Streusel topped fruity slices

If you are wondering what streusel is, it is fairly similar to the topping on a crumble. I certainly managed to confuse the boys with this, as they kept saying strudel, which is a pastry dish. Something else I’ve never tried making yet. Must give that a try sometime soon.

Streusel

Streusel topped fruity slices

Ingredients (makes 16)

200g self raising flour
120g soft brown sugar
140g butter
50g ground almonds
100g dried strawberries
100g dried apple
50g sultanas
30g oats

Method

Preheat fan oven to 180 degree C.
Line a 20cm square baking tin with greaseproof paper.
Rub the butter into the flour.
Stir in the sugar and ground almonds.
Reserve 150g of this mixture for later to make the topping.
Add the egg to the rest and mix to a dough.
Place the dough in the tin and flatten.
Chop the strawberries and apples.
Mix all the fruit together in a bowl.
Spread the fruit over the dough base.
Mix the oats into the reserved mixture.
Sprinkle over the fruit.
Cover the tin with foil.
Bake on middle oven shelf for about 30 minutes until golden.
Allow to cool.
Cut into slices.
Serve and enjoy.

Streusel

You could easily vary the fruits used in the filling. So I’d love to hear if you have some alternative suggestions.

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The Bedtimeasnaurus by Mike Bayliss

When we were offered the chance to review a couple of children poetry books, I knew that son2 would jump at the chance, since Mustard, Custard, Grumble Belly and Gravy is one of his favourite books. He chose The Bedtimeasnaurus, written by Mike Bayliss and illustrated by Megan Egan. What a fab title.

The Bedtimeasnaurus by Mike Bayliss

Here is the book blurb.

A charming collection of gorgeously illustrated poems to encourage fun and bedtime bonding between parents and their children.

The bright pink flamingoasaurus spends its day standing on one leg looking for something to eat. The round and delicious tomotoasaurus sings a tune while soaking up the sun. These are just two of the imaginative and amusing dinosaurs dreamed up in The Bedtimeasnaurus, the sometimes naughty and always hilarious poetry collection for children by Mike Bayliss.

Developing the idea for over thirty years while working on other projects , Bayliss was encouraged to publish his collection after being diagnosed with stage IV non – Hodgkin lymphoma in April 2017, using his work as a positive outlet for his energy as he worked to battle the illness.

Complimented by charming illustrations, opportunities for kids to draw their own dinosaur creations and simple quizzes on each of the characters, The Bedtimeasnaurus not only provides an entertaining read for young children before they go to sleep but also offers a valuable chance for parents to connect and engage.

The Bedtimeasnaurus by Mike Bayliss

I like this book because it is very funny. My favourite dinosaur is the Pumposaurus because it farts a lot.

The two sentences above are what son2 has written for his review. He doesn’t share much with us about the book, so let me explain. It is all about funny made-up dinosaurs and has been written in verse.

After the verses, there is a quiz about all the dinosaurs in the books, along with a couple of blank pages for each child to draw their own Bedtimeasnaurus along with a funny poem about their dinosaur.

Mumosaurus

Mumosaurus

Son2 has invented the mean green Mumosaurus. Should I be worried? I’m hoping his outlook on Mumosaurus being mean is just temporary, based on a misunderstanding with Clink Street Publishing, when he just got an e-version of this book rather than the actual paperback that he was expecting. In his eyes, this was all my fault. Although I have to say that I would definitely recommend a paperback copy over the e-version in this particular case, as we did experience a few technical issues. Firstly, it was too small to view on my iPhone, as it seemed to have some double page landscape formatting which wasn’t working properly. Then neither PDF nor mobi format would download from dropbox to the iPad. So we resorted to PDF on the computer, which still frustrated my son as the page breaks weren’t working correctly.

This lovely collection of dinosaur poems by Mike Bayliss is going to bring a smile to kids, especially the more cheeky “toilet humour” ones. It has been beautifully illustrated by Megan Egan.

However I’ve never come across the word “pumping” in this context, and if it wasn’t for the illustrations, I think this would be confusing to readers.

