Monday, 31 December 2012

Pop, Fizz, Clink; Thanks 2012, here's to 2013

2012 is done and gone, and what a year it's been. A highlight for me was our trip to Europe- a resolution from last new years that came true.

Another highlight was finishing my degree, and starting to get fit. Matt and I have both been learning to cook and eat healthier too (although the Christmas period has seen us eat far, far too much bacon to be considered healthy anymore).

I've loved 2012, my second year of marriage, my second year living in Wellington. In both I have felt more settled and more comfortable.

I'm excited about what 2013 will bring for us. Matt and I would love to save enough to buy a house. I want to get a big chunk of my MA done. I'm orginising a big conference (with help from a lovely lady) for mid year, and I want that to go well too. We have other plans on our horizon too which might shake things up a bit in 2013. I feel like 2013 is going to be a big year and I'm scared really excited.

Thanks 2012, you've been great. Here's to 2013.

Here's to my readers- a big thank you. Hope 2013 is all you wish it to be.

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Sparkly Nails with Stripes Tutorial

With the New Year quickly approaching, and work still a few days away, it's time for party nails.

1. You will need: 
  • A base colour (I used an Orly sparkly white/silver)
  • A top colour (I used a Rimmel 193 Black Cherry)
  • A top sparkly coat if desired (I used Kiko Sparkle Touch- an Italian Brand)
  • A top coat
  • A sticker or tape
  • Scissors to cut sticker/tape
  • Nail polish remover and cotton buds to remove any mistakes
2. Cover your nail's with the base colour, about 2-3 coats and leave for at least 30 minutes, or until its completely dry

3. Cut very thin strips of stickers or tape and place firmly on your nail as desired

4. Paint on your top coat, quite thickly

5. Carefully but quickly remove the strips, in the opposite order to the way you put them on

6. If you wish, top it all off with another sparkly coat of colour (go on it's party season!). Cover with top coat

I just did it as 'accent' nails, but do it to as many nails as you wish.

Enjoy and party on xo

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Couch to 5k: Weeks 6-7 (the super hard weeks.)

After my last physical and mental victory, of running 20 minutes, I was on a high...
And then that very afternoon I became violently ill.

Oh yes, tummy bugs are only pleased if they visit me at least once every 4 months. My time was due. And it wasn't pretty.

So, I put my running on hold for a week, to fully recover, and started week 6 a week after I finished week 5.

Week 6 day 1 should have been pretty easy after the last 20 minute run. It's a 5 min run, short walk, 8 min run, short walk and 5 min run. I thought I had it in the bag. Turns out I wasn't as recovered as I thought I was, or a week off had taken its toll, and I really struggled through. I had to stop briefly in the 8 minute run. In the cool down I was dizzy.

Day 2 was two 8 minute runs, and I found it a bit easier than the previous run. But in my cool down I was so dizzy I had to stop and sit down several times.

How I felt.

I wasn't sure if I should repeat the start of week 6, or continue. I decided that because I had completed the first two runs, I should at least give the third (a 25 minute non-stop run) a try. So I did, and strangely enough it was the easiest of the week. I must have been fully recovered. To be fair, I was going snails pace, but to me actually running for 25 minutes was more important than going far- I aimed to improve on that in week 7.

Week 7 is just (well not *just* hahaha) three 25 min runs. It was Christmas week, so I was running in a new place (near my hubby's parents house) with our weird Christmas weather. The first run was a piece of cake, as I went very slowly again. On the second run I tried to take it up a notch, only to be set back by the heat and I ended up walking a bit.

The third run I was back at home, and I enjoyed being on the route I knew again. It means I can easily see my progress. On this route I went another 1/2 k further than I had run before. Seeing how much further you can get before the halfway warning is quite encouraging. Even though I went further and faster, I did need a 30 second walk when I was going uphill with the wind pushing against me. I've decided not to take the occasional short walk as a failure, because I am still getting further each time.

So I'm now running 4-4.2km each time, so I am not too far off the 5k mark. I will be off in more weird and wacky places over the next two weeks (the last two weeks of the program), and I'm not sure if that will hinder or help me, but here's hoping I can make it to 5km!

How are you doing in your couch to 5k training?

(all photos linked to original source.)

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Castle Cake Tutorial

My niece turned 5 last weekend, and I was asked to make a castle cake for her princess themes birthday party. I modelled the cake off the classic Women's weekly castle cake:

I wanted to step it up a notch, so I googled for cake ideas. Many were too hard for me, but I took a lot of ideas from a lot of different cakes, and designed my own. I found drawing a sketch helped my planning too.


I used pettiance icing, which is the same as fondant. I started by colouring about 1.5kgs of it pink and about 250g green (leaving 250g white). The reason you want to do the whole lot of one colour at the same time is so you don't end up with different shades of that colour throughout the whole cake (you will never match the shade perfectly again.) When you have coloured your fondant (tutorial here if you don't know how to do that) make sure you wrap it well in glad wrap/plastic wrap as it dries very quickly.


You can do the turrets a few days in advance, as there is no cake in them, so they won't go off. You will need

- your coloured icing
- 5 toilet rolls
-plastic wrap
-5 small waffle or ice cream cones.
-a knife
-a rolling pin
-icing sugar
-water and a small brush
-tooth picks

Start by covering the toilet rolls in plastic wrap (for hygiene reasons). Then roll out the icing colour on a bench which is well dusted with icing sugar (so it doesn't stick to the bench.) Wrap a toilet roll in the fondant and cut off to shape. Use water on a brush to wet one edge of the fondant, so the other side will stick to it. Use your fingers to shape it. (remember to put un used fondant straight back in the plastic wrap.) Use the back of a knife to lightly draw a brick shape on the fondant before it sets. Repeat this for each toilet roll.

