Sultana Cake

Today I got my bake on, ready for tonight’s episode of ‘The Great British Bake Off’. I’ve been hooked on this program since it started and I think half of the country is as well!

I always end up drooling whilst I watch this program, so I decided to bake a cake! Although I don’t think my baking will be as good as the contestants, I like to have a go.

I decided to bake a sultana cake, mainly because I picked up a bag of sultanas with our weekly shop. After trawling through my baking books, I couldn’t find a suitable recipe, so I turned to the trusty internet.

I found this very simple recipe from food.com.

Ingredients:

500g sultanas

250g butter, chopped

3 eggs 

2 teaspoons almond essence or 2 teaspoons vanilla essence

1 cup sugar

1 1/2 cups plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 150°C and grease a 20cm square or round cake tin.

Pick over the sultanas to remove any stem, there’s nothing worse than a crunch in your cake.

Place sultanas in a saucepan and cover them with cold water. Bring to the boil and then drain off the water. Return sultanas to saucepan.

Stir in the chopped butter and set aside the sultanas to cool.

Beat together the eggs, essence and sugar. Then add in the sultanas.

Add your flour and baking powder to another mixing bowl and aerate with a kitchen whisk (or you can sift them together).

Stir the flour into the sultana mix.

Pour into prepared cake tin and bake for 1 1/2 hours.

003 005

I didn’t follow the recipe to the letter, I tend to mess about with them a bit depending on what I have in the cupboards. With this recipe I decided to half the ingredients, used self-raising flour and also used light brown sugar. I think it turned out lovely even if it did crack (I did put it on the top shelf), it’s lovely and moist and Hubby started eating it as soon as he got home from work. I actually think this will taste even better tomorrow with a cup of tea, that’s if it last until tomorrow!

I do love to bake when I have the spare time and I think I might make this a regular post for GBBO days. I will watch tonight and see if it gives me some inspiration for next weeks bake.

Do any of my readers have a favourite cake/sweet treat they like to bake?

Cosmeston Lakes, Penarth

Once every few weeks we always find ourselves at a loose end with nothing to do. When this happens we tend to go to Cosmeston for a walk and to tire out the baby. Cosmeston has always been a popular choice for families, dog walkers, runners, horse riders and wildlife watchers.

002

006

Cosmeston covers over 100 hectares including land and water and was opened in 1978.  The lakes are actually two flooded quarries, something I never knew until I was researching info for this post! Last year Cosmeston actually gained local nature reserve status. There are many different habitats for wildlife such as, reed beds, meadows, lakes and woodland. It’s home to many different species of wildlife such as swans, ducks and squirrels.

028

 

022

027

005

I remember having picnics at Cosmeston when I was younger, we would stay there all day, feeding the swans and playing in the park. On a warm summers day, it’s lovely.

Willow really enjoyed the play area, I’m so glad she did because myself and my brother spent many hours playing there when we were younger. I’m pretty sure most people from the Vale of Glamorgan will have some memories of their summer trips to Cosmeston Lakes.

Willow, enjoying the swings, she screamed when we took her out! But look at how gorgeous she is, I could squeeze those cheeks all day long!

011

016

014

Cosmeston is easy to get to, at the moment parking is free but there is talk of a £3 fee being put in place. There are many people against this, myself included. I feel like it will put many people off visiting and the site will suffer in the future. I know that £3 isn’t a great deal of money to me but to some it is, especially pensioners and families with a small disposable income. Hopefully the local council will see sense and not go ahead with it.

Cosmeston does have a toilet and café area with some barbecue areas scattered throughout the park.

I think many Vale residents will agree that this place is a local gem, I’ve never seen a piece of litter or dog mess and everyone seems to be really respectful of their surroundings.

If you’ve never been to Cosmeston Lakes and would like to visit, here’s the address….

Cosmeston Lakes Country Park.

Lavernock Road,

Penarth,

Vale of Glamorgan

CF64 5UY

 

Vlogging

You may or may not recall, one of my ’14 things for 2014′ was to start Vlogging. I feel it’s time to bite the bullet and get on with it! I’ve been slowly working myself up to it, been worried about how I will come across and worried if people will like me or not. I’ve come to the conclusion that if people don’t like me, I’m not forcing them to watch/read my videos/posts, I’m guessing I’ve got nothing to lose.

I’ve purchased a tripod for my camera, I’m all set to go, I just need that final push!

I decided to finally have a go at vlogging because I seem to be having a major blogging block at the moment, post ideas don’t seem to be popping into my head. Maybe vlogging will come to me more naturally? I don’t know but I think I should give it go!

One thing that seems to be against me is my laptop. All of a sudden it seems to be on its last legs and could do with an upgrade. Maybe I can persuade the husband to invest in a new one? They never seem to last me more than 2 years but they are so handy to have. We do have an ipad but a laptop can do certain things that an ipad can’t.

