Baby in one hand, wooden spoon in the other

Monthly Archives: July 2013

If you're as wise as Sensei Wu, you'll make this cake.

If you’re as wise as Sensei Wu, you’ll make this cake. 

What a week. Work mad, kids deranged, parents crazy, #royalbaby watch gone into overdrive, relentless heat, Leah (she of pink lipstick fame – just wait for the Rimmel contract) won The Apprentice, my lovely son has read the whole of the BFG – and it’s only Thursday. It was our wedding anniversary this week, too, and I am ashamed to say we didn’t celebrate at all, other than to open a bottle of champagne we happened to have. Must try harder next year.

So, anyway, I know it’s hot, but what better than a slice of fruitcake and a cup of tea in the shade come 4pm on a Saturday afternoon, along with a good novel and no kids around? (yeah, dream on…)

Whenever I used to think about making a fruitcake I would push it to the back of my mind, thinking it would take too long. HOWEVER I have recently developed a recipe for a really quick tasty cake that is so easy and so delicious you will be thanking me forever. I recently made one and took it to work with me – we are an office full of cake aficionados – and it got the thumbs up, so I am sharing it here. The kids also love it – a slice in the old packed lunch goes down a treat.

For the best result, you need to make it the day before you eat it; so whip it up on Saturday morning when the kids are watching cartoons, ready for tea on Sunday afternoon. Mmmm.

If you can’t eat the whole thing in one go, cut it in half and freeze the other half! It freezes really well.

Note: If you have the time (and the inclination), the fruit is good pre-soaked, so it has a chance to plump up. Simply put the dried fruit into a Pyrex bowl, make two strong mugs of Earl Grey tea and pour over. Allow to steep for a couple of hours.


225g butter

225g soft brown sugar

8fl oz milk

450g mixed dried fruit (raisins, currants, sultanas, chopped dried dates, peel)

3 eggs, beaten

450g self-raising flour

1/2 tsp mixed spice

1tbsp brandy

  1. Preheat the oven to 340°F/170°C/150°C fan
  2. Melt the butter and sugar in a large saucepan and add the milk and dried fruit, stir and warm through until molten, then pour into a large Pyrex bowl
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients, and mix well
  4. Pour the mixture into a greased and lined 8” Springform cake tin (yes, it really is this easy)
  5. Bake for 1 hour, then remove from the oven and cover with tin foil
  6. Bake for a further 45 minutes and then check with a skewer; stick into the middle of the cake and remove. If the skewer is clean, it is done, but if there’s any uncooked mixture on the skewer bake for 5 more minutes
  7. Cool in the tin on a wire rack and once cool, store in an airtight container

Sit under tree, pour tea, devour cake. Repeat.

Stay cool.




38 fridge magnet numbers

It is my birthday, and inspired by Sophie Heawood’s recent Guardian article I wrote a list of 38 things I know now I am 38.

  1. No matter how much money you earn you will spend it.
  2. As a working mum, there will be times when work is brilliant, the kids are brilliant, your household is in hand and you feel like you have everything under control.
  3. As a working mum, there will be times when work is really hard and all-consuming, the kids are whiny and hard to manage, your household is a disaster zone and you feel like nothing is under control.
  4. If you can get out of the house in the morning feeling vaguely on top of things, that feeling will help carry you through the day.
  5. A pain au chocolat can help.
  6. Chopping vegetables is a very cheap form of therapy.
  7. Sometimes I want to ring up the controller of CBeebies just to say THANK YOU.
  8. Friends come and go depending on the stage of life you are at; don’t beat yourself up if you can’t keep up with everybody.
  9. 6 year-olds can be really wise. They are worth listening to.
  10. A glass of Champagne with some smoked salmon is always a winner in my book.
  11. Sometimes, when you’re a bit pissed, certain things seem like SUCH A GOOD IDEA. They rarely are.
  12. Robert Dyas is a treasure trove for keen cooks.
  13. If you are boiling eggs and one of the shells cracks, add a couple of drops of vinegar to prevent more white escaping into the pan *takes a bow*
  14. Write down the names of books you’ve read as you finish them. Otherwise, you’ll forget what you’ve read.
  15. Don’t underestimate the importance of time on your own. Get it when you can.
  16. Never give a 3-year-old a bottle of squeezy honey to add to her toast herself.
  17. Checking Twitter every 5 minutes will not bring you more followers.
  18. Boots points are great, however Nectar point are a bit of a waste of time.
  19. The things that bring me joy are often the simplest things.
  20. Buying more stuff doesn’t actually make you happy.
  21. You can never take too many snacks on an outing with kids.
  22. When people you love die, don’t be afraid to grieve, and don’t be afraid to talk about them.
  23. A good moisturiser can’t solve everything but it can help.
  24. Starting writing a blog is one of the best things I’ve ever done.
  25. When dithering over whether to do something or not, think to yourself what would [insert name of coolest person you know] do? And do that.
  26. There is no such thing as too many cookbooks.
  27. Sleep begets sleep in my experience: don’t be afraid to let your baby or toddler nap.
  28. Husbands matter; move them up the list a bit.
  29. If watching the news makes you upset, don’t watch it any more.
  30. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver is one hell of a book.
  31. You can’t do everything perfectly; prioritise one thing and do it well. Then work down the list.
  32. The older you get, the more important make-up becomes.
  33. Carry a list of the best karaoke songs to sing on your iPhone – you never know when you’ll need it.
  34. As a working mum you will carry an extra bit of baggage with you at all times – beyond the Blackberry, the laptop and your Oyster card – it’s called guilt. Acknowledging it helps.
  35. If you can get on with your own family, you can get on with anyone.
  36. If in doubt, get them John Lewis vouchers.
  37. Being a mum is bloody hard work but 100% worth it.
  38. Never rule anything out!

Share the things you know in the Comments box below.




Couldn’t resist this one!

So, last weekend was my fifth Glastonbury festival, but the first time I’ve ever taken a photo of a Playmobil man while I was there… Anything for you, dear blog readers!

We didn’t take the children, so I am afraid I can’t pass on any festival-with-kids tips, but I did have some delicious Lebanese food, some amazing tartiflette and Toulouse sausages and an incredible Pad Thai. Saw some amazing and wonderful sights, danced my socks off to Jessie Ware, The Stones and Primal Scream, enjoyed a few ciders and didn’t get much kip. Just how a festival should be!

Time to go to bed… Zzzzz… #completelyknackered

Rock n’ roll!


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