Sunday, 30 March 2014

Happy Mother's Day! GuyLian and Precious Plates Review...

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY

Me and my gorgeous boy! 

I'm pretty excited about today as it is my first ever Mother's Day celebration as a Mum - last year I was 4 months pregnant with Bert, and I can remember really clearly wondering what this Mother's Day would be like…

For today I have arranged a lovely big family meal at lunchtime with my husband, Bert, my mum, my twin sister, mother in law, father in law, brother in law and sister in law at a new local restaurant/hotel called d'Pary's - I'm so looking forward to trying out what looks like a fabulous new venue in Bedford, and cant wait for us all to get together and celebrate the day. 

My husband and I always treat our mums to sweet little gifts and cards on Mother's Day, and this year is no exception. 

GUYLIAN CHOCOLATES 

My mum has a really sweet tooth - especially when it comes to chocolate, so when the lovely people at GuyLian (my most favourite chocolate in the whole world) offered to send me this big box of 32 GuyLian Sea Horses in time for Mother's Day it seemed silly not to pass them on to my lovely mum, who I know will really enjoy tucking into them! It was blooming hard to part with them to be honest, as they truly are my favourite chocolates; but there's no more deserving person to give them to than my mum! 



PRECIOUS PLATES PLAQUE 

I also thought I'd better buy mum a gift to keep (not that she'd mind me only giving her a giant box of chocolates!) ...so I chose a gorgeous personalised plaque from Jem over at Precious Plates (a small craft business based in my hometown of Bedford). Where I can, I love to support local businesses and Jem makes such lovely things that they're hard to resist! At Christmas she made Bert a beautiful personalised Santa snack plate (see the post here) and she hasn't disappointed with this beautiful Mother's Day plaque which cost £10. 

"Only the best Mums and Dads get promoted to Nanny and Grandad….Nanny Seaside - Bert - Grandad Grumps"

My silly mum is called 'Nanny Seaside' because when I was pregnant she told me she had always envisioned herself as being retired and living by the seaside when she was a nan - she said she'd dreamed of being called 'Nanny Seaside' and then the name sort of stuck! She does live quite close to the seaside - much closer to it than we do, so I guess it is a reasonably accurate name! And anyhow, she still plans to move to the coast when she retires, and so it will be totally relevant then!

My stepdad is called 'Grandad Grumps' because we always joke with him that he is the grumpiest man ever (think Victor Meldrew!) :-) hahaha…my poor stepdad gets lots of stick from the rest of the family (he is pretty grumpy though!)


All in all I think these are pretty perfect gifts for my lovely mum - and I hope she'll be pleased with them when she opens them today. I'm chuffed with the pairing of something luxurious for her to consume, and something lovely for her to keep - double win! 

MY MUM

This year I feel especially emotional about Mother's Day - not only because it's my first as a mum to Bert, but because this last year has really taught me how much I love and appreciate having such an awesome Mum. Mum was one of my birthing partners (as well as my husband) and they made the most awesome and supportive team - it would have been so much harder if my mum hadn't been there, when you're in pain you always want your mum, right? 

Becoming a mum myself has made me discover a new-found respect for my mum, and all she has done for me over the years. Now that I understand what the love for your own child feels like, I appreciate so much more all the times she has worried about me, told me to be careful, and given me (sometimes unwanted) advice, which *annoyingly* is always right! :-)

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

To finish off I thought I'd share my favourite pictures of me and my beautiful Mum with you all…these pictures were taken on my wedding day…

There was a pretty big drama on the day, as my poor mum got stuck in horrendous traffic on the motorway on the way to my wedding ceremony, and thought she would have to miss it! She was calling me in tears saying she was stuck in complete gridlock, and that I would have to do it without her *cue sobs from us both* - it was SO awful. The registry office staff were great and held on as long as they could, but after an hour of nervous waiting they couldn't wait any longer, and so I had to take a deep breath, hold my stepdad's arm and prepare myself for walking down the aisle knowing she wasn't there. :-( 

JUST as the music started and I took my first step towards the double doors, I heard a huge cheer from the ceremony room...she had just run in, mascara stained and determined not to miss her daughter's special day! I have never felt so relieved in my life! These pictures remind me how glad I am to have my mum in my life...

