Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Banana Frog Blog Hop and giveaway!!

Welcome to the BananaFrog November Blog Hop! Please click through all of the design team and leave a comment on each blog for a chance to win a set of stamps! From here hop on over to the amazingly talented Jo Firth-Youngs blog!

I have used the BananaFrog Christmas Elegance stamps to create this fusion of non traditional Christmas colours - pink, black and blue.....hey anything goes at this time of year!! lol

I embossed the tree in black shimmering embossing powder and added gems after stamping the whole section with the small snowflake stamp (quite apt looking out of the window!) Peace Love and Joy and the little leaves are all from the same set. The papers are My Minds Eye (last years Christmas line)

Leave a comment below to be in with a chance of winning a set of stamps :)
Good Luck!

Im off to brave the snow, Old Mother Hubbards cupboards are almost bare!! eek!

Sunday, 28 November 2010

CSN review and recommendation.

I have spent many an hour browsing the CSN store website looking for goodies that you have all said you would buy with the pounds given away on this blog! Theres everything you can think of from bedroom furniture to baking trays.....cabinets to cooling racks!!

After many a giveaway I am actually going to go for a review this time and order something for myself! Selfish, hmm maybe a little but all is not lost - I have been asked to recommend other blogs for giveaways and reviews!! Just leave a comment below and I will forward your details on to CSN and hopefully you will be contacted soon too :)

Good Luck!

Saturday, 27 November 2010

My little chief taster...

...gave the ok on the sweetmince muffins :) Concidering the boys wont eat anything with raisins in I have had to recruit a new taster and boy did she enjoy it!!

Next up...... Blackcurrant and Liquorice cupcakes with Ganache topping, finished with Liquorice bow and dried Blackcurrant chips :) I really need to think of shorter names for my cupcakes!! LOL

Heres a couple of snowy pics to keep you going - believe me I wouldnt be surprised if the schools are all shut on Monday and we are snowed in!!

Thursday, 25 November 2010


Its at least 2 inches thick out there and although its stopped snowing, its laying so the kids are happy! lol Snowball fights and icy cold noses were what the boys enjoyed tonight...

Me?? Im busy wearing the most beautiful string of pearls whilst making fruit crumble. I watched Julie & Julia the other day and it rates up there as one of my favourite films. I think once I got over the tone of Meryl Streeps voice I enjoyed it a whole lot more! lol

Here is a simple card I have made for a friend. I used ribbons and pins from Ribbongirl, sentiment is a Clarity Stamp and the Angel image is Sugar Nellie :)

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Its beginning to look a lot like....

....dare I even say the C word in November??!!

Its snowing! I dont just mean little snowflakes that melt on impact....I mean whopping flakes the size of a 50p that are laying on the ground!! None of this has gone unnoticed by the boys, I have so many finger marks on my windows its unreal and dont even get me started on the amount of cold drafts keep sneaking in as the boys whip open the door on the off chance of catching a freezing bit of ice!

I currently have 1 boy off school with cold, 1 hubby who is getting over man flu and a little girl who is all good and well during the day........then darkness hits and so does the nightmare! Last night she frightened the life out of us both as she couldnt get her breath, she has a cold and when shes lying down its obviously collecting in her throat! Needless to say not much sleep was had last night!

After yet another fun filled day Im just about to get settled down to watch Jimmys Factory and the Apprentice but for once in a very very long time im actually itching to do a layout!! EEK!! Whats a girl to do when she hasnt scrapped for months....would I even know where to start!!

Thank you so much for all the support and encouragement with all of my recipes during this past year... My new giant chocolate mocha cookies and my gingerbread and toffee cupcakes...
who could have guessed a year ago I would be writing a cookbook.......life is manic but good!!

Love to you all

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Week 42 - Mini Mocha Lamingtons

Taken from an absolutely gorgeous book, Petit Fours - a fine selection of sweet treats. This book is a much candy for the eyes as it is for the tummy!

Makes 48

125g unsalted butter
230g caster sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
250g self raising flour
250ml milk
2tsp instant coffee dissolved in 2tsp boiling water


375g icing sugar
60g cocoa powder
20g butter
2tsp instant coffee powder
150ml boiling water
75g shredded coconut
90g dessicated coconut

Preheat oven to 180 degrees c. Grease and line 2 9inch baking tins, extending the paper over the sides.

Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Sift the flour into a bowl and sir the flour into the butter mix alternating with the milk until combined and smooth. Spread half the mix over the bases of the tins and add the coffee to the remaining mix. Spread the coffee mix over the mixture in the tin carefully. Bake for 30-35 mins. Cool in the tin for 5 mins before cooling completely on a wire rack. Cut into squares.

