Goodbye January!

Sooooooooo…it’s the end of the month…and, if you live in the UK, the deadline for filing your self assessment tax returns online (I can’t help it!  I work for accountants, we had tax return submissions coming out of our ears!) is TODAY!  I certainly hope you’ve already filed your tax return.  Anything filed after today will incur a penalty.  Just saying.  And that ends my public service announcement!

SelfAssessment-homepageI’ve been busy blogging this month.  I’m (desperately) trying to make good on my New Year’s resolution to write more.  My next task on the blogging to-do list is to ask for feedback.  The plan is to ask my blogger and writer friends to look at the blog and ask for their feedback on the new theme and the layout.  I am absolutely TERRIFIED though.

I signed up for Blogging 101 and haven’t worked on ZERO writing assignments!  How bad is that?!?  I have high hopes for the next few days because I intend to work on the assignments!  I am done prevaricating and procrastinating.  Sort of.  Ha!

Business concept. Isolated on white

Pastry fear conquered

I love baking (I thought I’d put it out there, just in case you missed it!).  But there are still large gaps in my baking repertoire and there are projects which I’ve put off because of the fear that I won’t be able to produce the (baked) goods, so to speak.  My closet perfectionist comes out and becomes more critical than a certain Paul Hollywood could be.  I am always worried that what I bake isn’t good enough.

One of my stumbling blocks is puff pastry and rough puff pastry.  I’ve always relied on store-bought pastry for the pastry because I’ve tried to make rough puff and puff pastry but they never really “puff” up.  So instead of disappointing myself, I usually just go and buy puff pastry and use that instead in all the baking projects involving puff pastry.  It’s the coward’s way out, but I’m less disappointed in myself.  I usually say to myself that even Mary Berry and Jamie Oliver suggest using store bought pastry!

But last weekend, I was, very strangely, prepared to try again.  I was surprised to find myself only too willing to face my fears and try to make puff pastry again.  I knew that I had to at least try again because my short crust pastry was already good.  I needed to at least try to learn to make acceptable puff pastry!  It took me several weeks to work up the courage to make pastry.  In the end, I found a relatively straightforward recipe from the Pieminster cookbook (see Page 10 of the book).

pieminister-a-pie-for-all-seasons-coverSo I bought the ingredients, determined to make lovely, flaky cheese straws and bacon twists!

After reading and rereading the recipe, with a lot trepidation, I set out to follow the recipe properly.  Et voila!  I managed to make (really pretty, if I do say so myself) pastry that looked the part!

wp-1454857681421.jpegThere is something to be said about facing your fears…and doing a lot of research to prepare!  Thank you Pieminster for your glorious book and the recipes within it!

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Finally Kedgeree!

I love curry and Alan has introduced me to the fragrantly delicious world of Indian food.  After trying lamb biryani for the very first time, I have never looked back.

Even when I was in the Philippines, I would hear about kedgeree.  How it was nice and comforting.  But I was never really brave enough to try to cook it.  In the Philippines, it was because I didn’t have smoked haddock readily available.  In England, it was because I thought kedgeree was difficult to make.

So a couple of weekends ago, I told myself it was time to bite the bullet and make kedgeree. I used a recipe that looked simple enough, from the BBC Good Food website.  I took a deep breath and added the ingredients to my shopping list and took the plunge!

And, oh boy, was it GOOOOOOOD!!!

I don’t know why I thought it was difficult.  It was so similar to cooking a paella which is something I can do with my eyes closed.

Kedgeree prepIt may have a few stages more than my favoured paella but it was similar and it was equally as comforting!

KedgereeIf you’d like to have a go, John Torode’s recipe is the best to start with!  Enjoy!

I am hurt. But that’s now over.

You-can-care-aboutThere are times when you just know it’s time to stop putting yourself out there for some people.  There are times when you just have to say this is as far as I go with you.  I care about you.  But I care about me too.  I don’t think I should try as hard anymore.  Following the Golden Rule is well and good.  Treating people the way I want to treat people is what I have always done.  Because I believe that it does come back to you.  Positivity creates positivity.  Kindness begets kindness.  But the flip side of it is, one does get to a point where one decides, that’s all I’m going to give out because I need to keep something back for myself.

Bon weekend!

