Festive stuffed mushrooms

My father bought some large mushrooms yesterday and asked if I would make some stuffed mushrooms as a starter with dinner tonight. We rarely have starters so it made a nice change to make one before having dinner.

I decided to go for the festive theme, so I made mushrooms stuffed with brie and topped with breadcrumbs and cranberry sauce. It was very simple to do but the end result was tasty!

Firstly I cooked the mushrooms in the oven for 20 minutes at gas mark 3 to start softening them.

The mushrooms after a bit of softening

I then sliced up some brie and placed them inside the mushrooms. I also sprinkled some breadcrumbs on top.

The mushrooms stuffed and ready to cook again

I then popped the mushrooms back in the oven for a further 15 mins on gas mark 4 in order to melt the cheese, and also crisp the breadcrumbs.

Festive stuffed mushrooms on a festive plate

Once cooked I topped the stuffed mushrooms with a small dollop of cranberry sauce. While they were very easy to make the taste was beautiful; brie and cranberry just go so well together, and taste really nice in a large mushroom. If I make them again I might even cook some streaky bacon, dice it and sprinkle it on top of the mushrooms, since bacon also goes well with brie and cranberry sauce!

Since it’s the festive season I will probably make some more seasonal dishes this month, including the usual mince pies and maybe even some shortbread! I have my birthday to look forward to next, which is this Thursday!

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂

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Oh what fun it is to run

This morning I ran in my first Santa Fun Run in a village called Broughton Astley. I signed up for the run as soon as I found out about it via social media last month. I’ve heard about them and wanted to give it a go, and I’m so glad that I found out about this one which wasn’t too far for me to get to.

All geared up as Santa!

I picked up my Santa outfit when I arrived this morning, which I wore over my running gear. The bottoms were baggier than I expected for a ‘one size’ outfit, so I had to tighten them with a drawstring and my bumbag helped to keep them in place during the run. I wore the beard around my neck while running as it would’ve been hard to breathe with it covering my mouth.

Rocking Santa’s beard!

Overall I was very pleased with the Santa suit, as it was light and allowed plenty of room for movement. Plus it really put me in the festive mood! There was the option to complete 3km or 5km, which you could walk or run. I opted to run 5km, which was fun to do with lots of other Santas! Even though it felt cool outside, I got warm very quickly with the suit on, so I rolled up my sleeves and took my Santa hat off about half way round the route.

All of the Santas raring to go!

I managed to complete the 5km route around Broughton Astley in about 38 minutes. The last time I went out for a run was for my first half marathon, so I think 38 minutes was a good time today, since it was a new 5km route which I hadn’t ran before and I was wearing a suit which made me feel rather warm and sweaty.

I’d love to do a Santa Fun Run again next year- it was really fun and lovely to see so many people happy with festive cheer! There were even dogs dressed up in mini Santa outfits, and lots of children took part as well.

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂

Things I(we’ve) heard

Walking to work usually gives me time to think deeply about my thoughts, usually about things I could’ve done better, what I’m having for dinner in the evening, what tasks I’ve been procrastinating on, the meaning of life and all sorts of various things. One thought that came up for me recently was sexism.

You know when someone says something to you, but you can’t think of how to answer them back and then you think of a brilliant comeback or what you should’ve asked them miles down the line… unfortunately I’ve had that moment quite a few times in relation to sexism.

I was dating a guy over a year ago when he said to me, “Women shouldn’t have equal rights because they’re too important.” I didn’t know how to respond at first, so I said “I’ve not heard that one before” because genuinely, I hadn’t. He then went on to explain how much he loves the Queen and that we have to protect her, and protect the Mother state.

It didn’t occur to me until much later that he held the traditionalist view that women are caregivers and are only useful for one thing: producing children. He may have thought himself chivalrous in feeling the need to protect women, probably thinking of the example in the film Titanic where women and children get on the lifeboats first. Considering that there has been full emancipation for almost 90 years, I was surprised that someone not far off from my generation (he was four years older than me) believes that women shouldn’t have rights equal to men.

You’ll be glad to know that I’m not dating this guy any more and it was only a short waste of my time (a few months). I think the conversation came up as the Brexit referendum wasn’t too far away. Before he said what he thought about women, he said “We’ll probably have conflicts over feminism as we’ll have conflicting views.”

“Women shouldn’t have equal rights because they’re too important” kept on going over and over in my head while I was walking to work, and then I thought of all of the other things I’ve heard and that have been said to me throughout all of my life so far. Some of them include “Man up”, “Grow a pair” (aka balls), “Don’t be such a girl” and the list goes on.

I wrote down all of the phrases and made a short ‘found poem’ out of them, which you can read on my poetry blog. This blog serves as a commentary to my poem ‘Things I(we’ve) heard”.

