Halloween baking

Ah, half term is here.

This first half term is always crazily busy, and the final week was just exhausting with two parents evenings on top of “normal” stuff, so I was ready to collapse on Friday evening. I was very pleased to see that the posts I had scheduled appeared through the magic of technology!

I really fancied doing some sort of Halloween baking, but could not decide what- make little pumpkins to top cupcakes? Gingerbread skeletons? Then I saw on The Pink Whisk caramel shortbread spiderwebs.

My decision was made. My project for Friday evening was sorted. The recipe was easy enough to follow (even for a very tired person) and the effect is brilliant I think!

Took the photo without the flash too for ultra spooky webs!

There is one where it is more of a splodge, as a lump of un-melted white chocolate got stuck in the tip of the piping bag. On the website Ruth says to only top a couple at a time as the chocolate needs to be liquid, but I did them all at once and they were fine-the chocolate takes a long time to firm up again after.

Today I have had a relaxing day. I picked up my brother and we headed to Parkrun. Even though I had not run since Tuesday (I managed two short runs on Monday and Tuesday) I didn’t feel on top form so wasn’t going to chase down a pb. The rain held off until I was on the final stretch, but it was quite heavy by the time I had scanned my chip.

Breakfast was pumpkin pancakes which turned out to be a bit of a disaster- but I was hungry so I didn’t care! Later on I got the text from Parkrun saying my time was 59.59. Basically there was a technical glitch so everyone was given the same time- the results are quite funny to see but at least they kept the order of everyone finishing. They have offered to remove the time if people don’t like the way it messes with their average time, but I don’t mind that. It also means I (probably) won’t ever run a personal worst! So I finished 174/253 runners, and 47/89 girls- love those stats!

Normally on a Saturday I have work to catch up on, but the bonus of half term means I can save it to next week, so I have had a proper day off- I watched some of the Bake off, and then popped into town to pick up a few bits and get my glasses adjusted. I have some John Lewis vouchers and really want to buy a nice blanket for the sofa, and had seen a nice one online but wanted to feel it to check it would not be itchy. Anyway, the John Lewis in Welwyn is just a nightmare for someone with no sense of direction and it took me about 20 minutes of going up and down stairs, following signs, getting stuck behind all the slow Saturday shoppers, and nearly going out the emergency exit before I found the right section, only to find out they didn’t carry it in stock! Grr! I needed a Starbucks after that 🙂

Later on I walked up to Aldi to pick up some whisky for making Christmas cakes- one of my favourite half term jobs!

That is all soaking away now ready for my midweek bake.

And now I am going to make something with a pumpkin. Possibly roast it, and then maybe turn it into soup? I have not decided yet.

Anyone else making their Christmas cakes now? The recipe I use is here.

Anyone else doing some Halloween baking? I might have time on my hands next week to make something else too and always love ideas.


Guest post- how to care for running feet

Hi everyone.

I have a guest post for you all today on caring for your feet:

How to Care for Running Feet

Runner’s feet take a beating, if you’re a regular runner you will be quite familiar with the pains and aches that running can put your foot through. Foot pain caused by running can impact your training plans should it not be effectively remedied.

Whether you simply have achy feet after a long run, or you find that you are suffering with continual foot pain or injury, here are some tried and tested ways of combating foot pain and caring for those running feet…

1) The perfect post run treat for feet is massaging the feet with a tennis ball. Roll your foot over the tennis ball, paying particular attention to any areas that hurt the most. The massaging motion of the ball will help to ease stiff muscles as well as any tension in the arch of the foot.

2) Are you an over pronator, regular pronator or under pronator? Any frequent runner generally knows the answer to this, but pronation relates to the inward rolling motion of your foot as you run – caused by the distributed force of impact when your foot hits a surface. Those with flat feet usually overpronate while anyone with high arches is likely to under pronate. It is important to choose running shoes that cater to high arches, regular arches or flat arches, choosing the wrong running shoes can lead to painful running associative conditions such as Plantar Fasciitis or shin splints.

3) Orthotics are also recommended to care for runners’ feet. If you’re not wearing the correct running shoes, pronation can affect heel alignment – causing us foot pain as well as discomfort when we walk or run. Specialists in all things feet, Simply Feet recommend orthotic insoles as well as orthotic footwear to runners. One of the brands that they sell, Vionic, use innovative Foot Motion Technology to provide the foot with cushioning support and stability while Vionic FMT also works to improve heel alignment – allowing you to step or run with confidence!

4) Trimming toenails is a part of any basic beauty routine but it is of particular importance to runners. If your toenails are a little too long they can rub against the inside of your shoe or even cut other toes – causing great discomfort when you’re running. Remember to make sure you cut or file your toenails straight as toenails with rounded edges are susceptible to painful ingrown toenails – any runner’s nightmare! If you’ve just completed a running challenge, why not treat you and your feet to a luxury pedicure.


How do you care for your feet? I must admit it is something I don’t pay as much attention to as I probably should. I do pay attention to trimming my nails properly as I had to have operations on ingrown toenails when I was younger- never again! I have foot cream that I apply sporadically, and I really must get myself some new running trainers! A job for half term I feel.

*This post is courtesy of Simply Feet

Delicious Seed and Bean

Now you all know how much I love chocolate. When I went to Wholefoods in the summer (so long ago…), I picked up a few little bars of Seed and Bean chocolate. (I bought the dark chocolate with lavender from Holland & Barrett I think- I love it because it is such an unusual flavour).

Both of these were gorgeous! I love chocolate orange, and the tangerine oil in this just made it extra zingy. The hazelnut and almond praline was a new (to me) flavour which I loved- anything nutty is delicious in my book.

They kindly sent me a couple of bars to review on my blog too.

