Sunday, May 04, 2014

Give us a clue

I played a game with the boys this morning which involved at some point Leo drawing some pictures and me and Zachary trying to guess what they were. Here's his sheet -

The first one he drew was the middle top shape which Zachary correctly guessed was a door. The next one he drew caused a bit of confusion - it's the one over on the right, sort of on its own. Can you guess? Apparently it's a person disguised as a door! Yay!

About me

While I was waiting for the blog to load up this evening I read my 'About me' snapshot again. I really must update it - having been back at work about 18 months now, I can't really claim to be 'just back to work' and let that excuse my still really rather clumsy attempts at life! It's easily changed though - the opening two words on their own cover everything nicely - 'slightly deranged'!!!

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Baking Catch-up

I've not posted about any baking since the disastrous Shrewsbury biscuits, but it has been going on - minus a few photos, sorry!

The next biscuits attempted were Coconut cherry macaroons - delicious! They were great - although I don't really like glace cherries and I made them during our Lent fast of chocolate and alcohol, so they didn't have the dark chocolate drizzled on the top either....but still tasty.

I've then also tried Fudgy nut conversation stoppers

These again went really well although the fudgy almost stained glass windows in the biscuit seemed a bit odd, but were supposed to be there according to the photo in the book!

Then today I tried Rhubarb crumble biscuits as the garden rhubarb is just ready for picking - you can see it just peeping out of the side of the biscuit...

My biscuits seemed a bit misshapen, but there were no photos in the book to guide me - also, the rhubarb is chopped into 1cm pieces and then folded into the rest of the mixture. Although very tasty, it is quite soggy in the biscuit even when fully cooled. This might well be why the recipe says they are best eaten the day they are made. I suspect when I go to the tin in the morning, the rest of the biscuit will be as soggy as the rhubarby bit!

We've also been trying to find recipes to use up veg box veg. Usually we try to be good at using veg box veg, but sometimes there's something we get for 2 or 3 weeks on the trot and just cannot keep up with - beetroot, leeks, courgettes and even pears lately have all been sat lowly rotting in the fridge!

So, with the beetroot I tried beetroot crisps - a good way of using the beetroot and when I get them right they're lovely. But the cooking time seems to be very variable and 2 minutes too long goes from slightly undercooked crisp to burnt nasty. I haven't quite mastered these yet but need to keep trying.

The leek recipe we've found is this one, which is a great leek and smoked salmon tart by James Martin. It does need a few ingredients more than just the leeks, but it is not difficult, very tasty and uses a good 4 leeks.

Pears - hmmmm, just chopped them and popped them in the freezer ready for a pear crumble or (hint, hint), some more pear and vanilla butter.... 1 and a half kilos put away on Friday thank you very much.

And finally courgettes - Leigh made an amazing big breakfast potato and courgette rosti (Good Food magazine this month) to use those up. Potato and courgette rosti with bacon and eggs on the side - yum, yum yum. Only used 1 of the 4 courgettes, but what the hey!!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter egg hunting!

After a bit of a rainstorm this morning, the weather cleared a little in the afternoon and we managed to have our annual egg hunt at our friends' house - such fun!

Fudgy Nut Conversation Stoppers

Thanks Miranda - these came out really well, although did need a bit longer in the oven than the recipe said! I love the way the fudge pieces make those really strange 'holes' in the biscuits!

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Goodbye Princess Peach

We have had another chicken death in the family. Leigh discovered Princess Peach last night when he went out to make sure the chickens were sleeping in the right part of their house.

She had always been the smallest and lightest of the chickens, but a beautiful white and usually very perky and nosy. Her moult this year was the most dramatic and the worst thing is that we hadn't even noticed anything was wrong.

The boys seemed slightly more affected than they have done previously, although Zachary's suggestion was that we could get two more and give them the same names!

Farewell Princess Peach.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Infernites Max!

As the boys get older it becomes more obvious to me that I spend very little time one on one with Zachary. He had my undivided attention until Leo was born, and then because he is the older child and started school first (and because I have gone back to work...) there is now no real time that I spend with him on my own - well, other than birthday parties which don't really count because he's just a blur of activity with his friends!

But this morning it was my turn to get up first and Leo was still sleeping off the after-effects of the chest infection he's had this week and I had a lovely hour with Zachary on his own. We played a bit a computer game together before deconstructing his three fire Mixels and reconstructing them into one Infernites Max!!!

