Reasons To Be Cheerful - 30.08.12

30 August 2012

Hey everyone. Hope you've all had a lovely week. It's time for this weeks R2BC again!

Angie at Cakesphotoslife is hosting the linky this week. Just click on the R2BC pic on the right to pop over and visit her.

I missed this last week as I was busy baking and just didn't have time to post. But I've got lots of reasons to be cheerful this week to make up for it. So here comes the cheerfulness...

1  //  I've got the whole week off work. Yippee! Lots of time to spend with my little Darlings. We spent the day at my parents house on bank holiday Monday, I went to the spa on Tuesday and on Wednesday we had a quiet day at home. Today we've been to soft play with my sister, nieces, our friend and her daughter and hopefully tomorrow we'll be going to the farm. The weather has been rubbish this week so I've kept postponing the trip to the farm. Fingers crossed for nice weather tomorrow so we can go.

2  //  I had the most fabulous relaxing day at the Spa on Tuesday. It was amazing. A whole day to myself to relax and recharge my batteries. I treated myself to a gorgeous facial and I swear my skin is still glowing! The facial included a special offer of £50 to spend on Decleor products so I got a 2 in 1 cleanser and toner, and a day cream. It gave me a bit of a kick up the backside to start looking after my skin again so I've dug out all my skincare products and will make an effort to use them all now and try to keep my skin looking nice.

3 //  It's my niece Chloe's 1st birthday on Monday and I'm so excited to be making her birthday cake. It's a Minnie Mouse cake that will hopefully look something like the picture below. I'm also making some cupcakes so I'm going to be mega busy this weekend! Have I bitten off more than I can chew? Probably.  But I like a challenge and I need some more cake decorating practice. In fact, in between writing this post, I've been watching tutorials on YouTube on how to make a bow!

4  //  Oliver is starting pre-school in a couple of weeks and we've got a home visit from his nursery teacher on Tuesday. It will be nice for him to meet her before he starts, so he'll have an adult that he knows {he already knows a few children who are starting at the same time}. I kind of feel like it's a bit of a checking-up visit though so I'll be cleaning and tidying before she comes!

5 //  I got all these fabulous new recipe books on Friday. So I'm going through recipe overload at the moment. I've even been reading them in bed so I end up dreaming about cake! I made one of Lisa Faulkner's recipes the other day and tweeted about it and she tweeted me back... my first celebrity tweet! I was so happy.

So what have you got to smile about this week? If you want to see what other people are cheerful about, pop on over to to read their stories or follow the links below!

The Most Relaxing Day Ever!

29 August 2012

What an absolutely amazing, relaxing, chilled out day I had yesterday! My sister Dawn and I arrived at Titanic Spa at 9.30am for our Heat & Ice Experience day. We went back in January so knew what we were doing this time! After our welcome drink, we had a flick through the brochure of treatments and decided to go for a Decleor facial. So we changed into our swimwear and towelling robes and made our way to the 'Experience Rooms'.

My favourite was the Crystal Steam Room

The Heat Experiences are: the Crystal Steam Room, Herbal Infusion Room, Aromatherapy Room,  Saunarium and Sauna cabin. The Heat & Ice Experience is all about cleansing and detoxing your body and they say it's important to cool down after using one of the heat experiences as it helps to moderates your body temperature and also invigorates the body and stimulates the nerve endings leaving you feeling refreshed and energised.

The Cooling Experiences are: the Ice room, Plunge pool and Experience showers {an ice cold shower!} Last time we went I was too scared to go in the plunge pool but I made myself do it this time to get the best of the whole experience. Yes it was freezing but it actually felt amazing. It really made my skin tingle and feel really fresh and smooth.

Dawn had her facial at 11.00 but mine was at 12.00 so while she was having her treatment, I spent more time in the Heat & Ice Experience rooms. I went in all the different heat rooms and cooled down in the plunge pool or ice room between each heat room. It was just super relaxing and left me feeling very chilled out!

Then it was time for my facial. I've had a few facial's in the past but they paled into insignificance compared to this. The therapist, cleansed, toned, exfoliated, masked and moisturised, all while massaging my face and shoulders and giving the most awesome head massage. My skin was glowing and I felt all floaty and even more relaxed when it finished!

Mega relaxing facial

Lunch was then served in the Bistro which was a buffet consisting of vegetable curry and rice, chicken in white wine sauce, new potatoes, jacket potatoes, various salads and ciabatta bread smothered in butter! It was delicious!

