Victoria Sponge

We love baking in our house and when I saw ‘Children’s Book of Baking (Usborne Cookbooks)‘ sitting on the shelves of our local charity shop I simply had to buy it and got a little excited to try out some recipes. Since it’s Valentine’s we thought we make a Victoria sponge, well who doesn’t love cake?

Apron donned and hands washed let the cooking commence….

Here’s what you will need if you’d like to join in;


2 x 20cm cake tins

4 medium eggs

225 g softened butter

225g caster sugar

225g self raising flour


100g softened unsalted butter

225g icing sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence

4 tablespoons of strawberry jam

Victoria Sponge making


Heat the oven to 180 degrees C / gas mark 4.

Wipe the insides of the tins with cooking oil. Place parchment paper in the bottom of each tin.

Break the eggs into a bowl and beat together with a fork.

Put the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat them until they are pale and fluffy. Add the eggs a little at a time and if the mixture curdles pop in a little bit of flour.

Sift the flour over the mixture and gently fold in with a metal spoon.

Divide the mixture equally between the tins.

Smooth the top (Emily and I find this really tricky).

Bake the cake in the oven for 25 minutes. Pop on some oven gloves and carefully remove the tins from the oven.

Press the cakes to check they are cooked.

Leave the cakes in the tins for five minutes to cool. Then run a knife around the edges and turn them out onto a wire rack.

For the filling

Put the jam in a bowl and beat it. Spread it over the top of the bottom cake.

Make the butter cream by mixing the icing sugar and butter together until they reach a delightful texture then spread that over the bottom of then top cake (we ignored this and tried to pop it on top of the jam but this didn’t leave a nice clean typical Victoria sponge white and red line but more of a gorgeous pink marriage).

Sandwich both cakes together and gently press together.

Scatter some caster sugar on top. We decorated our cake with strawberries but this is optional.

TYummy cakeotal Time
: 70 mins Taste: Fabulous (if we do say so ourselves).

Check out Emily on Instagram.

Be our Valentine

Love from Sofa Stories x x

A plethora of eyebrow makeupIf someone took the time out to explain HD brows to me I still wouldn’t get them. There are going to be many girls who’ll look back at photos of their HD eyebrows in a few years time and ask why nobody stopped them.

Still, there’s nothing quite as ageing as narrow, patchy eyebrows that have suffered years of plucking. I can vividly remember advice from an old work colleague when I was in my 20’s and she was in her 40’s, imploring me not to over-pluck as “they just don’t grow back”.

My collection of eyebrow-enhancers seems to be growing at a fierce pace so I thought I’d share my positive and negatives for each product.

    1. Clear mascara. If you have enough eyebrow to shape, clear mascara is enough to keep them groomed all day. This Rimmel tube is available everywhere and is inexpensive, easy to use and effective. My most used eyebrow product.
    2. Eyebrow pencil. Cheap and easy to use. Fills in the spaces. The original eyebrow makeup. I find it a bit of a struggle getting the colour and tone to match and it does wear off (on me?) more quickly but I’ll admit to having eyebrow pencils in most of my bags for the ultimate quick touch up. Remember your sharpener.
    3. Kiko Eyebrow coloured mascara. Easy to use (short outward strokes) fills the gaps and shapes your brow at the same time. I’ve bought two separate shades but one is too red and the other not-quite-right. And I’ve been a little over zealous on a couple of occasions and needed some swift action with a cotton bud to sort out the mess!
    4. Benefit brows. Certainly the most expensive of the products in the image. But is has lasted an absolute age (the packing is completely different now). With a separate powder and wax, 2 little brushes and tweezers in a mirrored case this product is the closest in match to my eyebrow colour, and really does fill and shape. The wax is used after the powder to help it stay put. If you’re investing in something like this, visit the counter first and get someone to show you how.
    5. Stila All Day Waterproof Brow Colour. This is my new favourite. I was tempted to try it because it’s ‘waterproof’ and lasts ‘all day.’ As it’s a brush tip, the end result is natural and not overdone. I find it really easy to use and it does last without the need for top ups.

