Ridiculously Rich – I’m working on it!

I’m Caroline Brown, at the time of starting this blog aged 39 and 3/4 . So, I’m usually just living my life as a wife, mother, dog walker, going to work and all the rest that goes with it. This year as I approach the big 4-0 I decided it was time to do some of the things I’ve put off so far. Hopefully not a mid-life crisis just yet, I’m not talking like bungee jumping or holding a tarantula, I’m not that brave! But regular things I haven’t done – like go to a pop concert, do an endurance driving challenge, go boating, eat foods I haven’t tried and take control of my work life, I’ve wanted to run my own business for years but it was never the right time or the right opportunity. The latter is where I will focus my blog (as let’s face it, that’s probably the most interesting). It started with a Tweet, I’ve always been a huge fan of The Apprentice and follow Lord Sugar and some of my favourite candidates on social media. When Alana Spencer tweeted she was launching an Ambassador programme to run your own business under the Ridiculously Rich brand name selling her cakes I was sooo excited! After much deliberation and research (sampling of the cakes!), I decided that as I was being brave this year, I would apply. After a selection and interview process, believe me, no one was more surprised than me when Alana offered me the Ambassador franchise for Cheshire. Since then its been a busy time, that all happened in May, and so much has happened over the past 6 weeks that I’ve decided to record it in a blog. Partly so I can share the experience, but also to show that if you want something you really should just give it go!

I love food and all things related to it so I’ll include events I’ll be going to so you know where to get your Ridiculously Rich goodies, updates on what events were like and information and reviews on places I go, and pretty much anything else I consider worthy of sharing!

Although I’m part of the Ridiculously Rich family, Ridiculously Rich Cheshire is run as my own business so all views, comments and photos are mine unless credited otherwise.

Ambassador image

This is me (back row left) with Alana and my new Ambassador family.

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Running late is my cardio

Dear Blog, I’m late posting I know. It has been more than the promised (or should that be threatened) week. Anyone that knows me even a little bit will not be in the least bit surprised, I’m always late – for everything. It’s hugely annoying but the thing is it’s never on purpose. I just always try to cram in more things than there’s minutes for. I’m always like ‘I’ll just do this it will only take a sec’ (in reality takes 10 minutes) or ‘I only need 30 minutes to get ready’ (as if! who can get ready – and I mean properly ready with ironed clothes, hair coiffed and make-up, in that time. DEFINITELY not me!) If we need to go anywhere I’m sure Mr B now tells me I need to be ready 30 minutes earlier than we need to be so we actually leave on time. My Dad has named it ‘Caroline time’ I say I’ll be there on the hour, he expects me at half past.

Frustratingly, even though I know this fault about myself and freely admit it, I can’t seem to help it. Most recently I had to navigate my way somewhere, now, if I’m driving I always use the Sat Nav, even if I know the way, I just like to know exactly what time I’m going to be there (or of course how late I’m going to arrive) But this time I was walking so used Google Maps on my phone. It said my destination was ten minutes away walking. Great, I set off in the direction suggested. I followed the map for 15 minutes, only to discover I was now 22 minutes away. How does this happen?! I’m not really sure if this is a time-keeping problem or a map reading issue. Map reading is a whole other story, I have to actually get in the map. You know, turn the map so left and rights are the correct way round, it’s much easier that way.

I’d actually intended to write this post about event booking, to share my (limited) experience and give useful advice but think I’ve gone on enough already. Although how long should a blog post be?

So again, I’ll pledge to try and blog more regularly. Obviously I know you’re all waiting with great anticipation for the next insightful postings (I am being sarcastic, I’m really hoping you get that now and don’t think of me as some egotistical nightmare).

Obviously you will be reading this later as it’s nearly midnight now so I’ll post in the morning – point proved, can’t even finish my posts on time!

Hello Again!

Yes, I’m sorry, I know it’s been like an age since I last posted. It’s all just been a bit busy! In case you were worried, I have returned from my cruise, I didn’t sail off into the sunset or fall overboard. So here’s the VERY edited highlights to get you up to speed.

