My October Baking Showcase

October has been an extremely busy baking month for me.  First there was the Cake and Bake Show which certainly gave me more inspiration than I knew what to do with!  Then there was Hubby’s birthday and what is the point in having a baker for a life if she can’t make you a decent cake? So I did!  Then a friend had asked me to make her daughters birthday cake for her.  I was so flattered to be asked I was never going to say no.

So here is a round up of what I made.

First up were Chocolate and Lime Macarons.  I made green macarons and filled with with a dark chocolate ganache and a homemade lime curd in the middle. (These were really good).

 

Obviously in the interest of jumping on the blogger Halloween train I made some Halloween Biscuits.

Next up, after a suggestion from another friend, I made Gin and Elderflower Macarons.  This time they were grey macarons filled with an elderflower buttercream and a gin and tonic jelly.

 

Pinky requested pink cake… Obviously it had to be pink! So together we made some pink Vanilla Cupcakes with a Vanilla Italian Meringue Buttercream.

 

Up next was Hubby’s birthday cake.  I took this opportunity to make two types of cake I had always want to try in one go.  A Sprinkle Piñata Cake.  The smarties in the middle were a huge surprise to him.  It had to be smarties as they are his favourite.

 

Lastly the birthday cake for my friends little girl.  I was given a brief of a chocolate cake and a picture of the sort of thing she wanted.  This was my interpretation and I was very please with it…. I hope my friend was too.

 

November will be filled with baking but it is unlikely to be this full….  Hopefully one day soon I will be able to bake even more than this.

Lamb Kofta Meatballs

I do a weekly menu plan and this week I had decided to make lamb koftas with pitta breads.  As I was making it I decided it was going to be too plain and boring so I started making things up as I went along.

This is what I came up with and it was delicious.

Ingredients:

500g Minced Lamb

2 Cloves Garlic

3 tsp Garam Masala

2 tsp Cumin

1 tsp Turmeric

1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper (if you like it spicy add 1 tsp, if you don’t like any spice don’t put this in)

2 tsp Honey

Cashew nuts (about a handful)

1 Romain Lettuce

Handful of Olives (black or green)

3 Tomatoes

1/2 Cucumber

60g Feta

1 Lemon

Rice or Pittas (I used both because we couldn’t decide which we wanted, greedy I know)

Bacon (optional)

Method:

  1. Cook the rice according to the packet instructions.
  2. Chop the bacon into small squares, approximately 1cm.
  3. Put into a large frying pan with a tsp of oil on a medium heat.
  4. Put the mince, garlic, garam masala, cumin, turmeric and cayenne pepper (if using) into a large bowl.
  5. Mix well then divide the mixture evenly and roll into balls about the size of a golf ball.
  6. Put in the large pan along side the bacon pieces. Turn the balls every couple of minutes or until golden brown on all sides.
  7. Chop up all the salad ingredients and dress with the juice of the lemon.
  8. Remove the bacon once crispy and add to the cooked rice.
  9. Crush up the cashew nuts and add them and the honey to the frying pan with the meat balls and mix until well covered.

Serve and enjoy!

Gin & Tonic Jelly

A couple of weeks ago a friend suggested gin and elderflower macarons to me.  I got very excited about the idea and after a little thought and consideration I decided the best way to do this would me to put a little jelly in the middle.  This is what I decided to make.  Naturally it made far too much for one batch of macaron so I made some individual dessert portions.  Naturally Hubby and I struggled through and ate them.

Ingredients:

3x Gelatine leaf

125g Caster sugar

80ml Gin

150ml Tonic water

3 limes

Method: 

  1. Put the gelatine leaves in a bowl with some water until they are just covered.  Leave these to soak for 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, put the sugar in a saucepan with 200mls of water and bring to the boil whilst stirring.
  3. Once this has boiled for about 5-10 minutes it should be nice a syrupy.  Put this to one side to cool for a few minutes.
  4. Stir in the gin, tonic and juice of 3 limes to the syrup.
  5. Decant into a jug to make it easier to pour and remove any froth.
  6. Pour into individual glasses and put into the fridge to set, at least over night is best.

Serve with a lime wedge or zest.

Next time I am going to layer the jellies, one gin and tonic and one lime.  This should jazz up its appearance and hopefully mellow the strength of the gin.

I used Tanqueray Gin for this jelly because although it has a high alcohol content it has a more delicate gin flavour than some of the cheaper brands.  Its all down to personal taste so if you prefer another brand then use that.

Look how clear it was….!

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My Unexpected Mummy Skills

Since becoming a mum I have developed some very unexpected skills.  If I’m honest I didn’t know what to expect at all.  Perhaps to love them more than anything, which I do.  Perhaps to have my priorities in life change, which they have.  Other than that I was at a bit of a loss as to what was going to happen.

