Last September, I was grossly overweight, fed up with my lot in life and hoping to find paid work.

My instincts told me I would only change with the back-up of other women.  I decided to set up a blog hop and was so pleased when other mums came forward and said they wanted to effect changes in their lives too.   Inspired by all things Eighties, I called us the Groovy Mums and we set off with our knapsacks on our virtual backs towards an undefined but a “It’s got to be better than this!” future.

There was a definite first set of mums who got involved and there was lots of accompanying banter and support on Twitter as well as via blog comments.  That has got less probably as we got involved in various tasks towards getting our groove back.

We found that when mums were struggling, some would not post at all and some would in great detail and end up helping others with their sadder posts as well as with their happier ones.

9 months on, I am aware that some participants found that Groovy Mums was not for them or could not find the time to join in.  I am proud to see all the changes that mums have made, both baby steps and huge ones.  I think we have worked out that when we achieve some things, a lot of us still want to move on to new ways of thinking and different activities.  Perhaps there is not a destination after all but rather a fascinating journey.

So where now for Groovy Mums and me?

My life has changed a lot since last year.  I lost a considerable amount of weight so feel better health wise.  I have stones and stones to shift still but I know I can do it now.  Nothing seems hopeless anymore and that is largely down to the impetus of the Groovy Mums.  Thank you.

I have paid work now and can see new opportunities to acquire more at a pace that suits me and my family.

I am a member of the BritMums team and am speaking at BritMums Live in less than two weeks.  There are nerves naturally but my reality is now that I will be fine and contribute well to the event.  My thinking has shifted about what I am capable of.

I am involved in supporting charities and am a proud ambassador for Give As You Live, the organisation that ensures that money goes to charity when you shop online (but you do have to sign up and can do so here http://www.give.as/savingbabieslives ).

So I have changed and I feel ready for a big adventure after BritMums Live.  I am working on the finer details but I feel the time is right for me and look forward to sharing in due course.

I have noticed that less people are linking up when I do Groovy Mums posts and challenges.  On a level, this does not matter but on another if I am going to be busy and the posts are not helpful to folks, I wonder if I should continue with them.

We have had a few Groovy Mums Twitter parties which appeal to a wider audience and seem to assist in linking up mums who can help each other in terms of support, tips and information.  Should we do some more?

I never was a great guru and never had all the answers.  I was just a fat mum stuck in a small village who wanted to feel like herself again.  Groovy Mums was as much about helping myself as reaching out to others.

So although I feel quite clear about where I should go next and what I should do, my question is where next for Groovy Mums?

Should it be allowed to die a natural death?

Should it continue in the same way?

Should it change radically?

Should I share the load more as some mums seem keen to help out in some way?

I would love to know what people think whether they join in with Groovy Mums or not.  I am also not going to make any major decisions on the future of Groovy Mums until after BritMums Live because sometimes I too need to take time out to reflect and to ease up on myself.

Over to you …

Don’t look now by Daphne Du Maurier is short story and described as macabre.

In it we meet Laura and John who are on holiday in Venice. It all starts out light-hearted enough but is a very good reminder that as in real life, things are not always what they seem.

The apparently happy couple on first glance are grieving for the loss of a child with each handling this situation in their own individual ways.

The couple encounter some strange ladies one of whom is blind. The talk to Laura and appear to suggest they can deliver messages from her dead child. Can they, are they psychic or a pair or charlatans?

Despite John’s best efforts the ladies will keep turning up and tell the couple that they must get out of Venice and quickly.

A call from home results in Laura heading home to care for her son with John planning to follow on soon. He starts out on the journey but something makes him turn back. Was the reason for this real or an apparition? Suffice to say, whatever it was it causes John a great deal of stress as he struggles to make sense of it all. Is he going mad?

Will the ladies be proved right? Should both of the couple have left Venice after all and if one of them doesn’t, what will be the consequences?

I really enjoyed this short story even though it is not the usual type of thing I would choose. It was difficult to guess whether the strange ladies had good or bad intentions.

My only criticism that as so often in short stories, the ending seemed rushed and I was not surprised by it.

Overall Don’t Look Now by Daphne Du Maurier is a good story and a great read for the holidays.

Read With Me
Cuddle Fairy

This month, I am promoting charities and good causes for free on my blog.

Today, I feature a guest post from St Hilda’s East Community Centre – Working for the Tower Hamlets community and beyond since 1889.
 
 
St. Hilda’s East is a multi-purpose community centre in the Bethnal Green/Shoreditch area of Tower Hamlets. We provide valuable support to groups of all ages and backgrounds within the local community. We aim to address social issues and disadvantage found in the area, where 52% of children live in poverty (End Child Poverty campaign, 2012).
 
Our activities range from an Under 5s Project, youth services, Legal Advice, volunteering, to a Women’s Project and mental health support. Some projects, such as the Boundary Women’s Project and our much-used Advice Service, are not fully funded and we rely upon donations to maintain them. 