To make the icing, sift the sugar and cocoa into a large shallow bowl. Add the butter and coffee and gradually whisk in the water until smooth. Place the shredded and desiccated coconut in a large shallow bowl and toss to combine.

Using two spoons to hold the cake squares, dip each into the icing to cover, allowing the excess to drip off. Roll each square in the coconut to cover. Repeat with each square and allow to set.Enjoy xxx

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Week 41 - Nasi Goreng with lime and sugar-barbecued chicken.

Now i know its only a couple of days since i posted the last recipe but as ive been missing for a few weeks we need to catch up. Officially we should be posting week 46 tomorrow but dont worry as while I was absent from the net I was cooking up a storm and we will be back on track soon.

Please dont feel there is any hurry to do these recipes at break neck speed - they will always be on my blog, I would just rather finish the whole year on week 52 than be missing some recipes - you can always catch up later! :)

Recipe taken from Sainsburys Magazine (photos by moi!) :)

For the barbecued chicken...

500g boneless chicken thighs each cut into 3 strips
3 cloves of garlic crushed
1 tsp crushed white peppercorns
1 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tbsp Thai fish sauce
juice of 1 lime

For the Nasi Goreng Spice paste...

2 tbsp vegetable oil
4 large cloves of garlic chopped
50g shallots chopped
25g roasted salted peanuts
6 red chillies, deseeded and chopped
1 tsp belachan (shrimp paste)

For the Nasi Goreng...

300g long grain rice
sunflower oil for frying
6 large shallots thinly sliced
2 large eggs
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tbsp sweet dark soy sauce
1 tbsp light soy sauce
5cm piece cucumber, quartered lengthways and sliced
8 spring onions trimmed and thinly sliced

**TO SAVE TIME - Marinate the chicken, make the spice paste, cook the shallots and make the cooked egg strips a day ahead - I have done this and it saves lots of mess and fuss on the day of serving**

1. Put the chicken strips in a bowl with the garlic, crushed white peppercorns, sugar, fish sauce and lime juice and mix well. Leave overnight.2. Soak 8 long bamboo skewers in cold water for 1 hour. Thread the chicken on to parallel pairs of soaked skewers (this helps stop the chicken spinning when you need to turn them) and set aside in the fridge until needed. (see pic in step 9)

3. For the nasi goreng spice paste, put all the ingredients into a blender with 1 teaspoon of salt and grind together to a smooth paste.4. Cook the rice in boiling salted water for 15 minutes, or until just tender. Drain and rinse well with boiling water from the kettle, drain once more. Spread out on a large board and leave to go cold (but do not refridgerate).5. Heat 1cm of sunflower oil in a large deep frying pan, add the sliced shallots and shallow fry, stirring now and then, until crisp and richly golden. Remove with a slotted spoon on to plenty of kitchen paper, sprinkle lightly with salt and leave until cold an crisp - reserve the oil to use later.6. Beat the eggs with some salt and pepper. Heat a little sunflower oil in a small frying pan over a medium-high heat, pour in one third of the beaten egg and cook until the egg has set on top. Flip it over, cook for a few more seconds then turn out, roll up tightly and leave to go cold. Repeat twice more with remaining egg. Thinly slice across into strips.

7. Preheat your grill to high. Cook the chicken pieces for 6-7 minutes, turning regularly, until caramelised on the outside and cooked through.

8. Heat a wok over a high heat until smoking hot. Add 2 tbsp of the oil (from frying the shallots) and the nasi goreng spice paste; stir-fry for 1-2 minutes. Add the tomato puree and dark soy sauce, cook for a few seconds then add the rice and stir-fry over a high heat for 2 minutes until heated through.9. Add the strips of egg and stir-fry for 1 minutes. Add the light soy sauce, crisp fried shallots, cucumber and most of the spring onions and toss well together. Spoon onto warmed plates, scatter over the remaining spring onions and serve with the barbecued chicken.We have had this a couple of times now and have taken out some of the red chillies (6 was too many for the boys so we tried with 3 and it was spicy but not too hot) :)


Monday, 15 November 2010

Guess who said mama today??!!

Not once but lots of times throughout the day too!

*sigh* nuff said - sweet dreams everyone

All my love



Sunday, 14 November 2010

Create & Craft Pick of the Week - Crafters Companion.

Did you watch the show on Friday? 12pm on Create & Craft Channel. Crafters Companion launched the new Pick of the Week with a fabulous boxed stamp set of 208 pieces!! Designed by 3Birds these stamps are clear and perfect to use on cards and layouts alike.

