Sunday, 31 January 2010

Pancake Day with Lyle's Golden Syrup!


I was recently invited to a blogger event in London in connection with Lyle's Golden Syrup and Fleishman Hillard PR. Sadly, I couldn't make it but lots of fun was had. A fantastic pancake cookalong with Emma Forbes was enjoyed by all who attended. It's no surprise that Lyle's Golden Syrup would be running such an event, as for many years they have had a place in Brits hearts with their distinctive 'liquid gold.' Now with even more products available - from the familiar family favourite in the green and gold tin, to Squeezy Syrup that comes in a no drip, no mess, fun to use bottle, there's something for everyone. For information on the Lyle's Golden Syrup range visit www.lylesgoldensyrup.com


This year Lyle's Golden Syrup has their hands full with a campaign to stop the nation getting in to a pancake panic with its definitive "Four Steps to Perfect Pancakes", designed to ensure we are prepared for the big day. Lyle's Golden Syrup sent me down their top tips to share with my readers, to make sure that you too can produce perfect pancakes. Hopefully, if you follow these useful tips Tuesday 16th February should be a perfect pancake day!

Pancake Day is a wonderful opportunity to get the children involved in cooking. I have wonderful memories of coming home from school to my mum ready in the kitchen awaiting my helping hands. She always prepared the batter the night before. I had the special job of adding the raisins to the mix and it was that much more delicious knowing that my own fair hands had helped produce such a treat for the taste buds.

Shrove Tuesday is the Tuesday before Lent starts. It's a day of penitence, to clean the soul, and a day of celebration as the last chance to feast before Lent begins.
There is something so appealing about Pancake Day; to me it represents a rich, warm and comforting food amidst what is otherwise a rather bleak winter month. There's nothing more I love than picking my son up from school and making pancakes together. This year will be no different and we have found some great Pancake recipes and demonstrations on www.welovepancakes.co.uk

Here's the "Four Steps to Perfect Pancakes.'

Step One: Prep It

  • Pour 300ml of milk into a jug and add 2 medium eggs - beat well.
  • Place 125g plain flour into a bowl and make a hollow in the centre.
  • Gradually pour the egg and milk mixture into the centre of the flour, whisking just in the centre as you pour.
  • As you pour more steadily, keep whisking so you pull in all of the flour from the outside of the bowl – this means you shouldn’t get any lumps.
  • Once all the flour is incorporated, whisk 25g melted butter into the batter, cover with cling film and place in the fridge.

Step Two: Cook It

  • Use a non-stick frying pan for best results – use 70ml of batter to get a decent thickness pancake in an 18cm pan.
  • Heat the frying pan on a medium heat until there’s a slight haze coming from it.
  • Add a sliver of butter and let it melt, moving the pan around so it covers the base of the pan.
  • Tip any excess butter into a small bowl for the next pancake.
  • Whisk the batter once more before using it.
  • Ladle some batter into the pan – twisting the pan as you go so that it covers the bottom of the pan.
  • Place the pan back onto the heat and leave to cook for 1-2 minutes.
  • To check if the pancake is ready to be turned, loosen the edges with a spatula then give it a little shake – it should come loose and move in the pan.
  • The pancake should be opaque on top and a light golden brown colour underneath.

Step Three: Flip It

  • If you’re feeling brave, grab the handle with both hands and move away from the hob slightly. Drop the pan down and quickly flip it back up again, using your wrists to flip the pan – the pancake should rise out of the pan and turn over.
  • Place back on the heat, cook for another minute and slide out onto a plate.
  • If you’re not feeling brave, use a fish slice to flip the pancake over, making sure the slice goes all the way under the pancake before you turn it.

Step Four: Top It

Classic Pancakes - Drizzle some Lyle’s Golden Syrup over the pancake then squeeze over a wedge of fresh lemon, roll and eat immediately.

Nutty Caramel Pancakes - Toast some roughly chopped pecans in a hot frying pan, add 4 tbsp Lyle’s Golden Syrup and heat until melted. Add 4 tbsp double cream, stir well and cook for 1-2 minutes until the mixture bubbles up. Spoon a little over the pancake, fold into quarters and pour some more over the top.

