Thursday, 17 April 2014

How to make a two tier Minnie Mouse birthday cake feat Cake Angels

For our twins first birthday I had a cake made by a professional. I was really pleased with it and it tasted amazing.

However, I knew that for their second birthday I really wanted to make them a cake myself. Mainly to save money and secondly because nothing beats homemade in my opinion!

I’ve made cakes before such as madeira and fairy cakes, but nothing as big as this. I wanted a two-tier Mini Mouse cake!

I searched online and on pinterest for some inspiration (you can view my pinterest board here) and when I knew what I wanted I set about finding the perfect recipe and buying everything I needed!

Here is the final result.

You will need an 8” and a 10” cake tin as well as some grease proof paper and a sieve!

Important: Make sure you sift your flour!

Ingredients for making the cakes

8” Cake

225g (8oz) softened unsalted butter
225g (8oz) golden caster sugar
4 medium eggs
225g (8oz) sifted self-raising flour
100g (3 ½ oz) plain sifted flour
1 tsp vanilla extract

10” Cake

(Exactly the same as above, expect you’ll need a bigger quantity of butter and sugar)

350g (12oz) softened unsalted butter
350g (12oz) golden caster sugar

You will also need

An 8” and a 10” cake board
4 pieces of dowel

  1. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy
  2. Add eggs one at a time and mix in the vanilla extract
  3. Fold in remaining flour (make sure you have sifted your flour first)
  4. Pour into your cake tin

Cooking Times
  • 8” cake bake for 1 hour 15 minutes on gas mark 3 (160 degrees)
  • 10” bake 1 hour 20-30 minutes (gas mark 3)
Once your cakes are baked, leave them to cool in the tin for around 15 minutes before taking them out of the tins and placing them on a wire rack to cool.

Once cooled, it’s time to add your filling. I chose to fill my cakes with raspberry jam and butter cream.

Slice your cake in half and spread a layer of raspberry jam on the inside of one half and your butter cream on the other half, then put back together.

You can buy butter cream ready-made to use and for some of this cake I used Cake Angels Vanilla Icing. I was sent one tub for the purpose of this review. As this is a large cake the one tub I was sent wasn’t enough to cover both cakes, but it was plenty to fill and cover the 8” cake.

The icing tastes just as good as homemade butter cream and it’s a nice, smooth consistency. If you were in a rush or maybe just wanted to make some cupcakes, this would be perfect!

According to the Cake Angels website, they can provide you with the inspiration, tools, hints and tips that will enhance and guide your creativity. They have a range of cake decorating supplies that are available to buy in supermarkets and as well as using their vanilla frosting I will be using some of their more decorative products too.

I made my own butter cream for the 10” cake. Here’s how:

How to make butter cream

Ingredients (per cake)

600g icing sugar (sifted)
300g unsalted butter (softened)

  1. Sift the icing sugar
  2. Beat the icing sugar and butter together until smooth

3. Use a palette knife to apply to your cake

This gives your icing something to hold onto so it won’t slide off your cake!

I found it useful to use a cake turntable when applying the buttercream and icing.

Once you have covered the outside of your cake in your buttercream it’s time for the fun part! Decorating your cake!

Decoring the 10” (base) cake
You will need:

2 packs of ready to roll icing. I used Renshaws
1 pack of white ready to roll icing. I used Sainsburys own
Rolling Pin
Icing sugar
Round (circle) fondant icing plunger cutters

Handy things to have:

Cake smoothing tool

  1. Sprinkle a thin layer of icing sugar over your work surface and rolling pin
  2. Using the palm of your hands you’ll need to flatten all of your pink icing in a downward pressing motion. Rotate your icing 90 degrees and repeat until the icing is pliable
  3. Use your rolling and with an even pressure roll out your icing until is around the height of a £1 coin. Roll your icing on direction then lift and turn icing 45 degrees and continue to roll it. Repeat until your icing is big enough to cover the size your cake
  4. Lift the icing using your rolling pin and forearm
  5. Lay the icing at the back of the cake and let it fall down over the front of your cake
  6. Either using the flats of your hands or your cake smoothing tool, smooth the icing over the cake and trim away any excess icing with a small sharp knife

7. Now it’s time to get your white icing our repeat the above steps to roll out your icing
8. Once you have rolled out the white icing, you will need to use your round plungers to create circles 9. Apply a thin layer of buttercream to each circle and apply all over your cake
10. Next you will need to insert your dowel. This will help to support the top tier of your cake. Insert 4 dowels into the centre of the cake
11. Sit back in amazement at how wonderful the base for your two tier cake looks!

