Wednesday 31 December 2014

Farewell 2014...

Today is the final day of the year, and it felt appropriate for me to look back over 2014, reminisce and celebrate a truly fabulous year! 

2014: An Overview

  • This year I have throughly enjoyed every single second of being a Mummy! Little Bert rocks my world. He is absolutely hilarious, and a joy to be around. Each and every day he amazes me, fills my heart with pride, and makes me feel so, so lucky to be his Mummy! 

  • 2014 saw me smash my weight loss target - I have to date lost 6 stone 6 lbs in total. Although I have now surpassed my original weight loss target I now plan to move onwards and upwards downwards? for 2015 and hope to lose around another half a stone before I settle at my "maintain" weight. 

  • This year I celebrated my first ever Mothers Day. It was a lovely day and my big boy and little boy spoilt me rotten! I will treasure the beautiful paper cut Bert bought me forever...

  • This summer I attended my very first (but definitely not my last) BritMums Live bloggers conference in London for the weekend. It was a truly brilliant weekend, and I'm so excited to do it all over again in 2015. 

  • This year I have developed some amazing friendships from the gorgeous blogging ladies I met at BritMums Live 2014, some fab newbies at Scone Roses WI/Sconettes, to some lovely local blog readers who dropped me a is always amazing to make lovely new friends and surround yourself with wonderful people.   

  • This August we celebrated my gorgeous little boy Bert's FIRST birthday - it was such an amazing week of celebrations - memories that me and my family will hold on tight to forever. 

  • This summer I was shocked and so honoured to win Loved By Parent's 'Blogger of the Year 2014' award, and go on a fabulous 4* luxury prize trip to Cyprus with my hubby! Amazing! 

  • 2014 saw me and my blog mentioned in The Guardian Weekender magazine, as well as on their Life & Style webpage! Excitement overload. 
  •  This year I was truly blessed to work with some fabulous brands such as Flora, Aldi, TOMY, Parragon Books, GTech, Sage Appliances, and Comte Cheese to name but a few! 
  • In November hubby and I enjoyed a gorgeous luxury weekend break to Ox Pasture Hall Hotel in Yorkshire for a blog review. What a truly stunning and relaxing break away it was - just what the doctor ordered!

  • December saw us attend our gorgeous best friends' stunning winter wedding: what a truly beautiful day, and an amazing way to end such a brilliant year! 

  • And of course - this year has been filled with many scrumptious bakes...

So, 2015...what will you have in store for The Bishop family?

I'm so excited...bring it on! 

Mrs B


Thursday 25 December 2014

Happy Christmas from The Bishops!

Oh, and this week Bert has discovered the fun of playing Peek-a-Boo! 

So here's a little Christmas Day Peek-a-Boo from the man himself just for you...

Where's Bert gone???



Love from

Mrs B, Mr B and Mini B


Tuesday 23 December 2014

Marvellous Malteaser Truffles ... *RECIPE*

Back in November I got to meet the very lovely Jemma from Iced Jems at a Blogger cookery course with Comte Cheese (you can read all about our day here). We hit it off straight away & were soon nattering about all things baking. When I got home I headed straight to her site to have a peek, and fell in love with not only her fab recipes but her gorgeous and very reasonably priced bakeware available in her online shop

Always searching for homemade foodie Christmas gift inspiration, I was delighted when I came across Jemma's recipe for Malteaser Truffles on her blog. They looked so impressive yet seemed simple and cheap to make, plus, I'm a BIG fan of Malteasers (who isn't?) I decided I'd have a go at making some for Christmas gifts this year, so I set about ordering some great little Petit Four cases from Jemma's shop, and some gorgeous windowed chocolate boxes from eBay so I was all ready to give them a whirl...

The recipe sees you combine a mixture of Malteasers, Malted Milk biscuits, sweetened condensed milk, cocoa powder and butter to form a truffle mixture, which you harden in the fridge before rolling into balls and decorating with Milky Way Stars sprayed with Gold Edible Lustre Spray. How festive! 

I made four boxes of 16 truffles today as Christmas gifts, and a few extras to spare gobble up, and I'm SO super impressed with how they've turned out. They are truly delicious, look really professional and were simple but really fun to make. 

