First blog of the year and it’s a resolution-free zone. Time for a quick look back and look forward though. I’ll feel ready for 2017 once the hangover subsides…
I’ve had a really lazy fortnight and it’s been fantastic. Most years I end up working myself into the ground and ending up ill over the Christmas break but this year I took a few days off in the lead-up and it made such a difference. Christmas Day was great – breakfast (including the kids’ request of Santa Pancakes, above) and presents at home and then over the road to my parents’ for Christmas dinner with them, my sisters, bros-in-law, nieces and nephew. It was what my neighbour Damon calls a ‘Jacob’s Join’, where we all made different parts of the Christmas dinner and brought them together for all fifteen of us to enjoy.
Boxing Day was back to Mum & Dad’s for leftovers and a well-spent afternoon building a Lego X-wing fighter with my sister and Dad (above). To be honest, the rest of the week has been a bit of a blur. I know we’ve seen lots of friends and family but there have definitely been a good amount of days where we’ve stayed in pyjamas all day. The week has also involved a lot of baking for fun (rather than for Instagram) with doughnuts, Bailey’s profiteroles (these are amazing – recipe in my book, B.I.Y. Bake It Yourself), lots of bread for leftover sandwiches, Chelsea buns, trifle, sausage roll wreaths and more. I really enjoy social media and it’s become a very big part of my life but it’s been nice to have a bit of time off from it too. My ‘2016 best nine’ Instagram posts (see picture at the top of the blog) were a good reminder of the year I’ve had with a lot of fun cakes and time spent with my Bake Off friends. We’ve been lucky to see a lot of Martha and her boyfriend Michael, who we get on so well with, and already have plans to see much more of them this year too. Martha is half my age (until my next birthday!) but thanks to the Bake Off experience throwing such a random bunch of people together, she’s become a really good pal.
I’ve been giving my own Princess Leia (pictured with me above – scared of last night’s New Year’s Eve fireworks) a lot more hugs this week as I was really sad to hear of the death of Carrie Fisher. Twenty-sixteen had become so associated with the deaths of so many of our heroes and even the past week had been relentless, with George Michael (our local boy done good) dying too. I’ve tried not to let some of the worst parts of 2016 get me down. I reckon it’s better to try and do whatever you can on an individual level to improve the world around you – particularly through volunteering your time – and I’ll hopefully be doing more of that in 2017 too. If you’re looking for where to start, I put some ideas on this thread. Also, if you want to see some of Carrie Fisher’s best comedic work, check out the brilliant Catastrophe. The box sets of Series 1 & 2 are all free on All 4 but if you’re outside the UK, I think they’re on Amazon too. And while I’m recommending TV, the best thing we saw on TV this Christmas was Raymond Briggs’s fantastic Ethel & Ernest – the most emotional animated film I’ve seen in years. It’s only on iPlayer for a few more weeks so catch it while you can.
We had a terrific New Year’s Eve last night with two of our best mates and their son coming over to stay and (once the kids were in bed) tons of caipirinhas. It was also another opportunity to play the ultimate Jenga game. Our friend Pip made us the best present we’ve ever received – a handmade Jenga set with two Jenga guns (pictured above). Check out how they work here:
We’ve taken the Jenga set to every house we’ve been to this Christmas – it’s been so much fun and really popular. If you want to order your own Jenga pistol, they’re available on Pip’s website here (though if you’re looking at his website, you should really order one of his amazing dining tables instead / as well – he’s a phenomenal carpenter).
Anyway, as I promised no resolutions from me, but I do want to relax a bit more in 2017 – I really worked my (new, Star Wars) socks off in 2016. To that end I’ve bought myself a PlayStation 4 in the January sales in the hope that it’ll force me to sit down a bit more. I really have no idea what’s in store for me in 2017 (though we’ve already got some good holidays planned) but I’m kind of getting used to the unpredictability of life after Bake Off so happy to go with the flow. Thanks to everyone who’s followed my blog in 2016 and left comments or emailed me – it’s really great to hear feedback from people and to know that people enjoy my weekly ramblings. I look forward to sharing 2017 with you all too. See you next week, Happy Baking!