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Monday, 31 January 2011

Product of the Week... Splash About Happy Nappy

I have decided to review a product every Monday, these are not paid reviews, however they are products that I sell in my new shop Munchkins and Poppets.


For this week I have chosen the HAPPY NAPPY from Splash About.


"The most essential item in your baby swim kit is your Happy Nappy. In fact, most baby swim schools in the UK now recommend that all of their babies wear one. After all, the idea is that you go swimming with your baby – not with the contents of his or her leaking nappy! 

They are made of 1mm supple, stretchy neoprene and finished with super soft, snug fitting, deep bands of fabric with a high rubber content to keep all nasties inside.
Designed by us with swim teachers, parents and babies in mind! So simple and yet so effective, no ties, no Velcro, no elastic. IT WORKS!! Can be worn with or without a conventional swim nappy - a liner is advised for ease of cleaning. Tested and improved upon with the leading UK swim teachers." Splash About



I have used the Happy Nappy with my (now 22 month old) little boy, from the age of 2 months. I have either used them with a disposable or re-usable swim nappy underneath. Not only do they offer you the confidence to go swimming with your baby without the worry of 'leakages' they also keep your baby warm as they are made from neoprene, the same material that wetsuits are made from. These however are only 1mm neoprene so they are flexible, not stiff, and are fairly easy to put on & take off your baby - although if you have a 'chunky' baby they may take a big of 'tugging' to get over their thighs!! Don't worry though as the waist & legs are ribbed with very soft stretchy fabric that doesn't cut into your baby. The colours are lovely & bright & can be co-ordinated with baby wetsuit wraps & snugs.

The Splash About Happy Nappy's are available in all sizes from Newborn (XS) up to Toddler (XXL) in a variety of colours and are priced from £7.99 + p&p.

Click here to see all Happy Nappy's in stock and available for purchase Now!



Fantasy Fish with red binding
Pink & Blue

My little one swimming underwater at 8 months old wearing his Fantasy Fish Happy Nappy with blue binding
Pink Balloon Print



Saturday, 29 January 2011

Trouble is his middle name..........

My darling little angel is trouble from the moment he wakes up until the moment he goes to sleep......


If you turn your back for a minute you can be sure that he is causing mischief........turning the taps on in the bathroom, putting things down the toilet, taking knives out of the dishwasher, emptying cupboards, rooting through my stockroom, sucking on his sisters felt tips, throwing his brothers Match Attax cards down the stairs.............the list is endless.  And will he ever learn to stop standing on chairs.........twice he has fallen off this week, the first time he managed to smash one of his little plastic chairs to pieces and the second time, tonight, he banged his head on the wall & put a big dent in it.............the wall, not his head...........his head is completely unharmed!!


 The dented wall !!




He is also very adorable and is always making me laugh..... Today he decided to make his own "bratby" (breakfast) .......at 4 o'clock in the afternoon, a mixture of cornflakes, branflakes and cheerios. He made a bit of a mess so took it upon himself to clean it up with my Dyson handheld. When I took over from him he spotted that his sister had left her netbook on the floor.......it was his lucky day!!!



Afternoon breakfast.....



Cleaning up the cornflakes 



Tweeting 




Friday, 28 January 2011

Recipe Testing..............Vanilla Blondies

This week, during my growing addiction to blogs, I came across one by trained chef Vanessa Kimbell following her year long journey of taking time out from the workplace to write a cookery book. Her recent post was asking for Recipe Testers for this forthcoming book Prepped!, due out in May. This immediately caught my eye as I love cooking and baking and was excited at the prospect of testing out a recipe and blogging about it! After a quick read of  The Philosophy behind Prepped! I thought 'This is Me!'... a (in Vanessa's words) 'Time Short Food Lover' so I quickly contacted Vanessa expressing my interest. The following morning I received a reply with a list of recipes to choose from and being a lover of all things sweet I picked Vanilla Blondies.

Shortly afterwards Vanessa emailed me the recipe along with a test sheet. I was lucky enough to have all the ingredients to hand, including pecans, another item left over from Christmas, so once the kids were in bed last night I made a start...

Well simple wasn't the word, I couldn't believe how easy these were to prepare & using just a few simple ingredients. I have made Brownies before but never Blondies and I knew that the knack was not to overcook them so I kept a close eye , not wanting to ruin them , after all I had promised Vanessa that I would be trying the recipe out that evening & I was now all out of pecans and with the kids in bed had no means of getting more.


The recipe calls for 25-30 minutes baking time but to check after 25, which I did as my fan-assisted oven tends to be a bit quick at times. They had turned a lovely golden brown and were slightly crispy on top so I took them out of the oven & waited for them to cool. I have a habit of cutting brownies and other traybakes too soon but there was a handy tip at the bottom of this recipe advising 'Don't rush into cutting this one into squares. It does need time to firm up'.......what a great tip for impatient cooks like me. I wish it had been in previous recipes I had followed, maybe then I wouldn't have ended up with such rustic looking offerings!

I was a bit anxious about removing the blondies from the pan as there was no call for greasing or lining but I needn't have worried as once cut into squares they effortlessly came away. I couldn't wait to try one.....they looked & smelt so good. Anyway, I didn't try one.......I tried two!! They were absolutely delicious, the gooey sweetness teamed with the specs of saltiness from the sea salt was a match made in heaven. I had to put the rest in the garage to stop myself from eating any more.......

