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Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Bumbo Floor Seat & Play Tray *REVIEW*



The Bumbo floor seat for babies is a must-have item for any expectant parents out there. Before we had Bert we were lucky enough to be given a Bumbo from a close friend whose boys had grown too big for theirs, and while Bert was small we found it a really handy item. 

The seat is moulded which makes it soft and comfortable for baby, and its shape means you can confidently pop baby into the floor seat, and he/she will be safe and supported. The detachable tray means baby can sit and play, or eat, with a surface to pop their toys/food on within easy reach of their seated position. Perfect. 

A brief overview:
  • The Bumbo Floor Seat and Play Tray combination will help your baby to maintain an upright seated position.
  • Its award-winning design has made it a favourite with millions of mums and dads as their baby's first seat, when little ones are not quite ready to sit up on their own.
  • The contoured seat fits your baby's posture and includes an adjustable safety harness with an easy-click buckle.
  • Soft, comfortable, durable and easy to clean.
  • With baby safely seated on the floor, story times become easier and play time opens a whole world of possibilities.
  • The removable tray provides a convenient play area, keeping toys, drinks and snacks within easy reach.
  • The tray's smooth, easy-to-clean surface is also great for feeding and is dishwasher safe.
  • Suitable for babies 4 months and older, able to support their head unassisted.
The Bumbo comes in a variety of colours, and you can also purchase fun fabric covers to jazz up your seat, making it extra comfy and fun for your little ones. 

Our Blue Bumbo

We used our second-hand Bumbo loads when Bert was small - we also found our cat Pickle took quite a liking to it as well! 

My favourite thing about the Bumbo is how easy it is to clean - we regularly gave Bert his snacks/drinks while sat in it and I never had to worry about what mess he might be making, as a quick wipe over and the whole thing would be as good as new! 

Bert was such an inquisitive baby - constantly wanting to look around and be part of the action - long gone are the days where your baby just lays in a crib or on a mat on the floor until it can crawl, with the Bumbo your inquisitive baby can sit up and look around unaided - Bert loved it, and so did Mummy, any item which means Mummy has her hands free for a few minutes is a winner for me. 

Here's a few snaps of our Bumbo in action:

The perfect seat for my little super-hero! Bert at 4 months. 

The Bert-Man - our little super-hero: in his Bumbo & Play Tray at 6 months. 

My little Christmas Elf under the tree in his comfy Bumbo aged 4 months!

The cheekiest of chimps: Bert sitting in his Bumbo Floor Seat - what a cutie! 

Alternative ways to use a Bumbo:


Bert thought his Bumbo was rather perfect for den building!


And the cat thought it was a bed for her too:

Are you quite comfy there Pickle??

Now that does NOT look comfortable! Silly cat! 

Hahahaha! 

Who knew they'd be so perfect for your feline friends too! :-)

Recently, TOMY sent us a beautiful new Bumbo Floor Seat & Play Tray Combo Pack in Aqua, as well as a spotty fabric cover. It is truly a beautiful product, and one we will definitely keep and use for any future children we may have, and of course all the lovely visiting babies of our friends and family. 

So often baby products are mostly style over substance, but with the Bumbo you really do get a balance of both: it is beautiful and practical in equal measure. 

Being as Bert is a little too big for a Bumbo seat now, I used my glamourous assistant Peppa Pig to aid me in the modelling for some of the photographs. ;-)

Our new Bumbo in Aqua, with its Play Tray attached - what a lovely any-gender colour! 

The Aqua Bumbo and Play Tray in all its glory

The restraint belt is included for extra safety.

The Bumbo Floor Seat Aqua from TOMY priced at £36.99 or you can buy the Bumbo Floor Seat and Play Tray Combo Pack from TOMY priced at £41.99.

Peppa Pig modelling our new Bumbo with spotty seat cover! You look very swish Peppa! 

Good girl Peppa you've got your restraint belt done up! 

Bumbo with spotty fabric cover.

A really beautiful and practical product for babies! 

At the moment TOMY are sold out of the spotty covers, but you can pick up one of these alternative beautiful designs on their website now:

Bumbo Floor Seat Cover Owls from TOMY priced at £9.99
Bumbo Floor Seat Cover Elephants from TOMY priced at £9.99
Bumbo Floor Seat Cover Sea Creatures from TOMY priced at £9.99

What Bumbo Have To Say…

"Our Bumbo Baby Seat has become a parenting essential, a product that is superior in quality, comfort and function. We also deliver a seat that brings smiles to your child. Bumbo is your baby's first seat, allowing your little one to see the world in a new way. 

