Shovelling Snow

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As yet another messy winter storms blows in, I really do begin to feel that enough is enough!  February is almost over, the groundhogs predicted an early spring (obviously they were too sleepy to be relied upon for an accurate forecast) but wintery snowflakes and winds far too cold for my liking are still blowing.

Last year when I first moved to Canada, I admit to being ever so slightly disappointed with the mild winter we experienced.  Now the old expression “Be careful what you wish for” seems particularly accurate.

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Cheese Straws

Cheese Straws

My son claims that he does not like cheese.  He absolutely refuses to eat it.  Give him a cheese sandwich and he will purse his lips, and turn away shaking his head as he recoils in horror.  He will go as far as to leave the table hungry.

But with the “faultless” logic and reasoning of a 7 year old he adores cheese straws.  Left to his own devices (which for the record I can say he is not) he would eat the whole batch!

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Cheese Straws

For this cheese straw recipe you will need:

250g plain / all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon paprika
165g butter
150g medium (or strong) cheddar cheese (grated)
120ml water

Makes approximately 30 cheese straws

  • Pre-heat the oven to 200°C / 400°F / Gas Mark 6 and line two large baking trays with parchment.
  • Measure the flour, baking powder, salt and paprika into a mixing bowl.
  • Add the butter and rub together until the mixture has the texture of breadcrumbs. This can be done by hand, but I use my Kitchen Aid.
  • Stir in the grated cheese.
  • Add the water and mix to form a sticky dough.
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into pencil thin straws (approximately 5 inches in length).
  • Place on the prepared baking sheets and cook in the pre-heated oven for 10 minutes until golden brown.  (Cooking time may need to be reduced or increased slightly depending on how thin you roll your cheese straws).
  • Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
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The Dog ate my Homework

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This weekend we had a full blown homework crisis.  On Sunday morning my daughter discovered that she had lost a completed assignment.  A piece of work which was not only due on Monday but had taken three weeks to finish.  We mounted a full house search and two hours later had to admit defeat.  We still have absolutely no idea where or how the assignment went missing. It will of course turn up now that we have stopped looking and the deadline is passed, tucked away for safe-keeping in a location so obvious no one even considered looking there!

Acknowledging that her homework was indeed lost prompted considerable weeping, wailing and dramatic gnashing of teeth.   Ultimately, accepting the fact that not attending school ever again was not a viable option nor one which her parents’ would support, she dried her eyes and sat down to re-write……And our Sunday became a blur of homework and a chaotic scramble to meet her Monday morning deadline.

It leads me to wonder whether “The dog ate my homework” would actually have been an acceptable excuse?

Below are a short list of other popular *plausible* excuses to have on hand for any domestic dramas you may need to ward off this week:

How to explain why you are late
“I’m not late ….. everyone else is early”

Excuse for leaving early
“Aunt Flo just came into town” (substitute name as appropriate)

Excuse for not going out
“I’m washing my hair”

Excuse for ending a relationship
“I need more time and more space that is why I am moving 12 hours and
7 states away”

Of course, whether anyone will believe you or if you are indeed likely to get away with using any of these does of course remain to be seen!

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Pavlova with strawberries

When I found this fantastic recipe card last week on Carole’s Chatter I realised it had been far too long since I made Pavlova.

Pavlova recipe card

And, of course, since this dessert was named after the Russian ballet dancer, Anna Pavlova, I just had to include a picture of her and her beautiful fluffy meringue like tutu.

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Anna Pavlova

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Bizarre or Practical?

Toilet Rolls, Custard Tart Tins and Rubbish Bags……

Louise Gray - London Fashion Week - AW 2013 - oven trays and bin bags

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I most certainly wouldn’t claim to be a fashionista but even to my untrained eye the Autumn Winter 2013 collection presented at London Fashion Week by the Scottish designer, Louise Gray certainly stood out.

Louise Gray - London Fashion Week - AW 2013 - toilet rolls and whisks

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I do not feel I am qualified to make a judgement on this as an emerging (or not!) trend, and when it comes to fashion if you can pull it off then of course anything goes, but it does strike me that whilst this collection appears strangely bizarre it could also be considered incredibly practical.  What fantastic multi-purpose fashion – how useful for a fashion forward domestic diva to have her whisk and oven tray on hand should she wish to whip up a Victoria sponge or a batch of cupcakes at a moments notice!

I am coveting a pair of those flower patterned tights though!

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Gorgeous Granola


When I buy granola, I am not only horrified by the exorbitant price tag (in the supermarkets here it is so jaw droppingly expensive that I do actually wonder if the oats have perhaps been dusted with gold leaf?) but also more often than not ever so slightly disappointed by the taste and lack of crunch.

Making my own was pretty quick, certainly easier than I would have anticipated and best of all was the fantastic smell throughout the house as it baked.

