Sunday, 29 April 2012

The Royal Ballet

Last week just we were treated to the most magical evening at the ballet. Not only was it to see La Fille Mal Gardee performed by the Royal Ballet at The Royal Opera House, but we were given the most amazing backstage tour by Ballet Master Gary Avis, oodles of champagne, a private box and we also went behind the scenes for the curtain call at the end of the performance to meet the lead ballerinas.

It is safe to say I'm now hooked on ballet and can not wait to take Honey, I think we'll start with Beatrix Potter!

Friday, 27 April 2012

Push Presents - to buy or not to buy?!

Push presents are a hot topic amongst my girlfriends, from diamond rings to Chloe bags, the trend seems to be getting bigger and bigger and ever more extravagant. One of the first things mentioned amongst NCT meetings is what pressie you're getting, and after popping a sprog numerous friends secretly ask what He is buying you. 
If you have never heard of push presents, it is basically the idea that your husband or partner buy you a gift as some kind of a reward for giving birth. Whether you get one every time you have a baby or not is another question entirely.
When asking my husband what he thinks of push presents, apart from the initial expletives, he replies "Surely a baby is the biggest gift I could ever give you??" Sarcastic or not it got me thinking; where and why did this idea of push presents even materialise? Is it just a commercial money making scheme from clever high street jewellers and retailers? Or has it stemmed from husbands shocked at the whole birthing and labour drama that they feel eternally indebted and humbled by what their darling wives have just gone through? Hmmm, maybe not.
I do understand it can be seen as a little materialistic. However when you otherwise feel and look like crap, surviving on no sleep, and with boobs that have been forever surrendered to a screaming, puking, pooing machine, surely getting a little something special can be a real pick me up.
I'm still not sold on the whole thing and the cringe worthy title "push present" is enough to put anyone off.
So ladies, what do you think? Have you or haven't you received a push present? And have we all succumbed to clever marketing and peer pressure or do we deserve diamonds at this already crazy and money draining time in our lives??

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Recipe of the Week - The Best Carrot Cake Ever!

I know I say this a lot about cake recipes but as this is another from the Hummingbird and it really is über delicious and moist. You can even fool yourself into thinking it's one of you five a day, I do!

300g soft light brown sugar
3 eggs
300ml sunflower or light olive oil
300g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon, plus extra to decorate
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp vanilla extract
300g grated carrots (approx 4 large carrots)
100g shelled walnuts, chopped, plus extra, to decorate
300g icing Sugar
50g unsalted Butter, at room temperature
125g cold cream Cheese

1 Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F) Gas 3.
2 Put the sugar, eggs and oil in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and beat until all the ingredients are well incorporated (don’t worry if the mixture looks slightly split). Slowly add the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, salt and vanilla extract and continue to beat until well mixed.
3 Stir in the grated carrots and walnuts by hand until they are all evenly dispersed. Pour the mixture into two round prepared cake tins and smooth over with a palette knife. Bake in the preheated oven for 20–25 minutes, or until golden brown and the sponge bounces back when touched. Leave the cakes to cool slightly in the tins before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
4 For the cream cheese frosting beat the icing sugar and butter together in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) on medium-slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed. Add the cream cheese and beat until it is completely incorporated. Turn the mixer up to medium-high speed. Continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes. Do not overbeat, as it can quickly become runny.
5 When the cakes are cold, put one on a cake stand and spread about one-quarter of the cream cheese frosting over it with a palette knife. Place a second cake on top and spread another quarter of the frosting over it. Spread the remaining frosting over the sides. Decorate with walnuts and a light sprinkling of cinnamon.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Farrow & Ball Front Door Makeover

Lichen, no. 19

Apparently it takes just 8 seconds for viewers to make a decision on buying a house depending on initial first impressions of the facade and front door. Not that we're selling but with that in mind, last month, amid sun and blue skies, we had a genius idea to makeover the front door. It had a huge crack in one of the bottom panels which needed filling in and being South facing the colour, which was once a bottle green, had been bleached by the sun to a rather uninspiring bluey-green, not a good look. So the fixings were removed, front door was sanded back (dust blowing directly into our hallway, joy) and an undercoat painted on. At which point the weather turned and the heavens opened. Not being the most adept at DIY, our neighbour then informed us that doors should only be painted in the Summer months of good weather, at which point the base coat then decided to take over a week to dry. So a month, or two later, with a patch of sun in the sky, we finally managed to get two coats of a glorious, pale, flat, contemporary green Farrow & Ball Lichen on, et voila, the front door makeover is finished, complete with hanging baskets and new door mat. So much prettier!

