Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Strawberry Bundt Cake





  • 225g/8oz soft butter, plus extra for greasing

  • 4 free-range eggs
    1/2 teaspoon of bicarnate of soda.
    1/2 teaspoon of salt.
  • 350g/10½oz self raising flour

    250ml/9oz low-fat natural yoghurt or milk

  • 2 teaspoon  vanilla extract


    optional red food colouring

    tin of drained strawberries

    or 2 punnets of fresh ones ( these will probably be from Spain )




  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Place a baking tray into the oven to heat. Grease a your bunt tin or use Lakeland cake release (brilliant stuff)
  2. In a mixing bowl, sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda together.
  3. Mix the butter and sugar together in another large bowl with a wooden spoon (or a sparkly red mixer that looks like a shiny Ferrari ) until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking each one in with a tablespoon of the flour. Carefully fold in the remaining flour using a large metal spoon, then fold in the yoghurt and vanilla extract until well combined.Lastly add the drained strawberries or the chopped up fresh one , give another whizz in the food mixer.

  5. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and spread until level. Place the tin on the preheated baking sheet in the oven and cook for 45-60 minutes, until well risen and golden-brown. After 45 minutes, push a metal skewer into the centre of the cake. If it comes out clean, the cake is cooked.
  6. Make sure you do remove the cake from the oven and place onto a wire rack, without removing it from the tin. Leave to cool for 15 minutes.
  7. Gently pull away the edges of the cake from the tin with your fingers, then carefully turn out the cake onto the wire rack. Leave to cool completely.
  8. Once cool, decorate in a manner of your choosing . I combined icing sugar and melted chocolate . I also dipped in some whole strawberries to decorate.

Home sense and sensibilities

Home sense and sensibilities I know what I like and I when I see it I know it more, yet I am still fine tuning my style . Hand on heart I'm ecleptic and so as a result is everything else mixed with a certain joue  de vie. The map lamspshade lampshade was £36  from Grace and favour ( you can go to their website or as I did you can go to Not on the high street as I had a £25 voucher to spend ) I bought the base separately from Matalan and this was £20.







I did need more lamps and lighting in my home so this time I am poping over to Lighting Majestic to see what they've got ! 

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Mexican Chilli And Lime Chocolate Sauce Pancake Recipe

I'm giving you forewarning that next week is Shrove Tuesday better known as pancake day it is a time of joy and much contemplation over pancake toppings.Pancakes are an international affair from Scottish pancakes to Mexican tortillas there is not a country I believe that doesn't love a pancake.

Can be prepared in 30 minutes or less.

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces Milk chocolate  chopped
  • 120 ml of water
  • 60 ml of double cream
  • 2 teaspoons Waitrose sweet ground almonds 
  • 1 teaspoon Waitrose orange natural flavouring 
  • 1 tea spoon of chilli flakes
  • Half the juice of a lime or add more to taste 

Preperation


In a glass bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water melt the chocolate gently .
Add the water and teaspoon of orange natural flavouring .
Stir until the sauce is somewhat smooth , about 20 minutes

By now most of the water will have evaporated.
The mixture will have thicken slightly . Remove from the heat and stir in the cream and the optional liqueur . Also at this point at the teaspoon of chilli flakes , half the juice of a lime until combined well. Cool sauce completely and transfer to a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Sauce keeps, covered and chilled, 1 month. Set aside and move onto to making your pancakes.





The key to a good pancake is not only a good pancake and toppings but preperations good preperation will hopefully help and make pancake day feel more relaxed. As mentioned above the Mexican Chilli and Lime Chocolate sauce can be made well in advance.






For the batter mixture.


125g plain flour
2 medium eggs
25g melted butter
300ml of milk
1 tsp of salt
4 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder

For the pancakes shift the flour in a bowl .

Make a well in the centre of the mixture.

Add the salt,sugar, eggs, baking powder.

Gradually pour in the milk whisking as your pour until you have a smooth batter, then whisk in the melted butter.

