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- ▼ November (9)
Winters here with force and so are dark afternoons and if your little ones are anything like mine they’re bored! So heres a couple of thi...
Last week I was sent Baking Mad Easy by Lorraine Pascale from the lovely WHSmiths (currently less than half price!) Being one of the large...
As you’re probably aware I have a lovely sponsor this year in the fabulous Nursery Paint Company. They offer the most amazing range of ...
Who needs the gym? Three ways to get active at home after Christmas So you’ve overdone it with the turkey and mulled wine. Haven’t we a...
How many of us out there have expensive chefs kitchen knives and no idea how to use them? Hmm well hopefully this guest post will get you ba...
Today I had the most amazing Banana cake and wanted to share the recipe with you only to discover when it was passed on its gluten free! I...
As you know I adore luxury (who doesn’t) but when I had my eldest I noticed that while you could have luxury baby clothes, luxury mama c...
“I emptied my bubble bath into the tub, Determined to get myself thoroughly scrubbed. The bottle had said "ONLY ONE CAP OR TWO",...
I've been a big fan of Trisha Ashley for a good few years and having followed her on twitter @trishaashley (do follow!) I asked her if s...
My eldest is coming up to four and has never been interested in books except as something to chew on. I have tried him with nearly every f...
Allergy baking Books gluten free recipes Book Review The gallery baking children cooking cupcake recipe recipe Muffins dairy free Chocolate baking made easy cake christmas egg free personalised gifts what i'm reading National Trust breakfast competition free free activities free family fun gardening homemade playdough lions outdoor fun photos Bored Chocolate souffle Harry Eastwood Lorraine Pascale Mud Pies Novels Raining Skinny French Kitchen St Davids Day Story The Little House Welsh cakes africa americans animals aprons author bacon and leek baking gifts bananas black and white bobotie boys toys brandy snaps britmums bunting cars cat on moon cherry pie chicken children in need chocolate mousse chocolate shoes and wedding blues christmas cake cleaning. colour cooking with kids coppordot creperie cubs curry cybher diaries dog downloads earth explore food foraging free day out fudge fun facts grandparents great british bake off halloween hedgerows hertiage day housework hugh fearnley-whittingstall infacol jam tarts jamies great britain jamjar fishing john crane kids activities learning to read linda collister low fat make your own bunting maps marmalade cake mary berry middlemoss mooskins morning mud museum name labels nappy rash national cherry day nut free outdoors paris pastry peppermint creams phone photographer picnics pioneers pitta pizza play ideas potato fudge present ideas. presents pudsey cupcakes pumkpins quick dinner raspberrys ride ons river cottage made easy roast safer internet sandpits scrabble sea sevi shoes snack snow soup sponsor stationary sudocrem summer tea teenagers template the magic of christmas tinyme toys trisha asley turtles unusual gifts vegetarian west highland white terrier when i was a kid whsmith wildlife wine charms winter wooden toys zebras
at Wednesday, November 30, 2011
With December comes Christmas and in our household also about 5 family members which causes a bit of struggle with buying presents for everyone especially as a lot of them are males and not interested in sport. So I thought I’d compile here a selection of unusual but fun presents for Christmas or birthdays I’ve noticed this year and which I think will be pretty popular next year!
Keen photographer? How about a canon lens mug and biscuit holder? The lens cap lids even makes it great for drinking on the go. £12.99 from The Hut
From the great team who also have a lovely toy shop comes Coppordot Designs. Amazing personalised presents which are modern and stylish and rather classical to I think for a start they do these which my sister in law will adore £12.oo
Or for a stylish and practical present how about these cufflinks? (Stephen Frys a fan to!) at £26.50 they’re incredibly good value.
Some one interested in maps? Mind you saying that I’m not so interested maps but I do love these! Pick any year from 1890 to now and see how the world has changed! £25 from gone digging!
I bought one of these for my husband years ago, its still going strong and he uses it daily at work! £3.99 from Paramount!