The cruise was amazing, a totally brilliant experience and probably the best holiday I’ve ever had. Here’s one of my favourite pictures just for the pun! I’ll say sorry in advance……

Llama

 

Ridiculously Rich Cheshire – by a llama (makes me laugh every time – I did warn you it was bad!)

 

The rest of October was a little quieter than previous months. Seemed there was a winding down of the summer events and festivals before the Christmas events took off in November. I don’t think I’ve ever thought about Christmas so early. It was so full on, Christmas markets, festivals, light switch on’s. Amazing and brilliant fun but a real test of my organisational skills and logistical planning.

 

 

So what’s new? I’m collaborating with The Wine School of Cheshire, we’re hosting an evening of wine matched with Ridiculously Rich cakes. It’s taking place at the very special Restaurant 1539 overlooking Chester Race Course. I’m very excited for this.

I’ve joined my local Chamber of Commerce. It sounds really scary and makes me feel like a real business woman (which apparently I am) but I’m trying to make new contacts and meet other people so I’ve joined and I’m networking. I’ve also teamed up with Taste Cheshire in an attempt to raise my profile locally. They did us a really great review, and I’ve already had some enquiries.

Last month in January, we had our Ridiculously Rich Christmas party. It was at Betty’s in Harrogate. We had afternoon tea followed by some games and then Ambassador awards. I was delighted to win the ‘Most likely to get a Paul Hollywood handshake’ award. I like to believe it was for my creativity with my own bakes and Ridiculously Rich cakes but several people have said they thought it was an award for my ability to get a celebrity photo! Either way I’m happy. Best of all we all got a signed copy of Alan Sugars’ autobiography.

Aside from trying to make new contacts I’ve booked loads of great summer events and I’ve been working on my range of bespoke celebration cakes. I am putting off the inevitable though – accounts. I really try to do them each month as I know by this time next year I’ll have to have done my first tax return. If I’m honest I’m probably a month behind so I must be strict and get on with it.

It’s my intention to try and post more regularly. If only because it will help me remember what I’ve done each week. As I’ve got the memory of a goldfish I feel a Dear Diary type blog can only help, you have been forewarned!!

Thanks for reading 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

All aboard

Ship ahoy! Tomorrow I board the TUI Discovery cruise liner in Palma and I could not be more excited for my first cruise. I’m all packed with my matching luggage set and in true Jane McDonald style I’m taking my selfie stick. I’m just getting over a broken toe but I think I’ll fit in my heels for the dress to impress night and sail away party. I cannot wait to sit under the stars and see the ocean at night and to wake up each morning in a new country.  I may not post for a while but I’m sure I’ll have plenty to write about when I get back! In the meantime I’ll be posting pictures on Instagram.

 

Bake Off

The Great British Bake Off. Are you watching? I confess, I do like a cooking programme. Given the chance I watch everything from Come Dine with Me to MasterChef but Bake Off as it’s affectionately retitled is probably my favourite. I think it’s because it’s the only one I would do. I categorically won’t be applying don’t worry but what I wouldn’t be able to do on say MasterChef is the butchery. I’m not a vegetarian anymore, I was during my teenage years, but I’m fussy about what I eat. I don’t like to eat anything with bones in it, and I can’t eat something that looks like what it is. For example a fish with its head on or whole poussin. Weird I know! So the Bake Off, as it’s more bakery skills with cakes, biscuits and desserts is much more my kind of thing. To eat and cook! Some of the bakes and especially the showstoppers are amazing though, truly impressive to look at nevermind eat. My skills and knowledge are nowhere near anything like the contestants. I feel pleased with myself if I’ve actually heard of what it is they’re making in the technical challenge. I would definitely crumble (!) under the pressure. Plus, I’m not sure I could be bothered with the labour intensive bakes like filo pastry, and I’m way too impatient to make bread successfully I know that already. In order to join in though, each week me and my daughter eat whatever it is they’re creating. So bread week, we ate a lovely olive and rosemary bread and a cheddar and onion loaf. For caramel week, of course we had a Ridiculously Rich by Alana Salted Caramel Slice and for this weeks pudding week we had hot Ridiculously Rich Gooey Chocolate Brownies with custard. They were so good! What’s that I hear you say – a cheap excuse to eat a load of goodies on a Tuesday night! Perhaps, but it’s good fun and makes us feel involved.

