A Very Happy New Year!

Listening to a conversation between friends recently, one said "I shouldn't be complaining that my diamond shoes are too tight, I know I am incredibly lucky to have ....."  It doesn't really matter what the conversation was about as it could apply to a lot of "things" we all take for granted in life that may not always be there.

So with a brand New Year just emerging from its cocoon, as usual I find myself taking stock of the last year, what it has given me and what it has taken from me. 

I make no promises for the year ahead, I have many plans, personal and blogging-wise and there are changes afoot in the MLM household.  For me it's all about goals and not too many impossibly unreachable ones!  I wish all my loved ones continued good health and for those in my life with health challenges my wishes go even deeper. 

As for blogging, I resisted starting a blog for many years and now I have 2! both of which I love writing to, both with very different audiences.  Thank you to everyone who has read and commented, I appreciate you all.

Tonight we will raise a glass of the fizzy stuff and watch TC sleep through it all.  We will let off a lone rocket into the night sky as we have done for many years, now we send it up as a tribute to those gone before us with a teary smile. 

Are your diamond shoes too tight?? I like to think mine aren't, like my friend I know how incredibly lucky I too am to have my health and TC,  The days are brighter with her, when we thought we would never smile again, our surprise baby girl, Happy Bright New Year TC and to each and every one of you a very....



Reading through a few blogs this evening I came across an opportunity from Daxon - I have to admit I'd never come across them before but do shop with  Verbaudet and LaRedoute which are also under the same Redcats banner, which is the 3rd largest home shopping organisation in the world.

So off I went to check out the Daxon website so see what they have to offer.  I was quite surprised at the depth of their stock, from lingerie to homewares and a lot in between!

As a new customer you can receive a 10% discount and free delivery over £40, they also have an amazing 70% off sale on at the moment.

This camel double-breasted trench coat is now £29 marked down from £99!

 If you write about the Daxon brand on your blog by the 31st December you could be earning yourself a £50 Amazon voucher too.  All of the information can be found on the Daxon blog.


Silent Sunday

Beauty-full - NEOM Luxury Organics

I was very lucky to receive the perfect Christmas gift from my lovely daughter, at 2 years and 5 months old she already knows her mummy's tastes well, although I think she must have had some help ordering it off the internet and her wrapping skills are amazing!

NEOM Luxury Organics goodies have been on my wish list for some time and even through the wrapping paper I could smell the wonderful aromas eminating from these potent little bath oils and candle.

The candle is very aptly called Real Luxury -  known as the "cashmere blanket" the fragrance is a blend of Lavender, Jasmine and Brazilian Rosewood and smells divine.  NEOM candles are made from 100% natural vegetable wax and pure aromatherapy oils for a natural clean burn - I love the NEOM promise on the box - no synthetic scents, parafin wax, black smoke or toxins.

The 5 mini bath oils are a heady mix of aromas named:

Complete Bliss, Real Luxury, Refresh, Restore and Tranquility which has my favourite blend of essential oils - Lavender, Orange and Geranium as well as Rosewood, Patchouli, Cedarwood and Basil, all guaranteed to soothe and relax me before bed.

I have no idea where this was purchased from or how much it cost, but it's priceless to me, it will always be the gift my little girl gave me for Christmas.....


Puff the Magic Pastry!

We've only made our own puff pastry once when we (me & Mr J) signed up for a pastry making night class when we were first married, long, long ago!  That was a great class, we did everything from apple pies to bouche de noel!  Since then it has been store bought puff pastry for hugely quick and easy nibbly offerings.

Mr J's favourite mince pies are mince puffs, years ago I just swapped the shortcrust for the puff and a family Christmas favourite was born.  These are so very fast and easy to make and something you can make with the children as not a lot can go wrong!

Alternatives have been mince pie wheels and open mince puff pies, all equally delicious!

