The Last Day {Blog Every Day in May}

I have learned a few things about a few things with this venture.

One that when I say I’m going to do something I feel responsible to complete it in it’s entirety.


I didn't blog every day this month, I've missed like 3 days and I was up last night feeling guilty about it. Thinking about how I should make time to write the posts and back post them.

I don’t have time for that. I didn't have time to do them in the first place so why where would I find the time now? Plus I was the one who decided to do it. There weren't any consequences if I didn't blog every day.

But this is what I do to myself and my blog is currently just something I do for fun in my free time.

Which is another thing I learned. If I want to look at blogging as a ‘career’ there is a lot I need to learn!

There is so much more to blogging in a professional manner then there is just blogging for fun.


It’s definitely something I've been thinking of doing as well. With my girls going to both be in full time school in the fall, I will have a bit more free time.

There is another lesson. I am not always the best time manager. I used to think I was, but I tend to not give myself enough time to complete things.

If I want to be a better (professional) blogger I should possibly look at more planning ahead, among other things. 

At the end of the day I really enjoyed some of the topics that Elizabeth suggested for Blog Every Day in May and it got me talking about things outside of the foodie zone.

It was a good experience and I’m glad I took part! 

#BEDM

21 Blogs to Choose From

Here is a list of 21 blogs I read regularly. 

I do read and follow many other blogs too, but these seem to be ones I am always checking for updates! 

They are in alphabetical order. I don't have a favorite so to speak. Each one gives me something different that I need or want. 

The majority of them are food blogs, but I do love a good book or lifestyle blog! 

Sometimes I wonder if I should turn my blog into more of a lifestyle blog. 

Then I think about how much work I already put into my blog and then how much more work it would be to add all the other life things in. 

Maybe one day when I find more time. Like one day I will pull it out of my back pocket and go "Hey Time! Where'd ya go? I've been looking for you!" and automatically I will be able to do all the things I want too and blog about it too! 

How great would it be if it were that simple. 


In the meantime if you're looking for something new to read here are 21 blogs to choose from! 

A Flurry of Ponderings - {books} by Missie
American Cupcake Life - {lifestyle} by Kelly
Bakerella - {baking/food} by Angie
Baking Explorer, The - {baking/food} by Kat
Jen's Food - {food} by Jen
Bookish Outsider - {books} by Fi
Brave Tart - {food/baking} by Stella
Caked Crusader, The - {baking/food} by The Caked Crusader
Cakeyboi - {baking/food} by Stewart
Confessions of a Cookbook Queen - {baking/food} by Kristin
Crazy Cupcake Gem - {baking/food} by Gem
Debs Dust Bunny - {lifestyle} by Deb
Kitchen Frolic - {baking/food} by Stephanie
Londoner, The - {lifestyle} by Rosie
My POTL - {lifestyle} by Laurie
raspberri cupcakes - {food/baking} by Steph
Rosalilium - {lifestyle} by Elizabeth
Sparkly Panda, The - {lifestyle} by Rhiannon
Sprinkle Bakes - {baking/food} by Heather
Susannah Conway - {lifestyle/photography} by Susannah
Taking Flight into Art, Love, and Life {art/lifestyle} by Kelly Rae

I'm always looking for new blogs to read, so please leave a link to your favorite blog or your own blog in the comment section below! 



notes: this post was written for Day 28 of Blog Every Day in May, #BEDM. None of these blogs or bloggers have endorsed this post in anyway, all opinions are my own. Please see my contact/policy page for more info. I just posted some cool pictures I took of fruit once, because fruit is always good. I could have used images from the blogs I listed, but I like to ask permission first and I didn't write this in time! :0) 

Summer Salad & Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar

It’s summer time! Well, near enough summer time. This morning I took my girls to the park and even though rain was threatening to fall at any moment, we went anyway. 

We were lucky and had a great morning at the park with friends before of course we were rained on our way back.

It’s always better to be rained on on the way back then on the way there. It’s one of the things I've learned in my time here in England.

After we were dried off and I had the kettle on (coffee for me and hot chocolate for the girls) I made lunch.

I made the little ones peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and a salad for myself. I wanted an excuse to use the Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar I made over the weekend. 

