Pebbles

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Pebbles. Stones. We see them all the time. We hurt our feet walking on them. We kick them. We throw them.  We walk over them and never notice them. We never really look at them.  They are there. In time they get beaten up and ground down and end up smaller and smaller until they are grains of sand. Forgotten.

Sometimes after rain, or walking on a beach when the waves have broken over the pebbles, the sun catches them at just the right angle, and for a moment they are beautiful.

Beauty in small things. Things thought of as ordinary, but full of beauty. We just need the right light, the right angle, the right frame of mind, and then we see it. But with a little care, a little love, the beauty in what we once thought of as dull, can be brought out. And it shines.

polished

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Double Chocolate Muffins (again!)

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I made these muffins not so long ago, but each time I see the post and my photo I cringe. I don’t have the talent to take nice photos, but I felt there could be a better representation. Also, I have been craving chocolate, not just chocolate, but something deeply chocolatey!

Double chocolate muffins it had to be then! I have only made this recipe once before, and so without a second thought I happily chucked all the ingredients in, and mixed.  There seemed to be rather a large quantity of batter, which I didn’t remember before. But that just makes more muffins, so win-win! The other thing I noticed this time was the texture of the batter was very mousse-like. I guess this explains the volcanic result. The recipe made 15 muffins, bursting out over their cases (real muffin tops!).  Once I get the hang of posting links (you may regret this) I will eventually include recipes and links.  This recipe came from Good Housekeeping Magazine.

The resulting muffins? Deeply chocolatey and oh-so-light in texture. I’m happy 🙂

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Friendship

I have been thinking a lot about friendship. For quite a while.  This is as a result of what is going on in my life, what is going on in friends’ lives and general observations on social media. And introspection.

It seems to me that the concept of friendship has changed. Just saying this makes me feel awfully old, and old fashioned. But maybe it is that we now place different values on friendship. Then again, if we do, has it changed, or have I not noticed it until now. Or do I simply not have the social skills myself to make a lasting friendship? As I said, introspection.

For me, certain attributes are very important in friendship. Honesty, loyalty always. Having things in common is important, and yet having different interests is important too. A friend doesn’t always have to be someone similar to me, we can be very different people and yet there are common aspects of our lives that bring us together.

Is friendship more fleeting these days? A friendship of necessity, drawn together by a common circumstance, and when or if that circumstance changes, the friendship doesn’t survive?

I hate to fall out with a friend. Especially over a misunderstanding. I will fight for a friendship, fight not to lose it. Because that friend is important to me, because misunderstandings can be resolved, we can agree to disagree, but that person with whom I originally became friends is still there, underneath that all. Why would I throw it away?

When a friend changes the way they behave towards me without reason, it hurts. I wonder why. I wonder what I have done to cause this. I try to understand, to find out what happened, to resolve any issues. Am I foolish for doing this? I don’t understand how someone can just walk away from a friendship without a backward glance.

And yet we all, I am sure, have at some stage in our lives had a friend where after a while you realise you are making all the effort, you are always there for them when they need you, they disappear when things go well, they are not there when you need them. And then sometimes, it feels that the only option is to call time on the friendship. This is still a painful decision to have to make.

I am losing two friends at the moment. One for reasons I cannot understand, and I have tried. I have tried to understand, and I have tried to save the friendship. I just don’t know what else to do. The lack of explanation or closure is what hurts the most.

My other friend was in a motorbike accident a couple of weeks ago. I still live in hope that he can pull through, but it is looking more and more like he will not make it. This is a different kind of sadness and loss. And I feel so helpless when trying to offer support to his friends and family.

What are your experiences with friendship? Do you agree, or disagree? Is there a trick to dealing with all this that I haven’t learned?

Banana Bread (for adults!)

I love banana bread, it’s easy to make, tastes good, uses up over-ripe bananas, and because there is fruit in it, you can kid yourself it’s good for you!

I was searching for a variation on the standard banana bread recipe, one I’ve seen in different variations, and a strictly adult version at that. Bourbon Banana Bread! This is a match made in heaven. Bourbon – or even whisky – goes so well with bananas, and it gives the bake just a little extra ooomph!

There are many recipes out there for Bourbon Banana Bread, and variations thereof, but could I find the one I wanted? Could I, heck.  In the end I picked two and decided to improvise (fatal decision, I know). I do love looking at recipes and thinking what if I added this, or replaced x with y, you get the picture? Now sometimes this works, and sometimes it is a disaster. This one was somewhere in between working and being a disaster. Hence no photograph! This is a tweaked recipe that needs further tweaking. I just can’t help myself, can I. It would be easier to stick exactly to the original recipe but…..oh, I just can’t resist.

