Festive cupcakes!

My day started with pumpkin baked oatmeal from the lovely CCK website- recipe here– while listening to Hard Fi as we are off to see them tomorrow- woo!

I used one packet of gingerbread porridge, more spices, a big dollop of pumpkin puree and 1/2 cup coconut milk and baked for 25 mins. It filled 2 ramekins, and I had them both. Yum! I will be having this again for a weekend breakfast 🙂

Then I was off to the course run by Sweet and Floral (for anyone vaguely local).

I did one before and this one was a Christmas cupcake one.

We made:

A present wrapped in a bow, and a snowman.

A bauble (with glitter!!!).

We used a knife to create stitching detail on the bow- how clever.

I think the snowman is my favourite- so cute.

We also made a cheeky elf and a Father Christmas.

All of them together. It was such a relaxing way to spend Sunday morning/ lunchtime. There were only 6 of us, so we all sat around a big table. Rolling out the icing, colouring some of it, cutting it out…. it is all just really enjoyable.

After that I went on a quick run (4 miles- trying to get up to the 60 mile challenge- I think I have done 35 miles now) in the freezing cold! Then it was a quick shower before dashing over to Andy’s parents.

Doing the course reminded me of when we used to do art at school or uni- I always found it so relaxing. I was always al-right at art, not brilliant but it is always something I used to love (even though I am not that good with the really fiddly bits)- something about the colours, cutting, just doing something physical which you don’t have to concentrate too hard on, but at the same time your mind cannot wander to other things (work!)- I just love it- the three hours whizzed by. I loved science lessons too (for the opposite reasons- so interesting and they were so logical) but art somehow is just so relaxing.

What was your favourite lesson/ subject at school?

Expanding my hummus-orizons

That makes sense, right?

I never used to like hummus much at all- too garlicky and lumpy. But I had eaten a few nice (ready made) hummus sandwiches, and after reading about how smooth Sabre hummus is, I tried it and loved it.

This weekend I popped to Waitrose and noticed a little stack of hummus pots on offer.

Slow roasted tomato, roasted red pepper and lemon and coriander. I deliberated for ages over buying these, how silly! Mainly because I don’t like coriander.

Anyway, they are so tasty! I had the red pepper hummus for lunch one day with a food doctor pitta and a red pepper for dipping.

I had the most delicious dinner- some rocket, roasted sweet potato/carrot/butternut (so loving this right now) topped with some goats cheese, and a toasted wholewheat tortilla to dip in the roasted tomato hummus. Amazing. My best dinner for ages and ages and ages! All I do with the tortilla( you know the flour wrap things) is put it on a baking tray, heat it in the oven for 5-10 mins (the longer the crispier) and then slice with a pizza wheel.

I had the lemon and coriander hummus for lunch and actually liked it! I surprised myself. Nice and lemony, not too much coriander.

Following on from my excitement that I might like other types of hummus, I bought some red pepper hummus from Sainsbury’s too. I had it with some quinoa beetroot and squash risotto, goats cheese,more roasted orange veg and some pumpkin falafels. These were not as good as they sound, tasted like normal falafels for me. But the hummus was another success!

Finally, I don’t think I have put a picture of some tea on here for a while. What is going on??? I have been really tired this week- my run was hard work on Monday, we got worked like crazy at aerobics on Tuesday and I was soo soo tired! Last night I had a short run which turned out to be pretty speedy- 3.5 miles in 35 mins, and I had to wait at road crossings for a while. Any sub 10 min miles for me is good 🙂 So today I am having a cup of tea (Teapigs chocolate tea) and a Christmas almond bar thing to give me some energy for body pump later. I hope I don’t chop my head off with the bar.

So what is your favourite type of hummus?

And anything you tried recently to expand your horizons?

