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I’m moving…

August 30, 2011

… and I’d love you all to come with me! I have finally taken the plunge and swapped over to a new self-hosted blog. I shall still be writing about the same things, in fact, all my old posts and comments have been transferred over, it just looks a bit different and has a new URL. I shall also be relaunching the monthly Bake It! Club, which has taken a back seat while I have been setting up the new blog.

So, can I ask you a couple of big favours? If you subscribe to this blog, please go and subscribe to the new URL as this will be the last post on this blog. If you are kind enough to link to me in your blogroll or from your blog, please could you update the link with the new URL ( And finally, please spread the word so everyone moves over with me – I’d hate to leave anyone behind!

There are already a few new posts waiting for you on the new blog including photos from our holiday, the cakes I made for my best friend’s wedding and our weekend at Camp Bestival.

See you all over there! xx

Why so expensive?

July 17, 2011

This is the most common question I get asked when I’m quoting for a celebration cake, so I thought I’d go through some of the costs involved in making a cake. A popular response from the person asking for a quote is that they can buy a cake for under £10 in a supermarket – which is true. You can get a cheap celebration cake in a supermarket… because it is a supermarket. They make things cheap because they are HUGE, but I’m betting they don’t put in the time and effort of a local cake baker and it won’t be personalised exactly to your specification. And I can pretty much guarantee that it won’t taste anywhere near as good! I recently saw a quote somewhere (sorry, I can’t remember where or I would have credited them) that said “Good cake isn’t cheap, cheap cake isn’t good” – I think that sums it up pretty well.

I have moved to a new blog

Please go to to read the rest of this blog post!

Thank you!

Customise your shoes

July 5, 2011

For a while now Grace has been whinging that she wants some of those hideous Lelli Kelly shoes that look like a sequin monster has puked all over them. Needless to say, due to the fact that they are:

a) dreadful looking

b) massively over priced

c) come with inappropriate ‘free gifts’ for a 6 year old such as make up

there is no way in the world that I would ever buy her a pair! So, before my brain could think what my mouth was about to say, I offered to make some shoes for her. She has a sweet tooth like me and asked for some shoes with cupcakes on and maybe even some sequins if she’s lucky.

So after a quick hunt around town I managed to pick up a pair of canvas shoes for £4, some sequins for £1.99 and fabric paint pens for £1.99 – much better than the £40+ price tag for the alternatives. I wasn’t entirely sure at this point what I was going to do with them, but I’m all for giving it a go!

Firstly I put the shoes through the wash and left them to dry for a couple of days. I figured this would remove any treatment or coating that may be on the shoes and better prepare the surface for the paint.

Then I lightly drew on my cupcakes designs with a pencil. This was rather nerve-wracking as I am pretty hopeless when it comes to drawing! Then I painted each cupcake using the fabric paints and a very fine paint brush. This took me quite a while but was strangely therapeutic.

Now I just have to stick on the sequins, but I haven’t decided how to do that yet. I will have to do a little research into fabric glues and see which looks like it will do the job. Any ideas gratefully received.

And here they are! The (almost) finished shoes. Grace is very pleased with them – I still think they’re pretty hideous! Each to their own…

My favourite meal

July 3, 2011

So, if you had the cash to splash, what would be your favourite meal? Would you hit the recipe books and cook something that you love or rush out to your favourite restaurant to indulge in a delicious 5 course meal?

When I received an email from the PR for asking if I would like £50 to spend on cooking my favourite meal, I was extremely excited. For most of us, me included, that is a lot of money to spend on food. I tend to find all my money goes on the children, making sure they have what they need – I don’t often spend money on myself! After I’d pushed the feelings of guilt aside, I set about scouring my recipe books and deciding what to cook…

An hour or so later, I discovered that this was a lot harder than I thought! My main problem is that I love food and I couldn’t choose what to cook. I tweeted to get ideas from other people, but that just made it even more difficult to decide! Eventually, I decided to avoid anything too fussy and went for some good old favourites.

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So what would be your dream meal?

Disclosure: I was given £50 to spend on food by

School Quilt

June 22, 2011

A while back I wrote about the squares that each of the children in Grace’s school were sewing as part of their royal wedding celebrations. They all worked really hard and produced some really beautifully sewn squares. As I I came home with a box full of them a few weeks back, I was slightly daunted by the prospect that I now had to do something with them! After discussing the options with Grace’s headteacher, we decided that I would make 2 quilts – one for the school to keep and one to be sent off to the royal couple.

finished school quilt

After about 50 hours work of tidying up the squares, sewing scarecrow heads on, sewing the squares together, adding borders, wadding and backing the first quilt is finally finished! I only have a regular domestic sewing machine and limited skills so I decided not to try and machine quilt it, instead I added a button every so often to keep the layers together. As the quilt is purely decorative and isn’t going to be used on a bed or anything I thought this would probably be adequate.