I’ve now been a Mum for three and a half years and in that time I have realised that being a mother comes with some very strange skills only a parent can understand.  I’m not sure how many of these things are just Mummy skills and how many are Parenting skills.

  1. The ability to smell the girls’ dirty nappies at 10 paces: Pinky is toilet trained now so this no longer fully applies to her.  I can smell if one of them has filled their nappy, oddly I can’t smell all dirty nappies, just Pinky and Perkys.  I can also very accurately tell you which one has farted even if I didn’t hear them do it.  They have distinctive smells… I have no other explanation for this.
  2. The ability to distinguish between a general ‘bang’ and a bump on the head without visual aid: There is a difference, I don’t know what it is but I can always tell the unmistakable thud of a childs’ head over the thud of something else falling down.
  3. The ability to open a packet of crisps ‘silently’ and then eat them all to myself: It’s ok you can marvel at this one… Heres my secret… It has taken a little practice but I open a lower kitchen cupboard door, very gently get my hands ready on the packet of crisps, poised to open.  Then as I slam the door shut with one leg I open the crisps in one swift movement.  Then to avoid detection I hide the packet in a top cupboard and slowly devour them whilst the girls have their backs turned.  I shit you not I actually do this… What has my life become.
  4. I am a master negotiator with a speciality in bribery: To any parent against the idea of bribery you are probably reading the wrong blog.  Come back for advice when your little one isn’t a baby anymore and you have discovered that you have become the type of parent you said you never would.  I can bend the girls to my will using such professional negotiation skills I’m expecting the Specialist Police unit to be in touch soon.  Perhaps MI5.
  5. The ability to creep around the house as silently as a Ninja: This is generally only necessary during the evening and nap time.  Pinky often leaves her lamp on and falls asleep.  Both girls are light sleepers and it is nearly impossible not to wake them up if you enter their rooms.  Perky can sometimes wake up by you simply being outside of her room.  Not a problem for Ninja Mummy!
  6. The ability to distinguish between the cat crying and Perky:  This one may seem like an odd one but I know Hubby can’t do it and there was a time I really struggled.  There is evidence that suggests cats make the high pitched noise of a baby to get our attention and it definitely works.  Our cat is so good at it he sounds exactly like Perky.  To the untrained ear of course.
  7. The ability to catch vomit in my hand with a split seconds notice: Come on mums we’ve all done it.  And if you haven’t I guarantee your time will come! Even if you don’t mean to catch it, you will.  It’s an inexplicable reflex of motherhood.

These are some of my main skills.  Do you have any others you would add to the list?

Mudpie Fridays
The Pramshed
This Mum's Life
3 Little Buttons
Mummuddlingthrough

Sunshine Blogger Award

The other day I was very excited to receive a tweet from Claire at The Pramshed to do the Sunshine Bloggers Award.  Although not an actual award it is a lovely way to learn more about the bloggers who complete it.  I have followed Claire on twitter for some time now and I love her blog.  I was very excited when she appeared in instagram! Go follow her if you don’t already.

Claire has asked me 10 questions and I will nominate five blogger in return to answer 10 questions I think of.

What is your favourite TV program and why?  

This changes from time to time.  Currently I am watching both season 5 and 6 of American Horror Story.  But I think may all time favourite would be Gilmore Girls.  It’s a little more light hearted to say the least.  I love it because it is just so sweet without being sickly.  I love their relationship and can relate to both Lorelei and Rory on different levels.  I am embarrassingly excited for the new series being released soon.

How would you spend your ideal Saturday night?

This is actually a very difficult question.  I quite like staying in just me and Hubby with a bottle of wine.  But if I could choose…. I would spend it with Hubby in London.  We would go out for a nice dinner (I mean really nice), followed by cocktails at Quaglinos which is our favourite place and we would stay at a nice hotel.

Tell us about the best holiday you’ve been on and why?

My best holiday would have to be last September.  We went to Sani resort in Greece.  It was for mine and Hubbys 30th birthdays.  We saved up for a long time for it and it was worth every penny.  We managed t get a good deal because we booked so far in advance and got a huge two bedroom suite in the hotel, overlooking the pool and beach.  There was waiter service at the pool and on the beach.  We didn’t lift a finger for two weeks.  Everyone working there was so friendly and they loved Pinky and Perky.  The kids club was brilliant too.  Pinky enjoyed it so much she asked to go more…. We happily obliged and booked them both more sessions.  I would go back in a heartbeat!

Why did you start blogging?

I actually started a really long time ago but struggled to find my voice.  I started because I missed writing.  I used to really love writing when I was younger and as early as I can remember I had ideas for books to write.  I would very sporadically blog and then one day I just woke up with all these ideas and started to take it really seriously.  I also decided to blog about my baking and that was where I really found my confidence.  It’s something I love doing.

