Easter Gift Ideas with Funky Giraffe

Next up in my Easter gift guide are a company that I love - Funky Giraffe.

Funky Giraffe sell gorgeous baby bibs, scratch mitts, socks and burp cloths in many designs. You are sure to find something that you will love. They have two beautiful designs which are perfect for Easter and Spring in general - Grey Rabbit and Blue Hello Daff.


The bibs are both in a bandana shape which means it fits tightly around your child's neck ensuring that their necks don't get covered in drool!

You can tell just by feeling them that they are great quality. The designs are, as the namesake says, funky and they make any outfit pop. The fleece underlayer really helps absorb liquids so that clothes don't get ruined. They have popper fasteners so you don't need to worry about your child pulling them off!



The Funky Giraffe bibs retail at £4 each but can be less depending on how many you buy. You can find out more or browse the range of bibs at the Funky Giraffe website. You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

(Disclaimer: We received these bibs for the purpose of this post).





Easter Gift Ideas from The Cuddle Company

With E only being six months old, it's been quite tough to find Easter gifts suitable for her age.

The Cuddle Company have some lovely items which would make perfect gifts for little ones this Easter.

The Cuddle Cubbie lamb is absolutely adorable! They are 15" tall, fully washable and have a removable stuffing pod. They retail at £21.99 and you can even personalise the tummy for free!



If that's not your style or maybe you have a younger baby, you can also choose one of their Taggiez.

Taggiez are comfort blankets for babies with little ribbon tags around the outside. E loves playing with tags so it is perfect for her.

You can choose which fabrics you'd like and even personalise it with a name. There are so many designs to choose from which makes it perfect for a boy or girl.




The fabrics are so soft. We received Fuchsia Dimple Dot and Flutterby Ivory and I think it is so beautiful. Her name is stitched perfectly and E hasn't had it out of her hands since we received it.




The Design Your Own Taggiez retail at £11.99.

You can find out more about The Cuddle Company at their website or you can follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

(Disclaimer: I received a Taggiez for the purpose of this post).




Easter Recipes with Dr Oetker

I love Easter. I love making a big day of it and having a little party for the kids. If you're interested in doing the same here are a few recipes from Dr Oetker which are sure to impress (Sharing Bread, Easter Rabbit Red Velvet Truffles, Rose & Lemon Fondant Fancies, Chocolate Slab and Marzipan Chirpy Chick Truffles)!


Sharing Bread

Preparation time: 30 minutes plus proving, cooling and setting
Cooking time: 35 minutes

Ingredients:
500g pack white bread mix
Plain flour for dusting
100g pack Dr Oetker Extra Dark Chocolate Chunks
100g (3½oz) dried apricots, chopped
100g (3½oz) Dr Oetker Natural Marzipan, chopped
1 sachet Dr Oetker Egg White Powder

To decorate:
50g (2oz) icing sugar
A few drops Dr Oetker Moroccan Almond Extract 
15ml (1 tbsp) toasted flaked almonds

Method:
1. To make up the bread, mix with water according to the pack instructions and knead and rest as directed.

2. Put the dough back in a mixing bowl, press down the top with your knuckles to make a pit and add the Chocolate Chunks, apricots and Marzipan. Use your hands to squeeze and twist the ingredients into the dough until they are evenly distributed – this will take about 5 minutes.

3. Turn on to a lightly floured surface, knead gently for 1 minute then shape the dough into an approx. 50cm (20inch) long sausage. Twist like a rope and shape into an approx. 20cm (8inch) wide ring by bringing the two ends of the dough together and pinching them to seal.

4. Line a baking tray with baking paper and carefully transfer the dough ring on to the tray. Cover with a piece of cling film brushed lightly with vegetable oil and leave to prove in a warm place until doubled in size – between 45 minutes and 1 hour.

