Freedom from old mobile phone network onto new one!

After all the dramas with trying leaving my old mobile phone network I have now registered with a new network provider! This calls for a celebration as not only will my monthly bill be lower I also got a new phone as part of the deal. It has been a long time since I have shown any interest in the changing smartphone technology. I use my phone email-1903444_1280for a lot more than just making calls but the quality of the camera, software used hasn’t ever really been something I considered when getting a new phone as long as it did what I wanted that is until I left my old network.

Many moons ago when Nokia phones were in fashion, they were smaller than the original brick mobile phones that weighed down your bags and possibly could have been used as a weapon, they were that bulky. Nokia phones were great for their time, they may not match up to today’s smartphones but one thing they were is durable. mobile-258712_1280You could drop those phones, the changeable phone cases would get chipped but the phone would still work, plus they also had the game snake. This game itself was simple, no fancy graphics, but completely addictive trying to keep that snake going without losing. Contracts were shorter, 12 months. When your contract was due to end either you or the network would be in contact to see what deal you could get and try to get the latest phone which might be smaller and that bit faster than its predecessor.

Calling the provider wasn’t ever a problem, you would find out what the latest deals were and what the provider could do for you. Can’t quite remember but think they would try and price match or do better than their competitors if it didn’t work for you then you left your current provider and move to the new one. All quite straightforward, not the gauntlet that it is today.

Outsourcing call centres / customer services may benefit companies financially but the pressure put on the staff to try and retain customers explains a bit why that are so relentless when you try to leave them that you almost offer to name your first born after them if they let you leave! From my own experience I am glad that I didn’t accept any of the deals on offer before doing my own research about the phones that were part of the package. These days I think most people are either in the Apple camp or the Samsung one, I’m a Samsung girl, I hadn’t even heard of the Samsung A or J series phones. With the aid of good ole trusty Google I set about doing a bit of research. I found that though good phones in their own right and did have many of the same features as the S series the mid / low range phones tended to use older software and the camera used less pixels. It all depends on what you want from your smartphone. Compared to my old S4 mini the S7 is so much faster and you can notice the difference in the camera quality, pictures taken with the S7 are much clearer and less grainy something to do with the extra pixels.

Knowing what I do now about the S , A and J series smartphones you can imagine why I was a bit confused when my old mobile phone network in their refusal to let me leave without a fight tried to tell me that the A5 smartphone was better than the S7. If you want a cost effective phone and monthly tariff and are happy with the features then this is the phone for you but I knew I wanted the S7 so wasn’t too impressed with the sales advisor whilst we went back and forth disputing which phone was better.

Though not without nearly selling my soul the outcome was I got my phone with the network and monthly tariff that suited my requirements I also learnt a bit more about mobile phones and the importance of trying to understand the pixel quality of camera if you want decent pictures. The new S8 and iPhone 8 are due out this year, both phones would be out of my price range but it would be interesting to see what new features both phones will be marketing, maybe they will be able to withstand being drop from an aeroplane or will be able to take pictures underwater!

Images used from http://www.pixabay.com

Give me your smartphone password!

The times we now live in it’s understandable that countries are nervous about who they allow into their country with increase security at airports. What if your privacy then is at risk in the name of security? Are you willing to hand over the password to your smartphone for security, strangers, people you know nothing about to view? This is exactly what happened to one person travelling to America from Chile. This person was an employee of NASA and was using a mobile phone issued by them, so who knows what information he had on his phone.

You could argue that when going abroad you shouldn’t need to take your phone, you’re on holiday you should be relaxing. However not everyone going abroad are holidaymakers, lets not forget about the business travellers who are carrying out their day to day business tasks through their smartphone, smartphones that may have important information stored on them; contacts, emails, documents.

