Thursday, 31 January 2013

'Cyprus Delight' Cupcakes

My Dad has always been a big fan of Turkish delight, (although you can only buy 'Cyprus Delights' here!) so when I saw these Turkish Delight Cupcakes over at Cakes Photos Life I thought I'd make him some. 
6oz self raising flour
6oz butter
6oz sugar
3 medium eggs
Drop of vanilla essence
Rose water - about 3 drops but according to taste
Thinly sliced Cyprus (or Turkish) Delight

Mix the cake batter as you normally would.
Place a third of the mixture into the cake cases and add a slice of 'Delight'
Cover with the remaining batter and cook as you would for a normal sponge cake.  (usually about 180deg for approx 20 minutes)

Although it didn't show up well on the photo I piped pink butter cream flavoured with  little rose water onto the cooled cakes. You could also if you wish decorate with an extra piece of 'Delight'

I was really pleased with the finished cakes, although they weren't quite a pretty looking as the ones I originally got the idea from, they were yummy!

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

The Three Saints of Education

Well, they say you learn something new everyday and that's certainly true living in Cyprus!

Leo came home from school today having made this...

The Three Holy Hierarchs  / Τριών Ιεραρχών

His teacher did reiterate the writing with him as we went to leave and asked him if he understood but he did his usual 'smile and wave' thing  where he nods and says 'Nai'  (yes) even though I think he's just humouring them.   All the children were leaving with them and I didn't think much more of it, as they often come home with religious looking artwork.

He also brought a letter which with my limited knowledge and the help of Google translate I managed to gather was about the subjects they were covering this month.   (winter and water apparently!)   The end of the letter mentioned  the Τριών Ιεραρχών, the same as on his colouring.   I couldn't quite understand what it was saying other than they were something to do with letters!

As I had a Greek lesson tonight (brought forward from tomorrow although we didn't know why!)  I asked my teacher - her explanation...

Its the Three Saints Day, all schools are closed.  

Argh, I did not know that!   I was going for coffee with the girls tomorrow morning!

Needing to know more, and trying to get confirmation that the school would be shut I jumped first onto Facebook and within minutes had several responses confirming that they would indeed be closed, good ol' Facebook!

Then, because I'm too nosy and always want to know WHY everything happens I turned to my old favourite 'Wikipedia'  and Google.

Apparently the celebration of Τριών Ιεραρχών (The Three Holy Hierarchs)  is a school holiday in remembrance of the patron saints of education, St Basil the Great, St Gregory the Theologian and St John Chrysostom who were all Bishops in the early Christian Church.

In the eleventh century there was a dispute about who was the greatest until they appeared in a vision to the Bishop of Euchaita saying they were all equal before God. Since then a feast day commemorating the three was instituted.  It is also a celebration of the Greek letters in some places.

Information from here and Wikipedia 

The 30 Day Shred - Let's do it!

At the beginning of the year I announced that I had the mad idea to try and do the '30 day shred'. It sounded terrifying so I thought I'd work up to it and do the 6 week challenge on EA Sports on the Wii. However, a week into it and I realised it's a bit rubbish so I thought I'd just go for it!

So on Saturday I dug out my exercise mat and tins of beans (as weights!) and did Day 1. It was bloody hard work, and I did think I was going to die but I figured it was only 20 minutes so I just powered through whilst swearing and moaning (in my head as I didn't have the breath or energy to do it out loud!)

The push ups were the probably the hardest, well those and the jumping jacks, oh and the last section of abs. I could feel like I'd worked out afterwards but was pleasantly surprised the next day, although I did ache I had been expecting to be unable to move.

Day 2 was harder as it was the same as Day 1 with the addition of aching muscles. Day 3 was about the same.

I've just finished Day 4 and I would say that it did feel a little easier, not quite so achey today and the cardio was not so hard - by that I mean it was hard, I just felt like I might not keel over before the end!

It turns out I like being told exactly how to do something, I've done various exercise DVDs before but I've always followed the girl doing the 'easy version' and stopped when it got too hard. Because of how the Shred is designed I plan to do it exactly as you should - and so far it has really made a difference to how I think about it.  Usually I would not have pushed myself anywhere near as hard as I have these last few days but it seems like it might not actually kill me after all.

