Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Top Tipples for Christmas

It's the last payday before Christmas for most of us salaried people on Friday and I love to encourage people to support the retail economy.  It's also just over a week to go until the food and drink fest that is Christmas Day, so that means stocking up on lovely things to nibble on and some divine wines to accompany them.  Last month, Aldi asked me to taste their range of festive wines (reader, I was driving!) and I've compiled my list of favourites for you to browse through at your leisure.

Let's start with the happy stuff : fizz.  They've got a stunning Cremant de Jura which kicks Prosecco into the corner.  Although it's made from Chardonnay grapes, it doesn't have that oily oakiness usually associated with the dreaded C word.  It's fresh, light, crisp and my top choice at €10.79.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Herby Chicken Casserole

Usually, I roast a chicken every Sunday for Ru's lunches during the week.  I cram it full of lemon, garlic and herbs and it's really fragrant and juicy.  But... I forgot that he was going out gallivanting and wouldn't be there for the tupperware box of deliciousness.  Time for a Plan B.  We've had some particularly shocking weather recently and I wanted to make a lovely stew with the chicken.  To make the very most of it, I poached it with some root vegetables, keeping the meat for the stew, and creating a really delicious stock with the bones for the base of the sauce.  This is the perfect food for freezing as it makes so much and guarantees delicious dinners throughout winter.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Fabulous Gifts for Frequent Flyers

I'll be honest with you, I'm dotty about The Dotty Lemon.  It's a small Irish online business selling the cutest gifts you never knew you needed until you saw them.  Established by Cork native Aisling Power, it sells a range of jewellery, stationery, storage and gifts to suit all price points.  It's also the perfect store to find a Secret Santa gift for a colleague or friend.


Friday, November 20, 2015

Review : Home: Recipes from Ireland by Trish Deseine

Trish Deseine, an Irishwoman living in France, has come home.  After many years writing about food in French including her sublime book “Je Veux du Chocolat”, having children and immersing herself in all things French, it was time for a change.  Trish has written a tribute to the often unappreciated and underrated food of Ireland.

Upon opening her new book “Home: Recipes from Ireland”, I was immediately struck by its simplicity and elegance.  No hipster food styled glossy cover, just a serene austere green with simple white typography.  It’s an indication of what lies ahead as you open the book.  Great care has been taken by Trish and her photographer Deirdre Rooney to focus on the food and landscapes of Ireland.  You won’t find any images of curly red haired children in Aran jumpers with donkeys carrying panniers of turf in Home.  What you will find is a collection of recipes which celebrate the wonderful bounty that is Irish food.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Stuffed Courgettes à la Francaise

A few weeks ago I was in Cannes, not as the rumour in work would have it, for the Film Festival, but for work.  I was brought out for dinner in a lovely family restaurant in the old town where our starter was an assortment of stuffed vegetables filled with a delicious minced meat.  I asked the waitress if I could have the recipe and after much humming and hawing, it was revealed at breakneck speed in French.  Luckily I grasped enough of it to scribble it down.  Deirdre Barlow's stuffed marrow, this is most definitely not!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Carving with Confidence

There's a long running joke in our house that my Mum could make a whole chicken feed two people, possibly three at a push,  because of her less than stellar carving skills.  I digress.  Poulet Bonne Femme owners Gavin & Sara have realised that there's loads of people who couldn't carve a roast to save their life so they've launched a programme of carving masterclasses at Salt Cafe, Avoca, Monkstown, Co. Dublin.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Chocolatey Courgette Cake

I can hear you now: Courgette, eewwwww.  Look, if it tasted horrible, do you really think I'd bake it, never mind share the recipe with you?  My first taste of courgette was as a kid tasting very exotic Zucchini Bread from an American friend of my parents.  I'll be honest, I ate it before I knew what it contained because it smelled of sugar and spice and all things nice.  Also, we didn't have a clue what a zucchini was, never mind a courgette because vegetables in my day either came in a tin or from the back garden (peas, spuds & carrots).  As time has progressed along with my taste buds, courgettes are one of my favourite vegetables.  So far I've written recipes for soup, cake, spaghetti (before spiralisers were trendy), fritters, and a really tasty vegetable gratin.  Last week I was gifted a beautiful, homegrown, impressive looking courgette as a birthday gift and I wanted to create something unexpected from it.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Stuck in a Moment

