Thursday, 28 February 2013

Lovely Yellow Thursday...

The sun has been shining all day - and it really feels as if spring is in the air! My mood immediately lifts when the weather gets brighter and the days seem longer. In homage to the onset of spring I've had a day full of yellow today! Yellow is SUCH a cheery fun colour, and always makes me smile. 

Yesterday I bought a gorgeous bunch of daffodils to brighten up my living room, they've burst out of there buds today and are looking glorious! 


I'm also working on a lovely mustard yellow knitting project - I cant show you the whole project or reveal what its for - but I will say its a work-in-progress for a birthday present for a special friend in a few months time. :-) 


To carry on the yellow theme today I decided there was only one option at lunch time.....



....my favourite....poached eggs on toast - full of protein & yumminess. 

I headed out this afternoon for a little walk to blow the cobwebs away, stretch my aching back, and to enjoy some fresh air, and snapped the lovely bright sunshine....ahhhh gorgeous! 



Then came home for an afternoon of yellow baking.....

Inspired by this morning's This Morning on ITV, I baked Phil Vickery's recipe for Lemon Meringue Cupcakes. The whole prospect of making a version of my favourite ever dessert (Lemon Meringue Pie) in cupcake form really appealed to me - and they looked so fun to make. A great alternative when you don't fancy messing around with pastry and homemade lemon curd. Although, its fine to use homemade lemon curd for this recipe, if you have some. My friend Janet over at Kitchen Table Sewing recently made a scrummy Lemon Meringue Pie from the Queen of cakes Mary Berry's recipe - so if you fancy that rather than the cupcakes you'll find her lovely blog post & recipe here

Using piping bags you pipe half the cake batter into cupcake cases, then pipe in a blob of lemon curd, then more cupcake mix on top - resulting in a yummy cupcake with gooey lemon curd centre. And then do the same again with meringue & lemon curd for the topping - wow! 

piping lemon curd into centre of cake batter mix

all piped and ready for baking

just out of the oven...cooling...

piping lemon curd into the centre of the meringue

all piped and ready for a quick blast in the oven

just out of the oven...mmmm....golden meringue

a sliced version...lemon curd in the centre of the cake and the centre of the meringue

All finished and looking very sunny! 

You'll find the recipe here - it really is such a fun and simple bake. 

Just to spread the sunshine, I took four of the freshly baked cakes round to my lovely neighbours' house - a little random act of kindness to brighten their day! An added bonus being that my lovely neighbours daughter can eat them, as she has a severe nut allergy - but these are nut free

:-) 

I hope you've all had a lovely sunny Thursday too! 
Happy Baking

Mrs B 

xxxxx

Monday, 25 February 2013

27 Things To Do In The Year I Turn 27…


Inspired by my lovely friend Liz's blog post here, I decided to write my own list of things I've planned to do/achieve this year...27 objectives to meet in the year I turn 27. 

It was really fun to write, my husband helped, and it made me focus more on what ultimately I want to get out of the year ahead. Most of the aims are either in support of my various hobbies, linked with food (my big passion!), socialising, or general all-round happiness. 

Since reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Ruben, and forming a 'Happiness Group' with four good friends, I have been trying to focus on filling my life with more happiness, fun and positivity and clearing out all that drags me down! These aims should help contribute to the 'life makeover' and hopefully will result in a fab year full of wonderful experiences. 

Some are crossed out already as I have either already achieved them in the last couple of months, or begun addressing them, others are still waiting to be crossed off - the idea being that I cross them all off by the end of the year! Hopefully! 

1. Make Scotch eggs from scratch – these were a firm family favourite when I was growing up – My mum makes the yummiest scotch eggs, and they used to be her specialty at family parties. My husband has never tasted a homemade one- so I’d like to have a go so he can try them.

I had a pop at these back in January, and both me and hubby were pleased with the results! They were yummy, but, a lot of fiddling around - so probably not something I'd make too often. Still, it was lots of fun and the results were far superior to any shop-bought version. 

my homemade scotch eggs

2. Go to an authentic American Brunch – one of my local pubs in Bedford called The Burnaby Arms has started arranging pop-up events, and American Brunch is one of them. My husband is a big fan of American food (think pancakes, maple syrup, bacon, biscuits etc) and he’s visited Las Vegas a few times and indulged heavily on the foods available. I however have never been – but love the sound of the very decadent foods. My friend Liz told me all about this event, and asked if we’d like to join her and her lovely hubby, so of course we jumped at the chance. We can’t wait to sample the foods in such great company.

