Friday, 11 April 2014

A Quiet Moment

Many years ago, before children I distinctly remember a friend telling me how she always made sure she was first up and about in the morning. Every day she made a small cafertiere of good coffee, something like Caffe Cagliari which she then enjoyed in the peace and quiet of a silent house. I didn't really get it at the time, me being the type of person who stayed in bed for as long as possible before dashing around to get the 7.20 train to London.

Just recently I've been remembering that conversation, thinking how lovely just 10 minutes of quiet time in the morning would be before the chaos of the day starts. Just 10 minutes to gather my thoughts, and take stock before the crazy begins.

Shortly before we had Z, I would watch Mums in coffee shops, enjoying a coffee while their baby slept beside them, longing for the time when that would be me, picturing myself out shopping, pushing a pram, buying cute little clothes and then pausing for a break. It seemed so idyllic. Of course in reality a coffee break is when you feed the baby, not take time out for yourself, but I loved this idea of it.

These days a posh coffee is my treat when the kids are at school and nursery. Around mid morning on those 2 days of the week, I make myself a latte, turn off the computer, radio and social media and just sit with a magazine or a book, a little haven of quiet in a super busy week.

I'm actually looking for a new coffee machine at the moment, we used to have a Nespresso machine which I loved and think would like even more now Caffe Cagliari make Nespresso compatible capsules to fit the machine. Do you have any recommendations for me?

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Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Great Birthday Cakes for Kids

Do you make your own birthday cakes for your children? I always try to make own, with varying amounts of success. This was my latest...what do you think? I've also got a giant number 7 to make for his party this weekend.

My huge cupcake is quite basic, I'm not very good at anything more fiddly, but I've got some fab ideas in this guest post if you're more creative ( and braver ) than me.

5 unique cakes for kids’ parties.
It goes without saying that every parent wants to show off their baking skills and what better place than at their child’s birthday party?
Anybody can pop down to the local supermarket and pick up a ready-made boxed Victoria sponge, but where’s the sense of pride in that?
Finding the perfect recipe for a birthday party masterpiece takes a great deal of time, care and attention to detail.
To help spark your creative flair, we’ve put together a list of some of the most imaginative and original creations, sure to bring a smile to the face of any birthday boy or girl.

Woodland fairy cake
For any fairy-tale themed party, what better than to make the perfect woodland grotto. This masterpiece uses a number of smaller cupcakes around the centrepiece, each decorated with their own toadstool and butterfly sugar ornament.

Image credit: Reddit

Dr. Who cake
Every child loves Dr. Who, and this cake models some of the series’ favourite characters. Showing real creativity in the sugar icing sculpture department, a similar cake will certainly put your artistic talents to the test.

Image credit: Reddit

The Hulk cake
A cake in the theme of everybody’s favourite green giant will be a smash at any young superhero fan’s party. Be sure to form an orderly queue behind the birthday boy to grab a slice of the delicious fist.

Image credit: Reddit

Hobbit hole cake
Sticking with the green theme, this Tolkien-inspired gem showcases expert grass-piping and calligraphy. Let’s just hope, for the sake of the recipient, that this hobbit hole isn’t hollow.

Image credit: Reddit

Octonauts cake
Based on popular kids’ TV show Octonauts, this vivid creation highlights the use of sculpting to create a vivid ocean floor scene.
A jam and cream-filled vanilla sponge topped with a Rice Krispie cake submarine, it just goes to show that you really can be creative when it comes to choosing what type of cake to bake.

Image credit: Reddit

With so many ways to create the perfect treat for your child, we hope you never have to buy a ready-made cake again. You certainly shouldn’t feel restricted by this small selection, the world of cake design and creation is limited only by your imagination.

What do you think? Which cake is your favourite? I especially love the Octonauts one!

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Monday, 10 March 2014

A Very Cheery Breakfast

We've been stuck in a real breakfast rut recently, the same old cereal every day, so today I decided to spice things up a bit and make the kids smile at the same time.

What do you think of our very beary granola surprise.

I'm not the most creative of people, but this took 2 minutes and made everyone very happy when they sat down at the breakfast table.

This is my entry into the making your food fun competition with Tots100
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Saturday, 8 March 2014

Easy Chocolate Dipped Marshmallow Pops

I've made cake pops before and found them to be very messy. This is my super simple alternative.

Simply dip the end a cake pop stick in melted chocolate and push up into a marshmallow. Allow to set.

Dip the marshmallow pops into melted chocolate, add sprinkles and leave to cool.


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Yummy Crème Brûlée

Crème Brûlée is one of my all time favourite desserts, so I'm super pleased to be sharing this great guest post all about Crème Brûlée today.

Coffee Crème Brûlée 101

Coffee crème brûlée is a dessert that always seems to go down well, no matter what the occasion, and it's not difficult to make either. If you're new to this delicious treat, read on to find out the basics of the pudding and how you can make it too.