After lunch we had planned to have a swim, but we only managed a quick dip as the pool was really cold! So we decided to go to the Relaxation Lounge which is filled with beanbags, loungers, pillows and lovely soothing music and dimmed lighting. I got very comfy on a huge beanbag and laid back and read my kindle for a while and before I knew it I was waking up an hour later!

The Relaxation Lounge

After a quick shower, we then went back to the Bistro for afternoon tea of scones smothered in jam and clotted cream with a lovely latte for me and tea for Dawn.

It really was the most fabulous relaxing day ever. Dawn and I are both busy working mums of young children and we both felt like we deserved a day to spoil ourselves. We left feeling relaxed and refreshed {and sleepy} and made a pact that we'll have visit again as soon as possible!

Have you ever been to a Spa? How did it make you feel?

Silent Sunday

Perfect Victoria Sponge Cake?

25 August 2012

I whipped up this little beauty last Saturday afternoon. We had spent the morning at my parents house, Hubby was working so I decided to have a quiet afternoon at home. Lydia was having her afternoon nap so Oliver and I had a bash at this, as it was a new recipe that I wanted to try out. My sister has promised to buy me Jo Wheatley's book A Passion For Baking for my birthday. But that's 6 weeks away! Luckily this month's Sainsbury's magazine had a lovely interview with Jo {who won The Great British Bake Off 2011} and featured some of her most popular recipes, including this one. I changed a few things as I really wanted to fill it with whipped cream instead of buttercream.

So is this the perfect Victoria Sponge Cake? Well that's a matter of taste I suppose. But if you're a baker you might fall into one of these categories: 1. Always in search for the perfect Victoria Sponge Cake recipe. 2. Have a recipe that you love and would never use anything else. After baking this, I'm firmly in category two. I don't think I'll ever use another recipe again.

It's quite a big cake so I gave half of it to my sister and brother in law for their wedding anniversary. My brother in law said it was the best he'd ever tasted and my sister has cancelled the lady who was making the cake for my niece's 1st birthday and asked me to make this one instead!

Victoria Sponge Cake

Serves 10-12
Preparation time 30 minutes
Cooking time 30-35 minutes

225g unsalted butter, softened
225g caster sugar
4 large eggs, beaten
1tsp vanilla extract
225g self raising flour
2tbsp whole milk

300ml tub of double cream
5 tbsp strawberry jam
3 strawberries, halved
Icing sugar to decorate

Preheat your oven to 180C Gas mark 4. Put your shelf in the middle of the oven. Grease your cake tins {I used two x 20cm tins} and line the bottom with greaseproof paper.

In a large bowl put your butter and sugar and mix them together with a hand held electric mixer {or freestanding mixer of you're lucky enough to have one!} until it's pale and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and a third of your beaten eggs and mix thoroughly. When it's all combined, add another third of your beaten egg and mix again, repeat this once more until all the mixture is thoroughly combined. Sift the flour into the bowl, add the milk and mix thoroughly until all the ingredients are fully combined.

Divide the mixture equally into your two cake tins and smooth with a spatula. Pop in the oven for 30 minutes. When they are ready, they will look golden, spring back when gently touched and a skewer inserted into the middle of the cakes comes out clean. Leave to stand in the tin for 5 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the filling, pour the cream into a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until it forms stiff peaks. Put one cake onto a serving plate and spread with the jam, making sure you go right to the edges. Then spread the whipped cream on top of the jam. For extra yumminess, if you have plenty of strawberries, slice them and place them on top of the cream.

Carefully place the other cake on top of the filling. Sift some icing sugar on top and arrange the halved strawberries in the middle of the cake.

Day Out At... Knowsley Safari Park

24 August 2012

Hubby and I had a few days off work last week so we decided to take the Darlings on a special day out. It was a bit of a last minute decision though, as we were waiting to see what the weather was like. Thursday was forecast to be fine so I took the executive decision to go to Knowsley Safari Park. It's one of the items on our Summer Adventure Wish List and I knew the Darlings would love it.

Knowsley Safari Park is located in Prescott in Merseyside which is about an hours drive away from us. We packed up our picnic {and the kitchen sink!} and set off early so we would be there for opening time. After we had paid our entry {tip - you have to pay per person not per car} we went straight to the safari drive.

