things I loved about this week

This week’s challenge: Write a list of things that you appreciate right now, in the present moment. Focus on each of them & let the love inside you well up. Even when things appear to be going really, really badly, there are always things to be happy about.

I loved this challenge this week. I really have felt more positive and you know what, happier, than I have for a long, long time. Actively thinking about what made me smile during the day rather than focusing on the negatives was like the sun coming out from behind the cloud. It helped that the sun actually did come out too – thanks sun!

If you think about it, focusing on the negatives is so easy to do. ‘The tube was a nightmare/overcrowded/delayed’, ‘oh no I can’t believe it’s Monday again – I’ve got too much/not enough/boring work to do’, ‘I’m not smart/pretty/happy enough’. I’m sure we are all culprits of this kind of thinking a lot of the time. Yes, me included. But now, whenever something negative pops into my mind, I’m really going to try to replace it with a something a bit more positive. Like birthday cake or the fact that spring is FINALLY here.

CHALLENGE HAPPINESS RATING: Freaking Fabulous

Caz x

Next week’s challenge: Indulge in your “guilty pleasures”, whatever they are. (Old episodes of America’s Next Top Model, ginger ale, chocolate cake, romantic comedies, etc.)

cocoa and butter, butter and cocoa

It all started with Cocoa Butter Body Butter and it all ended with Brownies. Butter and Cocoa, cocoa and butter, cocoa butter became my theme for the week.

I shopped. I picked up some Cocoa Butter Body Butter and the Cocoa Butter Body Scrub (with a pretty aqua exfoliator) from The Body Shop, some Cocoa Butter Vaseline for lips at Boots and raided the cupboard and supermarkets for anything Cocoa and Butter related – dark chocolate, Banoffee hot cocoa and ingredients for Jamie Oliver’s Chocolate Brownies.

I think I must have spent the whole week smelling like Chocolate – being surrounded by it and covered in it – so it’s lucky for me that the smell and taste of chocolate makes you feel happy. All those endorphins boosting your mood, helping you feel less sad and a lot more relaxed.

I think that totally justifies having a left over brownie for breakfast. Just to end off a tough challenge and a hard, hard week.

Caz x

friends and the better life

I’ve realised recently that sometimes I overlook the little things in life. With my ever-growing to do list and goals that I’ve set myself for the year, I don’t really find the time to stop and relax…. and just hang out in my pyjamas with my best mates.

I started this week by researching what activities I should plan for the my slumber party – movie, party games, cards, manicures, walks, ping pong, flash-light tag? I even found a blog posted by an American mum on ‘how to host the best teen slumber party’. I checked it out twice.

But really ALL I needed was the girls, the four of them, to arrive, get into their pjs (some of them were newly bought just for the occasion) and 24 hours later we were still on the same couch. We talked, cried and laughed a lot. And while I had one too many home-made cookies (yum) and never left the house (extra supplies were delivered), I have lots of happy memories of funny conversations that are still making me laugh out loud at inappropriate moments.

This is definitely ‘the better life’.

Caz x

not in my dreams

I must have been thinking about this task a lot during the week because I managed to have a romance in my head, while I was sleeping.

There I was in some romantic European city when I met a tall, dark, handsome man who in a thick foreign accent approached from afar, red rose in hand, ‘dinner – m’amour’? Before I had time to answer out of the blue along came my boyfriend, Sam. Yes, in my dream. And even in my dream I realized how lucky to have a lovely boyfriend like Sam and I said ‘Au Revoir’ to Mr France.

During the week, I tried to do little things to up the ante on the romance front. Not that we are completely short of it (yes, we like holding hands) but there’s no harm in remembering to appreciate each other a little more every now and then.

So Sam had told me that romance to him was moonlit walks (see last week’s post), so I gave him just that. Well, not the moonlit kind but more of a fast walk to the tube on the way to work instead of catching the bus kind. It was nice though, we talked and laughed and I ended up getting to work a little happier than I usually would have.

Can’t get better than that.

Caz x

dancing in your pjs

This week’s challenge: Turn up music you really love. Play it so loudly that it soaks in through your skin. Dance in your pyjamas. Feel the pain lift.

Luckily I have got some new groovy pjs because I’ll definitely be able to bring out my best dance moves this week. I’m going to start by downloading some new tunes (I haven’t done that for ages). After a long flight back to London from Australia, I listened to a lot of songs that I absolutely love and make me so happy to listen to!