More recently I attempted my own show stopper, I was challenged to make a Harry Potter inspired birthday cake. I’ve made a few birthday cakes over the years, just for family, they’ve included a variety of the usual animals – with the chocolate hedgehog recurring a few time. Football cakes in various teams, kids TV characters and a Virgin Atlantic plane (don’t ask!) So I’m always up for a challenge. Well, it tasted OK, I make a good Victoria sponge if I do say so myself, and the birthday girl was pleased so I count that as a successful bake. Not sure it would have got me star baker though?!?

Harry Potter cake

 

And so it begins…

My life that is, at age 40, as I enter a new decade I admit so far it’s been pretty good – in fact – it’s been amazing. It started off last Friday afternoon with a visit from my accountant – not your average birthday celebration I admit, and don’t worry I’m not that dull that even I think accounts are fun (sorry accountants!) more of a necessary evil. Anyway, my accountant is actually my lovely sister-in-law so after she’d checked my Ridiculously Rich finances, made me write a ‘to do’ list and created me even more spreadsheets, we were free to PAR-TAY!!! Which we did a little too well, we were two bottles of Prosecco down by the time we went for pizza!

Prosecco

Needless to say, the following morning I had a slightly sore head. Which was a little unfortunate as we had invited family and friends over for drinks and cake in the afternoon. With my family these things are never a short-lived (or sober) affair so another drunken late night! By Sunday – my actual birthday I may have been 40 but felt more like 50!

The day started well with much spoiling and presents. Some lovely surprises and a champagne Sunday lunch booked for The Grosvenor Hotel in Chester, with an overnight stay for the grown-ups! The entire experience at The Grosvenor was amazing. The service was professional but understated, the food was just divine and they even put a candle in my dessert, so cute!

During the lunch I was given another birthday surprise – seriously, all these surprises were exhausting. But this is so exciting I can’t type it quick enough. I AM GOING ON A CRUISE!!!! I know right, one off the bucket list already. Mr B booked it, conned me into not booking any events for a couple of weekends and arranged childcare. I was so stunned. I did cry, but my family will tell you that’s not unusual. Crying is my go to emotion for everything, happy – I’m crying, sad – I’m crying, angry – crying, stressed – crying you get the idea. I’m so excited, we get to go to Sicily where I’ve been longing to go for ages.
It was a wonderful weekend of birthday celebrations. I felt very special and honoured to have so many people send me good wishes and buy me gifts. But really the material things are just stuff, I’m not knocking stuff, I like it! I’m very lucky to have such a wonderful family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances. It’s made me realise there’s more than one way to be Ridiculously Rich!

 

 

 

 

The final countdown

As I enter the final week of being in my thirties I must ask the vital question, will my life actually begin on Sunday? As that is the day I will enter a new decade and turn 40 <Dramatic pause for tears> which according to legend is when life begins. Clearly I can do nothing about this ageing process, except maybe botox and I’m pretty sure I’ll be using a few more filters on photos. But I think I’ve accepted now that I won’t wake up on Sunday with a head of grey hair (I’ve an booked an appointment with my hairdresser just to be safe) or looking like my Mother (sorry Mum but to be fair it’s pretty unlikely you’ll read my blog!) I’ve lots of positives in my life, a lovely family, my own business, we’re solvent, sober (mostly) So I’m going to embrace this new era with a wish list of things to do, a bucket list if you like, so once it’s committed to writing I’ll have to start ticking them off!