Orange Pancakes - Squeeze the juice of 1 fresh orange into a hot frying pan, add 2 tbsp Lyle’s Golden Syrup and cook for 1-2 minutes until the mixture has thickened slightly. Pour over the pancakes for an extra zing.

Syrupy Ice Cream Pancakes - Spoon some vanilla ice cream down the centre of the pancake, squeeze over some Lyle’s Golden Syrup and roll up – eat before the ice cream melts!

Banana Chocolate Pancakes - Heat a little butter in a hot frying pan, add 1 chopped banana and cook for 1 minute then add 2 tbsp Lyle’s Golden Syrup and heat through. Spoon onto half a pancake, then grate over some chocolate and fold the top half over.

Don’t forget: Pancake Day 2010 is Tuesday 16 February - don’t let it creep up on you and get prepared with exciting recipes and new methods to impress your friends and family. For advice, recipes, tips and more visit www.welovepancakes.co.uk


Below are some video blogs from Sweet Craftiness; testing out the 'Four Steps to Perfect Pancakes.'




For more information visit www.welovepancakes.co.uk

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Valentine's Day Personalised Book - www.itsyourstory.co.uk


The next event on our calendar is Valentine's Day. So keep an eye on Sweet Craftiness in the next few weeks as we will be finding all those lovey dovey items that make you swoon with happiness.

The latest Valentine's find is this absolutely gorgeous book from http://www.itsyourstory.co.uk/

This book is just one of many beautiful books available on the site. They specialise in photo personalised books suitable for adults and children. I have trawled the entire site with pure admiration as there are so many novel gift ideas. I particularly loved the 'Now I Am One' book which celebrates the many things children are able to do once they get to one. For children who are not fussy on reading this is a great way to bring the book to life and make reading fun.

If my husband had gone to the trouble of ordering me one of these Valentine's books I would have been over the moon. The whole book features these gorgeous little characters and the book allows each page to be personalised with your names.

The moment I pulled the book out of the packaging, I could feel the high quality card and paper used to make this book. It was like being a mini celebrity getting a whole book dedicated to my love life.


The book features 24 pages of romantic illustrations from the celebrated original artwork of Kim Casali. It was quite apt that the characters happened to have black hair and red hair, like me and my husband. This part was just pure coincidence however, but it certainly impressed me even more. The sentiments are romantic without being over the top and revolting. I was able to show my mum this book with no embarrassment. It's just a lovely reminder of the things we take for granted everyday which signifies our love for each other.


There's room on the front page for a lovely personalised message.



It's a delightful book which will uplift anybody's spirits.



Even my little boy enjoyed reading through the book.




Throughout the book there are twelve illustrations created for you to personalise with your names and additional information such as your favourite film to watch together and favourite food.

12 of the illustrations are personalised to the couple and include their names, their favourite television programme/film to watch together, favourite restaurant/pub, the females date of birth and her favourite food. The couple's names feature on the front of the book.


Each 32-page book is digitally printed to a high standard on thick paper with a laminated cover to make it more durable.



Overall, I was more than impressed with the book. It's great quality and contains beautiful illustrations and romantic sentiments. I can't think of a sweeter gift to give on Valentine's Day. This will be something that I will always treasure! If you have a wonderful man in your life that treasures you and makes you his whole world, why not have one of these books made to show him how much you appreciate and love him!

I will certainly be bookmarking http://www.itsyourstory.co.uk/ for future reference.

Le Toy Van 'Le Grand Garage'


I'm already a huge fan of Le Toy Van as you will know from my previous review on the Le Toy Van Lion Heart Castle. I don't think it's possible to beat the quality that wooden toys provide. They are sturdy, solid and worthy of withstanding the roughest of child's play. There is no fear of plastic cracking or bits dropping off. I am happy with the price of £59.99 as this is going to become an heirloom piece.

The Le Toy Van Le Grande Garage is a three storey wooden garage with ramps and wooden lift. It includes a car, helicopter and petrol pumps.

So how easy was it to set up?

