You know sometimes you have one of those days, or an outing of some kind, and at the end you sort of sigh to yourself, and think ‘well that was lovely’?

Nothing hugely adventurous happened, you didn’t spend loads of money, but you did something that was just nice, that left you feeling all warm and content with life.

That happened to us a few weeks ago.

Belle and I went to Stourhead, a National Trust place about an hour away from us, and met up with a friend and her nine month old twin girls. (#Rinstwins if you want to check them out on Instagram – how awesome to be called Rin and have twins?! They are made for social media.)

The sky was a bright blue, the forecast promised sunshine all day long, and we had nothing to do and nowhere to be. (Apart from sat down at regular intervals for the twins to snack, which suited me just fine.) We hadn’t got quite as far as packing a picnic, because I love the treat of eating out in a cafe, but I had packed us a little rucksack of essentials – water bottles, mini-cheddars, suntan lotion and Kleenex pocket packs. It’s weird, but although I was always the parent who forgot wipes, I’ve turned into the woman who always has tissues. There is something very comforting and satisfying about carrying tissues, and that feeling of needing one, and then actually having one – it’s ace.

autumn picnic Stourhead View Full Post

A funny and unusual thing happened this morning. I accidentally sent Belle to her school cake sale with a batch of home made jam tarts. 

I know, I know, it’s about the least slummy thing I have ever done, but in my defence, I didn’t mean to.

Let me set the scene.

I’ve not been feeling very well this week. Belle has been a bit poorly too, so was off school on Wednesday, and yesterday I was feeling particularly rough, in that self-absorbed, ‘I’m so ill’ sort of way. I went to Sainsbury’s in the morning and a friend from book group had to literally stand in front of me and shout boo, and it still took about two seconds for the world to swim into focus from behind the fog of self-pity.

Anyway, you know how sometimes when you’re feeling a bit yukky, so just want something nice to comfort you? I decided that the something nice I wanted was jam. Fiance actually made some jam a couple of months ago, but I felt a bit bad just eating jam out of the jar with a spoon, so I decided to make jam tarts.

Let’s face it, what exactly is a jam tart if not just a socially acceptable way to eat big blobs of jam? Plus you don’t even have a spoon to wash up at the end. 

So I made some.

The pastry was a bit iffy, and I had a few problems when it came to making the cases. I only had a small cutter or a large cutter, when clearly what I needed was a medium cutter. I did my best though. I cut out 12 small circles, an then individually rolled each one out a bit more to make it bigger. I pictured myself on the Bake Off. Paul’s eyebrows were raised.

jam tarts

(This is a stock image, but fairly representative of the scene, although I was probably a little more generous with the jam. I didn’t want you to think though that I went about life doing ordinary things like feeling a bit crap and making jam tarts, pausing every few minutes to style a photo, just in case.) View Full Post

I’ve been getting a little concerned of late about our diet.

I don’t know why I say ‘of late’ – we’ve never been one of those ‘no cereals in the house, only natural yogurt for breakfast’ type of families. Lately though, and especially since the the other morning when I came downstairs to find out Belle had eaten bacon crisps for breakfast, I’ve had the feeling that I need to take some action.

I was heartened the other week when we made the rice and black bean tacos, and I discovered in the process that Belle actually liked black beans. Actively quite liked them, not just eating them because I’d promised her a chocolate button at the end if she did. Spurred on, I decided that I would take an hour after school and teach her how to make a proper lasagne. They have cooked lasagne at school before, but to be quite honest, it wasn’t a patch on mine. Plus the school recipe went something like this:

  • Beef
  • Onions (optional)
  • Carrots (optional)

That’s hardly encouraging healthy eating is it?! View Full Post

Word up yo!

(That’s me being down with the kids to prove that I’m not a grandparent yet.)

I’ve got a little story to tell you about chips, but first…

This Sunday is Grandparents’ Day, and environmental charity Hubbub and Unilever are seizing the opportunity to highlight the importance of cooking with grandparents as a way to spend time together, pass on valuable skills and reduce food waste. They’ve set up an online resource to help you #CookSomethingGrand, offering tips and a whole load of great recipes.

To demonstrate the issue, Hubbub and Unilever conducted a survey of 1,000 UK parents. The results showed that eight out of 10 parents wish they had more time to teach their children to cook and over half expressed a concern that their children won’t have the skills needed to cook a meal for themselves when they grow up. Cooking skills are essential if we want to use up leftovers, maximise the value from our food and tackle the 7 million tonnes of food wasted in the UK each year.

Just to frighten you, by the age of 11:
– 44% of children have never boiled an egg
– 28% have never peeled a potato
– 28% have never mashed potatoes
– 23% have never chopped vegetables with a knife

68% of parents also said they’d like their children to spend more time cooking with their grandparents, hence the link to Grandparents’ Day. Take a look at the video that Hubbub and Unilever have put together if you need a bit of inspiration.


My story about chips

I have very fond memories of cooking with my Gran. We didn’t make cakes though, or scones, or anything traditionally grandparenty like that. The only things I ever remember making with my Gran were crinkle cut chips.

My Gran made an awful lot of crinkle cut chips.

crinkle cut chips Grandparents' Day View Full Post

As you know from my recent laundry hacks post, one of my worst chores ever is washing clothes. It’s not so much that it’s difficult or messy, it’s just that you never get a sense of satisfaction from it because it’s never truly done. Even if you’ve done all the washing, there’s still the clothes you’re wearing, and then you’re right back to square one the next day. I know that technically this is true with all chores, but there’s something about seeing that one pair of pants at the bottom of the laundry basket that just makes me want to sigh and give up.

Not only is it the clothes in the basket that annoy me, but the clothes scattered all over the house that are supposedly ‘drying’. It’s officially autumn now after all, and raining as I type. Unfortunately for me, I live in a small house with no room for a tumble dryer or dishwasher or anything fancy. I don’t even have a very good airer, so usually end up hastily clearing away towels from banisters and t-shirts from the top of doors when people come over.

My current airer is a standard massive plastic thing that takes up about half my lounge, in a very unsexy way. Lately I’ve been spending rather too much time looking at the range at Airers4you, imagining my dream drying scenarios. This is probably information I should keep to myself, but you know I’m not good at that. View Full Post