  1. Walk the Great Wall of China. OK, not the whole thing but I think it would be really cool to do some of it.
  2. Visit Venice – preferably traveling there on the Orient Express.
  3. Go on a cruise, I don’t really have a destination in mind I just love the idea of visiting lots of places in one holiday. One year we went on a road trip around Europe and visited seven countries in two weeks it was brilliant, definitely one of my favourite holidays.
  4. Have a ride in a hot air balloon.
  5. Go to the Opera.

This list is not conclusive, I’ll certainly add to it, I’ve started big there I think, and expensive, but everyone’s allowed to dream. The thing is a year or two ago it would have been more like a personal wish list, things like have more confidence, believe in yourself, stop worrying about literally everything. Everyone has hang-ups and self doubt but one of the good things about (I’m not going to say getting old) growing up, is that you learn to appreciate yourself and those around you a little more. You become more understanding of their faults and more accepting of your own. Generally you don’t worry so much about what people who don’t matter think of you. That is something I always obsessed over, what do people think, do they like me, will people laugh or talk about me behind my back. The stupid thing is these people are the ones that don’t matter and even if they are saying stuff – you’ll probably never know! I wasn’t even on Facebook til I started with Ridiculously Rich as I never wanted to put myself ‘out there’ as it were for people to judge me and know what I’m doing, and now look at me writing about it for anyone to read! The last few months have been a really positive experience and changed my life in many ways. I was so delighted just to get to meet Alana Spencer off of The Apprentice, but for her to want to work with me and believe I’ve got the right qualities to be a success was such a boost. Now I realise the only person stopping you from achieving your goals, dreams or ambitions is yourself. OK so money, time, opportunity all play a part too, but you can make all of those if you really want to. On that note I need to get selling a few more cakes to start ticking off that list! Gosh, how emotional am I going to be by Sunday??? Someone best do you all a favour and hide the computer.

Disney quoteBring on 40!

 

Nantwich Food Festival

‘A foodies dream for one long weekend each September’, that’s how the Nantwich Food Festival is described. It’s a three day event, and one of the few UK food festivals that’s based entirely within a town centre. The town of Nantwich itself is a quaint little place with narrow streets and lots of historic buildings hosting a mix of independent retailers and high street chains. And each September the town is buzzing with the excitement of this annual event. The festival itself boasts a fine line up with celebrity chefs, live music and big sponsors – all the hallmarks of a great event, so I had my fingers crossed. Wow! I was not disappointed, the people came in droves, literally hundreds and hundreds of them every day. All excited to see new products, learn about new brands and try the vast array of food available. As the event is free to enter it meant the crowd was very diverse. There was lots of people that perhaps wouldn’t pay for a ticket to a food festival as they don’t see themselves as particularly ‘foodie’ that came along for a nosey, along with those that see themselves as wanna be food critics checking out the ranges.

Nantwich Food Fest multi

What really stood out to me was the organisation. To coordinate the vast number of stall holders, traffic, general public and all that brings was brilliant. Every one of the helpers was well informed and visible, there was clear instructions given at all times. When I found out these people working were volunteers, some not even from Cheshire, I was even more astounded. What an amazing credit they are to themselves and the festival reputation. I’m hoping to be automatically on the list for a space at next year’s festival. I wholeheartedly recommend going, as a trader or a visitor. Thanks Nantwich and all you folk that made it so memorable – same time next year?

Nantwich food fest prog

Blogging along

It’s National Read a Book Day today and the irony of a blog post is not lost on me! I’ve always been a traditional reader and preferred to read an actual book rather than downloading e-books. Recently though I’ve been using Readly, it’s a brilliant new way to read magazines, literally hundreds of them. I’m enjoying it courtesy of my brother who’s signed up to pay the £7.99 monthly subscription and shared it with me and three other family members. There’s so much choice to read with every genre covered. I’ll admit, I’ve mostly read Cheshire Life, Closer and browsed the foodie options like Cake & Bake and Good Food but if I wanted to learn about knitting, gadgets or cricket it’s good to know I’ve got the option! I might even take a peak at Horrible Histories to see what I can learn. If you regularly buy magazines this could be a great alternative as the average magazine seems to cost about £4 anyway. I’d totally recommend giving it a try, you can read new issues as soon as they’re available and even look over back issues so no missing out. Find out more at https://gb.readly.com/

