Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Mattress Review With Button & Sprung

I have really enjoyed working with Button & Sprung, you can see previous posts here, here & here! This is the best post as I get to talk about the luxurious 3 months I have spent sleeping on their Drysdale Mattress. When we moved into this new house we decided that we should upgrade to a king size mattress as with a toddler in the bed it would give us more space. Word to the wise my entire bedroom floor could be made of mattress and I would still sleep on around 4 inches of it, it is as sure as death and taxes and all children sleep that way.
When I was first offered the mattress my first thought was what difference does cost make. This was more than I had ever spent on a mattress before. The first night we slept on it we went all out, clean pjs, clean sheets, and a bath, well when you have a new luxury mattress to sleep on it would be rude not to! Joe and I slipped under the duvet and both instantly and unprompted turned to one another wow this really feels like we are on a luxury mattress. 
Before this mattress I had been sold on memory foam, despite the fact that they don't really allow for a cool night and you can overheat very easily. I felt that after years of rental homes and a bad back a memory foam had looked like the answer. Changing to this mattress has changed my opinion on this entirely. The main difference is that the mattress supports you everywhere. What I mean is if you are sleeping on the edge you feel just as supported as when you sleep in the middle. As I mentioned earlier with a husband and child who have zero bed etiquette this has been a life saver.
The second thing I noticed is that you get zero roll together, none whatsoever. I suffer from a bad back, have done for years and I regularly see a chiropractor. I sit hunched over a laptop or a craft table, I carry around a heavy child, none of these things help my back. It was not uncommon for me to wake up in spasm and get severe headaches from a twisted neck. I have not had this for the past three months. Okay so a new mattress is not a miracle worker but the fact that I have woken up and been able to move and not have headaches until the afternoon when everything in my back untwisted has made a huge difference to my life....and my mood.

Disclaimer: I was given this mattress but all my opinion are, as always honest and my own.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Alternative Christmas Gifts For Children

alternative gifts for children
There are so many things you prepare yourself for as a new parent, lack of sleep, loss of personal hygiene you know the basics, but all of that is fine really what is actually annoying is the house becomes rapidly filled with crap. Children are whimsical creatures and as parents you spend the most time with them and you can pretty much asses what they will lose interest in within seconds. The trouble is your child is surrounded by other people who adore them and they want to shower them with gifts so the best thing to do is direct their love towards gifts that will last. I have pulled together a few suggestions for you. The added bonus is that many of them are clutter free also!
alternative gifts for children

