Thursday, 17 April 2014

Bobs birthday cake - step by step instructions

One of the drawbacks of having a child with multiple food allergies is the fact you cant just walk into a shop and buy them the cake of the moment in what ever design there little heart desires. But even for my own children as well as Fifi I have always tended to make their birthday cakes as part of their birthday anyway.

I think we have pretty much got the cake making down to a fine art now and so when Bob asked for a one eyed minion cake I was more worried about the decoration side of it than the baking side.My biggest tip I can give you is add milk  in fl oz half of your flour weight, ie if you are using 6oz flour use 3oz milk, this may appear to give a rather soft mix but makes for a much nicer less gritty tasting cake.

This one is wheat/gluten/egg/dairy/soya/nut free. Feel free and change the rice flour and milk to suit if need be.

I am going to share with you step by step instructions in case anybody else fancies giving it a go.

1) cream 6 oz dairy free margarine with 6 oz sugar. Cream well, this again helps to make a lighter cake.

2) mash a banana well, as your egg substitute, and then beat into cream mixture.

3) weight out 6 oz dove farm flour ( I could not get SR so used plain but either will work) and mix with 6 oz brown rice flour. Add 2 teaspoon gluten free baking powder ( 1 teaspoon if using SR flour).

4) add 6 oz rice milk 

5) place into either 2 greased six inch cake tins or (with hindsight) rectangular tins. Cook for approx 15 mins at 140oC (fan over) or until cooked. Make a yorkshire pudding sized cake as wel to use for his eye.

6) remove from oven, turn out of tins and leave to cool thoroughly. Whilst cake is cooling make dairy free butter icing, I made vanilla flavour.

7) once cake is completely cool stick two halves together with butter icing, spread a very thin layer on the top and sides, this is to help the roll out icing to stick.

Before we started making the cake we planned out our design on paper. The rectangular would have given a better shape to make into an actual minion.

8) roll out the yellow ready roll icing to cover the top and sides of your cake. sprinkle your board with a light coating of icing sugar to save the icing sticking.  Press gently to stick to the butter icing and trim neatly round the bottom.

9) shape the blue trousers, brush very lightly with water to attach blue to yellow and place neatly on top, again trim round bottom edge. Don't worry at this stage too much about getting some icing sugar on the coloured icing as you can lightly brush it with water once you have finished to remove it.

10) add his trouser braces.

11) using a small round cutter cut out his eye from the small cake. roll out white icing and cover eye.

12. roll out black icing to make a thin strip the width of the cake, brush lightly with water and stick on. Make a pupil with a small piece of black and add to the eye.

13) Roll together some black and white to make a grey for the ring round the eye.

14) we added yellow rolled icing to make arms with pieces of black as gloves/hands and pieces of black that Fifi shaped into boots. We then added two rolled out blue pieces to the top of the boots to look like trousers.

15) We brushed him down with a damp brush to get rid of visible icing sugar. Added an eight candle into his hand and wrote his name with a yellow icing pen down the side.

fun as a gran


Wednesday, 16 April 2014

A pollen calendar from the Met Office.

I saw this and thought of my readers, hope it helps some of you.

The pollen calendar below shows an average pattern of release of the main allergenic pollen in the UK. The severity and timing of the pollen seasons will differ from year-to-year depending on the weather, biological factors and geographical location.

Pollen in the UKSource:

Can we save money by growing our own vegetables?

Up until two years ago we had a fab agreement with an elderly couple that lived round the corner from us. We kept their garden tidy and weed free for them by using their garden as our allotment, growing vegetables of varying types.This for us was a great way of saving money, and taste so much better than shop bought.

Last year between hubby being ill and us moving house it was not possible for us to maintain that agreement and so with a heavy heart allowed them to let somebody else use it. Wasn't fair on the old couple to have to look at a messy garden.

We had hoped when we moved in last year that we would  be able to turn a chunk of our garden over to a large vegetable patch, but sadly it is full of half bricks and rubble with very little soil, and it is just not going to be feasible. Looking at making it into raised beds for next year, but for this year we have had to rethink things.

Was also hoping to have some chickens running about the garden as well, but the shed we were going to adapt is too far gone to be viable. So they will need rethinking as well.

Anyway I wanted to grow stuff and so when I got an e-mail from Debt Free Direct asking me would I like to join in with a blogging challenge I jumped at the chance. Debt Free Direct provide thrifty tips and money saving ideas on their blog "Making Money Go Further" written by their money experts. The challenge is to grow your own vegetables in whatever space you have available, be that a large garden or a small balcony,  thereby saving money later in the year.

