Friday, June 10, 2011

On The Couch: I Need This, Framed, On My Wall.


It's true, I've always had a soft spot for red-heads.

I'm An Old Lady Now. And I Bake Cakes.


It's happened. I've become one of those people that buy The Australian Women's Weekly. Every. Month. Sure, it happened about twenty years earlier than I thought it would, but no one else is doing a Wills & Kate wraparound cover, so I'm just going to embrace it (and ignore the knitting patterns).

Anyway, there is a silver lining – the recipes section. It's where I pulled this gem for a delicious apricot and sour cream cake, courtesy of Julie Goodwin (you know, mamma, Masterchef winner and all-round lovely lady). As always, it's a cinch to make – so If you want to get some brownie points from your Nan, impress the ladies at afternoon tea or win a bake-off, give it a whirl. Here's the how-to...

Apricot Sour Cream Cake
You'll need...
  • 125g butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 400g can apricot halves, drained and chopped
  • 2 1/4 cups self-raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp bi-carb soda

What to do...
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (160 fan-forced). Grease a 25cm bundt or baba pan.
2. Beat the sugar and vanilla in a small bowl with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until combined after each addition.
3. Fold in sour cream and all the apricots, then the sifted flour and soda. The batter will be quite thick. Smooth mixture into the prepared pan; smooth the top. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until golden and springy to touch and coming away from the sides of the pan. Turn into a wire rack to cool completely.

Trust me, after you make this one, you'll be buying The Weekly, too. Cause you know there's plenty more deliciousness where that came from. Coconut Impossible Pie, anyone?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Are You A Morning Person?

The Love Shop

I wake up every morning at 5:20am. Well, that's not strictly true. I sleep in on weekends... till 7am.

Most people I've come across say they could never do that. They're not morning people. Truth is, I wasn't a morning person either. Until I was. You see, getting up before the birds is something you have to work on. You start gradually. I started with one cycling class on Tuesdays before work. A 6.30am wake up call, one morning in the week.

Then I gradually made it two and three and then four... and, well, you get the drift. And then I started setting my alarm just a little bit earlier. Now, I hardly even need an alarm – because if I'm still snoozing at 6am, my body clock wakes me up. I've trained it to.

And I have to say, I really enjoy the early morning – when it's just you, working out as the world wakes up. Added bonus: There is hardly any traffic on the road and you always get a seat on the train.

You sold yet? If you want some handy tips on how to become a morning person, read this. But my advice – just do it. Set your alarm and don't press snooze.

On The Couch: X-Men First Class.

What's the story? Before they were Professor X and Magneto, Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender) were mutants only just discovering the full reach of their power. Stepping back into the 1960s, when the world was on the verge of nuclear war, this prequel sees the beginning of their long-running rivalry – and introduces some very interesting characters along the way, including telepath Emma Frost (January Jones) and my all time favourite of the X-Men, shape-shifting mutant Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence)

Why it's worth paying $17.50 to see... Now, I've seen every film in the X-Men franchise, but apparently this doesn't make me a fan – according to my friend the movies are "watered-down dribble for the masses" and if you want to be considered a real X-Men fan, you have to read the comics, including but not limited to X-Men, Uncanny X-Men, Astonishing X-Men, X-treme X-Men, New-X-Men, Young X-Men, New Mutants, X-force, X-Factor, The Exiles, Age of X and Generation Hope... Well, I had no idea that 97% of those even existed (the only comic I've ever read was about a Bassett hound) but as a regular punter I really enjoyed this latest instalment. It's got a solid cast, led by James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender (who, I should add, is very easy on the eye), some wicked special effects and an entertaining plot that's easy to follow, even if you're not at all familiar with the comics.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

On The Couch: Mad Men Yourself.

I'm a bit addicted to Mad Men at the moment. And by "a bit" I mean I've worked my way through three full seasons in about as many weeks. So when I saw that you could Mad Men Yourself, I was there in a jiffy. And this is me in all my '60s cigarette-smoking glory. Wanna imagine yourself with Don Draper (and who wouldn't)? Do it here.

Love Vampire Diaries. Love Nina Dobrev.

And lucky for me, she's on the cover of the new Seventeen Fitness mag, looking amazing and sharing her health and fitness tips. And, get this, she loves yoga. Oh Nina, we couldn't be more different...

"I change up my fitness routine every so often, but yoga is the one thing that stays consistent. I do yoga 2-3 times a week, and it’s hot yoga. Aside from that, I also have a trainer that I work with whenever I can’t make the yoga classes, and he’s actually my yoga instructor. He used to be a professional basketball player, and then he became a yoga instructor, so he trains me at my gym in my building and so I do running. Not so much weights though, I don’t want to bulk up. I like to keep it all lean. I love yoga because it’s very calming for your body and your spirit. It gives you that meditative state and its 90 minutes where you can get away from the world and just be, and exist in the moment. I need yoga. It’s part of my life and I can’t imagine not doing it. The hot yoga is great because you’re sweating and kind of getting the cardio workout, your heart’s racing, and then you’re also stretching and building lean muscle because you’re holding the positions for so long. It’s great for your skin too. I’ve found that my skin gets so much better, because your pores are open, and they’re breathing. It’s wonderful for your skin."

On second thoughts, maybe I will reconsider the downward dog.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

This Elliptical Trainer Is Cool, But What Do I Do Exactly?

If it's good enough for Matthew McConaughey...

My mum made a new discovery at the gym this week: The Elliptical Trainer. And what are the odds, the very next day FitSugar tweeted this awesome interval workout. Clear 35 minutes in your schedule and move that booty, Hot Mama!

Pip, Pip, Hooray.

Daily Mail

She's been labelled "The Royal Hotness" and apparently her derriere has it's own Facebook fan sites. Yes, Pippa Middleton has a rocking body. And now we know how she gets it. The very svelte sister to Princess Kate was snapped crossing the finish line after a 5km race and she finished in a quite impressive 25 minutes and 30 seconds. 
Oh, and if you want to get your own Pippa-style back side, try this move that personal trainer Gillian Reeves calls the P-Middy.
Daily Mail

Make sure your body is warmed up as this exercise requires a large range of movement through the hip and knee joints. Place your feet a little wider than hip-width apart and allow your feet to turn out slightly to the corners of the room.
Place your hands halfway down your thighs and bend both knees slightly. You will naturally start to lean forwards. If possible, try to make your torso run parallel to the floor, looking straight ahead. If this is too demanding, lean forward just a little.

Make sure the spine is straight and not curving. Your abdominals will automatically tense to support your lower back. Now, with hands still on your thighs, transfer your weight on to the right leg, keeping it bent, and straighten your left leg out as much as possible to the side, keeping the knees in line with your ankles.

Tense your buttocks and hold this position for a couple of seconds. Now transfer your weight from your right side to your left, mirroring the previous position and holding for a couple of seconds again. Repeat this shift from right to left until your legs and hips start to feel tired –  this usually takes between ten and 20 repetitions.

Be conscious to keep your back straight throughout this exercise, with your abdominal muscles tensed, and look straight ahead.

Monday, June 6, 2011

On The Couch: Hold Onto Your Panties, The Breaking Dawn Trailer Is Here.

In case you haven't heard, the official trailer for Twilight's final instalment Breaking Dawn has been released – and it has everything. There is a wedding and lovemaking and a baby bump... and, yes, there is Taylor Lautner without his shirt on. Amen.

Bring on November 17.