Sunday, 30 August 2015

Half a Century!

So, this year I turn 50. I can barely believe it, how did that happen?
I am feeling old.

When I turned 20 I felt grown up. I actually got married just before I was 21. Looking back now that seems really young, but I didn't feel young, I felt like an adult and I felt that I'd met my life partner. I wasn't even pregnant!

When I turned 30 my husband had decided that he didn't want to be with me any more.  I became an Independent Woman (throw your hands up at me!) with my two kids and my full time job. I didn't really mind being single, life was good.

Turning 40 was life changing again. I'd met my current partner in my late 30s and we had decided to have a baby together. I'd hoped it would happen before I turned 40 and I just about made it. My daughter was born three months before my 40th birthday. I went on to have two more babies in my forties, so for me, my forties were the new thirties! All the time I've been forty I haven't felt old. I don't know whether that is having a younger partner or three small children that has made me feel younger, but my age really hasn't bothered me at all.

Approaching 50 didn't really bother me either, until a night out in February. Some bloke was asking my friend if she liked his shoes but she was brushing him off. He was a bit worse for wear. His friend, who was not so drunk asked me what I thought and I politely told him they were ok. The drunk guy turned around and said "If I wanted the opinion of fifty something woman I'd have asked!"

That one comment from a drunken guy totally deflated me. I know it shouldn't have but it did.

I was going to be a fifty something woman, I was going to be old. Half a Century old! My opinion didn't count because I was an old lady. It just went round and round in my head.

The guy wasn't even that young, probably his early 30s....I was still old enough to be his mum!

This getting old lark is not easy.

So I googled the best things about turning 50 and most of them don't apply to me...like the kids being grown-up, having more freedom, having the house to myself etc.
Some of them I really don't like, who wants to be happy because it's ok to forget things, or do daft things, or give lame excuses about your age for things you don't want to do?
Ah, and apparently you don't have to care about your appearance any more, no more nips and tucks or botox once you reach 50...I think I've missed something somewhere?

So 50 really is old.

It's all downhill from here.

*Insert suitable swearword*

I'm going to write my bucket list of things to do before I'm 60! It's only 10 years away and the Little Man will be doing his GCSEs by then!






P.S, would you have a party for your 50th? My family are trying to convince me but I'm really not sure I want to celebrate. Not only that but my family couldn't organize a p*ss up in a brewery let alone a party so I don't really want to be doing all that work...not at my age anyway!




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Saturday, 29 August 2015

My Sunday Photo 30 August 2015






















We went to a summer fete and the Little Man had his first candy floss. By the time he had finished (or rather had enough because he didn't manage it all) he had a big sticky sugar beard!


OneDad3Girls



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Friday, 28 August 2015

Bake With Bake Off Week Four

This weeks Great British Bake Off  was Dessert Week.

The Signature Dish was creme brulee, gorgeous pots of baked custard with a caramel topping..but no blow torches allowed.

We saw quite a few problems amongst the bakers in the tent with only Ian and Tamal having perfect custard. The others either had scrambled eggs or runny custards.

Onto the technical challenge and Mary set them the task of making a  Spanische Windtorte, which despite it's name is a combination of Swiss and French meringues with a  fruit and cream filling and decorated with tiny fondant violets.

Most of the bakers knew their meringues and there were not to many problems. There were a few, however, that had no idea what a violet looked like.

It was Paul and Ugne who came out on top with first and second place.

The Showstopper was three tiers of cheesecake.

Ian wowed the judges with his flavours, using tarragon and apple, pecan and rosemary.
Tamal also did really well with his mango, hazelnut and rosemary.

Sandy, however, had a really difficult week and her cheesecakes refused to stand on top of each other. She was told they were raw on the bottom and not cooked through and the fruit was too clumpy. Sadly, it was Sandy's last stand and she was sent home.

The Star Baker for the third week running was Ian for experimenting in a professor type way!

I am a huge fan of cheesecake, it is one of my favourite desserts. I've made them in so many different flavours..but...I've never made a baked cheesecake! So that is what I chose for my Bake With Bake Off Challenge this week set by Silver Mushroom.

