Pink Friday


I was busy baking cakes last night for our “Pink Friday”.  Everyone has joined in and I arrived this morning to a kitchen filled with all kinds of goodies.  We have pink fairy cakes, pink muffins, pink and white marshmallow flumps, little battenburg cakes, even flapjacks with pink icing, lots of chocolates because there is never a good enough reason not to have them!

The guys are joining in too and although none of them have baked anything, they are wearing various items of pink clothing and paying for the privilege! Any vistors today, expecting to be met by our usual attractive receptionist, will instead be greeted by someone resembling the wicked witch from Snow White.  Except this “witch” is wearing a pink hat atop a mound of pink hair and has a nose that would do justice to some film company’s prosthetics department – I can honestly say I have never seen anything like it!  I think she decided to have her own Pink Halloween!

A pink witch

The day has gone well and all the cakes are sold.  Word went round the business park and people just called in and bought cakes and raffle tickets – just amazed at the generosity of strangers.  Everyone it seems is willing to support this worthy cause which is just brilliant, it restores your faith in human nature it really does!   So a big thank you to everyone for today, I am now going to have a glass of wine and relax. 

A few of the goodies from today

More cakes...A few cakes         

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Wear It Pink


Friday 30 October will be “Wear It Pink” day here.  Everyone at work will be wearing something pink and donating £2 to breast cancer care.

We intend to bake and sell “pink” cakes and cookies, we will have a raffle too and hopefully raise a lot of money. It is a sad fact that almost everyone you speak to these days has either lost a loved one or knows someone who is suffering with this terrible illness. 

This year, most of the men in the company are taking part too and are already discussing what they can wear, do I still have that pink tie? Can I still fit into that pink shirt? But at least they are joining in to help, which is all that matters.  Hopefully someone will take some photographs and I will let you know how much we manage to raise for breast cancer care.

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Pink Ribbons

Halloween or Hallowe’en


Well the clocks have gone back one hour, so I guess that summer has offically ended and that is where, according to history, Halloween has its’ origins. It is from the old celtic festival know as “Samhain” which is derived from Old Irish and means roughly “summers end”

All sorts of celebrations have taken place down the ages at this time of year. The ancient Celts for instance, belived that the borders between this world and the Other World were particularly “thin” at this time of year and the spirits, both harmless and harmful, could pass back through. The family ancestors were honoured and welcome, but harmful spririts were warded off, it is thought, by wearing masks and strange costumes. It was also a time to take stock of food supplies for the coming winter and celebrate the harvest.

The name Halloween or Hallowe’en is shortened from All Hallows Eve which is the night before All Saints Day on 1 November. All sorts of traditions have been handed down through the ages, but nowadays most involve dressing up in scary costumes and masks, carrying lanterns made out of pumkins with faces carved on them and enjoying time eating and drinking with family and friends. Orange and black seem to be the colours associated with Halloween and you see lots of different shaped cookies and cakes iced in this way

A lot of sweetstuff and candy are eaten at  Halloween and I have a couple of family recipes to share – mainly for the children:

Toffe (Candy) Apples

12 ripe eating apples

400g granulated sugar

100g butter

30ml water

oil for greasing

12 wooden skewers

Wash and dry the apples and push a large wooden skewer through the centre of each one. Put the sugar, butter and water into a heavy based saucepan and dissolve the sugar very slowly over a low heat. Once dissolved, bring to a fast boil and continue to boil until the small crack stage (140 degC)  Dip apples one at a time into the toffee and place on a greased plate and leave to set.  Red apples look wonderful coated with shiny toffee, you can also sprinkle them with coconut or crushed nuts before the toffee sets

Treacle Toffee (Bonfire toffee)

Oil for greasing

100g butter

100 black treacle

150g soft brown sugar

30ml water

Pinch of Cream of Tartar

Grease a 15cm square tin, Put the butter, treacle, sugar and water into a heavy based saucepan and let the sugar dissolve over a low hest. Add cream of tartar, bring to the boil and boil to hard ball stage (120degC).  Pour the toffee into the prepared tin and, when beginning to set, score the surface deeply making squares.  When set, break up, wrap in waxed paper and store in an airtight tin. (Cooking time approx 20 minutes)

Hope you all have a great time celebrating with friends and family!

Healthy eating with herbs


Parsley – is very rich in vitamin C, evidently a single serving of 30g provides more than half the recommended daily amount if this vitamin.  It is also a good source of beta-carotene which our bodies convert into vitamin A. Vitamins A & C are also antioxidants, they protect cells from damage by harmful free radicals, which are the bad guys, involved in  a whole range of diseases from cancer to heart disease.

Garlic – this is just brilliant!  Allicin, the main ingredient of garlic, relaxes blood vessels so reducing blood pressure. It has also been clinically proven to help keep your arteries clear of nasty cholesterol.  Garlic also has powerful antibiotic properties and was a lifesaver when  used in traditional medicine, in the days before the discovery of penicillin.

Watercress this one packs a peppery but nutritional punch! Gram for gram it is higher in vitamin C than oranges and has a higher content of iron than spinach.  It too is packed with beta-carotene. 

