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Tasty Tuesday: Chocolate Easter Bark

Today’s Tasty Tuesday is as simple as it gets! It would be brilliant for your own family to enjoy or to break up, wrap up and give as Easter gifts or as something to display at an Easter/Spring party.

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You Will Need:

  • 200g milk chocolate
  • 100g white chocolate
  • Bag of mini eggs
  • Bag of white chocolate mini eggs
  • mini fudge pieces
  • any other chocolate you fancy throwing in!

This recipe is obviously geared towards Easter but you can use whatever you want in the bark, basically, have fun with it, use dark chocolate, use all white chocolate – it’s up to you!

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Method:

  1. Line a baking tray with grease proof paper, secure it with a little dollop of melted chocolate to stop it slipping.

2. Heat a saucepan of water with a bowl balanced on top – BE CAREFUL, USE OVEN GLOVES AS THE BOWL WILL GET VERY HOT.  Melt the milk chocolate and then pour it onto the baking tray.

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3. Now melt the white chocolate and drizzle on top of the milk chocolate, use a spoon to gently mix it and create patterns.

4. Put the mini eggs into a sealed sandwich bag and crush up using a rolling-pin.

5. Now have fun popping all the different eggs, fudge pieces and sprinkles into the chocolate!

6. Place the tray in the freezer for 15 minutes or into the fridge for about an hour before removing it and chopping it into your bark pieces!

And there you have it, Tasty Tuesday Chocolatey Easter Bark – yummers!

 

Enjoy!

#hairlesshannah

 

Easter gift craft

With Easter just around the corner it’s time to start thinking about how you will celebrate and what gifts you may want to give to your friends and family. Easter eggs always tend to feature highly in most households at this time of year but it is so easy to just go to a shop, choose and buy an egg…it’s always nicer when there’s a little personal touch to things. So here’s a craft that children will love but for adults too – and once you have all the resources it’s super easy.

You Will Need:

  • Empty, clean jars of varying sizes
  • chalk paint
  • paintbrushes
  • ribbon
  • scissors
  • glue
  • Easter silhouette, vinyl, peelable glass/window stickers
  • various chocolate eggs

Method:

  1. Make sure your glass jars are clean and then choose the stickers you want to use.
  2. Put the stickers on the jars, move them around until you are happy with their position. 

    3. Now choose which colours you want to use; I went for pastel colours as I felt they were more Spring like. You will need a few coats, I started by going around the rims of the jar and then brushing down to cover the stickers and ensuring every part is coated evenly.

 

 

4. Leave to dry for around 10-15 between each coat.

5. Once dry, carefully peel off the vinyl stickers to reveal the silhouette on the jar!

 

 

6.  Fill each jar with your chosen chocolate eggs.

7. Then you can decorate as you please! I popped flowers on the lids and finished with some ribbon but you could do whatever you fancy really!

 

 

And there you have it, some beautiful little Easter jars to give as presents or use as a centrepiece for any Easter display.

Happy Friday!

#hairlesshannah

I, Hannah Green

Last week I finally got round to watching, ‘I, Daniel Blake.’ From the opening second I could feel my heart beating faster and stress filtering through my body – the scene was one of a conversation between Daniel and the DWP (Department for Work and Pensions) asking the medical assessment questions. Questions which will lead to you being awarded points which then determine what benefits you are entitled to. It is scored out of 15 and the questions go something like this: “Can you lift your arm above your head? Can you walk unaided for 50 metres? Can you walk to the bottom of your garden unaided? Can you show me how you take your shoes and socks off? Can you empty your bowels frequently?

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Yes, these questions and answers override anything your doctors or specialists have advised or done and if you score less than the 15 points they tell you that you are fit for work and therefore need to apply for Job Seekers Allowance. I cannot tell you how similar Daniel’s story is to mine. I scored 0/15 on my assessment. Zero. Zilch.Nada. So as with Daniel, I had my ESA (Employment Support Allowance) taken away – which I’d never actually received in the first place may I add – and was told to make an appointment for Job Seekers.

The character of Daniel is similar to myself. He didn’t want to give up without a fight because he knew he was entitled to something and that is what we have worked and contributed for all our lives. In the end I cancelled my Job Seekers interview after yet another frustrating conversation with the DWP. I tried telling them that although I was wanting to take my case for mandatory consideration, I was not willing to waste both my own and the people at Job Seekers when I wasn’t actually able to work! This they couldn’t understand. They wanted me to turn up and get advise on how to write a CV before applying – at this point I informed her I was a teacher and knew how to write a CV, again I was told, “In order to dispute your claim Miss Green, this is what we will need to see you doing.” Well I’m sorry, but I am not doing that, I am not willing to put myself through a humiliating session, being made to feel degraded and useless. So the route I am taking is to let the DWP know that my parents will be appealing on my behalf because I no longer have the strength to deal with their red tape and bs.