For the Mince Puffs you need only 3 ingredients plus a drop of milk:

  • Take a 411g jar of mincemeat and scoop out about half into a small bowl, splash a tablespoon of brandy onto it and leave for a while to marinate and infuse.  (I used plain mincemeat in TC's mini mince puffs)

  • Take one pack of ready rolled puff pastry, unroll and cut out your bases and tops. Place the bases on a lightly buttered baking tray and brush a little milk around the rims.

  • Drop a small dollop of the infused mincemeat into the centre of the bases, not too much or they may leak and ooze out!

  • Take your tops and place over the bases and press down the edges to seal.  Brush over with beaten egg. You can sprinkle the tops with caster sugar before baking if you wish, I prefer them without.

  • Bake at 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4 for about 15 minutes.


Lebkuchen Christmas Biscuits

Lebkuchen, a traditional soft German biscuit, has been a part of my Christmas from long before I can even remember.  My Oma would send over packets of Chocolate Lebkuchen and Pffernussen, they were so very moreish and my favourite Christmas treat.

I have been buying Bahlsen Lebkuchen for years but for the last couple of years I have found it increasingly difficult to find them so have decided to try my hand at making my own.  The recipe from Woman and Home looks the most authentic one looking at the list of ingredients, except I am leaving out the mixed peel & crystallised ginger.  I am most looking forward to dipping them in chocolate!

Lebkuchen - adapted from and inspired by Woman and Home Recipe.


250g plain flour
75g ground almonds
2 tsp ground ginger
1½ tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of ground cloves
pinch of ground nutmeg
2 tsp cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
200g honey
75g butter
150g plain chocolate


1.  Combine the flour, almonds, spices, cocoa powder, baking powder and
     bicarbonate of soda into a medium sized bowl.

2.  Melt the butter and honey in a pan over a low heat, stirring until the
     butter melts.

3.  Pour the honey butter mixture over the dry ingredients and mix well to
     make a stiff dough.  Chill if the mixture is a touch sticky to work with.

Heat your oven now to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4.

4.  Shape the dough into small golf ball sized balls.  Place on a lined
     baking tray, well spaced apart, I used my macaron pans, I love my 
     macaron pans!  Flatten each one to make a round biscuit.

5.  Bake for about 15 minutes, then cool on a wire rack.

6.  Break the chocolate into pieces and place in a bowl of simmering
     water, heat gently.  Dip the biscuits into the chocolate then leave to
     cool again on a wire rack. 


Stollen Pastries

My lovely Oma, who TC is named after, would make many Stollen every Christmas and send out to all of her family.  Even when I left home to live the single city girl life and then the married coastal life, she still sent me one every year.  She was the best baker I knew and her recipes live on with us. 

Stollen, pronounced Sch-toe-len, is a traditional German rich yeasted bread made with dried fruits, mixed peel and almonds usually in a loaf shape, this year I'm making Stollen pastries for munching with gallons of tea in the run up to Christmas.


500g strong white bread flour
7g sachet easy bake yeast
3 tablespoons light muscovado sugar
2 rounded tsp ground mixed spice
1 tsp salt
90g unsalted butter - softened
200ml semi-skimmed milk
1 tablespoon black treacle
1 large free range organic egg
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
250g mix raisins/sultanas/mixed peel/
              chopped glace cherries
zest of 1-2 clemantines and 1 lemon
250g golden marzipan
flaked almonds to decorate to your taste

1 medium free range organic egg
1 tablespoon milk

Icing Wash
50g icing sugar
4 tablespoons hot water


1.  Combine the flour, yeast, sugar, spice and salt together in a large bowl,
     then rub in the butter.

2.  Warm the black treacle with the milk then beat in the egg and oil.  Add
     this to the flour/butter mix and stir in well moulding into a ball.  Leave for
     about 10-15 minutes.  Then knead the dough before covering and leaving
     to rise until it has doubled in size.

3.  Roll the dough out to a large rectangular size and scatter with the dried
     fruit and zests.  Knead the dough again until the ingredients are well

Pre-heat your oven now to 200°C/180°C/Gas 6.