Gloves that work with the touch phones! £6.79 from Gifted Gadgets
Someone who likes Whisky on the rocks? Since if you do have it on the rocks (i’m a brandy drinker myself but think these would work for that just as well) it tends to get diluted as the icemelts these are great! £9.95 from Hand Picked
Being slightly flutter brained I end up writing on bits and pieces all round the house which drives everyone a bit crazy when they cant find it so if you know someone like me what about this? £14.95 from Hand Picked
Gardner? A great way to be eco, save money and help feed each seedling ? Paper potter £10.49 from the green fingered folk at Crocus
Student, new baker? I thought this was a great idea for most people. An apron with useful guides on for a quick glance! £14.99 from Totally Funky
And I was almost tempted by this until I saw the price!!! Think for that cost I’d be half way to a safari to see the real thing! from Lazy Bones
at Friday, November 25, 2011
I've been a big fan of Trisha Ashley for a good few years and having followed her on twitter @trishaashley (do follow!) I asked her if she could send me a little post on christmas, her books and the amazing recipes she ties in to the story and I'm rather excited by the fact she said Yes! So here it is.......
Believe it or not, I didn’t actually set out to write novels full of food, cookery and recipes, those elements just sneaked in, reflecting my own keen interest in the subject!
I started to put the recipes at the back of my novels in response to all the email
requests I had for them, and you will also find one or two on my Facebook fanpage,
where it lists my main hobby as Battenberg Cake….
Well, as I said, those elements crept in - and never more so than in my Christmas
novels. At the back of my latest one, The Magic of Christmas, you will find the
recipes for mincemeat flapjacks and also for mincemeat spudge, which is what I call
mashed potato fudge.
The Magic of Christmas is a major reworking of an earlier novel, Sweet
Nothings. I always felt there was a lot more I’d wanted to put in that book, so I had
great fun revisiting the village of Middlemoss and all its characters again.
As well as food, friendship is always an important theme in my books, and it is the
support of her friends in the Christmas Pudding Circle that keeps Lizzie going as she
struggles on towards the end of difficult marriage. There is another village tradition,
too, the annual Boxing Day Mystery Play, and both the preparations for that and the
meetings of the Christmas Pudding Circle start months ahead, leading to an ever-
faster toboggan ride towards Christmas.
Of course, there’s lots more going on, too – Lizzie is a keen cook and has quite a
bit of rivalry going on with her husbands’ cousin Nick, who is a chef and cookery
writer. Then there’s the mystery of what Caz the gamekeeper up at the hall does with
all the grey squirrels…
My next novel, Chocolate Shoes and Wedding Blues, will be out next May
and I will be trying out the recipes for that one over Christmas. All this research –
especially the chocolate making for Chocolate Wishes! – hasn’t done a lot for my
My tip for coping with the Christmas catering is to have only things you like,
not everything the magazines tell you you must have to make it ‘perfect’ (perfectly
indigestible?). Forge your own traditions. There is no law that says you have to have
chipolata sausages with your turkey, mix chestnuts with your sprouts, or have stuffing
and bread sauce. Do your own thing. I like custard on my Christmas pudding, not
brandy butter and white sauce and if you are eating at my house, that’s what you will
get. The simpler you keep things, the less stressed out you will be and the more you
will enjoy the day itself.
You can prepare and freeze all kinds of things well in advance, too, including
mince pies, which will only take about three-quarters of an hour to defrost at room
temperature. Or make my Christmas mincemeat flapjacks, which are so easy and
delicious, you’ll never want to buy another one!
Happy Christmas, everyone – with lots of good reading!
Visit my website at http://www.trishashley.com/ to email me, write in my guestbook
or join my newsletter group. I also have a Facebook fanpage, am on Twitter as
@trishaashley and have also recently appeared on Youtube, talking about writing.
The Magic Of Christmas
"In the West Lancashire village of Middlemoss, Lizzie Pharamond is cooking up a defensive storm of comfort food as she becomes increasingly estranged from her serially unfaithful husband, Tom.
Then fate takes a hand and when Tom is killed in a car accident, Lizzie has to deal with his quarrelling mistresses and devious friends – and to top it all – The Mystery Play steering committee have to find a new Lazarus. Middlemoss is already gearing up for its annual performance due to take place on Boxing Day with Tom’s elderly uncle Roly Pharamond as the Voice of God.
As a distraction, Lizzie’s Christmas Pudding Club is about to have the first meeting of the year to swap baking tips for traditional puddings, cakes and mince pies. Lizzie's growing rivalry with her husband’s cousin, celebrated cookery writer Nick Pharamond, is coming to boiling point. Having snatched the Best Mince Pie prize away from her at the village show, he is certainly the last man she wants to play Adam to her Eve in the Mystery Play.
