Irish Soda Bread

Saturday 31 January 2015

Irish Soda Bread - I made that!

So easy even I can do it and I don't bake. 

Saturday mornings are usually spent dressed like a human duvet having a natter with some other mums whilst watching Small Thing do his football training. Today? It was cancelled and I made Irish soda bread. Yes I really did! Last week the Grumps had it in his head that he wanted to make it and I was despatched with a shopping list of the required ingredients. He made it, it was good and I declared him a keeper on Instagram. This week, I bought the buttermilk for him to make the soda bread again but I felt that maybe I should give it a shot as the Grumps was standing outside for a couple of hours with the big boy in the coldest of weather. So I did and that's my loaf up there ready to have with some homemade soup!

And if I can do it - you can (my previous attempt at banana loaf went in the bin - a baker I am not). The recipe I googled off BBC Goodfood by James Martin but here it is for your delectation. 

  • 170g / 6oz self-raising wholemeal (I used normal white) flour
  • 170g / 6oz plain flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 290ml / ½ pint buttermilk

Preparation Method
  • Preheat the oven to 400F/200C/Gas Mark 6
  • Tip the flours, salt and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl and stir.
  • Make a well in the centre and pour in the buttermilk, mixing quickly with a large fork to form a soft dough (you may need to add a touch of milk if the mixture seems too dry but it should not be too wet or sticky).
  • Turn on to a lightly floured surface and knead briefly.
  • Form in to a round and flatten the dough slightly before placing on to a lightly floured baking sheet.
  • Cut a cross on the top and bake for about 30 mins or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.
  • Cool on a wire rack.

Eat and enjoy! Now I don't normally do food recipes but I was so surprised that it was so simple that I thought it only right to share with all you baking virgins out there. 

Anyway, this week, it was the Grump's turn to declare me a keeper ;o)


Last Note :

  • My criteria for following recipes is that all ingredients and all instructions should ideally fit on one page. That's it.

Fairweather Fashionista

Thursday 29 January 2015

Sorel Caribou Wool Boots, Next Gaucho Boots (similar here), Hunter Wellies, Ugg Kensingtons (similar here)

Can I be honest here? I don't actually strut around in silk shirts and high heels on the school run. I am actually really normal and boring. And the other thing - I am actually a ..... fair-weather fashionista. On good weather days i.e. not freezing, not snowing, not cold, not raining ... I look okay. But if it is freezing, snowing, cold or raining ... I am practical. Very practical. On the school run, fashion doesn't really come in to it very much where the elements are concerned. See!

Zara Parka, Sorel Boots, Vince Pullover, H&M Pleather Leggings

Trapper Hat, Primark Padded Coat, Next Gaucho Boots, Vince Pullover, H&M Pleather Leggings

Sprayway Jacket, Hunter Wellies, Vince Pullover, Hunter Wellies

Zara Parka, Ugg Kensingtons, Vince Pullover. H&M Pleather Leggings

When it rains ... I wear

  • Black Sprayway Gore Tex walking jacket. It's ten years old and it keeps me dry, I go up mountains in it (or at least I used to until the Grumps got tired of the whinging) and I also go on school runs in it. It does the job and it's practical, windproof and light. If I'm going away in the UK for a couple of days, this invariably ends up in the car and does what it needs to do. Like when I'm standing on a beach being buffeted by strong winds - it takes the edge off and keeps me dry.
  • Hunter wellies. In aubergine. These are about five years old and still going strong. I used to wear them when it was snowing but these have been usurped by the Sorels which are infinitely warmer and far comfier than over tight wellies - I used to try and wear three pairs of socks to keep my feet warm in my Hunter wellies. They are however great for country walks and mud. Lots of mud. Squelchy mud. And rain. I have been known to stand in puddles wearing my wellies just because I can #bigkid
  • Black Next gaucho style nubuck boots. These are also about five years old. Plain as plain can be, no buckles, no laces, no zips, no nothing. They do the job, have worn in nicely, look a bit rough around the edges ... they're basically a practical goody. They're the kind of boots which you pay £200 or more for, for a similar pair in Toast. They're also the reason why I bought but didn't keep the Zara Pistol'like boots I wanted before Christmas - I knew I wouldn't get the wear out of those as I would default to these old faithfuls. They do the job and they do it brilliantly.

When it's icy, cold or snowing, I wear ....