Ginger and Blueberry Baked Cheesecake



























Ingredients:

200g ginger nut biscuits
100g unsalted butter
1tbs cornflour
50g caster sugar
500g full fat cream cheese
1 large egg
100ml double cream
1tsp vanilla extract
grated zest of 1 lemon
100g blueberries
3tsp caster sugar

Method:

preheat oven to 160C
grease and line a 20cm loose bottomed tin
melt butter
crush biscuits with a rolling pin, or in a food processor
add biscuits to butter and mix thoroughly
spread in bottom of tin and press down with a spoon
bake for 10 minutes.
turn oven up to 180C
while base is cooling, put cornflour and caster sugar into mixer
add cream cheese and mix until smooth and creamy
add egg and mix
slowly add cream while mixing slowly
add vanilla extract and lemon zest and continue mixing until thick and creamy
pour mixture on top of base
bake for 35 minutes.
leave to cool in tin then remove carefully
leave in fridge for at least an hour
put blueberries in pan with sugar and a little water
simmer for 10 minutes
leave to cool
use to dress cheesecake when serving.

Now I've baked my first cheesecake I'll definitely be making more. The taste and texture was different to my normal, unbaked, cheesecake but it was really tasty. I'd love to experiment with more flavours.



Tuesday, 25 August 2015

His Own Room

This week the Little Man moved into his own room.
Now you may think that being five years old he would have been in there sooner but it wasn't quite so simple. We have lived in this house for nearly two years now, but before we were living in a much smaller house and the kids didn't have their own rooms.

When I met my partner and we decided to have a baby we knew there wasn't really room but my older two were already teenagers so we figured it wouldn't be too long before they were making their own way in the world. That was plan A. Plan B was to divide our huge bedroom into two. Of course, Plan B always seemed the most likely, particularly when the next baby arrived and the two older ones were not going anywhere.

The division of the room was not too difficult, the main problem was having to replace one of the windows. However, before we got around to this, the next baby was on his way! We had a problem. Three bedrooms, four adults and three kids. Time to move.

So, we moved into this house and the girls wanted a room together, which meant the Little Man could have a room to himself. Only, when we moved in we used his room to dump all the stuff that we didn't know where else to put. We kept saying we'd sort it, but he had his little bed in our room and after sharing with all three kids, sharing with one wasn't so bad. (Plus, I loved it when he'd wake in the night and come into my bed for a cuddle) So I didn't rush. I guess, I wanted to keep him as my baby too, it was hard to let go.

Then he turned five. He kept asking to move into his own room and we couldn't hold back any longer. It took us just two days to get his room ready. It still needs painting, but as it's been unused the magnolia walls are still clean and bright in there so no rush for that. He has a new bed and new curtains but we still need to get some new furniture.

I kept his toddler bed in my room in case he had trouble sleeping.

He didn't.

The first night I checked in on him five times throughout the night. He didn't wake once.
In the morning, he waited for me to go in and tell him it was time to get up.

He loves his new room. He plays in there with his toys,

He sleeps in there like a real big boy.

And for the first time in ten years we have no children in our room!




Monday, 24 August 2015

Kids in the Kitchen - Soda Bread

Welcome to this weeks kids in the kitchen.
Each week I write up a new post and let you know what my little chefs have been up to in the kitchen. I also have a linky and invite you to share what you have been cooking with your kids, or even your recipes for kids. Everyone that links up gets a mention on my social media channels and their post pinned on my Pinterest board which is a great place to visit for inspiration.



Follow Anne's board Kids In The Kitchen on Pinterest.

The linky is open for a month and you can join in as many times as you wish.


Soda Bread


As it was bread week on the Great British Bake off last week Boo was keen to make some bread. However, kids do get bored waiting for the dough to prove so we made some quick bread, or soda bread.

Ingredients:

250g plain flour
250g wholemeal flour
1tsp salt 
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
about 400ml of buttermilk

If you don't have buttermilk you can add a tsp of lemon juice to milk and leave it at room temperature for at least 15 minutes.

