Wednesday, 27 August 2014

#BeebiesBakeOff - Week 4 and the Giant Jam Tart

Hi Everyone, so it's Wednesday once more and that can only mean one thing! It's Bake off day! In case you missed it, last week Caroline shared her top tips for baking with littlies and we had a chance to win one of these fab Chocolate Giggles Sets.

After being randomly selected, I can announce that the winner of last weeks #BeebieBakeOff prize is...
I'll be in touch to get your details! :) 

Remember last week I sent you off to take a look at this recipe by Baking  Mad? Well this week, we've given it a little twist and instead of making individual mini jam tarts, we've made a GIANT one!

This recipe is really easy and perfect for serving warm Autumnal evening topped with custard or ice cream or cold for an afternoon treat or lunchbox snack.



Here's how we made it...

Ingredients
300g of plain white flour
150g of unrefined golden caster sugar
1 egg yolk
1.5 jars of jam (we've used both apricot & strawberry)

Step 2. Add the butter and the flour together in a bowl and rub the butter in until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Step 3. Stir in the sugar and add the egg yolk along with 5tbsp of cold water. Mix together with a spatula or palette knife until the mixture becomes a dough.

Step 4. Knead your dough until smooth and chill in the fridge for 15-20 minutes

Step 5. Flour your surface and roll out your dough to around a 3mm thickness. Make sure your dough is wide and long enough to cover the bottom & sides of your tray.

Step 6.  Grease your tray and line it with your dough, cutting off any excess around the edges. Don't through away your excess! You'll need this later.

Step 7. Now for the bit your littlies will love! Empty your jars of jam into your pastry tray, spreading evenly across to ensure full coverage. We used two flavour jams, as not everyone here likes strawberry.

Step 8. Remember those excess bits of pasty? Combine them into a ball and roll out on a floured surface. Using biscuit cutters, cut out shapes of your choice and place them on the top of the jam for decoration.

Step 9. Place in the oven for 20 minutes or until the pastry has turned golden brown. Leave to cool for a little while before serving as the jam will be extremely hot!

And Ta-Da! There you have it, your Giant Jam Tart.


















What have you been baking this week? Don't forget to link up below and you could win one of these Sweetpea Pantry Playful Pizza Dough baking kits!


Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Activity Corner - Easy & Educational Activities for under 5's

Hello! I’m Rachel, and one of Beebies Ambassadors. I am also mummy to two little boys (and another on the way!). I used to be a primary school teacher and have a love of learning through play. Every fortnight, I will be sharing activities and crafts aimed at under five’s, that are not also great fun but encourage learning in some way.
To give you a taste of what to expect, here are some of our favourite activities so far!

Name Rockets


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We still have these rockets up on the wall in our playroom/dining room now. It was an incredibly simple activity. First of all, we blobbed paint onto black paper to make stars. I had written the letters of their name on little squares of paper, and had written their name on a big piece of paper. They had to find the letters and stick them down in the right order. This activity was perfect for name and letter recognition, but can also be used to talk about shapes (we used squares and triangles) and colours.

Playdough and Pasta


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This was one of the first ever ‘invitations to play’ we did, way before I started blogging but one we go back to on a regular basis. The resources needed are minimal – playdough, dried spaghetti and dried pasta tubes. You can also use cheerios. I literally left the resources on the table and left them to it – within no time they were sticking the spaghetti into the playdough and threading cheerios and pasta on. An excellent activity for practising those all important fine motor skills!

Colour Sorting and Recognition

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All we needed for this activity, which focuses on recognising and sorting colour, is a piece of paper divided up and a selection of coloured stickers. The kids put the stickers in the right box depending on the colour. They absolutely loved this, and we’ve done it several times now. This could be adapted in many ways as well – you could sort according to shape or size instead of colour.

Hopefully this has given you a taste of things to come - come back for more ideas soon!

Friday, 22 August 2014

This week we love...

Here at Beebies we love to read what's going on with your growing family. This week we have been cooing over your lovely newborns on twitter and catching up with some gorgeous new arrivals. Here we've picked our top 5 blogs featuring gorgeous babas under 3 months old! 

First up is Amy's great post about the all important fourth trimester - we all know how important is is to form a bond with baby during those first precious months but what about some time to just look after yourself too. We totally agree that mamas need looking after too so make sure you accept any help going and why not save for little things like take out and a cleaner for those first few weeks. It really can take that feeling of pressure off.