If you need to pull together a last minute gift, want to impress your host this Christmas, or want to make something with the kids to keep them amused during that "Is it Christmas yet?' hysteria, then this recipe is for you! 

They would also make perfect little sweet treats for New Years Eve...any excuse for whipping up a storm in the kitchen. 

Malty goodness waiting to be all whizzed up...

It looks almost glittery - stirring in the condensed milk...

Theres an unctuous truffle mix if ever I did see one...

T'ah D'ah! Malteaser truffles in all their glory!

Boxed up and ready to give as gifts this Christmas

Each truffle works out at about 75 calories, they last for 2 weeks in the fridge once made, and trust me when I say that you won't regret giving them a whirl. 

Here's the link to the full recipe again, and if you want to see more of Jemma's fab recipes then you can follow her on her social media channels:

Iced Jems on Facebook
@IcedJemsLtd on Twitter
icedjems on instagram

Sending lots of Christmas love to all my wonderful readers - I hope you have a super-duper yummy-scrummy Christmas.

See you on the other side...

Mrs B


Sunday 21 December 2014

The 3D Christmas Cookie Kit from Parragon Books *REVIEW*

For this months Parragon cookery book review I was sent The 3D Christmas Cookie Kit, which is a sweet little set comprising of a paperback recipe book, and two sets of plastic 3D cookie cutters in the shapes of Christmas trees and snowmen. It all comes in a little box with magnetic fastening, and would be the perfect little gift for any budding young bakers out there. 

The 3D Christmas Cookie Kit is currently available on Amazon for £12.

The recipe book that comes in the kit includes 12 recipes:

-3D Christmas tree cookies
-3D Snowman cookies
-Rudolph cookies
-Santa cookies
-Spiral cookies
-Mini gingerbread house cookies
-Stained glass cookies
-Candy cane cookies
-Meting snowman cookies
-Christmas bauble cookies
-Cracker surprise cookies

As well as a good introduction and the basic cookie dough recipe, which you adapt/manipulate differently for each of the recipes. 

Each recipe comes with fab full colour step-by-step pictures, so you're sure you're doing things right when you're baking at home, as well as full written instructions, ingredients lists and advice on decorating. 

Of course, as with all my cookery book reviews I had to give some of the recipes a go - I decided to make up the basic dough recipe in the book, and use it to try out both of the 3D cookie cutters that come in the kit: the snowman and Christmas tree. 

Busy making christmas trees!

Trying my hand at some 3D snowmen...

The dough recipe was really straight forward and simple to make, I followed all the instructions, coloured my dough using gel food colouring, and let it rest in the fridge for around 20 minutes before I rolled it out, and used my cookie cutters to cut out the trees and snowmen. They baked for 18 minutes until golden, and then I left them to cool completely before decorating. 

The cookies spread a little when baking and require recutting/trimming using the cutters  after they bake to ensure that they will slot together after decorating. It doesn't say to do this in the book, but previous baking experience told me to trim them up before they cooled (and become less pliable/more likely to break). 

I then set to work on the fun stuff - decorating! If you're baking these with kids this is when they will be in their element - you can really go to town with coloured icing, sprinkles, sparkles etc. I coloured royal icing using gel food colours and then smoothed it out with a palette knife, I then re-baked my cookies on my ovens lowest temperature for 15 minutes to set the royal icing, before adding the intricate decorations using a tiny icing piping bag. Again, it doesn't say to do this in the recipe book, but I know from baking previous decorated cookies that it is best to set the royal icing hard before adding detail. I also sprayed some Milky Way Stars using edible Gold spray to make the tops of my Christmas tree cookies extra sparkly! 

After the decorating was finished I found I had to re-trim the cookies in order for them to slot together, as the icing was quite thick, and was preventing them slotting together nicely. This was a pretty fiddly job, and I'm not going to lie, there were a few snowman casualties: luckily, hubby was on hand to taste test the broken one! You could easily glue any breaks back together with the royal icing, if necessary - or just ensure your icing isn't too thick (unlike mine). 

Hubby was happy to taste test the cookies for me, thanks Liam! 

Some of my 3D Christmas tree and snowmen cookies! 

