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Sunday, 25 September 2016

Chocolate Caramel Tart - Great Blogger Bake Off!

Despite not being the best of cooks I love watching The Great British Bake off and it always inspires me to want to get out in the kitchen and bake.

For those of you who watch the program you will have seen that last weeks theme was pastry and so this week I decided to attempt my own pastry creation in the form of a chocolate caramel tart! The tart featured on Bake Off was actually a bakewell tart but since nobody in our house is a fan of Jam except me it seemed a waste, hence the chocolate caramel tart.

So here is the recipe and how ours turned out, please do let me know if you have a go I would love to see your creations too over on Facebook!


Ingredients -

For the Chocolate Pastry 
Unsalted butter - 110g
Icing Sugar /confectioners sugar - 70g
2 medium egg yolks
Vanilla extract - 1 teaspoon
All-Purpose flour - 175g
Cocoa powder - 30g

For the Caramel
Water - 110ml
Granulated sugar - 400g
Golden syrup - 1 heaped tablespoon
Unsalted butter - 110g
Thick cream - 110ml

For the Chocolate topping
Thick cream - 110ml
Dark chocolate - 100g

(Some of our ingredients!) 

Method - 

I started by making my pastry since this really benefits from some time chilling in the fridge before your roll and bake! I also made my pastry in my Kitchenaid mixer but you could do it in a bowl with an electric whisk or by hand if you don't have this to hand.

For the Pastry - In the mixer I added the butter and sugar and mixed together until well combined. I then added the egg yolk and vanilla and mixed again until combined. Next I sieved in the flour and cocoa powder and mixed on a low setting until well combined and until my pastry and formed a dough in the mixer. I then removed from the mixer, wrapping in cling film and placed in the fridge to chill for serveral hours (try and leave for at least 1 hour).

Once your pastry has been left to chill roll it out between 2 sheets of grease proof paper to as thin as you like your pastry ensuring you roll it out big enough to fit your tart dish. Place your rolled out dough into your dish and prick several holes in the bottom. Place a layer of grease proof paper over the top and fill with baking beans (or rice/dried lentils) and  blind bake at 180C for 15 minutes. Remove the greaseproof/ baking beans etc and bake again until pastry if fully cooked (around 5-10 more minutes). Leave to cool.

For the Caramel - In a large pan place your water, syrup and granulated sugar and cook on a medium - high heat, swirl the pan occasionally until your mixture becomes a dark, amber caramel colour. Carefully add in your butter and cream and whisk (your mixture will bubble up!). Allow the caramel to cool a little, whilst it is still liquid enough to pour add the caramel to your pastry case. Allow this to set for at least 45 - 60 minutes before adding your chocolate to the top.

For the Chocolate Topping -  Place some water in to a saucepan and place on the a medium heat. On top of this place a heatproof bowl and in to in place your cream and heat until boiling. Whilst your cream is warming up finely chop your chocolate in a separate bowl. Once your cream is hot pour over the chocolate and leave for 2 minutes. Now mix the chocolate and cream mixture and the cream should have melted the chocolate. You can now pour this over your caramel tart and leave to set.

I added some white chocolate feathering to mine (since this is what the bakers did with their bakewell tarts on The Great British Bake Off!). It was simple to do, I simply melted a small amount of white chocolate in the microwave then spooned it in lines across the top of my tart. I then used a cocktail stick to drag through the chocolate to create the feathering effect.


Unfortunately I left my pastry case to bake a little too long (I blame a toddler trying to climb my leg!) which made it a little crumbly but otherwise it tasted really cook, the kids especially loved it! Its very sweet though so you do only need a little at a time. I actually brought a back up caramel from Tesco as I was so unsure how mine was going to turn out. However it was so simple to do so I would definitely say have a go at making your own!

I had lots of fun attempting this though and it has definitely made me want to try more pastry idea's so watch this space!


Mummy Mishaps



I was provided with voucher from Tesco to purchase ingredients for this bake, I had total control over what I purchased and made. all opinions, thoughts and photos are my own.



Friday, 23 September 2016

Bath Time Adventures with HiPP Organic.

Bath time is one of Evelyns favourite times of the day! She is a total water baby and just loves being in the bath splashing around. 