Decoring the 8” (base) cake
You will need:

1 pack of white ready to roll icing. I used Sainsburys own
1 pack of black ready to roll icing. I used renshaws
Rolling Pin
Icing sugar
Minnie/Mickey mouse cutters
Pink icing pen
2 Minnie Mouse Cake Toppers
Cake Angels Pearl Swirls

  1. Use the same method as above to roll out your white icing and apply to your cake
  2. Roll out your black icing as above and use your Minnie Mouse cutters to create your Minnie Mouse shapes
  3. Apply a thin layer of buttercream to the back of each mouse and apply to the edge of your cake

4. Using your icing pen add your personal ‘happy birthday’ message
5. Apply a small amount of buttercream to the base of the Minnie Mouse cake toppers and to the Cake Angels Pearl Swirls and add to cake
6. Carefully sit your cake on top of the 10” cake

I hadn’t bought anything additional to decorate this cake with, so I am really pleased that I was sent a goody bag from cake angels, which included the pearl swirls as I think they really help to add the finishing touch to the cakes.

For the purpose of this review I was sent a goody bag of Cake Angels products

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

888 Ladies: Millionaire Genie Review

I've dabbled with online games a few times in the past and on the odd occasion I've been lucky enough to win at some of them. Not big amounts, but the odd £20 here and there.

I was recently given the chance to review 888 Ladies Millionaire Genie Game.

I was credited with £5 to play this game. You can bet from as little as 1p up to 25p. To the left of the screen the Millionaire Genie hovers above the jackpot treasure chest. This game has 3D graphics and I didn't experience any slowness whilst playing the game on my laptop.

Once you've decided on how much you want to bet, you then need to decide how many games you want to play.

To start with I bet 5p and decided to play spin by spin just so I could get a feel of the game and understand how it worked. On my first go I won back 15p. Once I got to grips with the game I decided to play 10 games at once. The maximum number of games you can play at once is 75.

The most I won during any one game was 45p. So not a huge amount, which is why I decided to keep playing in the hope I would win a little more. Sadly I didn't, but I did have great fun playing this game.

To win, all you need to do is create matching combinations of symbols on any one of the 15 pay-lines.

Once you've clicked the 'Bet' button the game will begin and you'll see bags of gold, ancient books, emerald-eyed cobras, ornate keys and magic lamps spinning round on the reels.

There are two extra-special symbols in the game. The Genie and the girl in the pink scarf. The girl acts as the game's bonus symbol. If you find three or more of her you'll trigger the Genie's Palace bonus round. This means you have to make two wishes. One wish will decide your initial prize, and the other will determine the multiplier that comes along with it.

The scatter symbol, which is the Genie's close-up shot, means that if you find three or more of them anywhere on your reels, you'll win a series of free games.

At first I was a little confused about how you win the massive jackpot the Genie is sitting on, but it's actually quite simple to understand. It's award at random, so the more time you spend playing, the higher your chances are of winning.

Overall, I enjoyed playing this game. It did take me a bit of time to work out how to play it, but once I'd got to grips with it, it was really good fun!

Bingo fans can vote for Millionaire Genie or your own favourite game here.

Please gamble responsibly and only bet what you can afford.

This is a sponsored post. For the purpose of this post I was given a £5 credit to play this game. All opinions are my own.

Zoflora 3-in-1 Disinfectant Review

The lovely people over at Zoflora recently sent us two boxes of their concentrated disinfectant and it couldn’t have arrived at a better time!

