Wednesday, 25 March 2015

FINCH'S CHELSEA BUNS...

Why not try reader Chloe's fab recipe for Chelsea buns… just the kind of thing London boy Finch might make! They sound yum…

You will need…
500g strong white flour
pinch salt
60g butter
7g sachet of fast-action dried yeast
30g caster sugar
200ml warm milk
1 egg, beaten
sunflower oil
clear honey

For the filling…
60g butter
30g light muscovado sugar
2 handfuls sultanas

1. Put the flour in a bowl, stir in salt. Rub in yeast and butter and stir in sugar.
2. Make a well in the middle and pour in egg and milk to make a soft dough. Knead until smooth and stretchy.
3. Place in an oiled bowl. Cover in oiled clingfilm and leave for 1 hour.
(Tick tock, tick tock!)
4. Make the filling: cream butter and sugar together and mix in sultanas.
5. Oil a roasting tin.
6. Turn out dough and knead. Roll into a square, spread filling over then roll up and cut into slices.
7. Lay in tin, cover with oiled clingfilm and leave for half an hour.
(Tick tock, tick tock!)
8. Bake at 200 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Glaze with honey (or sprinkle with icing sugar if preferred) and serve warm!

Finch might make these to impress Skye… what do you think?

Cathy says:
Ooh… these sound so gorgeous! Do YOU have a favourite recipe to share? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more!

HOPE: A SONG FOR HONEY!

Reader Hope has put together a cool playlist for Honey Tanberry… would they make a cool soundtrack to her life?

Hope says:
One song that springs to mind when I think of Honey is Blank Space by Taylor Swift… because, obviously, Honey has gone through a very long list of exes. It basically sums up everything Honey gets up to when she's out with her unsuitable boyfriends!

Next on the 'Honey agenda' is Sk8er Boi by Avril Lavigne. This song really fits with Honey for me and one line stands out: 'She had  pretty face but her head was up in space, she needs to come back down to earth!' I think this illustrates the fact that Honey may be pretty on the outside, but that she fills her head up with dreams that can never come true… like her dad coming home. It also echoes the way Honey acts towards others, like they are not good enough for her. The song can be seen to be as about Cherry and Shay too… especially the line 'I see the soul that is inside,' as I get the feeling that Honey only cared about the fact that Shay was popular and good looking, whereas Cherry could see beyond that.

My next choice is Since You've Been Gone by Kelly Clarkson. To me, it shows the way Honey puts up a wall when Shay becomes Cherry's boyfriend, acting like she doesn't care and pretending that things have been better since he left in order to hide the hurt inside.

Of course, Honey goes to live in Australia with her dad, and for this stage of her story I have chosen I Feel Good, an old song by Nina Simone. The phrase 'It's a new dawn, it's a new day, it's a new life for me…' reflects Honey's chance to start again in Australia, making friends that will be loyal and hopefully won't go out every night causing trouble!

Finally, I've chosen Bulletproof by La Roux; there's not much to say about this song except that the lyrics are very boisterous, loud and in-your-face, just like Honey herself! Some of the lyrics are about moving on to things new, but others are about not getting in someone's way (or having to face the consequences!) Which is exactly what Honey is trying to say to her family throughout the series…

Cathy says:
Great choices! Do YOU agree? Are there any extra tracks you would add to a playlist for Honey Tanberry? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Monday, 23 March 2015

DREAMCATCHER GUIDE TO BEING HAPPY...

I asked my readers what their top tips for instant happiness were… this is what they said!

Amy says:
It sounds weird, but I like to melt a big bar of Cadbury's and mix in rice crispies and marshmallows and eat it warm… it's like melted crispie cakes, and it always cheers me up!

Emily says:
Don't worry about what others think of you. I have spent a lot of my life feeling anxious about this and honestly, it takes far too much time and energy. Be your own person. Do what makes you happy and be proud of it! No two people are the same so celebrate the differences and remember this is YOUR life!

Shirley says:
I go outside, shut the door and sit on the back step. That's it, really. A couple of minutes and everything feels better!

Gina says:
A best friend and a cuppa!

Deborah R says:
I like to take my dog for a walk somewhere beautiful, or else watch funny cat videos on Youtube. They always cheer me up and make me laugh hysterically, no matter how rubbish I feel!

Sara says:
Chocolate!

Emma says:
One Direction… those boys are the only reason I keep going, sometimes!




Abigail says:
Books, minions, lip balms, The Dumping Ground.

