Monday, 19 March 2018


When I posted a pic of Scottish faves 'Empire Biscuits' on the FB fan page recently, Helen commented to tell me they were a lot like a cookie called 'Lancashire Nuts'. She's kindly agreed to share here recipe here... yum!

Helen says:
8oz. Self-raising flour
4oz. Caster sugar
4oz. Butter
2 tbls. Currants
1 egg (beaten)
1 lemon (rind AND juice)

Also... buttercream icing for the middle, and water icing for the top, plus sugar swirls, sweets or glace cherries to finish!

- Pre-heat the oven at approx. 180℃.
- Mix the flour and sugar in a large bowl and rub in the butter until like breadcrumbs, then add the grated rind of the lemon and mix into a stiff paste with the beaten egg and the lemon juice.
- Finally, add the currants and mix in well.
- Roll out thinly and cut into rounds with a scone cutter - the recipe makes approximately forty, and you'll need two rounds for each cake.
- Place on a greased baking sheet and bake in a pre-heated oven for about 15 mins... or until golden brown!
- Instead of lemon juice I  like to put vanilla in, but they also taste good with coconut. You can be creative and ring the changes!
- So that's the basic biscuit recipe, then all you do is sandwich the cooled biscuit rounds together with a little butter cream, ice the top and decorate with whatever you like! 

Cathy says:
These are going straight onto my 'to make' list... better than a biscuit, not as wicked as a cake! (Well, maybe!) Do YOU love to bake? Share your fave recipe ideas in a COMMENT BELOW... I may invite my faves to tell us more on DREAMCATCHER!

Saturday, 17 March 2018


Readers tell us just what their furry little friends mean and how they affect us more than we may know! 

Hollie says:
My Boris is the light of my life. We got him because I was getting ill with what appeared to be anxiety and depression. He was only 8 weeks when we first saw him; the breeder lifted him up into my arms off the floor and at that moment he was mine. I’d actually wanted a brown pup but from the second that Boris lilted his head onto my chest and sighed the first time I saw him, I knew it was that puppy that had been sent to save me. I was really very unwell, I’d have meltdowns where I’d scream and cry, so loudly my family couldn’t bear to stay in the room. But 12 week old black bundle of scruff Boris would sit at my feet and wait for me to calm down, and he’d bring me back into the world by licking my face. He visited me in hospital (and was so excited to see me for the first time in two months he wet himself on their new floor!) and he was the only reason I wanted to come home at first. He has been my therapy, my angel; he gives me amazing confidence when I’m out with him and always a reason to look forward to going home. He was even invited to my sister’s graduation at reading and ended up as the 7th top news story of the day on the BBC! I have no clue what I’d do without that troublesome mess; he’s a very special sproodle!

Katie says:
Penny is our little Slytherin. She is a black and white cat with enough sass for the whole household. Penny is a keen huntress. She wiggles her bottom, twitches her nose and lifts her paw, getting ready to pounce. I think I’m Penny’s favourite, but I don’t take the role lightly. As soon as her beady yellow eyes catch mine I arrange myself into the perfect position for cuddles. Temperatures are soaring? I’ll still wear a blanket for Penny. She deserves it. We adopted her from the SPCA when she was a kitten! Neo is our miracle dog. He is a Swedish Vallhund. When we realised our road was truly treacherous for cats without Penny’s supreme intellect, my parents started looking for dogs - and stopped as soon as they found Neo. Neo changed our lives forever - he’s truly magnificent and very cuddly, especially when he wants attention. Neo only really barks at other dogs, to call over to them from the other side of the street and say “HEY! PARTY AT MY PLACE!”. He never usually gets any takers! One Swedish Vallhund is never enough, though, and we knew we had to get another puppy.  Dad wanted a red Swedish Vallhund (and we thought they couldn’t look more majestic!) and Mum wanted a girl (a sister for Neo!).I rattled off all the female Harry Potter names and Luna stuck! Her favourite thing to chew is books, and she even chewed through my copy of Love From Lexie!  I absolutely loved having a dog I could pick up and cuddle, she was only tiny when we got her, but Luna is already getting big. It’s nearly time for her to wear her full size Ravenclaw collar, to match the Hufflepuff one Neo will be getting as a birthday present on Monday! And with that, our family is complete!

