Friday catch-up and Valentine fail

It’s Fridaaaay! I think my absolute favourite time of the week is Friday evening just as I get in from work. It’s that glorious moment of ‘whew the week is done’.

This week has been pretty good in terms of key dates – Shrove Tuesday and Valentine’s Day. And also, my dad’s birthday (which is also 14th February). Happy birthday for yesterday, dad!

So Tuesday evening Ben and me celebrated Pancake Day with eating pancakes for dinner. Ben had the standard egg, milk and flour pancakes with sugar and lemon. I even managed to convince him to use wholemeal flour (OK, we didn’t have any regular flour so there wasn’t much choice). I’m not a big fan of the sugar and lemon variety, but luckily I was inspired earlier in the day from the lovely Ffion from ChocolateAndRaspberries blog.


Definitely wanted to give them a go and such a simple recipe! So I microwaved some chopped sweet potato for around 5 minutes, let is cool and then whizzed it up with one egg with a hand blender and then fried a few batches in coconut oil. They didn’t quite work out as I hoped in terms of presentation – they fell apart. However, they tasted mighty delicious!!

IMG_3760I topped them off with some stewed plumbs (cooked in a bit of a water and sugar) and then added a good dollop of PB2. Really, really good. Thank you Ffion!

Thursday was obviously Valentine’s Day and my dad’s birthday and it was our work bake off and bake sale. I was planning on making lemon drizzle cake and some cheese scones but on Wednesday night I didn’t get back from work until fairly late…So I decided to just stick to cheese scones. I used THIS recipe and didn’t amend it at all.


In true Anna fashion, something always goes wrong with me and baking. It’s usually because I don’t read recipes properly. It doesn’t matter so much in cooking but baking is more precise and so the problems arise for me. The recipe instructions said:

Lightly dust the surface with a little flour. roll out the dough no thinner than 2cm

I read that to be that I was to roll it out to be 2cm, no thicker. So I got very mini flat scones. And loads of them! They were more cheese biscuits than scones. They still tasted good though – and the recipe says they’re 130 calories per each one, but as I made twice as much they’re likely to be half that Smile

On Thursday morning I put my scones next to all the other bake goods that had been brought in and I felt mine didn’t quite living up to their peers. Ah well.

Bake off

There was a carrot cake, two banana breads, chocolate muffins, chocolate cupcakes, Mars Bar crispy cakes, ginger cake, lemon drizzle, my cheese scones/biscuits, more muffins, and a marble cake.

Well, we had to stand there and watch one of the managers try a small piece of each cake to make his mind up which was going to win. It was excruciating as I just wanted cake!! And watching him stuff his face was unbearable. At this point I couldn’t care less who won!

In the end one of the banana breads came third, the Mars Bar cake came second, and the marble cake came first.

Marble cake We later found out that it was actual the winner’s wife who made this cake, not him! Haha.

Anyway, though I wanted a bit of everything I went for two Mars Bar crispy cakes as honestly they were UNBELIVABLY good (I had one and just had to go back for a second), a small slice of carrot cake (very moist and yummy) and a small slice of lemon drizzle as this was my dad’s cake. I couldn’t believe it when he told me he’d baked. He never bakes. I have never known him to bake anything in my entire life.


And it was very good!

I was hyped up and full of sugary goodness by 10.30am. Can’t complain.

We then sent them down to reception to sell for charity to the other companies in the building. I was really chuffed later as I saw a woman from another office walking along with two of my biscuits.

So it was Valentine’s Day. Ben and me had previously agreed to do nothing. I’m not that sentimental in that I need a card or chocolates to know Ben cares. Now I have nothing against other people celebrating it together and sending flowers – if that makes you happy, enjoy it! For Ben and me it was important at the beginning of our relationship when I was at university and he was at home, so sending flowers and cards was lovely as I didn’t get to see him that regularly. This year we just wanted to save some money and not bother.

BUT in the afternoon I was sat in a meeting when someone came in and told me there was a huge bunch of flowers in reception for me. I couldn’t stop the huge grin on my face and feebly saying “we said we weren’t doing Valentine’s Day this year…”. I skipped off down to the reception and found a box of flowers waiting for me to unwrap. The receptionist helped me and we giggled together about how lovely it was. I opened it to find twelve beautiful roses.