Sadly like many others my smartphone is not just a phone but also as a mini organiser; it’s a calendar, camera, I use it to make notes on. So for someone then to forcibly have access to parts of my life is unsettling. Not that I have anything to hide but whatever is on my phone is my business. Plus these are people that are unknown to us, just because they work as border security we assume they all will go about their duties with the same level of professionalism and not abuse their position, but we know that isn’t always the case. There is always the handful of people who could potentially take advantage of their position and who knows what they would do with some of the information found on a travellers smartphone. Cynical viewpoint, perhaps, but we should be realistic that not everyone wears a glowing halo.

We try and take great care to protect our data through firewalls, security software, passwords, fingerprint recognition so why would we be willing to allow someone unknown to us access to our data?

Lotions and potions

cauldron9-240x229I have to use up as much of my annual leave as possible before the new financial year so had a long weekend. My plans for Friday fell through as the weather couldn’t make up its mind what it wanted to do, snow, sleet or rain. This was the perfect opportunity to have another try making some homemade beauty products, the last DIY product I made was a facial bronzer.

You already know about my candle making experiments, I’ve started making notes about what I’m doing and how much essential oil I’m putting into the wax to get a scent when the candle it burned. Think I am nearly at a point where I can start giving friends and family sample to test out.

Lotions and potions

I’m not against using store bought creams, balms etc, I’m a fan of L’Oreal Triple Action face cream even Palmers coco butter body lotion but once in a while I feel like I want to be a bit creative and try something different. Though I will say once I discovered oil cleansing and started making a yoghurt based face wash / mask I haven’t used store bought face wash in at least a year. I can’t completely say that my skin is better just from using alternatives to store bought face wash as I have also started taking vitamins, drinking more water which have also contributed to the current condition of my skin. I do also make a blend of oils which I put on at night instead of a store bought night cream.

img-20170211-wa00111Back on track, I thought I’d begin with making something that was a bit easy to make like a lip balm using beeswax, coco butter and essential oil. The end product did come out a bit firmer than I would have liked but it’s usable and smells nice, might actually be suitable for the lip balm tubes. Next time I will use a bit more oil or less beeswax so it’s a little bit softer.

This is the recipe I worked with but think a bit of tweaking is required.

  • 5g Beeswax (I used pellets)
  • 10g Cocoa butter
  • 5 drops Lavender oil
  • 5 drops Vitamin E oil
  • 5 drops Ylang Ylang oil
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Vegetable Glycerine

Melted the beeswax and coco butter together then added the oils and glycerine. Simple really, just need to work on the measurements.

Whipped body lotion

Feeling a bit more confident I decided to try out a body lotion recipe. I didn’t have all the ingredients listed in my book so looked on the internet about substitutes and alternative recipes. I found this one from Holisticsquid.com. I’m glad I halved the recipe as the original recipe makes quite a lot, even with this amount I was able to put some in small travel pots to give to my family to test out the cream. Below is the full recipe from the website but this does make a lot.

  • 1 cup of Cocoa Butter
  • 1/2 cup Coconut oil 
  • 1/2 cup Jojoba oil or other liquid oil (almond or a mild olive would work great too) I used a mixture of Almond & Jojoba oil, I like the smell of jojoba but didn’t have enough for the cream

Whipped body butter homemade lotion method

  • Using a double boiler gently melt cocoa butter and coconut oil until completely liquid.
  • Stir in jojoba or other liquid oil.
  • Allow to chill in the refrigerator until the oil mixture begins to firm, but has not turned completely solid. This may take longer than you expect – several hours at least. I lost patience and put it in the freezer for abut 20-30minutes, I covered the top of the jug just so nothing would fall into the mixture
  • Using a standing mixer or hand mixer, whip the semi-solid mixture until white peaks form.
  • Scoop into glass jars and allow to chill for an hour in the fridge.

img-20170211-wa00091The recipe called for the mixture to be whipped, I guess you could keep the mixture in solid form but it would be more difficult to get out of the container. Whipping the mixture when it has just set changes its whole consistency, it becomes light and fluffy, the colour even changes from a pale yellow to a marshmallow white whipping the mixture also make it easier to apply to your much. You don’t need to use a lot of the lotion as a little goes a long way, it is oily once you have it on your hands and massage into your body but this is absorbed by your skin you don’t have a greasy residue. As a first attempt I am quite pleased with the lotion so far, it’s only been a few days. I will play around with the recipe and try different oils and butters (shea butter) when I have some free time on my hands again.