Last week we did some spring cleaning.  Actually, it's October so technically it should be autumn, but you know what I mean.  As part of the giant tidy up, I moved all the photos in the living room to one place along where the two CD storage units are.  Remember, the ones that you clubbed together to buy us as a wedding gift?  And there you were.  In a carousel frame with other great pictures of our wedding, arm in arm with Ru, beaming with happiness.  I've looked at this photo more often this week than I have in the eleven years since it was taken because you're not here any more, and we miss you.

I honestly thought it was a typo or that somebody had hacked her phone when I got the text on Wednesday.  Your wife, my friend, had to break the shocking news that you weren't here any more.  I really believed it was a bad joke and that I'd get a text in another second telling me that it was wrong and not to worry.  The second text removed all hope and time stood still.  I sat at my desk in work completely immobile while my mind raced ahead.  She's a widow.  How will she cope?  How will I tell Ru?  Then it was my turn to shatter somebody else's day as I hit redial on my phone to my husband, not knowing how to tell him that our friend, a man we loved and cherished, was gone forever.  I heard his heart break with every word I spoke and mine broke too.  That was just the start of the heartbreak.

I saw you on Friday but you weren't there.  You had gone, as your gorgeously funny son with a dry wit just like yours told me, to heaven with a huge flatscreen TV and a remote to hog all to yourself.  I kissed and hugged your wife, trying to make it better but failing miserably.  I held my friend's hand at your removal as we cried, treasuring memories of your love of black and white movies.  Yesterday, I did it all again, holding onto Ru like a lifebelt while the priest spoke about love and compassion and the Lourdes choir sang so beautifully.  You had no idea how much you were loved, my gentle friend.  The church was packed with family, colleagues, friends and people who truly appreciated your wisdom and kindness. The priest reminded us all how devastating depression is, and how it can overshadow even the purest love.  The darkness won.

We found two white feathers at home yesterday.  I'm not a superstitious person but I believe that these are gifts from somebody in heaven.  From you.  And when we head to the 3Arena next month to see your favourite band, we'll be thinking of you and wishing you were sitting beside us again to tell us once again the story of how you met Bono in the loo of the Shelbourne Hotel (and didn't sneak a downward look).  I can't promise that I'll hold it together, especially when they play Stuck in a Moment because that song has been in my head since Wednesday morning.

Sleep tight, our gentle friend.  We love you.

A&R x

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Book Review : Five Worth Reading

I've had a stack of books on my desk at home to read for months.  Yes, I'm a lazy mare and I apologise but I've been up to my eyes and I can barely get the Sunday papers read by the following Friday at this stage.  These five are definitely worth a read though - see what you think.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Am I Penny Wise or Pound Foolish

Ok, so it should be cent wise or euro foolish, but it doesn't sound as good.  I was interviewed by Conor Pope of the Irish Times last week about our disposable income, commonly known as "too much month at the end of the money".  Our finances have changed over the years, from spending everything I earned, and a little bit more in my 20's when I lived from loan to loan.  Then we moved into saving as much as humanly possible for a house deposit (and to clear off the credit card debt and bank loans). That was the time of working two jobs to pay off the debt, resulting in a very grumpy and exhausted me.

When I started writing as Babaduck, it was at a time when I had just lost my job and work was very scarce and we entered a very rocky financial phase for almost a year - more about it here.  This basically changed how I saw money and turned me into a bit of a penny pincher.  I do love a good bargain and have no shame in rooting through reduced to clear bins.

