Back to School Rite of Passage


We’re nearly at the end of week one of the new school year here and I’ve been really surprised at how much I can’t stop thinking about my eldest, who started Secondary school for the first time this week. It’s such a strange feeling – are we allowed to feel like this now that they’re the grand age of 11 and off on their next adventure?

I sort of thought I should be really cool about it and just accept that he’s growing up, but inside the mummy in me is screaming “Oh no – what will happen to my boy out in the world of big school?!” Will he miss the bus, will he get picked on for being the smallest (only turned 11 in August), will he make too much effort trying to make people laugh and get in trouble, or come across as a total nutter? Will he even tell me ANYTHING about what he’s doing and what it’s like? Considering how little I used to get out of him about Primary school, there isn’t much hope in this department.

Anyway, the point of my rambling is just that we go through various ‘Rites of Passage’ in our lives, and starting Secondary school is definitely up there. I guess it’s not only a Rite of Passage for the kids though, it’s also one for us mums and dads!

sian-jack-beth-at-izzies-weddingI’m bursting with pride at the fact that he has taken it all in his stride (and it’s just me attempting to hide my wibbly wobbly worried feelings rather than him). Funnily enough, that’s exactly how I felt when he started Primary school!

I’ve realised now that, as parents, we watch them go off to their new adventures with those same feelings no matter how old they are. There will definitely be a few more ‘moments’ to get through in the future. So, to all the others out there feeling like I do – maybe we’ll get better at it, more ‘cool’ and less wobbly, but in my case, probably not!


(Any and all advice happily received to help deal with the looming changes from parent of boy to parent of teenager -arghhhhhh!).


Now Dr. Who is back…..

Now that the summer holidays are well and truly a blurred memory and we all feel like we are back to normal, I may just share a bit about the costumes I made for my family to dress up as Doctor Who characters last June! I know, that was ages ago, but anyway…. I trawled the internet, and You Tube to find tips etc to get these costumes together. I also spent a lot of time on Ebay looking for bargains. Here are the costumes we ended up in, and the ‘how I did it’ will follow……very soon….whooshhhhh whooshhhhh whooooshhhhh (That’s me disappearing in a virtual tardis)!

FAmily dr who pic  Bethan weeping angel best

No Lemons Allowed!

Easter hols are coming to a close as we approach Easter in Cornwall, and we have tried to reserve the sweet treats for nearer the big day. So, today we made an Easter cake, in place of the chocolate nests we tend to do every year. Not such a dramatic thing to do with a 5 and 8 year old you’d think, but not so in our house! For some reason I lost it and put the sugar and flour in together at the start,(should have been the marg and sugar)  and so ended up just bunging all the ingredients in and crossing fingers! Well now, since the last blog regarding baking I have had the good fortune to have been bought a new oven by my lovely in-laws! I think this may have been more out of concern at the prospect of me poisoning their grandchildren with under-cooked food…it’s ….so….SHINY!!!



Look, you can see through the door and everything. Who needs TV when you can watch muffins rising through pristine glass? It’s a bit of a dream come true as now I have the chance to keep my very own oven clean, rather than struggle to keep an old one clean. Sad to be so excited about that I know!

Anyway, the cake was fine, probably due to the miraculously efficient oven. Once it was cooled we moved on to decorating it and my 8 year old son and I settled quickly on some yummy lemon icing to go on the chocolate sponge. Well, this prompted the most unusual over-reaction from my 5 year old daughter. Her first attempt to stop me making the icing was to write out several prohibition signs and sick them all around the kitchen!


“Mum says no lemon allowed”.

Well, actually, mum said “I’m making lemon icing as it’s gorgeous” – my son and I just laughed and carried on as normal. However, she then saw me adding the lemon zest and hit the roof! (sorry, I laughed again). She stormed upstairs saying she was leaving and we’d never see her again. “I won’t miss you, bye” chimes in my son, as we wait to see what will happen next. I finished the icing and called several times to my daughter to stop being silly & come and help us with the cake. She did come down eventually, with three big bags packed for ‘leaving home’ . One bag contained a swimming float and plastic ball. One contained a bracelet and hair clip, another had her favourite toy and her bicycle helmet, along with a lipbalm stick. The last bag was her school PE kit! “Wow, are you going to need all this?” said I, “Why not just taste this terrible lemon icing?”. To her credit she tasted it, and smiled. She admitted straight away that it was very nice, and so decided not to leave home! Lucky for her, as the cake turned out to look very tempting, even though the icing is too runny (in my determination to make the lemon icing I put too much juice in). My son added three white mini eggs as fangs sticking out of the middle of the cake – maybe to represent the ‘monster’ element!


Anyone who’s read my previous blogs will recognise my son’s slowly disintegrating toy leopard, once again getting in on the photo. I should also point out, my daughter models her butterfly tabard, which she uses for cooking and painting alike as it’s a lovely wipe-clean PVC, available from my bug shop here:


Hope you and your little monsters have a fantastic Easter!


A Box!!!!!!

ImageOur long-awaited shoe cupboard arrived recently with much excitement from all of us. At last my plan for a clutter-free zone in the hallway had a chance of taking shape. As I signed for the cupboard the delivery man joked with the kids that this was something they would have to learn to use, and probably wouldn’t even though it was right there in the hallway (how very dare he!). My 8 year old son, however, had a far away look in his eyes and a cheeky grin as he stared at the large box standing in our hallway. As the delivery man asked him why he was so happy he just said “That’s a BRILLIANT box! I want that box!”