Meanwhile, her best friend Annie has developed an unsuitable crush on local resident Ritch Rainford, the handsome and charismatic star a popular TV soap. But it becomes clear that Ritch is more interested in Lizzie who, desperately in need of comfort, might just be a tiny bit tempted.
The Voice of God will have one or two things to say about these and other village affairs at the Mystery Play, in a performance that will be a hard act to follow next year."
at Sunday, November 20, 2011
We get pretty bored here with either porridge or toast on the cold winter mornings so we decided to try a different recipe today. How about Bacon & Leek muffins hot out the oven for breakfast with butter melting in the middle? Chuck in the mixture when their alarms go and after they’ve washed and dress they have some gorgeous warm filling muffins to go to school, college or work on!
250g (9oz) plain flour
15ml (1tbsp) baking powder
50g (2oz) crispy bacon strips
50g (2oz) finely grated Parmesan or Cheddar
5ml (1tsp) dried mixed herbs
75g (3oz) chilled butter
1 large egg
175ml (6fl oz) milk
12-hole muffin tray
Half a leek (split vertically) finally chopped
Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Crumble the bacon strips into small pieces and stir into the bowl, adding the cheese, leeks and caraway seeds or mixed herbs. Use a cheese grater to coarsely grate the chilled butter and stir this into the flour mixture with a fork.
Beat the egg with the milk and stir into the bowl until the mixture is just blended. You don't need to mix too much - it should still look quite lumpy. Line the muffin tray with paper muffin cases and spoon the mixture into the cases. Top each with a little more grated cheese and a sprinkling of ground black pepper.
Bake in a preheated oven at 400°C / 200°F / gas mark 6 for 20-25 mins until golden and risen and firm to the touch. Serve the muffins warm or cool on a wire rack. They're best eaten on the day of making.
at Friday, November 18, 2011
Baking Mad sent me a fantastic package of baking goodies (all to be found in the shops) with the challenge to make and bake for Children in Need. They sent a recipe along which I have to say was pretty much a perfect mix but I found it a little dry but that could be done to my oven and having them in a bit too long. Any how they got sent along with my husband to work today as they were doing a cake sale for Children In Need and I’m glad to say they sold out pretty quick!
There were some fabulous other entrys which you cant tell from the photos but there were Pudsey shaped cakes, cookies and some pretty spectacular designs. Now Allinson Flour have teamed up with supermarket giant Asda to help raise money for this year’s BBC Children in Need appeal. To support the appeal Allinson will be donating 15p from the sale of special packs of their Nature Friendly Plain White and Self Raising flours to the charity. The special packs featuring the iconic Pudsey bear character, are due to go on sale in November and are available exclusively at Asda supermarkets. So next time you’re out shopping be sure to look out for Pudsey in the home baking aisle!
Pudsey Bear Cupcakes Ingredients
Unrefined Golden Caster Sugar (Billington's)
For the decoration:
Unsalted Butter softened
JUST MILK Whole
How to make Pudsey Bear Cupcakes
Click on the text to highlight the different stages as you go along,
or click the button above to enlarge all text
or click the button above to enlarge all text
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C/ 160 degrees C fan/ Gas 4. Line a muffin tin with 12 muffins cases.
Cream together the butter and sugar until pale, add the vanilla extract and eggs, one at a time, beating until mixed. Gently fold in the flour.
Spoon the mixture into the cases until half full.
Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until golden brown or a skewer comes out clean.
Allow cakes to cool on a wire rack.
For the frosting use an electric whisk to mix together the butter and icing sugar then add the milk and vanilla essence and whisk until light and fluffy, then add a few drops of yellow food colouring to achieve a bright yellow frosting.
Using a palette knife, smooth some frosting onto the top of the cupcakes, places some choco beans on the top left side of the cupcake for Pudsey's patch, then use the black writing to draw in his eye, nose and mouth.
at Sunday, November 13, 2011
Last week I was sent Baking Mad Easy by Lorraine Pascale from the lovely WHSmiths (currently less than half price!) Being one of the largest book sellers on the high street they have in recent years become increasingly competitive to online sellers with their book deals. Not only do they have Lorraine’s fabulous book on special offer they also up to 70% off food book and 75% off other books. Perfect for saving this Christmas. For example other great new cook books WHSmith have to offer include Jamie’s Great Britain.
