Wednesday, 4 May 2016

5 Fabulous Flats for Busy Mums

As a mum to one little boy (and baby girl on the way!) and being a non-driver, stylish flats are a must in my wardrobe as I pretty much walk everywhere. I find that they tend to look great with everything—from skinny jeans to skirts to dresses and more—making this shoe as versatile as it is comfy. 

Fortunately, flats aren’t the boring shoes reserved for Great Nan’s Saturday afternoon bingo slot anymore. Today, the modern flat can be trendy, elegant, and even sexy, which is why I thought I'd take a look at five of my favourites with a few tips on how to wear this fashionable footwear. 


buttercup yellow sandal

Buttercup yellow is trending this year, but it’s always a winner in my book - yellow has been my absolutely favourite colour for as long as I can remember. It's such a happy colour, which is why I especially adore these vibrant yellow sandals. They’ll be perfect for warm-weather wearing while spending time with my family, plus they’ll look great with a variety of outfits. These would go very well with maxi dresses, shorts, and jeans in neutral colours like black, white, and brown, but you can also mix it up by pairing them with something bolder such as fuchsia, violet, or green. I do love me a bit of colour! 

stripe pointy toe flat shoe


A bold Breton stripe is one of my favorite fashion patterns and a great pair of ballet flats with the same contrasting lines is a great choice for the busy mum. And the pair pictured above isn’t your typical rounded shoe. Nope, these are in line with the pointed toe trend seen on fashion-reporting sites like POPSUGAR, which means they’re practical and of-the-moment. Wear these navy and white beauties with your favourite jeans and a t-shirt—feel free to add a splash of colour, like red—or to the office with trousers and a blazer. I'm not ashamed to say that my Breton-stripe obsession is a little out of hand - I probably own over 30 Breton-striped items of clothing/bags/accessories now...and there is always room for more in my book! Ha! 


floral embellished flip flop sandal


Another fashion trend that I have enjoyed since the dawn of Cath Kidston herself is a good floral print. These sandals, however, feature the real deal... well, almost! These botanical embellished flip flop sandals are perfect for the warm weather that's on its way and would be a great pair to wear while running errands or during a daytime outing, like a picnic or going to the cinema. Pair these beauties with a bold-coloured top or bottom, or go all neutral with black and white with a colourful statement necklace and purse to tie it together. They'd also look fab with a bright maxi dress for all those summer BBQs - Pimms in hand, these shoes would fit suitably into any summer soiree. 
black and tan gladiator sandal


What busy mum wouldn’t enjoy a multitasking shoe? Well, I’ve got the perfect pair of gladiator style sandals for you. With both brown and black straps, this set will look great with a variety of different outfits and are perfect for slipping on as you head out the door with kiddies in tow. Fortunately, these also follow Glamour's gladiator shoe trend without having to hassle with all of those extra straps wrapping around your leg (who can be faffed with that?)


pink embellished slip on Van-style sneakers


Fancy trainers/sports shoes are all the rage, and Lyst has a specially curated collection to help you follow trends like these and then some. I am loving these pink embellished slip-on Van-style trainers that are full of girlie bling without being too over the top. These would be perfect for most outings with your little ones, especially for trips to the playground, and would look great with jeans, shorts, and even some casual dresses (think Lily Allen!)

I hope you’ve enjoyed my top five picks for fashionable and functional flats for busy mums. Keep in mind that accessories and handbags, coupled with great shoes, can really elevate an everyday outfit with ease. The five shoe types mentioned above will get any busy mum easily through the Spring/Summer months, and each style will be all over the high street - so nice and easy to get hold of!  

With a few good pairs of shoes and some imagination, you can easily look put together without a lot of effort. 

...Just remember to check your hair for rogue Cheerios and down your back for baby-sick before you leave the house (we've all been there!) 

Happy shoe shopping lovelies! 

Mrs B

xxx

Friday, 29 April 2016

Getting ready for Baby Girl Bishop's arrival with Little Chickie

How is it possible that I am 35 weeks pregnant today? 