I won’t give away the whole storyline of the film, but you should watch it. It challenges stereotypes at every turn and gives an insight into how people could quite easily end up homeless on the streets. If I didn’t have my family or the back up of selling my flat, what would I do then? The reality is that once my money was gone, I would be homeless. I am sure the people at the DWP are nice people who are just doing as they are told but to me they are inhumane robots who don’t care, don’t see the real people, don’t consider what medical professionals are saying about your health. They talk to you like you are below them, like a piece of dog poo they stepped in on the street, they let you hang up the phone and cry because you feel so worthless. I wonder what they would do or how they would feel in the same situation?

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There is something fundamentally wrong with our society and our benefits system. I would give anything to be able to work, if I could I’d be down applying for Job Seekers ASAP but I can’t right now and regardless of what my GP, neurologist and ME specialists say, the computer still says no because I can lift my arms high enough to put a hat on my head! I know that the majority of people on benefits do genuinely need them, but I also know there are people out there who abuse the system and get away with it and that angers me beyond belief. All I want is to receive the benefits I’m entitled to so that I can help my parents pay the bills that I’m adding to by being back at home. I want to have some money coming in so I don’t feel totally dependent. I want to be acknowledged as someone who is worth the help and support, not someone who is a scrounger.

I, Daniel Blake is a very powerful film which highlights current issues in a true light, and I can say that because much of what he experiences mirrors what I have to. I have a very dear friend who is also having to fight for her sons rights, if you heard the details of their story your blood would boil on their behalf. The film should be watched by as many people as possible so that these issues are discussed – awareness can only bring positive outcomes. So watch, talk about it and take action if you feel you can. Our next step will be writing to our local MP, the injustice needs to be addressed.

I, Hannah Green feel abused by the system, but I’m afraid that as with Daniel in the film, they have chosen the wrong person and family. We will continue to fight and complain and make my voice heard..I just need to stock up on some spoons before I try again!

Just something for you to ponder on this Tuesday!

See you Friday.

#hairlesshannah

March Favourites

Spring has sprung and March is almost done! So here are my top picks from the last month.

TV and film.

How To Get Away With Murder.

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I’d heard about this series way back when I was in Dubai but never started it even though I am a huge fan of Shonda Rhimes. I have watched all of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal and love them both so I was already sold when I knew this was another of her creations. However, it was also the fact that Viola Davis is the lead actress and she is just top class. I have to admit that I became a binge watcher after episode one but it saved my skin over three weeks of sleepless, painful nights and afternoons and I loved it! It was one of those box sets that kept me guessing until the end and each episode had a cliffhanger that left me needing to watch the next episode ASAP! Netflix has the first two series and the third series should be coming soon. Seriously – go watch it, Shonda I can’t work out if your’e just simply a creative genius or a seriously messed up woman who needs some counselling – either way, thank you for creating three of my favourite TV series!

This Is Us

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This has been a series that I’d heard whispers about and it caught my eye because I do love Mandy Moore! It’s been on Channel 4, there’s only one series and I have to say, it’s brilliant. It tracks the lives of a family in two different time zones, following the path of the parents and their initial relationship through to having children and then the present day which allows us to see how the family exist now. It has subtle twists and turns but echoes issues that many could relate to, it’s beautifully written, it made me laugh and cry and I can’t wait for series two to come out.

I, Daniel Blake

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Now, I’m not going to go into this too much because I’m still pondering it due to the some of the incredible correlations to my experiences with the DWP. I will be writing a blog post about it but I do urge you to watch it. You will grow to love the characters, feel their frustrations and laugh at the humour. It highlights so many issues that plague our society today and highlight stereotypes and challenge our perceptions. It’s film at it’s best and you really should watch it…it’s not a book but it would provide a great subject for a book club discussion so maybe switch it up a bit and discuss this film rather than a book this month.

Beauty

Clinique Moisture Surge

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I love this product. I was first introduced to this in an airport because it’s great to apply when flying as it does what it says on the tin and really does give your skin a moisture surge when it’s feeling dry and horrid. You can get a light version or a stronger version depending on your skin type. I have used both and honestly, I’ll never stop using it. It sinks straight into the skin but it feels wonderful, it’s just a very wet moisturiser that hydrates your skin. Love it.

Baking

Wilton Food Colouring

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I’ve been using Dr Oetker gel colouring which is fab but very expensive and doesn’t always achieve the colour required with one tube. So the discovery of Wilton has been a revelation to my baking days! You literally only need to use a toothpick to achieve bold colours, I’d advise less is more until you work out how much you need to get the colour you want. The use by date is 2019 and knowing the amount I used for one rainbow cake, it’s going to stretch and last a very long time. It’s very cost-effective so if you bake lots I’d really push you to go out and buy some or order online like I did!