Method:

Into a large bowl put all the dry ingredients and mix together
Make a well in the middle and add the butter milk, mixing it until you have a sticky dough and all the flour has been absorbed.
Tip the dough out and shape into a dome shape.
Put dough on a greased baking tray and cut a deep cross into the loaf.
Bake for about 30 minutes until golden and sounds hollow when tapped at the bottom.

Tips, Only add as much of the buttermilk as you need, as soon as all the flour is absorbed you have enough, don't make the dough too wet and sticky. If you really don't like the soda taste you could use just half tsp soda. This dough does not really need much kneading, just enough to bring it all together and shape the loaf.









So now it's over to you, get in the kitchen with your kids and come and share what you've cooked,
I'd also be mighty grateful if you included my badge in your post so others can see it and come along and join in. (although adding the badge is not compulsory to joining in)








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Friday, 21 August 2015

How Much Do You Share Online?

A friend asked me the other day what a blog was. I figured the easy way to explain was to show her mine. This friend has internet at home and several devices but she does not participate in any social network sites. She mostly looks things up and shops, but even then, she doesn't buy things online, she just chooses what she wants then goes to the shop and buys it. So I guess she is a little untrustworthy of the internet.

When she saw my blog she was shocked,
"why do you put all this personal stuff online for everyone to see?"

This is from someone that knows me quite well and can quite plainly see that I don't put everything in my blog. In fact I keep lots out. However, she still thought I shared too much. Photos of my kids, telling people of places where we'd been and things we'd done.

My eldest kids (who I don't really mention on my blog) are also very private when it comes the internet. They never use their real names, or photos despite being members of many groups and playing many online games. No-one knows anything about their real lives. They have asked me specifically not to include them here and I even had to remove my birth stories about them. (Shame because they were really interesting and some may have found them helpful, and I didn't include names or photos) 

I rarely mention my partner, or our relationship. I don't mention our jobs or other family members. I never mention our finances, or talk about the area where we live. 

I use nicknames for my kids, although these days the nicknames are used nearly as much in real life as they are on the blog, particularly Boo, who was so named long before she was actually born!

I don't name their school or any of their friends. If I use photos of other children I get permission off their parents. Sometimes other kids get in the photos at parties and days out, it can't be helped. 

I share more personal stuff on my Facebook page but then I keep my facebook friends tight, they are all people I've spoken with for many years, or I have met in real life, or family. I still don't share everything, I'm just not the type of person who runs to facebook after a row with the other half or similar.

In my opinion I don't think I share too much. There is so much more I would like to share, so much more I'd like to get off my chest and tell the world about. But I don't, I'm just a little too private to share it all. I think the most personal I got was when my mom was diagnosed with cancer. I used my blog (not this one) to pour out all my emotions and it really helped me to get through those few weeks she had left. I knew my friends were reading because they were sending me personal messages. I didn't have the strength to reply but I carried on writing and answering on my blog. Then before mom was buried I had to deal with finding my brother after he committed suicide. Yes, it was a tough time, and my blog helped me, but I don't really share all that now, well, not the emotional side anyway.

I do like to read blogs that share personal stuff. It's not that I'm nosey, it's just that it helps you relate to people, you find out that they are human too. I think sharing is good and I wish I could share more.

Can you share too much though?

Why do people steer clear of sharing?

I know why I do, I don't want to upset people close to me. If your sharing effects someone else then they need to be aware of what you are sharing and agree to it. 

Maybe people think that if others know too much about you they can use it against you? This can be true, especially in the world of the internet when people are more likely to attack from their keyboards when they wouldn't say anything to your face. Some people can be cruel.

Then there are the trolls, they are everywhere and you never know when they are going to strike. They can be hell to deal with, especially if you are vulnerable, and they tend to pick  on the vulnerable.

I do worry about putting my kids in the firing line. When they are young it's not so bad, but as they get older there is always the chance that someone at school can find stuff out about them and they can end up being teased or even bullied. I run another blog about Star's disabilities, I started it because I found it so hard to find information when she was first poorly and I wanted to put something out there for others who may find themselves in the same position. Then I realised that it may come back on her at a later date so I went through and deleted all recognisable photos of her. Hopefully, if any of her peers do come across it, they won't know it's her.