We went to the brunch and had a fab time! The food was delicious, the atmosphere very uplifting and all for a very reasonable price! I would highly recommend these pop-up events to any Bedford locals. 

our american brunch - bacon with maple syrup, scrambled egg and THE BEST french toast I've ever tasted! 

3. Have an afternoon shopping session at St Pancras Int – most definitely the most awesome train station in the UK, I pass through St Pancras regularly on journeys home to visit family and trips to London etc – I’m always rushing through with luggage and a train to catch and never get time to fully immerse myself in the place I love so much. Not only does it hold all of my favourite shops under one roof (Cath Kidston, Fat Face, LK Bennett, The White Company, Paperchase, The Body Shop just to name a few) But it also holds loads of places to eat some amazing foods such as Peyton and Byrne, Le Pain Quotidien, Searcys, and Gelato Mio. So one of my aims this year is to go to St Pancras as a destination in itself for shopping and eating and enjoying!

4. See Wicked the musical again – I saw this show a few times when it first debuted in London, and am looking forward to returning with a fellow fan Liz in March – what a treat!

5. Visit Cornwall – I haven’t been to Cornwall since I was a child, and have many happy memories of exploring the beaches, shops and tearooms when I was small. I’ve wanted to return for ages, I especially want to go with my husband to explore places together. We are holidaying there this Easter with my mum, stepdad and sister, and I can’t WAIT! Looe here we come!

6. Hold a Superbowl Gathering/Party My husband is a big fan of American Football – especially the yearly SuperBowl – he always watches the game, which is aired in UK from 11pm-5am on a Sunday night in March. He always invites his mate Dan over, and they always book the Monday off work. Normally I can’t participate as I need to get up for work, but this year I am on sick leave due to my poorly back, and so can indulge in some Superbowl fun! I’m cooking some American-style foods (BBQ Chicken wings with blue cheese dip, hotdogs, nachos and Mississippi Mud Pie) and sharing them with some good friends. I’m pretty sure the boys will get out the Beer Pong table for a few games as well.

The party was held & we all had a blast! You can read my friend Liz's blog post about it here
bbq chicken wings with blue cheese dip @ my SuperBowl party

Mississippi Mud Pie @ SuperBowl party



7. Learn to Crotchet – Last year I inherited a family friend’s impressive Crotchet wool, hooks and books collection, and I keep meaning to get it all out and have a proper try at learning the craft. A lot of my WI friends are very accomplished at the craft and this year I want to pick their brains and steal their skills.

8. Finish off knitting and sewing projects – I am a serial crafter, and sometimes start projects that I don’t get round to finishing. This year I’d like to persevere and finish some of these half-done craft attempts. I intend on finishing my beginners sewing machine course with lovely Janet over at Kitchen Table Sewing in March and this should help me to finish some outstanding projects.

9. Join the Clandestine Cake Club & go to various events I first heard about the CCC a few months ago and thought it was a great idea – meet fellow cake lovers in a secret location, bring cake, eat cake, speak cake, take cake home. …What more do I need to say? 

I joined the lovely Clandestine cake ladies last week and posted about my first meet with them here.

10. Visit drinkshopdo Another one that Liz has inspired! She told me about this nugget of gorgeousness in London and ever since I heard about the café come craft shop come workshop I have wanted to visit. I must do this. Last year I visited the wonderful Sew Over It in London and had a ball, so I imagine drinkshopdo will have the same effect on me.

