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Wednesday, 26 January 2011

The Gallery - Children

This week's Gallery subject is Children.  This is quite a tricky one for me because as a general rule I don't put pictures of my kid's faces on my blog but I think I can just about get away with this one.
It's a picture taken during a momentary lull in the frenzied unwrapping chaos of this past Christmas morning and is of Buster giving Missy a surprise gift that he had secretly wrapped for her, brotherly love in full effect.  


It warms the cockles of my heart as it proves that deep down Buster hasn't totally been sucked into the commercial vortex of receiving, that he took time out of his list-making to think of something his little sister might like and the fact that it was something of his that he had enjoyed, outgrown and wanted to pass on (it was a little rabbit stencil).  The true meaning of Christmas captured in one hastily taken snap.


Take a look at the other wonderful Gallery entries here

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Biscotti Takes The Biscuit

I've never made Biscotti before, which amazes me as I love them.  My virgin attempt was no less yummy.  Buster came downstairs as the second batch emerged from the oven asking 'what's that gorgeous smell?' whilst slyly stealing a still warm one from the first batch.  As a family we've been eating them all evening.  Mr Right asked me to stop making nice treats and start making crap ones so that he doesn't keep eating them.


Anyway, the Biscotti were dead easy to make, I never like resting dough in the fridge, I'm just not patient enough, although I resisted temptation and waited the allotted 2 hours before slicing
and placing on the baking tray ready for the oven
At the start of the evening I had enough to fill a small biscuit tin, I wonder how many will be left by bedtime?
Maybe this many is optimistic?

Friday, 21 January 2011

Holy Cannoli

I was a huge fan of The Sopranos when it was on and the show, although long-since fitted with cement boots, has caused me to harbour a longing to sample the compulsory baked item for Mob gatherings; the Cannoli.


A Cannoli, for those not in the know, is a Sicilian pastry in a tube shape and is traditionally filled with a vanilla, cinnamon and pistachio nut flavoured ricotta cream. 


These days the pastry is formed in a metal Cannoli mould, which I see are now available at Lakeland, deep-fried or baked and then filled with the cream and dusted with icing sugar.


I decided, having already spent a small fortune with Lakeland this month, that I was going to go down the traditional route and use Cannoli Sticks, which the lovely Mr Right found time to make for me (having spent the entire morning repairing a fence in gale force wind and lashing rain) out of a broomstick (new I hasten to add) cut into approx 15cm lengths with the rough end sanded off.
Mr Right making the Cannoli Sticks
Here are the finished Cannoli Sticks
Finished sticks
I found a recipe for the baked shells on the internet and got to work.

The dough is quite elastic in consistency but easy to work with and I cut out my 7.5cm squares and wrapped them around the sticks
Wrapped and ready for the oven
and popped them into a super hot oven for 7 minutes.  Here's what they looked like when they emerged
Shells cooling
Then I decided to make a cinnamon, vanilla and chocolate chip pastry custard to fill
Finished Cannolis
The cannolis were yummy, although I couldn't eat more than one at a sitting (believe me I tried!) and surprisingly easy to make and you can freeze the shells for filling at a later date, just pop them in a hot oven for a couple of minutes to crisp up.  I think it would be quite nice to have some smaller, thinner cannoli sticks made and do some bite-sized ones for parties.

Spotted & Jotted - Angellica Bell

Angellica Bell was filming something for The One Show with members of 'the general public' in my local shopping centre this week
Buster was desperately trying to get onto TV by behaving like one of those annoying brats waving gormlessly in the background whilst a news reporter is trying to do a serious piece to camera - I'm so proud!  I, however, was trying to hide my greying roots and lack of eyebrow maintenance or make-up by dragging him into the nearest shop.  Thank god I'm not famous, the printers of Heat magazine would have had to order in extra resources of red ink just for my circles of shame.

Postman Prat

On Wednesday morning I had a knock at the door and our local street cleaner asked me if I was awaiting a delivery of photographs, which I was.  He said that he had found a damaged package containing 4 wallets of prints on the pavement of a nearby street on Monday and instead of binning them had been nice enough to do a spot of detective work and return them to me.  


I sent an e-mail of thanks to the council for their street cleanser's act of kindness and got straight onto the phone to Royal Mail to make a complaint.  I was horrified that 250+ pictures of my kids had been abandoned by the delivery person on a street in the pouring rain with my address on the front for any weirdo to perv over.


On the day that my photographs were being liberated the same delivery person had left a package sticking out of a neighbour's letter box and had left a recorded delivery item on the front doorstep of Mrs B's house.  It's fortunate that we live in an area where people are honest but I dread to think that my photos could have got into someone sinister's clutches or that the unsecured parcels could have been stolen.