Before I got pregnant with Leo I did have a flat stomach, I got that by doing a million (probably) sit ups. In one of the DVDS I had the instructor said during the abs work out 'Do this every day and you will be fit'..... so I did. I got the same music on my phone and did the ab section every night before bed,  you know what   She was right!

Aaron has made me this rather posh planner - it now has pride of place on our fridge and I'm taking great delight in marking off each day as I go.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

365 Project - Week 4

This last week hasn't been the best of weeks!

It's been tiring, and stressful with two poorly boys and it's been the first week in probably 2 years that I haven't blogged!  I'm pleased to say they do seem to be on the mend now and hopefully we won't have to spend another couple of days at the hospital this coming week.

I am pleased though that despite the lack of blogging I have still managed to take at least one photo each day, so I've passed the point that Aaron thought I'd get to!

Obviously there hasn't been much going out which hasn't helped and Leo is going a little stir crazy now (as are we).   We've done puzzles, read books, watched DVD and made playdough funny faces.   This morning he declared he was Spiderman, and with Daddy's help he insisted he had to write a notice.

'Leo is Spiderman, If somebody is in trouble ring the bell and Leo will come'

So, here's hoping for a slightly more interesting week coming up, and more sleep!

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

'Little Star' Baby shower

Back in July when I was still waddling around with my big baby bump my friend Sam threw a lovely Baby Shower for me. So when she announced that she was also expecting a baby my mind turned to making plans to return the compliment.

Sam found out she was having a little boy so I had my colour scheme sorted but I was trying to think of what else I could do to make it special.  One day while changing Louka it came to me in a flash of inspiration....

Louka was wearing a star patterned babygrow and I happened to think that I'd have to keep that one for Sam as she loves anything and everything Starry. (well, and skulls but that's a much harder theme to work with!)

So our 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star Baby shower was conceived.....

With a fantastic whip round from the girls, we had a fantastic amount of presents for Sam and the baby.  A play mat and arch as the main gift along with a whole host of 'baby essentials' - wipes, nappies, toiletries etc.  I also created a 'Birth Day' Kit using an idea I'd seen on Pinterest, with little goodies just for Sam to take to hospital - paracetamol, a notebook and pen, lip balm and face wipes among others

Mum and I spent an evening covering boxes and arranging all the goodies, Aaron made a poster with the meaning of the baby's name which we framed for the centre of the table.  We decorated the room with blue tinsel, balloons and a home made banner reading 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star'

I made a 'cake, sponge with fondant icing to match the theme and iced star shaped cookies for everyone to take home.

Twinkle Little Star Baby shower Theme

Knowing that many people do not enjoy lots of the 'typical' baby shower games as they often have a tendency to be naff I tried to find a line between doing nothing and being tacky.  In the end we played 'Star Bingo',   a fairly quick game using star phrases rather than numbers. (Wish upon a Star, Shooting Star, Star Bright and so on)

I also made a 'Name meaning Game'  where you had to match the meanings to the list of names.  I previously had looked up the meanings of all the names of the people who would be there and printed them out ready.

Little star baby shower games

At Sam's request we also played the 'Guess the bump size game' that we played at mine. Each player takes a length of toilet paper they estimate to fit round the bump, closest wins.  I wish I'd noted what mine had been but Sam was 8 sheets!

Everyone seemed to have a great night, it was lovely to meet up with the girls without all the children (there are quite a few between us all) and actually have a proper conversation. I loved all the planning and organising of the evening and Sam really enjoyed herself so it was more than worthwhile.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

365 Project week 3

Well they say better late than never so here is my round up of the weeks 365 project photos!  It's been a week of illness here with both boys being ill, and not a lot of sleep happening in our house!

week that was, 365 project

Sunday was lovely - the weather was a little warmer than it had been so I took Leo to the park, while we were there he played in the playground and I played around with my camera taking photos of random flowers on various settings!

It was Sunday afternoon it all went a little pear shaped, Leo fell asleep on the sofa which is very unusual even after going to the park. He had developed a bit of cough and cold so I decided to keep him off school on Monday.   It was the right decision as when I got back from Slimming World (lost 1lb by the way)  he was fast asleep again at 11am.

