Sunday, 30 November 2014

Christmas Is Arriving!!

After a year overshadowed with sadness for us, tonight Christmas will arrive in our household and plans to make this Christmas super special for Mia and our family will come to life. 

Christmas Traditions. I love hearing people's Christmas Traditions, for us as kids it started when the fairies magically overnight transformed out house into a sparkling winter wonderland! Tonight with 3 of my favourite people, we shall do that for my little girl. 

A new tradition which is becoming more and more popular over here is the Elf on the Shelf. Now, with Mia now aged 2 and understanding and recognising more about Christmas, our Elf (yet to be named) will appear tomorrow morning bringing her a letter, some goodies and her advent calender (thanks Nanny).

I am so excited to do this with her and hope to share daily photos to what he's getting up to! I've been collecting lots of bits for him to bring Mia for ages, from arts and crafts, books, clothes to baking goodies so expect some yummies to be shared soon! 

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Children In Need

If you're going to do something, do it well! 

Despite saying I never wanted to see/eat/bake another cake again after the amount I did for Mia's Birthday recently, I managed to get volunteered to bake a cake for Hubby's work cake sale in aid of Children In Need. In keeping with the theme, why bake just any cake when I could bake a Pudsey Cake!! 

I'm so pleased with the result, I thought I'd share it! Not only must I secretly enjoy doing it, but it is for a great cause!  

Snapfish Review - Christmas Gift Ideas

We are well and truely on the Christmas countdown now and I'm starting to panic about gifts! I love shopping and the build up but the part I find the hardest is gift ideas. There are always certain people I struggle with. Since having my daughter, we have definitely got into the personalised photo gifts. Especially for those people that we don't get to see as much as we'd like, I find this is a nice way to share our photos. 

I could go on forever about how important photographs are to me and how all to often they are just stored on a hardrive but will try to keep this short & to the point! 

After the worse possible start to our year as a family, we have spent the summer and beyond creating some happy memories for us and my little girl. I have a really decent camera (which I am slowly getting to grips with!) and have been using this to capture these memories but have been wondering for a while how I can share and display these. Therefore I was super happy to have this opportunity to review some items from Snapfish.

The first item I chose was a Personalised Photo Calender.

I found Snapfish's website simple to use whilst creating my calender and easy to upload from different sources. I was able to edit & move the position of each picture to ensure I got the perfect finish. 
I particularly liked the design I chose, each page has a different background relative to the month and I was able to match my photos accordingly too! 

Delivery was very quick, I ordered on the 6th, dispatched on the 7th and I received on the 10th (with a weekend in between). 
There are lots of different styles to choose from but I had a particular person in mind when I created my calender and choose a Kitchen Calender. I hope she will enjoy turning over each month and remember all the good times we had this year. 
  • Next I was looking for stocking fillers and came across these super cute Photo Magnets and Keyrings. There was a couple of people I had bought for but wanted something personal to add to it. These are great for these. Again delivery was super quick and although it took a while to find the perfect photo to fit the size without being cropped too much, I got there in the end! 

I've ordered these before and received as a gift and I hope the recipients of these ones are as happy as I was with mine. 

One thing I'm hot on is thank you cards. If someone has taken time out of their day to put the thought and effort into buying a gift then I think the least you can do is take the time to write a thank you note. This is how we were brought up and I am teaching my daughter the same. 
Mia's recently had a birthday so I thought I would try out Snapfish's notecards. There was plenty of designs to choose from and the size is perfect. There is enough room for me to write a little personal note on each one too. I now plan to get a lovely Christmasy photo of us all ready to order the Christmas thank you cards. 

Now this was something I've not had before, but was intrigued by. Hubby has recently started an office based job and has been asking for a while for a photo of us for his desk. I chose a 7x5 panel, there are bigger but thought this would be the perfect size. 

I'm super pleased with this product, the finish is beautiful and the thickness is great. It's going to look perfect on Hubby's desk and I haven't got the hassle of finding the perfect frame! In fact, I'm going to order some more of these for the home, as with a 2 year old I don't like to have glass frames on units that she can reach/drop/smash! 

I also ordered myself some photo prints at the same time as doing this and was so impressed at the quality and for once not ONE photo was cropped when it arrived like I have previously experienced with other online photo printing companies. There is a section before you edit each photo to stop cropping and the distortion of photos.

All in all, I am super pleased with my purchases and it's given me inspiration for more Christmas gifts. The website was easy to upload, edit and order photos and delivery was reasonably priced and I had received my whole order within a few days of ordering. 

Snapfish always seem to have lots of offers and discounts so it's worth checking out their Christmas Deals .

Thank you Snapfish for allowing me to do this post, I was gifted a £40 store credit to help facilitate this review. My opinions are honest and 100% my own and I only recommend items/products/services that I myself would use or use.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Halloween Bakes

One of our favourite activities is baking, well I bake and Mia makes lots of mess and eats everything she can steal! With Halloween round the corner, what better theme to use with our baking this week!
I actually don't have any equipment relating to Halloween but I still think we did pretty well! 

The pumpkins were a number 0 biscuit cutter, the ghosts a Christmas bell, the skeletons a Gingerbread man and I also made bats out of a holly leaf biscuit cutter. 
The only thing special I bought were these gel food colour tubes in these bright colours. I hate the liquid food colouring, I've never mastered it and think they make the mixture far too wet. These gels were great, very pigmented and great for icing.

I used a very simple biscuit recipe, 
200g unsalted butter
200g caster sugar
1 egg beaten
400g plain flour
1/2 tsp vanilla essence

For the icing I used..
500g sifted icing sugar
2 x 8g sachets of egg white powder
Gel food colouring 

To create my spider buns I used a basic sponge recipe, I always weigh my eggs first and use the same weight for butter, caster sugar and self raising flour. 
I then add a little baking powder and vanilla essence, and as a special touch added some if the gel food colouring! 

The icing was buttercream with black and purple food colouring. With smarties and strawberry laces to decorate! 

Super simple but effective!! 

Fireworks Night

My favourite thing about Bonfire night..?? Sparklers! Every 5th November as a child and beyond we celebrated with sparklers even if we hadn't gone to a display. This year I allowed Mia to join in on the fun! She'd been asking to see fireworks for weeks (not sure where she'd picked that up from!) so along with some friends we had our own mini fireworks display. 

We first took Mia to see fireworks when she was only about 6 months old as they had them at a local beach throughout the summer last year and so they have never worried her. She's seen several since but I felt this time she really took notice and has been talking about them ever since. 

We took her to an big organised display and she thoroughly enjoyed them. I'm so very glad we took her from a young age so that the noise etc doesn't worry her and we all had fun! 

So wrap them up warm, be safe have fun :) 

Monday, 10 November 2014

Party fit for a Princess

My Princess's 2nd Birthday Fun!

I thought I would put a little something together with some of the items I used/created to make my little girl her very own Princess themed Birthday! 

First things first....No birthday is complete without cake! 
We used our favourite marble cake recipe and created this beauty..

 Super easy to create but effective! The crown I picked up in Morrisions and the wand in Poundland. 

I tried out a new piping technique i'd seen featured on YouTube using two colours and for a first attempt I don't think it came out too badly. Essentially you put a little bit of your first coloured buttercream into your piping bag and squeeze it together to cover all the sides. Open the bag back up and pour your second coloured buttercream into the middle. As simple as that! 

Next...Balloons. My favourite website at the moment is Pinterest and I had found these balloon "Princess Castle Towers" and wanted to recreated these myself. I was super pleased with how these turned out. Mia was amazed by them and actually they were very simple.