To cook the pancakes , use a non stick pan . Heat the pan on medium heat until there is a slight haze coming from it. Brush the pan with with melted butter or oil then our in around 70 ml of batter in using a ladle if possible.

Tilt the pan so the pancake mixture covers the bottom of the pan.

Cook for around about 1 minute or until the batter has set and the pancake is lovely and golden. Loosen the edges of the pancakes and gently flip over then cook for a further minute.

Repeat the process to cook more pancakes.

Transfer to a plate and drizzle with the Mexican Chilli And Lime Chocolate sauce and decorate with strawberries and lime.



This a sponsored post in conjuction with Waitrose‘World cuisine’ Recipe Challenge

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Country Life Is A Very Fine Life



Rugby today in a very scenic country park near Tamworth.



Country kids are it's very best , all be it quite big kids ! I don't mind the howling as long as I have my trusty bobble hat I'm set . There is no such thing as bad weather just so long as you have the right bobble hat.


 

Friday, 21 February 2014

Knitting Giveaway

A little giveaway which I really should have down at Christmas!

Thanks to the wonderful Peggys Yarn


Peggy's Collection and peggy's yarns was created to celebrate the memory of my late grandmother peggy, who taught me how to knit. Peggys collection was started in 2010 and win many awards, such as #sbs by Theo from dragons den fame.


Peggy is a lovely genuine warm hearted lady with an amazing business that deals in stunning knitwear








a Rafflecopter giveaway

Popchips review

How can so much yumminess be packed in a packet and SO low on calories ?

I don't know how they do it, but they must be masters of magic , well I actually I do know they are baked snacks  , so you can enjoy guilt free snacking without feeling to guilty ; your only guilt will probably be if you eat the last packet!



Created in california and now popping in the uk, popchips are a naturally delicious line of popped potato chips. never fried. never baked. popchips are popped with heat and pressure for a snack so crispy and delicious you won't even notice it's (I hesitate to say) healthier.


with seven great, taste-bud popping flavours, including original, barbeque, salt & vinegar, sour cream & onion, salt & pepper,thai sweet chilli and katy’s kettle cornthere’s a different flavour for everyone’s tastes.

taste why for yourself at waitrose, ocado, sainsburys, tesco, boots, starbucks, wh smith (stations and airports), planet organic, whole foods markets, booths and now in universities across the uk.

You want more? pop over to popchips.co.uk and for all the latest, become a facebook fan or follow them on twitter.  



rrp from 69p for single serve and £2.00 for a share bag. for more information please visit www.popchips.co.uk

Thursday, 20 February 2014

The Frogs Legs Have it

Bus journeys are the microcosm of the human race.

Honestly it is like a really , really bad version of Miss Marple and we are all just sitting there patiently waiting to be questioned .

You get all sorts in there and the 20 or so minute journey there is like the cannonball run, only without the manly moustache of Burt Reynolds.


The passengers were numerous but those who stood out were the cook , the thief and the lover.


You have the alleged thief who had been arrested numerous times and looked as if  he was about to appear on Jeremy Kyle. We were informed very loudly of his past woes via his mobile phone conversation.


The lover the young girl fixing her make up probably about to meet her beau.

And then there was the cook.

"I used to cook frogs"

"I used to get them from the canal"

 A lady chirps "but aren't they bony ?"

" Aye but you just spits the bones out ,around 20 frogs will do you "

" Oh. " said the lady.

"But a good sauce is essential "



That's a dish I'm yet to see on master chef.

Life's never dull round here.




Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Beating The Half Term Boredom Factor.

Beating the half term boredom factor.

It can strike any at moment.

And when it strikes it can be utterly mind numbing and children in particular can go absolutely  scatty.Why not create a boredom buster basket, or box or shoe box if limited for space. The only limitation I have to say is your imagination most ideas to aid you on your journey you will already have, pens, pencils glue , sellotape etc. Pop over to the beautiful blog of Jenni's  to find a comprehensive list of messy and sensory play essentials.