For the cones, use a different colour. As before, roll the fondant out. Brush the cone with water and roll the fondant on and cut it to shape. Use your fingers to stick it to the cone. Repeat for each cone.

Use a little water to stick each cone to a covered toilet roll. I used some white icing in the turret shape (as above) to help stick them together, and to hide the gap. Roll out some white icing, cut into shape, and wrap around the join from the toilet roll and the cone.

If you want flags for the top of each turret, cut these out from the white icing. Stick half a tooth pick as the post in each flag. Leave for 24 hours to set, then place carefully in the top of each cone.

The cake

You will need to bake 2 big square cakes (any flavour). And one loaf tin sized cake. Leave until completely cool.

Level the two big cakes and fill and cover with butter cream frosting. This is your cake base. Now you will need to roll out your big lot of coloured icing. Remember to use a bench with icing sugar on, and turn over the fondant frequently. You will want it to be about 80mm thick. When it's big enough, cover the square cake with it. See a tutorial here for how to cover a square cake with fondant.


When the cake is covered, you will want to put the turrets on straight away, so they will harden and stick as the fondant hardens. Put one turret in each corner. You may need to use toothpicks to help them stick.

When the turrents are there, you can see how much room there is for the middle cake. Cut the loaf tin cake to size, and cover with icing, then fondant (as above.) Stick this to the middle of the cake with a little frosting on the bottom. When this cake is in place, place the final turret on top.


This is the fun part where you can be creative. Make windows and doors out of fondant. Stick them on using a little water. Make a mini princess, make whatever you feel like. Its the perfect time to use any extra fondant up, and add your own flair. I also added a paper banner with my nieces name on it.

Watch them be amazed, and enjoy

Monday, 10 December 2012

Couch to 5k: Weeks 4-5

Woooo! I completed weeks 4-5! I'm pretty excited.

Yes, these two weeks I needed inspiration like above. A whole lot of positive self talk got me through.

So week 4. Each day you run for 3 mins, walk 1.5, run 5, walk 3 then repeat. Running 5 minutes was  a mental barrier I had to push through. But I made it and each day I got a bit faster. Going further and further before the halfway turn around mark made me feel inspired and proud each time.

Week 5, the dreaded week. Week 5 starts off on day one with three 5 minute runs with small walks in between. It was ok, as I had run for 5 minute intervals in the previous week, so I knew I could do it. Day two it was run for two lots of 8 minutes with a 5 minute walk in the middle. It was ok, but towards the end of the 8 minute blocks I was so ready to stop and just had to push through.

So week 5 day 3 jumps straight into a 20 minute run, no breaks. This day was the worst mentally. I had the whole morning free, but I kept putting it off, doing other things. Then I had to give myself a pep talk and just get on it. So off I went. I kept my pace steady. It was fine. Challenging though. About minute 13 I was so ready to walk, but I just became my own cheer squad in my head (Jenn, you're doing so great, just keep it up, when you finish this you will be so pleased, not much further.)

And boom, before I knew it, 20 minutes was up! One month after I could barely do a minute I did 20.
(my super excited, bright red face after the 20 minute run.)

I know running for 20 minutes is easy for many people, but for me, it was an achievement. But even running 5, then 8 minutes was an achievement too. 

The good thing about this program (or other one like this) is that it builds you up slowly, but you can look back and see how much you've improved. It's very encouraging.

Another thing I am finding, is that my recovery time is getting shorter and shorter. When I started I had to lie on the bed for a while to recover after each run. Now I just need to sit down and have a drink and something to eat, but there is no excessive rest time needed. Do others who have done couch to 5k find this?

I'm excited for week 6-7, which don't look as daunting now as they did a few weeks ago.

How are you finding the couch to 5k?

Saturday, 8 December 2012


Last week, after 7 years, I finally graduated with my Degree. I was excited!

We went to Palmerston North, and my lovely Husband and brother woke up at 6am so we could be there. They sat through the (mostly boring) ceremony, and I'm so glad they did!

BA in Linguistics- done and dusted! Now onto my Masters.....

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

My favourite running songs

When I first started running I just used my normal playlist on shuffle. I soon learned that slow, meaningful songs, or podcasts I normally love just weren't helping me run. (Trying to run to some depressing Adele song was not helping the pace.)

So I have to make a playlist that would motivate me to run- with both the speed, tempo and the lyrics.

Here are my top 5 running songs:

LMFAO: 'I'm sexy and I know it.'

Lyrics include: 'Look at my body, I workout!,' and "I'm sexy and I know it.'
I have a strong suspicion this song is a dig at people who think they are 'all that' when they work out, but I don't care, because this song gets me moving!

Kanye West: 'Stronger'

Lyrics include: 'That which doesn't kill you makes you stronger,' and 'Work it, make it, do it, makes us, harder, better, faster, stronger.' Good words to be hearing on that strong uphill climb!

La Roux: Bulletproof

Lyrics include: 'This time baby, I'll be, bulletproof' and 'tick tick tick on the watch, life's too short for me to stop.'

Matchbox 20: How far we've come

Lyrics include: 'let's see how far we've come.' (repeated a LOT). I love it when this one comes on at the end of a run.

Lady Soveriegn: So Human

Lyrics include: 'I'm so human, its ok, for me to, feel this way,' (good at the end of a run!) and 'doesn't it feel much better (aha) when you've had a better day then yesterday.'

Listening to these songs will get you itching to move - which is the whole point of a running playlist right?
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