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Saturday, 23 August 2014

HAPPY FIRST BIRTHDAY BERT BISHOP!!

What an amazing couple of days we've had celebrating Bert's first birthday! 

The fun isn't over yet: we have a huge family picnic planned for tomorrow, the finale to Bert's birthday weekend!

I thought I'd share a few fab photos from the last few days with you. 

Yesterday (Bert's actual birthday) Liam and I took him to the seaside for the very first time (Great Yarmouth) - it was such a magical day - full of building sandcastles, eating fish & chips, a walk on the pier and rides/doughnuts/ice cream….all the standard seaside 'must do's'. 

Today, Bert took part in his very first cake smash! It was so funny to watch him attacking his birthday cake…such fun! 

Enjoy the photos my lovely blog readers…

Mrs B

xxx

Bert's First Trip to the Seaside (22.08.14) …









Bert's Cake Smash (23.08.14) ...









HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my wonderful little man. 

You bring so much joy to our lives and make us proud every single day! 

xxx

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Bert Turns One: Peppa Pig Stylie! *REVIEW*


How can my tiny boy be turning one? 

How? 

Where has that year GONE? 


Today we began the long weekend of celebrations by hosting a themed birthday tea at home for Bert and some of his little friends. 

The kind people over at Party Pieces supplied us with a fantastic selection of party goodies to help Bert celebrate his birthday in style...Peppa Pig style, actually. 

Peppa Pig is Bert's very favourite show - he smiles and wiggles with excitement every time it comes on, and I have to say out of all the drivel that can be found on children's TV these days, I actually quite enjoy a spot of Peppa Pig myself! So Peppa was definitely the perfect central theme for this special birthday bash!

I can't wait to share the photos with you all - and hopefully inspire you to host fun themed parties of your own. From a small soiree to a huge bash, Party Pieces have pretty much anything you might need for your perfect party.

THE DECORATIONS:

To decorate the party room (dining room) and the buffet table I used:

Peppa Pig Ultimate Party Kit (8 Guests) currently priced at £12.99 which included Peppa Pig themed plates, cups, table cloth and bunting. I also used some Peppa Pig Party Latex Balloons (10 pk) currently priced at £1.99, a fantastic Personalised Blue Polka Party Banner currently priced at £11.99 and a Supershape Blue Number 1 Foil Party Balloon currently priced at £5.99. I think you'll agree that the party room looked really fun and inviting - it really wasn't hard to do at all, and I was really impressed with the quality of all of the items from Party Pieces. 

My favourite item from Party Pieces was definitely the personalised blue polka dot banner, which really took me by surprise. I fully expected this to be a plasticky (cheap!) looking banner, that would only be suitable for one or two uses, but this is such a high quality banner made from a strong vinyl and includes eyelets for easy hanging. Fab! 

I'll let the images speak for themselves...




For Party favours I used an awesome Peppa Pig Filled Party Bag Kit (8) currently priced at £12.99 which made life so much easier - I'd never used a party bag kit before, but it certainly saved lots of time, as the bags and contents were all included in the bundle, all you had to do was assemble - perfect! 


I decided to make party favours for the adults too (as they always miss out on the fun at kid's parties) and so I filled old jam jars/baby food jars with sweets for the grown ups to enjoy munching on! Who doesn't love a free jar of sweets, hey? 

I used labels which I had made on eBay to stick on the jars to decorate! 

For the sweet jars I used Giant Fried Eggs 1kg currently priced at £5.99 and Jelly Beans 1kg currently priced at £4.99. When the sweets arrived I was so excited by the sheer amount of sweets in a kilo….and I must own up: I have been eating them for weeks...every time I walked past the bags they were calling me! The giant fried eggs are the best sweets I've ever tasted! 

I used my awesome 'make your own banner' from Bimbily to write "Peppa, Bert, George" as extra decoration

To decorate Bert's high chair I used the Fisher Price 1st Birthday Circus High Chair Decoration Kit currently priced at £8.99, which added a little bit of colour to his sitting space, and acted as a perfect mat to catch his spills as he ate! 


Finally, I had some Royal Blue Polka Party Hats (8) currently priced at £1.59 for the little ones to wear. Bert cried a LOT when I put his on…oh dear...but his lovely friend Josh seemed to love wearing one! Good lad! 


THE SPREAD:

So, of course, I decided to try and design the buffet to fit the theme as much as possible - so I got my thinking cap on, scoured Pinterest, picked friends' brains, and came up with these culinary delights - some of which fit the Peppa Pig theme, some are just there because they are yummy! 