5. Ten minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan oven, 400°F, gas 6). Make up the Egg White Powder according to the pack instructions. Discard the cling film from the dough, and brush the dough with egg white. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 180°C (160°C fan oven, °F, gas 4) and bake for a further 15 minutes until richly golden and hollow-sounding when tapped underneath. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

6. To decorate, sift the icing sugar into a bowl. Add a few drops of Almond Extract and 5-10ml (1-2 tsp) warm water to make a smooth, drizzling icing. Spoon over the top of the bread and sprinkle with toasted almonds. Leave for a few minutes to set before serving.

Tip: This bread is best served and eaten within two days of baking.

--

Easter Rabbit Red Velvet Truffles

Preparation time: 1 hour plus cooling, drying and chilling
Cooking time: 5 minutes to melt the chocolate 

Ingredients: 
50g (2oz) Dr. Oetker White Fine Cook’s Chocolate 
100g (3½oz) plain cake crumbs 
30ml (2 tbsp) seedless raspberry jam 
Dr. Oetker Bright Red Gel Food Colour 

To decorate: 
Icing sugar to dust 
300g (10oz) Dr. Oetker Ready to Roll Regal-Ice White Icing 
Dr. Oetker Hot Pink and Jet Black Gel Food Colours 

Method:
1. To make the truffles, break the White Chocolate into a small heatproof bowl and place over a saucepan of barely simmering water to melt. Remove from the water and leave to cool for 10 minutes.

2. Stir the cake crumbs and jam in the melted chocolate until well mixed. Add approx. 25 drops of Bright Red Gel Food Colours and mix to make a vibrant red shade. Cover and chill for about 30 minutes or until firm enough to shape.

3. Meanwhile, start preparing the decoration. Lightly dust the work surface with icing sugar. Cut off a 190g (6½oz) piece of Regal-Ice, wrap in cling film and set aside.

4. Roll out the remaining Regal-Ice piece thinly and using a small sharp knife, cut out 16 long, thin, oval shapes to resemble rabbit ears. Place on a board lined with baking parchment, folding the sides in slightly as you lay them down to create more of an ear shape. Put the board in a warm, dry place for at least an hour until firm enough to hold their shape - you may need to leave them for several hours if the atmosphere is damp. Gather up the trimmings and wrap in cling film.

5. Meanwhile, divide the chilled truffle mixture into 8 equal portions. Form into balls and place on a plate lined with baking parchment. Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes until firm.

6. Divide the reserved large piece of Regal Ice into 8 pieces. Working on one portion at a time, flatten or roll into a circle about 8cm (3¼inch) diameter and lay a truffle ball in the centre. Draw up the edges of the circle to enclose the truffle, pinching the top together to completely cover. Roll the ball carefully in your hands to smooth it. Place on a board lined with baking parchment whilst you cover the remaining truffle balls.

7. Use the reserved trimmings of Regal Ice to make 8 pairs of feet, 24 balls for cheeks and tails, and 16 small balls for eyes. Secure the feet on the bottom of each truffle using a little water if necessary. Stick the tail on the back in the same way, and then stick the cheeks and eyes on the front.

8. Score the cheeks with a sharp knife to make whiskers. Put a couple of drops of Pink Food Colour Gel on a saucer and using a fine paint brush, brush over the inside of the ears and leave to dry.

9. Paint a small pink dot underneath the cheeks for a mouth. Using the Black Food Colour Gel in the same way, paint on eye and nose detail. Leave aside for a few minutes to dry.

10. When you are ready to serve the truffles, make 2 small slits in the top of each truffle and insert the ears so that they stand upright. Serve and enjoy!

