My Top 5 Favourite Cakes

chocolate marble cake My Top 5 Favourite Cakes

I like to cover all the important issues here on the blog.
And now the Great British Bake Off is back on our television my mind has been spending a great deal of time mulling this over.
This is the TV show me and my 11 year old sporty son curl up to watch together believe it or not. We OOOO and AAHHH and ‘I wouldn’t have done that would you?’ over it.
So here is my list. There is no Battenburg cake in there because marzipan, URGH. And there’s no cupcakes because as far as I’m concerned they’re just mini versions of the big boys. And no cakes with alcohol because alcohol should only ever be in a glass in my mind.
So, in no particular order, with no science involved, no conferring and ignoring what everyone else thinks, here are my top 5 favourite cakes of all time. Because I’ve made and tasted A LOT OF CAKES.

VICTORIA SPONGE
The queen of cakes. If made well, you just can’t beat it. Perfect with a cup of tea – and that right there is why it gets onto my top 5 list.
I love it’s simplicity and the fact that it looks so very British!
If you want to try making one for yourself, here’s my Mary Berry recipe for Victoria Sponge. Watch it disappear.
I also love the photos and story behind Stone Soup’s Victoria Sponge.

Victoria Sponge My Top 5 Favourite Cakes

CARROT CAKE
A good, well made, moist carrot cake is the food of the gods. And let’s face it, as it has carrots in it’s practically good for you. I’ve seen versions of a carrot cake where the basics (carrots, walnuts, cream cheese frosting) have been tinkered with but the traditional recipe is by far the best.
One of my favourites is a recipe from the Innocent cookbook which you can cut up and add to lunch boxes. And that’s the beauty of it, it’s a recipe you can easily make with the chidlren as Mari shows with this Carrot Cake recipe over at Mari’s World.

Innocent carrot cake recipe 1024x729 My Top 5 Favourite Cakes

GINGERBREAD CAKE
The smell of ginger cake cooking in your kitchen has got to be right up there in the Best Smells in the World lists. Well, mine anyway.
I love that this cake is slightly spicy and warming and I’ll take it either with icing or without.
Here’s a recipe from Cornish food blog Jam and Clotted Cream who adapted a Nigel Slater recipe to use up some let over stem ginger she had hanging around the kitchen.

Gingerbread cake 1024x765 My Top 5 Favourite Cakes
LEMON DRIZZLE CAKE
Another perfect accompaniment to an afternoon cuppa. Zesty, light and packed with flavour, I prefer my drizzle cake with a crunchy sugar syrup topping but I’ll happily much on one that’s been iced too. I’m not fussy.
It very much reminds me of English tea rooms in Devon or Cornwall and stumbling on little bake houses where they whip up such yummy wares.
Check our English Mum’s recipe for Lemon Drizzle Cake.

English Mum Lemon Drizzle Cake My Top 5 Favourite Cakes

SWISS ROLL
Maybe because it reminds me of my childhood or maybe it’s the shape or maybe it’s because I know how delicate a balance you have to strike when rolling up your creation to make that distinctive roll, but mmmmmmmmm Swiss roll.
I absolutely love the look of this Lemon Curd Swiss Roll from the Krazy Kitchen who so beautifully creates a a design on the outside of her roll. Not something I think I’d attempt, but I’d absolutely help her eat it *smiley face*.

Krazy Kitchen lemon curd swiss roll 675x1024 My Top 5 Favourite Cakes
And as one extra, I actually had a cake made for me in my blog’s name! How cool is that? Here is the Sticky Fingers Fridge Cake made by Mummy Mishaps.
Chocolately, soft and squidgey, and so very moreish.

Sticky Fingers Fridge Cake My Top 5 Favourite Cakes

Posted in Food, Lists | Tagged | 3 Comments

The Photo Gallery: Week 198

Gallery logo The Photo Gallery: Week 198Hello and welcome to week 198 of The Photo Gallery.

