Sunday, 31 October 2010

Never Board Of Baby Books

I was enjoying an afternoon at Mrs D's house a while back and was leafing through one of her daughter's board books and happened upon this coincidental page

These two look nothing like my kids!
Speaking of board books, I recently got a load of Buster's old books down from the loft for Missy to enjoy and this was amongst them, it's an Usbourne Touchy-Feely volume that Mr Right was initially very interested in until he realised the subject matter was actually dogs and not the puppies he had in mind!

Those aren't my puppies, they're too hairy!
Touchy-Feely books are a godsend as Missy loves them, although I may have raised her expectation of books too high already as she now thinks they all have touchy-feely panels!

UPDATE:  I attended an Usbourne books party at Mrs D's a couple of weeks ago and happened upon a Touchy Feely Christmas edition that I thought would be ideal for Missy in lieu of an advent calendar, I was flicking through it and this page caught my eye

From then on the book was referred to as the Hairy Sack Book.  When I was about to finalise my order the Usbourne representative overheard me mention the Hairy Sack Book and, being the helpful saleswoman that she was, pointed me in the direction of the book she thought I was referring to...


I just had to blog about my latest obsession from good old Marks & Sparks, it's their New York Deli Pastrami sandwich, which it has to be said is bliss in a box.  It comprises pastrami with a mustard dressing, gherkins, sauerkraut and emmental cheese on a rye and caraway bread, which all sounds disgusting but in combination just works.  I'm sure it tastes nothing like a bonafide pastrami on rye from the Big Apple but it's the closest I'm likely to get in a New York minute!

One Hell Of A Halloween

Happy Halloween!

This was my Facebook status first thing this morning, gotta love The Shining, one of THE best horror films ever and I couldn't think of a more apt status for Halloween
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy...

Apologies to those of you who don't celebrate but this is my favourite festival of the year and thankfully seems to be getting more and more popular in the UK.

The Rights kicked the celebrations off with, what else, food.  Buster and I made some Halloween shaped gingerbread biscuits.
Our Ghoulish Gingerbread
 Pumpkin carving came next, the Blues did Frankenstein's monster.
The Blues' Pumpkin
This was my attempt at a skull.
My skull with pumpkin seed teeth
We then moved on to decorating the hallway in order to welcome the Trick or Treaters.
Pumpkin lanterns of all kinds

Frank, our snake and our pot of eyeballs

Our friendly ghost

And finally it was costume time!  Buster wanted to dress up as a Devil this year, too easy, red pyjama bottoms, red hoodie, mask, trident and tail
Our little devil
So much less effort than last year's Mummy, for which I had to dye loads of bandages with cold tea and sew them onto a long-sleeved t-shirt and leggings, a very labour-intensive mummy, especially as I was due to become a mummy again myself a few days later! 
Have you seen my mummy?
We didn't want Missy to miss out on the action either so I bought her a little witch costume with matching hat and black and pink striped tights, too cute!

Missy looks just like her mother
As the witching hour is fast approaching I can't wait to hop on my broomstick and start planning next year's spookfest.

Don't have nightmares!

Thursday, 28 October 2010

A Guide To Brownies

On Monday, slightly sick of Farmhouse Cake, I broke out the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook that Mr Right had purchased during the throes of a recent cupcake addiction and decided to try my hand a the Brownie recipe.  I'm not usually a fan of Brownies (too sickly) or Muffins (too big) for that matter but I needed chocolate and this killed two Hummingbirds with one stone.

Brownies are so easy to make, I had no idea, I am now a complete convert.  I went against American tradition and added chocolate chips and some pistachios and the result was a slab of velvety rubble, which sounds dreadful but was, in reality, bliss with a brew.  We also enjoyed it for pud warm with some creme fraiche.

I Facebooked my baking exploits and had no idea that there were so many Hummingbird fans amongst my friends, which is amazing considering none of us live in South Kensington.  Anyway, I can't wait to try the Raspberry Cheesecake Brownie next!

Oh, and the Nutella Cupcakes, Red Velvet Cupcakes, Black Bottom Cupcakes....

Izzy Whizzy, Let's Get Busy!

The Right's attended Miss C's christening last Sunday afternoon and the 'afterparty' entertainment took me right back to my youth, they had an old skool magician doing all the old skool tricks.  He had both the kids and, more surprisingly, the adults under his spell.