I had watched Lorraine’s series but hadn’t bought her book however loads of my friends had and have sworn by her recipes especially the “I can’t believe I made that cake” so having had good reports this had worked out well I thought I’d try some of her other quick and very easy recipes of which this book is full. I was pleased to discover very few (about 3 or 4) require specially bought extras and these you can actually buy in the supermarkets.
I thought I’d try making the Super Speedy Chocolate Mousse and I had planned to take some lovely photos as it turned out very well however it got eaten before I could get my camera to them!
400ml (14fl oz) Whipping or Double Cream
Seeds of 1 vanilla pod or 2 drops of vanilla extract
140g (5oz) dark chocolate melted
140g (5oz) milk chocolate melted
40g (1 1/2oz) dark chocolate to decorate
Whip the cream and vanilla together in a large bowl until it just begins to thicken. Pour in the melted chocolates and slowly stir everything together with a whisk until the mixture is smooth, then whisk for 2-3 minutes until has thickened. Spoon the mixture into the glasses and put the fridge for at least 30 mins to set.
Remove the mousse from the fridge, grate over the chocolate to decorate and serve.
I’m now off to try making some more recipes in the hope they might stick around long enough for the photos!
at Saturday, November 12, 2011
Winters here with force and so are dark afternoons and if your little ones are anything like mine they’re bored! So heres a couple of things that might help:
While you have the paints out why not get some blank cards or paper and start making Christmas tags. Any thing goes for these so start gluing on feathers, glitters, stickers then cut in to stars or circles and you have some very original Christmas tags
Have waterproofs and a flask? Chuck on your wellies and fill a flask with hot chocolate and have a winterland walk.
While you’re out on a walk why not take a bucket and start collecting some leaves, some winter flowers, sticks etc and start making a scrap book.
Now’s the perfect time to start planting Daffodil’s so pop the kids in the back garden with a trowel and get your spring plants in place. Make sure you plant the bulbs far enough down so they don’t get bitten by any frosts.
Play Dough! Why not make its winter style and pop in a couple of drops of orange and cinnamon powder? Or a bit of vanilla?
Home Made Playdough
2 cups flour
1 cup salt
2 tablespoons cream of tarter
2 cups of water
1 tablespoons mineral oil
Mix all ingredients in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring until stiff. Allow to cool, then knead.
Make some paper snowflakes or angels and decorate your windows.
Make a pinecone bird feeder. Fun to make and attractive to hang in the garden
What you'll need:
Smooth peanut butter
Ribbon or yarn
How to make it:
Cut a long length of yarn or ribbon to hang the bird feeder.
Tie the ribbon in a knot around the pine cone near the top (about 3 sections down).
Tie a knot in the end of the ribbon.
Use the knife to get a large clump of peanut butter on the paper plate.
Use the knife to spread peanut butter inside the pine cone and around the edges.
Sprinkle the birdseed over the pine cone.
Roll the pine cone in the birdseed that is on the plate.
Hang the bird feeder on the tree.
Enjoy watching the birds eat their treat!
Baking: Now theres the joys of little cupcakes and ecorating these with sugared fruit or hundreds and thousands but why not try this one from the bbc?
140g icing sugar , sieved
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
250g butter , cut into small cubes
375g plain flour , sieved
200g icing sugar , sieved
edible food colouring , optional
edible gold and silver balls
approx 2m thin ribbon cut into 10cm lengths
Tip the icing sugar, vanilla extract, egg yolk and butter into a mixing bowl, then stir together with a wooden spoon (or pulse in a food processor until well combined). Add the flour and mix to a firm dough. Shape the dough into two flat discs and wrap in clingfilm. Chill for 20-30 mins. Heat oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5 and line two baking sheets with non-stick baking paper.
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to about the thickness of two £1 coins. Cut out Christmassy shapes (use a cutter if you like) and place on the baking sheets. Using the tip of a skewer, cut a small hole in the top of each cookie. Bake for 10-12 mins until lightly golden.