Trish says:
My Pomeranian, Bella, is my best friend. And she has just had a litter of five adorable babies three weeks ago! Bella has made our little family feel complete and more settled. We have 2 boy Poms as well but it's Bella who means the world to me!

Cathy says:
Ahh just lovely! I love my furry friends, they mean the world to me! Want to give a shout-out to YOUR pets? COMMENT BELOW and click the button at top of page to follow DREAMCATCHER...

Friday, 16 March 2018


Regular blogger Laura has some tips on how to reclaim the art of the conversation!

Laura says:
We spend so much time online that we often neglect the skills of a face to face chat, especially with those we don’t know very well. Time to polish up those skills and make new friends at the same time!

Be approachable! Smile and look friendly and interested in others!
Ask questions - open-ended ones, not ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions! This can start things off smoothly, as most people are at ease chatting about themselves.
Don’t mention the weather! Yawn!
Don’t talk about politics or big issues right away - you may have very different views, and the conversation may turn into an argument!

Look out for chances to add your thoughts to the conversation... this way, you create a real give-and-take conversation!
Be aware of the other person’s body language - if they look awkward or uncomfortable, steer onto safer topics.
Be yourself! Be open, honest and show your feelings... people like to see a glimpse of the real you!
Listen! This is the biggest quality of a good conversationalist. Pay attention to what others are saying!

... try to hog the conversation!
... overshare! Too much personal info can scare people away.
... try to interrogate people. Keep it natural!
...make things up to try to ‘keep up’ with the others in the conversation. You’ll be found out!

Remember that you can practice on anyone and everyone - the cashier on the tills at Morrisons, little brothers and sisters and their friends, neighbours, family friends... you name it! It’s not always easy, especially if you are shy, but practice makes perfect!

Cathy says:
Yup... I certainly find it hard to talk to strangers or those I don't know too well at times. Great tips, Laura! Do YOU have any tips to share? COMMENT BELOW...

Tuesday, 13 March 2018


Portuguese reader Mariana tells us about the book that first got her reading Cathy Cassidy in another of our series on CC readers around the world...

Mariana says:
I received DIZZY (in Portuguese, AN UNFOR-GETTABLE BIRTHDAY) on my tenth birthday, a gift from my best friend at the time. I have always been a bookworm, so getting a book was not a surprise. However, the book had every shade of bright pink and I was not a girly girl; pink was my least favourite colour. I politely thanked my friend and left the book in my room, unread. Of course, being a bookworm, I eventually ran out of books to read and DIZZY was my only option. I picked it up and started reading, and suddenly I just couldn't put it down. I was amazed by the storyline, and felt as if I was the one living it... being friends with Mouse and Finn and Dizzy eating Tess's food and playing with Leggit.

I loved the book. The way the festivals were described, the atmosphere, the lights, music and colours... it made me long to go to festivals like that one day. Just go, make new friends, stay up all night, leave all my worries behind. I loved the books so much I gave it to a friend who wasn't keen on reading. I thought she might like it, but I was wrong - she completely LOVED it! She texted me saying it was now her favourite book and if she could she'd read it forty times or more.

I've lost contact with the friend who gave me the book, but I'd like to thank her for introducing me to the world of Cathy Cassidy; and I'd like to thank Cathy for creating the story in the first place. Like DIZZY, I will never forget the story of that summer. It reminds me of some song lyrics... 'people change, but the memories don't.'

Cathy says:
I love this post... it means so much that readers all around the world are connecting to my books. Which book has made a huge impression on YOU? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more!

Monday, 12 March 2018


Our regular look at children's classics returns, as keen reader Cheryl tells us about THE CHILDREN OF GREEN KNOWE...

Cheryl says:
This beautiful book first came to my attention thanks to a wonderful BBC adaptation when I was ten years old. It was aired just before Christmas in 1986, and forever inspired in me a festive feeling of big draughty mansions, huge snowy gardens, and mysterious ghost children.