In addition to bringing joy to babies and families around the globe, Bumbo has made an amazing commitment to bringing aid to its community in and around Pretoria, South Africa, where it is based.  Bumbo's founder, Johan Buitendach, has dedicated himself to helping those in need. Bumbo donates nearly 100% of its profits to charity to help the poor, hungry, homeless, disabled and others. With every purchase of a Bumbo product comes a partnership with an organisation that has helped, and continues to help thousands of people in South Africa."


We truly are big fans of the Bumbo in the Bishop household, and I like it even more now that I know the work that Bumbo does for charity as well. I know that our trusty Bumbo will be used for many years to come, and for just over £50 for a seat, tray and cover - I think it is brilliant value. 

What baby product did you buy which became your go-to product when your little ones were small?

Mrs B 

xxx

***Please note that a Bumbo seat should ONLY be used on the floor, and isn't safe on high surfaces such as tables or worktops.***

Disclaimer: We were sent a Bumbo Floor Seat and Play Tray Combo Pack along with a spotty Bumbo fabric cover for the purpose of this review. All words, images and opinions are my own. 

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Dettol Baby Blanket Donation: Dettol Laundry Cleanser #sharethememories


I'm taking part in Dettol's Baby Blanket Donation campaign.

Dettol are encouraging us mums to "keep the memories, not the bacteria" by donating a baby blanket to their campaign and sharing our special baby blanket memories and photographs across social media with the hashtag #sharethememories

Once collected, the baby blankets will be hygienically washed with Dettol Anti-bacterial Laundry Cleanser before being re-distributed to families in need. 

Celebrity mum Rachel Stevens has donated the first blanket, and supports the campaign whole-heartedly

Working in partnership with Sparks, the children’s medical research charity, Dettol has pledged to donate £1 for every blanket collected, raising much needed funds for UK families and children who are affected by serious illness or disability.

What a fantastic way to raise money, and support families in need. 

Since having Bert, any charities working on improving the lives, welfare, health and happiness of children have really pulled at my heart strings, and anything I can do big or small to help, I will do gladly. It takes no time at all to pop a blanket in the post, and just that one small act will make a big difference. 

Here are some of my wonderful blanket memory photos of little Bert

Please, join in if you can, and spread the word - encourage your friends to send a blanket donation as well, and help a child in need today, thank you! 

Blankets can be donated via Freepost (no stamp required) to: 

Dettol Baby Blanket Donation
FREEPOST RTKJ-YSGS-SSHR
The Hay Loft
Balcombe Place Stables 
Balcombe
RH17 6AZ


£1 donated by Dettol to Sparks for every blanket received up to 5,000 blankets

DETTOL LAUNDRY CLEANSER

Did you know that your laundry can still harbour bacteria even AFTER its been washed? I didn't and had always just assumed that the washing coming out of my machine was 'clean'. 

Like most families, our washing machine seems to be permanently in use, from food spillages, nappy leakages, and just general toddler-related-mess, my machine has been getting quite a hammering since little Bert came along. 

Not that Bert is messy or anything!!

Dettol have sent me some of their newest product to try out - Dettol Laundry Cleanser is a washing additive that kills 99.9% of bacteria, when used with regular washing powder, even when washing at low temperatures* – so while you can safely wash away the bacteria, your memories will last forever!

Laboratory tests commissioned by Dettol on washed blankets donated by volunteer mums show that baby ‘blankies’ carry a variety of bacteria even after a 40 degree wash with a third of the washed blankets harbouring coliforms – a group of bacteria linked to faeces!! Yuck! 

This statement alone had me running for my gifted bottle of laundry cleanser quick as a flash! I imagined all these tiny nasty bugs crawling all over Bert's blankets and soon gave all of his bedding, muslins, blankets and clothes a wash using this new product.

Overall, I've been really pleased with the laundry cleanser, and it is definitely something I will use regularly for Bert's washing from now on. I'm pleased with how fresh and clean his washing smelt after using it, and it gives me peace of mind to know that his fabrics are now 'clean clean'. :-) 

*Dettol Anti-bacterial Laundry Cleanser is an additive that kills 99.9% of bacteria, even below 30 degrees – proven to work in rinse cycle temperatures as low as 15oC

Dettol Anti-bacterial Laundry Cleanser comes is 1.5L bottles and costs RRP £4.50

Please don't forget to donate your old baby blankets!

Mrs B xxx

Blanket donations will be collected until the end of December. Memories can be shared with @DettolBlanket #sharethememories or on Dettol’s Mission for Health Facebook page. 

