Wednesday 26 June 2013

What To Expect...When You're Expecting

As my regular readers will know, I am currently expecting my first baby. 

Our little man is due to arrive in less than 7 weeks time! Eeeeek! 

32 weeks + 3 days bump 

We are as prepared as I think anyone can be - nursery ready, clothes bought, washed and put away, nappies and other essentials all purchased, antenatal classes attended, many books read (more on that in a later post) and a whole host of internet and app based reading done as well. We are a conscientious couple and want to digest as much information about pregnancy, birth, newborns and parenting so that we are fully informed about all the stages of pregnancy and beyond. 

Those of you who have read my blog for a while will know that my husband and I suffered a miscarriage last year which was an incredibly hard time for the both of us, and this experience has understandably tinged this pregnancy with lots of worry, doubt, and anxiety. It has therefore been vital for us to seek out sound advice, and reliable sources of information in regards to all things pregnancy related.

During the early days of this pregnancy I was (of course!) eager to find out my EDD (Estimated Delivery Date/Due Date) and I found a brilliant calculator on the 'What To Expect' website (calculator found here). 

The calculator allows you to work out your due date based on either the first day of your last period, or the date you think you conceived. I found it very quick and simple to use, and a really handy tool - no counting days on a calendar, or trying to work it out in your head.

This is what the calculator looks like ^ a very easy format, and simple to use

After using the calculator I then couldn't resist browsing their website, which is a hive of information and advice for parents, especially new mums. One of the websites best features is their 'A to Z of Pregnancy Symptoms and Solutions' page, which lists common pregnancy side effects/symptoms. 

This type of information at my fingertips has been a great source of support to me. As an anxious first time mum-to-be I have checked out and looked up every side effect I've experienced so far. It covers everything from leg cramps, to fatigue, heartburn to a blocked nose - each symptom is explained clearly with helpful solutions to try and make your pregnancy as comfortable as possible. 

You can also access a week by week account of your pregnancy and baby's development on the site, or sign up for weekly emails straight to your personal email account - all of which I have found invaluable during my pregnancy. 

I will no doubt visit the site numerous more times before my little Mr arrives, and hope that by sharing my experience of the site it will encourage any fellow new-parents out there to seek the support it offers as well. 

For more information follow @whattoexpectuk on Twitter, or visit their website

Bye for now

Mrs B


Saturday 8 June 2013

BedYarn - Yarn Bombing fun in Bedford

Today I took part in an awesome Yarn Bombing art project in Bedford.

For those who haven't heard of yarn bombing here's a definition...

"Yarn bombingyarnbombingyarnstormingguerrilla knittingurban knitting or graffiti knitting is a type of graffiti or street art that employs colorful displays of knitted or crocheted yarn or fibre rather than paint or chalk." (Wikipedia)

The project (BedYarn) was the brainchild of my lovely friend Liz from Little Red Welly blog, she was commissioned by Bedford Creative Arts to arrange the yarn bombing event, which involved teaching knitting classes, buying/providing yarn and organising today's event. I jumped straight on board, as, like Liz, I'm an enthusiastic knitter, and lover of anything a little whimsy! 

The plan was to meet at 3pm today outside The Swan Hotel in Bedford on the Embankment, and then choose a part of the Embankment to decorate with our knitted pieces. We had no idea how many people would turn up and join in, or how much knitting/crochet we'd have to play with. 

Before the event - Liz and I take a look at what we'd produced ready for the yarn bomb

Lovely Liz! All ready to go...


My red knitted ribbon bow! Love this! 

My green scarf! wrapped around a lamppost :-)

One of my green pompoms on a bench 

my green and yellow pompoms brightening up a parking sign! 

Here are some of the other pieces...these are my personal favourites! 

pink pom poms in the trees

Brave Matt climbing the trees to hang some of the gorgeous yarn art! 

Parents and children joined in - what a beautiful bench! 

love the hat/tea cosy! fab! 

gorgeous crochet hangers

soo fun

multicoloured knitting round the tree

gorgeous knitted roses

what a lamppost! 

hehe cute! 

what fun, hanging yarn rings

hanging plait and ring

knitted bunting - awesome!

love this - the kids ran round and round the tree trunk with a big ball of yarn - so cute! 

What great fun!

We had a great turn out with well over 30 people taking part - there were lots of great encouraging comments from passer-bys, and we hope that most of Bedford will appreciate the fun, whimsy and bright splash we've added temporarily to the Embankment without causing any permanent damage.