Driving through the gates feels a bit like driving into Jurassic Park! You drive round the safari route which takes you through different enclosures and large open fields. The animals are kept in conditions as close to their natural habitat as possible so it doesn't feel like a 'zoo' at all as the animals are left to roam in wide open spaces. However they are separated by large fenced off enclosures... so they don't all get eaten by the Lions! I found it funny driving into the Lion enclosure as there were lots of signs telling you to keep your windows closed and to keep driving if a lion approached your car!

Without a doubt the highlight of the safari drive was the baboons! As soon as we drove into their area, two baboons jumped onto the bonnet of our car. They were all over all the cars, it was hilarious. At one point we thought they had jumped off but I looked out of the window and saw the shadow of our car with a baboon sitting on the roof! The floor was littered with broken windscreen wipers and little pieces of plastic that they had broken off of cars. So if you don't want to risk getting anything ripped off your car, you can take the car-friendly route.

The safari drive takes about 1 hour but you can go round as many times as you want. When you get to the end of the drive there there are the Elephant and Giraffe enclosures. You can get out of your cars here to see them and they are also right next to the lovely picnic field. It was lovely here... lots of cars parked round the edge of the field, with families having picnics and children running round in the middle of the field. I make a mean picnic lunch and it was lovely and warm and sunny so it was perfect.

After lunch, we parked up and went to see the Sea Lion show. The presenter introduced the two Sea Lions who were called Reggie and Biffo. It was really interesting with lots of Sea Lion facts. They did a lots of tricks including balancing balls, catching rings and a funny impression of a shark! It ended with the grand finale of Biffo jumping off a platform into the water then jumping out high into the air to reach a ball with his nose! Oliver loved it and even Lydia who is only 20 months old was entranced by it.

We then had a look round the amusement rides. We were a bit shocked that you had to pay for them {naively perhaps, but the entrance fee wasn't cheap} It's £10 for an unlimited wristband or £2 per ride but adults can go on for free when accompanying a child. Because Hubby and I are tight we only let the Darlings have one ride each! Oliver and Hubby went on the Rattlesnake which was a mini rollercoaster and Lydia and I went on a little Safari Car ride.

We had another drive round the safari drive before heading home. It was a brilliant day and we'll definitely go again.

Have you been to a Safari Park? Have you had a great day out this summer?

I Want... More Baking Books

21 August 2012

As my regular readers will know, I'm very new to baking. So new in fact, that until 4 months ago, I hadn't baked since I did GCSE Home Economics at high school. To be honest I only started baking to fill my blog when I couldn't be bothered to blog think of anything else to write about. But I fell head over heel in love with baking! It's an addiction, I just want to bake all the time. I'm always on the lookout for new recipes that I want to try. But I think it's time to expand my very limited recipe book collection. I'm getting fed up of spending hours searching the internet for recipes so I need a good collection of recipe books that I can just flick through instead.

So I've started a wish list on Amazon of all the books I want. There really are loads of them! I started with a list of about five that I really wanted but as I was adding them to the list I just kept finding more and more fabulous must-haves!

So here is my {rather long} baking book wish list. And I haven't even started listing Mary Berry's books as there are so many of them!

A Passion for Baking by Jo Wheatley

How To Bake by Paul Hollywood

The Great British Bake Off: How To Bake

The Great British Bake Off: How To Turn Everyday Bakes Into Showstopper

The Boy Who Bakes by Edd Kimber

Boutique Baking by Peggy Porschen

Cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery by Martha Swift
Bake by Rachel Allen

Cake by Rachel Allen

Recipes from my Mother for my Daughter by Lisa Faulkner
Saved By Cake by Marian Keyes

The Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days by Tarek Malouf

How to be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson

Baking Made Easy by Lorraine Pascale

The Hairy Dieters: How To Love Food and Lose Weight by The Hairy Bikers

Do you have any of these recipe books? Which is your all time favourite recipe book?

Caramel Dime Bar Cupcakes

20 August 2012

Have you noticed the lack of cupcake recipe on the blog recently? I hadn't made any for a couple of weeks. I've been busy baking other sweet treats like cakes and yummy desserts though. But you know that cupcakes are my favourites right? I kind of didn't know which cupcakes to make next. I know there's an abundance of cupcake recipes out there... from chilli chocolate to strawberry and goats cheese cupcakes {yes really!} but nothing caught my fancy. I had cupcake block {like writers block}!

Well I finally found a recipe that I really loved and I made these Caramel Dime Bar Cupcakes yesterday. I got the idea from the lovely Sarah at Maison Cupcake, who made Dime Bar Dulce de Leche cupcakes. I played round with the recipe quite a bit so they ended up as a mash up of those and some cupcakes my friend made a few weeks ago with caramel in the middle! They were flipping yummy!