 

Cauldron image used can be found here.

Mobile phone nightmare & biscuit fundraising success

pixlr_201702071015256451On the whole this week hasn’t been too bad. Continuing my baking fundraising for BHF I made a batch of heart shaped shortbread biscuits, 5 in a pack for a £1, not bad at all if you ask me considering how much a small bag of shortbread biscuits can cost from Costa. I made about 8 bags and they all sold in that day.

As much I do enjoy baking cakes I have a love of baking biscuits, you can make a large number of biscuits in one go and they are so versatile. Plus I think they tend to sell a bit better than biscuits, especially in the workplace and when the afternoon slump kicks in. Next week I think I will make the heart shaped biscuits again but decorate them for Valentine’s Day.

My mini health trip

I managed to exercise twice this week, one evening was at the gym, and another evening was at a body balance class. The body balance class was definitely challenging, I only felt like I was going to throw up twice so I’m making progress. Food wise, I’m still managing to eat some fruit a day, I’m not eating the recommended allowance of fruit and vegetables a day but 3 out 5 is a good start.

PAC code nightmare

img_0779Downside this week has been my mobile phone, usually I am good with my calls but for some reason I have been going over my voice minutes, thinking my account had capped clearly not! I’m not going to say what my bill came to only that it was enough to stop me momentarily from breathing! Once I had stopped panicking & working out that I can still afford food for the month I went about looking for a new phone deal. My contract with the current provider had ended over two years so I was free to escape to a new provider. My sister still had a few contacts in the mobile phone world, one of which was able to offer me a pretty good deal. Easy part done; now trying to cancel my contract with current provider, not so easy!

I had phoned customer services twice before and finally decided I wanted to leave this phone call all I wanted was a PAC code, think I could get one so easily, nooo was is like getting blood from a stone I felt I would have needed to offer to name my first born after them in return for a PAC code! Even after I repeatedly said I did not want to remain with them the sales assistant continued to try and tie me into a two year contract at one point even trying to palm off a mid range phone to me saying it was one of the best ones on the market when after doing my own research knew he was wrong then started arguing with me about it. Only after I said that we could continue going backwards and forwards in this conversation but I was still not going to change my mind.

What should have been a simple task took two 30 minute phone calls, high blood pressure & me losing the will to live before I got what I wanted. The sales assistant tried a guilt trip by saying we are sorry to see you leave us & that you have been with us for a long time we are sad to see a member of our family leave, I may have fallen for it if I hadn’t lost the will to live & been determined to stand my ground. Only when he finally realised I wasn’t going to back down did his attitude change & then had the  nerve to tell me that I didn’t have to repeat myself; I wouldn’t have had to repeat myself if he bothered to listen to me the first 100 times and complied with my initial request.

Success was finally achieved, if I wasn’t so exhausted & mentally drained I think would have wept tears of joy. You may think I am exaggerating but wait until you choose to leave your mobile phone provider and they won’t let you…you’re family!

Crumbs away: Shortbread Recipe

20170207_0817211I can’t remember which blog I found this recipe from, but if you recognize it then let me know so I can give you the credit you deserve.
This recipe is simple, straightforward and completely fool proof. This recipe has not ever failed me. Naturally with recipes there is always room to make adjustments but in the case if it’s not broke then don’t fix it!

The original recipe uses a mixture of plain flour and gluten free flour, I rarely have gluten free flour in my cupboards so use all plain flour.

Ingredients

300g Unsalted butter at room temperature
200g Caster sugar
360g Plain Flour
110g Gluten free flour
1/2 tsp Baking powder
a pinch of salt
100g Chocolate chips
Caster sugar for sprinkling

Method

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C / Gas mark 3.