11.  Join in with Bedford’s ‘Cash Mob’ - I’ve been desperate to join fellow Bedfordian’s in a monthly Cash Mob, which began three months ago, and finally joined in during February’s meet – the premise is that locals meet up in the town centre on a proposed Saturday each month with £5 of their own money which they are willing to spend. Kayte Judge (who is the brains behind Cash Mob) then chooses a nominated independent store out of the hat, and all Cash Mobbers go fourth and spend their £5 in that store. The idea being that as an individual shopper perhaps we cant make too much of a difference to the state of our High Street, but if the community club together we can support our local independent businesses and boost their revenue. So far, the shops that have been ‘cash mobbed’ have included Rose Tinted Vintage, The Arcadia Sweet Shop and Goldings. This month was Goldings on the High Street, and about 40-50 people turned up on this wet day to support this gem of a local business. I bought myself an awesome single cupcake holder (for transporting a single cupcake without it getting squashed – perfect for lunches!) and lovely set of foil chocolate wrappers for my chocolate-making habit.  It was great feeling to know that as a community we had boosted their daily revenue by at least £250, and no doubt introduced the shop to people who had never visited before (like me!).

my purchases from Feb's Cash Mob

12. Go to Claridges for afternoon tea – I was a massive fan of the BBC TV show ‘Inside Claridges’, ever since it aired I’ve been desperate to visit for afternoon tea. I’m hoping to go for my 27th birthday in October.

13. Visit St Helena’s in Elstow for our First Wedding Anniversary – This is an amazing restaurant in Bedfordshire that I’ve visited once before. Once isn’t enough as far as I’m concerned and I’m eager to return. Hopefully hubby and I will go to celebrate our first wedding anniversary in mid-August.

14. Visit Harry Potter Experience in Watford – I’m a massive Potter fan! We have a huge connection with the Potter dynasty as my auntie was the head of make up on all of the Harry Potter films. This meant I was lucky enough to be an extra in one of the films (Philosopher’s Stone) as well as meet all the cast and crew. Having the inside access was a huge part of my childhood, and I’d love to re-visit the memories by visiting the recently opened ‘experience’ in Watford.

hilarious claim to fame - the red arrow is pointing to my head! LOL


15. Go to Cadbury’s World – this one is self-explanatory. Chocolate. Enough said.

16. Make a hand raised pork pie – Okay, so Paul Hollywood makes it look easy, but I’m yet to have a go at hot water pastry or hand-raising a pie. This is something I’ve been meaning to have a go at for ages. This year I will do it.

17. Read ‘Les Miserables’ by Victor Hugo – I am a massive fan of the musical production, and new film version of this heart-wrenching story. I have been singing the songs since I was a teenager (‘On My Own’ was my GCSE Music performance piece back in 2002) but I have never ever managed to read the book from cover to cover. I have started it hundreds of times, but always given up as it’s a hard and wordy read – but I am determined that in my 27th year I will start and finish the whole novel.

18. Arrange a Picnic in the Park event with Liz – Liz and I currently run Scone Roses WI together, and we’re always trying to think of new fun ideas and events to run. She came up with this corker – a mass picnic in a local park for anyone who wants to join in – I’m really looking forward to getting stuck into arranging this for the summer!

19. Go to Calzone & Co in Bedford I keep hearing good things about this new Italian restaurant which opened in my favourite part of town (the embankment) late last year … must visit by the end of the year.

We went for lunch with our friends Liz and Baz after the Cash Mob event in Feb, and made the most of their pizza & a drink for £5 deal! We're still yet to try a calzone though, so i'm sure will be returning before long! 

20. Visit and support local independent shops more frequently – this is an aspiration I have been holding for a couple of years now, but what with busy work lives and convenience taking over I’ve been finding it hard to shop this way. This year I want to take a conscious step away from all-things-convenient and start supporting the great local shops we have in Bedford such as Gunns Bakery, Lingers the Butchers, The Cheese Kitchen deli, Foods of Italy, The Cottage Bakery, RoseTinted Vintage, Goldings, Fancy, The Arcadia Sweetshop and many more I’m yet to discover!

21. Redecorate the small spare room in preparation for our new arrival – If you’re a family member, friend, or regular blog-reader you’ll know that Liam and I are expecting our first baby in August. We need to redecorate our small spare room so as it can become the baby’s nursery. I can’t wait to get stuck into this project! We have already bought some awesome wallpaper designed by Quentin Blake, and a chest of drawers from Ikea to match the daybed that will be staying in the nursery room. We have inherited a beautiful antique cot from my dad (which my not-so-baby brother also used as a wee one!) - so the room is a work in progress. Once the wallpaper is up it's just a case of purchasing those last minute pretties to finish it off. 

