Monday, September 9, 2013

Life... summer hols are most definitely over

Hi all. So the hols are over and I have neglected everything bar the family in the pursuit of dealing with the holidays. The dreaded holidays with a toddler and a five year old. Hmmmmmm. A post on that one soon.

I haven't forgotten the blog it just went on holiday too. I have plenty of Rustic Baker bits and a couple of subjects to blog in mind. So onwards and upwards peeps. Post soon :-)

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Love... the rustic baker & Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to all you excellent Dads out there. In our house baking is always in order for those celebration days. So Oldest One and I created a ginormous cake of many colours and loads of sugar! It's your basic sponge dyed 2 different colours. Admittedly the top half was meant to be blue but the red came out well. I have since discovered that I should have used a white cake recipe to get the true colours I wanted but hey ho it looks great and the Husband loved it. Just a note for the future don't decorate near Youngest One, she is a food machine and couldn't understand why she couldn't eat the sweets, cake, icing, in fact the whole shebang. 

Friday, June 14, 2013

Love... the rustic baker

So in a week where Oldest One has been in and out of school and we've reached the end of a long week filled with an ear infection, a quick bake was in order this morning. I was reminded late last night by my friend Nikki that I had neglected to make flapjacks recently. This was strongly seconded by her other half Mark. So in between dealing with Oldest One, I was mulling over a few ideas in my head so I could make some in the morning. With Oldest One out of school again I whipped out the baking tray and a whole host of ingredients. 

I used the basic flapjack ingredients of 150g butter or in this case a margarine based spread, 200g sugar and a whole wodge of golden syrup, typically over 60ml. I whacked in a load of ground ginger and slowly melted it down. Then I added Fluff. Not sure if you've heard of this stuff, its like a spreadable marshmallow but vegetarian. I let that melt down then took the pan off the heat and immediately added 350g of porridge oats of different sizes and a wodge of dried cranberries and desiccated coconut. By a wodge I mean bung in as much or as little as you want. Put in a baking paper lined tray and into the oven for approx 10 minutes. 

Nikki and Mark I hope you love them. They tasted delish whilst still in the pan :-)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Love... the rustic baker

When your kid is off sick from school sometimes the only way to get better is going into the kitchen and baking something that tastes great. Luckily Oldest One just has an ear ache but he is still feeling a little crap.

I found this recipe yesterday and include the link because I loved all the comments with recipe ideas. As usual I ignored most of the recipe and added my own twist. These are a version of Millie's cookies, super soft and super yum. I added chocolate spread as I found an unopened jar under the sink, coconut and choc chips. The dough is absolutely delish. Baking time is variable but I am aiming for squooshyness. They look good enough to have with a big fat mug of tea. Yum

If link doesn't work look up Millie's cookies and it is the bbc good food recipe. Just to report I achieved squooshy-chewiness :-)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Love... the rustic baker

The Death Star epic cake made earlier this week for Oldest One's birthday was a blast to make. However when the light saber-esq candles were lit and presented through a massive chorus of that old classic, i made the mistake of asking if he knew what it was, I was informed with that look "it's a chocolate cake"! Great. All that effort....

Anyway I decided to kick back and relax with some lemon and lime cake. An adaptation of The Hummingbird Bakery lemon cake. Only think I was disappointed with was the icing glaze that looked more like a weak splat of nothingness.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Love.....the rustic baker birthday style

To my gorgeous Oldest One a birthday cake supreme. We love Lego and Star Wars here so this year I decided to take the challenge of making a Death Star in cake form. My friend AtNumber29 sent me a link to a youtube guy who had made a similar cake. But as usual I wanted to go one better!

I used a recipe from Jo Wheatley's A Passion for Baking, yes I am a fan, but added a few twists like popping candy and using  ground almonds and more melted chocolate as I didn't have cocoa powder to hand. A lovely lady who sells cake decorating bits 'n' pieces gave me an excellent tip to make grey icing; use some ready made black icing and knead it into the ready made white icing. Genius. No black hands to explain to my child!

This cake had the works, allergy friendly butter cream courtesy of Betty Crocker, popping candy, chocolate, marzipan and finally icing. Must not forget Darth Vader!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Family........swallows and amazons

As usual the half term is winding down quickly and we had yet to start the homework That was set. Although the suggested project was an opt in I'm not sure how many parents - sorry kids - will go to school without a completed project. 