Ben’s never sent me roses before (other flowers, yes, but not roses) so I was surprised and initially thought it was a little bit of a cliché but these thoughts were quickly swept away with happy thoughts of how romantic Ben was in a very classic way.

As I headed upstairs I opened the little card that comes with it:

“Love you lots, love Rob xxx”

Who the hell is Rob?? They must have confused the cards! That’s all I could think. As I headed back to the office one of my colleagues saw the flowers and commented how lovely. I told him about the card and said how strange it was. He burst out laughing and said “Rob is the other Anna’s partner”.

Oh. My. God. Reception rang the WRONG Anna (there are two Anna’s in our office) and gave me her flowers. So I walked back into the office, sheepishly gave the other Anna her flowers and apologised for opening them. How embarrassing is that? The whole office thought it was hilarious. I did find it quite amusing (after my cheeks had faded from the beetroot colour). I mean, you have to laugh, right? I told Ben and he felt really bad.

As he should Winking smile

So that’s my week. I’ll do a recap on my running at the weekend – it’s been a hard week! And I have a 10 mile run planned for tomorrow morning so finger’s crossed it goes well.

Did you celebrate Pancake Tuesday? What kind of pancake did you have?

Did you enjoy Valentine’s Day? Any surprises?

What would you make for a bake off?

Starbucks, banana bread and a very muddy run

Hurrah for the weekend! What’s everyone up to?

Work has been crazy lately. Looks like I’ll be in Reading for longer than expected. This is a bit of a pain as the commute is so long. But I’m loving what I’m doing so I can’t complain too much. I just get sick of the same roads and the same traffic. Anyone have a helicopter I can borrow for a few months…? No? Damn.

Friday was a pretty good day. My dad and me work together so we’re sharing the commute to Reading (take that as a plus and a minus Winking smile) and I persuaded him to stop at Starbucks just before we got to the office. He treated me to a hazelnut syrup Americano and a HUGE mince pie. First one of the season, wheeee!

It brought some light amusement of watching my dad drip coffee all over himself as I drove the last mile and a half back to work. This was just ten minutes after him telling me he had put his newly washed beige chinos to look smart…whoops Winking smile


The mince pie was deeeelicious. I was chuffed for this as my Graze box didn’t arrive (*sobs*) and I needed something to fuel my run at lunchtime.

Speaking of my run, though in my last post I mentioned I was a bit dubious about it as it’s always weird running with people you don’t really know – and work with. Anyway, it was great! There were five of us in total and they took me on a great 4.5 mile route around some lakes and fields. We got covered in mud and at times it was more splashing than running but I thoroughly enjoyed it.


There was a range of running ability and this was great. One guy was super speedy – we’re talking 6 minutes a mile at his best! I started off fairly easy going running with the woman I knew and then I ventured out to run with a guy who ran at my usual pace (not the 6min a mile guy!!). This really pushed me to keep up. With the rough terrine and the speed of the run, I was pooped by the end!IMG_2957It’s funny because after showering and basically inhaling my lunch afterwards, I went to stand up and my calves were aching already! I’m guessing this was the crazy terrine as I’m used to plain old roads. Anyone else find this?

Saturday morning I had my Pilates class.


I thoroughly enjoyed this. It’s not a class to get sweaty and out of breath in but you definitely feel it in your muscle the next day. The class was quite small with a total of six of us. But it was a lovely friendly atmosphere and instructor is so attentive and ‘hands-on’. That sounds weird, but it really helps if she sort of guides your leg or foot or whatever to the right position as it can be quite complicated.

The rest of the day was filled with chores and looking after an unwell Ben. He does not have a simple cold, oh no. Nor is it flu. How foolish to think it would be something quite so simple. He has…Man Flu. Full on, at death’s door, incapacitated, can’t do anything Man Flu… He is currently a pathetic human being. We’re talking blankets, Lemsips, and constant sofa attachment. I am trying to be the caring and loving wife but it’s tricky as I’m not naturally sympathetic and, ladies, we all know about this Man Flu business. It’s a cold. Joking aside though, I am looking after him and he does have a waiver for all chores. Fun for me.