Listen to me going on! Maybe I’m starting to make excuses and talk myself of having a go at vlogging!

Anyway, enough of me going on, but seriously, if any of my blogging friends have any vlogging tips, please let me know. Any info/help will be gratefully received!

Bye for now, but you will be seeing my ugly mug on camera soon! X

 

Bonmarché Cardiff

I was recently invited to an event for Bonmarché - Bonmarché were opening a brand new store in Cardiff City centre and they invited some bloggers to attend. I was a little hesitant to accept as Bonmarché isn’t a store I’d normally shop in and I’ve always associated Bonmarché with the older generations. I decided to accept the invitation with the hope that I was wrong.

Bonmarché was established in 1982 by two brothers who began their business on market stalls and opened their first store in Doncaster. From there, the Bonmarché brand expanded very quickly to where it is today.

The new Bonmarché store opened on Wednesday 30th July, in the St David’s shopping centre.

028

A very special guest was there to launch the new store – David Emanuel!!!!!!!!!!! David Emanuel is a fashion designer and is most well-known for co-designing Princess Diana’s wedding dress.

In Collaboration with Bonmarché, David Emanuel now designs a collection of affordable, wearable and stylish clothes with real women in mind, ranging from sizes 10-24.

007006008

Us lucky bloggers were even given the opportunity to spend a few minutes with the main man!

030

The new Bonmarché store was manic, but I wouldn’t expect anything less on the first day. Certain areas of the store are almost ’boutique’ like, with a dressing table in the changing room and chandeliers lighting areas of the shop floor.

005015035I really like the way the store is laid out, everything was easy to find, from jeans and underwear to accessories and work wear.

021

Bonmarché offer a very wide range of clothing, if you are planning a glamorous night out or you just want to relax in comfy casual clothes, Bonmarché is the store for you. Like I said earlier, I’ve always associated Bonmarché with older generations but I was pleasantly surprised, they have clothes that I liked and would actually wear.

Being a self-confessed bargain hunter, I love good quality clothing at a reasonable price. Even the David Emanuel collection is fairly priced!

Bonmarché are trying to appeal to a slightly younger generation and I wouldn’t hesitate to shop in there again.

Two other bloggers and I took over the changing rooms to have a mini fashion show, we wanted to get a feel for the clothes. I settled on the following Coffee Bean Palazzo trousers.

116600_07_xlalt2

They were very reasonably priced at £18, true to size and anyone could wear them.

I was impressed with the quality and think that Bonmarché items will stand the test of time. I get really annoyed with myself when I buy a cheap item of clothing and them wonder why it’s fallen apart after the first wash.

If you are still unsure, please visit a store and have a look for yourself.

025

A picture of the lovely store manageress modelling a gorgeous David Emanuel blouse.

Bonmarché offer a bonus card, I love it when stores reward you for being loyal, it’s never a bad thing!

I’m so glad I went to this event, my opinion on the Bonmarché brand has been changed for the better!

 

The new Bonmarché store is situated,

Town Walk,
St Davids Centre,
South Glamorgan,
CF10 2DP.

 

ScentedCandleShop

I must admit, I’m a scented candle addict, especially Yankee Candles. I recently ordered some new scented candles from the ScentedCandleShop. After years of trying different brands, I always come back to Yankee Candles. The ScentedCandleShop have many different brands on offer but I know that Yankee Candles are of high quality, massive scent ranges, long burn times and are competitively priced. My fragrances of choice are the fresh scent candles, followed by fruit, then floral. When ordering a new scented candle online, I tend to buy the smaller jars or votives, I don’t want to commit to a large jar just in case the scent isn’t right for me. DSCN0550 DSCN0551 I settled on Midnight Oasis, Turquoise Sky and Fruit Fusion. These are three scents I’ve never tried and I was excited for them to arrive. Delivery was fast, which is never a bad thing when you are as impatient as me! My candles were very well protected in bubble wrap, there was no way they were getting damaged in transit. I’d most definitely order these again in a large jar, they all smell amazing. Midnight Oasis reminds me of a fresh aftershave, a nice clean smell like someone has just stepped out of the shower. Turquoise sky, an air freshener that you would use in the home and Fruit Fusion smells just like a fruit sherbet! It smells amazing, in fact, all three smell equally as good!

DSCN0555

Yankee Candles can be very cost-effective, they burn for hours. A large jar can burn up to 150 hours, your home will smell good, odours will be neutralised and I think candles give off a calming effect. There’s noting better than coming home from a stressful day, lighting a candle and chilling out.

You can’t go wrong with a candle as a gift, I think most people would like to receive one but play it safe and buy a scent that’s pretty neutral, something like Clean Cotton, it’s a firm favourite of mine and I always have a large jar in the house.