I know it’s really bad to wish one’s life away, but life has been fairly manic lately.  I actually dislike Mondays and start wishing for Friday on Tuesday mornings!  Also when I say life, I mean work.  I currently have no work-life balance.  I get up, get ready for work, get on the train to go to work, work, break for lunch (aka eat at my desk and work, or go to Tesco and Lakeland to do a bit of research for my big project, so yes, it’s sort of like work too!), work some more, go home, eat, wash up, read work emails and write down to-do lists for the next day whilst the TV drones on in the background, bathe-rinse-tone-moisturise, go to sleep…and repeat.

I am going to be ever so glad when 31 January rushes past (my days seem to rush past me these days) because it’ll be the end of income tax return submissions and things will settle down a little.  At least I hope so.  It hasn’t happened yet.  I was promised downtime.  Downtime has yet to make a cameo appearance.

But sometimes, one looks up and sees how beautiful nature is.  Sometimes, even when one is bone-tired, brain dead with exhaustion, God shows you the perfection of His creation and you smile.  Beauty has a way of sweeping away the exhaustion and stresses of the work week.  This was exactly what happened to me today.  I was rushing to the train station, having left my desk later than I planned (again), praying to the Lord to make me move faster so I didn’t miss my train.  I just happened to look back and saw this fabulous, stunner of a sunset.  I just had to take a snapshot and share it with everyone.

Thank you for this Lord!

Chelmsford sunset

The List amendment

So I’m looking at my list and I am struck by the niggling feeling that I left something out.  I know I said that it was a working list and that things would be added.  But as I kept rereading my list I kept asking myself, “what did I forget to write down?”  And I took the biggest intake of breath I’ve ever taken.  How could something so important, so integral in my life be left out?  How could I forget?

My faith and my relationship with my God is a fundamental part of my life whether I talk about it or not.  I would, however, love to talk about my journey in faith much more than I do.  I’ve always been afraid of sounding too preachy or “religious”.  But why should I be afraid?  Why should I not talk about a part of me that strengthens me, that more often than not, carries me through my life journey?

My faith and my relationship with God gets me through everything – all the highs and lows of my life are underlined by how I see God working in my life.  Why shouldn’t I talk about this wonderful relationship that is a constant in my life?

So the first amendment to my list is this:  To write about my faith more.

The List

It’s a Sunday all over again.  Sometimes I wonder whether it’s really a sign that one is getting older that the days just whoosh past.  I wonder why I always feel like there’s not enough time in the day to do everything that I want to do.  I always feel like I’m not making the most of my time.  I know there is more to life than efficiency, but I kind of feel like I’m supposed to accomplish more than I’m supposed to.

There was one task that I meant to do before Sunday lunchtime and I was quite pleased with myself when I managed to finish it by 4PM yesterday.  I’m the worst procrastinator in the world but I do have off days.

Which brings me to my goals for 2016.  I thought I’d set goals that were relatively sensible.  I have this dream of turning my absorption about food into something that earns me money.  I’m not quite sure yet how I’m going to get there and where “there” is, but this year, I want to do things that’ll help me find out where I want to go!  So that being said, this is my working list (open to additions and amendments, of course!):

  1.  Blog at least once a week.  So at the end of the year, I should have at least 52 entries for this year!
  2. Learn a recipe a week – sweet or savoury.  My goal really has been to cook through all my cookbooks.  Not entirely sure I will want to do that because I’d rather bake cakes.  But life is a balance.  So I need to make sure I cook and bake!
  3. Finish my 2 CBT books.  I need to finish them because I’m still working on my emotional equilibrium!
  4. Be more organised at work – the ultimate goal is to become more proactive than reactive.  I used to be so organised.  I used to multi-task ever so effciently.  I want to get back to being Capability Jane and have a feeling of control over my work again.
  5. Learn that it is important to find that sweet spot where work and life are balanced.  Work is important but so is my personal life and the relationships in it!

This is my working list.  I think these goals are realistic.  The first 3 items are easy enough to schedule in.  But the last 2, well, these need sitting down and thinking about.  It’s the thinking about that is easily injected with procrastination and avoidance.  But I am working on that!

I am determined to make 2016 the year I certainly sort things out.  My life is certainly more complicated than I want it.  2016 is the year I declutter and make sure I have only what is necessary and bring out what is surplus.

Snoopy determined