Chapter Twenty-Seven – Sweet Like Chocolate…

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Hello my lovelies

I’m wanting to say some random things this week – so please bear with me. There is a theme here somewhere but I’m kind of not sure where to start.

Life is Sweet like Chocolate? Yes maybe. A lot of the time actually. That’s what inspired me to write. I have eaten a lot of the stuff this week! I’ve also had two days out of London and I feel much calmer when I have some time to focus, regroup and think about what I’m going to do. I love my Regional Stores. They are so warm and friendly and different to the day to day focus on London (which has its own charms).

I never used to be like this. I never thought or reflected – I just took action. So I’m quite proud of myself now. Being able to pause and think is a really useful skill to have. It makes you look thoughtful and measured which in turn makes you seem experienced (well I hope so!!). Action is a good but only if its the right action!

It also meant I got to pick up and drop off my boy. Which of course I loved. He’s got interesting stories to tell everyday now. I don’t know if all of them are true….. I kind of take some with a pinch of salt. He’s a bit dramatic. I think he maybe a Hollywood Actor one day with his flair for acting and singing. I really don’t care what he does as long as he’s happy but he certainly loves being in the limelight sometimes. But on his own terms. He’s charismatic. He’s charming. He’s very cute (I am biased) but he’s got big blue eyes and a cheeky smile. Everyone loves him (even when he’s naughty).

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I flit between wanting him to have confidence and wanting him to be humble and grateful for what he has. How will the world be when he’s an adult? Right now its full of wonderful ‘Millenials’ who are very much ‘what’s in it for me’ because that’s all they know. There is so much feedback for parents. What you can and can’t say, what you need to do to make your kids happy, love and and respect you. How you build their confidence. Its overwhelming. Should we build them up or knock them down?

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I suffered from crippling self doubt and shyness for a really long time. I mean, I was really lacking in confidence. My parents loved me but they didn’t ‘boost my ego’ or do anything to make me think I was extraordinary. They loved me and there was obviously love and affection but they didn’t ‘build my confidence’.  It was an average level of ‘required’ praise and I just muddled through. I was sick when I was younger so I wasn’t at school for large periods of time. I completely lost any confidence I had. I also really did not like my body. I had acne and I was overweight (I thought) and I just really couldn’t imagine not being lonely. All my school friends were at school so I very much felt disconnected. I had only adult company and therefore I was very sensible and grown up from an early age.

One of my oldest friends at the beginning of the year said to me “its like you are living your life backwards, having experiences and jobs that you should have had when you were single or without kids”. Thats partly true. I have seen myself grow and change a lot in the last 6 years. I have been on ‘a journey’ as my old US company would say. I have changed, I’ve gained confidence in some areas. I know I’m a competent leader of people and I know I’m honest.

I wear my heart on my sleeve and I care too much (I’ve had a hundred sleepless nights worrying about things).

I have learnt so much about myself in the last 3 years. I absolutely know my weaknesses. I know what I can do better. I think I know my strengths. But I feel everything so deeply I know this will be my biggest challenge. I can’t ‘switch off’ – I’m not a perfectionist as such but I do like to see things through.

I’ve done multiple personality profile tests and I know I’m emotional and creative. I know I feel before I think. I know I’m left brained. BUT what I don’t know is why I’m always striving to be better. Why I can’t just be satisfied with what I have. Not in a negative way! I am happy and I love my life. But I can see where I could do more, add more value, be better, do better (love better, be a better mother etc). Its not paralysing and I can live with imperfections but I would like to create a wonderful home and life for my son and I want to be the best I can be at work and a good wife!

I do wonder what then drives me? I am self motivated, I can’t sit still, I can always find something to do. I feel a bit…. guilty when I do take time for myself… but yet I manage to cram most things in.

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Do you think as humans we are programmed to always want to do better? Is it a genetic thing that drives human’s to succeed? I’ve read loads of articles about ‘being happy’ and ‘ do this, this and this to be fulfilled’ but its basic human psychology  – survival of the fittest – to strive for more.  (see interesting articles below)

http://elitedaily.com/life/the-unattainable-urge-to-always-want-what-we-cant-have/

We are curious us humans. We want to learn, to know more, to experiment. We are taught to do better. Better than our parents and grandparents. We also are VERY technologically advanced. This has given us a window to the world that we didn’t know existed. Maybe Gene Roddenberry wasn’t so crazy when he created  Star Trek. When will we discover we are ‘not alone’? I think we (humans) will pretty much keep searching and wanting more. Its also choices. We have so many now. Its sometimes overwhelming. We all want to make the ‘right’ choice. (see below article)

http://tinybuddha.com/blog/why-the-grass-is-never-greener-and-how-to-be-happy-today/

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The above is so true. The planet is a beautiful mix of dark and light. Night and day. Light and shade. A bit like us humans. I have dark days where I can’t even imagine getting through things (not often but it does happen) and I have very light days where I feel alive and happy.

I am generally an optimist but no one can be perky all the time.

I wonder when I’m going to say, enough is enough. I’ve done all I can. I’ve lived a good life and I’m proud of what I’ve achieved. The obvious answer is on my deathbed I suppose – but I’d kind of like it to be sooner!

So in summary – I think I’m rambling but there is a point. The point is – no one is perfect and no one gets it right all the time. And thats OK! that’s RIGHT.

If you get it right for YOU and YOU are happy then that’s all that matters.  We come to this life naked and crying, we probably will leave this life the same way.  Its only fair we should have the ride of our lives in-between.

I’m going to remember whats good rather than what’s bad. I’m going to celebrate success not mourn failure and I’m going to stop thinking…. ‘if I just achieve this or do that I’ll be happy/skinny/ richer/less tired/more engaged – (*apply anything here) and try and LIVE FOR THE MOMENT.

I say TRY as I think its a big ask. But if you don’t ask you don’t get.

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Love this quote, so true.

Have a great week,

Love Lady C

xx

 

 

Bake Me – GBBO – THE FINAL (#GBBOfinal)

Here we go, the last episode…

 

Stiff competition … Richard Burr, Nancy Birtwhistle and Luis Troyano, the three Great British Bake O

Here’s our final 3. Richard (the builder), Luis (the one from stockport who my hubbie likes mainly because that’s where he is from) and Nancy (the funny one).