There are a series of six Green Knowe books by Lucy M. Boston. THE CHILDREN OF GREEN KNOWE, published in 1954, is the first of these, and really sets the tone for the entire story to follow.

The book begins as lonely young boy Toseland leaves boarding school to go and stay with his great-grandmother for the Christmas holidays. Mrs Oldknow lives in a huge, magical old house called Green Knowe, and visiting her gives Tolly his first real sense of family and of being part of a long lineage of Oldknows.

Throughout his visit, the bad weather leaves them largely cut off, and gives Tolly time to explore the house and gardens, and to get to know the wonderful world of Green Knowe. Here he appears to encounter Toby, Alexander, and Linnet, who are ghosts of children who lived there in the 17th century, a belief that is encouraged by his great-grandmother, who claims she can see them too. Mrs Oldknow spends her evenings telling Tolly stories about the house and its rich history, and instills in him a real feeling of belonging and acceptance for the first time in his life.

The book is beautifully written, with colourful descriptions of nature and lovely imagery throughout, and an attention to detail that draws you right into the room with the characters.

The Green Knowe series may now be largely forgotten by younger readers, but deserves to be a Christmas staple for children everywhere. It is a world that is now passed down from generation to generation, just as these stories were once passed from Mrs Oldknow to Tolly.

CATHY SAYS: Agree, Cheryl - a fantastic read! Have YOU read THE CHILDREN OF GREEN KNOWE? What did YOU make of it? COMMENT BELOW...

Sunday, 11 March 2018


Readers give a shout out to their mums... today and every day!

Katie says:
I literally do not know where I would be without my Mum. True to her Gryffindor nature, she is a fierce protector, and always makes sure things get done. Mum is the best present giver, and is always very grateful for the interesting items I have put together for her! Mum encourages me and supports me for who I am. My Mum is the best person for the job, and throws herself into her many jobs. Mum is now a committed dog owner, and is very proud of her beautiful dog babies! But she makes sure Penny, our cat, is looked after too. Mum always ensures the family is together during special occasions. So Mum is a Mum, but she is also the best Mum. She is a strong protector who cares for others and makes sure we are always safe and having fun.

Jasmine says:
My mum's the best - she supports me in everything and never gives up on me through my struggles!

Hollie says:
My mumma is incredible. Through the most horrendous five years she has been my rock. I am not afraid to admit that I was horrible; I was violent and manipulative and so so difficult to deal with requiring so much basic care. Yet she managed to approach every problem I had with such kindness and care. She never faltered, even up to this day she continues to stand by me and fight for what I need, whether it be hospital discharge or my PIP or my doctors appointments. She is dealing with the most difficult of situations herself with her own dad, my grandad and yet she carries on caring for me and now cares for him. She’s amazing, beautiful and everything I hope to be one day. I love her!

Millie says:
My mum is my hero... she's had some very hard battles to fight the last couple of years but she never gives up and never let's the bad times get to her. She is kind, generous and always the person I go to if something goes wrong, and she gives the best cuddles. My mum is one in a million!

Lucie says:
My relationship with my mum has changed over the years! When I was little I worshipped her, wanted to be like her... I was her 'mini-me'! When I hit eleven or twelve, all that changed and for a while, it felt like everything she did annoyed me. I was pushing the boundaries a lot at that time, and we used to have some terrible rows. I said some things I am not proud of and I slammed so many doors my mum jokes that she's surprised they didn't come off their hinges! By the time I was fifteen or sixteen things started to calm down, and now that I'm at sixth form college we're back to being really close again. I wanted to give a shout out to my mum for putting up with me through that time and always caring enough to give me boundaries and rules - without them, who knows where I'd have ended up! I realise now we are quite alike, both strong and independent women who can be stubborn and dramatic, but I am so glad to have her as a mum and she's getting the biggest bunch of flowers on mothers day, as well as afternoon tea out with all the family! Love you, Mum!

