This is not part of the plan

Do you know that episode of Friends, The One Where They All Turn Thirty? Rachel freaks out because she’s turning 30 and realises her mental timescale isn’t corresponding to where she’s at in real life. I used to think that episode was funny, but now it seems uncomfortably close to my own age and life and it’s no longer so amusing!

Life many people, I had a life plan mapped out. I’d leave school, go to University, meet a partner there, leave and establish a career, be married by 25 and have kids by 27. Simple.

I did not schedule time in my plan for mental illness. I did leave school and I did go to University, but that’s where neat predictability ends. At 21 my life was flipped upside down and it never got ‘back on track’ like my mind says it should have. Career? No. Marriage? No. Kids? Ha.

I recently turned down a job offer for my dream job. Doing that broke my heart, but for the first time in a long time I’m being honest about where I’m at in life. The critic in my head is screaming that I turned down the opportunity to finally get ‘back on track’; it was my chance to move out of my parents (moving a very, very long way from home), set up life on my own (again x10), start the career that might help me catch up on the plan that has been flashing at the front of my head with a warning beacon since I first fell unwell 6 years ago – TIME IS RUNNING OUT. 

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Life feels a lot like Scotland today. Stormy. But if you can choose to see the scary, or you can see the beauty in it.

But is it? What if I unplug the warning beacon and let the plan fall into darkness? Who came up with the rule that we must be married by X, earn £££ by X, own our own home by X and have popped out a few sprogs by X? All my life I have held onto this fear of being left behind, of time running out – but while I sit in a corner and panic about how my life is slipping away, life is actually passing me by! In an effort to catch up, to achieve something amazing to make up for my perceived failures, I tend to reach too high and ultimately fall. I want to reach 10 without passing through 4, 5 and 6 – and that usually makes me stumble, fall, and end up in negativity.

Although there were a number of personal factors also involved in my refusal of the dream job, one reason was that I’m trying to finally stop running before I can walk. I want to accept where I am right now and build on it, rather than beat myself up for being here and wishing I was somewhere else. If I had to choose 3 words to describe my decision making in the past they would be: fast, wreckless and over-ambitious. Now, I want to be: confident, considered and good-enough. No more panicking that I’m not doing well enough in life; I’ve actually been through a lot, and wading back in slowly is probably going to get me to where I want to be in a better physical, mental, spiritual and financial state than if I threw myself back into the sea of life screaming ‘Wait for me, I’m behind on my plans and need to get there QUICKLY.’

Until now I’ve been an angry passenger on an express train through my twenties, annoyed that we seem to have missed stopping at Career Central, Proposal Junction and 2.4 Children Station. But what I’m trying to accept now is that none of those stops were planned ones, and I need to sit back and enjoy the ride instead.

Custard Cream biscuits

img_5287These are absolutely perfect wee biscuits for serving with a cup of tea mid afternoon. You can make them as small or as large as you like; I’m a fan of dainty bakes so tend to make them small, but they’re so versatile and so easy to make. They’re deliciously crumbly and ever so light.


Custard Creams

Grease 2 large baking sheets

For the biscuits:

  • 175g (6 oz) plain flour
  • 50g (2 oz) custard powder
  • a pinch of salt                                           Oven at 180°C/160°C fan oven/Gas 4
  • 175g (6 oz) margarine or butter
  • 50g (2 oz) icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence

For the icing:

  • 85g (3 0z) butter
  • 175g (6 oz) icing sugar
  • splash of vanilla essence 

Cream the margarine/butter and icing sugar until smooth. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, custard powder and salt, then gradually add the flour mixture to the butter/sugar mixture until it is combined and smooth. Add the vanilla essence and mix this in too.

Using your hands, roll small quantities of the mixture into balls then place on the preprepared baking trays. Like I said, you can make these as smimg_2540all or as large as you like, so how many you get will depend on the size. Flatten each ball gently
with a fork, then pop in the oven for 15-20 minutes until they are crisp (as they are yellow in colour it can be quite hard to tell when they are done, but look for them juuust going brown around the edges).

As they cool, make your butter icing by creaming the butter, vanilla essence and icing sugar together. Sandwich in between 2 biscuits and voila – custard creams!

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A bit of Berry makes things better

Firstly, thank you so much for your encouraging words about starting my blog. I’ve read blogs for a while but always been too nervous to comment (why?!) – my ‘do one thing that scares you’ task for the last week has been commenting on other people’s blogs and everyone has been so responsive and welcoming. Thank you!