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. You could use a wooden spoon but I usually use a hand mixer.

Sift flour(s), baking powder and salt and mix well. The longer you mix it the better mixture you will get. I start of using a hand mixture then use my hands to make sure all the creamed mixture blends in with the dry ingredients.

Split the dough evenly and add the chocolate chips to one of the doughs. Again mix it well.

The mixture will start to come together. I don’t always use the dough straight away so tend to have it in the fridge until I’m ready to use it. When I want to use the dough I leave the dough out for about an hour to warm up. 

When you roll out the dough, make them approx. 1 cm thick. With the help of cookie cutters cut out your desired shapes. I usually find it easier to roll out the dough between two sheets of baking / greaseproof paper.

Put the biscuits on a parchment paper on a baking sheet and bake towards the bottom of the oven for about 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

Sprinkle caster sugar on the plain shortbread biscuits,  but not on the chocolate ones.

Leave the biscuits to cool. I leave them on the tray until they have firmed up a bit before transferring to a cooling rack.

Once cut out, if you don’t want to cook the biscuits straight away you can freeze them and cook when you next feel like some freshly baked shortbread cookies.

Don’t tell me what to wear..or can you?

97512d1d1af297885d868deb929ad4b5I came across an article on the BBC News website about a petition that was created over a pair of high heels,  it isn’t as trivial as it sounds. A woman was sent home from her ‘…temp job as a secretary after refusing to wear shoes with a “2in to 4in heel”.’ Following the actions of the temporary employers the woman set up a petition calling for a ‘…law to stop firms from requiring women to wear high heels at work’  which garnered over 100,000 signatures. This petition no longer became just about women being made to wear high heels at work but about their entire appearance from makeup, hair, clothing and footwear with some women being asked to ‘ …wear shorter skirts and unbutton blouses, and of dress codes detailing nail varnish shade and hair root colour.

There are places of employment that have uniforms which you would think would solve some of the problem and the confusion as to what is appropriate and what isn’t, for example waiting and airline staff. A uniform is considered a form of marketing, promotion, a reflection of the company as well as supposedly showing a level of professionalism, Not sure about others but I don’t need to be done up like a Barbie doll to do my job. But how far can an employee be allowed to go when deciding the appearance of their staff? As long as appearance rules;  looking presentable, no flip flops in the office etc. are adhered to, can an employer then go further to decide what type of clothing, footwear should be worn even down to the brand?

Weighing in on the high heels debate television presenter Piers Morgan who initially compared women being told to wear highs heels all day at work the same as men being asked to wear a tie, not really an equal comparison but there we go. Trying to make a point Morgan appeared on a morning television show wearing a pair of silver heels, from his own experience he ‘… told co-presenter Susanna Reid and the show’s Entertainment Editor, Richard Arnold: ‘I have to be honest, away from all the bravado, it was one of the painful things I have ever had to wear on my feet…
Hahaha, any woman who has ever worn high heels could have told him that, your toes are squished into a point whilst the rest of your foot is positioned at an angle that can cause agony on the ankles.

The outcome of the initial petition (152,420 signatures) and the attention it has received resulted in MPs deciding that ‘…‘troubling’ cases of sexism, including forcing women to wear high heels or revealing clothes, are evidence Equalities Act 2010 is inadequate’ It’s a shame that a petition, of all the things happening around us, over wearing heels in the workplace has led to thousands of women coming forward with their own horror stories, some of the behaviour of the employers involved would be considered highly sexist.

When it comes to work clothing or clothes in general us women do have more choices than men, we can wear trousers, skirts, dresses where men are stuck with changing up what colour shirt to wear, smart trousers in some places wearing a tie is optional. Makeup wise, I wear it because without it I would look unwell though there are people I have seen throughout the years who don’t wear any makeup to work to those who have a full face of varying colours. Fortunately the company I currently work for have far more important things to concern themselves with rather than what size heels if any I am wearing. When public facing I make more of an effort but when holed away in my office I can tell you that the neat and fresh faced person (some days) you see in the morning is not the same look I have going home at the end of the day!