Buster was chosen to help with some of the tricks and absolutely loved being a magicians assistant for an afternoon.

Buster does his very best Debbie McGee
Buster was totally inspired and urged me to levitate into the loft and make his magic kit reappear, which I have dutifully done.  He has been inventing his own tricks and practising the ones from the Marvin's Magic Set all week and I have been his experimental audience (which involves me having to look away and feign surprise in equal measures - no mean feat believe me!).

Whatever happened to the magicians of my childhood, Paul Daniels, I know, was recently (and unjustly in my opinion) voted out of Strictly Come Dancing (Anne Widdecombe is the John Seargent of this series and makes a mockery of the whole competition, although I do love Anton Du Beke - I'm going off on a tangent aren't I - perhaps I need to blog about Strictly?!) 
You'll like this, not a lot!

and the Great Suprendo divorced Victoria Wood and 'Piff, Paff, Poofed' off, never to be heard of again.

Piff, Paff, Poof - Swedish for Snap, Crackle, Pop!

I once attended a charity gala at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington where close-up magician Fay Presto was doing tricks at all the tables for donations, it was amazing.  
Fay Presto, was her greatest trick changing herself from a man into a woman?

I know that the Paul Daniels Magic Show can't draw in the ratings that the X-Factors of today do but I miss those days, I'm not even placated by their replacements, the Derren Browns and David Blaines all seem a bit sinister and extreme by comparison but I suppose it's evolve and shock or die a ratings death.  I suppose I just long for simpler times, where kids were wowed by rabbits being pulled out of hats and I realised at the christening that those days are, thankfully, not entirely lost.

Is this THE most disgusting substance known to man?

I'm usually a dedicated Sainsburys shopper but I needed some emergency milk and popped into my local ASDA store and happened upon this tub of filth

It's what can only be described as chocolate margarine, yes, that's chocolate and margarine mixed!  No wonder kids are getting lardier with toxic shit like this on sale for 80p for 250g.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Gym'll Fix It

Well I'm still trying to tone up after having Missy last year and I have been a bit of a gym bunny for nine years now (the irony, at school I hated PE and used to do anything to get out of it, now I pay royally to do basically the same thing!).

When I just had Buster I used to be able to go during the day when he was at school but I find it so difficult to get motivated to get out the door in the evenings, especially now the evenings are dark and miserable and all I want to do is get cosy with the family and eat the casserole that's usually calling my name.

Unfortunately I have a niggling hip problem at the moment so I'm not able to run (typical as my interval running was just paying off and getting me back to my pre-Missy fitness levels and run times!) so I was banished to the dreaded Cross-Trainer, of which I am, it has to be said, the queen of speed and endurance but it is sooooooo boring!  Thankfully David Lloyd actually did something right for a change and decided to have a bit of a gym floor revamp (ie loads of new Life Fitness and Technogym machines for me to try AND lovely new touch-screen TVs with iPod/iPhone compatability for my inner geek!).

Anyway, as the Nautilus (a machine that simulates hiking up a hilly sand dune) seems to have disappeared I was forced to seek alternatives and at the moment I am loving the Technogym Cardio Wave, great for your arse, although you do feel a bit of an arse using it, I would describe the motion as akin to cross-country skiing (one of the most intense cardio events in the OIympics no less so it must be good for your heart as well as your heiney!).

I wish they wouldn't photograph me when I'm training!
Also rating the Technogym Vario as an alternative to the Cross-Trainer (of which I am so bored).  This has a similar motion to the Cross-Trainer but the machine seems to have two massive elastic bands supporting the foot plates which gives it a feel of running through custard, mmmmm custard.

Technogym Vario or as is now know the Custard Cross-Trainer
My friend Ms L works at the gym and she was been rating the benefits of the good old PowerPlate on Twitter and, as I hadn't been on it since before I was pregnant with Missy, I decided to get her to show me what's new.  She devised a half hour total body work-out for me and I'm loving it now too (Thanks Ms L!), although I do feel a bit of a tit lying on a step with a bright green elastic band tied round my thighs with my heels on the plate and my groin thrust skyward opening and closing my knees like Tina Turner at the gynaecologist whilst trying to conceal my camel toe - no mean feat, believe me!