It is always useful to start gathering scraps if you look back at this card making guest post from Jane at Onions and paper you will see that see she has used all sorts of scarps to make her cards and this can easily be adapted to do with children. And last year after going to a Forest school talk I made a pop up story story book as well as a journey stick.

Water beads can create a magical underwater sea world.

Rice can be used to create a magical musical instrument ( Guest post from Ghostwritermummy on Jenni Edspires' blog ) !

A scrap of paper is an adventure waiting to happen.

A paper plate is a mask waiting to happen or a whole lot more ( great activity from Activities4kids).

A pine cone can become a decoration.

A ribbon can become the sea.

A feather can become the flame from a rocket.

Instant coffee can be used for sensory smell. ( And other wonderful ideas from The Boy and Me )

Bottom of plastic bottles can be used to print flowers !

A paper circle can be a castanet who knew !



A box can become a boat for a pirate adventure.

SO you can have an adventure inside also why not create a treasure map , teddies bear picnic, bake cakes etc .

I remember when rainy days were fun , it is getting a bit beyond a joke now as it has been non stop rain for 6 weeks though!

Also after you've read a story to your  child you could do crafts associated with the book, also perhaps get them to draw a story map ( this is great for their literacy skills)

Create a den inside (from Childcare is fun) what child or adult doesn't love creating a den ! I know I do though nowadays it is called my duvet !

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Dark Secrets Cycling Within My Soul.

I have been habouring a deep dark secret for years a self imploding canker of disparity.

It feel as if since childhood I have been mocked.


And it is embarrassing.

My mother was able to achieve this , my husband but not me.

I failed my cycling proficiency test !!

Now I can't drive either but I am the most helpful passenger out , I failed my driving test counts and then has a sudden attack of amnesia. My driving lessons didn't go that well either I remember one lesson .

"I am taking this car to swap it for a new one tommorow it has never had a scratch on it "


Crunch , squeal , rattle , pop.

As a car takes the front off the the now no so perfect learner car I was in.

( it wasn't my fault )

"Oooh I said "

"*****" said the instructor.

Everyone was ok.

But I suspected the transport gods were against me rolling their dice and gambling with my sanity, I tried again and this time when travelling down a windy , tiny pretty lane one of the wheel hit the kerb.


Pop , hiss .

Stop.

Get out the car and stare at a flat.


Then I had to change the flat.

So in conclusion I never learnt to drive but I can change a flat tyre!

So it's not the failure of my driving tests and lessons that sits deep in my soul, it's the fact I never passed my cycling proficiency.

What Olympic dreams could have been mine for the want of a badge.

Awwh sigh .


I don't suppose I can take my cycling profiency age 41 ?








Friday, 14 February 2014

Afternoons Are Made For

Afternoons are made for appreciating your surroundings , I live in what was once a village but it's now got bigger. It is very much surburbia on the heels of the countryside it is stunning you just need to open your eyes. You've probably seen similar pictures before but in my mines eye they are different the season, the light the mood everything ! I'm never going to be able to get that particular again in my life. The picture below was taken on my walk home from my school where I work and I love this particular route I take.




Even though it is a little bit wet , well very wet I still see blue , a neighbouring village has flooded the fields and it looks very surreal. We've not been affected like other poor people but still fences are coming down and livestock is moved to higher ground.


Walking back from my school I spot blue again this time it's the barn door.





I feel blue but not in the sense of being down , I feel blue and it reminds me of Spring it's a hope it's a promise on the wind.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Le Chat It's The Cats Whiskers.

"Le Chat"
"Everything sounds such much more sexy in French, my human bean shouting cat just doesn't have the same ring about it .


I mean would it be So hard to announce Le Poussin is served ?


At the moment I'm feeling relaxed .


I relax on the bed .....




I relax at the top of the stairs, seems the human beantripped over me the other dayand I think they shouted "Zut Alor" so paws up fur that one <<<< see what I did there.


But it seems sitting on the human bean while they are watching the 'Muskabeards' is a no no or as I would like to say a non non.



Further more it seems sitting on the stairs through the banisters whilst recreating the barricade scene Les Miserables gets noticed ....


