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Dog Eats Food…Again

Funny thing that happened the other day (and an update on Joe’s feeding habits). Whilst on a rather long call to nPower Customer Services (another story entirely), I looked away from Joe for a minute and back again to catch him feeding his whole dinner to Roxy, our four-year old golden retriever.

I could have been frustrated, I suppose, but the scene was just too funny not to laugh – Joe innocently tipping the food off his plate and Roxy eyes lighting up like her birthday had come early, as she raced to lap up the falling food. I had to hold back from laughing lest the Customer Service girl on the other end of the phone wondered what on earth was wrong with me.



Bloggerjin Rome

Surprise Anniversary Trip to Rome!

I can’t believe what a whirlwind that was!

So with our anniversary quickly coming up, the hubby and I had planned to go away to the Wirral for a few days – but little did I know that’s not what he had planned at all!

We left the kids with my sister Florence, and got in the car to start the drive, but we wound up on – get this – the motorway to London!

I asked what was up and just got told that we weren’t going to the Wirral after all, we were going to Rome!

Needless to say, I was just gobsmacked.

And it was gorgeous!

Without me finding out, my amazing hubster had booked a loft apartment with Air BnB in the middle of Rome for us to stay in, close enough that we could go see the sights during the day and easily take in the best restaurants at night. He even made sure the internet connection would be great so I could Skype the kids before bed to kiss them goodnight and make sure they’d brushed their teeth, eaten their vegetables and didn’t have nits.

We went to a beautiful restaurant called Cacio E Pepe on the first night, and – although I hate saying that things are “authentic” – it just felt real, like we were seeing what pure Italian culture looked like. The waiters spoke very little English, and we were surrounded by hungry Italian families with snide sideways glances at each other’s food, which was amazing.

There was no menu, just “the specials”, and the lack of choice really put me at ease and let me enjoy whatever they brought out – it was like everything was a lovely surprise!

Then we went to see the Colosseum and the Forums, which were just astounding, annd Vatican City, which had a beautiful, whispery echo everywhere through it and so many beautiful pieces of old art that I actually reached saturation point and couldn’t appreciate them all after a while!

It’s really a wonderful city, and even more wonderful as a surprise for your anniversary!

Needless to say we’ll be back soon!

J xx

Spider Cupcakes

Spooky Baking!

So Halloween’s coming up, and at Tilly’s fierce insistence we’re going to bake some cupcakes to take round to my sister’s little family Halloween party!

I was looking online for some inspiration and the options were a bit overwhelming (apparently cupcakes can be made spooky in thousands of ways) but when I saw the picture of the spiderweb cakes up above, I just fell in love with them.

So then all I needed was to find the recipe – it wasn’t attached to the photo!

I hunted around and finally found this one on the BBC Good Food site that should do the trick just perfectly! Tilly gets her baking and I get the most gorgeous cupcakes to bring round to Suzie’s for the party. Everybody wins! (Especially Tilly and I, who will be tucking in to a cake or two hot out of the oven!)

We’re baking them the night before Halloween, so I’ll post pictures then! (if I remember!)