I have put a lot of thought into how the garden is going to work this year as I really want to produce food.
Anyway we have had some lovely weather this last week and so I decided it was about time we got started.

So in preparation for what I have in mind hubby has been out cleaning the slabs so that I can use them for placing potato and  vegetable bags on as well as some pots.


Bob has been helping me plant up various seeds. we have



strawberries in a strawberry bag

I had him filling wee pots ready for the seeds.

filling pots with compost

some have sweetcorn in

and others have  peas. 

Here you will see the fence is down. It is not ours it is the neighbours but hopefully it will be back up in the next few weeks so that I can put the pea nets up to support the climbing vegetables when the time comes.

and carrots

I also opted for some chives, parsley and rocket in pots you just need to water. Herbs are a much healthier way to add flavour than salt is.

opening the pots

Then everything got popped into the greenhouse to give them the best chance of growing. We are still getting overnight frosts at the moment here. I chose this greenhouse as it has shelves on one side for trays and pots, and the other side is just a tall space that will be used for tomatoes. 

Just need to keep an eye on them now to make sure they don't dry out. Hopefully this is the first of a series of posts with updates as the growing season progresses. 

Disclaimer - These products were sent to me courtesy of Debt Free Direct. However, all opinions in this post are 100% my own

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Hot Wheels track builder system.

Bob loves cars and car tracks, and so when we were asked by Hot Wheels to review the new Hot Wheels Track Builder System; 4-Lane Tower Starter Set how could we have said no? 

the starter kit
Product Description
This super tower delivers higher thrills! For more creative and captivating racing, this starter set offers 'do it yourself' fun for boys and includes a full play pattern. Race five cars in four different directions! (one car is included; others sold separately, subject to availability). Brave sky-high ramps, jump through flames and compete in a furious side-by-side race. The cool set features multiple places for even more tracks to connect (sold separately). It's a visual spectacle of steep hills, diverse action and an entire Hot Wheels system unto itself!

the main tower can take five tracks.

The starter kit allows for 2 cars to race down the track (only one car is supplied)  to see which one wins. It is operated by simply pressing the large red flame shape on top of the track. This button releases any other cars you may have on the other starting points.

Tracks can be attached to as many or as few of these as you like.
Despite the blurb from Hot Wheels, girls can have as much fin as boys with this - a pet hate of mine is toys that are described for one sex or the other, in our modern enlightened age toys are unisex!!

RRP for this set is £21.99

The first car to the bottom triggers the flag so you know who has won. This got my two competitive seeing who could win the most. It also brought in science with them working out did heavier cars run faster than light ones, as they worked their way through the car box testing them all out.

and afterwards shows you which car won. 

the flag is set ready for the race

We also received a track builder dare devil drop
 On this Daredevil Drop, you had better watch out below! Freefall in an insane drop down the ramp and race across the track to leap through a ring of "fire!" Watch out! There's another car on the track ready to knock you off course! If you can dream it, you can build it with Track Builder! Each sold separately, subject to availability. Ages 3 and older.

So we put them together, the children managed to help with this, it does require a bit of strength in your hands but as each piece really fits anywhere there is not right or wrong on layout. Bob did struggle when trying to get them apart to redesign into a different layout but Fifi could manage.

The car on the dare devil drop is triggered by the other cars, they run across a button which activates the car to fall.

the drop at the bottom of the main track

 Many different lay outs are possible , here the drop is connected to the side of the main track.

you can see the yellow flames on the single track
 They had fun retrieving the cars after they had raced them to see who won.

Here that have the drop at 180 degrees to the main track This dare devil drop is part of the Hot Wheels Deluxe Stunt Assortment  and has an RRP of £9.99

 Both the children enjoyed playing with the tracks and got quite competitive over  either who's triggered the flag or who's went the furthest. I liked that this is quick and easy to set up and means we do not have to keep it assembled.

You will find these, and other Hot Wheels sets at Argos, Tesco and Toys R Us

Why not check out the awesome new Team Hot Wheels Animation here?

Why not check out the latest Hot Wheels promotion; Catch the Gold Car!  Simply buy any 10 Hot Wheels cars and send in your receipts to the address you'll find at to receive your FREE Gold Car!