Me and Mumma! 

my gorgeous mum! 

a private joke that made us crack up! happy memories! 


What did you buy for your mum this Mother's Day?

Would you have been pleased with the gifts I chose?

Have a happy day to all Mums out there!

Mrs B 

xxx

You can follow GuyLian on Twitter @Guylian_Chocs or on Facebook here

Disclaimer: I was sent a box of 32 GuyLian sea horse Belgian chocolates for the purpose of this review. 

Friday, 28 March 2014

Lucky Lady….Gorgeous Flowers from Serenata Flowers

I've been such a lucky lady recently, and have won lots of lovely online competitions. You have to be in it to win it as they say - and I really do get a thrill from entering as many competitions as I can find. There are tons out there just waiting for your entries from brand pages on Facebook, blog giveaways, Twitter Follow/RT comps to Instagram regram giveaways - the world of social media has lots to give away - and I have definitely been reaping the rewards since starting my addiction to comping. 

I started entering competitions regularly at the end of last year after winning £100 worth of clothes from a plus size brand in a random competition entry. The thrill of winning spurred me on to find lots more competitions to enter - and since then I've won:

-a hotel stay at The Thistle Hotel, Kensington including B&B & a £50 Westfield Voucher 
-a hotel stay at The Thistle Brighton, including dinner, B&B, & £100 worth of spa treatments
-£150 Hotel Chocolate Hamper
-a large red leather beanbag
-two boxes of Tyrell's crisps (36 bags!)
-a Kindle Fire HD
-£30 Pet food voucher
-an inflatable travel toddler bed worth £80
-a set of fun wooden patterned ice cream spoons
-a dress of my choice from Lovedrobe
-Buggy clips and hooks
-Quentin Blake books x2 

:-) 

I've been very lucky...but I have entered tons of competitions and not won them. These wins really are a small proportion of what I have entered. That said, I feel really lucky to have won such a lot of cool things.

I really recommend a website called SuperLucky where the lovely Di puts together competition round up's, lists and advice - it's a great one-stop-shop for entering a large amount of giveaways easily, around 80% of the competitions I enter come from this site! 

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

This Week's Win…

This week my lucky streak continued and I won a gorgeous bouquet of my choice up to the value of £35 from Serenata Flowers. This competition was hosted by Clare from Emmy's Mummy Blog  - thanks Clare! 

I chose a hand tied bouquet called Nana's Garden (worth £34.99)


The flowers arrived on Wednesday - and I was so excited - I've never had an expensive bouquet of flowers delivered to my front door before!

The flowers arrived in a big box, and were in perfect condition! 

I was interested to see if the flowers looked as impressive in real life as they did in the image on the website. 

I wasn't disappointed - the flowers are beautiful! 

Who wouldn't be majorly happy with these flowers brightening their home?

WOW! 

Fresh flowers make me so happy! 

Sunflowers are just the happiest flowers in the whole world! :-)

Thanks to Serenata flowers and Clare over at Emmy's Mummy for a fab competition! 

Here's hoping for lots more lovely wins in the future!

Mrs B

xxx


Thursday, 27 March 2014

Raspberry Curd Recipe *a midweek treat*

I'm a huge lemon curd lover and often make it from scratch at home, so when I saw the idea of making raspberry curd instead I couldn't wait to give it a go! I love the way this curd uses a lovely pink summery fruit, especially as spring is in full swing (minus the hail storm I got caught in today - not cool!) 

The curd is relatively quick and easy to make - it takes about 40 minutes from beginning to end. Once made it can be stored in a sterilised jar, and once opened can be kept in the fridge for around a week.

RASPBERRY CURD 
(Makes one large jar)

Ingredients

500g fresh raspberries
225g granulated sugar
57g salted butter, diced
2 large eggs, beaten

Method

1. Put the raspberries and 2 tbsps of water in a large saucepan, and bring to the boil. Simmer the raspberries with the lid on until soft (around 5 minutes).