I’m always amazed at the massive range of scents available, there’s something for every mood and occasion. Do any of my readers have a favourite candle scent?

 

*  I received compensation in exchange for writing this review. Although this post is sponsored, all opinions are my own. *

Parc Play – Cardiff

I heard about this little gem totally by chance when a Facebook friend posted a picture.

Other play centres need to take note because Parc Play is outstanding, especially when the weather is nice. Some play centres charge adults an entry fee and they charge an arm and a leg for food and drinks. This is where Parc Play is different, adults are free to enter, children prices are very competitive and guess what? you can take your own food! Yes, you read that correctly, you can take your own food. Even if you don’t take your own food, Parc has a lovely café area and their food prices are very reasonable compared to other play centres we’ve visited. These factors alone can make a massive difference to the cost of your trip to your local play centre, more so if you have a few children.

2014 Season Admission Prices
Adults – FREE as always!
Under 2′s – £1.75 (or FREE with sibling aged 2+)
Ages 2 to 3 – £3.75
Ages 4 to 12 – £5

The majority of the equipment in Parc is wooden, wooden climbing frames and wooden swing sets. If you are a regular reader you will know that I’m not a fan of plastic garden toys, they aren’t environmentally friendly, they don’t stand the test of time and fade terribly.

Here’s some pictures I managed to get with my phone. My pictures only show a small section of the play centre and I had to take the pictures without getting other peoples children in them.

DSC_0334DSC_0333DSC_0336DSC_0326DSC_0323DSC_0329DSC_0327

I do feel that Parc would benefit from having more pictures on their website. I didn’t know what equipment they had or even if they had a play area suitable for Willow. As it turns out they do, they have a very decent area for toddlers. Some play centres think a few soft play shapes and a ball pit will suffice, it doesn’t. Parc offers an area for little ones to run about and let off steam in a safe environment.

Parc also has an outdoor area with masses of play sand, a pirate ship and other wooden structures for climbing, perfect on a sunny day!

Whilst we were at Parc, they had some very special visitors. Parc were hosting a ‘meet the reptiles’ event, we were able to see some lizards, snakes and tortoise at no extra cost. I think it’s amazing that Parc hosts these educational shows and the children get to meet the animals/reptiles.

Upon entry we were given a loyalty card, the ‘Ranger’ explained how it works, collect 6 stamps and get free entry.

DSC_0345DSC_0346

I was really happy with our first Parc Play experience, we will most definitely be returning and I have been recommending it to others. I think its a play centre with difference!

If you would like to pay Parc Play a visit (I strongly urge you to do so) they are situated at, Unit 5, Curran Embankment, Grangetown, Cardiff, CF10 5DX.

 

 

Hotter Shoes – Cardiff

On Tuesday night I attended a blogging event at the Hotter Shoes store in Cardiff. It was the first blogger event I have ever been invited to and I’m so glad I went. I was very apprehensive about going because I’m still pretty new to blogging and I didn’t know anyone. As soon as I entered the store, I was put at ease, everyone was so chatty and friendly, I don’t know what I was worried about!

The lovely people at Hotter put on some nibbles and drinks whilst they took us through a slide show of how the company started, their history and the design and manufacture process. I was surprised to learn that they follow current trends with their designs and colours and best of all, ALL of the shoes that Hotter make are comfortable! I know that sounds very hard to believe but if you can get to a Hotter store and try some of their shoes on, you will be surprised!

The soles of the shoes made in the Hotter factory are filled with millions of air bubbles, this makes the shoes flexible and lightweight. Every pair feature masses of cushioning and wiggle room for toes.

Hotter must be doing it right, in February 2010, there were 5 Hotter stores – today there are 65. I think those figures speak for themselves.

After the presentation, we were asked to browse the store and choose a pair of shoes to take home. The store is very well presented, with lots of different styles and colours to choose from.

DSC_0380DSC_0379DSC_0378DSC_0381 (1)

I must say, the staff were outstanding, friendly but professional and they helped me find my pair of Hotter shoes! After a lot of deliberation I settled on the Donna heels in the colour taupe. I’m surprised I went for heels because I normally wear flats for comfort. Like I said, Hotter shoes are comfortable!

019020021022

What do you think of them? I’m so impressed, Hotter have gone the extra mile with the little details, the padding, lining, stitching and look at the non-slip soles! I can’t wait to wear these out and I think I could wear the with many different outfits.

If you want to try Hotter Shoes Comfort Concept for yourself, you can find your local store here.

Hotter Shoes are even offering to send one of my lucky readers a Juliet Handbag or a £20 Hotter Shoes voucher, if you want to be in with a chance, please enter via rafflecopter below.

JLIETS

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

First Haircut – Lollipop Children’s Hair Boutique.