Due to be published tomorrow, The Bedtimeasnaurus is available on Amazon, currently priced at £8.30 in paperback. Suitable for a wide age range. A lovely book to read out loud to your child at bedtime or for them to read themselves.

The Bedtimeasnaurus by Mike Bayliss

About the author

Born in Walsaill West Midland, UK, Bayliss is an entrepreneur that owns companies in several industries including building supply and property development. He also owns Bespoke Brewery, which opened in 2012 and has since won a number of awards for its craft beer. He lives with his wife and three children in Forest Dean, UK. This is his first book.

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/thebedtimeasnaurus/


I’m participating in the blog tour. Do take time to browse round some of the other posts.

The Bedtimeasnaurus by Mike Bayliss

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of a book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

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Dr. Oetker pizza review plus giveaway

Dr. Oetker is a brand which seems to be in my shopping trolley most weeks, whether it be pizza or cake baking products. And whilst we were in Germany at half term, I tried their breakfast cereal, which was delicious. Pity those are not sold in the UK. So I was pleased to be sent a free voucher to try their latest limited edition Bianca Deliciosa pizza for free.

Dr Oetker pizza

We only got one free voucher initially, so I had to purchase another of their pizzas myself, to ensure there was enough for the whole family. Rather than getting 2 Bianca Deliciosa, I chose to buy my son’s favourite Ristorante Mozzarella flavour. So he was very pleased when he saw me unpacking the shopping.

Dr. Oetker pizza

Although the boys enjoy helping out when I do homemade pizza, we always find Dr. Oetker pizzas to be very tasty and especially great for a quick meal when you are in a rush. And this new flavour was no exception. I’m a big fan of garlic flat breads that look a bit similar to a pizza with no tomato sauce. So I thought the Bianca Deliciosa with its creamy white sauce to be a bit between one of those and a standard cheese and tomato type pizza. Without the tomato, it meant the other flavours came through more than usual, and I loved it with the bacon and red onion too. My other half agreed and even son1 gave it the thumbs up, once he had removed the onions. Fussy boy. Of course, even fussier son2 wasn’t prepared to give it a try, just sticking to his usual Ristorante Mozzarella.

Dr Oetker pizza

I wonder how long the limited edition will be around. I do hope it doesn’t disappear too quickly as I really enjoyed it. Although I’m sure Dr. Oetker will come up with something equally good for their next limited edition.

This pizza is currently on special offer priced at £2 at Sainsburys and is also available at Asda and Ocado. More Dr. Oetker pizza flavours stocked at other supermarkets.

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway some free Dr. Oetker pizza vouchers. Each voucher is valid for any one free pizza from the Dr. Oetker Ristorante range. Three winners will receive two vouchers each.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

And you may see my other giveaways here.

I’d love to hear what is your favourite product from Dr. Oetker?

And if you wish to know about some of their other pizza flavours, then do check out my earlier reviews of Pollo Arrabiata and Calzone Special.

Just before publishing this post, I received another two free vouchers, so I will be getting some more Dr. Oetker pizzas on my next shopping trip.

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of a product I purchased using voucher I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

My Naipo Christmas wishlist

I dream of being able to indulge in a regular weekly massage at a spa, but such treats are few and far between. More like once a year than once a week. So I often notice the tightness, tension and aches in my body, particularly the neck, shoulders and back. Also many years ago I had a whiplash injury from a car accident, which has always resulted in extra tightness and tension in my left shoulder. Therefore it is great to come across massage products you can use yourself at home. I’ve been browsing the product range from Naipo on Amazon and come up with the following wishlist.

Three Shiatsu massage products to focus on back, neck, shoulders and feet – my most achy areas. Plus a couple of cushions, one for everyday use targeting the lumbar region whilst sitting using my laptop and the other for travel.

My Naipo Wishlist

 

 

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Disclosure. I will shortly be receiving a free product from this company to review. All opinions are my own.

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River Rising by John A Heldt

Regular readers of my blog may remember that I have really enjoyed several books by John Heldt. So I was delighted when John asked me to review his latest book, River Rising. To find out more about the author you may visit his website.

River Rising by John A Heldt

Here is the book blurb.