You’ll NEVER guess what the theme is going to be. Given it’s the end of the school summer holidays. And it’s time for children up and down the land to go back to school . . .

Yes, yes, the theme for the next Photo Gallery is indeed: School.
Of course some have already made the return, some are yet to restart and some are starting for the very first time.
I was chatting to my friend Sian on Twitter yesterday about how emotional we get when our children go back to their classrooms after six weeks at home. Whatever the age – my oldest is 11 now and it still bites.

We do the manic uniform buying thing, naming everything, school shoe shopping, getting them back into a decent bedtime routine. But all the while it feels like a clock counting down the days until the house feels very empty and hollow again.
But on a positive note, at least I get lots more work done!

Want to join in?

The Gallery started back in 2010 when I kicked it off for the first time with this post: Photo Gallery Week 1. There were loads of comments but when I moved this blog over to WordPress, Intense Debate ate them all up. But suffice to say some of you guys who still join in today were back there with me on that first week. And that is just amazing!

I set the Gallery up because I love photography. And I wanted to give everyone else an outlet to share and encourage and write really interesting posts around them.
And 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.

See you on Wednesday when it’s time to link up x

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 and want to find out what The Photo Gallery is all about and how to enter visit here.
And if you want to make sure you don’t miss any prompts or entries in future, make sure you subscribe to Sticky Fingers 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 School, The Gallery Themes | Tagged | Leave a comment

Back to school with Brantano shoes

brantano school shoes Back to school with Brantano shoes
The dreaded back to school shoe buying session. With two kids. Who don’t want to go shoe shopping.
Always a winner.
In stores up and down the land, parents gather together like penguins amidst the chatter and screeching of bored kids, giving each other the ‘you too?’ sympathetic raised eyes.
You know the scene don’t you? That pressure to get it right when you’re spending, quite frankly, a LOT of money.

Well, I did ours at Brantano this week.
I know nothing about the store as there isn’t one close to us so I had no idea of the sorts of shoes they stock or whether they have qualified fitters there or whether they were braced to pacify eye-rolling kids who want to check out the One Direction bags instead of pick out a booooooring pair of school shoes.

brantano store Back to school with Brantano shoes

So when Brantano contacted me to see if I would give one of their stores a whirl and review the service I confess I was apprehensive.
We normally visit the independent store in town and jostle our way to the kids section where we wait for what seems like FOREVER for our ticket number to be called.
When we arrive at Brantano at The Fort Shopping Centre just off the M6 in Birmingham, the store is nothing like we usually visit. There are no fancy displays or ticket dispensers. The store is a multi-coloured sea of shoe boxes divided into sections based on size.
And there are also a sea of staff waiting to help, measure, fit, find. Hence no need for the tickets I guess.
It looks a bit daunting; there are shoes everywhere!

Store manager Bal takes both of my kids in hand and sorts them out.
11-year-old Dan has to have shoes with laces this year. He’s not happy about that AT ALL. He usually wears trainer/shoe crosses for maximum football in the playground flexibility. On top of that he’s now in a size 6 which means he’s on that verge between boys and mens shoes. And he doesn’t like “grown-up men’s shoes”.
Nearly nine-year old Mia will want whatever is the most unsuitable shoe for school. She wants high heels or thin soles or some shoe with zips all over them.
Bal has them both sorted within half an hour. They’re both happy. She has been very, very thorough. I am delighted. Half an hour!

brantano school shoe fitting Back to school with Brantano shoes

Of course, as a blogger I suspect I’m being given special treatment so I look around at the other parents in the store doing the back to school thing.
And they too seem to be getting the same thorough once over.

So we leave with a pair of shoes each that both children love and I’ve only broken into a very, very mild sweat from the pressure of getting it right.

hush puppy school shoes Back to school with Brantano shoes clarks school shoes older boys Back to school with Brantano shoes brantano back to school shoes  Back to school with Brantano shoesWe received a pair of shoes for each of the children in exchange for this review. 

