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British Bake off – the cheat’s way

Lets eat cake

Now GBBO is over I am on the hunt for another program to enjoy with the kids.  Aside from giving me massive cravings for cake, each episode always makes me believe that maybe even I could whip up a masterpiece with the Kitchen Aid currently sitting sadly in my cupboard.  The hero of my wedding gift list has had to contend with being dusted off for the odd time I am required to bake for school sales and it is even neglected when it comes to the kids’ birthdays as I usually head to the shops in search of personalised cakes.  Little B had an incred Cinders cake from M&S this year.

However, there is a part that niggles my conscience and one glance into my childhood photo albums reminds me of the lovely cakes my mum used to spend hours making for me and how I really ‘should try harder’.  Just yesterday though I was let into a little secret.  A kind of mummy’s little helper.  I am not talking about Gin but a clever little company who sends you all the bits and pieces you need to create really lovely cakes.

That’s right simply add eggs, butter and a dash of milk to Craft and Crumb’s organic cake mix and follow the instructions and you too can be proud of something Bake Off worthy.  Each kit contains disposable cake and cupcake baking pans, cupcake cases, icing bag and nozzle, natural colouring, cake board, organic cake mix, organic icing sugar for your buttercream and decorations.  You can buy extra decorations and cute number candles too.  My friend had just pulled off the Princess Castle cake with total success and there are some really cool boys ones too.  Have a look and for once be pleased to adorn a pinny and not have to hide the supermarket packaging!

All in the detail:

All by Craft & Crumb
Cake Kits from £29.95
Boys and Girls themes available
Click here to view

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Food for thought – nutritious nosh for kids

PPWe are all too aware that 2016 is the year of eating clean and whilst I sift lovingly through my Deliciously Ella book, I still on occasion (and with an empty fridge) rely on giving the kids mass produced frozen rubbish from my freezer.  Hypocritical indeed. Help is at hand though for the lucky folks living in London, as last week I met with 2 lovely young ladies set out to change the face of convenience kids’ food.  Yes you can buy meals specifically made for kids from Waitrose etc. but you will also be buying into food that has been handled on a mass scale and produced in factories.  Instead the ladies behind Piccolo Plates offer a service providing super fresh kids’ food all hand-cooked in their kitchen in West London.

pp1Not all children like the idea of a quinoa risotto and I like Piccolo Plates approach when it comes to their menu as all the dishes are reassuringly familiar (cottage pie etc.) but with stacks of hidden veg and full of nutrients.

Not only will it alleviate the guilt that you haven’t been to the shops, but it also means you won’t be feeding your Little Ones the synthetic fish fingers and waffle combo you so often resort too.  At £5 per dish they serve 2 kids (you can just about squeeze 3 portions if needed).  Free delivery and they currently deliver across London.  Perfect if you have friends visiting for the weekend, want to stock up the freezer or for those weeks when you have been flat out working and would prefer to spend any free time constructing Lego whilst dressed up as Elsa rather than hovering over the stove.


All in the detail:
Fresh dishes for children all by Piccolo Plates
£5 per dish (serves 2)
Current menu: Cottage Pie, Chicken and Pesto Nuggets, Fish Pie, Salmon & Cod Goujons, Veggie Shepherds Pie and Butternut Squash, Pea and Lentil Stew
Order via their website using their forms and they will then send you an invoice.
Click here to find out more
Click here to order
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Time for tea – melamine plates for kids

plates Call me a killjoy but a couple of years ago I got a bit bored of having a whole load of mismatched kids plates juggling for position in my kitchen cupboard.  I ended up hitting the Emma Bridgewater sale hard and replacing the lot with some lovely melamine Polka dot plates and bowls thus kitchen harmony was restored.

The other day whilst visiting a super stylish friend’s new house (the whole place could be Pinterested in a second) I noticed that when it was time for tea, out came these gorgeous kid-friendly (read shatterproof) plates and cups. ‘Where did you find those?’ I asked, only to be nearly knocked off my perch when she uttered back the three letters…BHS.  Yes these rather pretty blue and white plates are from good old BHS and are easy on the pursestrings too. If cool blues aren’t your palate there are some fun vintage floral ones too – see below.