--

Rose & Lemon Fondant Fancies

Preparation time: 2 hours plus cooling, drying and setting 
Cooking time: 17 minutes

Equipment needed: 
Tweezers 
Small Paint Brush 

Ingredients: 
115g (4oz) Margarine
115g (4oz) Caster Sugar
Medium Egg x 2, Beaten 
115g (4oz) Plain Flour 
7½g (1½ tsp) Dr. Oetker Baking Powder Sachets 
2½ml (½tsp) Dr. Oetker Sicilian Lemon Extract
2½ml (½tsp) Dr. Oetker Limited Edition Rose Flavour 
Dr. Oetker Hot Pink Gel Food Colour 

To decorate: 
Dr. Oetker Free Range Egg White Powder Sachet x 1 
75g (3oz) Caster Sugar 
Rose Petal x 8 of pink and x 8 of yellow 
115g (4oz) Unsalted Butter, softened 
200g (7oz) Icing Sugar, and extra for dusting 
454g Dr. Oetker Ready to Roll Marzipan 
600g Dr. Oetker Ready to Roll White Icing
Dr. Oetker Sunshine Yellow Gel Food Colour 
Dr. Oetker Hot Pink Gel Food Colour  

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 190°C (170°C fan oven, 375°F, gas 5). Grease and line 2 x 18cm (7inch) square cake tins with baking paper. In a mixing bowl, beat the margarine with the sugar until pale, creamy and light in texture. Gradually whisk in the eggs then sift the flour and Baking Powder on top. Carefully mix the ingredients together.

2. Divide the mixture in half and add the Sicilian Lemon Extract to one half and the Rose Flavour to the other along with a few drops of Hot Pink Gel Food Colour and carefully mix in until well blended. Spoon into separate tins, smooth the tops and bake for 10-12 minutes until risen and firm to the touch. Turn on to a wire rack to cool.

3. Meanwhile, prepare the decoration. Make up the Egg White Powder as directed on the sachet and put the caster sugar on a plate. Working on one petal at a time, hold the petal at one end with a pair of tweezers and lightly dip in the diluted egg white. Shake off the excess, and brush away any froth using a paint brush. Lay the petal on the sugar, and then cover with sugar using a teaspoon. Lift the rose petal off the sugar and place on a board lined with baking parchment. Continue to cover all the petals and leave in a warm dry place for at least an hour until dry enough to handle – you may have to leave the petals for a longer period of time if the atmosphere is damp.

4. Meanwhile, put the butter in a mixing bowl and beat until soft. Gradually sieve in the icing sugar, beating well after each addition, to make a smooth, spreadable icing. Set aside.

5. Trim the crusts from both cakes and sandwich together with a thin layer of the butter icing. Cut into 16 neat squares.

6. Lightly dust the work surface with icing sugar and knead the Marzipan until pliable. Using a tape measure, measure round the outside of one of the squares, and measure the depth. Set aside 150g (5oz) marzipan, and then half the remaining marzipan, and roll each portion out thinly to form rectangles as wide as the circumference of the cake square added together. Cut 8 strips of marzipan from each, as wide as the depth of the cake square – as a guide, roll out to approx. 28 x 12cm (9½ x 4¾ inch).

7. Working on one strip at a time, lightly spread a marzipan strip with a little butter icing and stick round the outside of a cake square. When all the cakes are covered in this way, roll out the reserved marzipan thinly and cut out 16 squares to cover the tops of the cakes, spreading with a little butter icing to stick the marzipan down. Smooth the marzipan all over to ensure a neat finish and place the cakes on a wire rack over a tray or board.

8. Load the remaining butter icing into a small uncut piping bag, snip off about 1cm (½ inch) from the end of the bag and pipe a neat blob on top of each cake. Chill for 30 minutes to firm up.

9. Put half the chopped Regal-Ice in a saucepan and add 40ml (10tsp) water. Heat very gently, stirring occasionally, until melted together. Remove from the heat, mix in a few drops of Sunshine Yellow Gel Food Colour and working quickly, spoon or ladle liquid fondant over 8 cakes to coat the top and sides – use a flat bladed knife to quickly cover any bare areas. This icing sets quickly once off the heat, but can be gently remelted if necessary.

10. Melt the remaining Regal-Ice with some water in the same way and colour with Hot Pink Gel Food colour, and cover the remaining 8 cakes in the same way. Leave for about an hour to set.

11. .To serve, carefully trim the icing drips from the bases of the cake and place on a serving plate. Lightly dab the back of each petal with a drop of water and place on top of each fondant fancy. Your pretty little cakes are now ready to serve and enjoy!