What a coincidence, Tina and I have the same workout attire
I also made a foray into the world of gym classes recently, anyone that knows me knows I don't do gym classes, especially aerobic-style classes (ie Step & Body Attack).  I have absolutely no co-ordination whatsoever, I'm always going left when everyone else is going right.  However, I love Body Balance and had booked on for the new release when Mrs E suggested that I join her in Body Pump which was on at the same time and was something I have always wanted to try, so I defected and I'm so glad I did as it was fab.  I was completely crippled the next day (sitting down on the loo was a particular struggle) but I really enjoyed it and I could feel it working all the areas I never have the motivation to work when training independently which is a result.  I just need them to move Body Balance to a different evening with Mr O (my preferred Body Balance instructor) and I'll be fit in both body and mind.

I really want to try out the iPhone compatibility on the new machines but I have yet to find something suitable to watch on the big HD screens as you never know who will be looking over your shoulder!!

Sunday, 24 October 2010

A Cider Inside Her

Say the word cider to me and I immediately think of this Reeves & Mortimer sketch 'Noel's Addicts' with Ken, who suspends things in cider.

Mr Right and I are having a bit of a cider renaissance at the moment.  I have hated cider for years after a pretty nasty 'Blastaway' (Castaway and Diamond White) experience at the age of 19 but Mr Right recently bought a bottle of Kopparberg Pear Cider for us to try and I'm hooked.

The Pear cider tastes like peardrops in liquid form and it goes down just a little too easily for my liking (thankfully they do a non-alcoholic version)

Another of my faves is the Elderflower & Lime version but the king is the Mixed Fruit, this one is just like alcoholic Ribena.

I've yet to try the Apple or the Strawberry & Lime but will report back (if I'm not too inebriated to type) when I have.

Tea Light?

I'm STILL looking for an unusual lamp for Missy's room and happened upon this little baby in Laura Ashley

The price tag is still a little hefty at £63 in the sale (was £100) but Mr Right says he can make me one I just have to find the cups and saucers and he'll do the rest.  Mr Right is extremely skilled in these matters but I'm seriously fighting the urge to buy, buy, buy so I can have it now, now, now.  Decisions, decisions, decisions???

George's Marvellous Medicine

Last weekend Mr Right and I surprised Buster with dinner out and a trip to the Theatre.  He was most put out that Missy was staying the night with Nanny and Grandad and that he wasn't.  We told him that we had to go shopping in Milton Keynes (a pass-time that he hates) and as a treat we would take him to Wagamama for dinner.  He and I just love the Edamame (steamed soya beans) with salt and we both ordered our usual (Chicken Katsu Curry).  Buster also found a new love, sparkling Elderflower, my tipple of choice there.

Wagamama Milton Keynes

Anyway, we told him that we had to take a short cut through the theatre to get back to the car and surprised him by instead going to our seats.  Buster is a huge Roald Dahl fan and was inspired by a trip to the Roald Dahl museum a couple of years back so we knew we were onto a winner booking tickets to see the Birmingham Stage Company's production of George's Marvellous Medicine, and we weren't disappointed, it was marvellous!

We especially loved the chickens that kept running across the stage, the giant bull and I thought the way they made Grandma grow and grow until she burst through the roof was genius.

I also loved the way that George actually went round the house set filling his saucepan with all the magical ingredients for the medicine, it reminded me of the Jackanory version of this tale read brilliantly by Rik Mayall

Buster was totally blown away by the sparks that came out of George's fingers at the very end!

We can't wait for next year so we can book to see their production of Horrible Science

Buster loves Horrible Science and Horrible History books and the TV series on CBBC, wish they'd had this sort of thing when I was a child!

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Get Your Skates On, It's Roller D-I-S-C-O!

Way back in August a friend of mine Facebooked to say she was at a friend's daughter's rollerdisco birthday party, I was immediately transported back to 1982 and I was 8 years old again, skating on a Sunday morning at Dunstable Leisure Centre with my Mum and Sister.  I lamented as much on my Facebook page and was amazed at the overwhelming response from my friends wanting to relive their relative youths and rollerdisco once more.  So I decided to organise a glide down memory lane and it's finally come round, tomorrow I rollerdisco for the first time in over 25 years.  I am writing this now as I tomorrow I may be in traction.  See, in my mind's eye I can skate like I did over a quarter of a century ago, the reality may be a different story entirely!