Weeks after his parents disappear on a hike, engineer Adam Carson, 27, searches for answers. Then he discovers a secret web site and learns his mom and dad are time travelers stuck in the past. Armed with the information he needs to find them, Adam convinces his younger siblings to join him on a rescue mission to the 1880s.

While Greg, the adventurous middle brother, follows leads in the Wild West, Adam, journalist Natalie, and high school seniors Cody and Caitlin do the same in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Like the residents of the bustling steel community, all are unaware of a flood that will destroy the city on May 31, 1889.

In RIVER RISING, the first novel in the Carson Chronicles series, five young adults find love, danger, and adventure as they experience America in the age of bustle dresses, gunslingers, and robber barons.

River Rising is the first book in a new series – The Carson Chronicles. It starts in the present day in Arizona when Adam Carson discovers from a secret letter left with their attorney and a secret website, that his parents who disappeared several months earlier, have in fact travelled back in time and are stuck in 1888 where they met Mark Twain. He convinces his siblings that they should all travel back to 1888 to try to rescue their parents.

They acquire some period clothing, locate the portal and step through at exactly 6:15pm on the winter solstice. They are surprised to find they are no longer in Arizona, but now in Pennsylvania. However Mark Twain’s writings about his meeting with Tim and Caroline Carson had mentioned that they were from Johnstown, Pennsylvania, so they follow this clue and head to Johnstown, where they book a couple of rooms at the Colbert House.

They bond with some of the people they meet in 1888/89 including some of them falling in love. Most of them follow clues in and around Johnstown, but Greg heads off to pursue clues in the dangerous Wild West. Natalie puts her journalist talents to good use, whilst 17 year old twins Cody and Caitlin enrol at school. Clues indicate that they have just missed their parents in Johnstown but they continue to maintain this as their base. Danger delays Greg in Arizona, so he also misses a chance to catch up with them and continues his trail to San Francisco, where it is even more like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

Meanwhile Natalie gets another clue from Mark Twain, and sends a telegram to Greg to get him to divert to Mount Shasta for the March solstice. He doesn’t have much time and shouting as loud as he can, he narrowly misses his parents passing through another portal.

Now what? The five siblings are still in 1888, but their parents are in a different time. They will have to wait until the June solstice and then decide whether to return to 2017 or to the next date mentioned on the secret website for a chance to reunite the family.

There is lots more to happen in this story including a major flood when a dam breaks and over 2000 people die. It eventually ends on a cliffhanger, leaving me anxiously waiting for book 2 to be written.

River Rising is available on Amazon, currently priced at £3.88 in Kindle format. I really loved this book, but it is the first time in one of John’s books, that I’ve been left waiting on such a cliffhanger. A brilliant read which as usual lived up to my expectations of a John Heldt novel, As always I highly recommend this author. But how long will I have to wait for book 2 to be finished.

The 1889 Johnstown flood was an actual historical disaster. I do enjoy fiction intertwined with fact.

And you may be interested to see my reviews of some of John Heldt’s other titles.
The Mine
Indiana Belle
Hannah’s Moon

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

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Christmas gifts for under £5 – the SDfiverChallenge

Hope it is not too early to mention the Christmas word. Britmums have challenged bloggers to take the Christmas #sdfiverchallenge to find some great gifts for £5. And as one of the first 100 to sign upto the challenge, I received a free £30 SportsDirect voucher to purchase my gifts.

Now I regularly pop into our local branch of SportsDirect to buy football boots for the boys and my running gear. So I have noticed other items like kids’ wellingtons but had no idea that they stocked toys and other gifts.

Sportsdirect.com is not just football boots and inexpensive trainers. It features fashion brands, leisurewear and more! Because of its buying power, Sportsdirect.com is able to get products you’d expect to pay more for elsewhere. Their range of £5 gifts for Christmas means you can shop for family, friends, teachers and even your book-club buddies for less!

I think I am trying to do my Christmas shopping too early, as this gift link wasn’t visible from the homepage menu. But that didn’t put me off and I chose the following gifts from their £5 and under range.

