Y’all, I’m a shoe-judger. Yes, when you walk by on the street, I’m looking at your shoes and making all sorts of assumptions about you. Or maybe not so much assumptions, but I’m creating an imaginary life for you. It’s a fun game. Your Puma ballet sneakers indicate you have two kids (Pete and Sally), a goldendoodle (Lionel), and wear drug store brand makeup to your job as a technical analyst for a software engineering firm.
It’s no secret. I love cake and especially scones. Cheese, cherry, plain, even fruit these days (I’m a grown up now and able to handle a sultana or two). So upon a recent trip to see my family in Dumfries, we went to a little town called Castle Douglas and it was from a bakers here that I fell in love with my new favourite sweet treat – Treacle Scones. I’ve had them before, of course, but not been bothered to find out a recipe for them. Either that or the ones I had before weren’t as good as the ones I had this time round! I found this recipe in my quest to make them myself, baked them today and am in love.
If you enjoy scones as much as I do, you need to try this. Do not be daunted by the stickiness of the treacle. Embrace it. Its going to embrace you as soon as it hits your lips (or your hips, I’m not sure which exactly). So long as you mix it well with the dry ingredients and don’t touch it until the dough is almost there you will be fine. Also, to get the treacle throughout the dough, you may need to knead (poetry) a little longer than you would for normal scones. Once the colour is even throughout you know you’re ready to roll. Literally.
You will need:
- 8oz self raising flour
- 2oz butter
- 1oz caster sugar
- 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
- 2 tbspn black treacle (you Americans may know this as molasses, yeah I know some stuff) If you have no treacle, use golden syrup although I warn you, no where near as indulgent
- Pinch of salt
- Approx 1/4 pint of milk
Preheat oven to 220 degrees Celsius / Gas Mark 7
Sift flour and salt into a large mixing bowl and rub in the butter (yes with your fingers. None of this using a knife malarky. Get your hands into it, its the only way to make sure its done properly). When the butter is rubbed in, it should look like breadcrumbs in the bowl.
When you’ve got your breadcrumbs, mix in the sugar, cinnamon and treacle with a wooden spoon. Add enough milk to make a soft dough. (The tip is to add a little bit at a time, if you do it right, you should be left with a tiny bit of milk to brush your scones before they go into the oven).
Once the dough has come together, knead it on a floured surface until it is both moist and elastic.
Roll to about 2 cm thick and cut into rounds. In my opinion the larger the rounds the better, think of the size of scones you would get from a bakers. (I used a 3 inch round and got 6 or 7 scones but you can use smaller if you’re only used to tiny scones at afternoon tea. Snobs.)
Grease a baking tray or line one with grease proof paper if your lazy like I can sometimes be, and place your rounds onto it. Brush the tops of the rounds with the little bit of milk left over from the 2nd step to give the scones a slight glaze.
Bake for 10-15 mins.
Once baked, place onto a wire rack to cool. To make your scones more aesthetically pleasing (until you cut them open and layer with butter) dust a little flour over them. This just adds a little finesse I think. Well thats what the bakers do and with food, it’s all about the detail!
Et voila! Enjoy
Where am I to start with this book?! If you haven’t read it, you NEED to.
It was brought to my attention by my best friend who pointed out first of all that it was a film. We sat down
to watch it with a glass of wine, after a hard day of decorating at her house. My usual question then followed ‘Is it based on a book?’ (I believe in reading the book before seeing the film, I feel its unjust not to) ‘Yes’ she said. ‘The book is amazing. You would love it’. We talk about literature alot as we both love to read and share the same tastes in lots of things. We subsequently turned the film off (as the peaceful setting of our evening was interrupted) and as my friend wanted to make sure I enjoyed it as much as she had, we vowed to watch it together another time when we had a quiet night and AFTER I’d read the book for myself. The very next day I downloaded the book onto my Kindle. I was hooked.
Its uplifting. And heartbreaking. All at the same time.