Having invested so much time and effort into this quilt, I became quite attached to it and was a little sad to see it go! I’m sentimental like that. A very kind parent from school has offered to sew the squares together for the second quilt, which is very welcome. Once she’s done that, I will be back to sewing one more borders, adding wadding and backing it. Watch this space…

Radio Debut

June 17, 2011

Despite my best attempts and excuses to try and back out, on Wednesday my lovely friend Kat and I headed off into Southampton to talk on the Katie Martin Show about reaching the finals in The MAD Blog Awards. Appearing in the newspaper was one thing, but talking on the radio really made me nervous. However, Kat did her best to calm me and Betsy (who was totally the star of the show) came along for her first radio appearance at just 3 months old!

Thanks to Kat for the photo

However, the whole experience wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be (although as Kat pointed out afterwards, we did manage to get through the 15 minute interview without mentioning the actual name of the blog awards once! Doh!). I have to say a huge thank you to Katie and the show’s producer, Rebecca, who were really warm and welcoming and immediately put us at ease, taking a genuine interest in us and our blogs. I haven’t listened to the show back yet (big wimp!) but if you’d like to listen you can hear us by clicking on the link below.

Amy and Kat on the Katie Martin Show

If you haven’t already voted for your favourite blogs yet, then you’ve still got time, but be quick – voting ends tonight! Thank you to everyone who has voted, I really appreciate it.

A MADs Carnival – Family Life and Most Inspiring Bloggers

May 31, 2011

As you may have noticed by my blatant pestering for votes, I am one of the finalists in the Best Food Blog category of the MAD Blog Awards. We are now halfway through the voting so it seems like a good time for a quick round up of posts from some of the finalists. The results will be announced in September.

I have had great fun discovering new blogs amongst the finalists and I’m going to share some posts from the finalists in the Best MAD Blog for Family Life and Most Inspiring MAD Blogger categories.

First up in the Best MAD Blog for Family Life category we have a post from Elsie over at Flower Fairies & Fairy cakes entitled Busy rant. When I read this post, it was a bit like reading about my own life – I’m sure that we can all relate to the cold tea, toy chaos and ever-growing washing pile!

I really loved reading the 1 word meme about how people perceive you, started by Michelle at Mummy From the Heart. It was such a burst of positivity and spread throughout the parent blogging community with a warm glow. It is interesting to think how online friends who often interact through blogs and twitter perceive each other.

This post from Northern Mummy with Southern Children had me in absolute stitches! It is absolutely hilarious and brilliantly written. Don’t worry Jane, we won’t call social services!

Merry from Patch of Puddles set me a hard task when she gave me a choice of blog posts for this category. I loved reading through her blog and picked this post, showing how strong her marriage is after the dreadful time after their son, Freddie, died. Sad and heart-warming at the same time.

Scribbling Mum shares a post with us about 5 things she wants her children to know. It is all too often we get caught up in everything child related and all too soon we will be ‘Not Cool Mum’. I hope Caroline’s children read this in the future and see how cool she is.

MAD Blog Awards 2011

Next up are the posts for the Most Inspiring MAD Blogger – those people who blogs are truly inspirational. They make us laugh, cry and want to get up and do something.

Firstly, we have a brilliant post from A Boy With Asperger’s entitiled You know your a parent to a child with Aspergers when… This is a list of some hugely frustrating but many wonderful things that go along with parenting a child with Asperger’s.

Next up is Merry again from Patch of Puddles and, yes, she made me choose another post! I found this post about trying to shop more thoughtfully and locally very interesting and made me think hard about my shopping habits.

It is often very tricky to put down you birth story in writing, especially when things don’t go to plan, but I know this birth story from ghostwritermummy has been a great help to many. It was the post that led to the birth trauma page on her blog and then onto Maternity Matters.

So there we have it! A whole host of wonderful blog posts. Grab yourself a cup of tea, have a browse and most importantly – don’t forget to vote for your favourite blogs.

I shall leave you with this little video made for me by my Uncle Timmy! Do as he says 😉

Rhubarb Bakewell Tart

May 30, 2011

I adore Bakewell Tart – it must be up there as one of my all time favourites so with my recent glut of rhubarb, I though I’d combine the two.

rhubarb bakewell tart

Pastry is my nemesis. My Mum always says it’s good (she has to say that –  she’s my Mum) but I’m never happy with it! The pastry case in this recipe is blind baked before the filling is added. I used some of my rhubarb and ginger jam but you could also use sweetened, cooked rhubarb.