Unlike the Le Toy Van Lion Heart Castle which slotted together and only required about three screws, this garage required a lot more assembly time. In fact, it took my husband around an hour and a half to assemble. It was quite a time-consuming job, but I think my husband would agree that our son's face was worth the assembly time when he saw the finished piece. It's constructed of painted wood, plastic spiral ramps and a lift that operates with a crank. Because of the sturdy quality of the wood, the finished garage is a very heavy item. So I would recommend assembling this where you want it to stay as it's quite heavy to move around. Again, this is an indicator of the quality.

I really love the colours used in this design, most boys items tend to be dull shades of blue. But Le Toy Van have managed to incorporate yellows, greens, reds and blues in to this design which allows the item to become a centrepiece in any room.
The level of detail is amazing in this garage, but more even more impressive is the educational benefits of this toy. The extensive use of symbols and simple words and numbers provides a great introduction for children on how letters and numbers are used in real life.



An all round winner!! Bright, colourful, educational and has a huge play value.

Available from Brightminds

Friday, 22 January 2010

Izziwotnot Celebration Luxury Gift Basket



If you are looking for the perfect gift for a new baby, then look no further than www.myminimonsters.co.uk.

www.myminimonsters.co.uk is an absolutely fabulous online store. They believe in childhood and want to celebrate free spirits, imagination and the creativity of all the children out there!

They believe kids should be inspired by their surroundings, free to explore colours, spaces and textures. They want to encourage kids' creativity by helping parents to design bedrooms that are practical, vibrant and above all fun!

They go to great lengths to source products that are kiddie cool! Products that make parents and children smile! Products designed with the uniqueness and character of every individual mini monster in mind! Products that reflect childrens uncontainable spirit and the places they love to visit in their imaginations!

The online store is bursting with great products to create eye-catching rooms that express the joys of childhood, so take a look at www.myminimonsters.co.uk

I was busy scouring the Internet trying to find a gift for a friend who has just given birth, when I found this store. But along the way there were so many absolutely adorable items on the website I kind of got lost along the way. I've now made my own little wish list up if you would like to see:

Blue Skyline 3 piece Junior Room Set



Pitstop Room Set


My Mini Monsters Cushions



Kofi Rocker

After much deliberation, as there were so many delightful things to choose from, I decided upon the Izziwotnot Celebration Luxury Gift Basket (pictured at the top of the page). The pastel pink shades encased in the pale wicker appealed to all my motherly instincts and I knew that this was going to be something that would delight my friend.

On arrival the gift basket looked even better than what it had done on the website. In fact I was tempted to just keep it lying on my living room floor as it made the room look like something out of a baby catalogue. The wicker basket was sealed with a plastic lid and tied up with a delightful Izziwotnot ribbon. All the items inside were neatly folded and screamed to be opened by the new mother. The girly colours were really set off by the little teddy bear included with the set. It's not just any bear that graces this set however, it is izziwotnot.

The label that is attached to the ribbon tells the story of izziwotnot. It goes like this:
'Here is the story behind izziwotnot. Now you probably think we invented izziwotnot don't you? Far from it, izziwotnot is a very special teddy bear much loved by two sisters, Caroline and Juliette, izzi (as he tends to be known) has travelled the world and seen many things. But today izzi plays an important part in making sure all our products are just right. He keeps an eye on things you see.'

This story seems to add an element of magic to the box and this little teddy bear features on the design of most of the items in the box. So I suppose by this point you are wondering what exactly you get in the box?

You get:

1 sleepsuit
1 bodysuit
1 hat
1 bib
1 pair of mitts and booties
1 toy
1 fleece blanket
And don't forget the lovely wicker basket which can later be used to store all manner of things in.

The clothing items are 100% cotton and are really high quality. The stitching and embroidery is detailed and certainly contributes to the wow factor of this gift basket as a whole.

When my friend received this basket she sat for at least five minutes just admiring all the items and repeating how much she loved it.

So if you have a gift that you want to get for someone special, I would highly recommend taking a look at this website www.myminimonsters.co.uk

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Kidsleep clock




Desperate for sleep, desperate for something that could return sanity to our lives; I went on the hunt to find some decent nightlights. I've already mentioned that we found the Lumilove night light fantastic but I also wanted something to illustrate to my son when he should be in bed and when he is able to get up. Bombarded with constant visits from him throughout the night, questioning how much longer before he could get up, this was a problem I really wanted to solve as we were all getting pretty fed up with the situation.

