Friday, 29 April 2016

Getting ready for Baby Girl Bishop's arrival with Little Chickie

How is it possible that I am 35 weeks pregnant today? 

Oh my gosh - the time is just racing past, and the five week countdown is rather a scary one!! Everyone told me that my second pregnancy would fly by and they were so right. With a toddler to take care of, my own business to run and a house to try and keep in some sort of relative order, I've barely had time to acknowledge that I'm pregnant this time round! (Except for the first 16 weeks of dreadful nausea and my on-going back pain caused by my three slipped discs, of course!)

Mrs Bishop 35 Weeks Bump Photo
35 week bump!

At this point in the pregnancy I'm in full-on nesting mode, in fact I feel like I've been nesting for about 3 months now, so actually I'm feeling rather organised and pretty-much ready for this little girl to make her appearance. 

All the baby-things from first time round are down from the loft and organised, the baby clothes have been sorted and washed, the new double buggy purchased and put together, the moses basket is up, and we've done some shopping for lovely girlie bits and pieces!

It has been so fun to be able to buy girlie things after all the blue, green and dinosaurs of the past 2.5 years! I feel so lucky to be having a girl and completing our little family with one child of each sex. It's exciting to think about what the future holds for our little family unit. 

When buying baby-girl items I've been surprised at the sheer amount of PINK...gosh, it's a very pink-centric market. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not averse to a bit of pink, but I don't want every single thing she wears to be candy floss or fuchsia! So while shopping for her I've been on the lookout for a nice variety of colours, patterns and designs. 

I'm pretty girlie myself and I love bold florals and stripes - so her wardrobe is pretty full of these style of items...I imagine her in my head as a little mini-me rocking Breton stripes, lots of yellow and florals! 

I keep going and opening the drawers just to have a peek at it all. Such excitement. 

Little Chickie review by Mrs Bishop's Bakes and Banter

One of my favourite online stores to get baby girls clothes and accessories from has been Little Chickie, a cute online baby boutique that stocks the most divine high-end baby brands such as Albetta, Blade and Rose, Cuddledry, Pigeon Organics, Piccalilly, Kite and Denmark (to name a few). 

Little Chickie very kindly sent over some stunning items for our little baby girl's arrival - and I'm so excited to be able to share them with you, as I know you'll all swoon just as much as I did when they arrived. 

The first item they sent over was this stunning baby girl 1.5 tog floral sleeping bag by Kite, currently priced at £29.50. 

Isn't it just beautiful? 

Kite Baby Girl Sleeping Bag from Little Chickie
Kite floral sleeping bag

I cannot express what amazing quality this sleeping bag is - it is literally the softest thing I've ever touched! I know just from touching it that it will be so super snuggly and comfortable for my little bundle when she sleeps. 

I'm a massive fan of the modern floral print and the gorgeous purple/teal colour-way. It has a zip fastening all around the edge of the bag and poppers to secure the top: making it easy to put on and off. We loved using sleeping bags when Bert was a baby, so we were eager to get some more for baby girl to try out and this one really is perfect. 

The second item they sent is perhaps my favourite of the three - not just for it's amazing pattern/design, but again because it is made from the softest organic cotton and looks so comfortable! 

Basically, if they made this in adult-size I would wear it for sure! :-)

It's the Body and Skirt Tulip dress by Pigeon Organics and I've basically never seen anything more beautiful... 

Body and Skirt Tulip by Pigeon Organics from Little Chickie
Body and Skirt for Baby Girl by Pigeon Organics from Little Chickie, currently priced at £21.50.

Made from soft organic cotton this cute little dress combines my love of a breton stripe, my obsession with florals (tulips are one of my faves!) and my passion for pastel-esque shades...

Body and Skirt Tulip by Pigeon Organics from Little Chickie
Just look at that tulip pattern...swoon! 

I love how the body/vest part is integrated into the whole dress, making it super-practical and comfortable for the wearer. Such a clever design.