I've already made the decision that my kids will feature less on my blog as they get older. If I keep blogging I may have to take a different direction with it.

So what do you think? Do we share too much online? 



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Thursday, 20 August 2015

Bake With Bake Off - It's All I Knead

Week three of the Great British Bake Off and it's bread week. I love baking bread, I love the smell of it cooking in my kitchen. I love releasing the stress as I knead the dough. No breadmaker here, although if I did have one I'd probably never buy another loaf of bread from the supermarket.

Boo, was keen to get in on the action and made her very own loaf of soda bread. So quick and easy and we love it with a nice tangy jam like gooseberry or lime.


So how did the bakers in the tent get on this week?
The signature bake was, well, quick bread, which basically means soda bread. Or you can use baking powder, but you don't use yeast. The bread doesn't need proving and shouldn't be kneaded too much. You also need to get the right amount of liquid. The soda needs something to react with and this is usually buttermilk. I tend to make my own by putting lemon juice into milk and leaving it at room temperature for 30 minutes.

In the tent there were some amazing flavours going on, Tamal went for fig, cheese and walnut in his bread and Ian used wild garlic in his giving it a lovely green look.

The technical task was baguettes, you may think they are easy, but it's not for some. Nadiya, Sandy and Paul just didn't rise to the occasion and it was Ian who took first place. Has the curse of the star baker been lifted?

Finally, the show stopper had to be a 3D bread sculpture made with three different breads with one of them filled. Alvin went way over the top with five different types of bread, Tamal made the most amazing looking 'breadcycle' and Nadiya redeemed herself a little with her snake charmers basket, the snake looked delicious. It was Paul that received high praise though, for his amazing lion creation.
Dorret found herself in the firing line with her unmade bed, it was messy and undercooked. She even admitted to have not practicing it at home. Who enters a major cooking competition without practicing at home? So, it was Dorret who found herself being sent home, and not to practice.

This weeks star baker was Ian, again! He did do well in every round and I loved his flowerpot arrangement for the show stopper.

I decided to make a tea loaf for this weeks Bake With Bake Off challenge with Silver Mushroom. Again there is no yeast, and it's quick and easy to make. You could argue that fruit loaves are more like cake than bread, but if you can slice it like bread and add butter or jam if you wish then I will argue that it is bread.


Apricot and Sultana Tea Loaf


Ingredients: 


  • 225g self-raising white flour
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 115g soft brown sugar
  • 115g ready-to-eat dried apricots, chopped
  • 115g sultanas
  • 2 eggs
  • 150ml milk


Method:


  • Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4
  • Grease and line a 2lb loaf tin
  • Mix the flours, cinnamon and sugar in a bowl
  • Add apricots and sultanas and mix well
  • Add the eggs and milk and beat well until thoroughly mixed 
  • Pour the mixure into the loaf tin
  • Bake for about 1 hour or until golden brown and firm to touch.
  • Leave to cool, slice and serve.







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Monday, 17 August 2015

Kids in the Kitchen

Welcome to this weeks Kids in the Kitchen.
We have been really really busy the last couple of weeks with our Bake With Bake Off Challenges. It's not very often that I bake without the kids so they have been in the kitchen with me a lot. Not only  that but we also had a birthday party for the Little Man and the kids helped me to make sandwiches, sausage rolls and three different types of cookies.

rolling cookie dough


We even made a scrummy chocolate cake together using Bee Berries All in One Cake recipe.



Today, I caved in and bought the Little Man a boxed cake mix for Peppa Pig cupcakes. We have all the ingredients at home to make cupcakes but there is something about these boxed kits that are so appealing to little ones.

Last week we were joined by All Past Midnight who linked a fabulous post with lots of tips of baking with small children. It is really worth a look. 

I've already pinned the post to my Kids in the Kitchen Pinterest board as I do with everyone that links up. 

Follow Anne's board Kids In The Kitchen on Pinterest.

I also share posts that link up wherever I can so do come and join us if you have a recipe for children or have been cooking with your children.