4.  Roll the dough out to a large rectangular shape, about 18" x 6" (or
     thereabouts), dampen the edges to help the dough stick together when

5.  Place the marzipan on one edge of the dough and roll the dough
     around it.  Pinch the edges to seal.

6.  Slice the dough into 15 or so rounds and place on a couple of lined 
     baking trays, well spaced out.    

7.  Beat the medium egg with the milk and glaze the tops of the pastries.
     Sprinkle with the flaked almonds generously.

8.  Bake for around 15-20 minutes.  Whilst still warm brush over with the
     icing wash as desired, I do some with and some without (for me & TC).

It's beginning to smell a lot like Christmas around here!

Jingle Bells!

Miss TC and myself were very kindly sent a copy of Jingle Bells! - the ultimate collection of festive songs for all the family from Music Room.

What a fabulous little book, crammed with 18 mostly traditional tunes, words and music.  The Jingle Bells pack is ideal to encourage your child to sing, with fun backing tracks on the CD featuring sing-along versions of all the songs.  The tunes have melody lines and chord symbols, ideal for older children learning the guitar or recorder.  I learnt to read music at school Mr J was a musician for many years so we're hoping the TC will want to learn too.

It also has some great fun-filled activity pages with beautifully illustrated Christmas scenes and.... stickers!!! 

TC is a lover of music, she will stomp and bop to any music including adverts but she absolutely adores stickers, the more the better, usually stuck to herself or the dog.  

TC loved this book, she was enthralled by the pictures and really enjoyed singing and dancing to the CD.  Jingle Bells! will come out every year for a festive sing song, it's a brilliant learning tool, the stickers will be long gone but the music will remain.

*Jingle Bells! was sent to TC and myself, it was an absolute pleasure to review - all thoughts and comments are our own.

Mini Quiches

I usually make quite a few mini quiches as part of a "nibbles" buffet table for our festive and new year gatherings, they are never on the plate for long!  But I also like to make them for TC as a finger food snack, they are easy for small hands to hold, don't fall apart and are soft to eat.  Perfect.

We've always got some crème fraîche in the fridge and I'd just made Annabel Karmel's Popeye Pasta for TC and had some Gruyère left, I usually use cream and Cheddar but I came across a recipe in a Tesco magazine that used both so decided to give it a whirl. 

I used ready rolled shortcrust pastry this time for speed but we usually make our own, well Mr J does, I prefer to bake, he's a maker of pies from scratch and very good at it he is!


375g ready rolled shortcrust pastry
90g back bacon, chopped into small squares
5 tablespoons crème fraîche
1 whole organic egg
1 organic egg yolk
3 tablespoons semi-skimmed milk
50g Gruyère cheese, grated
Salt and pepper


Pre-heat your oven to 190°C/170°C/Gas 5.

1.  Cut 12 rounds of pastry to line a 12 hole tin, I use a glass that makes the
     perfect size round for my tin, around 7.5cm.  Refrigerate while you make
     the filling.
2.  Dry fry the bacon until lightly golden.  Drain on a paper towel and let cool.
3.  Combine the crème fraîche, semi-skimmed milk, whole egg and egg yolk in
     a bowl, season to taste.
4.  Divide the bacon and grated Gruyère between the pastry cases, then
     spoon the crème fraîche, egg mixture carefully and evenly over.
5.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden and the filling has risen.  Leave to
     cool for a few minutes before removing from the tin.

Delicious warm or cold!

Nursery Schooling

TC and myself have been visiting a few nurseries locally in the last few weeks.  I had hoped one would jump out at me and say "pick me!" but so far there has been a downside to every one.  Some have too rigid rules or unsuitable times for us or a very long waiting list or just very expensive.  Having a friend who owns a nursery in another part of the country I do understand that if your child is unwell they still have to staff the nursery so cannot refund or carry over that missed day, but it's still a huge tug on the purse strings especially if you have to miss a day's pay too.