If you’ve been reading my blog lately then you’ll know that we’ve all recently had Norovirus. A horrible vomiting bug that is highly contagious.

We were sent one limited edition box of Twilight Garden concentrated disinfectant and one box of Bouquet concentrated disinfectant.

Both products smell great and the smell lasts, which is  great as it left my home feeling and smelling clean. Both the Twilight Garden and Bouquet disinfectants have a floral smell to them, but the Twilight Garden is my favourite!

It has a blend of moonlight flowering lilies with the richness of ylang  and jasmine, perfectly balanced with uplifting notes of peach, apple and long lasting musk.

The Bouquet disinfectant has a rich floral heart of rose and violet, with hints of green citruses, wrapped in white musks and precious woods.

I’ve used a number of different germ killing products over the years and most don’t smell great, but these are kind to your nose!

They both have a 3-in-1 formula which means that the powerful concentrated antibacterial disinfectant liquid not only kills 99.9% of bacteria and viruses, but also contains a powerful odour elimination ingredient and beautiful long lasting fragrance leaving your home hygienically clean and fresh.

It’s easy to use by diluting a cap full in 400ml of water and one bottle will last a good while. It’s great to use on surfaces such as tables, highchairs and countertops, plus you can use it on rubbish bins, toilets, damp rooms and even to clean  up vomit, pet accidents and spilt milk etc.

You can even use it as a fragrance around your home by diluting it and putting the liquid into a spray bottle to add a quick freshness to your home.

For more information about Zoflora, you can visit their website here.

For the purpose of this review we were sent two bottles of Zoflora concentrated disinfectant.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Foster Care: The Myths vs. Facts

Fostering a child is one of the most selfless and inspiring things you can do, yet it is something that causes a lot of speculation and confusion. Misinformation can be a huge problem when it comes to thinking about fostering as it can put people off from embarking upon this fantastic venture.
Therefore we've put together a list of some of the main myths regarding this subject and have aimed to answer some of the most frequently asked questions that potential foster parents may have.

MYTH: You have to be part of a traditional, nuclear family to foster, or be without children
FACT: This isn't the case anymore. Potential foster parents don’t have to be married, in a heterosexual relationship, of a certain race of religion or rich to be considered. There are many questions regarding more subjective situations, such as can you foster a child with a criminal record, but all good agencies examine each individual case carefully and differently to determine whether you are suitable or not.
MYTH: When fostering a child you are thrown in at the deep end with no support
FACT: All good agencies will support you every step of the way during the whole process, in terms of financial aid and emotional support. You will be provided with enough money to give them their basic needs and will be clued in with any issues they may have to help you deal with them. You can also get good books on fostering to help answer any other questions you have, as well as joining support groups.
MYTH: The birth family always comes first
FACT: The child always comes first when fostering, and their needs, wants and safety is always at the forefront of any decision that is made. Some foster children may have a strong relationship with their birth parents and this should always be respected, regardless of any feelings you may have towards them. The agency will no doubt help you deal with the birth parents and some may even have rules in place so that there is minimal contact between the two of you. You should always voice concerns to the agency regarding the child’s interaction with their family, however, as their safety is the number one priority.

MYTH: The process takes years to complete
FACT: The process is of course thorough and a number of different checks are completed on each person or family. However, if each person complies smoothly there’s no reason why it should take too long at all. The main things that are usually checked include:
  • Criminal record check
  • Health assessment/Medical
  • Local authority social services check
  • References from employers (if applicable) and personal references
  • Health and safety assessment of your home
These are standard and fairly simple procedures and can be done reasonably quickly. However if you do have any issues it’s important that you raise them as early on in the process as possible to avoid slowing down the procedure any further.