--

Chocolate Slab
Ingredients: 
150g Dr. Oetker Fine Cooks Dark Chocolate 
150g Dr. Oetker Fine Cooks' White Chocolate 
Dr. Oetker Lime Green Gel Food Colour 
Dr. Oetker Wafer Daisies 
Dr. Oetker Sugar Butterflies 
Dr. Oetker Sugar Strands 

Method:
1. Break the Dark Chocolate into a heatproof bowl and place over a saucepan of barely simmering water to melt.

2. Meanwhile, line a baking tray with baking parchment. Once the chocolate has melted, scrape it out of the bowl on to the centre of the paper using a spatula. Carefully spread the chocolate to form a rectangle approx. 18 x 23cm (7 x 9 inches). Tap the tray lightly on the work surface to smooth the chocolate and leave in a cool place to set.

3. Melt the White Chocolate in the same way. Remove the bowl from the water and mix in approx. 35 drops of the Gel Food Colour to make a pale green shade.

4. Once the Dark Chocolate layer has set, pour the green Chocolate out of the bowl on to the Dark Chocolate. Using a spatula carefully spread the green Chocolate to almost cover the Dark Chocolate. Tap the tray lightly on the work surface to smooth the Chocolate.

5. Working quickly, before the green chocolate sets, decorate the top with Dr. Oetker Wafer Daisies, Sugar Butterflies and Sugar Strands, then leave in a cool place to set.

6. Once the Chocolate is firm, break into pieces and either serve as they are, or pack pieces into boxes or cellophane bags for gifting.

Tip: If the room temperature is warm, put the Chocolate in the fridge for about 10 minutes to set.

--

Marzipan Chirpy Chick Truffles
Ingredients: 
50g (2oz) Dr. Oetker Fine Cooks' Milk Chocolate
100g (3½oz) Cake Crumb, plain 
50g (2oz) Apricot Jam 
325g (11oz) Dr. Oetker Ready to Roll Marzipan 
Dr. Oetker Sunshine Yellow Gel Food Colour 
Dr. Oetker Neon Orange Gel Food Colour 
Dr. Oetker Wafer Daisies 
Dr. Oetker White Designer Icing

Method:
1. Break the Milk Chocolate into a heatproof bowl and place over a saucepan of barely simmering water to melt. Remove from the water and leave to cool for 10 minutes. Put 5ml (1 tsp) melted chocolate into a small bowl and set aside for decoration.

2. Stir the cake crumbs and jam into the melted chocolate until well mixed. Cover and chill for about 30 minutes until firm enough to shape.

3. Meanwhile, prepare the decoration. Lightly dust the work surface with icing sugar. Cut off a 25g (1oz) piece of the Marzipan and wrap in cling film.

4. Take the remaining portion of Marzipan, flatten it slightly and add 5 drops of Yellow Gel Food Colour. Fold the Marzipan over the Gel Food Colour to enclose it and carefully knead it into the Marzipan until evenly mixed. Continue adding Gel Food Colour, 5 drops at a time, until you achieve the desired colour. Wrap in cling film to prevent it from drying out. Repeat the process to colour the 25g (1 1oz) piece with Orange Gel Food Colour. As a guide, you will require about 70 drops Yellow and 40 drops of Orange to achieve vibrant shades.

5. Divide the truffle mixture into 8 equal portions. From into balls and place on a plate lined with baking parchment. Cover and chill for a further 30 minutes until firm.

6. Cut off a 25g (1oz) piece of yellow Marzipan and wrap in cling film. Divide the remaining yellow marzipan into 8 pieces. Working on one portion at a time, flatten into a circle about 8cm (3¼ inch) diameter and lay a chocolate truffle ball in the centre. Draw up the edges of the circle to enclose the truffle, pinching the top together to completely cover. Roll the marzipan ball carefully in your hands to smooth it. Place on a board lined with baking parchment whilst you cover the remaining truffles.