What are you blog successes (for you) since you’ve started your blog?

This is hard… I’m not really sure.  I don’t tend to look at the stats too much or number of comments, I only check every now and again to make sure the readership isn’t shrinking at the very least.  I think the biggest success is probably finding my voice again.  I got really shy and timid after I had the girls, I lost a lot of confidence in myself which I tried to hide.  I was much happier staying in and not seeing anyone.  Blogging has changed all that and if nothing else I like to get out of the house to try and get the perfect pictures for the latest blog post.

What would be your dream holiday if money were no object?

But I think my ideal holiday is a road trip of America.  I would start on the East Coast somewhere in Maine for the lobster and I would work my way all the way around to Seattle.  I want to see, Boston, New York, DC, Disney World (obviously to anyone who knows me, Beaty and the Beast is on in the back ground as I write this).  I have family in Texas so I would stop there.  LA of course, and San Fran, then Seattle.  But that would miss out Chicago so maybe we would then have to go east again along the Canadian border.  And I’ve missed Kansas City…. Hmmmmm this would take a lot of planning.

What is your favourite book and why?

I haven’t read properly in years, I only really manage it on holiday.  I think the best book I have ever read is probably ‘Shadow in the Wind’ by Carlos Ruiz Zafron.  It’s quite dark in places but it had me hooked.  I can’t say anymore without ruining it.  This is the synopsis on Amazon:

Hidden in the heart of the old city of Barcelona is the ‘cemetery of lost books’, a labyrinthine library of obscure and forgotten titles that have long gone out of print. To this library, a man brings his 10-year-old son Daniel one cold morning in 1945. Daniel is allowed to choose one book from the shelves and pulls out ‘La Sombra del Viento’ by Julian Carax.But as he grows up, several people seem inordinately interested in his find. Then, one night, as he is wandering the old streets once more, Daniel is approached by a figure who reminds him of a character from La Sombra del Viento, a character who turns out to be the devil. This man is tracking down every last copy of Carax’s work in order to burn them. What begins as a case of literary curiosity turns into a race to find out the truth behind the life and death of Julian Carax and to save those he left behind. A page-turning exploration of obsession in literature and love, and the places that obsession can lead.

What’s your favourite Christmas TV advert?

The coke advert. It isn’t Christmas until I have seen that Red Lorry!

Who are your three favourite bloggers?

Well with so many good bloggers to choose from this is a tough choice.

Over Heaven’s Hill.  Geraldine does a lovely series on her blog ‘in conversation with’ in which she interviews other bloggers.  It’s always a lovely read as is the rest of her work.

Tooting Mama.  I am loving reading about her and her family adventures in Paris.  She writes so beautiful about adoption too.

Five Little Doves.  Laura has a lovely way of writing and she takes beautiful pictures of her children.  Their individual personalities really jump out from the photo.

How do you keep yourself motivated to keep your blog up and running?

Currently I have a lot of motivation to do it.  As a SAHM it’s my little window to the outside world sometimes.  I need to reign myself in often as the main time I have to do it all is in the evenings and that isn’t fair on Hubby who is also in need of adult conversation that isn’t work related.  It is my main outlet for ideas so I find the motivation is automatically there.

I hope you have all enjoyed reading this.  It’s a little snippet into the inner workings of my head.  Feel free to ask me more questions.  I’m always happy to answer them.

In the interest of carrying on the tradition I am nominating the following Bloggers:

  1. Ruth from Top Five Mum
  2. Lizzie from Firstooth
  3. Cheryl from Tea or Wine
  4. Taryn from 3 Little Ladies and Me
  5. Claire Elizabeth from A Life In Practice

These are your questions:

  1. What is your favourite film?
  2. What is your ideal job? If you didn’t have to worry about qualifications or anything.
  3. If you had to move (zombie apocalypse or something) where in the world would you want to live?
  4. What is your favourite blog post you have written so far and why?
  5. What is your first memory?
  6. Did you enjoy school?
  7. What is your greatest achievement to date? Other than beautiful children.
  8. What is the hardest and the best part of being a parent?
  9. Ghosts… real or not?
  10. What is your favourite season in the year and why?

Please let me know when you have answered and I will happily retweet.  Thank you Claire for nominating me… This was my first tag like this and I really enjoyed doing it.

Kirsty

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Mudpie Fridays
The Pramshed

Am I a Strict Mother?

We all parent differently, perhaps in part to our own up bringing, our own life experiences and our own children.  My parenting is similar with both the girls but I know they have different needs in certain situations.