Lebkuchen recipe and gift ideas

I love love love lebkuchen, those soft spicy gingerbread-like half cookie half cakes that you can get at this time of year.  Must be my Austrian roots showing though! We always used to buy a bag or two (good for a little snack as they tend to be about 50 cals each so a nice seasonal treat), but this year when I noticed them in the shops, upon reading the ingredients I was very annoyed to see they all contained pork gelatine. Hmm, they never used to. I suspect they are all made in the same place, as all the shops checked so far have the same problem (Asda, Tesco, and Andy’s parents got a mix pack from Aldi which was also not veggie). I told Andy about how I was sad because I do love them, and what did he do?

Yup, he bought himself a bag! Hmm.

So I decided that I would try to hunt down a recipe, which is easier said than done. In the end I found this recipe, and from the comments it seemed like it was the soft of thing I was after. Some of the recipes looked like gingerbread cakes, and some looked too crunchy. The comments also mentioned that you should leave the dough overnight to make them have a more authentic texture.

I halved the recipe.

First up I mixed 125g plain flour, 45g ground almonds, 1tsp ground ginger, 1tsp cinnamon, a pinch of cloves and some mixed spice, with 1/2tsp baking powder and 1/4tsp bicarb.

Then I melted 100ml honey and 40g pure spread, and poured this over the flour mix. I am sure golden syrup would work just as well, as it is a similar recipe and technique to making gingerbread for houses.

Then I mixed it all into a ball of dough.

I left it to cool for a bit, covered it in cling film and left it in the fridge overnight.

The next day I preheated the oven to 180C, and rolled the dough into little balls. It needed to be squashed and kneaded a little bit.

These went into the oven for 12 mins (the recipe said 15 but a lot of the comments said this was too long). Next time I might even try 10 mins.

When they had cooled a little bit I coated them in a little apricot jam. The lebkucken I love the most have a little apricot filling with dark chocolate.

Then I melted a little dark chocolate (maybe 50g) and stirred in a little cinnamon and ginger. I then dropped this over the top of the jam.

I tried one right away (too impatient to wait for the chocolate to set!) and I am really pleased with the results- they are slightly soft but not like a cake, and lovely and spiced. Yum.

We had a lovely relaxing Sunday- did some gardening (we still had bulbs that needed planting) and walked up to the shops- Andy even treated me to a soy chai latte in Caffe Nero (we don’t have a Starbucks) and on our way back popped to Aldi for a few bits. Look what we found!

Yup- they did not have the ones that Andy’s parents bought, but both the bag of iced ones and the pack of chocolate ones are vegetarian. Ah well, nothing quite beats home-made does it?

I bought some very cute kitchen things the other week from accessorize:

These are little cookie stencil things- I was thinking they would make pretty shapes on top of chai lattes, but I think I need my milk a little more frothy- need one of those hand held milk whisker things.

And a gingerbread family! How cute! I may not have time to make a gingerbread house this year, but I will for sure make some little people 🙂

I have also been perusing the internet for gifts (for others, and also things I would love!).

How about a Yankee Candle sampler set from play?

Or this cute owl door stop?

Or a cookie monster dressing gown???? (I caved in and bought the matching PJ’s as I needed another pair with sleeves!)

Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar

I already have this book and it is amazing- never had a bad recipe yet! Click on this link to visit Amazon and look inside if you don’t believe me.

Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World: 75 Dairy-free Recipes for Cupcakes That Rule

As that book is so good, I am tempted by the cupcakes book by the same authors.

How about an Owl hot water bottle? I am loving owls at the moment- so cute!

Nike Ladies Thermal Running Gloves

Or some thermal running gloves (from Wiggle– Andy has the men’s version and they seem fantastic compared to other brands).

Owl Cupcake Cases

Or owl cupcake cases????

teatime wheat warmer

Or a scented warmer (I love the ones you can heat in the microwave)

And it would not be my blog without some kind of tea!

