Saturday, 30 November 2013

Bert's First Christmas: Fab Present Ideas for 2013...


IT IS 3 WEEKS AND 4 DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS!!!!!

It is 1st December tomorrow and I am RIDICULOUSLY excited that it is nearly Christmas. I am an absolute Christmas-nut I have always found it the most magical and exciting time of the year. This year, as you can imagine, I am stomach-wrenchingly excited as it is my beautiful son Bert's First EVER Christmas. *squeal*

My Little Mr posing for our family Christmas card *cuteness overload*

Obviously, I want to make this Christmas uber-special for him but I am aware that he won't remember any of it as he'll only be 4 months old on Christmas day. For that reason I had to really think about what gifts would be suitable for Bert this year. I wanted to get a balance between things he'll be able to use/enjoy now, things he'll be able to use/enjoy in 2014, and things to keep for re-using Christmas after Christmas. 

Here are a little selection of some fun gift ideas for your little ones this Christmas...

PERSONALISED CHRISTMAS SIGN

This fun personalised wooden sign is from Plant A Box priced at £9.95 - you can personalise the wooden sign with 25 characters on up to two lines and it comes in a variety of colours. 

I cannot wait to pop it up on the wall in our house, and re-use it year after year! I plan to take a picture of baby Bert with the sign each year, so as we can see how he grows as each Christmas comes and passes. 


MERINO WOOL SLIPPERS

Gorgeous Merino Wool Slipper from Nel A Ned priced at £22

I'm so looking forward to popping these onto Bert's yummy squishy feet on Christmas Day - they will be especially useful if we get all this snow that is being predicted!!

The slippers/booties are beautifully made, and lined with the softest Welsh sheepskin, perfect for making sure that bubba's toes are toastie! 

HUNTER WELLIES




Insanely cool mustard yellow Hunter wellies from Wellies and Worms priced at £23.95

These wellies are a present that Bert can enjoy when he is a bit older - I'm so excited about the prospect of jumping in puddles and kicking autumn leaves with Bert wearing these wells when he's bigger! 

BIBS



Triceratop bib and 1st Christmas bib from Funky Giraffe priced at £4 each


Bert often wears bandana/dribble bibs; they really are great and help prevent multiple outfit changes each day! All of the bibs from Funky Giraffe are made to an amazing standard, they are the best quality bibs we've used (and we've tried quite a few!). 

T-SHIRT




Anchors Away long sleeved t-shirt from Funky Giraffe priced at £9.00

The Anchors Away T-shirt caught my eye as I have a real love for all things nautical - I am drawn to navy/white combos, stripes, and anything to do with the seaside, so this T-shirt ticks all the boxes for me. Bert looks super-cute in navy too, I'm looking forward to teaming it with his chino trousers, Anchor coat and Ugg-style boots during the cold winter months. 

BURP CLOTH

A very clever idea...a burp cloth which lays over your shoulder from Funky Giraffe priced at £4.00  with a Night Skyrocket pattern.

The burp cloth is a really cool idea - a little funkier that a muslin, thicker (more absorbent), and lets face it, much prettier! It feels very comfortable to wear over your shoulder, and of course, has a bold design which is always popular with little ones! 


CHRISTMAS SLEEPSUITS


Stunning pack of 3 Christmas Sleepsuits from my favourite baby clothes company The Essential One, priced at £18.99.

I cannot tell you how fab the quality of their clothes are. The designs are all so cute; their sizing is reliable and pricing so reasonable. Bert has some lovely vests from them which he wears constantly - they wash so well, and have the coolest prints on them. I cannot wait to see him in these sleepsuits over Christmas - he will look completely adorable! 


CHICCO GOODNIGHT STARS PROJECTOR



Chicco Goodnight Stars Projector - Blue, from Baby Dino - it currently has 20% off, and is now priced at £19.99 instead of £24.99. 

We already own a similar projector which was a gift from my best friend when Bert was born and we totally love it. In fact, I'm not sure who loves having the stars projected on the bedroom wall more - Bert or Mummy! When Baby Dino offered us the chance to review this projector we jumped at the chance! Now we can project stars in multiple rooms meaning Mummy can still have stars to soothe her, even when Bert moves into his own room ;-)

This projector also plays very calming classical music, which I'm a huge fan of! So often these sorts of products play really childish, repetitive (annoying!) tunes which get stuck in your head for days, and I end up humming them on the toilet! This soothing classical music is so relaxing for both parents and baby! Genius! 