Set in the city of Jackson, Mississippi, USA in the early 1960′s this book is based around 3 main characters, the story told from their viewpoints. The view points are written in 2 dialogues, that of the maids, Aibileen and Minny and the other of Miss Skeeter, a white 20-something girl trying to become a writer who is from a family where a black maid practically raised her. Its the dialogue in this book that made an impact on me. I could hear the characters talking as I read it. Its a powerful thing when that happens and you take in so much more than if you were just reading to yourself in your own voice. Skeeter is on a mission to find out whats happened to her old maid Constantine, who has vanished upon Skeeters return home from school. No one will tell her where she’s gone and she wants answers. Its then that Skeeter realises just how different maids are treat to the white women they tend to, and its when a new sanitation program of having your black maid have her own outside toilet that sparks her to want to speak out. Aibileen and Minny, after much deliberation, feel compelled to help Skeeter and they set to helping her write a controversial book about how it is to be a black maid in a white community. As normal women, they have their own things to battle with each day whether it is their own families, their memories of family or the white families they help take care of from dawn til dusk. Skeeter, she has her own white girl problems and as a white girl, I can relate to the awkwardness of not quite fitting in with the crowd that she suffers in the book. I say suffer. But actually, it’s not suffering at all. She gains so much from being different and this is something we can all aspire to. All of the characters end up gaining something through the journey they go on together because the boundaries between them are blurred and rules are broken for the better. As the reader, you are sure to gain a connection with each of the main characters through their bravery. I dont want to ruin the story for those of you that haven’t read it (or seen the film) but it is now one of, if not my sole, favourite of books I have read. It has just the right amount of wit, humour and sadness that makes a brilliant read.
Books well written about women and their bonds make me proud to be a woman and I want to find more books that make me feel good like this one has.
The Help is a truly inspiring read, and although its fictional, a lot of what was written about is fact, and that’s what makes it more memorable than anything. If I had been born 25 years earlier, I would have known different attitudes that were had back then about black and white people working, living, BREATHING in the same space. Its disgraceful to think thats how things once were. And it wasn’t just the whites that were prejudice against the blacks; Black people felt the same way towards white people, especially if they were on their turf.
We are all just people and the colour of our skin is irrelevant. Everyone can see this nowadays (well most people) but there were times when people were ranked by what shade their skin was. Its alien to me, but my eyes were opened to parts of history I wasn’t around to see myself by reading this book.
My next stop is to watch the film. But I will wait to watch it with my friend, I think she’s owed it after introducing me to such a gem.
Remember everyone ‘You is kind, you is smart and you is important’.
Who knew diagrams like this even existed? Well ,I didn’t and if I’d realised there was so much to remember, I probably wouldn’t have done what I did this evening..
This evening was the first time I have ever run a mile in my life. And I’m really proud of myself.
I did it on a main road as well, which again is a first and probably the main reason I’m proud of myself. I’ve only ever jogged out of sight of main roads. I’m not confident enough to be running alongside white van men and home time traffic looking all sweaty and out of breath.
But today I went with Mr B, also a first as we have never jogged together ever, so he was there for me as protection from perverts and peering, disgusted faces. We are hoping to keep it up and get a bit fitter together and lose a little bit of poundage. Seeing as we are always skint and (hopefully) the weather is getting warmer, its something we can both do and spend time together without talking much but without ignoring each other either. Good idea? I think so.
We have our little route sorted. Our plan is to do it regularly until we are both fit enough to do it in a reasonable time then move onto another route.
I have no idea how people run marathons but I take my hat off to them. Maybe it will be me with them one day. Most probably it wont but we’ll give it a shot. Its a free way of getting fit after all, and as everyone that knows me is aware of, I’m a sucker for a bargain.
I’ll keep my blog updated with our progress. Any tips greatly appreciated though. :) My goal is to look like this…
It has often been brought to my attention that I can be rather impatient.
This is a blog about people/things I find myself faced with at the ripe old age of 24. Things that annoy me, confuse me and I think more into than is probably healthy – this all results in anxiety and my impatience with things, other people can probably cope with better.