Throughout the week in between Leo cuddles I was getting ready for my friend Sam's 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star'  baby shower on Saturday. It was a great night, all went very well and Sam loved it. (blog post coming soon!)

Toward the end of the week Leo got better (it seemed at first anyway) and Louka got worse and we ended up taking him to be checked on Sunday night. He had a feverish cold and now has a horrible cough and then Leo came home early yesterday from school with a fever as well!

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Saturday, 12 January 2013

365 Project, Week 2

We are into the second week of Project 365, only got to do a few more days and I will have got further than Aaron predicted! I'm enjoying the challenge so far, in fact the most difficult bit is finding the time to visit the other people joining in and linking up with The Boy and Me!

I'm still posting my photos daily which is helping me stay on track but to save me trying to decide on my favourite one I thought I'd also do a weekly collage here too today.

Project 365

We started this week by going to Agia Napa for the Epiphany Celebrations and a walk round the harbour followed by the obligatory stop in the play area.

On Monday I joined a new Slimming World group and so far have enjoyed getting back on the plan. I've made an effort to cook varied meals and not only did I make soup but also Slimming world Scan Bran Chocolate cake - you know you're having a serious week when you make that!

Aaron brought his long awaited new motorbike on Tuesday and Leo was very excited to see it and have a little ride on it with Daddy.

Wednesday was a very unusual day, not only was it absolutely freezing and many of my friends were having to scrape the ice of their cars for the school run but it actually snowed here! Ok, it was only for a few minutes and it didn't settle but it really did snow!!!   It was very amusing to see my facebook news feed which was full of updates about it!

On Thursday we had a quiet afternoon at home, doing lots of colouring and watching Leo's school play on DVD, which he had been given that day.  It was lovely to see him, even though it was very brief as he was out of shot most of the time. He seemed to love it though and enjoyed pointing all his friends out to us.

After school on Friday we presented Leo with a 'big surprise' - his very first bike. He was not as impressed as I'd imagined he would be, and after having a little go on it asked what his surprise was going to be!  He has yet to get the hang of it, and only seems to be able to pedal backwards at the moment!

Today we stayed at home and had a visit from my friend Sam and her daughter, with Christmas and New year, plus her recent visit to the UK it seemed like it had been a long time since we had seen each other properly. The kids enjoyed playing and were almost nice to each other the whole time!

TheBoyandMe's 365 LinkyPhotobucket

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

A visit to Kapparis Mini Zoo and Viewpoint

Just before Christmas we had a visit from Aaron's Mum and his two nephews, I love having visitors as not only is it lovely to see people again after so long it makes us much more likely to do 'tourist stuff'.  For some time now I've been meaning to visit the Famagusta view point and mini zoo in Kapparis, just down the road from us. I went with Leo and a friend of mine a couple of years ago but he was a little bit young to appreciate it. 

Kapparis, It is situated at the end of Kapparis, as far as you can go along the coastline towards the closed of city of Famagusta. It's a fascinating, yet sad, when you remember the reason it exists. As a trip out it's not too expensive (€4 for adults, €1 or children) and has more to keep the kids entertained than the other viewpoints you can visit.  

There is a small museum with information and displays about the invasion of 1974 and the effects it had on the island. Photos of Famagusta and Varosha prior to 1974 when it was the islands largest tourist destination. There are plenty of free books and leaflets you can take if you wish to know more as well.  There is also a very interesting video about it to watch, although if you have children it is very unlikely you'd get to see the whole thing!

Turkish invaison 1974

Up on the roof, for €1 you can use a telescope to view the abandoned hotels in the distance on the bay of Famagusta.
Varosha, Famagusta, Ghost town,

For the younger ones of course the mini zoo is the good bit! Leo loved seeing the animals - well except the goat, he was a bit alarmed by him, but to be fair the fence holding him in looked like it had seen better days so I don't blame him!  

Kapparis Mini Zoo

It couldn't be classed as a day out by anyone's standard as there is not enough to fill that much time but its worth a visit with young kids to see the animals and for everyone else to learn a bit more about the recent history of Cyprus.

Monday, 7 January 2013

The first day of the rest of my life!

I love the expression 'The first day of the rest of your life' and although technically every day is today certainly felt like it.  Usually I hate January with a passion but currently this one is looking all good. Today I rejoined Slimming World, at a new group (new to me, not the area).  It's within walking distance as was my old group in the UK which is good as you get that little bit of extra exercise on the way!