I have to admit to being a fussy mummy, having done this before albeit a long time ago, I am keen to find the right place for her and us as a family.  By that I mean somewhere she will be happy and well cared for with a good learning structure to her day.  For me it also means being able to tick off all the things I want her to have access to like languages and sport which is where I excel.  Daddy will have to do the science and maths bits again, not my forte!

Flicking through yet another local magazine for some inspiration I came across a piece on a local infant and nursery school, they had just been awarded their 3rd Green Flag in recognition of the work the school does to promote healthy lifestyles and to raise awareness of sustainability by making sure that Eco-related projects and initiatives run right through the cirruculum and daily routines.  They also had recently been judged by Ofsted to be outstanding overall with the inspectors describing it as "exceptional".

As luck or fate would have it, there was an open day a mere 2 days later, so off we went today for a tour by the headmaster, who is very personable and charming, with a philosophy of "I can - We can".  The more he talked the more I liked the sound of this school and his/its philosophies.

When he first became headmaster he replaced all the school rules (hearing this I nearly did a huge YAY!, I'm not good with rules) with a values system which has resulted in the pupils' good behaviour and outcomes.  I am looking to be involved in any school TC attends and here parent involvement is greatly encouraged. 

We reached the nursery class, where the children were all sitting in a circle, TC ran over to them seemingly knowing this was her peer group and wanted to join in at once, she is a confident, outgoing child with a sweet charm about her, yes I am pretty biased here.

So, name down and fingers crossed for a very long wait to see if TC secures a place in September 2013, until then I'm still keeping my eyes peeled for other such great little schools just in case and enjoying my time with TC.  Our days now are full and I know I will miss my daily jaunts and activities with my girl.  I am very much of a "what will be, will be" mentality these days but can't help hoping very hard that this is to be.


Tea India Teas - Review

I absolutely ♥ ♥ ♥ tea!  It's the second thing I drink (after my mega glass of water) every morning, then it's tea all the way all day as I may have mentioned here!  Apart from the wonderful taste of tea, it is also full of healthy antioxidants and polyphenols, the Tea Council has some great info here.

I have to admit I have a lot of tea in my kitchen cupboards, everything from herbal teas like green tea, dandelion, fruit teas, blends of turmeric, ginger, chamomile and even nettle!  Mostly I favour Black teas, Earl Grey, etc and am always buying new teas from our local coffee bean/tea importer shop to try.

I was so pleased to receive a couple of beautifully packaged boxes of tea from Tea India to *sample, their Vanilla Chai and Black TeaIn their range also is Marsala Chai which I heard Lorraine Kelly effusing over on her show the other day and Cardamon Chai.

Inspired by the fusion of tradition with the vibrancy of modern India, Tea India have used 70 years of tea blending experience, picking only the two top leaves and the bud when the tea is at its freshest, to create a truly unique range of authentic Indian teas.

Tea India's blend of deliciously sweet, comforting spices and natural vanilla flavouring create their very special Vanilla Chai.  The combination of traditional spices of cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, black pepper and vanilla create the perfect blend of sweetness and spice.  The aroma of cinnamon comes through for me first then vanilla and other spices. 

I would usually drink a tea of this kind without milk, but couldn't resist popping a dash of milk in to taste too.  I was pleasantly surprised how good this tea tasted, lovely to try something new and enjoy.

Rich and robust,Tea India's Black Tea blend is refreshing and full of flavour.  It's a perfect all round tea for drinking all day, everyday!  The tea is from the Assam tea bush grown in North East India, the high rain fall during the monsoon period coupled with the scorching daytime temperatures create greenhouse-like conditions of extreme humidity and heat.  This tropical climate is the ideal condition for growing tea and contributes to Assam’s unique malty taste which I can definitely pick up on. 