  • Black Zara parka. I can't say anymore about this parka that hasn't already been said by me here. It is serving it's second winter with me and I still love it. It's a little cumbersome but oh it's toasty and on those arctic days we've been having recently, it is the coat of choice. And I still love that Kenny hood.
  • Black Primark padded coat. I thought this would be going in the charity bag this year. I thought it was looking a little peaky or rather it wasn't looking as perky as it used to and maybe it had had it's day. But I dragged it on one day last October when I was in a rush and I thought "I can't let you go buddy! You kept me warm when I was standing in the park and hugged my baby bump George all those years ago and you still keep me warm now. For £13 - you owe me nothing and I owe you a space in my wardrobe". 
  • Sorel boots. Yes, they feel like weights strapped to your legs but hey ... they are warm weights. I have been truly thankful for these since becoming one of those sporting mums who stand on a pitch for several hours at a time with their feet slowly turning to ice. You can't wear Uggs ... wet grass just soaks through. Wellies are cold. Sorels ... they do the job. Mine are worth every penny I paid for them and I still get people who ask me about them as they obviously look like they are the dogs doodies.
  • Ugg Kensington boots. These are for those cold cold mornings where regular boots don't cut it but the might of the Sorel boots are a bit much. They are snug and they are warm and they are flat. They are a bit of a mare to put on and they are a bit of a mare to take off ... but hey, some things are worth it. Like warm feet.
  • Trapper Hat. This is the hat that I automatically reach for to keep my head properly warm. I pull it on and it automatically goes right. I can't say the same for the woolly ones I have where I have to do all manner of tweaking with my hair and my fringe before I look half sane. However, this trapper hat has magical look perfect every time properties. And it's warm. And it doesn't blow off. And I look like massive fur ball but that's okay - I'm good with that.

So a fair-weather fashionista I am then. Have I shattered all your illusions? Told you I was boring. What gets you through these cold January days?


Last Note :

  • I've come a long way from when I used to take my wellies off when I was at the end of my street and change in to my shoes even though it was 6 inches deep in snow, before I went for the school bus #not_cool #teenager #my_mother_made_me_wear_them!
  • Five minutes after taking those pics, the skies turned grey and the snow came ... briefly .... and went again. Hope you're all safe and warm wherever you may be!

Toast Denim Skirt

Wednesday 28 January 2015

The word on the street is that denim is a biggie this summer. If you read one article, the jean hems are getting wider, the denim skirts are getting longer (think midi to maxi) and everything seems to be a little more polished and structured. Or if you read another article, you can go the other way and wear your denim totally destroyed, stick patches everywhere and wear your denim skirts all short, cute and a-line. Basically it looks like anything goes where denim is concerned - make up your own rules if there aren't any out there to suit you. 

So what have I found that I think will add a little denim oomph to the old wardrobe this year? This :

I thought I'd go over to the long, dark structured side. This Toast skirt is not my usual thing but I liked the asymmetric front fastening detail. It's also a longer length which is perfect if you're one of those who are a little shy about getting the old knees out. I don't suit long boho floaty numbers so this is a great way to do a longer style in a more flattering way. However, if you're a lady who goes to an office and you can wear denim for work - this type of skirt could be a chic way to do denim instead of usual jeans. Team it with a smart white shirt like here if you are looking for inspiration. I had a little play with what I had to hand (my white shirts are in hibernation at the moment so navy blue silk it is then) and I think this works as a smart look :

Jigsaw silk shirt (similar here), Toast skirt, H&M sandals (similar here), Vintage Clutch

But as you know, I don't have an office to go to - I have a school run where casual and practical reigns. Rifling through the wardrobe, I was thinking it could be worn in the following manner when the weather warms up a little. Remember, I'm planning ahead #squirrel

Stripy Tee

Most of us have a stripy tee in our wardrobes. Most of us have a pair of trainers/plimsolls/Converse. I guess this is the moms no brainer look. 

CDG tee, Toast Skirt, Converse

Grey Sweatshirt

And I guess most of us have a plain sweatshirt or jumper? Dress it up, dress it down. It's your prerogative.

