Easily the best present…ever

From my 13 year old….a hamper of home made goodies.

She actually made 6 of these for various members of the family – each tailored with a different selection of goodies.

Mine contained:

Fridge cake (a family recipe of chocolate, golden syrup, butter, digestive biscuits and fudge)

Spiced Nuts

Gingerbread spiced Nuts

Baileys cheesecake truffles

Cheese straws

Chocolate and orange cantuccini biscuits

I’ll try and get hold of the recipes she used as they are all delish and great gift ideas.  She also bought boxes, lined them with shredded tissue paper and hand printed notes for each box with details of the contents and best before dates.  Some of the items she had put in cellophane bags and some she had sourced different shape and size jars for.  Each item had an individual hand written labelled.

It was no mean feat and she’d put together a file of her recipes, spreadsheet of who was getting which gift and a timetable setting out which days she was cooking which item.  Pleased to now have free access to the kitchen again, but very proud of such a clever and generous daughter.



Our Christmas Menus

A very quick post before I forget…

Christmas Eve

Starter was home made (by my mum) chicken liver pate with freshly made melba toast, followed by slow cooked pork shoulder (marinated in a soy sauce and tahini mix, based on a Nigella slow cook recipe) with boulangere potatoes, cabbage with nigella seeds (also a Nigella recipe) and mixed green veg.  Dessert was a gingerbread cake (recipe from BBCgoodfood) made by my 13 yr old daughter.  All finished off with cheese and tiffin.

Christmas Day

Traditional turkey with all the trimmings, following a starter of Smoked Salmon (always supplied by Springs Salmon in West Sussex) and traditional christmas pudding, this year supplied by the Ultimate Plum Pudding Company

Boxing Day

Left over cold turkey, cold ham, home made winter coleslaw (a Jamie Oliver recipe), green salad with honey and soy dressing and jacket potatoes.  Dessert was Ottolenghi flourless coconut and chocolate cake (from Sweet) as it was my Dad’s birthday

27th December

Tartiflette made with leftover jacket potatoes and ham and mixed with some gently fried onions and topped with a mixture of cheese, heated in the oven and then grilled to crisp the topping

This brief post and listing does no justice to the hours of searching through recipe books that I did in early December 🙂

This week’s food

Some of the dinners we had this week:

Thai Red Chicken Soup

From Jamie Oliver’s latest ‘5 ingredient’s book’ – super easy, as long as you remember to put in on in advance, and liked by the whole family

Chilli – with all the trimmings

My chilli is a bit of a cheat – I use the schwartz packet mix and follow the instructions on the packet, although I did it with casserole steak and slow cooked it for the afternoon, to mix it up a bit.  For us, chilli is as much about the bits that come with it.  We always serve it with sour cream, grated cheese, chopped avocado, tortilla chips and a tomato, red onion and coriander salsa

Chicken and chorizo veggie fried rice

Just me and D2 one evening, who loves chorizo, so I fried up some chicken with some cooking chorizo, added a pack of whole grain microwave rice, some sweetcorn, chopped carrot and broccoli adding a bit of sun dried tomato paste mixed in water to make a stock to keep it all moist whilst cooking

Pasta with oil, garlic, chilli and parsley

A quick recipe that came in the magazine that accompanied my Hush clothes delivery last week.  Very quick and tasty.

Chicken in sesame seeds

Another Jamie recipe – this time from his family superfoods book.  Butterflied chicken breasts, coated in a little oil grilled, then sliced and sprinkled with sesame seeds, served with rice noodles and broccoli.

Slow cooked pork belly

Today’s snow meant we were housebound, so I marinated a piece of pork belly in tahini mixed with soy sauce, lemon and lime juice and then it cooked for 3.5 hours at 150 deg C, followed by 30 mins at 225 deg C to crisp off the crackling.  Served with egg noodles and broccoli and edamame beans.  The pork belly is a Nigella recipe – called slow roast pork belly, from her Kitchen book.

I think I might do a variation of this for Christmas Eve dinner.  Same marinade but on a slow cooked pork shoulder and will serve with boulangere potatoes (which I can cook in advance and then heat up at the last minute) and probably the broccoli and edamame veg mix

Christmas Tips


My Christmas wrapping has been revolutionised by the discovery of Rajapack’s Paper Kraft Bags

Gift bags

They come in bulk in different colours and sizes.  I then buy a variety of Christmas stickers from Amazon to seal the bags and present wrapping couldn’t be easier.

