Crunchy topped lemon cake

crunchy top lemon cake

Every family should have this recipe in their baking arsenal.
It’s not the prettiest looking cake, but it tastes gorgeous and it’s so so easy to make.
How easy? Well, last night I fancied making a cake at 10pm. As you do.
The husband thought I was mad (“making a cake now? Isn’t it a bit late?”)
I kind of did a shoulders sink and an ‘oh’ mid pouring the flour into the bowl and then stopped. And he was all ‘no no, carry on, best get a move on or it won’t be ready to eat tonight . . . ‘
Well, I’d measured out the ingredients, mixed the batter and had it baking in 10 minutes flat.
I may have even had a slice with a cuppa before bedtime, but don’t tell anyone . . .

It’s one of those throw everything into the bowl, mix and add to the cake tin recipes.
I even used a cake tin liner so I could whip it straight out of the tin once it was ready!

Crunchy Topped Lemon Cake

Ingredients
175g caster sugar
175g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
100g soft butter
2 large eggs
4 – 5 tbsps milk
finely grated rind of 1 lemon

For the topping
Juice of 1 lemon
100g sugar

Method
1. Base line and lightly grease an 18cm cake tin. Or use a cake liner like me and save any effort!

2. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees c (Gas 4).

3. As I said before, add all the ingredients to a large bowl and beat well for a couple of minutes to ensure everything is well incorporated. Make sure you beat well or it will sink.

4. Turn the mixture out into the cake tin and bake for 35-40 minutes (or until the cake has shrunk from the sides).

5. To make up the topping just mix the sugar (you can use caster or granulated) with the lemon juice (be sure to remove any pips!) and then spoon or pour over the hot cake. I find it best to pour and tilt the tin around to stop everything pooling in the centre of the cake.

6. Leave in the tin until cold and then remove. And then eat.

Slice of crunchy top lemon cakeIt’s best eaten on the day or the next day least as it starts to dry out a little after that.

 

Posted in Food, Recipes | 2 Comments

Win a Vax pressure washer worth £220

Vax power washer

Once the clocks change and the days start getting longer I can’t wait to start freshening up the house.
I don’t think you can beat going into spring with a fresh outlook – decluttering the house, adding flowers and my favourite job of all, giving the garden the once over too.

All that moss that builds up over the winter, the leaves that have made the patio look tired and forgotten, the layer of scum over pretty much everything to be honest!
I can’t wait to get rid of it all.

So, just in case you feel the same way about spring cleaning as me, I have teamed up with the lovely people at Vax to bring you a great new giveaway – a chance to win one of their Vax PowerWash 2500W Complete Pressure Washers, worth £219.99.

The VAX PowerWash 2500w Complete pressure washer has a high flow rate and high pressure to blast away dirt and grime from everything from cars to brickwork, slabs, patios and block paving.
It comes with a range of tools and accessories including a Patio Kit, which makes cleaning outdoor surfaces a breeze.
On top of that it’s compact and easy to store.
See for yourself what the pressure washer can do and how you could utilise it in the video below.

How to enter

So what do you have to do to get your hands on one of these pressure washers? All you need to do to be in with a chance of winning is just fill in the widget below and cross your fingers! Best of luck x

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Rules:
The competition is open to residents of the UK only (sorry rest of the world).
No cash alternative offered.
The prize is 1 Vax PowerWash 2500W Complete Pressure Washer.
Entry is via Rafflecopter.
Make sure your contact details are easily available.
The competition closes on Friday, April 10.
One winner will be chosen from all the entries after the closing date.
The winner will be asked to provide their full name and address for the prize to be sent to.
If a prizewinner does not respond within a week of being contacted, the prize will be re-drawn and a new winner will be contacted.

Posted in Competitions | 297 Comments

The Photo Gallery: Week 224

Gallery logoHello and welcome to week 224 of The Photo Gallery.

So as I promised last week after I set the theme as ‘boys’ this week I will be balancing it out – for the theme is: Girls.

Interpret the theme any way you like (last week Mama Elsie wrote a gorgeous post about her girls when YES the theme was boys! You see there really are no rules, although she did have a very good reason for the post!)