For full details on how to donate please visit www.dettol.co.uk/donate

Disclaimer: I was sent a bottle of Dettol Laundry cleanser from Dettol, which I have been trying out on my own washing, but otherwise there was no endorsements or payments for this post, just a desire to help spread the word about this great campaign. 

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

The Perfect Fruit Cake *RECIPE*


Tomorrow my twin sister and I turn 28: another year older, another perfect excuse to get baking! 

Every year I bake my sister a birthday cake, and this year she requested something a little different - she wanted a fruit cake, and not ANY fruit cake, a Mary Berry fruit cake. 

I was excited to give this bake a try, as I've never attempted a fruit cake before - and now that the weather has turned, the leaves are falling, the evenings are dark and I'm starting to hear the C-word (Christmas, of course!) wherever I go, it seemed fitting to give it a whirl.

We decided to bake it together last weekend, as my mum and sister came up to stay for a lovely girlie weekend while my husband went away for a stag do. My sister also enjoys baking, but isn't very confident by herself in the kitchen (yet - I'm working on it!) So, the deal was: 


"If I make it with you this weekend, and teach you how to do it, you have to make it again by yourself at home, and feed it once a week with brandy up until Christmas, when we will all devour it" 

Challenge accepted by my sister we set to work:

The fruit cake is a dense fruit-heavy spiced cake which smells just like Christmas. It's really easy to make, and just takes a long, slow bake. It is the perfect cake to bake on a cold autumn weekend, when you want your house to be warm and smelling delicious. 

We used Mary Berry's classic fruit cake recipe on the BBC Food website (full recipe here) which instructs you to soak your fruit in brandy over night:


A delicious mix of currants, sultanas, apricots, cherries, raisins, and candied peel steeping in brandy over night. 

Once your fruit has soaked up the brandy over night, it is simply a case of lining a tin and mixing all of the ingredients together, followed by the steeped fruit. I used a 25cm round/7cm tall tin which worked perfectly (the recipe states to use a 23cm round/9 inch high tin, but this must be an typing error and they must mean 9 cm high rather than inches - haha I'd LOVE to see a 9 inch high cake tin!!)

The ingredients all mixed up before adding all of the brandied fruit mix

I know some people aren't keen on tasting cake batter because of the raw egg it contains, but I urge you to try this one, just a little spoonful - it is the best tasting cake batter I've ever eaten! 

Once you've spooned the batter into the tin, decorate the top using whole blanched almonds and halved glace cherries. You need to push them lightly into the cake batter, and they will bake beautifully into the top of the cake. 

All ready for the oven

The cake needs to be covered in a loose layer of baking paper, to stop it burning on the top, and baked at a low temperature (140) for 4 hours 15 mins - 4 hrs 45 mins (check after 4 hrs 15 mins as mine was perfectly cooked). The cake should be firm to touch and a skewer should come out clean. Leave the cake to cool for as long as you can manage in the tin - pierce with a skewer a few times over the top when it comes out of the oven and pour little splashes of brandy down the holes - the cake will drink it up like you wouldn't believe. 

All baked, and waiting to be devoured by three hungry ladies! 

pretty pattern baked into the top

Obviously, we couldn't wait to dive into this divine cake, so we only allowed it to cool for an hour and a half (it was still warm, and crumbly), if you leave it for longer the structure will become firmer and it shouldn't crumble as much. If you want to, you can bake the cake up to 3 months in advance of eating, store it wrapped in parchment paper, and feed it with a glug of brandy once a week right up until you eat it - this is what my sister is going to do for Christmas. I can't wait to taste our Christmas version - can it possibly be any better than this masterpiece? We will see. 

Mmmmmm…..fruit cake perfection

The cake was absolutely immense! It is genuinely and confidently the BEST fruit cake I've ever eaten. It is rich, moist, spicy and has that warm hit of brandy which makes it so comforting. 

The recipe states that it feeds 8 people- again, this HAS to be another typing error on the recipe - as if the cake fed 8 you would a) be sick at that size portion as its a huge cake and SO rich, and b) you'd be eating over 1000 calories a portion!! I think this cake easily serves 20 people a good sized portion, at 466 calories a slice - much more sensible (BBC Food take note!)
We'd taken 5.5 slices out of the cake at this point - there's no way on earth it serves 8 - haha! 

A scrumptious slice of Christmassey-fruit-cake-heaven

I MUST recommend that you bake this cake yourself! It is SO worth it. Yes, it's a pricey cake to bake but it goes an awful long way, and will top any cake you could buy in the shops.  A 16 cm fruit cake from Harrods costs nearly £20, and my cake was 25cm and cost just under £20 to bake - and I'm pretty confident this one tastes better. 