I made my salad with lambs lettuce, ruby chard, carrot, goat’s cheese and strawberries topped with my homemade Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar, a little bit of olive oil, and seasoned with a little pepper.

It was really good. I loved the sweetness of the strawberries and goat’s cheese against the savory lettuces and carrot. You can use this dressing with any salad.


I think salads are one of those things that people just need to make for themselves because there are so many things people like different lettuces and vegetables and dressings.

This dressing would also be good mixed with a little olive oil as a dip for really good fresh bread. My littlest one likes her olives soaked in the dressing as well. There are lots of uses for Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar.



Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar

100ml balsamic vinegar
450ml white wine vinegar
100g sugar
500g British strawberries

Mix the vinegar's and sugar together in a medium saucepan and heat gently on a low heat until the sugar dissolves. Turn the heat up and bring the mixture to a boil. In the meantime hull and quarter the strawberries. In a bowl mash the strawberries with a potato masher. Pour the hot vinegar mixture over the mashed strawberries. Allow to cool before covering and allowing to seep for 24-48 hours.

Sterilize about 4 regular jam jars or whatever you will be using to store your vinegar by washing in the dishwasher and place in a warm oven to make sure they are completely dry.

After the 24-48 hours pour the mixture through a sieve and store in the sterilized jars. 



 notes: In association with Sainsbury’s for the Best of British campaign. Please see my contact/policy page for further information.
Today's topic of Blog Every Day in May was National BBQ week and I think this salad would be perfect for a BBQ! Day 27 of Blog Every Day in May #BEDM

Today's Blog Every Day in May topic is the best thing about childhood. 

Well, I think that the above meme about sums it up really. 

My Little Pony Birthday Cupcakes!

A while back I shared with you some delicious Elvis cupcakes that were topped with Elvis cupcake toppers, made by Birthday Cake Toppers. (website is MIA) When they sent me the Elvis ones they also sent me My Little Pony Friendship is Magic cupcake toppers.

One may think that I had asked for these cupcake toppers for my daughters, but truth be told, I love that show. I saved them so I could use them for my birthday cupcakes. 

It’s a very clever and entertaining show that still has values. Everything a good show, cartoon or not should have.

Yes, I am a 30-something who loves a cartoon about ponies. In fact I wish my girls liked it more so I had someone to watch it with me.

I mean they will watch the odd episode; perhaps they are too young for an all out My Little Pony marathon.

However they weren't too young to appreciate these cupcakes. I made them for us for my birthday 2 Friday's ago. Again because my birthday was a busy day I used Betty Crocker Lemon Cupcake box mix. But please feel free to use your favorite cupcake recipe. Flavors and colors could be adjusted to your favorite pony etc... 


It’s not like I have made my love for the show a secret. I have made some My Little Pony Friendship is magic inspired treats in the past like – Rainbow Dash’s Rainbow Jellies, Fluttershy’s Spring Time Cupcakes, and Apple Jack’s Apple Pies from Sweet Apple Acres


All of those posts were from 2012. It's funny how I blog has changed.Also I never finished my goal of making something inspired by each main pony. Still have Twilight Sparkle, Pinkie Pie, and Rarity. Guess I have to get brainstorming! 

Do you watch the show? Who is your favorite Pony? Please leave a comment below I do like discussing the show!


notes: The edible cupcake toppers were provided for me to review. All opinions are my own. If you are interested in cake toppers please check out their site here. If you don’t see what you’re after just ask them and they will do their best. They can also use a personal photo. Betty Crocker have nothing to do with this post what so ever. Here are the Elvis Cupcakes

Super Detox Smoothie

It seemed like every time I turned around someone else I knew was talking about juicing.

I received a juicer for my birthday back before I had kids so like 7 years ago. I juiced a few things and then it was shelved.

The juicer came with a book by Jason Vale, telling his story on how juicing saved his life. Then my friends bought me The Juice Master’s Keeping it Simple! - over 100 Delicious Juices and Smoothies by Jason Vale.

The first book was donated, but the second I had held on too. So, when I felt like I was hearing the word ‘juicing’ I brought it out and decided to do the 3-day detox.