Photograph by Alan Betson

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies

We've been looking after the little fluffy dog for the past week and it's been great fun - she definitely owns the house and we're just the lodgers.  We even had visitors today who just came to see her for cuddles.  Nice to know your place in the pecking order...  You can't have guests and not offer them a few biscuits or a slice of cake so I decided to bake a batch of chocolate chip cookies, completely forgetting that one of the visitors isn't a chocolate lover.  Whoops.  It all turned out ok - Kate actually likes a little bit of chocolate and there were just enough chocolate chips in the cookies to make her happy.  And she went home with a bag of cookie dough so she could bake some whenever she wants - a bit of a successful day for everybody.  Especially the dog, who pounced on the cookie crumbs.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

*WINNER* of a Renshaw Baking Hamper

And we have a winner - chosen by Lucy.  Congratulations to Jacinta Geraghty who is the winner of the Renshaw Hamper!

This week, I've mostly been eating cake. Well, it was my birthday and my friends and family really went to town - chocolate ganache layer cake, raspberry brownie cheesecake and chocolate lime tarts. I was well and truly spoiled, let me tell you. Now it's my turn to give one of you a little gift. The baking experts at Renshaw have given me a hamper stuffed full of their fabulous baking products and you could be the one to get your bake on.

Win Me!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Vote Babaduck!

After a very long day in the office last week, I got a lovely little email to cheer me up - this old blog of mine has been shortlisted in the Food & Drink category of the Blog Awards Ireland 2015. Public voting is open right now - just click here and VOTE BABADUCK!  Thanks a million in advance - did I tell you that you're looking lovely today?  If you're new to Babaduck and want to know a little bit more about why I do what I do, this is a pretty good story about how it all began.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

One Pot Roast Italian Chicken

Sometimes, myself and Little Sis make what we call Emergency Dinners.  They usually include stuff in the bottom of the fridge and freezer that needs to be used up and they give surprisingly delicious results.  One of these is my messy, lazy one pot roast Italian Chicken because it can be assembled in minutes, gets thrown into the oven in just one dish and is crammed full of Italian flavours.  Oh, and very little washing up.  Thought you'd like that.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Eve's Pudding

Something I hanker after is a fruit tree or three in my garden.  At this time of year, apple trees are heavy with delicious fruit and there's so many wonderful things you can make.  I'm very lucky to have generous friends with apple trees who share their bounty with me and at the moment I'm working my way through about 6kg of apples which I helped my friend Fiona to pick from her tree last week.  One use is my Hit The Floor cake as we're off to Killarney this weekend for another end of summer BBQ and my entrance fee is a giant cake, apparently.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Travel : Sailing to France with Irish Ferries

Holidays abroad.  Usually a mad panic to cram everything you possess into a 10kg bag and a teeny tiny plastic bag that can barely accommodate two lipsticks and a mascara and long queues through security.  Not for us though.  We love bringing the car (also lovingly known as the Mobile Wine Machine), throwing all the stuff in the boot and heading for Rosslare.  Minimal queuing, a nice comfy bed and no baggage restrictions, what's not to love?

Passports at the ready

Thursday, August 6, 2015

This Weekend - The Harbour Hopster Fest

As a native of the lovely seaside town of Bray in Co. Wicklow (also the birthplace of other luminaries like Dara O'Briain and Katie Taylor), one of my favourite places for a drink is the The Harbour Bar.  Tucked away under the railway bridge and overlooking the harbour, it's always been a little out of the way from the busy seafront but a hidden gem.  If the pub could talk, I'd be running into witness protection as it's been the venue for many happy and slightly inebriated occasions over the years.  At one stage, it would have been simpler to have my wages paid directly to the pub as I was never out of the place!  Time passes and we've both moved on, me out of Bray as house prices rose out of my reach, and the Harbour from the O'Toole family to new owners who have transformed it from a shabby, cosy, "we only do crisps and bacon fries" old pub to a equally shabby & cosy pub with great bands, food and beer.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Coconut Lime Iced Loaf Cake

In the day job, I do quite a bit of work with a really brilliant photographer called Harry Weir and his handsome assistant Brian.  We've found that long days pass even more quickly with liberal helpings of cake.  As neither of the lads are bakers, just eaters, the job of making the food falls to me.  I had a session booked with them last week and the first thing I heard after the date was confirmed was "what are you going to bake for us".  Presumptous pups. At the same time, my colleague Dawn is about to go on maternity leave.  The cry of her pregnancy has been "baby needs cake" and her favourite is my Citrus Coconut but I wanted to make it a little more zingy and informal, so I turned it into a loaf. ramped up the flavour with lots of lime and made a lime glacé icing for the top.

