Saturday, 31 May 2014

A Perfect Weekend Bake: Hummingbird Cake

HUMMINGBIRD CAKE 

I first came across this incredible cake about six months ago at my favourite local vintage inspire tea room Fancy, in Bedford. To the untrained eye it looks like a traditional carrot cake, but this little tropical masterpiece is full to bursting with a selection of exotic fruits instead of carrots. It is spiced similarly to carrot cake (with cinnamon), contains a mixture of walnuts and pecans, and is finally topped with an orange flavoured cream cheese frosting, much like its carroty counterpart. 

As soon as I tasted it at Fancy, I knew I had to make it - and my mum's birthday last week gave me the perfect excuse to try out this intriguing recipe using mashed tropical fruits, something I've never placed in a cake before, and the use of sunflower oil instead of butter - which coincidentally, worked perfectly.  

Carrot vs. Hummingbird

Carrot cake is definitely in my top five cakes of all time (I use Felicity Cloake's 'Perfect' Carrot Cake recipe and it is always A-MAZING). However, since making this tropical version, I think it might have to be de-ranked in favour of this South American rival. 

I baked this for the first time last week: most of my extended family tried it at a big family BBQ, and boy did it go down well - there wasn't a single crumb left over! My husband even ranked it as one of the best flavoured cakes he'd ever had…you can't get much better than that. 

I made a two tier sandwich cake and six cupcakes using this recipe from the BBC website (rather than a 3 tier cake as stated in the original recipe) you could do either. 

This unctuous cake is full to bursting with mashed banana, pineapple, mango and passion fruit. topped with a thick glossy cream cheese frosting and lightly spiced to perfection….go on…give it a go, you won't be disappointed. 

MY ATTEMPT AT HUMMINGBIRD CAKE 

Hummingbird Cake


I'm actually sad that this cake is in the past and has been completely devoured…I'm just going to have to make it again…!


Hummingbird Cupcake: to celebrate my lovely Mum's birthday! So delicious that my hubby ate two cupcakes in a row - which is a big deal considering he has been calorie counting big style for the past 9 months, and watches everything he eats! 

Have you got a birthday or special occasion coming up that you need to bake for? 

Or is the weekend a good enough excuse for you to whip up a storm in the kitchen? 

Either way, bake this...

…it's fine, you can thank me later! 

:-)

Mrs B

xxx

Friday, 30 May 2014

Loved By Parents BLOGGER OF THE YEAR 2014: I've been shortlisted!!!

OH MY GOD!!
Today is a happy day in the Bishop household. 

^^ our happy faces ^^

I am delighted to share with you all that I have been shortlisted (the final 5) for Loved By Parents BLOGGER OF THE YEAR 2014….



My blog was nominated (thank you to any readers who nominated me) and then Loved By Parents read through the hundreds of blogs nominated to pick their five favourites. I actually cannot believe that I was one of them. 

I am so chuffed to have been recognised like this. Those who read my blog regularly and know me personally will know how passionate I am about this little blog, and how hard I work to keep it up and running. I write this blog first and foremost because I absolutely love doing it - recognition like this is just icing on the cake for me. 

this cheeky wee man is the genus behind this blog! 

Being a parent is truly the best job I've ever had, I think about that little man morning, noon, and night…I miss him when he's sleeping, and hate leaving him even for a couple of hours. Our day to day is the most fun I've ever had in my life, and getting to share it all with you guys is just such brilliant fun. I hope this blog will be fun for Bert to look back at when he's older to see what we got up to! 

Voting opened at 9am this morning, and so, if you agree with Loved By Parents and think this little ole' blog of mine deserves to win then please pop over and vote for me. Voting is open until 29th June. 

You can vote here, or press the LBP image at the top left of the page. 

Many many thanks to all my marvellous readers who support me….

…please spread the word and vote if you think I deserve it…

…fingers crossed! 

Mrs B

xxx

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

12 Month Baking Challenge MAY: Bakewell Tart


The Bank Holiday weekend has been a fab chance to catch up with all of my wonderful family - it was my mum's, cousin's and uncle's birthday (all on the same day) on Friday 23rd - so we arranged a big family BBQ to celebrate on Sunday held at my Uncle's farm house in Surrey (the same farm we held our wedding on). 