"If she's not in action, she's in traction!"
My new mantra?

I was hoping beyond hope that my Mum still had her original rollerboots (white ice skates converted into rollerboots, the stuff of my childhood dreams) and amazingly (if you know my Mum she never keeps anything) she had, although the bearings were shot and they needed a clean to me they looked wonderful.

One of my Mum's boots before the spruce-up
So I gave them a clean and put them away until Mr Right (worried that I might break every bone in my body on the dodgy old wheels) surprised me by fitting some new sparkly purple wheels.  I added some pink sparkly stoppers and I'm off into town tomorrow morning to seek out some deely boppers (windmill ones as they are the dogs and I will truly be 8 years old once again) and I will be all set for tomorrow night.

"Tonight rollerdisco, tomorrow slipped-disc-oh!"

Let's hope my evening doesn't pan out like this!

"Tonight I was 8 years old again, something tells me tomorrow I'm gonna feel 80!"

Well, it's the morning after rollerdisco and I'm still alive!  I don't even ache as I'd suspected I might (there's some elasticity in these tired old muscles yet).  I had a fantastic time with the six other like-minded Rollerbabes that weren't struck down by various illnesses.  
The six brave Rollerbabes in their boots and boppers

We all donned our skates and the deely boppers that I had managed to track down in the local market as a last ditched attempt to recapture my youth, sadly not the windmill variety but the silver glittery ball type, a close second (I forgot how heavy they are!) and staggered onto the rink.  The venue (Roller City in Welwyn Garden City) itself was ideal, small enough not to feel threatening and large enough so that you felt you had space to skate.  OK there were the die-hard skaters that love weaving in and out and cutting the novices up but we were really surprised to see all ages and abilities skating together.  We were also shocked by how many older men were there.

My Mum's skates with the new wheels and stoppers did me proud and by the end of the evening muscle memory from the years and years spent in skates (I even used to ride my bike wearing them!) was starting to kick in, although my confidence was still a little lacking. I couldn't call it a night without at least trying to go backwards and I did manage it but I should have tried at the beginning of the session when the rink was a little less crowded.
My Mum's boots after the spruce up, ready to go!

I did have a near-death experience when one of my wheels hit a foreign object on the floor but I managed, by some miracle, to stay upright, although I must have looked hilarious flailing around with my silver deely boppers bouncing wildly like a set of clackers perched on my head as I struggled to stay vertical and dignified (as dignified as one can look whilst flailing with deely boppers on!).
Should I put these babies on my Christmas list? :)

There were some characters there too, it's a great place for people watching, there were middle-aged men with beer bellies gliding effortlessly round the rink, a little old lady nearly took out one of our rollerbabes as she sped past, there was 'Tiger Feet', so-called because of the luminous pink, yellow and black tiger striped fake fur boot-warmers she wore and the pot-bellied figure-skater man who was very graceful and had all the arm moves of a ballroom champion, to name but a few.

Tiger Feet!
Although the music wasn't to our taste, the venue was great and it was a cheap local night out.  All in all we had a blast and hopefully we can don our skates again soon and give those Rollerbabes missing in action the opportunity of 'wheely' good time too.
Me, flouting the 'No Photography' rule, cheeky!

Attack Of The 50ft Cupcake!

I have been coveting the Lakeland giant cupcake mould for yonks but at £26.99 I thought it was a bit pricey.  

The original and probably the best if you're made of money

I was having a rummage through the tat in the new TK Maxx that opened in the Mall last week and happened upon a silicone version for the bargain price of £7.99.  I got a chance to try it out this week (in between looking after a poorly Missy) and here is the result, could do with using a 6 egg sponge mix next time instead of the 4 egg I used with this one, but not bad at almost a quarter of the price and when I get a decent icing nozzle set I will be a demon!

I was also pleased to get a chance to use the pink sugar and white chocolate stars I had had in the cupboard for ages (part of the increased range of cake sprinkles that I'm loving at Sainsburys) and also had a go with some edible glitter (pink, naturellement!), although I am a little worried that our poop will be all glittery (will keep you posted on that one, or er maybe not?!).  Uber camp, but not as camp as this creation I made for a friend's brother-in-law last year.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010


I went shopping today and need to have a random ramble about my utter devastation at the fact that Sun-Pat Peanut Butter now comes in plastic 'jars', why?  I know they are heavy and glass is dangerous but it just feels so wrong, just another change I'm not ready for like when Marathon became Snickers and Jiff became Cif and when Opal Fruits became Starburst.  

