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A Baby Made Me A Baker

June 22, 2016 Read more

I was 5 years old when I made my first cake. My mum and sister remember it clearly... It was a pretty special one. 2 slices of white bread with golden syrup and pouring cream, topped with hundreds and thousands. I served it in an oval pyrex bowl. I can't remember if anyone ate any, they probably did, and tried to make realistic yummy noises, the kind of very sweet and encouraging people that my family are!

 

I've always had a strong love of food in my bones. Growing up, we thought nothing of the home grown fruit and veg we ate daily from my grandad's garden, but it was truly the most delicious produce I've eaten to this very day. We ate meals made from scratch with simple ingredients, they were always tasty, always fresh and always cooked with love. As I grew older, a fascination for combining flavours and tastes developed, and I loved to cook for the family at any opportunity. My mum would give me a little budget and I'd potter around the supermarket, feeling like Delia-in-training. In fact, if you were a fly on the wall, you *might* have even heard me giving a Delia-style commentary as I cooked! I like to think this all led me to a career in restaurants and I've spent over 10 years being surrounded by some of the best food our wonderful capital city has to offer!

 

 

 

But it was my little son that turned me into a baker. Before maternity leave, I'd never really turned my hand to baking, the absolute precision, the techniques and the level of patience needed, never mind the likelihood that it would all totally fail if you missed one vital ingredient out... This all put me off and I barely even paid attention to GBBO! But, once our beautiful little boy arrived, with him came months and months of colic... Sleepless nights, crazy days, constant crying, whirlwinds of emotion, a total lack of control and order, and, every day, a miserable gut wrenching feeling that I was a failure of a mummy. I was in a horrible place. We knew it would end and it was time to work out a survival strategy. Not one to sit still, and definitely not wanting to think too much about anything, my subconscious made a plan.

 

 

On one of these sad days, I craved pastel de nata. The craving drove me to buy all of the ingredients and pore over the recipe. I spent the evening pottering around in between feeds and the little one's bedtime. I had to bin one lot of custard as the little man needed a feed just as it was coming together. But, by midnight, I was done... 12 pretty little pastel de nata sat on the counter top. The kitchen was clean, the washing up was dried and put away. Wow - satisfaction! It was this sense of pure achievement that made me put on my baking apron again and again through those long, long months - and somehow, the military precision of it all became the balm that my frazzled head needed. Order amongst chaos, reaching an end goal, starting and finishing something was, through baking, now totally possible! People who knew of the colicky craziness looked at me as if I had gone mad - "how do you find the time?!" - they didn't know that actually if I hadn't baked my little heart out, perhaps I WOULD have gone mad!  

 

Here we are a year later, and of course those colic days are a distant memory, almost blurred away by all of the happy times we've had since. Our boy absolutely loves life (and also a cheeky little scrap of cake when his dad isn't looking!) and we can look back on colic with a big shudder and a huge feeling of thankfulness for every smile and laugh we hear today. We want him to have a great love for food too, and we have a great laugh seeing his expressions as he tries something absolutely new, something tangy, something sweet, something crunchy. My need for baking remains though, the only trace of colic left in our household now, and it's a good one! They say every cloud has a silver lining, and I guess this is it. I now bake once my little boy is tucked up in bed, the monitor glowing in the corner of the kitchen and the house filling up with the smells of baking vanilla or melting chocolate. It's been a new chapter for me in so many ways and I can't wait to see where it leads.

Thanks to our member Vanessa at The Sparkling Spatula, read more of her blogs here

 

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Dreaming Of The Caribbean? Top Family Friendly Resorts

June 22, 2016 Read more

Ahh, the Caribbean. I can just imagine being there right now… the ocean breeze softly on my skin, the Caribbean sea gently kissing the gorgeous, white beaches. Swinging in a hammock with a book in one hand and a rum cocktail in the other. If only… no holiday will ever be like this again as I now have an adorable but hyper toddler to enjoy it with.