What an interesting final this was going to be!

So here we go…. starting with the signature bake – Viennoiserie, or pastries to the layman – pain au chocolat, croissants that kind of thing.

I have to say, Luis sounded amazing (pain au white chocolate) Nancy played safe with a croissant option and Richard – Pain au Lait. To be honest, they all look fantastic to me. To be fair, they all started to look a little bit freaked out. They all rushed around looking stressed. Well to be honest, Nancy looked quite calm actually.

I think 5 times star baker may have finally freaked Richard out!

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However, she didn’t actually bake hers properly, so that didn’t go well! Neither Richard or Luis’s were good enough for a bake off final and they all went in to the technical challenge looking a bit deflated.

Technical challenge next. Produce 12 mini Tarte au Citrons, Victoria Sandwiches and scones – a technical to tip the scales. Though each item was a ‘classic’ there was a lot to do in the allotted two hours. Jam to make, cake to bake AND pastry, Paul was being demanding. I am actually going to say, some of these were disasters. No one got all 3 right. Nancy made the least awful set of 3. She actually made a good Tarte Au Citron. Its funny actually as she sort of reminds me of Mary a little bit. I can imagine her knocking up scones and vic sponges every day with her grandkids. I can see Luis sweating. A lot. Richard also really lost his cult status as Star Baker.

Richard was third, Luis second and Nancy scraped first. I was a bit disappointed. I feel like the pressure has really got on top of them all.

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I’m really holding out of a great Showstopper. I have to say, I’m NOT disappointed.

Piece Montee: cake, petits four, choux and sugar work, crikey. It really was a big old ask. I hadn’t heard of it but everyone seemed to be making some kind of windmill or tower type of structure. The whole thing just sounded super complicated.

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So Nancy’s was Moulin Rouge inspired, Luis was inspired by his home town Poynton and Richard’s was also his home town of Mill Hill. I have to say, these are impressive.  So many different elements and many complicated sections from Choux, to sugar work to macaroons. I feel like I could never do this! its very very detailed and really technical.

The judges were quite impressed with all the bakers. They showed a clip of them all talking afterwards and Mary & Paul saying ‘for once we agree and we know we we want to win’ – I’m excited. I suddenly know who I want to win!

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Here they are taking them out to the waiting crowd after the judging.

AND THE WINNER IS…..

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I’m really happy! I really liked Nancy and I had her pinned as one of my top 4 so kind of pleased with myself. She was so so sweet when she won and was her usual funny self-deprecatory self.

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She was lovely!

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I had a bit of a cry to be honest.

The funny funny bit was when she was asked about calling Paul ‘The Male Judge” and she gave the best answer.

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I laughed a lot. Love her. What a sweet lady.

So its all over for another year. I’m quite sad as its such good old fashioned TV with not really MUCH controversy and really the best of intentions to entertain and teach us all to be better bakers. I love it. I really really really want to be on it!

So the million dollar question for me… shall I apply?

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Watch this space …… xx

This entry was posted in Baking.

Chapter Twenty-Six – Didn’t know I was looking for love until I found you…

 

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I’ve had a drink this weekend.  Not massively unusual, I like an occasional glass of wine, but last night I found myself on the drunk side of drunkness.  It was a revelation. I kind of liked it.  It was nice to let go a bit. I realise I’ve been a coiled spring for about 9 months and I forgot how to have a laugh!

I tell you what though, I’m a cheap date. I only had 2 glasses and I was drunk as a skunk.  No wonder my hubbie married me – I’m a lightweight. Speaking of Marriage. I was drinking (Prosecco) for a good reason. I’ve been married 12 years on Sunday 5th October (today).

Bless my poor husband having to be married to me. He deserves a medal honestly. I’m a bit of a nightmare.

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This is us. I was 25. I mean I was young ( and kind of thin and vaguely attractive). Its all gone downhill now. Completely. Only surgery will fix me now, I’m convinced. I’m at least 2 stone heavier and I’m definitely not as smiley as this! (OK well I’m quite smiley).  I met my beloved when I was 19 & a half.

17 years and one small boy later, we are still knocking about together.

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I actually look OK in this picture. I was PARANOID at this point that I looked OK – there was none of the things I rely on to keep me looking vaguely organised right now (my semi permanent lashes etc etc) I had to go old school with just make up and some semblance of youth. I don’t look like this now.  A few years of broken sleep and a diet of sugar and caffeine has taken its toll! I now definitely look all of my 37 years (and maybe a couple more).

I reminisce about the days when back then – I thought I was fat and ugly (I was actually neither but 20 years on I can see that now) and how little confidence I had in myself.  My hubbie did really change my life in so many ways.  He gave me confidence and made me feel loved and special and really gave me the best gift of all – our Son. (obviously with a significant contribution from myself). Lets just say, I had limited experience before him.

My first love was not my first boyfriend, he was much older and I was a VERY naive 15 year old. I can’t say that that relationship set me up for success. He would constantly compare me to every other girl ( and bizarrely his gorgeous, blonde, thin sister – which now I think about it was CREEPY and quite vile – I think thats why I stopped watching Game of Thrones because of the incest…) and I was very very sheltered and naive.  He was just a manipulative arse. My parents saw right through it and hated him but obviously that just made me more determined to carry on.  At 17 & a half I saw the light and ditched him, eventually.

There was a lovely boy next – who was so so good to me. Funny, sweet and kind.  He was a gentleman and he put me back together.  He was adorable and I still sometimes see him and remember just how good he was.  I won’t mention his name but I might message him and say thank you! As I think of him I remember how sweet he was, I saw him at a charity ball last year and he’s such a good man. I hope he’s happy forever. He deserves to be.

My first ‘love’ was a very popular and good looking footie player from the local pub I started working in (which is also where I met my husband who is also a good looking footie player…!) and he properly broke my heart this boy. I totally loved him.  Deep, heartbreaking love. However, he is very happily married to the most amazing girl, they have 2 wonderful kids and we all see each other and laugh about the good old days so I’m so happy for us all.  In terms of fate – if he hadn’t broken up with me (sob * broke my heart) I would not have met Dec.