Second up isn't a new baby post but actually we feel it has some great underlying tips for the new dads among you. This post from MummyDaddyMe shows the precious bond between daddy and children. It's not just all about mum after all. Special bonding time is needed for our partners too. From skin to skin when baby is born to allocated daddy time it's key to settle this is as soon as you can. A simple cuddle time while a new mama takes a much needed soak in the tub means dad gets dedicated time without baba rooting for a breastfeed (I'm sure baby can smell me from 100ft away ;))



We couldn't have a round up without including our very special friend and Beebies Ambassador Jennie's new arrival. Beautiful Baby Bea arrived last week and we couldn't be more thrilled. Excited to see how this beautiful rainbow grows and of course take advantage of any cuddles on offer!



Nicola is so honest in this post  in how she feels now she is a mum of 2. Those first few weeks are so daunting, scary, exciting and new. It sounds like it's all go but she sums it up really well when she explains that she's lucky. I have to admit I feel the same. Parenting 2 feels really different but also I can agree with Nicola that as much as you feel exhausted, frazzled and a bit dis organised there is something very grounding about being a parent to two.



And finally we are loving catching up with the dadventur, with his video of 204 days of pregnancy  It's so important to make sure special moments are captured and we can't wait to see what else he has in store as baby grows!




So how are you documenting those special early days? And most importantly look after yourself! Time is precious ! Go make memories!


With thanks to Chelle McCann for her contributions to this weeks post. 

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Mummy Fashion - Comfort, Practicality & Style Tips

Hi everyone! I'm Kerry and I blog over at LivedWithLove as well as being a Beebies Ambassador. I am going to be focusing my posts on Fashion for Mums & Kids here at Beebies.

Just because you have become a Mum, it doesn't mean you have to change your fashion style or lose it altogether. It can be tempting to just shove on the nearest, comfiest items in the morning when you're tired and not thinking straight, but with a little thought and prep, dressing well can be that easy too. 

Here are my top tips to stay fashionable as well as comfortable and practical.


1. Invest in some comfortable but fashionable jeans.


Jeans are most mums go-to item as they are so easy to wear but they can be fashionable too. Be sure to get some you are comfortable in and that fit well, don't try and hide in baggier jeans, they will only make you look bigger. Also try and go for a more fashionable pair of jeans, maybe try the ripped jean look or some with a discreet pattern on, something that makes them a little more interesting and fashionable than regular jeans. 

2. Dresses are comfortable too.


Dresses seem to be a no-go for many mums as they don't feel comfortable in them but to flatter any lumps and bumps, go for shift style dresses; they suit almost every shape and size. They are cool and comfy in the Summer and fashionable at the same time. If you feel they are a bit too shapeless, add a belt to pull it in a bit at the waste, it will create some shape but still be flattering to the other areas. Team with some sensible flat sandals and you're ready to go!

3. Mix and match.


Something I love to do is mix and match items that seem opposite. So a smarter skirt with a more casual top and vice versa. The clash is very fashionable but you can also make the outfit a lot more suitable to your style and comfort needs. Above is an outfit I wore when we went to Peppa Pig world with Sienna; I needed to be comfortable walking round all day but it was quite warm as well. The smarter style skirt is something I rarely wear but teamed with the casual t-shirt and denim jacket, it made for the perfect day time outfit that was a nice change from jeans. The skirt kept me cool all day but was long enough to be comfortable and keep my modesty as a Mum!

So there's my top tips, I hope they helped and have given you some confidence to try and get some style into your mummy wardrobe! 

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

#BeebiesBakeOff - Weeks 2 & 3

So with all of the blog moving palarva of last week, our Beebies Bake off post went unpublished *very sad face*. But this week we're back with a bang with two fabulous features for today's baking blog. Firstly, the very lovely Caroline from Cakes, Corks and Kids joins us to tell us more about her love of cakes and shares her tips on baking with tots. 

Those of you that follow me on social media may know that I have a couple of different ‘hats’ so to speak.  As well as writing Cakes, Corks and Kids, a parenting/lifestyle blog, and being a Beebies Baby Store ambassador I also run a cake business called Cotswold Cupcakes. 

So, as part of  #beebiesbakeoff this week I thought I’d share my top tips when it comes to baking with kids.  When I’m baking for a customer I always keep the kids out of the way but I don’t want them to grow up not wanting or not knowing how to bake so I make sure I set aside time with them to do some mini bakes. 