Our awesome wallpaper for the nursery - Cockatoos by Quentin Blake.

22. Partake in some Random Acts of Kindness – I have blogged about this idea here and here in the past and this year I am determined to deliver some random acts of kindness to the special people in my life. So…watch this space…it might just be you!

23. Hand make/ hand bake giftsThis year’s goal is to try and hand make or hand bake at least one aspect of every gift I give. I have begun this already – I made a paper cut card for my brother’s birthday on January 1st 2013, and I hand baked a Chocolate, Espresso and Bourbon cake for my Father-in-Law’s birthday at the end of Jan. I’ve at least started with the best of intentions.

the homemade cake for my father-in-laws birthday - recipe here


24. Lose my post baby weight – for those of you who know me you’ll know I have always been a ‘big girl’ and struggled with my weight. But back in September 2011 I embarked on a weight-loss journey that saw me losing over 3 stones in weight. This was a huge achievement for me, and was hard work, but with a mixture of calorie counting and a LOT of walking I achieved my weight-loss goal. My main reason for losing the weight was because I wanted to start a family, and knew this would mean further weight gain. I also wanted to avoid the complications obesity brings to pregnancy and motherhood. Once our little bundle arrives I want to work hard to return to my pre-pregnancy weight, and hopefully shift more than I put on in pregnancy. I might finally get down to the sought-after (by me) size 14.

25. Make swimming part of my weekly routine – Exercise is important for me to keep my weight down, my mind clear and to support my love of food! However, since my back injury it has been increasingly harder to find exercise that is do-able and comfortable. Swimming is by far the best. The difficulty for me is that I don’t drive, and both of Bedford’s swimming pools are a good 40 minute or more walk away (I’m not really meant to walk more than 20 mins at a time due to my injury) … but once hubby is driving (which should be really soon) I’d like to build a weekly swim into my routine.

26. Develop some art work and branding for my blogthis is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while now, and I’m hoping I can work in collaboration with one of my best friends and awesome artist Carmi Latham to come up with some catchy artwork (logo, header, title art) for the blog. I want to give it a more personal touch & capture the essence of the blog visually for my readers.

I have now completed this- with the help of my wonderful friend Carmi who designed the branding for me! She's so talented - check out her website here.





27. Eat an original Bedfordshire Clanger – a Clanger is a pasty style pastry that originates from Bedford – it combines sweet and savoury by having a meat filling in one end, and a fruit one in the other. Gunns Bakery in the town centre is one of the last places in Bedfordshire that still make and sell these little beauties, and I’m ashamed to say that after having lived in Bedford for 8 years now, I am still yet to try one. So next time I'm in town i plan to head to Gunns for lunch with the hubby in tow - and who knows, I might even be inspired to bake one myself! 

So...thats my list! :-)

Has anyone else got a similar list? 

What do you want to achieve this year? 

I'd love to hear some of your goals, so feel free to comment or do a linked post on your blog! 

Big love

Lucy xxx

Friday, 22 February 2013

Craft, Cake and WI...

As many of my readers, friends and family know, back in December 2011 I joined The Scone Roses WI in Bedford, a newly formed "new generation" Women's Institute group. I was lonely in Bedford, and having decided to settle here with my husband and buy a house, I knew it was time to make an effort to make some good friends, and lay the foundations for a happy life in Bedford. I went along to their Christmas party all alone, knowing nobody, and was extremely nervous, but as soon as I arrived I felt as if I was 'home' - everyone made me so welcome, and the rest as they say is history!

A year and 2 months down the line, and I'm now the President of the group, running it with the founder Liz Wright (read her blog here), who is now one of my closest friends. Kindred spirits we are indeed!

It is so much fun being part of the group, and I know I've made solid friendships for life with the fellow 'Sconettes'. Having a group of friends around me who not only share my hobbies, interests and passions, but also my outlook on life, my zest for creating opportunities and chances to have fun, and do the things I love, is quite frankly an awesome place to be in. I feel supported and nurtured by these women, and I truly think we all help fuel each others' fire.