SportsDirect gifts

A Manchester City Fidget Spinner for £5

and a 4 piece Minions wash set for £2. I think I must have got the last one of these, as I couldn’t find it subsequently to add the link. Hopefully they will restock this. I did notice that most of the items in the gift range were aimed at children.

However sticking with the £5 price, I bought some other items, not from the Christmas range, but just as good for gifts in my opinion. These were
Star Wars mens underwear
I chose to buy 2 pairs of these as they were priced at £5 each or 2 for £8.

Marvel Civil War t-shirt
Minions trunks
The trunks are a tried and tested product as we already have a similar pair in a different design, which need replacing due to fading.

These all came to a total of £25 as I had saved the remaining £5 for shipping.

I then completed the checkout process easily but do have one complaint. When I added my voucher code, it automatically repriced my multi-buy on the men’s underwear back to the original price with no prior warning. This was disappointing, as I ended up paying £2 more than anticipated.

Standard shipping is a flat rate of £4.99, but I did notice that they do offer an alternative collect in store service, where they reimburse the shipping with a £5 voucher. Seems a rather cheeky way of enticing you to make another purchase. Why not just offer a free collect in store service.

SportsDirect gifts

I was pleased with the dispatch service as the items were delivered very quickly and the clothes were all individually wrapped in polythene. However a total failure when I tried to remove price labels from the fidget spinner and the wash set. When I buy something from a gift range, I expect to be able to easily remove the price, not end up with the result in this photo below.

SportsDirect gifts - Fidget Spinner

Also if I pay £5 for an item like the Minions swimming trunks, I’m not particularly impressed to receive them with a price label of £2.50, half the price I actually paid. At least son2 was happy.

SportsDirect gifts

Son1 wasn’t quite so convinced though as I had decided to get him a t-shirt in the next size up to ensure he didn’t grow out of it too quickly. But it was huge. Never mind, he will grow into it. So full marks to SportsDirect on sizing, as it looks like it would have been roomy enough if I had got it his actual age.

SportsDirect gifts

And I’ve already mentioned how I was disappointed to end up paying £10 rather than £8 for 2 pairs of men’s underwear. To rub salt into the wound, they arrived complete with “2 for £8” labels still.

SportsDirect gifts

So in summary, yes I succeeded with the #sdfiverchallenge of buying plenty of gifts for £5 or less, but I did have a few issues along the way.

I’d love to hear what you would buy from the SportsDirect Christmas range?

And subsequent to the delivery, I’m very pleased to say that SportsDirect refunded the additional £2 that I had paid.

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Disclosure. This post mentions products I purchased using a voucher I was sent for free. All opinions are my own. This post is an entry for BritMums #sdfiverchallenge Christmas Challenge, sponsored by Sportsdirect.com.

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Chimasu Asian Snack box review & giveaway

I always love the surprise of what I may find in a subscription box. And we’re definitely partial to a snack here, so I was looking forward to my free Chimasu box of Asian Snacks arriving. Beyond prawn crackers, I have to admit that I am rather ignorant regarding types of Asian snacks. So I took a sneak peak at the Chimasu website in advance, where a familiar brand with a twist caught my eye, a Wasabi KitKat. I’ve heard of Wasabi but have no idea what it tastes like. Would there be one of those in my box?

Chimasu Asian Snacks

When it arrived, I found a huge range of items inside. More than I was expecting for the size of the parcel, but most were quite small, meaning more variety could be included, which I thought was an excellent idea.

Chimasu Asian Snacks

Chimasu Asian Snacks

So the contents were as follows…

Pu Erh Tea
Jasmine Tea (2)
Sesame Pastry (2)
Roasted Rolled Crispy Seaweed (2)
Shrimp Flavour Yummy Flakes
HiChew Green Apple
HiChew Strawberry
Wasabi Peas
Rice Cracker (2)
Kabaya Milk Chocolate Biscuit (4 panda)
Lotte Rakuten bear cake (9 Koala biscuits)
Korean Shin Ramyun Noodle Soup
Nissan Demae Ramen
Orion Seaweed Flavour Korepab Snack
Banana Kick Snack

Pu Erh Tea
This is not a type of tea that I had heard of so I looked it up on Wikipedia. Just one tea bag, so I served it in traditional Chinese tea cups, so that two of us could try it. A pleasant flavour.