The feedback I received from Vanessa about my 'practical and fully incorporated comments' was overwhelming and to know that I have played a part (be it a very small one) in showing the users of this recipe how to create fabulous blondies is a great honour.

I have 3 friends that couldn't get out of the house today, one has just had an operation, another has a sick daughter and another has a badly sprained ankle, so I thought that they were in need of a little cheering up. I packed up some of these sticky little treats into bags and delivered them to these grateful recipients. On hearing how good these little Blondies were (by means of Facebook) EVERYONE wants some...................so my mission for this weekend is to make 2 more trays of Blondies, this time of the salted peanut variety...................I am salivating at the thought.................I just hope they save some for me!


The Recipe ...........Vanilla Blondies by Vanessa Kimbell

With all the buttery fudginess of a brownie, blondies are sweet, chewy and seriously simple to make. but it's not so easy to choose between using peanuts or pecans - so I make two versions. The pecan version is fabulous, and the salted peanut version is amazing. So why not make both?

Serves : 16
Prep Time : 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 - 30 minutes
Suitable for freezing : No

300g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
250g unsalted butter
400g Vanilla Sugar
2 eggs, beaten
225g salted peanuts or plain pecans (and a pinch of sea salt)

1 Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C / gas mark 3

2 Sift the flour and the baking powder into a large bowl and combine

3 In a saucepan, melt the butter and bring it briefly to the boil and stir in the sugar. it doesn't all dissolve, but the sugar goes 'gloopy'. Remove from the heat.

4 Pour the butter into the flour and mix with a wooden spoon until combined. Stir in the eggs, mix well and then add the peanuts. Pour into a large 24cm x 30cm baking tray and spread.

5 Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, but check after 25 minutes. The tops of the blondies should be just golden brown and lightly springing back. If it needs a little longer, be careful not to overcook - blondies need to retain their fudginess. It will firm up as it cools down. Cool in the tray and cut into 16 squares when cold.

Tips

Don't rush into cutting this one into squares. It does need time to firm up.


Vanessa's Vanilla Blondies with peanuts (above)



My Vanilla Blondies with pecans (above)


You can follow Vanessa's blog and pre-order her book here


I personally cannot wait to try out some more of Vanessa's recipes if they are as simple & tasty as this one.......





Thursday, 27 January 2011

Making something out of nothing.......

There is one thing that my husband says that I can always do well..........and this is to 'make something out of nothing'. He is referring to my ability to rustle up a meal or dessert when the cupboards and fridge appear to be bare and not my ability to cause an argument when there is no grounds for one.............he wouldn't dare say that!!!


On a whole I try to cook healthily, using fresh & un-processed ingredients but often, towards the end of the week, when most of the fruit & veg has long since vanished, we may resort to something on toast and the kids love it when, as a special treat, Dad cooks tea.................... egg on beans on ham on cheese on toast!!


Today I was looking through the cupboards & fridge for some inspiration for dinner and noticed that we had an excess of tins of custard and packs of cream cheese left over from Christmas so I decided to put them to good use & make a pudding for the family,,....,,,, to follow the Dr Who pasta on toast......




Sort of a Cheesecake.......... 


Ingredients


40g butter, melted
9 digestive biscuits, crushed (I wanted to use ginger snaps but didn't have enough)
250g pack of cream cheese
425g tin of ready made custard
zest of one orange and juice of half of it










To decorate


small tin of sliced peaches or mandarins (you could also use fresh fruit such as kiwi, banana, strawberries)




Directions


Line a 7" pie dish with clingfilm
Add the melted butter to the crushed biscuits and stir until combined
Pour the mixture into the lined dish & cover the base & sides evenly & press down with the back of a spoon
Refrigerate the base whilst you make the filling.


Filling


Beat the custard and cream cheese together until smooth
Beat in the zest and juice
Pour the filling onto the base and spread evenly
Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before removing from the dish, discarding the clingfilm & decorating with fruit



Serve immediately






It's not the most sophisticated of desserts but for a midweek treat it's ideal.......quick & easy.










Family Verdict :


Hanna : "mmmmmm, lovely" and 30 minutes later "can I have some more of that pie please, it's gorgeous"


Jack  : pushed the bowl away saying  "Mott to'"....Jacks favourite phrase at the moment which, roughly translated, means "I don't want to"......


Sam : when asked if he liked it he simply said "yeah". To be honest he has been unwell & not as enthusiastic about food as usual..... either that or he didn't like it & didn't want to hurt my feelings!!


Husband : "Lovely that"




Will I be making it again?


yes probably, although next time I will make in individual dishes as it was quite tricky to remove from the pie dish.




Please let me know if you try this out and tell me what you think.....

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

To Start.....

My name is Helen, I am 40 years of age and married with 3 gorgeous children. I grew up in Rugby, Warwickshire, with my Mum, Dad, older brother, cat called Fluffy, goldfish called Goldie & canary called Sunny - I have never really thought about, until now, how ridiculously un-original those names were, but I suppose times don't change as recently my kids had a hamster called.....yes you've guessed it.....Hammy !

I've started this blog because, well, everyone else seems to have one and, me being me, I don't like to feel as though I'm missing out on a good thing. I'm not entirely sure what I'm going to write about but I expect there will be much writing about kids & kids stuff, and probably a lot about food & baking, all of which I love.....so let's just see how it goes...........

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