The “no title” title!

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I thought about not posting this week, but somehow I feel I should. If not just to make me feel I “made” the effort.  Herein lies the problem. I really don’t feel like making the effort, with anything.

I have had one of those weeks. You know, we all have from time to time, where nothing, NOTHING, goes right. Add that to my insomnia and chronic pain and I have been struggling to appear even vaguely positive.  Should I tweet? Should I blog? Am I better off staying away from all forms of media – social or otherwise. I need to go back to the GP for pain meds, but I can’t bear the battle it will be. If only I could sleep. Why can’t I sleep? Why are my pain levels rocketing sky-high? Why is everything such a battle? Why am I so clumsy? Why did my cake fail?  Why do I look so hideous?  Urgh.  And of course, others have had far worse weeks than I, but this is not a competition, and in real life (as opposed to blog writing or tweeting) I always say I am fine, yes, I feel great, yes I had a great weekend, everything’s good thanks…..so sometimes you just need to say no. Actually no, things are not fine. No I don’t feel well.

I do know that life will even out after a while, and things won’t feel quite so grim. I do know my pain levels fluctuate and so when they drop again it will be easier to cope.

It’s just that this week has not been that week.

And if you are reading this, I wish you peace and love, and I hope that the weekend treats you with kindness.

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The Boss!

Springsteen

I haven’t written anything for more than a week and it’s about time I covered the “rock” part of my blog name. Let’s hear it for music! And today, specifically Bruce Springsteen.

Ever since I first heard “Born to Run” I was hooked. Being able to get to one of his gigs was long in coming, but oh, so worth it.  I have now been to only 5 of his gigs, but I still cannot get over the thrill of watching this man live.  What a show he puts on. With Bruce Springsteen you ALWAYS get your money’s worth!

Last Sunday he was at Wembley Stadium in London for The River Tour, and I got tickets through the fantastic Badlands Travel.  A shout-out for them too! What a fantastic set up.  I had never heard of them before (how?!?) but went for it and can say I am extremely happy with their service.  I would definitely recommend booking through them.

Sunday came and the weather was glorious, blue skies, sunny. Having been to many a gig in the pouring rain, it is so nice to have good weather for this. I had the best seats I could ever have hoped for – short of being in the golden circle, and that, sadly I don’t think I’ll ever be lucky enough to do.

As always, yes, truly, always, the Boss did not disappoint.  Three and a half hours, non-stop.  What a star. And of course, not for one minute forgetting the amazing E-Street band in all of this. Every one of them, utterly brilliant.

Of course I need to mention Dancing in the Dark.  We’ve all seen the original video with Courtney Cox, haven’t  we? On Sunday night there was a man in the crowd with a sign asking “Would you dance with Courtney Cox if she had a (great) beard?”…..and he did, the crowd loved it! It was a fabulous moment, do yourselves a favour and Google the clip for this (bearded Courtney Cox) should find it for you!

Some of those who know me, will know what a struggle it was for me to get to the gig. But I did it, and although it was hard going at times it was totally worth it. What a man, what a band, joy and great music, what a night. Awesome!

Death and dying

Angel

Yes, this isn’t what you might have hoped for. But in fairness my blog is about random things, thoughts, life and stuff in general.  Unfortunately not as popular as chocolate and cake, but I’ve been thinking a lot recently, for various reasons, of death and dying.

And so, please excuse my insomnia-befuddled brain as I try to string my thoughts together, albeit not very well.

This year has seen a number of deaths of famous people. Is it just one of those times, or are we just at an age where it means more when someone you know of dies?  Then too, I have had death in the family, and a couple of lovely friends have had an even more devastating time.  Death just isn’t something we tend to talk about or deal with much in terms of acknowledging it and yet there is no getting away from it. And so when it happens, coping can be extremely difficult.  We are all different, and react and cope differently, and one can feel so utterly helpless in being unable to lessen someone else’s pain.

The death of a loved one is deeply traumatic, but grief is a necessary process to heal, to get closure.  There is no time limit to healing. One thing I do know is that if you don’t let yourself grieve, it will come back and bite you when you least expect it.  Sometimes one feels that  it is self-indulgent to grieve, that one should be coping.  No! Your feelings are justified, no-one can tell you how, where, what or when you need to feel.

Death is a funny subject, and people deal with it in different ways from humour (bizarrely cathartic) to avoidance (not good) and everything in between. But pretending that it does not happen does not help.  It is as much a part of life as anything else.  I think it is important to bring children up without shielding them from it, don’t keep them away from funerals, children are resilient and curious.  Life is a process, beginnings and endings, sickness and health, happiness and sadness.  If we grow up understanding this – not necessarily in all its gory detail – I think maybe we would cope, if only a tiny bit, better.  And we all have different ways of coping.  No way is right or wrong.  But my point is that with a bit of knowledge, perhaps there would be a bit more understanding, both of others and of ourselves.