2. Pass the raspberry mixture through a sieve into a bowl placed on top of a pan of simmering water. Ensure the bowl does not touch the water, but creates a seal with the bottom of the pan to trap the steam produced by the simmering water. 


3. Add the sugar, butter and eggs. Over the lowest possible heat, gently whisk the mixture with a balloon whisk until the sugar has dissolved and the butter has melted. Stir with a wooden spoon and keep the mixture moving while you cook to ensure it does not stick to the bowl.  On no account must it  boil or it may curdle. If it starts to bubble, remove from the heat immediately, set the bowl in a large bowl of iced water, and stir the curd with a wooden spoon. 



4. Continue to cook, stirring constantly (so as to avoid the eggs scrambling!) with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens; then turn off the heat and stir again. If you feel the curd isn't quite as thick as you want it then heat it again - but remember that it will thicker further as it cools. The curd is properly cooked once it coats the back of a spoon - after that it is up to you how thin or thick you want to make it. 

5.  Once you are happy with the curd's consistency pour into sterilised jars , and label. Store in the fridge and once opened eat within a week (that won't be a problem, trust me!). 


This curd is perfect spread on toast or crumpets, dolloped on top of porridge or rice pudding, spooned over ice cream, as the filling for Raspberry Meringue Pie, or if made thick enough you could smother it between two sponge cakes with fresh cream to make the ultimate Victoria Sandwich! 

Soooo many delicious options….I opted for the quickest one - smothered on toast! What a lovely sweet treat for a late afternoon "I need some sugar" snack! 



I'm now building up a nice collection of homemade yummies in my fridge - it is so great to have some delicious homemade comfort in a jar to hand whenever I need a food-based pick me up (i.e. always!)


What have you been baking this week? 

And if you made this raspberry curd how would you eat it? My hubby doesn't like sweet things on bread, so he just goes for the "teaspoon straight out of the jar" approach! :-)

Mrs B

xxx

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

BOON Feeding Set Review for Tomy

Bert and I were recently sent some cool feeding products to review by the fab people over at Tomy . The products are made by BOON, which is a company I hadn't previously heard of (I am new to this parenting malarkey though!). They make fun, modern, colourful and highly innovative products for babies from baths, to feeding utensils, vegetable choppers to food mashers - all designed to make life with your little one a tad easier. 

Bert is still relatively new to this eating solid food business - he's been on purees now for 3 months, and has gotten on really well. He truly does love his food (I wonder where he gets that from?). Now he's fully adapted to a life of consuming stuff other than milk I thought it would be a good time to have a try at some finger foods as well as purees. We used one of our cool BOON Platter plates to give Bert his first selection plate of finger foods - Bert tried:

Tetris shaped bread and butter (because Bert is THAT cool!)
pieces of very ripe banana
pieces of very ripe avocado
a few quavers 
and very ripe piece of nectarine

BOON Platter (3 Pack) is priced at £11.99 

The BOON Platter was perfect for a selection of finger foods: the little varied size compartments make it easy to separate foods (this would be fab if you have a child who doesn't like their foods to touch - I know its a common problem with children). The lovely bright colours make the plate really inviting and interesting - Bert instantly wanted to reach out and touch it. The best feature comes from the rubbery slip resistant bottom, which stops the plate from sliding around all over the place - making it much easier for your little one to feed themselves without the whole plate ending up on the floor (definitely a massive plus as we all know the carnage and mess feeding time can leave behind!)

I like this feeding myself thing mum! 

awesome rubbery bottom stops the plate from slipping all over the place

these quavers are tasty mum! 

yes, thats a sandwich half poking out his mouth - cute! 

this is fun

is there anything cuter than seeing these chubby fingers covered in butter for the first time?

At breakfast time we tried out the BOON Catch Bowl - I made Bert his favourite combo of Farley's Rusk mashed with Heinz Yoghurt & Fruit cereal (baby rice) - he absolutely loves it! The catch bowl comes with a non-slip bottom much like the platters, along with a rubber "catch it" bib/lip attached to the main bowl, which helps catch any drops and spills - this lip will come in especially handy when Bert is at the stage of wanting to feed himself. 


BOON Catch Bowl - Orange/Blue is priced at £8.99

Bert was interested in the bowl straight away and enjoyed touching it - I think he will especially enjoy this bowl when he is feeding himself, and it will make his life easier as it won't slip and slide all over his high chair tray. 


The lip on the bowl is great even when you're feeding your baby - you can tuck it under their chin and it will catch any mouthfuls they decide to spit at you! :-)

Alongside the bowl we tried out the BOON Benders cutlery set - the set comes with a chunky spoon and fork, both of which can be bent at the top to suit either left handed or right handed children - genius! 

BOON Benders Cutlery - Orange/Blue is priced at £5.99 

straight spoon

Bent to the left

Bent to the right


Although Bert isn't close to feeding himself yet - I let him hold the spoon, put it to his mouth and get used to the motion of bring cutlery to his mouth. He was instantly drawn to the bright colour of the spoon and seemed to find it easy to hold, and got it straight into his mouth without any fuss. 

Look at those cheeky chops! 

We got on very well with the BOON products we were sent - they've all now gone through the dishwasher (top shelf) a couple of times, and have come out perfectly. They are practical from a parent's perspective, and fun for your kids, and I think these items are priced very fairly.

What Else Do BOON Have to Offer??

Now I've discovered BOON I couldn't resist having a peek at what other awesome products they have to offer. 

I like very much that on the whole their products are reasonably priced, and pretty accessible to most budgets - however, if you have a bit of extra cash to spend you could splash out on this pretty awesome Flair High Chair priced at £199.99 which comes with an inbuilt pneumatic lift! 


Another product I love - which I could imagine would come in really handy, is this food masher. No batteries or sockets are needed to work this little gadget and it lets you mush up fruit, veggies and boneless meats all at the turn of a handle - you can make your own homemade baby food in minutes! Plus, it isn't noisy like food processors, so it won't wake up your sleeping baby - doubly awesome! 

The Mush- Food Masher is priced at £19.99

BOON have lots of other great products on offer to parents nation-wide - their website is well worth a browse - especially for those of us at the weaning stage. 

It's onwards and upwards for Bert and his weaning journey - we're going to continue with our lunch time finger foods - I'm planning on trying him with some pre-cooked vegetables like carrots and courgette, some slices of ham, and some mashed avocado or cheese spread sandwiches over the next few weeks. 

Wish us luck! 

Mrs B

xxx

Disclaimer: We were sent these products for the purpose of this review - all opinions and words are my own. 

BritMums Live Blogging Conference 2014: I'm Going!

For those of you who haven't heard of it BritMums Live is the UK's biggest social media and blogger conference held each year in London for Mummy and Daddy bloggers to meet up, network with brands and hear inspirational speakers over a two day weekend. 

This years BritMums is being held on Friday 20th and Saturday 21st June at The Brewery, London, EC1Y 4SD. 

I am attending BritMums Live this year for the first time, and can't wait…I wanted to introduce myself to those bloggers who are also going along…so here is my meme for the BritMums Live linky. 

This is my blog :-)

I drink tea. A lot. 

Here I am with my little Bert! 
Name: Lucy Bishop
Blog:  Mrs Bishop’s Bakes and Banter
Twitter ID:  @lucybishop2012
Height: 5 ft 5
Hair: Chestnut Brown
Eyes: Blue with tortoiseshell glasses!
Is this your first blogging conference? Yes!
Are you attending both days? Yes
What are you most looking forward to at BritMums Live 2014?
I can’t wait to meet some of the Mummy bloggers I’ve made friends with online since I began blogging such as Emma Shilton from Life According to MrsShilts. I’m also looking forward to networking with some of the brands that are attending, and having some adult time in London (one of my favourite places!) I also am very much looking forward to talking about and exploring the world I’m so passionate about: blogging.
What are you wearing?
I love to dress up (any excuse) so I’ll probably whip out my favourite dress! Flat shoes or boots though!
What do you hope to gain from BritMums Live 2014?
…A fun social experience.
…Some great networking with brands and other bloggers.
…And finally – inspiration!
Do you have any tips to pass on to others who may not have been before?