The Tea India range is available at Tesco.
Thank you Tea India, I do ♥ your tea.

*I was sent 2 boxes of tea for the purpose of review but my views are totally my own.

The 2 year old child explored

"Having a 2 year old is like having a blender without a lid" - Jerry Seinfeld.  I did laugh at this, those of you who have 2 year olds or have had them will raise a sneaky chuckle at this.  At 2 years and 3 months old TC is a gem of a child, having already raised a child to adulthood I can almost, I say almost, sit back and relive the twists and turns of the toddler child and enjoy all their many facets.

Each day brings fresh learning, watching her absorb things so quickly and do things I haven't shown her reminds me how independent they get from this age.  You can get zero past this 27 month old, an elephant has nothing on TC's memory!

She is text book child and because I have the T-shirt I know "this too will pass" with regard to the mini diva stuff, the little meltdowns that come with lack of patience (hers not mine!), her huff's last for a minute, she's far too busy getting on with the next thing to let anything get her down.  I do get it, I feel that way myself at times and I'm an adult!  They say be careful what you wish for, I think if I had a wish list, TC would be it, she is spirited, cheeky and most definitely feisty.

I live in the pretend land of 2 year old make-believe - a wonderful place to be with mini-me.  We have tea parties, we immerse ourselves in story books where the characters are real to her and she believes all the stories I make up.  I know one day we'll have to leave when TC grows up but for now I'm enjoying being back there.

The "chatter" is fascinating, she has many words and links a few up now, although she manages to get her point across with one word - wow! again! more! mummy! poo!  I cannot tell you how much I am looking forward to the many funny's she will say, this time I will take the time to write as many of them down as I can.  I go back in the pathways of my mind and recall the boy's magic moments and I smile, the smile where people wonder what you are thinking about that made you smile like that.

Her mimicking skills are making me say "do I do that?", clearly I am pulling a face when putting on mascara, making a funny shaped mouth when applying lip balm or being animated when talking - these and many more do I find myself thinking how influencial we are to such a tiny, fast growing mind - nuture and nature combined!  More and more each day she is tackling things with little hands that want no help, she has a "I can do it myself" mindset and I have to let her be her.

We love music, Mr J was a drummer in many a band in his day, TC loves a good sing-song, the sillier the better.  Her favourite this week is singing "baby, baby, baby" and then a big loud OH Justin Bieber style, with all the dance action she can muster.  She makes me laugh.... a lot.
I have rediscovered the joy of running too, I literally have to run and chase TC every day in some form or another, she has me bouncing on beds, jumping around, she is as quick as a flash and always up for a game of chase me mummy.  If we could bottle a toddlers energy it would be a bestseller!

All this keeps me very fit and I haven't missed a night's sleep since she was 8 weeks old.  I do love my sleep and TC is no different, this girl can sleep for 13 hours plus a nap in the daytime too and I am thankful I am able to recharge my batteries each night ready for the next day.   Her constant bed time companion has been Violet, the environmental sounds used to whisk me off to sleep too when we shared a room. 

We've never had a struggle with bedtimes, a nightly play-time bath leads to a cuddle with her drinking her milk and the deep sigh that signifies another day is done, another day gone but never forgotten, these are the times I will remember with love and that smile on my face .....

Toddlerhood Memories

As a stay at home, work at home mum, I've spent all of the last 2¼ years with TC.  I work around her sleep times and spend the rest of the day playing, shopping, at the beach, in the park, at the swings, eating, swimming, playgrouping and the list goes on.   She is great fun to be with.  Looking around me I see the house is an untidy mess as the whirlwind toddler rearranges the place on a daily basis.  She is learning to tidy up her playroom before her bath each night though, a good sign for a future tidy bedroom, that is until she becomes a teenager of course!

During one of our mad play times where the giggles and squeals of laughter made us both breathless, I hugged her tight and whispered in her ear "I'm going to miss you when you grow up".  At that moment I remembered the boy at her age, the same blue eyed blond child that she is, the same laugh, where do the years go, maybe if I don't blink so much they will go by slower.