We had a mad day where we had to create as many cards as possible as we only got the stamps 2 days before the show! EEK!

Here are some of the samples i created for the show...

This one used a single swirl stamp as background which was then embossed with Sheena Douglas' White Puff Ultra High WOW embossing powder. The little love you sentiment was stamped and mounted onto card.
These are one of my favourites in the set! These cute little owls are so versatile and even stamping lots but only colouring one is really effective. Patterned border strip is from the SWALK CD rom. Sentiment is from the stamp set.
I stamped the Alphabet letters into 4 of the stamped frames and mounted them onto Core'dinations cardstock. Added a little pin from The Ribbon Girl and punched the edges with a Martha Stewart edging punch.
Patterned paper again from the SWALK cd, the little birds and sentiment are from the stamp range.
I made this little coupon book with a single coupon stamp from the set. Easy to line up on the clear acrylic block. I inked the edges with Tim Holtz distress inks in Tea Dye and Vintage Photo.
A simple and clean card using the adorable little tree stamp and the Live Simply sentiment. The edges were punched with a Fiskars border punch.
Finally a simple little Love You card using Core'dinations Cardstock, Martha Stewart Border Punch (Threading water), tag and sentiments from the Crafters Companion stamp set and flowers from the 3Birds petals collection.
Thanks for letting me share and pick up this stamp kit while you can - well worth every penny!! :)

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Week 40 - Improved Sweet Mince Muffins with Cinnamon Cream Frosting.

Anyone who has followed my blog will know that I created some sweet mincemeat muffins last year...well, that time of year has rolled around again and hubby is craving them again! I decided to start again and try to make them a little more caramelised on top with a hint of Christmas about them other than the mincemeat. Hope you like them :)


8oz Self Raising Flour
8oz Caster Sugar
8oz Butter
3 Eggs
1 cup of Sweet Mincemeat
Sprinkle of Cinnamon
2 tblsp Brown Sugar

12oz Icing Sugar
6oz Butter
2 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
Chocolate covered coffee beans
Combine the sugar and butter and whisk until well blended. Add the eggs one at a time making sure you pull down the mix from the sides of the bowl before adding the next.
Sieve the flour and add slowly to your eggy mix. When fully mixed add the Sweet Mincemeat and blend well.
Spoon into muffin cases and sprinkle with the cinnamon and brown sugar. Bake at 180 degrees for approx 25 minutes, take out when topping is hard and a skewer comes out of the cake clean.
Leave to cool completely.
Mix together all the ingredients for the frosting except the coffee beans. Make sure you have a firm mix that will hold up well on the cakes and pip in swirls. Finish with a chocolate coffee bean or decoration of your choice.Please try and let me know what you think (these are yummy fresh out of the oven too but you have to skip the frosting - only downside to having the first ones!) LOL

Friday, 12 November 2010

Once in a lifetime opportunity :)

Lets start at the beginning...

I was happily pressing refresh to see if I have new emails (...isnt it wierd how you feel comforted even when its only promises of bigger appendages, security warnings that your swiss bank account has been hacked....oh and dont forget the lovely gentleman who is waiting to send you £3million as soon as you have over all your personal details!) when low and behold an actual real email from a real person came through!

Hi Deborah

I am getting in touch to tell you that we have chosen you as the winner of our Final Ainsley Masterclass! The winner that we announced earlier in the week could not make it and therefore we would love to invite you to come!
We feel that you thoroughly deserve to win our Ainsley Cooking Masterclass grand prize as you have uploaded lots of events and have posted some fantastic recipes and photos of your family and food!

The masterclass is in London on the 9th November and fully paid travel and hotel for you and 5 friends will be covered. I know it is short notice, but would you be able to make the day?

Please get back in touch with me asap!

Kind regards,


After a chat with my gorgeous hubby I was pursueded into going but didnt have time to panic as it was all happening so quickly. After rallying round 5 ladies who could get time off work, I sent back a confimation email and the giddyness began! Lots of emails were passed backwards and forwards as we tried to organise travel schedules, overnight accommodation, cars, meetings etc.

Monday morning came and as the postman was about to knock on the door I whipped it open and stood with a beaming smile 'You must have been expecting this, I have something for you to sign' and with that my first outburst was made 'Its train tickets!! Im going to London to cook with Ainsley Harriott!! Im so excited!!'

