Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Perfect Basic Cookie Recipe....

Sunday just past, felt like the first proper family Sunday we've had in our new home, in fact, for longer than that. I ended up not sitting down pretty much all day, because I wanted to squeeze as much out of it as possible. I mowed the lawn, put away the laundry that had sat there for two days, cooked brunch (the boys cleared up! Yay!), had some one to one time with the Little Tornado baking cookies (messy!!) and rustled up a beef and ale stew with giant Yorkshire puds for tea. Nom!

Elliott had a blast making these. Hilariously he hated getting his hands in there with the "sticky stuff". So we settled for putting him in charge of flour and cutting out. He was visibly proud of himself when he tasted his cookies. Simple, delicious and very very moreish! I'm not really a baker. So I asked an acquaintance who is, for a simple, easy and delicious recipe for a basic biscuit/dough. Boy did he deliver! These have a lovely buttery melt in the mouth texture. Recipe below...

Basic Biscuit Dough

250g Butter
150g Caster Sugar
1 Egg Yolk
2tsp Vanilla Extraxt
300g Plain Flour


  • Cream together the butter and sugar
  • Add the egg yolk and vanilla extract and combine well
  • Add the flour and mix to form a dough.
  • Roll out on a floured surface and cut out desired shapes
  • Place on a baking sheet covered in greaseproof paper. (These spread a little so leave space)
  • Bake each batch for approx 10-12mins in a pre heated oven at 180-200 degrees F.
  • Allow to cool/harden slightly on baking sheet for 5mins before transferring to a cooling rack

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Can't have it all...

In my last post I alluded to some changes that were afoot. Well if you follow me on instagram you'll understand why sewing (and this blog) has been completely on the back foot of late. Aside from going from stay at home Mum to working full time for the past year, on 25th August, a soggy bank holiday, we moved house. So every spare moment or day off in the run up to "the move" was spent decluttering, organising, packing and cleaning. Every spare moment or day off since has been spent unpacking, organising, planning, decorating and gardening. All against the backdrop of some health issues that meant my energy levels were at an all time low.

When I was younger I moved alot. My parents were in the RAF and in my teens and twenties I'd move from one short term rental to another without so much as a second thought. A house was just a place to lay my head, get changed and keep my stuff. Didn't phase me at all. But for some reason this particular move sent me into a bit of a spin. Perhaps because I was already exhausted before we even started. Perhaps because the house we moved from had just got to a point where it worked and flowed perfectly for us. (At least before my OH's teen moved in and space became an issue). Perhaps it's because it's the longest I'd lived anywhere and I'd subconsciously put down roots for the first time in life. Perhaps, and most likely, because it was the house where Elliott reached all of his major milestones. First words. First steps. First everything really. It was the house where we went from being in pretty dire straits to being fully back on our feet. I'd never really experienced being attached to a home before. And it didn't really dawn on me until the night before moving day that that was what I was feeling. A wrenching feeling. A feeling of being dragged away from somewhere I didn't want to leave to somewhere I didn't want to go. (The move was a purely practical one and I bore no feeling of excitement about the property we were moving to. It's bigger...that's all).  So I spent the first few weeks here fluctuating between melancholy, irritability and feeling a bit out of control....

My way of processing this was to throw myself into physical activity. I have a mentality where, in times of emotional stress, I just stick my head down, stay busy and plough forward until I come out the other side. We always come out the other side eventually, and for me, the "waiting it out" phase goes alot quicker when I pack my days so much that I have less time to wallow or give in to negative feelings. It helps me feel like I'm grabbing those feelings by the horns and wrestling them. Controlling them rather than having them control me.  If this house wasn't what I wanted, then I sure as hell am not going to stop until I make it loveable. So this is what the last couple of months has looked like on days off....

I've been a bit of a thing possessed. And while I have been physically exhausted for weeks, mentally I'm getting back to my usual upbeat, optimistic self. I detest being negative as it really isn't my natural state.

Undoubtedly, a contributing factor to my low mood, has been the lack of time to fit it all in. Time to spend with Elliott without being cranky because I'm exhausted and then feeling  like crap because I snapped at him over something trivial, and then seeing the look of hurt on his face. Awful. Just awful.  I haven't been able to indulge my creative passions as much as I did. Having space to sew is somewhat of a factor when you're living amongst boxes without even a table. But the biggest factor is time. Time to fit it all in. Work. Conscious parenting. Relationships. Housework. Oh yeah, and at the end of that time. Maybe it's selfish, but I can't indefinately sustain any of those other things unless I have time to do the things that bring me pleasure and feed my soul. I've tried, and I can't. I literally cannot do all of those things. Hats off to those that can. But I can't. I cannot do it all. There. I said it!

 Time has been a factor for the past year due to my job and more recently the move as well.  Trying to do it all isn't working. It just isn't. So recently J and I have been reviewing our work/life balance. J is struggling too. What was meant to be a part time position to supplement my full time wage and allow J to be available for childcare, has turned into a full time job for him too. He's currently juggling business calls and paperwork with a 5 year old tugging at his shirt and wanting attention. So now we're both working full time, financially better off,  but both trying to fit everything in on our days off (which are rarely together) and not really managing to stay on top of everything without being constantly on the verge of exhaustion. And my little Tornado? He's confronted with two cranky parents who just need him to play on his own for a bit so they can sit at opposite ends of the sofa and not say anything!

It's by no means a special situation. And it's not a "poor us". I know families across the country/world struggle with the same issues. I think for us, we have to make a change. We can't have it all, and it's a question of deciding what our priorities are. Financial comfort and a watered down family life OR less (but enough) money, and TIME. Time to shape and improve our quality of life. After all, that's what money buys you. Time. It's actually such a precious commodity. It's finite, Once it's used, it's gone. You can't buy it back further down the line. That particular moment, day, week...well it's gone.
So I've decided I'm going to be more picky with how much of my time I "sell". An opportunity arose in my job where cutting my hours back would solve their problem and mine. So I took it. And as of the end of this month I am officially part time and no longer working weekends.

More time for family at the weekends. And some time for me to make a return to some creativity and blogging :) And I can't wait! For the first time in months I'm feeling excited about the future again. I lost that for a while and it's essential to me for my happiness. I guess my point is, life's too short. If the status quo isn't making you and yours happy, then it isn't working and something has to give. Let your smile change the world, don't let the world change your smile...

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