Body and Skirt Tulip by Pigeon Organics from Little Chickie
Clever integrated body/vest

The final item they sent over was this adorable little rag doll called Tilly made by Ragtales and currently priced at £19.95. It's so nice to own a cuddly toy that isn't a dinosaur! Haha! 

Tilly the Rag Doll by Ragtales from Little Chickie
Tilly the Rag Doll by Ragtales from Little Chickie

The detail on little Tilly is so mind blowing - from her cute embroidered face, to the the bows in her hair, she even has little knickers on under her dress...adorable! The floral pattern on the skirt of her dress reminded me of one of my favourite Liberty prints, and again I loved the fact that she's mostly purple rather than pink. I'm pretty sure she'll be a firm favourite with baby girl Bishop when she arrives. 

Tilly's Knickers - Rag doll by Ragtales
Tilly the Rag Doll - look at her little spotty knickers!!

Tilly the Rag doll by Ragtales from Little Chickie
Such attention to detail! 

Tilly the rag doll on the dresser
I can't wait to see my little girl carrying this beauty around! 

Do keep an eye on my social media channels for pics of baby-girls arrival in early timelines are sure to be crammed full of baby-spam this summer! 


As well as sending me these stunning products (thanks guys!) Little Chickie have also provided you lovely lot with a bespoke 15% discount code for their website...

Use 'BBB15' at the checkout to get your discount and it's valid until the end of May - so if you've seen anything you like (of course you have!) you can get it at a great price too - what a treat! 

Happy shopping you lovely people! 

Mrs B


Monday, 25 April 2016

Retro Photo Magnets and a Framed Photo Poster from Cheerz *REVIEW & GIVEAWAY*

I'm pretty obsessed with photos and displaying them in innovative and interesting ways around my home is one of my favourite things to do. From wall canvases, photo pockets on my doors, traditional framed prints, and printed instagram polaroid style shots pegged across a butchers twine string - you name...I've done it with photos! Or so I thought...

Then Cheerz got in touch and introduced me to their fab new retro photo magnets: polaroid style prints of your favourite Instagram shots, printed onto magnets!! Genius! They come as a set of 12 and cost just £15 per set. You can upload your pictures directly from your social media accounts, add captions, and choose either a black, white or coloured background - then the clever people over at Cheerz will print them and send them in the post to you and before you know it you'll be funking up your fridge or freezer with some marvellous magnetic creations. 

They were kind enough to send me over a set to try out, and boy am I excited to share them with you - they're so fun and I've had so many comments on them already...
Cheerz retro magnets review mrs bishops bakes and banter
Beautifully packaged: my retro magnets from Cheerz. 

I chose a range of images for my set of retro magnets from cute shots of Bert, to a few of Liam and I together, one of the cat, and even a lovely shot I took of the Butterfly Bridge in Bedford a few weeks ago on a Springtime walk. I was so chuffed with the quality of the printing when the magnets arrived and I couldn't wait to display them proudly. 
retro magnets photo Cheerz review
12 retro photo magnets from Cheerz

I also chose to add captions underneath each photograph in hashtag formation e.g #BERT #PICKLE #BEDFORD. They look really great and are such a simple but fun way to add some excitement to your fridge without generic alphabet magnets or a 15 year old magnet you bought home from a Greek Island holiday! We've all got one of those, right?
Retro Phoro Magnets from Cheerz
In for the close up: such great quality printing from Cheerz.

Here they are displayed proudly on my fridge/freezer - don't they look great?
Cheerz Retro Fridge Magnets

Not only would these make a great addition to your own fridge, but wouldn't they make a wonderful gift too? Imagine printing a selection of picture magnets for someone's birthday, new baby's arrival or anniversary - such a sentimental gift for such good value.

As well as photo magnets, Cheerz also have a wide range of other photo-printing gifts including prints, boxed prints, albums, posters and frames. You name it, they can pretty much do it with an Instagram print!