Stila waterproof brow colour

Dad and daughterFor his 70th birthday, my dad announced that he wanted to cycle from London to Paris. And so he did with my brother and fella to keep him company. When I mentioned that I wanted to support Willow Burn Hospice near Lanchester, County Durham, by doing the Great North Run, he decided he’d do it with me. He’s 72 now. “It’s on the bucket list” says he. “Ok” says I.

And that was that. His Christmas present was sorted; entry to the Great North Run.

For many years, when I was small, my family positioned ourselves at the bottom of my gran and granddad’s street in South Shields to watch the Great North runners, specifically my Uncle Alan, run past.

If you’ve never watched 10s of 1000s of people run past the end of your street it’s a real spectacle. People of all shapes and sizes and fitness levels doing a mammoth half marathon for whatever reason they have.

And this year, the Little Dad and Daughter team will be running (well not exactly running) on behalf of the magnificent Willow Burn Hospice which provides care for people with palliative and end of life needs.

Just to be clear, Dad and I are NOT runners. This will hurt. And neither of us have ever, ever run half a marathon. To start at the age of 42 and 72 respectively is daunting to say the least. But Willow Burn is an amazing place which really cares for their patients and families and well worth some considerable effort from us to help them.

We’ll be tracking our preparations, my attempt to stay fit for longer than a few months and how much money we raise too.

Nic x

And if you’d like to sponsor us, please do!



It took me 2 years to find a local in Consett. Made all the worse because my new local, The Travellers Rest, is exactly 7 minutes walk from my house. Still, at least I know it’s there now and am certainly making up for missed time by going in every week.

Once you find a place that is comfortable, friendly, reliable and really (really) reasonably priced, why not make it a weekly treat?

The Travellers Rest is all those things and more. Dead comfy, roaring fire, barrels to stand at, church pew seats downstairs, dining tables upstairs – it’s somewhere that we feel really at home in.

The food is pub food. But really good pub food.

Chicken fajitas at the travellers rest in Consett

Above is the chicken fajitas that come out of the kitchen steaming. And I mean steaming! The food is freshly prepared and home cooked and really great value. Below is a picture of all the trappings that come with the steaming fajitas. It’s just lovely.

A bottle of wine and two main courses is never more that £30 which is an absolute steal. You’ll not need a pud if you’ve had your main course, promise.

So if you’re passing through Consett and Derwentside, make sure you stop here.
fajitas and cheese and salsa

Moodstruck 3D Fiber Lashes

Wow. These 3D Moodstruck Fibre Lashes from House of Exquisiteness at Younique are frankly amazing. Check out the before and after results below. There’s no doubt that they make a statement!

Fibre on the brush I’ve never used any fibre lash product so had no idea what to expect. The first stage is to use the transplanting gel as you would do a normal mascara and then quickly, whilst its wet, use the 3D fibres over the top so they stick and then seal the look with a final application of the gel.

I was pretty fascinated with the fibres when I pull the wand out of the tube, it’s nothing like a traditional mascara. It took me a little bit of practice to make sure that the fibres were in the right place (I ended up using a cotton bud) and then I sealed them on.

I found the finishing effect really outstanding. Long and thick lashes. Lashes where there were none before! I could even tell the difference when I popped my glasses on.

The products are packed with vitamins and other extracts ‘known to provide antioxidant benefits’ which you can find out more about on the website.

As with all mascaras (maybe just on me?) I found that by the end of the evening (a full day later) I did notice that there were a few stray fibres underneath my eyes. This could just be because it was the first time I’d used the product.

3D Moodstruck lashes are now at the very top of my favourite beauty products, probably not for every day use but definitely nights out, special occasions and on days when I need to feel extra fierce!

Before and after 3D moodstruck fibre lashes

Want some? The 3D Moodstruck Fibres lashes set is $29 and you can order yours from the lovely Michelle at the House of Exquisiteness.

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