Instead of over thinking it I just did it. It was actually quite refreshing. I did struggle a bit the last day. I was very tired. So, if you ever think of doing a juice detox make sure you aren’t too busy, because you will be tired.

For the whole program and recipes check out the book! He also explains how the juice are beneficial and how they help to detox.

I’m not really sure what to write about, as I’m not sure what people want to know about juicing? So, please if you have any questions or anything you want to know leave a comment!!

My favorite juice of the 3 days was breakfast on day 2 and here is the recipe.

Super detox smoothie

½ small pineapple
1 handful fresh blueberries
1 handful fresh black berries
200g low-fat live yogurt
4 ice cubes

Juice the pineapple before blending with the rest of the ingredients until smooth.

notes: This post is not being compensated or endorsed by Jason Vale or his affiliates in anyway; all opinions are my own. Please see my contact/policy page for further information. This post was written for day 24 of Blog Every Day in May. #BEDM

Date Night at The Plowden Arms


My husband and I don’t have a date night. If we get a chance to go out together we take it. If not, well then we don’t.

I know everyone says couples should take time for themselves and I agree. Especially if you feel you need that time alone. I don’t always feel like I need that and sometimes I do.

We do try to celebrate special days (not holidays) like our anniversary. 

Back in April we went out for a meal at The Plowden Arms a lovely pub in Shiplake Cross, Henley-Upon-Thames.

It was an amazing meal. We mainly ordered off the Specials board although it was a tough choice because the menu had some amazing looking food on it.

It had a great atmosphere; it felt like you were stepping back in time. It had a very classic pub look and the food is very traditional British food.

The sauce Robert or sauce Robert-Francois Rabelais is one of the first brown sauces made with white wine vinegar and mustard and is dated circa 1483-1553. Which he let me try and it was very good.

The dessert I settled on was a boozy, brioche type cake from “The English Cookery Book” written by J.H. Walsh and published in1858 they have called it Tipsy Cake, roasted pineapple. It was a perfect dessert to an amazing dinner.

The menu was full of information about where certain recipes originated. I like that sort of thing, I love learning about food.

The service was good too, the servers were friendly and helpful when we asked questions about some of the Specials.

On to the food! Here is what we had and I would have it again! Like I mentioned above we don't go out much so it's a treat when we do! 

starters


Turkey Meat Scotch Egg, Cranberry Sauce


Scottish Scallop, Black Pudding, Apple Puree, Celery Cress

mains 


8oz aged Sirloin Steak with Chips and sauce Robert


Roast Duck Breast, Spinach Braised Lentils Red Wine Gravy

desserts


Treacle Pudding with vanilla ice cream


Tipsy Cake, roasted pineapple

notes: I was not compensated for this post in anyway. All opinions are my own. I have written this post for Blog Every Day in May day 23 the topic was “date night.” #BEDM

The Plowden Arms
Shiplake Cross
Henley-Upon-Thames
Oxforshire RG9 4BX 

something to get you through the {rest of the} week

So, there is this blog I read often and she does a blog post every Friday that she titles "Something for the Weekend" and she links things she likes anywhere from books to photos to articles the list goes on.

I might have 'borrowed' the idea, but where would the world be if people didn't borrow ideas off each other?

So, here are a few things I've been looking at on the internet!

I want to try a Lobster roll from this pop up restaurant. 

Re-reading hungry monkey one of my girls loves trying all food so I can relate, but the other not so much. All kids are different. I just finished reading World War Z. 

I will probably be planning a party like this by the end of the year, but I would rather plan a party like this

I can't get this song out of my head. 

I can watch this movie over and over again!

Have recently bought this, now I have to make marshmallows. #firstworldproblems 

Which Transformer are you? I am Bumblebee! 

Really looking forward to going to this in a couple of weeks! 

This joke never gets old.

If I had extra money I would totally buy one of these and make it like new again!

notes: Susannah Conway website is where I got the idea for this post. Facebook wouldn't exist if he didn't 'borrow' an idea. This post was not compensated in anyway all opinions are my own, please see my contact/policy page for further information.This post was written for Day 21 of #BEDM. 

Mud Cake {Race for Life Pretty Muddy}

Two of my good friends are taking part in Reading’s Race fo rLife Pretty Muddy challenge.