Chimasu Asian Snacks - Pu Erh Tea

Jasmine Tea
I always order Jasmine Tea whenever I go to a Chinese restaurant and this Ten Ren brand tasted just as good as any other Jasmine Tea.

Chimasu Asian Snacks - Jasmine Tea

Sesame Pastry
This was also labelled as Silang Crispy Pastries with Nutlet. Allergy warning, it contains peanut. There were two of these, individually wrapped, each containing a 13g biscuit. Son1 and I loved these. First time I’ve come across black sesame seeds.

sesame pastry

Kabaya Milk Chocolate Biscuit
Son2 immediately grabbed this 17g packet when he saw it. Inside were 4 tiny chocolate filled panda biscuits. He did reluctantly let son1 and myself share one of them. We all loved these.

Chimasu Asian Snacks - Kabaya Panda Biscuits

Lotte Rakuten bear cake
Again this appealed to the boys. Inside were 9 milk flavoured tiny koala biscuits, each with a different design koala. One was even wearing glasses. I did have one, whilst the boys quickly ate four each. Good but the pandas were better. According to the website, this 19.5g packet also comes in a mango flavour.

Chimasu Asian Snacks - Koala Biscuits

Wasabi Peas
A small 10g packet but any more would have been too much as we found them rather spicy. I had never tried anything wasabi flavour previously and didn’t particularly like this, but son1 enjoyed a few at a time.

Chimasu Asian Snacks - Wasabi Peas

Shrimp Flavour Yummy Flakes
A small 5g packet which son1 and I both loved. It had the texture of a Pom Bear snack. We would have liked this in a bigger size.

Chimasu Asian Snacks - Shrimp Yummy Flakes

HiChew Green Apple / HiChew Strawberry
Just two individually wrapped sweets which son2 had his eye on. He did let me cut a sliver off the end of each to test. They are similar to Starburst.

Chimasu Asian Snacks - HiChew Sweets

Kameda Seika Soy Sauce Flavoured Rice Crackers
These 16.8g individually wrapped Rice Crackers had the shortest shelf life, with less than 6 weeks. Everything else was dated 2018. Both son1 and I loved these.

Rice Cracker

Roasted Rolled Crispy Seaweed – Select Rolling Bite spicy flavour
These were labelled as no MSG, low fat and gluten free. We are all seaweed fans but son2 refused to try these as the packaging said they were spicy. Son1 and I both found them reasonably pleasant.

Seaweed Roll

Banana Kick Snack
This was a family size bag and they looked rather like Wotsits and with a similar texture and crunch. But the banana taste was very different. It didn’t particularly appeal to the adults, but the boys loved it.

Chimasu Asian Snacks - Banana Kick

Orion Seaweed Flavour Korepab Snack
Another pleasant savoury snack all in the shapes of various sea creatures. Tiny and hollow. Plenty in the pack.

Orion Seaweed Snack

Nissan Demae Ramen
This made a tasty sesame flavour noodle soup which son1 and I enjoyed. Just add 500ml boiling water, cook for 3 minutes. Then stir in contents of the flavouring sachet and oil sachet.

Noodle soup

Korean Shin Ramyun Noodle Soup
Another simple soup to make. This time add 550ml boiling water, stir in contents of the flavouring sachet and flakes sachet, then cook for 4.5 minutes. However the big difference was that this soup was very spicy indeed. We still liked the noodles but the liquid was too spicy for any of us. The packet is labelled as Gourmet Spicy.

Shin Ramyun Noodle Soup

A great varied selection of snacks in my opinion.

You may choose between a month to month subscription at £18 per box or prepaying for 3, 6 or 12 boxes or buying a single box for £20. Prepaying for 3 equates to £17 per box and prepaying for 6 equates to £16.50 per box and prepaying for 12 equates to £16 per box. Very good value in my opinion and it also includes free shipping within the UK. You pay extra for shipping to other countries.