We scoffed half of it over breakfast at the studio and I have it on good authority that the rest was saved for a road trip breakfast the following day.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Parmesan Roasted New Potatoes

It's new potato season and my default setting is steamed with heaps of butter and a bit of salt.  But there's so many other ways to eat these tender tasty beauties. One of my favourites is Hasselback Potatoes which look so impressive but are incredibly simple.  I can't believe I wrote that recipe 5 years ago so it's time to do something a little different.

I was in town (what we call Dublin's city centre) recently and spied some Italian new potatoes in Fallon and Byrne so they had to go into my basket.  Italian potatoes deserved a suitably appropriate recipe so I took advantage of a huge chunk of Parmesan, generously bequeathed to me by Little Sis and created a delicious side dish for Saturday night's dinner.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Lemony Limey Loaf

It's been a while since I've baked a cake - work has been a bit hectic, then we were in France on holidays, cleaning up after the renovations (more, so much more to come on that) and then my beloved laptop packed up.  Thankfully the laptop is fixed and I've got my Sunday Baking mojo back once again.  It's been ages since I've made anything citrusy and I had a longing for a loaf cake but with something a bit extra.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Dinner at Molly's Yard, Belfast

Sometimes, a restaurant is worth a second visit.  Even though it's in a city with loads of brand new, look at me our food is amazing, restaurants that appear on every list of recommendations.  Molly's Yard is that restaurant.  It's nowhere near the usual suspects, tucked away in a corner beside Queen's University in the heart of studentland, but it's somewhere you should plan to visit.  Why?  They've inventive, delicious food and a love of all things gin.  Sometimes they combine the two for sold-out gin tasting menu events which are much sought after.  Lucky people of Belfast.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Calvados Apple Cake with Salted Caramel Mascarpone

Something we're a little bit fond of in the day job is cake.  We pretty much drop everything if there's the rattle of forks and the chance of something sweet to bring a bit of sunshine into our lives.  Doing the Bake Off in work is a great way for everybody to show off their baking talents (or blatantly cheat in some cases - you know who you are) and I have a great time being Queen Judge and very fairly evaluating everybody's entries.  You'd think that would absolve me from having to bake myself, wouldn't you?.

Not a chance.  Especially with my colleague Karen sitting across from me. If she hears the C word, there's an immediate yelp of "cake, cake, CAKE???" and she gets very excited.  When she heard I had bought some apples, I was instructed to go home and make a cake.  With the apples and maybe some salted caramel because she's fond of that too.  How could I resist such an order?  To turn it into a very grown up cake, I marinated the apples in some Calvados and made a mascarpone cream with the last of my salted caramel.  As I'm feeding a crowd, I made a large traybake cake and topped it with the salted caramel mascarpone,but if it was for a smaller crowd, I'd make two 8 inch cakes and sandwich them together with half of the mascarpone and use the rest to decorate the top, with a few swirls of salted caramel for added prettiness.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Taste of Dublin 2015

2015 marks the 10th anniversary of the Taste of Dublin food festival which kicks off in the Iveagh Gardens today.  Sadly, I'll be missing it due to #babaduckenvacances but if you're planning a trip into town, here's my top tips for a great afternoon or evening out.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A Week of Food and Drink

Summer is coming and there's loads of food and drink events coming up.  In fact, if you put your mind to it, you could be out gallivanting almost every night...

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Just Say Yes

Picture by Karen Kearney

A few weeks ago I was in the car with Lulu to buy her birthday present (more of that later) when we passed the official Yes bus. She looked at me and asked me how I was going to vote in the upcoming Marriage Referendum on Friday. I was a bit taken aback that she even knew there was a vote and turned the tables, asking her how she thought I should vote. Straight away, she said “you have to vote Yes, why on earth would you vote No?”. If a 9 year old girl can grasp the importance of marriage equality, then it’s pretty simple.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Apple Salted Caramel Blondies

Yes, it's another one of my freezer finds.  Last summer, my parents gave me a huge bucket of apples from the trees in their back garden, some of which went into my Hit The Floor cake and I decided to make puree from the remainder which I put into ziplock bags and into the freezer to be used at a later stage.  It's actually getting rather ridiculous because there's apple puree, pear puree, frozen cherries and raspberries, all waiting to make a star appearance in a cake.  We haven't been to France for almost two years so I'm at almost at the very end of my stash of fleur du sel caramel.  I sacrificed some of it for this decadent dessert and it was worth it.  A blondie is a chocolate-less brownie where the gooeyness comes from melted butter and dark brown sugar for lovely toffee flavours.