They both have had family members diagnosed with cancer and wanted to do something to raise money in hopes that one day there will be a cure.

I made this cake with the help of another mutual friend as a way to support them and help them bring awareness to their challenge and their cause!

Race for Life Pretty Muddy challenge takes place at the end of the month so there is still plenty of time to donate!

I made this “Mud” cake last Friday for my birthday. I had some friends around for drinks and I asked them instead of buying me a card to donate the money they would have spent! It wasn't much, but it was something.

If you like the cake and have some spare change as little or as much as you like please donate! Just go here

I look forward to seeing how muddy they get on the day! 

notes: Thank you to my friend Marie for making the piggies for me! This post was written for Blog Every Day in May blogging challenge Day 20. #BEDM

Deconstructed Strawberry & Cream Pie

The sun has found it's way around the clouds and we are finally getting some sunny days here in Britain! 

Which means right now is a great time to enjoy some of Britain’s best produce.

Like tomatoes, asparagus, new potatoes, rhubarb, and everyone’s favorite strawberries!

When the weather starts to get warmer I do bake less. It’s just uncomfortable to be in front of an oven when it’s hot outside.

Which is why deconstructing some desserts makes a perfect summer pudding! 

I’m not really a fan of deconstructing things, it seems a bit silly to me at, but I didn't know how else to describe this dessert.

So, deconstructed it is. 

It’s strawberries soaked in strawberry puree with fresh mint leaves and sugar. Topped with whipped cream served with lemon curd and shortbread. Sounds like a strawberry pie to me.

It’s super easy and perfect to make ahead of time, especially if you are having a BBQ or something.

So, here is how I made this refreshing and light summer pudding!


Strawberry Pie {deconstructed}:

400g strawberries, hulled and quartered
1 tbsp icing sugar
1 tsp of cider vinegar or lemon juice
3-5 mint leaves
75 ml British whipping cream
MacKay’s Lemon curd
Sainsbury’s All Butter Shortbread Petticoat Tails

Puree 150g of the strawberries with the icing sugar, vinegar, and mint leaves. Add more sugar or mint to taste. Pour over the remaining strawberries and leave in the fridge for about an hour or until ready to serve.

Whip the cream to soft peaks and swirl about a tablespoon of lemon curd into the whipped cream. I didn't do this because my husband is allergic to all things citrus, so I placed a tsp of lemon curd on the side when serving so he could have some too!

To serve place two heaped tablespoons of the strawberries on a plate, place a heaped tablespoon of whipped cream next to it with a tsp of lemon curd and a couple petticoat tails. Enjoy!


The recipe could always be doubled to serve more people. The quantities above would serve about 4. Another way to serve it would be to crumble the shortbread at the bottom of a bowl and spoon the strawberries over them, top with whipped cream and garnish with a mint leaf. I always think of these things when I’m writing out the blog post.

Stay tuned! I have another recipe using British Strawberries to share with you soon! 

notes: In association with Sainsbury’s The Best of British campaign. Recipe is adapted from Sainsbury’s Magazine’s June 2011 issue. Mackay’s had sent me a few jars of jams and curds last summer for their #bakingwithmackays campaign and this was leftover so I thought I’d mention it. This post was written for day 19 of Blog Every Day in May, #BEDM. 

Zombie Brain Cupcakes for Zombie Awareness Month

I'm not sure where my interest in zombie movies came from?

I just seem to enjoy a good zombie movie or book. 

May is Zombie Awareness Month, it was chosen by the Zombie Research Society. It's a real thing - online that is! 

Since my birthday is in May I thought for my birthday I would make Zombie Brain Cupcakes. 

You know in case there was a zombie breakout on my birthday and I could distract them by giving them cupcakes disguised as brains. 

As I was really busy on the day of my birth I cheated. I used a red velvet box cake mix. I could get into a huge debate on cake box mixes, but I do think they have there places. Like when I have no time to make cupcakes on my birthday. 

However I did make the pink frosting and cherry brain juice.

They turned out pretty good I think!! I would like to have another go and practice my piping skills! 

I took my instructions on the brain frosting and cherry juice from the Lily Vanilli in A Zombie ate my Cupcake book. 