 
The Boundary Women’s Project aims to encourage local women to realise their own potential, especially women experiencing social exclusion or minority ethnic women facing language barriers. The varied programme of regular activities includes from English language classes, Keep Fit, IT sessions and an exciting textile training initiative is also taking place.


“I really enjoyed the health programme, never having done yoga before”
“Cooking in front of people was scary, but when I started giving out samples of my food, I was amazed that they wanted more and liked the taste so much – it did wonders for my confidence!”
 
The Advice Service provides free, confidential and impartial advice to local residents – particularly those who struggle in accessing rights and entitlements through lack of knowledge and language barriers. The Advice Service is staffed by our qualified advisor, and we also offer a legal advice service delievered on a pro-bono basis by law firm staff who volunteer weekly.


“I‘m very happy and can’t thank the advisers enough.”
( — Mr A after a successful appeal against a Criminal Injuries Compensation decision)

“The advisers are top notch and so helpful!”
Find out more by visiting www.sthildas.org.uk
You can also find us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/sthildaseast) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/sthildaseast).
We are also registered with www.everyclick.com/sthildaseast
 
Registered Charity No: 212208

I am reviewing Indian cooking sauces from the Spice Tailor.

Do you like Indian food?  Would you like to create spicy dishes with the wow factor for your family?  Are you daunted and unclear on just what type of spices to use?

When I make a curry, it is usually edible enough but never reflects the true sense of  Indian delights.  That is proably because I really don’t know what flavour combinations to use or what is the “right” quantity of curry powder or spices.

I need worry no longer as TV chef and cookery writer Anjum Anand has launched her own range of cookery sauces called The Spice Tailor.

I combined the fragrant and zingy mangalore herb curry version with beef.  You can choose to use any red or white meat.

The first thing that impressed me was that you get a little packet of spices that really look the part and get you in the mood.   You heat them in oil for just 20 seconds and then add your cubed meat for 2 minutes, browning lightly.  You then take the sauce which has such a rich colour, stir it in and 7 minutes later, you have your completed dish.

Fast food but not as we know it.

When we tasted the results, we were impressed with how balanced the flavour was.  A definite kick but not too daunting and lovely with our naan breads.  It looked beautiful too.

The Spice Tailor products come with preparation guidelines but also lots of different ways to adapt the recipe to taste.

The Spice Tailor sauces are easy to use so anyone can create great tasting, authentic Indian dishes using them.

Highly recommended by me!

Bay adds a sophisticated herbaceous note to this cherry and bay pie recipe

Cherry and bay pie recipe

Serves 6-8

Cherry And Bay Pie Recipe

Ingredients

350g self raising flour
160g cold unsalted butter, cubed
Pinch of salt
Tbsp vanilla essence
Ice Cold water: 90ml-100ml
1 egg
Granulated sugar, to garnish

100g/3½oz good-quality black cherry jam
½ tsp grated nutmeg
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp cornflour, mixed to a paste with 2 tsp cold water
500g/1lb 2oz fresh cherries, pitted and halved

Method

For the pastry for this cherry and bay pie recipe, put the flour, salt and butter in a bowl and rub in the butter until you have breadcrumbs. Add the vanilla extract and then the water, a tablespoon at a time, combining the mix with a knife or spoon, bringing it together until the mixture starts to clump together into a dough. You need to be cautious at this stage as you don’t want sticky pastry. Add a little more water if necessary, you want a smooth, solid ball of dough. Divide the lump into two and then flatten both into disc shapes, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6 and grease the pie dish. Remove a disc of pastry from the fridge, unwrap it and roll it out on a generously floured work surface to 3mm/¼in thick and about 2½cm/1in wider than the pie dish. Transfer to a floured baking sheet and chill for about 10 minutes. Repeat this process with the remaining disc of pastry.

Heat the jam for the filling in a saucepan with 100ml (3½ fl oz) water, nutmeg, bay and the vanilla extract. When it’s all melted together, add the diluted cornflour and stir together until smooth and thickened. Add the cherries and gently coat them in the mixture, being careful not to mush them up, so you preserve their shape. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Using a floured rolling pin, carefully transfer one of the chilled pastry sheets to the greased pie dish and drape it across the dish. Let it sink into the dish and, holding on to the edges, lift and tuck the pastry into the edges of the dish, all the way around, to line it. Trim off any excess pastry and lightly prick the base with a fork. Fill the dish with the cherry filling (including the bay leaf). Use a pastry cutter to cut holes in the remaining pastry sheet, covering an area just smaller than the diameter of the pie dish, leaving a large border intact. Place it over the pie filling and fold the edge of the top crust over the edge of the bottom crust, crimping it together with your fingers to seal.

Brush the pastry with the the beaten egg and sprinkle over the granulated sugar. Bake for 20 minutes, until the crust is golden, then reduce the oven temperature to 180C/350F/Gas 4, covering the top of the pastry with foil if you need to, to avoid it burning, and bake for a further 30 more minutes, until the filling is bubbling and the pastry is golden, firm and lightly puffed.

Allow the pie to cool for about one hour before serving with cream.

This cherry and bay pie recipe comes highly recommended and I hope you try it.

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