Saturday, 29 June 2013

make the most of july - bucketlist

I can't believe we are at the end of June already! This month has just flown by. It's time for my monthly bucket list post. These are all the things we are planning to do in July (click image for larger, printable). Let's hope we get a bit of decent weather as it makes doing these things a bit more fun, especially the bike ride! I planned to do this as part of my May bucket list. But every time we decided we were going to go, it started to rain! Typical!

I've ticked off all the things we did in June. We will also try in July to fit in the things we didn't manage to do in June. We have tried to spend as much time outside as we can, going for walks everyday and eating in the garden. Taking a photo every day has been fun. The only day I haven't done yet, is 'into the sun' as there hasn't been any! 

We had a fun time listening to live jazz, and of course there is always food involved! The strawberries are a little late this year but we are hoping to go this week. Outdoor theatre watching will have to wait as it got rained off. I will be posting up soon the day we spent as tourists in our town and the boat ride.

What plans have you got for July?

Have a lovely weekend everyone.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

birthday picnic

This picnic was a surprise birthday meal made for me by Steve's own fair hands! Here we are sat by the river enjoying the food, quiet and the duck families swimming by. So romantic! It was just perfect. We had been talking about having a picnic and had made it part of my May bucket list. We are definitely going to be doing it more often as we enjoyed it so much.

I love eating outdoors and antipasto has to be among my favourite foods to eat. I love all things Italian! The parma ham and stuffed peppers were mouth watering!

This beautiful chapel in the distance is in the park, it was built for the family who lived in a house on the estate. It is known as a 'cathedral in miniature.' 

The gardens are so beautiful to walk around. Did you spot the squirrel? Thank you Steve for making this day so special! You are the best.

I would like to say a big thank you to Cortne of cocoinmagnolia for having me as a guest blogger today. Pop over to see the lovely Cortne and her stylish blog.

Monday, 24 June 2013

how to make mini cake pops

I have always wanted to have a go at making cake pops but I never got round to it. But when I found out that the class I work with were making them, it gave me a perfect excuse to give them a trial run!

As the class will be making them to sell for charity, I thought it would be nice for them to try one. I wanted to share them with you because they look so cute and, according to the staff and children, they are delicious. They are perfect for parties and just when you want a little treat.

One of the pupils said that the cake pop, in the picture on the right, looks like a Christmas pudding!

So here is the recipe for the cake pop in the right picture;

Ingredients - makes 24
450g/1lb vanilla or almond flavoured sponge
85g/3oz mascarpone cheese
70g/2.5oz icing sugar
half a tsp vanilla or almond extract
24 small coloured sweets and sugar sprinkles, to decorate

225g/8oz milk chocolate, roughly chopped
24 lolly sticks
150g/5.5oz fondant icing sugar
4 tsp cold water

1. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Crumble the sponge cake into a mixing bowl. Add the mascarpone cheese, icing sugar and vanilla and mix together until you have a thick paste.

2. Roll a 25g/1oz piece of the paste into a ball. Shape the remaining cake pops in the same way. Place on the baking tray and chill in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours to firm up.

3. Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl, set the bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water and heat until melted. Remove from the heat. Push a lolly stick into each cake pop. Dip a cake pop into the chocolate, turning it until coated. Lift it from the bowl, letting the excess drip back into the bowl, then place it in a cup or tumbler. I put sugar in the cups to stand them in. Repeat with the remaining cake pops. Chill or leave in a cool place until the chocolate has set.

4. Put the fondant icing sugar in a mixing bowl and beat in the water until smooth. Spoon a little onto a cake pop, easing it slightly down the sides with a teaspoon. (I used ready made fondant icing for the ones in the picture.) Before the icing sets, put a small sweet in the centre of each cake pop.

This is the recipe for the cake pop in the left picture;

Ingredients - makes 26 - 28

300g/10.5oz plain chocolate, roughly chopped
25g/1oz unsalted butter, softened
50g/1 3/4oz smarties (M&Ms US)
450g/1lb milk chocolate
50g/1 3/4oz mini marshmallows, roughly chopped
26-28 lolly sticks
chocolate sprinkles, to decorate

1. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Put the plain chocolate in a heatproof bowl, set the bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water and heat until melted. Stir in the butter. Leave until the mixture is cool but not beginning to set.

2. Put the sweets in a polythene bag and tap firmly with a rolling pin until they are broken into pieces. Finely chop 150g/5.5oz of the milk chocolate, then stir it into the melted plain chocolate with the sweets and marshmallows until thoroughly mixed.

3. As soon as the mixture is firm enough to hold its shape, roll 20g/3/4oz of it into a ball. Shape the remaining cake pops in the same way. Place them on the baking tray and chill for 30-60 minutes, until firm but not brittle. Push a lolly stick into each cake pop, then chill for 10 minutes.

4. Roughly chop the remaining milk chocolate and melt as above, then remove from the heat. Dip a cake pop into the chocolate, turning it until coated. Lift it from the bowl, letting the excess drip back into the bowl, and place it in a cup or tumbler. Sprinkle with chocolate sprinkles. Repeat with the remaining cake pops. Chill or leave in a cool place until the chocolate has set.

Believe me, once you start eating one, you will definitely want another!


Friday, 21 June 2013

pastel yellow & flowers - what i wore for work

I am in love with pastels at the moment. Yellow, peach, mint pastels are all taking over my wardrobe! This is an outfit I wore for work, comfy and colourful. I saw the yellow roses in my dress and thought they would look good against the beautiful roses we have growing at the top of our garden. (Don't look at the lavenders though, they are a bit poorly!)