  • 125g/4½oz plain flour

  • 25g/1oz cocoa powder

  • 1½ tsp baking powder

  • 150g/5oz caster sugar

  • 50g/2oz butter, softened at room temperature

  • 1 free-range egg

  • 8 tbsp milk

For the cream cheese icing
  • 50g/2oz cream cheese

  • 25g/1oz butter, softened at room temperature

  • 125g/4oz icing sugar, sifted

  • ½ tsp vanilla essence

For the chocolate icing
  • 25g/1oz icing sugar

  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder

Preparation method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Line a muffin tray with 9 paper cases.
  2. Sift the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder into a bowl. Add the sugar and butter and beat the mixture together until well combined.
  3. Whisk in the egg and milk until the mixture is thick and smooth.
  4. Divide the mixture between the paper case and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until springy to the touch and skewer inserted into the middle of one of the cakes comes out clean. Set aside to cool on a wire rack.
  5. For the cream cheese icing, beat the cream cheese and butter together in a bowl until well combined. Beat in the icing sugar and vanilla.
  6. Spoon the icing onto the cupcakes, leaving a small border around the edge.
  7. For the chocolate icing, sift the icing sugar and cocoa powder into a bowl. Stir in 2 tablespoons of water to form a smooth, thick icing.
  8. Transfer the mixture to a piping bag with a fine nozzle. (Alternatively, spoon the mixture into the corner of a sandwich bag and snip off the corner, to form a small hole.)
  9. Carefully pipe a few concentric circles onto each cupcake. Run a toothpick from the centre to the edge of the cake, through each circle of icing, at 2cm/1in intervals to create a cobweb effect.
  10. Set aside for 20 minutes to allow the icing to harden.
Littlewoods Catalogue

Dress woes with Littlewoods!

After seeing the Littlewoods summer advert (late, I know! I don’t get onto youtube as much as I’d like and Tilly and Joe always have the TV to themselves!) I just had to have the dress Myleene is wearing at the start. It’s up there in the photo, and I just managed to grab one!

When it arrived, I tried it on straight away, and it was too small – though most of my old dresses seem to be shrinking lately. I checked the label and I’d just been sent the wrong size, thankfully. Still a yummy mummy!

I gave Littlewoods a call and they were lovely about it. The summer range had just stopped, but they said they’d pull a few strings and send me the right size, so that was a relief!

I sent my one back and I’m just waiting on the new one now. Here’s hoping it fits this time!


I went into the kitchen to get breakfast ready for the kids this morning, and opened the cupboards to find Tilly hiding in there!

She jumped out and scared me and I laughed so hard I almost fell over! She’d actually gone straight downstairs after I got her dressed for school so she could hide before I got down there. Thankfully I wasn’t carrying cereal or milk, because they would have gone everywhere!

What a mischievous little madam she’s becoming.

New driver's licence

I Lost My Driver’s Licence!

I was buying a bottle of wine as a gift for a friend last night and was actually a little flattered when the girl on the check-out asked to see my I.D (Asda seem to think my anti-ageing cream is doing the trick) but when I looked for my driver’s licence I got a surprise nobody wants to see – it wasn’t in there!

Retracing my steps

First things first, I had to retrace my steps. Luckily the girl on the check-out accepted my library card as ID so I got to keep the present! I looked all through the aisles I had been in, and thought I saw it slithering away under some shelves a few times, but there was no sign of it whenever I looked.

Calling the DVLA

I had a quick look online for the DVLA phone number and called them up this morning. It took me a little while, but in the end I managed to get through to a real person, a lovely lady called Jane, and she got me set up for a replacement. I’ll be sending off a copy of my certificate and a photo, and I’ll get the new licence soon! Until then, I’ll have to dial back the wine purchases a little or bring my passport out!

Still no idea what happened to my original licence. I found a tiny piece of pink plastic outside earlier, but that could have been from anything. Tilly’s saying she hasn’t seen it, so who knows?

Getting Tilly Ready for Reception!

It’s been a big few weeks for us! Tilly’s started reception, and at risk of sounding like a gushing mum, she’s settling in really well. She’s made a few friends and her teacher is lovely.

I made sure to do lots of prep before her first day to make sure she got a head start, and I read that these tips are great ways to help a child get ready for their first day of school, so if you’ve got a little one getting ready to start school, here you go!

Reading Aloud

I’ve always been keen on reading to my kids before bed, and I found plenty of research online backing up how good it is for them! Expecially just before school, reading aloud to Tilly was teaching her that words can be written, as distinct blocks of letters on a page – almost a primer to beginning to read herself!

I got her started on learning what letters make what sounds, and now that she’s in school she’s getting a chance to show off and be a little clever clogs (and she never misses a chance to do that!)



I made sure to call the school and explain Tilly’s lactose intolerance well ahead of time. I made sure to have doctor’s notes handy, and they were very accommodating! Just being clear and open and communicating honestly concerning your child’s dietary needs is always the best first step!