But just one word of warning, I have been known to sing along with my dancing. Just to give you an idea of my singing ability – my two year old nephew puts his fingers over his ears whenever I break out in song. Kids don’t lie.

Caz x

Next week’s challenge: Have a romance in your head.

the best chocolate?

I thought that this week’s challenge would be easy but then how easy is it finding the best chocolate you can lay your hands on. This one took a lot of time. I was on holidays with my family so it was the perfect time to try out lots of different types of chocolate – luckily, they offered to help me sample some of them too. So nice.

Lately, I’ve been really loving dark chocolate (Lindt Chilli Dark Chocolate – hmm) because it satisfies my cravings and is good for you. I love the thought of eating something so yummy and thinking about all the good antioxidants that my body is getting. But this week it was time to branch out from my safe Chilli Dark Chocolate – isn’t that what challenges are all about?

First I started with the Cadbury’s Old Jamaica Rum n Raisin. Not being really a Rum n Raisin fan I wasn’t expecting much but it really was so tasty – I definitely sampled that one a lot. I then moved onto Black Forest chocolate – really can’t get better than that – chocolate with biscuit pieces and cherry flavoured jellies. I’m getting hungry again just thinking about it. But at the end of the day there was a clear winner – the new Dark Cherry Ripe.

I still don’t think I’m finished experimenting with the best chocolate though so I think I might have to continue working on this one for a few more weeks.

Caz x

not Cupcakes just Whoopie Pies please

I love making Whoopie Pies. I like it so much that we currently have a Whoopie Pie Baking Ban enforced in my house. Yes, there was a stage when I was making them a little too often and we all got a little too full on Whoopie Pie.

But for those of you out there that want to try them – yes, they are absolutely the new cupcake – try this recipe for the best Chocolate Whoopie Pies.

If you need a taste tester you know where to find me.

Ingredients

  • 125g/4½oz butter
  • 150g/5½oz chocolate, minimum 70% cocoa solids, plus extra for melting (optional)
  • 225g/8oz sugar
  • 3 free-range eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 250g/8¾oz flour
  • 30g/1¼oz cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 18 marshmallows

Preparation method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350G/Gas 3. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
  2. Melt the butter and chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. (Do not let the base of the bowl touch the water.)
  3. Whisk the sugar, eggs and vanilla together in a separate bowl then fold in the chocolate mixture.
  4. Sift the flour, cocoa and baking powder together, then fold into the chocolate and egg mixture.
  5. Place tablespoonfuls of the mixture onto the baking tray (the mixture should make 36 biscuits) and bake in the oven for 6-8 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven and set aside half of the biscuits on a cooling rack. Turn the remaining biscuits over and place a marshmallow on top of each. Return to the oven for 2-3 minutes, or until the marshmallows have softened.
  7. Remove from the oven and set aside on a cooling rack to cool slightly. Press the cooled biscuits on top.
  8. Optional: Melt 100g/3½oz extra chocolate and pour this over the cookies, then set aside to cool.

Caz x

the 100 week challenge – the cupcakes list

Robot Cupcakes by Tasty Paintings

I’m happy, except when I’m moody of course and also first thing on Monday mornings. Being girls, I think we are always searching for ways to make us even more happy and I thought wouldn’t it be fun to combine my love for trying new things with making myself even happier. Sounds ideal doesn’t it.

Luckily, I stumbled across the lovely Gala Darling (if you haven’t read her blog yet, check her out – she is so full of wisdom) who wrote a list called 100 things to do when you’re upset – the sad trombone list – which I’m going to call 100 things to do to make you even more happy – the cupcakes list (yes cupcakes make me very happy).

Every week I’m going to go through the list in order and I’ll blog about it and you can share your experiences and thoughts too – I would love if you wanted to join me. For the whole list or just every now and then when you spot something that you think might be fun to try out or do.

I’ve had a look at the list and some I can’t wait to do but others I’m going to find a bit more challenging – but I guess that’s the point. Bring on wearing a moustache for a day.

Here we go!!

Caz x

P.S. Here’s the list of you want to have a sneak preview http://galadarling.com/article/100-things-to-do-when-youre-upset-the-sad-trombone-list