Yum Yums

As the husband has been ill with a virus, I thought I’d be a good wife and try cheer him up by making him some Yum Yums. I did a quick internet search and found that all the recipes we quite similar, so I settled on using James Morton’s Yum Yum recipe. If you click on the link, you will see they are so simple to make with only basic ingredients. The hardest part was waiting, when I make cakes ect, I want to eat them straight away but I know that resting/proving is an important part and shouldn’t be rushed. I do have a thermometer and I was checking the oil almost constantly to try and maintain a steady temperature. If I make these again, I’d like to try a different oil. I used a vegetable oil , they weren’t greasy but did taste of the oil. Simon didn’t complain though.

They look absolutely amazing!

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I do apologise if people find this post a bit picture heavy but I was so impressed with how they turned out and I wanted to share all the pictures!

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1 down, 13 to go – 14 things for 2014

Cross number 10 off the list, Willow is in her own room! She’s been in her own room for a week and has also been sleeping 12 hour nights! Willow has always been pretty much a good sleeper but not quite 12 hours, I realise I have now probably jinxed myself!

I think we must have been waking her up, either Simon snoring or the quilt rustling (no funny business) we have a feather quilt.

We are finally getting her into a proper routine, she’s in bed between 8pm-8.30pm and fingers crossed, it seems to be working.

I’m surprised it has been so easy, I was prepared for a very unhappy baby that would be up most of the night.

I soooooo hope I haven’t jinxed us, I’m enjoying my full nights sleep hahahahaha!

I wonder what will be crossed off the list next? Probably the cake smash as I wanted to do it pretty close to her 1st birthday. I bought some ‘W’ props from hobby craft that were in the sale. They will need to be decorated but I’m still not sure on the colour scheme for the shoot yet. I will also need to sort a backdrop and an outfit. I need to quickly improve my photography skills as well, they ain’t so great at the moment!

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New Camera

A few days ago, I bought a new camera. Our old camera is 5 years old and technology has moved on since then. My blog pictures were suffering as I was using the ipad, I want a more professional looking blog and buying a new camera was the next step. I’ve only had a quick little play with my new camera, but so far, I’m impressed!

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I went for a Nikon Coolpix L810 in a funky red colour. I was going to buy a more expensive camera but this one had over 270 positive reviews, bonus!

The spec sounds impressive…….

  • 16 megapixels.
  • 26x optical zoom.
  • 4x digital zoom.
  • 3in screen with LCD technology.
  • 22.5mm wide angle lens.
  • Up to 30 frames per second.
  • CCD sensor.
  • Lens type: zoom.

Features:

  • Minimum ISO rating 80 and maximum ISO rating 1600.
  • Built-in flash.
  • 720p HD recording.
  • Video capture with sound.
  • PictBridge compatible.

This compact camera lets curious photographers get up close from anywhere with the incredible Nikon COOLPIX NIKKOR 26x optical zoom lens (22.5mm – 585mm). Taking the perfect picture is made simple with Easy Auto mode which takes care of all the camera settings. For super-sharp shots it has Nikon’s clever anti-blur technology and a side zoom lever to help keep a steady hand.

Image stabilised 26x zoom with wide-angle capability

It’s hard to imagine such a delightfully compact body could house a powerful 26x optical zoom NIKKOR lens with 22.5 mm wide-angle to 585 mm super-telephoto coverage (35 mm format equivalent. Outstanding range and reach makes it as easy to frame a large group or broad vista as it is to zoom right in and capture an extreme close-up from a distance.

Engineered to help achieve consistently sharper results

Whether shooting still images or movies, and even when operating the zoom while recording movies, Nikon’s Lens-shift VR image stabilisation compensates for camera shake to help obtain sharper results. The handgrip is designed to ensure a firm hold and help minimise camera shake. And there’s also a side-mounted zoom control for stable handling.

Easy auto mode and 7.5 cm (3-in.) high-resolution LCD monitor

Easy auto mode lets you simply turn on the camera and start shooting, while leaving the settings to the camera. Also enhancing the shooting and playback experience is a 7.5 cm (3-in.) 921k-dot (approx.) high-resolution TFT LCD monitor. Employing Nikon’s Clear colour display technology, the monitor remains highly visible and sharp indoors or out. The extremely wide viewing angle it offers is free of colour or contrast shifts, so you and those you are with can all fully enjoy the viewing experience.

Anti-Blur Functions –Lens Shift Vibration Reduction (VR)

Anti-Blur Functions –Lens Shift Vibration Reduction (VR) reduces the effect of camera shake and allows use of slower shutter for sharper images – High ISO (up to 1600) light sensitivity for sharper images in low light. Motion Detection compensates for blur from subject movement. The Side Zoom Lever maintains a steady grip on the camera when shooting (the less the camera shakes when held, the sharper the images). Best shot selector (BSS) selects the sharpest of up to ten automatically taken sequential shots.

 

I guess I better read the manual and learn how to use it! I will update on the weekend with some pictures I’ve taken. x

Cute Cute Boutique

Cute Cute Boutique was set up by full time mum, Magda. When she couldn’t find matching accessories for her little girls outfits, Magda decided to make her own headband and soon after, Cute Cute Boutique was formed.