Not bad for a first attempt using these cutters! 

I was impressed with how the cookies turned out - especially as it was my first attempt with these cutters, and I was doing it in a bit of a rush (during Bert's nap time!)...more importantly they tasted really good - buttery and delicious. Hubby may have had two or three, oops! The rest were taken round to our neighbours in a nice gift box as a festive treat!

I really enjoyed using this kit, and learnt lessons which means that next time I bake them I will find it a much easier process and will have to do less messing around with trimming the cookies so that they slot into each other perfectly. 

It would definitely be fun to bake them with kids to help: it is a shame that Bert is still too young to join me in the kitchen...maybe next year!?

If you have a budding baker at home, or know of some children who enjoy festive baking then this would be a lovely gift - and at the reasonable price of £12 too, bargain!

Happy Christmas baking to all my lovely readers - I have three exciting bakes planned for this week on the lead up to Christmas - I'll be baking Christmas Dinner Cake (which contains carrots, parsnips and SPROUTS - think carrot cake with a twist), Malteaser truffles, and Whisky Waffle Pudding - HELL YES!! 

Watch this space and I'll try to share recipes etc with you if I get chance...

Bye for now

Mrs B


Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of The 3D Christmas Cookie Kit for the purpose of this review - all words, images and opinions are my own. 

You can follow Parragon Books on their social media accounts:

@parragonbooks on Twitter
Parragon Books on Facebook 
parragonbooks on Pinterest
@parragonbooks on Instagram 

Saturday 20 December 2014

My Festive Fireplace

Festive Fire Competition Entry

Things are feeling pretty festive at Chez Bishop - the decorations are up, the cards are posted and the presents have been wrapped...Hubby just has one more day of work on Monday & then it will truly feel like Christmas. 

We have a gorgeous weekend ahead of us: hubby is running his first ever 5k park run tomorrow morning ahead of his marathon training starting in the New Year, Bert and I plan to walk to meet him after his run, get some fresh air & burn some Christmas calories, then we have a lovely lunch date with our gorgeous newlywed besties Danni & Charlie, I can't wait! 

On Sunday we're planning a mammoth 9 mile country walk (with a lovely lunch with our friends Amy & Dan sandwiched in the middle) and then plan on heading home to an evening of Christmas DVDs & red wine once Bert is tucked up in bed. Perfecto. 

Today I've had a very festive day full of my first round of Christmas baking: I made 3D Christmas cookies in the shapes of snowmen and Christmas trees for our next door neighbours' holiday gift (post to follow shortly so watch this space...!) I also put the finishing touches to our Christmas decorations today...

This year we've had to slightly alter how we decorate our house for Christmas, with an inquisitive toddler like Bert around we figured we couldn't get away with our beautiful (and expensive) pre-lit twig tree in the living room, as we have done on previous years, for fear of it not lasting longer that 5 minutes before it is broken, or Bert is broken: one or the other. Instead, we've turned our dining room into our own little Christmas grotto, with tree, fairy lights and wrapped gifts galore and kept things simple in the living room. 

Our fireplace is totally out of bounds to Bert thanks to a large fire guard that clips around it, so to make the room look festive without the worry that Bert will toddler-destroy it all, we have decorated only the fireplace. I think you'll agree it looks very festive! 

Our festive fireplace complete with stockings, Santa's sack, a wicker Christmas bell, fabric Christmas tree, glitter star and stag, fairy lights, light up Santa and Rudolph, Christmas angel, a pair of robins, mini stocking and some mulled wine scented candles...Mmmm it even smells like Christmas.

Are you all ready for Christmas? Have you been organised this year, or are you currently up writing Christmas cards, in the hope that they'll still arrive it time for Christmas? (let's face it, we've ALL been there!)

Whatever you're up to this weekend I hope its full of happy things and lots of festive cheer!

Mrs B


This post is my entry into the Cast Fireplaces 'Festive Fires' competition. 

Tuesday 16 December 2014

The Perfect Christmas Gifts from Polagram *REVIEW*

I am obsessed with photographs. I take hundreds of photos every month from snaps of my gorgeous little Bert, to pics of what I'm eating, what I'm wearing, the cat, and what we're getting up to etc. I love to document my life in pictures, and I post photos to Instagram on a daily basis.

