Wednesday 26 September 2012

What I Wore Wednesday: Retirement Celebration

Last Thursday my Mother-in-Law retired so NotBlondeHusband, Blondie Boy and I went out to dinner with her to celebrate. I bought yet another Cynthia Rowley dress from TK Maxx and hadn't worn it yet so decided now was the time! Unfortunately it was pouring rain and blowing a gale so I couldn't wear cute shoes. I know some people are very, very, very anti sheepskin style boots but when it is disgustingly cold and wet outside and you are running to and from the car with a toddler cute shoes just don't cut it!

Zara Coat
Chelsea Skull Scarf
Cynthia Rowley Dress
M&S Leggings
Sketchers Boots

I had to bundle up with my skull scarf and my Zara coat. I some how managed to lose my favourite black leggings in our massive clear out so I had to go buy a new pair but used a gift card I found in said clear out so not a total loss.

I even busted out my Katy Perry "Oh Honey" fake eyelashes. I've only worn them once before but I love them. They are easy to put on and after that initial weird fake eyelash feeling I don't even notice they are on!

I love this nail polish I got at the grocery for only 89p! Plus it is Fast Dry which I love because I'm impatient.

The dress has pockets which I love and zip detailing on the back that I forgot to take a photo of! I'm planning on wearing it when I fly down to London to go into the office this week. I'm thinking with my leopard heels? Do you think that would work?

Sunday 23 September 2012

Egg Free Soft Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I'm really picky about cookies; I'm not a fan of cookies that are hard or crunchy- I'm more of a soft cookie kind of girl, especially when it comes to oatmeal raisin cookies. Blondie Boy and I made these egg free oatmeal raisin cookies and they are REALLY good. I used my cookie scoop again but I wouldn't next time since the dough is quite sticky it was hard to get out! I think I also might add a tablespoon of honey next time just to make them that little bit more moist but they are pretty perfect as is. I adapted a recipe I found on Reci"peas" and to get my version of the perfect Egg Free Soft Oatmeal Raisin Cookie.

Egg Free Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

egg free oatmeal raisin cookies

1 cup oats 
1 cup plain/all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup softened butter 
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup milk
1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350/170 degrees. Cream the butter, milk, vanilla, and sugars together and in another large bowl, combine oats, flour, baking powder, and salt together. Once the butter mixture is creamed add the dry mixture a little at a time to the wet ingredients, until combined.Fold in the raisins and spoon dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet (I lined my cookie sheet with baking/wax paper for easy clean up), spacing an inch apart. You should get 12-15 cookies depending on how large you make them.

Bake 10-13 minutes or until cookies are set and edges are golden brown. Remember there are no eggs so you don't really have to worry about under-cooking. Allow cookies to rest on cookie sheet for one minute before transferring to a cooling rack or plate to cool. I have stored mine in ziplock bags and they've kept well for a week. 

Blondie Boy really likes them so that is the best seal of approval for me They were super easy to make and I pretty much always have the ingredients in the house so I'm sure I will make them again soon. Even if you don't have an egg allergy in your family I'd highly recommend giving these a try!

Wednesday 19 September 2012

What I Wore Wednesday: TK Maxx Shopping Spree

Last Friday I was whisked off to London thanks to TK Maxx to go shopping for my outfit for The Mad Blog Awards. Y'all already know I'm a HUGE TK Maxx fan so I was super excited especially as the High Street Kensington store is notoriously amazing for its semi-formal and formal wear and their "Gold Label" range.  

I had no idea how I'd never heard of "Gold Label" up until now but OMG I'm so glad I know now. We are talking THE most amazing designers at THE most amazing prices. Some of my favourite designers, we are talking the types of people who show regularly at fashion week, and reduced from over £2,000 to down to £200! Crazy right?

MADS Fashion Finalists
Jo, Liz and I (photo by Sally Whittle)
So some of the other finalists and I had a great time looking through dresses and trying different things on. I wish I could have fit in some of the designers but those that did fit weren't flattering or had weird pockets right on the widest part of my body. It was frustrating but it gave me the kick in the ass I need to start eating healthier which is obviously a good thing! 