It's not often we manage to get all of my extended family together, so it wash really lovely to see everyone and show my lovely Bert off to them all. We were very lucky to get lovely weather all day (hard to believe looking out the window today - urgh!)

Me and The Bertster at Sunday's BBQ

Me and My Cousin Vicky (sister from another mister) :-)

Me and my lovely hubby! :-) 

Pony rides for the kids at my Uncle's house on Sunday in Surrey - big family get togethers are the best! 

My boy! :-)


The Oldies ;-) Celebrating lots of birthdays! 

Everyone bought food along to the BBQ and I got my bake on just in time for my May Baking Challenge. This month I picked my Uncle Ken's favourite - a Bakewell Tart. As per the other challenges I've never made it before, and was desperate to tick this off my list. 

My husband and I absolutely love a cheeky Mr Kipling Bakewell (with the thick layer of icing & cherry on the top)… it is quite honestly one of the only shop bought cakes I would consider eating as I usually much prefer homemade, so in Mr Kipling style I set about replicating his Cherry Bakewell…and couldn't wait to see how it stacked up against my shop bought guilty pleasure. 


Mr Kipling: Who doesn't love his Cherry Bakewell??

I used Mary Berry's recipe on the BBC website here for the bulk of the Bakewell (pastry & frangipane). I found the recipe to be really reliable, and the only things I changed were the topping and jam: instead of sprinkling flaked almonds on the top of the frangipane (which is the traditional way of making a Bakewell), I made a lovely glossy lemony icing, and added glace cherries to decorate, and instead of raspberry jam, I used cherry jam.

If you'd like to emulate my Bakewell topping just take off the step where you add the flaked almonds, and instead add the icing once cooled completely and top with cherries. 

For the icing:

200g icing sugar
juice of half a lemon
(a little warm water to thin if needed)
glace cherries to decorate

Bakewell in the tin, waiting for the icing to set

Out the tin and ready to devour! 

This was so scrummy :-) We all devoured it so quickly I didn't even get a chance to get a photo of it sliced up. 

Oooooh cherries….! 

I would totally recommend giving this recipe a go if you get the chance. It wasn't half as hard as I was expecting it to be, and it was far superior in taste to any shop bought version I've tried. 

If you like a very sweet Bakewell you could use strawberry or raspberry jam instead of cherry (as they are sweeter than the cherry I used), but I loved getting the sweet kick from the icing, but the warmth and depth of flavour from the cherry jam. 

Happy Baking Everyone! 

I wonder what my Baking Challenge will be next month??

Mrs B 

xxx


Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com

Sunday, 18 May 2014

TK MAXX Love…Beautiful Finds

I LOVE SHOPPING - of all kinds, for all people…I don't have to be buying anything in particular or just for myself, I love all shopping and browsing - being in a shop genuinely makes me feel happy. I love looking at pretty things, being able to pick them up, touch them, and imagine what I would buy if my funds were endless, which unfortunately they're not. :-( 

I love looking around for things I think other people would love (friends & family), and have got better in the last few years at not spending too much money, and just getting a couple of things I actually need rather than lots of frivolous purchases. It is really hard though - I am hard wired to spend - it does not come naturally to me to put things down and walk away - especially if they're very pretty! 

One of the methods I use to kerb by shopping 'habit' (I'm making it sound like I have a genuine problem, I don't, I just like shopping loads) is to take photos of things, so that I can go away and keep looking at them. This helps me to decide if I really like it enough/need it enough to go back and purchase it. It also means I can share all the pretty finds with you guys! 

Last week I hit my local TK MAXX store in Bedford. I love this shop as the merchandise is so varied (homeware, bags, accessories, clothes, baby stuff, food stuffs, shoes, lingerie etc) and it is a little bit like a jumble sale in that you have to be prepared to rummage to find some little gems. Some people hate this about the store, but that is genuinely why I love it so much.

