Thursday, 27 October 2016

Half term happenings

Hello you lovely lot, 

Well, it's fair to say that I've been a little bit awol of late and maybe even lost my blogging mojo there for a while. Happily I'm back though.....I thought I'd kick things off with a little round up of our trip to Wales last week.......

We are so lucky to be able to visit this little pocket of the countryside. It's the same place that I've been visiting since I was a child and now I love taking my boy there to relive these memories and make lots of new ones!!!

pretty stunning view from the house 
The weather was unseasonably good this year and it was even what you might call hot on one of the days! 

The boys went go-karting. This was N's first time and in a place we'd never been to before. It was a two-seater kart and he was able to do the steering while his Daddy controlled the pedals. He absolutely loved it so I'm sure in time we will be heading back there. We also had a go at archery while we were there and although the boy got one arrow into the centre of the target I can honestly say that the rest of us were a bit rubbish!

The beaches are never particularly busy in these parts but at this time of year you pretty much have the whole place to yourselves which is so special. Plenty of time to explore to your heart's content.

Who doesn't love a proper picnic with a proper hamper and actual china?! Playing cricket on the beach is something I remember doing with my dad when we were all little (we Indians love cricket) so we busted out the wickets and bat and had ourselves a good game. The dog was by far the best fielder - fetching tennis balls is his bag!

A big thumbs us for the sand dunes! This was by far the dog's favourite activity as well because he had an actual grin on his face as he tore up and down them.

I couldn't leave you again without at least a bit of cake now could I?

This is the cake I made for my dad's birthday last week. As you can see inside it was a checkerboard design. Vanilla and chocolate sponger layered with chocolate mousse. Vanilla buttercream and chocolate ganache coated the cake plus a bit more chocolate mousse and then I decorated it with honeycomb matchsticks, mini Crunchie bars, Maltesers and chocolate curls. My dad has a very sweet tooth indeed so this was right up his street. I was pretty proud of myself as there were a few elements to this cake which I had never tried before and I was happy with the results - although I learned a few lessons for next time I give these elements a try.

Well - at least now you know I'm back in the land of the living. We're having a Hallowe'en party this weekend which is always super exciting so I'll be back soon with a report on that.


Thursday, 9 June 2016

Sugru - a review

Now, crafty I might be, but DIY is so not my strong suit.

However ----- I am the queen of botch jobs and quick fixes, mostly because I'm impatient (and thrifty) but also because I do love to use the phrase, "fashion a device."

Example - I need something to hook this door back but don't have access to a hook/nails/drill etc....."Allow me to fashion a device!" The boy wants a new way to hang up all his fancy dress costumes and the shops are shut/I have no idea how to use rawlplugs, "Allow me to fashion a device!"

You get the's finding a way to repurpose something you already have, fix something instead of buying something new, combine two old things to create and entirely new creation.

I once heard of a magical substance which seems to have been invented entirely for such purposes...Sugru was it's name. It's basically been top of my Xmas list for about 3 years but I guess Father Christmas (or my family) didn't take me seriously and so alas - I have had to live on without this genius invention in my life. Sure, devices have been fashioned - but when I think of what could have been....the devices, the fashioning.....I won't lie to you it's been tough!

I know we're not supposed to be in the blogging business for freebies and review opportunities (and I'm certainly not) but when I was contacted and given the opportunity to try this stuff out I literally jumped for joy (what can I say - I'm sad like that).

Now if you visit the Sugru website it tells you all about how to use it and ideas for ways to use it. They call these ideas "hacks" but clearly that's because they don't know about "fashioning devices" - it's cool, I'm happy to be ahead of the curve.

In short, this is a mould-able putty substance which air dries to bond solidly and become heat, weather and waterproof. You can put it in the dishwasher or use in bathrooms. It will even stick to fabric.

Another thing I totally love about this stuff is that it is so British - it totally embraces the "make do and mend" attitude we are famous for. It started as a small idea and made it all the way to big business and what's more this idea came out of the mind of a woman - total awesomeness!

You didn't know you needed this stuff in your life - but you do!

So far I have, solved a problem with my taps that would have been very costly, fixed my loo without having to call a plumber and created a cool way to store and hang my ever-growing hat collection. Oh yeah - and fixed those bloody annoying Apple chargers which are coated in crappy plastic which always breaks to expose the wires.

I was given a starter pack of Sugru for free. It was a product I already had interest in. I decided to write this review and share my thoughts with you.

Over and out buddies xx

Saturday, 2 April 2016

A tale of two cakes.....part two

So here we are again and, yes, there's more cake. 

My boy had his birthday party a little early with some school friends. I made a large cake for them all to enjoy which hopefully you have read about in my most recent post. It was his actual birthday in the Easter holidays and I simply couldn't let him not have a cake on his actual birthday.

I had to think long and hard about which second cake to make for him. Sure, he would always love a Star Wars cake but he had a hint of that in his joint cake. He would always be pleased with a superhero cake - but again, been there, done that. 

I decided theme wasn't the key this year but fun certainly was! My boy loves him some Smarties and that's where it all began. I'm not usually one for trends or fads in the baking world but this time I had to go trendy (yep - I'm so old now that I use words like trendy which are so totally not trendy in any way!)