Whichever look you go for it isn’t always a reflection on your ability to do your job the perception others have when it comes to your ability to do your job based on your appearance. Granted you wouldn’t want to get on a plane if the pilot looked dishevelled and looked like he had just crawled out of bed, or want to take advice from a solicitor who is dressed like they are going to a beach. But then common sense also needs to be used, tattoos and facial piercings used to be an issue but have become more acceptable. I doubt it’s a death knell for the high heel just yet, us women like shoes, including the ankle destroying, toe pinching high heel.

Links used

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-38737300
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-38745506
https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jan/25/law-must-be-tougher-over-dress-code-discrimination-say-mps
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-36278641

Homemade facial bronzer

I rarely use bronzer so  didn’t want to spend money on something I occasionally use. The DIY makeup book I got for Christmas came in handy as it had a recipe for homemade bronzer.
Some of you might be thinking why would someone with my skin tone need bronzer? Well, even us Asian girls can look a bit pale and have dull looking skin that needs a bit of help once in a while.

The homemade bronzer recipe I used the end colour was more for someone with a fairer skin tone, I’ve been playing around with the measurements to suit my Asian skin tone and think I’m at a point where I’m happy with it. Next time I think I will either leave out of reduce the amount of corn flour / icing sugar.

img-20170204-wa00031This is the basic recipe for a homemade made bronzer, but if like me you have a darker skin tone you will need to play around with the measurements. I’ve read you can add essential oil then pat it down into a compact case but I haven’t tried this yet. This recipe does contain cinnamon which some people made need to careful of incase their skin reacts to it.

1 tsp Coco Powder ; Gives colour
2 tsp Cinnamon Powder ; Gives the shimmer look
1 tsp Corn Flour / Icing Sugar ; Lightens the coco powder
1/2 tsp Ginger Powder; Not sure what this does, possibly similar to the cinnamon powder.

Mix it all together, the recipe said to put this all into a grinder so it’s all blended together well and a bit more powdery but I don’t have one so crushed it a bit pestle although I think it would be fine as is.
Transfer to a container of your choice and its good to go.

Use this powder sparingly, you don’t need a lot even if you think there isn’t enough on your skin you can go with a gradual build up. Also be careful if you use a makeup setting spray, I make my own with a ratio of 2:1 of rosewater and glycerine, as I found when you go over the top with the bronzer the spray cakes the powder and leaves patches on your face. Not helpful when you are already late for work and have to quickly redo your face because no amount of blending is going to work.

There no harm in giving this a try, and if it doesn’t work you could have a reasonable hot chocolate mix.

Glitz & glam, fundraising with candle making thrown in

Kicked the week off with a bit fundraising baking for British Heart Foundation, had another go at making candles, smack bang in the middle of the week we had an awards ceremony at work that the Communications Team I’m part of had to organise, setup and host. If that wasn’t enough I managed to squeeze in a few minutes to have a look at one of the DIY makeup books my sister got me for Christmas and attempt a homemade facial bronzer.

The basic homemade bronzer recipe I used the end result colour was more for someone with a fairer skin tone, I’ve been playing around with the measurements to suit my Asian skin tone and feel I’m at a point where I’m happy with it I just can’t remember the adjusted measurements. Next time I think I will either leave out of reduce the amount of corn flour / icing sugar and possibly the ginger powder as I’m not sure what was it’s purpose. I’ll put the recipe in another post for those who are interested. If the bronzer doesn’t work for you it does look like something you could make a nice hot chocolate with!