Bee Berries All in One Cake

Ingredients:


225g self raising flour
225g caster sugar
225g softened butter
4 eggs

we added 1 tbs cocoa powder and decorated the cake with chocolate butter cream made with 100g soft butter with 200g icing sugar and 1 tbs cocoa powder.


Method:

Put the flour, butter, sugar and eggs into a big bowl and mix thoroughly. We like to use a wooden spoon, but you can use a mixer if you wish.

divide the mixture into two 8inch cake tins

bake at 180c for about 25 minutes until springy to the touch. (you can use a skewer to check that cake is cooked if you wish)

mix the cocoa powder, butter and icing sugar together in a bowl and use to decorate the cake when it has cooled.



So now it's over to you, get in the kitchen with your kids and come and share what you've cooked,
I'd also be mighty grateful if you included my badge in your post so others can see it and come along and join in. (although adding the badge is not compulsory to joining in)








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Saturday, 15 August 2015

My Sunday Photo - 16/08/2015







































Taken yesterday on my mobile after visiting my family. This church is now 229 years old, I was married here in the year it was 200 years old. My Mom and Dad were married here and so were two of my brothers. Now both sets of grandparents, my Mom and Dad and one of my brothers are buried here.
It's a very special place to me.



OneDad3Girls



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Friday, 14 August 2015

Paddling

We had a bouncy castle for the week last week and this meant that the kids were reluctant to leave the house. Why go anywhere when you can bounce to your hearts content in the garden at home? This did mean that mum had a little cabin fever though as well as a pounding headache. With much persuasion I got them out of the house with a promise of a trip to the park.

They played on the swings and roundabouts for a while, but my headache was getting worse so I asked them to come for a walk. They wasn't happy, but I saw a stream up ahead and a bridge so I got them to come along to play pooh sticks.

It wasn't long before they asked if they could get in the stream. It was a warm day and the stream was very shallow so I agreed. We were there for an hour, they loved it. They found some little fish and lots of interesting stones and even went for a walk upstream. Then a man came along with his little dog who was splashing in the water looking for stones for the kids to throw for him. Sadly, I don't have any photos of the dog as my phone battery died.

When it was time to leave my headache had lifted and the kids were ready to go home and bounce again.




Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall 



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Bake With Bake Off - The One that takes the Biscuit (week two)

This week on the Great British Bake Off was biscuit week and we had lots of snaps and crunches and a few little mishaps of course.

The signature bake was 24 biscotti which were all to be uniformly formed and baked to perfection, in fact baked twice to perfection. I've never had a go at making biscotti but I know they go well with any overpriced cup of coffee from a coffee shop. So Mary and Paul both agree that cranberry, chocolate and hazelnut is the best combination for biscotti. So, do any of the contestants comply? Don't be silly, we get everything from goji berries (I love goji berries) to physalis and even rosemary. Mr Hollywood seemed a little worried about the rosemary but in the end Ian's Orange, Cranberry and Rosemary Biscotti got a thumbs up.

The Technical Bake was Paul's recipe for Arlettes. No, I've not heard of them before either...but I have now, I've even baked some!


Basically, they are biscuits made from puff pastry with a lamination of a butter, sugar and cinnamon layer and rolled out really thin. Then baked quickly on each side to produce a thin crispy biscuit. They really are delicious too!

Little Dorret came in first on this round, closely followed by food blogger Flora, the youngest contestant at only 19. Marie had trouble with her oven setting and only managed half a batch. She didn't do too well in the first round either with her biscotti being a bit too tough. Is there really a curse of the star baker?

Final Show Stopper round and the bakers are asked to make a box out of biscuit to hold biscuits. It's a biscuit lovers dream come true. Most of them made this 3D stuff look pretty easy, I can tell you from experience of my Christmas Gingerbread houses, it does take some practice to get your biscuits standing erect! I got all excited seeing Little Dorret using my favourite Matcha powder for her little green frogs. Paul and Mary were not impressed though, either with her biscuit cutter frogs or the matcha taste...pah, how would they get on in Japan if they fancied a cuppa! I was very intrigued by the Earl Grey tea bag biscuits made by both Mat and Flora. I will have to try them sometime.
I felt very sorry for poor Nadiya who ruined her first biscuit box lid herself and then had her second attempt destroyed by presenter Sue. She was so close to tears, I wanted her to cry, it was tear worthy, I'd have cried.

