Archive for January, 2012




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Spring has definitely sprung when I look around my garden and beyond.  Snow drops are blooming, daffodils are appearing, my chickens are laying more eggs than they have in the last 6 months, I saw a blue tit going into my nesting box earlier,  and all the shops are selling Cadburys Cream Eggs!  However, an arctic blast is forecast from the East, and snow is due by the end of the week so lets hope nature hasn’t peaked too soon!

Another hectic weekend started on Friday with our final birthday lunch which I hosted, to mark the end of a week long celebration of my daughters 21st birthday.  I pulled a few cheat recipes out of the bag, and for pudding I made a super simple banoffee pie with a secret ingredient form Marks and Spencers which is Salted Caramel Sauce …  no longer do you need to boil a can of condensed milk for 3 hours .. it’s so easy and this was the end result:

Yesterday I reluctantly agreed to accompany my youngest daughter on her mission in search of a dress for her pending Summer Leavers Ball.  There is so much hype surrounding this evening and the latest craze is for these 15 year old girls to order dresses made to measure from the USA for a hideous amount of money.  There is pressure to have your hair, make-up and nails done professionally and to achieve that all round orange ‘tangoed’ glow, you can get a fake bake too!  The final touch is a stretch limo to your venue, which our case is at Wotton House which less than a mile from our home!


Well being a girl who likes to keep things real, I am allergic to all this peer pressure, so I agreed to go on an exploratory  trip to Guildford to see if there were any bargains left in the January Sales.  Well I am happy to report that there were some awesome price reductions, however not on the dress that she wanted!  I melted when I saw my baby in the  most elegantly stunning floor length dress and willingly got out my credit card … after all it was the first dress she tried on, and was perfect, and meant that my dreaded shopping trip would be over before it had started!  Thank you House of Fraser for the perfect result, and all the family approve of the dress, apart from one of her sisters, who said “it makes your boobs look big, and you look too skinny” which in my eyes was the seal of approval she was looking for!

And now it is Sunday …  I am just about to prepare our roast, and I have some crumble topping and home grown Bramleys in the freezer, which reminds me ….  this is a label of some new undergarments that I saw outside the changing room in House of Fraser yesterday  ….  looks like something from Mrs Doubtfire though!!


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Well what a busy week it has been.  This time 7 days ago we were sitting on a British Airways flight, and I was lucky enough to be seated in 4A, heading off to Barbados, as you do when you have BA concessions!  We stayed at the beautiful Almond Casuarina Beach  and had 3 nights of sun, sand, sea and celebration as our eldest daughter turned 21.  Yesterday was her actual birthday, and she had a whole day and night of celebrations.  Our favorite family and friends came over during the day and she was lavished with gifts, Champagne and flowers.  My lovely florist friend, Kim Shaw, popped in with a gorgeous bouquet of roses, and my beautiful goddaughter who has just started her own range of jewellery called Kissika gave her a stunning silver bracelet to match one of her tattoos.

Talk about lucky girl … she was lavished with T-Shirts and a dress by Alexander Wang, a Vivienne Westwood Purse and a lot of money, when suddenly I had a deja vu back to my 21st birthday and realised there was absolutely no similarity at all!

I made some more cup cakes topped with her favorite childhood sweets … Jelly Tots (not Jelly shots!) and her thoughtful sister made her some yummy calorie free (not!) Nigella Rocky Road.

As if this wasn’t enough, she then went to Nobu with some of her best girl friends (total babes!), followed by a bit of alcohol induced clubbing at Cirque du Soir and Jalouse as you do when you are gorgeous and get on VIP guest lists and are given free drinks .. still no resemblance to my 21st!  And then your lovely daddy, who has work in the morning, drives up to fetch you at 2am ensuring that you are safe and cozily tucked up at home in your own bed!  And at 21 it is assumed you are an adult!  Dream on!  Glad we haven’t set a precedent for 21st celebrations with our other 2 daughters  … oh wait .. we have!