I knew that a boat required certain elements such as a floaty bit, a sail and somewhere to sit! Plastic bottles would do the trick as would fruit packaging. We duly collected the items and left them in a box to wait till the last minute. It really is last minute as supper and bedtime all happen in the next couple of hours......

Armed with scissors, brown tape, bendy straws and various bits of plastic and voila a boat that actually floats and carries plastic playmobil people. The sail is a triumph...... Oldest One will go to school with a boat and the rest of the homework we just spent the last hour doing. Hoorah! 

I want to say lots of piratey stuff but can only think of that drunken sailor song. So I'll be toasting this project with a glass of the finest and wiping the brow being thankful we did it. Obviously it was all down to Oldest One and he was essentially project manger whilst I did the grunt work.......typical.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Love........the rustic baker

I am following the 5:2 diet where for those who don't know, you fast for 2 non-consecutive days of the week and feast the the rest of the week.  Each fast day you consume 500 calories for a woman or 600 if you're a man. It's only the second week and the fasts do get easier.

The Rustic Baker has been doing other things or using pre-prepared packs for easy baking so I knew I had to do some proper baking and not just adding eggs and oil! And it had to be today. Something to break my fast. Nothing wrong with pre-prepared mixes. Some are excellent. Maybe I'll review in future. 

But I miss baking. So last night I left a message for Jo Wheatley via Facebook asking what she'd make to break a fast. She came up with apple cake. So as usual I looked at the recipes in her books, chose a yummy one and then as Fleetwood Mac say "go your own way". So in homage to Jo's recipe of Blackberry and Apple Loaf Cake I made mine with cinnamon added to the crumble crust and cake base and then upped the numbers for each of the ingredients. I haven't baked for a while and normally  take samples for the lovely mums at school. So lets hope they like this one.

I also decided to bake a loaf of white & brown, Paul Hollywood style. At 8.20 this morning I was still kneading and we have to leave at around 8.30...... Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


I am fast learning that when it comes to school there is always homework of some sort or another even for a Reception class. This is especially true if it is for extra curricular activities that occur on a Saturday. We've had a singing event and now the school is involved in a Bollywood-fest. Not that we will be there for the Bollywood march past on the weekend in question. But there is a catwalk show of sorts in the playground. 

So as usual the day before said event I am rushing around trying to find stuff for Oldest One to wear. All day. At school. 

What the hell does a boy wear as a Bollywood boy and why is it easier to dress a girl? Sparkly scarf and voila a sari. So amongst all the ideas which were hardly brilliant, I contemplated giving Oldest One a dirty t-shirt with the words in felt tip "slum dog millionaire" or a t-shirt with "slave labour made this" but rapidly decided that these were a political step too far. So I had a rummage in the dressing up box which is isn't a box at all but dressing up crap flung in all directions all over the house. Found a cloak I made for him last year. He looked like Frodo in it so decided that would do. I would make him an Indian Prince. Luckily the school obliged by having a sale and instead of digging out the sewing machine, I bought a ready made sequin shift top, reasoning that we would one day have a proper dressing up box and it could go in there. Found the superman belt and there it was, the basis of a good outfit. 

Next to the accessories. All Princes need to show their obvious wealth so I made a curved dagger, a crown of sorts and a cuff (Oldest One requested the cuff). It is amazing what cardboard, a toilet roll tube, gold paper plate, sellotape and a bunch of glued on plastic gems can do. We are the epitome of Blue Peter in our house. I am quietly chuffed with myself. 

Of course, Oldest One upon spying the dagger immediately said "Can I fight with that dagger?" Oh dear, not quite the Bollywood spirit..... I forsee plastic gems flying about all over the playground. 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Love or Loathe.......Baker and Gray

Well I spotted this gorgeous place on my travels into Notting Hill. It can be found on Chepstow Road and is full of delicious items. The area is a great to explore and you find lovely shops with unique items. Baker and Gray showcases incredible embroidery and sumptuous fabrics. I absolutely love the embroidery style of Beetle Road.

Take a look at the website. Enjoy. 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Love.......the rustic baker

Ok. This is becoming a bit of a habit. More baking and now it appears that Fridays have been designated as Quicheday, owing to a slight obsession with getting the best pastry and flavour. This week's offering was a spinach, feta, spring onion and pea quiche with a creme fraiche, egg, mustard and milk filling. Pastry as usual by Paul Hollywood and filling all my own. This time the pastry was bashed with a rolling pin after chilling, rolled out, pushed well into the sides of the tin and then chilled again before blind baking. I think my timings were off this week and once I took the beans out to bake the rest of the pastry it all puffed up again. I did the fork thing but case came out a little too early. Anyway the filling went in and baked. End result pretty good taste but even better the day after. I did also notice the green-ness of my quiches thus far so next week I'm going to bung in some colour. 