I have tried the white chocolate with lemon and poppyseed before, and I really like it. I am not usually a massive white chocolate fan, but the other flavours make it more interesting.

I had high hopes for the dark chocolate with raspberry and coconut, and I really liked it, but all I could taste was the raspberry. Now I love raspberry with dark chocolate, but I wish the coconut flavour was more pronounced as I think that is what makes this chocolate so good.

I was just having a look on their website and noticed they made some limited edition Glastonbury chocolate– dark chocolate with hazelnuts, white chocolate with raspberry and vanilla, and (I think this sounds amazing) milk chocolate with sea salt and lime.

Are you a fan of more unusual chocolate flavours? I love that there is such a great range now- when I younger it was chocolate orange, mint, or fruit and nut! I find it hard to choose a favourite now as I like so many, although I can’t get my head around chilli in chocolate! That is a step too far for me!

More cake decorating

So a while ago I posted a photo of a birthday cake I decorated with flowers.

A friend had asked me to decorate a cake for their 25th wedding anniversary. This was my first practise at calla lilies, and it turned out later on I had made them upside down! That is why we practise!

She had found a picture on the internet of a purple cake (see it here) so all I had to do was make some lilies for the top, and then a few to decorate the sides.

I bought some heart shaped cutters and some little cones (for the flowers to dry on) and some flower sugar paste (which I only found out about at the cake show). She wanted a pink circle for the top tier, but I did that with normal fondant icing.

I gave them to her last week, and was really pleased to see a photo of the finished cake (as I only did the decorations to go on it).

Not sure why it is so massive!

But I am so pleased with how they turned out. I think using the flower sugar paste was much better as it could be rolled much thinner.

It has made me get more excited about decorating Christmas cakes now. I need to start looking for ideas.

Wet weekend!

Hey peeps, I hope you all had a good one.

On Friday night after some dinner at home we loaded up the car to drive up to Manchester. A long drive indeed, with lots of horrible heavy rain to drive through. Luckily we had lots of film podcasts to listen to.

Our hotel ended up being in an industrial estate, so my hopes of a Saturday morning run were almost dashed. It turned out we had use of the super swanky on site gym, so I headed there instead for a 5K on the treadmill. It didn’t help that I didn’t realise there was a fan button until ten minutes in, but seriously a 5K was all I could take! I have no idea how people run for hours on treadmills. I was so horribly sweaty when I finished too, and even though I did the proper cool down (it made me walk for 5 mins) that didn’t help much. I need fresh air!!

I got very excited when I noticed that button on the hotel phone- a Starbucks button! We thought we would have to buy breakfast (there was a Starbucks joined to the hotel), but there was also a hotel restaurant and a buffet was included, so I enjoyed fruit salad and a croissant, plus a big pot of tea.

We caught the tram into Manchester town centre (how great is the system there? And also how cheap! A travel card for all the tram lines was less than ÂŁ5 for an adult!) and looked around the shops for a bit, before getting some lunch. I was very excited when I saw Snow Fairy in the Lush window! Now that means Christmas is coming! The town centre seemed quite nice- lots of shops, a big shopping centre, but I wasn’t sure there was much more to do.

Then we caught the tram out to Old Trafford as Andy had a football ticket. There was a shopping centre “near”, so the plan was for me to head there and we would meet up after. I think it took me about half an hour to walk there! It was only across some water but was further than it looked.

The shopping centre had some outlet shops there, so I picked up a top from Gap, and some Yankee Candle tealights.

By about 4pm I realised I had been on my feet all day, so found a nice coffee shop and sat down with my kindle and a pot of tea. So good. Poor Andy got caught in a torrential downpour on the way back from the game- he was dripping all over the place (but also very happy as they managed a draw). We were going to head back to the centre for dinner, but the tram was busy so we went to a Cafe Rouge right by the shops. I was impressed with their selection of foods- there was a lovely sounding vegetable and tomato bake topped with breadcrumbs or seeds or something, a hummus and pepper sandwich, and a goats cheese salad (which I chose)- all vegetarian.

By the time we had finished the crowds had died down, and the rain had stopped, so we got the tram back again.

On Sunday morning we took it easy, having a leisurely breakfast before heading to a couple of National Trust places. We went to Lyme Park first- I always prefer the gardens to the houses and this was lovely. We even saw loads of deer in some woods. Plus a very creepy giant model of Colin Firth in Pride and Prejudice, as that was where the outdoor bits were filmed.

Photo: For any Pride and Prejudice fans- a bit creepy!

Super creepy. After a walk we went to the tearoom and shared some amazing carrot cake, although we were spoilt for choice as they had a delicious looking sticky toffee cake too.

Then we headed to Hardwick Hall, and had another walk outside and a long tour in the house (it is huge)- I found it more interesting as it had links to the Tudors (a part of history I know about!). By this time it was gone 3pm and we were both pretty hungry so we stopped for food- I had some delicious spicy carrot soup (tempted by the tea bread but decided soup would be more sensible before the long drive home). As we were leaving there were huge black clouds and enormous (and frequent) thunder rumbles. We got back to the car just in time, but most of our journey back was through heavy horrible rain. We got back just before 7pm, which was lucky as we had booked a shopping delivery, only to realise we had not bought anything for Sunday dinner. I ended up with sourdough toast, grapes and sweet potato popchips.

My poor trainers! I have realised that I have had them for well over a year, so one of my half term jobs (next week, hooray) is going to be getting some new ones.

I am glad we went up to Manchester, as it is good to get away for the weekend, but I didn’t really realise quite how far away it was. Not sure it will be added to our list of regular places!

Do you have regular weekends away? Where do you like to go? I am sure I have mentioned before but Bath and Brighton are two of my favourite places to visit.