Pinky likes to stick to the rules.  She doesn’t like being told off, she won’t willingly break the rules.  Nursery has helped reinforce some of the rules, such as don’t speak with your mouth full, put your knife and fork together when you are finished a meal, pleases and thank you’s.   It has helped her see that it isn’t just me telling her she is doing something wrong or should do it differently and that these are actual simple manners and rules to follow.  Perky has never been to nursery but she copies her big sister in every way so these rules are mostly being followed anyway.  Perky is more prepared to break the rules but generally she knows what is expected of her.

But there is my point…. I have just used the phrase ‘what is expected of her’ whilst talking about a 20 month old.  So am I a strict Mother?

Do they follow the rules because I expect it and won’t accept it when they don’t?  Do I expect too much from them?

I expect them to ask nicely for things.  Not to moan at me unnecessarily and whinge to get their own way.  It simply wont wash with me.  I call them on it and tell them they can only have what they have asked for when they change their attitude.  This isn’t just limited to the house either.  If we are out and about I expect the same level of behaviour and I will (and have) walk out of somewhere if they can’t do what I expect of them.

They should always remember to say please and thank you.  They should sit and wait for everyone to finish their meals before getting down from the table, and then they should ask nicely if they can.   So, I know Perky can’t ask this yet so I ask her nicely instead.  ‘Everyone is finished now, would you like to get down from the table?’  this is always followed with a fervent nod.

They should not hit or bite anyone or anything under any circumstances.  This may seem like a silly one but I have seen some parents justify it as a ‘stage’ and take the incident no further.  No talking to the child explaining why that isn’t acceptable, nothing.  Each to their own, it is indeed a stage, some say it’s a childs way of testing boundaries and finding out what the rules really are.  So if this is the case, and it is boundary testing then it needs to be acknowledged more than ‘it’s just a phase’.  Surely it is better to try and understand why your child bites, is it curiosity? Is it anger?  Ignoring it will not make it go away.  I am a great believer in discipline or at least boundary setting and education from the start.  I think all adverse behaviour should be acknowledged and dealt with at all ages, not just when you deem your child to be old enough to understand the consequences of their actions.  Perhaps there is an underlying cause to their behaviour I hadn’t noticed.  Perhaps their molar teeth coming through that I haven’t seen.  Perhaps they are too cold or too hot and don’t know how to tell me.  Perhaps something has made them nervous and it was a simple expression of anxiety.

I also believe not all children can be taught about consequences the same way.  With my two different situations can require different types of education.  Pinky requires to simply be told that something will hurt her or someone else.  Perky is more of a ‘learn by observing’ sort of child so this can come with its own challenges.  Sometimes getting a little angry gets my point across (although rarely), sometimes pulling the disappointed card works, mostly a simple, calm conversation about why that behaviour isn’t acceptable is sufficient.  Whatever my approach is I will not ignore it.  I may well be very wrong but I think if you ignore something until you feel it is a more appropriate time to ‘cross that bridge’ the moment has probably passed and you are not providing a consistent expectation.  How can it be ok to bite Mummy one day but not the next?

When I became a Mother I had no idea what I was doing.  I still don’t.  I often wonder if I’m doing it right or wrong.  I am far from perfect, I simply do the best I can.  For me my best is to teach them how to be nice, good, polite little girls from the earliest opportunity.  So far that is exactly what they are.

If my methods make me a strict Mum then so be it.  What I do works for me at the moment.  I am happy to adapt as we go along and I appreciate that others are very likely going to take a different approach to it all together.  Every child is different after all.

Do you think you are strict? Or are you much more relaxed about things than me.  If so how do you do it? I need some tips.

This Mum's Life
Dear Bear and Beany

Pumpkin Patch Visit

We have never been to a pumpkin patch before.  It wasn’t something I ever thought the girls would enjoy.  Now Pinky is older and she has been getting excited about halloween because they have been doing loads of preparation for it at nursery, I thought it might be time to go.

What fun we had!  The girls were excited from the moment we got out of the car.  Pinky was off!

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‘Look Mummy!’ ‘Lets go this way!’

I couldn’t stop them, they were picking up pumpkins left right and center.  They loved the witch statue, the witches hats, even the spiders in the webs.

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Eventually we found a little pumpkin that Pinky could carry and we went and bought that one to take home.  She held her chosen pumpkin all the way home as if her life depended on it.

If we have time, we will go back again this year, if not we will definitely be back next halloween.

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
Single Mum Speaks

Halloween Biscuits

As Halloween is fast approaching and my Instagram feed is fill with beautiful pictures of pumpkins and autumnal colours I decided to jump on the bandwagon and join in the best way I know how…. with baking.

For this I used my biscuit and icing recipe from my Iced Gems post.  I rested the dough in the fridge for an hour which made it much easier to roll out and I baked it for a little longer as the biscuits were a lot larger.

This was the end result:

I would make a few changes to some of the decoration next time, especially to the ghost and night scene ones but since I thought these up out of this air I was impressed with myself.