As we are part of the HiPP Explorer team, when we heard this months adventure would be bath time I knew Evelyn would be excited. There is a another reason why this months theme is bath time though, its because HiPP have an exciting new baby skincare range. Introducing, the new baby care range from HiPP which is 100% ‘Free-from' nasties with ultra-sensitive, no tears formulations.
 
The free from baby care range includes:
Goodnight Baby Bath
Foaming Hand Wash (and refill)
Head to Toe Baby Wash
Baby Shampoo




As I mentioned above Evelyn loves bath time so was definitely obliging when it came to running a bubble bath and testing out the HiPP products. We always try to make bath times as fun as possible as it makes washing her so much easier.

(The Goodnight baby bath makes great bubbles for bubbly hair styles!)

We love using big foam bath letters to spell things out and not only is this fun but educational too as it helps her with her letter recognition.


The only problem with Evelyn loving baths so much is that she has sensitive skin and so some products can really dry out her skin and make it quite itchy so I was intrigued to see how she would cope with the new HiPP range. 

The HiPP skincare range has been specifically developed to be free from anything sensitive skin doesn‘t like and to minimise the risk of allergies. All of the new bath time items hold the ‘no tears’ stamp. HiPP is also constantly going the extra mile to make sure that every ingredient and product they produce is the best it can possibly be, both for their customers and for the environment. 

I have to say it got a big thumbs up from us, whilst the products do have a subtle fragrance but they are not over powering and most importantly were very gentle on Evelyn's skin. They left her skin feeling soft and didn't irritate her skin at all. Leaving her smelling great and baby soft, perfect for cuddles in her towel after the bath! A little goes a long way with this range too so it will definitely last! 



HiPP Organic’s free from baby care range is available exclusively at selected Tesco stores from 6th September. If you want to find out more about the new HiPP baby care range you can head to the HiPP UK website here - www.hipp.co.uk/products/babycare

Do your little ones love bath time? 

xXx

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

TomTom GO 5100 **REVIEW**

I have been driving for 8+ years now but there is still one thing that really hold me back from heading to far and that's getting lost.

I am not quite sure where the fear has come from but its always been there and I think I panic that I will take a wrong turn and totally panic and get lost. So when the lovely people at TomTom offered me one of their TomTom GO sat nav's to try out I hoped this may help with my fear!

I have to admit I had been using my phone and google maps on the rare occasion I headed out of my comfort zone but this didn't really work. Using Google Maps seems to drain my phones battery so I am always on edge that it may die before I reach my destination. Its also a pretty small screen and a pretty basic set up and information. So I was excited to see what the TomTom GO could offer.

Specifications -

Screen Size - 5" (13cm)
Capacitive screen - Yes
Battery Life - Up to 2 hours
Connectivity - SIM & Data Included
Mount - Active (5")
Memory - 8GB internal, accepts microSD cards
GNSS - GPS & GLONASS (Global Positioning System + Global Navigation Satellite System)
Warranty - 1 year


As you can see from the above picture the TomTom GO 5100 looks great in the car, its flexibility to be placed wherever you need it means it can be adjusted to each driver. The mount that comes with the TomTom GO 5100 offers a sleek designs that fits securely and safely in a car windscreen without obstructing the view out. I was a little worried that with the mount being quite small the sat nav may move around a little but it didn't it stayed firmly put. The suction cup that secures the mount to the windscreen also has a twist function ensuring it stays tight and secure regardless of how bumpy the journey is.


Im not very tech savvy but even I was able to set up and use the TomTom GO with very little fuss. As this was a review the account was already set up for me however following the leaflet it looks very simple to do. If you do need a little more help though TomTom Support have lots of easy to use and follow "how to" videos.

If like me you like to plan your journey ahead and be prepared you will love the MyDrive function. It enables you to plan your journey ahead of time on a phone, laptop or tablet. You can then send this route straight to the TomTom GO 5100 ready for the journey ahead, giving you total peace of mind that you have planned your route and journey.


I love the MyDrive function as it enables me to have a good idea of what time I should leave and expect to arrive. It also allows me to plan ahead and redirect my route through and road works, road closures or other issues which will be shown to me. Of course the TomTom GO will keep you up to date during your journey too but I love being able to plan ahead as much as possible.

