tilly makes & bakes

Always striving to achieve a state of domestic bliss!

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Back to school homework box

My 4 year old started year R a few weeks back and after spending copious amount of time labelling uniform items I feel like I have officially entered proper adulthood. It is all a bit like a rite of passage, isn’t it? Measuring feet and buying shoes, hunting down the best pinafores in just the right shade of grey, trawling through supermarket clothing departments on the look out for the best knee high socks. Well, we are well and truly settled into the whole school run routine and my little H loves every minute she spends there (or so she tells me- what actually goes on … Who knows!?).
I had this idea of consolidating all our school stationery items and work books in one place for easy access once the first highly anticipated homework comes in. Behold the homework box:





Being a Primary teacher myself, albeit on a career break, I am still a bit of a fiend for searching out little work booklets, flash cards, cute pencils and so on to make the whole homework and learning process even more fun. I’d like to also point out that we do lots of other active, outdoorsy things and that so far any use of the homework box has been by her own choice. Obviously once she is set homework by her teacher it won’t be optional, but why not spark an interest early on. Also, who wants to be searching the whole house for those hidden scissors, rulers and pencil sharpeners every single time they are needed ? No, me neither.

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Best flapjacks


I have made a fair few flapjack recipes over the years. Although I love shop-bought ones, I could just never get them right at home. They were either too crumbly or too crunchy. I have tried making them less sugary and less fatty- to no avail. I finally came across a very simple recipe  on a lovely blog called Tales from a happy house. I made the recipe and added chocolate chips and they really are delicious! Buttery, sugary and almost cakey, nom nom nom.

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Virgin Victoria Sponge cake

“Virgin” because it was the first Victoria Sponge I ever baked. I didn’t grow up in this country so I don’t tend to bake typically British cakes and find myself sticking to the ones I remember from my childhood. However, as hubby prefers traditional fare, I decided to start practising some basic recipes that are loved throughout the British Isles. Oh, and I had eggs and strawberries to use up. That as well.


I had little helping hands.




Can you see how much cream I managed to fit into the center of the cake? Yep, that happened because my sponges sunk quite a bit. But we don’t mind a bit of a fudgey center and I was still very pleased with my first attempt. We polished the whole lot off within days. I was able to keep the cake fresh in the fridge for about 3 days because I added some vanilla dessert powder to the cream while whipping it. It ensures the cream stays nicely thick and aerated. Everyone enjoyed it. But let’s face it, what’s not to love about fluffy cake piled high with cream and strawberries!? Exactly.

Victoria Sponge


225g soft butter

225g self-raising flour

225g caster sugar

4 large eggs

a punnet of fresh strawberries

a tub of double cream

2 tbsp of a sachet of instant vanilla dessert powder (angel delight or similar)

icing sugar to dust


1. Preheat your oven to 180C. Grease and line two 21cm sandwich tins.

2. Beat butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.

3. Add eggs one at a time.

4. Sift and fold in the flour.

5. Divide the mixture between the tins and bake for 20-25 minutes.

6. Once cooled, whip the cream with 2 tbsp of the dessert powder until it is the right consistency. Slightly under-whipping is best, as the dessert powder will thicken it even more after you have stopped whipping.

7.  Assemble and dust in icing sugar. Devour.

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Rachel Allen’s soda bread

If you have some buttermilk in your fridge and you don’t know what to do with it, make this soda bread! It is so simple: you sift the dry ingredients together and then mix the buttermilk in. Done. No waiting around for dough to rise, no kneading, no worrying. It bakes in 45 minutes.  I have made it several times already and it comes out nice and crispy on the outside and perfectly done on the inside each time. I like the dense, cakey texture of soda bread. We have eaten it as sandwiches all week. Oh, and it’s amazing with Nutella (shhhhh).


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Our summer so far – as seen through my phone camera

I am quite renowned among my closest friends and family for not being the most positive or optimistic kind of person. You could go as far as saying that I am downright pessimistic. At times, I can just get bogged down with the mundane aspects of everyday life or I can just feel like I’m not achieving enough each day and missing out on all the amazing things you see people do (mainly on pinterest and that there faceache). Of course, my logical self knows that that is utter nonsense as I am always busy with my girls and we are having the time of our lives. The trouble is, that I sometimes need to remind myself of all the good things that we have going on, especially when I am elbow deep in dirty laundry or sweeping under the table for the twentieth time that day.

Enter my camera! I find that recording all the little and big things we do each day really helps me focus on the positives and makes me appreciate how magical this time right now is. We will never have these pre-school toddler days back. In fact, they are already numbered (negativity again, see!!). At the end of each day, I glance through my photos and it helps me process everything that happened and makes me end my day with a smile. My mind goes “Oh, what a gorgeous, mucky toddler face after dinner” rather than “Grrrr, been wiping mucky faces all day!”. You get the gist.

So far, so good. Now, more recently I have been getting complaints from a certain man in my life that I spend all our family time lugging the big camera around and taking hundreds of photos wherever we go. Taking his point on board but without compromising on the therapeutic aspect my photos provide me with, I have been using my phone camera some more again. It really has been quite liberating just whipping it out and capturing all the happy moments from the last few weeks.

And here are some of the good things we have been up to this summer so far…

lake 2

… we holidayed by a lake for a blissful long weekend in the  early summer sun



… lots of dipping our feet in and getting sandy feet


… my baby girl turned 2!

birthday cake

…there was cake!


…I made these muffins again.


… a garden party


…and we had an actual bouncy castle in our garden (on loan from a lovely friend). Oh the excitement!! Giddy giddy giggles.


… blooms in our garden.


…sand play

southbourne 4

…a trip to the glorious British seasidestrawberry farm

… strawberry picking


… running around in fields. As you do.

Summer 2014, you have barely begun. You have been amazing so far, please stay that way!


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My day

Birthday season has begun here at the Tilly household. Myself, Mr Tilly and little H all celebrate our birthdays around this lovely time of year, all within a 4 week window.

Here are a few of my favourite snaps of my special day, some of the cards and flowers and my best pressies.The best thing was spending the day with my fave 3 people. Corny, i know.