I’ve tried my best to make sure she’s not a fussy eater, but she does pick sometimes, so I spent a while making sure she knows she can just ask the lunch ladies if she has a problem or if she’d like something else. Lots of kids are too timid to try and wind up throwing away a lunch they don’t like! (Not that my Tilly would throw food away to save her life)

Starting school

Keeping it together on the first day

This is a surprisingly tough one! When a parent is upset or distressed, the child usually picks up on it and feels like they should feel that way too (remember they’re always looking at you for clues on what to do!)

So on the first day of school, make sure they know how happy they should be, by looking and acting happy yourself.

And try not to cry, or you might set all the poor parents there off!

Receive the wrong sub, get free cookies from Subway

It’s very rare that you get something for nothing, but when you do it’s worth telling others, especially if it’s a little trick that they too can employ.

When asked what sub I’d like as I stared, blurry-eyed contemplating my decision, (I forgot my glasses) I swiftly gave him the same order I usually give when  I go to Subway – a 6 inch toasted tuna sub on Grain Honey Oat bread, with extra cheese.

There was a fairly big queue. Still, it didn’t take long before I was giving my topping choices. “Just lettuce and onion, please”, I said “and hold the mayo.” (I was trying to be good.) I saw them wrap my sub and put it next to the girl in front of mine’s.

Once I’d paid for my sub and filled up my cup (with lots of ice), I proceeded to climb the stairs to go and sit with the rowdy bunch I like to call my friends. Excited to tuck in, I quickly unravelled the sub. However, to my confusion, the bread was plain. I opened it up and soon realised that this was not my 6 inch toasted tuna sub on Grain Honey Oat bread with extra cheese, lettuce and onion and no mayo. It was turkey on plain bread.

Not wanting to accept my fate, I descended the stairs and informed the cashier of the mishap. To my delight he gave me a nice apology and quickly ordered me another tuna sub. But this is where it gets good because whilst passing me the sub, he also slipped me a free bag of cookies for my inconvenience.

This quick thinking from the guy with the long hair and nose ring turned what would have been a negative experience into a positive one. Well done Subway! All companies should take note of this excellent customer service!


Oh, and to the girl who must have received my tuna sub instead of her turkey sub – I hope you like tuna. If not, I hope you got your free cookies too!

Walking with children A.K.A dinosaurs!

We are over half way through the year. When did that happen? But at this time I’m reflecting on the new years resolutions I made back in December.

I set a fair few tasks for myself this year, but I figure that If I’ve kept at least 1 or 2 I’ll be happy. The general idea was to increase the amount of exercise we do as a family. I had some great ideas back then such as weekly sports nights, dancing, nature walks and ditching the car. I reckon we’ve done all of them at least once, but if I’m honest we haven’t kept them up, aside from one that I’m really happy about.

As a family we have been getting outdoors a lot more than we used to. We’ve been camping and gardening (which the children love!) and have introduced walking into our weekly routine. However, walking with children can be a lot like walking with dinosaurs. Kids are not ones to keep the peace, and if they’re bored, they’ll certainly let you know. This being said, we’ve found some great nature walks that the kids love and so I thought I’d tell you about them here.

walking with childrenMalham Waterfall, Settle, North Yorkshire
This is a lovely walk that really sparked the kids interest, as the path leads to a magical waterfall and secret cave. We had fun telling stories about the local legend that says the cave is home to the Queen of the Fairies. This really piqued Tilly’s interest. Lots of wishes were made here, and she often asks to go back.

 Polesden Lacey, Dorking, Surrey
This is a big area to explore with 1,400 acres of land. But Polesden has a lot to offer for families from geocaching and special kid’s trails to dressing up and play areas. There really was a ton of things for the kids to do. It was a real unexpected treat when we went. We’ll definitely go back, but it’s quite far to travel for us.