 


My name is Jack and I've been clean from catnip for trois weeks."



Monday, 10 February 2014

Machiavellian Morello Cherry Loaf




Ingredients
50g mixed fruit soaked in Brandy etc (if you want)
2 cups of self raising flour 
1 teaspoon baking powder.
50 g soft brown sugar
350 g Morello Cherries
I can of condensed milk or a pot of plain yogurt .


Method 

Preheat oven to 180c

You can soak the fruit overnight mine had been soaking from earlier that day from when I made Eccles  cakes , I know I'm a busy bee!



Mix the fruit with 2 cups of flour and baking powder.

Next add the sugar, cherries and condensed milk .

Stir with conviction.


Put the mixture into a 2lb loaf tin which is lightly greased .






Cook for 65-70 minutes or until a  skewer comes out clean. 

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Wallowing In The Sun

Worried I was getting stale.







Worried my blog was getting stale.

My photography also.

Worried I was getting rusty.




I took steps.


And what amazing steps they were .


It is amazing how sunshine can lighten the mood and take the veil of moodiness that you perceive others to put upon you.

Shaking up your mood is good.


Wallowing never did any one anyone any good.


Unless it is wallow in the sun.















TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Thursday, 6 February 2014

The Easiest And Quickest Sponge Cake In The World Possibly !

This is the quickest sponge cake you will ever bake in your life leaving you time for other activities.




Ingredients 

1 egg

2 oz self raising flour.

2 oz low fat spread.

2 oz soft brown sugar.

Tablespoon Lyle’s Golden Syrup 

You could also melt a square of chocolate at the bottom of a microwaveable cup etc.

Mix the self raising flour , sugar and spread and egg all together till looks smooth !

Put a tablespoon of golden syrup into the bottom of the cup / mug   

Obviously the amount of cake  mixture you put in will vary depending on the size of the cup/mug aim for about a quarter.


Any left over mixture can be used in another cup/mug or even a ramekin.




Place in the mircowave for no longer than 3 minutes otherwise your cake will burn.

Once you hear that magic ping then take out and enjoy!


You will find the cake rather moorish !! and so simple with ingredients that you will probably all ready have in the cupboard.



Wednesday, 5 February 2014

The Bad Tempered Ladybird Craft Activity

I love the bad tempered ladybird book children can learn so much from it and I think a few adults could do as well !

The bad-tempered ladybird picks fights with every animal he meets, but soon learns the importance of friends and turns into a far nicer, happier bug. The beautifully illustrated pages of this entertaining book demonstrate the sizes of the different animals and the sun’s path across the sky as time passes.


As well as being an entertaining book that teaches a important message of tolerance and understanding and ultimately not to be so bossy. It is a book that learns itself to arts and crafts activities. For example last week at school during our handwriting lesson in reception we finger painted ladybirds, this is superb activity for their fine motor skills. To do this activity you will need



  •  pieces of paper
  • red paint
  • green paint
  • black pen
Pour the red and green pain into shallow dishes.  Make sure the children have their sleeves rolled up and an apron or old clothes on and away they go. You might need to demonstrate at first by putting your fingers in the red paint and printing round the paper for the ladybirds and then green for the leaves.

You can either get the children to draw the ladybirds legs etc in black pen or you can further the fine motor skills activity by perhaps using a matchstick ( one that has been used) dipped in black paint.



I cut mine out and put them through my cuttlebug where I can use various templates to emboss paper etc.






Even without an embossing machine this is simple and enjoyable activity for children and adults to do.

For other Ladybird inspired craft activity why not try this from the lovely Daisies and pie 

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Mornings What Do They Say To You ?






Mornings what do they say to you ?

I know that some or most of you are running around at this time after your children  or getting ready for work.

My child who is a teen tends to look after himself.

Conservations are so " Brush the back of your head"

Met with an "ehh"

"What subjects have you got today ?"