The lovely gang at Cheerz offered to send me one of their framed posters to add to my ever-increasing quirky photo displays and I knew instantly exactly what I wanted the content of my framed poster to be: my bakes! 

I work really hard to take decent pictures of the things I bake and although I use the photos across my social media platforms and here on the blog, I couldn't help but think that was rather a waste of such drool-inducing images, wouldn't it be nice to display them at home for all to see too? My dining room seemed like the obvious place to hang said pictures as it is pretty much devoted to all things cakes/baking/vintage/tea party!

My bakes in poster form from Cheerz.

This is their large poster print and it contains a whopping 35 photos. When you order you can choose whether or not you want it to arrive unframed (£16) or framed (£30) - I received the framed option, in a white frame and I am so super-chuffed with the final product. It came perfectly packaged and most importantly - ready to hang! I do love a product that's instant and easy to incorporate into your home. 

Hanging in the dining room in all its glory...35 of my bakes for all to admire... yum yum! 

Visitors to my home have already got sucked into the baking-appreciation-vortex this frame sucks you into - and it got Liam & I reminiscing about our favourites of the 35 bakes featured in the piece. 

It was hard to get a non-reflective photo of the finished poster frame, but here's a few to show you in a bit more detail...

Yum yum! 

What pictures would you choose to make up your own collage frame? I'd love to know. 

I genuinely can't recommend the service from Cheerz enough - both my items arrived within a week of ordering, the ordering/uploading photo process was smooth and self-explanatory, and the finished articles are truly awesome additions to my home. 

Win Retro Photo Magnets

If you'd like to be in with a chance of adding a set of the retro photo magnets to your home then you can enter my giveaway below...I have three sets of retro magnets to give to away to three lucky blog readers, courtesy of Cheerz (thanks guys!)

So...wishing you all the best of luck... 

SuperLucky Blog Giveaway Linky

Monday, 18 April 2016

Usborne Books Review

Osborne Books Maxine Bone

We are a huge fan of Usborne books in this house - since we first discovered their baby range of 'That's Not My...' books back when Bert was a baby, Usborne have become our go-to publishers when it comes to purchasing new books for Bert to enjoy. 

Back in October Bert was bought a non-fiction book from Usborne's '1000 Pictures' range called '1000 Things to Eat' as a present from my lovely friend Emma (thanks Em!) - the book is a stunning large hardback picture book with beautiful painted illustrations of 1000 different food items broken down into categories such as fruit and veg, sweets, cakes, Italian food, meats, fish etc. Bert absolutely adored this book from the moment he got it, and he still picks it up on a daily basis seven months on. We found that reading this book with him regularly has not only massively helped to develop his food-related vocabulary, but he now recognises so many food items by sight from the normal everyday items to the very obscure...and at just 2.5 years old we think that's pretty impressive!

Then a few weeks ago I got chatting to my local Independent Usborne Organiser Maxine Bone, who is based in my hometown of Bedford, and she offered to send us a selection of new Usborne books to add to Bert's collection. I naturally jumped at the chance as we are already such a fan of these wonderful books - I was excited to add to Bert's collection. 

I hadn't realised that there was a whole range of '1000 Pictures' books, so when I saw that they also have '1000 Things That Go' and '1000 Animals' in the range, I knew Bert had to have them. He is animal mad and really loves his transport - so they couldn't have been better topics to pique his interest. 

As well as the two '1000 Pictures' books (which are each priced at £9.99) I also ordered First Thousand Words in English priced at £6.99 and Very First Things to Spot at Home priced at £7.99. Maxine took care of the order for me, and delivered my books for free within a week - what a fabulous service! Any Bedford locals looking to treat their little ones to some new books...Maxine is your lady! 

So here's a little peek at the books we ordered to whet your appetite... 