Monday, April 27, 2015

While The Cat's Away

Myself and the little fluffy dog have been abandoned while The Hubs heads off on his annual Jolly Boys trip.  But we're not sitting on the sofa pining away for him, oh no...  Firstly, I decided to get stuck into a bit of spring cleaning and dust off the power washer to scrub the patio and the drive.  It was exactly like the TV ad as our green and grotty granite slabs were transformed into a pale gleaming vision of beauty.  The same went for the driveway which wasn't looking too pretty after an unexpected application of gunge from a leaky radiator being loaded into the plumber's van.  Once the toil was completed, it was time to think about dinner. Myself and the dog have similar taste in food. We're not vegetarians and we are exceedingly fond of a bit of steak so I decided to create a little French-inspired feast for us to share.  As we're on countdown to our holidays, I'm really getting into the mood!  Apologies in advance for the photos - it was late, we were hungry so hunger won over food styling...

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Speculoos Brownies

I have a friend, let's call her Dawn, who absolutely loves those little speculoos biscuits you get with your posh coffee.  When we got samples of speculoos spread in work, she was in seventh heaven and every so often you'd hear a plaintive cry of "get these things away from me".  She didn't really mean it though... A while ago I saw a jar of the spread and bought it with her in mind but then she was in wedding preparation mode and nothing but dust and carrot sticks passed her lips, so the jar stayed in my cupboard.  Until now.  You see, she's now a very happily married pregnant lady and the new cry is "baby wants cake" so I had to oblige! These are very indulgent brownies, made with some exceedingly high quality chocolate, crushed speculoos biscuits and giant dollops of the speculoos
spread on top for added decadence.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

West Waterford Festival of Food 2015

Yes, it's that time of year again.  The West Waterford Festival of Food kicks off on Thursday 9th April in Dungarvan, Co. Waterford.  Now in it's eighth year, this year's festival is themed around celebrating Generations of Food Stories and there's heaps of activities for people of all ages to enjoy.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Double Spud Topped Cottage Pie

This week has been a flipping disaster.  Firstly, poor Sandie the fluffy dog ended up at the vets where we found out she has an ulcer on her cornea.  The poor little mush is not a happy dog at all with eyedrops being administered by Little Sis and Lulu forming a two man headlock team every few hours and painkillers hidden in pieces of chicken.  She's feeling very sorry for herself indeed.  Then the next day, I hurt my eye.  Nothing major, I thought.  Just whip out the contacts, stick on the (hated) specs for a day and all will be well. Eh, no.  A visit to the chemist turned into an immediate visit to the GP which transformed into a "get to Casualty in the Eye and Ear hospital.  Now".  After having my eyelid turned inside out twice - as gruesome as it sounds - and dye drops into my eye, I also have an ulcer on my cornea.  Nice.

So this means no driving for a week, lots of eyedrops every few hours, avoiding bright light, splitting headaches and rummaging through the freezer for dinner as quite frankly, I'm not in the humour to cook.  This is the time I'm grateful for batch cooking because I unearthed two portions of special cottage pie that I froze before Christmas.  In foil dishes too, so no washing up necessary.  In fact, had I been alone, I possibly would have eaten it straight from the container.  But decorum called for a plate, extra veggies and cutlery.  Can't let standards slip just because I'm like One Eyed Jack.  This makes 4-5 decent portions which you can eat straight away or freeze for up to 6 months.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Protecting Your Financial Future

Something that has only dawned on me with wisdom is the importance of protecting our financial future.  When I started working, I was paid an absolute pittance but managed to have a pretty decent life with my meagre earnings.  Of course it was because I was spending every penny and not saving anything at all. As I got older and started thinking about buying a house, my financial behaviour had to change enormously to make this happen.  Loans had to be cleared, credit card balances paid off and a lovely healthy credit rating established.  It took time and a second job in the evening at one stage, but I eventually got there.  A bit like Monica Galetti from Masterchef who had some pretty tricky financial issues when she first moved to London.