Oh my gosh - the time is just racing past, and the five week countdown is rather a scary one!! Everyone told me that my second pregnancy would fly by and they were so right. With a toddler to take care of, my own business to run and a house to try and keep in some sort of relative order, I've barely had time to acknowledge that I'm pregnant this time round! (Except for the first 16 weeks of dreadful nausea and my on-going back pain caused by my three slipped discs, of course!)


Mrs Bishop 35 Weeks Bump Photo
35 week bump!

At this point in the pregnancy I'm in full-on nesting mode, in fact I feel like I've been nesting for about 3 months now, so actually I'm feeling rather organised and pretty-much ready for this little girl to make her appearance. 

All the baby-things from first time round are down from the loft and organised, the baby clothes have been sorted and washed, the new double buggy purchased and put together, the moses basket is up, and we've done some shopping for lovely girlie bits and pieces!

It has been so fun to be able to buy girlie things after all the blue, green and dinosaurs of the past 2.5 years! I feel so lucky to be having a girl and completing our little family with one child of each sex. It's exciting to think about what the future holds for our little family unit. 

When buying baby-girl items I've been surprised at the sheer amount of PINK...gosh, it's a very pink-centric market. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not averse to a bit of pink, but I don't want every single thing she wears to be candy floss or fuchsia! So while shopping for her I've been on the lookout for a nice variety of colours, patterns and designs. 

I'm pretty girlie myself and I love bold florals and stripes - so her wardrobe is pretty full of these style of items...I imagine her in my head as a little mini-me rocking Breton stripes, lots of yellow and florals! 

I keep going and opening the drawers just to have a peek at it all. Such excitement. 

Little Chickie review by Mrs Bishop's Bakes and Banter

One of my favourite online stores to get baby girls clothes and accessories from has been Little Chickie, a cute online baby boutique that stocks the most divine high-end baby brands such as Albetta, Blade and Rose, Cuddledry, Pigeon Organics, Piccalilly, Kite and Denmark (to name a few). 

Little Chickie very kindly sent over some stunning items for our little baby girl's arrival - and I'm so excited to be able to share them with you, as I know you'll all swoon just as much as I did when they arrived. 

The first item they sent over was this stunning baby girl 1.5 tog floral sleeping bag by Kite, currently priced at £29.50. 

Isn't it just beautiful? 


Kite Baby Girl Sleeping Bag from Little Chickie
Kite floral sleeping bag

I cannot express what amazing quality this sleeping bag is - it is literally the softest thing I've ever touched! I know just from touching it that it will be so super snuggly and comfortable for my little bundle when she sleeps. 

I'm a massive fan of the modern floral print and the gorgeous purple/teal colour-way. It has a zip fastening all around the edge of the bag and poppers to secure the top: making it easy to put on and off. We loved using sleeping bags when Bert was a baby, so we were eager to get some more for baby girl to try out and this one really is perfect. 

The second item they sent is perhaps my favourite of the three - not just for it's amazing pattern/design, but again because it is made from the softest organic cotton and looks so comfortable! 

Basically, if they made this in adult-size I would wear it for sure! :-)

It's the Body and Skirt Tulip dress by Pigeon Organics and I've basically never seen anything more beautiful... 

Body and Skirt Tulip by Pigeon Organics from Little Chickie
Body and Skirt for Baby Girl by Pigeon Organics from Little Chickie, currently priced at £21.50.

Made from soft organic cotton this cute little dress combines my love of a breton stripe, my obsession with florals (tulips are one of my faves!) and my passion for pastel-esque shades...

Body and Skirt Tulip by Pigeon Organics from Little Chickie
Just look at that tulip pattern...swoon! 

I love how the body/vest part is integrated into the whole dress, making it super-practical and comfortable for the wearer. Such a clever design.

Body and Skirt Tulip by Pigeon Organics from Little Chickie
Clever integrated body/vest

The final item they sent over was this adorable little rag doll called Tilly made by Ragtales and currently priced at £19.95. It's so nice to own a cuddly toy that isn't a dinosaur! Haha! 