Holly says:
I don't know what I'd do without my mum, she's my best friend and advice giver and she's always there for me!

Suhala says:
My mum always listens and gives the best advice, and she is a brilliant cook as well as running her own business. She is a great role model and I can honestly say I love her to bits!

Cathy says:
Aww, so lovely! I miss my own mum lots on Mother's Day (and every day) but I will get to hang out with my own lovely kids... yay! Want to give a Mother's Day shout-out to YOUR mum? Go for it - just COMMENT BELOW!

Saturday, 10 March 2018


Reader Jel shares her gorgeous coming-of-age short story 'FREEDOM'... take a look!

They told me I could be whatever I wanted to be. My eight year old eyes and a toothy smile, looked up into a cosmic sky that stretched from the heavens to the earth. A sky the colour of breath mints written of promise and hope. I choose to be a bird. The most majestic animal that rules over the sky, soaring above craters and valleys, looking down onto children with big dreams and big eyes like me. 

Theres this old oak tree in the park. It sits by itself amongst primary coloured swings and slides- Sickly fluorescent red, blue and lemon. Hyperactive children running, skipping, jumping whilst their mothers try to keep up, like they are wild dogs without leashes. The tree waits patiently for someone to look past its tawny stump and uncover its brilliance. This tree has special powers. I am sure of this. It's not just a  stump with branches and foliage- it's every twig and crevasse and scrape. It's the way its skinny branches have never let me down. It's the way I feel comfortable. Safe.

I grip onto each branch and pull my weight up so effortlessly like the tree is lending me a helping hand. My legs rock back and forth up, up and away until my body is hoisted from the ground. I swing comfortably in the midst of nothing but cool air and buttery warmth. Nothing but a tender wind tickling the soles of my feet. Sunlight kissing my eyelids.  From up here, I am untouchable. The wind converses with me and I whistle back like it is an old friend. Once I swing high enough, I am no longer two walking limbs. I have wings that allow me to feel the depth of the sky and this place around me. I belong in these wide open spaces of azure and cobalt blue and when the sun had set, I soar over strips of tangerine and blushing pink. Up here, I am a bird with the most intimate connection with the sky; ‘a geographic monogamy’. Freedom.

Summers roll by and years escape through my fingertips. A black starless sky that seems to stretch on forever. My wings that were once so beautiful and bountiful are now pinned down. They told me I could be whatever I wanted to be but my sixteen year old eyes don't see the sky the way they used to. They told me I could  be whatever I wanted to be, but how is this possible when I used to be able to fly and now that seems so out of reach. When I was younger I used to believe in that type of stuff. Stuff like magic and having the freedom to do whatever I wanted without any  worries at all. It was a poignant memory; a loss of innocence. Like they had suddenly switched on the lights- a bright awakening.

They say time changes the ways we used to feel and the connections we used to have to places and I guess thats true. For four years I haven't had the same sense of belonging and freedom that I felt swinging across the branches into a  sky the colour of breath mints. For four years I hadn't gone back to the tree that gave me wings.

Instead, I spend my time doing things teenagers are supposed to do. This means no swinging off trees that have super powers. I hang out in my bedroom most of the time. I see Jennifer and Louise at the mall on the weekends. I do my  homework. It's a repeated sequence of eat, sleep, work, socialise. To be quite honest, I feel trapped in a recycled schedule. There's no way out. There's walls built around my eyes stopping me from being able to see what else is out there. Most of the time I feel like an alienated soul isolated from any hopes of freedom to do what I really want to do. To go back to the tree where I belong, into the sky with wings that gave me the allowance to really be free.

Occasionally though, I peer out of of my bedroom window into a great big mysterious sky. It's a canvas filled with fiery wisps of colours  painted on like some sort of child’s artwork. This time, I look out into a sky the same way my eight year old eyes remembered it to be. I reminisce. I am nostalgic. This time I feel something.


Cathy says:

Wow. Beautiful words from Jel. Freedom comes when we accept change in our lives... and that's OK! How did YOU respond to this lovely piece? COMMENT BELOW with your thoughts!