Monica Galetti talks about becoming a chef

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Cherry Amaretti Muffins

During the summer, I buy cherries when they're in season and cheap and spend a happy half hour pitting them before eating some and freezing the rest for baking later in the year.  One of the best investments I've ever made is a cherry pitter which makes short shrift of taking the stones out of the cherries without mangling the delicate fruit.  According to The Hubs, it sounds like a machine gun as I "phut phut" my way through a few punnets but it makes life so much easier and for a tenner, it's definitely worth the investment.

This is a great recipe when you've forgotten to take the butter out of the fridge but want to bake something lovely - buttermilk and oil work together to create a really moist muffin, while cherries straight from the freezer and a handful of amaretti biscuits from the cupboard bring flavour and crunch to a regular run of the mill bake.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Marvellous Ideas for Mother's Day

What do you mean, you've forgotten?  Mother's Day is this Sunday, March 15th and I've a list of lovely things which would make perfect gifts for your Mum.  Actually, it's also Little Sis's birthday so Lulu was planning to consolidate the two events into Happy Mother's Birthday but I think I've persuaded her that she needs to make two cards instead of just the one!

Mother's Day at Marks and Spencer

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Comic Relief Cupcakes for Red Nose Day

Friday 13th doesn't all have to be doom and gloom, especially this year, when it's time to get your bake on for Red Nose Day.  I picked up a great cupcake kit in Sainsburys last week for £2.50, with half of the proceeds going directly to Comic Relief who fund thousands of projects helping millions of people worldwide. There's nothing more appropriate for a cupcake than a Red Velvet Sponge and I ramped it up by adding some Raspberry flavouring to my basic cake batter for a moist chocolate raspberry sponge with vanilla swiss meringue buttercream icing. Lucy has volunteered to eat all of the cupcakes herself and she might even donate some pocket money too.  She's a generous soul...

So, are you planning to bake cakes or make your face funny for money?  Tell me all about it!

Comic Relief Cupcakes for Red Nose Day

Friday, February 27, 2015

Roasted Butternut Squash & Smoked Garlic Soup

Not all of my soup making attempts are disastrous, thank goodness, and this was one of the nicest ways I've spent a Sunday afternoon while The Hubs was working (apart from lying on the sofa watching Scandal and eating chocolate).  But if you time this right, you can easily accomplish both.  That's called multitasking, you know...  Back to the soup now.  Peeling butternut squash has got to be one of the most soul destroying and manicure shredding tasks known to man, so I have a clever little cheat's trick - a very sharp knife or a cleaver to split the squash in two. All you need to do then is scoop out the seeds, score the flesh and whack it into the oven.  If you're particularly lazy, line the roasting tin with foil so there's minimal washing up too.  You're welcome!

Monday, February 23, 2015

My Favourite Fizz

There are few sweeter sounds in my life than the pop of a cork heralding a celebration, be it an anniversary, a birthday or just because it’s Friday night. Those of you who read Babaduck or follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram know that I’m very fond of a glass of fizz. And for me, it doesn’t have to be a swanky vintage Champagne, some of which have turned out to be bitter disappointments (like the pink one that was a gift, cost a fortune and ended up being poured down the sink on New Year’s Eve).  Many countries make sparkling wine and one of my favourites is Spain, the land of unlimited Cava.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Celebrating Chinese New Year 恭禧發財

Kung Hei Fat Choy everybody!  When it comes to New Year celebrations, we pale into comparison with the Chinese, who have it down to a fine art.  2015 is the Year of the Goat/Sheep and Chinese New Year begins on Thursday 19th February. With 15 days of holiday festivities, that means cooking a lot of food to feed friends and family, so I thought I'd cook a Chinese banquet for us in Maison Babaduck to celebrate (no goat or sheep though...).

