Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Virgin Birth?

On Saturday I became a CyberMummy which is miraculous considering I was a virgin to the blogging conference scene until that very moment.  It was a relatively pain-free birth, dare I say enjoyable even?  And akin to becoming a mother in the off-line world it afforded me not only good and not so good experiences totally out of my control and comfort zone but some new friends to boot.

I set off on the train for the 40 minute journey feeling strangely free, free of stuff (a feeling that wouldn't last long as you will soon see!), I had no buggy, no changing bag, the only requirements that needed to be met were my own!!!

I arrived at the venue, The Brewery (trying to think of some kind of piss-up in a brewery joke but it's not forthcoming), ironically in my working days (almost a decade behind me now) I used to work for the company that had its head office at The Brewery, it's a small world and all that.

I wandered around CyberMummy Central (an area where all the sponsor's stands and more importantly the cupcakes were located) 
and the P&G Recharge Room (where you could make an appointment to get your hair done or book a massage) and then headed off to CyberMummy1 
CyberMummy 1 filling up
for Sarah Brown's enlightening and entertaining keynote speech.

As well as the social and PR hook-ups there were four informative sessions being run and for each session you could choose from either the Panel Forum (Q and A sessions with experts in their relative fields), CyberLab (hints and tips on subjects from keeping your blog legal to social networking) or Workshop (on writing, photography and video blogging).

The highlight for me apart from the Crowdsourced Keynote speakers (amazing bloggers reading their own blog posts; funny and emotive to say the least), was finally getting to meet in the flesh all those avatars and twitter handles I've been chatting to all over the country for the past year.  All the advice says you should never meet people in the flesh that you meet over the internet as you'll end up in a body bag but the only bag I came into contact with was the HUGE one I had to lug to the station with all my freebies!!
My impressive haul
Sadly I didn't get to meet everyone I had intended to but that just gives me an excuse to attend next year and who knows maybe even stay over and join in with the out of hours fun too but it was really refreshing to be among like-minded souls to whom you don't have to explain what blogging is or apologize for twatting about on twitter whilst simultaneously holding a conversation and giving and receiving MooCards.

What have I learned?  Well, I know that I NEED an ipad as lugging a laptop around all day is no fun even if it is pink, I also learned that I still love blogging and CyberMummy has given me the impetus to make my blog better with all the hints and tips I picked up during the sessions but most of all it's also made my Google Reader and Twitter timeline a hell of a lot busier!!!

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Being A CyberMummy Hurts

These are my injuries

I have sustained these injuries from the amount of freebies that have been thrust at me at CyberMummy 2011.

I don't know how I'm going to get them all home at the end of the day (I'll need a seat on the train just for my stuff)!

CyberMummy 2011

I am here, blogging from the 2011 CyberMummy conference at The Brewery in London, already listened to some keynote speakers, including Sarah Brown 
Sarah Brown arriving at the venue
and I have been doing the rounds at the various sponsor stands grabbing my (many) freebies, seriously I don't know how I'm going to get all this stuff home!!!

I'm about to attend the first of a series of workshops that are running throughout the day which I hope will enable me to improve my blog, tall order I know but anything's possible.

Hopefully my battery will last out and I'll be able to update later!

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Cupcapers - Peppa Pig Cupcakes

The Right Family were invited to our friend's (The H's) daughter's second birthday barbecue last weekend and they'd attempted to spend the special day itself at Peppa Pig World (Miss H is a huge fan) but sadly halfway there they had to abandon the trip as the weather was horrific typically British.

I was saddened that Miss H had missed out on her special day visiting her fave porcine pal so I decided to knock up some Peppa Pig cupcakes for her party.

Here are the little swines
Linking up with Handmade Thursday over on White Lily Green, poke your snout into the other link-ups here
Inspire Me Beautiful

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Sleeping Beauty

I've previously posted that this has been a week of firsts for Missy, it's funny how toddlers go for weeks not doing much new to impress you then astound you by learning loads of new words or being able to do something that they couldn't a week before.

This week our little one seems to have grown up overnight, what with her new haircut that makes her look at least 2½ (she's 19 months now) and the constant 'please' when she wants something, she loves saying 'cheers' whenever she has a drink in her hand and Mr Right has taught her high five, knuckles and pleased to meet you with a handshake.  