I’ll see you back here on Wednesday when it’s time to link up x

The Photo Gallery is a weekly feature for all those who love photography and photographs.
I set it up back in 2010 to give everyone an outlet to share and encourage and write really interesting posts around their pictures.

It has always been about being part of a community of like-minded people. It’s about sparking your imagination, being inspiring – and inspiring others.

But remember, you will get out of The Gallery what you put in, so try to visit as many of the other entries as you can, say hi, discover new people, welcome them in when they discover you, be generous with your comments.

Remember, you can also share your entry via:
Twitter by using the hashtag: #TheGallery
Or by joining in the Gallery communities over on Pinterest and Google +

NEW HERE? NOT SURE HOW TO ENTER THE GALLERY?

If you’re new here, here’s a post to tell you all about what The Photo Gallery is all about and how to enter.
And if you want to make sure you don’t miss any prompts or entries in future, make sure you subscribe to the Sticky Fingers blog and get all prompts delivered directly to your in box.
Go on, clicky click away, you know you want to …

If you want to join in with The Gallery and showcase your photos, come back on Wednesday and when my Gallery post goes live, add a link to your post on the Linky below mine.
The link stays open until the following Tuesday, so you have plenty of time to join in.
And ANYONE can join in.

Posted in The Gallery Themes | Leave a comment

Is shared parental leave a good thing?

shared parental leave

When both of my children were born I took time off work (I was then working as a features editor on a regional daily newspaper) to care for them.
My husband continued to make the 40-minute commute to work, racing home to catch a bath time here, a bedtime story there.
It worked for us, although it wasn’t ideal. He missed out on so much having to suffice with sitting with me at the dinner table when he got home to hear about how our boy had taken his first steps, was now eating proper food, the day our daughter said her first word, the day she cut her own hair *ahem*!

On April 5 this year, a new law comes into effect which basically means fathers now have the chance to share that parental leave.
The new legislation looks set to revolutionise the way new parents share the childcare for their newborn babies.

According to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) seven in 10 dads regret missing key milestones in their child’s life due to work.
And nearly a third of fathers say they would have taken up the right to shared parental leave it it had been available to them at the time.
There is clearly a real appetite for flexibility in childcare arrangements.

Shared parental leave aims to relegate the “out-dated assumptions that women will always be the parents at home while fathers go out to work,” said Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, when he announced the move last year.
“We know more men want to be more involved with their children at home and, crucially, we know the difference it makes to a child’s development when they do.”

So what does shared parental care actually mean?

From April 5, 2015 working parents will be able to split up to 50 weeks of leave and up to 37 weeks of pay between them in the child’s first year of life (or the first year an adopted child is with it’s new family). This is after the initial two weeks of a child’s birth.
It is only available to parents who both work.
Parents have to give their employer eight weeks’ notice of their intention to take leave. For more information on the new legislation visit.

For much more information visit the government website Shared Parental Leave.

So what do you think? Is this going to see men take up the offer in their droves or is the reality not that cut and dried? If you’re breast feeding for example, it means endless hours of expressing to make sure there are enough bottles for dad to cope while you’re at work.

Personally I just like the fact that there is now a choice for families to make. Something we just didn’t have when mine were born.

Check out this video of families talking about the new legislation, what it means to them, how it can work and what they make of it all.
There are some VERY cute babies on there, you have been warned!

This is a sponsored post in collaboration with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Posted in Family Life, Sponsored | Tagged | 4 Comments

Iced Easter biscuits

Easter biscuites

One of the best things about the Easter break is the chance to hang out together as a family; slob out on the sofa, not worry about homework or getting to some sporting event, watching back to back DVDs that we never normally get the chance to watch.

And baking. We love our Easter baking. Rice Krispie cakes, Mini Eggs nest and biscuits. Lovely iced Easter biscuits.
This is a recipe I’ve posted before – the Best Biscuits for Making With Children – but they are perfect for this too because the dough is so easy to make, it keeps it’s shape and they are super easy to ice.

They’re not the traditional Easter biscuits but just as moorish.

Easter cookies

Ingredients
175g soft unsalted butter
200g caster sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
400g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
300g icing sugar
Food colouring

Method
1. Beat the butter and sugar together until it turns pale and moussey.