 

Posted in Fashion Review, Reviews, School | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

The best beach bag in the world

beach bag collage The best beach bag in the world
OK it’s a bit of a wild claim, but I’ve just been on a beach holiday with the above mentioned bag and it was perfection.
And you don’t get much higher praise than that.
The absolute perfect size to fit in the overhead luggage compartment on an aeroplane, pockets galore, a little key ring for the keys, big enough to fit the whole family’s bumph in but not so big I couldn’t carry it around everywhere. Sturdy, stylish and definitely coming with us when we go anywhere again.
I adored it.
Indeed, it came with us everywhere on our two-week holiday. Absolutely everywhere. So much so that I started sending Instagram photos back to the Old Bag Company showing them where their bag was holidaying!
So thanks Old Bag Company. I was a bit ‘not really sure if I want to review a canvas beach bag. Not sure what I’d say’ when you offered me one. I’m SO glad I don’t listen to myself!

old bag company beach bag The best beach bag in the worldThe Charlotte Beach Bag shows off her best side on a Caribbean cruise with Royal Caribbean. Her bright pink polka dots fit right in!

old bag company beach bag 2 The best beach bag in the worldOff horse riding on the Caribbean island of St Maartin. Change of clothes, sunglasses, hats, sun lotion, camera. Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick.

old bag company beach bag 3 The best beach bag in the worldLounging on the beach at Naples, in Florida. Not the slightest bit bothered about all the sand and bits of seaweed and shells Mia throws her way.

beach bag The best beach bag in the world

Posted in Other Review, Reviews, Travel | Leave a comment

The Photo Gallery 197: Summer

Tree climbing The Photo Gallery 197: Summer

This summer has been a bit of a WOW few weeks for us.
We’ve been on an amazing holiday, cruising the Caribbean, exploring the south west of Florida. We’ve had lots of time to spend together going to the movies, having people over, new sporting activities, visiting old friends.

But I think one of my favourite days for it’s sheer simplicity and the fact that it made me feel really blessed to have such great friends, was an impromptu day out at Ragley Hall.
We hung out, played rounders, had a picnic, lay in the sunshine, messed about on the water in canoes then rounded off the day by running/rolling down a big grassy hill.
Of course, Mia also got to climb a tree.
And the giggling, so so much giggling.

They will undoubtably hate this photo, but Alison and Ester you and your families are wonderful friends and I feel a warm glow when I think of this day full of simple pleasures, happy children and big smiley faces.
(By the way, the boys were RUBBISH at rolling down the hill. Vered off into the trees and everything. Clearly at the age of 11 you lose that particular life skill).

running down a hill The Photo Gallery 197: Summer

This post is for week 197 of The Photo Gallery: The theme is: Summer.
If you’re new here and want to know what The Gallery is, go and read here, and then come right back and join in!

 You can also pick up The Gallery code if you want too, though it’s not a requirement for joining in.
And you could also subscribe to this blog to make sure you never miss a theme; they are posted here every Friday.

Now go forth and show some big blog love. Visit other bloggers, comment on their post if you feel moved to do so, and be inspired.
This virtual gallery of photographs is about enjoying each other’s work, so go make someone’s day. You will get out of this whatever you put in.

The link stays open until Tuesday so you have plenty of time to join in.
And absolutely ANYONE can join in.

You can also find The Photo Gallery on: Pinterest Google + Follow Tara Cain’s board The Photo Gallery on Pinterest.

See you over there x



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All you need to know about the 100 Years Of Magic: Disney On Ice Tour

100 Years Of Magic Disney On Ice Tour All you need to know about the 100 Years Of Magic: Disney On Ice TourThe first thing you need to know about Disney is they are fabulous.
Everything they do is executed with style and panache and the utmost detail.
My two children don’t get a look in as far as anything Disney related is concerned – because I am the biggest fan in this house.
And now their ice show is on tour and you can guarantee that this too will be of the same huge standard and have the same liberal sprinkling of magical fairy dust that Disney give to everything else they do.