He didnt even look up! No reaction, no 'wow', no nothing! Just 'sign here' Im pressuming at this point he must hear about random celeb meetings all the time and I flounced off to get dressed, head for the train and the beginning of our adventure! lol

There was Jane, Claire and Myself travelling down from Durham to Kingscross and since I have only been to London twice before (shameful I know!) I was rather excited! We broke out the wine and chatted all the way there, giggling like 3 kids on the way to meet the Tweenies! We met another 2 girls at the train station and headed via taxi to our hotel......now, I knew the name but didnt want to look it up on the net as I wanted to be suprised. If it was a Travel Lodge then cool, all we were told was B&B was paid for so anything with a roof and food was fine at this point!

We pulled up outside of the Pestana Chelsea Bridge Hotel....gulp! To say it was beautiful is an understatement, lets just pretend I frequent these places all the time and say we didnt jump on the beds and we didnt permanently borrow the toiletries!

The night finished up with a fabulous Italian meal in the most adorable (and quite frankly rather posh) restaurant near Sloane Square......Seafood Linguine, Panna Cotta and wine flowed via a few lovely waiters who took the time to make a fuss of us :)

Back at the hotel as soon as my head hit the pillow I was gone! When you hit 1000 thread count sheets all thoughts of the reason you're there dissapear - all thoughts of everything dissapear! lol

The next morning, dressed and a couple of hours to kill before we were to be met for our date with Ainsley we decided to hit the shops and grab a couple of his cookbooks for him to sign.

We didnt know it would take us to the other end of Sloane Square to find a bookshop....we didnt know it was going to rain....we didnt know that it would be SHEET rain by the time we got back to the hotel!!

Looking like drown rats we walked into hotel where the receptionist took one look and exclaimed 'We NEED to get you dry!' After a lot of hospitality and a quick whip with the hair straighteners we were ready to go and to be honest I think it was the best thing that could have happened as it made us lose track of any nerves etc!

We pulled up to Mossimans Cookery School and as we had taken the scenic tour we ended at the back of the building unsure of where to go, we spoke with the adorable Sarah from Grayling who had organised everything and she assured us we were there. We pulled around to the front of the building and low and behold there was Ainsley waving us in from the window! That set the whole mood for the day and we honestly felt completely welcome and at home from setting one step inside the building!

We were greeted with kisses and hugs, lots of congratulations and warm welcomes, coffee and chat. There was a large table set out ready for dinner and we all had our own workstations prepared. After sitting down for introductions we all donned our pinnies and headed to our stations ready to start on the dessert. Dessert was baked while we made our starters and our starters were eaten while the main meal was cooking.

Starter : Smoked Duck with Orange & Pomegranate saladMain : Carribean BouillabaisseDessert : Coffee BriocheWe were filmed all day for the Nescafe Dolce Gusto site and had to all stand there holding our finished plates saying the names (do you know how hard it is to try and say bouillabaisse without a strong northern accent!! I thought someone had brought Cheryl Cole in the room at one point!) ;)
I wont go through all the step by steps but we learned how to safely scorch a tomato to remove the skin, how to cut an orange so you can take out the segments and lots of other little snippits that shortcut many a tedious prep requirement. As well as learning how to not be shy infront of cameras and think 'Who cares if i forgot to curl my eyelashes...im cooking with Ainsley Freakin Harriott!! '
(do you like the 'Welcome to Cooking with Debbie' pose! lol )

After very little persuasion Ainsley recreated his infamous Suzy Salt and Percy Pepper moves - and boy can this man move! He may be almost 7ft tall (slight exaduration but at only 5ft 1 he towered above me!) but that doesnt stop him playing up to his hip swivelling, Caribbean singing persona. This man is such a gentleman and simply comes across the way he is portrayed on TV, he is certainly not an actor - no one can act THAT nice all day and still have a smile on his face whilst on the way to judge on a curry cook off! He would stop everything and pose for photographs with everyone during each step and seriously couldnt do enough to make our day special.
This was certainly a once in a lifetime opportunity and I am glad I got to share it with some fabulous friends. I have signed photographs for the kids and they were almost as excited as I was 'Do you know my mams gone cheffing with a chef' to anyone that would listen from Ethan :)

I know you wont ever see this Ainsley but I just wanted to say a HUGE thank you, not just for the day but for being such a lovely warm and REAL gentleman. You lived up to your tv persona and made us love you all the more. I hope one day to keep my promise of inviting you to my own book signing - it was a promise after all!

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Head, heart and everything in between!

Ive decided I am an all or nothing person...

If I am going to be your friend i will be there for you to lean on until I am too tired to breathe anymore.

I will give 100% for something I want or require and will stop at nothing to get it.