I also love to be surrounded by photos - not content to just have them stored in my phone, I have a house FULL of photos: from albums, to photo pockets on my doors, canvas prints on the walls, framed pictures and Instagram prints adorning every spare corner of my lovely little house. I even have pictures of Bert printed onto marshmallows! Ha! 

My little brother Reg (who is nearly 19 - I can't call him 'little' anymore, can I?) is also obsessed with photos/photography - he works as a cameraman full time, and takes loads of great photographs in his spare time. I am so proud of the man he has grown into, and I truly love the marvellous photographs he takes both at work, and in his spare time. 

Me and my 'little' brother, Reg

I find the men in my life quite hard to buy for at Christmas time, so when the people over at Polagram, the photo printing App, asked me if I'd like to review some of their products, I jumped at the chance! I knew they would have the perfect present for a photo-lover like Reg.

Polagram Gift Box

I opted to review their 36 Pola-style print Giftbox priced at £12.69 which is a hard gift box containing 36 polaroid style prints, with or without captions. As soon as I saw it I thought it would make the perfect Christmas gift for Reg.

In order to buy a product from Polagram you need to download their free iPhone or Android app, which literally just takes a few seconds to do on your mobile device. Once downloaded you can use the App to order prints, gift boxes, posters, large prints and more! 

I found the iPhone App really simple and straight forward to use - you can connect the App straight to your Instagram, Facebook and camera roll, and just tap on which photos you'd like to use in the product (i.e gift box). For the gift box you can also add captions underneath the photo on the polaroid style print which you just add using your phones keypad - simple! 

The Polagram App - just touch which item you'd like to order and follow the on screen step by step guide!

Choosing my photos for Reg's gift box...

For the gift box I selected 36 of Reg's best Instagram photos (which I had previously saved to my own camera roll) and added hashtag captions underneath some which matched the captions he'd posted on the photos on his Instagram feed. Once I was happy with my selection I just pressed 'finished' and my order was complete - easy peasy! 

When the gift box arrived a couple of days later I was so pleased with it. I know Reg will absolutely love it, and I'm pretty sure he'll think of some creative way of displaying his newly printed photos in his room. 

The gift box comes in pink as standard (not a problem for my uber-macho brother who can handle a bit of pink) and is lovely quality. It contains the Polagram logo on the lid, and the base reads: 

36 lovely moments
Time flies, memories don't

Such lovely sentiment, especially at Christmas time! 

The Polagram gift box in all its glory! 

Some of Reg's FAB photos from the Polagram gift box 

Reg will just love this gift, I know it! 

I couldn't be more pleased with this gift box and I genuinely cannot WAIT to give it to Reg - I love knowing that you've got the perfect gift for someone - thanks Polagram. 

(By the way, I'm hoping that it will still remain a surprise gift as I'm pretty sure my 19 year old brother doesn't have the time/inclination to read a baking/lifestyle blog written by his boring older sister, haha! If you are reading this Reg then SURPRISE!!! HAPPY CHRISTMAS!! This is one of your Christmas gifts this year - we hope you like it!)

Polagram Poster

The second item I opted to review was the Polagram 35 Images Poster priced at £16.90 which contains 35 photos, measures 50x70 cm (20x30") and is printed on thick high quality paper. 

I chose this option as a Christmas gift for my twin sister Jojo- who lives 100 miles away. I don't get to see her nearly as often as I'd like and in order to keep in touch I send her daily photos to let her know what we're up to and how 'her boy' Bert is. She is the most amazing Auntie to little Bert I knew she would go totally bonkers over a collage poster of Bert pics, so I couldn't wait to put one together for her. 

Me and my gorgeous twin sister Jojo! 

Again, using the App was super simple, and even better - because I used the images directly from my camera roll which are in date taken order, the photos I chose of Bert automatically appeared on the poster in date order - so you can see him grow over the past 16 months over the 35 gorgeous shots of him - perfect! 

Now, I know for a fact that my lovely sister reads my blog religiously (bless her) as she messages me after every new post... so Jojo - SURPRISE! This is one of your Christmas gifts from us this year - it will be winging its way to you on Boxing Day ready to adorn one of the walls at your house as a constant reminder of your B Man. 

