Pirate Partying with Baking Mad

January is a bit of a busy month for us. In amongst the ever growing list of birthdays is my nephew Kieran’s. This year he turned 9 and as he is one of our favourite Humans we all wanted to make it memorable for him.

When I was asked to test out a Pirate Party Kit from Baking Mad I knew exactly who we should throw a party for!

Baking Mad sell a kit which provides you with almost everything you need to make an awesome Pirate Cake with a surprise chocolate bean centre.

Included in your kit you will find

  • Allinson Self Raising Flour (1kg)
  • Silver Spoon Icing Sugar (500g)
  • Billington’s Unrefined Golden Caster Sugar (500g)
  • Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Extract (60ml)
  • Black Icing Writing Pen
  • Pirate Cupcake Kit with Cupcake Cases + Toppers
  • Cake Decorating Sugar Paste Brilliant White 250g
  • Cake Decorating Sugar Paste Black 250g
  • Chocolate Beans 250g
  • Cake Board – 10”
  • Recipe and Instruction Booklet

The kit doesn’t come with butter and eggs. I would say that these are things you would probably have already but since you need 9 eggs in total, you will probably need to make that trip to the shops!

The recipe says you need 500g icing sugar but I didn’t have enough and ended up adding another box to my shopping list along with those 9 eggs and 3 packs of butter – I will concede that I did make my buttercream layers quite thick!

I am not a cake maker so this was a great experience but I did also need to buy equipment. Cake tins and a palette knife for smoothing – I accept that these are things which most people own though.

The kit arrived in a lovely lidded box tied with baking mad ribbon. I really felt that the ingredients and the decorations were of a great quality and really well presented.

Kieran happened to pay me a visit a couple of days before his birthday so I showed him the kit and he was really excited. He wanted to help me make the cake so I spent a lovely evening with him baking his birthday cake!

The instructions were easy to follow but I would have liked to have had a page of tips to help out clueless non bakers like me! Luckily I was able to call my Mum and she helped me out.

Tips from my Mum

  • To get the buttercream to lay with a nice flat finish use a hot palette knife. I use a jug of boiling water (drying the knife first of course)
  • Add milk if the icing is too thick
  • Cool the cake thoroughly before icing
  • Use a sharp knife to level the sides of the cake to give an even finish.

I was pretty happy with the finished result!


Kierans birthday was a great success! He and his friends all enjoyed the cake (especially when it was cut open to reveal the surprise chocolate inside!) and had lots of fun playing with the Baking Mad Pirate Hats (available to purchase on the Baking Mad website)

I found the process of using a party cake kit a really interesting one. Although I think the cost of the kit might limit how much I would use the service I think it is a great way to introduce yourself to creating a really special birthday cake.

Disclaimer: This was a collaborative post. I received the Party cake kit in return for an honest review

Compulsory School Age – to wait or not to wait

After a lovely chat with Mooses “ladies” at preschool about how he is getting on I was feeling less apprehensive. Moose is doing really well at preschool and has made some great friends. He is right where he should be for his age.

boy and a fence

His age is the problem.

He is an August baby and that means that he is due to start reception aged just 4yrs and 3 weeks. I know that there always has to be a youngest child but I feel/felt really sad to think that he will be that child. That it will put him at a disadvantage before he has even begun.

Physically I don’t think we will have a problem. His dad is 6ft2 and Moose has always been big so he will probably look quite average alongside children who might be anything up to 11 months older than him.

The bits I worry/worried about though is the little things. Things like getting his uniform on and off for PE. Putting his coat on to go out to play. Being able to write as well as and be able to hold a pencil for as long as his peers. His little fingers still being too clumsy to be able to keep up.

boy and tablet

It was for those reasons that I seriously considered keeping him in preschool for another year and starting him in reception when he is 5.

He wasn’t due until September. If he had just stayed put he would be going to school in 2019 and I wouldn’t have worried (alright, maybe a bit)

Problem is that it would be quite a fight to delay his start because everyone I have spoken to has told me that he would have to start in year 1, not reception. I don’t want him to miss the social connections kids make in those first few months. Applications for school need to made by January 2018 for a September start so I really need to get my skates on!

Seriously, how can I be more clueless with my third child than I was with my first?! Why is there not more information made available to parents about this? 

Did you delay your child until they reached compulsory school age? Tell me about it by leaving a comment. 

We Should Talk About Umbilical Cord Blood

I have experienced 27 months of pregnancy. Some good, a fair amount pretty rubbish actually. With pregnancy comes a lot of choices. You first of all (quite rightly in my opinion) get to choose whether to stay pregnant. You decide on how you plan to give birth, what kind of pain relief you might like (top tip: all of it) and you get to decide on a whole host of other things along the way. Some of it is important, some not so much. Nobody really talks about the umbilical cord though.

In all of those 27 months though not one medical professional ever mentioned umbilical cords and stem cell research. There wasn’t even a pamphlet anywhere as far as I can remember. 

It was introduced to me by another Mum. One who was in the same Facebook due in group because we happened to be due to give birth at the same time – incidentally if you are pregnant and reading this, and you haven’t already, go and search on facebook for your own due in group. It’s a great way to find a tribe and trust me during those 3am feeds you will want your tribe. She happened to mention in passing that she intended to donate her umbilical cord for research. 

pregnant woman holding heart

About Stem Cell Collection

I had no idea but there are companies you can use who bank the cord blood from your babies umbilical cord for potential use later if needed. Considering that this is a non invasive procedure and could have monumental benefits I wonder why it isn’t something which is talked about more readily?