So, as I unravelled my beautiful oak solver of shoe-related problems, my son impatiently jumped up and down waiting for the box. His sister then caught on and was just as impatient, standing ready with pens to colour it in. For once, they worked well together in creating a den of sorts, with lots of peep holes for Sooty and friends. It was a joy to behold such camaraderie, though this was short-lived when they realised that it was a real squash to both go in at the same time. Cue more half-term squabbles and the suggestion of a box rota!

So, I bet you all know what I mean when I say that kids really do prefer the box to the contents, even at age 8. I wonder how long I have before this fabulously simple and creative little bit of fun becomes less interesting. I hope I have years to come as I love it!


Birthday Cake – Done!

Well, I promised an update on the whole Birthday cake story, as last time I wrote about it it was just an idea in my head, and scribbled on a scrap of paper. So, here you go, this is what I did – the story of the cake (duh duh duuuuhhhhhhh!).

The request was for a Tinkerbell cake, so I quickly came to the conclusion that I was not going to attempt to create Tink’s delicate features in fondant icing – oh no, I didn’t want the birthday girl to end up screaming in horror at a bendy, wobbly version of her fave fairy. So, sticking within my abilities, I bought some cake topper fairies and made them a lovely fairy garden with toadstool to play in!

I started by doubling my madeira cake recipe and plopping the mixture into two oven-proof dishes.



Now, I’m not going to pretend this all went like clockwork. The first problem encountered was that even though I’d thought about baking for longer due to my ailing oven, I’d not banked on it taking 2 hours!! I’m sure someone with a fully-functioning oven wouldn’t have this problem though. Now behind on time I realised I had one egg too few and not enough caster sugar for the second part of this extravaganza – the chocolate ‘garden’. So I raced off to buy these, and made the next cakes at speed. Substituting 1oz of flour for cocoa made it nice and chocolatey, but I had no idea if it would work. I bunged the two square tins in the oven on different shelves with less than 1 hour until school pick up time.  Half way through the nervous wait, I changed the cakes over, at which point I saw how wobbly they still were – yikes!! They were not fully cooked by the time I had to race off to school so I did the only thing I could, switched the oven off and hoped the residual heat would finish the job!

Luckily when I came home the damage was not so bad. The middles of the cakes were cooked, if a little softer than they ought to be, and less risen, but ok! So I had the cakey building blocks!


The next day was the big decorate. I shut the kitchen door and got going. Luckily I’d coloured some coconut green the previous day while I waited for the cakes to bake. This took almost a whole bottle of green food colouring (for a whole pack of coconut) and STILL it wasn’t completely green. Anyway, I made choc icing (mud) and smothered that on the chocolate cake, then added the green ‘grass’. No problems there :0)



Then came the part I’d worried about. Time to see if two bowl-shaped madeira cakes will sit one on top of the other and stay that way! I added some wooden skewers inside to help them out – and to give me peace of mind, and it worked! Then I got going with the fondant – just red and white. I cut out white circles for the toadstool using a bottle lid, and made the ‘stalk’ and underside of the ‘umbrella’ with the white, before getting the red out. I think that’s a good tip. Get your white done first!!


Anyway, apart from having to make a bit of my own red icing as I didn’t have enough, I managed it. I then scattered sweeties around the garden, added the fairies and gave it a generous sprinkle of edible glitter, and hey presto, bibbety bobbety boo, a cake for my 5 year old! Here it is before its big moment:



Luckily she loved it :0)



Is it sad that stationery shops & catalogues excite me?

I don’t know about anyone else, but I think this must be a hangover from childhood. My total and utter love of lovely new sharp pencils, coloured pens, gel pens or tiny-nibbed pens that write beautifully has never waned since I was a child! Back then it was the excitement of shopping for the longest possible set of felt-tips, like a giant rainbow, all organised by colour in a well-known high-street stationers (one of two in my town in those days). My colouring would be that bit neater for a while to honour the new pens. They’d be kept in pristine order, and it would be so sad when they finally dried up – mind you then came the chance to buy MORE -yipeee!

I still have a set of pens, in their black plastic holder, in order, with my name (as was) written neatly in in my cursive writing (which means we’re talking Primary school or early Secondary school, because I changed my writing to suit me as soon as it wasn’t expected to be totally joined up and in ink pen).


Actually, one thing I never got that excited about, the exception to the rule, was cartridge ink pens! I dabbled with Calligraphy for a while, using turquoise ink and a posh pen I’d had for my birthday. My dad was all into that too. Having to use them at school was a pain, but also a right of passage. You had to be in the top year at Primary school to be allowed!

During secondary school years, outside of school, I wrote important things in a mixture of grey & pink (very ’80s). This was pretty time-consuming as I alternated, doing one letter of each colour as I wrote! On to Uni, and I favoured a sharp pencil for ALL writing, apart from work to be handed in of course. I even wrote reams of pages as letters to my family, friends and boyfriend in pencil, using normal, lined A4 paper. I obviously wasn’t at all bothered about the paper, though being a poor student doesn’t really allow for luxuries such as posh writing paper.

Anyway, the point of these ramblings is just that I have just opened my new Rymans Business account, a benefit of winning the #SBS award from Theo Paphitis for my bug-filled online shop ( ) . A gigantic catalogue has plopped onto the doormat and an equally generous credit is waiting to be spent!


So, the problem I’m struggling with is do I buy what I need (printer ink cartridges etc yawn) or what grabs my eye (multicoloured mechanical pencils, beautiful sets of pens, colourful organising bit & bobs)? I keep finding more & more possibilities! I promise I’ll make the right decision, but for now, I’m in a stationery wonderland & I am going to enjoy looking!