Monday, 23 April 2012

Shared Nursery Update & Inspiration

Honey's nursery

Now number two is on it's way a touch of panic has now set in as we really need to get our butts into gear for said arrival. The first thing to organise is the nursery (see above). We have a three bedroom house, however as both sets of grandparents live over an hour away we desperately need to keep the spare room free to accommodate sleep overs/ helpers. A few people are surprised we are putting the babies in together, especially as they are different age and sex but they will adapt I'm sure. So, somehow we need to get one toddler girl, one baby boy, into the nursery. On a budget. We need more storage, an extra cot bed and some form of changing table. All in a very small room!
First up I need to reduce the girliness, luckily my very clever mummy made the blackout curtains and matching bunting, which although floral, are blue based, so I'm thinking that can stay. We are going to keep everything quite neutral but with different personalities on either side of the room for each bubba.
We were given another cot bed which along with our original cot is being sanded back and sprayed white at the in-laws factory (luckily we have furniture makers in the family!) We are also getting rid of our changing table which has turned into a bit of a dumping ground, and will buy a cot top changer. We then need to find some good storage which hides everything and stores lots.
Below are some inspiring nursery pictures I love for their gorgeous neutral colour tones and also great storage ideas. They are from my favourite and super inspiring interiors website
We are in the midst of organising the nursery at the moment so will keep you posted on progress!


Thursday, 19 April 2012

Super Cute Summer Toddler Shoes

1 & 2 Baby Toms Schuh, 3 & 4 Vivienne Westwood Mini Melissa Jelly Shoes John Lewis, 5 & 6 Summer clog and Canvas shoes Jojo Maman Bebe

I love, love, love these super cute baby shoes (Honey already has 5 & 6), am really trying to justify buying her some little Toms and Vivienne Westwood jelly shoes. Surely she needs them?!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Separation Anxiety and Coping with Clinginess

Little Honey bug has always struggled with shyness and separation anxiety. From birth there were people she didn't like and would cry if they held her, she would never freely give out smiles and if strangers talked to her she would scream the house down. 19 months in she is still the same, despite going to numerous toddler groups and soft play centres and being constantly surrounded by adults and other children. Even in our own house, if there is someone other than myself, daddy or granny she screams if they look at her or if I leave the room. I can't even go to the bathroom on my own without her. Somedays she is fine and surprises us by being the little chatterbox we know and love, but she she normally takes a good 30 minutes to warm up to people and get used to them. On the flip side it does mean she is always very well behaved, quiet and never ever runs away in public.
Im not sure if it is just a girl thing, as all of my NCT friends have boys who are little tearaways; boisterous, loud, brave and on the go non stop. Where as if I take Honey to a toddler group or friends house she doesn't leave my side and if another toddler approaches her she pushes them away. Its a horrible situation to be in as I cant help wondering if it is something I have done to make her so shy.
I thought it would be a phase and after researching separation anxiety and shyness online haven't really been left with many answers. Various resources have mentioned it can occur around 7 months old when they start recognising people and their environment and around 18 months which coincides with them walking and discovering their own independence, which in turn makes them worry that if they walk away you won't be there anymore.
All the advice is the same throughout a child's age in coping with clinginess; reassurance, careful timing when leaving them so it's not when they are tired etc, practice i.e. with grandparents/ other people, familiarity, encouragement but most of all acceptance. I have totally accepted she is shy, but I do find it hard sometimes because not only can be embarrassing and not to mention hard work, but because I can't explain things to her properly and tell her she is safe and will have fun if she is just a little braver.
Our next big hurdle is when no. 2 comes along in the summer. We are going to try and put her in nursery for a couple of mornings a week which is tough by anyones standards, I'm dreading it but know she will love it when she gets used to being there. We then have to cope with her trying to kill her little brother (which she does with friends newborns, oops!) but both of these things are hurdles we'll just have to cope with when the time comes!

For more info I found this article one of the most useful

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Week in Pictures - Pearls, Lace, Rugby & a Boat Race


This last two weeks has been fun, fun, fun, I love it when Honey's daddy is not working! We've had a mix of Easter, DIY, baking, amazing roasts, the Boat Race, picnics, eating a lot of cake and of course rugby.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Meeting Myself Coming Back - Week 2

Welcome to Meeting Myself Coming Back, a little Blog Hop Linky created by A Twenty Something Mum and Makeshift Mummy. Every other week we will post a series of questions which you are welcome to join in at your leisure. I was gutted to miss the first week of this great little blog hop linky so here are my answers to week 2!First there are a few rules:

1. You MUST copy the rules before you write your answers.2. You MUST include the introduction and header saying how these two fabulous yummy mummy's created it.3. Don't hold back and enjoy ;-) 

1. Which Disney (or any film) character would you be and why?Definitely Belle from Beauty and the Beast. I still know all the words to all of her songs and can not wait till Honey is old enough to watch it with me.