I asked the woman delivering my post on Thursday if she had been doing the same round on Monday but it transpired that she hadn't, although amongst my own post she was kind enough to leave me letters for two other houses by mistake, one of which being a bank statement!!  And could only proffer a feeble 'sorry' as she got into her car, leaving me to post the letters through my neighbours' letterboxes!


I am at present sorting out a compensation claim with Royal Mail for the damaged photographs, Truprint are being really helpful, I think they are going to pursue the claim on my behalf which is a result.  I will keep you 'posted'

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Back Care Brownie Bites For Mrs B

Mrs B took a tumble on some slippery decking on Friday and has unfortunately put her back out so I decided to make her something tasty to cheer her up and hopefully aid her recovery.  


I decided to make some chocolate-chip brownie bites and put them in a little gift box with a note.
Hopefully she'll put her back into these little babies and be well on the road to recovery pronto (feel better soon if you're reading this Mrs B).



Friday, 14 January 2011

Z List Spotted And Jotted

I was shopping in Brent Cross this morning and spotted former 80s breakfast television fitness guru Mr Motivator.  


No spandex or bumbags were being rocked and mercifully nothing like this went off as he was being his alter-ego; mild-mannered family man Derrick Evans.

Matryoshka-razy

I have a lot of obsessions, one of my ongoing ones is Matryoshka Dolls, you know, those Russian nesting dolls.  I think it stems from hearing the story of Baboushka at junior school.


I am amassing a bit of collection.
The dress is one of my favourites from Joy a couple of years ago and the dolls were a gift from my mum but now grace Missy's bedroom.  The bag is a recent purchase from Bombay Duck and, determined to pass on my obsession to my daughter, I purchased the hair slides and bobbles in the Sainsbury's sale (just need her hair to grow enough to use them!).  


Buster was nagging me to buy Innocent fruit smoothie tubes for his lunchbox during the Autumn term as he wanted to collect the magnets, I only agreed if I got to keep the Russian doll ones - very mature!


I'd really like one of these Chanel bags from the 2009 collection but the price back then was £2,500 and as they're probably now a collectors item it will just remain a dolly daydream.
I have, however, ordered a book of the story that inspired my obsession, hopefully that will suffice for now.
UPDATE:  The ever-thoughtful Mr Right sent me a message today saying that he had emailed ASOS to see if they had any of these left
Unfortunately for me they don't, sadly I discovered its existence too late but it was very sweet of Mr Right to be a secret squirrel and try to locate me one, I may not have a ASOS Chanel knock-off Russian doll bag but I do have a wonderful husband.

Where Has All The Glamour Gone?*

*and, more importantly, will it ever return?


I think I have a touch of Seasonal Affective Disorder at the moment.  I've got a serious case of the winter blues going on.  I am sick of wearing jumpers or fleeces, leggings or tracksuit bottoms.  Even if I bother to make an effort with my attire it's permanently hidden inside massive padded coats and accessorising with bobble hats and gloves cancels out all my hard work anyway, so why bother?  Where has all the glamour gone?


This winter seems never-ending and there's nothing planned at the moment to look forward to.  I was even cheated out of my Christmas glamour as our social engagements that I would have taken great pleasure in glamming up for were cancelled due to the heavy snow.


Just becoming a mum again after a 7 year gap makes me feel dowdy.  I haven't had to worry about snot, vomit or worse decorating my clothes in a long time.  The only embellishments that were added to my garments were brooches or scarves, speaking of scarves, I tried to glam up my home attire with a long scarf draped chicly twice around my neck and it almost resulted in my death.  I was vacuuming and bent over to move and errant toy from the Dyson's path and one end of the scarf almost got sucked up into the rotating brushes, could you think of a more unglamorous way to go?  Oh the irony!
Perhaps if the Daleks had vacuum nozzles
instead of sink plungers they might have been victorious
against the Doctor
I remember not so long ago I was a gym bunny, I wasn't chasing dust bunnies under the sofa, when it was designer handbags rather than nappy bags and when it was Lindt chocolate rather than dryer lint.


What's this?  As I type the sun has made a sheepish appearance, I'm hoping it's a sign.  The weather is trying to glam up by adding a bit of sparkle so hopefully I will be able to do likewise again very soon.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Boobed Wire

This morning the underwire in my favourite bra snapped stabbing me in the rib during the process.  My right boob saw this painful distraction as an opportunity to make a bid for freedom, unfortunately it's getting on a bit and is not a pert as it once was.  A fact brought home to me every time I tripped over it.