Next came someone who I really really cared about, I loved his family. I loved his step mum. She was amazing and I wish I saw her more. I don’t think we were ever meant to be for life and it only lasted a few months but he was so kind and made me get over my first love. He had a complicated life and it would never have worked but we had a really deep connection and I still think about him. Every time I hear Heaven by Bryan Adams I remember him. He was a very good man. Just had a crap personal situation. We had an amicable break up but I’d sworn off men.

So when I met my husband I really wasn’t looking for love.  Or anything. I decided I was nearly 20 and I wanted to be on my own.

I have to say, he turned my head.  He was all confidence and good looking charm and fun.  He was so warm and witty. He just had this natural way about him. Everyone liked him and gravitated towards him. He also seemed to seek me out. There was something kind of territorial (in a good way) about it. I felt special and really really liked. I say liked as it took him 2 years to tell me he loved me. BOY was that a long wait. Worth it. But bloody hell!

All the girls were like ‘ oh you’ve got a good catch there’ etc etc and I was definitely in agreement but I wanted a bit more.  People would say ‘ you two are the perfect couple will you get engaged and Dec would say ‘No. Never” and I used to get soooo upset!  However I realise now that he’s just super private ( he hates this blog and how much I share) and just didn’t want everyone to know what his plans were.  As a consequence when he did propose 4 years in, I was SUPER shocked! (very happy but very shocked).

The rest, as they say, is history! We had the most amazing whirlwind of holidays and fun times and buying houses and starting new jobs and then after a long time (I will go in to this another time) we finally got pregnant with our boy.  He’s rocked our world in so many good and sometimes bad ways. But neither of us would change a thing.  12 years married and 17 years of a life.

He (husband) does still keep me on my toes.  I don’t always know what he’s thinking and that can be hard but I also respect his need to go in to his ‘man cave’ and deal with stuff.  I know him inside and out and he does me. Its definitely a good place to be. I feel lucky everyday.

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This has to be his motto. Bless him. I can be a bit of a nightmare. I’m easily upset, I’m emotional, passionate, overly empathetic and I feel EVERYTHING. He’s calm and considered and composed. He thinks and reflects. I act. He waits and is patient. I’m the least patient person in the whole world. I like to do things – NOW and he likes to wait at least a week! but it works! I think the opposites attract thing might work for us. Well it has for 17 years.

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So the bumpy bits have only been since I went back to work after Daniel. It was so hard for me to do that. I was angry and resentful for a long time. I didn’t see myself as a career girl and yet I did. (Gemini!)  and I watched Daniel with someone else as his main care provider for a lot of the time ( who I could not have lived without and she was amazing) but it still HURT.  I think only now, he’s at school, do I feel marginally less guilty.  But there are other guilts now to replace. However I always still want to be here at home with him.

I now have 13 people to worry about (my team at work of 11). Daniel will always be my sun, moon and stars. I literally would die for him. Poor Dec ended up on the bench. We sort of drifted away from each other. We started to stop talking and other things. I thought it was me, he thought it was him. Neither of us said anything.  Until last year and I wanted to just scream. We realised we were putting everything and everyone else first. We LOVED each other but we’d forgotten how to be ‘in love’ and we both really wanted to get back there. Desperately. Nothing was ‘broken’ but it could have been. So we started the journey back to love and lust from just being together.

I know that not everyone survives having kids and that actually you do lose yourself during the first few years. I definitely didn’t know what I wanted and where I was headed but the path has cleared and life seems simple again. Me, Dec, Daniel. Love, kindness, passion and forgiveness. Whatever else comes will be a blessing.

I think if you can survive sleepless nights, insecurity about your body (me), wracking, overpowering guilt (me) and some seriously tough times (parents passing and challenging finances of other parents and so many other things) then you can survive anything.

To my darling, wonderful husband (who I know reads this as he set it up) I actually adore you. You still rock my world (in a good way) and whatever doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.  We have so many more years of excitement and happiness to come and I can’t wait to hold your hand and share it with you.  You are my best friend, my lover and my sometimes the most annoying person in my life but I love you and our boy to the moon and back.  Thank you for so many happy years and to more Wine (or Presecco).  Love always, your Lady C xx

 

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** Karen Ramirez – Looking for Love ** – a Song that I love for 2 reason. My best friend (Bec) and My other Best Friend, my Husband (Dec) 🙂 it reminds me of them both.

Bake Me – GBBO – Episode Nine – Patisserie

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Well, here we are. The semi final. I’m excited and yet sad.  How can 9 weeks of my life have disappeared?

Multi layered cakes, baklava, German schichttortes, and, for their showstopper “two elegant entremets” – crikey. What a lot of technical stuff.

Its tough.  Luis agrees. I’m nervous for them. I’m nervous myself!

Baklava. Reminds me of christmas. Don’t know why as its not stollen or anything but it feels… christmasy? I know, off topic but hey ho!

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Mary & Paul want the bakers to concentrate. I just want them to start innuendos. I’m missing them and we are 10 minutes in already?! have we finally got serious?

Oh hang on. Mary has not let me down. She’s said to Luis ‘ get pulling’

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She’s brilliant. Hilarious. I love her. I also love Richard. I want him to win now.  Sorry Nancy I know that you were in my final 4 prediction but I think Richard is the one.

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The baklava is taking shaping for everyone and to be honest, they all look a bit stressed.  Luis does a sneaky extra ‘icing’ and WE ALL SAW HIM. Naughty boy.

The Telegraph blog says “It’s judging time! Nancy’s “texture is there”, and Paul says that, overall, she’s “got what baklava is”. Luis’s baklava cups are all flower-y and lovely-looking, but sadly Paul isn’t convinced. “That is bone dry,” he says. Richard’s rose and pisachio baklavas go down well with Mary, who likes her nuts “in nice big pieces”. But his second lot are slightly underbaked, despite the excellent flavours. And Chetna’s pastry layers are too thick, although her chocolate filo apparently tastes delicious”

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I’m still not convinced that Nancy is happy with hers and mentions that she feels like she is ‘presenting bread rolls’ rather than baklava.  I’m confused. Anyway, moving on.   The technical challenge is next.  I needed to google this,  a 20-layered grilled schichttorte.   It is a German 20-layer cake is cooked under the grill. WHAT??  Under the grill?  Really?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/_schichttorte_49934

I’m a little bit uncomfortable. Its 20 layers. I can already see Paul getting a ruler and counting.

