An orange day

Brrrr is it cold out there now! I have had a lovely, but busy weekend.

On Saturday I did another cupcake decorating class. The theme was vintage cupcakes, and I just loved them!

When I got home I had to put them on my cake stand as the colours went so well!

I got my hair cut on Friday, which was waaaaay overdue- it had got so long. Feels so much better now!

As well as walking up to the shops, I also did some baking. This was fridge cake (from Hummingbird)- to take to work. It is very easy- crushed digestives, butter, golden syrup and cocoa powder all melted and mixed up, plus cranberries (the recipe said raisins)- and then to make it pretty I added melted white chocolate on the top, and sprinkles.

Oh my word it made loads!

Still half left when I took the photo in the box!

We often go to a fireworks show, but this year decided to stay in the warm and watch a film instead.

This morning I started off with pancakes:

Pumpkin pancakes, and they turned out loads better than last time as I added less pumpkin (flour, baking powder, spices, almond milk, pumpkin purée and chocolate chips)- served with a chopped cooked apple.

Alongside some tea, because it was so cold! This cardamom chai was delicious.

I also wanted to make some crystallised orange peel- I will save it for another post. Anyway, stupid me, when I was peeling the orange I was not holding the peeler correctly, and managed to slice my thumb nail in half. Gross. At first I thought I had just peeled off the nail varnish, but no, the nail has come away from the thumb too. Andy was on the phone and had to come to the bathroom as he could hear my “I am about to faint this is so disgusting” noises as I was looking for a plaster. The typing is taking me much longer because I can’t use my thumb!

Anyway, we popped to see my parents who are back from a holiday in India (they even brought us back some tea 🙂  ), and then went to the shops (new cushions for the sofa, as two cushions were more like flat bits of fabric!), and of course we had to go to Starbucks as they were doing buy one get one free for the seasonal drinks. They were all coffee ones, but I asked the guy if I could have a gingerbread latte without the coffee, and he said yes! It was lovely- much nicer than the pumpkin one I think- possibly even nicer than a chai latte. Yum.

By then the rain had stopped, so I decided to have a run, even though it was dark. Although, on the plus side, I can’t see my feet so I can pretend that I am flying. I did 4 miles, and again at around 10 min miles, so it felt pretty good. I think gingerbread latte is my new favourite running fuel!

Home to some yoghurt as I was rather hungry- I was sent these total yoghurts, and they are quite nice, but I was not so keen on the fruit bit, so I left that and mixed in some orange curd- fits my orange theme of the day.

OK, the photo does not make it look that nice! But I had an orange dinner too- I roasted up the little pumpkin with some rosemary, cooked some quinoa, and then when it was cooked, stirred in a big spoonful of pumpkin puree. I mixed in the cooked pumpkin, some chopped sundried tomatoes, and sprinkled on some goats cheese. It was lovely (and enough to freeze some too). More orange food. The only thing missing is chocolate orange, but I am not sure I have any!

And now I am cooking the other Christmas cakes- smells amazing. They have orange zest in them, so they fit with the theme too.

Right, back to the grind tomorrow 😉

Did you watch some fireworks this weekend? Or, did anyone go to a bonfire party? I used to love those when I was younger, but never see them any more.

Half term fun

Hello! I hope everyone is well. I have been having a lovely half term so far. Our trip to Italy had a little hitch at the start, when we arrived at Heathrow bright and early (and in the snow!) to be told that our flight to Bologna was cancelled. We joined a massive queue (and it is a bad sign when people are sat in chairs in the queue)- luckily Andy rang up and changed us to a different flight, to Pisa, later that afternoon. So we had a long boring wait in the airport, as we could not even put our bag through until lunch time! Anyway, it did mean we got to go to Giraffe for lunch (once through security)- I had a yummy snack plate with toasted sourdough, avocado, hummus, salad, cherry tomatoes, and of course some sweet potato fries.

We got to our hotel in Florence at about 9pm on Saturday, so we didn’t go out and explore then. But we had a lovely few days- it rained all of Sunday, but we had a lovely time wandering around Florence. On Monday we caught the train to Siena, which was just wonderful. The weather was beautiful which of course helped, but it was so pretty. We treated ourselves to a slice of panforte (+ tea for me, coffee for Andy) for lunch (a cake made with dried fruit, nuts and spices- I have already found a recipe which I want to try).

On Tuesday we spent the day in Florence again- we walked across the river and up a hill to a lovely overlook, as well as walking around and seeing a few more sights (including the pizza place they worked at in the Jersey Shore show. Ahem). Then Wednesday we had to catch the train to Bologna for our flight home.

Anyway, Andy took a few photos, but they are still on his camera, so I might put some on later on.

Right, on to the rest of half term! One of my favourite projects is making Christmas cakes. I make one for us, and one for each of our parents, and although making the cake is not time consuming, they need ages to bake (a few hours) so half term is the ideal time for this as I am at home. Before we packed on Friday night, I soaked all the dried fruit in the brandy (or whisky, or whatever it is). I was inspired by The Pink Whisk (she also had some useful timing guides) and so decided to use my usual recipe, but bake it for longer at a lower temperature. The fruit I used this year was mixed dried fruits, crystallised ginger, cranberries, cherries, and a little more mixed peel, but any combination is fab.

I made one big cake, and had some spare, so of course I made some little ones as a surprise for Andy 🙂

The little ones took an hour (at 110C) and the big one is still baking at the moment, and filling the house with a wonderful spicy aroma.

When I got home on Wednesday, I went for a short run (in the dark- boo)- I felt like I was going slow because it was so windy, but in fact I was about 3 minutes quicker than when I did the same route last week- not bad.

Last night was pump, and then this morning I went on a run. I decided to just push myself and see how fast I could actually go. There is a 10K route which I quite like doing, and each time I glanced at my Garmin I could see I was close to 10 min miles, and at some points I was doing 9.45 miles- fast for me, especially on a longer route. In the end I did 6.09 miles in 62 mins- my fastest 10K race time is 61 mins, and I had to stop several times to cross roads, so I was so pleased with how fast I went.

I have not used the Garmin website that much- I mainly look at each run individually, but I noticed a “compare” button, and it searched for similar runs. I feel like I have built up my distance quite well, and really want to concentrate a bit more on speeding back up. I was interested to see that in September I did a 5.88 mile route in 1.09. I have not done that same route for ages, so it did not show up, but I have done several ones around the 5.9-6.2 mile mark, and every one of them was slower.

I had started to feel that I was never going to speed up, but looking at the overall trend today was really encouraging. Of course today I am rested, and it is hard to compare to a run done after work (which were the other runs on there looking at the times they were done) but I also think that the faster running with the Sweatshop group on Wednesdays must be really helping me too. And although my poor legs are feeling quite sore now, I am just going to give myself a pat on the back.

When I got home I had some Kara coconut chocolate milk. I have had it in the fridge for ages, but not got around to trying it. When I poured it out, it had a very thin consistency, but it was really lovely and creamy. I am not sure I would buy it again, because now I have to use it up quite quickly, and it is pretty sweet- I prefer to add some nesquick to milk as then I can use the rest of the milk as normal. But anyway, pretty nice.

After a shower I was still pretty cold, so I had the black cherry tea that was included in my i-herb order. This tea was delicious! But at the moment my tea cupboard is full to bursting, so I am holding off ordering any for now!

Right, I am off to have my hair cut in a bit (about time!)- give yourself a pat on the back for something, and tell me what it is please! Well done in advance.