2. Crack the eggs and beat in one at a time. Add the vanilla.

3. In another bowl mix the flour, baking powder and salt together and then add this mixture to the wet mixture.

4. The mix should be quite doughy. Continue to bring it together to form a ball. If you think the dough is too sticky, add a touch more flour but don’t over do it as too much flour will make the dough tough.

5. Halve the dough, form into fat discs, wrap each one in clingfilm and put in the fridge for at least an hour.

6. When you’re ready to make, preheat oven to 180C/Gas mark 4 and take one of the dough discs out of the fridge.

7. Sprinkle the kitchen surface with flour and put the dough on it (leave the other half in the fridge until you’re ready to use it).
Sprinkle a little flour on top of the dough to stop it sticking to the rolling pin then roll out to about half cm thickness.

8. Cut shapes into the dough and put them on two greased or lined baking sheets.

9. Bake for 8-12 minutes; until they are golden around the edges.

10. Cool on a rack. When they are fully cooled you can start icing.

11. Add a couple of tablespoons of hot water into a large bowl containing the icing sugar and mix, adding more water if needed to form a thick paste.
Now colour as desired with food colouring –if you want different colours just separate out into different bowls.

NOTE: If you want your icing to be a very particular shape, with a sharp outline, put some of the icing into a piping bag, cut off the very end (or add a very small-holed nozzle and pipe the outline. Then losses down the rest of the icing with a touch more water and ‘fill in’ the area you want iced. I did a pretty poor job because I made the icing too thick. Still tastes great though :-)

Depending on what cookie cutter you’re using this will make around 50 biscuits.

heart biscuits

Posted in Food, Recipes | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

5 things I can’t live without

nikon camera

Ooh that’s a toughie isn’t it? Only five things; I have a huge list of things I can’t live without. Frivolous, pretty things mainly, but essential all the same.

So taking out things like the people I love and the things I absolutely HAVE to have like food and oxygen, here are my 5 things I can’t live without:

1. My iPhone
Yes I’ve tried others and I hate that I’m a slave to the fruity corporation, but I can’t help it.
I love that it’s my mobile office where ever I go. I love that I can always snap a photo without having to lug a big camera around with me. I love that I can ‘chat’ to a world of people when I’m lonely via various apps and social channels.
For someone who grew up in a time where you once had to sit on the stairs in the hallway to chat on the phone, I love how I can stay connected under the duvet in my own bed.

2. My camera
Despite having the ability to snap quick photos on my phone, I still could never ever give up my grown up camera.
It was a 40th birthday present from my husband who knows how much I love taking photos and it is one of my most prized possessions. These days I take a lot of sporting shots of my son playing rugby and or hockey and we giggle and dissect the photos after the game.
It has also given me some of the most precious memories of my children growing up.

3. Books
I’m all for technology and new fangled ways of making our lives easier, but I still crave the feel of a book in my hands. Turning the pages, seeing where your bookmark is, seeing it sat there on your bedside table, the smell of print.
I’m also that person who has bookshelves full of books from over the years that are very well looked after because I can’t bear to loan them to anyone incase they break the spine or – gasp – turn a page down at the corner. I don’t want them to be pristine but I do want them to be loved and respected. I know, I know.

4. Baby wipes.
I haven’t had babies for years now, but we still bulk buy wipes.
A pack in the kitchen, one upstairs and one in the car. They’re perfect for a quick wipe of the skirting boards, getting footprints off the back of the seats in the car and cleaning the mud off school shoes when you’re literally just about to leave the house and you discover they’re smeared in the stuff.

5. Diet Coke.
It’s my sweet treat of choice. My fix. Has to be icy cold straight from the fridge and in the can and I chug it down.
Sure I know water is better for me and I’m still a tea belly, but that can of Coke hits the spot.

So why am I sharing all this with you. British Gas has created a video called “What five things couldn’t you live without?” to get you thinking about how much the real essentials like energy in the home cost in relation to those everyday essentials.
Last year we had solar panels fitted on our roof and it really brought the issue of energy and how much we use and how much we pay right to the forefront of our thinking.
But do you know how much your energy costs?
I bet you know exactly how much you spend on those luxury essentials though, right?