I’m back to the telegraph blog – as I’ve lost the plot and as I was looking at facebook and I kept getting distracted.

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Telegraph Blog – Times up! And the schichttortes are being judged. Nancy’s has “a lovely shine” – but she only has 18 of the requisite 20 layers. (Yes, Paul is individually counting each layer.) Luis’s goes down well: his has 20 layers, and good flavour. Chetna’s is lopsided, overbaked, and only has 17 layers. And Richard has 20 layers with good flavour, although they are very thin. Chetna comes fourth, Nancy third, Richard second, and Luis first. Luis says thank you, giggles, and swings his legs upwards. Like a happy toddler.

I can’t believe it. HE COUNTED THE LAYERS! I laughed a lot. I love that I’m so attunted to Paul Hollywoods foibles!

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How funny.  I really did think he was that anal (in a good way!!) and I was right! I guess its the Semi Final.

The Showstopper – well this is it folks, the semi final. So they want – 2 Entremet – again I had to google.  The bakers have to make two different types of entremet. “We’re looking for precision, beauty and elegance,” says Paul. Mary – who clearly embodies all three of those qualities- looks smug

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Wikipedia says -For modern pastry chefs, an entremet is a multi-layered mousse-based cake with various complementary flavors and varying textural contrasts.

To me – they look YUM YUM YUM.

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I really want to eat one. Well all of them actually. The only ones I didn’t like the look of was Chetna’s (sorry).  I think Richard and Luis’s looked the best.  (two above)

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Judging time. Richard’s first lot of entremets are “delicious” and “extremely good”. His second batch are praised for their colour, but are just a little lacking in flavour. Nancy’s Raspberry Nonnettes look “stunning” when cut into, and taste “refreshing” when bitten into. But Paul thinks her overall appearance lets her down. Luis’s aliens are “delicious”, and his cherry and chocolate creations are “very very good”. And Chetna’s chocolate orange entremets have “a kick” (in a good way) and “tonnes and tonnes of flavour”. So no one has done too badly.

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Its decision time. I’m on the edge of my seat. Who will get through?

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Here they all are. Looking nervous.

Star Baker first. Its Richard again! 5 times??!! I think it really needs to be him winning then?!!

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And who goes…..

Its Chetna. Awww bless her. She was very good. But I’m really pleased about the three finalists. My husband was delighted Luis from Stockport has go through (he’s from stockport).

So we have the final 3! I cannot wait until next week!

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This entry was posted in Baking.

Bake Me – GBBO – Episode eight – Bread

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Welcome to bread week! or advanced dough week. Whatever. Anywhoooo its dough in various forms.

Its the quarter final. *sob* which means its nearly all over. (I’m kind of gutted, I was just thinking I might have to write about Strictly Come Dancing instead when this is over!)

Anyway, so back to the Qtr final… wow.  Enriched dough. Eh? Whats that all about? I was thinking brioche? but they came up with a ‘free form’ (i.e. no tin) enriched dough of the sweet variety. Nancy starts the whole thing off with a bang but suggesting she’s going to use the microwave.

THE MICROWAVE?? Really? I mean honestly. I know it needs quick proving but that seems craziness. Its a risky strategy which Paul completely disapproves of…

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Sue see’s it once out of the microwave and proudly announces to Nancy ‘ Its the size of a labrador!’ which made me spit out my tea with laugher. Brilliant. Paul Hollywood looks horrified and I am kind of with him.  Meanwhile Nancy still insists on calling him the “male judge” whilst skipping about waiting for the microwave to ‘ping’. I’m laughing (again). He even says to her, “its the male judge- am I allowed to watch” which shows he really does have a sense of humour.

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Enriched dough is difficult to make, takes a billion years to prove, and can go wrong really easily, we learn. Why would you bother?

Its the Bake off and they like to ‘test’ the bakers. I’m just very glad I’m not there right now. Chetna makes a Povitica – which I have never heard of.

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They get through the first challenge pretty much unscathed – and Mary is even OK with Nancy’s microwaving (Paul is NOT) and its on to the technical challenge.

Which is….. drumroll please…… a Povitica! NO WAY. So no pressure then Chetna! At least you had a good practice on the first one! Bless her.

The rest of the remaining contestants look something between jealous, frustrated and actual evil stares… even Luis is looking slightly rattled….

Nancy seems obsessed with the microwave. She’s at it again. Making the chocolate more spreadable so it doesn’t distort the dough.

The innuendo’s start in full swing.

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Sue can’t help herself.

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She’s in on the action. I’m laughing. Again.

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She’s really loving this rolling a bit too much!

One by one the bakers were struck down and yet Chetna remained calm and composed. So she should! Raw dough is everywhere.  Chetna was clearly the winner.

The showstopper was next. Doughnuts. Wow. What a selection. This is where it got REALLY interesting. Chetna doesn’t like deep fat fryers. Nancy started making a grown up version and a kids version and I can honestly say that the child ones did look like Paul Hollywood.  Its brilliant.

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Luis excels himself by making cocktail doughnuts.

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Which honestly looked AMAZING.  Really tasty.

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Mary made me laugh so much with this statement! She’s so funny.

Richard made the most amazing looking ones and they certainly went down really well. I wanted to reach in to the TV and eat one! Yum.

The man can really bake!

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I loved this from the GBBO tweets. My friends son apparently has started wearing a pencil behind his ear in tribute! 🙂

So – I think slightly controversially, four time a star baker. I kind of thought Chetna was a more likely contender as she was more consistent this episode.

However he is in my top 4 so I’m OK with it.

I’m very sad to say that Martha was the leaver this week. I really like her. I’m disappointed she’s gone.

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She will go far bless her. I wish her luck.