Toddlerhood is such a wonderful time of innocence, where her everything is filled with even more wonderment, laughter and joy.  She wakes up each morning with a "hiya mummy" and a good few giggling bounces on her bed.  She believes anything is possible and if not, why not?? 

This toddler lives in a place where time has no meaning, except when she lies peaceful in her bed slipping into silent slumber after a day well spent running mummy ragged  having fun.  An hour at the play park is never enough, she would stay till the last drop of energy was gone, a quick nap, batteries recharged and off we go again.  There are moments of quiet(er) pretend play, building her learning skills, I could sit and play at having tea all day with Miss TC being mum.

I want her first childhood memories to be filled with the happiest times possible.  The only sadness I have is that she won't remember anything of our life together so far as most of us have no memory before our 3rd birthday.  I have many reminders for her in video footage and photo's of course and will enjoy watching them with her when she is older and reliving those times most probably with free flowing happy tears streaming down my face!

I look at my own baby and toddler photos and find myself remembering snippets of time, some of the clothing I wore and especially remembering with deep fondness my toys.  Who knows what is a genuine memory or what my parents have told me about a photo or event that becomes a remembered moment in time though.

What are your very earliest memories ......  I remember vividly mum taking me age 3 to ballet class, all kitted out (I still have my first ballet shoes, I know you are not surprised to hear this) & eager to fling myself around the mirrored room ballerina-style.  Sadly I was no Darcy Bussell.  Life has come full circle again and TC will be joining a toddler ballet class after Christmas, she'll be 2½, I hope she remembers it....♥


Let's Go Round Again - Retro '80's Shoes

Shoes *sigh* don't you just love them, I know I do.  I love everything about a great pair of shoes, they are things of great beauty to me.  As a teen my first pair of shoes came from Sacha in the Kings Road, Chelsea, I worked my socks off for weeks in my Saturday job and saved up half for them and mum provided the rest.  I've been smitten ever since.

I helped clear out my sister-in-law's loft last year and found boxes and boxes of shoes from her youth, some were best aimed out but a few styles have made a comeback it seems.   
Gina Shoes are featuring genuine designs from the 1980's for the next couple of days on secretsales.com  These (and many more) shoes whisked me back to the 80's for a moment.  Gina Shoes were established in 1954 by shoemaker Mehmet Kurdash, inspired by his muse Gina Lollobrigida. Kurdash handmade glamorous shoes noted worldwide for their exquisite sculpturing.   You can read about their history here.

and here are some of the shoes from the mid 80's, not nearly as glamorous as Gina but well worn and well loved.

TC's favourite word next to dog is shoe, thats my girl!


And Breathe ....

Our family has been a long time lover of A.Vogel health products, they have been an essential part of our family's health and well-being for over 2 decades.   So when the folks at A.Vogel asked me to test out their *Sinuforce Nasal Spray I was more than keen.

Although I never get colds or flu, I have had a continual blocked nasal passage for way too long, most nights I sleep with one of those attractive nose strips stuck to the bridge of my nose.  The first time I forgot to take it off when getting TC up she looked a little puzzled but immediately tried to relieve me of the sticky plaster! 

The key function of the nose is to clean inhaled air.  My blocked nose probably has a few causes, pollen, dust (Mr J is always sanding something down), I also get an annoying nasal drip sometimes. I'm looking at getting some allergy tests done to see if there I'm allergic to any foodstuffs.

Sinuforce Nasal Spray reduces nasal congestion without affecting the natural protective function of the nasal mucosa or drying the lining of the nasal passages.

It is not contraindicated with any medication or for those with heart conditions, who often can't use decongestant medication.

Sinuforce is suitable for adults and children and can be used in the longer-term for up to 30 days.