I must say I am totally loving the fact that it is all on the internet too! Yesterday I did a 10 mile run (1 hr 47 so I was very pleased- think that might be my fastest on that route?) but was a bit tired in the afternoon. I popped to the shops- while I was there I saw a scarf that I thought my Nan would love, so I queued up (in M&S) and I am not joking there was one woman in front of me and she spent 15 minutes at the checkout!!!!! Argh! She kept adding things on, taking things off, trying to use vouchers, needing gift receipts, getting more jewellery, buying things separately- honestly my blood was boiling! Then I went into John Lewis as I saw things in the window when I ran past, and got totally lost inside the shop- it was so busy and claustrophobic and hot and I was worried I would give myself a panic attack or something (not that I suffer from them, but I did feel lost and had no idea how to get out of the shop and people kept bashing into me!!!)-much nicer to sit at home with a cup of tea and order things! 🙂

Do you prefer to buy in store or online?

What is on your Christmas wishlist?

And is it just me that is obsessed with those lebkucken??

So close! Plus randoms

I was so close to a pb!

My official chip time was 1.01.33, whereas my fastest time was 1.01.28! Ah well, next time!

It was still such a brilliant run anyway.

Winners alert– after work today I went to the post office and posted off the prizes, so keep an eye out please! Fingers crossed they all arrive in one piece- please let me know when they do.

Look! I am super excited-for our allotment we get to buy seeds super cheaply from a catalogue and they all arrived! They even had seeds for spagetti squash! Plus some really pretty beetroots 🙂 I just hope some of them grow….

I also enjoyed an old favourite the other day- porridge in a jar! I finally finished one of the massive Whole Earth pb, so I got to enjoy super peanutty porridge. Mmm.

The other day the lovely Jessica tagged me in a blog award. Because I can eat more squash and pumpkin than she can! Ha ha love the reasons Jessica 🙂 (and also because she loves my epic race recaps!).

I now have to tell you seven random things about me.

Hmm. I think I ramble on so much you probably know all this already!

1- When I was little we lived in Denmark for a few months- my Dad did a teacher exchange. I went to Kindergarten there, and did speak some Danish although all I can manage now is counting up to ten. Not so useful.

2-I was very very scared to learn to drive, and only learned in my final year of uni as I knew I would have to drive to get a teaching job.

3- I am still in contact with my oldest friend- we used to go to Nursery together and despite moving away, going to seperate middle and secondary schools etc, we still see each other (albeit only once a year!). But I am not in contact with any of my friends from secondary school.

4-I cannot bear to even think about eating parsnips (sorry Lucy)- when I was little my Mum would disguise them with the potatoes to try and trick me into eating them. I could always tell but the thought of that makes my throat close up a little.

5-I have always loved music- I used to be in a choir (I am even on a CD for schools which my parents produced), and my Dad took me to my first gig when I was 15 (ish)- it was The Bluetones- anyone remember them? They had an album with a peacock on the cover. When I was 16 I went to T in the Park with 2 friends (they were 15 so I was in charge)- thinking back I can’t believe how young we were!

6- I am very scared of swimming in the sea. I was never a strong swimmer, and while on holiday in Turkey (I think I was 17) I was swimming in a cove when a big boat came in-it created massive waves and I was knocked against some sharp rocks- I still have a lovely scar at the top of my leg. But also the fish freak me out.

7-I need to get my hair cut but my hairdresser is on holiday until the middle of December.

Are they random enough? 🙂

So now I have to nominate some more fab bloggers. I think a lot of people have this now, but I will try to do new ones.

Lucy at porridge and parsnips (for lovely baking ideas- I want to make everything she makes!)

Marijke at Beauty in the balance  (for inspiring running)

Ffion at Chocolate and Raspberries (for lots of tasty eats)

Nic at Nic’s Notebook (for getting me hooked on the pink whisk blog!)

Phil at Skinny Latte strikes back (for totally rocking the Cosmo awards)

Mary at Bites and Bliss (for rocking her marathon training plus some amazing Christmas baking)

And I have no idea who else has been nominated, so first commenter I pick you!

(Picture a big hand coming down from the sky to point to you).

Nominees, in order to accept this award you must:
-Thank and link back to the person who awarded you – Thanks Jess 🙂
-Write seven random things about yourself .
-Award seven other awesome and inspiring bloggers (OK I copped out and nominated 6).

