Try this all-time favourite at home but take care when making as the toffee gets very hot! Children can help to weigh out and melt the ingredients but should let mum do the boiling and coating…

Makes 6

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 10-15 minutes

Ingredients

6 eating apples

175g (6oz) light buttery spread

100g (3½oz) maple or golden syrup

225g (8oz) light brown soft sugar

200g (7oz) Carnation Condensed Milk

Method

Dunk the apples into a large bowl of boiling water for 30 seconds, remove with a slotted spoon and allow to cool slightly before wiping the skins with kitchen paper – this will remove any wax from the apples and allow the toffee to stick better to the skin!

Holding the apple firmly, insert a chopstick or lolly stick into the apples near the core. Place a piece of parchment onto a baking sheet.

Place the remaining ingredients into a large pan and melt gently over a low heat. Then bring to the boil for about 15-20 minutes stirring frequently – if you have a food thermometer the temperature you need is about 130C! IT IS VERY HOT SO BE CAREFUL! It will be quite a deep brown caramel colour and will have a cinder toffee smell.

Remove from the heat, and very carefully take each apple and roll in the toffee to coat completely. Leave to set on the parchment until hard.

Tips

If your caramel doesn’t set hard on the apples – it will be because the toffee did not get hot enough. It still makes a lovely chewy caramel but a good test of ‘readiness’ is if you drop a small bit of the toffee into ice cold water and it forms very hard toffee. Small strands should shatter, if it is soft and chewy then it needs to get hotter

I quite like my weekly routine of getting weighed on Monday morning.

This week I have lost another pound which is not bad at all considering rather too much indulgence in alcohol and Half-Term activities preventing me taking as much exercise as I would have liked.

Here are my learnings so far or tips if you prefer that word.

1. You do need to be in the right mindset to lose weight. I am in that now but this has taken many years whereas for you it might be days, weeks or months. What I am saying is that you should not beat yourself up if you are not able to lose weight just now. Revisit the journey when your head is in the right place. Negative self-talk will only lead to self-sabotating behaviours.

2. You do not need fancy slimming products to lose weight. Healthy eating works just fine.

3. Remember this is your quest and don’t let other people sabotage your efforts.

4. Don’t get overly hung up with targets each week. If you stay the same or lose weight, you are heading in the right direction. Celebrate that.

5. Don’t set a specific medium or long-term target that is fixed. Pick a range that you could settle for. Mine is between 3 and 6 stone lost by the end of September 2012 in addition to the (more than) stone that I have lost in the last 7 weeks.

6. Being accountable to your blog, your diary or in any other way where you have to acknowledge your efforts each week helps. Mumentum is a great blog hop for that over on the New Mum Online blog

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

7. I also find that by imagining myself slim and how my story might inspire others in due course really helps to keep me on track.

8. Think about the healthy foods that you do love and make sure you include lots of those in your weekly diet so that you feel you are treating yourself even if you are not heading for the chocolate cake.

I am no weight loss expert but I do know what I am doing now is working for me. That is why I say what I find helpful in the hope it might assist others.

Here’s hoping you see a little less of me next week.

I have had a bit of a buying bonanza in recent weeks and days. I am going to show you some of my treasures later in this post but first a little rant.

I sent an application off to volunteer in my local charity shop in early Summer. I got a telephone call from the headquarters saying the local shop would phone me to invite me in for an informal chat. Nothing happened but I did not chase it up due to being involved with the school holidays so unable to volunteer anyway.

Once the children went back in early September, I contacted the Headquarters by email. I got no response. However, one day on shopping my the shop concerned, I gave my name so I could hold a piece of furniture for later collection. At this point, the manager said was I the person who had volunteered. Yes, says I and there appeared a glimmer of light in my long quest to get involved in any form of volunteering. He asked what days I could do and we agreed on Friday mornings and he gave me a date about 3 weeks later to come in and start.

So last Friday on the appointed day, I turned up as arranged. I did make it through to the backroom this time but only to be told that yes Friday mornings were OK and I could start on 11th November. That would be about 5 months after my original application which I see as fairly ridiculous.

All the manager said apart from that was that I would be on 3 months trial and would have to be prepared to do anything. I am fine with both those things but I do wish they would train people to encourage volunteers. After all, each volunteer comes with social and economic value.

Right, back to my finds and rant over for now.

I do love my coffee and this coffee canister is just huge. I left the tea and sugar ones behind and felt so guilty about splitting them up. I may go back and get them later this week. £2.50 which I thought was a bit overpriced but I like the look of it. I knew Him Indoors would disagree as he bangs on about things being airtight and all that sort of nonsense. He likes his wooden canister so we are currently at war.

I got this because it is how my boys are at their best (and rarely!) and I like the sentiment. “Life is not about the big catch, it is how you live the moments in between”

There was a sort of matching one with a Great Dane on which I toyed with the idea of buying for Him Indoors. I will probably end up with it if it is there this week.

There was loads of office furniture in there and I liked the desk and bookshelves. I put a hold on the desk and Him Indoors collected it this week bemoaning the fact that nobody would help him from the shop due to “health and safety”.