Just because holidays have changed, it doesn’t mean they aren’t just as much fun. Here are some top family friendly resorts in the Caribbean where you can all enjoy a family holiday together.

The Barcelo Maya Beach Hotel

   Barcelo Maya Beach

 

This hotel is by no means a secluded island retreat. It is a resort made of 5 different hotels with over 2000 rooms in total, in the Mayan Riviera in Mexico. There is so much to see and do in this hotel. The hotel is a beachfront hotel, giving you stunning views of the Caribbean Sea and over 2km of white, sandy beaches. If you’re not a beachy person, do not fear, cool down in one of the resorts 6 swimming pools, or even in the on-site waterpark. There’s even an on site Dolphinarium to swim with dolphins (at extra cost).

The hotel prides itself in it’s food and provides a choice of over 16 restaurants with it’s all inclusive option. Take a trip around the world with Mexican, Italian, Spanish and Japanese cuisine as well as seafood and a steakhouse restaurant. These are all prebookable during your stay at the Maya Beach Hotel.

The Occidental Grand Xcaret Resort

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This hotel is on my list of places to go with my husband and little girl, it really is a beautiful hotel. It is a 5* luxury resort set in Mayan Ruins so you get the rich culture and history of the area along with the beautiful hospitality.

The glorious resort boasts a private beach in a quiet cove as well as 5 beautiful swimming pools in it’s pristine grounds. Guests have the option to visit the Xcaret park, where the adventurous among us can explore the remains of a Mayan village, snorkel through ancient caves and underwater gardens, swim with dolphins and observe indigenous species of tropical birds, jaguars and butterflies in their natural habitat.

This all inclusive resort boasts 11 restaurants for the foodies, 1 being exclusively for Royal Club guests. It also has 10 bars so you’ll never be too far away from a cocktail.

There are some fantastic deals to be had on stays in this hotel so if you want to go, book now!

Curtain Bluff Antigua

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This all inclusive hotel is independently owned and with only 72 rooms this will truly feel like a slice of island paradise. The hotel boasts luxury beach front suites, gourmet dining and an indulgent spa. All rooms have an amazing view of the beautiful Caribbean Sea. The best part about this for families is it’s fantastic complimentary kids club, where children are outside in a pavilion near the beach. They are encouraged to explore the outdoors learning about the local flora, go swimming, sailing and fishing as well as cooking and taking part in arts and crafts.

 

Sea Breeze Hotel, Barbados

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This boutique style hotel is friendly and welcoming to families. There are only 78 rooms so if it’s rest and relaxation that you’re after, this is the hotel for you. The hotel can guarantee interconnecting rooms, which is ideal for families who don’t want to be cramped in one hotel room. The hotel boasts a fantastic children’s club during the school holidays equipped with all the latest items such as Apple TV and Nintendo Wii. Don’t let that put you off if you have a young adventurer as children are also encouraged to participate in arts and crafts and educational activities about Barbados.

The hotel is situated in acres of tropical gardens, with spectacular sea views from almost anywhere on the property. The Sea Breeze Hotel is has two beaches set in a cove which means the swimming conditions are safe, allowing you peace of mind whilst on your holiday. One beach is a tranquil, relaxing beach whilst the other offers non-motorised watersports, included in the all inclusive package. This hotel prides itself in it’s food and offers 3 restaurants to their customers, 2 of these restaurants are a la carte which can be dined in twice during a 7 day period.

There are so many wonderful resorts across the Caribbean, these are just some of the best. Which of these hotels would you like to visit?

 

Thanks to our member Megan at Not Just Travel, read more here

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Increasing Your Child's Inheritance

June 21, 2016 Read more

The vast majority of parents would like to leave something for their children when they pass away. We would all like there to be fond memories of a loving parent but many of us hope to leave something a little more tangible.

Traditional methods of providing inheritances for our loved ones are wide and varied but with continued low inflation and even lower interest rates it has become more difficult in recent years to accrue as much as we would like to leave to our heirs.