Bert from 5 minutes old - 16 months old: a collage poster print from Polagram for my sister Jo. 

The poster arrived within a couple of days, all packaged up in a hard cardboard tube to insure it arrived in perfect condition, which it did. The poster is brilliant quality, and is going to make the most perfect gift for my sister. 

We decided to purchase a frame for it, to make it an even more perfect gift. Luckily, the poster size is a standard frame size and it wasn't difficult to pick up a lovely frame for it on the high street. It looks super impressive and even more beautiful now that it is all ready to hang...

In its frame and ready to wrap up for Christmas! 

We had to have a peek of it up on wall - I think you'll agree it looks fab! 

I can't wait for Jo to open this and see it in the flesh, and I'm looking forward to seeing where she decides to hang it in her home. 

I hope you'll agree that it is a really beautiful and thoughtful gift, and I think that at a combined cost of £34.90 (£16.90 for the poster + £18 for the frame), it is a very good value purchase. It really is the perfect gift for anyone who needs some last minute Chirstmas gift inspiration! The same goes for the gift box! If you know someone who loves photos as much as me and my family, then look no further, Polagram will have the perfect gift for you. 

MERRY CHRISTMAS & GOOD LUCK with all your final bits of Christmas shopping!


Mrs B


You can follow Polagram on their social media pages:

Polagram on Facebook 
@polagram on Twitter
polagramapp on Instagram 
polagram on Pinterest

Disclaimer: I was sent a gift box and poster print from Polagram for the purpose of this review - all words, opinions and images are my own. 

Sunday 14 December 2014

Figgy's Christmas Pudding *REVIEW*

Anyone who reads my blog regularly will know how much I love to bake. I rarely need a reason to get into the kitchen and cook up a storm, but sometimes I find this time of year a little overwhelming and stressful on the cooking front. Each Christmas I find myself a bit over-worked or out of steam when it comes to baking festive treats. 

This year I vowed I'd be a bit kinder on myself and not put tons of pressure on to hand make/bake so much that I lose the plot! Instead, I've chosen a few key gifts to make and treats to bake, and for the rest I am relying on good ready-made alternatives. 

In my opinion, there is NOTHING wrong with buying in time-saving alternatives to homemade foods at Christmas as long as you don't have to scrimp on quality and flavour. 

Christmas Pudding is one of my all-time favourite Christmas treats, and I am yet to have a go at making one from scratch. I day I will definitely get around to making my own Christmas pudding months in advance, and I will lovingly steep the fruits in booze, and steam the pud' for hours on end in my kitchen, but this year (the same as all the others) I'm opting for a bought pudding - and I whole heartedly recommend a Figgy's Christmas Pudding if you haven't bought yours yet. 

Figgy's puddings is run by husband and wife team Richie and Jo Evans who, based in Devon, lovingly hand make, wrap and dispatch all their puddings themselves, in small batches, so you can be sure you're buying a Christmas Pudding that really is just as you'd make yourself at home. Open for business since 2007, Figgy's has gone from strength to strength and now sells their puddings all over the UK and Europe. Figgy's Christmas Puddings have won various awards including 'Best Dessert' and a Gold Award in the Taste of West Awards 2014. 

Figgy's Puddings come in three sizes:
Small (serves 2-3) priced at £10
Medium (serves 4-6) priced at £15
Large (serves 8-10) priced at £20

We were sent a Medium Christmas Pudding (550g) to try out - and I can honestly say it was one of the best Christmas puddings I've ever tasted (and I've sampled a fair few over the years).

Figgy's Christmas Pudding 

What Figgy's say about their puds...

"We make all our Christmas Puddings by hand in our small bakery near Exeter in Devon. We’ve always made puddings for our friends and family and so have perfected our recipe over many years. As our business has grown, we've never forgotten that a good homemade Christmas Pudding takes time to create and cannot be rushed. We make each one with the same care that we did when we were making a handful for our friends and family.