Buster's been teaching her stuff too, he's been working on getting her to say and recognise oval shapes and I'm really proud of them both as she can do it and that's down to my boy.  She can also descend the stairs safely on her bottom (she's been climbing them at great speed for ages, which although we have stair gates has done little for my grey hairs!)

Anyway, the biggest first of this week has to be the fact that last night she slept in a big girl's bed for the first time AND she stayed there ALL night!!!  We had been preparing her for a few days asking her if she was going to sleep in a big girl's bed soon and I tried her in the bed for an afternoon nap but I have to say it wasn't a great success, the novelty of being able to get out of the bed was too much and I had to keep putting her back but eventually she got the hang of it and remained in the bed until it was time to get up, although she hadn't been to sleep at all.

We all made a big fuss of her and she seemed excited to show Mrs B, Buster and Mr Right her new bed although, that said, I have to admit I wasn't to hopeful of nocturnal success but I devised a new routine in which I sat her in the bed with her milk and Sir Francis Bacon (her pig teddy) and read her a nice story and told her that if she stayed in bed she could have the teddy with the light up belly (Belly Bear) in with her which she seemed to accept.  It took her a fair old while to drop off but to her credit she didn't get out of bed once and she stayed there until it was time to get up the following morning!!!!

She's been an absolute star and in recognition of this we bought her a talking Peppa Pig, which she insists on taking to bed with her too, along with Sir Francis, Belly Bear and Glo Worm, pretty soon there won't be enough room for her!
Our little sleeping beauty

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

No Regular Show

I have endured years of crap kid's tv with Buster and I find myself having to endure the same rubbish shows a second time round with Missy.  Thankfully there's one show that I actually look forward to (apart from Horrible Histories!) and it's great because thankfully Buster loves it too so I have an excuse to watch and laugh about it afterwards with him, it's called The Regular Show (on Cartoon Network) and it's anything but.  
Think Beavis and Butt-Head for kids.  The action revolves around a bue jay (Mordecai) and a racoon (Rigby) who are 23 year old slacker groundskeeper friends and follows their adventures in a surreal land.

There are so many great episodes it was tricky to pick one to illustrate just how wonderful this show is but here goes, enjoy!

Monday, 20 June 2011

Haircut 1

It's been a week of firsts for Missy, one of which being her first haircut.  The poor thing has been wandering around with her hair in her eyes for months now as I hate getting my hair cut and therefore hadn't booked an appointment for any of us but it was getting to the point where it had to be clipped out of the way just for her to be able to see where she's going and as her hair is fine and very straight the slides seem to do just that.

She also has a rather odd hairline, much like myself.  She has a crown at the top of her head where all her hair seems to emanate from and a high forehead but no apparent line in the middle where a fringe would finish and the hair on the top of her head would begin.  I too have this issue but my hair is curly and therefore I've never had a fringe.

Anyway we got to the hairdressers and unfortunately for Mr Right he had to take charge as my hair was being done at the same time.  He coped admirably as Missy can be a mardy moo at times but so long as she had a biscuit in her mitt throughout the procedure she was quite the co-operative model, apart from spinning her head around every few seconds because she could see me in the mirror which made the hairdresser's job of getting a straight fringe quite tricky!

It turned out really well in the end, although the fringe is quite blunt it's not wonky and doesn't make Missy look too institutionalised.  The hairdresser even packaged up some of the clippings for me to stick in her baby book which I thought was a nice touch.  Here she is getting her do done.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Cupcapers - Baby Cakes

Friends of ours, the G's, have just welcomed their third daughter into the world.  Knowing that Mrs G is more of a cake addict than even myself I decided to make some cupcakes to take along to our first meeting of Miss G Mark III.

I made some vanilla cupcakes in some pink paper cases, then covered the top of each cake in strawberry jam and laid a circle of flesh coloured ready-to-roll icing on top and decorated with ears, a nose, a kiss curl of hair and a pink dummy.  I used an edible ink pen for the eyes and here's the end result, baby cakes, almost as sweet as the new arrival herself.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Sterling Animation

A while back I was rambling about the fact that I don't watch much tv and then proceeded to tell you about Arrested Development, well I have another gem that I want to share with you, it's called Archer.  
It's an animated show aimed at adults about a spy agency and the motley crew of weirdos that work therein.  The show's namesake is Sterling Archer, he's a self-centred secret agent and works for his mother's spy agency (ISIS).