That leads me quite well into my first tip – make the bakes mini, uncomplicated and avoid long lists of ingredients.  My kids are aged 5 and 2 and have an attention span of about 20 minutes when it comes to baking, after this time they’re wondering off and generally getting restless.  Cookies, cupcakes and biscuits are always popular, especially because of the endless possibilities when it comes to decorating them.  But don’t forget, baking’s not just about cake (ssshhh…don’t tell my customers that), how about some simple savoury bakes such as; sausage rolls, mini pizzas or cheese and sun ripened tomato muffins?  All the above are adaptable whatever your budget and whether or not you choose to eat meat. 
My kids adore making sausage rolls; we can then have them in the evening for our dinner or pack them up for a picnic at the weekend. 

What I love about baking with kids is how inquisitive they are, they just want to touch everything as it’s all new and inviting for little fingers.  So, why not make it a real sensory activity by choosing a recipe such as scones where the butter must be rubbed into the flour to make breadcrumbs, this is sure to keep your mini mes out of trouble for a while! 

Preparing the kids for a morning in the kitchen is not only important but can be lots of fun too.  Besides doing the obvious things such as tying back long hair and washing hands, you can ensure they look and feel the part with a chef’s hat and mini apron.  With all the fun and colourful kids utensils available now you’ll have a hard job getting them out of the kitchen!  I love that these baking kits from the Sweet Pea Pantry come with mini mixing bowls and whisks – great for little hands! There’s a whole host of kits available – just head over to Beebies Baby Store to find one that suits you and your minis! 




I don’t want to harp on about health and safety too much but when the kids were younger, we used to have a sign on the oven door with a picture of a fire on it and the word ‘HOT’.  We found it really helped them to understand that the oven was dangerous and they weren’t to touch it. 
Logan, my eldest, loves anything to do with numbers so he’s always my chief weigher. We get all the ingredients out and stand together weighing them, Logan shouts “stop!” when we get to the desired number.  Having everything weighed out really is a lifesaver when baking with kids as any break in proceedings can easily lead them to distraction. As you go through the recipe, make sure you explain what you’re doing, for example; explain why we add flour to the surface before we roll pastry or why we line baking tins.  It’s these little titbits of knowledge that they’ll carry forward into adulthood. 



I hope you’ve enjoyed reading some of my tips; I could go on and on!  If you’d like any help with baking, cake decorating or a quote for a cake just get in touch cotswoldcupcakes@gmail.com 





Secondly, we've been checking out bakingmad.com for some great baking inspiration for you to enjoy with your littlies. They've some really great 20-30 minute baking activities especially designed for little ones. Plus, if you sign up to their newsletter you can access all sorts of exclusive features. I'd thoroughly recommend you take a visit and check them out for yourself... Go on! I'm off to bake these... 


Have you been baking with your tots this week? Link up below for your chance to win a Sweetpea Pantry Chocolate Giggles baking kit! 





Cloth Nappy Clinic - Beginners Guide


Hello, I am Kelly and I'm one of Beebies' two Cloth Nappy Experts. Each fortnight, Debs & I will be sharing our tips and tricks and answering all of your fluffy bum questions. 


Cloth nappies, pretty scary when you've never used them. With so many different brands and types it's hard to know where to start. Hopefully this post will give you enough knowledge to to be able to pick a few nappies to try. If I've missed anything that you specifically want to know, then please leave me a comment below. 

Nappy Brands
This like food, is down to personal preference. Most brands stock most nappy types so it's just a case of finding what works for you. We use a mix of about six nappy brands regularly but own many more. 

Nappy Type
Now this is where people get confused, but bear with me because it's honestly easy :-) 
Pocket nappies are super easy to use. They come with either one or two inserts that literally just get stuffed in the nappy pocket. Some brands open at the front but most, like the Baba & Boo Range at Beebies, open at the back. 
Pirate Pocket Nappy from the Baba & Boo range.
AIO stands for an all in one nappy, this is a nappy where you have no separate inserts or cover to worry about. 
AI2 is an all in two nappy, normally this means that the booster comes unattached. This can make drying easier. 
Two part nappy, some nappies need a separate wrap to make them watertight. These are ofter referred to as "two parters" they make fantastic night nappies, some use during the day but they are a lot bulkier then other fitted nappies.  
Hybrid. This is a nappy shaped like a fitted but requires no wrap. 
Terry nappies. Yes you can still buy these and are very cheep, they need a wrap. 
Prefold. Similar to terries, these you fold into a nappy shape and also need a wrap. 

Nappy Size
You can buy them in either sized, so newborn, size one and two etc. small, medium, large doping on the brand. Or you can buy what's known as BTP, which stands for birth to potty. In my experience they don't fit from birth, they start fitting at around 8 weeks depending on the size of baby. But these are a great way of keeping costs down as you don't need to buy the next size up. They will have a set of popper on the front which you use to make the nappy larger or smaller. 