-George's Dinosaur Sandwiches
-George's Dinosaur Turkey Nuggets
-Hotdog Spiders
-Muddy Puddle cupcakes
-Percy Pigs (a distant cousin of Peppa, you know!)
-Watermelon Pops
-A bowlful of blueberries
-Scones, clotted cream and jam (for the grown ups)

...as well as a selection of crisps, dips, and breadsticks.

To drink the kids had Fruit Shoots, and the adults enjoyed tea/coffee and pink lemonade with fresh lemon slices. 

Yum, yum, yum! 





BERT'S OUTFIT:

Today Bert wore these fantastic Quentin Blake 'Lickswishy Sweets' dungarees - made by the very talented Bree over at A Pocketful of Alice on Facebook. I can't impress enough what amazing quality these beautiful dungarees are - they are fully lined, and the fabric and finish is just wonderful. 

Lickswishy Sweets fabric design by Quentin Blake

Bert looked an absolute picture in them!


I loved that they were handmade for him, and not bought from the high street - it felt so much more personal to be able to choose a fabric that was special to us (Bert's nursery is FULL of Quentin Blake's designs) for him to wear for this special weekend of celebrations.

In fact, I love the dungarees so much that they are currently in the washing machine, so that he can wear them again for our family celebrations on Sunday!

Bree charges £28 for the handmade dungarees, plus postage and packing. For a special occasion I think Bree's handmade clothes are the perfect choice - how lovely to know your little one will be wearing a bespoke outfit that no-one else is likely to have.

The perfect outfit for playing in the garden with friends - thanks Bree! 

We have had the best day - full of lots of fun and smiles. It never bores me to see my beautiful son playing with his friends, and soaking up the world around him. He makes me so proud every single day. 

A huge thanks goes to my fab friends who joined us today, and my lovely mother in law who helped out loads. You're all stars! 

I'll leave you with my favourite pictures from the day, which I hope sum up how wonderful it has been:

Bert with his lovely Nanny Ruth! 

Two little mischief makers!! 

Bert tucking into his watermelon pop

Unfazed by the muddy puddle cupcakes and candle then Bert?

Fun times playing in the garden with his friends!

Gorgeous gorgeous: one of Bert's beautiful little friends! 

Bert and his Mumma (me!) - a rare photo of the two of us together!

Happy, happy memories made today! 

Tomorrow, is Bert's actual first birthday (Friday 22nd Aug 2014) - and his Daddy and I are taking him to the seaside for the day. It'll be Bert's first ever trip to the seaside, and we are all very excited! 

Over the weekend we have lots of family coming to stay, and are holding a mass picnic at our local country park on Sunday to round off the celebrations. 

How did you mark your little one's first birthday?

Bye for now.

Mrs B

xxx

You can follow Party Pieces on Twitter @PartyPieces

or on Facebook here

Disclaimer: I was sent a bundle of party supplies from Party Pieces for the purpose of this review, as well as receiving a half price discount from A Pocketful of Alice for Bert's dungarees. All opinions, words and images are my own. 

Saturday, 16 August 2014

GIN AND TONIC CAKE (Yes…Cake!!) with Kilner Cocktails *REVIEW & RECIPE*

My attempt at Gin and Tonic cake with Pink Gin Fizz in stunning Kilner jar drinking glasses

I've been reading an amazing food blog called A Life of Geekery by Vicki Higham for quite a few years now. I love her recipes, her amazing photography and above all her passion for food. 

Back in July she shared images of an amazing sounding (& looking) loaf cake laden with GIN - a recipe she'd found over at Pudding Lane Blog. 

I always get excited when I come across a new food blog I hadn't previously heard of - so I clicked across to Pudding Lane - and then ended up whiling away an hour devouring Lucy's amazing recipes! 

I don't drink a huge amount of alcohol due to a bad skin reaction I get (Boo!!! Who is allergic to alcohol I ask you??) but, whenever I do get tempted and have a drink (and subsequently regret it because I turn purple and can't regulate my temperature for hours afterwards!) I would always choose a G&T! So this cake really intrigued me….I knew I just had to give it a go. 

Vicki advised me that her attempt here was really scrumptious - it was a super dense sponge like a Madeira cake (I LOVE Madeira cake!) and so I couldn't wait to give it a go.

GBBO Episode #2, G&T cake & Cocktails…

Wednesday saw the second episode of the 2014 Great British Bake Off on our TV screens, and I was heading over to lovely Liz's with the girls to watch it together, so...what more of an excuse did I need to give this new recipe a whirl?

This specific recipe really interested me as it was the first time I'd read a recipe which requires you to weigh out the four eggs in their shells in order to determine the amount of flour, sugar and butter you use. I loved this concept, and thought it a novel way to weigh out your cake batter ingredients. 

