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caramel & cocoa

Caramel & Cocoa - cooking, parenting, fashion, diy, eating, living, a blog

Monday, April 30, 2012

Reflections of a 30 Year-Old Baby

I came across this 1997 hit Glamour article last week on “Facebook” (of course). If you have not yet read it, here is a link : Turning 30 : 30 Things Every Woman Should Have and Should Know

I'm going to start out by saying that I quite like it. Excuse me while I duck to dodge random objects being darted in my direction. Ouch! 

I think it is a light and fun read and not to be taken too seriously or literally. But I do think it offers an opportunity for reflection and highlights that for many of us (myself included) turning 30 felt like a "how the heck did I get here already" moment. And while I do not "tick" all of the boxes on the list, I get what the article is trying to say. 

I'm going to try to explain myself and I am never very good at doing this. 

According to the list @ 30 you should have ...
 - one old boyfriend you can imagine going back to and one who reminds you of how far you've come
 - a decent piece of furniture
 - a set of screwdrivers, a cordless drill and a black lace bra

Now I don't take any of those literally but it did force me to reflect on my perception of love, dating, & relationships over the years and how much I have grown and matured. Just ask H. He'll tell you I was crazy. My most prized piece of furniture is a hardwood dining table and six chairs that I bought second hand for $75. And while it is my husband who owns the screwdriver and drill, I am usually the one showing him how to use them. I don't actually own a black lace bra but I'd like to, only because it is sexy and we all need to feel sexy sometimes. 

What I'd like to say is that we shouldn't take ourselves, or this list too seriously. There is no fun in that and life is fun, or well, it should be. 

No-Bake Oreo Cake - lovely

I like to make things that taste good. But I love to make things that taste good with little or no effort at all. This cake doesn't actually require any real cooking or baking, just a trip to the store and a bit of cutting & mixing and a rest in the fridge and voila! You are done!

You need 5 ingredients:
500 grams mascarpone cheese (cream cheese if you can't find any)
small Madeira cake (or any other sponge cake about 250 grams/9oz)
about 15 Oreo cookies
150 grams icing sugar (confectioner's sugar in US)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1. Place the Oreo cookies in a plastic seal-able bag and beat on them with a wooden spoon or crush them using a roller until the cookies resemble fine pieces of sand.  

2. Using a hand mixer, beat the mascarpone cheese, sugar and vanilla extract until smooth & fluffy. Set aside. 

3. Add the crushed Oreo cookies to the above mixture and mix well with a spoon. 

4. Cut the sponge cake into finger sized pieces. Line a cake pan or plastic bowl with cling film. 

5. Layer 1/3 of the sponge pieces onto the bottom on the bowl. Add 1/3 of the Oreo-cheese mixture. Do this two more times until you have used all the sponge and mixture. 

6. Cover the top with cling film and gently pat down with your hands to make sure there are no pockets. 

7. Let sit in fridge overnight, or at least 5 hours. 

8. Enjoy! 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Alone for 3 hours - what now?

H took off early this Saturday morning with the girls and I spent an hour sorting laundry, making beds, unloading the dishwasher and then getting myself ready. I then fell back onto my bed - shut my eyes and pictured this. Silence   ... Silence ... Silence ... twas lovely.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Anxiety - Dialogue with Me

I'm anxious. I cannot say for certain why. I just am. I feel like something big is going to happen but I don't know what it is. good or bad. I can't concentrate. Like many of you, my mind is going a million miles per minute. I not only have a "to do list" but a "to do - to do lists", meaning I have made a mental note of several "to do lists" I need to jot down.

Now I am thinking that maybe "anxious" is not the word I am looking for. But it is. I think. If this were a conversation with H he'd tell me to "read a book" or "buy a thesaurus." Admittedly I have a limited vocabulary, but that's a different post. I feel like I am a person that cannot handle caffeine, who just took a triple espresso straight - no sugar. I can feel my pulse. It is the anxiety.

I'm off to count to ten, focus on my breathing ... and think of hummingbirds.