First up, it was time for some serious cleaning and decluttering to sweep away any ill-fortune lurking around the house before we decorated the table with lucky red envelopes.  The colour red symbolises luck and wealth so here's hoping for a prosperous 2015.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Technology : Making Life Easier in My Home

The lovely people at L&G asked me to take part in a campaign to talk about how technology makes life easier in my home and it really got me thinking.  We all take technology for granted now and sometimes we forget what a difference it makes to us all.  Take this weekend, for instance. We had not just one, but two guests, with Sandie the fluffy dog and Lucy the fluffy child both staying with us. 

Like most 9 year old girls, Lulu is obsessed with technology and knows her way around a mobile phone and a tablet, trying to persuade me download Roblox to ensure she never misses an opportunity to play.  Being a sneaky auntie, I hid my iPad away this weekend.  Her other favourite thing is Netflix, where she can watch iCarly to her heart's content.  Or until I sneakily log her out from the kitchen.  Yes, I am evil Auntie and we painted our nails instead!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Now I am Five

Half a decade.  Half as long as I've been married and half as long as three of the Childerbeasts have been on this earth.  That's how long I've been writing on Babaduck.  The soundtrack to this piece is running through my head and it's Never Forget by Take That.  Because I never forget where I've come from.  Babaduck began as something to keep me busy during the dark days of recession when the company I loved working for, folded like a pack of cards, and went into receivership.  I spent a very long and lonely 10 months out of work, desperately afraid that I wouldn't find another job and frantically worrying about how we would manage to pay the mortgage on just one, ever decreasing salary.  My confidence plummeted to an all time low because I couldn't get a first interview for the vast majority of the 200+ jobs that I applied for, never mind the luxury of a second one.  I buried my fear because I didn't want to worry The Hubs who was the only one earning.  I cried when we didn't qualify for any assistance apart from jobseekers benefit, despite hitting all the criteria on paper.  I lost a lot of my hair because of the stress, a fact that my amazing little sister hid from me, in case it never returned.  Thankfully it did, and she only told me about a year later when I was working again and was able to deal with it.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Win £50 voucher from Brainbox Candy

Are you broke and full of January gloom?  Do you need something bright, cheerful and irreverent to bring a smile to your miserable face?  Fantastic, I've something to bring a chink of light into somebody's day, and it could be you.  The sarky sods at Brainbox Candy have given me a £50 voucher for one of you to have a little shopping spree in their online store and you can be as politically correct or filthily rude as you like in your selection.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Raspberry Frangipane Tart

Over the holidays, I saw sheets of all-butter pastry appear in the supermarket aisles.  I love these as they taste so much better than standard ready rolled versions and you could easily pass them off as home made, just saying...  I was going to my friend's house for a Ladies Night In which involves takeaway, one or two sociable glasses of wine and some dessert so I volunteered to bring the dessert. Naturally, I had a roll of the sweet shortcrust pastry in the fridge for such an eventuality so it had to be a tart.  Actually, this tart was made from store cupboard and freezer ingredients so it's something you can make in an hour without leaving the house to buy ingredients.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Still Saving for a Rainy Day

Last January, I wrote about a really easy savings plan that I'd heard a lot about in the internet and in the papers.  The idea was  to start saving with just a euro, and add a euro every week.  I'm fairly disciplined about saving but The Hubs isn't, so I figured out it would be a great routine for him to get into, and sure I'd do the same.  So we started the plan on Saturday 2nd January 2014 and we stuck to it.  Religiously.  I know, I'm a little bit surprised at that too considering that the theme tune to my life is "She wasn't good (but she had good intentions)". 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Kitchen Nightmares

It started off as just a normal Sunday in winter.  The Hubs went to work and I was dragged out for a walk by the little fluffy dog, who sniffed every plant, gatepost and blade of grass along the way.  By the time we got home, I was absolutely freezing cold and in need of a bit of warmth.  I thought that making a batch of soup would do the job so I chopped, diced and sliced until my giant soup pot was full, added a dash of olive oil and left it all to simmer away.