7. When you have made 8 yellow balls, form the reserved piece of yellow Marzipan into 8 pairs of wings and secure on the sides of each ball using a little water if necessary.

8. Form the orange Marzipan into beaks and feet and gently press onto the balls. Make 4 feathery hair shapes for the heads of 4 chicks, using the image as a guide, and press onto the top of the chicks. Gently press 4 Wafer Daisies on to the tops of the remaining 4 chicks.

9. Pipe eyes using the Designer Icing. Re-melt the reserved Milk Chocolate and paint small dots on the Designer Icing to finish the eyes. The chicks are ready to serve and enjoy!

Tip: If the room temperature is warm, put the truffles in the fridge for 30 minutes before serving to firm up.

(Disclaimer: I received some Dr Oetker samples in exchange for this post).




Easter at Thorntons

When I was little, my parents bought us a Thorntons Easter egg each with our names on them. Last year, I bought one for C and I will continue the tradition on.


This year, Thorntons have enlisted the help of their resident bunny, Harry Hopalot, to deliver their Easter chocolate. 

After his introduction last year, he's back this Spring with with an array of milk and white chocolate items; from the mini 60g Harry Hopalot (£3.50) to the impressive 250g model (£7) or even the giant Harry Hopalot which is an amazing 1kg of milk chocolate (£50).


Brand new this year, Thorntons have introduced an indulgent range of Dessert Eggs in exciting flavours inspired by their range of Choc Blocks. You can treat your loved one to Caramel Cheesecake, Hazelnut Brownie or Eton Mess, all at £15 each.


Easter is all about keeping the kids happy and smiley, and what better way to do so than with The Footy Fanatic Egg or The Cupcake Egg (£4 each). They can even be personalised in store!

If you are wanting to impress this year, look no further than the new Dreamy Desserts Egg (£25) which is a combination of dessert and chocolate. This milk chocolate egg comes with 16 miniature dessert inspired chocolates in flavours such as Passion Fruit Mousse and Pecan Tart. 



Back by popular demand is the Marvelously Magnificent Egg (£20). A whole kilo of creamy milk chocolate - yum!


My dad actually bought me one two years ago so here's a little size comparison pic with a 7 month old C!


Lastly, you can pick up lots of mini treats for under £1 such as a bunny-shaped milk chocolate Harry Hopalot Lolly for 99p or the Continental Alpini Treat Egg for 95p!


(Disclaimer: I received a sample of chocolate in exchange for this post).


Easter Gift Ideas with Moonpig

I'm sure everyone has heard the Moonpig jingle and they are usually my go-to when I need to buy an occasion card but did you know that they sell gifts too? 

Perfect for Easter, you can pick up:

This taste-bud tingling chocolate egg is made from melt-in-the-mouth milk chocolate and is filled with delicious giant milk chocolate buttons. It's organic, too!

Lindt Gold Bunny Hutch - £10
This little family of five scrumptious Lindt chocolate bunnies with bells around their necks are a lovely treat for little ones. The rabbits all have to be "named" by their new owner and there are even name tags  on the back of the box to fill in. Too cute!

These delectable marbled chocolate hen eggs come in three flavours - chilli and lime, orange and geranium and butterscotch. A fab gift for any chocolate fan! 

This egg is sure to make any chocoholic powerless. This giant milk chocolate egg is stuffed with milk chocolate truffles to devour after battling the thick eggshell. 

Lindt Gold Bunny Easter Egg - £14
A classic! This package contains a duo of bunnies as well as the egg.  

This egg is a limited edition release from Lindt. This huge white chocolate egg is wrapped in gold paper and it is the perfect gift for a chocolate lover. It comes with a helping of Lindor white chocolate truffles filled with a smooth strawberry cream filling. So rich and so tasty. 

You can find out more about the range at the Moonpig website. You can also follow them on Facebook & Twitter.

(Disclaimer: I received a sample egg for posting). 