1000 Things That Go by Usborne
'1000 Things That Go' from Usborne Books
1000 Things That Go by Usborne Books
Bert is especially loving this page of '1000 Things That Go' from Usborne at the moment, as his Nanny & Grandad are on holiday, and they went on a Ferry Boat!
1000 Animals by Usborne Books
'1000 Animals' from Usborne books...we are learning some new VERY obscure animals thanks to this book! There's animals in here even Mummy & Daddy have never heard of!  
1000 Animals by Usborne Books
Animals on the farm and animals at home...we knew these! 
1000 Animals by Usborne Books
Bert loves learning about animals which come out at night - he has a thing about bats, hedgehogs and foxes! 
The thing I love most about Usborne books (aside from their quality) is the brilliantly diverse range of non-fiction books they make for children, especially at a toddler/pre school level. We have story time with Bert every night without fail before bed and we have always enjoyed reading him a mixture of fiction and non-fiction books to ensure he learns and develops factual knowledge and vocabulary as well as expanding his imaginative development. Without books like this from Usborne we'd be limited to the 'colour' 'first word' and farm animal style board books so often aimed at babies and toddlers - they wouldn't stretch Bert enough or keep his interest for longer than a few minutes. With the '1000 Pictures' range Bert is able to sit for really long periods of time studying each page, and learning to name each animal - with the help of Mummy & Daddy's reading skills. 

He has genuinely learnt some pages of the '1000 Pictures' books off-by-heart already, and he can apply that knowledge when he sees the same animal/food item/mode of transport in a different book or on TV - so it is most definitely teaching him a huge amount. 

First Thousand Words in English by Usborne Books
First Thousand Words in English by Usborne books - I remember these 'spot the duck' books from my own childhood, so it's a real pleasure to be able to share them with Bert and see his enjoyment of them. 
First Thousand Words in English by Usborne Books
Inside 'First Thousand Words in English' by Usborne books - so much to look at!  
First Thousand Words in English by Usborne Books
Bert's favourite page in 'First Thousand Words in English' by Usborne books - animals...naturally! 
Very First Book of Things to Spot At Home by Usborne Books
'Very First Book of Things to Spot at Home' by Usborne. This hardback book is so beautiful and the illustrations are just adorable! 
Very First Book of Things to Spot At Home by Usborne Books
Each page is filled with questions for your child to answer... 
Needless to say Bert is totally thrilled with his new books, and he's blown our mind especially when it comes to being able to answer all of the questions in the 'Very First Things to Spot at Home' book: he races through it at speed and after only a week and a half of owning the book he is able to answer all of the questions correctly! He gets so much enjoyment from searching each page for the correct answers. I'd definitely recommend this style of book if you want to encourage a fun way for your child to learn/develop their language and comprehension skills.

In fact, Bert has loved his new books so much that he's even requested to take them out with him in the buggy! Ha! Bless our little book-worm! 

Bert Bishop reading Usborne book
Taking his new book out and about...
He recited each animal from this double page spread to me for a whole half hour walk to town the other day... haha... 

Bert reading Usborne book
Always with his head in a book! #bookworm
Not only does he want to take his new books out with him, he also wants to take them up to bed with him, so he can swot up on his animal names! #futurezookeeper

Bert reading Usborne book in his cot
Excuse the blurry pic - bedtime reading
If you are Bedford-based and looking for the right Usborne book for your child, there are lots of ways Maxine can help you. You can buy online or, if you are interested in having an Usborne party, school event, or a Facebook Online Party you can enjoy additional benefits such as free delivery, exclusive special offers, discounts and even free books!

Maxine also holds a story time sessions at Gallone's Ice Cream Parlour, in the old arcade, Bedford every Tuesday morning 9.30am-10.30am which is suitable for ages 5 yrs and under. It's completely free and she also does some rhymes and songs too! It's in the upstairs party room complete with twinkly lights - what's not to love?

You can shop with Usborne directly online here.

Mrs B

Disclosure: I was sent the four Usborne books mentioned in this post for free in exchange for my honest review of the books and the service I received from Maxine Bone. All words, pictures and opinions are my own.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

The Expert's Guide to Cooking The Perfect Steak with Barbecoa

I absolutely love a good steak, it's one of my favourite foods when cooked right, but there's a real art to cooking a steak perfectly at home. 