1. Subscription Boxes
These have exploded over the last couple of years and the range of what is available is always improving. The great thing about a subscription box is it lasts longer than Christmas, the day when no matter how hard you try they are overwhelmed. Think how excited they will be to get their parcel from you in the post. It also works well as many/most of the activities are family ones so they know they also get some parental one 2 one time. There are some great options for little ones; 
Little Passports - Comes monthly and offers boxes from age 3 to 9+ The themes are all around travel and exploring, taking your little one around the world, under the sea and into space. The quality of the items looks good and the first month your little one get a mini suitcase containing their pack. £12 per month/ £60 for 6 months / £108 for 12 months 
Weekend Box - This comes every fortnight and each one contains something to make, something to bake and something extra. Each box has a a different theme such as; famous artists, Christmas, Antarctica. Each box is £4.95 / £7.50 depending on the number of activities in the box.
Brainboost Box - Developed by Dr Baker a child development expert and mother for ages 2 -12 years, this monthly box is filled with educational fun activities. Each box looks at emotional intelligence, creativity, communication, physical activity and communication. You can order for 1 or 2 children. £8.95 per box or the larger box for £16.99 
All of the boxes can be cancelled at any time. There options out there for older children and teens also such as Kick Ass Crates/Makerly/Bright Paper Packages/Creation Crate
alternative gifts for children
2 Annual Passes
This is also a gift that will keep on giving throughout the year and also gives you the chance to tap into your grandchild's/child's passion. Here are a few examples of places that offer an annual pass scheme; Longleat/Folly Farm/Eureka/Life Science Centre/Legoland. There really are so many, in fact too many to make an exhaustive list and if you look around at small local places that don't offer the option there is no harm in asking if they will do one for you.
alternative gifts for children
alternative gifts for children
3. Memberships/Giftcards
Again this gift is clutter free and something they can enjoy all year round. It is also an opportunity for you to find out more about them and what they do when they are not visiting you. This has to be a personal gift but here are a few ideas to get you thinking; Geocatching Premium Membership/PSN Card/Lomography Film Club/Wax & Stamp Vinyl Club/RSPCA Junior
As you can see anything from online gaming to records is available. Some memberships offer learning as well as fun such as RSPCA Junior, but my main advice is get chatting now and find something that really pushes their buttons. 
alternative gifts for children
4. Experiences
This could be at home or if they are going on holiday with you could buy something that they would like to do but could not afford. There are a whole range of things available my only advice is avoid those awful generic experience sites. For older teens who love trains why not get them a footplate experience. Due to health and safety this is for over 18 but steam rails are run by volunteers and they are always in need of cash and I am sure they could put an age appropriate day together for a price! Chester Zoo offer a range of experiences for different ages or you could buy them a monkey breakfast at Trentham Forest. 
alternative gifts for children
6. Magazines/Comics/Books 
These are things that people love to buy when they are growing up but pocket money only goes so far so you could cover a magazine or comic subscription for them. If they are into comics they will tell you which one, don't guess trust me I have been the kid on the receiving end of that, you will not be thanked. There are so many special interest magazines out there. If they are small and would like a little guidance in choosing there are some fun but educational options out there such as Whizz Pop Bang or Aquila. You could also go down the book route for avid readers, The Willoughby Book Club offer subscriptions from babies, toddlers, children, young adults and even offer a specialist service for older readers.
alternative gifts for children
alternative gifts for children
7. A Family Game/Night
This might sound like a fake gift for a grandchild/niece/nephew, but it isn't kids like time, family time even when they are acting cool and pretending they don't they do. Putting together a family night is a great gift as it will also remind your children to slow down and spend time with the kids too. I am a parent, I know this but it never hurts to be reminded. Make a box with a great family game, try Board Game Geek for reviews. You could even pop in packs of posh snacks to sustain them. If they are a competitive bunch who are likely to have fisty cuffs in a game situation try something like Pandemic where they all work together to beat the board, I love it and have been known to be overly obnoxious and competitive in the past this game calms everyone down. If your clan really are not game people try a movie box instead.
alternative gifts for children
8. Courses/Lessons
Sebastian and I love being out doing things and although I am not a fan of toddlers being hot-housed he actually loves a lot of things that I very loosely call courses. From Forest School (ie playing in mud), to French (ie singing songs and group crafting). I am sure there are many regular meet ups that you go to that add up cost wise. Ask a grandparent to cover that cost as a gift. They are also reminded every week that Grandma and Grandpa are treating them every week and that is a nice way to bring them into your life when you live far away and gives them something to tell them about on Skype. As they get older options are still there; swimming, musical instruments, photography, circus skills. There are so m many fun things to do.

I hope I have given you all food for thought, if you are a parent make these suggestions, it is not rude to people who love your kids and want to treat them would like to know their money is going to be well spent and not wasted on something that will be packed or given away in a couple of months. And to all of those aunties/uncles/grandparents etc they don't have to rip open paper to know that you care in fact having a gift that goes beyond the overwhelming day that is Christmas is a much nicer option and shows that you really want to get to know them as individuals.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Sweet Potato & Quinoa Burgers

quinoa and sweet potato burgers recipe
Last year I made a resolution to try a new meal each week, I have not quite managed it every week but I am letting myself off as some weeks I tried three in one week. One of these weeks I made these so I thought I would share the recipe. They are really delicious and fresh tasting and the great news is they can be frozen and cooked later, I am all about time saving these days.

