Life with two Smalls and a fistful of daydreams

I felt that as it is All Hallows’ Eve I should pick an appropriately creepy book from my list of ‘I want’s today and this one is both creepy sounding and high up on my Lust List.

I haven’t read a Christopher Golden book in years but I adored the ones I did read and I would love to get my hands on this one. His first horror novel in more than a decade, Snowblind is apparently reminiscent of Stephen King’s early work and brings ghost stories to a whole new level.

That is quite a high level of praise and I hope that I won’t be disappointed when I do get myself a copy to read. Regardless of that though, I love the cover art – it’s really atmospheric and suitably chilly considering the title!


Twelve years ago the small town of Coventry, Massachusetts was in the grasp of a particularly brutal winter. And then came the Great Storm.

It hit hard. Not everyone saw the spring. Today the families, friends and lovers of the victims are still haunted by the ghosts of those they lost so suddenly. If only they could see them one more time, hold them close, tell them they love them.

It was the deadliest winter in living memory.

Until now.

When a new storm strikes, it doesn’t just bring snow and ice, it brings the people of Coventry exactly what they’ve been wishing for. And the realisation their nightmare is only beginning.

What books are you lusting after this week?

cbaGGus & Waldo’s Book Of Love’

Usually, picture books are aimed at the younger generation but there are a fair few out there that aren’t and Gus & Waldo’s Book Of Love is easily my favourite picture book for grown ups by a mile.

Gus & Waldo are penguins and they are happily in love but the ups and downs of modern life just seem to be getting in the way. It all seems to get too much and they worry that everything’s over – but surely it can’t be?

2298322This book makes me smile, and laugh out loud, every time I pick it up – which is surprisingly often. It is short and sweet and sits on the bookshelf in a place that is easy to just grab and flick through. It makes me feel good about the world and it never fails to make me happy regardless of how much of a terrible day I’m having.

The pictures are bold and simple but very clever and have lots of funny little details, the text is easy to read and says just enough for the story to work and the whole thing is the perfect size to shove in your pocket if you want to.

Gus & Waldo’s Book Of Love is reassuring and amusing and one of my most loved books of all. Something I never thought I’d every say about a quirky little picture book about a pair of gay penguins, but it’s true. If you don’t have a copy on your bookshelf then you should get one, or at least borrow a copy and have a read.



297octWhen I washed the kids hair this evening I noticed that Tori and Artie’s hair is almost the same length when wet!

298octPretty much the highlight of my Monday every week is pom-poms…

299octCrazy weather today – like this one minute, torrential downpour the next, battering winds in between. Very peculiar.

300octWalking home from school Arthur took one look at these fallen fig leaves and announced ‘These look like dinosaur footprints, Mummy! RAWR!’

301octArthur dressed for the season today :)

302octIt was Tori’s school Harvest Festival and I took this photo of her having a quiet moment to herself in the middle of a song they were singing.

303octThis afternoon we all headed to the park together and had some fun with the football and frisbee.

cbaFForbidden by Tabitha Suzuma’

When it comes to books that I have recommended the most often, this one is actually quite high up on the list. I lent my copy out a million times until I finally posted it out into the world during a postal book swap event.

It’s not a nice book. It’s not action-packed or super steamy. It’s far from conventional and it is not an easy read. But I do think it is an important and challenging one, written intelligently and powerfully.

You see, Forbidden is a story about incest. Full on, brother and sister incest.

But it isn’t disgusting, and it isn’t horrible. It is a beautiful, heart-breaking story told in a way that leaves you to make your own decisions and to really think about situations that can happen and the way you judge people.

The cover of the edition I had was perfect for the book. Stark and simple but still eye-catching.

You know what you are letting yourself in for from the outset with Forbidden as the blurb is as blunt as the book itself:

Sixteen-year-old Maya and seventeen-year-old Lochan have never had the chance to be ‘normal’ teenagers. Having pulled together for years to take care of their younger siblings while their wayward, drunken mother leaves them to fend alone, they have become much more than brother and sister. And now, they have fallen in love.

But this is a love that can never be allowed, a love that will have devastating consequences . . .

‘How can something so wrong feel so right?’