Cord blood contains precious stem cells which can be used as approved therapy for over 80 serious illnesses such as blood disorders, cancers and metabolic conditions. Additionally, cord blood stem cells could hold great promise in the field of regenerative medicine.  Regenerative therapies often use a patient’s own stem cells and cord blood often provides the perfect source.  

Netmums and Smart Cells have teamed up to create this informative video for anyone wanting to find out more. 

This is a collaborative post. All opinions remain my own.




My Car

Day 3 of Blogtober is about cars. I have been able to drive for 13 years but I know pitifully little about cars. So I will talk about what I do know. 

I have owned 4 cars. An old renault clio, a C3 which I chose because it looked cute but which repeatedly died on me, a Vauxhall Zafira which was kindly written off by another driver on a roundabout last November and then this. A Hyundai Matrix. If you think it looks like an old man’s car, you would be quite right


hyundai matrix


The old man’s car

My children have spent more time in this car than I have. In fact, the day I got it Col and Bess jumped into the back and having opened their secret hiding place, they proceeded to pull out a little plastic horse, a pack of pencils, a few shells and some other assorted oddments. A small handful of memories.

This car used to belong to my Grandpop. He loved to drive, he and my Nan would often have Col and Bess to stay and take them off to the beach or woods for lots of playtime. Even when we moved 150 miles away my Nan and Grandpop would drive in this to meet us at the beginning of the school holidays so they could whisk Col and Bess away for the duration of the half term. As soon as the children caught sight of this car they would get so excited to see their Great Grandparents. To them this car meant adventure.

That was quite a few years ago now. My Nan has since passed away (fuck you cancer) and then last November I was involved in an accident (decided in my favour by the insurers) which resulted in my previous car being written off. 


The shakes

Around the same time it had become apparent that the Parkinsons my Grandpop was suffering with was getting worse. A lot worse. It’s strange and scary to see someone you love be affected by ageing and all that comes with it. Especially when they have to deal with a condition like Parkinson’s too. I think most people know about the involuntary shakes associated with the disease but not about the other stuff. It really robs a person of who they are. Mentally and physically.

The day after I told him my car had been written off, my Grandpop called to tell me that he made the decision to give back his driving license. He said it quite matter of factly (as is his way) but I could hear how difficult and brave a decision this must have been for him. He wanted me to have his car. An offer I was not expecting.

I felt so conflicted about the offer. Of course I was incredibly grateful but also sad. Sad that we had to accept that things were changing. The Grandpop who would turn up and get stuck into some gardening or fix some DIY catastrophe was not going to be around anymore. 

I of course accepted 

So now his car is mine. It has been nearly a year since he signed it over but quite honestly I don’t think it will ever really feel like it’s anything other than Grandpops car. I am ok with that. It maybe isn’t the prettiest car in the world but it has something which not a lot of cars have. It has love ground into the carpets (along with god knows what else) and it has a place in the story of our little family.

ps. My foot still hurts, fingers crossed it’s better tomorrow! 





Babies are overrated


Day 2 of blogtober and I am dosed up on some pretty hefty painkillers thanks to what Google tells me is a trapped nerve in my foot (medial planter nerve to be exact)

I couldn’t get an appointment with a GP even if I wanted one so instead I am treating it with a lively dose of ibuprofen 3 times a day, rest and lots of ice packs. If it goes purple or some other equally alarming colour I will call someone.

Blogtober marches on though and today’s prompt is Babies. 

Babies is the title of one of my very favourite songs by Pulp and also what we refer to very young humans as. I have produced 3 babies in my lifetime and 3 is definitely my magic number. I am so over babies.

People don’t like it when you say that. I sometimes feel, as a woman, that I am expected to want to produce a never ending conveyor belt style stream of babies. After giving birth to each of my little darlings someone would ask “so, when’s the next one?”. As though I would want to jump straight back onto the morning sickness inducing, oedema bringing fun train that is pregnancy. Some people glow in pregnancy. I did not.

1 year old col

A much younger me with a much younger Col

The truth is that I had a taste of life after babies before Moose came along. With Bess and Col both at school I had 6 hours a day to myself to pour into my business. I could decide on a whim to go for coffee with a friend or nip to the shops, and I did.

I could sleep in on Sundays safe in the knowledge that my children were able to make their own breakfast quite happily without needing me at their side.

Days out got interesting again. We could play board games and computer games together. It was actually more fun!

And then there was Moose.

Before Moose I thought our family was complete. I had as many children as I had hands and that, I thought, was enough. Fate (or whatever you want to call it) had other ideas and we found ourselves outnumbered and surviving on no sleep once againand in the company of a little boy who fills my heart to the brim. Who really does complete us.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my children now and I loved them as babies. When Col was a baby he had the cutest little feet which you wanted to nuzzle because it made both of us giggle – you do NOT want to touch teenage Cols feet. Trust me. Now we giggle over our shared love of certain TV programmes. Bess was so cute as a baby, but as she grows toward adolescence she honestly takes my breath away with her brilliance.

All I am saying is that as much as we all love babies, there is a lot to be said for a bit more sleep and for children who are able to tell you with words what the hell it is they want.

So, if you are a parent who is coming to realise that your baby is really not a baby any longer. Don’t stress. The best is yet to come.