It's now well into its second season on Channel 5* but I urge you to check it out, although those of you with a sensitive nature should probably watch a video about some kittens instead of the one I have on this post, you have been warned!

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

VW Camping

Mr Right drew my attention to this little baby recently...

It's a 1:1 scale replica VW T1 Camper Van tent!  So much more fun than the usual run-of-the-mill four man jobbies and a hell of a lot easier to find in the middle of a festival field full of dome tents (although its desirability makes me wonder if it would still be there on your return from a day watching bands).  

It's available (from August) in blue, red or yellow from Firebox and costs £299.99, pricey but still far cheaper than the real thing and the great thing is you don't have to MOT, tax, insure or put any fuel in it! 

PS - Loved the comment on the Firebox website under 'More Info' 'Please note this product is NOT an actual VW van!'


Monday, 13 June 2011

Cupcapers - Mint Choc Chip Cupcakes

Miss L had mentioned on Facebook that she was making some Mint Choc Chip cupcakes and as usual my addictive personality wouldn't let it lie so I simply had to nip that craving in the bud from the off.

I made a basic chocolate sponge recipe and chopped up an Aero bar and mixed the resulting rubble into the batter before baking.

Once the cupcakes had cooled I made a mint flavoured/coloured buttercream icing, now I was a bit trepidatious about using mint flavouring as I had a disgusting Peppermint Cream making incident at junior school where far too much mint extract found its way into the mixture and the resulting sweets tasted like mouthwash and quite literally took your breath away so this time I spent ages adding a drop at a time until it was just right.

The cakes are amazing, they taste just like a Mint Choc Chip Cornetto but in cake form (ideal as a replacement in the winter, or indeed the current British summer).
I think next time I'll make the icing slightly greener as the delicate pistachio shade doesn't really come across too well in the pictures but I was wary of ending up with cakes that looked like they were topped with mushy peas or Shrek snot!

Thursday, 9 June 2011


I retrieved Buster's old box of Play-Doh pots and tools from the loft the other day.
After a couple of years up there I expected the dough itself to have dried out but to my purse's joy the majority of it was fine.  So I popped an apron on Missy and shoved her in her highchair in the kitchen (I'm no fool, or so I thought, I've done this Play-Doh lark before!) and let her get on with it.

Between trying to stop her eating it and mixing the colours I was having OCD related heart failure.

Let me impart my findings from this exercise, some play dos and play dohn'ts if you will for like-minded OCD suffers like myself

  • Sit your child in their high chair, this eliminates roaming and thus greatly reduces the area of devastation
  • Site said high chair on a wipe-clean floor, have you ever tried getting Play-Doh out of the pile of a carpet?
  • Put your child in an apron, Play-Doh on clothes is almost as bad as on carpets
  • Put your child's hair up, PlayDoh in hair is no fun, especially if you child is not a fan of having their hair brushed at the best of times
  • No jewellery, nobody wants Play-Doh stuck in their u-hum ring
  • If you don't want the colour choices next time you get the Play-Doh out to be brown, brown or brown I advise sticking to a single colour at a time
  • Watch your child like a hawk, if they're not trying to stab themselves in the eye with a modelling tool the sweet smell of the Play-Doh will tell them that this is food, no matter how many times you assure them it isn't
  • Keep the Play-Doh away from the general toy population, you don't want to discover your little one has decided that the stuff smells so yummy that dolly and her friends might like to eat some too
  • Keep dogs away, in my experience they too think it's food.

That all said I'm not a complete Play-Doh nazi and Missy had a great time and was amazed that I could make it into different shapes and then make those shapes disappear back into the dough.

She loved the feel of it
learnt some new skills in rolling it out
making imprints with her fingers
using stampers
using cutters
and tools
She improved her fine motor skills
oh and did I mention that children will try to eat it at every opportunity?