Fundraising

In a previous post Go Rocking Raccoons I talked about taking part in the British Heart 20170130_1018101Foundation 5k charity run. I started my bit of fundraising by bringing in lemon drizzle cakes. At the moment it’s a bit difficult to encourage people to buy a delicious sweet treat that probably has more calories in than the New Year diet allows. I haven’t given up as there are still many people who will not be able to ignore the lure of a shortbread biscuit to go with their afternoon tea. I’m thinking when I next make a batch of muffins a few mini ones in little bags might be a good idea, the dieters may feel less guilty about eating them if they are the size of a mouthful or two.

Candle Making

20170131_0833271I’m really enjoying the whole candle making experience at the moment every time I make a candle I come across a new pitfall, this time there was a crack in one of them. I am a newbie to the candle making scene.

On a more positive note I do think I’m getting the hang of mixing up oils to make scented candles, In my opinion I think the little testers that I made have a stronger scent than the ones I have bought from the shops. The only difficulty I had was trying to get them out of the plastic moulds. With a lot of banging and teasing round the edges they finally popped out!

SEPT Star Awards

pixlr_201702011328259481Our last SEPT Star Awards was in 2015, the health trust I work for will be merging this year with another health trust so this awards night was a little more special as it will be the final one under the name.

The communications team that I am now a part of were responsible for organising and hosting this event. The day was spent decorating the hall and tables, blowing up and arranging the 30 sets of balloons. Myself and a colleague were on balloon arranging duty, by the time we got to set 20 we were losing the will to live, so we moved onto the pull bow ribbons which weren’t as soul destroying.

20170201_1828511By the evening stress & tension levels were high, not going to lie there were a few hiccups but fortunately there was no blood shed so that was a bonus.

The evening itself went well, the guests of the event were none the wiser that blood, sweat and tears from the members of the Communications and Patient Experience Teams had gone into putting on this event as they bounced up onto the stage to collect their awards.

In case you’re wondering why I’m wearing all black, not only because it’s slimming but also because all staff members hosting on the night had to wear this colour.

I’m glad it went well in the end but going on how I was feeling the following day and still the day after that I’m in no hurry to go through the whole experience again, next year we’ll be a bigger trust as well; I don’t even want to think about!

This weekend think I will sleep as I am definitely starting to feel my age!

Do you know the muffin woman?

Weekends go so quickly, one minute it’s Saturday next thing you know you’re getting ready to go to work that’s including the day off I had Friday! The day off was to go see a friend who had her first child in November, I had already sent presents for the new born but didn’t want to go empty handed so of course I baked something. I would have made a candle but my I’m not confident in my candle making skills just yet.

Crumble topped raspberry muffin

cupcakes_muffinsLooking through my cookbooks; Cupcakes & Muffins,  I found a crumble topped raspberry muffin recipe that I hadn’t made before. I thought it would be nice to try something new, the crumble topping isn’t difficult to make but I know from making apple crumbles that the topping can sometimes be a bit too sweet. These turned out better than I expected. as you can see from the picture I put a bit too much mixture in a few of the cases resulting in some of the muffins spreading and trying to escape the tray!20170120_092256

Below is the recipe if you want to make these soft delicious muffins. Experiment with different berries, I haven’t tried it myself yet but fruit flavoured yogurt could work.

Ingredients
Makes 12 Muffins

6 tbsp sunflower oil or 85g / 3 oz butter, melted and cooled, plus extra for greasing.
280g / 10 oz plain flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda
pinch of salt
115g / 4 oz caster sugar
2 eggs (I had large eggs so used them)
250 ml / 9 fl oz natural yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
150g / 5 1/2 oz frozen raspberries

Crumble Topping

50g / 1 1/4 oz plain flower
35 g / 1 1/4 oz butter, cut into pieces
2 tbsp. caster sugar

Method

Preheat the oven to 200 C / 400 F/ Gas Mark 6. Grease a 12 hole muffin tin. (I used muffin cases)

For the crumble topping, place the flower into a bowl. Add the butter and rub it in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar and set aside.

To make the muffins, sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a large bowl. Stir in the sugar.

Place the eggs in a large jug or bowl and beat lightly, then beat in the yogurt, oil and vanilla extract.