Monday, 14 April 2014

The best things to do in Venice with kids

Canal Grande from Rialto Bridge in Venice by Wolfgang Moroder (CC BY-SA 3.0)

I'm sure that couples with kids will agree: keeping children busy and entertained during a holiday can be very tricky. We cannot expect them to like modern art or to enjoy a nice dinner in a very sophisticated restaurant. They want to get involved, be active, explore and have fun. Today, I am here to help you: read through to find out the best things to do in Venice with your kids and don’t worry about your budget. It is indeed true, that accommodation costs are pretty high there, but it is still possible to find cheap hotels in Venice online if you plan your holidays well and book your stay in advance. This way, you will be able to arrive carefree and fully enjoy your holidays from the very first moment. So, are you ready for a great exploring adventure? Here are a few funny and entertaining things to do in Venice.

A ride on a gondola

Venice is a wonderful city built up on water and kids will definitely be fascinated by this peculiarity. So 
why don’t you bring them on a ride on a gondola? Make a tour of the city through its wonderful and picturesque canals and discover hidden places that you could not see just walking around. Choose your gondoliers carefully: try to find someone who is willing to talk with your kids about the history of Venice, show them nice and special spots and have some fun facts to keep all of you entertained.

Enjoy Carnival

If you are planning to visit Venice between February and March, don’t miss the chance to take part in 
its famous Carnival. There are a lot of different events, contests and parades to attend and be involved into because the city gets magical during this period. Its Carnival is a lot different from the others you’ve seen around the world and kids will love to wear one of those beautiful and finely decorated masks for a day.

Visit Burano

Taking a “vaporetto” - the local ferry - to travel around the city is definitely an experience you want to have with your kids while in Venice, especially if it brings you to Burano, a very special island located about an hour from Venice. Walk around the tiny streets lined by houses and buildings of different colours eating a “gelato” (ice-cream), it will feel like living in a fairytale!

Have a ghost walk around the city

Do your kids love stories and mysteries? Think about booking a tour through the hidden Venice and discover the city by night walking through its narrow alleys and canals. An expert guide will help you navigate the labyrinth of Venice, showing you hidden places, lost monuments and secret passageways, telling you stories about its past and its mysterious legends. Kids will love it and we’re pretty sure you’ll love it too!

Venice is definitely a unique place to visit. No other city in the world is situated on 118 little islands with so many canals and bridges. It is known to be a romantic place for couples in love, but believe me, it's perfect also for an unforgettable family vacation with kids of all ages and I am sure you and your family will fall in love with it.

Post in collaboration with Mary, travel and fashion blogger.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Project 365: Week 15

Day 97

The sun is shining so we play in the park!

Day 98

Twin Mummy and Daddy Selfie!

Day 99

We make Easter bunny masks! Yes,  quite creepy!

Day 100

Laying on the floor together counting their toy money out!

Day 101

M enjoyed running around screaming whikst holding her ears!!

Day 102

Looking through old photographs! Me and my twin sister! I'm on the right!

Day 103

R and M were fascinated with the red flowers in the garden!

Day 104

Just chilling in the porch, watching the world go by!

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Friday, 11 April 2014

Binky Linky

This linky is for bloggers who have been blogging for a year or less. It's your chance to link up your favourite post of the week. It's a great way to find new blogs to read and to raise your blogs profile.

Binky is the American term for a dummy which babies obviously use. I thought the name Binky Linky would suit seeing as this linky is aimed at newbie bloggers!

I'm your host!

...and your co-hosts are...


Mel from My Days NI

The rules are simple...

1. Link up your best post of the week below
2. Visit other peoples posts and leave a blog comment on at least 3 other blogs
3. Share this linky via Twitter/Facebook/Pinterest etc using the hashtag #binkylinky
4. Follow other bloggers via their social networks
5. Every Friday at 12.01am until 11.59pm on Sunday, this linky will be open to share your posts
6. Please include the linky badge or a textlink onto the linked blog post or sidebar so people can find the link easily and to see other peoples entries

Binky Linky

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Family Fun at Wales Millennium Centre this Easter

Keeping the kids entertained over Easter need not be problem this year, as the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff have programmed a wide range of free participatory events and activities for all the family to discover, explore and engage with the arts.