The maps in MyDrive have lots of functions to make it easy to use but enable you to plan your journey down to the smallest detail. If you fancy taking a more scenic route you can even select the "Thrill" setting. This will take you on a more scenic route which may not be the quickest route but will allow you to see a little more of the places you are traveling too, perfect if you have some spare time!

Another great feature of the TomTom GO is lifetime world maps. This means you can install and update maps from around the world at no extra cost for the entire lifetime of the device. I love that I can have peace of mind that my sat nav will always be up to date without any surprises whilst I am driving. You will also find lifetime speed cameras on the TomTom GO giving you the exact locations of all speed camera's which again lasts for the lifetime of the device.

As a nervous driver I found the speak and go function on the TomTom GO great! It meant I didn't have to take my eyes of the road and could direct myself with just the sound of my voice! With the speak and go function you can ask the TomTom GO to take you home, find an alternative route, find a petrol station or car park and even turn the device volume up or down.

The TomTom GO 5100 comes with a usb cable for charging, I would have liked to have seen a usb plug included as I personally like to ensure my sat nav is fully charged before I head off. However as it is a standard usb cable this can be connected to any usb plug. The TomTom GO also has an active mount meaning you can charge your sat nav as you drive.

I have loved using the TomTom Go and it has genuinely given me the confidence to venture out of my comfort zone knowing that the TomTom GO will safely get me home. It is simple to use and I really like that I can pre-load and store destinations ahead of my journey. If like me you worry about getting lost or are planning a long or new journey the TomTom GO is a fantastic Sat Nav!

If you want to find out more about the TomTom GO 5100 or to purchase one you can visit the TomTom website here - www.tomtom.com

xXx

Friday, 16 September 2016

Our top tips for learning at home.

Since starting school James has always shown a passion for learning. He thrives in the school environment and has a thirst for learning more and more even once school has finished. 

I decided that since this probably won't last and we will soon be hitting the years where I can barely drag him from bed that'll own get him doing homework willingly that we would go with it and provide him with some things he could do at home. 

We purchased a small table and set about filling it with things for him to do outside of school as he pleases and he loves it! We don't push him to do it but its just there when he wants it. Now he has homework from school he especially loves his little at home learning corner to do all his homework in. 

So today I though I would share with you some of the items that have been a big hit for James when learning at home. 

Work books


We picked these up really cheap from places such as Poundland and The Works. They provide a range of question tailored to a certain age or level and most of them have a page of stickers, which the child can stick on each page as they complete it. 

Whiteboards

James loves his whiteboard and its been a great tool for practicing things like spellings and times tables without wasting paper. We picked up this one from Tesco in the sale for around £2.50 so they are a really inexpensive way to make learning a bit different and decreasing waste. 

The Basics


One of the first things I stocked up on when we decided to create this space for James was the basics. Things like plain paper, lined paper, pens, pencils, colouring penils, stamps etc. Sometimes some of James best work or the pieces he has been most proud of have come straight from his imagination. When he has just sat down let him imagination run wild are the special moments and I wanted to make sure he had everything he needed to do this. 

Question and Answer books


These Miles Kelly Question and Answer books have been one James favourite. He always has so many questions and these give him lots of answers in a child friendly way and often illustrated way too. These make a great reference point for homework or just to answer a curious little mind!


Do you have any top tips for making learning at home or homework fun? I would love to hear them in the comments! 

xXx

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Starting Year 2.

How quickly has September come around!?

I can't believe I have just taken my now not so little boy in to school for his first day of Year 2. Its so scary to think how quickly time goes, I can still remember taking him in for his first day in reception. How time flies. 


Despite a school change at the end of the last school year James has taken starting back in his stride as always. He was so looking forward to seeing all his friends he didn't even seem phased by the change of class, teachers and school. 

As the bell rang and I waved him off in to his new classroom he sprinted off book bag in hand and pe bag dragging behind him so eager to start. I am so incredible proud of him and how he handles situations. I am one of those people who can struggle to adapt to anything new to I am totally in awe of this little boy who doesn't let anything phase him and takes it all in his stride. 

James has been pretty eager to get back to school, not because he doesn't want to be with us (I hope!) but because he loves being in school. He loves being busy, learning and socialising so the school environment in one he loves. If you ask him what he wants to do on an evening you can often find him writing in his work works or asking us to write him out some math questions for him to solve. I can only hope his love of learning continues! 