Here we are then -------- a rainbow, skyscraper, pinata cake. Everything that my boy adores - purple, cake, get the drift. 

I whipped up an all in one Victoria sponge mix which I use all the time - holla at me if you would like the recipe. Normally, I would always use golden sugar but in this instance it is advisable to use white sugar (I know - shit right?) because it makes your cake mix nice and pale so that it takes the colour in a true way rather than with a tinge. 

I divided it by eye into six bowls and then added the colour. Gel colour for the win. Doesn't dilute the mix and make it too sloppy. Easy to build for the desired shade. Come on - you know by now that gel colour is the only way to go right? 
Red and yelloe and pink and green (there's seriously no pink!)
Once the colour is mixed in well it's time to pop the mixture into the pre-greased pans. I actually bought a set of 6inch cake pans for this cake. I normally wouldn't and then would bake cakes in batches as I have two of pretty much every size for making layer cakes. It felt truly luxurious to have the proper "kit" for once instead of making do!

 Ta - DA!!!!! Here's the finished cake. I layered it with vanilla buttercream, crumb coated it, left it to dry and then fully iced it with the buttercream. Much as I love a cream cheese icing or any flavoured icing over a plain vanilla buttercream I had to choose what my boy would love and plus the pale colour of this icing really helps the colour of the cakes to pop when you cut into it. 

Howe cute are these star and letter candles which we bought randomly in our local newsagent a couple of years ago?!

There you have it. Not the most fancy creation in the world but it was yummy and moist and the colours were fab! I used actual Smarties for the inside and I decorated the outside with slightly smaller, fake ones which I had got from a cake decorating shop a while ago. 

When my boy saw this cake his jaw dropped and he literally fell to the floor, completely silent. This was quite a dramatic and hilarious reaction - just the sort of thing I would expect from my boy. He's super awesome after all. 

A yummy cake which packed lots of fun was shared by all of our friends and family. 

Two birthday. Done for another year. Deets on request. 
Much love. Goodnight. 

Monday, 28 March 2016

A tale of two cakes....part one

March Madness - aka birthday bake-a-thon is upon us. My boy turned six this month which is both crazy and awesome in equal measures!

This year he had a brilliant party with three school friends. It was the first time we have gone down the route of a children's entertainer but I must say it was fab! Sharing with three other families also brought the cost to a much more reasonable level - being a children's entertainer in London means you gets PAID!!!!!

Naturally - I was in charge of cake.

I've been to joint parties before where there has been one cake for each child but this is massive overkill and usually ends up with a lot of left over cake (luckily I'm like Joey with a fork in my pocket ready for just such an occasion). So I decided we would have one large cake - big enough to feed everyone. The issue with only one cake however is that little ones like to have their own candles.....cue a little bit of creative thinking. 

The children have been doing castles as their topic at school recently so that's what I decided to make. A castle with four towers, one for each child - themed to their personal interests. (It seemed like a good idea when I came up with it - there may have been certainly was lots of swearing throughout the process!)

I went for a square layer cake for the main part of the building, alternate layers of vanilla and chocolate sponge which was then covered in icing which I imprinted with a brick pattern (using something like this). I bought white icing and coloured it grey myself to achieve the colour I was looking for. I used black gel colour and gradually built it up to a light stone shade. (My guns were pumped after all the kneading!)

For the towers I needed something really solid which I could cover with the same icing but still stand up! I opted for a rice crispie concoction. I melted a random amount of butter and mini marshmallows in a pan, stirring until smooth. Then I poured in an equally random amount of rice crispies (or at least the cheaper, Waitrose version).

WARNING: If you attempt such a mixture you need to know that this shit is stickier than an actual stick covered in sticky stuff so please be careful!!! You need to grease every utensil and surface to fuck in order to handle it. Also unless you have the asbestos hands of Indian lady who's been cooking roti all her life (like me) you should not put your hands directly into the mixture until it is much, much cooler!!!

I had to get all Blue Peter on this project to construct my towers. I covered some stiff card with greaseproof paper and then used tape and paperclips to roll them into cylinders. I greased my hands liberally and grabbed chunks of the mixture and packed it inside each of the four towers to the height I wanted.

You may be realising that my approach to this kind of thing is somewhat haphazard and you'd be right!!!

I squished it down so it was in tight then left it to set. As sticky as this stuff is when warm it's ridiculously solid when cold and dry. Thanks to the greaseproof paper they came out totally clean when I unwrapped them. (Phew!)

I crumb coated everything with vanilla buttercream, once that was dry it was all given a more liberal coating of buttercream. Next I covered the square cake in the rolled icing and then each tower individually with the same. The towers were then attached to the main cake with cocktail sticks (yet more hi-tech equipment in use!). 

At this point I realised that I had - 1) forgotten to put battlements under the fondant and 2) not made all the towers the same height or circumference. 