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For this granola recipe you will need:

300g oats
50g sunflower seeds
120ml golden syrup
30g butter (melted)
50g flaked almonds
50g raisins
50g dried cranberries

  • Pre-heat the oven to 170C / 325F / Gas Mark 3 and line 2 baking sheets with parchment.
  • Measure the oats and sunflower seeds into a large bowl and mix together.
  • Add the golden syrup to the melted butter and stir until the two are combined.
  • Pour over the oats and mix thoroughly to ensure all of the oats are coated in the syrup-butter mixture.
  • Spread in a thin layer onto the prepared baking sheets and bake in the pre-heated oven for 30 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and place the baking trays on a wire rack to cool.  As the oats cool, stir occasionally with a fork to break up any of the bigger clumps.
  • When completely cool add the almonds and dried fruit.

Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman

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As a little girl I desperately wanted to be Wonder Woman.  I avidly watched the television series and remember being absolutely mesmerized as I watched her spin at a bewildering speed to transform from plain bespectacled Diana Prince into her glamorous alter-ego.

Diana Price

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With my thick rimmed pastel pink NHS glasses, sensible haircut and missing front teeth (I fell off my bike and knocked out both of my front teeth a good two years before the adult teeth were ready to grow), I practiced spinning on the spot with determined dedication until I was so dizzy I would fall over!  I was utterly convinced that if I spun fast enough I could become Wonder Woman.  I would be able to cast my hated glasses aside and still see across the room, and have beautiful long hair.

Obviously, I never quite managed it…..

However, as I grew up my eyesight got better anyway.  And, my hair, I have grown it numerous times only to have it cut it again, as I have come to realise it suits me better short.

I do admit though to being the proud owner of a set of Wonder Woman cartoon embellished underwear (a very tasteful Mother’s Day gift from my children – I suspect my husband had a hand in choosing it) and I would quite like a pair of red boots!

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Wonder Woman

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Raisin and Oat Cookies

Raisin and Oat Cookies

Since we moved to Canada (like it seems all Canadians) Tim Horton’s has become a regular coffee stop.  Whilst my children (and my husband) prefer their donuts (the more chocolate and sprinkles the better), my favourite has to be their raisin and oat cookies.

This week I made my own.

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Cookies and Milk

For this cookie recipe you will need:

100g sugar
125g soft light brown sugar
150g butter (melted)
2 teaspoons milk
1 egg + 1 egg yolk (beaten)
300g flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon mixed spice
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
50g oats
100g raisins

Makes approximately 16 cookies

  • Pre-heat the oven to 170C (325F) Mark 3 and line 2 baking sheets with parchment.
  • Measure the sugar into a bowl and add the melted butter.  Beat until combined (I use my Kitchen Aid to do this, but it could be done by hand if you prefer).
  • Add the milk and egg and beat well, until the mixture turns a pale colour.
  • Fold in the flour, cinnamon, spice and bicarbonate of soda.
  • Add the oats and raisins and gently mix into the dough.
  • Divide the dough into approximately 16 pieces (more if you prefer smaller cookies).  Roll each piece into a ball, place on the prepared baking sheet and gently pat down with the palm of your hand. Do not place them too close together as they increase quite a bit in size whilst cooking.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 20 minutes (or until the edges have turned golden brown).
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes.
  • Try not to eat them all at once!

Blind Date

Blind Date
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Since it is Valentine’s Day this week I thought I would include a quick post about my husband.  If you have been following my blog you will have heard me talk about him fairly regularly and more often than not he is the brunt of my jokes.  Mostly he takes the teasing in good humour, although I suspect I may have pushed this envelope a little too far when I recently posted a rear view action shot of him competing in a Triathlon.

We met about 15 years ago, or rather were set up by a mutual friend.  I suspect that the friend who arranged our blind date was actually doing so more for his own amusement than with the prospect of romance in mind.  He was certainly speechless six months later when we got engaged and I happily waved my diamond ring under his nose – it seems that the joke was on him and not us after all!

In April we will have been married for 14 years.  So, Happy Valentine’s Day, and let’s just remember to keep happy and keep laughing (and that is with me and not at me please!).

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Loaf is all you Knead – 3 Seed Bread

Loaf is all you Knead

Taking my cue from this fantastic sign (snapped outside of Baker Tom’s in Truro, England) and with Valentine’s Day only a couple of days away, I have been making bread.

Valentine's Day Breakfast

Valentine’s Day breakfast:  Heart shaped toast.

3 Seed Bread

To make this 3 seed loaf, I followed my white bread recipe, but used 330g of whole wheat bread flour combined with 170g white bread flour.  I also added 20g of sunflower seeds, 10g of sesame seeds and 10g of poppy seeds.

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