Caramel Dime Bar Cupcakes

Makes 12
Preparation time 30 minutes
Cooking time 20 minutes

160g caster sugar
160g softened butter
3 eggs
160g self raising flour
40g cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tblsp milk
397ml tin of caramel sauce (I used Carnation caramel}

350g icing sugar
100g softened butter
2 tblsp caramel sauce
2 tblsp whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 Dime bars {to decorate)

Preheat oven to 180C {350F} Gas Mark 4. Put the shelf in the middle of the oven. Line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases.

Put the butter and sugar in a large bowl and beat together using a hand held electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and mix thoroughly after each one. Add the flour, cocoa powder, vanilla extract and milk. Mix on high speed until all the ingredients are fully incorporated but do not overmix. 

Divide the mixture into your paper cases until they are about three quarters full. Pop in the oven for around 18-20 minute.  A skewer inserted into the middle of the cupcake will come out clean when they are ready.

Leave to cool in the tins for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Allow to cool completely before filling with the caramel and covering with frosting.

When they have completely cooled, scoop a small hole out of the middle of each cupcake. An apple corer is the perfect tool for this job. Then fill each hole with a heaped teaspoon of the caramel sauce.

For the frosting, put the softened butter into a large bowl and sift in the icing sugar. Mix together by hand with a whisk until well combined and there are no lumps. Add the milk and mix with a spatula until combined, add the caramel sauce and now mix with a hand held electric whisk. Whisk for about 5 minutes on high speed until the frosting is light and fluffy.

Spoon or pipe the frosting on top of your cupcakes. The frosting was a bit more runny than normal due to the caramel sauce but it firmed up once piped onto the cupcake. Top them with the broken pieces of Dime Bar. 


Silent Sunday

Reasons To Be Cheerful - 16.08.12

16 August 2012

I'll keep it brief today as I'm shattered! We've had a lovely day out today but all I want to do now is curl up on the sofa with a coffee and cupcake and watch whatever is on telly.

Julie at Mama OWL is hosting this fab linky this week. Just click on the R2BC pic on the right to pop over and visit her.

Here comes the cheerfulness..

1 //   Hubby and I have got a few days off work. I only had to work Tuesday and Wednesday this week which was ace. We're going to  make most the of our days off and the nice weather. We had a brilliant day today {see No.2 below) and I think we might have a visit to the seaside this weekend. 

2 //  Today, we've had a fantastic day out at Knowsley Safari Park. We've seen lions, tigers, zebras, rhinos, elephants, giraffes, camels and a fantastic sealion show. But the absolute best bit for me was having baboons climbing all over the car! I think I was more excited than the Darlings!

One of the Baboon's who came to say hello!

3 //  I started my new job this week. Although, I'm actually not doing my new job because they haven't found a replacement for me yet. At least I'm getting the extra money for doing the same job. I hope to be able to tell you that I've started my new role properly very soon.

4 //  Have you noticed the lack of cupcake recipe posts recently? I just hadn't made any for a couple of weeks. I've been busy baking other sweet treats like cakes and yummy desserts. But you know that cupcakes are my favourites though. Well I made some absolutely delicious Caramel Dime Bar Cupcakes yesterday. The recipe will be on the blog shortly.

5  // My sister and I have booked a Spa day that we're going to in a couple of weeks. We went back in January and I blogged about it here. It was such a wonderful day of total relaxation and it can't come soon enough now. I can't flipping wait! My sister has got two young daughters so we're both really excited about it. Until then, I'll spend some time daydreaming about the crystal steam room, aromatherapy room and the relaxation lounge!

So what have you got to smile about this week? If you want to see what other people are cheerful about, pop on over to Mama OWL to read their stories or follow the linky below!

Handmade Bunting Card

15 August 2012

In October my Auntie Elsie will celebrate her 90th birthday. And to celebrate {naturally!} she's having an afternoon tea party at a local Golf Club. We received our invitations a few weeks ago and I'm ashamed to say I pinned it on my notice board and kind of forgot about it. I kept looking at it and thinking I'll have to buy an acceptance card soon. Then one day I was browsing Pinterest {my favourite pastime} and came across some hand made cards using bunting which looked really pretty. Regular readers of my blog will know I'm not the crafty type but these looked quite simple so I thought I'd have a go at making one.

So I gathered my scissors and glue, along with a blank card, some wrapping paper, a gift tag, a couple of buttons and some plain coloured paper {all things I had the cupboards}.