Slimming World Food optimising plan
They seem like a nice bunch of people there which makes all the difference when it comes to wanting to go along each week. I already know 3 of the ladies who go so it's even better. I tried to get back on the plan after Louka was born and lost 1/2 stone but I was struggling a little without the support of a group. It really does make all the difference going along each week - people have often said I don't need to go as I know the plan so well but it just doesn't work as well.

I KNOW Slimming World works, and I know it works really well if you do it right, but that means going to a group, and also STAYING to the group. In my experience those who only 'weigh and go' never do as well as those who stay so it's good to find a group which suits you. As my old consultant said 'Those that stay lose the weight, those that don't lose interest'.

In case you hadn't gathered I'm quite excited about it! Now I'm done with having babies and I've got jeans I haven't worn for over 3 years I'd like to get back into - I've just got to do it one more time!

I started the EA Sports '6 week challenge' last week on the Wii, which I have not completed before and has been on my '101 list' for ages!

It was also the first Greek lesson after the Christmas break and I really enjoyed getting stuck back into it. Finally I actually feel that by the end of 2013 I might actually be able to have a decent conversation in Greek!

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Epiphany Celebrations in Agia Napa

Today is Epiphany, an important Bank Holiday in Cyprus and for the first time in the 3 years we have lived here we made it down to Agia Napa harbour to see the celebrations.  Not being religious myself and certainly not up enough on my knowledge of Greek Orthodox I headed over to good ol' Wikipedia....

Western Christians celebrate the arrival of the Three Wise Men on this day but Greek Orthodox celebrate the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan river.  In Greece and Cyprus the celebration is focused around the 'Great Blessing of the Waters' where a cross is thrown into the water and the men try to retrieve it for good luck.

In Agia Napa the celebration started at 7am with a church service and then moved to the harbour, which is where we joined the crowds.

Epiphany Agia Napa Cyprus

It was amazingly busy, we guessed over 1000 people must have been there. We were lucky to find a good spot to watch on a boat (and the fact my camera has a good zoom!)

Although the skies were lovely and blue and the sun was shining, it was very windy and felt very cold despite the fact I was wearing two jumpers and a coat - I hate to think how cold the lads got in the water and during the long wait they had to get in!

Leo was a bit bemused by all the people and the (very loud) chanting by the Priest  obviously he didn't know what was going on despite my rather rubbish attempt at explaining it and he was more interested by the fact he could stand on a boat.

After the ceremony we eventually got back through the crowds, (not as easy with a buggy unless you want to mow everyone down!) and stopped off at the little playground for Leo to enjoy.  He had a great time pretending the area under the slide was a restaurant and spent ages running back and forth to us serving us food and drinks, which we had to pay for with our imaginary money... well all except my Mum who for some random Leo reason was not allowed anything!

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Some great advice for life!

I saw a lovely piece of writing today shared on facebook by several of my friends and I thought it something worth remembering and some great thoughts for my first blog post of the year.

It was written by a lady called Regina Brett, 90 years old of Cleveland, Ohio.

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short – enjoy it..

4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and family will. 

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don't have to win every argument. Stay true to yourself.

7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.

8. Save for retirement starting with your first pay check.

9. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

10. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.

11. It's OK to let your children see you cry.

12. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

13. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it...

14 Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

15. Get rid of anything that isn't useful. Clutter weighs you down in many ways.

16. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.

17. It's never too late to be happy. But it’s all up to you and no one else.

18. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.

19. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

20. Over prepare, then go with the flow.

21. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.

22. The most important sex organ is the brain.

23. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.

24. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will this matter?'

25. Always choose life.

26. Forgive but don’t forget. 

27. What other people think of you is none of your business. 

28. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

29. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

30. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does..

31. Believe in miracles.

32. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

33. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.

34. Your children get only one childhood.

35. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

36. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

37. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.

38. Envy is a waste of time. Accept what you already have not what you need.

39. The best is yet to come...

40. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

41. Yield.

42. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift."

 I'm not generally a fan of New Years Resolutions but this is just the kind of thing I would like to keep in mind as the year progresses.

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