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, pour in the beaten liquid ingredients and add the raspberries.

Stir gently until just combined, don’t over mix. Spoon the mixture into the muffin tin. Scatter the crumble topping over each muffin and then press down lightly.

Bake in the reheated oven for 20 minutes, or until well risen, golden brown and firm to the touch.

leave to cool in the tin for five minutes then serve warm or transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

20170121_160748Chocolate chip muffins

I was on a bit of a baking roll also making a few chocolate chip muffins. I have a go to fool proof chocolate chip muffin recipe courtesy of Allrecipes.co.uk that always comes out soft and perfect each time, even when a few chocolate chip get a bit burnt on top!

If you can’t be bothered to click on the link, below is the recipe.

Ingredients
Makes 12 Muffins

250g plain flour
200g caster sugar
125g chocolate chips
45g cocoa powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
235ml plain yogurt
120ml milk
120ml vegetable oil
40g chocolate chips

Method

Preheat oven to 200 C/ Gas 6. Line a muffin tray with paper cases.
Combine flour, caster sugar, 125g chocolate chips, cocoa powder and bicarbonate of soda in a large bowl.

Whisk egg, yogurt, milk and vegetable oil in another bowl until smooth; pour into chocolate mixture and stir until mixture is just blended.

Fill paper muffin cases 3/4 full and sprinkle with remaining chocolate chips. (Sometimes I sprinkle the chocolate chips on top, sometimes I add them all in with the flour)

Bake in preheated oven until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean, about 20 minutes.

Cool in the tray for 10 minutes before removing to cool completely on a wire cooling rack.

Go Rocking Raccoons!

bhf-logo

My youngest sister asked me at Christmas if I would be interested in raising some money by for the British Heart Foundation by taking part in one of their 5k runs. Over the Christmas / New Year period I was quite unwell so didn’t really give it much thought. Come January and back to some kind of normal routine we talked about it again. Moving on from speedy_gonzales_svgtalking my youngest two siblings and I have bitten the proverbial bullet and signed up to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park Run, 26 March, our team name is ‘Rocking Raccoons’.
The event may say ‘run’ but I’m thinking more along the lines of a ‘light jog / walk’ but who knows what we will be like on the day, we may surprise ourselves and be like (for those of you who will remember) Speedy Gonzales.

Heart disease along with diabetes are common illnesses amongst us Asians, though delicious our diet can be high in fat and salt especially when cooking has been mostly done with ghee (clarified butter). Then there is the misconception that is you are on the slim side you are not healthy or don’t eat properly, I’ve had aunties comment on my build even saying that I must look at the pictures of food instead of eating food. Knowing the health risks and the commonality of heart disease and diabetes in my family naturally I would be doing all I can do to try and stay healthy and avoid getting these illnesses myself.

Over time attitudes have started to change, could this be because of the influence of Bollywood with the super fit muscle clad heroes and slim build heroines with toned arms and a flat stomach? Who knows, but now many families that I know of do consider the amount of salt and the types of they cook with along with the amount of exercise they are doing each day. Smoking and drinking are factors to consider but in the case of my dad it was mostly diet, lack of exercise and that he did carry a bit of extra weight around his waist.

My youngest sister has created a just giving page which we are all using, this also tells people a bit more about why we’re taking part in the run. I will do a bit of charity baking at work, the downside of that it being the new year many people are cutting out sugar going on diets etc. I’ve looked at some ‘healthy’ bakes and I have to be honest I’m not sold on them, some of them don’t look very appealing who wants to eat a Weetabix cake when you have the option of a nice lemon drizzle cake? I know it sort of goes against a healthy diet, healthy heart but everything in moderation and its more about finding the right balance between good food and bad food, seriously Weetabix cake?!?

So far we are half way there with reaching our target and we are going to the gym more and when the weather improves a bit we may venture out. We’re not natural runners but for this cause we are willing to venture out of our comfort zone a bit.
Wish us Rocking Raccoons luck!