I’ve not been before, but I will definitely bring a notebook and pen to make as many notes as I can, I’ll bring a big stash of my business cards, and I will also be wearing my colourful blog brooch so everyone will know who I am and what blog I’m from!

Bye For Now and I look forward to meeting you all in June

Mrs B

xxx

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Banoffee Peanut Butter Cake

This showstopper bake won't disappoint. I saw the recipe in the March 2014 edition of the Waitrose Kitchen Magazine - and as soon as I saw the recipe I knew I had to try it! For those of you who follow my blog regularly you'll know that I recently made my own peanut butter *here* and so this recipe married perfectly with using up some of my homemade stock. 

The cake consists of two banana bread style dense round sponges, sandwiched together with caramel, sliced banana and fresh cream, topped with the second cake, peanut icing and smashed up homemade peanut brittle! Wowsers!

This cake is not for the faint hearted - at 646 calories per 12th of the cake it is a mega treat! I just had one slice on Friday night, and haven't touched any more - one slice is better than none though right? It's been hard not to devour the rest - but I'm pretty sure the final 3 slices will be eaten by somebody over the next few days!

Banoffee Peanut Butter Cake

SERVES 12

Ingredients

CAKE

100g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
250g unsalted peanuts
100g honey
200g light soft brown muscavado sugar
8 ripe bananas (4 mashed, 4 sliced)
1/2 lemon juice
3 eggs, separated
25g crunchy or smooth peanut butter
225g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp caramel or toffee sauce
150ml double cream, softly whipped

PEANUT BUTTERCREAM

50g unsalted butter, softened
100g crunchy or smooth peanut butter
150g icing sugar
2 tbsp double cream 

Method

1. Preheat oven to 180/Gas Mark 4. Lightly grease two 20 cm sandwich tins, and line the bases with parchment. Toast the peanuts in a dry pan set over a medium-high heat, tossing regularly until golden (about 4-5 mins). Set aside and wipe the pan clean. Gently heat 75g of the honey and 75g of the sugar until the sugar has dissolved. Cook over a medium-high heat, without stirring, for 2-3 minutes, to make a rich, golden caramel. Tip in the peanuts and stir gently to coat, then pour onto a parchment lined tray. Cool completely, then chop/blitz or bash with a rolling pin in a sealed bag, until roughly ground - you want a mixture of smaller and bigger pieces. 

My mixed peanuts in their caramel goodness

2. Cream the butter with the remaining 125g sugar and 25g honey until light and fluffy, then beat in the mashed banana, lemon juice, egg yolks and peanut butter. Stir in the flour, baking powder, salt and 3/4 of the caramelised peanuts (use the smaller bits and keep the bigger pieces for decoration). In a clean bowl or in your mixer, whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks. Carefully fold through the cake batter until evenly mixed.

3. Divide between the two tins and bake for 30-35 minutes until a skewer into the centre comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack, remove the parchment, and leave to cool completely. 

My two cakes cooling

4. For the buttercream, use electric beaters or your stand mixer to mix together the butter, peanut butter and icing sugar. Increase the speed for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Beat in 2 tbsp double cream until smooth and spreadable. 

5. Transfer one cake to a cake stand/plate and spread over the caramel sauce - don't worry if some spills over the sides - it will add to the homemade look of the cake. Top the caramel with half of the sliced bananas, then the cream. Sit the second cake on the top and cover with the buttercream. Decorate with the leftover sliced bananas and the caramel peanuts. I used the fine powdery pieces of the peanut brittle to push against and stick to the wet sides of the cake - although this wasn't in the original recipe it really helped dress up the "messy" sides. 

T'ah d'ah……! 

There are just no words!

Who could resist a slice of this?

I added 12 slices of banana around the top of the cake like a clock face to help make it easy to portion out as the cake serves 12, handy! 

You will not regret baking this cake. Except perhaps after your 3rd slice when you realise you may have just put on half a stone :-D

Go on, treat yourself, it is the weekend after all! 

Mrs B

xxx