The Lonely Boat

I came across this small boat in Ireland recently. I recall it being in the same location, but in slightly better condition 4 years ago when I was on the same beach. What is your story boat? Why have you been forgotten? Did you enjoy your time out at sea? Hail, storm, sun you are always there. I wonder.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Donegal - Ireland

We spent Easter in Donegal, which is incredibly rainy but outrageously beautiful. I snapped this shot on my iPhone and within about 20 seconds, the heavens opened and we were hit by a hail storm so hard that I had bruising on my hands. The hail shocked the girls but it was incredibly exhilarating & stressful sprinting across the beach, each of us carrying a child. But - hey - you only live life once. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


This is the most thoughtful touch I have ever seen at a wedding. In the bathroom a rather large basket with a note reading "We've put this together, to help you along. Now get back on the dance-floor, before the next song. Compliments of the Newly Weds."  In the basket were some packs of mints, a bottle of hairspray, a bottle of spray-on deodorant, hair ties, bobby pins, headache medicine and then about 25 pairs of cheap flip flops. I found myself going back for mints several times and by 3am my hair was in a crazy pinned up do & my feet comfortably in flip flops. The entire dance floor was wearing flops by about 1am. great idea. I wish it would have been mine!

Monday, April 23, 2012

13 pounds diet update

A month ago I posted this entry, discussing the 13 pounds that I need to shed to get to my "goal" weight of 120. A month later, I am now reporting that I am now, 13 pounds away from my goal weight. Agh!

Yes. It is true. I have not made any progress, but while this might sound silly to you, the confidence I felt last weekend wearing my Spanx  has made me desire to always feel that good about myself. So now folks! I am committed to doing this. Day 1 was today. So far so good! Join me.

Spanx in Action

I had my very first Spanx experience last weekend and even though I am reluctant (embarrassed !?!) to post snapshots, I am doing it. I bought this dress two years ago, thinking it would fit me eventually & well it hasn't really. I can get into it but it is not flattering in the slightest because it hugs the bumps and emphasizes all the little imperfections in my figure, highlighting them further when I sit, move or breathe.

If you read my post about how uncomfortable I feel in dresses  then you know I often just shroud or layer clothes over myself to disguise the bumpy lumpy bits. As uncomfortable and tight that the darn thing was getting into, it was not too bad to actually wear. Don't get me wrong, by 4am it was a relief to get out of it but until then even trips to the toilet were not too bad & I did use a middle strap to keep it from running down.

As you can see from the photos, it kind of just smooths everything out nicely. My dress fit fabulously, but most important to me, I was able to let my hair loose and just go crazy on the dance floor with an incredible confidence, last experienced sometime around 2004.

I am so happy with my purchase. Thanks "S" for the heads up. I am still working on my appearance but yes, this really gave me the boost I needed, albeit for one night.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

When your kids are told off by strangers !?!

I'll admit it. There were times, pre-children, when I just didn't understand tantruming toddlers in public. More true - I wondered why the parent's had let things get to that point. I was naive. I was young. Frankly, I was an IDIOT.  I am very sorry for being judgmental back then. I now understand that kids are evil. Ok - just joking but they definitely don't listen, especially when you would like them to, like this afternoon when Api refused to get out of the car and get into the house because she preferred to go to a birthday party, even though no one we know had a birthday today.

That being said, there are times when children will surprise you. We just got back from a two week trip to Ireland. It was great but we arrived home at 2 AM to an empty fridge so we opted to go to a local breakfast cafe for some morning grub. The place was not too busy. Api who is very chatty & smiley ordered her own breakfast and kept making a bit of conversation with H & I, and some other friendly diners. Both girls were very good during the meal, but H & the baby slipped out to get the newspaper and as they walked out of the door, Api called out, "see you later daddy."