So what are your 5 things?

For tips on how to conserve energy in the home and how to save money check out the British Gas’ The Source website as it is a great hub for information.

This is a sponsored post in collaboration with British Gas and their #NotWithout5Things project.

Posted in Lists, Sponsored | 6 Comments

The Photo Gallery 223: Boys

Boys

A tree to climb and a dog to run beside; that’s all this boy needs to bring a smile to his face.
Oh and maybe a big stick to bash the misshaped tree root which loomed large and black in front of us.
He didn’t say it but I could tell, feel it in my bones, that he wanted this photo taken. King of the hill. Lord of the trees.

We’re at that age where I can sometimes be greeted with an eyeroll or a deep, dramatic sigh if I suggest we all pile off to the woods for a few hours.
It’s like a switch is flicked at the age of 12 and the pre-teen shoulder slump kicks in.
To be fair, he does his best to fight it. Once we’re there, his cheeks bloom, his knees get steadily dirtier and he’ll run and climb and jabber jabber jabber none stop, whether someone is listening or not.
And he will flop into the sofa upon our return, exhausted and spent because he doesn’t do anything by half and he will give a deep, dramatic sigh of contentment.

This post is for week 223 of The Photo Gallery: The theme is: Boys.

Now it’s your turn to link up your post and join in. If you’re new here and want to know what the Photo Gallery feature is, go and read all about it, and then come right back and join in!

Here’s how to join in

Take a photo using the theme I’ve given as your inspiration. There are no rules and you can interpret the theme any way you like.

Now share your photo. Write a blog post using your photo. You can write as many or as few words as you choose. You don’t even need to use a new photo; it can be something from your archives. Just a photo which you think represents the prompt.

 Add the Photo Gallery badge (and the foot of this post) to your post so other readers can find the other entries.

 Add a link back to your post using the linky tool below. The linky stays open until Tuesday so you have plenty of time to join in.

Now go visit as many of the other entries as you can. Leave a comment, discover new blogs, discover new ways of taking photos and maybe share any tips you have. It’s about going out and encouraging each other.

The Photo Gallery isn’t about taking technically brilliant photos. You can take them on your phone, your point and shoot or your fancy pants camera. It’s about having a passion for photos, wanting to better yourself and discovering what other bloggers are doing.

If you’re using Twitter you can find us on the hashtag #TheGallery.

 The Photo Gallery is also on  Pinterest and Google +
Follow Tara Cain’s board The Photo Gallery on Pinterest.

To ensure you don’t miss a prompt, you can subscribe to the Sticky Fingers feed to have them delivered directly to your inbox every Friday.

 PLEASE don’t link dump – this is not that sort of linky!

Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery
<div align="center"><a href="http://www.thestickyfingersblog.com/the-photo-gallery" title="Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery"><img src="http://www.thestickyfingersblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/The-Gallery-e1372717730880.png" alt="Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery" style="border:none;" /></a></div>
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The Photo Gallery is open for absolutely ANYONE to join in – be you on blog, Instagram, Flickr or any platform where you an host a photo.

See you over there x

Posted in The Gallery | 9 Comments

Pop Books. For those who want to HOLD their photographs!

Pop Book review p

I’ve been trialling a new photography app from FujiFilm this week; you can order little pocket books of pictures straight from your phone using photos from your Instagram stream.
Yes, photos others can actually look at and touch!

This new photo service is called Pop Book – a mini book of photos that are small enough to  keep in your bag or pocket or even create to give as a gift.
I made two different types; one is 13 cm square and has a glossy finish with photo so of the dog (!) and the other is 10 cm square with a matt finish featuring general photos.
And they’re absolutely great. The photo quality is excellent, the books robust and at just under a fiver all in they make great little presents to send to someone.