You also get the option to indicate which categories you love (always include), like (sometimes include) or don’t want from the following list of categories. A very useful feature in my opinion.
Biscuits and Cakes
Crisps
Candy
Nuts, Peas and Seeds
Noodles and Soups
Teas
Fruits
Seafood

Plus I have a special offer to share with my readers. £6 off your first Asian Snack Box and a free Japanese Kit Kat when you use coupon code TOKYO444 at checkout.

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway an Asian Snack box from Chimasu to one lucky winner. This may contain a different selection of products to those featured here, as my review is of what was in the October selection.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

And you may see my other giveaways here.

I’d love to hear what is your favourite Asian Snack?

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of a product I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

I Wrote A Book About You by Amy Louise Ware

I have received a free e-copy of the book I Wrote A Book About You by Amy Louise Ware to review. To find out more about the author you may visit her website.

I Wrote A Book About You by Amy Louise Ware

Here is the book blurb.

If you liked Bridget Jones, you’re going to fall in love with this story…

Meet Posy, a 26-year-old quirky blonde who’s left close to bankruptcy after a divorce from her cheating, childhood sweetheart, Hamilton. Following the implosion, a year ago, Posy’s brother Noah pushes her to go and live in a different culture in fear of her becoming a crazy cat lady if not. So, whilst staying for a short while in Barcelona, she meets Freddie on a hot, sweaty Friday evening – a guy with a dangerous sense of style and a heart of gold.
But a few weeks after meeting the man of her dreams, Posy has to pack up and leave Barcelona following the shocking and sudden near death of a loved one. She has to make the decision whether to stay in her home county of Kent, haunted by the unhappiness she had once left behind, or fight to find the one person that she had let fade away into the night.

‘I Wrote a Book About You’ is a story of friendship, family, loss and going back to something you knew you could never let go of…

Posy has divorced her cheating ex-husband Hamilton and has been travelling around Europe, currently in Barcelona, when her best friend Jodie turns up on a surprise visit. They go to see a gig by The Rainers and Posy really fancies Freddie the lead singer. The feeling is mutual and they start dating.

Between continuing the love story between Posy and Freddie, we also have chapters covering earlier events in both their lives and get introduced to family and other guys Posy has slept with. I bond more with Posy when I hear she had leukaemia as a child, an illness which my own son has fought.

Then halfway through the book after several wonderful weeks with Freddie, Posy gets a phone call that her beloved brother Noah is in a critical condition following a bad car accident. She dashes to the airport, telling Freddie not to follow. I’m in tears reading this part of the story.

Will Noah recover? Who else is in a relationship with who? Will Posy find Freddie again?

This lovely romantic story has as many twists and turns as you get in a thriller, plus plenty of humour too.

And the first line of the blurb is spot on. I loved this book as much as Bridget Jones.

I Wrote A Book About You is available on Amazon, currently priced at £9.99 in paperback and is also available in Kindle format. Highly recommended. A fab love story with loads of laughs too.

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

Coconut and Jam Sponge

I recently organised a Macmillan Coffee Morning at work, so I thought I’d make one new recipe and one that was tried and tested. And importantly, so that the boys wouldn’t feel that they were missing out on a cake opportunity, I decided that I would incorporate ingredients that the boys aren’t overly fond of. So for my new recipe, I decided that the key ingredient was to be coconut. And taking my inspiration from a pudding I used to enjoy many years ago for school dinners, I made a traybake cake version of Coconut and Jam Sponge. But thankfully without the hideous pink custard. Who remembers weird coloured custards from their schooldays?

Coconut and Jam Sponge

Coconut and Jam Sponge

Ingredients (makes 16 slices)

225g margarine
225g caster sugar
225g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
4 eggs
100g desiccated coconut
200g raspberry jam

Method

Preheat oven to 180 degree C / 160 fan / Gas mark 4.
Grease and line a 20cm square cake tin.
In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and sugar.
Beat in the eggs.
Fold in the flour and baking powder.
Spoon into the tin.
Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes.
Turn the cake out onto a cooling rack.
Allow to cool completely before decorating.
Spread jam over the top.
Sprinkle with coconut.
Cut into 16 slices.
Serve and enjoy.