100 Years Of Magic Disney On Ice Tour Toy Story All you need to know about the 100 Years Of Magic: Disney On Ice Tour

So here is everything you need to know about the Disney on Ice show:

  1. The nationwide tour kicked off in March, and throughout September, October and November will make it’s way from Glasgow to Manchester and Birmingham. It will eventually find it’s way to London at the end of the year.
  2. It features more than 60 of Disney’s fabulous characters from 18 well-loved stories. Characters include Goofy, Donald Duck, Pinocchio, the Disney Princesses, Toy Story, Finding Nemo and, of course, Mickey Mouse himself.
  3. The magical show features fairy castles, underwater caves and even a toy shelf.
  4. Venues include Andy’s Bedroom, under the ocean waves with Ariel and into Tinker Bell’s domain at Pixie Hollow.
  5. This is a family show so all ages are welcome and it runs for approximately 90 minutes with a 15 minute intermission.
  6. There are 20 synchronised skating Genies. That’s lots of mischief right there!
  7. If you are planning to travel to see the shows there is affordable accommodation near by – you can try the Holiday Inn Glasgow, the Crowne Plaza Manchester or the Crowne Plaza Birmingham.

This is a sponsored post. 

 

Posted in Disney | 2 Comments

The Sticky Fingers #IceBucketChallenge

Ah the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.
That hashtag is quite literally all over the internet now. People loving it, people hating it, people not having the foggiest idea what it’s for or who it’s for or why a bunch of people they know, people they don’t know and very well known celebrities are joining in.

I got nominated this week and I’ll be quite honest with you, my initial reaction was ‘oh sweet potato pie, NO. No no no no no’. Do I really want to do it? Do I really want to clog up everyone’s timeline with yet another video of someone screeching when a bucket of ice water gets dumped over their head? Thanks a BUNCH for the nomination Alison.
And if that’s not bad enough, I’d then have nominate another three more poor souls who will probably go ‘urgh’ when they realise I’ve roped them in too.

Then my 11 year old asked me what it’s all about it. And I told him. And we both took a moment. And then I thought here’s me all ‘urgh’ about a moment of discomfort when there are people out there whose whole life is discomfort. And there’s no going back to sharing cute pet photos and funny quotes on Facebook once the Ice Bucket Challenge is over for them.
This is their moment right now. This is the few weeks/months/year/whatever when we all concentrate our gaze on them. When we all talk about ALS. And some of us donate, and some of us Google it, and some of us bite our bottom lips as David Beckham and Matt Damon stand in their back gardens and do what the rest of us are doing.
Yes there are many other charities out there who need help, yes it’s easy to get ‘charity fatigue’. But right now it’s their turn.

Then I saw this video. Silly man, grinding around in a girls bikini for 2 minutes. But keep watching until those 2 minutes are up and maybe you too will see the Ice Bucket Challenge in a new light.
“You have no idea how every single challenge makes me feel . . .  lifts my spirits, lifts every single ALS patient’s spirits. You really are making a difference and we are so so so grateful.”

So I did the Ice Bucket Challenge. With my two kids. Because they wanted to know what it was all about too.
We discovered that ALS is Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, which in the UK is known as MND – Motor Neurone Disease. Is a progressive disease that attacks the motor neurones, or nerves, in the brain and spinal cord. This means messages gradually stop reaching muscles, which leads to weakness and wasting.
It’s absolutely awful.
I don’t know anyone with this disease but I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

And what I can do is use my voice, use the blog I love to help spread the message.
So, most importantly, here’s how to donate: Visit the MND Just Giving page, Text ICED55 followed by an amount (such as £5) to 70070 or call 01604 611860 referencing the ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’.

Posted in Charity, Me | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Win a chocolate hamper worth £59.99

Chocolate hamper Win a chocolate hamper worth £59.99

How do you fancy getting your hands on more than 1.2kg of rich, velvety chocolate?
Or giving someone the surprise of their life when you arrive on their doorstep with this lovely hamper of chocolatey goodness?!

