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Britain meets Germany – a picnic the Denglish way

picnic

I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community. This content has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias® #CBias #SocialFabric.

We’ve been really spoiled with glorious sunshine recently, so after our latest shop (get a look behind the scenes here) and some baking by Amy and me, we decided to make the short trip out to Chew Valley and have a picnic by the lake. We go there a lot to escape the hussle and bussle of the city. It’s just the most beautiful place to recharge your batteries and relax and only a ten minute drive away from where we live.

For our picnic the Denglish way, we made some traditional English scones (recipe will be up shortly) and Amy took over when I unsuccessfully attempted to make German pretzels. For some reason, I didn’t manage to form a long enough roll, so any pretzel shapes looked absolutely hideous. Instead of chucking them out and substituting with something pre-baked however, I decided that this was the perfect chance to get Amy involved. I gave her little chunks of dough and told her to roll sausages – she does this with Play Dough all the time, so she’s a real expert. Her pretzel sticks might not look perfect, but she made them herself and they tasted lovely. Here is how you make them:

Ingredients:

2 tsp dry active yeast
1 tbsp sugar
250 ml water
50 g soft butter, I used Flora Cuisine
500 g self-raising flour
1 tsp salt
150 g bicarbonate soda
1 l water
2 tbsp of coarse sea salt

Method:

1. Mix yeast, sugar and water and let the mix rest for 10 minutes.

2. Add butter, flour and salt and kneed to a firm dough. Leave to rest for 60 minutes.

3. Kneed again, before forming the traditional pretzel shape or pretzel sticks.

4. Place them on a baking tray covered in grease-proof paper and let rest while you prepare your salt solution.

5. For your salt solution, dissolve the bicarbonate soda in 1l water. Bring to the boil and add the pretzels one at a time for about 30 seconds.

6. Sprinkle your pretzels or pretzel sticks with coarse sea salt and bake at 180 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

7. You could also add seeds of your choice or cheese before baking.

rustic pretzel sticks

With everything packed, we set off to Chew Valley Lake. We parked the car, had a little play on the play ground and walked over to the picnic area. When we started unpacking our picnic basket however, a massive wall of black clouds appeared. Seconds later, it started raining cats and dogs and we had to hurry up to get back to the car. Luckily, we could get the food back without any noticable damage, but Amy was not a happy bunny.

stuck inside because of rain - indoor picnic

She sat by the window, looking outside while the raindrops were hitting the window. Our picnic by the lake was off the cards, but we didn’t let that spoil our weekend. We spread out Amy’s favourite polka dot blanket, threw some cushions into the mix and spread out our picnic food before getting comfy on the living room floor. We might have even had some guests in form of Millie, the doll, Bigsby and Amy’s furry little friends Monchichi and Bunny (yes, we’re terrible creative in terms of cuddly toy names). Everything is more fun with friends, don’t you think?

Amy instantly sat down and got comfy on one of the cushions. We’ve never had a living room picnic before, so she was all smiles and got really excited about our little setup. I could just about prevent squashed strawberries all over the blanket.

picnic overview

We didn’t have a massive picnic as we had dinner planned already, but Amy really enjoyed tucking into the pretzel sticks and I could even get her to eat some melon – she’s never wanted to try it, well apart from the pips. Strange child! While we snuggled on the floor and filled our bellies with British scones and ham, German pretzels and fruit and mini cakes from somewhere in between, we decided that we’ll have regular indoor picnics from now on. It was such a fun and relaxed afternoon that it would be a shame not to repeat it. I can actually see this becoming a nice little Sunday afternoon tradition: We’ll snuggle up, spread out some food and watch a film or play a game. Sounds like the perfect thing to do on a Sunday, don’t you think?

How about you? Are you a fan of indoor picnics? What’s your favourite picnic food?

Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com

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Malala Day – Malala Yousafzai inspires girls everywhere

Malala Yousafzai

On July12, 2013, the world celebrated Malala Day, which is a day dedicated to the campaign for the right to education for girls all over the world. This day was the 16th birthday of Malala Yousafzai, a young human rights campaigner and Pakistani school pupil.

Malala almost didn’t live to see this day, as she was shot at the age of 15 in an assassination attempt by Taliban gunmen. She remained in critical condition for many days and was treated intensively at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, UK. She was shot simply for her work campaigning for the right to attend school and receive an education.