Boosters/Liners
People often get confused between the two. A booster absorbs urine, a liner lets urine through but catches poo. You can get boosters in a mix of materials including microfibre, cotton, bamboo, hemp and charcoal. Liners can be either disposable, or made from fleece. Personally I love fleece as it keeps the baby completely dry, you wash these with the nappies and reuse. 

How do you wash them?
You'll need either a dedicated nappy bin or bag to keep the dirty ones in, and a wetbag to use when out and about. Chuck the dirty nappies in the bin/bag until ready to wash. Before baby is weaned poo will come off easily using the shower head over the toilet, once weaned it tends to just roll off! 
So no poo goes Into the machine, I know people always ask about this! Breast milk poo can go straight in the machine if you like, I personally rinsed them all down the loo first. I was every two days, how often you wash can depend on how many nappies you own or how big your bucket is. 
You never use fabric conditioner as this will reduce their absorbency, and you only use half the recommended dose of powder. You can use bio or non bio, that's personal preference but it must be powder unless using a dedicated nappy liquid. Always do a cold rinse before washing to help lift stains, I then wash all mine on a 40 degree wash using a nappy sanitiser. If I didn't use a sanitiser I would wash at 60.

So there you have it, all the basics on how to choose the right cloth nappy for you. 

Don't forget to pop any questions you might have below and we'll try to answer them in the next Cloth Nappy Clinic. For live support, tweet @beebiesbabystor with #clothnappyclinic and we'll get back to you asap.  

Catch up soon x 

Saturday, 16 August 2014

New Arrivals & Enchanted Interiors Giveaway

It's been busy with lots of new arrivals rolling in at Beebies this week, so I thought I'd give you a little bit of a round up about what's coming in and what's going out.

We're really excited to announce the arrival of more Rock it Tots designs to the Beebies clothing range. We are totally head over heels in love with this quirky little brand who never fail to make me smile with their fabulous slogans! This week, I particularly like this twin set of baby grows!





Peppa Pig is slowly but surely taking over our activity toys section! This week we've added these super cute Peppa themed weeble sets. There's a car, a train and a rockin' rocket set, all complete with their own  wobbly Peppa figure.




Hippychick Hipseats are the latest addition to our ever growing range of baby carriers. It's a back supporting belt, with an itegral padded foam shelf, developed to allow adults to carry their children naturally on their hip without the usual strains on the back.

We've added some beautiful new occasion dresses to the maternity range this week, if you're pregnant and off to a wedding or a doo, you must take a look! Beebies Ambassador, Rachel, is already eyeing up this glitzy number in preparation for the party season!



I'm really excited about this next addition. We're teaming up with Enchanted Interiors to bring you beautiful nursery decorations and wall decalls which are sure to make you smile. To celebrate we're offering you the chance to win this  “Love You to the Moon & Back” Nursery Wall Sticker quote. See below for more details. 





Sadly once August is up, we'll be waving the beautiful Bibs & Bobs Summer dresses and shorts goodbye as we prepare to stock up for the Autumn months. You will have until 31st August to get your orders in for these items, so don't delay - they really are perfect for a sunshine holiday!



That's it for this week, but be sure to check back next week for more new arrivals and your chance to grab a bargain or two....

Til then, don't forget to enter this weeks competition below! Good Luck!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Ts&Cs
UK entries ONLY.
All actions must be complete for your entry to count.
The winner will be announced on Saturday 23rd August here on the Beebies Blog.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

#BeebiesBakeOff

World Breast Feeding Week - Top Tips from Lindsey Middlemiss

It's World Breast Feeding Week this week, and here doula Lindsey, other wise known as @NewburyDoula shares some valuable advice for a successful breast feeding experience. 



How you choose to feed your baby can be one of the most fraught and emotionally charged decisions you will ever make as a parent. Most (81%) of new mums in the UK choose to initiate breastfeeding, but only 1% of UK babies are exclusively breastfed at 6 months old.

The recommendations based on quality information are clear. Babies should be exclusively breastfed until they are 6 months old, with breastfeeding then continuing alongside the introduction of solid foods for as long as mum and baby both want, ideally until at least 2 years

Not breastfeeding exclusively increases the chances that your baby will get ill and be hospitalised for illness. Plus, the longer a mum breastfeeds for, the more her risk of getting breast or ovarian cancer in later life decreases.

Breastfeeding is the physiological norm for human babies, but it doesn't always come naturally. So what can you do to help yourself?

