Wednesday, 16 December 2015

What BeeBee Made: Festive Slice

Christmas baking, is there anything better? There has to be something said for a festival that brings about so much rich and gorgeous tasting foods. 

This is my recipe for Festive Slice. I have to admit there is very little to this, and if you're not a pastry maker, just buy that too!

1. The Pastry layer: 

225g plain flour
100g baking fat (or a mix of butter and lard/shortening)
pinch salt

Rub the fat into the flour until you get breadcrumbs (or blitz in a food processor like I do)

Add up to 2 tablespoons of water to bind. 

Roll out to fit your tray. 

2. The Marzipan layer: 

This is my favourite bit!

Take a good sized piece of marzipan, I used about 250g (half a pack of the natural version). 

Roll out until big enough to cover the base of the pastry-lined tray.

3. The Mincemeat Layer:

We're getting even more festive now. I used 2 jars of mincemeat. You can use your own, I tend to buy it and then add extra nice things like extra brandy, vanilla and orange zest. But that's your call. 

We're almost there... 

4. The Crumble Layer. 

This is were it turns from a mince pie to something a bit more special. 

100g self-raising flour
50g butter
50g sugar
50g almonds

Rub the butter and flour together, then stir through the sugar and almonds. 

Scatter this over the top of the tart. 

Bake in a pre-heated oven (190ºC, 375ºF, Gas Mark 5) for 20-25 mins. 

When it's all bubbly and golden remove from the oven and leave to cool. 

Don't try and cut this before it's cooled as it will all try and run away!

Friday, 26 June 2015

Perfectly Imperfect

There is only one problem with working in an industry where you are expected to be perfect. In fact you are not expected to be, it is demanded of you. Being perfect at what you do is your actual job. So when you dip, or make an error it is flagged at just how not perfect and human you are.

Day-to-day life feels like it should be perfect.

I am in no way perfect, and I'm not even sure that I want to be. I find a lot of the fun in life comes from the moments that weren't planned. Escalate from happy accidents. 

In the same way that we are almost expected to be cookie cutter shapes of each other. Yet in the baking we are all subtly different. In some cases the differences aren't that subtle. 

On a whole I am very happy in who I am. I have looked worse, yet this year I have decided to make a concerted effort with my health. I'm not getting any younger, and over the course of November and December I let myself get horribly run down. To the point where I was developing sores on my face and body that were just not healing at a normal speed. 

I also know I can only put off dealing with my previous blood pressure issues for so long. 

Yet part of me worries about what the rest of the Plus-Size blogger community will think about this. Am I letting down the 'sisterhood'. 

Well no. 

If my journey takes me away from being plus-sized I'll be very surprised. Also, my size isn't the prime focus of my blog. It is part of it, but not all of it. 

I can be vain, and I can't say that being able to fit in clothes from more shops isn't abhorrent to me.  Say being a size 22 as opposed to the size 30/32 I am now will literally open more avenues for me. More clothes to wear, from more outlets. Not to mention high heeled shoes. The pain that occurs from forcing your body weight though your off kilter feet and ankles is pretty much ridiculous and makes movement almost impossible. 

I am currently feeling very down. Circumstances at home and at work have changed a lot. I have found myself peering into the bottom of a biscuit barrel wondering how I ate them all. Finding time to fit everything I want to do in has been hard. 

I have still not found the solution to wanting it all, getting it all or even managing to balance what I have already got effectively. 

What I do know is, as long as I am trying my best. That is good enough. I can do no more, but I sure as hell could do a whole lot less, but I don't. I should. But I don't. 

All of us are Perfectly Imperfect. Perfect doesn't exist. It's an ideal held up there, on a pedestal just out of reach from our mortal hands. 

Saturday, 13 June 2015

So What Have I Been Up To?

In a non-descriptive phrase... not a lot.

Free time is not on my side.

Life has been adventure light.
I am hoping that I can rectify that soon as summer is fast approaching and the nights are starting to get longer.
One thing I have done is left Slimming World. For all that it is a wonderful plan, the consultants are amazing and truly do a sterling job, it wasn't the right time for me to be there. Stress, work and family ties were being pulled until there was no give left.
I am still posting my meals on instagram (follow me I'm @whatbeeate). I'm trying to keep healthy but not go too far over the top.
I have gone back into the kitchen and started baking again. I've not done too much of that since I closed my cupcake business. I'm enjoying the creativity again. I'm not doing anything elaborate. But just making something that you can see in under an hour from beginning to end has been a delight.
Some of my meal inspirations are coming from a youtuber and blogger called Lots of Sara Lynn's meals are suitable for making ahead and keeping for a full week. I'm really tempted by the salad in a jar recipes as I would be able to make them on a sunday and they'll keep until Friday. Perfect for work during the Summer. I'm already a bit of a fan of her tortellini salad, and I've already made it twice. I will be posting my take over on Princess Kitchen soon.

