Super-easy one minute chocolate pudding

This is the perfect comfort food when it’s the end of the week, it’s raining cats & dogs and your family deserve a little treat. What’s more you don’t need a ridiculous amount of pots and pans to make it and all the ingredients are pretty much store cupboard essentials.

Microwave cake

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons self-raising flour
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder or hot chocolate powder7
  • 3 tbsp chocolate chips
  • 1 egg
  • Optional – 2tbsp rum, Cointreau or Baileys

Method

  1. Add all the dry ingredients into a large mug or jug.
  2. Add the egg and mix thoroughly.
  3. Add the milk and oil and mix well.
  4. Add the chocolate chips and optional booze. Mix again,
  5. You can either put your mug or jug straight into the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at high, but I tend to use 4 ramekins and cook each for approx 1 minute. Don’t panic if the cake rises over the top of the mug or ramekin – it’s meant to! Perfect served with custard or ice cream.

Could purple grape juice prevent tummy bugs?

One of the by-products of having children in some form of daycare, is the dreaded stomach bug. As any parent knows, looking after sick children while you’re ill yourself is particularly gruesome so apart from bleaching everything to within an inch of its life and obsessively washing your hands, is there anything else you can do to prevent a sick bug?

As a mild emetophobe (i.e. phobia of being sick), I tend to have Motilium at the ready both at home and in my handbag, which I’ve found to be very effective for nausea but I’ve since discovered there may be a more natural remedy – purple grape juice.

grape juice

A quick search on Google reveals that the grape juice supposedly works by changing the pH in your intestinal track to one that doesn’t let the evil vomit buggers from multiplying. By changing the acidity in your stomach to one that is more alkaline, the virus finds it harder to take hold.

So if you’re unlucky enough to be around someone who has been sick, start drinking 100% purple grape juice right away before any symptoms appear.  Three glasses a day seems to be the general consensus but, and this is vital if you want your home to be free of erm, purple vomit, don’t drink the stuff if you start having symptoms. I won’t go on, but you get the picture.

Thankfully, I’ve not had occasion to try this remedy yet but I’ll be the first to report back when I do. Here’s hoping this is later rather than sooner.

Why you need a Dyson handheld in your life

Years ago, a certain broadsheet newspaper coined the phrase ‘domestic hedonism’ to describe an apparent wave of bright, young things who had eschewed the usual Saturday night out-on-the-town shenanigans for a rock ‘n roll night in, vacuuming and cleaning their over-priced Shoreditch flats and admiring their pristine stainless steel ovens while presumably tanked up on the booze of their choice.

Clearly, it was a slow news day when this particular feature hit the newstands but I fear that this is now my reality, minus the hedonism, as my once reasonably active social life has ground to a near-halt since having children.

However, I still get stupidly excited when the Lakeland catalogue lands on my doorstep and I find myself lusting after a telescopic duster or a venetian blind cleaner so imagine the joy I felt when my lovely new Dyson handheld arrived in the Dottymum household a few days ago.

I’ve owned a few handheld vacuums in my time, all of which have had the suction power of a mouse with asthma, so I did my research and with glowing reviews ended up buying my Dyson from John Lewis because it came with a great two-year guarantee.

dyson

I’m glad to say the Dyson handheld didn’t disappoint at all – in fact, I don’t know how I ever lived without it. It’s brilliant for cleaning the stairs, which I’ve always hated doing because it’s such a flipping faff lugging my heavy old vacuum up our steep staircase and it’s also fantastic for cleaning our car interior too.

Considering how small it is, it’s really powerful and has a max setting for when when you need to turbo charge your cleaning and the charge lasts for days.

Admittedly, it’s not cheap at around £130 but I think is well worth it just to save the aggro of getting your regular vacuum out each day to suck up those irritating crumbs and dust bunnies. Check out the Dyson handheld here.

Verdict: a total time saver and powerful to boot

How to get your whites to dazzle!

It’s a measure of how much things change that on a recent meet-up with friends we found ourselves discussing ways of removing bolognaise stains from our children’s clothes. Rock ‘n roll it might not be but all that has changed is the foodstuff. Five years ago it would’ve been red wine and the various other stains that mysteriously appear the morning after a night staggering out of various drinking holes in London (less said about that the better).

A Google search revealed a number of tips, the most popular being adding bleach to the wash but the last time bleach came into contact with my clothes, namely my precious Levi 501’s, was 1989 . Bros has much to answer for.