So saddened am I that I have registered my disdain on the Premier Foods website to act as a feeble protest as I'm certainly not going to stop buying it as I was practically weaned on the stuff.

Maybe I am just getting old and set in my ways but whatever next, Heinz Cream Of Tomato Soup in paper bags?!

My beloved Sun-Pat as it should be, behind glass
UPDATE:  Further to my e-mail to Premier Foods I received a swift response thanking me for taking the time to contact them and informing me that my comments would be passed on to the Marketing Team, damn, no free Peanut Butter by way of compensation for my disappointment then.  Bet the Marketing Team are shitting themselves and are gonna re-think their whole brand strategy when they hear that I'm not happy with the new packaging choice (you might be able to sense the sarcasm in my voice if my mouth wasn't all gummed up with yummy Sun-Pat).

Monday, 4 October 2010

Mr Noseybonk

Buster came home from school with a drawing that looked to Mr Right and myself suspiciously like that freaky fucker Mr Noseybonk from that 80s kids TV fave Jigsaw.  Buster had obviously never heard of Mr Nosebonk so we showed him this YouTube clip to fill this gap in his knowledge

I think we may have scarred him for life, he still scares the shit outta me!

To diffuse the potential nightmare situation I had to show him something a bit more mellow and relaxing, I came up with this, I used to love Ludwig when I was his age

Mind you Ludwig would only be calming if you can get beyond the freaky binocular bloke lurking in the bushes the whole time, was everything fucked up when we were kids?  I'm amazed we have all turned out as normally as we have!

Cakey, Cakey! - Farmhouse Cake

I'm always making cakes and wanted to blog about the firm fave in the Right household this month, the good old fashioned Farmhouse Cake.  I really don't know what farmers bitch about if they get to come home to this at the end of a hard day in the fields

It may look a little unglam but I've made one a week for the past five weeks! 

On a baking vibe I also tried my hand at some Whoopie Pies, which I had been meaning to do for ages, but I was far from impressed as they sound far more yummy than they actually are.  

I also made some time for a spot of baking with my boy.  These are his chocolate cupcakes with icing (red, of course!) and every sprinkle known to man.

We had the lovely B family over for lunch a couple of weekends ago and I cobbled together pizza, garlic bread and potato wedges and this cheesecake for desert

I got to try out my new decorating device from Lakeland with some impressive-looking results (it didn't taste too bad either!).

A Falafel Lot Of Sweet Potatoes

During his two weeks off Mr Right and I had a day out in Bluewater and unusually we were sans kids and as a result we were able to choose somewhere to eat that wasn't based around a free toy.  We chose Leon, what an excellent choice it proved to be, my sister had had us over for dinner and cooked from the Leon Cookbook (the Superfood Salad, which was super yum) so we knew we were in for a treat.  

Mr Right had the Moroccan Meatballs and I chose the Sweet Potato Falafel which was fab, so I decided to recreate the magic at home and I wasn't disappointed.  

My beautif-alafel babies!

I found the recipe on the Guardian website, love the hilarious picture of Allegra and friend!

Leon Sweet Potato Falafel Recipe

We Be Jammin'

Well my preserving stuff arrived from Lakeland last week and Mr Right had had a bumper crop of chillies from the veg patch in the garden
Mr Right's 'hot' lurve message to me in his home-grown chillies
so I decided that my first foray into the world of preserving would be a chilli jelly.  I used this recipe which utilises the natural pectin found in apples rather than adding pectin.

Chilli Jelly Recipe

I used a jelly bag for the first time and it was a lot easier than I had thought.  Lakeland would have had me believe that I needed a Jelly Bag Stand at almost twenty quid a pop but I decided to hang it off a cupboard door handle and that seemed to work just as well 

The jelly bag set-up in action...riveting stuff!
I was soooooo tempted to squeeze the bag rather than wait the 5 hours for it to drip through but I was so glad I resisted as I ended up with a lovely clear jelly that my other half and I are itching to try with some Grilled Haloumi and a Rocket Salad
My three jars of loveliness, it has a nice little kick to it too!

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