As we grow older we become more aware of the uncertainties of life and the necessity to make conscious decisions about future events, including our own demise. Consequently, we seek professional help with preparing Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney and other legal instruments to ensure our passing happens with as little disruption for the family as possible. Consideration is often given at this time to the format of the inevitable funeral and the costs involved.

Sadly, with funeral costs rising far in excess of the annual rate of inflation, it is an unfortunate fact that, for many families, budgeting for a funeral by traditional means may no longer be sufficient to cover the cost and monies earmarked as inheritances may be significantly reduced paying for the funeral.

According to the Sun Life Cost of Dying Report 2013, average funeral costs have risen from £1,230 in 1997 to £4000 today – an increase of over 225%. Conservative estimates suggest that by 2024 a funeral will cost, on average, between £7,000 and £8,000.

Fortunately, a properly arranged pre-funded funeral plan GUARANTEES that however long you live, and however expensive a funeral is when you pass away, there will always be sufficient funds to cover all the funeral director’s fees and services.

The cost of purchasing a pre-funded plan varies between plan providers but an ‘intermediate plan’ currently costs from £3,395 to over £4,000 as a one off payment. You can pay for your plan in a single lump sum, or spread the cost over a number of years. One provider offers the option of making an initial payment of £250 and paying the remainder monthly over 1-10 years. The 10 year option would cost £36.69 a month.

With funeral costs taken care of, the savings made will increase the amount available to your heirs every single year as funeral costs increase.

The variety of plans available, together with the differences in costs, emphasise the need for seeking independent advice prior to making a choice of plan provider.

Want to know more about Funeral Plans? Our member Ted at Your Money FRiend can help with financial planning for later life which includes Wills and Funeral plans, find out more here

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What To Expect When Flying With A Toddler

June 17, 2016 Read more

Every parent knows what a toddler can be like… unpredictable at best. The thought of sitting with your toddler in a confined space for hours on end with nothing to do is enough to put any parent off of booking a holiday. It needn’t be as difficult as you think…

  1. Screaming when taking off.

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Your poor toddler has delicate little ears. Ear popping is bad enough for us adults and we know to expect it. Encouraging your toddler to suck will relieve their pain, but this is sometimes difficult! Swallowing a drink from a cup or bottle will help, as will sucking on a dummy or sweet, depending on your child’s age.

2. A fidgety toddler who just wants to move around.

Toddlers love to run, climb, jump and generally be active. Sitting in a tiny seat with no room to move is not their idea of fun! Entertaining a toddler is even more difficult for mum or dad if the child is under the age of two and doesn’t have their own seat. Fear not, we have a solution. Before traveling, buy your child some cheap new toys and create a goody bag. As the toys are new, they will keep your child entertained longer and if you go to a pound shop they will be inexpensive too. If all else fails, smart phones and tablet computers will keep your child entertained!

3. A hungry, fussy toddler.

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Toddlers are renowned for being fussy eaters. Plane food is renowned for being disgusting. When flying with a toddler, it’s best to fly prepared. Take some of your toddlers favourite snacks and even a packed lunch, depending on the time of your flight. This will prevent any food related toddler tantrum’s mid flight when you’re sat at the back of the plane and they have run out of raisins!

4. A lack of nappy changing facilities

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Planes DO have baby changing facilities. It is advertised on airline websites and in their magazines on board. Anyone who has ever even been in a plane toilet will understand how difficult it must be to change a nappy on a plane. The baby changing ‘facilities’ are more like a tiny shelf above the toilet. Good luck pinning an active toddler to this to change their nappy! If you’re flying short haul, the solution is simple. Mama, save yourself some hassle, change that nappy in the airport before boarding. And pray that your toddler doesn’t poo. If you’re flying long haul, good luck!

5. Don’t expect to be able to buy everything you need on the plane.

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The first time we flew with our one year old, she still needed lots of milk. As we’d moved her onto cows milk, we decided to buy a milk carton on the plane. We didn’t even think that they wouldn’t sell it! They only had tiny pots of UHT milk for tea and coffee. Needless to say, that was a difficult flight. Make sure you buy milk at the airport if your toddler still drinks lots of milk.