Right, I am off for some mint tea.

Random question- if you could be any animal, what would you be and why? When I was younger I would have chosen dolphin, but see number 6! So I think I would choose something small like a rabbit.

Robin Hood Adventure Challenge

Hey peeps

Hope everyone had a fab weekend- ours was really relaxing despite having to rush off Friday evening to drive up to Nottingham. I forgot my water bottle and nuun this time- ah well can’t have everything!

We spent Saturday taking it easy (the weather forecast was for rain so we planned to spend the day around the town instead of going out into the countryside, but in fact although it was cold and overcast, it was dry)- we went out for a late breakfast (I had some yummy home-made granola) and then wandered around the shops in Nottingham, went to see the castle and Robin Hood statue, had a soy chai latte for lunch (Andy is not teasing me about my addiction!), had an early dinner and went to the cinema- we saw The Ides of March, which was like an amped up West Wing I think.

This morning I got my race bits ready (clif bar for breakfast to eat in the car, banana for after).

Like the Thundercats style timer chip? It was a sticker on the back of your number which was a good idea.

Then we drove to Sherwood Pines Forest, where the race started. The parking was right by the race start- you had to walk through these lovely paths to get there.

There were real toilets (as it was a visitors centre) as well as port-a-loos. You can see the start/end inflatable arch thing in the field.

There had been a 2k kids run earlier in the day, and there was a duathalon as well, so lots of bikes around. The 5K and 10K races started at the same time (midday)- the 10K runners did the loop a second time.

I was hoping to beat my time from the Willow 10K (65 mins I think) a few weeks ago, as back then I was not feeling quite 100%, whereas now I am feeling back to my old self.

I kept an eye on my Nike+- I felt I started off a little fast as I was doing 9.20 miles, but I soon settled into a rhythm.

The scenery made it just fantastic- the first few km smelled so strongly of fresh pine trees.

Most of the trees were turning, the run was on wide tracks (sort of dirt roads) and there were lots of walkers and cyclists out too- perfect.

There were a few steep sections, but not for long (although one was quite mean at 4.5 and then 9.5km!)- going through the middle part was simple as the 10K and 5K runners had different coloured numbers, and there was a marshal directing us- the announcer even called out my name as I went past the middle bit! 🙂

So pretty!

Anyway, I was enjoying the run so much I had decided that I did not mind what time I finished- I was just thinking to myself that this was why I love running so much, and the fact that I was healthy and able to get out in the fresh air in the countryside and see the beautiful scenery.

Near the end my Nike+ lost the signal from my shoes, and then told me I was going at 15 min miles, so I really had no idea how I was doing for time. But I was steadily overtaking people and I felt like I was pushing myself quite hard although I wanted to save some in the tank for the last little hill.

I overtook a few people going up the hill, and put on an almost sprint finish at the end (didn’t quite catch the last person!)- there was no clock but when I stopped my Nike+ it said 61 mins (and looking on the computer it was 61.33)- I was so pleased with that- close to my best ever 10K time but still not breaking the hour mark. Ah well, maybe next time!

We wandered to pick up the bag from the bag drop, and then back to the car.

I was still very excited about my time!

I went back to change into the nice t-shirt we were given.

It has the list of the runs on the back- I think the kids run was the Maid Marian dash or something! It is a womens large, but proper cut so I might actually wear it as I rather like the colour too. We also got a £5 sweatshop voucher and some High5 samples.

While Andy was driving I took even more photos as I just thought it was so beautiful there.

They had no food on offer at the end, so we enjoyed the bananas, some coconut water and a clif Z bar on the drive home.

I loved this race sooooo much- I think it could be my favourite race ever! I pushed myself hard, but still enjoyed the experience and the scenery. It was busy so I was never running alone, but the paths were wide and it was never congested so I felt I could run at my own pace and never struggled overtaking people.


Home for a shower and a rest!

What is your favourite race (if you have run races)? Did you get out and enjoy the lovely autumnal weather this weekend?