you will need;

1/2 cup white quinoa
600g sweet potatoes 
1tbsp fresh oregano
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1 red chili (optional)
salt and pepper 
quinoa and sweet potato burgers recipe
quinoa and sweet potato burgers recipe
quinoa and sweet potato burgers recipe
quinoa and sweet potato burgers recipe
quinoa and sweet potato burgers recipe
  1. Cook the quinoa and set aside to cool. Peel and cube the sweet potatoes and boil until tender.
  2. Mash the potatoes and mix with the cooled quinoa.
  3. Chop the oregano and finely slice the chili.
  4. Mix the spices and herbs into the quinoa mixture. Stir in the brown rice flour.
  5. Form into burger shapes and cool in the fridge. 
  6. Fry until brown and heated through then serve.
  7. If you want to open freeze them on a plate. Once frozen wrap in baking parchment. Defrost on a plate before cooking.

quinoa and sweet potato burgers recipe
quinoa and sweet potato burgers recipe

Friday, 14 October 2016

Savoury Cupcakes with Debenhams & Tala

savoury cupcakes recipes
I am thrilled to share two savoury cupcakes with you it has been such a pleasure to work with Debenhams promoting their Tala Baking Range. You can really tell the difference when you use quality baking equipment and the Tala range looks so good too you can fully combine style and substance. Have you ever made cupcakes and by the time they are out of the oven the cases have become mis shapen and started to fall away from the cake, that is what poor quality cases do. Here are the materials I used to create these cupcakes.
savoury cupcakes recipes
Savoury cupcakes have been a passion of mine for a while now so this was the nudge I needed to finally perfect a couple of recipes that I will now share with you. First up the wonderful sweetcorn cakes in the top image, and guess what the 'frosting' is mash potato!
savoury cupcakes recipes
Sweetcorn & Cottage Cheese Cupcakes
With Mash Potato Frosting Topped With A Parmesan Crisp

you will need; (makes 16 approx)

7 spring onions, finely sliced
1 cup of sweetcorn
300g fat free cottage cheese
3 eggs
1/4 cup semi skimmed milk
2 cups plain sifted flour
1tsp baking powder
pinch celery salt
pinch black pepper
10g butter
2 potatoes
1 tbsp crème fraîche
2tbsp freshly chopped chives

  1. Preheat the overn to 180C. Peel, chop and boil your potato.
  2. Mix the sweetcorn, cottage cheese, spring onions and eggs together in a large bowl.
  3. Sift in the flour and mix.
  4. Add the baking powder, milk, celery salt and pepper.
  5. Place your cupcake liners in a 12 hole tin and fill 2/3 of the way up. Bake the cupcakes in the centre of your oven. They should take around 25-30mins, until golden. Always test your cakes first.
  6. Drain and mash your potatoes well, add the butter and the crème fraîche. It is important that your mash is nice and creamy, no lumps but not runny. Add more crème fraîche if needed. Stir through the chives and fill your piping bag.
  7. Once the cupcakes are cooled ice them with your 'frosting'
  8. To make the parmesan crisps simple place piles of finely grated parmesan on a baking sheet, melt in a hot oven, remove and allow to cool.
savoury cupcakes recipes
savoury cupcakes recipes

Courgette  Cupcakes With Cream Cheese Frosting 
& Shredded Mint

you will need; (makes 15 approx)

1large courgette 
1tbsp Engevita
3 eggs 
2 cups plain sifted flour 
50g melted butter 
1tsp baking powder 
pinch celery salt 
300g cream cheese
handful of fresh mint leaves
cherry tomatoes to garnish 
savoury cupcakes recipes

  1. Cut the top and bottom off your courgette and discard. Then grate into a sieve and leave for a couple of hours. Squeeze any excess liquid from the courgette and add them to a large mixing bowl.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180C
  3. Add the eggs, engevita, flour, baking powder and celery salt. Once well combined pour in the melted butter and mix.
  4. Place the cupcake liners in a tin and fill 2/3 of the way up. ake until golden for around 30mins
  5. Once they are cool fill your piping bag with cream cheese and ice the cakes.
  6. Garnish with shredded min leaves and a piece of cherry tomato.
savoury cupcakes recipes
These are such a fun way to serve savoury food at a child' party, brighten up an afternoon tea. You can freeze the 'un- iced' cakes and take them to work for lunch.