Bedroom nooks

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I’ve spent a lot of time in my bedroom this month and it’s been important to make it feel relaxing and comforting. These two lamps are two of my most treasured items – the blue one has travelled all the way back with me from Egypt and the white one from Dubai, they are so beautiful and give off the most stunning light. Then I have my lovely little candle that a friend gave me and my newest addition of my little fake plant – who’d know eh?! Wilko’s came up trumps with it and I think it completes my little corner.  Spring cleaning season is here so make your rooms nice, you don’t need to spend a lot of money, you probably already have lots of bits and bobs that just need to be rearranged in order to change the outlook of your room. It’s amazing how these little things can change or help our moods – have a go and see what happens!

And there you have it, my March picks…see you on the other side of April…eek!

#hairlesshannah

Life would be boring if we were all the same

Grief isn’t really a word I’d associated with my life over the past 18 months until my one-off psychotherapy session. Grief tends to be associated with the loss of a loved one, describing any other form of loss as grief hadn’t really occurred to me before. Yet once I started to ponder this thought, I’ve realised that I have experienced an awful lot of grief on many differing levels and I haven’t dealt with any of them properly.

Since a young age I have most definitely been a person to put on a brave face in front of people because I never want to be a burden. I don’t want to impose on people and add to the stresses and strains they are inevitably dealing with in their own lives. Now don’t get me wrong, of course I confide in my friends and I do talk to my family…when it’s pulled out of me…but on the whole, I like to think I can deal with things, work them through, on my own. But at this golden age of thirty, as this never-ending illness keeps its nails firmly dug into my every being, I’m learning that I can’t always cope on my own. Not as well as I’d like to think I do anyway!

Grief is a process and a process dealt with differently by every human and that’s why it should never be faced with judgement. The way I may deal with things is probably totally different to how someone else would and the time frame I deal with it is also probably vastly different too. This is life, humans are meant to be different, what’s the saying – life would be boring if we were all the same! I am definitely someone who chastises myself too easily, I guilt trip myself far too quickly too and I am a sucker for comparing myself to others which in turn doesn’t help the latter two issues! Without realising it, I suddenly became aware over the past few weeks that on waking every single morning, my first thought of the day was always, without exception, one that took a dig at myself. How awful is that? To wake up every day, being in such a bad place that my first waking thought is one of hate towards myself. That’s why I know I’m not in a good place because although my own self esteem and self-confidence hasn’t always been the best, it’s never, ever been this bad. It makes me sad that I feel this way about myself, not just about my physical being but about my day-to-day life. I have always been such a go getter, a busy person with a real love for life and it makes me so sad that I’ve lost that, especially when there is so much good that surrounds me. Whereas before I could use those good things to keep my head above water, now, I know that these good things are there but they don’t help me as much to keep positive. That’s so much harder to deal with because it’s like they are at an arm’s length away but I can’t quite get to them.

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Although I’m in a waiting period before I start CBT, I thought I’d be proactive and have spent several sleepless, pain filled nights jotting down, thinking about and analysing all the things I’ve lost and may need to grieve for in the last 18 months. It seems I haven’t dealt with any of them – great start Hannah, great start! The list grew longer when I stopped looking at the bigger picture and started looking at the smaller picture that lived within it and that then became quite overwhelming. Seeing it in black and white made me really emotional.

I’m not going to bore you with my list but it ranges from the seemingly little things like not being able to spend time reading a book, to the bigger things like not being able to work, to the obvious one of losing my hair. All of these things cumulatively add up the loss of life as I knew it. The life I’d built up after jury service, being independent again, gone. Just like that. In all honesty I don’t have the answers and I don’t know how I’m supposed to let this go and I’m sure that’s a question I’ll ask when I start CBT. I just struggle with it all because there is no end point. There’s only so much positive thinking I can do. I feel like I can’t control the constant arguments in my head that flit between berating myself for not being positive to being kinder to myself and allowing myself to be okay that I’m not always being positive.

I didn’t know I was going to write this post until a few days ago when grief really did hit me in terms of the death of a loved one. Losing my Grandma was something we had been prepared for in many ways and had wished for her too because dementia is such a cruel illness. We’d lost her a long time ago and watching her the way she became was very hard, luckily she was unaware of how she was existing because she would have hated it. But I was so close to her, after Grandad passed away she was my only Grandparent left and we formed such a tight bond. I loved looking after her and spending time together. We would do puzzles, I’d join in with activities at her care home – glass painting has never been so entertaining! I enjoyed painting her nails and doing her make-up and when she was able to, I was lucky enough to be able to take her out to  enjoy a scone in John Lewis before tackling the disabled toilet with a wheelchair…we did laugh! In the later months it was nice to just sit and hold her hand, push her round the garden when the sun was out and massage in hand cream, talking to her about the past or just sitting with her as she slept. She was a truly special lady in my life and yes, I know she lived to 91 and that’s amazing and I know that she’s at peace and that it was best for her. But she was my Grandma and I loved her and I can’t explain how much I am going to miss her.