A new bakery, cafe and deli has opened up in the village where I work. So far I have not had a single bad thing from there. Considering the size of their portions, either I will have to stop going or learn portion control. And fast.  

I've managed to injure my left ankle and foot quiet severely, and I am currently waiting to start physiotherapy. I'm on the list for dental surgery too. 
I can honestly say I'm looking forward to not being in pain or feeling unwell.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Life Gets in the Way: An Apology

At the beginning of the year I had such big hopes for what I was going to achieve.

Both on this blog and in my personal life.

So much has changed, yet it still seem eerily the same.

I ran out of time to spend writing on here as I continued to work 2 jobs, volunteer in several different roles and ship the boys from pillar to post too.

Something had to give.

That appears to have been my health.

I'm trying to heal as best I can, given that I'm averaging about 6 hours sleep a night at the moment. With very little down time on the side.

Rest assured I have missed writing on here. I'm missing cooking and baking - something I never thought I would say. I've missed posting about frothy stuff like make up and food.

This is mind, I want to ask you a question.

Would you like to see more regular posts from myself, but with less frequency?

If so what subjects would you like me to cover?

I am sorry that I felt the need to take a break.

When I get overwhelmed I have a habit of hiding in a corner and hoping the world will go away.

Monday, 12 January 2015

Office Life

Not my office (although v similar to an office from my past)

Like most people these days I work in an office.

An open-plan office at that. At last count my floor had 140 staff squirrelled away, covering 3 business outlets and 4 departments. All of us are part of the same umbrella multi-media corporation.

Doesn't that just make it sound like I'm Miss Fancy-pants.

However, reality and the perceived nature of my day-to-day working life don't always tally up. Hence, I don't really talk about it and spend a lot of my day in cloud cuckooland rather than deal with the office politics that are always simmering just below the waterline.

What does happen, is that your team become like a little family. I'm not saying that everyone will love each other, far from it in many cases, but you do learn how to get on with things and leave them to their own devices.

Many business leaders, including Richard Branson, believe that treating staff like a family is advantageous. There is something to be said when a manager can walk the walk and not just talk the talk.

Before falling into the job I have now, I previously worked as a professional temp. I ran myself as a business temping up and down the country. I worked in various industries for  five years until I worked out what I actually wanted to do with my life... I'm not fully there yet, but I rather like what I do at the minute.

I worked for companies who deemed I wasn't northern enough when I answered the phone - strangely I didn't stay there long. I've been the main bottle washer and pot collector as an office junior. Literally counting the washers in a jar. I've processed sex offender reports and logged police evidence. I have even turned my hand to bar work and making flash cocktails for an American restaurant chain. At some point in my working life I have done pretty much everything a person could in an office.

What has stuck out for me is how teams work. It's like a complicated jigsaw, balancing a team that can work well together is an operation in personality tweaking. Generally the more a team has the flexibility to make their own decisions and have fun while doing the work the more likely they are to gel, and when their backs are against the wall more likely to be able to turn things around with minimal fuss.

Sadly in an open plan office these ideals are hard to uphold. One person's light-hearted frivolity is another person's headache inducing nightmare. Or a phone call that might get a bit heated can be heard across the office. Hands up if that has ever happened to you.

It's not the most interesting life in the world, not that much happens there that is of interest to the outside world, but my word I wouldn't change it. I work with some berks and others that keep their true selves so far buried you'd fear they'd never come up for air. My team is a mixed bag of folk, and for the most part we are each as geeky as the next and pedants at their very worst. 

More office life posts will more than likely appear over the course of the next year here on What BeeBee Did... mainly as I do office life an awful lot right now. 

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

What BeeBee Cooked: Slow Cooker Chicken Chow Mein

I have been relying quite heavily on ready meals and sandwiches since going back into the office. 

Instead of financing the local Tescos, I have taken to making my own meals on a weekend. Portioning them up and then storing them in the freezer. 

This is my Slow Cooker Chow Mein. I love it mainly as it is really simple to make. Also because it only really gives me one pot to wash up! God love the slow cooker. This makes 4 portions for me.