It would also make a fab Christmas gift for any fruit-cake-lovers out there! 

So, what are you waiting for? Get baking. 

Mrs B

xxx

Monday, 6 October 2014

Disney's Post & Roll Honey Pot from TOMY *REVIEW*

Bert and I love working alongside fab children & baby's retailer TOMY to review toys for them on a regular basis. Recently they sent us their Post & Roll Hunny Pot from the Disney/Winnie the Pooh range of toys available on their website. 
Post & Roll Hunny Pot, by TOMY

The toy consists of a large honey pot, and three rattle balls, which when placed into the top of the honey pot, whizz down inside the honey pot on a spiral chute, and then shoot out of the bottom of the honey pot from one of the three holes at the bottom. It is suitable for children from 9 months, and costs £19.99.

Bert was really interested in this toy as soon as it was unwrapped. The honey pot itself is quite big and inviting, it's all kitted out in bright colours, with the famous Winnie the Pooh motif - he spotted this new treasure in amongst his toys instantly, and got to work figuring it out straight away. The holes at the bottom of the honey pot can be closed for storing the balls without them falling out every time, and then a slider at the bottom, opens them up ready for play. Bert understood after a few demonstrations from me what he was meant to do, and began enjoying popping the balls into the pot and watching them spin down inside. 

Bert is still at that quite impatient one year old stage, where he wants instant gratification from his toys, so the honey pot can sometimes frustrate him (depending on how patient he's feeling) as the balls do take a little while to spin down the pot and come out of the bottom, but I'm sure as he matures he'll be more able to cope with waiting a little longer for the end result. 

He seems to really enjoy the element of surprise with this toy - the not knowing which hole the balls will come out of, therefore not knowing which direction you are going to need to chase the ball, makes him giggle in anticipation, and sometimes race off in the wrong direction before the ball has even broken free! It makes very funny viewing. 



The rattle balls were also a big hit on their own - he can regularly be found wandering around with a ball in each hand, using them as maracas or playing with them with the cat - he chucks them over the baby gate onto the hard stone kitchen floor, and the cat swipes them all around the kitchen with glee while the baby giggles like mad - it's a very cute sight!

At 13 months Bert is getting much enjoyment from this toy, and I'm pretty sure he'll be enjoying it for a while yet before he gets bored. So, longevity-wise this toy is pretty good as it is suitable from 9 months +. Its simple design and easy to post balls make it a perfect starter toy for any little one. 

You can follow Tomy Toys on Facebook here

You can follow Tomy Baby on Facebook here

Disclaimer: We were sent the Post and Roll Hunny Pot from Tomy for the purpose of this review. All words, images and opinions are my own. 


Family Fever

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Rhubarb and Custard Viennese Whirls *RECIPE*


Viennese Whirls are DEFINITELY my signature bake - I find them very therapeutic to make, I love how they look when finished, and they are by far the tastiest little biscuit in my opinion (I won't go into the biscuit/cake debate). When I bake them I always stick to the conventional flavour of the plain vanilla biscuits sandwiched together with vanilla buttercream, and seedless raspberry jam. But when perusing the jam and preserves section of the supermarket last week (everyone does that, right?) I found  this little beauty staring back at me…


I knew I had to use it in a recipe pronto, and having recently had a go at making my own custard creams, I decided to make a Rhubarb & Custard version of the Viennese Whirl. 

RHUBARB AND CUSTARD VIENNESE WHIRLS
(makes 14 sandwiches)

*around 298 calories per sandwich*

Ingredients

For the biscuits

250g very soft butter
50g icing sugar
200g plain flour
50g Birds Custard powder
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract 

For the filling: 

100g soft butter
170g icing sugar
30g birds custard powder
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1-2 tbsps whole milk to loosen

*fresh rhubarb cooked down to a pulp, and rippled through the buttercream for alternative version

85g Rhubarb and Ginger jam

Method:

1) Preheat your oven to 190/Gas 5, and line a baking tray with reusable baking parchment, or greaseproof paper. 

2) Weigh out all of your biscuit ingredients and combine in a food mixer, or using an electric beater. You could also do this by hand. Ensure your butter is very soft to make the biscuits easy to pipe.

3) Fit a large star nozzle (I use Wilton 1M) into your piping bag, and fill with your mixture. Pipe flat(ish) circles starting at the outside and working into the middle - push down with the nozzle in the centre to finish the flowery rosette. You're looking for your biscuits to be around 5/6cm across. You should be able to pipe around 28 single biscuits with this dough, more if you make them smaller.