It’s cases like this which prove that we still need feminism. A lot of the phrases in the poem can be heard on a regular basis and are often used in everyday conversation. I wrote a blog a while back about the power of language which explores some of these phrases and the impact language has on gender. Just some small changes to our language could help to eliminate the barriers which prevent women from being on equal grounds to men. A progressive society works together where everyone is involved, so any phrase, no matter how implicit, which undermines a person, should stop being used.

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear

Final goodbye

I had to say goodbye for the final time to a very much loved family member recently. Last Thursday evening I had to say goodbye to my oldest dog Oscar, who was a blue roan cocker spaniel and had reached a mighty age of 15 years last month.

I thought that I’d mention about the loss of Oscar on my blog as I have referred to him a few times before, as well as my other dog Barney who seems to be coping ok at the moment. I picked up Oscar with my father on my 10th birthday, so it was heartbreaking when I had him on my lap to take him to the vets last week. Oscar had lost all of his strength in his legs and couldn’t stand up, and the vet said that it’s probable that he had kidney failure as well.

I grew up with Oscar who was my first dog, and it certainly helped to make me more active. I would take Oscar out for walks with my father after school and work, and also at the weekends. There are so many lovely walks near where I live, as well as some places further afield including the British coast where Oscar loved to run around on the beach and swim in the sea. Oscar was even a traveler and went on holiday with my father and I when we used to go camping around France, Spain and Portugal during the summer holidays.

Oscar didn’t just help to make my family and I more active; he made us realise just how much a dog becomes a part of your family. Dogs have their own unique characteristics and personalities, just like we humans do. Oscar brought a lot of laughter for my family and friends, as well as plenty of love and fond memories.

I made the collage of Oscar below to remember him by, which I might even print off and frame in the house somewhere. Thank you for the good times Oscar, you will be greatly missed. RIP ❤

Oscar ❤

Clare Bear

Finally figured it out…

This is a little embarrassing to admit but after being a member of my local gym for just over two years, I’ve only just figured out what one of the readings on a cardio machine stands for. Each time I’ve been on the cross trainer for an intense cardio workout I’ve tried to figure out the reading which shows the intensity level you are at. I’ll explain with the photo bel0w of my result at the gym this morning:

So I completed a 3km workout on the cross trainer, which is shown on the goal setting, in 48 minutes and 59 seconds.  I understand that the graph like reading below the goal indicates the effort/intensity level, so the bar moves up or down accordingly when I increase or lower the intensity.

What’s been puzzling me for a long time now is when the bar moves onto the next column in the graph like reading. I wasn’t sure when the bar would move onto the next column and thought it was to do with the time, but that didn’t seem to correlate with the workout. It seems glaringly obvious now, but the bar moves onto the next column once I have completed 0.25km. There are 12 columns in total on the reading, so 0.25km x 12= 3km.

Now that I know how the reading works, I focused on an intensity level for each 1/4km, aiming to complete each 1/4km in 4 minutes. This works out at 1km in 16 minutes, which is hard to do when I varied the intensity levels and tried to keep up the same speed as well. Of course this made an excellent intense workout as I was trying to aim for 48 minutes.

As you can see I didn’t quite make it to 48 minutes, but I very nearly completed 3km in 49 minutes. This was due to the fact that I attempted my highest intensity level so far, which is level 16. I tried to keep up the speed to between 126-134 spins per minute, but it took some getting used to at first. There are 25 intensity levels on the cross trainer I like to use at the gym, so maybe I could work my way up. I have more muscles in my thighs than ever due to training for my first half marathon, so this cardio intense exercise is great for working out my legs and higher intensity levels will push me to see how far I can go on the cross trainer.

Now that I’ve figured out how the reading works for 3km, I can work it out for other distances. For example, if I was to complete 2km on the cross trainer, the bar would move to the next column after 0.16 recurring, so probably rounded up to 0.17km. And if I was to go even further and complete 4km, it would be 0.33 recurring, so the bar would probably move onto the next column on the graph after each 0.33km. With these sorts of awkward figures that aren’t as clean cut as 0.25km, I don’t know how it would work on the cross trainer, so I could give it a try to see what happens.

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂

Update #21

As with my previous update, I mostly focused on fitness on my blog since I was preparing myself for my first half marathon, which I successfully ran on Sunday 15th October at the Leicester Marathon.

After finishing my first half marathon

It has almost been three weeks since I completed my toughest physical challenge so far, and I’m still buzzing about it now! The atmosphere was electric and it was amazing to see so many people running for different causes and charities. I enjoyed the experience so much that I am tempted to sign up for another half marathon on Sunday 11th February 2018. Starting at Prestwold Hall in Loughborough, this will be the first ever Leicestershire Half Marathon, so it would be exciting to run at a new event.