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As if I don’t feel like I am getting old already! Dull ache in my right knee from skiing, have to reach for reading glasses at all times now if I am wanting to see text clearly, the odd hot flush, the odd grey hair, early signs of dementia pointed out daily by my kids, and bloody Facebook!!!  If you glance at the advertisements to the right of your page they are specifically targeted to your age group.  So whilst my girls are probably viewing banners saying “Dare to Dazzle in Designer Dress”  or “Get your Mini Adventure here” or “Hot date with Marcus Schenkenberg”….  I am bombarded with ads saying “Follow these simple skin care tips and remove 20 years of wrinkles for free” with a photo of Jennifer Aniston endorsing it, and  “Burn 1 stone of belly fat”,  and “Back pain interrupting your running?” followed by “52 year old mom looks 32 … what is her 5$ secret?”.  So thank you Facebook for making me feel good about myself …  is this maybe anti-social networking at its best??  Or maybe I should just amend my date of birth on my profile!?


Marcus Schenkenberg


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Been so busy this week with planning birthdays.  In January I have 14 birthdays to factor into my month, and the majority are relations, godchildren or very close friends.  I love to make Moonpig cards, and because I like to include relevant and sometimes embarrassing photos of the person, it can take ages to track the good ones down and upload.  And of course there is then the humorous wording to compose …  could be a full time job in January!  As my daughter is turning 21 this month so are many of her friends, so it is a time of celebration and realisation that actually I too am getting old!

Had another early appointment with my daughter this morning with the gorgeous Physio.  He is so attentive and very committed to her recovery, ensuring and reassuring that she will be able to compete at International level Taekwon-do again  .. wonder if he would be so enthusiastic if it was me he was treating!  Exceptional service from the NHS I must say.  As we left the hospital, we saw to our horror, two girls in their skimpy nightwear, one attached to a mobile drip, outside in temperatures of -2 degrees, smoking …  the extremes people go for a nicotine fix .. so glad I gave up 30 years ago!

Must just quickly share this recipe that I invented yesterday.  It was a variation of a Nigella Lawson recipe for Banana and Butterscotch muffins.  One of my girls hates bananas, so I switched the banana for some cooked bramley apple, and the butterscotch for some white chocolate chips, and added some fresh blueberries and frozen blackberries.  Below is a picture of my Blackberry, Apple ,Blueberry & White Chocolate Chip Muffins … yum!

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Cupcakes and Chocolate Brownies!.

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So it turns out that both me and my friend are suffering from early onset dementia!  I can’t remember what I cooked the last time she came for supper and she can’t remember what she ate .. so all good really, as I served up my favorite chicken dish oblivious of any potential duplication!  On a positive note, my husband couldn’t remember what he had for breakfast yesterday morning, so the girls are appearing to be scoring more favorably on the ” how many marbles have you lost so far” front!

After being less creative in the kitchen lately due to time constraints, my fourth surrogate daughter turned 21 yesterday, and I found myself wishing her Happy Birthday and saying, ” why don’t you pop over for afternoon tea, and I will rustle you up some cupcakes” …  so I did!  I found a basic recipe in the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook, and then opened my cupboards and found some inspiration from a packet of mini marshmallows, and some sprinkles and this was the end result ..




Remaining on the subject of cakes, it would appear that I may have some competition when it comes to Chocolate Brownies from a certain young lady called Emily Hoyle, who when supposedly writing her dissertation stumbled across a BBC recipe for Oreo Cookies Brownies.  She dispatched 5 samples to be sent back to me for tasting via a courier, and only 1 made it home!




My next job for today, is to go and collect some kindling, lay a fire, although according to my husband, girls can’t make good fires, and yet again I can prove him wrong!  I am thinking toasty fire, a glass or two of Rabbit Row Sauvignon Blanc and some Saturday night TV to fall asleep in front of …  I am so getting old!!


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