Skinned chicken portions
500ml Chicken stock
One bag of stir-fried vegetables (if you're being lazy like me) or a mixture of finely chopped veggies. 
Packet of dried egg noodles.
Garlic, grated - to taste I often use a tsp of garlic paste
Fresh ginger, grated - to taste or a sprinkling of ginger powder
1/3 cup Soy sauce (ish)


In your slow cooker (set to high) poach the chicken portions in the chicken stock, soy sauce, garlic and ginger for roughly 3 hours. 

When cooked through remove the chicken and set aside to cool slightly. Shred the meat and return to the pot. 

In the meantime, add the veggies to the stock for about 30 mins.

Add the dried noodles. 

Make sure the noodles are covered by the liquor. Leave until the noodles are cooked through, this should take between 15-30 minutes. All the stock should have be absorbed into the noodles. 

Return the chicken to the pot. 

Mix through. 

Serve and eat. 

Or cool and freeze.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Back to Work

Oh what a glorious break I've just had for Christmas. 

And oh what a glorious return to work, a lovely break from the children!

Things that come to mind for me in January is starting the year off right. 

This year my post-Christmas return to the office was on December 30th for phone cover, and then fully back on January 2nd. 

Part of my plan for going back into the office was preparation. 

What to wear, my plan for 2015 is to give myself a uniform of sorts. Mornings are much simpler when you don't have to get in a fight with your wardrobe. 

Personally I'm a fan of the shirt and trouser look, and then graduating to a skirt if the weather allows during Spring/Summer. Saying that my office and it's variable air conditioning does mean it can feel like Club Tropicana when you're living in an Ice Palace, or visa versa. 

In my office I keep an emergency cardigan for those I didn't bet on that moments. 

Another thing I like to plan in advance are meals. 

I am often in the office over at least two meal times, and on the odd occasion three. Not good, but often unavoidable. 

This is where a bit of forethought is advisable. Packed lunches are key for keeping costs down, although on treat Friday Featherstone's Butchers in Howden is simply the best! 

I tend to have a stash of meals in the freezer ranging from Dahls and curries to Chow Meins and Stews. I like to cook a batch of something on a weekend, portion it up and then freeze it for work. 

On an early shift more often than not I'll arrive at the office with a coffee in my hand and porridge in my food flask. I tend not to eat before leaving home on an early shift. Also, if I didn't bring breakfast with me the urge to go to McDonald's drive thru would be all consuming... Oh those Hot Mocha drinks!

Another bonus to eating well at work, is the not having to be so good when I'm home. I don't spend much time in the house during term time. Between Brownies, Scouting commitments (either ferrying or volunteering) and Avon bits and bobs, I'm a busy little bee. I'm lucky that most evenings there is a meal for me made by the husband. From a jar, but it's a meal nonetheless. For this I am grateful. 

Generally I get a 30 minute lunch break. This time I am planning to actually take them and leave the office so I can go for a walk. I am lucky enough to work in an amazingly beautiful town. Just a few minutes from my office is a wonderful park, a couple of historical landmarks too. I'm a lucky bean. Now to take full advantage of them. 

How do you prepare to go back to work?

Monday, 5 January 2015

Making New Routines

As we know, I am a creature of habit. 

I like things a certain way, at a certain time, on a certain day. 

I do like a little bit of disarray, but only on my terms. 

A routine is pinnacle to this. I have two diaries. One for life, shifts, appointments, kiddie stuff and another for blog posts. Scheduling, blog ideas, themes... I think you may be getting my drift. 

I also like to do different things in my house on different days. For example, Saturday is a day for deep cleaning the kitchen. If I miss it, I get flummoxed. And over the past six months I have spent an awful lot of time flustered as the pile of clothes in the corner of my bedroom grows ever taller. 

One of my challenges for this year is to have a fully organised home by the end of December 2015. Surely this is a possibility. 

The children are now seven and nine-years-old so are more than able to undertake some bits and bobs, and the husband - for the first time in a long time is home more than I am - so there are things he can do too (except the washing, he already does that).

With this in mind I need a plan of action. 

A daily to do list as it were. I also need to actually stick to the list. Funnily, having a list written doesn't magically make the jobs get done. Which I find is a huge shame. Inventors of the world take note. This would be a fantastic thing to invent and would make you rich!

This list need to cover the whole house. 

Starting with the extraordinary deep clean to get everything where it needs to be, so that the easier tasks of maintenance can be concentrated on. 