After reflecting on my first half marathon, I have decided not to opt for the full 26 miles. I consider myself to be fit enough to run a half marathon but I would need to be much fitter to run the distance of a full marathon. I found 13 miles hard enough to do and the Leicester Marathon was certainly my hardest challenge yet. For the meantime I would like to focus on improving my time of 2 hours and 47 minutes, which is what it took me to run 13 miles almost three weeks ago.

I am also considering participating in shorter runs, such as the Charity Santa Fun Run in a village called Broughton Astley. Taking place on Sunday 3rd December, there is the option to run 3km or 5km dressed up as Santa Claus! I am very tempted to have a go at this for fun, as well as getting in the Christmas spirit (even though it’s before my birthday, which is on the 7th December!). I would opt for the 5km option, and it would be nice to have a run somewhere new.

It had been a while since I wrote a feminist blog, but I managed to post one last month about the negative stigmas associated with women, including periods and body hair. The blog explores how the negative impact of these issues affect women, and how we are also starting to gradually talk more about it.

I’d like to get back into parkruns, as it has been almost five months since I last ran a parkrun! Training for the half marathon means that I have been focusing on running longer distances, but 5km is a nice distance to run. Plus there are people I haven’t seen for a long time who make up the friendly community of the Braunstone parkrun.

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂

Let’s talk about…

You’ll be glad to know that I have fully recovered from running my first half marathon! I haven’t done any intense exercise or been to the gym since running the half marathon, but I will be aiming for a regular exercise routine soon and getting myself back down to the gym.

I haven’t written a feminist piece for a while, so I decided to write a piece about subjects which are traditionally taboo, after watching an advert for sanitary towels.

I was scrolling through my Facebook timeline and saw an advert from Bodyform, which is not unusual, although this advert was different from any I’ve ever seen for women’s menstrual products. Traditionally adverts demonstrate the absorbency of period pads and liners by using a blue liquid however, I saw a red liquid! The advert also shows a man buying a packet of Bodyform sanitary pads, and a woman in the shower with blood running down her thigh.

New Bodyform advert showing period blood

For an area which is a taboo and has a negative stigma, I think it’s a great step forward that Bodyform has produced the first ever advert to show the absorbency of its pads with a red liquid, rather than an unrealistic blue one. For something natural to happen which shows signs that a woman is fertile, society is just great at making women feel ashamed about it.

The notion of blood coming out of a woman’s vagina on a monthly occurrence seems to be uncomfortable for many people. I’ve seen men squirm when other people talk about periods, and yet we see blood on almost a daily basis, on the news, in TV series and films. We have become desensitized towards the presence of blood on screen, but some can’t stand the thought of a natural bodily function?

Another area which I myself have felt embarrassed to talk about is thigh chafing. I am thrilled that society is starting to become more accepting of different body shapes with less of a focus on women trying to be as thin as possible and have a thigh gap, but I feel that thigh chafing is not talked about much.

As a child I used to suffer from eczema quite badly between my legs, which made it difficult for me to walk comfortably. While I don’t suffer from this anymore, I do experience chafing between my thighs. I have large thighs which means no thigh gap, so if I wear dresses or skirts I always opt for tights or leggings. When I finally achieved the confidence to not wear tights or leggings (I used to feel ashamed if I had my legs on show), I would apply talcum powder between my legs but unfortunately the effects of this didn’t last for long, so I would end up with red raw thighs. The summer of course is the worst season for chafing.

However, I recently saw, also on Facebook, an advert for garter bands. These bands are worn around the upper thighs which help to prevent chafing. As soon as I saw them I thought to myself, that’s such a great idea! The advert shows women wearing them underneath their dresses and skirts. The bands are discrete and offer a comfortable solution for women who want to free their beautiful legs without the dreaded issue of chafing.

Cute garter bands to help prevent chafing

I became aware of gels and lotions earlier this year to help prevent chafing, but the garter bands look adorable and help to make women feel great! I don’t know how long they have been available for, but they will certainly open up the eyes of people who don’t talk about or avoid talking about thigh chafing.

While I’m on the subject of legs, another area which I feel is not talked about much, even though it’s advertised on a daily basis, is hair removal.

It has always irritated me that adverts for hair removal show women using a razor on a hairless leg or armpit… if you really want to show how effective a product is, have a woman shaving or waxing a leg with hair on. There are adverts of men removing facial hair which is actually on their faces; we don’t have adverts of men shaving a hairless face, so why don’t we have adverts of women removing leg hair? Is it because there are people who are disgusted at the thought of women having body hair in certain places, just like they are disgusted with periods, that they don’t want to see it on TV?

A classic meme about removing body hair

The issues I have focused on in this blog are associated with women’s bodies, since the female body has long been a controversy and subject to criticism, as well as denial. I know that there are issues men face which society doesn’t talk about, such as the issue of toxic masculinity and men’s mental health. Overall I believe that people are generally getting better at discussing issues related with both sexes, although I feel that the taboos are still ever looming. The more we talk about these issues, the more normal they will become and the more accepting people will be.

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear