Thursday, 29 January 2015

Cinder toffee cupcakes

Shell Louise

Things didn't go quite as planed with this recipe when we tried it tonight! Notice the absence of the cinder toffee on the above cakes?
That'll be because I managed to burn the first attempt and it tasted awful then not get it hot enough on the second attempt and it turned into something not at all like cinder toffee!
I'm going to buy a sugar thermometer before trying to make it again!

Do not be deceived, it may look delicious but one taste will turn your face into the kind of grimace people laugh at on You Tube videos!

I have to say though that the sponge and frosting is absolutely gorgeous :) I have to stay away from them if I want to lose at my weigh in next week!

The eggs that the recipe calls for were on the way from the shop as this picture was being taken. Super wonderful husband to the rescue once more!

For the sponge:

70g Unsalted Butter, Softened
170g Plain Flour
250g Caster Sugar
50g Cocoa Powder
1 tbsp Baking Powder
Half a Teaspoon Salt
210ml Whole Milk
2 Large Eggs

For the cinder toffee:

75g Golden Syrup
170g Caster Sugar
30ml Water
1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda

For the frosting:

450g Icing Sugar
60g Cocoa Powder
160g Unsalted Butter, Softened
60ml Whole Milk

To make the sponge:

  1. Mix the butter, flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt together using an electric mixer until they form a crumb like consistency.
  2. In a jug, mix the milk and eggs then slowly add about half of it to the crumb mixture while using the electric mixer on slow speed.
  3. Increase the speed and mix until the batter is smooth and thick with no lumps.
  4. Turn down the speed again and add the rest of the milk and egg mixture.
  5. Spoon the batter into prepared cupcake cases, filling them two thirds full.
  6. Bake in a pre-heated oven, 170°C, 325°F, Gas Mark 3 for 25-30 minutes.
  7. Leave to cool slightly in the tin before turning onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
To make the cinder toffee:

  1. Line a baking tray, bottom and sides, with baking parchment.
  2. In a large, high sided saucepan, mix the golden syrup, caster sugar and water together and bring to the boil.
  3. Boil until it reaches the hard crack stage. This is when a drop of boiling syrup immersed in cold water cracks. If you have a sugar thermometer it will be about 150°C/302°F.
    Do not stir while the mixture is boiling or the caramel will crystallise. Gently swirl the pan occasionally instead.
  4. When the mixture is at the right temperature, whisk in the bicarbonate of soda. The mixture will froth up vigorously.
    Wearing oven gloves, pour the mixture into the prepared tin. Leave to cool and set completely.
To make the frosting:

  1. Using an electric mixer, mix the icing sugar, cocoa and butter together until combined. Slowly mix in the milk then increase speed and mix until light and fluffy.
Break up the cinder toffee into small pieces and mix some into the frosting, keeping some back for decoration.
Swirl generous amounts of frosting onto each cake and top with pieces of cinder toffee.

Try to resist eating them all at once!

Recipe taken from The Hummingbird Bakery Home Sweet Home

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Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Weekly weigh in - 1lb lost

Shell Louise

A 1lb loss today took my total this month to 9lb and saw me taking the Slimmer of the Month award :) I now have 1 stone 2lb to lose to get my 8.5 stone award back.
If I'm honest I was expecting more as I feel I've been on track all week but a loss is still a loss so I'm happy enough.

I've nicked some of the girls' beads and counted out enough for my syns for the week. I'm going to move them over to the other vase as I use them.

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Tuesday, 27 January 2015

One day, I'll have a reclining sofa!

Shell Louise

Presently, I have my own 2 seater sofa and the super wonderful husband has a reclining chair. We both like to stretch our legs while watching TV so having our own space is nice.

However, I often think how much nicer it would be to be able to sit together while still being able to stretch our legs. We've been married nearly 10 years and as far as I can remember, we've never watched TV at home while sitting next to each other!

I've seen a gorgeous sofa on Newman and Bright that looks really comfy and I can just see us watching the latest episode of Bones, all snuggled up together!

Thinking realistically though, we'd probably have to wait until the kids were older; Ant's not keen on leather sofas and grubby fingers would stop this looking so nice in a very short space of time.

Or, we could just ban them from touching it all together! :o)

This is a sponsored post.

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Sunday, 25 January 2015

Project 365 - January 17th - 23rd

Shell Louise

January 17th
I loved Ally McBeal when it first came on. I've now got all the seasons on DVD (I found some of the box sets on Ebay for less than £3!) so I can start again from the beginning :)

January 18th
Kaycee takes after is her favourite dessert!

January 19th
The super wonderful husband and I started the big garden clean-up. Yes, that is a sprinkling of snow and yes it was flipping freezing but it has to be done and the sooner the better as far as I'm concerned.
This is the year where our garden looks lovely again and not like a dumping ground! The garden is what drew me to this house in the first place and it makes me really sad to see it like this.
We got rid of loads of old wood last Monday and cleared the path down the side of the house. Aiden thought it was brilliant that he could get his bike down there without risking life and limb when he got home from school!