So yes, I guess you can say grief has come to a head and I don’t know what to do with it all. I haven’t cried very much which is SO unlike me but then I don’t feel like I need to, I just know that all of a sudden since this realisation, there’s this knot in the pit of my stomach and I can’t untie it. I think perhaps it’s because I know that if I start to untie it, there’s a lot to be unravelled and I don’t know if I have the strength or energy to deal with it all. It shall be done but I need the tools to approach it properly so hopefully my appointment will come through soon!

Having said all of the above, I have never lost sight if the fact that I am still so very lucky. And that has always brought me back to a quote from Winnie The Pooh; “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

Happy Tuesday.

#hairlesshannah

Guinness Chocolate Cake

Happy St Patrick’s Day!

So, I think we can safely say that many people tonight and over the weekend will be celebrating by both eating and drinking – namely having a pint of Guinness! So what better than combining the two to make a gloriously delicious Guinness cake?!

Two of my friends made this cake for me on my 30th and it was soooo good! Originally it’s a Nigella recipe so I’m sure some of you may have tried it already, but seeing as it’s St Paddy’s Day it just seemed the perfect thing to bake.

You Will Need:

For the cake:

  • 250ml Guinness
  • 250g unsalted butter
  • 75g cocoa
  • 400g caster sugar
  • 1 x 142ml pot of sour cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 275g plain flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

For the icing:

  • 300g Philadelphia cream cheese
  • 150g icing sugar
  • 125ml double or whipping cream

 

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Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 and grease and line a 23cm springform tin.
  2. Into a large, wide saucepan you need to put the Guinness and slowly add the butter which needs to be sliced thinly. Gently melt.
  3. Now whisk in the cocoa and sugar.
  4. Beat the sour cream with the 2 eggs and vanilla extract and pour into the Guinness mix.
  5. Finally whisk in the flour and bicarbonate of soda and take off the heat.
  6. Pop the cake batter into the tin and bake for 45 minutes – an hour or until a skewer comes out clean.
  7. Place on a cooling rack and let it cool completely before removing the tin – it is a really damp cake so this will take a while.

 

 

While the cake is cooling you can prepare the icing.

  1. Lightly whip the cream cheese until smooth and the add the sieved icing sugar and combine.
  2. Now add the cream and beat once more until it’s smooth and spreadable. When iced the cake should resemble a pint of Guinness with a gorgeous frothy top!

 

Make sure you only ice the cake when it’s completely cooled and then serve and enjoy!

I really hope you’re having a fab day celebrating wherever you are and that this cake can form part of your celebrations for years to come!

Happy weekend.

#hairlesshannah

 

St Patrick’s Day Gold Coin Cupcakes

Sorry this post is a little late but as they say, better late than never!

This is a fun Tasty Tuesday recipe for St Patrick’s Day this Friday, the cupcake recipe is my go to recipe and it’s so easy and delicious every time. These little cakes will be perfect for any St Paddy’s Day celebrations you may be hosting.

You Will Need:

For Cupcakes:

  • 2 eggs
  • 150g self-raising flour
  • 100g butter/margarine
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp milk

For Buttercream:

  • 200g butter
  • 400g icing sugar
  • gel food colouring
  • chocolate gold coins
  • green sprinkles

 

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Method:

  1. Pre heat the oven to 190 and line a cupcake tray with cases.
  2. It may not be what everyone would agree with, but I throw all the ingredients, butter, sugar, flour, eggs and milk all in together and mix it up for about 2 minutes.
  3. Then I add the vanilla extract and mix for a further 30 seconds.
  4. Ensure the ingredients are well combined with no lumps.
  5. Now spoon the mix into the cupcake cases evenly – I use two tea spoons to do this.
  6. Bake in the oven for 15-17 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
  7. Allow to cool on a cooling rack before icing.

 

 

While the cupcakes are cooling you can make the icing.

  1. Add the butter and sieved icing sugar into the bowl and mix for a good 5 minutes. The longer you leave to mix, the whiter the colour.
  2. After 5 minutes, add in the green gel food colouring – keep adding until you have your desired shade.
  3. Continue to mix until well combined.
  4. If you have a piping bag, choose the nozzle you require and set up the piping kit, then spoon in the icing and get piping! If you don’t have a piping kit you can use a sandwich bag and once the icing is in the bag, simply snip the corner off and pipe away!
  5. Once the cupcakes are iced, place a chocolate gold coin in the centre and pop on your green sprinkles to finish them off.
  6. And voila – gorgeous, scrummy St Patrick’s Day cupcakes.

 

Have fun making these and let me know how you get on!

See you Friday!

#hairlesshannah