In all honesty, sometimes I go in and don't like a huge amount, but other times like this week I want to buy it ALL.

PRETTY THINGS...

I loved these oriental style dragon pyjamas - I was very close to buying these, my husband loves dragons and I thought he'd love to that fact that I had some dragon PJS. I resisted on the basis that it is now summer and I probably won't be wearing winter pyjamas for a while now. 

This cushion really caught my attention - I love its bright colours, bold pattern and the cute animals. Every time I looked at the cushion I noticed something new - I think it would look lovely in a bright modern living space, in a comfy reading nook, or in a child's bedroom - such fun! 

Stunning BATH hooks which would be a beautiful addition to any boutique style bathroom - a lovely place to hang your towels, I thought this was elegant and classic in style.

I adore copper kitchenware (especially pans…they are a FORTUNE, but I lust after them any time I go to a good kitchenware shop) and I loved this mixing bowl, would be a beautiful addition to any kitchen.  It's only £5.99 too - what a bargain! I would have bought this if I didn't already have two gorgeous mixing bowls in my cupboard and no more cupboard space. 

I then spotted this 14cm Copper Triply casserole pot (which they also have in a bigger size too) which was VERY tempting! I will be heading straight towards the copper pan section when my current pans come to the end of their life. 

Obviously, I love baking, and have a bit of a thing for kitsch cookie cutters. My husband loves Star Wars, and my auntie is currently working on the new Star Wars movie, so I thought this would be a funny thing to stash in my baking cupboard, but alas, I resisted. 


I also have a soft spot for stationary - especially notebooks as I am an obsessive list writer. I have very recently been given a gorgeous Boden notebook, so I resisted this lovely 'ideas' book.

These retro style storage tins are just incredible - I would love to buy all of these and display them on the top of my big dresser in the dining room - if funds weren't an issue I'd have bought every single one...


These absolutely stunning retro salt and pepper mills would match my kitchen perfectly - I love the colour combination and shape. I have a great electric salt and pepper mill at home which works perfectly well, so sadly, I left these beauties on the shelf. :-( 

Le Creuset grey teapots. I can thoroughly recommend any Le Creuset products - I currently own a butter dish, large casserole pot, and pie dish and they are all incredible additions to my kitchenware collection. You can expect anything Le Creuset to last you a lifetime - they come in a variety of fab colour options too. I love this grey option - I have a real thing about grey and yellow together so I'd love to own a grey teapot and yellow mugs! #dreampurchase



Very cute Katie Alice ceramic handled cheese knife - such a pretty little gift for any girlie cheese lover!

If I was going abroad this year I would have snapped this up without a doubt - I loved this swimming costume's retro vibe, beautiful floral pattern, bright colours and shape. I didn't buy it as I'm not sure when I'd next get the chance to show it off, and because I'm in the process of losing lots of weight I genuinely wouldn't know what size to buy! 

Beautiful dark green/white polka dot scarf! A pretty addition to any accessory cupboard, would dress up any casual outfit - polka dots never go out of fashion. 

Michael Kors emerald green bag - I don't always buy into designer products, but I do have a soft spot for Michael Kors, and really loved the colour of this beautiful little day bag. 

Mustard love: I can't resist anything in this beautiful shade (my favourite colour) … would be a lovely bright addition to a casual day outfit - I think it always has a bohemian sort of style: very pretty! 

Mustard and Raspberry large bowling bag - I loved the quirky raspberry print on this bag - it would be a perfect weekender bag! Two bags in this print (different shapes: a weekender and a satchel) are available on the TKMAXX website at the moment here and here

I loved this cute Nica bag - with its bright colour and sweet bird emblem (you know I can't resist a little bird)… if I had a specific outfit in mind that this bag would have gone with I'd have definitely bought it…luckily for our bank balance, I couldn't think of an outfit match so settled for a picture instead. 

I adore these yellow garden lanterns - they would be such a great addition to any patio or decking area - and would make perfect summer evening lights with candles in on the garden dining table…I may well be heading back to grab a couple of these…! 