Quick step to the end and we find that Ian is Star Baker for his cylinder biscuit box filled with perfect macarons and his rosemary biscotti. Then, after a really poor week we say goodbye to last weeks star baker Marie. (cursed)

So after much deliberation I decided to bake for my bake off challenge with Silver Mushroom is some pinwheel biscuits.

Strawberry and Chocolate Pinwheel biscuits.


Ingredients:

300g plain flour
100g cold butter
100g caster sugar
1 egg
1 tbs cocoa powder
1/2 tsp strawberry flavouring
a few drops of pink food colouring

Method:


Preheat oven to 170C
Cube the butter and rub it into the flour until it represents breadcrumbs
Mix in the sugar
Add the egg and knead together to make your biscuit dough.
Separate the dough into two halves
Knead the cocoa powder into one half
Add strawberry flavouring and food colouring into second half.
Roll into two sausages, cover in cling film and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Roll the dough into two rectangles and then put one on top of the other.
Roll them up into a sausage shape.
Slice your biscuits

You can leave them like this to cook, but I was looking for something more crispy so I rolled my slices again to make them thinner.

Cook for 8-15 minutes depending on thickness.



Of course I had my little helper in the kitchen with me, thank you Boo.





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Thursday, 13 August 2015

The Little Man's Bouncing Birthday

My baby is now five years old. If I call him my baby he retorts "I'm not a baby, I'm a big boy" and all too soon he really is. As he is my last child though he has the honour of always being my baby...just don't tell him okay!

So, what do you do for a five year old's birthday? What could be more fun than a bouncy castle!

Unfortunately, I had some technical problems with my camera and my phone for his party, but we do have some photos to share. (Is anyone else's camera refusing to work with Windows 10?)

First up, here is the party table, with my little helper. The table cloth, plates and serviettes were provided by Party bags and Supplies which I reviewed earlier. They also provided the lovely party bags filled with little gifts for the guests.






























The bouncy castle was provided by Toyz World. It was the BeBop Turret Ball Pit Inflatable Bouncy Castle which was just the perfect size for our garden at 15ft. I was amazed at how easy it was to put up, just spread it out, pin it down with the pegs provided, attach the fan and the kids were bouncing away within minutes.






































The kids loved the bouncy castle, it had a good size bouncing area 214cm x 214cm, a slide entrance/exit, netting all around and a ball pit at the front. We did not have any balls for the pit but my kids didn't mind. We did put some water in on one day for them to splash around in which they found great fun, and it also helped them to keep cool.







































This bouncy castle currently retails at £229.95 which I think is a real bargain. It would be great to own one for the kids to use whenever they wanted. You could even share the cost with friends or neighbours and take it in turns with the castle.









































My kids, and all their friends give this bouncy castle a big thumbs up. Looks like I'll be saving up for one for next summer.

Back to the birthday boy, I did manage one other photo from the party, A rather dark pic of the Little Man blowing out his birthday candle.

































Happy Birthday Little Man....now don't you get growing up too fast my baby x

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Disclosure: we were provided with the loan of the bouncy castle from Toyz World, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Bake With Bake Off

Do you watch the Great British Bake Off? I'm such an addict, and of course so is my little chef Boo. As it's the school holidays I'm even allowing her to stay up late and watch it. Although, she sat and watched the repeat again today!

The show has already been surrounded in controversy. First up there was the change of mixers for the bakers which had the viewers up in arms. The show swapped the Kitchen Aid Mixers for the cheaper Kenwood ones. Then there has been the uproar over contestant Marie who was claimed to have a professional background....if you can call a certificate for a one week course more than 30 years ago and selling cupcakes from your own kitchen a professional background. It's all good for getting the show in the news though.

We all like a bit of controversy so I'm sure there will be plenty more to come.