On reading up on this clock I was impressed that it acted as a nightlight, traditional alarm clock and had a wake-up time indicator. The rabbit lying down tells the child that it is too early to get up. The rabbit standing up tells the child that he/she may get up. This retails at £39.00 so is a little more expensive than your average nightlight but I was optimistic as to the many other benefits it offered.

Upon pulling the nightlight out of the packaging I was a little surprised as to the weight of the item as it did seem very lightweight which made me wonder about the durability of the item. However, straight away my baby son got hold of this and road tested it as he dropped it on the floor and it appears the nightlight is very 'kid-tough.' It's nice to have testers who are always willing to lend a hand.

The alarm was easy to set up and all that was left to do was see how effective this nightlight was at helping my son. In darkness the nightlight was dimmer than what your average nightlight is; but this also added to the soporific effect of the rabbit cuddling down in bed and seemed to make my son want to tuck that little bit further down under his duvet.

With fingers crossed I left the room and attempted an undisturbed night sleep. You can only imagine my joy when I woke BEFORE my son. On asking my sons opinion the next morning he informed me that the reason he stayed in his own bed was because of the fact that he felt like he had someone else sleeping in the room with him. So I was exceedingly pleased with this!

This is a very inventive item that seems to do its purpose very well!

Available from JoJo Maman Bébé

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Lumilove Panda Nightlight


Welcome to the shiny universe of the Lumilove!

Recently we have been having problems with our seven year old son. He wakes like clockwork at 2 am in the morning and comes in to our room and wants to get in to our bed with us. He is such a terrible snorer that this really isn't an option. It's become a problem since his plug in nightlight stopped working. However, this little nightlight from Lumilove is far superior to the plug in nightlight he previously owned, as I don't have to worry about him touching anything near the electrical mains.

I first spotted this nightlight on the JoJo Maman Bébé website and was keen to give it a try. There is an array of animals to choose from. These nightlight characters are so tender and sweet, that children will absolutely love them. The rainbow-like coloured lights are especially appealing.


A puppy


An elephant


The cute rabbit.


Or a bear.

We chose the panda option as it looked the most appropriate one for my sons' age, although we do hope to collect the whole range. Imagine how funky his bedroom will look at night!

I have found a video on YouTube to illustrate the nightlight in action.



The first thing I noticed when we pulled the nightlight out of his packaging was that it was smaller than I expected. In a way this is great as it fits in to compact areas like on a pillow. We charged the nightlight up and hey presto, once it was charged we took the charger out and it was an instantly portable nightlight. It's much more magical than your traditional nightlight however as it flickers through a range of pretty colours, as illustrated in the picture above. Because the arms, legs and ears are jointed, your child can position them to stand up or sit down which makes it more personal to them. There's no worry of overheating or electrocution as the bulb is safely contained within the body and stays charged for up to 8 hours. It's so brilliant to have a batteryless and wireless nightlight.

If you are energy conscious, you don't even need to worry about charging costs as the nightlight contains a low-consuming LED light.

The design of these nightlights is wonderful; they don't look out of place in any room as they have such a modern feel.

It retails at £25 at JoJo Maman Bébé which is a small price to pay for the peace of mind you get when using this nightlight. This is a great find!

Available from JoJo Maman Bébé

Friday, 15 January 2010

Lakeland 'Henrietta' Kitchen Collection

My kitchen is my pride and joy and I love discovering new items that make my kitchen that little bit more welcoming. That's why I was overjoyed when I discovered the wonderful 'Henrietta Kitchen Collection' from Lakeland.

I love a clutter-free kitchen and so any items that do grace my kitchen surfaces have to be sleek, eye-catching and practical. Lakeland's Henrietta Collection fits all these categories. Because of the neutral colours used within the design, they are very easy on the eye. Whilst my kitchen tends to be ultra-modern, the hen featured on the design gives my kitchen a cosy touch. I wouldn't normally have anything with a hen on in my kitchen, but the checks keep the design looking fresh and modern and in touch with my modern taste.