Pop BookPop Books

IMG_7818Ordering a Pop Book is super easy.
1.  Download the free Pop Book app (currently only available on iOS but Android is on its way).
2. Once installed, click on the app and you are directed to choose your photos which can be from your phone’s camera roll, your Instagram account or your Facebook account.
3. Click on the photos you want to include (chosen photos will display a tick).
4. You can change the order of the photos if you want to, decide whether you want a black or a white border and whether you want your photos matt or glossy and that’s it.
5. You will next be directed to add your name and address and taken to the payment options.
And in the space of 10 minutes (or longer if you really can’t decide which photos to choose!) your Pop Book is ordered and will be on its way, all for just under a fiver.
My books actually only took just a couple of days to be delivered.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to order a book you can share your virtual creation online instead via Facebook, Twitter, Google + or by email.

You can theme your book, make one to celebrate a birthday, an anniversary, a holiday – the possibilities are endless.

Pop Book review 2

This is a sponsored post in conjunction with Pop Book, however all thoughts are my own.

Posted in Photography Review, Sponsored | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Things I have said to my daughter this week #2

Barbara Hulanicki icon bag

You know when you feel like you’re repeating yourself.
Over and over and over and over again.
That.

I wrote one of these posts back when Mia was just four. Not a lot has changed to be honest in the past five years! The one common factor is I feel like I’m on constant repeat.

❤ The dog is NOT allowed upstairs Mia.

❤ If I find another crushed Cheerio on the floor in the living room I will ban you from eating them ever again.

❤ Why is there a pair of your dirty school socks behind the cushion?

❤ I can hear the dog in your room Mia. Open the door.

❤ I know you didn’t brush your teeth Mia because you toothbrush is BONE dry.

❤ If you’re going to sneak a chocolate bar without me looking, it’s probably best you don’t stash the wrapper on  your window sill.

❤ Leave that poor dog alone.

❤ Why is there make up on your rug?

❤ Stop feeding the dog your cereal.

❤ Where is my very expensive lipstick?

❤ You have at least 15 notebooks, what on EARTH do you need another one for?

❤ No the dog doesn’t want you in his bed.

❤ No you can’t have a bag of crisps for dinner.

❤ Really, you need THAT MUCH STUFF to take in the car? We’re only popping to the supermarket.

❤ Yes of course you can have flowers in your bedroom.

❤ Thank you for the note under my pillow, Mia. It made my day.

Many thanks to Sian for sending Mia the fabulous (and giant) Iconclub giant tote bag by fashion giant Barbara Hulanicki pictured above. Now she can take EVEN MORE things and notebooks in the car . . . 

Posted in Dan & Mia, Lists | 12 Comments

The Photo Gallery: Week 223

Gallery logoHello and welcome to week 223 of The Photo Gallery.

I’ll keep things nice and simple for you this week and say straight off that this week’s gallery theme is: Boys.

Interpret the theme any way you like; your boy/boys, friends, old pictures, new pictures. Anything you like.
And don’t worry if you’re thinking to yourself ‘oh no, but I have a cracking ‘girls’ picture. That will be the theme next week!

I’ll see you back here on Wednesday when it’s time to link up x

The Photo Gallery is a weekly feature for all those who love photography and photographs.
I set it up back in 2010 to give everyone an outlet to share and encourage and write really interesting posts around their pictures.

It has always been about being part of a community of like-minded people. It’s about sparking your imagination, being inspiring – and inspiring others.

But remember, you will get out of The Gallery what you put in, so try to visit as many of the other entries as you can, say hi, discover new people, welcome them in when they discover you, be generous with your comments.

Remember, you can also share your entry via:
Twitter by using the hashtag: #TheGallery
Or by joining in the Gallery communities over on Pinterest and Google +

NEW HERE? NOT SURE HOW TO ENTER THE GALLERY?

If you’re new here, here’s a post to tell you all about what The Photo Gallery is all about and how to enter.
And if you want to make sure you don’t miss any prompts or entries in future, make sure you subscribe to the Sticky Fingers blog and get all prompts delivered directly to your in box.
Go on, clicky click away, you know you want to …

If you want to join in with The Gallery and showcase your photos, come back on Wednesday and when my Gallery post goes live, add a link to your post on the Linky below mine.
The link stays open until the following Tuesday, so you have plenty of time to join in.
And ANYONE can join in.

Posted in The Gallery Themes | Leave a comment