Girls Dressing Room
(photo by Sally Whittle)

Originally I went for this dress (while being mega jealous of Liz's find by one of my favourite designers) even though I had some concerns about it. After shopping we were treated to a fabulous lunch and had a great time chatting and laughing and if I'm honest talking about body hair far too much. Seriously I had a dream about it that night but I digress. I'm really looking forward to seeing everyone again at the awards!

Fashion Lunch London
Jo, Liz, Helen and I at lunch (photo by Sally Whittle)
When I got home I tried on the dress for NotBlondeHusband and realised I didn't totally love it. So today I went to the Argyle Street branch of TK Maxx which also carries Gold Label brands to find a new dress. I tried on A LOT. There are some dresses I didn't get a photo of but these were a few.

TK Maxx Designer Dresses

I didn't buy any of the above but there were some hot contenders! What did I get? Well you'll just have to wait until the awards! I bought two dresses and am still undecided on which one I will wear. There is still a chance I'll go back to TK Maxx again and try on more. Can you tell I'm incredibly indecisive? 

TK Maxx provided my travel and a gift card to purchase an outfit but all opinions are my own!

Monday 17 September 2012

Cadbury Mini Animals Dinosaurs

There is a new member of the Cadbury Animals family - introducing Cadbury Mini Animals Dinosaurs!
Cadbury Mini Animals Dinosaurs bag

Cadbury Mini Animals Dinosaurs are tasty bite-sized mini dinosaur biscuits half covered with delicious Cadbury milk chocolate. With Travis the Tyrannosaurus Rex, Trudy the Triceratops, Terry the Pterodactyl, Spike the Stegosaurus and Daisy the Diplodocus, children can discover the gang of five prehistoric dinosaur friends, share their adventures and learn about their existence in a world millions of years ago Plus, there is a sixth mystery dinosaur to be identified too!

One of the best things about the Dinosaur cookies in my opinion is that they are egg free and allergy friendly! There are very few biscuits/cookies Blondie Boy can eat off the shelf so it is great to see not only are there no eggs in the ingredients, but no traces of egg either! We have to be really strict with Blondie Boy's allergy so it is great to have this peace of mind.

Blondie Boy has a lunch box at school full of egg-free treats so that when other students bring cakes in for their birthday he isn't left out and I'll be adding Cadbury Mini Animals Dinosaur to his stash. He absolutely loves them but I'll let him tell you that himself!

Cadbury Mini Animals Dinosaurs launched in Asda stores on 23rd August at a special price of £1, and Sainsbury’s on Sept 2nd at 1/3 off.

This is a sponsored post but we really do love these cookies! I couldn't get a toddler to lie about cookies if I tried :)

Sunday 16 September 2012

Egg Free Cookie Cups and Top Tips

I'm going to be honest these cookie cups are pretty much what you could call semi-homemade. I used a mix for the cookie part--insert shock and horror--but the buttercream is from scratch. The mix I had didn't require eggs so I didn't have to worry about making it egg-free so it worked. So really this post is more about useful tips than recipes I guess!

To make the cookie cups you make whatever your favourite chocolate chip cookie dough recipe is and then put one scoop of dough into a lined or greased muffin tin. Tip number one is to use a cookie scoop so all the cups will be uniform in size. It is really just a small sized ice-cream scoop I got super cheap but works just the same. I noticed the contestants on Cupcake Wars (don't judge my tv habits) using them and thought I'd give it a try and it worked!

Bake the cookies at the same temperature but for rougly 3-5 minutes longer than you would if making them as cookies. When they are golden brown on top take them out of the oven. To turn them into cookie cups all you need is a clean shot glass.

For tip number two slowly and firmly depress the shot glass into the warm cookie and twist before pulling it back up. Crazy easy right? You don't need special molds or pans just a shot glass! I don't know about you but I have tons of shot glasses so I was glad I happened upon Daisy Chubb's recipe and didn't buy some special pan.

Let the cookie cups cool and then pipe in your favourite buttercream. I saw this third and final tip on Our Best Bits and it seriously rocked my world. I hate cleaning out piping bags--it is always messy and never fun.  Make up your butercream (I used a basic buttercream recipe but added a few drops of pure strawberry extract and pink food colouring) and then pile it into a log on a piece of cling-film/sarran wrap. Twist up both ends tightly and you can tie one end if you like.