Annie says:
A Cathy Cassidy book and a big bag of Skittles!

Sristi says:
Hugs, bffs, a good book, kindness and a long, comfy lie in!

Kellie says:
I am getting into anti-stress colouring books… very cool, and they really work!

Deborah A says:
Happy music, fun games, friends, family, a good book, a good movie… all of those things can warm the spirit!

Veronica says:
Helping others makes me happy…

Cathy says:
What is YOUR favourite get-happy fix? Mine would be listening to music, walking in the countryside or chilling out with friends! COMMENT BELOW to tell us YOUR top tips!

BE A GOOD SPORT!

Are you a sporty girl? Readers share their passion for a favourite sport or activity… could one of them be the perfect hobby for YOU?


Grace says:
I've been able to swim ever since I can remember. We lived in America when I was younger, in Miami, and we had a pool, so being able to swim was essential. I loved it, but when I was five or so we moved to New Zealand and although there was no more pool I began taking swimming lessons. The lessons were once a week, but my friends and I were at the swimming pool all the time, we thought it was awesome. I moved up a couple of levels and was doing well, and then I hit a level that seemed harder; I was one of the younger ones and I wasn't ready to move up, so I stayed in that group for a while longer. At that point we moved again, and although I started lessons again I didn't pass the next level and I was stuck with girls younger than me, and I began to lose interest. It was winter and wet and cold, and I decided to give up. I wish I'd kept going now, but perhaps it was for the best. I still love swimming and my family and I go to the beach whenever we can - that way I have all the fun and none of the pressure!


Izzy says:
I love hockey. I practise every Sunday morning and I have county training some Fridays and Sundays too as for the last two seasons I have played for Notts County. I like it because I'm with my friends, and it's fun - I play at a small club and all the coaches are really friendly and get to know you well. It's a friendly place with a great atmosphere and good team spirit! I got started when I was about seven, because my sister was playing  and kept telling me how much fun it was; at first, I didn't want to but now I really wish I'd started earlier because I enjoy it so much! The down side is that I don't get to have a lie in on a Sunday because training starts quite early… and if it's cold and wet, that's not always great! Overall, though, it's a brilliant sport!

Isabelle says:
I like running because it's an outside thing; I love running in the sun, but I also love the rain and the mud and the wind! There's just something about running that makes me feel really happy. I run with a team which helps you to stay motivated and to push yourself, and I have competed quite a few times, too. If anyone reading this is thinking of giving running a try, I would definitely say do it - and never give up! Running can be hard going, but if you believe you can do it then you can. If you aim to run two or three times a week, you'll soon be fit enough, trust me!

Stephanie says:
I started football fairly recently. I train with my college's SLD group (specific learning difficulties). Since then, my confidence has soared! Every week we play matches and games in training, and once a month there is a tournament. The good bit about football is that it's fantastic exercise and has really developed my confidence and skills. The only downside I can think of is when we have to do circuit training… waah!

Cathy says:
All of these sports sound amazing… would any of them suit you? COMMENT BELOW to tell me about your favourite sport!

Saturday, 21 March 2015

KRISS: THE SNEAKY BULLY

Reader Kriss describes what it's like to be targetted by a clever bully…

Kriss says:
I raise my hand in class to make a comment and she raises her eyebrows and whispers nasty things about me to her friends. They all laugh. At lunchtime, a groups of my classmates sit together and I try to stop myself from shaking as I sit down. She is sneaky with this sort of thing. She makes everyone turn their backs, and I am left so shamed I get up and head for the library. Lately, I have been trying to avoid her. I only have a couple of friends, both in the year above me, and I try to sit with them in the library, the art room, the music room. I am the victim of a sneaky bully, one who never gets caught.

She moved to my primary in Year 5, and everyone fell for her. At first, I did too, but soon she began to do nasty things. She'd invite everyone but me to play, ask everyone in the class but me to her birthday party, laugh at me in PE. It's all quite subtle. She is sneaky, and only does things that others don't notice. If I try to tell a classmate, they laugh and say 'What? She's so nice!'

It has been five years now; five whole years, and things are still bad. If I make a new friend, she steps in, blocks me out, spoils it all. I have told my parents and they've met her; they believe me. Mum suggested talking to the school, but her parents are teachers at my secondary school and it would be awkward and difficult to complain. Dad said I could change schools, but there isn't another suitable school nearby. I am left counting down the years, months, weeks until I leave school and escape this nightmare.