A really fun retro Kellogg's dinner service with mugs/plates/bowls: absolutely vital buy for any truly retro style kitchen (I'm thinking SMEG fridge, black and white tiled floor etc!) 

Finally, I loved this cute butter dish - I was drawn to its unusual round shape, pretty floral pattern and bold colour choices. 

MY PURCHASES

Okay, so I didn't come away completely empty handed…I did buy myself two items- both of which I've been on the lookout for and are things I actually needed. 

I chose this Osprey zip up purse FOR £7: I've been looking for a long flat purse to go into my Cambridge Satchel which doesn't hold my usual size purse. This is the perfect size, is genuine leather, a great price and lovely colour combo. 

I've been recently looking for some shapewear to help give me some more confidence when dressing up and going out for a night out - this dress style shape suit by Belly Cloud should have been nearly £40, but I snapped it up for £9.99 - it is worn underneath dresses to give you a sleeker silhouette and help hold in your wobbly bits! ;-) I've worn it out and am so pleased with it. A good purchase. 

My final purchase was a gift for Bert - his very own "smart phone" for just £4.99 :-) His eyes lit up when I gave it to him - it flashes, makes noises and is the perfect shape for him to hold easily. Hopefully it might stop him trying to grab my iPhone every 10 seconds (who am I kidding?). 

So, I was sensible! A few purchases that won't break the bank, and some photos to mull over. I might return for a couple of bits (if they're still there) but on the whole I know I don't NEED these things, and money in the bank at the moment is more beneficial. 

Would you have been tempted by any of these products?

Do you window shop? Or are you a spender?

What methods do you use to stop yourself splurging on unnecessary items?

Mrs B

xxx

you can follow TKMAXX on twitter @TKMaxx_UK
TKMaxx are on Facebook here 
Or shop on their website here 



Friday, 16 May 2014

WIN £500 with Victoria Plumb & TOTS100 For Your SHELFIE Photo

You’ve probably heard of the selfie phenomenon, but how about the shelfie?

A shelfie is a photo of a shelf, in your home, shared on social media. It’s a great way to share your interior style, and pick up fresh design and styling ideas from friends and family. Not to mention that shelfies provide us with the perfect opportunity to take a peek inside someone else’s home!

This month, Tots100 is teaming up with Victoria Plumb to invite you to share your shelfie photos with them on Twitter and Instagram – and the best entries will win up to £500 in vouchers to spend on the High Street!

I am passionate about my home style and really love interiors, so I was really excited to take part in this competition.

MY 'SHELFIE' 

My #shelfie is the shelf in the corner of my kitchen

This is my favourite shelf in my house. The shelf itself was one of the first purchases I made when we moved into our house two and a half years ago from the lovely Melody Maison. I really wanted to fill the corner of my kitchen with my beautiful bits and bobs, as well as my extensive apron collection (yes, I collect aprons!) and this shelf, paired with some gorgeous cupcake hooks provided the perfect vessels to arrange all my lovely things for display. 

I'd say my kitchen style is 'French Shabby Chic'…think lots of creams, florals, french greys, and Cath Kidston. I also like stuff - I don't like mess or clutter, I am strict with only keeping things I truly love and am attached too, and I have specific places like this shelf, and my large dresser where I can display them, my but stuff is important to me - I like to be surrounded by pretty things that make me happy. 

The items on this shelf combined really sum me up brilliantly I think…

My Shelf Contents...


-Cornishware cup & saucer: I bought this cute iconic blue/white stripe Cornishware dinky cup & saucer (espresso cup) from my holiday in Cornwall last year when I was pregnant with Bert. When I bought it I imagined making him a babychino in it when he's bigger and enjoying afternoon tea with my perfect boy. When I look at this it reminds me not only of my awesome Cornish holiday, my love of all things Cornishware, but also reminds me of being pregnant and all of the excitement and expectation I felt at that time.

- 'I'm on the Gin & Tonic Diet' vintage style sign: I do love a G&T!! This was a gift YEARS ago from my bestie Carmi, who knows me better than anyone. 