Out Of The Cake-holes Of Babes

Missy turns fourteen months this weekend and she's chatting more and more with each passing day.  Her current word du jour is cake.  Anything that anyone else is eating is cake.  Anything sweet she's eating is cake.  The biscuit tin that holds her very bland Rich Tea Fingers also contains cake, as she informs me about a thousand times a day as she totters past it.


I can't for the life of me think where she might have picked up this obsession for cake...
A small selection of Missy's cake-related paraphernalia

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

The Gallery - Body Parts

The first Sticky Fingers Gallery of 2011 is entitled Body Parts, tempting as it was to post a pic of my perfectly pert Kylie-esque be-hind I decided to spare my readers their jealousy and have instead plumped for a photo I took last year of Missy holding my hand for the first time.  
Your children hold your hand for a moment, but your heart for a lifetime
I know she will hold my hand lots more in the future and, just like I did with Buster, I will get to the stage where I take it for granted but there will be a day when she won't want to and this photo will be there for me then.  Now, just need to convince 8 year old Buster he wants to pose in a photo with us holding hands...


Go on, be a peeping Tom and have a shufti at the other body part exhibitionists, you know you want to!

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

The Reason Cats Don't Work In Offices?

This cat has the same luck with printers as Mr Right

This Makes My Heart Hurt

This YouTube clip makes my heart hurt

Helping Me Through Poetrying Times

After the school run yesterday morning I was rambling on to Mrs B about how down in the dumps I was feeling about the depressing weather, this seemingly never-ending winter, the boredom of wearing coats and hats and that usually I had a sunny disposition and boundless get up and go but my get up and go had got up and left and my sunny disposition was shrouded in cloud.


When I called for her in the afternoon she presented me with these:
They were totally unexpected, not to mention a beautiful splash of much welcome colour in a currently very dull, grey world and they lifted my spirits immeasurably.  I didn't think I could have been cheered any more than that until I opened the attached card.  Mrs B had composed the following poem in my honour:


If you are feeling down and blue,
Don't because winter's almost through.
It soon will be warm and sunny,
Everything will again look funny.
We can wear our summer dresses,
And let down our tresses.
So don't be blue,
Because I am pleased
to have a friend like you.


And extremely honoured I am, hence this post.  I've already blogged that 2011 seems to be looking like they year of the friend and this story only compounds my feeling and the fact that I have a wonderful friend in Mrs B.  Thanks J! x

ELC, A-OK

Before Christmas I received a 20% off voucher for the Early Learning Centre, I've always loved the ELC ever since this ad during the 80s 


and I was planning on buying Missy a play kitchen for her second birthday and decided to take advantage and purchase well in advance as it was an offer too good to miss.


I selected the Red Retro Kitchen at £150, with 20% off that took it down to £120, which I was pleased about so I placed my order and the kitchen arrived two days later, I was astounded as delivery was free and this was during the pre-Christmas internet delivery crisis due to the heavy snowfall.  Impressive!
The ELC are cooking on gas!
I passed on a second 20% off voucher to Mrs D as I knew she wanted to purchase the same kitchen for Miss D's birthday.  A couple of days later she e-mailed me to say that the kitchen was £100 when she purchased it.  She had heard a rumour that some companies will refund the difference if you have purchased an item and it comes down in price within a certain time so I chanced my arm and bashed out an e-mail to them.


After a few e-mails back and forth yesterday I got a wonderful response, ELC are going to credit my bank account with £50!  Result!


I had heard wonderful things about ELC's customer service, not really believing them to be true but this exceeded all my expectations, after all, they could have come back and said that the timing of my purchase was just bad luck and that would have been that, but this went above and beyond and I'm super happy, as is Missy's bank account!


There are so many stories of poor customer service that I just wanted to put this positive story out there.  People are more likely to tell their friends if they have a bad experience so I wanted to tell my friends about a good experience and to urge you all, like me, to become ELC customers.


THIS IS NOT A SPONSORED POST

Monday, 10 January 2011

Crochet, It's Shawl Good

I've been a bit quiet on here of late.  We are still trying to make our way through the mountain of mince pies, Christmas pudding and Christmas cake left over from the festive season and therefore I haven't been baking, although it has given my hands some free-time to pursue my new addiction, crochet.  I'm onto my third item in as many weeks!  


Having exhausted scarves for the moment I've advanced slightly and this week I've had a bash at the Sweetpea Shawl another great pattern from the Stitch and Bitch Happy Hooker book.