Youth Takeover of the UN General Assembly

The birthday of Malala Yousafzai was celebrated with the very first ever youth takeover of the UN General Assembly in New York. It was at this event that Malala gave her very first televised speech since she was shot. Her speech was beautiful, inspirational and powerful and it prompted a standing ovation in the crowd.

She began by thanking everyone who has supported here and who helped her toward her recovery, including the doctors, nurses and staff at the hospitals in the UK and Pakistan and the government. She told the story of how she was shot by the Taliban and how this attack has not changed her aims or stopped her ambitions. She went on to say that she was not speaking in terms of personal revenge against the Taliban or any terrorist group. Instead, she explains that she is there to speak up for the right to education of every child. She states that, “we realise the importance of our voice when we are silenced”.

Malala’s Speech

Her powerful and moving speech went on to explain that the power of education frightens the extremists. They are afraid of the power in the voice of women which is why they are suppressing and killing female students and teachers. Malala explains that they are afraid of the equality that these women will bring into the society. She points out the fact that Islam is a religion based on humanity, peace and brotherhood and that education for children is not only a right, it is a duty and a responsibility.

She goes on to outline some of the issues throughout the world, including in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria. Her speech delivered the passionate message to young people everywhere that they had rights and that she was speaking out so that those without a voice can be heard. She made a powerful plea to governments all over the world to work together in the name of peace and encourage free compulsory education for every child in the world.

She spoke about education for both boys and girls, but explained that she focuses on girls’ education because they have been “suffering the most”. She calls upon the world leaders to bring free and compulsory education around the world for every child.

To watch the powerful speech and find out how you can help in the campaign, visit Plan UK where you help by sponsoring a child today.

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Quick and easy veggie burger recipe

veggie burger recipe

I love a challenge, so when Cool Cookery asked me, if I would like to take part in their latest cooking challenge, I instantly jumped at the chance – I’m trying to become a domestic goddess, you know!? Their challenge was to create a recipe that consisted of at least two frozen ingredients and whoever knows me will be surprised that I didn’t go for a dessert. Believe me, I wanted too, but then I thought I;d love to make something seasonal. Something that is perfect for a warm summer’s day or night and something that can be prepared on the BBQ, because let’s face it, we love BBQs in the summer.

In the end, I thought I would share this quick and easy veggie burger recipe with you, so here we go:

Ingredients for 8 burgers

300 g frozen broccoli
300 g frozen cauliflower
300 g frozen carrots
300 g frozen sweetcorn
3 medium eggs
wholemeal oats
300 g grated cheddar cheese
dry parsley
salt
pepper
chilli flakes
some oil or alternative, I used Flora Cuisine
buns of your choice, I used pumpkin seed rolls

Method:

1. Boil your frozen veg for 3-4 minutes. Once cooked, drain, add eggs and puree.

2. Add whole grain oats and cheese to the pureed vegetable mix and stir until you have dough-like consistency.

3. Season your mix before forming burger shapes and frying them from both sides until golden brown.

4. Serve in a bun of your choice and salad as a side.

If you are a blogger and would like to enter this challenge just link to www.coolcookery.co.uk within your post and tweet @cool_cookery with your entry.

I was given payment to cover the costs of the ingredients.

Link up your recipe of the weekTasty Tuesdays
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Coronation Festival Cake – our Crowning Glory

coronation festival cake 1So, the phone rings and, amazingly, it is Buckingham Palace… “Hello, is that Fiona?  You remember the fabulous cake that you created for William and Kate’s wedding. Well, we were wondering if you might be able to put together something equally awe-inspiring to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation in 1953.”

Actually, it didn’t quite happen like that but imagine that was you who took the call and you had to sit down with a blank sheet of paper and design a celebratory cake worthy of such an illustrious occasion. Just what is involved? Where exactly would you start?

Well, as Royal Warrant holders for marzipan and almond products, we at Renshaw decided it would only be fitting if we commissioned Fiona Cairns, who really did design and make the Royal Wedding Cake, to go ahead and design, bake and decorate a creation for the Coronation Festival at the palace.

As you can see, the result was simply sensational:

coronation festival cake

You can imagine that this took several weeks of planning, as we first had to sit down with Fiona and toss around a multitude of ideas involving such elements as colour, technique and shape. It wasn’t long before she came back with the outline sketch that you see below…

coronation festival cake sketch

The hexagonal base and the four tiers above it clearly had to have both royal and coronation themes as well as pay homage to the four countries that comprise the realm.

It took Fiona and her team 3 days to put together the final creation and, when you examine the incredible detail, you can see why.