I cheekily made macaroons too.  Out of a pack from that well known supermarket Sainsburys. Total cheat but worth a go. I found the actual macaroon mixture easy to blend and I liked their instruction of bunging them in on the lowest oven setting. This still produced the sheen we all love to see. Maybe a trick worth knowing in the future. My piping is still crazy but these baked well. I have a fan oven that is really efficient so I do tend to fly by the seat of my pants where timings etc are involved. So their proposed 20 mins of baking time was approx 12 mins in my oven. I was disappointed in their buttercream mix. My softened butter didn't mix well so I used a store bough raspberry jam on one shell and a hint of the buttercream on the other. All in all a good product, probably a 8/10. Makes you feel like you can really do it. My macaroons came out with the elusive ruffle despite dodgy piping. Try one of the kits out. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Love or Loathe......

This was a clear case of love quite frankly. I was watching the old reruns of The Great British Bake Off 2011 and had forgotten how brilliant all the bakers were but in particular Jo Wheatley. I bought her first book a while ago and loved her easy style and simple to follow recipes.  Then I was in a well known supermarket the other day and spied her second book. Cup of tea and a rustic baker treat and hooked again. So shameless though this is, well done Jo for another fabulous book

Love......the rustic baker

Well last week and the early part of this week saw a baking session. I made quiche, macaroons, chocolate mousse, peanut butter & chocolate muffins and pistachio friands.

Quiche was a made up pea, bean and potato number. Tried the Paul Hollywood pastry recipe and I played around with the egg filling by using creme fraiche. The result - so so to be honest. The pastry was delicious, the peas etc were delicious but the egg filling not so. Decided I needed to put in some mustard to jazz up the flavour. But at least no soggy bottom though a beautiful puff in the pastry.

Next I made macaroons from a recipe from How to avoid a Soggy Bottom by Gerard Baker. Actually they were splats. Too little air in final product as I mistakenly squeezed it out whilst using a small nozzle in the piping bag. Plus i have a suspicion my egg whites weren't at their best. Now I know why there is a high charge on a good macaroon. They are extremely time consuming and on the Pfaff Scale about a 9/10. They did taste delicious.

Oldest One had a school friend over this week so I thought I'd try peanut butter & chocolate muffins for the kids. Recipe taken from Baking Magic by Kate Shirazi. I am slowly getting the hang of a good muffin especially the technique. Definitely a mix, dump and bake rather than a good beating and baking! Delicious though I would have like more dampness in the muffin. The kids loved them.

I made pistachio friands from a recipe in the Independent on Sunday by Bill Granger. I have never tried making these and they were slightly pfaffy and I had 6 egg yolks left over. I used a muffin tin not friand tins which can be hard to find. Bill Granger recommends eating them whilst warm, but they tasted under baked. I added honey over the top and left for 24 hours. They seem to age well and taste delicious as time passes. Little mini treats.

I would love to show you a photo of the delicious Irish Cream chocolate mousse I made. But we ate it all up before I remembered to take a photo. We served it with blackberries and raspberries. This recipe was taken from Jamie Oliver's 30 Minute Meals.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Life.......the dreaded holiday project.....

So, as we are reached the Friday before the start of term it occurred to me that we had yet to start the holiday project and the homework. Oldest One is currently working his way through the writing homework, then it will be the reading part. Then the dreaded project.

The whole Reception year consisting of 60 children, teachers and helpers went to the Natural History Mueseum before the end of last term. They all had an excellent time. At the end of term when all the PE kits and book bags came home I did the usual emptying and trashing the rubbish and bunging the rest away in a pile. The project was set to one side and virtually ignored. The project was dinosaurs. They had set it as an extra part to the end of term. Brilliant.

