Rustic scones with added floor crumbs. A perfect pin?

I happened upon a blog the other day, Manger, about a stunning lady with 7 kids and approximately 100 dogs who has moved to a large tumble down villa in the French countryside. On the blog are beautiful photos of their life and food, so pleasing to the eye that they’ve secured the blog writer a publishing deal in the form of her own cook book.

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The rather gorgeous Mimi in her enchanting home

Then I go on Pinterest and pin away at pictures of blissful off grey rooms, perfectly cooked roasted vegetables with quinoa and stylishly dressed women. I try, oh how I try to emulate this kind of lifestyle. I know I shouldn’t, I know it’s shallow but it’s all so dreamy.  Thou shalt not covet lives of successful bloggers and people with homes in interiors magazines.

On a whim last Saturday I tried my hand at making some Mary Berry scones. I mean, we live in the country now. I need to be able to at least make scones don’t I? Like Mimi, I thought I could share my culinary expertise. Of course, smallest child wanted to join in. Before she did she wiped crumbs off the bottom of her feet, then put her hands straight into the dough. That must have added a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’. When it came to cutting the scones out, after getting the mixture stuck to the rolling pin and peeling it off several times, scattering flour everywhere, smallest child had to use a Tesco value wine glass to cut them out as we didn’t have any scone cutters. Bet Mimi doesn’t have to resort to such measures.  Needless to say, I don’t think publishers will be calling any time soon with that cookbook offer. But if you want it, here is the scone recipe, feel free to Pin it 😉 . They are very easy to make and ready in 15 minutes. We ate ours fresh from the oven, the butter melted into them and then we smothered them with lashings of strawberry jam.

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Plain Scones

(I used half this mixture and made about 6, ate 3, froze 3 as they don’t keep. They can be cooked from frozen in the oven for ten minutes and are just as delicious)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7 (200C Fan).
  2. Put the flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Add the butter and rub it in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. (At this point, mine added a few crumbs of her own). Stir in the sugar. Beat the egg in a measuring jug. Make up to 100ml/3½fl oz with the milk, then set aside a tablespoon for glazing the scones later.
  3. Gradually add the egg and milk to the dry ingredients, stirring it in until you have a soft slightly sticky dough
  4. Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured surface and pat and poke (if you are 8, with possible bogey fingers) until it is about 2cm/¾in thick. Use a 4cm/1½in fluted cutter to stamp out the scones (or a Tesco value wine glass for a more rustic look). Make sure you don’t twist the cutter or the scones will not rise evenly. (This was impossible step to achieve with an 8 year old, as you will see from the pictures).
  5. Gently gather the trimmings together and pat out again to cut more scones
  6. Arrange the scones on the greased baking trays and brush the tops with the remaining milk.
  7. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until well risen and golden-brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Ps. I am insanely jealous of Mimi, her child bearing abilities, her massive French house, her cooking and the fact she has 100* dogs.

(*this may not be an inaccurate number, I think it’s nearer 14).

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Jobs and children. It’s a difficult combo…

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We’ve lived in Derbyshire for nearly a year now and I couldn’t put off getting a job any longer. I’ve tried hiding in the boiler room so the husband didn’t notice I was still at home, and making a packed lunch and disappearing for a few hours a day but he found me out eventually. (Oh and of course, I’d already tried the third baby suggestion but he was never going to fall for that…)

I applied for a couple of jobs and ended up with two interviews. I haven’t been interviewed since, I can’t remember, trying to get into University? That wasn’t very successful, I still cringe thinking of my interview at the University of Westminster. “What newspapers do you read?” “Erm, errrr, I read more! magazine and Elle, does that count?” Needless to say it didn’t and I didn’t get in.

From the first ever Saturday job at a hairdressers to working as a Gallery Assistant at art college, to my first job on a magazine, I’ve either popped in with a ‘don’t suppose you have a job going…’ and started a few days later or blagged work experience that’s led to work, or been put forward for a role by a lovely friend and then been asked to go in for a ‘chat’. Perhaps that’s how things happened in the 90s?

Not anymore. For a start living here I don’t casually bump into people who could possibly offer me a job. The only person I see every day is the postman, and although I’ve considered asking him for work, the early mornings put me off and I’m not sure the uniform would suit.  So I’ve found myself  filling in online applications. They’re a joy, let me tell you. All in a different formats and just when you think you’ve finished, you see your name is in the job position and your sexuality is in the aims and ambitions bit.

After struggling with those I managed to land two interviews. These are for part time admin roles, nothing too la-de-dah, but they did need a new outfit (“speculate to accumulate, darling”) as dog walking attire apparently isn’t the done thing in an office. The first one involved a 3 hour ‘carousel’ interview along with 5 other people. There are only so many times in three hours you can explain why you want the job and having to ‘role-play’ the phone message I’d leave if the school was closed due to snow nearly made me say a swear at the end. The words role-play should surely be left behind after GCSE drama?