Here's the result, I'm quite pleased with it, especially as the yarn only cost £2.99 from the bargain bin at the wool shop.  I made a couple of minor mistakes but crochet (unlike it's evil sister knitting) is quite forgiving and it keeps me just as warm when I'm sitting on the bed bashing out a blog post, as I am right now.
Just need to add the tassels and I'll be onto the next project.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Cakey, Cakey! - Turkish Disaster

Last winter I purchased a jar of Options limited edition Turkish Delight flavour hot chocolate and it was just that, a delight.  I got a hot tip from a reliable source (thanks Mrs D!) that it had made a return just before Christmas so I bought another jar.  



Now I don't know about you but hot beverages always get me thinking of cake and this one was no exception, although this time my mind went off on a bit of an experimental tangent.  Could I use the flavoured powder in place of cocoa powder to make a Chocolate/Turkish Delight cake?  The short answer was NO!!!!  It sounded wonderful, in principal but the reality was a Turkish Disaster.  

When it emerged from the oven it looked promisingly like a normal chocolate cake and it certainly had a wonderful powerful Turkish Delight aroma but sadly it tasted like a chocolate sponge cake soaked in floral fabric softener.  Needless to say it was swiftly launched into the bin.  The cake didn't last long but the sickly perfume was with us for days, it's almost put me off Turkish Delight for life...well for this Christmas anyway.

Options Turkish Delight; Beverage Heaven, Baking Hell!





Crochet Away!

For Christmas I requested a copy of the Stitch 'N' Bitch Happy Hooker crochet handbook as I was determined I was going to crack this mystical art...
..and after a bit of reading and a lot of tinkering I have produced something that I think might actually pass as crochet, it's another scarf (my wool projects always seem to result in scarves as I am only confident following patterns that require no increasing or decreasing at present, baby steps and all that) but I'm so pleased with it that I have made a couple of others as gifts.


I'm also planning on trying the sweet pea shawl from the book, just as soon as I can get to a wool shop for more supplies!

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Flower Power

Mr Right is a rare breed of male that actually listens to his wife, I know, I'm a lucky lady and believe me I appreciate this fact.  At birthdays and Christmas I always get a few gifts that I haven't specifically asked for but have mentioned a longing for at some point during the preceding year.  A few Christmases ago it was a canal knife.  I had mentioned how much I hate shop-bought frozen carrots and how I had a longing for flower-shaped carrots like a TV chef at the time was making.  Mr Right searched out the device I required from a catering supplier and we've had flower-shaped frozen carrots ever since!
For a while now I have harboured a desire for an antique initial embossing machine but they are far to big for my over-stuffed craft bureau so Mr Right did a bit of secret squirrel investigation and as of this Christmas I am the proud owner of this little baby
It's a sweet little device from Japan with interchangeable letters and it's my new favourite toy, thanks Mr Right. x

Cakey, Cakey! - Teapot Cake

A school friend asked me if I would help her out by making a birthday cake for her mum.  She wanted a teapot shaped cake as her mother collects them and, after warning her that the spout might end up looking like a saggy male appendage, I duly obliged.  Here is the result, it's not too shabby, even if I say so myself.  I was particularly pleased with the gingham icing effect on the base, it took a while but was so worth it.
One lump or two?

Happy New Year?

Happy New Year!  I've been a bit quiet over the festive period, I've had lots of eating and drinking to do but now it's 2011 and I will be replacing Bucks Fizz, smelly cheese, pate and chocolate for training and, more importantly, blogging.


Christmas was a sedate affair as we spent it as a four.  Sadly Buster fell off some monkey bars, broke his arm and ended up in plaster on Christmas Eve so he had a bit of trouble opening his (many) gifts but somehow I knew he'd manage.  Missy, as predicted, was far more interested in the wrapping paper and boxes than any of her gifts.  
Buster's cast, he currently harbours an ambition
to be a sailor so my sister did some sailor tat's for him
The rest of the holiday has been spent visiting relatives, shopping, crocheting and making a cake for a friend's mum (the last two I'll blog about in greater detail later).
We've spent a bit of time in traffic jams this week,
this Trafficmaster van ironically stuck in one brightened up an otherwise dull journey
New Year was spent with two other couples enjoying a Chinese take-away and a movie as both of the ladies are pregnant and I am old.  So far 2011 has been a year for friends, we had The B family over for tea yesterday and we are off to see the D family this afternoon.  I also had a rather wonderful surprise in the form of a friend request on Facebook from a very dear friend from my sixth form days, we used to to do the snail mail thing for years but as our relative broods have increased our correspondence has declined so it will be great to keep in touch with her more regularly from now on (Hello Mrs E if you're reading this!), and what's more I've discovered that she too is a blogger.


I must away and get ready for another traffic jam but the promise of a natter and sausage and mash at the other end will make it all worth while!
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