Get your partner on board.
Mums whose partners are fully supportive of their choice to breastfeed are far more likely to successfully establish breastfeeding and achieve their breastfeeding goals. Information for dads/partners:http://kellymom.com/pregnancy/bf-prep/bf-links-father/

Educate yourself and your partner.
Antenatal education about breastfeeding can be absolutely key, because so many new mums in the UK do not grow up seeing breastfeeding and having it as a normal part of their family life. Unhelpful myths about breastfeeding abound and can be found in many parenting books and magazines. You'll need to help to debunk all of that. Many areas have breastfeeding classes available on the NHS, or contact the NCT, the BfN or your local breastfeeding counsellors, lactation consultants or doulas.

Learn about who will be supporting you. A lot of new parents assume that all the healthcare professionals they come in contact with will be knowledgeable about breastfeeding support. Sadly that's not always the case, so learn about the different roles and qualifications in breastfeeding support. A Who's Who of breastfeeding support:http://maddiemcmahon.com/2011/09/11/what-are-your-breastfeeding-helpers-credentials/

Get good support. Stick the number for the National Breastfeeding Helpline, the NCT Helpline and the LLL Helpline to your fridge and make sure your partner knows what they are - and that they can call too! Find your local drop-ins run by trained staff and volunteers - the NCT, BfN and ABM websites are great places to start - go along before baby arrives, get to know the people running the drop-in and find out all you can about local support options, including the local lactation consultants, breastfeeding counsellors and doulas who do private breastfeeding support in your own home.

Consider hiring a doula, either for birth and/or postnatally. Mums who are supported by a doula are far more likely to establish breastfeeding successfully. A birth doula will also help support you antenatally, and may be able to help you have a positive birth experience (always a great way to start your breastfeeding journey!). A postnatal doula will provide flexible emotional and practical support in your home and can be booked before baby arrives. Consider it an investment in your start to parenting!

Lindsey also writes about how 'Breast is not always Best' over at www.newburydoula.co.uk, as well as sharing advice on Post Natal Depression, Birth Plans and more. 



Resources:
National Breastfeeding Helpline 0300 100 0212 Association of Breastfeeding Mothers (ABM):  Breastfeeding Network (BfN) Doula UK NCT

Thank you to Jennie at Edspire.co.uk for allowing us to use her photograph above. You can follow her breastfeeding journey here

#BeebiesBakeOff - Golden Star CupCakes

So it's here! The Great British Bake Off returns to our screens this evening and has been bumped up to BBC1. 

This evening also makrs the beginning of the #BeebiesBakeOff. We will be sharing some fab tips, tricks & recipes for baking with & for kids and hosting a weekly competition for you and your littlies to join in with. 



All you have to do is post a link below to your recipe or baking tale and we'll choose our favourite each week. The winner will be announced the following Wednesday right here on the Beebies blog and will receive a lovely prize to help them & their tot on their way to some more baking fun! 

This week I thought I'd share our recipe for the fabulous Gold Star cakes we made for the Beebies picnic a few weeks ago. 


You will need
·         110g/4oz butter or margarine, softened at room temperature
·         110g/4oz caster sugar
·         2 free-range eggs, lightly beaten
·         1 tsp vanilla extract
·         110g/4oz self-raising flour
·         1-2 tbsp milk
·         1 pack of Dr Oetker Giant chocolate stars
·         1 bar of white chocolate
·         1 can of Dr Oetker Golden Shimmer Spray


1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases.
2. Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl until pale. Beat in the eggs a little at a time and stir in the vanilla extract.
3. Fold in the flour using a large metal spoon, adding a little milk until the mixture is of a dropping consistency. Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until they are half full.
4. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until golden-brown on top and a skewer inserted into one of the cakes comes out clean. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes, then remove from the tin and cool on a wire rack.
5. While the cakes are cooling. lay the chocolate stars out on a sheet of kitchen towel. Spray the stars with the shimmer spray. It may take a few layers. 
6. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of boiling water. Once fully melted, using a fork drizzle the white chocolate over the top of each cake. Add a golden star on top and hey presto! 

If you've any chocolate left over, why not task your tot with dipping some gold sprayed marshmallows and covering them with sprinkles? It's so much fun! 

What have you been baking this week? Tell us below for your chance to win one of these Sweetpea Pantry Chocolate Giggles Baking kits! And don't forget to tweet us your links to using #BeebiesBakeOff. 


Ts & Cs 
UK entries only
Beebies baby store are liable for competition prizes and will be in touch to deliver your prize within 7 working days
All entries must be made before midnight on Tuesday 12th August 2014 for this weeks competition.