Today, I'm excited to share with you some sound steak cooking advice from the fab people at Barbecoa in London (a fabulous barbecue restaurant founded by Jamie Oliver).

The Expert's Guide to Cooking the Perfect Steak - Barbecoa

I really want to eat at Barbecoa... I've heard such good things about their food, and it is definitely right on the top of my 'next time I'm in London' to do list.

If you'd like to find out more about what they have to offer then head to their social media pages...

Now I really fancy a steak...! 

Mrs B


Six Important Reasons You Need To Lose Weight Right Now

6 Important Reasons You Need to Lose Weight Right Now
6 Important Reasons You Need to Lose Weight Right Nowphoto credit
We all know it’s unhealthy to be overweight, but lots of folks aren’t too fussed by carrying a few extra pounds. Did you know that if you fall into the obese category, you could reduce your lifespan by up to 20 years? But there is good news. Even by dropping a comparatively small amount of weight, the risks can be reduced and sometimes even eliminated. If you need to lose weight but are struggling to find motivation, then read on.
Women who are overweight carry four times the risk of endometrial cancer just like they are at extra risk from suffering from breast cancer. When you carry extra weight, you’ll find that the excess fat produces more estrogen. This is a contributing factor in both conditions. Also, Leptin, another hormone which is linked with gaining weight speeds up the formation of both normal and cancerous cells.
If you think a midlife crisis is something that only affects men, then you’re mistaken. But one of the most dangerous things in midlife isn’t what you might think. Being big around the middle will cause you more problem than just not being able to fit into your favourite jeans. You’re over five times as likely to suffer from dementia at a later stage. Drop some weight now and you could live much longer.
Look after your heart and it will take care of you. The larger you are, the more likely you are to fall victim to a heart attack. Even if you are genetically predisposed to having heart problems? You’ll accelerate the effects when you are overweight. Also, when you’re packing extra pounds, you’re more like to suffer from high cholesterol or diabetes.
There is a clear link between depression and obesity. Around about six percent of women with what would be regarded as a healthy BMI suffer from depression. But unsurprisingly, the debilitating condition affects a least a quarter of those classed as obese. Studies have also shown that there’s a higher risk of developing a mental health issue or mood disorder amongst those who are overweight.
Being overweight may cost you in more ways than just your health. You may have to pay more for things like insurance. If you've got high BMI life cover is going to cost you more than if your weight was at a healthier, acceptable level. If you think it costs a lot to eat healthily, then you need to think about the bigger price you may have to pay if you don’t shed some pounds.
Suffer from embarrassing accidents? Lose some inches and stop suffering from incontinence! It’s something you might not have realised is so common. Especially amongst obese folk. But then it’s not surprising people shy away from talking about it. Women who fall in the obese range are twice as likely to have problems with their pelvic floor. This can mean they leak when they laugh, cough or exercise. And who needs that?

6 Important Reasons You Need to Lose Weight Right Nowphoto credit
Before starting any weight loss regime, it’s important to talk to your Doctor. But don’t put it off, you’re doing yourself no favours by procrastinating!

This is a sponsored post.

Those who read my blog regularly will know that weight loss is a very relevant topic for me - having shed over 6.5 stone over the past 2.5 years in order to improve my own health - both physically and mentally. If you'd like to read more about my personal weight loss story then you can do so here.

Here are my before and after pics if you're in need of a little weight loss motivation...

Mrs Bishop's 6 Stone Weight Loss Before and After

Monday, 11 April 2016

Tea, Coffee and living The Fine Life... *REVIEW* & *GIVEAWAY*

I've recently been introduced to new to-the-UK brand 'The Fine Life', who have recently launched their Bottom Dispensing Loose Leaf Tea Infuser/Coffee Brewer, Magic Mug and Fine Life Oil Mister - innovative kitchen essentials that I've been lucky enough to try out. 