Uniqlo Sweatshirt, Hobbs NW3 Bag, Toast Skirt, Converse

Uniqlo sweatshirt, Toast Skirt, KG Sandals, Amanda Wakeley for Sainsburys Tote

Cropped Sweat Top/Tee

And this white sweat top is a Gap sweatshirt I picked up in the sale last year for about £8. It's a shrunken style and the sleeves were too long so I've chopped them off to just above the elbow for a slightly different silhouette - you can easily replicate this with a boxy white tee.  I think it's important to keep the proportions fairly tidy and short on the top with this skirt. I think this is my favourite look so far as it's quite a clean look.

Gap sweatshirt, Etienne Aigner Bag, Toast Skirt, Converse

So I think that's my first denim update for 2015 so far. I think it just feels a little fresher to try a different shape, style and denim finish. 

Fingers crossed this turns out to be a goodie for me!


Last Note :

  • If you have good legs and prefer your denim short and sweet and looking for something similar to the Alexa Chung for AG Jeans Kety skirt which has sold out everywhere, ASOS have this one here which is a good dupe. 
  • The Toast skirt sold out today (sorry) and it was only £25 (sorry sorry sorry) in the Toast sale. Sorry I wasn't quick enough with this post. However ASOS have a couple of long denim skirts going here and here for £4.50 each.
  • Amendment 21:29pm. Just spotted a couple of sizes left online for the Toast skirt here. I am wearing a size 8 which looked better on me than the 10 though I would normally take a 10. Now if it had been a size 9 - that would have been just perfect.

Secret Squirrel

Tuesday 20 January 2015

Secret squirrel? That's me. I'm a secret squirrel. I squirrel little finds away till it's time to unearth them. I found this blouse whilst I was foraging for a plain tee in Primark for my boy and I was quite drawn to it. Shades of the 70's with the pussy bow, slightly Other Stories in it's print (similar to this) and quite flattering on with those whooshy sleeves. Bingo wings? What bingo wings? Oh those bingo wings under the whooshy sleeves. Can't see them (result).

£5 for a little sale top which I think I can work for the summer. I can see this teamed with a little pair of mini kick flare jeans for summer and a nice little saddle bag. Yes ... I think I'm going to go there with the old flares. 

Be afraid. Be very afraid.


Last Note :

  • Fess up your secret squirrel stash if you dare. I'll start you off ... I confess to also stashing away a pair of tan wedge mules :)

Chasing Rainbows

Saturday 17 January 2015

Okay so I waved the Lulu & Co jumper off with the DHL man mid week. I loved it but there was no way I could live with that annoying bump on the front and believe me I tried really hard to get rid of it. So what's a girl to do who wants to wear a rainbow on her chest? Use her noggin and see what she can come up with. And this is what the noggin came up with.

Okay - not as sweet as the jumper but infinitely cheaper. 

For those who follow me on Instagram, they know I will have had a go with some transfer paper to do a Plants vs Zombies tee for my older boy. It turned out okayish but the transfer itself was not that sharp and it also cracked after a wash. Like it had seen better days. But ... the transfer paper did cost me £1 for 2 sheets at the pound shop. 

Not so good eh?

But I thought this could work in my favour actually. So I found a picture of a rainbow, printed it out on to some transfer paper and then ironed it on an old tee. And it turned out quite well don't you think? Looks like an authentic 70's tee complete with retro washed out transfer. People pay good money for stuff like this you know? I pay good money for stuff like this you know!

The effect after one wash.

So this is what I basically did .....

  • Created a few designs on the laptop.

  • And printed it out on the transfer paper.

  • Note that if you are doing a text print - you need to reverse the image or you will have backwards reading text. I forgot to do this when I printed "George Dude" out but luckily I remembered before I ruined a tee.
  • You need to cut out the image leaving a 1mm or so gap around the edge - if you are doing this on a white tee shirt, this won't show up but on a coloured tee, you will see this outer edge so you need to keep this as small as possible.

Another rainbow with a bump in it! Gah!

  • Get your tee shirt ready. I wanted to see what this would like on a grey background as I might do this on a grey sweatshirt at a later date so I found an old grey tee of George's to practice on. Make sure it is laid perfectly flat (give it an iron first).

  • Lay your cut out image on the tee.

  • Give it a press with the iron for a couple of minutes (follow the instructions on the packet) making sure you do circular motions to cover all the area adequately.

  • Let it cool down and carefully remove the backing paper.

Mine and his (George's).