Next week – the Semi Finals and Patisserie….hold on to your french cakes…

Night x

This entry was posted in Baking.

Chapter Twenty-Five – Love is all around me

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Whatever I’m feeling I can pretty much guarantee one of my friends has had a similar feeling or is having a similar feeling.  I feel so lucky to have such wonderful people in my life who can identify with some many different parts of my life. I know on any given day/moment that I can text/ call / message / facebook someone and they’ll know exactly how I feel and support me, make me laugh, give me a virtual hug or just send some love.

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I have my best friend, who’s been my best friend since school (a longgggg time ago now) and she is GuideMother to my Son and my objective conscience when I need someone to give me a different view yet she’s loyal to me and will always have my best interests at heart.  She is my balanced mind. She is different from me but yet we have the same moral compass. She is the first person I think of when I wanted to do something big (or small) in my life (wedding, Daniel etc) and she always will be.  I’m so lucky to have her. I love her. Unconditionally. I feel like she’s my sister that I never had and I love that she’s never said we can’t do something in 20+ years! I really feel blessed having her in my life. She really is my rock and someone who I literally could not live without.

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I have my yummy mummies – the girls who really know what its like to be a mum who feels guilty every second of the day – they have loved my son like their own and they are always there for me.  I can honestly say these girls have been completely essential to my life and wellbeing. They understand my guilt and my desire to do right by Daniel in every way. There have been some times in the last 4 years I didn’t know if I was a good mum or not – but without fail, these 3 have made me feel like the best mother in the world (and a damn good friend) – I love them for their honesty, laughs and hugs. (amongst other things!). I feel very privileged to have these 3 special people in my life ( and their special people too!)

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My sister in Law(s) – I’m super lucky here. I have two of the most amazing sister in laws. Unfortunately one of them lives in Newcastle so I don’t get to see her very often but when I do I just want to squeeze her tight.  She’s an angel. Kind, thoughtful, selfless. A beauty inside and out.  Actually that kind of describes my other one too.  She’s literally the most lovely, sweet and wonderful human being. She has a HUGE heart and endless love and she has made my brother a better person.  She’s so lovely to me and I love that I now have two beautiful nieces to love and be part of their lives because of her.  She’s very special to me.  They both are.

This is Kat (the newcastle one! Kat’s the beautiful petite one!) and I really need to pin Nikki down to a good picture of us.

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My Girlies – what can I say about these beauties, we’ve been friends for a VERY long time. I met Lucy and Clayre when I was 17. I can’t believe that was 20 years ago.  I’ve been bridesmaid (to Lucy) and been privileged to have been part of their lives.  We’ve seen parents pass on, we’ve seen babies born, weddings, christenings, so many life events.  We’ve been there for most of them together. I know we haven’t always agreed and there has been a few dinners out with bad service and food, but overall its always been a constantly good part of my life.  I’ve grown up around these girls and I’ll be eternally grateful for their love, fun and support. When I had Daniel – they were all wonderful – but Clayre met me every week for lunch or coffee or just a catch up and I really couldn’t have got through the first few months without her advice, support and love.  They all mean the world to me and all are very different but very much part of my DNA. (Clayre, Clare, Sally, Lucy, Jo – heart you!)

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My Work Friends that are now my friend friends – I have so many people to mention. Mentors, new friends, people I’ve brought with me from other places and wonderful people I’ve worked with and who have worked for me.  To have so many unique and wonderful friendships has been such a blessing.  I have a little bit of each of them in my heart.  My beautiful and lovely fashionista Chara (who I love to bits) and my gorgeous Bec who was my partner in crime and the lovely Janet and Marisa who make me laugh and my old Boss AM and then Roz, who helped me through some dark times and my Teri who I adore.  There are many more (scottie the hottie) and loads of others from KG and before, but there are so many happy memories wrapped up in all those people.  I have 14 years of stories to share.  I am in love with ALL my fruity people the most as I feel its there that I made the most impact and changed myself.  Good times people. Good times!

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My oldest friends that have come to me in various ways – Tor – who is another yummy mummy and a brilliant friend who’s counsel I seek often and regularly, she’s calm and sensible and just a really good person, Gail, my bridesmaid and just all around lovely lovely person – the person who always surprises me.  I love that about her. People from my barmaid days and people like Kathryn who are just one of lifes fighters – she inspires me constantly with her strength, courage and compassion.  There are the boys (john, brownie, moose, adam, dave) but they are just like lots of brothers. Tweaking my nose and pulling my hair but really kind of love me in a brotherly way.  So many others that have touched my life and I’ve had for over 15 years.  Thank you (I hope I’ve not missed anyone)

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My Family – my mum, dad and brother. It kind of goes without saying but love ya!

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My Husband – is my other best friend. I’ve known him for 17 years and we’ve been married for 12 as of next week.  We have probably 13 blissful years with no rows and an amazing balance of love and happiness.  We then had Daniel. (I’m laughing out loud here at this point) and we added exhaustion, guilt, frustration and sheer overwhelming love for someone other than each other took over! We definitely have had highs and lows but I can honestly say that he’s the love of my life. He makes me laugh, makes me mad, makes me cry and makes me happy (and sad sometimes!) but he’s always been there for me. He hates that I buy way too many clothes/shoes/bags and that I waste money  on ‘stuff’. He loves that I like cleaning and keeping our house looking good. I know he appreciates my sense of humour (ish) and he knows I think he’s an amazing daddy. He knows me so well. I feel very lucky to have him. More on that next week!

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Not quite true as I also work but I definitely shop!

So as I close this evenings blog I feel all warm and fuzzy.

Happy Sunday lovelies

Love

Lady C xx

 

 

Chapter Twenty-Four – Break on through to the other side…

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Hello Lovely People

This week I’ve been fighting.  I went into battle in fact. OK well not war, but a bit of a tussle! I had to. Sometimes you can’t lie down and take it. You have to fight.