Coconut and Jam Sponge

So I’d love to hear what would be your top choice of tasty treat to either cook for a bake sale or to purchase there?

And I’m pleased to say that our Macmillan coffee morning raised nearly £100 for this very worthwhile charity.

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Madam Tulip by David Ahern

I have received a free e-copy of the book Madam Tulip by David Ahern to review.

Madam Tulip by David Ahern

Here is the book blurb.

Suspense, mystery, action, a little romance and lots of laughs

Out-of-work actress Derry O’Donnell is talented, professional, just a little psychic… and broke. Spurred on by an ultimatum from her awesomely high-achieving mother, Derry embarks on a part-time career as Madame Tulip, fortune teller to the rich and famous. But at her first fortune-telling gig – a celebrity charity weekend in a luxurious castle – a famous rap artist mysteriously dies.

As Derry is drawn deeper into a seedy world of fashion, millionaires, horses and cocaine, she must race to save her best friend from jail and a supermodel from being murdered. Her efforts threaten to destroy her friends, her ex-lover, her father and herself.

Madame Tulip is the first in a series of thrilling and hilarious Tulip adventures in which Derry O’Donnell, celebrity fortune-teller and reluctant amateur detective, plays the most exciting and perilous roles of her acting life, drinks borage tea, and fails to understand her parents.

The book starts with Derry, an unemployed actress receiving a telephone ultimatum from her mother Vanessa that she wants Derry to return to the US and take a job in PR. Vanessa is not going to pay Derry’s rent any longer and is coming over to Dublin to discuss it.

Derry’s best friend Bella suggests Derry make money out of her psychic card-reading talent. They decide she will be called Madam Tulip. The theatre wardrobe ladies kit her out with a costume and make-up so she looks just the part.

Meanwhile Derry meets her artist dad Jacko at the races, who bets 40-1 on a horse called Inside Out on the basis that Derry said “should have brought a brolly”. He then spots some celebs he knows and gets them into the VIP suite. Supermodel Marlene and husband Doyle are impressed when Inside Out wins the race and Marlene asks Derry to come and do fortunes at their celebrity charity event. She is amazed when the organiser offers her a 1500 euro fee, more than a month’s rent. And Marlene requests a reading, at which Derry sees a lucky escape.

Bella gives Derry a lift to the event, where they discover another actor friend Bruce working as security at the castle. As they arrive, they spot rapper Mojo and singer Sonya Dee. Whilst in costume, Derry is surprised to spot ex-boyfriend Fitz of the Met Police dressed like a millionaire. She calls out to him, but he hurries past, saying she has mistaken him for someone else. Shortly afterwards, Bella who was supposed to have left, bursts into Derry’s room saying that Mojo has collapsed.

Bella had snuck back to try to get a selfie with Mojo. When Mojo subsequently dies, Bella ends up framed for his murder. Can Derry work out what is going on? Plenty more twists and turns to come.

Madam Tulip is available on Amazon, currently priced at £7.99 in paperback and is also available in kindle format. This is the best of both worlds – a funny mystery. Highly recommended. Book 2 in the series is already out and added to my ever-growing wishlist. And I certainly hope there will be more to come in this series.


About the author

David Ahern grew up in a theatrical family in Ireland but ran away to Scotland to become a research psychologist and sensible person. He earned his doctorate but soon absconded to work in television. He became a writer, director and producer, creating international documentary series and winning numerous awards, none of which got him free into nightclubs.

Madame Tulip wasn’t David Ahern’s first novel, but writing it was the most fun he’d ever had with a computer. The second in the Madam Tulip mystery series, Madam Tulip and the Knave of Hearts, was published in autumn 2016. He is now writing the third Madam Tulip adventure and enjoys pretending this is actual work.

David Ahern lives in the beautiful West of Ireland with his wife, two cats and a vegetable garden of which he is inordinately proud.

You can learn more about David Ahern and Madam Tulip on his website www.davidahern.info

Connect with David Ahern on Facebook: www.facebook.com/davidahernwriter
and Twitter: www.twitter.com/daveahernwriter

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.