Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Good News, Decluttering and Chocolate Cake

Today has been a really positive day. We had a scheduled visit from a lovely lady, an information officer (IO) from the Autistic Spectrum Conditions Team. 

We've been floundering since DS1's diagnosis, not quite sure who to turn to for help, but she lived up to her job title and then some. Not only did she tell us where we should go for help but she will also attend meetings and assessments etc. with DS1, make appointments for him and ferry him about. He may be entitled to a disabled persons' bus pass and rail card, PIP (Personal Independence Payment) or other benefits to help top up his salary from his part time job, and she's putting him in touch with a local social group especially for autistic adults.She will apply for him to have a full needs assessment but has suggested he makes an application now to go on the local housing register so that they are already aware of his need for appropriate independent accommodation when the assessment recommendations are complete. 

We phoned up the Government department to ask for the forms to apply for PIP and just that was stressful, they asked so many questions...and that was just so DS can be sent the forms to fill in. No wonder so many people don't bother applying for these benefits, those who are most likely to need them would find it hard to get through even this introductory process. DS is generally quite good at giving appropriate info but it was all rattled through so quickly that I had to talk for him part of the time, and even I had difficulty keeping up and taking in everything the operator said. Thank goodness our new IO is making an appointment with a service that will assist him in filling out the forms.

DS1 really liked our visitor and we both felt cheered that finally, after nearly 2 years since we first requested a diagnosis, some progress is being made in helping him live a more fulfilling life and to get help in making life less stressful for him.

Our other news is that we definitely have a buyer for our house. We've accepted an offer from someone who wants to do it up to rent out. He has his finance in place and there's no chain as he doesn't need to sell a property. We did have to take less than the asking price, but it's actually the price we thought it was worth so we're quite happy. We thought the estate agents' valuation was too high anyway considering the amount of work that needs doing to it. 

Now, if only the owners of the house we would like to purchase would just give the estate agent an answer to the offer we made on Saturday...

We offered a bit less than the asking price but are prepared to increase it, but so far they haven't given their agent a response to the offer. There's no chain at that end either so it would be perfect and the sale could hopefully go through within a couple of months so that we could move in the new year.

In the meantime I'm gradually decluttering in preparation for the move. I'm sorting through all my crafting magazines and putting a few at a time on the stall in the Co Op to raise money for a local girl who has a rare cancer and needs to go to the States for treatment. 

DS2 and I are proposing to sort out the cupboard under the stairs tomorrow so I'm sure I'll have more bags of stuff for the charity shops and the dump soon too. I know the Xmas tree is under there, and lots and lots of empty boxes we've hung on to from household items we've bought over the years just in case we needed to return any of them, but I'm pretty sure most of them are for things we don't even have any more or that are well past their guarantee date. Of course, some of them will be perfect for packing, otherwise it's recycling week this week so they can go in the paper and card box. 

There's also some old paint under there and as DS2 is tarting up the small bedroom for one of our American visitors at Xmas I'm hoping some of it might still be usable so I don't have to pay out for new paint.

I also found time to do laundry and make a chocolate cake today. It's a new recipe for me using Veg oil instead of butter/marg and it's super easy. Of course it's a good old Mary Berry one. I made a buttercream filling instead of the ganache in the original recipe.

The picture is what is left after 4 gannets (me, DH and 2 adult sons) dug into it.

Mary Berry Chocolate Cake 

2 x 8 inch cake tins (greased and base-lined)
Gas Mark 4 for 35 - 40 minutes

Cake Ingredients

275g Plain Flour
3 tablespoons Cocoa 
1.5 teaspoons bicarb of soda
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
215g Caster Sugar
3 Tablespoons Golden Syrup
3 Medium Eggs
225ml Vegetable or Sunflower Oil
225ml Milk

Filling Ingredients

85g Softened Butter
175g Icing Sugar plus 2 Tablespoons Cocoa (sifted together)
Approx 2-3 Tablespoons Milk

Measure all the dry cake ingredients into a bowl, sifting the flour and cocoa. Measure and mix the eggs, milk, syrup and veg oil together in a jug. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and give them a good mix with a wooden spoon or whisk. Divide between the greased and lined cake tins and bake in the middle of the oven until firm and springy to the touch.

Remove from the oven and leave in the tins for 10 minutes then turn out onto wire cooling racks. Leave to cool completely before filling with buttercream.


Beat butter until soft and creamy, beat in the sieved sugar and cocoa adding milk a little at a time until the mixture is a spreadable consistency. It wants to be easily spreadable in the cake but not too soft that it won't hold together.

Fill cake with the buttercream and enjoy.

I also made another Mary Berry cake last week, a Lemon Victoria Sponge filled with lemon curd. 

It's an ordinary all-in-one Victoria Sponge but with the grated rind of 2 small or 1 large lemon(s) added to the mix and filled with lemon curd. It was delicious with custard. 

Mary's recipes are almost foolproof and our fave Birthday Cake is her Vanilla and Choc Traybake. I've lost count of the number of times I've made it over the years.Mary Berry rules as far as I'm concerned and I'm looking forward to her new programme on BBC now that Bake Off has gone over to Channel 4.

Right, that's all for now. It's nearly midnight and time I was in bed. Sleep well everyone.

Love, Helen xx


  1. Good news all round then! I'm crossing my fingers the couple accept your offer and all is well! I made my mind up that when we emptied the loft to have it lagged, that I would never ever ever move bc I can't go through with all that again!!! I adore Mary Berry too. Hers and my bedroom book are my most used recipes in the cake world x

  2. Bedroom book lol sounds very rude! I had infact typed BERO but my iPad changed it lol lol

  3. its greatwhen things actually start to move along isnt it

  4. Congratulations on selling your property - you must be so pleased - I hope the other sellers come back to you quickly so things can start moving - it'll be an exciting New Year for you xx