Tag Archives: baking

I must spend more time with my children

I don’t spend enough time with my children, despite the fact that I mostly work from home.  I am always busy and when I’m not busy,  I’m so knackered that I’m no good to anyone.  I know that a lot of this has to do with the recent house move (added to the previous three)  and a very, very stressful few years, but a) this is not going to get any better and b) that will be no comfort to me when they’re suddenly eighteen and have left home or simply don’t want to hang around with me anymore.

Boy the Elder spent most of this weekend with a friend (at the Cosby Air Show) and after we had dropped him off, Boy the Younger and I decided to go for a walk at Foxton Locks.  On a whim, we popped in and took one of his friends along as well.  We had a lovely time but as we drove back BTY asked if this friend could come back for a sleepover.

Now, I am ashamed to admit that I absolutely hate having my children’s friends over for sleepovers.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with their friends, but particularly with the younger ones, I resent the extra responsibility of another child.  Isn’t that awful?  And particularly at the moment, when there is still so much work to be done in the house before it will be as I want it, the additional pressure leaves me feeling absolutely drained.

The boy sleeping over was fine but I couldn’t wait for him to be collected, mostly because I could feel a massive headache coming on of the kind that requires a day in bed with hot water bottles on the back of my neck.

I’m also not very good at being spontaneous.  I used to be spontaneous years ago, renowned for it in fact, but not anymore.  Spontaneity suggests large chunks of free time that have been unaccounted for and I rarely have those.  When they boys are at their dad’s, I usually spend my time catching up on jobs or asleep.  By Sunday evening, I’m starting to relax a bit but then Monday comes again all too soon.

A basic 8884 Sponge Cake mix with a lot of food colouring *

But after the friend had gone and BTY and I were on our own, I felt far too guilty to go to bed and leave him downstairs alone, so I suggested that we bake a cake together.  This was extremely well received and although he got a bit silly and messy, he eventually produced a multi-coloured cake decorated with bright yellow buttercream and Smarties.  He declared that it was a Happy Cake and couldn’t wait for Boy the Elder to come home and have a slice.  My heart melted a usual.

While we were waiting for the cake to cool, I suggested that we get a jigsaw and we returned to an old favourite depicting three Spitfires against a stormy sky.  We got the straight edges out and did the outline first and then he got to work on the Spitfires.  He was so thrilled when he managed to get pieces in the right places and we really enjoyed doing the puzzle together.

When Boy the Elder came home, the dynamic changed, but it brought it home to me very strongly that I have to make more time for them.  When BTE was little, he didn’t have an older brother muscling in on his time, telling him what to do or generally being a git.  I also had the time to do creative things with him on a regular basis.  BTY has always had to share his time and I have not been in the position to do lots of creative stuff with him.  He needs to spend quiet periods with me, just being together and having a bit of fun.

Must try harder.  Otherwise I’ll live to regret it.

* Click here for basic sponge cake mix


Filed under Children, Family and Friends, Indoor Activities, Leisure

The Household Sale: More bakings than takings

After the excitement of the reunion, Sunday saw the Household Sale in which I attempted to shed the unwanted portion of my possessions.  The dining room was full and I hoiked it over to the village hall, where I was joined by my friend Mrs Lincoln-Park who was also attempting to purge, and my sister-in-law Mrs Grable who is a wizard with a tea pot.

It was unfortunate that the only day I could possibly hold the sale was a beautiful summer’s day which just happened to coincide with the Wimbledon final.  All I can say is that a small profit was made which is better than nothing.  The Heart Foundation and Help the Aged’s shops have also been re-stocked.  Sadly, many things had to go to the tip because no-one will take electricals because they haven’t been PAT tested or toys without a CE stamp.

