Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Dressing for Date Night with Simply Be

I work in an office that full of really bubbly, bright, young things.  Evening plans, weekend parties and ‘new men’ are hot topics.  The thing is, I’m married.  In fact,  Hubby and I have been together since we were 17, so I haven’t really ‘dated’ – and to be honest, I’m relieved… 

Hubby used to work shifts, and our diaries never matched.  I wouldn’t say it put a strain on our relationship, but it does make things difficult.  He’d get in to find me in bed, or I’d have to crawl around the bedroom in the dark trying to wake him has I got up to do my office job.  We weren’t like a married couple, it was more like two single people attempting to live together, and simply not get in the way.

So it might sound cheesy, but my ideal date night, is one where Hubby and I can just spend time together - without the distraction of friends, family, the TV or our work.  For my birthday last year, Hubby took me to a restaurant; nothing too swanky, but I enjoyed delicious freshly made food overlooking the Thames near our house with a cocktail in my hand, and my man by my side.  Being able to snuggle into a protective arm, or rest your head on a shoulder and simply enjoy each other’s company is so special to me.

Hubby no longer works shifts, but it is still all too easy for work to get in the way, so we do try to make time for each other – and when we do go out we both like to make the effort and dress up a little bit.  It’s special after all.  So when I was asked by Simply Be whether I would like to try a new outfit for our next Date Night, I couldn’t say no!  And as I wanted to do something special for our next Date Night, I wanted to try something a little different.

Being a curvy girl, I do get really self-conscious and haven’t ever really considered myself to be fashionable.  I know what works for me, and I’m always scared to really try something new.  I love bright colours.  But I never choose them to wear.   So I did!

My 'date night' outfit

The dress is wonderful.  So comfortable, and beautifully flattering.  The length is just right too, coming just above the knee, it looks young, fresh and flirty, without being so short that I’ll flash my bottom every time I bend over – I’m not a lady alright?!

Hubby loved it too.  The slash on the chest is just cheeky enough for a date, and also helps to break up the awesome animal print.

The jacket is a great, really warm, and did just what I wanted it to by making outfits that little bit more formal, but still young and fun with the biker-jacket zip.

But there was a problem…  Although, there is nothing wrong with the jacket or with the dress (in fact I love them both) the two items together made a bit of a fashion clanger.  Patterns, textures, colours - There was just too much going on…

Our solution… Two dates! I teamed the jacket with a little black dress some sheer tights and some cute heels I had lurking at the back of the cupboard for date one, and for the second the pink dress got an outing with opaque black leggings, black boy-style slough jacket and a pair of biker boots for that grunge glamour. 

And all I need to say is that Hubby was a very happy chap!

This post has been written in collaboration with Simply Be - however all content is true to my own thoughts, experiences and memories.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Mojito cake: There's always an excuse for a cocktail!

So you may have gathered that Hubby and I have heen going through a bit of a tough time at the moment.  Thankfully,  and I really do mean lucky-stars thankfully, that seems to be slowly edging behind us...

One of my colleagues put my troubles into perspective - by passionately raising money for charity. Running a half marathon,  selling cocktails desk-to-desk for an added financial boost to sponsorship... it made me sit up and remember the bigger picture.  I've been whining a lot recently, without thinking about what other people might be involved in or going through,  so I decided to surprise my colleagues with something special: cake!

And inspired by my cocktail-peddling colleague I took my flavour inspiration from the mojito!
Who doesn't love a cocktail?!

Mojito Cake


For the cake
25pg butter,
350g caster sugar
4 large eggs
130ml rum
Zest of three limes
350g self raising flour
2tsp baking powder

For the syrup (oh my god, the syrup...)
200ml water
200gm sugar
A good slug of rum
Juice of three limes

For the buttercream
250gm butter
400gm icing sugar
Green food colouring (or if you're feeling creative like me blue and yellow food colouring mixed)
Peppermint essence

For the [pepper]Mint leaves
350gm icing sugar
1 egg white
Food colouring (optional)
Peppermint essence

1) To start with we focus on the cake: cream together the butter and sugar, it's best if you can to have allowed the butter to soften first. Otherwise you're in for a work out if you do things by hand like me. Once light and fluffy gradually add in your eggs. Once combined fold in the flour, lime zest and baking powder.

2) Split the batter into two cake tins and bake in a 170c oven for 30 minutes,  or until cooked all the way through. When the cakes are ready place them on a cooling rack to cool.

3) Whilst the cake is baking it's time to move on to the syrup.  This should really come with a health warning as I really had to stop myself just drinking it... so so good. Make a sugar syrup by dissolving sugar in the water, keep syrup boiling for 5 minutes and then add the lime juice and rum. Leave to cool.

4) Whilst you're waiting for everything to cool  is a great time to start prepping all the decorations. The bit that takes the longest are your peppermint cream leaves (see what I did there) so  I would start here to give them time to harden a little.

5) Mix together all your peppermint cream ingredients until you have a soft dough. You may need to add more sugar - you add a lot of liquid in with the egg white, food colouring and flavouring so you might need to tweak this a little to fet the right consistency.  Cut leaf patterns out from your dough and set to one side to harden whilst you whizz up a quick buttercream.

6) Once everything is cool and your hapy with your decorations you're ready to assemble: carefully prick your sponges and brush or spoon over the syrup. Struggle not to drink it. In traditional sandwich sponge style layer the two cakes with buttercream but then ice the top with some more.  Finally artistically place your leaves.

7) Force yourself to throw away the remaining syrup.

8) Indulge.

Mojito Cake

Sunday, 6 October 2013

We're going to be homeless

How I wish I could turn back the clock and take my own advice. How I wish I hadn't been persuaded by the experts or believed them when they said everything was fine...

We needed to reduce our notice period to get the sale through. We negotiated.  We got out of it.  All so we agreed a completion date.

How I wished I hadn't.

We're now up the foul-smelling creek without a paddle.

The day we were meant to exchange (in fact after our solicitor attempted exchange twice that day) we got a phone call from the estate agent saying there was a bit of a problem with the seller's onward purchase. Cutting a long boring story short (trust me, we've heard the estate agent go through it enough times, as if repeating the story makes us feel better), a couple of major issues came up on their local authority searches and they need a certificate to get their mortgage. It's going to take 8 weeks to get. We only have 4 weeks left on our tenacy...

And that's before we even start to think about the affect on the rest of the chain...

So why on earth have they been chasing for exchange?!

They weren't ready!

I don't believe for one minute that they have only just become aware of this... they've not even sorted the mortgage! 

I'm angry. I'm upset.

I'm homeless.