4) Bake for around 13 minutes until lightly golden, and firm. Leave to cool on the tray for 5 minutes before carefully transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Fresh from the oven, cooling for 5 minutes until I transferred them to a wire rack

5) Now to make the filling: pop the soft butter into a bowl, sift over the icing sugar and custard powder, and mix on a high speed until light and fluffy. The custard powder will stiffen it quite quickly, and you'll need to add some milk and the vanilla extract to loosen and smooth out the mixture. It should be silky and soft, and easily pipe-able. 

6) Once the biscuits are completely cool, ensure you have them sat in pairs of matching size, and turn over one of each pair. Pipe a generous rosette of the filling using the same star nozzle and piping bag (cleaned first) on to the turned over biscuit. 

Buttercream on, just waiting for the jam before being sandwiched together. 

7) Weigh out your jam, and stir it in a bowl to make it easier to spread. Turn over the second biscuit in the pair, and smoother in a layer of the rhubarb jam. Then sandwich the two biscuits together, and repeat until all of your biscuits are sandwiched together. Pop in the fridge to firm up for about 30 minutes, and then ENJOY! 


T'ah D'ah! 

*You could cook down some fresh rhubarb, and once cooled, ripple it through the buttercream - if I were to make these again, I'd definitely try that, as the rhubarb flavour from just the jam was subtle, and I like a stronger punch of flavour! 


Hubby and I devoured a couple of mini ones last night in front of the semi-finals of The Great British Bake Off (my money is still on Richard, the builder - love him!) - purely for taste testing reasons you understand. I really enjoyed them, despite being a traditionalist, and LOVING the original version, it was fun to play around with a new flavour, and adapting the recipe was fun. 

I sent a box of them off to hubby's office this morning (hope you enjoy them guys!), and the rest are destined for today's play-date with my lovely friend Jade from Late For Reality… can't wait to share them with her over a nice cuppa! 

What spin would you give to Viennese Whirls, or are you a traditionalist at heart, like me? 

Happy Baking!

Mrs B 

xxx

Disclaimer: This post is my entry into The Great Denby Cake Off competition - more information can be found here

Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Lucy Mae Designs: Batman Huggie *REVIEW*

With Christmas approaching pretty fast, I thought it would be nice to share some children's gift ideas with you over the next few months, and I have a corker of a gift to share with you today...

A couple of weeks ago we received some very happy post in the form of a beautiful handmade Batman 'huggie' for little Bert, which had been made by the very talented Leanne over at Lucy Mae Designs on Facebook. This beautiful handmade huggable little beauty has been personalised with 'Bert' on the back, and is CE certified, meaning it is safe for babies from birth.

Bert's Batman Huggie

It's even personalised on the back! Perfect! 


Leanne creates a whole abundance of beautiful huggie characters from Batman, to mermaids, pirates to foxes, ice princesses to Ed Sheeran huggies and beyond...You name it, there's probably a huggie version to be had! They are so beautifully crafted, and would make an absolutely perfect gift for any little person you might happen to know (or big person, come to that!)

a selection of some of Lucy Mae Designs fabulous 'huggies' 

I love the fact that all of the huggie designs can be personalised, for that extra special touch.  The fabric choices available are just stunning, and I truly love their simplicity - somehow, their lack of body features make them even cuter, and draws your attention to their beautiful faces.

This was a few minutes after we'd unwrapped him! 

Bert snuggling his huggie - don't you just love chubby baby hands?

Bert loved his little Batman huggie from the moment he unwrapped him, he is the perfect size for Bert's chubby little hands to hold, and often accompanies Bert on his many adventures around our home (think lots of climbing, making dens with tables, sitting in boxes - you know, the usual boy stuff!). The huggie is robust enough to be energetically played with, but soft enough to still be snuggly and huggable (hence the name!) - the perfect combo! 
Bert with his perfectly huggable friend! 

Huggies are priced from £14-£20, but contact Lucy Mae Designs directly for an up-to-date price list, and availability (they are snapped up pretty quickly!) Our Batman was priced at £15, and is genuinely worth every penny. 

In fact, I'm already wondering who I can buy one for this Christmas! 

Lucy Mae designs is holding a market night this Friday 3rd October from 8.30pm, so get yourself over to their Facebook page to see what lovelies they have available to purchase on the night. 

You can also make contact about an order via email at lucymaedesigns@hotmail.co.uk

Which one is your favourite? I'd love to know. 

Mrs B

xxx
Our 'huggie' Batman fits right in at our house!

Disclaimer: We were sent a Batman huggie for the purpose of this review, but, as always, all opinions and words are my own. 


Family Fever