I'm not exaggerating when I say that I have managed to turn parts of my house into something that resembles a before picture on a hoarder's programme. I cannot put into words just how embarrassing that actually is. 

Now for the nitty gritty of it all. I work shifts. Alternate patterns from one week to the next, apart from weeks with a Bank Holiday in them, then that is a whole other ball game. 

A flexible plan, is needed, and a speedy one at that. 

In January I am going to be focusing primarily on the Kitchen. With backing vocals covering the rest of the house. 

Extraordinary Kitchen Clean List:

1. Clear sides. 
2. Load dishwasher. 
3. Wash up items that don't fit or go in the dishwasher. 
4. Put those things away. 
5. Clean the hob/oven.
6. Clean down the sides I've cleared. 
7. Clear kitchen table and dresser side. 
8. Empty floor. 
9. Wash the floor. 
10. Empty dishwasher.
11. Clean the fridge.
12. Sort the food from fridge. Put spoiled foods in the brown bin for recycling. 
13. Organise the cupboards - this one will be labour intensive, I need to reduce the amount of things I have in my kitchen. 

Daily Kitchen Clean List: 

1. Empty dishwasher. 
2. Put away. 
3. Wipe down sides, after clearing.
4. Clear kitchen table.
5. Sweep floor, quick blast with mop if needed. 

As for the rest of the house. The Extraordinary clean will come month by month with a special guest star task. 

The Daily Clean: 

1. Keep on top of the washing. Do at least one load a day. (this also mean dry, fold and put away too! A little is easier than a lot.)
2. Empty bins. No one wants to take an overly full to splitting bag out. 

Friday, 2 January 2015

Challenging Myself

Pinterest is full of them, any time of the year you can log in and find any sort of challenge. From monthly fitness ones, to finance goals, taking in a couple of housey bits and pieces on the side.

This year I've decided to see how I do, and try 4 challenges that have been doing the rounds.

First up is the 2015 Reading Challenge.

For someone who often reads books as part of their job, I have a habit of settling for the same genre when it comes to reading for fun. 
This year I would like to challenge myself a little. For this reason I'm going to tackle this list that has been put together by popsugar and see how many I can get ticked off by the end of the year. 

Another one I've seen is a 30-day Walking Challenge. 

Those of you who were reading this blog last year will know that I bought a Fitbit. This year I will be using it more often. Seeing as it is clipped onto my bra as a reminder to actually get up from my desk. 
I am going to endeavour to hit the magical 10,000 steps a day mark. This could take a while!

I found this tally chart on 

The joy of being a working parent leads to the equal joy of longing for some organisation at home. The chores definately got away from me by the end of last year. 

With this in mind I have signed up for this challenge. 

Each week I will be emailed a task to complete in my house. And by the end of the year, each single task should have become a regular habit and kaboom my house should pretty much run itself again. 

Now to get the others in the house to join in! Maybe that should be my main aim. Get them to do the housework and chores, so I don't have to!  

And finally, my last main challenge for this year is to crochet a small granny square, everyday, for a year. 

The only stipulation is that I will not plan the colours of the blankets, but choose what colour as per the mood I'm in at that moment. This one is exciting the most right now. 

A giant blanket by next winter will be a fab snuggly reward. 

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Happy New Year: Welcome to 2015

I'm going to write some targets for this year. 

I don't believe in resolutions but I can happily work towards a target. 

I did a few last year, but life got in the way. 

Targets for 2015

To get healthy. I have let my health slide over the last few months. Bad planning, dreadful scheduling and life has meant I'm not sleeping as much as I should, definitely exercising less than ever, and obviously eating some really tasty but not good for you foods. 

To build some savings. I need to adopt a more frugal outlook to life and live in a more streamlined world.  I have a slight ostrich approach to finances at times and that never ends well. 

Find a good work/life balance. This is a tricky one. I work a lot of hours. Often upto 57 hours a week, before blogging, volunteering and housekeeping. So yes, a balance needs to be found. Either by cutting down my hours in the office, blogging more effectively and on a schedule and outsourcing cleaning (I like this one most!). 

Try new things. Like many people I find it really easy to fall into a comfort zone, and I forget that there is a world out there full of new experiences just waiting for me to say yes to. I can be a bit of a homebody at times and often find it difficult to step out of my box. 

Develop a regular skin care routine. I'm really bad at this, and I'm also very lucky that at my age I'm not as wrinkled and lined as I could be. Considering I rarely moisturise. I have the odd swollen bump that hormones like to offer me, however that's about it.