Tilly the Rag Doll by Ragtales from Little Chickie
Tilly the Rag Doll by Ragtales from Little Chickie

The detail on little Tilly is so mind blowing - from her cute embroidered face, to the the bows in her hair, she even has little knickers on under her dress...adorable! The floral pattern on the skirt of her dress reminded me of one of my favourite Liberty prints, and again I loved the fact that she's mostly purple rather than pink. I'm pretty sure she'll be a firm favourite with baby girl Bishop when she arrives. 

Tilly's Knickers - Rag doll by Ragtales
Tilly the Rag Doll - look at her little spotty knickers!!

Tilly the Rag doll by Ragtales from Little Chickie
Such attention to detail! 

Tilly the rag doll on the dresser
I can't wait to see my little girl carrying this beauty around! 

Do keep an eye on my social media channels for pics of baby-girls arrival in early June...my timelines are sure to be crammed full of baby-spam this summer! 

DISCOUNT! DISCOUNT! DISCOUNT!

As well as sending me these stunning products (thanks guys!) Little Chickie have also provided you lovely lot with a bespoke 15% discount code for their website...

Use 'BBB15' at the checkout to get your discount and it's valid until the end of May - so if you've seen anything you like (of course you have!) you can get it at a great price too - what a treat! 

Happy shopping you lovely people! 

Mrs B

xxx

Monday, 25 April 2016

Retro Photo Magnets and a Framed Photo Poster from Cheerz *REVIEW & GIVEAWAY*

I'm pretty obsessed with photos and displaying them in innovative and interesting ways around my home is one of my favourite things to do. From wall canvases, photo pockets on my doors, traditional framed prints, and printed instagram polaroid style shots pegged across a butchers twine string - you name...I've done it with photos! Or so I thought...

Then Cheerz got in touch and introduced me to their fab new retro photo magnets: polaroid style prints of your favourite Instagram shots, printed onto magnets!! Genius! They come as a set of 12 and cost just £15 per set. You can upload your pictures directly from your social media accounts, add captions, and choose either a black, white or coloured background - then the clever people over at Cheerz will print them and send them in the post to you and before you know it you'll be funking up your fridge or freezer with some marvellous magnetic creations. 

They were kind enough to send me over a set to try out, and boy am I excited to share them with you - they're so fun and I've had so many comments on them already...
Cheerz retro magnets review mrs bishops bakes and banter
Beautifully packaged: my retro magnets from Cheerz. 

I chose a range of images for my set of retro magnets from cute shots of Bert, to a few of Liam and I together, one of the cat, and even a lovely shot I took of the Butterfly Bridge in Bedford a few weeks ago on a Springtime walk. I was so chuffed with the quality of the printing when the magnets arrived and I couldn't wait to display them proudly. 
retro magnets photo Cheerz review
12 retro photo magnets from Cheerz

I also chose to add captions underneath each photograph in hashtag formation e.g #BERT #PICKLE #BEDFORD. They look really great and are such a simple but fun way to add some excitement to your fridge without generic alphabet magnets or a 15 year old magnet you bought home from a Greek Island holiday! We've all got one of those, right?
Retro Phoro Magnets from Cheerz
In for the close up: such great quality printing from Cheerz.

Here they are displayed proudly on my fridge/freezer - don't they look great?
Cheerz Retro Fridge Magnets



Not only would these make a great addition to your own fridge, but wouldn't they make a wonderful gift too? Imagine printing a selection of picture magnets for someone's birthday, new baby's arrival or anniversary - such a sentimental gift for such good value.

As well as photo magnets, Cheerz also have a wide range of other photo-printing gifts including prints, boxed prints, albums, posters and frames. You name it, they can pretty much do it with an Instagram print!

The lovely gang at Cheerz offered to send me one of their framed posters to add to my ever-increasing quirky photo displays and I knew instantly exactly what I wanted the content of my framed poster to be: my bakes! 

I work really hard to take decent pictures of the things I bake and although I use the photos across my social media platforms and here on the blog, I couldn't help but think that was rather a waste of such drool-inducing images, wouldn't it be nice to display them at home for all to see too? My dining room seemed like the obvious place to hang said pictures as it is pretty much devoted to all things cakes/baking/vintage/tea party!

My bakes in poster form from Cheerz.

This is their large poster print and it contains a whopping 35 photos. When you order you can choose whether or not you want it to arrive unframed (£16) or framed (£30) - I received the framed option, in a white frame and I am so super-chuffed with the final product. It came perfectly packaged and most importantly - ready to hang! I do love a product that's instant and easy to incorporate into your home. 

Hanging in the dining room in all its glory...35 of my bakes for all to admire... yum yum! 

Visitors to my home have already got sucked into the baking-appreciation-vortex this frame sucks you into - and it got Liam & I reminiscing about our favourites of the 35 bakes featured in the piece. 

It was hard to get a non-reflective photo of the finished poster frame, but here's a few to show you in a bit more detail...


Yum yum! 

What pictures would you choose to make up your own collage frame? I'd love to know. 

I genuinely can't recommend the service from Cheerz enough - both my items arrived within a week of ordering, the ordering/uploading photo process was smooth and self-explanatory, and the finished articles are truly awesome additions to my home. 

WIN! WIN! WIN! WIN! WIN! WIN! WIN! WIN! WIN! WIN!
Win Retro Photo Magnets

If you'd like to be in with a chance of adding a set of the retro photo magnets to your home then you can enter my giveaway below...I have three sets of retro magnets to give to away to three lucky blog readers, courtesy of Cheerz (thanks guys!)

So...wishing you all the best of luck... 


SuperLucky Blog Giveaway Linky

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

What You Should Research Before You Think About Buying A New Car


What You Should Research Before You Think About Buying A Car

I don't drive. I've never gotten round to learning or had the spare income to pay for lessons/tests/cars and the such. Then, when I fell pregnant with Bert hubby and I decided that one of us needed to learn, and learn fast. I didn't fancy going through the stress of lessons etc while pregnant so hubby stepped up to the mark, and in the May before Bert was born in the August he passed his test and we bought our first family car. 

We knew nothing about cars, so Liam took his mum and stepdad along with him for car shopping advice - after all they've been driving for years and years: both with plenty of experience when it comes to buying a car.

With their support we went for a second hand Suzuki Liana GLX and it was obviously a good choice as it has been such a brilliant, reliable family car over the past 3 years. In fact, I'll be totally gutted when it finally gives up the ghost - hopefully we'll get many more years out of it yet...

So, if you're new to car-buying, whether you're buying brand-new (lucky you!) or second hand, what do you need to consider? 

Before you even get anywhere near a car showroom or even start reading car road test reviews, there’s some important groundwork to do to when it comes to buying a new car. A car purchase can, if you’re not careful, turn into a hazardous cocktail of heavy expense mixed with a strong emotive influence. Put simply, if you fall in love with a particular car and you may neglect important other factors in a bid to get behind the wheel.

By establishing certain pointers before the seductive process of visiting showrooms and taking test drives starts, you can keep focused on buying the best car to suit your needs and your budget.

Research carefully

The old saying ‘time spent on reconnaissance is seldom wasted’ is certainly true during the car buying process, and it can save time and heartache in the long run. Consider the following:

Budget

Set a budget. If buying outright, then obviously the ‘sticker price’ of the car applies but if you’re buying with some sort of finance such as a bank loan, HP (Hire Purchase) or a PCP (Personal Contract Plan) then the focus may be on how much per month can you afford as a repayment.

Be strict with yourself here as it’s easy to think a bit extra per month won’t hurt to get that next model up the range or to have a few more extras but that’ll only be true if you can genuinely afford it.

Consider all of the finance options and which suits you best.

Clarify your requirements

By having a checklist, and making sure your potential purchases measure up, you’re likely to end up with a suitable car.

For example, if you haven’t checked something as simple as the boot space properly then it’s going to be pretty frustrating if you can’t, say, fit the baby’s buggy or your golf clubs in the boot.

Ask yourself what your essential requirements are and don’t overlook something that may be important; for example, if you’ve a teenager in the middle of learning to drive will they cope with lessons in that big SUV you fancy?

Prepare a shortlist

Choose cars for your shortlist based on your requirements and budget and then read some road test reviews and get an idea of the ‘going rate’ in the market.

Running costs

Be careful here and consider the whole package.

Depreciation - the largest single running cost that only bites when it’s time to sell. While some models might be attractively priced new, what’s their depreciation record like? Savings made on new models can be eaten up by a heavily depreciating car, and many lose more than 50% of their value after 3 years.

Fuel type - diesel or petrol? Maybe a hybrid or even an electric car? Do the maths here: a common error made by many buyers is to opt for a diesel car because of the favourable fuel consumption. Many of these people never really save in the long run because they don’t do enough miles to offset the usually higher purchase price.

Servicing and maintenance - what might it cost to service over the first three years? Be careful with wheel options; for example run flat tyres are very expensive to replace.

Insurance - what will your shortlist of cars cost to insure? Check with your insurer and with others on a comparison site. It’s easy to do this online and a few short clicks prevents a nasty surprise down the line.

VED (Vehicle Excise Duty) - check the costs here to see how much your shortlisted cars will cost per year.

Buy with confidence


Doing your ‘due diligence’ first will undoubtedly help you make the best choice and not overlook anything. Overall, it will help you not to get blown off course when you’re seeing and experiencing your shortlisted cars for real.

-------------------

I hope that's been helpful and has made you consider things you might not have before when it comes to purchasing such an important and expensive item. 

Mrs B

xxx

This is a sponsored post. 

Monday, 18 April 2016

Usborne Books from Maxine Bone #Bedford ... PLUS #WIN £100 worth of Usborne Books in her monthly prize draw!




Osborne Books Maxine Bone

We are a huge fan of Usborne books in this house - since we first discovered their baby range of 'That's Not My...' books back when Bert was a baby, Usborne have become our go-to publishers when it comes to purchasing new books for Bert to enjoy. 

Back in October Bert was bought a non-fiction book from Usborne's '1000 Pictures' range called '1000 Things to Eat' as a present from my lovely friend Emma (thanks Em!) - the book is a stunning large hardback picture book with beautiful painted illustrations of 1000 different food items broken down into categories such as fruit and veg, sweets, cakes, Italian food, meats, fish etc. Bert absolutely adored this book from the moment he got it, and he still picks it up on a daily basis seven months on. We found that reading this book with him regularly has not only massively helped to develop his food-related vocabulary, but he now recognises so many food items by sight from the normal everyday items to the very obscure...and at just 2.5 years old we think that's pretty impressive!

Then a few weeks ago I got chatting to my local Independent Usborne Organiser Maxine Bone, who is based in my hometown of Bedford, and she offered to send us a selection of new Usborne books to add to Bert's collection. I naturally jumped at the chance as we are already such a fan of these wonderful books - I was excited to add to Bert's collection. 

I hadn't realised that there was a whole range of '1000 Pictures' books, so when I saw that they also have '1000 Things That Go' and '1000 Animals' in the range, I knew Bert had to have them. He is animal mad and really loves his transport - so they couldn't have been better topics to pique his interest. 

As well as the two '1000 Pictures' books (which are each priced at £9.99) I also ordered First Thousand Words in English priced at £6.99 and Very First Things to Spot at Home priced at £7.99. Maxine took care of the order for me, and delivered my books for free within a week - what a fabulous service! Any Bedford locals looking to treat their little ones to some new books...Maxine is your lady! 

So here's a little peek at the books we ordered to whet your appetite... 


1000 Things That Go by Usborne
'1000 Things That Go' from Usborne Books
1000 Things That Go by Usborne Books
Bert is especially loving this page of '1000 Things That Go' from Usborne at the moment, as his Nanny & Grandad are on holiday, and they went on a Ferry Boat!
1000 Animals by Usborne Books
'1000 Animals' from Usborne books...we are learning some new VERY obscure animals thanks to this book! There's animals in here even Mummy & Daddy have never heard of!  
1000 Animals by Usborne Books
Animals on the farm and animals at home...we knew these! 
1000 Animals by Usborne Books
Bert loves learning about animals which come out at night - he has a thing about bats, hedgehogs and foxes! 
The thing I love most about Usborne books (aside from their quality) is the brilliantly diverse range of non-fiction books they make for children, especially at a toddler/pre school level. We have story time with Bert every night without fail before bed and we have always enjoyed reading him a mixture of fiction and non-fiction books to ensure he learns and develops factual knowledge and vocabulary as well as expanding his imaginative development. Without books like this from Usborne we'd be limited to the 'colour' 'first word' and farm animal style board books so often aimed at babies and toddlers - they wouldn't stretch Bert enough or keep his interest for longer than a few minutes. With the '1000 Pictures' range Bert is able to sit for really long periods of time studying each page, and learning to name each animal - with the help of Mummy & Daddy's reading skills. 

He has genuinely learnt some pages of the '1000 Pictures' books off-by-heart already, and he can apply that knowledge when he sees the same animal/food item/mode of transport in a different book or on TV - so it is most definitely teaching him a huge amount. 

First Thousand Words in English by Usborne Books
First Thousand Words in English by Usborne books - I remember these 'spot the duck' books from my own childhood, so it's a real pleasure to be able to share them with Bert and see his enjoyment of them. 
First Thousand Words in English by Usborne Books
Inside 'First Thousand Words in English' by Usborne books - so much to look at!  
First Thousand Words in English by Usborne Books
Bert's favourite page in 'First Thousand Words in English' by Usborne books - animals...naturally! 
Very First Book of Things to Spot At Home by Usborne Books
'Very First Book of Things to Spot at Home' by Usborne. This hardback book is so beautiful and the illustrations are just adorable! 
Very First Book of Things to Spot At Home by Usborne Books
Each page is filled with questions for your child to answer... 
Needless to say Bert is totally thrilled with his new books, and he's blown our mind especially when it comes to being able to answer all of the questions in the 'Very First Things to Spot at Home' book: he races through it at speed and after only a week and a half of owning the book he is able to answer all of the questions correctly! He gets so much enjoyment from searching each page for the correct answers. I'd definitely recommend this style of book if you want to encourage a fun way for your child to learn/develop their language and comprehension skills.

In fact, Bert has loved his new books so much that he's even requested to take them out with him in the buggy! Ha! Bless our little book-worm! 

Bert Bishop reading Usborne book
Taking his new book out and about...
He recited each animal from this double page spread to me for a whole half hour walk to town the other day... haha... 


Bert reading Usborne book
Always with his head in a book! #bookworm
Not only does he want to take his new books out with him, he also wants to take them up to bed with him, so he can swot up on his animal names! #futurezookeeper

Bert reading Usborne book in his cot
Excuse the blurry pic - bedtime reading
If you are Bedford-based and looking for the right Usborne book for your child, there are lots of ways Maxine can help you. You can buy online or, if you are interested in having an Usborne party, school event, or a Facebook Online Party you can enjoy additional benefits such as free delivery, exclusive special offers, discounts and even free books!

Maxine also holds a story time sessions at Gallone's Ice Cream Parlour, in the old arcade, Bedford every Tuesday morning 9.30am-10.30am which is suitable for ages 5 yrs and under. It's completely free and she also does some rhymes and songs too! It's in the upstairs party room complete with twinkly lights - what's not to love?

For Bedford locals:

Maxine's Facebook page: Maxine Bone, Independent Usborne Organiser

Maxine's twitter: @maxinebone1

For more info on Usborne Books from Maxine Bone head to her website.

For those outside of Bedford you can shop with Usborne directly online here.

WIN! WIN! WIN!
If you sign up to Maxine's monthly newsletter you'll be entered into her monthly prize draw to win £100 worth of Usborne Books!


Good luck lovely readers and a huge thanks to Maxine for all her help with my recent Usborne order.

Mrs B
xxx

Disclosure: I was sent the four Usborne books mentioned in this post for free in exchange for my honest review of the books and the service I received from Maxine Bone. All words, pictures and opinions are my own.