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Project 365 week 15 - 6th - 12th April


A great start to the day. I make my own yoghurt, a litre at the time and store it in a large tub in the fridge. I took it out the fridge this morning.....and promptly dropped it on the floor.As a seasoned 365'er what else could I do but photograph it before I cleaned it up


We never got chance last year to plant anything in the garden with moving house in June. I had big plans for this garden but sadly they are not going to pan out the way we hoped. The garden is not dig-able,the bit we wanted to use has bricks and chunks of rock in it. We have two choices here, a raised bed or leave it till we can afford chickens and put them on it, time will tell which we go with. 

So when I was offered some gardening products from Wilko I chose bags for the potatoes, veg and strawberries to grow in as these can sit on the slabs at the bottom end of the garden. Hopefully next door will have their fence back up so that I can put up nets and canes for them to grow up. 


We picked up Daughter No3 and went off to visit a friend who recently moved to the far side of Stirling. 
We went for a walk round Woodhill Wood while we were there. Didn't have time to go round all of it but it was very pretty. 

Had to chuckle, the sun was out and so OH and Daughter decided to make shadow puppets....never to old...


Had been asked by a friend if I would give crochet lessons at the over 55 club that meets once a month in the local Salvation Army hall. So I went along today, met some very friendly people and started three of them off on hopefully their new hobby. Was a learning curve for me so have decided before I go back that I will make up some small examples of  varying stitches so that they can see what they are aiming at, and also going to print off some basic stitch instructions as well so they can take the equipment home and practice. 

Here are three of the ladies during our wee tea break. I won a spot prize as did the lady in the white top. 


I had baked cakes for the children earlier today. The plan was they were going to design an Easter egg to decorate the top of their cakes with. But when I picked them up as it was such a lovely afternoon we decided to go for a walk, they were offered Failford or Auchencruive, they chose the latter.

But when we got there we decided on the spur of the moment to try geocaching. The kids loved it, we walked for nearly three hours, so needless to say the cakes were not decorated. You can read our post here if you wish to. They want to go back and do some more. will need to check my data useage but if I have enough may well go on Tuesday weather permitting. 

they found three caches


As I had made the cakes for them to decorate, I had them back tonight to decorate them instead. I had given them a paper egg shape last night and asked them to design their own egg shape to go on their cake. Next Thursday is Bob's birthday so he wont be over to stay then which is why we have made them this week. 


Away to work for another long shift, very few opportunities will present themselves during the day so here you have my typical breakfast. 

peppermint tea and shreddies with blueberries and yoghurt

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Friday, 11 April 2014

Geocaching at Auchincruive.

When I picked the children up yesterday afternoon it was lovely. They had been cooped up in the house all day so I decided they were going for a walk. I offered them Failford or Auchincruive, and they chose Auchincruive so off we set.

This was only suppose to be a half hour play along the river, but it actually turned into a two and three quarter hour geocaching adventure. Not once did either of them moan they were bored, tired or fed up.

We started off up at the monument as there is suppose to be one near there, but we could not find the style they were on about that is the starting point so after fifteen mins of wandering back and forth up and down we gave up.

So we just decided to head back across the bridge and walk along the river.But turns out there were three along this side of the river so we decided as its only a fairly narrow path with a river on one side and a fence on another they should not be too difficult.

playing at the river

Fifi found the first one

Bob had been looking as well but only found stinging nettles

Fifi takes the contents out

and we signed the log

you can see Bob in the background, he just been stung

and we put it back

We carried on along the path, knew we were in the correct area but could not
find the second one, so we carried on.

they were both taking photographs along the way. 

We carried on as far as the fishermans path goes, as the third one was at the very end.

We found this one without too much trouble and we et Bob open it and take the contents out.

We found Oswalds end. 

Bob took the lid off

took the contents out

and looked at the toys

we signed the log

and put this one back as well. 

As we had to come back the path we went along we decided to have another look for the one in the middle. We eventually found it, inside the waterfa bit. Was a bit wet and sippy for the children so I risked life and limb.....ok getting my feet wet, and we found this one as well.

inside the waterfall

interesting contents in this one

with an even more interesting lid

again we popped it back.

and marched on our merry way.

lots of trees had red dots on them, no idea why

we went back over the wall

Back to the car. The children really enjoyed themselves, once they learnt what sort of thing they were looking for it became more enjoyable. 

They enjoyed it enough they want to go back, so next time we will take a few treasures so they can swap but plan it before hand and print off the clues and instructions for ach one, save me having to flip back and forth between programmes on the phone. 

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall