Friday, 28 November 2014


A couple of weeks ago I spent a fabulous (and tiring) few days in London with my daughter.

We had a very, very stressful start to our journey by finding there were no spaces left in the station car parks. The station is quite remote with only a few side roads around which either have double yellow lines or any parking spaces all taken up too. Panic started to kick in. Luckily, after asking a couple of ladies, we found a private car park which actually worked out a lot cheaper.

After dumping our bags in our hotel room & Oyster cards topped up, off to Covent Garden we went with Cath Kidston being our first port of call. To me its like being in a sweetie shop. I find it so overwhelming  seeing the products in the "flesh", So much to see, so much to choose from, so much I want! I had to be sensible & tell myself "I don't need another one". So... I came away with another mug, another shopping bag and some cup cake cases. I think I was quite restraint!

Cath Kidston purchases

We popped in a couple of others shops in Covent Garden including Sass & Belle where I found some cute fawn/deer gift tags & wrapping paper. I can't resist any retro/kitsch  Baby Sham/Bambi type fawn/deer things.

Sass & Belle purchases

After not falling for the flattery from a bicycle rickshaw guy..."this must be your older sister" said to my daughter (Yeah, who are you kidding? Do we look gullible?)..... who wanted to recommend somewhere for us to eat (we guessed he was going to suggest somewhere far enough away that we would need a ride) we ate at Belgo, a Belgian restaurant. 

Belgo Beer Menu - we had a Fruli Strawberry

Then, satisfactorily stuffed we headed towards Theatre Royale, Drury Lane to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
We had very good seats on the front row of the Royal Circle. It was a brilliant show. It was surprising it was not very busy. I can only guess it was because it is aimed at children & it was a school night.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Following day we went to the Country Living Christmas Fair in Islington. This is my fourth time to this show. Lots of fantastic stands, so much I like and want but don't need. I also have a habit of telling myself "I could make one of those"! (Here are some pictures of my favourite stands (I forgot to take my own pictures)

And here are some of the things I bought (I can't show everything as some are Christmas presents)

Bird Feeder

Christmas Decorations

We spent the following day in Oxford Street starting in Primark near Tottenham Court Road Tube Station. Because we bought so much there we took the bags back to our hotel to save walking around with them all day. We walked almost the whole length of Oxford Street so by 7pm we were shopped out, and starving. We found Pizza Express in St Christopher's Place (which is down one of the back streets near Selfridges).  It was good to sit down & eat pizza, washed down with a Peroni. Didn't take long to fall asleep that night!


On our final morning we took the tube to Victoria as I was keen to visit HEMA in the Victoria Place Shopping centre. If you haven't heard of HEMA its a dutch shop selling all sorts of goodies such as food, stationery & make-up at quite cheap prices (you can order online too). It's not a very big store & not everything was to my liking but I picked up some sweets, a couple of birthday cards & cute deer/fawn Christmas decoration. 


I had to be careful about what else I bought as I already had so much stuff to get back on the train I really couldn't manage much more.

& these were just mine!

It was lovely to get away with my daughter and have some girlie time together.


Saturday, 1 November 2014

Halloween 2014

Halloween...I love carving pumpkins and decorating the house although I don't like answering the door. I live in a village with a small school where I used to know most of the children but on Halloween night it used to be hard trying to work out who they were behind their disguises. Now my children are no longer at the school I haven't got a clue who any of them are.  It's scary!

Anyway, here are some photos of our Halloween this year....Despicable Me!

Despicable Me theme

Lush Pumpkin Bubble Bar

This Lush Pumpkin was a gift, I thought it was a bath bomb so put the whole thing in the bath! Anyway, it smelt gorgeous, bubbled away, made the water orange and sparkly (it was covered in glitter). It was very "lush" and I felt wonderful in the bath and afterwards. Thank you Kariss from Shy, Strange and a little bit Manic 

Couldn't go to the party without a bottle of "Boos"!

Who's that watching us?

Despicable Me! Gru & Minions
Happy Belated Halloween


Thursday, 23 October 2014

Disney's Frozen Birthday Cake

I have four children and used to make novelty birthday cakes for them all, even colouring the icing which used to takes ages. It seems so much easier nowadays with coloured icing being fairly cheap, and tools which give one so many options and ideas. My children are past the need for a Power Ranger or pirate ship cake now but I still like to decorate one every now and again.

My daughters 21st Birthday Cake 

My daughter likes making cakes and has had a go at making novelty ones too.

I thought I would share some pictures of the  Frozen cake she made for a 4 year old little girl.
Although she made it all herself she did need me nearby to ask for ideas and advice, and to show her a few things, use my equipment and to clean up after her!

One very delighted Frozen mad 4 year old!


Saturday, 18 October 2014

Fabric! Do I need more?

The answer is YES! I adore fabric! I have an addiction, I can't help myself! 

When looking online or at other people's blogs or Pinterest I am always coming across gorgeous fabric. I just have to have it! Well, I wish I could have it. If there is a link or the name of the fabric or the designer is mentioned I search to see where I can get it. 9 times out of 10 I've missed the bandwagon. It usually turns out to be an old post and the fabric is no longer available or it is not sold in the UK. Sometimes I'm sucessful. 

I can't find much of this available

I was looking the other week at inspiration for hexagon quilts as this is something I would like to make and one thing led to another. Some Lecien fabric called Flower Sugar caught my eye. 