Attingham Park, Shropshire
The Attingham Mile Walk is a perfect for pushchairs. There is also a play area where the kids could let off steam. One of the good things about Attingham is that it holds a lot of family fun events throughout throughout the year. Especially during the Great British Walks festival. We are considering heading down for the Family Adventure Walk on the 27th of October. Apparently, there are different challenges for the children to take part in.

Llyn and Snowdonia, Gwynedd, Wales
We are tied between Attingham Park and this one for the Halloween period. There’s lots of adventures to be had in Llyn and Snowdonia, and during autumn, on October 26th there are special  woodland activities for children of all ages where there’s lots to discover and create. The walk is lovely too, with some great views

Elterwater to Skelwith Bridge, Langdales
Another place we loved – we enjoyed discovering beautiful waterfalls, woods, small bays and it’s great because the path leads to an open meadow (which was great to relax in) and a pretty dramatic Woodburn Bridge. It also has handy amenities and refreshments at either end of the walk.

Do you know of any other family friendly walks? Have you been out an about over the Summer?

4 New Things To Do With Your Children This Summer

Wow guys… It’s hot, hot, hot! So hot in fact, that there’s simply no need to pay for an expensive trip abroad. There’s so much to do here in good old England when the weather is like this, (and even when it’s not.)

great days outWe took the children camping in May and they loved it, by now it’s time to think of things to do in the Summer holidays. I’ve been looking around and found some great days out that are completely new this Summer. If you’re sick of the same old trips, consider these.

Dreamland, Margate

Dreamland looks pretty fantastic to be honest. From 1930s Caterpillars and 1940s Double Decker carousels, to 1970s Chair-O-Planes and modern adrenaline pumpers, it has been re-imagined to recreate a thrilling amusement park from the past.

It’s full of classic rides that pay homage to British Street Culture –Mods, Beatniks, Hippies. And apparently, the park’s famous Grade II listed, heritage Scenic Railway is set to re-open later in the summer.


KidZania, Westfield London

This one only officially opened on June 25th but after doing some research, it seems that it’s one of the fastest growing education-entertainment (or edu-tainment) brands around. On the site, it says that “Through role playing, children will become pilots, firefighters, and police officers in this make-believe world…”

This sounds wonderful, and kids can even learn essential skills along the way, such as team work, independence, and even financial management!


Shrek’s Adventure, Far Far Away (on London’s Southbank)

On the 1st of july, Shrek’s Adventure opens. It’s situated on London’s South bank and it takes you from a Swamp through 10 magical lands, where you’ll meet Gingy, Puss-in-boots and the rest of the gang, as well some other familiar DreamWorks faces.

It’s essentially a 4D bus ride, and if your children are anything like mine, they’ll love it as they get to rediscover a number of classic childhood fables to get through each level. Sounds like fun!


Chester Zoo Islands, Cheshire

I can’t wait for this one. On the 13th of July Chester Zoo will open the most ambitious zoo development in the UK: an immersive re-creation of six south-east Asian islands and their biospheres.

Islands opens up the natural climates of Panay, Papua, Bali, Sumatra, Sumba and Sulawesi, complete with some of the world’s most magnificent wildlife – including carnivorous plants, prehistoric-looking birds and reptiles.




To Avon or not to Avon…that is the question

It’s been too long yet again, and even this is only a quick one. (Sorry guys!)

So, I don’t often order from Avon, but I do have a lovely Avon lady called Michelle who comes every other week, so I thought I’d give her a bit of business and order a couple of things.

However, when I gave her my order we got talking and she was telling me how successful her Avon job is. I was quite surprised really, because apparently Avon is quite popular in this area. I won’t go into detail but she earns a considerable amount and it got me thinking… could I become an Avon rep? Surely it can’t be too difficult to manage. I mean I know I’ve got two kids to look after but i’m not sure how much time the job takes up.

I might try and find out some more information about it. Michelle was saying that one of the perks of being an Avon lady is that you can fit work around your schedule, and do it whenever you’re free. So it’s perfect for me.

Anyway I’m going to give Avon a call, but have any of you guys had any experience with Avon? If so, please let me know.