It also comes with a cute little detachable soft toy - a lovely little bonus, I'm sure Bert will love it. 

PERSONALISED SANTA & RUDOLPH SNACK PLATE


Perhaps my favourite gift of all that we're giving to Bert this Christmas is this beautiful personalised snack plate for Santa's mince pie and Rudolph's carrot! From a lovely local business called Precious Plates  (based in Bedford) priced at an amazing £8.00 - what a bargain! 

The detail on this plate is perfect; it is so bright and colourful - the illustrations are just adorable, and I LOVE that it is personalised with Bert's name. This being Bert's first Christmas, it was hard to decide what items would make the occasion extra special. I also didn't want to get him all "age appropriate" things, as he'll only be 4 months old and I know he won't remember this Christmas in years to come. Because of that I wanted him to have some presents for keeping - to be a reminder of his first ever Christmas, and to be usable for other Christmases. 

I know we'll be laying out this plate on Christmas Eve for years and years to come, and the promise of all future Christmases is embodied in this fab little plate! 

PERSONALISED DUMMY


Hehehe - I just love this personalised dummy from Talulala priced at £3.19 - you can have any personalisation up to 3 lines (10 characters max. per line) such a fun idea - a really perfect stocking filler for any little ones this Christmas! 

I'm pretty sure this will get lots of giggles on Christmas day, as well as being a genuinely useable and useful gift - a gift that keeps on giving as it means some peace for all the family on Christmas Day! Not that Bert is that noisy (honest!). 

PERSONALISED BIB

I'm hoping we'll get a few years wear out of this awesome personalised bib from Talulala priced at £10.90. The bib comes in either White, White/Light Blue or Navy/Red combinations with font in either Red, Pink, White, Light Blue, or Dark Blue. You can personalise 3 lines of text (each line can have 10 characters max). 

Another useful yet cute gift, that will benefit both Bert and I. The bib is made from 100% pure cotton, which is a big plus point for me as it is lovely and soft and should wash well (a must for a bib!)

PERSONALISED CHRISTMAS CARDS

I really want to share the joy of Bert's first ever Christmas with my wonderful family and friends too. I thought that a fun way to do this would be to send some personalised Christmas cards to them with a gorgeous picture of my boy on the front! 

I made these fab cards on PaperShaker....

Flora Mistletoe Swag Folded Card - a set of 10 for £12.90 (with envelopes)

The inside of the mistletoe card :-)

Shake 3 Photo Panoramic Postcard - a set of 10 for £12.90 (with envelopes)

other side of the postcard :-)

The PaperShaker website was really easy to use, and the cards only took a few minutes to put together. There are some lovely templates and artwork all ready to use, and you can upload your own photos in seconds. The cards arrived very promptly in the post, and were wrapped in protective cardboard envelopes to keep them in pristine condition. 

I am really so pleased with the cards and I can't wait to send them out to my lovely family and best friends. I know that they'll love to see Bert's cheeky face, and the cards will be lovely keepsakes for them to remember Bert's first Christmas by. 

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I hope these ideas have helped you with a bit of your Christmas shopping ... And hopefully I've left you with enough time to get ordering in time for the big day! You know how I love to persuade you to spend your pennies. :-)

Now that it's December expect lots more Christmas themed posts! 
(I'm not even sorry, I LOVE Christmas)

Here's a sneak peek as to what's coming up...

-Christmas baking
-Christmas books
-The Bishop Family Christmas traditions
-Christmas clothes

So until then...here's some Christmas sparkle for you all! 

***************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

Bye for now!

Mrs B
xxx


Disclaimer: I was sent each of these items free of charge for the purpose of this review. However, all words, images and opinions are my own. 

Friday, 29 November 2013

Green Vale Farm Fresh (all rounder) Potatoes *REVIEW*

Potatoes are definitely a food I could not live without. 

They are my ultimate comfort food, and I love that they are such a versatile foodstuff. 

I use potatoes pretty much every day in my cooking, and jumped at the chance to try out these organic potatoes from Green Vale

GreenVale Potatoes are now available at Tesco costing £2.50 for 2kg (Introductory offer of £1.50 for 2kg at the moment!)  & Ocado costing £2.59 for 2kg (Introductory offer of £2.00 for 2kg at the moment!) 

Green Vale call these potatoes 'all rounders' claiming that they are the perfect spuds any way you decide to prepare them. I decided to put that to the test. 

PUTTING THE SPUDS THROUGH THEIR PACES...