I am currently reading World War Z by Max Brooks. The book and the movie are two very different things. I was okay with the movie, but I am preferring the book. I don't know that the book could easily have been made into a movie though?

Just because I feel like sharing my two favorite zombie movies are Return of the Living Dead part 2 it's so bad it's good. My other favorite zombie movie is Zombie Land. It's scary and funny best combo ever! Before I get any sort of back lash Shaun of the Dead is one of the best zombie movies I have ever seen, but for some reason I don't feel the need to re-watch it, like I do these two. 



Do you like zombie books or movies?? If so please share your favorites below I'd love to be introduced to new zombie materials! 


notes: It was my birthday on Friday! It was a good night and the cupcakes were a hit! Today was day 18 of Blogging Everyday in May! #BEDM This post is not sponsored by Zombies or people who support Zombie Awareness or people who make zombie movies. All opinions are my own. 

The Human Element

I’m not very good at choosing just one thing as a favorite. If I have to choose a favorite color, flower, tree, sweet, cake, or a decade I really can’t give just one answer.

Today’s topic for Blog Every Day in May is ‘Favorite Decade.’ Some might be able to answer that quickly having something that happened in a decade that make it stands out for them.

I don't have a favorite decade. Each decade has something special about it. 

So, I thought I would focus on retro desserts instead of music, movies, fashion, or political movements – all things that define a decade.

Then I just started thinking about what actually defines a decade. There are the things I listed just there types of music and fashion and wars and other political stuff. 

We get a lot of the facts. In the 1920’s women had won the right to vote. That’s a fact. It happened, but it takes away the human part of it. What did women have to do to get that vote? How did the people feel?

Upside Down Pineapple Cakes were popular in the mid 1920’s. Why were they popular? People then didn't have access to ovens like we do today and they made cakes in skillets. Fruit on the bottom cake batter on top and when you flip it over instant upside down cake. Who used pineapples first is still unclear.

I promise I have a point to all of this and it’s that facts don’t define a decade. I can read about what people wore, what they listened to, and what they ate. But I don’t know how those people felt.

I know how I feel when I wear my comfy jeans and novelty tees and I know how I feel when I hear Timber by Pitbull featuring Ke$ha, and how I feel about the desserts and cakes I make and eat. I know I feel about the economy and how it affects all of the above.


However, I can only guess how it would have felt to be a young woman in the 1920’s having fought or not fought for the right to vote. Depending on how I felt about woman voting would then determine how I felt when I had the right to vote. 

I am for equality in all shapes and forms so I would like to think that if that was my time, my decade that I would have been one of those woman who felt strongly about woman being equal to men. Heck, we're still fighting for it. 

I can dress in vintage clothing, but it will always feel like dressing up (to me) instead of my everyday clothes. I can listen to Elvis Presley but lets be honest his music is tame to the music I grew up listening to in the 90's and naughties. I can bake pineapple upside down cakes, but I have a choice of baking it in the oven or on the stove in a skillet or even in a novelty pan that has indents for the pineapple. I take the use of an oven for granted. 



I will never know how the people of the past felt about certain things. Because their feelings were based on their environment and the social society they were a part of.

Everything changes.Yet, nothing does. People will always be people and people will always love and hate or laugh and cry ... what makes one love and hate or laugh and cry changes. 

There is a human element to every decade, to the past, that we will never fully grasp unless we lived it. 

My favorite decade(s) are the ones I have lived in and the ones I will be a part of. 

notes: This post was written for day 17 of Blog Every Day in May. Photos are from here and here. The two pans are Nordic Ware they have not sponsored this post nor do I own either of them I just thought it fit with my post. 

Happy {a birthday post}

31 years ago today I graced this world with my presence. I hope to continue gracing the world with my presence for many more years to come!

Here are 31 things I have never done, but would like to do before I am too old to do them. This is not a bucket list, just stuff I don’t seem to be able to fit in my daily routine. Something always has to give.


To cross the Atlantic Ocean by boat.

Learn survival skills of various kinds like for #1 or like a Zombie Apocalypse or something.

To attend a World Cup. Wish I were off to Brazil in a few weeks!


I would love to see a wild panda in China.

Visit Spain, because I have never been there.