I wanted to show that I wasn’t a doormat. I take responsibility – sure. Always. But to have the implication that the best we are doing with limited resources and big challenges and we are not doing all we can – is not enough….. well that’s something I won’t lie down for. OK so I had to have a few tears first. I think I must have freaked a couple of people out (my boss who’s never seen me cry – Ok well a small welling of eyes) The end result was fantastic. I realised that I’d been trying to ‘fix’ everything on my own for such a long time. Lesson learnt – you can’t do it all alone. Ever. It was a revelation.

I also had some perspective. I worked from home on Friday and I had the chance to do two things – get on top of work and also drop off and pick up my boy. I needed to decide if this was all worth it. I’m tired and I’m stressed and I think its time that I changed something. I know I can’t just drop everything but I need to decide what I can live with and without. Dec would like me to resign everyday until I actually do – but I’m a bit scared.

I feel like I need the anchor of a good job. As I’ve got older – I find I need more security. Its probably having Daniel. What job though? I think about running my own business ALL THE TIME. I like the idea of the freedom. I know there is massive risk and I don’t have the initial financial outlay but one day I will. I promise.

My parents had a slightly ‘laissez-faire is French and literally means “let [them] do,” but it broadly implies “let it be,” “let them do as they will,” approach to life. Not that they weren’t vaguely sensible but its a kind of ‘live for today’ motto that I’ve sort of adopted. Money. I tend to spend everything I have. Every penny in my account. However, about 2 years ago I started saving.

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I pay everything off every month and I’m not in debt but I do like to buy pretty things. Errmm a lot of pretty things. (red faced) (above is new Michael Kors watch and new Jessica Nail Varnish and new Purple skirt…)

They (my parents) did not have this attitude about most things – but money seemed to come in and out our house. One minute mum had 3 jobs and we were totally broke and the next minute we had horses and BMW’s and well, STUFF. At one point we were so broke we had the bailiffs around and we only had milk and bread.  The next minute Mum and Dad are buying my brother a house! its insane. I don’t mind the live for the moment attitude but it really freaks Dec out. My dad came from a big family and had nothing so wanted to give us everything. My mum was an only child and lived in Devon so had animals, fresh air and freedom – all things she gave to us.

I lived for the moment for a long time. So has my brother.  They (our parents) were strict on curfews and grades  but we had many a good NYE’s party 🙂

I wonder if this was a good way to live? I was always self motivated. I still am. I knew I had to be good at whatever I did and money comes with that (work wise anyway).

I definitely have a 50/50 personality. 50% of me loves change and is willing to try anything and the other 50% is terrified!

My mum is a very risk taking entrepreneur who likes to try new things. She’s had some brilliant ideas. She’s really creative. She’s been ‘comfortable’ and recently she’s been almost ‘bankrupt’ yet she seems to roll with it! its amazing really. My dad just says its all his idea when its good and blames her when it goes wrong! They are still happily married after 37 years so it must work!

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I have a very very cautious and risk averse husband who is brilliant at saving and so clever with money. I am learning from him but I will always want to shop! I’m so glad we have that balance.

He’s probably the right side. I realise now that I’ve wasted so much money over the years.  I’ve thrown money at things. time poor – not exactly cash rich but definitely not poor. Having Daniel has made me want to buy him everything.  We recently started to clear out our loft and we had bags and bags and bags of clothes and I felt sick. We did use most of them but quite honestly a lot of things Daniel had only worn once.  What a waste of money. Yet I did it.

I do the same with my wardrobe every so often and promise I won’t do it again. I always do. Right now some things are important but some ‘things’ are not.

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This is such a true quote. I love it. It grounds me and reminds me what a lucky lucky person I am and I really do have the most important things, family, friends and love.

So this week ahead, clothed in courage (OK and a new dress) I will start to strive for what I really want and start to decide how I get that.

Wish me luck lovelies

Signing off.. to ermmm… spend money…?!! (joke)

Love Lady C x

 

 

 

Bake Me – Episode Seven – GBBO – Pastry

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Pastry week. Think Eclairs (yum), think Pasties (yum) and think something different. But what? Oh how they tease us on Bake off!

There is hardly any of them! we are getting to similar numbers of judges v’s competitors. Aww I’m sad. Anyhooooooo!

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And we are off. Signature bake today is savoury parcels. 12 savoury parcels, in an hour and three quarters. I couldn’t do them in 2 hours. I’m sweating. Goodness knows what its like in the tent – Chetna is excited already. She’s adding ‘flavours’ which seems to be her thing. Luis actually looks calm. Kate doesn’t.

There is more innuendo in this episode about ‘leakage and big lunches’ than ever.

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I’m a bit shocked Mary. Still love you. Richard says what we are all thinking.

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Mary then tries to bring it back to baking.

Mary has spoken. Just three things must be right:

1. Seasoning.
2. Moisture.
3. The bake.

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I find the uniformity required a bit creepy but I do get its about precision.  Nancy’s is doing duck. Thats all I have to say about that. Richard is doing lamb.  The crimping starts and the innuendo’s keep coming.

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Say’s Paul about Luis’s. He likes them ‘dinky’ apparently.

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The GBBO blog says:  Richard is “nice and flaky”, and Paul says he has “great flavours.” He’s definitely back on form: you can see his pencil perking up a bit. Martha “tastes good”, and has great seasoning. Luis is a bit pale, but, according to Mary, his nice big pastries are exactly the right size: apparently Paul “like them dinky”. Nancy is let down by her “lack of baking”. Kate has “a nice even shape” and “good crimping”, but Paul doesn’t like her pastry. Kate says she was confused. And Chetna is “delicious” and, somewhat predictably, “spicy”.

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Mel is too busy stealing the pastries at every taste test.  Which is honestly – hilarious.

Next Technical challenge time, and the bakers have to make kouign amann, a traditional Breton pastry. No one knows what it is. ( I certainly don’t so I feel the need to google it) – Wikipedia says:

“Kouign-amann (pronounced [,kwiɲˈamɑ̃nː] Breton pl. kouignoù-amann) is a Breton cake. It is a round crusty cake, made with bread dough containing layers of butter and sugar folded in, similar in fashion to puff pastry albeit with fewer layers. The resulting cake is slowly baked until the butter puffs up the dough (resulting in the layered aspect of it) and the sugar caramelizes. The name derives from the Breton words for cake (“kouign”) and butter (“amann”). Kouign-amann is a speciality of the town Douarnenez in Finistère, Brittany, where it originated in around 1860″

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Unfortunately that doesn’t help me.  Or the bakers.  Everyone is flummoxed.  Paul is an expert so its easy for him.  I’m just feeling sorry for the rest.