In order to truly road-test these spuds I thought I'd prepare them in the three most common ways we use potatoes in the UK...

CHIPS



The Classic: Gammon, Egg, Chips (& beans) YUMMY

The potatoes made really scrumptious chips - I use a Tefal Acti-fry to prepare my chips which uses just 1 tbsp olive oil to prepare enough chips for the whole family...it's a much healthier way of enjoying chips. The potatoes worked very well - they came out of the acti-fry super crispy and were really fluffy inside - these attributes make the perfect chip in my eyes.

ROAST POTATOES

The UK's favourite - who can resist a good roastie? For me they need to soft and fluffy inside and very crispy on the outside. 

So, how did the GreenVale spuds get on?


THE ROAST: Roast chicken, roast potatoes, green beans, sprouts & gravy. 

I think the picture says it all. PERFECT roasties (again, using the Acti-fry!) in just 45 minutes. The potatoes had a lovely flavour, despite being 5 days old by the time I made them. I think the paper bag that they are packed in definitely helps to keep the potatoes fresher for longer. There were hardly any bruises on the potatoes after 5 days, and not a single green patch or sprout in sight. 

MASH

THE MASH: Lamb stew, dumplings and mash. 

After a week I assumed the potatoes would suffer in terms flavour and texture. How wrong I was!

 I made a lovely slow-cooked lamb stew with dumplings, and used the GreenVale spuds to make a fluffy mashed potato. I only added a little Lurpak Lightest butter, a splash of semi-skimmed milk and seasoning to the potatoes, and they were really tasty. I found them easy to mash and they soon became light/fluffy without lumps. 

GreenVale really do seem to be reliable all-rounder potatoes, and I will certainly be purchasing them regularly from now on. It's nice to find a reliable potato that stays fresh, and doesn't start sprouting and turning green within a few days. 

Which is your favourite way to prepare a potato?

Mrs B 

xxx

Disclaimer: I was sent a complimentary bag of GreenVale potatoes for the purpose of this review. All images and opinions are my own. 

Thursday, 28 November 2013

My Dream Christmas Stocking...

The Christmas Stocking

No Christmas would be complete without the customary stocking. 

Today I've been having some fun dreaming up my ULTIMATE STOCKING - full of awesome gifts that I think would make perfect presents this Christmas, and any Christmas that follows come to that!  

I really love a bit of window shopping - it gives me an excuse to check out all my favourite brands and websites, without affecting my bank balance. Plus it tends to give me lots of great gift ideas for others.

I hope this post gives you lots of ideas if you're putting together a stocking, or your own Christmas wish list. I'm sure, like me, some of the gifts below will be things you seriously want in your life! 

I also hope it introduces you to some new shops/brands - I love discovering awesome new online shops, there are so many out there to find! 

THE STOCKING ITSELF

My perfect Christmas stocking would be something like this beautiful Vintage Style Stocking from John Lewis priced at £26, this can also be personalised with the recipients name - awesome! 

MY PERFECT STOCKING FILLERS...

Set of 24 Beer Mat Style Biscuit Coasters from Gifted Penguin priced at £6.99

Because, well, who doesn't like a biscuit?

A set of Christmas Cookie Cutters from Gifted Penguin priced £5.99

This is a really reasonably priced set of cutters, and any baking enthusiast like me only feels happy once she has an array of various themed cookie cutters stored in her baking cupboard! 

Rob Ryan 'I walked and I thought..' tape from Rob Ryan's Shop priced £10.50

You all know by now that I adore the art work of Rob Ryan - how fun would it be to stick this awesome tape everywhere? Well, maybe not everywhere. The 'I walked and I thought' slogan is especially poignant for me as I walk everywhere and really find it my saving grace in terms of 'me time', time to think and mull things over. 

Personalised Baking Ink Stamp from Not On The High Street £14.50

The perfect gift for a home baker like me who just loves to give away her baked treats to friends and family. I truly love this little rubber stamp! 

Sweet Cecily's Pina Colada Lip Balm from Not On The High Street priced at £3.50

Pina Colada is my favourite cocktail and reminds me of fun summer holidays with my girlfriends when I was younger. I love a gift that makes me think of days gone by. 

Liquid Sand OPI 'Kiss Me At Midnight' nail varnish from John Lewis priced at £10.35

Because I love anything that sparkles!

Stunning Estella Bartlett Present Bow Pendant from John Lewis  priced at £16

I have totally fallen in love with this beautiful pendant. Stunning, subtle and reminds me of when I "stole" one of those bows from Clintons as a child by sticking it on my mums back while we were in the shop - she didn't know I'd done it and went MAD at me when she realised about 2 hours later! I felt like a proper thief (I was about 3!!). 