I would run at 100 miles an hour and face things head on rather than have time to sit and think.

I love being so busy that I fall asleep with my head and heart buzzing.

This of course also has a downside and since I had my first baby almost 15 years ago I have been plagued by the 'baby blues'. Some times they make me sit and think!

The more time you have to think the more time you MAKE to think!

The more you promise yourself things are going to get better, the more that other little auto reaction of 'what if?' keeps popping up and makes you wonder WHEN!?.

Even though you dont want to be sad and even though your head and heart are telling you to pick yourself up and get back to that happy place, well sometimes it just seems a little out of your reach.

You keep smiling and you keep hoping to get back there, knowing full well life is so much nicer once you reach your 'happy place' - its a long path and sometimes you take a wrong turning but somehow you always find your way 'home'...

...after a few tough weeks I finally feel I am home! :)

I have decided from today I am making a concious effort to craft and make something new everyday! I have lots of recipes to upload and lots of cards and craft goodies (having made 15 cards today alone!) I would say I am back on track and raring to go - this time I have a little bit more help and I am not ashamed to admit I needed it.....love and hugs to all, I am happy to be on my path once more :)

Friday, 5 November 2010

Me & Ainsley Harriott!!

lol never thought i would be starting a blog post with that title!! lol

I entered a couple of recipes online in the Nescafe Dolce Gusto event competition and all of the randomly selected winners were announced.....I wasnt one of them unfortunately!
I did however get an email yesterday stating that they wanted to offer me the opportunity to go, all expenses, travel, executive car pick up and hotel paid for and part of their facebook post says...

Unfortunately ***** ********* is unable to attend next week's Ainsley Harriott cooking masterclass and therefore we would like to award our grand prize to a very worthy contender and someone who has uploaded lots of events, has posted some fantastic recipes and photos of her family and delicious food. The winner is Deborah Nicholas! Congratulations Deborah!

We hope you and your 5 friends have a fantastic time on Tuesday! And please come back and tell us all about it!


I was so excited when i first read it then that sinking feeling hit....what about the kids, its such short notice, i could never get people to come with me at such short notice etc etc....

I signed off the computer and went downstairs to tell Stuart what a lovely email i had received and how it was nice just to have the recognition! However, my gorgeous hubby said i wasnt allowed to turn down a once in a lifetime opportunity and to just go for it! HE is a superstar! *love* Im so excited, mustnt forget my camera (although......and dont tell the other girls incase they back out....they are going to be filming and taking pics throughout the day anyway!!) EEK!! LOL

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

How did you spend yours??

Halloween weekend that is??

Would you like to see what we got up to??

First there was the prep of getting it all set up...this of course included staging the props and boy were they scary! (dont worry, no Evies were hurt during the making of this party)After 2 weeks of prep, lots of costume changes and me and my sis baking until 3am on Sunday morning i have finally gathered the energy to download and share the piccies. The kids thoroughly enjoyed themselves and we had loads of trick or treaters at the door so it was cool opening the door in full dress to see the look on their faces! LOL

Im in love with my little spider top hat and will definately wear it again! lol Maybe without the spiderwebs drawn on my face in eyeliner! Special thanks to my little sis who stayed from Friday night to help with all the prep work :) I even think Evangeline enjoyed her very first Halloween party! The little hat didnt bother her a bit and she enjoyed being dressed up and centre of attention - she best get use to funny costumes as the boys love dress up and any reason for a party! lol
Scott almost drown during the apple bobbing but he was determined to get that apple! lol
Closely followed by Ethan (who was given a little help!) lol
The 'See who can make a mummy quickest' game - I have never seen Ethan stand so still, i really do think this was the biggest acomplishment of the night! lol
Under that loo roll is the cutest little vampire ever - how can you not love an almost 6 year old who can still fit in 3-5 year old outfits! lol
Look at those rosy cheeks, my gorgeous little niece Holly as a rather fetching witch wearing her Auntie Debbies make up :)
And then the food, although i forgot to take pictures of the savoury food i did remember to take pics of all the cupcakes! I made double batches of my own chocolate and vanilla cakes then we used the help of Lilly Vanilli A Vampire Ate my Cupcake book for designs - i love how they turned out and everyone was impressed (or at least pretended they were!!) lol

Vampire Bites.....
Eyeballs falling out of the sockets...
Graveyard (homemade gingerbread)...
Sweeny Todd Pies...
Not so scary were my fresh caramel cream Whoopie pies (the filling tastes just like those starbucks frapachinos) :)
So, what did you all do and can you post me links to you party pics, i want to see someone else look as silly as i do!! LOL