Advent Challenges

I prepare advent challenges for my girls.  I write challenges on gift tags and then put them in a fancy jar.  Each day the girls pick out one to be done that day.  The challenges are mainly ‘random act of kindness’ things – ‘smile and say merry christmas to 5 people you don’t know in the street, or on the bus for example, today’,  ‘say something nice to someone you don’t normally speak to’, ‘make a charitable donation’ etc etc – I do chuck in the odd ‘do a chore for mum today’, ‘tidy one of your drawers’ or ‘wear some tinsel all day’,  just to mix it up a bit.

Why I am a Samaritan

This is my second stint at being a Samaritan.  My first was some 20 years ago, in my early 30’s and keen to introduce some regular voluntary work into my life.  I’d just returned to London after taking a sabbatical from work, and life in general, mainly to travel in North, Central and South America.  As part of that trip I had the opportunity to work in a children’s home in Brazil and it was a particularly memorable experience.  I came home, to a new job, with a new outlook and a keenness to bring more balance to my day to day life and after considering a variety of options, Samaritans was the one that appealed most.  After an interesting and challenging information and selection process, I embarked upon 3 months of in depth training, followed by several mentored shifts and finally earned my stripes and became a member of the Putney branch.  For me being a Samaritan at Putney branch meant a 3 hour shift each week and then once a month one of those shifts would be an ‘overnight’.  I did this for 3 years, only taking what was intended to be a short break a few weeks before the birth of my first daughter.  I soon realised that having a new born, a full time job and now living in North London was going to make being a Samaritan in South West London, very tricky.  I left convinced that I would return at some point and convinced at what a valuable and somewhat underrated service Samaritans provide.

Now, some 16 years later I have returned to the Samaritan fold.  This time to a branch in North London, close to my home.  I went through the regular selection process and retrained.  Much of the training and discussion was familiar, although with the addition this time of text and email as a communication tool.

The following article was written by a fellow Samaritan and recently featured in the Guardian and is way more articulate than I can be and summarises perfectly the reasons I too have for being a Samaritan.

Desperate people are calling the Samaritans and getting and engaged tone



Chocolate cookies

D1 is sitting her mock GCSEs and I like to make some treats for her to come home to.  I decided to give Jamie Oliver’s chocolate cookies from his latest ‘5 ingredient’s’ book.  They were super easy and delicious – a bit of a cross between a cookie and a brownie and included rye bread as a hidden ingredient instead of flour.  Needless to say, not many left  🙂

PS I definitely need to work on my styling


How I wish I was this articulate….

I couldn’t agree more with this tweet from @AnneRiceAuthor

“The abortion issue troubles me mightily and always has.  Those who support the legality of abortion do not seek to force anything on anyone.  Those who are against the legality actively seek to control others, and the full heat of their wrath falls on the poor and working class”


A geriatric mother….so what’s in a name?

I’d agonised about setting up a blog for ages and kept putting it off for a variety of excuses – I didn’t have time, I didn’t know how to set up a site, I couldn’t think of a name, I couldn’t decide on fonts and pictures, who would want to read it and so on and so on and I eventually took the bull by the horns and figured that I just needed to get started – not to dwell on the minute details, as whatever I decide now I will want to change at some stage  in the future.

So the name….it’s not very catchy, or very flattering, but the words ‘geriatric mother’ written in black marker pen across my medical records when excitedly pregnant with my eldest daughter, have always stuck in my mind.  And of all the things I’ve been lucky enough to do, see and experience, being a mother is undoubtedly the BEST thing ever for me, so that’s what I am – a geriatric mother!

Small Talk Saves Lives…

I’m a listening volunteer at my local Samaritans branch, so will occasionally reference Samaritans, Samaritan messages and campaigns. I will never breach the confidentiality that Samaritans give to all their callers, although I may occasionally blog about general observations, concerns or trends.

Today’s post is an unashamed plug for the Samaritans latest campaign – Small Talk Saves Lives, please watch the video – talking and listening really do help

Small talk saves lives

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