50ml Cocoa Gin from Hotel Chocolat priced at £4.00

Because Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without your favourite tipple now, would it? 

The Festive Wreath (small) from Hotel Chocolat priced at £7.50

I hate to admit this, but I'm really not a fan of the customary chocolate orange in your Christmas stocking....this has far more appeal...

Alternative Mince Pie from Hotel Chocolat priced at £1.95

Who could resist this gorgeous chocolate mince pie? Such a fun & scrummy addition to any stocking this year. 
Christmas Pudding flavour Beanies Coffee priced at £2.50 for 50g

I am a big coffee drinker (especially since Bert came along!) and would love to try these awesome flavours. 
Irish Cream flavour Beanies Coffee priced at £2.50 for 50g


Tetris Cookie Cutters from IWOOT priced at £8.99

You've got to love a gift that reminds you of your childhood, right? I was obsessed with Tetris as a kid, and I was really really good at it - which is a rarity for me, as I'm usually useless at computer games. I would love to find these Tetris cookie cutters buried within my Christmas stocking - it would be the gift that keeps on giving, as I could make sets of iced cookies for my Tetris-loving friends! 

Rosie's Pantry Kitchen Timer from Boots priced £5.50 

This cute little timer reminds me of my pride and joy KitchenAid Artisan mixer, and would come in very handy in my house. 

Creme Floral Slim 2014 Diary from Joules priced at 8.00

I love stationary - especially if its pretty. That is all. 

Sailor Socks from Seasalt priced at £4.50

These socks appeal to me on two levels:
1) they're nautical, and we all know I love the nautical theme.
2) they have mustard in them. I'm obsessed with mustard. 

Brussel Sprout Tree Decoration from TCH priced at £2.50

I just LOVE this novelty tree decoration. So funny! 

Baby Lit 'A Christmas Carol' board book from Amazon priced at £4.32

Baby Lit is a really fun range of classic literature books simplified for babies! I just love this quirky idea, and think it's very 'me' to sit down and read Bert the classics before bed! ;-) 

What a fun gift!

WOW...That would be a VERY full stocking!

Okay, so £146.09 is probably a bit steep for a stocking and its gifty interior, but this wouldn't be a dream stocking if it wasn't a tad unrealistic! That's half the fun of dream shopping isn't it? 

What would make it into your dream Christmas stocking?

Big Love & Christmas Sparkle

Mrs B

xxx

Disclaimer: I was not sponsored in any way, shape or form for this post. I have put it together purely because I love the products and the shops from which you can purchase them. 

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

John Lewis: Blogging Secret Santa

Wow! I'm feeling so lucky right now!

This year I was asked to take part in the John Lewis Blogging Secret Santa Challenge 2013. 

I jumped at the chance of choosing a lovely gift bundle for a fellow blogger from a list supplied by John Lewis, and was so excited to receive my own gift. 

I've always been a huge fan of John Lewis, in fact, we had our wedding gift list with them, and so are now proud owners of lots of lovely JL goodies. 

CHOOSING A GIFT...

I was paired with the lovely blogger Katie from Gold Dust, and so enjoyed looking through her blog and seeing all her fab posts about beauty and fashion. 

I knew straight away what to choose for her, and *thankfully* I know that she loves the gifts (phew!) - you can read her reaction to receiving the gifts here





*photos stolen from Katie's blog post* :-)

I must admit I lusted after these gifts a little too, and when I realised the calibre of the gifts we would be receiving I got incredibly excited about what I might receive. 

MY GIFT

I received a gorgeous Cath Kidston 3 tier cake stand, and stunning baking set!

Katie, you beauty! What a perfect gift for me!

Anyone who knows me will know I blooming LOVE Cath Kidston, and I could never usually warrant spending oodles on such lovely things. 

I also collect aprons, so this gift is spot on for me! 

soooo pretty! 

just waiting for some yummy homemade cakes!

Baking set includes: apron, cutters, flour dredger, ceramic rolling pin and spatula. 

A big thank you to Katie for such a spot-on gift, and to John Lewis for allowing me to take part!

Cheesy photo of me wearing my lovely new apron! I do love an apron! 


Are you taking part in a Secret Santa this year? I hope you are as lucky as me with the gifts you receive.

I love it when Christmas comes early! 

Mrs B

xxxx