2. What is your strangest habit? Do you know why you have it?Doing things four times. So eating four sweets, four crisps, checking the front door is locked four times, having four kisses etc. Weird and annoying. It has lessened a little since Honey was born but that little OCD side of me is still very much there lurking.

3. What's your earliest memory?My dad driving me to the hospital at about 2 1/2 years old in the middle of the night to visit my new baby brother George.

4. We are of on holiday what's the one thing you could not leave behind? (not your passport)Hair straighteners! I know that's super shallow but my hair has a proper Monica from Friends frizz going on if left to its own devices.

5. If you had to choose one to save would you chose sight or sound? Why?Definitely sight. I went to Dans le Noir in London, the restaurant which is pitch black and hated it, it really freaked me out and now I worry about my eyes all the time!

6. What are your pet hates?

Messiness, which isn't helped combined with a super laid back husband!

7. What was the last thing that made you laugh?Honey's new word "bye" and her saying it all the time! She says it when she leaves the room or to strangers, to Teddy and basically anyone who will listen. It is too cute!

8. What was the last thing that made you cry?One Born Every Minute, gets me every time, especially when pregnant.

9. What is your favourite thing to do with your non mummy time?Definitely sleep and read. I could read all day long but there just aren't enough hours in the day at the moment. I like to have a cup of Earl Grey and a big wodge of cake then settling in on the sofa, my how my life has changed!!

10. Describe yourself honestly in five words.

Hmmmmmm.... blonde, bossy, super sensitive and tired!

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Recipe of the Week - Cherry and Vanilla Bakewell Slice

I LOVE Bakewell tart, anything with a bit of almond and cherry is a winner in my books, and homemade is even better. I followed a Nigella recipe for this one from her Feast book. I used cherry instead of raspberry and vanilla sugar instead of plain, you can obviously use any variation that takes your fancy. I wasn't that impressed at first as the frangipane didn't seem that good but it got better and better as the week went on. The one thing I didn't realise was how much butter is used in Bakewells, a LOT is the answer. I don't count calories so don't mind but if you are looking for a healthier treat this isn't the place to be!

the base

225g plain flour

225g butter

pinch of salt

60g icing sugar

the filling

150g butter

150g ground almonds

150g vanilla caster sugar (you can use normal and add a splash of vanilla extract)

4 eggs

60g toasted flaked almonds

325g cherry jam

Preheat the oven to 180C.  Mix the flour, icing sugar, salt and butter in a food processor until the mixture is crumbly and beginning to form a ball.  Turn out into a lined baking tray approx 235 x 300 x 60mm and squidge the mixture into the base of the tray to form an even crust. Bake for 20 minutes until lightly golden.

For the frangipane, melt the butter and set aside. Beat together the eggs, sugar and ground almonds.  When the base has been removed from the oven and cooled for about 3 minutes, spread it evenly with the cherry jam. Beat the melted butter into the egg, sugar and almond mix and pour this over the jam. Sprinkle with the toasted flaked almonds and bake for 35 minutes. Allow to cool before cutting.

Tastes great straight out of the oven with a dollop of extra thick double cream.

Mums 101

I was tagged by the lovely Chloe at A Twenty Something Mum in a Meme about a mummy's top 3 annoyances you'd like to see in 'Room 101'. Such a good idea, and great for a little vent! There are lots of little things that bug me so I snuck an extra one in the end as I just couldn't cut one out!

1. The Gina Ford debate
I don't really know why this is such a hot issue when it clearly for thousands of mummies and babies. My midwife nearly had a heart attack when I mentioned I was planning on doing the routine with Honey. After that I never mentioned it to many people, especially not anyone from the NHS. Honey has was breastfed for six months, slept through the night from 8 weeks and has always been the top end of the weight scale so is clearly 'thriving' as they say. I understand it doesn't work for lots of parents but why be so against it when it does work for others? I'm certainly doing it for number two if he'll let me.

2. Bright purple or orange coloured baby snacks i.e. rice cakes and crispy things.
Why oh why add such a bright food colouring to a baby food which is obviously going to get everywhere? Hands, face, hair, mussies, clothes, toys, books, buggy, mummy, daddy, the cat, you name it that colour gets on everything. So annoying! Who's ever idea it was needs a big fat cleaning bill sent to them, with a toddler and said coloured snacks to look after for the day, then they might think twice.