Last night, Liz and I held our first Crafty Swap Shop event, where crafters from all over Bedford came to swap their unwanted crafting supplies, all under the roof of the wonderful Fancy, the tea room on Roff Avenue in Bedford (website here).

piles of crafting supplies waiting to be swapped

It was an amazing night - with at least 40 ladies attending. Some were fellow WI'ers, but we met lots of new ladies too - all of whom had things to swap, and a passion for a really good piece of cake! It's when running events like these that I realise how great the 'community' is in Bedford, and how networking, event planning, and listening to the needs and wants of our fellow public can lead to really fun events like last night.

The scrumptious scones at Fancy last night..! 

It was a truly great atmosphere and made the arduous task of 'having a clear out' SO much more fun and rewarding. I'm all for giving to charity...but when we swapped away last night it was lovely to know that your once loved items were going to homes where they would be newly appreciated by someone who would now put them to good use.

This is definitely an event Liz and I will be running again - so for those of you who couldn't make it - fear not, the Crafty Swap Shop will return!

Last night's event was even more fun for me as I got to bring my lovely mum along! Mum has been up to visit from our hometown in Surrey - and we've had a fab few girlie days together doing what we do best - shopping, chatting, eating cake, and putting the world to rights!  I'm really close to my mum and it was important for me to involve her in the event - a fellow crafter she totally 'got' the idea of swapping unwanted items - and never a one to turn down the chance of a piece of cake (I know where I get it from!) she was well and truly up for being an honorary 'Sconette' for the night. I felt really proud to show her what Liz and I work so hard on, and how much the group has grown, developed and ultimately succeeded over the last year.

My lovely Mummy (blonde lady in flowery top!) at the event last night, enjoying tea, cake and chatter with the lovely Judit. x

So, what more could you ask for...? ...Family, community, good friends, fun, tea, cake and crafting = PERFECT.

I hope all who attended had as much fun as I did, and thanks to Liz, as always, for being the brains & beauty behind the event ;-) mmmwah!

I'll leave you with a photo that I think pretty much sums me up.....


Mrs B 
xxx

(Also a big thank to lovely Baz for photographing the event last night! Fab job as always dude!)

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Clandestine Cake Club...the secret cake bakers club!

Today, I joined the wonderful Carmela Hayes and Michelle Titmus at Waterstone's Book Shop in Bedford town centre for the launch of The Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook. Both ladies run the North and South Bedfordshire clubs, and it was great meeting them & of course...eating cake! 


The Clandestine Cake Club is a secret cake club, set up in December 2010 by Lynn Hill from Leeds, whose passion for cake baking & cake sharing is infectious! The idea? Sign up to the CCC website for free, find your nearest group (there are over 150 CC Clubs all over the UK & abroad), and you'll receive an invite about a once a month to a CCC meeting. Go along. Make friends. Eat cake. It's as simple as that. 

You'll meet in a secret location which is only revealed a couple of days before the event, a 'theme' is set for each meeting (i.e. chocolate, vegetable cakes, indulgence) , and then you turn up with your cake and share it with like-minded people who also enjoy baking and eating delicious cakes. It's totally free (you just need a few pennies to buy a cuppa or a glass of wine to go with your cake), and you usually get to take a selection of other bakers cakes home with you at the end of the meet. BONUS! 

The tag line for the club is : Bake, eat and talk about cake. Arrive as strangers, leave as friends. It's all about CAKE.

Since starting in 2010 The Clandestine Cake Club has:
6,000+ Registered members
4,100+ Twitter followers
4,300+ Facebook fans
150+ CCC’s predominately in the UK with clubs in Europe, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Cayman Islands!

It all sounded pretty perfect to me. So as soon as I heard there was a group local to me I just had to sign up!

The Clandestine Cake Club members have gotten together and written a gorgeous cookbook full of 120 delicious cake recipes which is available to buy here for £12.80 (bargain, as the RRP is £20). 


Today was the launch day of the book in Bedford, and it was a pleasure to go along, with a homemade Chocolate Fudge Cake in tow to share with the Bedford public! 