I hope you enjoy making them and eating them as much as I did.

Monday, 3 October 2016

3 Ways To Dress A Bed - with Button & Sprung

So you have bought your perfect bed and now you have chosen the best mattress for your best nights sleep with a little help from this post and Button & Sprung of course. All that is left to do is to add that stylist flare to make your bed look like it has just stepped out of the pages of a fancy magazine. Our bedroom is where we seek solace at the end of a hard day and to walk into a room that looks inviting can help with that, think how nice it is when you go to a hotel and everything looks perfect, well you can do that at home.

My first method for dressing a bed is the simplest, anyone can do it!
One - Buy An Oversized Quilt. I told you it was simple the only thing you have to do is make sure it covers the pillows and the duvet underneath to get the look spot on. This look is also very simple to sleep in, just fold back the quilt, and then pull it back if you are like me and get cold at night!. Such a simple method can make a huge impact.
Two - Cushions, Lots of Cushions. In fact looking at this image I think I need two more cushions, large oversized ones to go at the back. The trick is to mix patterns and sizes whilst keeping to a theme. I wanted my whole bedroom to have a simple fresh look after the dark red bedroom I had in my last home. Crisp white walls and bedding with blue accent wall and accessories. I have the cushion covers that I have collected from my travels couples with some that I made and some high street stores. When you are mixing patterns follow these these simple rules. Stick to one colour pallet and mix the sizes of the pattern. Make sure the patterns are different enough so that they don't look like you tried to match them and failed.
Cushions are great when you are lounging in bed reading my blog or a book, drinking tea, that sort of thing.
Three - Texture. Again this is a simple way to give your bed that luxury edge. Layering neutral colours over one another that have different textures. See these stylist tricks are easy to execute how else do you think they can style so many magazine shots in a day.
 You probably have all the ingredients for this look already lurking in your bedding box

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Brunch With Friends

brunch recipes
So the Yorkshire house is still a building site but that does not mean I cannot share my Parisian habits here in Yorkshire and that habit is brunch, yes I plan to brunch the hell out of the UK. You hear that people I am declaring war on the full English, greasy spoon and hangover cafe. Here is what I am fighting it with, please excuse the following image contains full on pornographic images of bacon. Yes I am vegetarian but I still know what sexy is! A plate of crispy goodness. 
brunch recipes
So a bit of background when I first arrived on Paris I thought so what is the weekend thing to do? I soon discovered it is brunch. Now the quality of your brunch varies vastly and I plan to share a post with you to guide you to the better spots around town but for now I will explain that a good brunch has a number of courses, it is social, like all French eating and it allows you to waste an entire afternoon eating. For my Yorkshire version I decided to keep the food British(ish) but demonstrate that it can be damn fancy. 
brunch recipes
brunch recipes
brunch recipes
So I stocked the table with bread, cheese, natural yoghurt, granola, my very own raw granola recipe, griddle scones (recipe here), juice and fruit. Of course the crispy bacon plate!
brunch recipes
After eating their fill of this course I served up an onion bagel, with a sausage, fried leeks and mushrooms and topped with a poached egg.
brunch recipes
Brunch is not brunch without a huge amount of sugar to round it off so I served up an Eton Mess and my Coffee & Doughnut Trifle of naming ceremony fame. My walls have that half stripped wallpaper look, the plates and glasses don't match and let's face it you can see from the photos that I had not ironed the tablecloth but it felt really good to have people over and