Lift the biscuits onto a wire rack to cool. Meanwhile, mix the icing sugar with a few drops of cold water to make a thick, but still runny icing. Colour with edible food colouring, if you like. Spread it over the cooled biscuits, decorate with edible balls and thread with ribbon when dry.
Card games: Snap and memory are great for keeping your little ones amused and good for building up their concentration. Why not teach your older ones how to build a card house?
For weekends when its too wet or cold outside why not make an adventure round the house? Throw down some cushions as stepping stones and scale the mountain of the stairs only to reach the den made from duvets at the top.
With your duvet made from duvets or rugs and cushions have a winter picnic. Lots of little sandwiches, jellys and cakes under a rug are far more exciting then at the dining table!
Visit your library! Free dvds, free cds and mountains of free books! Some also offer story times and other activities.
at Monday, November 07, 2011
Today I had the most amazing Banana cake and wanted to share the recipe with you only to discover when it was passed on its gluten free! It can also be egg free, dairy free etc pretty amazing no? Also you can substitute the oil for applesauce and apparently words just as well. Even chuck a handful of choc chips in for added yum!!
Banana Cake3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, marg or oil (or a cup of applesauce)
2 eggs (OR 3 tsp egg replacer mixed with 4 TB water OR an extra banana)
1 cup mashed bananas with 1 tsp baking soda mixed in (can be done with 2 bananas and skip the baking soda step)
2 Tb milk (cow, soy, rice)
1 tsp baking powder (OR 1/4 tsp baking soda mixed with 1/2 tsp of lemon juice)
1 3/4 cup flour (wh. or br. wheat, spelt, or rice flour – which ever works best for you!)
pinch of salt
Bake at 350 degrees.
50 minutes for wheat, 45 minutes for spelt, 40 minutes for rice/chickpea/tapioca flours.
Baking times vary based on your oven!
at Friday, November 04, 2011
If you are a fan of John Crane toys and who quite frankly isn’t? You’ll be excited to know they’ve joined up with Italian brand SEVI to start distributing their fun, wooden and colourful toys to us in the UK.
Founded in 1831 Sevi has a long devotion to high quality wooden toys. Their success at having spanned nearly two centuries (the longest European toy shop surely) has to be down to their gorgeous design and wonderful quality, just take a look below at some of the toys they offer.
By the 1920’s still making all their toys by hand they exited the local market and were started to be exported into other local valleys. By the 1940’s handmade at such a large scale wasn’t possible and new machinery was purchased to aid the craftsman skills. By the 1970’s Sevi were booming and one of the new characters born is still in their line up today – Keep an eye out for the Happy Clown.
Having spent the next 40 years expanding and building hundreds of satisfied customers Sevi have now chosen John Crane Ltd to distribute to retailers in the UK and you can just imagine what two such amazing wooden companies will accomplish!
Just too wet your appetite here are some of my favourites!
Go and find them on twitter John Crane Blog or facebook John Crane Fan Page or check out some further review Blog-Match
Go and find them on twitter John Crane Blog or facebook John Crane Fan Page or check out some further review Blog-Match
|Trouble brushing their teeth? |
|A very gorgeous and colourful kitchen |
for all ages and both boys and girls!
at Wednesday, November 02, 2011
What I'm reading this month from Julias Blog is a very twitter based book month for me. Its been my birthday recently and I was lucky enough to get some book voucher so spent them on my favourite authors who I also follow on twitter. So here below is what I'm reading!
A gorgeous book on policing problems in yorkshire. If you loved Herriot you will love this book! I read the first one a while ago and have been hooked ever since!
Recommend as hiliarious from John Cleese I picked this up. Its all about Ben touring 8000 miles round the uk with his family.
I have just read one of R.J Ellorys book and have been recommended to give this ago as the next one to try. Looks fantastic reading.
I adore Katie Ffordde. A spot of light relaxing reading after a hectic day with the kids and I'm transported to a different place the writing is good. This is one of my all time favourites of hers!
Trisha Ashleys lastest book and fast becoming one of my favourites! I ended up having a late night reading this earlier this week as I kept thinking I'll put it down after the next chapter and never quite getting there!
Now obviously he isnt on twitter but oh if you have not as yet discovered the joys of PG Wodehoue do! My man Jeeves is obviously Bertie Wooster but this is all about the family at blandings and worth a read every single time.