My Chocolate Fudge cake with the theme of 'love' as Valentine's Day was just last week. 
(I used Nigella's brilliant recipe, which you can find here.) 

The cake went down a treat, and it was great to meet the lovely ladies. We chatted about cake, about food in general & got to know each other, and it was fun enticing the people of Bedford with free cake! 

Carmela, has two of her own recipes published in the CCC cookbook, and I was lucky enough to try her wonderful Amaretto Cream Cake which was divine! Michelle had made a yummy Red Velvet cake, which is one of the CCC Founder Lynn Hill's very own recipes...yum yum yum! The lucky people of Bedford gratefully received free pieces of cake and chatted to us about the club, their favourite bakes & we even managed to dish out some baking advice along the way. 

At the book launch 

My Chocolate Fudge cake (recipe by Nigella)

Carmela's Amaretto Cream Cake

Michelle's version of Lynn Hill's Red Velvet cake. 

All in all a fab day! I'm now going to settle in for the night with a cup of tea, and my newly purchased CCC Cookbook - nothing like a good rummage through a new book full of CAKE! 

:-)

If you are interested in joining a Clandestine Cake Club near you then visit the website http://clandestinecakeclub.co.uk and sign up for free. 

You can also follow @clandestinecake @carmelahayes @ShelleyTitmus and me @lucybishop2012 on Twitter to find out more! 

Mrs B

xxx

Saturday, 16 February 2013

A little something we've been cooking up....


That's right...I'm not just piling on the pounds because I'm a fatty! :-) 

Baby Bishop is currently 14 weeks & counting....

Due 18th August 2013.

We can't WAIT to meet you! 

Mumma Bishop
&
Daddy Bishop

xxxxx

Friday, 15 February 2013

A little makeover....

So, my wonderful friend and awesome artist/illustrator Carmi Latham over at The Inker's Boudoir has re-designed and branded my lovely little blog. I hope all my lovely readers like it. :-)

We tried to come up with a concept and colour scheme that sums up my style, love of vintage, and of course - tea and cake! I think its perfect....she's a very clever lady! 

I'd love to hear your feedback and thoughts.

Sparkles and hugs

Mrs B xxxx

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Pancake Day!!

I've just sat down after wolfing down 3 delicious pancakes, with my filling of choice...lemon, sugar AND golden syrup! Yum!

Hubby isn't a major fan of sweet pancakes, he prefers savoury fillings like ham & cheese. Personally I think he's mental. But today he went for some sweet dessert pancakes with the famous Lotus Biscuit Spread which he said tasted amazing.

I tried out Jamie Oliver's Perfect pancakes recipe tonight after reading his 1 tweet recipe:

1 egg, 1 cup self-raising, 1 cup milk, pinch of salt. Whisk. Pour into a hot frying pan. Flip! RT&Share #1tweetrecipe

It was new to me to use self raising flour rather than plain, but it worked really well. Lovely light pancakes!

What did you have on yours?

Lucy xxx






Retro 80's/90's Sweets

Today I'm reminiscing about the sweets from my childhood (80's/90's). 

Sweets were such an exciting treat for me as a child, often given to me by my lovely Nanny Vera (who had the sweetest tooth EVER!) - pretty much every sweet that made my final list holds a strong memory for me. 

It would be virtually impossible for me to pick my very favourite - but I think something sherbety would have to come near the top of the list.

Sherbet dip dab
Smarties
Opal fruits
Black jacks
Fruit salad
Sherbet fountain
Fudge
Double lollies
Poppets
Kola cubes
Cherry drops
Nerds
Dweebs
Drumsticks
Love hearts
Parma Violets
Pez
Refreshers
Choc dip
Tooty frooty
Jelly tots
Chomp
Freddie Frog
Fruit Polo
Fizz wiz
Flying saucer
Candy necklace
Flumps
Aniseed balls
Push pops
Lucky Charms
Hubba Bubba
Sweet ‘cigarette’ sticks
Rainbow Drops
Pineapples chunks
Dolly mixture
Chewits
Fizzy Cola Bottles
Space dust
Club
Sherbet pips
Milk bottles
Frosties
Sweet Peanuts


Which was your favourite?
Have I missed any? 

Lucy

xxxx