All in the detail:

Melamine plates from BHS
Set of 4 for £15
Cups and bowls to match too
Click here to view

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An Eggcellent Idea – National Trust Easter Egg trails


Easter brings out my inner child.  My voracious appetite for chocolate knows no bounds and my competitive streak shines through – traits that Little A has seemingly inherited as each morning begins with ‘when is the Easter Bunny coming?’.  I like to eke out Christmas to roughly about 2 weeks of festive fun so I am slightly applying the same theory to Easter and aside from church visits and our usual hunt around the garden on Easter Sunday I have been looking for other Easterish things to do to.  Luckily for us, Cadburys have been on the case and have delivered over a quarter of a million Cadbury Eggheads (that’s a lot of chocolate) to over 300 National Trust properties.  You can simply go to their website – click here – and enter in your postcode to find a trail near you. We are staying with the Gramps over Easter and when I entered in their fairly remote countryside postcode it popped up with 3 National Trust properties close enough to visit.  The event is spread over four days so the chances are the crowds will be nicely spread out – looks like we now have a plan for at least one day of the Easter Hols sorted.

To find your nearest Cadbury Eggsplorers Easter Egg Trail click here

All in the detail:

Over 300 locations across the UK
Every trail begins at Base Camp where your child will receive their Eggsplorer Trail Journal which  includes a trail map and clues to help them on their way. After successfully completing the trail each Eggsplorer will be rewarded with a rather delicious Cadbury Egghead.
Click here to find a trail near you
Prices vary by property but my local one is £1.50 per child

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Weaning Lyrical – Organic baby food


Little B has developed a new skill.  The Tantrum.  Yes if I suggest shoes over her beloved red wellies – tantrum.  If I suggest we use the buggy when she would like to walk – tantrum.  Recently it has been over food and I am trying to smile through the yoghurt and general food flinging but I also realise that sometimes I have not helped the situation by being late to get the lunch onto the table.  To be fair to her, she usually has to wait until Little A returns from nursery so I have started to give her pudding first…on the go.  Obviously Little B would not deign herself to actually bite an apple but she sure does still love a puree.  One thing that has been bugging me though is that for all the ‘no added sugar’ chat, the brands I have been buying still do have a fair bit of ‘natural sugar’.  I have tracked down one brand though whose purees are quite a bit lower in the natural sugar stakes than the usual brands filling my cupboards; take a look at Goodness Gracious.  They are 100% organic, dairy and gluten free and Little B wolfed the Pear puree and the Mango, Coconut Milk and Brown Rice one with gusto.  They are available at Planet Organic and some other independents but I box buy online and get mine direct to the door (8 pouches in one box).

All in the detail:

Organic food pouches by Goodness Gracious 
Ranges for 4mths plus and another from 8mths plus
Free shipping when you order 4 or more boxes 
Little B loves the simple Pear one and Mango, Coconute Milk and Brown Rice puree
Click here to buy

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Winter Warmers – Time to Fill the Freezer

fed by ned

One of the NY resolutions I am determined to keep this year is to get a bit more organised.  In everything.  To remember to pack the goggles for the swimming lessons, leave extra time to get places, to find half an hour once a week to sit down and call friends afar and to clear my inbox of 138 emails that have been patiently waiting for my attention.  Rather than haul Little A and Little B round the supermarket I have also been trying to do the majority of my food shopping online.  Coming back to an empty fridge and freezer after a weekend away is not the most welcoming.  My freezer, however, is currently stocked with a rather nice little stash of scrumptious kids food which means I haven’t had to resort to the usual fish fingers and waffles recently.

Just before Christmas I had a delivery from a kind of elf.  Well the perfect elf if you have run out of time to batch cook for the freezer and want to give your Little Ones a change of scene from the usual frozen food aisle culprits.  Welcome Fed by Ned.  Organic, seasonal and homemade food aimed at the Littler market is just the ticket.  There are purees for teeny tots, and rougher textures for those over 7 months.  I rather tentatively put the Mild Salmon Curry in front of Little B and she wolfed the lot.  Certainly proved to me that I need to be more adventurous with her diet.  Fed by Ned is perfect to have in your freezer for when you forget that weekly shop and also a dream to pop in a cool bag to take with you for weekends away.

All in the detail:

Fed by Ned, click here for menu
Delivery is to your door and is free on orders over £50
Makes a wonderful present for anyone weaning their Little One
They deliver to: Islington, Westminster, Kensington & Chelsea, Hammersmith & Fulham, Wandsworth, Lambeth and the City of London.

Not in London then check out Kiddie Cubes for something similar but in cube form.

