Smash Cake!

It is my humble opinion that The Woman’s Weekly Birthday Cake book is one of publishing’s greatest hits.  My brother’s and I spent a good deal of the 1970’s poring over this wonderful tome, choosing which themed cake we would have for our birthdays each year.

I’m very grateful to my mother for saving this book for many years, and handing it down to my daughters.  I love that they choose from the very same book that I did.  I’m no Nigella, but I have managed to produce some passable cakes over the years, with the help of a lot of butter cream icing and some artfully placed silver cachous.

My youngest daughter is particularly interested in baking.  She starts choosing her cake each year around the first of January.  Her birthday is in June.  But she goes over these pages again and again.  She is also obsessed with the television show Cake Boss and was very excited when we recently discovered a cake shop close by which supplies all the professional tools need to create a masterpiece.

Each year, my birthday falls around Easter time so it usually means my mother is around.  She helps the kids make me a birthday cake and each year, my youngest daughter has eschewed  the concept of “less is more” and produced an elaborately decorated masterpiece.  This year was no exception.

I came home from work to this…

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I took a mallet to it and revealed this…

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I then cut into it, and revealed this..

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Pretty impressive huh?  My 10 year old had apparently spent all day making a heart shaped, multi coloured cake which she then iced and covered in different coloured mini cupcakes, and she then concealed the lot under a large, chocolate dome (which she made herself).  It was a fantastic birthday cake and all the better because it was made with such love.

Wonder what I will get next year?

Backing music:  Isn’t She Lovely – Stevie Wonder

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Gifted

When I was a kid, my mother used to keep all of her birthday and Christmas gifts in their packaging, and display them for a up to a week after the event.  She could always show anyone who visited her gifts and they always looked so pretty all lined up.  Unfortunately, due to my desire for instant gratification, I am unable to do this but now that I have Instagram, I can display my gifts prettily here.  As soon as they were photographed they were opened and I’ve begun to enjoy them.

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A gorgeous photo album, Thorntons chocolates (the best chocolates in my opinion) and drawer soaps to make your smalls smell sweet.  Gifts from my darling daughters.

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A terracotta pot full of lovely succulents.  A gift from a friend who knows I want to fill my garden with cuttings from friends.

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This little beauty opens up to reveal an actual cupcake inside.  Yum.

IMG_1182So many pretty things.

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Now I just need for the weather to cool down to proper Autumn temperatures so I can start wearing these lovelies.

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Oh, how I enjoy a gift card!

 

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A cute surprise from my little girl.

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Beautiful flowers make every birthday complete.

I feel incredibly blessed by all the love and gorgeous gifts I received for my birthday.  Thanks to all xxx

Happy Birthday to Me!

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This morning my daughter told me that her father (my ex husband) told her to remind me that I am another year older today.  That I’m 44.  That I am “getting old”.  To this I merely snorted.  Because I LOVE birthdays.  Love them!  I get excited when it’s coming, I tell anyone who will listen that it’s my birthday and I try and string it out for at least a week.

I made no secret about it at work, I told the shopkeeper at the local vintage shop this morning (to which she said “happy birthday” and gave me my purchase for half price) and I will be telling pretty much everyone I speak to throughout the day that today I am celebrating my birthday.

I care not a jot that I am another year older.  I embrace it.  I’m still here!

So far I’m loving being in my 40’s.  Lots of things have changed for me since hitting the big four oh.  I changed careers, I changed towns, I bought a house… it’s all been pretty good.  There have been some lows and some scary times but most of all there has been a big bright shining light at the end of every tunnel I’ve reluctantly entered and this is pretty good I think.

A couple of weeks ago I was awaiting biopsy results and thinking the worst (as you do).  Now I am thinking of all the possibilities that my 44th year can bring.  I am something of an optimist with a fairly large pinch of cynicism thrown in.  I can be a downer with the best of them.  The black dog has come knocking at my door, many more times than I care to remember but for the most part, I feel lucky to be alive.

I was inviting someone to come to my birthday dinner the other day and she asked if it was a significant birthday (ie turning 40.. at least I think she meant 40, perhaps she thought 50?  I’m pretty sure she didn’t mean 30).  And I said, no, not significant as such, I just want to celebrate my birthday.  Which I do.

So tonight I am headed out with friends from a long time ago and friends I didn’t even know on my birthday last year and I’m going to have a blast.  There will be wine, a pub meal and conversation.  This to me, is what a great birthday celebration is.

Wishing everyone born today a very happy birthday.  You’re in good company, if I do say so myself!

 

Backing music:  Happy Birthday – The Beatles

Nails:  OPI – You Only Live Twice

 

 

 

 

The Last First Date..

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In a fit of wild optimism a couple of weeks ago, I sent out a “kiss” to a chap at an online dating site and was pleasantly surprised to get an email straight back.  Articulate and engaging, my inner cynic was briefly swept away and I allowed myself to get a bit excited about meeting this man who worked in the same industry as me (first time that’s happened in my on line dating experience) and who seemed quite interested in me.  We emailed a bit and then had a really great phone conversation which lasted over an hour.  The conversation flowed easily, we had quite a bit in common and we agreed to meet up the next week.

My inner cynic came galloping back when I received an email with several photos of him and then a text message stating he couldn’t wait to meet me.  It felt like a bit much but I decided to just go with it.

So the day arrived, I wore my favourite new dress and took extra care with my hair.  I was pleased to receive his text confirming the date and when I arrived at the agreed meeting place, there he was, waiting for me.

Well, he looked slightly older than his pictures but that was okay.  But when I approached him his expression suggested he wasn’t sure it was me and then I swear I saw disappointment sweep across his features.  Now my friend S tells me I’m being over-sensitive but I do tend towards the curvaceous and I felt like perhaps this bloke was expecting someone a little more svelte than I.