If you're a local please pop down and have a peek before it gets removed. 

Have you ever taken part in a large community art project? 

Do you fancy yarn bombing an area where you live? 

Why not pop a tea cosy on a bollard, or wrap a scarf around a tree - its quite liberating, and will get passers-by talking! 

 Mrs B


Friday 7 June 2013

Tipsy Cake Club

This months Clandestine Cake Club meet had the theme "tipsy cakes" & was held at the lovely Pensieri coffee shop, in town. Despite being 7 months pregnant & strictly avoiding alcohol & attempting to be relatively healthy, I figured most of the alcohol would be "cooked out" of the cakes, and it would be okay to indulge my cake passion by bringing a cake along & trying just a few of the club members offerings. 

I decided to make a limoncello cake (based on what little alcohol I could find in our rather ostentatious & extremely camp globe drinks cabinet!) ... I found a recipe online which tickled my fancy because it involved a new method of cake baking replacing the normal butter in the sponge mix with natural yoghurt & rapeseed oil. 


Sponge cake:

250g natural yoghurt
  • 2 eggs
  • 75ml rapeseed oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 200g sugar
  • 60ml limoncello liqueur
  • 250g plain flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 pinch salt

Icing Glaze: 
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 3 tablespoons limoncello liqueur

Buttercream topping to decorate:

115g soft butter
500g icing sugar
Juice of half a lemon
2 tablespoons limoncello liqueur 
Yellow gel colouring 


Prep:15min  ›  Cook:35min  ›  Ready in:50min 

  1. Preheat oven to 180 C / Gas 4. Grease an 8-inch cake tin or line with baking parchment.
  2. Whisk together the yoghurt, eggs, rapeseed oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar and 60ml limoncello in a large bowl. In a separate large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, bicarb and salt. Gently stir the dry ingredients into the wet. Do not over mix or the cake will be tough. Pour cake mixture into prepared tin.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven until top is golden and a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.
  4. Stir the icing sugar and 3 tablespoons of limoncello together in a small bowl until smooth. Poke small holes all over the top of the still-warm cake with a fork or skewer. Spoon the glaze over the cake and spread with the back of a spoon. The glaze will seep into the cake and add moisture.
  5. Using electric mixer whisk butter and icing sugar together to form a light fluffy buttercream, add lemon juice, limoncello and colouring to taste. 
  6. Spoon buttercream mixture into a piping bag with a large star nozzle and decorate your baked and glazed cake with buttercream rosettes. 

I used a bundt tin as I think it really made the cake stand out and look attractive. Any fun cake tin shapes would work, as would a standard loaf or round tin, if that's all you have to hand. 

So... here's my finished tipsy cake...

Limoncello Cake by Lucy

And here are the other marvellous cakes from fellow cake club bakers...

Pina Colada Cake

Lemon & Amaretto cake

Lemon Meringue cake with Limoncello

Rum & Raisin Chocolate Cake

Baileys Choc Mousse Cake

Coffee sponge with Tia Maria & Mascarpone icing

Stout and Chocolate Cake

Dark Chocolate & Amaretto Cake

Very Boozy Fruit Cake (port, rum & brandy!)

The very impressive cake table - what a selection!

I managed to try small tastes of 5 of the cakes - the pina colada cake, the rum & raisin cake, the lemon meringue cake, my limoncello cake and the boozy fruit cake - a pretty impressive effort on my part I think ;-)

I definitely go a bit Mary Berry/Paul Hollywood-esque when working my way down the tasting table. I feel like I need to write notes on the consistency of each 
bad, whether it has a good crumb, and ample sponge to icing ratio - hehe! 
My favourite cake this month was a toss up between two cakes: the boozy fruit cake, which was full of flavour, moist but crumbly and just delicious, and the dense truffle-like rum and raisin cake, which tasted insane but was so rich! My husbands favourite was my cake (apparently!) although I'm not sure if he's just saying that to remain firmly in my good books?! He also really enjoyed the stout and chocolate cake, which I unfortunately didn't have room left to try. 

I was really pleased with the outcome of the new recipe I tried. The cake had a lovely dense, moist texture (from the oil/yoghurt combo I'm sure!),  was really sharp with the limoncello but had a real hit of sweetness from the glaze and buttercream. All in all a good bake me thinks, and one I'd happily repeat again. 

If you had to choose one of the cakes to try, which one would you have tasted?

What is your favourite tipple when it comes to baking?

Mrs B