Cake – just how do I find the time?!

Last night was the final in the Great British Bake Off and as a fan of baking I was glued to the TV.What really surprised me was that in each of the challenges they had to complete, I actually felt I could have done quite well myself – the technical challenge was to make a Victoria Sandwich cake which is one of my husband’s favourite cakes so I bake it fairly frequently. And chocolate cake for the main ‘Showstopper Challenge’ – that has my name all over it!

Anyway, as I was discussing this with my husband, he got a bit frustrated with me and said ‘of course you can, you’re good at baking, just like you’re good at lots of things, you just don’t believe in yourself enough’. This is indeed something he says to me quite a bit, and I think I am beginning to understand it now.

As I have been off work for a couple of months, I’ve managed to bake a lot more frequently and have posted pics on my social media feeds, to which many of my friends have commented ‘how do you find the time when you have two small children at home?!’ Well, that all comes down to good organisation and letting go of the things that don’t matter. I bake when my children are playing and I can see them, or when they are having a nap. It does mean that the washing or tidying has to wait until later in the day, or that some of my ‘jobs’ just don’t get done that day. And I bake because I enjoy it, and it’s important to do things you enjoy.

I’m also trying out new recipes and really enjoying the challenges! And finally, if the cake doesn’t turn out well, that doesn’t matter because I know plenty of people who will eat it if

I make the most of it. One lemon cake I made just collapsed on the top as I had too much liquid in it, but I salvaged what I could (see pic) and still managed to serve up a few dreamy creamy lemon curd slices!

So the moral of that episode was – make the most of what you’ve got and focus on the positives. And have faith in your abilities – other people do…..


Get out there and do it!

I signed up to a challenge with a friend this month, mainly to help her get back in the zone of running, but I have to say it has massively helped me and my attitude to fitness and general activity. I’ve been a runner for about 10 years or so, and have completed numerous half marathons, a few off-road mud events, and the London Marathon once (and would love to do it again). My friend started running in January, and set herself a challenge of running 5 km in 12 weeks – which I have to say she completely smashed. She has managed to keep up with the running and nine months later was still getting out a couple of times a week but not doing the distances she would have liked.

So I found this challenge online with Ronhill called ‘Run every day in October’ which is what it says in the title – you have to do something every day. We decided that our shortest distance would be 1 km and we are aiming to get to completing a 10 km by 31st October.

shutterstock_222191515-750x381We’re now 25 days in and the end is almost in sight, and it has been a real eye-opener for me. I’m not the fastest runner, and 1 km takes me approx 5 mins 45 secs – 6 mins 30 secs, but on some days I have really had to give myself a real pep talk to get out and do it! I’ve had to be organised and make sure there is someone to sit with the children if needed, or I’ve had to do the double-child buggy run.

The one thing I have really noticed though, is even on the days when I have had to run at the very end of the day, in the dark and cold, and I really haven’t wanted to, I have felt so good for getting out! And I know I feel like that about a lot of other activities – going out at 8 pm to play netball on a winter’s night, getting up for a gym session98f53469dea0b17972ef475b342778b4 on a cold wet morning at 5 am, and even sometimes the thought of having to take the dog for his walk over the field. But every time I force myself, I feel great.

The dread of doing something is ALWAYS worse than the actual activity itself. And basically if you can turn those negative dread thoughts into the positive feeling you get after the event, you’ll feel a whole lot better to start with! Exercise, however little (even my 6 mins), makes you feel better. If only we could bottle that ‘high’ after exercise (even a 1 km run) ……..


Let’s lose the stereotypes

I spent a lovely day at the spa this week with my mum, relaxing, enjoying a massage and having a good old catch-up. My husband had the day off and had encouraged me to go and enjoy the day. So off I went.

‘How is M (husband)?’ asked my mum, ‘is he ready for his day with the children?’, ‘he’ll need a lie in tomorrow….’. These comments got me thinking about the stereotypes we create for ourselves – why is it that someone can ask those questions about a man looking after his children for the day, but wouldn’t dream of asking the same thing about a mother? Did I ever get asked those questions when my husband has had a night out or been working away? Absolutely not!

It’s the same with the term ‘babysitting’ when used frequently for men looking after their children. Fathers DO NOT babysit their children – they are carrying out their fatherly duties in much the same way that mothers do!

As you can see this is something that really gets me annoyed. And I know it annoys my husband too. When he has been out and about on his own with one or two of our children, he gets so much more attention and chatting from strangers than I would or when we are together. And he inevitably gets the ‘how are you coping?’ questions. I also know he sometimes feels he needs to prove he is just as capable (but he will deny that!), and that is because society has created this attitude. So why do we feel this is OK?

I have a couple of friends whose husbands are stay at home fathers as their wives earn more, and recently I watched a programme where a contestant was a stay at home father and the narrators made such a song and dance about repeatedly mentioning it, saying how it had changed his personality and impacted his life (none of this came from him at all, this was assumptions the producers had made). As a society, I think we are moving in the right direction, but we do really need to be more mindful about stereotyping people, and providing people the opportunity to be equal.

Rant over 🙂

Surprise yourself!

My life and general routine has changed dramatically in the last six weeks, as my husband and I welcomed our two beautiful children into our lives. All through the journey to this point, many people told us ‘your life is going to change… won’t be able to do the things you do now…..your health and fitness lifestyle will be no more….’ and many other things along those lines, as well as the more positive ‘it’s an amazing thing and change is for the better’ comments.

Prior to the children I was an early riser and a morning gym/run person, and I often went on long weekend runs with my friend who had recently got into running. I will admit it, I did start to think that maybe these people could be right and that I would lose it all and would be tied to these children with no ‘me time’ for years to come. BUT that has definitely not happened. In fact, I am out running and in the gym getting better results more frequently – so what’s happened?

Well, OK I have had to modify my timings and yes the children have to come first at times. But if I can get my mum to sit with them, or I am willing to get up even earlier before my husband leaves for work, then I can fit things in and no-one suffers. But the biggest change for me has been when I have gone out running at a completely different time of the day…….

I constantly tell myself ‘I am a morning person and I can’t do exercise at any other time of the day – if I miss that window I am useless and I won’t enjoy it/achieve anything with it’. That means I start out with the wrong attitude. Now though, because I have to take the opportunity when I can get it, I have found myself running at lunchtime, or in the evenings. And the biggest surprise has been my performance – I have racked up new PBs at lunchtime, run further in the evening, and the one that surprised me the most…..I ran a regular route with the children in the double buggy and was only 20 seconds slower than my PB!

So it got me thinking – sometimes if you break your normal routine, and take an opportunity even if you think it may not work out, it can be the best decision you ever made. It can also get you questioning your attitude and approach to life – it certainly has with me. Don’t get stuck in a rut, and don’t listen to your inner negative voice (or that of others). Take the opportunity and try the change – at least you tried, and that’s better than thinking ‘what if?’.