The home-life depicted in the story is gritty and very real. Maya and Lochan don’t have it easy and in taking on the responsibilities of parenting their younger siblings, it is surprisingly easy to see how the relationship between them blurs from siblings to something more.

The writing never gets flowery, it is a love story but not in a way that comes across as a fantasy. This simple but clever technique means that the taboo topic never becomes unbearable to read – deeply uncomfortable, yes, and very unsettling, but never unbearable.

Forbidden was a challenge that I am very glad I read. It made me cry but above all, it made me think. And I have never been quite the same since I read it, purely because it made me look at something I had flatly judged before and see the other side. Forbidden still haunts me even though my well-thumbed copy has disappeared into the unknown.

Another fantastic example of a YA book that really needs to be read by everyone, not just young adults. It might not be a fun read but it is one that you will remember for a long time afterwards.


And here we are: The Great Blogger’s Bake Off Final. I missed a couple of weeks in the middle due to various members of the family being ill and time just generally evading me but I was determined to join in with the final bake. Last year I made a tiered Hallowe’en cake as my showstopper and amusingly, we only finished eat it a couple of weeks ago – I froze it in portions for emergency puddings!

I wanted to try something completely different and out of my comfort zone for my final effort this year – a proper challenge. With that in mind I stuck my nose in all of my recipe books to try and find something suitable and eventually found what I was looking for in The Humming Bird Bakery ‘Home Sweet Home’ book which is utterly beautiful but full of recipes I am generally too afraid to try and make.

The recipe involved making a cheesecake baked inside a moist, rich chocolate sponge crust. Perfect considering I have never made a cheesecake in my life, baked or otherwise – definitely a challenge to try and pull off.

I adapted the recipe a little so I could use the last of the blackberries from my parents’ garden and also because their recipe called for sour cherries and I’m not a big fan.

Chocolate & Blackberry Cheesecake Swirl Cake

You Will Need:

finalsponge finalcheesecake1. Preheat your oven to 170ºC and grease a 25cm diameter non-stick cake ring/bundt tin with butter and dust with flour.

2. In a small bowl, mix together the cocoa powder and hot water, stir well until combined into a thick chocolate liquid.

3. Add the soured cream to the chocolate liquid and mix well.

4. Sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and salt.

5. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well (and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each one if you are using a mixer or handheld whisk).

6. Pour in the soured cream mixture (with your mixer/whisk on a medium speed) then add the dry ingredients and mix well until you have a smooth, shiny, even dough. (I found it was quite liquid but it’s really thick so it’s okay.) Put this to one side to use later.

7. Now to make the cheesecake! Mix the cream cheese and sugar until smooth (using your mixer or electric whisk).

8. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each one.

9. Stir in the vanilla extract and chopped blackberries. (You might want to do this by hand to make sure the berries are evenly distributed through the mixture.)

10. Fill a piping bag with the cheesecake mixture. (Use your widest nozzle or cut the tip to make a 3cm hole if using a disposable bag.)

11. Spoon/pour half of the chocolate sponge mixture into your prepared tin.

12. Carefully pipe the cheesecake mixture in a ring in the middle of the tin, taking car not to let it touch the sides anywhere.

final213. Spoon/pour the remaining half of the chocolate sponge mixture on top of the cheesecake. Smooth it down carefully to completely cover the cheesecake.

14. Bake for approximately 1 hour or until the cake springs back when lightly touched and a skewer comes out clean of cake mix when inserted.

15. Allow the cake to cool and then carefully turn out of the tin. (I left mine for approximately one episode of House M.D. so about 45 minutes ;) )

final316. Melt the blackberry jam in a small saucepan. (I used my homemade Autumn Fruit jam which is lightly spiced with cinnamon but any jam that compliments the fruit in the cheesecake would be fine.)

17. Using a pastry brush, glaze the cake with the jam.

18. Serve and Enjoy!


I really enjoyed making this cake although it was HUGE when I brought it out of the oven and I was afraid I would never get it out of the tin whole because it looked a bit delicate due to the soft cheesecake centre. However, once it had cooled, it settled a bit and actually turned out quite easily and neatly (although I should have done it onto a plate or serving dish instead of a cooling rack because I couldn’t lift it off again afterwards…)

I don’t much like fruit mixed with cake or chocolate so was pleasantly surprised when I loved this cake! My fussy eaters liked it too which was an added bonus (apart from Tori not liking the jam on the outside, but she ate the rest).