If you could see into my mind right now, you’d see static; y’know, the white noise fuzz that appears on tv if it isn’t tuned properly? That’s how my head feels. So much anxiety about jobs, health, accommodation… it feels never ending. I’m trying super hard to live more mindfully during this scary time of my life and stop panicking about what might happen next week/month/year/in 5 years time. Just this morning my wonderful yoga iimg_5863nstructor emailed me with a mindfulness link and it came as a timely reminder to stop and just appreciate right now. 

I was also able to stop with mum yesterday during her day off for a cuppa and catch up. Can you actually beat a cafe where your tea comes with a bumblebee tea cosy? I think not.

Like I’ve said before, baking is one of those things that helps me really clear my mind. I think it’s because I have to concentrate or I’ll weigh the ingredients wrong or add something in the wrong order. Other activities that have a similar effect for me are using my mindful colouring book, practising yoga and skiing. For my first post on here, and for a lovely, easy recipe that never fails to make me smile, I decided to turn to Mary Berry herself for inspiration. Can’t beat a bit o’ Berry.


Easy as anything Lemon Traybake

Use a 12 x 9″ rectangular tin – turn it over and mould the aluminium foil around the tin. Flip the tin up the right way, slot the foil in and lightly grease it so you have a sort of ‘tray within a tray’

For the sponge:

  • 120g (4 1/2 oz) margarine
  • 120g (4 1/2 oz) caster sugar
  • 175g (6 oz) self raising flour                                          Oven at 180°C/160°C fan oven/ Gas 4 
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • zest of 1 lemon

For the lemon topping:

  • 100g (4oz) caster sugar (or granulated for an extra crunchy topping)
  • juice of 1 lemon img_8726

Simply measure all the sponge ingredients into a large bowl. Using an electric mixer (or a wooden spoon if you feel energetic) beat it all together until it looks smooth, so about 2 minutes. It really is that simple.

It will take about 20-25 minutes for the cake to bake; stick a toothpick in it when it looks brown and is springy to touch, and if it comes out clean you’re done.

Leave the cake too cool a little for 5-10 minutes, then mix together your sugar and lemon juice. Brush or spoon it over the cake, trying to get an even spread of topping; it’ll sink in a bit and vanish, but when it dries it’ll leave a lovely crunchy glaze. Lift it out of the baking tray in it’s foil wrapper and leave to cool completely on a wire wrack before storing in an airtight container.

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Enjoy hot, enjoy cold – it’s a classic.

 

 

 

Jumping in

Eek, first post. I hate doing these things; I feel they always go like that episode of Friends “Hi, my name is Rain, I have my own kiln and my skirt is made out of wheat…”

Basically, after a long time enjoying other food and lifestyle blogs, I have decided to throw myself into the written world and start my own. I’ve been putting it off for ages, scared that no one will read it or I’ll lose interest, but I refuse to let the perfectionist in me ruin another dream so…here I go!

I find myself at a weird junction in life right now (I’m sure I’ll bore y’all to death writing about this at some point), but in the midst of all the chaos I find joy in baking, which is my main reason for starting this blog. I hope to be able to share the recipes that excite me and that I love to make for others, straight from the heart of the farm.

Another thing I love making is lists. So rather than write a boring introductory paragraph I’ll share a nice introductory list instead – get used to it!

  • My name is Suzanne, but I guess I’m more commonly known as Suz
  • I live in central Scotland – cold, remote but very beautiful
  • Aside from baking, I love to walk, ski and follow horse racing (which always surprises people, but there you go)
  • I’m an avid reader; I’d say The Goldfinch is one of my most favourite books
  • Any movie with Tom Hanks in it is good with me
  • If I could pack up and go be a yoga teacher somewhere quiet tomorrow, I totally would (alas I cannot!)
  • My absolute favourite TV show is ER
  • I trained as a nurse, in part inspired by my love for ER (if I ever said that in an interview they’d smile politely and put a cross next to my name, but it’s true!)
  • I’m really nosy and like to know everything, hence my love of studying and learning

Ok, so one random list later and I think I’m done for my first post. Hopefully I’ll be able to mould this blog into a fun mishmash of baking, recipes and life ramblings, but it’s real purpose is to provide me with a hobby and outlet for my thoughts – it doesn’t have to be perfect (and it definitely won’t be, I’m a blogging novice!) but it does have to be real. And it definitely will be that.