It was at this juncture that I revisited my original design and of course remembered that I had planned all along for this to be a ruined castle, therefore rendering all such mistakes totally and utterly planned! Problem solved :)

Afterthought battlements added I moved on to the decoration for each tower:

  • My boy requested Star Wars so clashing light sabres and a Darth Vader motif (he is a big fan of the dark side).
  • The only girl in the group was given a Minnie Mouse tower (I know that she also likes Hello Kitty but seriously my decorating skills could not stretch to that!)
  • English cricket up next - wickets, ball and those big leg pads - job done :)
  • Liverpool football club got some simple football decorations - weirdly my unwavering hatred of football meant that I couldn't manage to make a sodding fondant football for love nor money (most of the swearing happened here). Thankfully my football-loving husband who has literally never fondled fondant footballs before was impressively good at making them (he also makes a good G&T so the cake was once again back on track). 

Towers done and all cracks patched up I added the other bits and bobs. The children had recently been on a school trip to an actual castle and one of my boy's favourite parts was the "small door within a big door" and the drawbridge so naturally, these features had to be included. String and mini drawing pins were surprisingly effective in this section. (I'll take that Blue Peter badge now thank you!)

I made the lettering for each tower so it said each child's name and then I did the lettering for the roof so it read HAPPY BIRTHDAY (aka - shit there's loads of space on top and I've got no idea what to do with it!!!!)

Those cocktail sticks came in handy again as I made a mini flag for each tower and a "6" banner. 

So there you have it - a sufficiently long-winded story of how I made this beast of a cake. 

Each little chap and chapess was happy to have a joint cake which was also totally individual. Plus they had their own candles to blow out after the song. Win-win.

All in all - a successful birthday cake and four happy six year olds (then there was Prosecco - it's all good). 

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Review - Beets BLU Wireless Body Fat Scale

I'm here today with a very exciting review......I know I've been promising you some changes around here and I can assure you that they are still coming but until I reveal said changes I can use this product review as a little clue to some topics which I will soon be discussing.

Without further ado - I present to you the Beets BLU Full Size Wireless Body Fat Scale.

[I was sent this product for the purposes of this review but as always you can rest assured that all the opinions stated are my own and this is an honest account of my experience with this product.]

First, let's discuss the difference between this type of scales and any old normal weighing scales. Well to start with, they aren't old and inaccurate like the ones which have lived in my bathroom for years! Also - look how pretty they are?!

Sorry about the feet!
So, aside from literally being shiny and new these scales can do more than just tell you how much you weigh. Here's comes the science bit....

You need to make sure that you have bare feet when using these scales as they send a pulse through your body which can determine an accurate breakdown of your bodyweight. But how? I hear you ask...this pulse travels differently through muscle, fat, bone, water etc and then the scales use a special algorithm to calculate your percentages and an overall BMI.

The scales were super easy to set up. They come with four AAA batteries and so all I had to do was pop them in and the scales worked (you can change the settings to whichever unit you prefer).

Next, I downloaded the free app from the AppStore and the scales automatically synched with my iPhone6+ through Bluetooth. (You can also get an App for Android phones and other iPhone models). You then set up your profile in the app by inputting your height, age etc. Seriously - this was so easy to set up.

Once synched, the scales communicated their findings to my phone. I could then see a clear breakdown of my weight. I have also set up my target percentages in my profile so I can track my progress towards my goals. You can even set up multiple accounts so other members of your household can use these scales too.

This type of scales are perfect for me as I have been weight training so much recently I now focus much less on my actual weight and much more on what makes up that number since muscle mass weighs more than fat. It definitely took me a while to accept that I was not going to see the number on the scales go down as I felt somewhat disheartened - but now I have these bad boys I once again get to see a number going down (the body fat) and also get overly excited when one of the numbers goes up (muscle mass).

So there you have it. You too could possess your very own set of these scales by purchasing them from Amazon.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Back from holiday

Hello you lovely lot,

Not much to see here today except a load of holiday pics from our recent trip back to our little apartment in Mallorca. It's wonderful to have had some sunshine and just to spend some precious family time together all having fun. I love making memories with the boy and discovering new fun things to do each time we escape to our island getaway.

Much as I love to travel I am a real homebird so I can't tell you how happy I am to be home. I don't even mind that it's done nothing but rain since it gives me the perfect excuse to curl up in my pjs with a blanket - perfick.

I have lots of new features coming soon on the site so I hope you will continue to stop by and ring in the changes with me but for now I will just leave you with the pics.

capsule wardrobe for the boy - loving the stripes!

leaving on a jet plane

the view from our home

if you like pina coladas

first night G&T to get in the holiday spirit

my loves sharing a laugh

me relaxing and watching the boats bobbing
Fun at the aquarium. My boy is so obsessed with all things under the sea. He never fails to amaze me at the best of times but he excelled himself during this visit by knowing the names of an incredible number of fish and animals. Not only did he know their names but he knew incredible facts about them - the things he remembers are awesome!
Maybe we have a budding marine biologist on our hands.

tropical paradise

My climbing baby was very brave and fearless at the brilliant climbing park we visited. SO. MUCH. FUN.

Pocket money purchase from the gift shop - cuddly starfish. Love this outfit on him!

Take off, in-flight and landing
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