The Henrietta storage jar featured above retails at £8.99 and is about the right size to fill with sugar or tea bags. This now replaces the Typhoo tins which looked out of sync in my kitchen. The storage jar has a lovely weight to it which you get with quality items. The lid on the storage jar really snuggles in to the jar as opposed to being just placed on top, which seems to make the jar that much more air-tight.
The Henrietta Teapot is a gorgeous item. The curvaceous body of the teapot makes it a pleasure to pour tea from. Since we had moved in to our house we have always made tea in the cup and had forgotten the pleasure of being able to let the tea brew in a gorgeous teapot. It looks much nicer when you have guests around, not to mention the great improvement of taste. This is a 1.3 litre teapot, so it should comfortably serve about 4 cups of tea. It's also dishwasher-safe.
Next up is the Henrietta Apron. This apron is great; I usually have a problem with aprons being small-framed and petite. But this apron has an adjustable neck strap, so it can fit the biggest to the smallest of people. It's a nice thick material so it prevents any spills seeping through the apron. I can wear this apron without looking mumsy.

The Henrietta Double Oven Glove makes burnt hands a thing of the past. This quite simply is the best oven glove I have EVER owned. Owning these gloves means that I no longer have to take a leap of faith every time I pull something from the oven, I can be confident in the knowledge that I am 100% protected. They are so thick you can pick up virtually the hottest thing and still not feel anything. If you want to show off the oven gloves if you have a co-ordinating kitchen they come with a handy loop to hang them.

Lastly, my must-have item from the Henrietta Collection is this pack of 3 Tea Towels. Within the pack you get one of each design. They are larger than the average tea towel I own with each tea towel measuring 50 x 69cm. This means it's easier to dry the dishes as the towels take longer to become soaked through. Great for hanging on a drawer handle as it makes the kitchen look functional and allows all the co-ordinating items to blend together.

Every Lakeland item I own is a quality item and these items are no different. If you think the Henrietta Collection appeals to you then Lakeland are currently doing a 3 for 2 offer. If you buy any three items from the Henrietta range, you get the cheapest item for free. So go on, treat your kitchen!

For more info visit www.lakeland.co.uk

Monday, 11 January 2010

The Owl and The Pussycat Chilled Baby Food



Baby Craftiness is a fussy little thing; we haven't quite achieved him eating anything with lumps and bumps in yet. The only things he will eat have to be completely smooth as otherwise he vomits the food back up. He's still breastfed so I'm not too worried about his fussiness with food at the moment. With my first son I tried to be perfect and followed the Annabel Karmel baby meal plan to the letter. I had lots of time on my hands then and I could afford to make every meal from scratch. These days it's just not practical. It's bad enough catering for a very fussy seven year old, so I quite often give jars of baby food to Baby Craftiness. I do feel a little guilty but there's not much choice.

The usual brands of baby food that I buy are Hipp, Heinz and Cow and Gate. So I was intrigued when I was given the chance to review some 'chilled baby food.' Even more intrigued by the lovely sounding name 'The Owl and The Pussycat.' The packaging looks quite tempting with the cute little owl and pussycat from Edward Lear's book. The packaging isn't overly fussy though and in most circumstances I have found that the simpler the packaging, the nicer the food.

So now we are getting down to the nitty gritty? Did Baby Craftiness like them? To be honest, I didn't hold out much hope on him liking them as he is just SO fussy with food. I was waiting for a day to try them out on him when he had had at least one substantial meal already in him, so that it didn't matter if he chose not to eat them. However, my husband had different ideas and was eager to try him with something more nutritionally beneficial. So while I got down to housework, hubby fed the food to Baby Craftiness. Did he like it?? He LOVED it. I was called down to inspect the empty pot. This was the 'Chicken, French Beans and Coriander.' I tried him with the second pot of this flavour the next day and again he devoured it.

Next up for trial was 'Tomato and Celeriac Risotto with Cheddar Cheese,' he loved it! And lastly the 'Beef with Parsnips and Apple' which he devoured. As he is such a fussy eater, this was a HUGE achievement! What more can I say.... I am now in awe of this baby food brand.