I’m not going to rant about them, as it rarely achieves anything but more vexation. I’m simply going to bullet point them like a checklist. See how many you agree with or if its just me..
- I have an OCD with making the bed as soon as I am out of it. It would depress to get into a messy bed when I return to it later that evening. I then think into how much time I could possibly save in my lifetime by NOT doing this and it depresses me even further.
- I am greatly and frequently annoyed by people that think the world owes them something, especially when they don’t put any hard work into contributing to society in any way, shape or form
- When I realise a compromise is never going to be reached because of one or both parties stubbornness, I die a little inside
- I have 0 toleranceof people that are able to read but dont
- I think people that stick their noses where they dont belong should have them chopped off
- Bad social manners and skills irritate me so much I could rant ALL DAY to anyone who would listen
- Status’s on social networking sites which make people appear to have a perfect life/marriage/children irritate me almost to the same level as the bad social manners point
- Shirts in the washing with the buttons still done up – I’ll do it then shall I?
- Socks by the washing basket. Not in it. BY it.
- Loud noises in the morning – e.g my husbands farts
- Loud noises at night – e.g my husbands farts
- Just because someone is brought up on a council estate does not make them common or uneducated (I was brought up on a council estate)
- People that dont intend to work a day in their life. Ever. This often is paired with the above point, but I truly believe it all about how you are brought up by your parents and what you grow up around as a child
- My cat grinding his teeth. I dont know why he does it and this increases my anxiety about it
- Children that have no ambitions to grow up to be something ridiculous like a unicorn or a superhero
- Adults that have no hobbies
- Adults that don’t wash (very often the ones that have no hobbies or social skills). In my book, this can also be classed as bad manners.
- I really dont like when my ideas arent listened to and this makes me even more impatient to give my next one
- Am I speaking a foreign language when I say please can you move your shoes/bag/other crap from the middle of the floor? If it takes me breaking my neck to show you why, I will. You will be forever in my debt and I will make you pay every last penny
- Women who wear flesh coloured tights with open toed shoes
- Women who go for a jog without wearing a sports bra.Again, bad manners
- Price stickers being left on anything, especially the bottom of shoes
- Dirty dishes and empty glasses cluttering all usable table space
- Being asked questions as soon as I wake up or am trying to stay asleep
- People picking faults with others and not admitting they have any of their own
- I dislike when my coffee table is moved then not moved back again to where it was before it was moved
- I am not fond of people who shout at each other in public, especially people that shout at their children or children that shout at their parents and it will be written all over my face when I see this happening (a weekly thing where I live)
- Children who cannot sit still (perfectly healthy ones, not ones with special needs. That’s just cruel)
- People who strive to be popular to the detriment of other things
- People on a constant ‘high’
- Narrow minded people
- People that spit in the street
- People that cannot think for themselves/speak for themselves/arrange things for themselves
I understand most of these points involve other people. What can I say? I guess I’m not a people person. But sometimes it feels like someone goes around and deliberately plants all these little things in my week to push me over the edge!
Rant over. I’m off for a nice cup of tea to make it all better.
My ironing, tidying and cleaning fairies have been missing for a little while so this is my last resort..
I love dreaming which sounds silly because they aren’t real. Maybe that’s why I like having them so much. A break from reality. I’m not sure but one thing I know is I always look forward to bed time, mainly for the sleep but also for the possibility of having a great dream.
I would occasionally (all the time) eat cheese right before bed when I was (slightly) younger just to see if it would make me have freaky ones (that’s as adrenaline junkie as I get!) but my dreams are never logical anyway so the cheese didn’t make them any weirder.
I definitely don’t ever recall dreaming things that could happen. For example – I dreamed not so long ago about meeting and falling in love with Jake Gyllenhaal.
I woke up thinking it was real for a split second and when I realised it was all in my head, all the butterflies fell from where they were flying about in my stomach and I was disappointed.. only joking James! (Note to reader, never mind disappointed, I was most definitely gutted).