First I cut the flags from the wrapping paper and plain paper. I cut them in diamond shapes and folded them to make triangles. This took quite a few attempts until I got five that were right. 

Then, I took the cord off the gift tag to use as the string, folded the flags over it and glued the ends together. I placed this onto the card where I wanted it to go. 

Next I put some glue on the back of each button and stuck them on the card securing each end of the string.

Then I printed out the wording onto white paper and cut it out. I also cut some plain pink paper about 5mm bigger. Finally, I stuck them both onto the card and it was finished!

I was really pleased with my card. I thought it looked really pretty and the great thing is that you could use any wording on them... Happy Birthday, Congratulations, Thank You... to suit the occasion. Even better it didn't cost me a penny!

What do you think of my card? Have you ever made any cards?

Pugneys Country Park

14 August 2012

This weekend we made the most of the fact that Hubby had a rare weekend off work. Yes it's lovely to have some extra money generated by him working overtime, but it's even nicer to be able to do things as a family of four. 

I knew exactly how we would spend our day, as we haven't ticked off anything on our Summer Adventure Wish List yet. So the day out of choice was Pugney's Country Park. We haven't been before but my friend at work keeps telling me to take the Darlings. There are two lakes, a watersport centre and a cafe.

Google said it was only half an hours drive away so we set off mid-morning to try and make sure Lydia would sleep in the car {she did, for all of 15 minutes!} and to get there in time for our picnic lunch.

When we got there we were greeted by the sight of the huge lake {100 acres to be precise} with a few sailing boats bobbing up and down. There's a flat, 1.6 mile footpath around the lake so we set off on a leisurely walk. The lake is surrounded by patches of grassy banks perfect for picnics, so before long we set up our little pitch with our picnic feast lunch. 

 It was a lovely warm day. A bit overcast when we got there, but as the clouds disappeared later it was very hot. We all slapped on some factor 50 sun cream {except Hubby with his Mediterranean skin that tans so nicely!} and the battle commenced to get the Darlings to keep their sun hats on.

Along the way Oliver made friends with a very friendly dog. Oliver was throwing the ball {not very far!} and the dog was fetching it. This went on and on for a long time and they both loved it. I think Oliver wanted to bring the dog home with us.

Round the next corner was a handily parked ice cream van. We all had an ice cream cone with a flake. Recently I've learned a very important lesson about ice cream. ALWAYS GET THE SAME FOR EVERYONE! It saves so many arguments with the Darlings wanting to swap and asking for one thing then wanting another when they see something different. I learned this the hard way but it's a rule I will continue for a long time!

As we neared the end of our walk back at the car park and cafe, we came to a miniature train line. Well of course the Darlings wanted a go and who did they want to accompany them? Yes lucky me! I must admit that I loved it though. It was good as it went through the fields and woodland near to the lake so it was lovely.

We were all well and truly shattered so headed back to the car. It was such a lovely day and we'll definitely put it on our list of places to visit again.

Key Lime Cheesecake

13 August 2012

My Mum and Dad come round for tea when Hubby is on the late shift and stay to help me bath the Darlings and put them to bed. It's a little routine that started when I was pregnant with Oliver... I had really bad SPD and could barely walk so I was struggling with bath time. So they started coming round a couple of times a week to help me. We continued when Lydia was newborn and still do to this day. So what better way to show them how much I appreciate their help, than making tea for them followed by a yummy home-made dessert. 

Ever since my Mum and Dad went to Florida on holiday and sampled authentic Key Lime Pie they've been in love with it. So I found a very easy recipe on the Philadelphia website, changed a few bits on it and gave it a go. As you know, I love quick easy recipes and this fits that description perfectly.

Oh and my Mum and Dad loved it!

Key Lime Cheesecake

Preparation time 20 minutes
Chilling time 2 hours
Serves 10 

200g digestive biscuits
50g butter
250g full fat cream cheese
125ml fresh lime juice {3-4 limes}
397g tin sweetened condensed milk
Zest of 1 lime, finely grated

Whizz the biscuits in a food processor. Melt the butter in the microwave. Combine the biscuit crumbs and melted butter in a bowl then tip into a 20cm pie dish or foil pie dish. Press firmly into the base and sides of the dish. Leave to chill for about half an hour.

In a large bowl, whisk together the cream cheese and condensed milk until smooth. Stir in the lime juice and zest until thoroughly mixed. Watch the mixture magically thicken before your eyes! Spoon the mixture on top of the biscuit crumb base and chill for at least two hours {or ideally overnight} to thicken before serving.