I love spending time with the boys - but it's a totally different experience with 2 of them than with them on their own. Both boys together spend most of their time needling, poking and generally annoying each other and Leigh and I spend a lot of time just refereeing between them. That (unsurprisingly) doesn't happen when they're one on one, probably because they know they have all the attention!

Next Saturday, Leigh has a gaming day in Beeston so I have the boys on my own - I was talking to Zachary about it at dinnertime and asking what he might like to do. His suggestion was that I drop Leo off at their Nan's house and then I do something with him on his own - because Leo shots a lot and I have to keep talking to him (Leo). It reminded me that I really should make more effort to spend time with him and I'm sure it's the same for Leigh. Life is generally so busy at the moment but there will be time for it somewhere!

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Orange and sultana Shrewsbury biscuits

Another yummy looking recipe from Miranda Gore-Browne.

Disaster area.

Do not enter.

Friday, January 31, 2014


There are a few roadworks going on round our way at the moment - one of the diversion signs refers to 'non-Motarway traffic.' It's okay, you'll see it in a minute.

Birthday hijinks

It was my birthday this week - I am now the grand old age of 37... anyhoo... my greatest birthday present this year

a Totoro handbag!!!! I am a very happy 37 year old!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Afternoon tea

We had some friend over this afternoon and put on an afternoon tea spread. As is the way of things with us, what started as just being a few cucumber sandwiches and scones, ended up a far greater and more elaborate affair! Mind you, there was barely anything left over afterwards so perhaps we were not as extravagant as we'd thought...

The scones are under the glass dome!

Dalek cupcakes finally using the skirts and toppers I bought in Lakeland on a mad spending spree when all the Doctor Who bakeware came out...

Mini banoffee and key lime pies with my first attempt at macaroons. Since the Great British Bake-Off, macaroons have held a bit of a mystique about them, but my first attempt seemed to go well. They were crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside and had the lacy bottom layer. My only problem seemed to be that they didn't come cleanly off the baking parchment after baking - lots of bottoms got left behind! I am not sure whether this was because they were baked a little too long, not quite enough, or that I didn't take them off the paper soon enough. I expect only further experimenting will tell!!

Cheese and Vegemite pinwheels and some gorgeous sausage rolls. You can also see in the bottom right of the photo Leigh's egg muffins (basically beaten egg baked in a muffin tin with bacon, mushroom, spinach, seasoning.). Delicious!

Finally a wondrous new tea cosy - bought for the teapot of the new teaset we intended to buy today but didn't see one which quite fitted the bill. Off to Denby tomorrow then!

Stop encouraging me...

I have a very real concern that I am going to end up as one of those people who spends all their time writing off letters of complaint or "I thought you would like to know..." to big companies. The problem is, they keep incentivising me with free stuff.

A few months ago I bought a bottle of Coldpress juice from the supermarket. This is usually delicious, but that bottle was awful - it tasted really earthy and off. So I returned it to the supermarket and got a refund. A few weeks later we received a replacement bottle of juice through the post with a nice letter. Great.

Then just after Christmas, Zachary noticed that on a certain box of own brand cereal from a well-known supermarket there was a recipe for some kind of crispy, marshmallowy snack bar using the cereal. The first instruction told you to 'melt the marshmallows' but Zachary noticed that the ingredients list didn't contain marshmallows! Normally I would totally ignore this, but after my result with the juice, I wrote a letter to said supermarket and this morning a letter from them arrived. It contained a £5 giftcard to use in store. Brilliant - bring on the complaining!!!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Too much earth!

We're hoping to decorate our downstairs rooms this summer - it has finally reached a time when (fingers crossed) the boys are old enough to not write on the walls! But, before we can actually paint the walls, there are several tasks which need to be done first - fix the skirting boards, sort out lighting in the middle room (our central light causes great 'shine' problems when playing board games so we're trying to think of alternatives), fix the shelves, trunk up the electrical cables and get the electrics checked.

When we moved into the house, the kitchen and bathroom had not long been renovated by the family there before us. We have found several problems with the drainage in the bathroom so thought we should probably get the electrics checked ... and didn't want to decorate and then find that the walls needed to be ripped apart for re-wriring!!!

We had an electrician round today to do a survey - he estimated it would take about 3 hours all in. After 10 minutes he called us in, provided a very comprehensive but totally incomprehensible explanation of our electrical system (with lots of acronyms!) which basically ended with him saying that we have too much earth coming into the mains and he can't continue testing until that's fixed because until it is fixed, all the sockets will fail the test. Hmmm. On the plus side he seemed to be quite positive that we would not need total be confirmed.