I put this outfit together with items I have had in my wardrobe a while. I like to recycle if I can! Have a lovely weekend everyone.

Primark dress - wardrobe
River Island pastel yellow cardigan - wardrobe
Topshop leggings - wardrobe
New Look shoes - wardrobe
River Island bag - wardrobe
H&M bracelet - wardrobe
H&M ring - wardrobe
Name necklace - a present from Steve
Urban Outfitters watch - wardrobe
Sunglasses - wardrobe

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

road trip part two

Our second day started off with a super breakfast (fresh fruit, eggs benedict and toast!) I have to say it was one of the loveliest we have ever had. We then set off on the next part of our road trip. We stopped off at a beautiful village called Thornton Dale. If there is such a thing as English country heaven, we found it. The picture above shows my dream cottage, I am in love with anything that has a thatched roof. Imagine living at the side of a stream with ducks milling about!

Unfortunately it was raining, so we didn't get to see it at its best but we will be back when it's better weather.

We then made our way to a beautiful place called Fountains Abbey. It was a very misty day but it meant not many people were there which made it so peaceful. When it is nice weather, thousands of people descend here.

I have to say it was absolutely magical. I could have spent longer than a day wandering round this beautiful place. The abbey dates back to the 12th century but was pulled down by Henry VIII. It is so big and in the mist looked quite daunting. Here are a few photos of our day. Enjoy!

Looking at these photos is bringing lovely memories back, I hope you liked them too.

Monday, 17 June 2013

road trip part one

I have always wanted to plan a road trip, so as part of my make the most of May bucket list we went away for three days. I really enjoyed planning the surprise trip for Steve as I had arranged accommodation and days out.

I thought I would share with you a few photos of our trip, road trip part two coming in the next post! Our first stop was in the city of York and, as you can see from the photos above, there is an incredible amount of street entertainers.

We were quite impressed with the escapologist called Rob Roy. Watching him getting out of the chains was really nerve racking and he had great banter with the audience.

York Minster is an amazing building. It took my breath away with it's grandeur. York is full of old Tudor buildings, and churches much older than that, and it is home to one of my favourite shops. The Yorkshire Soap Co. sells the most gorgeous soap cakes, soap cupcakes, bath bombs and nice smellies.

After our lovely day in York we carried on our road trip to where we were staying for the night.When 
we arrived we fell in love with the little cottage and the wood behind it. The little bedroom was so cute and had everything we needed including wine and wineglasses. The bathroom was bigger than the bedroom!! We had a lovely stay and we will definitely return there.

Our second day started in a seaside town called Whitby but, oh my goodness, the weather was awful! The rain was beating down with a really strong wind. An umbrella was impossible! You can see from the photos how foggy it was! 

The abbey has 199 steps up to it and they attract tourists from all around the world. It is said that part of Bram Stoker's novel Dracula was set in Whitby. There is only one thing you can eat for lunch and that has to be fish and chips, an English seaside special.

Unfortunately it wasn't the weather for a boat trip!

I hope you have enjoyed sharing part one of our road trip. I would love you to join me for part two on Wednesday.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

photo a day week 2

It's week 2 of my challenge to take an iPhone photo, every day for a year, on the 365Project; only 50 more to go!!! Hmmm, am I going to regret putting it on my June bucket list? Already it has been a bit tricky, especially as I am not just posting old photo's and also trying to post to a theme suggested on Fat Mum Slim's photo a day in June challenge.

I do find that it's making me look with a fresh eye as I go through my day, which has got to be good.

I hope you're having a good weekend.

Friday, 14 June 2013

live jazz

As part of my make the most of June bucketlist, we went to listen to some live jazz on a small square in the city. I have always wanted to see live jazz but never had the chance to. The lovely square has lots of different restaurants around it and we managed to get a table outside an Italian one.

We had a perfect view of the jazz band where we were. We chose the antipasto, olives and rocket and Parmesan salad for our lunch. It was gorgeous. I love eating like this; al fresco!

The couples dancing the Tango were brilliant and I actually felt like I was abroad on holiday! A lovely relaxing afternoon.

Have a fabulous weekend everyone. Tomorrow we are planning to go to a vintage fair in Matlock. There will some fabulous stalls there, including the lovely Sue at The Vintage Suitcase. Hopefully, we will get in a boat ride too, depending on the weather. In the evening, we are going out for drinks with my daughter and boyfriend. I may have a cocktail or two!

What are your plans?

Thursday, 13 June 2013

a photo a day for a year

This month I have begun a project to take a photo every day for a year. I thought it would be interesting to look back at what I had done over the year: a kind of snapshot diary. It was one of the things on my bucket list Make the most of June

Just as I was starting, I saw Chantelle's challenge, at Fat Mum Slimto post every day in June. So, I have joined in with that and taken her prompts for inspiration.

Then the lovely Stacia, at Simply Stacia, told me about the 365 Project ( all about  or  my page ), of which I knew nothing. For those who don't know, it is a website dedicated to those people who are going to take a photo a day for a whole year. You can use it any way you like and it stores your photo's on a calendar. It is also interesting to look at what others are doing.

I don't have the time to use my DSLR for this project. Rather, I am just going to keep it simple and use my iPhone. The photo's will be taken on, or very near, each date and will be just what I can manage on the day good, bad or indifferent.

Every day for a year...... I must be crazy!