I found the recipe very easy to follow, and the picture of the finished cake looked very similar to mine (I love to have a picture to work from - I must be a visual learner?)

My cake was a BIG loaf cake - using 240g of eggs, butter, flour and sugar - for that reason it took a LONG time to cook (Lucy advised around 45 mins OR until your cake passes the knife test) mine passed the knife test after an 1 hour and 5 mins, and in hindsight I still think it could have done with an extra 10 minutes in the oven. I might use three eggs next time, and make a slightly smaller loaf. 

Because my cake was so BIG, the gin and tonic flavours were subtle, but beautiful. I like boozy foods to really pack a punch, so next time I might up the gin slightly (I erred on the side of caution and used 3 shots of gin in the cake: Lucy suggests 3-4), and again in the drizzle I used 3 shots, and would definitely use 4 next time. 

The drizzle is INSANELY GOOD and forms a hard sugary doughnut like crust across the cake - my sponge was dense and delicious. 


Mmmmm… G&T anyone??

Dense, sugary, gin filled cake-fest! Yes! 

Here's the link to Lucy's full Gin and Tonic Cake recipe over on her Pudding Lane blog. 

I also made a Gluten Free version of this cake - using GF flour instead of conventional flour. It came out as a much lighter sponge in texture (less Madeira like), and didn't rise as much as the one using normal self raising flour, but was still well worth baking. Again, the gin flavour was subtle, so to pack more of a punch I'd definitely add those extra gin shots! 

Gluten Free Gin & Tonic Cake


Kilner Cocktails...

Who doesn't love a cocktail with their cake?

I've been using Kilner jam jars and clip top jars for years! For me, they are such a reliable and well-known brand: I find their jars so handy and I use them all around my home, not just in the kitchen. They make for fab storage, they're great vases, and look beautiful stuffed with fairy lights or a candle. 

I have been lusting after some of their stunning handled drinking glass jars ever since I first saw them in a magazine a few months ago. When the lovely people at Kilner heard about my plans to attempt a Gin & Tonic cake they offered to send me over some of the drinking glasses so I could serve up some scrumptious gin-based cocktails along with my cake. 

PINK GIN FIZZ

Ingredients:
  • A shot of Gin per person (a double if you're feeling generous!)
  • Either Pink Grapefruit juice, or Pink Lemonade depending on whether you like your cocktails sweet or sour, to almost fill the glass
  • Fresh lemon juice (a squeeze per glass)
  • Fresh lemon slices to garnish
  • Plenty of ice
  • A dash of diet tonic water to completely fill
Stick in a straw and slurp away to your hearts content! Obviously, ensure you've baked a huge Gin & Tonic cake to serve alongside your cocktail, otherwise your friends might never forgive you! 


Who fancies a gin fizz along with a big slab of G&T cake?

Pink Gin Fizz in my stunning pink, green and clear handled jars

Me and the girls (oh, and Baz - honorary 'girl' for the night) devoured the G&T cake and cocktails, while watching the contestants on GBBO build their 3D biscuit scenes. We had such fun, and the gin-based fuelling definitely helped us air our opinions of the new contestants with vigour! 

CHEERS! 

You can purchase Kilner products like these at hundreds of stores across the UK and online such as:
  • John Lewis
  • Lakeland
  • Dunelm Mill
  • Cargo
  • Robert Dyas
  • Not On The High Street

These glass jars retail from between £2.95-£3.50 per glass, and you can also purchase screw top flower lids for the handled jar which have holes for your straws! Too cute! 

They would be the perfect addition to any summer BBQ, picnic, garden party, dinner party, wedding or birthday party. Suitable for all cold drinks, cocktails and mocktails you could have loads of fun serving up exciting drinks at your special occasion in these stunning jars - they are sure to be a crowd pleaser and a talking point whatever the occasion!

Do you have a favourite cocktail? 

Mine's a Pina Colada! It's truly tropical and makes me think of holidays in the sun! 

Talking of sun…I'm now on my countdown until hubby and I fly to Cyprus…11 sleeps to go! 

Mrs B

xxx



You can follower Kilner on Twitter @Kilner_UK

Or over on Facebook here.

Disclaimer: I was sent 3 Kilner glass jars with handles for the purpose of this review. All words, images and opinions are my own. 


Friday, 15 August 2014

2nd Bod Pod Test Results & Shock Absorber Bra *REVIEW*

Body Composition Testing - Round 2

Back in April I had my first round of full body composition testing done over at The University of Bedfordshire's Body Hub (you can read all about it here). 