6. The flight will be easier than you think… if you come prepared!

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If you put thought into how to keep your toddler fed, watered and entertained during the flight, then it really isn’t that bad. Enjoy your flight and making some wonderful holiday memories with your family. Flying with your toddler really is worth the effort for all those gorgeous holiday giggles and snuggles.

If you want to book your family holiday, why not get advice from a travel consultant. Call today on 01235 796195 or email megan.belcher@notjusttravel.com now.

Thanks to our member Megan:

https://travelmummyblog.wordpress.com/2016/04/25/what-to-expect-when-flying-with-a-toddler/

 

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Luxury Family Friendly Hotels in Spain

June 17, 2016 Read more

This year so many people are looking to go on holiday to Spain… it has really grown in popularity this year, and it has long been a favourite destination for us Brits!

We’re joining the crowds, albeit not in the summer holidays, as  John, Lily and I are all off to Marbella in 10 days. We’re so excited for some sunshine, sea and relaxation (and cocktails for me!).

This has really got me thinking about some family friendly resorts in Spain- if you haven’t already booked your holiday, here are some ideas.

5* Ritz-Carlton Abama, Tenerife.

This secluded hotel has outstanding sea views and caters for all ages. It’s perfect for my little family! It has a spa for me, a golf course for John (yawn) and a kids club for Lily. There are 10 restaurants including a two Michelin starred and a one Michelin starred restaurant so foodies will be very happy here too.

4* Barceló Marbella, Marbella, Costa Del Sol, Mainland Spain.

The Barceló Marbella is set in one of Marbella’s most exclusive areas. It is ideal for younger families who don’t want to travel too far as it’s a short distance from Malaga airport (40 minutes). The hotel boasts a children’s club from June- September providing a wide range of activities to keep your little ones entertained. It also has a wellness centre with a gym, sauna and Turkish Bath. Marbella is well known for it’s gorgeous beaches and for having some of the best golf courses in the area.

5* Holiday Village Majorca, Calla Millor, Majorca

If an action packed holiday is what you’re after then look no further than the Holiday Village Majorca. This hotel has an impressive six swimming pools including an activity pool, a fountain filled splash zone and a tranquil pool area with ice fountains and perfumed showers. It even boasts swim up rooms (subject to availability), a spa zone, three whirlpools and a Balanceability programme where children can learn to ride specially designed bikes. There are four restaurants, a number of bars and a wide range of sporting activities such as football and archery.

4* Zoraida Resort, Roquetas de Mar, Costa Almeria, Mainland Spain

If you and your family LOVE water parks then this is the hotel for you. Keep the children entertained in the two pools, one is a splash pool with slides to keep the children entertained and a pirate ship for the little ones. The hotel is only a stones throw away from the beach and only 1km from the resort centre. There are a number of bars within the hotel and a buffet restaurant. There is a children’s club from June-October and baby equipment is available to hire. There are a huge number of sporting activities such as football, aqua aerobics, darts, volleyball and water polo.

We can’t wait to arrive in Marbella on the 14th of April. Has this post given you some ideas on where you can go for your next holiday? Visit my website to get a quote for your next holiday.

http://my.notjusttravel.com/megan-belcher/

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FREE Parenting Pop-In Morning - Staines

June 13, 2016 Read more

This month’s 10mins Topic:   

Become a Mindfull & Focused Parent          

        

                        What to Expect  

  • A Time-Out from a busy life to connect and network with like-minded parents and meet new Friends
  • Talk to parents who are going through the same as you!
  • Ask questions to our qualified Parent Facilitators on site.
  • Enjoy a free 10minute talk on a relevant topic, followed by open discussion and Q&A
  • Have a laugh & some fun!

 

At ParentingSuccess we believe that parents getting together to support & connect with each other is the best way to become a happy, positive and confident parent.