Then I happened on Ecover’s Laundry Bleach in my local Sainsbury’s. You add a tablespoon of the powder to a wash and hey presto, your whites are, well whiter.

ECV-13500-0-500x500

My knackered white, well grey, Converse seemed a perfect test subject so they went in with the rest of the wash on a 60 degree cotton cycle and came out prison white. In fact, I was so impressed I kept sneaking peaks out of the window just to see them drying on the line.

Even my husband’s ancient Billy Bragg t-shirt, circa ‘sometime in the 80s’, which was a fetching nicotine shade of yellow,  came out whiter than white.

I can say, hand on heart, this is one of the best products I’ve bought in a very long time and what’s more, because it’s Ecover, you know you’re slight obsession with laundry isn’t damaging the environment either.

Verdict: Yes, yes and yes

A new way to calculate your ideal weight?

While on a rare trip to the hairdresser’s today, I came across an article in Woman & Home (all the real trashy magazines were selfishly being read by other customers) regarding some new diet fad.

I ignored the diet because let’s face it, whatever way you dress it up, the only way to lose weight is to cut down on carbs, booze and sugar and move a bit more but there was an interesting boxout on how to calculate your ideal weight. How scientific this is, I don’t know but when I worked mine out it seemed about right and sort of does make sense, so here goes:

How to calculate your ideal weight:

A. How much did you weigh at 18 years old without dieting?

B. How much did you weigh at your heaviest, excluding pregnancy weight?

C. How much did you weigh at your lightest after age 18, with or without dieting?

D. What is your current weight?

Add together your answers to questions:

A & B and divide by 2. The result is Y.

Add C& D and divide by 2. The result is Z.

Add Y & Z together and divide by 2. The answer is your ideal weight.

So, for example, take Kay:

A. 8 stone (I wish)

B. 10 stone 4lbs

C. 9 stone 10

D. 10 stone

The answer would be 8 + 10.4 = 18.4/2 =9 stone 2lbs (Y)

C+D =19.10/2 = 9 stone 5lbs (Z)

The ideal weight for Kay would be Y+X/2 = 9 stone 3lbs.

Verdict: give it a go and see what figure you arrive at – no pun intended.

A speedy way to chill your booze

Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best.

You know the feeling: It’s a beautiful warm, summer’s day, you’ve been stuck in a stuffy office all afternoon and that cold beer or glass of perfectly chilled white wine is just waiting for you to get home, but horror of horrors, you’ve forgotten to put the bottle in the fridge so it’s going to be lukewarm at best.

Well, I’ve got a brilliant tip to make that first sip absolutely sublime. All you have to do is wrap the bottle in some wet kitchen roll, stick it in the freezer for 15 minutes, and Bob’s your uncle, your beverage will be ice cold.

Chill your beer

Disclaimer: I’ve got no idea if you can do this with wine that has a cork but it’s fine with screwtops and regular bottle tops.

Verdict: a no-fail way to speedily chill your tipple of choice

Does the Phillips Lumea Precision work?

So, time to report back on the Phillips Lumea Precision and whether it’s actually removing any of my leg fuzz.

When it first arrived, courtesy of Amazon, I was absolutely terrified. I’ve had electrolysis years ago, the pain of which was akin to having a red hot poker applied to my skin so I was more than a bit apprehensive about using the Lumea. However, I’m glad to say that it didn’t hurt at all, not even on the highest setting…more of that later.

The instructions say you have to shave the area you’re zapping first, which is fine if it’s the legs but it goes against everything I’ve ever been told when it comes to the good old tache but I’ve decided to do the legs first to see if I respond to the treatment before moving onto the facial area.

Phillips Lumea Precision

Phillips Lumea Precision

Basically all you do is hold it against your skin until the light goes green and then ping, the laser zaps the hair via the light, which travels down the hair root. It took about 1o minutes for one lower leg (done in front of the TV) and it says 5 minutes for the bikini line, which I’m yet to try. There are five intensity levels but I use level 5 as I’m yet to experience any pain. Perhaps I have a high pain threshold after all.

You have to leave two weeks before each treatment and it can take three months to be hair-free but after two treatments, I can already feel a difference. The hair on my legs is still sprouting but usually it would feel stubbly 24hrs after shaving but I’m getting at least 2 days of smooth legs before needing to shave again.

It’s so easy to use there’s a part of me that wonders whether it’s actually working or not but I guess only time will tell. I expect to see a dramatic improvement by July so I’ll report back then.

Verdict: so far, so good