Mummy & Me #1 - March 2015

When I saw that Nicola over at Life Through My Eyes was starting a new linky, I knew I had to join in. I'm forever snapping photographs of my children but I want to have photographs of us all together and for me not just to be the one behind the camera. 

Here are a few photos of myself and the children that I've snapped this month. 

This was taken on Mother's Day and I think it is one of my favourite photos ever. I can't believe they're both looking at the camera!

This is E looking happily at "the baby" in the mirror. The dirty marks are from where she was kissing herself!

Finally, I love a mummy/baby selfie (can I still call C a baby?).




Nicola... Life Through My Eyes

Mustela bébé

Mustela bébé is a baby skincare range which is brand new to the UK. Mustela understand that nothing is more precious than your baby's skin, so they have developed a new generation of clinically tested skincare products which provide both maximum tolerance and targeted efficiency, whilst also ensuring that they are a pleasure to use. 

The range is made with natural ingredients so their products are safe, effective and suitable for baby's skin from birth onwards. They have consulted the plant world for this and 92% of their ingredients are of natural origin and they are all completely paraben, phthalate and phenoxyethanol free.

I love trying out new baby skincare products so I was delighted when we received a couple of items from the Mustela range to try out; Cleansing Milk (RRP £6.50) and Hydra Bébé Body Lotion (RRP £7.75).





The Cleansing Milk hydrates the skin and preserves the skin's natural resources thanks to combination of soothing and nourishing plant oils. It is said to be great for both facial and nappy area but I've only been using it at nappy changes as I've used the body lotion on her face. 



I have noticed that her rashes are now non-existent which is great! It really must be helping to cool and soothe her little bum down. 


The Hydra Bébé Body Lotion is specially formulated to use on your baby from birth and it's soft enough to use daily. Vegetable oils and Vitamins E and F hydrate the skin and the shea butter leaves it feeling supple, soft and silky. I do love a baby with soft skin so I decided to include this in our daily routine.



E's skin is left beautifully soft to the touch and the scent of the lotion is divine. I hate chemical smells, especially when it comes to baby skincare. I would definitely recommend both items as they do work as they claim to. I loved that they aren't runny or greasy and dry into the skin very quickly.


You can find out more about Mustela as well as a list of stockists at the Mustela website or you can follow them on Facebook.

(Disclaimer: I received these items for the purpose of this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.)


Keeping E Clean at Mealtimes with a Skibz Catcherz Bib

As I prepared for weaning E, the one thing I remembered from last time was how unbelievably messy it is. I already owned two of Skibz feeding bibs so I was very excited to be able to try out one of their brand new Catcherz bibs. 

The Catcherz bib is available in three colours - Popping Pink, Bubble Blue and Rockstar Red. As I'm into everything pink for my little girl, I opted for Popping Pink.

When it arrived in the post, even the packaging got me excited. How lovely is it!?





My plan was to do a mixture of purées and finger foods so the catcher bit at the bottom came in handy on both occasions. It is relatively rigid so it is always open and ready to catch anything that falls. E can be a little bit mischievous and her new favourite thing is to blow raspberries as I hold the spoon to her mouth so it goes everywhere. 



The bib fits really well around E's neck. The fastener isn't something that I've seen before. It's so simple and you can adjust it easily to fit your child. I did think that surely it would be easy for E to pull it off herself but we have had no incidents of that yet. 



One thing that really impressed me was that on occasion, the bib would be stained with purée and the stain would harden on. The next day, I could wash it off easily and none of the white spots rubbed off no matter how hard I scrubbed. 

We've had the bib for close to a month now and although I do have other bibs for E, I always opt for this one at mealtimes simply because of how easy it is to fasten and clean. The bright colour is nice too! The bib is made from plastic but it is comfortable against her skin and is easily packed into the changing bag for feeding on the go.




The Catcherz bibs retail at £10.50 each and you can find out more information at the Skibz website. You can also follow Skibz on their social media sites: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, Blogger, Tumblr, YouTube and Instagram

(Disclaimer: We received this item for the purpose of the review. All thoughts and opinions are my own).


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