3. The never-ending, uber condescending "So you are not going back to work then?"
No I'm not going back to work, yes I'm lucky enough not to have to, yes I left my old job because the commute would be two hours there and back each day and I'd miss Honeys every waking minute five days a week, and actually not that its any of your business but I would like to bring up my own babies thank you very much! I get this question a lot from strangers, friends, family, other mummies, pretty much everyone. I just find it so strange that people are shocked I choose to stay at home to look after my family. I don't question others for going back to work so don't judge me!

4. Competitive parents!
You know the ones.... Their baby started walking before yours, and talking before yours, or who's baby just eats so much, or their baby sleeps 16 uninterrupted hours a night, oh and they lost all their baby weight in the first week of giving birth, and their babies have all the most expensive/coolest clothes and toys and buggy and they are basically breaking barriers in how all-round advanced they are?! Chill out ladies! Mine is perfect too, just because she's mine.

To carry on the meme I tag -
Mrs Jones at Keeping up with the Joneses
Busy Bee Mummy Bex
Moors Mummy
Emma at They Grow So Quick

Ladies if you have the time or inclination (don't worry if not!), just post your top 3 motherhood related gripes in your own 'mums 101' post, and link back to Never Bored of Bubbles so people can come and read the other posts.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

My Maternity Wear Must Haves

I don't buy a huge amount of maternity clothes when I'm pregnant for a couple of reasons. Firstly I live in leggings, normal and maternity, which fit me all the way through and can generally be rolled down or fit over the bump no problem, secondly it seems a little pointless buying a whole new wardrobe to wear or a couple of months, and thirdly lots of my dresses and tops are long and floaty or really stretchy and can basically be squeezed into when necessary.

There are however a few essentials I have which bridge my normal wardrobe to my maternity wardrobe and I wear these all the time. In general though anything from Topshop and ASOS maternity ranges are brilliant for non-frumpy maternity styling!

Clockwise from top left;
Jojo Maman leggings - Great quality, very comfortable, can be folded up or down, ideal for sucking everything in post birth too! I have black and grey.
Topshop vests and tunics, maternity and normal - I have all types of these in various shades of white, cream, nude, grey and black. They go with everything, are long enough to cover the bump and stay in shape after washing.
Hotmilk nursing bras - I have to sleep in a bra when pregnant as I go up to an E cup and these are super comfy and lacy and pretty.
Isabella Oliver One Shoulder Dress - Always good to have one really nice maternity dress for weddings, black ties dos etc. these ones are super flattering and really comfy.
Agent Provocateur nursing bra (mine is leopard print) - See above, also for when feeding in public and you know you bra is going to be on show and injecting a little bit of glamour when everything else is covered in puke. Sadly they no longer sell a maternity range anymore, grrr, luckily mine is still in perfect condition.
ASOS Breton stripe top - Great everyday essential
Topshop bump band - I have this in white and black, great for hiding your bump or bum if your top is too short. Or just keeping your tummy warm.
Topshop leggings - Long, great colour for summer, very Sienna!
ASOS lace shirt - I actually have two of these after a friend giving me hers too. Looks great with skinnies and heels for a night out.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Recipe of the week - Cheats Super Quick 20min. Chocolate Orange Cupcakes

After being invited to a rather impromptu picnic last weekend I decided to whip up a super quick batch of cupcakes, with mega cheat Dr Oetker cupcake chocolate icing. The whole lot took me under 30 mins, whilst getting Honey's lunch packed, my makeup on and all of us out the door. This never happens, and what's even better is that they went down a storm. I was dubious using ready made icing, but it was actually very good, more of a gooey ganache than a normal buttercream icing, but I prefer that anyway. I love cupcakes and my all time never fail recipe book for such is The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook by Tarek Malouf. I adapted this from their vanilla cupcake recipe, and if you have time a real chocolate ganache or buttercream is obviously better but Dr Oetker is definitely my no. 1 favourite cheat at the moment! The mix always seems a little too liquidy but go with it, it works. I do find though I never have enough mix for 12 cupcakes, just 11, hence the 12 hole tray lined with 11 paper cases. 

120g plain flour
140g caster sugar
1 ½ tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
40g unsalted butter, at room temperature
120ml whole milk
1 egg
Grated zest of one large orange
Dr. Oetker chocolate cupcake icing
edible sprinkles, to decorate
a 12-hole cupcake tray, lined with 11 paper cases

Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F) Gas 3.
Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and beat on slow speed until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined. Gradually pour in half the milk and beat until the milk is just incorporated.
Whisk the egg, grated orange zest and remaining milk together in a separate bowl for a few seconds, then pour into the flour mixture and continue beating until just incorporated (scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula). Continue mixing for a couple more minutes until smooth. Do not overmix.
Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until two-thirds full and bake in the preheated oven for 20–25 minutes, or until light golden and the sponge bounces back when touched. A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean.
Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly in the tray before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely. When the cupcakes have cooled, pipe with your chosen nozzle from the top of the Dr Oetker nib and sprinkle with edible decorations.

ready made icing.... ssssh!