I did a bout of baking as well. Apparently one of Ben’s work friends finds the idea of banana bread crazy and Ben has enlisted me to change his mind. I mean, who doesn’t like banana bread??

24.11 Banana bread

It got rid of some dying bananas as well and it was fairly easy to whip up.

Banana bread (based on THIS recipe)

  • 75g (1/3 cup) butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 110g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
  • 125g (1 heaped cup) plain flour
  • 100g (1 level cup) wholemeal flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. mixed spice

– Preheat oven to 180C.

– Combine butter, sugar, eggs and mashed bananas.

– Sift flours, baking powder and spices together. Then fold into the banana bread and stir until combined.

– Bake in a loaf tin for 50 mins (until a tooth pick comes out clean).


My little loaf tin struggled to contain all the loaf so I had to make mini banana loaf muffins as well. What a shame Winking smile


Then we headed to Ben’s mum for dinner. We brought along Alfie as well (which is always a bit worrying as Alfie is Alfie and Ben’s mum’s house is pristine).


Apart from an accident on the carpet he was good as gold (this was mainly our fault anyway as we hadn’t let him outside before going out as it was raining so much so we weren’t angry at him).


How could I be mad at that furry face? And Alfie too Winking smile

The meal was so good. We had honey smoked mackerel to start (apologies, no photo I was too busy gobbling it up). And then we had roast chicken for main with a whole host of veggies and stuffing:


Definitely a winner! Made up for enviously drooling seeing all those delicious Thanksgiving meals on many blogs this week.

And then fruit salad for pudding. Again no photo, but imagine a HUGE bowl of pineapple, melons, grapes, blueberries and strawberries. I love having meals at Ben’s mum’s house as she and I have similar tastes (big fruit & veggie fans). It was a lovely and relaxed evening.

So now it’s Sunday and I’m just watching the world go by while looking after the poorly husband. Well, as much as I can do while he plays on the XBox…

Hope you’re having a lovely weekend and for my fellow Britains, I hope the rain stops soon!!

Another attempt at Victoria Sponge

Is it Monday already? How did that happen?? Where did the weekend go?

I did not want to get up this morning at 5.30am for my run. Too dark, too tired, too cold – well not that cold, but not as warm as my lovely bed! But I forced myself out of bed and got Alfie up as well for his walk. Not that Alfie needs much encouragement to be honest. As soon as I stumble out of bed he is bang awake and ready to go. I suppose you would do if you slept 16 hours a day like he does…

I was still aching from my long run on Saturday so I took it easy and it was quite a pleasant easy-going run. I just let my mind wander and didn’t put much thought into it to be honest.


Yesterday I ached so much from my run. I might have pushed myself a bit too hard as I really felt it in my hip, which I guess is never good!

I got busy baking on Saturday evening as both mothers were coming over the next day after church to talk all things wedding. So I made some mini-Victoria sponges using a variation of this recipe. Honestly, I’m not that good at baking. Now this fully depresses me as I love cooking. I can cook up some really tasty meals (if I do say so myself!) But when it comes to baking…well, I always manage to do something wrong. Look what happened to my normal Victoria Sponge I made a few weeks ago:Victoriasponge

In theory it was going to be perfect – homemade jam and everything *sighs*.

Anyway, so I made some mini-Victoria sponges in the hope that because they were smaller there would be less room for error:


They looked pretty good…but then I realised my error:


They were all the same size and would be far too big to make up the two sandwiches for the mini-cakes. *Sighs* So I improvised…not nearly as beautiful and wonderful as the recipe picture, but yummy none-the-less. The mothers were happy and that’s all that matters!!


Well, I hope to improve with time on the baking front. There is definitely enough inspiration out there to help me along. I’m always looking at other blogger’s websites with my mouth open going “how do they make them so perfect and delicious looking?” So please bear with me (if anyone is there at all, hehe).