After some deliberation, we decided to have Willows hair cut. Nothing drastic, just a bit of a trim to even her hair out and to make it thicker. Initially, I didn’t want to have Willows hair cut, I know fellow Mummies are thinking the same, it means that my baby is growing up. But it needed to be done.

We decided to have Willows hair cut in Lollipop Children’s Hair Boutique – Cardiff. Lollipop stood out to me for various reasons, it’s dedicated to children, decorated with children in mind and I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews.

Lollipop cater for babies to pre-teens, from first haircuts to makeover parties.

We were lucky, as we chose a quite time to visit just after lunch. Willow was a little apprehensive and she had to sit on my lap to have her hair cut, instead of sitting in a funky car chair! A DVD of Peppa Pig was put on to distract her and to stop her fidgeting, it worked wonders. In a matter of minutes, Willow’s hair was cut and it looks so much better for it.

Willow was given a certificate with a lock of her hair as a memento. It was such a nice touch and something a regular salon wouldn’t do.

DSC_0353

The cost of Willow’s haircut was £8.50. some people may find this expensive but Lollipop is based in Cardiff city centre and you must have the patience of a saint to be able to cut baby/toddlers hair.

We were also given a loyalty card for future visits….

DSC_0344

DSC_0343

Overall, I was very pleased with Willow’s first haircut. It was a lovely experience with a certificate to look back on. We will most definitely be returning and I will recommend Lollipop to others.

Lollipop Children’s Hair Boutique is situated in Unit 5, Barrack Lane at the back of St David’s 2.

Pinterest Project – Blackboard Paint

I think most of us have drawn on the pavement with chalk at some point in our lives, whether it be a hopscotch or pretty flowers ect, drawing with chalk is a must, it’s part of being a child.

I wanted to recycle some old jars, containers and a picture frame and thought that using some blackboard paint would easily transform them.

008

I love Yankee Candles but once the candle has burnt away, it seems like such a waste to throw away the jar. I wanted them to have more uses and by using some blackboard paint, I have managed to achieve that. It’s nice to have some glass jars as storage solutions instead of boring plastic tubs.

Blackboard paint is readily available, either online or in stores. I purchased mine from Wilkinsons and it was priced at £5.99 for 500ml. 500ml doesn’t sound like an awful lot but a little goes a long way, even with several coats.

I began by making sure my jars, containers and wood were prepped and clean. I used some tape on the jars to mark the area I wanted to paint and I applied the paint with a sponge. I did try using a paint brush but it was streaky, using a sponge gave better coverage.

013

I painted a piece of mdf to go inside of the picture frame as I didn’t want to paint directly onto the wall, I’m guessing it would nightmare to paint over at a later date!
You could make your own family to-do list, chore list, notice board and place it in an area all family members will see it.

014

This was a fun project and was very quick, each coat of paint took 30 minutes to dry (I did three coats) and in a matter of hours, your children could be playing with their home-made chalk board. You could always re-vamp and recycle an item that has seen better days.

Dyson AM05 – Hot and Cool Review

At the beginning of the year I made a list, a list of 14 things that I want to accomplish for 2014. I have been updating along the way, as and when I complete parts of my list.

One thing I wanted to do, is to make our conservatory into a useable room. We’ve bought some rugs and the space is slowly turning into a play room for Willow. Our problem is the temperature, first thing in the morning and late in the evening, the conservatory is freezing and during the afternoon, it’s sweltering!

Our solution, a Dyson AM05 Fan Heater. Even though it was very expensive, it’s space and money-saving by not having to buy a separate fan and heater. We were originally attracted to its futuristic design and funky colour. The AM05 is unlike other fan heaters because it uses Air Multiplier technology, it heats or cools a room efficiently in seconds.

Husband couldn’t wait to get the box opened, men and technology, eh?!

dyson.jpg

The Dyson AM05 stands just short of 58cm, it’s pretty powerful considering it’s size. The two features that make me love it, it had no blades, so it’s super safe to be around children and there’s no risk of little fingers getting caught. It also has an intelligent thermostat, once you set your desired temperature, the Dyson will keep the room at that level. Due to it’s size, the Dyson is easily moved from one room to another.

007

I’m forever losing remote controls and phones but the engineers at Dyson have thought about people like me. The AM05 has a magnetic area where you can keep your remote safe! Genius!

With one click onto the base, your fan is ready to go, there’s no faffing about, no blades or parts to assemble, it really is as simple as that. In heat mode, it’s unlike other heaters, it emits warm air within seconds and doesn’t take ages to heat up a room.

Dyson claim that the AM05 is energy-efficient as it uses less energy than a regular fan heater. I’m not sure of the actual running costs as we’ve just had solar panels installed but during the day, it’s FREE for us to use!

So far, so good, the Dyson AM05 is working very well and I hope it can prove itself even more once the warmer weather kicks in.