Crème brûlée with a twist
Crème brûlée has always been a popular inclusion on pudding trays and dessert menus, but you don't have to stick to the tried-and-trusted recipe: there are simple additions you can make to the dish, including coffee beans.

Adding ground coffee beans adds an extra level of depth and flavour to the dessert, as well as creating a different texture to the custard. The crème brûlée is then topped off with a crunchy, sugary caramel topping, that matches the taste of the coffee underneath.

What you need
The ingredients for a classic coffee crème brûlée are 2 1/2 cups of heavy cream, 1/3 cup of coarsely ground dark roast coffee beans, 1/2 cup of granulated sugar, 8 large egg yolks, 3 tbs of turbinado sugar and a pinch of kosher salt. For a lighter custard, reduce the number of egg yolks to suit your own preference.

These ingredients aren't set in stone and you'll find many variations of the coffee crème brûlée doing the rounds. When making your coffee custard, you can use your favourite kind of beans or blend — you could even drop in a pre-made shot from a Tassimo (, or a similar coffee maker.

Making the crème brûlée
Use a saucepan on a medium heat to bring your cream, coffee, sugar and salt to the boil, stirring every so often. Remove from the heat, cover the saucepan and then leave for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 325°F/165°C and place six 3/4 cup ramekins in a suitable baking dish.

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and carefully add the warm cream. Pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a large measuring cup, removing the coffee grounds if required. You can then divide the custard between the ramekins.

In the oven
Pop the baking dish into the oven and add hot water so that it comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 30-35 minutes, then allow to cool in the water for 30 minutes. You can then remove the ramekins from the baking dish, wrap them in plastic and refrigerate them for at least 4 hours (or up to 30 days).

When your custards are ready, sprinkle the turbinado sugar on top of them, making sure it's spread evenly. You can then caramelise the sugar with a hand-held kitchen torch until it's browned and melted, or use a broiler to caramelise the sugar instead.

And there you have it — six perfectly made coffee crème brûlées to share with your guests. Once you've got the knack of making the dessert, you can customise it to suit your own tastes and coffee preferences, or those of your family and friends.

What do you add to your Crème Brûlée?

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Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Do you need help sticking to a budget?

How do you spend money on a day to day basis? Do you spend direct from your bank account or on a credit card?

We do most of our spending on a credit card, which we then pay off at the end of the month. It's very handy and makes shopping super easy, but does mean we tend to not have full control over our expenditure. More often than not we end up surprised at the monthly bill and wonder how on earth we managed to spend quite so much.

The Kalixa Pay prepaid MasterCard® provides the convenience and security of a debit card with the added benefit of added control over your spending. It can be used instore, online and even abroad. You can top up in one currency and spend in another with no exchange fees, transaction charges or commission on purchases made abroad. You can even use the card to withdraw money at over 1.2 million ATM's around the world. If you've got money left over when you return home you just carry on using the card as usual, there's no hassle exchanging the money back.

Budgeting is made easy as you get a free e-mail or text everytime you spend over £5 telling you exactly what you have spent and what you have left availabe. Simply charge the card with whatever you want to spend on a weekly or monthly basis, there's no overdraft so no danger of overspending and no expensive overdraft charges.

I REALLY like the idea of a Kalixa Pay card for holidays, it would definitely save the money we waste on currency brought home that never gets changed back. I do think it would help me budget more easily too, especially with the text reminders as I'm terrible for forgetting to check my bank balance.

When would you use the Kalixa Pay prepaid MasterCard® ?

The Kalixa Pay prepaid MasterCard, including the eWallet service, is available for a one-off payment of £6.95.

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Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Things to check before leaving for school

My little boy has never been one to sneak things to school, at least nothing other than banned pokemon cards in his coat pocket. My little girl however, is a different story, we have to check pockets, her wrist and any junk models before leaving the house and again when leaving school as she has a tendency to sneak things in and out of both places.

She made a beautiful treasure chest in school a few weeks ago, we brought it home and to my surprise it was FILLED with craft buttons, not just a few, but literally about 50 of them. I had to sneak them back to school the next day.

Just this morning I spotted a bracelet on her wrist, while I was removing it and explaining that bracelets were not allowed in school, she asked about watches, and rolled up the other sleeve to reveal a watch. You've got to admire her efforts. I almost let her keep the watch on, thinking it might help her learn to tell the time, but then I had visions of it dropping down the toilet or getting wet int the sink so swiftly removed that as well. However, if it had been this very cool plastic strap watch from The Watch Hut I might have let her wear it. As well as the waterproof plastic strap I like that it has numbers and minutes to help with time telling.

I'm still a little bit surprised that my once tomboy daughter actually wants to wear bracelets, watches and skirts. The girls at school have clearly had a big influence on her. It was just this time last year that she refused to wear anything girly at all and lived in jogging bottoms and boys T-shirts.

Do your children try to sneak things into school?

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