I’ve teamed up with Serenata Flowers to give this hamper away to one lucky reader.
The Ultimate Chocolate Hamper is overflowing with white, dark and milk chocolates including tantalising truffles, tangy fruit and nom nom nom nut fillings.
Inside the hamper you will find luxury chocolate-coated peanuts and raisins, a Belgian truffle assortment, luxury dark chocolate-coated Brazil nuts and ginger, Cotswold handmade dark chocolate meringues, white chocolate-covered strawberries, Handmade Belgian chocolate infused fudge, Belgian chocolates and Champagne and strawberry truffles.
All kept in a willow basket. So you can hide it under your bed *cough*.

So how do I get my hands on this hamper of loveliness I hear you asking.
Well, all you need to do is fill in the widget below. It’s ridiculously easy.
Then keep your fingers crossed.

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 chocolate hamper from Serenata Flowers worth £59.99.
Entry is via Rafflecopter.
Make sure your contact details are easily available.
The competition closes at on Tuesday, September 2, 2014.
One winner will be chosen at random 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 Competition | 195 Comments

The Photo Gallery: Week 197

Gallery logo The Photo Gallery: Week 197Hello and welcome to week 197 of The Photo Gallery.

I’m keeping it short and simple this week because it’s still the school summer holidays and I’ve barely had time to take a breath, let alone get out and about and take nice photos.

But here’s the thing, I BLOODY LOVE THE SCHOOL SUMMER HOLIDAYS. I love being able to spend lots of time with the kids, have lie ins, laze around, spend lazy days with friends.
The trade off for me as a work at home mum is that most of my work has to be done in the evenings. But it’s a small price to pay for being given the chance to run through the holidays with my arms outstretched at either side, soaring like an aeroplane. Metaphorically speaking of course.

So, after all that ramble, the theme for the next Photo Gallery is: Summer.
Show us your summer. What’s it been like, where have you been, what have you done, what have you experience.
And if you can manage to do that in one photograph I will be amazed!

The Gallery started back in 2010 when I kicked it off for the first time with this post: Photo Gallery Week 1. There were loads of comments but when I moved this blog over to WordPress, Intense Debate ate them all up. But suffice to say some of you guys who still join in today were back there with me on that first week. And that is just amazing!

I set the Gallery up because I love photography. And I wanted to give everyone else an outlet to share and encourage and write really interesting posts around them.
And 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.

See you on Wednesday when it’s time to link up x

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 and want to find out what The Photo Gallery is all about and how to enter visit here.
And if you want to make sure you don’t miss any prompts or entries in future, make sure you subscribe to Sticky Fingers 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

Introducing new interiors site Joss & Main

 

joss main1 Introducing new interiors site Joss & Main

Today I’m guest posting over at the gorgeous interiors site Joss & Main.
The brand came to the UK from America earlier this year and the site is packed full off gorgeous homes ware, kitchen goods, outdoor accessories and much much more.
If you’re anything like me you’ll be lost on the site for HOURS!
And as if that wasn’t reason enough to have a look, prices are all upto 70% off the retail value.

Joss & Main is basically a premier members-only site that’s the equivalent of one of those gorgeous homes ware shops you stumble on and everything is beautiful and yet a fraction of the price.
Membership is free and really easy (you just add your email address) and you are offered limited-time sales on various items in their curated events which usually last around three days.
How do I join I hear you ask? Right here: Join Joss & Main with Sticky Fingers.
If you buy something let me know, If you find a bargain let me know and if you see something I should be buying LET ME KNOW!

This week the site is all about blending fun and functional in children’s rooms as the Kiddie Cool event kicks off on Joss & Main with lots of lovely decorating and furniture ideas to create the perfect child’s bedroom. And of course, I’m there sharing my favourite bits and pieces.

Today I’m sharing 10 Styling Tips for a Fabulous Children’s Bedroom on their online magazine Plume, which again is a lovely area full of ideas, DIY tips, interviews and inspiration. If you love homes you will love this.

Posted in On the web | Tagged | 2 Comments