Watercress omelette

  • 4 eggs beaten
  • 80g watercress chopped finely
  • 2 tbsp grated cheese
  • 1 crushed clove of garlic
  • 1 tsp olive oil or spray

Either spray a non-stick pan with olive oil or add 1 tsp to the pan and gently fry the garlic for about 2-3 minutes

In a bowl, beat the eggs and add half of the watercress.  Once beaten, pour into the pan

Cook until the eggs have set

Now, add the remainder of the watercress and the grated cheese to the pan

When the top of the omelette is lightly set, fold it in half and cut into two pieces

Serve the omelette with a chunk of fresh, crusty french bread and a large green salad

Rosemary – the great news about this herb is that is may help slow the brain-ageing process (according to the scientists at the Burnham Institute for Medical Research in the US and at Japan’s Iwake University). It too has properties that protect the brain from damage by those pesky free radicals.  Rosemary goes brilliantly with lamb:-

  • Melt some red currant jelly in a bowl in the microwave, usually takes about 10 seconds on high power in my micro
  • Chop up some fresh rosemary, you need about a level tablespoonful
  • Add the rosemary together with a crushed clove of garlic and about a tablespoonful of balsamic vinegar, to the melted jelly
  • Whisk together to form a marinade
  • Take two lamb chops or steaks and place in a dish. Pour the marinade over and leave for at least 30 mins.to let the full flavour develop
  • Cook the lamb under a medium grill for 5 – 6 minutes each side, depending on how thick the meat is and how you like your lamb
  • Serve with fresh carrots, broccoli and sliced green beans

Thyme  – this goes great with poultry, especially chicken, but thyme has been used for years in herbal medicine to treat chest compliants.  It has antiseptic and antibacterial qualities and evidently a study on rats found that supplementing their diet with thyme could help slow brain ageing! Thyme also contains antioxidants called flavonoids that can help reduce the risk of heart disease and strokes.

Herbs have been around for hundreds of years and have helped previous generations, long before the advent of modern medicine.  They are so undervalued, but they don’t just taste good they offer us great health benefits too.  So, off you go and stock up your store cupboard

  

 

Get off the scales!!


I have just been thinking about all the stuff in the news lately about weightloss and dieting and how funny it is that this subject strikes a such chord with us women!  Millions are continually being spent on trying to lose weight and yet,  I think we all accept. if we take in more calories than we use we will never lose weight. (Medical conditions excluded)

I know this is true, so why is it that I have found myself standing on one leg on the bathroom scales, in the hope that they will register two or three pounds less? What’s that all about?

I read somewhere that first thing in the morning, I will be the lightest that I will weigh all day. Another article told me not to weigh too often as my weight will fluctuate throughout the day, whether I eat or not! 

I try to eat healthily and take some exercise (the dog won’t go out if it’s raining) and of everything that I have tried I can honestly say that the thing that works for me is NO CARBS after 4pm.  I feel less bloated, more energetic and less bad tempered (significant other very happy on this)

So I have decided that instead of hopping on and off the scales like a demented grasshopper, I will now only weigh once a month, trouble is, is that a calendar month or every four weeks?  Help……………

Well it’s Wednesday


Where did the weekend go? It disappeared in a whirl of shopping and houswork that’s what! And the dog isn’t any better yet either, she is still coughing and sounds like an old smoker on a 50-a-day habit!

I have been watching some of the Tory Party Conference and listening to the changes they plan for the country if they win the next election. That something serious needs doing is in no doubt. The Labour government has lost it’s way, trying to be all things to all men with a one-size-fits-all approach was never going to work.

Now it is very easy to sit in your chair and moan about the state of the economy and politics in general and a very different story to have to actually do something about it, I fully appreciate that, but where do some of the ideas these politicians expound actually come from and what is the reasoning behind them?

I never understood why education had to be  messed around with as much as it has; my generation grew up with standards that have held fast for forty years and most of them were learned at one education establishment or another from teachers who were free to do their job and not worry about budgets and balance sheets! I learned respect for people and I grew up with a strong work ethic, instilled in me by both my parents and this is something I have passed on to my children.  What worries me, is what is going to happen to the “lost generation” who have never had a job and see no sign of getting one any time soon.

Someone once said ” a country gets the government it deserves” in that case, heaven knows what we have done, but we surely deserve better

Weekend is here and it’s raining…


The dog has been to the vet and has a chest infection and a sore throat! I have been given some tablets for her which are almost the size of a saucer, but not quite, why can’t the companies who make drugs for animals get sensible about sizing?  Yes you can break them in half if you have thumbs like hammers, then  you have the problem of trying to get the dog to take them. Hide them in food, yes I have tried that one and found the tablet deposited on the floor with great skill!

The last time this happened,  I used the pestle and mortar and ground the tablet to a fine powder and mixed it in with her food, that did work although I felt slightly stupid trying to explain to a visiting electrican just what the white powder was that I had inadvertently managed to transfer from my hand across my nose!!

I am going to watch the qualifiyng for the Grand Prix in Japan and then decide if I really do need to clear out the wardrobe just now…..

Weekend – bliss!


Just clearing my desk after a very hectic week and thinking about doing nothing for the next two days.  I hold the thought for a moment and think about a chilled glass of wine and an evening sitting in the garden with food cooking on the barbecue……..

Reality kicks in; there is laundry to be collected and shopping to be done and if the weather stays fine, the garden will need a bit of TLC, it is doesn’t then I know two wardrobes that are overdue a clear out.  The summer clutter will have to be put away and I am sure that the dog has an appointment with the vet at 10 on Saturday

Hmm, think I may stay in the office………………