Remember this is something the kids have to do but we all know that until they get old enough to do it for themselves that the parents do the projects! From the printing, cutting, gluing and positioning we all do it. I'm not sure why, maybe it's a reversion to the playground or one-up-man-ship. Who knows. This feels so like the school bake off which was just as stressful. So I (I mean Oldest One) had a great idea. A shoebox scene. Brilliant. My next great idea came in the middle of the night, a deeply bopper asteroid in one corner and a volcano in another. The thing is Oldest One trashed his furry Red Nose Day deely boppers so I had to do some lateral thinking. Facebook was the answer. Not sure if you have them where you are but we have selling groups for our local area. Another mum was after newspaper for their giant paper maiche dinosaur so I asked for deely boppers! Found, located and collected. One part snapped off. And that's it so far. We have painted the box green but other than that not much else has happened. I then found out that the kids had to also provide a few facts about dinosaurs. Arrrrgggggghhhhhhhh. What this really means is me condensing down my knowledge to a few choice phrases, writing it out and then have Oldest One copy it out and drill him on the facts of his shoebox scene so he can present it to the class. Seriously. I had him recite the Thanksgiving Story which he recited in front of his class in his first term. I had sent him in with pumpkin cupcakes!

It's now past lunchtime and I am away for the weekend. Will it get done?

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Love.......the rustic baker

So the rustic baker has been busy this weekend with lovely husband away and a serious urge to bake. I made lemon pound cake, recipe by Martha Stewart, pizza with homemade dough and peanut butter and chocolate cookies with both recipes by Jo Wheatley.

I love a good pound cake but converting the recipe from USA measurements to UK can be, pun completely intended, a recipe for disaster but this turned out well and tastes scrumptious. I could have used more icing though. 

Having never made pizza dough before I wasn't totally convinced by this recipe but it turned out ok. Next time I may do things slightly differently like dividing the dough into 3 parts like I should have done and maybe adding herbs to the dough. I also need to learn to use the rolling pin properly, though I love the rustic look. I think I need to work on this recipe a little more but still yum. 

 As for Jo's peanut butter cookies, they are delicious even though I changed some things like adding both peanuts and white chocolate chips this time. Yummy and delicious with a cuppa.

Family...... Leave the duck alone

One day, Oldest One was messing about on our bed and refused to leave a plastic duck alone. I got more and more wound up by this simple yet, I felt, authoritative " leave the duck alone" statement. But he continued to ignore me. In the end I bellowed in a loud voice "LEAVE THE DUCK ALONE". Guess what happened next.........

I have a lot of parenting books living in my house. I flick through them in fits and starts - you know only when a crisis hits and then it's pull the books out, flip to the section you think applies, read another section because it sounds more interesting but totally irrelevant and then try to apply any of theory. I also have a guilty pleasure of watching Nanny 911 and Supernanny. I like to feel slightly smug and pretend that my children to not look or sound like the kids on TV. But Of course we all know that from time to time all kids and parents sound and behave like they should be on an episode of either of those programmes. Does any of this research work - NOOOOOOOOOO.

I then phone my Mum - often hiding in the kitchen behind the fridge - and she always has the sane and sensible advise that all the books and programmes are missing. You what I mean - kids can be a bloody nightmare but no child can be in charge of you, you are the adult, put them in their room to scream it out, it's just a phase etc.

I have noticed in these conversations with Mum and I ask her why? Why? WHY? (mostly with increasing hysteria after each why), she does that thing, you know that you are an adult and not the child...... Again why??? I want to be a child, I want to strop and I want to lie on the floor screaming but the screaming ball of tantrum just outside the closed kitchen door won't let me. So deep breath in  and deep breath out, I now have to deal with child and try not to act like one myself.

So in pursuit of a resolution and in a bar last weekend with my aunt and my mum, armed with a hefty glass of wine I sought answers to this very dilemma. This is the sage wisdom from them both and bloody good it is too.

1. You are in charge not the kids.
2. You cannot ever just be a friend to your kids you need to give them a grounding and a framework that works in your family.
3. When a tantrum starts or anything you don't like such as cheekiness, (within reason) take the kid by the hand, say "follow me" and lead them to another room. Don't say a word, put them on chair, bed or somewhere then leave, shutting the door if you can.
4. Let them scream it out and deal with after. This could take minutes or hours or loads of times over the day. Keep doing it. This is especially good for kids that do know the rules as my Oldest One quite clearly does.
5. Eventually boredom and parents ignoring screams equals kid who has calmed down and then apologises. Tantrums need an audience don't give it.
6. Even if in a public place, take child out or away from situation and put them say near a tree and walk a couple of paces away and position yourself so you can see them but they know you are ignoring them. Wait for storm to calm.
7. Really try hard to let the small stuff go. Try saying yes sometimes. I sometimes find myself in a permanent state of picking up on stuff and always saying no. 
8. Keep clear that this is for their benefit and yours. You want a happy house not a screech house.
9. Trust your instincts. Do what works for your family and ignore everyone else. 
10. Don't believe everything you read in parenting books. Or parenting blogs for that matter. 