I have very bizarre, all over the place ones and so when I had a very random dream several weeks ago which involved the building I work in, I didn’t give it much thought. Its an old place, with many rooms, and parts of the building I have never even been into, or spent much time in as I work predominantly downstairs as the main front of house member of staff.
However following this dream, which included warren like rooms and difficult staircases, so familiar to the building I work in, I have had the same recurring dream which is taking many forms. Call it a ‘Dream Theme’ if you wish, hence the title of this blog. All are based around a building with many rooms. One time it was my parents house they had just moved into and when I visited I discovered at least 2 rooms they didnt know about. Another time it was a friends childhood home. Other times it’s just a random strangers house I shouldn’t be in. But they all have many rooms. And in every dream I come across some issue with the doors to these rooms!
Sometimes I cant get into the room.
Sometimes I can get in but struggle to get out.
But more often than not there seems to be this one door to a room I just cant get to.
Every time I attempt it, the walls on the way to the room draw in closer on me and, as I get quite claustrophobic, I decide I cant reach the door in time and turn back. Each time I dream this scenario, I try a little harder to push through the fear of being crushed but the stress of the walls being so near to me takes its toll, and I retreat.
Its like something from Alice in Wonderland. The door seems tiny, far away and like I’ll never reach it. I can hear my heart pumping in my ears, I’m clammy and I wake up each time before ever getting close to that door.
I wouldn’t say I believed in dreams, I know a lot of people think they foretell the future or are full of ‘signs’ or whatever. But this has got to mean something surely?!Am I worried/anxious/stressed about something I don’t even realise? Is there a door in my life waiting to be opened? Or will something I want remain locked away forever? I have no clue. All I reckon is your state of mind does determine the type of dreams you have.
If I ever reach my unreachable, I’ll let you know.
Any comments on any confusing dreams my readers have will be most appreciated. We could have ourselves a little support group!
Patisserie’s are hard to come by in this world of chain bakeries, but in Darlington we are lucky to have at least 2 (that I know of). This is a picture of the window at The Black Olive. I have yet to go in and purchase but i will do soon, perhaps after payday as a treat. I also didnt want to get too close to the window incase I get nicknamed the ‘Cake Pigeon’ (all you Sarah Millican fans know what I mean). I tend to loiter there alot these days.. I didnt realise til I posted this but my face is covered in flapjack in my reflection in the window. Haha sign of a true foodie.
I have just finished The Alchemist, one of the best selling novels ever written.
It’s written in almost a fable style way, but it made for nice reading and I’m pleased I persevered with it, as it’s not the usual kind of book I would find myself reading. It had a lot to do with religion, tradition and the ways of the world in general and I tend to leave that up to the Good Book.
Honestly, I didn’t have any Eureka! moment when reading it, as some people have. But it has restored my faith in being human and discovering what we want in our life. I got from the book that our hearts will tell us what our ‘treasure is’, and where our priorities lie will be manifested in the way our life is lived. Its up to us whether we take our chances to have what we always hoped for. It takes hard work and effort, as the main character showed, but he eventually got his treasure in more ways than one, and learned a lot in the process. And, really, isn’t anything worth doing if we learn more than we could have ever hoped for along the way? As was pointed to in the book when Santiago talks to himself, he recognized he was learning things he had never given much thought to by leaving his comfort zone of being a shepherd. His livelihood was sure and safe, but he went out in search of the treasure he had dreamed about. When we make a big decision, the outcome is not always seen straight away. This can unnerve us and take us back to where we began so that we never get past that point of venturing into the unknown. But when we give it a shot, let life take us in the way we deep down in our hearts know is for us, things will work out in the end. And even if they don’t, which isn’t often likely, we will have learnt enough for us to make another path in life. I don’t even know if that makes sense, but I know what I mean!
I’ve read that the book is being made into a film and is due to be released next year, with Laurence Fishburne (everyone’s favourite, Morpheus from the Matrix) is to be playing the role of the Alchemist.
I look forward to it being shown at the cinema, and see if it does the book any justice.