This year I've decided to bake along with the Great British Bake Off and  Silver Mushroom. I will try to join in each week and bake something that has featured on the show. I'm also taking part in the Twitter chats after the show with the #bwbo, feel free to join in and tell us what you thought about the show or share your baking questions.

So this weeks show introduced us to the new contestants and we had some successes and failures as usual. Poor Little Dorret's show stopper Black Forest Gateaux was a big flop, but it was Stu who was sent home when he failed to follow instructions and produced a Beetroot Forest Gateaux with no chocolate decoration.

Personally, I think it's too early to have a favourite but Boo is already fond of Ugne so I hope she does well.

So for the first weeks show the Signature Bake was a madeira cake and the tent was filled with much fussing over the size of the cracks. The Technical Bake was Mary's Walnut Cake which had Alvin refusing to be beaten by the caramel covered nuts and Stu's first go at blatantly disobeying the instructions. Then the Showstopper of course was the Black Forest Gateaux which we all know is chocolate and cherries....not beetroot.

My challenge this week was to make a Madeira Cake.

It was a bit of a challenge because I already had a cake to bake this week for the Little Man's birthday. Then I read, somewhere, that a madeira cake is good for icing and decorating...so that's what I did.

I made a traditional madeira cake, slightly lemon flavoured. then covered it in butter cream and icing and decorated it for the birthday boy. So, although my cake had a great crack when it came out of the oven, it didn't really matter, because I turned it upside down to give me a nice flat top!

Here's my recipe.

Madeira Cake.


Makes an 8 inch round cake.


Ingredients:


375g plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
315g caster sugar
315g soft butter
5 medium eggs
45ml lemon juice


Method


preheat over to 160C/gas mark 3
place flour, baking powder, sugar, butter, eggs and juice in a mixing bowl
beat together until smooth and glossy
place mixture into prepared tin
cook for 1 1/2 hours

Easy really :)

Here is my finished cake when it came out of the oven, and then when decorated with an Animal Jam theme.



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Saturday, 8 August 2015

My Sunday Photo - August 9th 2015























































I've had to give you two photos this week as they go together. They are the floral tribute to WWI that can be found outside Birmingham City Council House. As you approach you see the beautiful flower arrangement with huge poppies and bi planes. Then as you walk around the side you can see the trenches with are remembered from the war. Altogether beautiful, sad and a fitting tribute.


OneDad3Girls



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Friday, 7 August 2015

Big Hoot Birmingham 2015, 2nd and 3rd trips


Our City has been taken over by owls! Gloriously decorated owls that stand at five feet tall, and we are on a mission to find as many as we can.

Our first mission took us to a park, a shopping high street and Cadbury World. Next we decided a trip to the City Centre Canal area was in order and we also visited the wonderful Birmingham Library.

We found some fabulous owls, including one called Welcome to Birmingham. We Loved the Wise Old Owl and the Kids had a chat to Owliver in the ICC. We even found some smaller owlets in the library.
Wise Old Owl, Welcome to Birmingham, Percy Pertemps and 4 library owlets.






Midnight Moths, Oozels Owl, Owlbert and Tropic Owl

Jack, Owlfred and You Can Call Me Owl
Our next mission took us to Birmingham University where we met the wonderful charming Hootunkahmen and his spooky friend The Bone Ranger. We also met Twit Choo Choo outside the train station.

Hootunkahmen, The Bone Ranger and Twit Choo Choo


We then travelled back to the City Centre to find some of the owls at the Bull Ring Shopping Centre, including the adorable Selfi and the kids favourite Free Radiowl. There was also another Owl and Pussycat, which had an owl on one side and a pussycat on the other.

The Owl and The Pussycat, Free RadiOwl, Ozzy, I See A Darkness
Selfie, Skyline2015, Starlight, Re-Tail



We are really enjoying our owl hunting and are now totalling 47 owls in all. I don't think we will manage all 210, but we will keep on finding as many as we can right up until the 27th September. There is one outside the Birmingham Children's hospital and we have an appointment there in a few weeks.