Above all, when Oldest One wants to play with a plastic duck, let them. Don't under any circumstances get to the point of stupidity that results in a family legend. 

Big refrain now "leave the duck alone......."

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Love.......the rustic baker

Just occassionally, ok mostly every day, the urge to bake takes over my brain. I decided today to try something I have never done before, using some ingredients we had left over from Easter lunch. I made a quiche.  Bring on the band....... It was an adaptation from Tom Kerridge's recipe for new potato, spring onion and Montgomery cheddar quiche. I had the potatoes and used one bunch of spring onions and some cheap cheese. I added a leek to the mix and read the reviews and followed some advice there.

I have never made a savoury shortcrust pastry and it's as fiddly as everyone says. Top tip #1, I noticed on the GBBO was that you could flatten the pastry in a disc before chilling but perhaps everyone knew that already. Top tip #2, use a ball of pastry dough to gently push the pastry to corners of case.  I bought baking beans ages ago and have finally used them. Once blind baked my pastry was a little cracked but hey ho in with the filling. Top tip #3 put quiche tin into a bigger tin to help contain leakage.

So although I know there are cracks in the pastry and I dread a soggy bottom this is my leek, potato and cheese quiche.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Love.......the rustic baker

Sometimes chocolate is not enough at Easter. I baked a Nigella recipe from Feast, a flourless chocolate cake with chocolate cream topped with praline eggs. Yum.....

Then we had a visitor.......

May the force be with you all......

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Life.......death in the family

There comes a time in your life as a parent that you have to explain death to your child. In most cases you hope that they'll be old enough to understand and start to process the news but in our case Oldest One is only 4 years old (though he'd say he was nearly 5) and Youngest One is only 1 years old.

Death is of course all around us and is served daily by the news.  I must admit I don't tend to hide the news or switch channels unless it's grisly but it can give you pause to think. Not necessarily the images but the words used. Words that will infiltrate their all consuming sponge like brains. Oldest One has yet to ask direct questions coming from the news channels but I am sure that day is not far away.

However he has had to deal with death this week. For most kids the concept of death is an abstract kind of idea that only happens in films and cartoons. You know the kind of thing, Star Wars light saber action, lots of running around shouting at people "you're dead" or in his long explanations of play everyone gets their head chopped off.  In these modes I tend to vary my comments from "that's nice" to "hmmmmm if you chop some one's head they absolutely would be dead". When the death occurs in real life and in the family, it's harder to quantify to a near 5 year old.

We had a head start in some respects because my husband's father died whilst I was pregnant with Oldest One and when we took him to visit the grave last year we had made references to grave stones and what happens when you die. We say that you become a spirit and part of the earth, moon and stars. And you can see the person you love in the stars. So far so simple. We took him to the grave and he shouted "hello Grandpa, are you in there?" And then he asked "does he have a duvet and pillow?" We answered as best we could.

Now nearly a year on, we have had to explain that his step grandfather of whom he was very fond had died suddenly and unexpectedly.  In long discussions we had decided that I would tell him and then we could wait up for Daddy to come home. I asked  my mum how best to approach this and she came up with the goods. So I approached with caution and held my breath. I got Oldest One when he was eating a hot cross bun and said that something very sad had happened, his grandpa (for privacy I have used a generic term for grandpa and not Oldest One's name for him) had died. He immediately asked how and I said that his heart has stopped. Oldest One then said that he would now be a spirit and that we could see him again when we were spirits but that Nanna would see him first in the sky as a star. A slightly wobbly breath out from me. I had already informed his school who have been great and all has been ok in that front.

However at home things have understandably been odd. The following day he wrote a card to his Nanna and drew some pictures, we've had a few comments and then today he proclaimed, after asking about how your heart breaks, that "my heart is broken because grandpa died". He keeps asking what happens when your heart comes out of your body and can every one's heart break?

