to take sinkers (toys that they throw in the pool, they sink and then they dive in to retrieve them) whilst I plough up and down doing lengths.  Managed to get in 40 lengths tonight so mission accomplished.  I even resisted the cheesy chips that traditionally always follow a family trip to the swimming pool (ok, so I lie, I had a couple of the kids, but just a couple!)

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A bikini bod I’ll never have – this is a fact I have accepted, but perhaps with a bit of planning, together with a modicum of self-control on the choccie biscuit front, I might just be able to shift those extra pounds in time for the Ibiza sun.