For the pastry

150g plain flour

25g icing sugar

75g unsalted butter, chilled

1 egg, beaten

1 egg white, beaten

For the filling

2 tbsp rhubarb and ginger jam or sweetened cooked rhubarb

100g unsalted butter, softened

125g caster sugar

1/2 tsp almond extract

2 eggs

1 egg yolk

125g ground almonds

25g flaked almonds

1. Sift the flour and icing sugar into a large bowl, dice the butter and add it.

2. Either use your fingers or a pastry blender to rub the butter into the flour and icing sugar until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. You could also use a food processor to do this.

3. Add the beaten egg, a little at a time and bring the mixture together to form the pastry using your fingers or a palette knife. You don’t want the pastry to be sticky so you may not need all the egg. If there isn’t enough egg to bring the mixture together, add some water, a little at a time until it does.

4. Roll the pastry into a ball, wrap it in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

5. Preheat the oven to 180°C about 15 minutes before you are ready to bake the pastry case.

7. Lightly dust the work surface with some plain flour then roll out the pastry into a circle approximately 12″ (30cm) in diameter. Place the pastry into a 9″ (23cm) flan dish and gently press it into the edges so it moulds to the shape of the dish.

8. Trim off the excess pastry from the edges and prick the bottom of the case all over with a fork. This helps to stop it from rising.

9. Line the pastry case with some greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans or rice. To make it easier to line the case, scrunch up the greaseproof paper into a ball before lining, which helps it take the shape of the dish better.

10. Bake for 15 minutes then remove the baking beans/rice and greasproof paper, brush the bottom of the pastry case with the beaten egg white and return to the oven for a further 3 minutes. This seals the base of the pastry case and stops it becoming soggy when you add the filling.

11. Remove the pastry case from the oven and allow to cool slightly before spreading with the jam or rhubarb. Turn the oven down to 170°C.

12. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar and almond extract.

13. Lightly beat the whole eggs and extra egg yolk in a small jug then add it, along with the ground almonds to the butter and sugar.

14. Mix until the ingredients are well combined then pour the mixture into the pastry case.

15. Bake in the centre of the oven for 20 minutes then scatter the flaked almonds over the top. Return to the oven and bake for a further 15-20 minutes until it is golden and the filling is set.

16. Allow to cool in the flan dish or serve warm.

rhubarb bakewell tart

May Bake It! Club

May 29, 2011

Bake It! Club

So, I thought this was going to be a quick and easy recipe but it seems have caused all sorts of problems! We’ve had collapsing cupcakes and failed meringues galore! It is very strange as I’ve tried this recipe many times and home and it has worked every time. The main culprit for the sunken cupcakes is probably oven temperatures, which vary wildly and are hardly ever what you think they are. Meringue is a tricky customer and I’ve only just got the hang of it after many, many attempts. It is very easy to slightly over-whisk it and cause it to turn to liquid when you add the sugar.

Thank you everyone who joined in this month, I hope the failed attempts weren’t too stressful. I am going to have to think of something fail-safe for next month! If you have baked the lemon meringue cupcakes, please feel free to add a link to your blog post below and add a photo to the Flickr group. I’ll leave the inlinkz tool open until the 5th June.

Weekly Meal Plan – 23rd May

May 24, 2011

I really must get organised as the badge says ‘Meal Planning Monday’ but I never get round to posting mine until Tuesday every week! Last week’s plan went well, apart from the Lamb Tagine – the less said about that the better. Lets just say a combination of stringy lamb and forgetting to cover the dish did not produce a pleasant meal. Despite this little hiccup, I stuck to the plan and saved money as I didn’t have to do any extra shopping. Yippee!

This week I am trying out some recipes from a new book I got this week – My Daddy Cooks. Nick is a great twitter friend and I’ve been eagerly awaiting his recipe book – at first glance, it certainly lives up to, and exceeds my expectations. Nick and his son, Archie also video blog lots of recipes over on their blog – well worth checking out if you haven’t already. The book contains lots of good old family classics, that have been given a My Daddy Cooks twist as well as breakfast dishes, speedy desserts and a whole host more.

When my copy of the book arrived, I sat down and showed Faith, who took a great interest as she had watched Nick and Archie cooking in their videos. When I told her the name of the book is ‘My Daddy Cooks’ she looked at me blankly and replied, “Oh! My Daddy doesn’t!” Out of the mouths of babes….

Anyway, here’s my plan for this week. We are visiting my Dad at the weekend so only 5 days to plan for:

Monday – Bacon and tomato pasta

Tuesday – Glazed salmon and noodles

Wednesday – Chicken, leek and tarragon pie with a rosti topping (from My Daddy Cooks)

Thursday – Lamb and vegetable kebabs with couscous

Friday – Turbo-quick shepherd’s pie (from My Daddy Cooks)

As always, check out At Home with Mrs M’s linky for more ideas and inspiration. Happy meal planning!