The base features the national emblems of England (Rose), N. Ireland (Shamrock), Scotland (Thistle) and Wales (Daffodil) as well as the diamond shaped Coronation Festival logo.

The second tier, decorated with marzipan leaves and roses, features the fleur de lys from the Queen’s Coronation Coach while the third tier was piped with intricate swag details and miniature delicate gold crowns.

The fourth tier displays a larger fleur de lys which features strongly in royal heraldry and is represented on the Queen’s crown.

Finally, the cake has been topped with real panache as a representation of the Queen’s Coronation orb, which has been adorned with edible gems in place of the sapphires, rubies and diamonds that encrusted the real version!

If you aspire to creating a majestic celebratory cake of your own, you can pick up some handy tips at www.renshawbaking.com

Disclosure: This post was brought to you by Renshaw and now I’m off to get myself some cake.

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The best beaches in Devon, Somerset and Cornwall

The best beaches in Devon, Somerset and CornwallFor the best beaches in the UK, look no further than the South West!

For many families, holidays are all about good times spent on the beach. And with the UK’s sunny weather being particularly unpredictable, you need to know exactly which beach to go to when the hot weather strikes. Here’s a breakdown of the best beaches in Somerset, Devon and Cornwall, so wherever you are in the south west this summer, you won’t miss out on a great day on the beach.

Bantham Beach, Devon

Bantham Beach is without a doubt the best all-round beach in Devon. Not only is it popular with families, it’s also popular with surfers and those who are looking for a little more adventure. The calmer, shallower area is perfect for children and with lifeguard cover from May to October, you can enjoy the beach all day knowing your family is safe.

The best thing is that dogs are allowed on the beach all year round so there’s no reason for your four-legged friends to miss out. It’s also just a short drive from Haven Devon Cliffs Holiday Park.

Weston-super-Mare, Somerset

The south west has been a popular family holiday destination for generations, and Weston-super-Mare has one of the best beaches in the country for families. It’s also one of the longest beaches in the UK – no wonder tourists flock back year after year to enjoy its golden sand.

And once you’ve built a few sandcastles and paddled in the sea, you can make the most of everything else that makes Weston-super-Mare a great British holiday resort. Donkey rides have been running there since 1886 and the beach also has its own nearby go-karts, miniature railway and aquarium. And with several holiday parks in Somerset to choose from, wherever you stay you won’t be far from the action.

Holywell Bay, Cornwall

For the best fun day out at the beach, look no further than Holywell Bay in Cornwall. Not only is this golden sandy beach perfect for boogie boarding and building sandcastles, there are also loads of games, rides and activities for you to take part in.

Trust us, one day at Holywell Bay will not be enough! Luckily, Perran Sands Holiday Park is just 15 minutes from Holywell Bay so you can go back as many times as you like.

Disclosure: This is a featured post.

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Things that are a waste of money, if you have a child

things you won't have money for, if you have a childHaving kids can be expensive. There are nappies, car seats, a pram and many more things to buy when you are expecting and raising a child, BUT there are also things that you don’t have to spend a single penny on, if you’ve got a two year old. Here are a few of them:

Gym membership

Absolutely overrated, expensive and unnecessary. Have you ever taken your two year old and their balance bike to the corner shop? I have and it left me sweatier than any spinning class. The 5 minute walk to the shop takes you half an hour, because your child wants to go a different way or says hello to every ladybird, bug and snail you’ll meet and once you are on your way back and loaded with shopping bags, child and bike don’t want to walk anymore. Believe me, carrying a 15kg child under one arm and shopping bags and balance bike under the other beats any gym workout.

Fancy clothes

Let’s face it, expensive clothing is a total waste of money once you’ve got a child to look after. It will take about 10 minutes until you are covered in snot, sick, milk or poo, sometimes even all of them at the same time, and if your child is anything like mine, your collar will be stretched and completely out of shape after only a couple of wears – Amy just loves to use it to climb up on me and I have quickly realised that it’s simple not worth crying over the death of an expensive top or pair of jeans.

Extreme sport adventures

You find your life boring and miss having an adrenaline kick every now and again? Abseiling or a sky dive would be nice? Don’t be silly, have you seen how much that costs? Just let your child run along the pavement in the posh part of town and feel the sweat break out when they scrape along the expensive cars lining the road. Your heart will beat quicker than ever before. Intermediates can also have a little sprint to try and reach the curb before their child hits the busy road. Wild water rafting won’t ever beat the adrenaline rush you’ll feel then.