Lecien Flower Sugar

I found some fat quarters on eBay but the selection wasn't huge. After scouring the Internet I found The Homemakery online fabric, wool, haberdashery and craft shop. There was a huge selection and to make it even better there were various fat quarter pack combinations of it. You can see the selection here

Oh, I was in heaven! There are lots of goodies on this website and the service was fab. 

Here are some of the bundles to choose from

It was hard to decide which I liked the best. In the end I chose a bundle of reds, pinks and turquoise with a couple of extra fat quarters. I was not disappointed when they arrived.

They will be added to my fabric stash in one of my storage boxes & placed where I can see them when I enter my craft room. One day I will use them, I promise!


Monday, 22 September 2014


I've been back just over a week from our holiday in Rhodes but it seems like it was weeks ago! This is the first time since our children started school that we have been away in September. We were a little worried that temperatures wouldn't be that high and the shops and tavernas would be closed for the season. Didn't need to worry in the slightest! Weather was fantastic, still very hot, just getting a little cooler in the evenings towards the end of our 2 weeks but I didn't need my cardigan at all. Everything was still open but not too busy.

We stayed in Villa Lorriana in Gennadi, a few miles south of Lindos. Very peaceful with fantastic views. The villa was home from home, we didn't want for anything apart from Wifi! The mobile signal wasn't very good either. Quite a few of the tavernas had free wifi so we managed to check our messages and emails every few days. Sad I know, but hard as we try not to we still worry about our offspring and not being there to help should there be a problem. Thankfully no emergencies whilst we were away so we had a very chilled, laid back holiday soaking up the sun, wine and food whilst getting the chance to read loads of books.

The only incident during our holiday was the stupid person who decided to smoke in the toilet on the plane to Rhodes. The crew informed the passengers that they wanted the person responsible to own up as they needed to know what happened to the stub & may need to divert to another airport.  Anyway, it turns out it was an OAP who should have known better. He owned up but was very defensive when the Greek authorities at Rhodes airport boarded to take him away!

Here are some photos of our Rhodes holiday 2014.


Villa Lorriana

Rhodes Beaches


Rhodes Town

Friday, 29 August 2014

My Garden in August

I'm quite sad really...I spend hours just walking around my garden admiring (oohing & ahhing) at any new flower that appears and absolutely love it when it's scented too. I stick my nose in the centre (making sure there aren't any insects ready to bite my nose first!), inhale deeply with my eyes shut and say to myself "mmmmm". Not only that, I'm forever taking photos. I think I take more photos of my garden than my children. That maybe because they can never behave when I want one of them all together! Inevitably they take it in turns to pull silly faces which sets them all off into giggles. I'm lucky if I can get one decent photo of them sitting still smiling nicely and looking adorable (that's if adults can look adorable) out of 20 takes! 

I thought I would share some of the blooms out this month in my garden but alas can't share their perfume!

Roses from top left  Morning Jewel & Cornelia
Bottom left Kathleen Harrop & Zephrine Drouhin 

Top left Thalictrum Bottom left Clematis Sunburst
Right Hydrangea

From top left Bellis Daisy & Petunia/Geranium
From bottom left Japanese Anemone & White Phlox 

Monday, 18 August 2014

Blackberry Swirl Fairy Cakes/Cupcakes

All the fruit in my garden this year has been early.

Soft fruit from my garden - June & July 2014

The plums, even though we don't get that many, were ready three quarters of the way through July and I was lucky that I beat the birds (and wasps) to most of them!

We have a Victoria Plum tree and a Oullins Golden Gage tree. They are about 5-6 years old. The Victoria plum has fruited the last couple of years but only on the lower branches. The Oullins really struggles. We had about 5 fruit on it last year, this year only 1! I checked it everyday once the Victoria plums were ready worried either the birds would get it or it would fall off and bruise. Luckily I managed to pick it...and it was delicious!

The blackberries have been early too. I have a very prickly variety that aren't very big and very sour this year.  It has been very painful picking them especially with the strong winds we have been having. Just when I think I have found a way in with my arm without getting pricked a gust would blow the stems around...ouch! I may replace it with a thornless variety.

I freeze some of the blackberries putting them straight into a plastic tub waiting in the freezer. However, my freezer is absolutely stuffed full now so I stewed some with sugar and also added a fallen Bramley Seedling cooking apple to one batch to use as a pie filling. 

I thought I would try adding some stewed berries to a fairy cake mixture. This is how I made them and how they turned out.

Blackberry Swirl Cupcakes

Pre heat oven 140C for 25 mins
Makes approx 12

Cake Mixture :-

6 oz castor sugar
6 oz marg/butter.  I used Flora
6 oz self raising flour
3 large eggs
Tablespoon milk

Stewed Blackberries  :-

8 oz  Blackberries
2oz Light Soft Brown Sugar
Tsp water


Cook the blackberries on low heat with the soft brown sugar & water stirring occasionally until the sugar has dissolved. Then turn up the heat slightly to simmer until blackberries have softened and liquid thickens sightly. The liquid will thicken more as it cools.

 Put cake ingredients in bowl except milk.

Mix together with electric mixer until combined and glossy. Mix in tablespoon milk.

Spoon into cupcakes cases.  

Add teaspoon blackberry syrup mix & swirl through cake mixture.

Bake for approx  for approx 25 mins until golden & springy to touch. Leave to cool.

Suggestions for serving - dust with icing sugar/whipped cream/creme fraiche  or pipe vanilla butter icing on top. 


NB I am not a professional cook. This recipe has been devised by adding my own tweak on a traditional recipe using my oven. Temperatures/times may have to be altered to suit yours.