That was all it took for someone (I'll call her Mrs. Crabtree), two tables down to turn to her and say "My god, we are just trying to have a quiet cup of coffee. Misbehaving kids must stay at home." and she huffed - she literally huffed at my child. I was raging - not because Api was told off, but because Api had actually behaved impeccably well the entire meal. In a matter of seconds I thought to myself. Api is 2. Api behaved very well. I need to defend her. I'd like to tell this woman where to go. I can't tell her where to go because that would be setting a bad example for Api. But I can't leave Api hanging either. I was very hot but knew I needed to keep cool.

I turned to Api whose big blue eyes looked confused and I told her that she had been a very good girl during breakfast and that I was very proud of her. Mrs. Crabtree then huffed at me. As I finished my coffee I tried to calm down and was thinking of smart comebacks to throw at Mrs. Crabtree. Clearing the table, the waitress, who must have heard the exchange told Api that she was a good girl and gave her a free cookie. Another couple stopped to tell her that she was a "lovely" girl as they walked out. ;)

Bill's (Covent Garden, London) - Cafe/Global

28 St. Martin's Courtyard (Covent Garden)
London WC2E 9AB
0207 240 8183

Summary: I will just start out by saying that I loved this place. It is a "mini-chain" as there are 6 in the UK. I really dislike going to chains, but this one uses simple, everyday - good quality ingredients and products to make delicious food. It is also neat that it can meet anyone's needs offering breakfast, lunch, dinner and even a latte if that is all that you fancy. Even better - it is not a wallet breaker!

The Food: I had a chorizo sandwich with houmous & yogurt, accompanied by some outstanding thick crispy chips (fries). Being naughty, and my very first lunch out without the kids, I had a Hedgerow Fizz - which is a fancy drink served in a champagne flute containing elder-flower, white wine and sparkling water (I think). I felt sophisticated and it tasted fabulous! The menu was quite short, but everything sounded appetizing.

The Atmosphere: Convent Garden is a cool (but fancy) area so I was expecting a certain pretentious air. I was wrong. It is nestled in this very quiet courtyard and I wasn't sure if it was even open - until we walked in and the place was welcoming, packed and vibrant. There are really cool things on the walls and everyone around us just seemed to be having a good time. I was out on a lunch date with a girlfriend, but could happily see myself taking my 1 & 2 year-old for a meal here.

The Service: Incredibly friendly. Incredibly friendly. Incredibly friendly. I was very pleased.

Would I go back? Absolutely. I will go back.

Hedgerow Fizz

cutest mini salt & pepper shakers in the world 

Monday, April 16, 2012

My Spanx

There was a time in my life when I could comfortably wear virtually anything - no bumps, no bulges, no wobble. Those days are faint memories ... drifting - drifting - drifting. Alas, I have 6 dresses, all bought pre-children that are now incredibly unflattering. I've tried wearing them for special occasions. Each time, I draped a rather large scarf over to try and conceal my wide midsection, "back-fat" and  especially that horrendous "muffin top" I get when I sit down!  

I'm off to a wedding on Saturday and the thought of wearing any of my dresses was incredibly depressing and was hurting my self-esteem. Setting off to find a perfect dress, I found that the dresses that "fit" and sufficiently hid the bulges were incredibly expensive and still not completely flattering. They made me feel frumpy. This is often a problem when you find yourself, "in-between" sizes. 

A girlfriend of mine recommended that I try using SPANX. I'd never before heard of them. I anxiously made my way to the department store to try some on, and embarrassingly entered the dressing room with 6 varying styles, sizes and colors.  

I broke into a sweat trying to get them on and found myself having to take a deep breathe and a break, as it was kind of exhausting. They should be pretty snug to get the full effect. At one point I was on my back, in the dressing room trying to tuck everything in properly. Once I was in, I put my clothes back on. I could not believe my eyes when I looked in the mirror. It was a whole new body before me and I felt comfortable. I opted for buying the SPANX and will wear one of my old dresses. I am not sure which one but I can say that I am absolutely thrilled with my new find. 

I might for the benefit of my readers post pictures with and without the SPANX, though I am very nervous about doing that. They are quite difficult to get on so I am not sure how I am going to use the toilet that night. There is a small hole in the crotch area but knowing my clutso-self, that would just get very messy. ;)