Anyway, I didn’t take the 3 hour carousel interview job, I took another at a local secondary school but I’ve gone from being a full time mother, wife and dog walker to working 5 days a week in that job plus a Saturday morning teaching journalism at College. That’s not to say I am no longer a full time mother, wife and dog walker because now I do all these things as well, as I managed to get a job in school hours. Lucky old me still gets to do the swimming pick up, the ballet lesson run, the school drops, the dog walking, the supermarket trips etc, etc. You know what I’m talking about as so many of you already do it, only working full time hours.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time being at home and feel really really lucky that I’ve been able to do it. When I handed my notice in at my ‘proper job’ when my second child was just 10 months old, I always wondered if I’d regret it and there have been times I’ve felt a bit crap about giving up my career to bring up the children. Yes, I know it is a very important job bringing up children, yet society doesn’t make you feel like that. It’s more a, ‘what on earth do you do all day?’ look, if you say, “actually I’m on a career break to bring up the children”, especially once the children are both at school all day.  I have always struggled with whether  it’s setting a good example to my girls, putting my career on hold. What does it say to them? Yeah, go for it girls, be what you want to be, but once you have children it’s bloody hard to keep your career going unless you have flexible working hours and an understanding boss (“Erm, my little one is in an assembly at 9.30am playing the part of a donkey, do you mind if I’m a bit late in?”), you have grandparents nearby who will help out or you earn a massive salary that can afford you a nanny.

We came to the decision for me to give up the ‘proper job’ because the cost of two children in childcare almost made it impossible to work as there was no family nearby to rely on and what I earned + travel costs + cost of childcare for two = not much left. So for the past 8 years, we’ve muddled along and I’ve done a bit of freelance work (erratic and difficult to find), a bit of work at a local Estate Agent (locked someone out of their own home) and a bit of work as a Teaching Assistant (had a pee soaked sock flung at me), whilst obviously looking for the nirvana of a part time job that fits in with school hours, inset days and holidays that utilises my skills and pays well. If any of you find that job, I’ll fight you for it.

So we are where we are, I am very happy to announce I now have an admin job in a school. Does this mean I have to change my career on my passport? Can I no longer say I am a journalist?

The thought makes me weep a little….

5 Questions With….Ineko Home

Another Instagram favourite of mine is Ineko Home. I have to admit that this isn’t just any old business, oh no, this is the brain child of my gorgeous sister-in-law Debi and her business partner Ann. They have five children between them and work full time as childrenswear designers but somehow they have managed to launch stylish interiors website Ineko HomeDebi tells us how…
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Why did you start the business?  We desperately needed a new table and I suggested to my husband, Mark that we could make one. Before we knew it, we had bought the steel, found a welder to create the frame & my Dad gave us 3 planks of rough oak for my birthday. Somewhere during this process we costed it out in the hope of selling the tables. Making a prototype was not easy and took 6 months developing the plans & the costs  – this was very painful but while Mark was working on that side, I started developing a website. The table is the heart of Ineko Home and once this stage was sorted we moved onto finding a range of products to compliment the table, all restored, handmade or reused. We invited my business partner and best friend Ann to join us to strengthen our team.

What’s has been the biggest Challenge? We’ve had many mountains to climb. Making one table wasn’t easy but it was easier than making a production run. No company wants to make a small run of 10 pieces. Eventually we did find a company that believed in us and liked our style enough to work with us. Building a website has many challenges too, even with help from a great friend, but after many hours, I’ve finally mastered how to make it work for our needs. The other challenge is shouting from the rooftops and getting people to buy. I post new images everyday, asking people to share in the hope of widening the audience but this is slow. We’ve only been online since Nov 26th so I will keep going and try new ways to reach the masses.

Is it easy launching a business with children? I work full time as a Design Director of a company based in London, designing childrenswear. I still love doing what I do everyday and have always worked having 3 children.  I am used to juggling & never stopping still. I have to travel to the Far East & Dubai a few times a year too, which has never been easy with 3 children and with a new business now too it’s almost impossible. My children are getting older now, Harley-Jo is 18, Esme is 15 and my only boy, Cole is 13 years-old . A few years ago when the girls were in swimming clubs & training 4 days a week along with Cole’s weekend football I wouldn’t have even dreamt that I would have the time or energy to be doing this. They still have very busy lives, now it’s gymnastics, football & part-time jobs they need lifts to & from, but we seem to somehow juggle it around. One of our black & white statement prints in our range says

‘STOP WAITING FOR THINGS TO HAPPEN. GO OUT AND MAKE THEM HAPPEN ‘

We live by this ethos. Even if this doesn’t work out at least we’ve had a go at it. I want my children to have a go at things too.

Careers and children – what is the secret to your success? I have an exceptionally wonderful husband. I’m not being soppy but he is amazing in the kitchen. If it were left to me we wouldn’t eat and if we did it would be too late or burnt. The same with the mornings, they always had fresh chicken wraps for pack up and a lovely breakfast in their tummies. He owns the kitchen. He is in charge.  I don’t have a cleaner and I like a clean house so do all the tidying, washing & organising. If my house is not in order, then neither is my mind. Even now when we have boxes of stock, bubble wrap rolls and pieces of furniture for photographs they are tidy boxes!

Has this always been your dream? I’ve always loved great photography and  great interiors. I’ve always helped friends with ideas, storyboards & researching products but this doesn’t pay the heating bills. When the children were younger they were used to having my camera in their faces at every opportunity but when the teenage phase came my lens focused on either the back of their heads or the palm of their hands. So my subject matter changed with the times and my modest yet lovely period house became the subject. Was on-line retail always my dream ? Maybe not but I am enjoying this new dream and I look forward to seeing where it takes us.

My favourite Ineko Home products:

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They are a new business so need all the help they can get. If you like their stuff, then please feel free to spread the love ❤