I loved the shine the jam glaze gave it – very simple but quite impressive to look at.

I can’t tell you how well it keeps or freezes though I’m afraid because we ate it too fast!



I’m taking part in the #GreatBloggersBakeOff2014
To see the other great entries in Finals Week click here to see the linky on MummyMishaps

Also linking up with:


290octToday my parents, sister and I travelled to Leeds to attend the final ever service at Meanwood Methodist Church which has been our family church for many years. Weddings, christenings, funerals, Sunday School, Scouts, Brownies – all sorts of things. Friendship and family, love, fun, worship, memories beyond measure.

It’s slightly strange attending a funeral for a community building – the same bittersweet emotions as any funeral except you have to stand inside the perfectly healthy, living building and say goodbye to it anyway.

I took this photo after the final service finished – it hurts thinking those pews will never be full again.

291octMonday means MDanz for Tori & Arthur and this week they had pom-poms. Yes, I joined in. It was awesome.

292octWe’ve lived in our house for over a year now and whilst I was in Leeds Caius finally transferred the pile of pictures in the front room onto the stairway wall. And my guitar too. It was lovely to come home to and makes me smile whenever I see them – I especially love the canvas of the Smalls when they were small.

293octCaius randomly suggested taking the kids to the park after school – then I discovered he had his mini quadcopter in his pocket and realised there was an ulterior motive ;)

294octSinging Simba stopped singing. We fixed him because we all love Simba.

295octTori has apparently been working hard on her handwriting and remembering her finger spaces – I’m very proud of her.

296octToday we went to Birmingham for an ‘adventure’ – we took the train because the Smalls have been begging to go on a train for ages. We didn’t really have a plan and it turned out to be a great day of window shopping, exploring, food and discovery. We visited the gallery and museum and then headed into the library. If you haven’t been to the Library of Birmingham then go. I want to live there, it is amazing. As is this photograph of Artie & Caius I took there whilst we were sat watching random people playing Ping Pong for free in the library basement level outdoor amphitheatre. (I told you the place was awesome.)

cbaEEnid Blyton’

When it comes to childhood reading, there are some authors who trip off the tongue of almost everybody. Enid Blyton is one of those.

First up there’s Noddy and his little red and yellow car – I remember having a board book where the little car ends up floating in some water, possibly the sea, which was (and still is, somewhere I think…) stuck together with aging sellotape on the spine. If you didn’t read the books then you probably saw the TV version and loved that instead. Everybody loves Noddy, although I now have the theme tune stuck in my head which is a little annoying.

By far and away though, my very favourite Enid Blyton books were the Famous Five and Secret Seven series; I had the books, the audio cassette tapes, adventure game books and a couple of the Famous Five videos (both original series and the modern one).

I wanted to be in the Famous Five off on adventures across the countryside, catching smugglers and solving crimes with the trusty Timmy at my side. Reading these books made me dream of being brave and discovering secrets about the world – they opened a world of imagination in my head away from the usual fantasy theme of my reading.

I made up passwords for my bedroom based on whatever password the Secret Seven had used in the last book I read, I had a cuddly dog named after Scamper and I spent a lot of my time trying to ‘shadow’ people in the street (and imaginary people in the garden) after obsessively listening to the tape of Go Ahead Secret Seven.

The books still receive a lot of criticism and yes, they are pretty formulaic and predictable now I look back at them but when I was younger they were amazing. That formula Enid Blyton was using was like magic and made her books addictive and compulsive.

The characters from Famous Five and Secret Seven all live in my head now like old friends – sometimes something happens that reminds me of them and I smile to myself. Julian, Dick, George, Anne, Timmy, Peter, Janet, Colin, George, Pam, Jack & Barbara (and Scamper!) still whisper in my mind when I’m out walking sometimes and I find myself musing my way through a pretend FF or SS adventure to pass the time.

The books are timeless, the stories are still fun and full of adventure even though time has moved on from when they were first written. And as for the people who wanted to update them – I think it is insulting. Leave them be.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,538 other followers