The proving seems to be some kind of unspoken battle between the contestants. WHO WILL BLINK FIRST type of scenario. Everyone is leaving it to the last possible minute. People are sugaring between layers and people are not. People are freezing and people are not. Its TENSE.

Its addictive oven watching next.  Chetna leaves it the longest and everyone else’s are in.  Its kind of like watching a TV programme with your hands over your eyes. Oh, no sorry, thats just me. The stress is palpable. They are out and the judging commences.

Luis’s have gone down in the middle, and don’t have enough layers. Kate’s are too “bready”. Richard’s are “pretty good” with a “nice caramel colour”. Nancy’s are good, but they have a “huge, irregular size difference”. Chetna’s have a “problem with the sugar”, and have been “over baked” and Martha’s are “under proved”.

Its seems no one has done it ‘properly’ and Martha really looks like she might cry this week. Bless her.  Richard comes first – seems that butter bashing was worth it.

Showstopper time – Choux Pastry – 24 exactly the same size and shape ECLAIRS.

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M&S have started selling baked choux pastry. You can fill with your own ingredients. You can see why. Its hard work!

Eclairs. YUM YUM YUM. I love these. I can’t make them, but I love them. Everyone is being REALLY creative.

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I like it.  I want to try them all – EXCEPT Kate who is making Chocolate and Basil.  Oh and Nancy is making a savoury one. I’m not sure. I like traditional. Richard. He’s made an stair to display them.  A set of STAIRS. Wow. His eclairs look amazing too. I WANT ONE.

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Jam is being made and Sue and Mel are hovering. Bless em, they must just accept they will be putting on half a stone on this show or have extra gym rations.

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Apparently Nancy’s savoury eclairs are “beautiful”, but her sweet ones are ever so slightly sickly. Richard’s raspberry and rose eclairs are “perfect”, because Richard has reverted to being Mr Perfect. Luis’s are “a party”, and Mary is very excited, because they’re all exactly six inches long, and that’s what Mary likes. (Paul smirks a little.) Kate’s lemon meringue eclairs have a good filling, but Mary says she “wouldn’t know that basil was there”. (Somewhere in the country, a man named Basil is hearing those words and crying). Chetna’s mango and chocolate eclairs feel “indulgent”. Martha’s maple syrup and bacon eclairs fall apart too easily, and Paul isn’t impressed. He gives one a long, angry death stare, before swooping in, and taking an enormous bite. It’s exactly like a cat, insulting a mouse, then eating it.

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Its decision time.  They are all lined up like they are about to be executed.

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And Richard is star baker!  3 times! its a Hatrick. Aww bless him.  To think he nearly left last week!

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So the time has come. We have to lose someone. I hate this bit. So does Mel and Sue. I really wish it wasn’t true but they chose Kate. I’m so sad. I love Kate.  Martha is crying bless her! She’s really convinced she was going and you can tell she really likes Kate.  Its all a it sad.

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I fully intend to follow her on twitter and see how it all end up for her. She’s delightful. I really thought she’d make it slightly further.

So we are at Quarter Finals now people. Next week, next week…..

x

 

This entry was posted in Baking.

Bake Me – GBBO – Episode Six – European Cakes

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European cake week….Eurovision inspired quotes and general gentle Mickey taking of all things cliched about Europe and some VERY complicated cakes. I feel completely out of my depth and I’m just watching! eeekkk.

So the first challenge for the bakers is create a signature european bake. I’m already struggling with this as traditionally these bakes are very yeast driven. Not something that I find easy( or in fact tasty) so I’m already glad I’m not in that tent tasting.

Its hard to get the yeast to rise if you add even one extra ingredient so the bakers need to be really careful ( or so Paul/Mary explain). For the first time this series I’m really honestly feeling I couldn’t have done this challenge. This week just seems professional baker skills required. I’m definitely not equipped.

Kugelhopfs, Gugelhopfs and a good few Savarins were the tongue twisting names of the day. I need a lie down already.

Kate – kind of broke the rules by going for an Israeli cake with a chocolatey, cherry cake definitely not from Europe, Nancy also broke the rules with a Caribbean banana, passion fruit and orange bake… can’t really place how that’s European – but hey ho.  It did look like a recipe from Del Boy’s kitchen.

Nancy also lost her star baker shine with her seventies looking Savarin complete with glacé cherries and cocktail umbrella (see below)

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To keep their cakes within the realm of a decent bake many of the contestants made a proven sponge first, before baking.

Unfortunately Richard didn’t prove his enough and was let down, as was his cake.

Next up – Technical Bake.  What a technical bake it was.  Mary made this face, which isn’t good. She almost ‘told’ the bakers this was a challenging bake and to be prepared.  Not sure they all got the tip….

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Prinsesstårta, or Princess Cake to you and me, a massive monster of a cake with 26 separate ingredients including crème patissiere, jam, thin cake layers and topped with a green marzipan cover. Plus a carefully crafted fondant rose. Simple then.

What a task!  The bakers literally looked terrified and started a bit of headless chicken behaviour. Rushing around and trying NOT to panic.

Meant most of them actually did. Panic.

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Kate and Chetna both had to hurriedly bake second cakes after their first attempts at the lighter-than-air sponge didn’t rise.

Martha looked at the ingredients for her crème pat with a face that said ‘I’d rather be studying Chaucer than doing this right now’

Nancy had completely lost it telling Sue she didn’t know if she was ‘Arthur or Martha’ and asking: ‘What did the male judge say again?’ Er, that would be Paul, Nancy.  Which I laughed at sooooo loudly.  (this continues into next week and Paul even tweets about it – genuis)

Martha managed to get good layers inside her Princess cake as did Luis who also got brownie points for nice chocolate decoration.  Mary was a fan of Chetna’s lurid green marzipan but overall her bake didn’t look good. Kate’s with its hastily patched up marzipan topping wasn’t great.