It is desperately sad how it can be that those who seem to care about you are the same people who disappear when you are mourning the death of a loved one. People react in strange ways.

A common thread – both in my own experience and that of friends – is that the people you thought would be there for you are not.  But regular contact, even if only to say I’m here, I’m thinking of you is so, so important. The comfort of care. A hug. That just helps you make it through another day. Yet people will think oh, I don’t know what to say, they won’t want to talk about it. This adds to the pain.  All you want is someone to show that they care. sometimes to be able to talk about it is an enormous relief. The one time you really need a friend and yet your own pain is too raw to ask.

To go through grief alone is a terrible thing. You know that nothing can take away what has happened, that no words can magically heal.  But these little bits of caring add up, and help.  They really help.

And if you are going through this right now, I wish you peace and love. Give yourself time.

 

 

Win some, lose some

No food post, and no baking today.

I had decided to make a chocolate fridge tart, a recipe I have adapted and evolved over time, so that it is a heavenly blend of salty and sweet – chocolate and salted caramel.

Unfortunately as the fates had it, my chocolate siezed, and I was unable to rescue it. I had run out of chocolate (how could this happen?!?) And so there will be no picture. But there will be a next time.  If at first you don’t succeed……

On the winning side, I have discovered a new blog to follow, the fabulous Princess of VP blog it’s always a bonus when you discover new blogs to enjoy.  (I tried to add a link to the blog, but for some reason it failed).

I love blogs on food, health, make-up, photography, in fact all sorts of things, blogs that make you think, that make you laugh, that spark an interest in something. I’m still new to all this and searching for more ideas.   What about you? What do you enjoy? Which blogs do you recommend?

Today in essence was a mixture of lose (my fridge tart) and win (found a new blog to follow). I’m still working at getting that old mojo back again.

Sticky Lemon & Ginger Cake

I think I might just be on the cusp of rediscovering my baking mojo.  I am wanting to bake more, and enjoying it once again.  So that’s a win.  However I need to take photos with my camera and not with my tablet.  When I post photos taken on my tablet they are tiny.  Urgh.  So frustrating.  Somehow I seem to have got confused between the two.  It will be a while before I manage to sort this out though, so please bear with me!

Today’s cake is one I have baked a few times and is always a success. It is a joy to make, smell and eat!  Just grating the fresh ginger and zesting the lemon for this is worth it for that lovely fresh zesty, summery aroma. Small things, hey, but small things are important.

The cake has fresh ginger, lemon zest, Bramley apple and dates as the fruit ingredients and so we can eat it smugly thinking it surely must cover some of your 5-a-day!! This all combines to make a lovely moist, more-ish cake. It is fruity and spicy, but not in-your-face.  A lovely balance of flavours.

The white chocolate drizzle on top turned into a full on white chocolate flood this time because, well, I had the chocolate so why not use it! And anyway, although I am not a great fan of white chocolate it works so well with this cake.

When I first baked it I posted a photo on Twitter and the cake earned itself a rather different name. “Inspired” by the white chocolate drizzle……I blame Declan and for the time being I’ll avoid using that name just in case I put you off!

cake

 

Cheese Scones

A few weeks ago I baked some cheese scones…….or, as they became known “cheese surprise” scones (SURPRISE!!!! there is no cheese!!).  Yes. I forgot to add the cheese. There’s nothing quite like putting everything in the oven, closing the door…..and thinking “I’m sure I forgot something”.

These things happen. Maybe just to me, but hey ho.  I’ve been hankering for cheese scones since then and thought of trying a new recipe.  My go-to scone recipe uses oil instead of butter.  It is the quickest, easiest scone recipe EVER!  The only down side is the resulting dough is quite soft, but it results in very light, fluffy scones.  I keep thinking I really need to make scones from a recipe where you rub in the butter, to see if I can make a success of them (these scones look so much smarter than mine do).  But I like an easy life and so I used my tried and trusted recipe.

This time I remembered to add the cheese!  I used cheddar with herbs and garlic instead of plain cheddar, for something with a little extra oomf!

Double Chocolate Muffins

I may have mentioned already that my baking mojo has gone missing for a while.  The will is there, but the results aren’t happening. This has been quite frustrating and I feel the only way to resolve this is to keep on baking until it all comes together again!  Time – and weight gain – are the issues here. So sometimes the lovely guinea pigs at work are forced to munch their way through my baking.

Last weekend I baked chocolate muffins.  Now I haven’t baked muffins for ages. But they are one of the easiest things to bake,  you don’t have to be too careful about mixing everything.  They are not complicated.  But my chocolate muffins were a disaster.  Not that bad that they’d have killed anyone(!) but they just didn’t deliver on the taste, and they were dry.

Not to be defeated, I have been trawling through chocolate muffin recipes and finally found one I wanted to try.  And I have a result.  These are double chocolate (dark and white chocolate) muffins.  They came out beautifully light, and totally chocolately.  Success!

muffins