The Easter season will mark the premiere of the Centre’s new family engagement initiative, The Milipwt Clwb. The Milipwts are the characters that animate the Centre’s permanent and free child-focused activity den and the programming team haven taken inspiration from Lecsi, Dyfi, Ogi and Ponti, and created family activities for all ages to enjoy together. The characters will come to life this Easter with the launch of The Milipwt Clwb.

Sessions themed around each character will give youngsters the opportunity to explore dance, music, digital arts and more from Friday 18th to Monday 21st April. In addition to workshops, The Milipwt Den will be open as usual across the Easter holidays, providing a relaxed environment for youngsters to discover a colourful world of theatre, dance, music and literature.

For more information on The Milipwts, visit /families

Next to The Milipwts Den is the Centre’s free performance foyer space, the Glanfa Stage, which will host a selection of music performances and walk-about acts during the holidays. Whether it’s magic shows, story-telling or live music sessions from up-and-coming Welsh artists, the Glanfa Stage is a versatile area with something for all the family to enjoy during the Easter fortnight.

There will be plenty of opportunities for youngsters to create their own art as well.  Large doodle boards will be placed in the foyer, encouraging all visitors to add their own creative stamp to a piece of art, plus there will be drop-in craft workshops with different Easter themes each day.
The Centre will also be launching a new trail for families to explore Wales Millennium Centre and its surroundings during the holidays. Children and adults can take this opportunity to explore the many foyers and corridors of Wales’ top visitor attraction, offering families an exciting twist on the traditional Easter egg hunt. And when it’s time to sit back and refuel, the Centre offers plenty of child-friendly food and drink options, including Ffresh restaurant’s new Milipwts menu.
In addition to the free activity during the Easter holidays, the Centre’s Donald Gordon Theatre has been transformed into the wonderful world of Oz, with Wicked casting a spell over Cardiff for its Welsh premiere. This smash-hit musical has become an international family favourite, and the magic of Oz will spread across the Centre during the Easter season.
Mathew Milsom, the Centre’s Managing Director, said: ‘Wales Millennium Centre has gone from strength to strength on its delivery of free activity for the family during the holiday periods, and I am extremely proud of the extensive programme we are able to offer to our neighbours and our visitors this Easter. It’s thrilling for me and the whole team at the Centre to see our public spaces animated with so many different activities, and to see a variety of people engaging with our building and with the arts in new and personal ways’.

From Discotots for toddlers, to DJ and street dancing for the older children, this exciting programming of activity caters brilliantly for all ages, making Wales Millennium Centre the perfect venue to visit with the family this Easter.

Wales Millennium Centre will be open daily from 10am during the Easter Holidays. For more information on family activity please
Easter Holiday Listings at Wales Millennium Centre
Wicked. 12 Mar - 26 April 2014

Brilliantly re-imagining the stories and characters created by L. Frank Baum in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Wicked tells the untold story of an unlikely but profound friendship between two girls who first meet as sorcery students.

Clwb Milipwt. 18 – 21 April 2014
10am-4pm. Age Guidance: 8 and under
Each day over the Easter weekend we’re taking inspiration from the Milipwts and creating family workshops and activities for you to enjoy together.
A day with Lecsi. 18 April 2014
Dance-mad Lecsi is a lovable and luminous little creature who loves anything that sparkles.

10am - 4pm | Angorfa

Craft Workshop. 18 April 2014

Mini Make &Do
10am - 4pm |Hufen
Easter Biscuit Decorating

11am | Glanfa
Dance Workshop:
Cwmni Dawns Cenedlaethol Cymru

1pm | Glanfa
Street Dance Workshop:
Jukebox Collective

3pm | Glanfa
Dance Shorts:
presents Wistful Thinking

A day with Dyfi. 19 April 2014

A glamour-snail with a big personality and an even bigger dressing-up box, Dyfi loves to be centre stage!