I have been using it now for a couple of weeks once in the morning and before bed and although I still wear the nasal strips 2-3 nights a week, I've certainly noticed a difference as the Sinuforce Nasal Spray is really starting to clear my nasal passages.

Ingredients include menthol plus Peppermint oil, Eucalyptus to ease breathing and Chamomile oil which has a soothing effect on your nose and I'm pleased to say it has a very pleasant fresh aroma, not overpowering at all.

The unique bottle, which is a generous 20ml size, does not require preservatives and is well worth a try if you suffer with a blocked nose.  I will definitely keep on using as needed.

*This product was supplied by A. Vogel for the purposes of review - the opinions are all my very own.

Jane's Fish Finger Pie

I've had The Baby & Toddler healthy eating planner on my heaving cookery book shelf for a while now, I bought it on the recommendation of a friend, mainly for more ideas to tempt TC's tastebuds and widen her repetoire. 

It's an interesting book, full of family type recipes for toddlers that can be scaled up for family meals.  As with all my cookery books I've earmarked the recipes I want to try but the Fish Finger Pie wasn't on the list.  But when a friend who also has the book said "Have you tried the Fish Finger pie, my 2 loved it" I thought it would be fun to try out.

Its all very simple.  I've halved the recipe as its best eaten fresh and it was plenty for a 2 year old and myself for lunch.

  • Grill or oven bake 4 frozen fish fingers (I had to buy some as we don't usually have them).
  • Peel a couple of medium sized potatoes - I also put some sweet potato in to up the nutritional content - and cook until tender.  Once cooked mash with butter and a dash of milk.
  • Assemble the pie as follows:  lay fish fingers on the bottom of an ovenproof dish, pour baked beans over - I used half a large tin, top the beans with the mashed potatoes.
  • Sprinkle a mound of grated cheese over the potatoes and bake for 15 minutes or until golden on top and hot through.
The verdict, it has a fair bit of nutritional value, lots of protein from the fish and beans, B vitamins, calcium, iron, vitamin C & zinc and with a side of vegetables it makes a warm, filling lunch that TC had fun making with me after a busy morning at the park.  (She spooned some beans and helped with the mash!).  

Carrot Cake

I overdid the carrot grating somewhat with my trusty food processor this week whilst making my veg-packed tomato sauce, there was nothing for it but to bake a carrot cake!  I do love carrot cake but am not always keen on eating cakes with buttercream on but I didn't slather it all the way round the sides so a little concession, I think!  I'm not a great fan of spices in cakes but have put a touch of cinnamon - nutmeg, ginger or mixed spice could also be used.  This recipe contains nuts, omit if allergic.

150g unsalted butter, nicely softened
100g soft light brown sugar
3 organic free range eggs

200g wholemeal self-raising flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp ground cinnamon
2 generous pinches of salt

Zest of 1 large orange plus 1 tblspn of the juice
200g grated carrots
80g walnuts, chopped
6-8 walnut halves to decorate
80g sultanas

Buttercream Icing
125g Cream cheese
50g unsalted butter
250g icing sugar

Pre-heat your oven to 180C or 160C fan, line the bases of 2 x 7"/18cm sandwich tins with parchment paper and grease the sides with butter.

1.  In a large mixing bowl beat the softened butter and sugar together until pale and creamy.
2.  Add the eggs and beat together until well combined and doubled in volume.
3.  Mix together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt and fold gently into the wet ingredients.
4.  Fold in the grated carrots, chopped walnuts, sultanas, orange zest & juice.
5.  Divide evenly between the 2 tins and bake for 25-30 minutes until a cocktail stick comes out cleanly.
6.  Cool on a wire rack.
7.  For the buttercream icing, beat the butter and cream cheese together, then add the icing sugar gradually and beat until combined.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
8.  Once the cakes are cool enough, slather buttercream icing over one half and sandwich the other half on top, then cover the top of the cake with the remaining icing.  Decorate with walnut halves.
9.  Make tea, cut a slice and enjoy.  Delicious!