Oh, and here is the chest of drawers mentioned in a previous post.

Then there is my wonderful 50 pences find. Can you see what it is yet? You probably all know but it was new to me.

We can ignore it no longer. The man in the fully red suit will be here soon and our bells will be jingling. Kate over on the Kate Takes 5 blog asks us to list our Top Ten Christmas Toys of all time. What would you choose? What do you remember most from your childhood? Or what was a hit with your own children?

1. Dolls’ House – My very favourite toy was my doll’s house made by a joiner friend of my Dad’s. It was perfect with a red brick roof, shutters on the windows in blue, all carpeted and wall-papered. Perfect. I loved it so very much. Then one day it got wrecked in a house move but Dad lovingly restored it. The worst moment was when the joiner friend of my Dad’s got himself a younger woman and had 2 children with her. “You won’t mind if we let his children have it now you are older” said my Mum. Well, off it went but I minded then and I still do sob!

2. Dolls – I used to get at least one doll every year. I preferred Sindy to her more glamorous counterpart Barbie. Sindy was wholesome (like me!) and Barbie looked like a tart (not like me!). I used to love all the different outfits and went wild when they introduced those dolls where you could make their hair longer by yanking at it. I remember my Dad spending one whole Christmas Day trying to get a doll that did tumbles to work for me. He succeeded and it says a lot about the man how he was determined to make it right for me. My very best dolls were two that came with a riding stable and horses. Like my own little girl now, I had a huge thing about horses and always said I would own one. This dream did not come true or not yet anyway. My Auntie once got me a doll where you pulled a string and it said about 5 phrases. Recently, it came to my mind when I was criticising Him Indoors for his limited conversation skills. I know that is very cruel but it amused me.

3. My Golliwog – Yes, I know this can be controversial but I loved mine very much and he was on my pillow every night for a lot of years. Enough said.

4. Fuzzy Felt – Occasionally, I see Fuzzy Felt sets in charity shops and I am transported back to my childhood sitting making colourful and creative pictures. When I think of these times, I realise how very like me my daughter is with her love of things arts and crafts.

5. Plasticine – Does this still exist? You could make anything with it and I used to like making snails and cakes. Creative play at its best.

Overall, I remember always having the biggest pile of presents at Christmas and I got to open them first as we did it in age order and I was the baby of the family. I was a bit spoilt I suppose being the youngest, the only girl and adopted. However, I don’t remember many of the gifts and the doll’s house stands out above them all as made with time, effort and love.

Also, some of these cherished pressies seem incredibly girly for someone who regularly purports not to be. There is probably something to learn from that.

Now, get thee across to the Kate Takes 5 blog and indulge in other Christmas memories.

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Joining in with one of my favourite blog hops where we celebrate our reasons for cheerfulness every week to keep ourselves in that sensible frame of mind that despite the challenges, we are in fact blessed. If you want to find out more, do check out http://mdplife.blogspot.com

1. I have butterflies in my tummy already and am totally excited that I have heard today of the date of my 25th anniversary college reunion. Yes, of course that means that I started uni at the age of 5 lol. It happens next September so I am wondering what size I will be then but know that it will be a whole lot smaller than I am now. It will be so lovely to visit THE most beautiful building in the world and to hook up with old friends and acquaintances. It will be very Porterhouse Blue and I cannot wait.

2. I am happy to report that both my boys got good reports from school at recent Parents’ Evenings. They were both acknowledged for their wonderful vocabulary and levels of general knowledge. So surrounding them with books and babbling on about all manner of things to them seems to work. I am also delighted that my older son who is very bright but really struggles with handwriting is to be given a statement of special educational needs which I hope will protect him as he moves up to secondary school next year.

3. I am happy to have a new pet, a cream labrador bitch who is just lovely and very easy to have around.

4. I am glad that my Dad is going on holiday tomorrow after missing out twice over the Summer.

5. I am pleased to see how my children are popular and how party invitations keep flying through the door for them.

6. I am over the moon that I have picked up some great bargains recently and will be reporting back on #MagpieMonday on my little treasures.

7. I feel grateful that I am managing to stick to my healthy eating regime and hope to have an important milestone to report as part of #mumentum on Monday.

8. I am loving getting to know new #groovingmums and am delighted to be trying out a whole new blog hop on writing that should help me and others move forward on that front. Check out women’s inspirational stories here http://kateonthinice.wordpress.com/2011/10/18/you-really-can-rediscover-the-woman-you-know-you-really-are/ and get involved with writing here http://kateonthinice.wordpress.com/2011/10/19/are-you-a-would-be-writer-join-wordsmith-wednesday-blog-hop/

9. In the last week, I was mentioned more than once in blog posts on the Prompt on Best Blogs. I have two blogging awards that have hurtled my way and I have been tagged in interesting memes. Great to have blogger friends, ain’t it?

10. The wonderful Caroline over at http://cazandbelleblogspot.com gave birth to a lovely baby boy this week. How wonderful for a woman who has had to handle so much. I don’t know Caroline but her story moves me. Also, a very good friend Kat is due to give birth to her new baby anytime soon.

Hey, what’s not to be cheerful about?