So these are the things I have learnt, with help from Winstons Wishes - a great website:

1. Be honest but use the most basic detail to get message across
2. I told him when he was occupied by eating, a task that requires no brain power. So choose your time carefully
3. Encourage questions but be prepared to answer them even if it it is "has Nanna buried him yet?"
4. I found the book in the photo really helpful but try not to sob when you get to the end. 
5. Lots of hugs and love and a few tears are all ok. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Life..... Red Nose Day 2013

Far be it for me to detract from such a worthy cause especially since Red Nose Day is celebrating it's 25th year of raising around £900 million since it started but it's bought out the competitor in me this year. And this is not good. I can barely let control go at the best of times but the school Bake Off Competion had me thinking of all sorts of great recipes until the news filtered through that this was a kids competition. Ok time to scale down those grand ideas. But give over control of the bake - shudder.

In the end I did have total control of the bake because let's face it kids and ovens don't mix. It was still experimental because I had never made this cake before. I made a coca-cola cake. Yes it was the real thing. I couldn't taste this creation because it asked for marshmallows and I'm a vegetarian. But I did hand over control of the decorating to my Mum and the Oldest One. Thanks to my friend AtNumber 29 who gave me a pot of red edible glitter (sorry I need to buy you more), I left the kitchen.

I kept returning but made myself leave. To give them a blank icing canvas I did make the buttercream icing and apply to a double layer cake. However what is it with red food colouring and turning icing dark pink. We wanted red red not pink red. We added small amount of cocoa powder, coca cola and even purple food colouring. It was still red pink.

How do you make icing of any variety red red? i used a who.e tube and more of red food coloring. Answers on a postcard please.

However red glitter saved the day as did the red glitter icing balls and the red nose Mum went out to buy. The lure of competion is so bad that Mum suggested I shouldn't be too worried if I, I mean Oldest One, didn't win. I gave her a look. Seriously how bad is that. A small charitable competition to raise money and I want to smash the competition. Hang my head in shame, with a wink and crossed fingers for luck.

So deep breath I present to you the coca cola cake with marshmallows and red edible glitter icing.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Love.........the rustic baker

You gotta love a Monday. Actually I had good reason to bake today. UK Mother's Day was celebrated today as my lovely Mum was away so I wanted to bake something for her. Plus I do like making bread especially when I'm feeling rough and need to give something a good pounding. So bread and a red velvet cake that was in fact a very dark velvet cake!


Bread adapted from a recipe by the Silver Fox himself, Paul Hollywood and the Not So Red Velvet Cake adapted from a recipe by the Hummingbird Bakery. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Love........the rustic baker

This is a new addition to my posts. I decided to add photos of cake, bakes and breads I have made.  Not all the time and not necessarily in order. Baking is my second love next to my family.


Today's delight is carrot cake with orange cream cheese topping - only it's not real cream cheese because my friend atnumber29 is allergic to milk. The topping to which I added the juice and zest from a small orange came from a well known American baking person available in most good supermarkets. This recipe is adapted from Jo Wheatley's book (the lady who won TGBBO) A Passion for Baking.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

family....what have I learnt?

So as 2012 disappeared into the ether and 2013 is dashing by so fast it's nearly whipped my sensibilities about in unattractive ways, I decided that I should celebrate the acquisition of an iPad and thus a whole new world of being able to actually being able to commit to this blog on a regular basis and on a whim and not having to crank up the old laptop. Actually if truth be known I got the before Christmas and have been messing about on it ever since and not actually doing the things I am supposed to be doing!

So several days, ok months, after the New Year what were the best bits of 2012? It was a great year in so many ways and not just the whole Olympics, diamond jubilee fizz bang wallopy year that we all had. but it was the kind of year when you turn 40 (signal big cringe and wince), have a baby a week later, wonder why you did that in the middle of the night when said baby is crying or won't sleep for the 50th consecutive night, took baby and preschooler on a huge trip to Dallas, has Oldest One start school, deal with being back in the playground (do we really ever leave?), watching all those baby firsts again with Youngest One, the school term whizzing by so fast you feel like you're spinning and can't stop to crank open the Baileys - just to test it. In early November. This last year has caught all of us by surprise. Where did the time go? Literally.

So things that I have learnt:

1. I am possibly not as tolerant as I thought I might be.
2. Kids are seriously hard work.
3. I quite like a baileys or two, of an evening.
4. I read too many parenting books.
5. We never leave the school playground.
6. I'd still like to perfect an air of nonchalance.
7. My Youngest One still isn't sleeping through but I find that turning off the monitor helps.
8. My Oldest One is a whirlwind of emotion and activity and I struggle to keep up.
9. I am now 41 and Youngest One is now 1.
10. Time has gone too quickly so live more.