So that was a bit of fun but it opens up a lot of potential. The transfer paper I used is definitely on the dodgy side but there are lots of different ones on Amazon to try which should give you a much better finish (sharper, brighter, clearer) - just read the reviews carefully and take your pick - I am not being held responsible for your knacked up tees! I actually prefer the muted effect on our tees - like I said, I saw how this could work in my favour to get the look I wanted.



Last note :

  • Clothing which you want to do this on should ideally be a 100% cotton or at least a high cotton percentage as you will be ironing the transfer directly on to the fabric (no protective cloth) - singed fabrics don't smell good.
  • Pick something which is a tight knit fabric so jersey tees are ideal. Jumpers are too loose a weave and there will be gaps in the print. Basically if you stretch the garment - the transfer stretches. Or it does using the dodgy transfer paper I used.
  • If you are wanting to print on a dark coloured garment, you need to buy transfer paper for dark garments for the best result. As you will notice, the same coloured rainbow came out better on George's lighter grey tee than mine AND I was chancing it using transfer paper for light fabrics rather than dark.
  • Keep your shapes simple to cut round - the first one I did of the cactus is not for the faint hearted.
  • Idea! For mums who have mucky pups like me - maybe print out a few designs on a sheet (like the stars I've done on the transfer sheet above) and save them and cut them out to use over stubborn stains! 

Lulu & Co Rainbow Jumper

Monday 12 January 2015

I caved :o/

There was only one left in my size on NAP. I've been watching this since the NAP sale started. It was the only thing I was really holding out for. I ordered it and kind of hoped it wouldn't fit and was horrid.

And of course I loved it on sight. For goodness sake, it's a grey jumper at the end of the day but it just happens to have an embroidered multi coloured lurex rainbow on it. Love!

So I banked on it being a horrid fit. Nop - it fitted exactly as I would have liked - just on the right side of fitted loose. As Goldilocks would say about all Baby Bear's things .... "it was just riiiiigggghhhht".

Or was it? Those 2 pics above are after I gave the rainbow a press with a cloth and iron. Can you spot a slight bump in the rainbow? Before that, it looked like this which I just put down to the way it had been packed.

Arghgh! So giving it a press helped but didn't get rid of it entirely and if you look carefully at the top picture of the model - I swear there's a bump in the rainbow on her jumper - I have spent more time scrutinising her chest than I care to admit.

So that's kind of killed the jumper for me. I did really want to keep it, it was fun and even the Grumps said he'd go out with me in it but I can't - that slight bump is nothing short of annoying and as it wasn't that cheap - I did want it to be "just riiiiigggghhhht".

So all is not lost ... there is hope at the end of another rainbow. I might try this one next!

New Year, New Beginnings.

Saturday 10 January 2015

Happy new year everyone.

Look at that above. New cup, new diary and a bit of fruit.

Well the cup is mine but the diary is the big boy's and the fruit has now been devoured. Yes, new year, new good intentions.

Basically on New Years Eve, I reached saturation point. I was a poisoned pup. Not a morsel more could pass my lips. I couldn't even manage the New Year celebratory Champagne - not even a tiny sip. If I had, I might have exploded. It was that bad.

So I have calmed down. And since January 1st, I've only had 2 chocolates. And a lot more fruit and I've been salivating over people's Instagram food feeds. The Grumps laughed at me the other night as I sat in bed grumbling about how hungry I was whilst flitting through photos of nice food complaining about how I was starving which was interrupted every now and then with "that looks amazing". It must have been bad because he even asked me the next morning if I'd got up in the night to satisfy my food cravings. No. I didn't. I was fast asleep dreaming of Byron Burgers.

But nearly 10 days in to the new year, I am feeling a little better. The belly bloat has subsided thought the girth is still there and I have taken to standing on the scales again. I haven't actually been on a pair of scales for more than a year and I was masochistic enough to go and stand on them just to see how much I'd put on. I prayed for good news and didn't get it. 

So I am eating better and cutting out naughty snacks. And double breakfasts. I used to have breakfast at 7am with the boys and then at 9.30 after the school run. Every little bit of abstinence helps. And I'm getting to grips with advocados mashed on toast with poached eggs and the such like (I blame Instagram) and hoping this works for me ... for at least the month of January till I get bored. I'm afraid I'm not getting on the Nutribullet bandwagon like so many - I need to chew. 

So what are you peeps up to? New beginnings for you too?


Last Note :

Susie So So