Just Pop-In, no need to book

Please get in contact with any questions you might have

     Mette Theilmann,                                                                                                                                                Parent and Family Life coach

                       

www.parentingsuccesscoaching.com                       mette@parentingsuccesscoaching.com                                          

07756918126                                                           

WHENFriday, 17 June 2016 from 10:00 to 11:30 (BST) -

Add to Calendar

WHERENotcutts Garden Centre - Laleham Road, Staines, TW18 2SF - View Map

 

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A Baking Date With Mrs Bun

June 12, 2016 Read more

Well the holidays are over, Freddie Bun is back at school, classes start full on, on Thursday so I decided I needed a Bake Date with myself!!

Being #mrsbunthebaker means I am always busy and sometimes don’t have time to just bake and create, so I set this week aside and decided that is what I would do.

The kitchen has looked like a flour bomb has gone off, hey, never mind, all in the process of creativity, I will clear it all up in the end. When I was a child and baking at my mums, she would shut the kitchen door on me,  as she knew how messy I would get. I tend to have bowls, pans, boards, cutters, you name it, paraphernalia everywhere, I need all of it! Although there is only one bowl I can make everything in, my beloved masoncash, if I don’t use it, everything seems to go wrong! When Freddie Bun was about 5 years old, he broke my first ever masoncash bowl, it was around 20 years old…I think he knew how sad I was about it, as I got a new one from him…via Mr Bun! 

So bake date was in full fledge…

I needed some new biscuits for packed lunches, something light, not chocolately, as it melts too much in the packed lunch box, and I am the one who has to wash it when Freddie Bun dumps it on the sink…I suppose I should be grateful he takes it out of his bag, and not left smelling overnight! 

So filled vanilla shortbreads became the bake… So nice, that I shared them on Mrs Bun the Baker Facebook page and lots wanted the recipe, so I had to bake them twice, as didn’t photo the first time. I must admit the second time they were tastier and the Bun household did not complain, double helpings of biscuits, needless to say they didn’t last long, enough for packed lunch till Thursday, then gone! Have a go….image

VANILLA FILLED SHORTBREADS. Gas 4
Rub 4oz Butter into 6oz Plain Flour, 1oz Semolina & 2oz Sugar, add in an egg yolk & 1tsp vanilla. Knead well. Roll out, cut same number of tops & bottoms..Bake 20mins, cool, fill jam or lemon curd. ENJOY!

I was also inspired to make some fig rolls. As when we go to see Grandma and Grandad Bun they always have fig rolls, and Freddie Bun just loves them, so I decided to see if I could make…The filling was perfect, I felt the biscuit around the edge wasn’t just right, cannot put my finger on it, but something was just a bit…But hey they weny in the day, so the others thought they were great, I am just a bit Bun fussy sometimes!! Anyway I posted them up with to “Fig Roll or to not fig roll? ” and most people liked to fig roll. Do you?

Then after all those sweet bakes, I needed to make some tea, unfortunately for Freddie Bun and many of us, we cannot live off cake and biscuits alone…he would try, I tell you, but he is fussy, take him out for coffee and cake, and he is very picky about those cafe cakes…not as good as Mummy Bun’s I am told. </div>
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Baking With Mrs Bun

June 07, 2016 Read more

 

Hello…this book gives toddlers and children an insight into how exciting baking can be and will inspire confidence in them, helping their dexterity, concentration, counting, weighing and measuring skills. The recipes have been tried and tested in the Mrs Bun the Baker kitchen in Cholsey by my regular cooking classes for all ages. The recipes are easy to follow, simple to make and can be made in just over an hour. There’s also no need for pans on the hob, you only need to bake in the oven, it is hob-less cooking. Dip in and out as often as you like but, most importantly, I hope you enjoy baking from my book.

 

Mrs Bun the Baker started two years ago after twenty years of inspiring and helping children gain their GCSEs and A’ Levels whilst working at a local Secondary School in Wallingford.  A qualified food technology teacher, she decided to take her love of baking out of the class room and into the community.