The owls are also raising money for charity and you can donate £2 to Birmingham Children's Hospital by texting HOOT to 70099.


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Thursday, 6 August 2015

Baking with Bee Berrie and Happy Eggs

My little chef Boo got a real birthday treat this year, a trip to London for a cookery lesson with the lovely Bee Berrie from Bees Bakery.

We travelled to London first thing in the morning and found our way to the cookery class which had been arranged by the Happy Egg Company. We got straight into the mixing and Boo was loving every minute.



First she made some cookie dough, I have the recipe on my Kids in the Kitchen post.

Boo, loves being in the kitchen but this was a whole new experience for her and she was very excited. She always says that when she grows up she wants to be a chef, I guess there will be many more lessons like this for her in the future.



























The cookie dough was wrapped in cling film and left in the fridge for later. When she fetched it back out it was split into three. She put some sprinkles on one third. As you can see this was very serious work. Then the dough was rolled into little balls and our first batch of cookies was baked.
The second section of dough was flavoured with ginger, cinnamon and treacle to make gingerbread cookies, and the third was rolled in sprinkles and put back in the fridge for us to cook at home. The sprinkle cookies were well received by the whole family and we'll be making them again and again I'm sure.













































































Baking can get messy! I think that's why kids love it so much.

While the cookie dough was in the fridge Boo's second recipe was Bee's All in One Cake.
Boo decided to make a chocolate cake.
She chose two loaf tins to bake it in and when it was time to decorate she made her butter cream icing a glorious blue colour. She made all these choices herself, which was nice for her because I usually tell her what she's making. I've decided that I should let her make more decisions herself in the future, it's a good learning experience for her.



























Of course, every good chef always tastes their work in progress!

We had a really great morning and I have to thank Bee Berrie, Ellie and the Happy Egg Company for giving my Boo this fabulous opportunity.

Since becoming a Happy Egg Taste maker I have to say we use no other eggs now, they really do make a difference. ED makes the best omelettes ever tasted with them too.

Photos provided by the Happy Egg Co.

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Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Play at Brewers Fayre, Great Park

As a kid I was big fan of The Beano which my Dad would bring home from work, often I could tell he'd already had a read. Dennis the Menace was one of my favourite characters in the comic, along with Minnie the Minx.

The Brewers Fayre have chosen Dennis the Menace as the theme for their play areas at their pub restaurants and we were invited along to the one in Great Park, Rednal to see.

The play area was not huge but it was big enough to keep my three children, aged 9, 8 and 4 years entertained for a good hour. They only came out for drinks. There were a lot of other children there but it wasn't too overcrowded. My 9 year old has sensory issues and also has joint problems so we do tend to avoid soft play areas, or only spend a short time there as she gets frustrated. However, she seemed quite happy to play here and we are certain we will be visiting again. At just £3 per child for 90 minutes it's pretty good value.

The Little Man had his photo taken with Dennis the Menace.






































The play area has been newly refurbished and although we'd not visited before there was a lady there that I spoke to who said it was much better now.

After playing we had lunch in the restaurant.
While waiting for our food the kids had fun with the activity books and crayons provided. I love that restaurants do this. Not so long ago I remember carrying around my own books and pens to keep kids occupied, they just don't understand that they have to sit and wait for their food. The time goes quickly if they are occupied.



The kids all chose pizza, I had a really delicious chicken tikka masala and the OH had sausage, egg, chips and beans.

For dessert, two of the kids had ice cream, one had a brownie with ice cream. I had apple pie with caramel and custard and the OH had Chocolate fudge cake with ice cream.

The kids meals are £3.99 for a main meal, £4.49 for two courses and £4.99 for three courses.
The adults meals vary in prices and there are often deals to be had when purchasing more than one meal. For example, you can get two main meals for £10, and two desserts for £2.50 between 12-5pm Monday to Friday.







































We had a lovely time, the staff were very helpful and cheerful, it makes a difference when you get service with a smile. We will definitely be returning to this Brewers Fayre.


Disclosure: We were invited to Brewers Fayre for a special VIP event and everything was provided for free. All thoughts and opinions were my own.

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