HELLO NOVEMBER 2020

How is it November already? In some ways this has been the longest year ever, everything pre lockdown seems a lifetime ago. Yet when you think this all started in March, I can’t actually believe we’re in November with long dark nights and cold weather looming ahead! I actually do love Autumn & the cosiness at home it brings & I’m usually getting so excited for Christmas by now. I’m still excited as I adore Christmas and I’m determined to make it wonderful for my family but it’s definitely going to be different this year. Not least for the fact that I will be getting two full weeks off! Since I was a born my mum has choreographed an annual pantomime which I danced in as a child and since starting my school I choreograph a pantomime which my students dance in every year so, although my classes stop for the Christmas break I usually only get 4 days off due to rehearsals and it’s all I’ve ever known at Christmas. Obviously, this year sadly the theatres are mainly closed and pantomimes up & down the country have been cancelled. It’s so sad what’s happening to the Arts & I pray next year things improve. For this year though, I will look forward to & make the most of domestic bliss & some free time over the festive period.   

Since I wrote that new announcements have been announced and we are now going back into full lockdown in 2 days time. It’s a devastating blow and there are arguments both ways for what’s right and wrong. Unfortunately for me it means my dance school all has to go back on line again which is not ideal but, there are so many people in far worse positions than me so I’m staying strong & positive though it all.  

FABULOUS THINGS THAT HAPPENED LAST MONTH

1. My Birthday!

2. Lunch at Devour Restaurant, Holmfirth

3. An amazing meal at The 3 Acres, Huddersfield

4. A lovely cheeky week off as we had to have some maintenance work done at the studios

5. Getting tickets to watch Les Miserables live in concert in January with Alfie Boe & Michael Ball. Tickets were like gold dust so I’m thrilled we got some. It will be amazing to be watching live theatre again.

6. Some beautiful gifts from family & friends for my birthday. Lucky lady!

LIFESTYLE, LEISURE, PLACES & HOME

My Christmas Cake Recipe

I always make my own Christmas Cake every year and I usually make it mid October then “Feed” it weekly up to Christmas. Mine does end up quite ‘boozy’ but you can choose whether to add alcohol to it or not.

Ingredients

  1. 1kg mixed dried fruit (use a mix of raisins, sultanas, currants, cherries, cranberries, prunes or figs)
  2. zest and juice 1  orange
  3. zest and juice 1 lemon
  4. 150ml brandy, Sherry, whisky or rum, plus extra for feeding
  5. 250g pack butter, softened
  6. 200g light soft brown sugar
  7. 175g plain flour
  8. 100g ground almond
  9. ½ tsp baking powder
  10. 2 tsp mixed spice
  11. 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  12. ¼ tsp ground cloves
  13. 100g flaked almonds
  14. 4 large eggs
  15. 1 tsp vanilla extract

Method

Put 1kg mixed dried fruit, the zest and juice of 1 orange and 1 lemon, 150ml brandy or other alcohol, 250g softened butter and 200g light, soft brown sugar in a large pan set over a medium heat.

  1. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 5 mins. Tip the fruit mixture into a large bowl and leave to cool for 30 mins.
  2. Heat oven to 150C/130C fan/gas 2. Line a deep 20cm cake tin with a double layer of baking parchment, then wrap a double layer of newspaper around the outside – tie with string to secure.

Add 175g plain flour, 100g ground almonds, ½ tsp baking powder, 2 tsp mixed spice, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, ¼ tsp ground cloves, 100g flaked almonds, 4 large eggs and 1 tsp vanilla extract to the fruit mixture and stir well, making sure there are no pockets of flour.

Tip into your prepared tin, level the top with a spatula and bake in the centre of the oven for 2 hrs.

Remove the cake from the oven, poke holes in it with a skewer and spoon over 2 tbsp of your chosen alcohol. Leave the cake to cool completely in the tin.

To store, peel off the baking parchment, then wrap well in cling film. Feed the cake with 1-2 tbsp alcohol every fortnight, until you ice it.