Put the log-o-frosting into the piping bag and carefully thread the open twisted end through your frosting tip. Pull it out as far as you possibly can before snipping off the tail sticking out of the tip.

Then pipe the frosting as normal. Why do this? This is why.

When you are done pull out the leftover frosting and your piping bag is virtually clean! So you could then stick in a different coloured log-o-frosting (what else would you call it?) and continue on to make a multi-coloured masterpiece. Pretty cool right? I'm a fan of anything that makes clean up easier!

Then just eat your cookie cups and enjoy! Or make a cookie cup pyramid and discover just HOW rubbish you are at taking photos of food. Anyone have any tips for me on how to photograph food better?

Wednesday 12 September 2012

What I Wore Wednesday: Polarn O. Pyret

I'm pretty picky about what Blondie Boy wears; I don't like clothes that are cluttered or have lots of characters or stupid sayings on them. Unfortunately a lot of children's clothes do (sometimes all at once-ew!) and are basically the opposite of what I'd consider stylish. Maybe it is silly but I like to think that Blondie Boy is stylish. I like to get him clothes that he can play in but look like a cool dude while doing so.

Polarn O. Pyret is a Swedish children's company that makes good-looking clothes that make life easier. They are environmentally and socially responsible but what I love best is that they make clothing for children--not boys or girls, children. They say "We aim to make the world’s best jacket, knee sock, t-shirt and sun hat. Who wears what – and what colours – is up to you." How freaking awesome is that? It certainly makes this feminist mama happy.

Blondie Boy got sent two shirts and a jacket to try from the new Autumn collection. It's not quite cold enough for his jacket yet but how cool does he look? The jacket will be perfect for Scottish weather since it is water proof and it will be no surprise to you it rains here a lot!

I love this blue courdory shirt and the funky print orange cotton top paired with it. I washed the shirts several times and the colours haven't faded or bled. They are a bit of the big size for him but that just means he'll get more wear out of them! They aren't fussy or fancy but stylish and sturdy--what more could you want in children's clothes?  What are some of your favourite children's clothes?

Transatlantic Blonde were provided clothing for the purpose of this review but all opinions are our own. Y'all should know I don't say anything I don't want to by now!

Saturday 8 September 2012

Egg Free Cookies & Cream Oreo Cupcakes

I've mashed up two recipes again to make some egg-free allergy friendly cookies and cream cupcakes. The cookies and cream element comes from my all time favourite (and egg free!) cookie, the Oreo. My recipe inspiration this week comes from The Art of Dessert's Chocolate Cupcake, Magnolia Bakery's Vanilla Buttercream and Bakerella's Cookies and Cream Cupcake.

Egg Free Cookies and Cream Cupcakes

cookies cream cupcake allergy

Chocolate Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups plain flour 

1 1/4 cups sugar

1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda/bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 tsp. honey
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325/160 degrees. Line muffin pans with baking cups (again a great job for toddlers!). Mix together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, combine milk, butter, honey and vanilla extract. Slowly add the wet ingredients into the dry mixture. You could add dry to wet if you prefer but I just had the dry in a big bowl and wet in a small bowl so that worked best for me! Stir until combined.  

Scoop the batter into the lined muffin pan to 2/3 full. I used a 2 cookie scoops per liner, but I think I'd use one heaped scoop next time. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean. 

While the cupcakes cool make the buttercream; you will need:

Cookies and Cream Buttercream
250g of salted butter (don't get the cheap stuff you want nice butter)
6-8 cups of icing/powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup of whole mix
5 oreo cookies, turned into fine crumbs (plus extra to decorate)

Combine softened butter, 4 cups of the sugar, vanilla and milk until well combined. Add more sugar, slowly, until you reach your desired consistency which should be thick but not stiff. You may not need all the sugar. Now add in your cookie crumbs (I stick mine in a food processor to get them fine).

Once cupcakes are cooled, put frosting into a piping bag and swirl on top before finishing with half an Oreo cookie. Blondie Boy inhaled a cupcake in literally about 30 seconds so I think they get his seal of approval!

