Carrot cake is one of those cakes that I either love or hate – and I never know until I actually take the first bite. When it’s good, it is amazing. Not too sweet, moist and flavourful. When it’s bad, it’s bad. Dry, bland, often with overly sweet frosting. There never seems to be an in-between. And when it’s good, it’s one of my favourite cakes ever (coming second only to red velvet, another it’s hard to get right). Recently, I have made it my mission to come up with – for me – the perfect carrot cake. A mix of a number of recipes, I think I’ve finally cracked it! Continue reading
According to the Food Standards Agency, in the UK we threw away over 7 million tonnes of still edible food last year and about half of it came from homes, not shops and restaurants. It is such a shocking figure, especially when you think that so many people are going hungry and relying on food banks. It’s also expensive. The estimated cost of those 7 million tonnes is £13bn and the average cost per household is £470. Cutting back on food waste, and your food bills as a result, is easier than you think. Here are five easy ways to do it… Continue reading
Recently we opened a children’s bank account for my daughter, who has just turned eight. It’s one I technically control but which we’ve put her in charge of. She’ll decide what to put in and what to take out. There isn’t a bank card attached so I still have to press the button, meaning it’s pretty risk free, but it’s part of my master plan to get her to understand what money and how to manage it…something I didn’t quite get till my late 20’s and after more than one mistake with bank loans, overdrafts and credit cards.
We started off as everyone does I think with a Piggy Bank, and just the idea of money, what it is, how much you have and why you should save it up. Each week, from when she was really small, we would give her a pound to put in the bank and any extra money would go in there too. Once it was full, we would empty it, count it and she could go to the toy store to spend her ‘hard earned’ savings. Continue reading
One of my biggest weaknesses is an inability to not try new things (probably a strength too, if I ignore the strain it can put on my wallet). Another, in order to ease said strain, is loving a bargain. Walking around my local Boots last month, I came upon the perfect storm of a new product range (L;ft) with a third off it’s regular price.
I’d gone in looking for moisturiser from a different brand. I came out with Boots’ L;ft Daily Boosting Day Moisturising Cream. If I ignore the slightly silly name (or spelling of it), I have otherwise been pretty impressed. The cream promises to help me fight the five signs of ageing and smooth the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles in four weeks. It also promises me that my skin will not only be firmer but glow as well. Continue reading
When we moved into our current house, we got ourselves a smart metre to monitor our gas and electricity use. If you ignore the fact that I can’t help nervously glancing at it every time I go past to see how big a bill I’m racking up with the current weather, it was one of the best things we could have done. Since we’ve installed it, we have been watching how much energy we use and, so far, have reduced our bill by about £10 a month without significantly impacting our lifestyle. Here’s what we’ve done so far… Continue reading
With Easter days away, it’s impossible to not see chocolate everywhere I turn. I’m not complaining, I love chocolate and think it should be its own food group but, recently, I’ve started to look for something different in my chocolates beyond your standard name-brand hollow egg. I’ve even been thinking that I might make my own.
Craft Chocolate UK has a great blog post that told me everything I needed to know about making my own chocolates. It also told me things I didn’t know or didn’t expect – like I might want to think about roasting my own beans. I’m not sure what I thought I would be doing when I made my own chocolates, but it definitely wasn’t that. Continue reading
Continuing my trek through last years photos, I came across a rather cold day we spent at Kenilworth Castle in Warwickshire, one of our favourite places as we used to live just over half an hour away. Despite the weather and the muddy wellies, it was still a great day.
Kenilworth began life as a Norman Keep in the time of Henry I (1120 or so) and became a royal castle under Henry II. Over time, it was built up into an island stronghold able to protect Henry III (though it is no longer surrounded by a mere or lake). With each monarch, it changed. This can be seen in the Tudor Stables (which now house a rather tasty tea room) and the Elizabethan Gatehouse. The Gatehouse was built by Robert Dudley as a place for Elizabeth I when she visited. Walking around, it’s interesting to see the changes and imagine what it was like during so many key periods in my country’s history. Continue reading
Most days, I try and be good and cook my meals from scratch. I don’t always succeed and, the further through the week I get, the harder it is to stay motivated. It’s the same when I have lots on, fresh food goes by the wayside.
In the warm weather, it’s not too bad – salads are always a quick and easy option – but on cold, dark, nights, it’s harder to not resort to soup or heat ‘n’ eats. This chilli is quick, simple, and veggie so stops me feeling too guilty about not slaving over a hot stove. It takes about 10 minutes to get everything in the pan and another 15 to cook and will easily serve 4 people. The photo took doesn’t do it justice but I was in a bit of a rush…. Continue reading
One of the things I was looking forward to when I finished work last September and started working for myself was the control I thought I would have. No more having to get up at five in the morning because my manager needed me to go to a meeting at the other end of the country that lasted all of an hour (what’s wrong with a phone call I ask you?), no more working weekends because I was given something to do at 4:55 on a Friday afternoon that was needed by 9:05 on a Monday morning, and no more having to smile and say “yes, of course,” when I really wanted to say the complete opposite and turn the air blue.
For the most part, I am pleased to say my move into self-employment has been pretty successful. There’s been no more early, early mornings and only a few late, late nights. Where I am struggling, though, is the not saying yes part. I am just no good at it and, after a recent conversation where my brain was screaming at me to say no but I still said yes, I’ve decided I need to do something about it. And not just when it comes to work but in life in general, where I am just as bad if I’m honest. Continue reading