Go punting in Oxford.

While I am in Oxford I might has well study Astronomy. I want to be able to look up into the stars and tell others what they are, like a smug academic! 

Learn crochet – it might be a useful survival skill

... just like learning to make sushi

or building a tree house


Becoming a Pokemon Master could definitely be bunched in with essential survival skills!

Take a horticulture and landscaping course.


Throw the BEST Alice in Wonderland Tea Party Ever!

Write a book.

Read every book in the world! I know I never will, but at least I can try.

Get my acceptance letter to Hogwarts.


Meet JK Rowling and/or Neil Gaiman and/or Jane Austen

Own my own print studio

... and create art.

Collect all of K.K. Sliders tracks.

Go zip sliding. Although I don’t know I could ever climb up high enough to actually do it.

Make a You Tube vlog of my attempt to live dangerously by zip sliding. Or in instructional survival guide video.

Start a trend.

... or better yet have a blog post go “viral.”

Master Tai Chi


Travel in a hot air balloon; I was obsessed with them when I was a kid.

Lose weight and live a healthier life style.

Learn that patience is a virtue not a curse.

Watch my girls grow into the beautiful women I know they will become.

Learn to life my life as a clique: To live each day as though I will live forever and as though I will die tomorrow.

To just be happy. (Yes, it is appropriate to start singing Pharrell Williams “Happy”) 


notes: all the pictures come from online somewhere I should be a responsible blogger and list them all, but I am writing this post when I should be getting ready for birthday drinks so that will have to come later!!! 

Free Tips

If I were to share tips and experiences of blogging with you I wouldn’t know where to start.

It’s today’s topic.

I have been blogging for nearly 3 years, but have only really started taking it seriously just over a year ago.

There is so much to learn and when I think I have something figured out it changes. 

That’s sort of just life though isn’t it? Nothing stays the same it’s always moving.

I think about how much my blog has changed since I first started it. I had an idea, but I wasn’t really sure where I wanted to go with it. 

It’s still changing as I write this. I am hoping to make a big change soon. More on that when I know more about that!

Here are my few tips for those who are thinking of starting a blog:

  • You have to want to do it. You will only get out of it what you put in.
  • Be prepared to change with new technology and to learn it.
  • Social media is your friend. Try them all, but stick with the few that really help you. Unless of course you have a team of people behind your blog that can help keep on top of all social media.


notes: This post was written for day 15 of the Blog Every Day in May blogging challenge with Rosalilium. #BEDM I was going to make a cake and post it today, but the sun distracted me and Grimm (I’m so behind on season 2) I googled "free images" and this was the first image so I used it for this post.  

Home is Where Your Heart Is

Today’s topic for Blog Every Day in May is Home Sweet Home. It’s an interesting topic for me as I have had many homes.

I was born in Wisconsin and before I was 6 we moved to Indiana. After 9 years there my parents moved us again, this time to Minnesota.

Then I got married and moved to England.

Which is where I have lived now for nearly 9 years. I have been here long enough that I am comfortable living here as an ExPat.

However I still refer to the states as home.

If we settle here forever, which is still undetermined, I will always call the USA home. I don’t call a particular state home though.

Because my parents have moved twice since I have been over here and there house isn't a house I consider home. Yet, when I visit I feel like I am at home because I’m comfortable in my parents company.

Basically I have defined home from a conversation I had with my daughter when she was 5.

I hadn't been home to visit my family in a while and I said to my husband “I just want to go home!” to which my daughter had appeared in the room (she does that a lot) and said, “But, Mommy you are home.”

I looked at her and realized that for her she’s never known any other home. There was no way I could explain it to make her understand how I was feeling. Homesickness is a real thing especially when you are living outside of your home country.

I said to her “Of course I am, where ever you, your sister, and your dad are then I am home.”



And it might be cheesy, but it’s what I've learned living abroad: home is where your heart is. My heart happens to be in two different places at once. It's with my little family no matter what country or house we are in, but it is also with my mom, dad, and sisters in the USA no matter what state they are in! It's okay for your heart to be divided. 

notes: this post was written for day 14 of Blog Every Day in May hosted by Rosalilium. Pictures are not my own, but were listed as free images. 

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