Has anyone else read it? And if so what was your interpretation? I have always wanted to be in a book group.. so speak up!
I have just met the loveliest elderly lady I think I may have ever encountered.
At work. Where nice people are often hard to come by due to the type of clientele our business attracts. And it made me think.
When we encounter an awkward person we perceive is intent on making our existence difficult while we are in their presence, it can RUIN our day. Well it does mine anyhow and I’m not sure about you, but it doesn’t take a lot to tick me off. Bad manners of someone who thinks the world owes them something, a man asking me a question while he chews a sandwich in front of me (so I can see and smell it more intimately than I had hoped for) or screaming children that cannot sit still are all things which are certain to put me in a foul mood for the rest of the morning/afternoon. Its something I’m working on, but I know I fail at a lot.
I always hang onto my bad encounters of the day. I know this because the first things I often say to Mr B when I get in the car to go home after a long day at the office will begin with ‘Urgh! You wont believe what happened today’ or simply ‘Get me home now’. You will understand my feelings I’m sure if you work directly with the public like we both do. I suppose we relay things so we can vent, get it off our chest to someone who understands how the other thinks, then leave it where it belongs for the rest of the evening until the next day starts and we pick up where we’ve left off. It’s habit and human nature. Nobody likes to feel wronged.
Today I realised that we forget to think about any positive encounters we have had, although they may be few and far between. Straight away we delve into relaying all the negative stuff that has made our day stressful, whether its clients or our work colleagues that has given us cause for complaint. So after my acquaintance with Gladys, I had my brain storm for this blog.
I don’t know what it is with the Scottish old folk, but to me they seem to be so much nicer than the elderly English. When I worked at the cricket club, Bill (also known as Willy but I’m too childish to use that as his name) used to come in every Wednesday for a few drinks with his friends. He was Scottish too with a wicked sense of humour, and it always brightened up my day when he called me ‘hen’;Any other old guy trying it on like that would have been labelled ‘an old perv’ but I believe because of his accent, he was genuine.
Gladys is from Aberdeen. She wore a gold brooch on her coat in the shape of a cat and this instantly made me warm to her. She lost her husband a few years ago to cancer which had been misdiagnosed as a lung problem. She was heartbroken. Everyone told her not to sell their 3 bed house so soon after her loss to make sure she was ready/doing the right thing. Since then the market has slumped and she had missed a good opportunity to make a lot of money. But she doesn’t seem to mind as she has sold it now and has her eye on a small 1 bed place (not too far from me actually) which she has her fingers crossed for. She wants to use our services for the purchase and that was why she came in today. As she will be downsizing, she wondered if I knew of a house clearing company that could take away some of her big items of furniture she wont need when she moved. I said I knew just the place, close to where she will be moving to if all goes to plan and wrote down the address and telephone number for her. She was so grateful I knew of somewhere and was willing to go to the trouble of getting the details for her, and I was made up that I could help her in some small way. I found out she actually used to be a legal secretary in the 60′s and 70′s and cant ever see herself moving back to Aberdeen because she is an avid bowler for a club here and has made a lot friends. Its easy to see why because she was a delight to talk to, funny as well as having that lovely accent. Its amazing what you can learn from someone when they are kind and you are kind back. When she left (I was sad to see her leave although I know I will see her again soon) I told the next work colleague I saw about her because she was just so adorable I could have chatted to her all day. They didn’t share my enthusiasm and jokingly said she’s probably awful and being Scottish was just a front. I laughed because its not uncommon to come across those types of people in our line of work, you know, nice as pie when they’re getting what they want and then throwing their toys out of the pram the minute they aren’t happy, and he obviously had more experience than I did. I still said ‘No. Not Gladys. If I could adopt her I would.’
The moral of the story is that whilst meeting a nice person through our work may not change our lives in any way, we should never take it for granted. Those moments of glee when meeting an absolute treasure of a person are rare and we should hold onto them, keeping them in higher esteem than the rubbish ones.
After all, rubbish is rubbish but treasure is for keeps