Anyway, the easy conversation we’d had over the phone was nowhere to be found.  He didn’t seem like he wanted to be there and we talked way too much about work since this seemed to be the only way to avoid the awkward silences.  When he asked me if I wanted to stay for dinner, I reluctantly agreed.  As we ordered I decided to just get over myself and relax into the date.  It went a little better after that but I just wasn’t attracted to him and his previous enthusiasm for me had all but disappeared it seemed.

As we were leaving I reached for my wallet and remembered I’d left it in my car.  I told him I would grab it and that I was happy to pay for my meal.  When I arrived back mere minutes later, he had already paid.  I was pretty embarrassed and I thanked him more than once.  As we stood at my car he said “well, you have my number, give me a call if you want to get together again”.   Since I had no intention of calling him, I simply thanked him for the evening and left.

It wasn’t until two days later that I received an email (despite having my number, he didn’t call or text) which stated that he would be happy to go on a second date with me and that I should remember my wallet next time.  He added the dreaded “LOL” to that last bit, presumably to soften the blow?

I could understand if he didn’t want to see me again and we could have just left it at that.  But it seemed to me that he thought he’d throw me a bone (no pun intended) and that perhaps I’d be grateful enough to do all of the running around.  Worse, to remind me that didn’t pay for my meal (hamburger and one diet coke) was ungentlemanly and made me feel unworthy of the $15 he forked out for the pleasure of dining with me.

Thing is, whilst I do want to meet someone, I just have to admit that internet dating isn’t the way for me to do it. I know it works for some people and maybe that’s because they’re meant to meet someone and I am not.  Who knows?  All I can say is that it was with just a twinge of disappointment and a large dose of relief that I removed my internet dating profile for the last time.  Will I date again?  I really hope so.  Will it be via a dating website?  God, no.

Backing music:  Fat Bottomed Girls – Queen

Shoes:  Wittner Black Patent Leather Stilettos

Sunshiny Days..

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At high school, in the 80’s the best accessory for our truly vile summer school uniform was a tan.  From September to December we sat outside on every sunny day, dripping cold water on our legs to attract the sun, rejoicing as winter white turned to pink.  As the weather got warmer we would share around a bottle of baby oil and by December, the white bobby socks we wore with our brown roman sandals (told you it was a vile uniform), would reveal an adequate tan line when removed, to show just how far we’d come.

As the Christmas school holidays came around, we’d grab our baby oil, head to the lake and sizzle and burn the whole day long.  Midday until mid afternoon was the best tanning sun and the paler girls would burn and peel and eventually emerge with a light golden sprinkling of freckles whilst the olive skinned girls would burn and darken, occasionally peeling but mostly just getting browner.

There began to emerge the “slip slop slap” ads, warnings of holes in the ozone layer and skin cancer.  But cancer wasn’t something teenage girls got and so we carried on, applying the sickly coconut smelling Hawaiian Tropic, Le Tan for those of us who dreamed of Paris one day and Johnson’s baby oil when funds ran low.

When I moved to the UK in my early 20’s I hit the sun beds after a winter of zero sun and the shock of a fish belly complexion for the first time in my life.  On my first trip home in two years, I spent a 2 day stop over in Bali burning by the pool (and subsequently suffering heat stroke) so I wouldn’t go home pale skinned.

Stupid really.  All of this ran through my head when a week and a half ago I discovered a new, strange looking mole on my chest.  Within 2 days it had increased markedly in size and I began to panic.  I went to the doctor who took one look and said it had to be removed immediately.  I asked him if he was worried, he said yes.

The mole was removed and sent for biopsy the next day.  The doctor apologised that I would have a scar on my breast.  I said “take the whole boob, I don’t care.  Just get rid of it”.  He reassured me that I could in fact keep my breast  (I like my boobs, I just panicked, you know?)

I have spent the past 7 days in a strange sort of limbo.  Alternating between an all encompassing dread of having to face a potential fight with cancer (what about my girls I thought as I cried), and telling myself I was being ridiculous, that I would be fine.  It may sound like I was over-reacting but two deaths from cancer and a fight with it in my family in the past 4 years got the scares into me.

On Good Friday, I decided to just get on with Easter and enjoy the time off with my kids.  I thought I was doing okay, but when I went to the doctor today and he said everything is fine, no cancer, just a mole, I sobbed with relief.

I am covered in moles, yet this is the first scare I’ve had.  I guess that makes me pretty lucky.  But it did make me re-evaluate.  These things do I suppose.  The message is… don’t tan.  Spray tan may be smelly but it won’t kill you.  Also, pale and interesting isn’t a saying for nothing.  Check your moles.  And do your best not to take life for granted.

Backing music:  Raise Your Glass – Pink

Earrings: Silver and Amethyst three tier drops

The First…

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There are days when I just cannot seem to get out of bed, without first imagining myself to be the star of a movie montage.  I play suitable background music in my head and see myself in various montage stages.  For example, pre-get fabulous job montage which sees me trudging to the office to deal with yet more of the daily grind and coming home again, flopping on the couch with a wine and lamenting my lack of employment opportunities.  I don’t of course flop on the couch with wine because I have kids and pets and general domestic chores to deal with in the evenings and I have a different montage scenario to get me through this part of the day as well.

Anyway, blogging is something I love, and those who’ve read my blogs know that I have mainly written about dating, the nightmares, pitfalls and general hell of it all.  Perhaps not surprisingly, I have become pretty bored with the dating game and my blog posts were getting more and more similar so I’ve decided to stop doing that for now.  Dating and writing about it.  But I want to keep writing, so I am going to do it this way for now.  I hope you’ll keep me company.

Backing music:   Changes – David Bowie

Outfit:  T-shirt, The Gap