So….watch this space. I am ever hopeful that the next version will work, and then I can proudly show you and say, look what I did *beams*.

Perspective

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It has been a difficult week. In fact it has been difficult for longer than that but for various reasons last week was packed with stressful events at work and home, waiting for my last blood test results to come through was looming large over everything else.  I am desperate for them to come up with an answer – because an answer will mean, hopefully, a way forward – but the results still are not back.

Of course world-wide it has been an eventful year. Tragically so in many cases. Above all else, how sad it is that still, we cannot find a way to live in peace.

I have been finding it difficult to be on Twitter, or to blog, and I am struggling for something positive to say.  When I look at my Twitter feed, I know that a lot of people feel the same way too.

Yesterday I found out that one of my long-time Twitter friends had a motorbike accident on Friday, and has been put into an induced coma.  Parker is one of life’s diamonds, a true gem of a man, and it is quite clear that many people think so too.  It is comforting that people have that level of caring in them, and the outpouring of support will be of great comfort to his family. I hope with all my heart that he comes through this, and makes a full recovery.

What I am trying, in my convoluted way to say, is whilst we all get caught up in our own struggles, our own problems, sometimes something happens which puts it all in perspective.

I am sure I come across as a moaning minnie in my Twitter feed, but the reality is that I use Twitter as my outlet. In real life I always say that everything is fine, no matter what is happening. Sometimes, or more often than just sometimes, everything is NOT fine, and so I leave my fake smile behind and let off steam on Twitter.  That is how I cope with life.  Don’t get me wrong, I know I am not the only person with problems, I know that there are many people worse off than me. But everyone, everyone, needs an outlet. And I always try to keep perspective.

I have a roof over my head, a bed to sleep in, a job to pay my bills, food on the table. These are things many don’t have. Perspective.

Nikki Giovanni said:

There is always something to do. There are hungry people to feed, naked people to clothe, sick people to comfort and make well. And while I don’t expect you to save the world I do think it’s not asking too much for you to love those with whom you sleep, share the happiness of those whom you call friend, engage those among you who are visionary, and remove from  your life those who offer you depression, despair and disrespect

I LOVE those words.  All the yesses!!

Perspective. Love. Care. Respect.

To all of you, I wish peace, happiness and good health.

And, Parker, my friend, get well, the world needs you back.

Lemon Drizzle Cake

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I am a chocoholic. I love chocolate. No, really, I LOVE chocolate! I never thought I’d see the day when I might enjoy cake that wasn’t chocolate, but it happens. I now have a few favourite cakes which are not chocolate, and I love, love, love them.

I posted about my sticky lemon & ginger cake a little while ago, and now, once again, lemon rears its head!  There is something deliciously moreish about the fresh, zingy, sharp lemon syrup drizzled over the cake.  And I always make that drizzle more lemony, a bit sharper, less sweeter, and increase the quantity – trying to keep the balance and not make the cake soggy in the process!

This particular recipe is gluten free, using gluten free flour and almonds in the cake batter.  The almonds give it a lovely texture. I made it once because a colleague at work is gluten intolerant, and I didn’t want her to miss out whilst everyone else had cake to eat.  The recipe worked so well, was so easy, and thankfully everyone enjoyed it, that I have never bothered to look for a different version of Lemon Drizzle cake.  That is not to say I haven’t toyed with the idea of making a lime drizzle…..

One day I might eventually post my recipes as well.  Bear with me, I am still trying to get used to this blogging thing!

Rhubarb Crumble

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I haven’t blogged for a few weeks. I’ve been struggling with what I wanted to say, and whether I should say it. I haven’t managed to haul myself out of that place yet. But I did bake. And when you are feeling low, tired, sore, confused, lost…..what better to bake than comfort food. In this case, comfort pudding.

A colleague gave me some rhubarb and so my mind was set.  Rhubarb crumble. A warm pudding, crumbly, crunchy topping and soft, comforting and slightly tart fruit filling. Served with custard of course. I do prefer not to add too much sugar, a little sharpness from the fruit is always good.

I threw some braeburn apples into the fruit mix because apples are always good to “flesh out” a crumble and rhubarb cooks down to almost nothing, so it needed something extra.

The crumble topping was standard, and I always add oats and walnuts because it helps with the texture.

The custard?  I confess I bought ready-made custard. No-one’s perfect!