It was amazing to know in detail the true composition of my body, and where that put me in terms of the average fitness for my height/gender. I wish that I'd known about the Bod Pod and Tanita testing when I was at my biggest back in September: it would be amazing to have the results to compare just how far I've come between then and now.

I had aimed to return every 3 months to re-check my body composition, and chart my progress, so last week when the UoB dissertation students needed some volunteers to have the testing done to form data for their research I headed back to see what improvements I'd made in 3.5 months. 

Once again, I was weighed using state of the art Tanita scales to give me an accurate idea of my fat:muscle ratio, BMI, BMR and overall body composition. I also used the Bod Pod which is able to read your body fat % more accurately than any piece of equipment/machinery out there using air displacement. 

How did my body change in 3.5 months?

I was very pleasantly surprised! I had prepared myself for the worst, as you do, and had told myself it didn't matter too much if I hadn't changed my fat % or weight that much. Secretly though I was hoping all my hard work had paid off, and it has. 

In 3.5 months I have…

  • Lost 1 stone 8 lbs in total body weight
  • Lost 1 stone 10.5 lbs in pure FAT
  • Gained 4 lbs of muscle
  • Lowered my overall body fat % by 9.2%
  • Reduced the fat % in my trunk by 11.6%
  • Reduced my BMI from 30.7 to 27.3
The best result for me was now knowing that my total body fat mass puts me right in the middle of the desirable range for a woman of my height.

DESIRABLE FAT MASS RANGE FOR MY HEIGHT/GENDER IS:

14.3 kg - 26.4 kg

MY FAT MASS IS:

20.5 kg

I was so happy with those results - it has fired me up and spurred me on to lose this final bit of weight, and continue to exercise to improve my fitness.

So to date my total weight loss since september 2013 is 5 stone 9 lbs and counting!!

I now weigh 11 stone 7 lbs, wear a clothes size 14 (almost a 12), and have 7 lbs left to lose until I reach my target weight. 

SHOCK ABSORBER - Ultimate Run Bra *REVIEW*

The people at Shock Absorber kindly sent me one of their newest sports bras the Ultimate Run Bra in Purple to try out during my workouts. 

For me, having a decent and supportive bra when exercising is so important as I'm quite big chested, and am in need of support for comfort, and ease during exercise. Without good support I find myself hurting my neck and back, and I generally find the workout is uncomfortable and harder to do. 

I've previously worn shock absorber bras and always found them to be very reliable - I was sad when I slimmed out of my last one, so happily accepted to try this one out in a smaller size. 

I chose to wear a size 36DD. I found this to be a great fit, and true to size. The band is snug, as it should be, and there is little movement in my chest area, even during vigorous exercise. 

The straps are adjustable, and are very wide to give extra support. I also like the colour of this bra - usually sports bras are pretty ugly contraptions, but this one at least has a pretty colour! Although not hugely important when exercising, I found this bra actually gave me a nice shape, which helped me feel more confident when wearing it for my workouts. 

Here's what Shock Absorber say about their Ultimate Run Bra:

Designed specifically for runners, the award-winning Ultimate RUN bra reduces bounce by up to 78%* and provides ultimate friction-free comfort.

The bra has:

• Infinity-8 support system counteracts the breasts' figure-of-eight movement during running
• Soft, seamless inner reduces rubbing or chafing
• Non-slip, wide padded adjustable straps
• Reflective tape across cups for high visibility
• Full back opening for easy on and off
• Made from moisture-wicking, breathable fabric, sports performance fabrics
*University of Portsmouth 2009 (Scurr et al) - testing carried out against 'no bra' conditions.




Unfortunately, I couldn't very well review the bra without showing you guys what it looks like in reality. So, with red cheeks and a slightly apprehensive knot in my stomach, here's the bra on…


The Ultimate Run bra retails at £38 - which seems to me to be a pretty competitive price for a good sports bra of this quality. They are available to buy from Sports Bra Bar, Figleaves, Less Bounce and Booby Doo

So, as you can see from the above photo montage- despite my 5 stone 9 lb weight loss I've still got plenty of lumps and bumps - and there's still a little way to go before I will feel confident about my body. I do definitely feel so much better than I used to, my confidence is building, and the way I view my body is definitely different - I can now see my body as a machine that needs great care taken of it, nutritious fuel given to it, and plenty of exercise to keep it in good working order.

My new Shock Absorber Ultimate Run Bra will most definitely help ensure I stay supported during the exercise part, that's for sure! 

Do you wear a sports bra when you exercise? Or do you join the 48% of women who don't?

Mrs B

xxx

You can follow Shock Absorber on Twitter @No1SportsBraUK
Or on their Facebook page here