As Willow’s hair is quite long, we tend to clip it back with little hair clips. When the opportunity came up to review a headband, I had to apply.

I must admit, it did take a while to arrive, but for a handmade item from a WAHM (work at home mum) I really didn’t mind the wait.

It arrived in a jiffy envelope and was beautify wrapped in black tissue paper with a Cute Cute Boutique sticker.

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Upon opening the tissue paper, the baby headband was attached to a very professional looking Cute Cute Boutique card.

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I didn’t know what headband I was going to receive but I was pleased with what arrived. It’s a nice, simple design that’s suitable for everyday use. The headband is very well made and the attention to detail is superb. Even the back of the head band has ‘Cute Cute’.

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Little boys aren’t forgotten about, Magda makes little bow ties as well!

There’s lots to choose from, everyday wear headbands, party wear, bows, flowers and more. Even better, Magda takes custom orders. If you have special requirements, I’m sure she would do her best to accommodate you.

One of my ’14 things for 2014′ is to do a cake smash photo shoot. I will need props and accessories. I might order a custom headband especially for the shoot.

If you are unsure what size to buy, there’s a size guide on the site.

I think Willow looks super cute with her new headband, what do you think?

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* I was sent this product for review purposes and I have given my honest opinion.

14 things for 2014

After having a blogging break over the festive period, I’m back with a post about 14 things I would like to achieve for 2014. Call it what you will, resolutions, bucket list, wish list ect

1. Holiday

We haven’t been on holiday in over 2 years, nearly 3 years if we holiday in the second half of the year. We normally go on ‘city break’ type holidays (Las Vegas is a favourite destination) but I’m not sure if a city break will be suitable with a 1-year-old. We are still undecided as to whether or not stay in the UK or holiday abroad, but we will have a break away somewhere.

2. Cake smash

When Willow was 13 days old, we had a cute new-born photo shoot. A very sweet photo shoot with pictures of her in a teacup, a basket, with cute little probs. For her first birthday I want to do a cake smash shoot. It’s something that’s made its way over from America, and they look like so much messy fun! I’ve been in contact with some local photographers but unfortunately, none of them are doing cake smash shoots yet. So, I’m going to attempt my own! Yesterday I bought a brand new camera for better blog pictures (I will do a mini review in a few days). I will need to sort out a backdrop, baby outfit, props and most importantly…….CAKE!

Cute baby pictures may not be to everyone’s taste, but I love them.

3. Pay a lump off the mortgage

Pretty simple really, we’d love to pay a lump off the mortgage and chip away at the years. Who wants to be paying a mortgage at 60 years old? not us!

4. Make the conservatory a usable room

When we bought this house, one of the selling points was the conservatory. In the summer, it’s lovely but at the moment it’s freezing. I’d love to use it as a play room but it’s just too cold, especially for a little one. We are thinking of solar panels to help heat the conservatory. At the moment the space is being used as storage, I’d like to furnish this area, table and chairs, rug, soft furnishings ect

5. Solar Panels

We are going to have to put a lot of research into solar panels as they are so expensive and the feed in tariff isn’t as good as it used to be. We’d love to be able to heat our own home and minimise our bills if we could.

6. New job

I’ve wanted a new job for a few years now, but when you have bills to pay you can’t afford to be out of work. I’d love a new job, I think the time has come to move on. I’m not too fussy about what I do, I’m not career driven but as long as enjoy my work, I’m all good. Hopefully by the end of the year, fingers crossed!

7. Competitions

A few years ago I used to enter competitions and I did win a few things.

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Baby toy set

Theatre tickets

Concert tickets

perfume

Make-up, plus lots more!

I’ve set up a new email account in preparation and I’m on day 3 of comping. I can spend hours a day entering competitions but there are tools available to make entering competition easier. I’m going to try to keep it as a hobby, I don’t want to get bored and it becomes a chore. The prizes are a bonus, if I win that is! I have set myself a comping challenge, to win £2014 worth of prizes in 2014.

8. Lose weight

I bet millions of other people will have the same idea at this time of the year. Willow is now 10 months old and I now feel ready to lose the excess baby weight. I’ve got 2 stone to get back to my pre baby weight, plus I’d like to lose  little more. I just need to get rid of the Christmas chocolates first……

9. YouTube channel for vblogging

I’d like to expand my blog and have a YouTube channel to review products. Hopefully, I could gain more followers but I worry about how I would come across on camera. Anyone have any vblog tips? get in touch!

10. Get Willow into her own room

At 10 months old, Willow is still in with us. Not because I have attachment issues but because we live in a 3 storey house. Willow is normally such a good sleeper with the exception of teething – like now! I don’t want to be up and down stairs, several times in the early hours. At the moment I think we have the top 4 teeth coming through, I hope they hurry up! Once they have come through, she will be going into her own room.

11. New blog site

I wanted to see how I got along with blogging before forking out money on a new blog design. I am enjoying my blogging journey and I now want a more professional looking blog. I feel a more professional looking blog would bring more opportunities my way.