Now, I'm rather partial to a cuppa, as you all know, and love nothing more than a 'proper' cup of tea - loose leaf tea, a tea strainer, a fancy china cup and saucer, a sugar lump or two...but more often than not I just don't have the time or inclination to mess around with a teapot and strainer, when I can use a teabag and kettle, make a brew in a mug, and steam ahead with my to do list instead. 

This is no longer an issue with The Fine Life's Ideal Botton Dispensing Loose Leaf Tea Infuser and Coffee Brewer I can make a single mug of 'proper' tea or coffee in as much time as it would take to use a teabag! 

This clever little piece of kit brews the perfect tea/coffee using your personal preference of loose leaf tea/ground coffee beans, then with its patented drain mechanism drains into your mug ready for you to add milk/sugar to taste. 

Simply spoon in the desired amount of loose leaf tea or ground coffee beans, add boiling water, leave to brew until at desired strength...

My gorgeous Gilded Teapot Loose Leaf Cloud Tea is a-brewing...

Once at desired strength (I leave mine around 3-4 minutes) all you have to do is pop this clever contraption atop your favourite mug and watch the amber nectar dispense effortlessly into said vessel. Magic! It will drain into any sized cup or mug thanks to the clever extender ring (which comes included). 

A nice full cup of proper tea...

There's genuinely nothing nicer than the smokey, earthiness of using loose leaf tea for a cuppa, I've been particularly loving the Cloud Tea from The Gilded Teapot, and hubby who is a coffee-man has been devouring their Guatemala Montie Fleur Arabica coffee, which is hand roasted in Dorset. 

The Fine Life Brewer is so simple to use, easy to wash out with just a rinse of hot water, and is nice and compact, so it doesn't take up too much room living on the side next to my kettle, ready to be used whenever I'm feeling like a treat. 

You can purchase the infuser for just £21.95 from Amazon.

Also from The Fine Life, and perhaps my favourite product of theirs, is the clever Oil Mister - this oil sprayer means you can use 100% oil of your choosing to cook with, without the added 'extras' commercial oil sprays are filled with (chemical propellants, additives etc). You'll not waste a drop of oil, or ingest an unnecessarily calorie when using this high-quality, durable mister. 

BPA-free and non-aerosol, it can be used for a wide variety of all-natural oils when it comes to cooking, it is also perfect for spritzing balsamic and fine vinegars over salads. 

This product is ideal for those who are looking to eat a super-healthy, balanced diet, and count calories or follow a low fat diet, as you'll greatly reduce the amount of oil you use to cook with.

Simply fill the bottle with oil to the 'MAX FILL' line, replace the nozzle and tighten, then fully pump the top 7 to 10 times to build up air pressure in the bottle. Remove the pump top and press the nozzle to release a gentle mist of oil. When the pressure decreases , just use the pump top to build it back up again, and once empty re-fill with your oil of choice. 

I've loved using this fab product, and it has now completely replaced the commercial oil sprays that were in my kitchen. It is reassuring to know that I'm only adding 100% pure oil to my food and that I am always using the minimum amount needed. 

It's been particularly great for coating pans when cooking meat, fish, eggs and pancakes! I whipped up these bad boys last weekend for brunch, and thanks to the oil mister I used a tiny amount of olive oil to cook ten giant fluffy pancakes!

If you're looking for the BEST Fluffy American pancake recipe EVER then you MUST make these bad boys! 

Perfect pancakes thanks to The Fine Life Oil Mister

You can devour this whole plate of pancakes for under 500 calories thanks to minimal oil used!

You can buy The Fine Life Oil Mister for just £19.95 from Amazon.


The lovely people over at The Fine Life have offered one of my lucky readers the chance to win a grey oil mister for themselves - all you have to do is complete the Gleam app below by 11.59pm on 31/04/16.


Mrs B


WIN An Ideal Oil Mister from The Fine Life, worth £19.95

SuperLucky Blog Giveaway Linky