Pilates and yoga sessions

Not that you’d have time for them anyway, but if you fancy a good old stretch, just take a close look at your child and follow their movements. You’ll soon find yourself with an extensive catalogue of exercises training not only your muscles, but also allowing you to show off crazy postures that will make even celebrity yoga instructors gasp for air.

Rhetoric seminars

You are worried about going back to work and think you’ve lost your sparkle? A rhetoric seminar will fix it? Put that credit card back in your purse or invest the money in some chocolate, because let’s face it: Convincing a toddler that broccoli is much better than pudding and brushing your teeth a necessity is a bigger challenge than presenting some sales numbers to the head of your department.

Did I miss anything? What have you stopped spending money on since having children? Do let me know in the comments below…

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The Practicalities of Sending Your Child to Summer Camp

summer campSending your child off to summer camp will undoubtedly fill them with joy and excitement at the prospect of being away from home for a week whilst making new friends and doing some fun activities. But for you it may fill you with dread at the thought of being without them for so long or the possibilities of things going wrong.

However, you don’t have to worry – there’s lots of information out there about sending your child to camp, and here are just a few of the practical things you should know before you wave them off.

Insurance

Summer camps should be treated like any other holiday and with that in mind you should get some insurance to cover your child when they are away.

Lots of sports insurance companies will offer cover for summer camps and the summer camp you’re sending your child to may even offer their own insurance at a special rate tailor made to the activities they offer.

Insurance will cover accidents, liabilities and personal possessions – things that your standard insurance may not cover because of the type of environment the summer camp entails.

Open days

Some summer camps will let you come and visit before you decide to send your children there, so if you have any worries you can pop along before making a final decision.

Whilst there is no formal regulatory body for summer camps in the UK, institutions such as Ofsted and the British Activity Holiday Association (BAHA) are used to perform checks and ratings on camps in the UK. Visit their websites to see their analysis and compare your chosen summer camps.

Packing

packing for summer campDon’t forget, your children will be doing a lot of practical activities so practical clothing will be needed. Pack plenty of clothes suitable for getting muddy and make sure they have lots, so they don’t need to worry about running out of clean clothes.

Don’t be tempted to pack anything valuable – the risk of it getting lost, damaged or stolen could be quite high, and they probably won’t need it. After all, they will be busy making new friends and doing new activities so packing their Nintendo DS or iPad might be a bit unnecessary.

Remember to advise staff if your child has any medical conditions. They’ll supervise your child’s medication intake and keep this information to hand in case of an emergency.

Getting there

Most parents will want to take their kids right to the door of summer camp, which is usually the most popular option.

However, for those without convenient transport or who live far away, some summer camps will arrange to pick up your children from local train stations near to the camp and drop them off there when camp is over.

Welfare issues

Everyone that works at the summer camp will be trained to deal with children’s concerns and worries. When your child arrives they will be given a team leader which will be their point of contact if they have any concerns or worries.

Most summer camps don’t allow the usage of mobile phones or other technology, meaning that your child is encouraged to go to a member of staff before contacting you. This means that cases of homesickness can be remedied a lot easier by staff that will encourage your child to join in.

Of course, if there is any major cause for concern, staff members will contact you, and similarly you can contact the camp if you feel there are any urgent issues.

Camp Beaumont, who has been running summer camps for over 30 years, has an extensive parents area on their website which outlines many of the common queries and problems parents may have before summer camp begins.

There’s also a forum and a detailed welcome pack that can be a great reference even if your child is attending a different camp.

Security

Most summer camps in the UK take place on school grounds, or grounds that are regulated like a school, meaning that all visitors must be accounted for and all members of staff must wear visible badges that affiliate them to the camp.

At night a team of staff will look after the camp, ensuring the children stay in their quarters and that no other security is compromised.

One of the best things you can do if you have any other queries is to simply contact the camp you’re sending your child to. Staff are friendly and have years of experience dealing with all kinds of children, so will be able to answer any questions you may have.

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Everything you need to know about women and shoes

Everyone knows how much women are said to love shoes, but does anyone really know how deep our love for high heels, flat pumps, heeled pumps, flip flops, Louboutin’s & Co really is? It seems so, because the infographic below gives a terrifyingly detailed insight into the female shoe cupboard and reveals facts even the biggest shoe lover might not have know.

Which fact do you find the most interesting or shocking?

Infographic_shoes