12. Learn a new craft or skill

I’m always on the look out to learn something new. I have a very wide range of interests and I’d like to try new things. It could be something crafty or some kind of skill that could benefit my blog.

13. More date nights with my Husband

I’m sure Gran and Grandad would babysit for us so we could go out for a meal. Even though we are a family, It’s still nice to spend time as a couple. I think we would aim to go out maybe once a month.

14. Sort out moving boxes

We moved into our house 15 months ago and we still have boxes that need sorting out. They are in our bedroom and they are taking up too much room. They are full of collectible toys. We don’t have any storage room for them, so, it looks like they will have to be sold.

 

There you go, that’s my list, my 14 things that I want to accomplish over the next 12 months. Hopefully I will be able to achieve it all, even if I managed half, it’s a start. I will update along the way with what I’ve managed.

I know there’s a few bloggers doing ’14 things for 2014′. I’m interested to see how everyone’s lists compare and how adventurous they are. I hope they all mange to achieve what they set out to do and look forward to reading about the updates!

One Stop Craft Shop craft supplies

One Stop Craft Shop been kind enough to send me some supplies to review. I enjoy sewing and baking, I’m not always successful at it, but I do try!

One Stop Craft Shop have been very generous with what they have sent me. I was expecting a little cross stitch kit or similar, they actually sent me: Sew and So On repeated heart cushion kit (£11.65), The Craft Cotton Company, fat quarter bundle (£10.70), Wilton Cookie Cutter set (£3.72) and Katy Sue Designs – Design mat (£8.98).
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I made some basic vanilla cookies, so I could try the Wilton cookie cutter and the Katy Sue design mat (ssshhhhhh, don’t tell anyone that I burnt them!).
The Wilton cookie cutter set has four cutters, two different Christmas trees, a snowman and a snowflake. They were easy enough to use and I was rather surprised at how reasonably priced they are, considering that they are made by Wilton.

The Katy Sue design mat was also very easy to use. As advised, I brushed the mat with corn flour to avoid it sticking to the fondant. The design is lovely and it consists of lots of different stars.

Once my cookies had cooked (burnt) I rolled out some fondant and pressed the design mat onto it. Because I used the corn flour, the mat came away easily and the star pattern held really well. At this point, I used the cookie cutters to cut the fondant into the same shapes as my cookies. I brushed the cookies with some jam and placed my fondant shapes on top. The jam helps adhere the fondant to the cookies.

These would be ideal for children to use, maybe use them with salt dough and make some tree decorations?

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Sew and So On cushion kit is ideal for a beginner who wants to try their hand at sewing. This kit contains all the materials needed to complete this project. Although the instructions are a little basic, it is simple enough but I would have liked to have seen a little guide on how to blanket stitch as not everyone knows how to. I loved the simple heart design but I decided I preferred a single heart instead of three. The stuffing is also included, it’s vacuum packed to save space and it fluffs up really well.

If you have a friend who likes sewing, an elderly relative or someone who’s a beginner, this cushion kit would make a lovely present.

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The Craft Cotton Company fat quarter bundle consists of six different fabrics with different Christmas prints, baubles, snowflakes and Christmas trees. They are 100% cotton that’s nice and thick. I didn’t want to waste the fabric by rushing to make something just for this blog post. I’d much rather take my time and make something that can be used Christmas after Christmas, maybe some tree decorations, a Christmas stocking or a Christmas quilt.

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Fat quarters are a cheap and easy way to experiment with different fabrics and prints. They are great for sewing, quilting and other craft projects. You can enjoy many different prints without having to buy them by the meter.

Overall, I’m very pleased with the quality of the items that I’ve been sent. I’d most definitely recommend One Stop Craft Shop, the items were well packaged and delivery was fast.

*I was sent these items for review purposes and I have given my honest opinion*

Homemade Christmas decorations

After searching pinterst for some inspiration, I decided to have a go at making my own Christmas decorations out of dried fruit.

I started with some oranges, lemons, limes, star anise, cinnamon sticks, kitchen string and ribbon.

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To dry the fruit, I cut them into slices about 5mm thick. I placed them on a baking tray that had been lined with baking paper and blotted them with kitchen paper to remove the excess juice. I set the temperature on low and left them in the oven for hours, turning every hour or so.

Whilst the fruit was drying, my house smelt lovely and festive.

As you can see from the above picture, they didn’t turn out as well as I’d hoped but they were still usable and I didn’t want them going to waste. I was expecting them to keep their colour but they went brown. The majority of the lemons were a disaster and couldn’t be saved. I figured that the centre of the fruit wouldn’t be seen, so I didn’t really mind too much about the browning.

I tied star anise and a cinnamon stick together with kitchen sting, threaded on the dried slices of fruit and tied a loop at the top with the string. I finished off with some red ribbon to decorate.

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I made four decorations, two with mixed fruit slices, one with lime slices and one with orange slices. They may  not look the best, but they smell amazing!!! They are cheap and so easy to make and can be hung on the Christmas tree or a door handle. Everyone should have a go at making these.