"eeeeh , eeeeeh , huuuuh  ... science"

"Don't squeeze the cat , it's not a teddy bear"


"Meow... hisssss"

"Owwwh "

As the cat upsails my leg in  a cross manner and I am not the one to blame.


"We are going to eat out at a garden centre"


"eeeh , bleugh , grumble"

"What did you say?

"NOTHING it doesn't matter"

"What did you  say ?" repeat this process x 10

"Did you say you aren't bothered?"

"humhh , errmr rarrrr"

"Don't mutter under your breath"

"I need money please"

"OOOh now you have the powers of clear speech it's miracle "


And then when the house is silent , I step out into the glow of the morning sun. When he is gone is years to come I am going to miss the grunts, beeps and huuhs.

Percol Fusion Coffee

I am particular about my coffee you could say snobby I would rather pay a little bit more for my coffee for ethical and taste reasons than a quick cheap caffeine shot. I am not a regular coffee drink but  when I do drink coffee I want the experience to be an indulgence and with Percol Fusion that is exactly what I get.

I tested Colombian ( strength 3 ) coffee and found it both to be both nutty and fragrant , it is a coffee that is designed for ground coffee drinkers that you get in a instance merely by adding hot water.

I have used the Percol Fusion Coffee for more than drinking it can be used in recipes making it a very versatile commodity indeed. Drinking the coffee you are immediately transported to the rich environment from whence it came , with this coffee it tastes as if it has percolated through a very expensive coffee machine similar to the ones that you get on the high street or indeed at home now
.

A perfect way to start the day and the to bring a special meal to the close of an evening.


There are many coffees in the Percol Fusion range so which one will you try ?




Available in selected Tesco and Sainsbury’s stores nationwide and online at Amazon and Ocado retails at around £4.85

Disclosure ( I was sent a jar of Percol Fusion coffee to review and my view and opinions are my own)

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Breaking Free From Magic Key!

Seems I'm missing some culture in my life who knew ?

Seems I'm not reading enough books .

Seems this has been noticed .

Seems this has been noticed by others .

Seems they are right.

Seems.


It would seem the seams of my mind need tightening.

First stop a reread of Passage to India.

Please comment with book suggestions .

And please, please no Magic Key I've been reading those for 10 years ( I work in a school)



Can't think of a suitable picture so here's the cat looking all wistful and cultured .


Silent Sunday


Saturday, 1 February 2014

Crafting On A Budget

Crafting on a budget is the subject I challenged Jane from Onions and Paper to do , I have to be honest nothing is a challenge for Jane when it comes to crafting or cooking. Thanks Jane for writing this awe inspiring blog post for me !



Crafting needn’t be expensive! Look around the house and you’ll find all kinds of things that can be used. Scraps of ribbon and lace from gift boxes or old garments, odd buttons, sweet wrappers and even envelopes. In just a few minutes of hunting I found all these


A couple of Italian sweet wrappers that were too pretty to throw away, the ribbon from a gift box of smellies and the holder that a gift card had arrived in. My “useful bits” box was already well supplied with lace scraps, odd buttons and some purple corrugated cardboard from a box of chocolates. But what about the envelopes?


Well, if you cut envelopes open, you will often find pretty patterned papers on the inside. You can use them as background papers or cut them into shapes and even stamp on them!



Armed with these odds and ends, plus a little stamping and glue, I came up with these cards.









Some other ideas you could use:

Cut small “stained glass window” holes in black card and stick the coloured cellophane or foil wrappers from chocolates behind them.
Open out empty tomato purée tubes, wash them, flatten them (a rolling pin will do the trick) then use them for stamping or embossing.
Clear acetate box lids (I hate to harp on about chocolate again but chocolate boxes often have acetate lids) can be used in place of craft acetate for things like glass painting and  window cards, but you can’t usually heat emboss it.
Wrapping paper and glossy magazines often have images you can cut out and use, and cheap brown paper can make a good substitute for fashionable “Kraft” paper.
Paper doyleys are very popular in crafting. Buy them from a corner shop or a bargain store and they cost a tiny fraction of those in a craft store. You m

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