I know today would have been a big day for lots of you too, a day when your babies become school children and it is always a pretty emotional day. I hope that all those of you with children who are heading back settle quickly and for those with children who are new starters, I hope drop off went smoothly and your children return home full of exciting stories about their first day. 


xXx



Thursday, 1 September 2016

NEW Pots and Pies range from Little Dish **REVIEW**

A few weeks ago an adorable cool bag landed on our door step. It was full of yummy new meals for Evelyn to try from Little Dish and today I wanted to share our thoughts about them with you.


Evelyn was 2 in June and can often be quite a fussy eater so meal times are often quite stressful. Especially now that James is at school and attends numerous after school clubs we often only have a short window of time for tea.

I like to try to have a few quick teas available to hand for days like this so when we were asked to try out the new Pots and Pies range from Little Dish I was hoping these may be the answer and they certainly are! The meals can be stored in the fridge and take a few simple minutes in the microwave and ta-da you have a quick and easy nutritionally balanced meal.


Evelyn tried the Fish Pie, Pasta Bolognaise, veg ravioli, mild chicken curry and the spaghetti and meatballs and each and every meal was a hit. Beef lasagna, Chicken and veg risotto and Mild beef chilli are also meals that are included in this range and we will definitely be trying them out soon. I wasn't sure if the pots and pies would be big enough for Evelyn but they turned out to be the perfect size portion for her. I did occasionally add some vegetables to the side of her plate for her to try too.

(Yep she does have 2 spoons apparently one wasn't enough lol!)

The meals smelt delicious coming out of the microwave and smelt like real fresh home cooked meals which is always a good sign to me. I had a little taste (for review purposes of course!) and can confirm they also taste like home cooked meals too! I also really liked the fact that the dishes contained veggies but all were chopped and hidden within the dish which definitely made getting Evelyn to eat her veg loads easier.


Another little touched we liked about the Little Dish pots and pies meals was the packaging. Each meal has a removable sleeve which contains a small colouring picture on the back and a fun fact. We found these perfect for letting Evelyn colour in whilst we waited for her meal to cook and cool and gave us just the right amount of time for her meal to be ready. It eliminated the crying and frustration we usually have whilst she waits for her tea.


These may be microwavable but they are far from unhealthy! Little Dish have worked hard to create these meals ensuring each one is nutritionally balanced, made from 100% natural ingredients, low in salt and with no added sugar, additives or preservatives, every meal contains at least 1 of your little one’s 5 a day. Every pot or pie is a source of protein and Little Dish only ever use British meat or sustainably sourced fish. Each meal delivers between 20-30% of their daily energy requirements.

Does your little one have a favourite meal? 

xXx



“I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity.” 

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

BABY Born train Andy puppy **REVIEW**

When you think of dolls one of the names that springs to mind is BABY Born but did you know its not just dolls and accesories they sell as they also sell pets just like the train Andy puppy!


This adorable little puppy is the perfect companion for your little one. Andy is an interactive puppy who can walk, sit and beg and comes with a handy remote for your child to control and train Andy. Andy also comes with a bone which you can feed to him.

Evelyn adores Andy's soft fur and loves patting him on the back to make him sit. She thinks it hilarious when she feeds him the little pink bone only for him to poop it back out after! All of the main actions for Andy are controlled by the remote which is small enough for even a toddler to be able to hold on to.


We did find that the remote had to be held quite close to Andy's head for it to work properly which isn't a massive issue although did get a little frustrating for Evelyn who just wanted to wave the remote around in excitement.


I really liked how interactive Andy is which makes him really stand out. Sometimes Andy will start walking quickly which is a sign he is getting excited, a simple pat to the back is a sign for sit and Andy will stop. He also lets out a little whimper is you leave him switched on and unattended for too long.

 Evelyn has definitely taken Andy on as her very own pet which has been great for teaching her about looking after pets etc. It would be lovely to see some accesories brought out for Andy as I think this is a toy she will be playing with for quite some time. The toy states it is for children aged 3+ however Evelyn is just a little over 2 and adores it. She does need some help with a few of the functions but otherwise its a lovely toy for her.


You can check out more about train Andy over on the BABY Born website.

xXx


** I was not paid for this review, we were provided with a train Andy puppy free on charge in exchange for our honest review. All words and opinions are my own.**