If you are going through something similar, please speak out early on and nip things in the bud; the mistake I made was waiting so long to reach out. If you cannot tell a teacher, do what I do and write in a diary to vent your feelings, or paint, walk, take a bubble bath, hang out with family and pets… anything that helps you de-stress. If you can, ignore the bully. You are strong, independent, beautiful, amazing and talented; they are not worth your sadness, not worth your time of day.

Names have been changed, and the picture was posed by model Georgia. Many thanks!

Cathy says:
Do you think Kriss is right to stay silent? What would YOU do? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

BOBBY: HOW I GOT TO BE COCO!

Bobby, the talented winner of our 'Could You Be Coco' comp tells us all about how she landed the CCTV role…

Bobby says:
It's been almost two years now since I landed the role of Coco for CCTV - but it doesn't seem that long ago at all! It came about by pure chance, really. My sisters and mum had been to one of Cathy's talks where she mentioned the comp to find someone to play Coco. I wanted to try out as I'd read and loved Cathy's books, but never expected I'd get anywhere. I sent in my video audition and couldn't believe it when I got a call saying I was a finalist. I had to go to London for a final audition with other hopefuls, and I met Cathy and some of the Puffin team. Imagine my shock and excitement when I got a call to say I had the part!

When you're playing a character you have to stop thinking like you and start thinking like them; consider what your character would do in any situation… how would they react? Coco is such a bubbly, excitable character with very strong opinions. It was fun getting into her head and making sense of the world from her perspective!

Talking with a camera in your face and people standing around watching you can be really off-putting… it is very different from performing in a theatre! It was much harder than I'd expected and I'd never done anything like it before. It suddenly became a lot harder for me to let the character of Coco shine out… but after a few practice runs I managed to get into it and I let Coco take over. In my mind, she has so many thoughts and things to say that race around her head; being the youngest sister her opinion isn't always taken seriously so she does enjoy a good rant now and then! Acting was relatively new to me, but I was determined to give this a go and put myself out of my comfort zone. If you never try anything new, life would be pretty dull, right?

Becoming Coco was an amazing experience for me and a great learning curve as a young actress. I still often find myself thinking 'What would Coco do?' Why don't you guys try it too? Think of your favourite CC character and put yourself in their shoes for a day… you might really enjoy it! Whatever happens, take every opportunity that comes your way… you never know where it could lead you!

Keep on being fabulous… see you later!

Check out some of the fab CCTV episodes here… http://www.cathycassidy.com/cathycassidytv

Cathy says:
Brilliant! It's awesome to hear about Bobby's experiences of playing Coco on CCTV! Which CC character would YOU most like to play? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Friday, 20 March 2015

NARINDER: OLD SCHOOL BLAZERS FESTOONED WITH SAFETY PINS...

Another in our fab series about growing up in a different decade… we talk to Narinder, who was a teen in the 1970s!


Narinder says:
The best thing about being a teen in the seventies? I've got to say punk rock, a massive explosion of a different kind of music led by The Clash and The Sex Pistols. At the beginning, we wore skinny jeans (we called them drainpipes back then), white shirts, ties and an old school blazer or leather jacket festooned with safety pins and lots of badges of our favourite bands. It was exciting and subversive and it was fabulous to be in the middle of it.

Going to university was a massive part of my seventies life. I met my husband there and made lifelong friends. It was more difficult to get in then, as there were fewer places available, but if you were from a lower-paid, working class family, as I was, you received a grant from your local education authority and they also paid your tuition fees. Student loans didn't exist.

The not so good? Well, there was no tech stuff then, obviously. We had landlines to make calls or old-fashioned red phone boxes, and we wrote letters (shock!). We survived, but I class that as a bad thing now because I love, love, love my smartphone, my iPad, my MacBook…

There's one thing I certainly don't miss from that time. People felt entitled to stop and stare at my family in the streets - and even make unpleasant comments - because my dad is Indian and my mum is white. People felt entitled to stop and stare at my family in the streets - and even make unpleasant comments - because my dad is Indian and my mum is white. Mixed race couples were rare in those times and, despite the current debate about immigration, I really believe that today, the majority of people are much more tolerant.

Cathy says:
I remember all of this… fascinating! These days, Narinder Dhami is a super-successful children's and teen author… check out her brilliant book Bend It Like Beckham or her fab Babes series! Would YOU have liked growing up in the 1970s? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!