The important difference and advantage of this baby food over jarred baby food is that 'The Owl And The Pussycat' food is gently steamed to preserve the fullness of flavour ensuring that each dish tastes and smells delicious and fresh. Jarred baby foods have usually been heated to very high temperatures to sterilise the ingredients which means that the food doesn't have the same fullness of flavour.

The chilled weaning food is being launched by a small family run food business, based in rural Wiltshire - Sally, Simon and Sarah are the people behind the new range. All have young families and when it came to weaning they wanted to buy food that was close as possible to their own home made food - and that means fresh.

Each pack of The Owl and The Pussycat chilled baby food contains two individual 100g pots (priced at £2.79) and can simply be heated in the microwave or on the hob before being served. All Owl and The Pussycat meals are certified organic by government approved inspectors, Organic Farmers and Growers.

So are there any drawbacks? The only drawback to me is the fact the baby food is currently only available at Waitrose and through Ocado as I don't shop with them. I would be more than happy to pay a little extra for these foods as the nutritional value is so much better. So to the makers of 'The Owl and The Pussycat' food - please consider stocking in other supermarkets. I promise I will buy!!

You can find more information about the fantastic 'The Owl and The Pussycat' range including recipes, nutritional information as well advice for parents on weaning at www.theowlandthepussycat.org

Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen and Hallmark Cards Urge UK to Get Creative


Stuck for family things to do in the colder weather? Why not get creative and take part in a new nationwide photography competition launched by Hallmark Cards.

Hallmark has joined forces with the UK’s favourite designer and artist, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, to find an image that best represents motherhood with the lucky winners getting their picture on a Hallmark card for the public to buy!

The competition is open to everyone in the UK – from children to adults and complete novices to budding photographers. Pictures can be captured on anything from mobile phones to the latest high tech digital cameras and can be submitted from now until 27th February 2010. The only criteria that apply is that the photograph must be your own work and must capture an image that best represents motherhood.

Submissions will be judged in two age categories (up to 17 and 18 plus) and the winners will be announced on Mother’s Day 2010. The winning images will be captured on a Hallmark Mother’s Day card which will be available for the public to purchase through the company’s online personal card service www.hallmark.co.uk. They will also receive £1,000 worth of photography equipment.

The competition is part of Hallmark’s annual Cards for a Cure™ Mother’s Day initiative which, by March 2010, will have donated a massive £1million to breast cancer charities to fund vital research into the disease.

Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen will form part of the expert judging panel. Speaking about the competition, he said: “This is a fantastic initiative aimed at getting the public to create an image which really celebrates motherhood. I’d urge everyone across the UK to get their cameras at the ready, you don’t have to be a professional or have all the latest equipment. And, just think, you could have your photo captured on a Hallmark Card for the nation to buy.”

Hallmark Cards annually contributes £1/4 million to Breast Cancer Campaign and Action Breast Cancer, a programme of the Irish Cancer Society, as part of its Cards for a Cure™ campaign for Mothers Day. This is the fourth year of the initiative. The money is contributed independent of card and gift sales and is used to fund vital breast cancer research at centres across the UK and Ireland.

People can enter the competition at www.hallmark.co.uk.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Hallmark Valentine's Card


Valentine's Day is fast approaching and I just wanted to show my readers this really clever Valentines Card by Hallmark. It's a limited edition video Valentine's Day card which plays some of Disney's most famous screen kisses. With only 1,500 cards ever to be produced, and selling at a premium £20, Hallmark Cards is expecting the one-of-a-kind cards to fly off the shelves as soon as they go on sale in Clinton's stores across the UK this February, with demand predicted to far exceed supply.



It's such a unique way of showing your loved ones exactly how much they mean to you. I haven't seen anything as good as this on the market before. It's actually like watching a mini TV. As the music plays all your hairs stand on end as it's just so emotive. The sound is great and all the happy moments on screen make you feel really loved-up.

This is a little bit more expensive than your average Valentines card as it is priced at £20. But this is going to be something that even the children will love watching and will be a card that will be kept forever. This card is certainly going to be of interest to Disney collectors also.


Available from Clinton's stores.