We’ve also searched hard to find the best ingredients, many from local producers and suppliers. We've learnt that a truly luxurious Christmas Pudding requires the combination of a hearty real ale and a fine brandy, both of which we have on our doorstep. We use the fabulous Port Stout made by the Devon-based O’Hanlon's Brewery, and the warm and rich 10-year-old Somerset Cider Brandy made by the Somerset Distillery. Both of which we also highly recommend for after dinner relaxation!

Our puddings are steamed in ceramic bowls, allowing the flavours to develop to their full potential and producing a far superior result to plastic. The bowls are then wrapped in a cotton pudding cloth, allowing the pudding to breathe and the flavours to mature in the traditional way."

What I have to say about the Figgy's pudding we tried...

Figgy's recommend that you steam their medium pudding for 1.5 hours for best results, and so we followed the instructions exactly, and found it very easy to do (I'd never steamed a pudding before). We then heated some of our favourite whisky and flamed the steamed pudding to perfection - you can't have a Christmas pudding and not set it alight, even if its not Christmas Day! 

Flamin' marvellous! 

We portioned the medium pudding into four servings (over two nights) for hubby and me, and found it to be an ample portion for 4 - personally (because we're greedy) I would have found it a little on the stingy side if I'd been trying to feed more than four with this pudding, so if you are feeding 5 or more I would opt for the large pudding alternative. 

We served our warm Christmas pudding with a drizzle of double cream on the first night, and with thick and boozy cherry/chocolate cream on the second (we microwaved our portions on the second night to re-heat and it still tasted just as delicious). I would whole heartedly recommend you steam your pudding for best results, we only microwaved the leftovers as there was only two of us eating the pudding, and it would have been a bit too greedy (even for us) to eat half each in one sitting. 

The pudding itself was the lightest Christmas pudding I've ever tasted. It didn't sit heavy with me afterwards, and I didn't have that slightly sick feeling after I'd eaten it which I so often get with very rich desserts, making Figgy's the perfect pudding to opt for if, like us, you are planning to eat an epic feast of a Christmas dinner this year, and want something slightly lighter to follow.  

Perhaps conversely for a traditional Christmas pudding, the Figgy's pudding wasn't overly boozy in flavour. There was a delicious hint of alcohol but it wasn't too strong, and it didn't overpower the flavour of the warming spices and unctuous fruit. I love boozy desserts (the boozier the better in my opinion) but hubby prefers things to only be lightly spiked with alcohol - so this pudding was truly perfect in his eyes. It would also be great if you're planning on sharing your Christmas pud' with the kids this Christmas - they so often hate the taste of anything boozy flavoured, so I'm pretty confident they would enjoy this Christmas pudding without any fuss. 

Costing around £2.50 - £3.75 a portion (depending on which size pud' you buy) a Figgy's pudding is great value for money in my opinion - anyone who has ever baked a pudding containing oodles of dried fruit and various alcohols before will know how expensive the cost of the ingredients are, and we've all eaten desserts out enough to know that £3.75 is a great price per head - especially when you get to eat something of this quality! 

Yummy warm Figgy's Christmas pudding with double cream

Some of the best things about buying a Figgy's pudding in my opinion are ...

a) You can order your pudding online from the comfort of your own home and only pay £1.95 for UK shipping.

b) Your pudding comes beautifully packaged in a ceramic pudding basin (which you get to keep and use afterwards).

c) If you send your Figgy's pudding to a friend as a gift (what a GREAT Christmas gift!) you get a free gift card included - fabby!

d) A Figgy's pudding is so homemade looking and tasting that you could ABSOLUTELY pass it off as your own and take all the credit! IF I would do that! :-)

There is NO TIME TO WASTE....If you want a delicious Figgy's Pudding on your table this Christmas Day then you need to make your order online by the end of Weds 17th December to guarantee delivery by Christmas - that gives you exactly 3 days and 6 hours to get yourself into gear and make your purchase!

So head over to Figgy's website and order without delay...

You won't regret it, trust me.

There's always next year to make your own! 

Mrs B


You can follow Figgy's on their social media pages too...

Figgy's on Facebook 
@figgyspuddings on Twitter 
Figgy's Puddings on Pinterest 

Disclaimer: We were sent a medium Figgy's Christmas Pudding for the purpose of this review. All words, opinions and images are my own, excluding the Figgy's logo and speech marked text taken from the Figgy's website.