 

 

Skip mains and go straight to pudding

Brownie Dessert.jpg

I won’t lie, I eat a lot of cake. Hazard/perk of the job you might say, but I love cake in all it’s forms (except maybe fruit cake – too much fruit and not enough cake). Today I made this tasty dessert of extra gooey chocolate brownies with ice cream. To create this I simply used Ridiculously Rich by Alana Gooey Chocolate Brownies, one per person is enough lets not go too wild. And naturally only Ridiculously Rich Brownies will do. I baked them in a moderate oven for about 8 minutes. I think you could probably microwave them if you prefer but in the oven the outside goes ever so slightly crispier while the inside is warm and runny – sooo good.  This would do me but to add an extra element to the dish *ahem – make it look prettier, once warm I dusted lightly with icing sugar and added a quenelle of vanilla ice cream. Yes a quenelle, not a scoop or a dollop, I’ve been watching Master Chef you know so it’s a quenelle! And of course I had to Google the spelling. Add a strawberry for decoration and you’re good to go! Looks good tastes even better. Enjoy!

Strawberry montage.jpg

Check out my Facebook page to find out where you can buy your Brownies to recreate this yourself; facebook.com/RidicRichCheshire

Summer should get a speeding ticket

Seriously, blink and you miss it. I know technically it’s still summer (if only someone would tell the weather) but as the August Bank Holiday looms ahead there’s a definite back to school vibe hanging around, so it seems like the ideal time to do a quick round up of a couple of the summer events I haven’t told you about. I went to Macclesfield Festival, not as a guest, I rarely go anywhere as a guest, but with cakes! It was the first year the Festival had been organised and was a truly great event, they really focused on being family friendly. There was a great atmosphere, Dodgy (Staying out for the summer) The Farm (All together now) and the Brand New Heavies performed on the Main Stage but there was 3 further Tents each with a different type of music – even Rastamouse and Da Easy Crew were there! Living the sheltered life that I have (until now obvs) this was my first experience of a music festival and I would genuinely have bought a ticket and attended it was that good. It’s set to return next year, even bigger and better so I’ve already got my name down. I am definitely getting the best of both with this job.

macc-fest.jpg
You can find me on Instagram ridicrich_cheshire

After Macc Fest, I know, using the abbreviation, how cool am I? I took my wares to The Nantwich Show, the UK’s largest one day show. One of it’s redeeming features, no that should be it’s second best feature, is the fact it features the International Cheese Awards. The show hosts 5,685 entries of cheese from over 30 countries worldwide. The Cheese Hall is truly a sight to behold, and not as smelly as I was expecting! I genuinely did not know there was so much cheese in the world. So, the main feature at this event was James Martin, one of my most favourite celebrity chefs ever. I’ve been following him since his days on Ready, Steady, Cook. Showing my age there but that was such a quality programme that should definitely be resurrected. Anyway, before I digress too far, some lovely ladies I met from a local hotel went to fetch him as I couldn’t leave the stall to find him for a photo. Naturally, when he came to see me for a photo and a salted caramel slice (I didn’t charge him) I was a totally star-struck bumbling idiot. Plus it had rained all morning so I was sporting some rather wild hair. If he sees me again I fully expect he’ll run a mile, maybe that’s why he doesn’t reply to me on twitter….. but regardless here’s the evidence, another one for my hall of fame.

James Martin

Aside from just events where I attend and sell the cakes I’m trying to expand to corporate gifts, special occasions -a brownie tower is quite an epic sight at an event-favours for weddings or parties. Pretty much anything that requires cake! To help this along I went to Moxie Mingle, it’s fun and friendly networking events, miles away from what I had presumed a networking event would be like, that’s why I’ve not been to any before! It was a great evening at The Alchemist in Alderley Edge and I met some lovely people who will hopefully become useful contacts. You can find out more at http://www.moxie-migle.com I’m definitely going again!

Beautiful Brownie