I'm linking up with the Zero Baking Required linky on one of my favourite blogs... Maison Cupcake.

Silent Sunday

Fill In the Blanks Friday

10 August 2012

I haven't joined in with this linky for such a long time but I read Lauren's weekly post at The Little Things We Do and always sit here thinking what my answers would be!

This week is Lauren's birthday so it's all birthday themed questions...

1  //  The age that I will be on my next birthday is...  37. Oh God only three years left of my thirties!

2  //  The best birthday present ever would be... a new house. Ours has been on the market for a long time but we've had no luck selling. So if we sold our house and moved into a beautiful, bigger house with a lovely garden I would be the happiest woman in the world!

3  //  My favourite birthday to date was... my 25th birthday as I was on holiday in Crete. What better way to spend your birthday than soaking up the sun, drinking cocktails and partying all night?!

4 //  Birthdays always make me feel... old! When I was in my early twenties, I thought I would be married with two children by the age of thirty... but it didn't quite go as planned. I got married at 29, had Oliver at 33 and Lydia at 35. I kind of wish I'd been younger when I had my kids. I don't do regrets as I believe everything happens for a reason but it's just something that I feel didn't go to plan.

5  //  The worst birthday I ever had was... I can't really think of a bad birthday I've had! I suppose it might be when I was pregnant with Lydia. I was 7 months pregnant, could hardly walk as I had such bad SPD, couldn't eat anything sweet as I had gestational diabetes and had a 21 month old Oliver to run round after. I was quite miserable!

6  //  When I was born... my Dad wasn't there! My Mum was in hospital which was only about 15 minutes walk from their house. The midwife told my dad to go home as it would be ages until I was born. But then things speeded up, they rang him to come back but he was too late, so missed me making my appearance into the world!

7  //  So far my favourite age has been... 33. The year I became a mummy!

Have a brilliant weekend everyone!

Reasons To Be Cheerful - 09.08.12

9 August 2012

Hi everyone, hope you're all well. We've been enjoying the sunshine over the past couple of days. We had a lovely time in the park yesterday afternoon, with a picnic lunch followed by the darlings getting soaked in the park paddling pool! I really hope it lasts over the weekend so that we can make a start to our Summer Wish List.

Fay at Glass Half Full {who's been having fun with ducks this week!} is hosting this fab linky this week. Just click on the R2BC pic on the right to pop over and visit her.

Here comes the cheerfulness... 

Proud to be British. Aren't Team GB doing fantastically well in the Olympics? We're third in the medal tables and the Gold medals just keep on coming. I watched the events on Saturday evening and was delighted to see Jessica Ennis get gold in the Heptathlon, Greg Rutherford's gold in the Long Jump and Mo Farrah's gold in the 10,000m. I was shouting at the TV for them all and got a bit teary when Jessica Ennis won the 800m to win the Heptathlon overall. The whole country is supporting Team GB and it makes me so proud of my country. Together with the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations in June, I think this is the best year ever to be British. 

Baking love. I found out this week that The Great British Bake Off is back on our screens on 14th August. When I saw the ad for it, I actually started squealing and clapping like an excited child! This is the programme that got me really interested in baking. I was glued to the series last year and was so impressed with the baking creations made by such talented people. I've watched loads of cookery programmes over the years but I particularly loved this as it's just ordinary people baking amazing culinary delights. If I could ever be a tiny bit as good as them I would be so happy. It's my birthday in a few weeks and the only thing I would like is 'A Passion for Baking' by Jo Wheatley who won the series last year.

Key Lime Cheesecake I made yesterday
Food Festival. Today is the start of the Huddersfield Food and Drink Festival 2012. It's been going for 12 years now but I've only been for the last three years and I love it. There are rows and rows of stalls selling every type of food and drink you could think of, from all around the world! There's also a marquee which holds demonstrations and workshops and there's entertainment for the kids too. My favourite stall has always been the hand made chocolate one. I usually buy enough chocolate to make you sick! This year I'll be paying close attention to any stalls selling cakes and cupcakes! We're going tomorrow afternoon and will make sure we get there for 2pm when there's a demo by the Ministry of Chocolate who are doing chocolate tasting and a truffle making demo. Food heaven!

So what have you got to smile about this week? If you want to see what other people are cheerful about, pop on over to Glass Half Full to read their stories or follow the linky below!