Friday, 6 April 2012

I heart Lily and Lionel

I heart Lily and Lionel for their b.e.a.uuuuuutiful scarves. I wear scarves all the time and have a huge array of sizes and colours, but my current fav is without doubt a huge wrap with gorgeous mix of pinks and purples in a blossom print from the amazing luxury British accessories brand Lily and Lionel, founded by London College of Fashion graduate Alice Stone. My scarf is 55% wool 45% silk so über soft and warm yet light as a whisper. I use it all year round and it is particularly great in this transitional weather, it folds to nothing and fits snuggly away in my Mulberry. Mine will certainly get used a lot at the end of the Summer when trying to covertly feed the new baby in public!

Lily and Lionel scarves come in a huge range of different prints, styles and colours. I love, love, love the Violet London and French Scene print scarves, and this cashmere and silk mix Ryder scarf below from Donna Ida, defo next on my wish list.

You can find Lily & Lionel scarves in Whistles, Matches and the Liberty of London scarf hall (any excuse for a visit!)

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Week in pictures - fun in the sun!

deadheading flowers, ssshhh!
Feeding the ducks

Lewis Carroll's The White Rabbit on the bank of the River Wey

It was so nice to have a bit of sun last week (even though it's made my face freckle like no other), we did a spot of gardening, mostly Honey pulling the heads off any flowers which came in reach, fed the ducks, had picnics and ate our bodyweight in BBQ food and ice lollies. Please come back sun!

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Bump update - 5 months

A little more to update on with the bump at 5 months. There are lots and lots of movements at the moment, the baby obviously has space to kick around as my ribs are constantly bruised. I haven't put on any weight in the last four weeks, I'm waiting for it all to appear at once nearer the end, can't wait! Heartburn has returned with a vengeance, not nice when I'm trying to get to sleep.
I have just started pregnancy yoga at Red Hot Yoga which is amazing, completely relaxing and great to have time to properly focus on breathing and pelvic floors, which I NEVER remember to do normally. Honey still doesn't get the whole mummy/baby/tummy thing yet, so the leaning and kicking of the tummy isn't really stopping, which is getting painful!

Monday, 2 April 2012

Vive La France!

I am an eternal Francophile and I seem to be surrounded by all things French at the moment, whetting mon petite French appetite. First up is Rachel Khoo's new cooking show The Little Paris Kitchen on BBC2 (see above). An amazing Amelie-style whirl of red lipstick, cardigans and plaits, cooking up delicious French classics with a modern British twist. Her lemon and respberry madeleines are next on my to cook list.

Then there's the much blogged-about book 'French Children Don't Throw Food' by Pamela Druckerman, a hilarious insight into how to have the perfect behaved child who eats and doesn't speak unless it's spoken to, yes please! I loved 'French Women Don't get Fat: The Secret of Eating for Pleasure' by Mireille Guiliano so I was always going to love this book, which is in the same vein of basic common sense i.e. don't let them snack on loads of bread before dinner and letting them entertain themselves. A refreshing and funny guide to parenting after reading all of Sargeant Major Gina Ford's books.

For French beauty products, both Lisa Eldridge blog here and Gwyneth Paltrow GOOP newsletter here (I heart GOOP!) have also just published their French Pharmacy favouritess, the hit Bioderma Crealine H2O makeup remover being the top of their must-have lists. I also highly recommend Nuxe's famous dry oil, and Caudalie with their amazing botanical antioxidant, anti-ageing grape skincare, both available in SpaceNK.

My other little French treats include Diptyque candles, I very indulgently try to have one burning every night and I received two for my birthday which was a huge treat. Along with the compulsory box of French macarons, my absolute favourite pick me up. I adore them so much we decided to have a Laduree macaron tower instead of a wedding cake, all pillowy and sweet flavoured with pistachio and orange blossom. Truly heaven.

Honey and I are spending a few night in Paris in June with some international family members, where I'm hoping to indulge my love of France and stock up on lots of goodies, particularly Chanel and Isabel Marant! I had a stay in the amazing Hotel Costes for my 21st birthday, and I am going to head straight back there for a cocktail or two to reminisce. I will obviously blog about it nearer the time, in the meantime vive la France!