Regulation Village Hall tea set

Great Bowden also chose that afternoon to have a power cut and Boy the Elder was swiftly dispatched to fetch a couple of camping stoves which I keep for just such an emergency and we were only deprived of a brew for half an hour.  I was about to start a chorus of ‘It’s a long way to Tipperary’ when electricity was thankfully restored.   On the bright side, I was pleased to be introduced to the writer of Liberal England who was both charming and younger than I expected.

I spent most of Friday afternoon baking for the stampeding hordes of bargain hunters and consequently I will not need to bake again until the end of the week.  Boy the Younger’s school also benefited by a batch of Banana & Branflake Muffins and a small tin of fairy cakes.

This is what I made:

26 x Banana & Branflake Muffins

26 x Banana & Walnut Fairy Cakes

18 x Sponge Fairy Cakes 

1 x large Rich Chocolate Cake

1 x large Malted Cinnamon Cake

These were iced or filled with a triple quantity of Mock Cream

I was also given a batch of Eccles Cakes and I must remember to post this recipe because it’s so quick and simple and an Eccles Cake is a thing of beauty.  I’ve just realised I’ve already given you the recipe for Eccles Cakes – find it HERE.

Actually, I’m feeling quite peckish….

Walnuts are good brain food, bananas are full of potassium, ergo these cakes are health food


Filed under Food, Recipes

Fun Easter activities for all the family

Now that the school holidays are nearly upon us, it is a great time to get out those paints and glue, eggs and flour and get creative.  Or better still make your children get creative.

Easter baskets

Easter Baskets:  https://wartimehousewife.wordpress.com/2011/04/02/what-ive-been-doing-instead-of-writing-articles-for-you

Hot Cross Buns


Hot Cross Buns:  https://wartimehousewife.wordpress.com/2010/04/01/things-to-make-and-do-at-easter-part-4

Egg decorations


Faberge Egg Decorations: https://wartimehousewife.wordpress.com/2010/03/31/things-to-make-and-do-at-easter-part-3

Simnel Cake


Simnel Cake:  https://wartimehousewife.wordpress.com/2010/03/30/things-to-make-and-do-at-easter-part-2

Egg cosies


Felt Egg Cosies:  https://wartimehousewife.wordpress.com/2010/03/29/things-to-make-and-do-at-easter-part-1


Filed under Seasonal

Shortbread: If it’s good enough for Camilla Parker-Bowles…


Assorted Shortbread

In which the Wartime Housewife gives two recipes for Shortbread: one plain recipe with variations and one recipe using ground almonds.

Any of you who listen to The Archers will have heard about the appearance of Camilla Parker Bowles (Duchess of Cornwall and wife of Prince Charles) and the great Shortbread Debacle.  The Archers was accused earlier in the week of advertising Duchy Original Shortbread, but this was cleverly counteracted when Camilla visited Grey Gables and enjoyed their shortbread so much that she requested to meet the diffident chef, Ian.  Marvellous stuff.

Therefore, in honour of The Archers’ storyline, I am giving you not one, but two recipes for shortbread, which you can sample to see which one you like best. 

To ring the changes you can add other nice things to give a bit of variation.  I used 2oz/60g of chocolate drops to one batch and 2oz/60g dried chopped cranberries to another.  You could also use a tablespoon of finely grated orange rind, raisins, or other dried fruit.  Add these at the ‘binding into a thick paste’ stage.

The utensils and method are pretty much the same for both types.


1 x large mixing bowl
1 x greased baking tray OR
1 x 8” / 20cm shallow cake tin
1 x wire cooling rack
1 x rolling pin

8oz / 240g white self raising flour
a pinch of salt
3oz / 90g white granulated sugar
4oz / 120g butter
2floz / 60ml milk

Preheat the oven to  160 / 3 / 325
Sift the flour into a bowl with the salt
Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs
Stir in the sugar
Add the milk and mix with your hands until it forms a thick paste
Turn out onto the work surface and knead until smooth
Roll out to a thickness of ½”/ 1.25cm
Cut into desirable shapes or press into a cake tin
Bake for 15-20 minutes until just starting to get a bit of colour
Remove from the oven and leave to cool on the baking tray
When cool place on a wire rack to harden off