January 20th
Thank you to everyone who has helped me get to my highest Tots 100 rank :) I was delighted to get in to the top 100 and it's lovely to be climbing higher and higher each month :)

January 21st
I love wall stickers and these bird cage ones are gorgeous! I'm going to be using them and some white board calendar stickers for each of the kids so we can keep track of their chores. Post to follow.

January 22nd
Ella was missing Kaycee tonight. She'd gone to Sheffield with school to sing at the Young Voices concert and Ella wasn't used to her not being here! She liked being able to watch her Barbie movies without Kaycee complaining about them though!

January 23rd
Kaycee had a great time at the Young Voices concert. She didn't get home till about 11.30pm and she was shattered at school the next day but it was a great experience for her :)

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

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Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Weekly weigh in - 1.5lb lost

Shell Louise

I've done mostly SP days this week but I had a couple of days on Extra Easy. I think this is the reason I haven't lost as much as I did the last two weeks.

I'm not disappointed though, I'm aiming for an average of 2lb a week this year and during January I've lost 8lb so far so I'm meeting my goal :)

I'm going to do all SP days this week and see how I get on at the next weigh in. Hopefully I'll get a 2lb loss.

Wish me luck!

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Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Revamping plans afoot!

Shell Louise

Every year, around this time I start hankering after change.

I don't usually like change but there's something about the new year that makes me want to do stuff and by stuff I mean things like putting new flooring down because the flooring that we got just under a year ago, for what we thought was such a bargain, turned out to be horrible and not a bargain at all!

It never looks clean, no matter how I clean it. Ant bought me a steam mop for my birthday last year because I was convinced that having a steam mop would get the kitchen floor looking all nice again.

It didn't.

Talking of floors, we HAVE to change the flooring in the living room. The carpet that's down was left by the previous owner and we were grateful for it when we got the keys last year. It was one less expense but after a year of a cream carpet and three kids and the occasional dog (the lovely mother in law's dog comes to visit and sometimes to stay a while) it really doesn't look very good.

It's not often either of us use the word hate but we both have done when talking about this carpet!

I also need to shorten some curtains for the window in the living room because even though it has blinds, they're cream ones and the light comes through, shines on the TV and makes it nearly impossible to watch.
Another solution though, and less work for me, would be to buy some blackout blinds. I've had a quick search online and found some interesting ones at

Another area that desperately needs change is the garden.

We left it last year because there was so much to do in the house we just didn't have the time or the money (well, we still don't have the money!) but this year, even if we don't get the big projects done like the stream/pond feature and the covered patio area, we can at least rid it of all the rubbish that's accumulated there over the year.

I'm starting my changes tomorrow and my first port of call is Kaycee's and Ella's room. I need to make it easier for them to put things away but it keeps getting in a right state and it's becoming very stressful for all concerned.
Ant's getting sick of not being able to walk on the floor because everything's dumped there and I'm getting sick of having to spend hours cleaning it.
I'm also fed up of feeling guilty about Kaycee because she's the oldest and ends up cleaning it on her own when it's Ella who makes 95% of the mess.

It's quite embarrassing to show you this but here is their room today...

I'm going to get Ant to put up some shelves round the top of the room for all the teddies and I'm going to sort through the hundreds of books and store the ones that are too young for them now, in the loft for when we have more grandchildren :)

It's going to be a lot of hard work, organising, cleaning, digging and building but it's going to be worth it!

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Monday, 19 January 2015

Stabilo EASYgraph and EASYoriginal Review

Shell Louise

During her first week back at school, 7 year old Ella's teacher told her she needed to work on holding her pencil correctly so she gave her a pencil grip to use.

Kaycee (9) had also had the same conversation with her teacher and was told that as well as holding her pencil correctly, she needed to work on her handwriting.

The next day I received an email asking if we would like to review Stabilo EASYgraph pencils and EASYoriginal pens.

Both girls were really excited when the package arrived (they love stationery!) and kept asking me to hurry up and take photos so they could open them!

We were sent pens and pencils for left and right handed because Kaycee's right handed and Ella's left handed.

They love the design of the pens and thought it was great that they come with little stickers so you can write your name on.

The pens come with refills and one of them even came with an ink eraser.

This is how Ella holds a normal pen

The finger spaces make it easy and comfortable for her to feel how it should be held while writing.

I don't even know how Kaycee can write holding her pencil like this!

They've both taken their pencils into school and are using them everyday now. They found it a little difficult at first because they've been used to their own way of writing for so long but they soon got used to it.

These pens and pencils have been great for them and we thank Stabilo for their help :)

Please note: We were sent samples in order to write the review but all opinions are honest.

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