-'Made to Measure' measuring jug: it's not only very pretty but also functional - I do a LOT of cooking & baking which involves lots of measuring out. 

-Cath Kidston icing sugar/flour dredger: this is soooo pretty, I love its floral print, and how handy it is especially when I'm dusting my cakes with icing sugar or working with flour. 

-Knitted Queen: made by my clever mummy for the Queen's Jubilee - anyone who knows me will know how much I LOVE the Royal Family. 

-John Lewis gravy boat: this was a wedding present and I absolutely love its stunning shape, and simple cream colour.

-Small cupcake icing sugar dredger: this little beauty was a present from someone who knows how much I love a) cakes and b) baking. 

-Birdie measuring cups: one of my most prized possessions, these stunning measuring cups were also a wedding gift, and I use them all the time - they are so helpful when I use American recipes which tend to work in cup measurements.


-Rob Ryan mug box: I'm a huge fan of artist Rob Ryan's paper cuts, and own many of his stunning home objects (mugs, plates, vase etc). This box was too pretty to throw away, and I absolutely adore his bird emblem. It's the perfect platform for my birdie measuring cups. 

-Amaretti biscuit tin: I love Amaretti biscuits and especially love to enjoy them with a hot espresso or crumbled on top of a delicious creamy dessert. This tin of biscuits were a christmas gift from a family member, but sadly it's now empty…which reminds me…I really must fill it up! 


-Beach Hut Salt & Pepper Pots: I just love these quirky little condiment pots - they were a gift from my lovely friend Sheila who knows how much I adore the British seaside! It is truly my favourite place to go - I love the sounds, sights, smells of the seaside - the food, the sunbathing, building sand castles, sand between your toes, seagulls nicking your chips etc! 

-Cath Kidston rose floral mugs - this beautiful collection of pastel shade mugs were a housewarming gift from my great friends Josie & Kerry who know how much I adore the work of designer Cath Kidston, and a cup of tea! These encapsulate both these obsessions in my life! Tea anyone?

-Hanging rolling pin, horse shoe and black cat: these 'lucky charms' were given to me on my wedding day by my lovely little cousins, and I just adore them. 



-Blue Tit metal pin: this gorgeous little badge is so sweet and was bought from the NSPB. I have an obsession with little birds, and love anything with a bird emblem - I even have a little tweetie bird tattooed on my wrist. 

- Vintage WI pin: This badge was a gift from one of my besties Liz, who I work with to run Scone Roses WI our local 'new generation' Women's Institute group. The badge represents the joy and friendship my own WI bring to my life, and my love of all things vintage. I love to look at this badge and imagine who wore it before me, and what sort of person they were. 


-Two wooden lino printed badges: I designed and made these lino printed badges at a craft workshop I attended last year. I am a big crafter and love to try new things - I'd never done any lino printing before and I really enjoyed this course. My designs are the Twitter tweetie bird logo, and a pretty kitchen apron (of course!). 

- My Blog badge: this is one of my two blog badges that I wear to PR events so people who know who I am and which blog I'm from. They were made for me by my beautiful bestie Carmi.

A very happy shelf, with contents that make me so happy when I look at them. They encapsulate me, my personality and my home style 

WIN £250 WITH VICTORIA PLUMB 

You can also be in with a chance of winning £250 of John Lewis vouchers by taking the Great British Home Quiz over on Victoria Plumb's website - find out what your celebrity style is. 

I took the quiz and apparently I'm MRS GLAMOUROUS…

"Everything about you screams glamour; you always look photo-ready, whether you are working out, shopping in designer boutiques or snuggled up at home in your designer onesie. You crave home comforts that make a statement - a faux fur blanket, embellished cushions and lots of crushed velvet. You use neutral shades mixed with metallic. Pride of place are family portraits, kitchen gadgets and the keys to your Range Rover."


Hehe! I do actually agree with some of that above - especially the designer onesie (Joules!), the family portraits and the kitchen gadgets - that's all very me. 

Good Luck lovely readers - I hope you're lucky! 

Mrs B 

xxx

This post is my entry into the TOTS100 and Victoria Plumb #shelfie competition.