Monday, 6 June 2011

This Week's Junk Shop Jewels

I've been out and about on various tat-quests this week, some alone and some with the lovely Mrs D.  Here's what I dragged home

First up some more hangers for Missy's wardrobe (she seems to need an ever-lasting supply) for 70p
Six cake forks for £2.00, they're quite plain but I liked the little star pattern over the handles
Seven scalloped spoons for £2.50
Some decorative braid and fringing for £1, there's about 6 or 7 metres of the pink!!!
White sugar bowl and milk jug with gold bamboo-like decoration 50p each
Little blue cameo £3
Crochet dolly brooch £2.50
Mrs D spotted this lovely brooch on a recent charity shop tour with her mum and knowing my love of flamingos purchased it for me (thanks sweets!)
Linking up with Magpie Monday over on Me And My Shadow, go take a peep.

Me and My Shadow

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Cupcapers - Chocolate Mousse Cupcakes

Last week I purchased a cupcake book (like I need another one) and some new jeans.  If I continue to use the former as much as I think I will then the latter won't fit me for very long!

The book I bought for the bargain price of £4 was Cupcakes Galore
by Gail Wagman, here she is looking rather festive (not sure if the outfit is compulsory whilst baking from the book or not but I'm still working on my version for next time)
Anyway the first recipe I decided to make from the book was the Chocolate Mousse Cupcakes
Gail's beauties
They are light and airy chocolate cupcakes 
My cakes fresh out the oven
with the most devine chocolate topping imaginable.  The topping is made by setting aside half the cake mix before adding the flour and it becomes a mousse which you smear atop the cooled cupcakes and cover in grated chocolate and chocolate strands for decoration, although I substituted the grated chocolate for Charbonnel et Walker Chocolate Drink because that's basically what it is I'm lazy.
My attempt, not bad considering I didn't don the outfit!
The topping tastes like a kind of chocolate fudge and is, quite frankly, amazing.

I decided to make a cake version as we were getting together for a cycle ride with the D's at the weekend and I thought it would be an ideal treat to take along to their house for after, it's not much in the looks department but it was still as yummy as the cupcake version and will, I'm sure, become a firm favourite in the Right house.

Friday, 3 June 2011

I Have Arrested Development

There's not a lot that I actually watch on TV so imagine my disappointment when I discovered that Sky+ had decided to throw a hissy fit last weekend and neglected to record my beloved Arrested Development, then imagine my joy when these babies arrived in the post for me.
The ever-thoughtful Mr Right had taken on board my plight was fed up of listening to me whinge about my 'loss' and ordered the entire three series on DVD for me to watch over and over and over again (and believe me I will).

Sadly I couldn't find a You Tube clip that summed up Arrested Development perfectly but this should give you a little taster

Not only is it the funniest thing on TV (FX) at the moment (apart from Archer, but that's a whole other post) but it has a stellar cast including Jason Bateman, Portia de Rossi, Will Arnett and Michael Cera, not to mention a host of cameo appearances by huge names like Liza Minnelli and Henry Winkler plus a wonderful uncredited narration by Ron Howard
Unfortunately they only made three seasons before it was canned but I live in hope that perpetual rumours of a movie are true so I can once again enjoy the Bluth's company on the big screen.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Cakey, Cakey! - Almond Addiction

I had been reminded at a dinner with my family a couple of weeks ago about Sunday tea times at my Oma (Dutch for Grandmother) and Opa's (Dutch for Grandfather) house.  They had these crystal jars that used to come out along with the tea and coffee and each one contained a different treat, sometimes there would be Shortbread Fingers or Tunnocks Caramel Wafers or Party Rings or Ginger Thins but every single time one of the jars would contain some Dutch Almond Fingers. 
Sadly at the time of the conversation I couldn't track down a recipe for the proper thing so I made some Almond Slices to satisfy my craving, here they are, a pastry style base with a smearing of jam and a light egg-white and almond topping, but not enough to stop me pining after the real thing.
Finally after a lot of internet searching I found a suitable recipe for the genuine article (Gevulde Kanos), which consist of a pastry base filled with an almond paste
topped with a pastry lid and a whole almond for decoration
I made a huge batch of them
and some mini ones as an experiment
I even had enough pastry left over to make some jam and lemon curd tarts
So this little lot is what we've had to plough our way through this week
And plough our way through we have (minus a few for friends), they are delicious, Mr Right informs me Gevalde are in the top five cakes I've made (high praise indeed).  Unfortunately Buster isn't much of a fan, I don't think the Dutch genes are very strong within him as he doesn't seem to like any treats from Holland that I make or buy, but Missy loved them and kept stopping to say 'mmmm' after every bite!
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