10am – 4pm | Angorfa
Craft Workshop: Glamorous Hat and Microphone Making

10am – 4pm | Glanfa
Masquerade Face Painting

11am | Glanfa
Song and Dance Workshop:
Big Talent School 

3pm | Glanfa
The Wonderful Wardrobe 

1.15pm | Glanfa
Ovation Musical Company

6.15pm | Glanfa
Stage One Productions

A day with Ponti. 20 April 2014

Ponti, our geeky technibug, is mad about music and is a whizz-kid when it comes to photography.

10am - 4pm | Angorfa
Workshop: Exploring Sound

10am - 3.30pm | Glanfa
Workshop: Throwaway Music

10am-4pm| Angorfa
Junior Photography
These sessions offer you the chance to try out some digital activities (all equipment will be provided):

• Make a Frame| 10am – 11:30am & 1pm – 4pm. Capture a special photograph and decorate a frame for it.
• Activity Sheets |10am – 11.30am & 1pm - 4pm. Explore the Centre armed with a camera and an activity sheet.
• Junior Film-making |11.30am-12.30pm. Learn some basic film-making techniques.

A day with Ogi. 21 April 2014

A cultured little chap, Ogi loves nothing more than curling up with a good book or telling some of his favourite tales to passers-by…

10am-4pm | Angorfa
Craft Workshop:
Mini Make & Do

10am - 4pm |Hufen
Easter Biscuit Decorating 
11am | Glanfa
Guto Dafis

1pm | Glanfa
Catrin Herbert

3pm| Glanfa Performance and Workshop: Puppet Theatre Wales

All images courtesy of Wales Millennium Centre

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

The interior designer inside of me!

Oh, how I long to own my own home!

Nothing big or too fancy!

Nothing too posh or too frumpy!

I dream of my dream home and this little voice inside of me screams out all these wonderful designs and art that will adorn my walls!

A country style kitchen with plenty of storage, but not too much that it looks cluttered. 

Space saving units and definitely a breakfast bar. 

A dishwasher that doesn't look like a dishwasher. A washing machine with a tumble dryer and a sink with those taps with hand sensors on so you don't have to touch the taps with mucky hands!

A fridge freezer in white or light grey. 

A shabby chic dining table with chairs and walls painted white, with a hint of pink. 

A fresh bunch of daffodils sits in a cream style jug on the windowsill and the smell of fresh bread wafts around the whole house!

A bedroom with pink and grey walls. A beautiful painting of flowers or a lady hangs on the wall above the beautiful bed. 

A bed covered in cushions and a plump, fluffy duvet and pillows. 

Serene Hazel Upholstered Bed Frame
Serene Anastasia Upholstered Bed Frame

A garden full of perfectly cut grass and a small area for barbecues and outdoor dining. 

We'd definitely have to have some of those solar powered lights and an apple tree with a quaint little swing hanging from a big strong branch!

We hope to buy our dream house this year, but we may have to wait until next year. It all depends on what the banks say when we pay them a visit in a few months time. 

I've seen some great furniture and decorations online and in our local supermarket, but for me when it comes to buying a bed I want to be able to browse at my leisure. 

No sales men to pester me and I'd want fast delivery. Bed Sale Online offer next day beds. Perfect for when you have a moving in date, so you're guaranteed a new bed the same day you move in.

We have a super king size bed at the moment because one of our twins shares our bed with us every night. I'm sure it won't be too long until our other little girls notices and decides that she wants to sleep in Mummy and Daddy's bed too!

I love these super king beds from Bed Sale Online. 

Serene Parma Faux Leather Bed Frame White
Serene Chelsea Upholstered Bed Frame Fudge

I want my house to have a fresh, country feel to it. I want it to look comfy and lived in. Not too modern, but not too old. 

We don't have a bath at the moment, just a shower. One of things I'm really looking forward to when we do buy our own home is having a nice bath! 

I also like the idea of a heated towel rail, although we'd have to have a rather large one to fit everyone's towels on!

Somewhere I can call my forever home.

My ideal house would be little cottage set in a friendly, beautiful village. Somewhere safe my children could play. 

I want lots of storage space, so I don't have to have everything out on display. 

This post is brought to you by however the content of the post is 100% my own.  
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