Don’t feed the cake for the final week to give the surface a chance to dry before icing.

BEAUTY, HEALTH & STYLE

Nioxin Hair Products

I suffer from thinning hair and, whilst I can still put it in many styles it is definitely thinning with age. I was advised that Nioxin products were good for thinning hair as they treat the scalp rather than the actual health which made a lot more sense to me.

The products come in 6 systems and I use system 4 for progressed thinning, coloured hair.  

I first bought the starter kit of a shampoo, conditioner & scalp treatment. I was impressed as my scalp did feel more supple and moisturised, so I’ve bought the full sized products.

I’m not expecting to suddenly have thick glossy hair anytime but, if it keeps my scalp healthy and nourishes my hair, I’ll be happy.

I’ll review the products more thoroughly when I’ve been using it for 3 months to see if there have been any changes to my hair.

COCKTAIL OF THE MONTH

Pink Lady Cocktail

Ingredients

  1. 100ml London Dry gin
  2. 4 tsp grenadine (see tip, below)
  3. ice
  4. large egg white
  5. 2 strips of pared lemon zest and 2 maraschino cherries, to garnish (optional)

Method

  1. STEP 1

Put two coupe or cocktail glasses in the fridge to chill. Pour the gin and grenadine into a cocktail shaker, then fill with ice. Shake until the outside of the shaker feels ice-cold. Strain the mixture into a jug, discarding the ice.

  1. STEP 2

Tip the egg white into the shaker and pour in the gin mixture. Shake well until the egg white is frothy – you can also do this in a food processor or using a hand blender, if you like. Pour the cocktail into the prepared glasses. Skewer the cherries onto cocktail sticks, if using, then use to garnish the glasses along with the pared lemon zest, if you like.

Pour 200ml pomegranate juice (100% juice, not juice drink) into a saucepan. Add 200g frozen red mixed berries, the juice of ½ lemon and 2 tbsp caster sugar. Simmer for 5-10 mins, stirring occasionally, until the fruit is soft and the liquid is slightly reduced. Strain, leave to cool and pour into a sterilised bottle. It keeps in the fridge for up to a week.

FILM OF THE MONTH

I’m really missing going to the cinema at the moment, but I am enjoying watching movies on Netflix.

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

I did see this film when it first came out but Max, my almost 13-year-old son wanted to watch it. Knowing it’s an emotional watch I thought I’d watch it with him.

Although not exactly a true story it is based on true events that happened at this time which makes it all the more heart wrenching. Knowing what the Jewish Communities went through is horrific and this brilliant film captures the horror of it perfectly. The young actors playing the two boys are both superb and completely draw you in to their performances. David Thewlis as the Commandant of the Concentration camp gives a superb performance which divides you as a viewer seeing the horrific acts he was conducting in the camp but then the love for his family at home.

It is a touching & haunting film which has a heart-breaking final twist at the end.  

THIS MONTH I’M LOVING

Cosy Autumn nights with my candles lit and the fire on whilst watching tv or a good movie. Well there’s not much else to do at the moment anyway!

THIS MONTH I’M NOT LOVING

Lockdown measures getting stricter and not being able to meet up with friends and family. This year has been horrendous and we’re a long way from being out of the woods yet.

Ok scrap that, we’re now going back into full lockdown. What a horrendous situation for everyone.

THIS MONTHS FAVOURITES

1. Nioxin Shampoo & Conditioner

2. The Great British Bake Off is back!!!!

3. Strictly is back!!!!!!

4. Phillip Schofield’s new book. As a big fan of his I’ve been looking forward to reading it for ages

5.  The new Netflix series ‘Emily in Paris’. It’s more suited to my 15 year daughter who loves it but it’s something to watch and the views of Paris are stunning. 

6. Go Ahead Yoghurt Breaks, I’ve just discovered these, they’re only 75 calories and I love them

THOUGHT FOR THE MONTH

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