4oz / 120g plain flour
1oz / 30g ground almonds OR
1 oz / 30g rice flour
a pinch of salt
3oz / 90g butter
2oz / 60g castor sugar (plus a bit extra for sprinkling on top)

Preheat the oven to  160 / 3 / 325
Sift the flour into a bowl with the salt and sugar
Rub in the butter into the flour until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs
Start to squash the mixture together with your hands until it forms a solid ball of dough
Press the mixture into the cake tin with your fingers, making sure it’s nice and even
Bake in the oven for about 15-20 minutes
Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for about 10 minutes
Cut the shortbread into12 and sprinkle with sugar
Leave it in the tin until it has become complete cold and hard


Filed under Food

Volunteers are the backbone of communities

Join the Neighbourhood WatchAs I mentioned on Thursday, in my article about Baking Cakes for Fetes, I was asked to bake for a table top sale to raise money for Haiti. The sale had been organised in a great hurry by some members of the church, who desperately wanted to do something to help. When I walked in with my tray of cakes at 9.45 this morning, I was astonished at what they had been able to achieve in such a short space of time. The donations were incredible and the tables were groaning with cakes, clothes, china, giftware and toys. I hope they raised a decent amount of money, but what was really good to see was how many people had got behind it and had worked together to make it happenVolunteering at your local hospital

This is what communities are best at.  There was an experiment done a couple of years ago in a small town in Sussex, I think, where all the volunteers, in every aspect of community life, went on strike for day to draw attention to the contribution that they made.  This meant the school, hospital, care of the elderly & handicapped, meals on wheels, drivers, community groups; all stopped.  The result made the national newspapers.  Communities need volunteers and there are so many things that one can do.

In our parents (and certainly grand-parents’) day, if a woman stopped work because she got married, as the middle classes invariably did, she didn’t just spend her day cleaning the house and baking fancies.  There seemed to be an understanding that she would get involved in some sort of community activity.  It might have been the WI, the church, the local school or hospital, and it also had a social dimension as well.  Men would have their own social activities that would often have a charitable dimension or at least the odd fundraising jaunt.

Helping out at School

I’m not suggesting that everyone should be hot-footing it down to the WI or the Rotary Club – these organisations are not for everyone – but there is usually something we can do, even if it’s only a couple of times a year.

Most of us actually have very comfortable lives.  We may not be rolling in asses milk, bathing in caviar or eating Lamborghinis, but we can be pretty sure that we have a lot more than many.  At Boy the Younger’s school, parents (mothers and fathers incidentally) go in to hear children read, help out in cookery or art classes, or accompany the children on school trips.  Because lots of people do it, one is not asked that often and it’s therefore not too onerous.  The Scouts are always asking for help on an ad hoc basis as well as needing leaders and this can be really good fun as well as supporting an organisation which gives so much experience and confidence to young people. 

The point I’m making is that you don’t have to be turning up at some draughty village hall, full of 90-year olds talking about broccoli and cardigans every week in order to ‘do your bit’.  A lot of people, myself included, work long hours and have many responsibilities, but we also have plenty of opportunity to cast a glance outside our own lives from time to time.  Several friends sponsor children in poor countries.  The Aged Parent gives £2 a month to The Lifeboats. Another friend plays the piano at a music group in a prison.

Have a look at the link to The Lunchbreak Philanthropist.  She is going to do a piece each week on what people can do in their lunchbreak at work.  What a brilliant idea!  I shall be very interested to see what she comes up with.

All I ask is that you think about it, it doesn’t have to be massive.  And just because you’ve done something once, it doesn’t mean that you have to get sucked in to doing more and more, you have a perfect right to say no in a clear, steady voice.  But just occasionally your presence could be very welcome indeed.


Filed under Community and shopping, Family and Friends, Indoor Activities, Leisure, Outdoor Activities