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Pretty Pottery – ramekins, pasta bowls & expresso cups


If you are stuck for ideas for the ladies in your life this Christmas then have a look a my latest discovery, Ibbi and their gorgeous ceramics and textiles.  The two stylish ladies behind the brand, take great care in sourcing unusual and eclectic pieces that look just at home in both traditional and more contemporary settings.  Their pretty ramekins are great for dips this Christmas and are a very easy pressie to take to someone’s house that would certainly outlast flowers or a bottle of wine.  Also love their expresso cups (see main pic) and they sell fab baby playmats too that channel a sweet, boho vibe.

All in the detail:
All ceramics available at Ibbi
Click here to view
Ramekins from £11
Expresso Cup, £24
Most items are dishwasher/microwave safe
Baby playmates, £45

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Lunch on the go – stylish lunch boxes for kids

A couple of weekends ago Little A had his first experience of car sickness.  Unfortunately for me I was rather ill prepared.  As his little face proceeded to become greyer and greyer I began to desperately search the car for an appropriate vestibule for him to be sick into. Sadly for his Tractor Ted lunchbox that was it.  After we then promptly forgot about said lunchbox in the car overnight (gross) it was deemed beyond salvation and into the bin it sadly went. The one upside however, was that the hunt was on for a new lunchbox, one to stand out from the crowd that collected at nursery and one that had enough space for Little A’s usual lunch bits and bobs.

Pink Lining came to the rescue. Little A’s new Dinosaur appliquéd lunchbox is just the ticket.  It has an insulated wipe clean lining, and piece of elastic to keep your water bottle in place and a handy mesh pocket to keep things separate. At only £15 they make great Christmas pressies for Little Ones and there are lots of designs to choose from.  I love the Unicorn or the Ladybird for the girls and it was tough to choose between the Dinosaur and Knight one for the boys. Also worth checking out their matching rucksacks, overnight bags and wheelie cases.

All in the detail:

Lunchboxes by Pink Lining
Click here to view

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Let them eat cake! Hummingbird bakery Christening cakes

christening cake

Tradition dictates that you should save the top tier of your wedding cake for your firstborn’s Christening and for Little A’s big day that is exactly what we did. Rejuvenated from its big freeze, our top tier looked surprisingly sprightly and if fruit cake is your thing then it was pretty good.

For babe no.2’s big day and out of fear that my oven might produce something resembling a biscuit rather than a cake I took to the shops to find an alternative. Thankfully for me (and our guests) the genius bakers at Hummingbird Bakery stepped in to save the day.  We chose the personalised Rabbit cake (£75 for a 10″cake to serve 18-20 people) and ordered the matching cupcakes to hand out to the littlies coming.  The vanilla sponge was incredibly light and moreish and it was so generous in size we were still eating it days later.  As I am no Nigella and if I can escape Mother’s Guilt, I will certainly be ordering Little B’s first birthday cake from HB – just check out their Rainbow cake (£39.95 for an 8inch cake serving 12). Also worth looking at their giant red velvet Cupcake one for a fun dinner party pud.

All in the detail:

Celebration cakes by Hummingbird Bakery, click here to view
You can order online and then collect from one of their bakeries
As each celebration cake is handmade to order they need to be ordered 48hrs or more in advance
Hummingbird Bakery also do a Gluten free ‘Made Without’ range  – good for little ones with intolerances

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Snack Time – Soreen’s little loaves

From September, Little A will have to take his lunch into nursery and so aside from choosing a snazzy lunchbox (check out Tractor Ted’s insulated one) it also leaves me with the quandary of what to put in it.  A rather fussy eater and not one to take to a quinoa salad, I fear we might easily fall into a lunchbox rut of Pombears, Philly sandwiches (obvs no exotic cucumber allowed) and a pack of raisins.  However, one item that will be featuring are these little banana loaves by Soreen.  Little A happily scoffs them now as an afternoon snack and as they are low in saturated fat and come in little individual packs, they have often saved me on many a long road trip. For something a little more indulgent and picked off the shelves when Little A is residing in the shopping trolley, I have also found Soreen’s Chocolate Mega Loaf creeping into our bags. Very moreish and only available at certain times of the year so you could call it rather exclusive.

All in the detail:

Soreen’s Banana Lunchbox loaves available at Sainsburys, Morrisons, Tesco and Asda
Only 95 calories each

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