Wednesday 5 September 2012

What I Wore Wednesday: Maxi Dress and Old Jean Jacket

So you already know I bust a hole in the only jeans that fit and I'm not exactly happy with the weight/shape I am right now. So when I went to get dressed for a TEDx meeting I was a bit frustrated. It was actually a really nice evening so I couldn't throw on leggings and a dress so I pulled out this Old Navy Maxi Dress.

The dress is a tube top and strapless bras do NOT work on me so I threw this jean jacket on over the top to cover my bra straps! I've had this jean jacket since the summer before I went to University. I got it at an outlet mall in Georgia in 1998 and something tells me I should probably buy a new jean jacket. 

Over the past almost 15 years every time I go to buy one I think "Oh hey I have that jean jacket already and I don't really wear one that often" but really I should suck it up and buy a new one already. Regardless it did the job on this occasion and hopefully it wasn't painfully obvious it was purchased around the same time Wyclef was telling us all he was going to be "Gone 'Til November." Man I freaking loved that song. Anyway I digress.... 

Monsoon Black Feather Earrings
Esprit Jean Jacket
Old Navy Maxi Dress
Monica Vinader Fiji Bracelet
Old Navy Flip Flops

What is the oldest article of clothing you have that you still wear? Do I need to throw the jacket out already or am I not the only one who has held on to something so long?

Sunday 2 September 2012

Egg Free Allergy Friendly Tie Dye Rainbow Cupcakes

Finding recipes that are egg-free/allergy friendly and don't contain a lot of random strange ingredients that I never have in the house can be tough. So I pick and mixed from several recipes to create my version of egg-free tie dye rainbow cupcakes. I got my inspiration from I am Baker's Homemade White Cake Mix, Spearmint Baby's Rainbow Cupcakes and Omnomicon's How to Make a Rainbow Cake. I very rarely find a straight up allergy friendly recipe I like so I end up researching and making up my own.

Tie Dye Rainbow Cupcakes

Mix together:
2 3/4 cups self-raising flour (US people just use normal flour)
1 3/4 cups SUPER fine sugar (caster sugar in the UK)
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt

Add in roughly 12oz of Sprite. I added 8oz first and then a little more until it was a cake like consistency I liked. Leave it a little bit thicker than you'd like because you'll be adding food colouring next which will thin it out.

Put 3/4 cup of batter into 4 bowls and then add different coloured dyes to each bowl until you have four different coloured bowls. Don't worry about over mixing because any extra air you whip in will make the cupcakes lighter. Toddler love stirring things so that kept Blondie Boy busy.

Preheat your oven to 160/325.

Line a cupcake/muffin tray with white cupcake liners. Blondie Boy also helped out here. If you have an older child you could have them count out the liners, too. I made 16 cupcakes but if you want slightly larger ones you could do just 12 no problem.

Now spoon one teaspoon of your first colour of batter into each liner. Next drop another teaspoon of the second coloured batter on top of that slightly askew. Repeat with the remaining two colours.

Shove them into the oven; mine took 25 minutes but I had both trays in at the same time. Keep an eye on them as egg-free cupcakes can burn easily. You'll know they are done when a toothpick comes out clean/dry.

For the frosting I got lazy. I forgot I didn't have any icing/powdered sugar and didn't feel like running to the store so I made semi-homemade frosting.

Tub of Vanilla Frosting
Zest and Juice of one Lime
Zest of one Lemon & Juice of Half of a Lemon

Mix the Zest with the Juice and let it sit in the fridge for at least one hour.

Strain off the juice (discard the zest) and add it to one tub of vanilla frosting. Mix until well combined and then refrigerate until thickened/stiff but not hard. I couldn't wait for it to firm up so I spread some frosting on rather than piping it and topped with coloured sugar (mix sugar and food colouring and let dry).

I could only find two of my neon food colouring bottles so I wasn't 100% happy with the brightness of the colours but the didn't turn out bad. Gel or paste food colouring will producer brighter colours than regular food colouring. 

If you want to be healthy you can use Sprite Zero, sub in Splenda for the sugar and leave off the frosting. I haven't figure out the Weight Watchers points but I'm more than happy to if someone would like me to do so!

I call the tie dye rainbow because the white paper looks Tie Dyed to me but Blondie Boy calls them rainbow so I've pick and mixed to again for the name. I think they are lots of fun and I know Blondie Boy and I had fun making and eating them!