Nancy took the top spot in this week’s technical as the tent performed a collective collapse.

Finally, the Showstopper. I’m almost relieved to get here.

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This is how it starts.  They set them a crazy task.

Make a Dobos Torte, a Hungarian cake with seven layers, if that wasn’t enough, they had to top the cakes with Caramel in some form.  Now this is where I would have done an Ian and walked off for a bit.  Blimey.  A 7 layered cake AND sugar work.  Blimey. I’m exhausted just watching.

I have to say, most of them did OK and Luis and Chetna really went all out.  Kate realised at the end that she hadn’t done anywhere near enough ‘sugar work’ and most of the Dobos Torte’s themselves looked close to collapse but all were delivered for judging. Luis seemed to be the most in control. Richard looked stressed.  Kate looked worried . Martha looked sad.  It was a challenge of epic proportions.

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Chetna was star baker and then the big reveal….. (which kind of wasn’t a HUGE surprise) that da daaaa no one was going this week! PHEW – Kate and richard (love them) were too hard to choose between so neither go. Yipee.

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Bless em, there was tears.  But all good. Live to bake another week!

So next week is pastry.  I hope its a smidgen easier than this week but the end of the show prompts the line….Pastries, including pasties, choux and an unheard of technical … Here we go again 🙂  Love the bake off.

x

This entry was posted in Baking.

Chapter Twenty-three – Foundations

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Hello Lovelies

Its Saturday morning, 6.54am and we are all awake so I’ve decide to start writing to you.

The above are probably rules for life I would like to try and live by.  My plan is to do as many of these a week as I can until I am able to do all of them.

The one I can’t seem to stop doing is 4) complaining.  I honestly like a good moan sometimes. OK a lot. It gets it out of my system.  I kind of use this blog to counsel myself. (well talk at myself which is a bit narcissistic but hey ho!)  I love ‘listen with interest’ – (no 3) honestly how many people actively listen anymore? its an art form thats died.  People are so busy.  Lives rush by.

I think I try and actively listen at home and at work but I know I don’t always.  I also end up giving advice and actually some people don’t want advice! they just want you to LISTEN.

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1) Ask for nothing – I wish I could say I don’t ask for anything – but I do. I ask for advice and support and time. I don’t ask for ‘things’ anymore because I can buy my own things nowadays but I’m sure I asked for far too much when I was a kid!  Daniel has already started asking for things for christmas…. I guess it helps me… aaahherrrrmmm… father christmas …. plan… but still.  I wonder how the millennial generation will cope when they are my age.  More worrying I’ll be retired and I’ll be reliant upon them to keep the economy going for my pension. Scary. The generation of ‘whats in it for me’ will be helping others.

I wonder what Daniel’s generation bias will be. I wonder /worry that I’m spoiling him.  If he asks for something (nothing big or demanding) but he generally gets it.  My husband thinks I spoil him. I know I sort of do. He’s my baby! I don’t have any other children so it stands to reason that he gets most things – there is only him.

6) Teach – I guess thats where work comes in.  I lead a team of people ( 11 in total but 4 direct reports) and I hope that I teach them something everyday.  I hope that they see the value in some of the things I share with them.  I feel collaborative and I hope that they feel I am teaching them everything I know.  In order for them to overtake me and do even better.  They are all so different but I love them all equally.  They all bring something unique.  I hope my legacy is to leave them more united and more connected and better at their jobs. Thats all I ask /wish for them.  I’m so proud to lead them.

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Also ‘teaching’ Daniel – now that’s on ongoing job.  Never ending I think!  He sometimes says things and I think ‘where on earth did he hear that??’ some things are super scary – he came in to the kitchen and said ‘what the hell is that’ and I honestly could NOT BELIEVE IT.  I had a very stern word with him, asked where he’d heard it ‘nowhere’ was the obligatory answer and in the end I just gave up as he got all upset and tearful. I do wonder what influences school kids have on him. But in a week? really?!

This week I’ve had a job offer, a business opportunity presented to me, a chemical burn on my face (more on that later), been sick and had blood tests and the reality of my boy being at school and him being my only child has set in.   Lots going on.

But to start, my boy loves school.  Thank goodness.  I can’t tell you how relieved I am. I kind of knew he’d be OK but seeing him so happy is such a relief. The guilt continues to plague me.  Is he OK, is he happy, does he have friends, is he sat alone or is he the centre of things, is he comfortable, is he eating!!  A million unanswered questions.  I think about him a lot in the day and wonder/worry about him.

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This is him in his shorts!  its been so hot this week.  This was his first full week. He’s so tired.  He comes home stroppy every night.  I’m hoping he gets used to the routine soon.

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However, getting information out of him seems impossible.  Literally.  We asked him at so many ways what he’s done and how’s his day been and what did he do, but he just says ‘fine’ and ‘good’.

Apart from this morning when we asked him old a girl was in his class (his mum is a nutter and keeps collaring me and dec) -I said, oh she’s tall isn’t she. Daniel said ” oh and her belly is bigger than mine too”  I could not stop laughing.

I found this blog -http://www.simplesimonandco.com/2014/08/25-ways-ask-kids-school-today-without-asking-school-today.html

It has all different ways to ask your child about school without saying ‘ how was school today’ which elicits the ‘nothing’ response.  So we are trying this! (i’ll let you know how it goes).

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I posted this on facebook this week and I truly believe this.  After seeing the best and worst in people I believe that confidence is distributed unevenly. I just hope Daniel has enough confidence to be engaged and interactive but enough humility for people to like him and support him.

Finally, my face!  watch out.. its a scary picture.

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As you can see, it wasn’t pretty.  My face was swollen and so sore and so painful! I went to the doctors and they really didn’t know what was wrong. Not ideal. I ended up using E45 and having to take a day off sick and work from home.  I couldn’t really leave the house looking like this!

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Thankfully this is me back to normal yesterday!  so I feel much better (and look much better clearly!).

So the cracks in my foundations are somewhat recovered this week and I’ll carry on regardless.

Have a brilliant week & can’t wait to write to you again next week

Love

 

Lady C xx