Mrs Bun the Baker has been published in Home Pride’s 50 Favourites for Fred’s 50th, with Mrs Bun the Bakers delicious Marbled Choccy Orange cake. She was asked to provide a recipe for the Didcot Christmas Bake Off book, launched at the local Tesco Supermarket; Brilliant Baking Magazine published a six page article on Mrs Bun the Baker. Social Media has meant plenty of online engagement, including Peter Lord, from Aardman being very impressed with her WereRabbit Carrot Cake interpretation and Claudia Winkleman loving the sewing bee biscuits.

 

Mrs Bun the Baker apart from the humorous engagement with her audience on Facebook and Twitter also Blogs for Humble Tart Kitchen.

Book is available to buy from:

Abingdon, The Book Store Ltd. Cholsey, Mrs Bun the Baker, Cholsey Pavillon.

Benson, Derrys Den Gift Shop.

Henley on Thames,  Hubbledays of Henley Ltd.

Wallingford on Thames, The Wallingford Book Shop

or from my website…

http://www.mrsbunthebaker.net/

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Have You Thought Of Any Names Yet?

June 03, 2016 Read more

"Have you thought of any names yet?"

You'll find when you're pregnant that this is a question you'll be repeatedly asked. You'll expect it. You may even excitedly anticipate it. Or if you're completely insane you'll raise the subject yourself! Don't. Don't mention names you like, names that mean something to you, or names you've read in a book. Pretend that names don't even exist. Say Nothing. Do anything you can to avoid people asking you this question. 
Many people presume that parents keep their baby names secret to avoid people copying. 
Nope. 
That's really not the reason. 
They keep them secret because they, like I, know how awful people can be. And once you've seen that look of disgust on someone's face as you sweetly tell them the name you and your partner have finally agreed on, you'll be sobbing in to your big book of baby names and wondering why children need names in the first place! Can't they just be given a number? 
There's a collection of responses which will all more or less have the same effect.
The stone faced smile response, for example. This is a more discreet reaction where the person doesn't quite know what to do with their face. They're in between either throwing up with repulsion at the name you've just told them, or they're about to laugh. They manage to reign in their rudeness and muster up a stony smile. This will sometimes be paired with an "ohhh" response, or a redirection in the form of names they "do like." But either way, you're now paranoid as fuck and having second thoughts about the name you once adored. 
Some people have less tact and will simply state with no qualms whatsoever
"I don't like that!
Oh no!
It's awful! 
Don't call them that!
Vile!"
If you weren't so dumbfounded by the rudeness you may state that it's a good job it's YOUR child and not THEIRS! But of course you will be dumbfounded and the words will not come. 
I'm unsure what the general thought process is with these types of gobshites but I'm going to hazard a guess that they don't comment rudely on adults names when they're introduced to them.
"Pleased to meet you, I'm Bernard"
"BERNARD!!! What a revolting name! I had an uncle Bernard. He was a total nobhead! All Bernard's are nobheads!" 
It just doesn't happen. 
When enquiring about people's name choices, the general rule of thumb should be, If you can't poker face through the answer then don't ask the question. It's a simple rule.
I'd forgotten the valuable 'name' lesson from my first pregnancy but have since had the pleasure of revising it this time around. I've experienced both stony faced, and gobshite responses. As I answered the question for a third time and was greeted by "I'm not sure about that. You could always call it (this) instead" it all came flooding back to me. 
How could I have forgotten the worlds incessant need to push their baby name opinions on to you whilst simultaneously sending your already hormonal and irrational being in to a sense of despair! 
So no. I'm not keeping my choice of names secret from now on because I'm afraid someone will copy. I'm 30 something (a lady never tells), not 5! 
I'm keeping it secret because I'll sucker punch the next person that gives my future baby's name the asshole treatment!! 
 
Read this blog and more of Louise's great blogs over at

The Confusing Diaries Of A Puzzled Mummyhttp://puzzledmummy.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/have-you-thought-of-any-names-yet.html

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