Baking with Smeg

Since I was a little girl, I have always had a great love of baking. I can remember the Nutella cakes my sister and I used to make for our parents; we were so eager to please them and, much to their credit they gladly sampled our concoctions- somehow managing to keep a straight face all the while!
Growing up, my love of baking grew into a real passion. I found relaxation in popping an apron on and making something delicious for the family to enjoy.

When the opportunity arose to collaborate with the Italian brand Smeg, I knew this could be a really exciting way to explore one of my favourite pastimes in the kitchen. Smeg produce some of the most beautiful homeware appliances and are particularly loved for their retro designs that are so popular. I have been an admirer for a long time and so it was really exciting for me to welcome one of their beautiful, pastel blue stand mixers into our home.

When I first opened my mixer, I felt a real surge of excitement hit me. As if the stunning craftsmanship wasn’t enough to convince me, the weight and strength of the mixer really impressed me. Its beautiful, smooth surface and streamlined appearance is quite something to behold. Put simply, I knew instantly that this piece would forever adorn my counter tops- never to be banished to the dark cupboards beneath! 

Having enjoyed The Great British Bakeoff in recent weeks, I have definitely felt inspired to get a bit creative with my baking and now, with a beautiful Smeg stand mixer to trial, I have been all the more eager to have a go at some different recipes!
 Up to this point, I have approached baking from a more ‘old school’ technique in mixing most of my bakes by hand, so I was excited to witness the effect a machine would offer in terms of time saving and the quality of the finished bake. 

Needless to say, I was not disappointed! I can now fully appreciate how stand mixers such as this one are revolutionising the way we create dishes in the home.

I began my trial with a nod to my great love of Italian recipes and opted to make a loaf of bread.
 Using the bread hook to combine the dough, I was relieved of virtually any effort myself. 
I based my bread on Paul Hollywood's recipe for white cob bread which you can view (here). However, I opted to add sun-dried tomatoes and olives for a slightly more mediterranean touch- I just love that combination in bread!

The Smeg operates with a variable speed control which offers 10 speed settings. The mixer gently came to life as I pushed through the first couple of speed settings, getting a feel for its strength and ability. It effortlessly mixed my dough for me which I was able to then decant onto the table to go through the kneading and proving stages.

I ended up with a beautiful, light and flavoursome loaf, infused with flavour and colour. For a novice bread maker, I have to say I was pretty happy with the end result. Nothing beats the smell of freshly baked bread wafting through the house, does it? It certainly had the family eager to sample some! 

We found this bread went particularly well with parma hams, soft cheeses and plenty more olives! Just revisiting these photos of our evening meal has me wanting to bake another loaf all over again!

Of course, no baking session would be complete with incorporating chocolate somewhere. I wanted to really push the Smeg and so I decided to go for a chocolate cake. Not just any cake though- Mary Berry's Chocolate Obsession gateaux. Pulling out all the stops here, I really wanted to see how well the mixer could cope with finding that perfect balance between mixing wet ingredients thoroughly, whilst still allowing plenty of air to be incorporated.
Once more, the Smeg came to life with just a gentle push on the speed lever and, within a matter of seconds, my cake batter was mixed to perfection.  

I had my little helper on hand for this task, which made the whole process really enjoyable and fun. Sometimes I find myself in a hurry to complete a bake, but Noah reminds me to take my time and enjoy the magic of it all- including the obligatory chocolate spoon licking!

I think that is one of my favourite aspects of the stand mixer: its ease of use. I am by no means exaggerating by saying my toddler could operate it. The design is unfussy and just so practical which makes it a pleasure to involve the whole family in baking. 

I think its versatility is one of this stand mixer's greatest assets. Whilst it already comes with three mixing attachments: the whisk, beater and dough hook; you can also purchase a pasta roller and cutter set and a spaghetti cutter. With these additional accessories, I know I will be able to enjoy a real celebration of inspired Italian cuisine- right from the comfort of my home!

I've popped a little video up on our youtube channel- it's time to get that kettle on and have your cuppa (and slice of cake) at the ready!


Love Bunty

Disclaimer: Whilst this post is a collaborative effort, all opinions expressed are representative of Bunty Living.



Raising Those Rascals

It has been a real pleasure sifting through all the photos tagged with #RaisingThoseRascals in the past seven days. Since Charlotte and I launched this campaign last week, we have been delighted with such a positive response from you all and so pleased you have wanted to join in!

As we have said from the beginning, the idea behind Raising Those Rascals is about supporting parents using social media as a tool to create a safe, friendly and positive network of mums and dads. Already, I really have a sense of togetherness when I get to read snippets from your days (and nights!) looking after your precious little bundles. It's so encouraging to know that we are all 'in the same boat' when coping with the challenges this season of life brings us as parents.

This week our family life has been busy and, somewhat hectic too. We are in the process of moving our lives further north and, for all those of you who have moved home with little ones, you will understand this is no task for the faint hearted! 
I think the kiddos sense something afoot as we have been house hunting these last couple of weeks and relying on family to help us with looking after them. As a result, routines have been a bit all over the place.

But good news guys- we think we have finally found our new home! God willing it will all go through smoothly and I'm already mentally planning all the little home-making blog posts to bring your way! (I can see my husband face-palming already!)

I really want to say a massive Thank you for all of your beautiful entries on #RaisingThoseRascals this week. I really enjoyed seeing all your beautiful babies and family life antics captioned beneath. The humour, the fun, the super cute outfits- what gorgeous families you have!

As promised, here are a few of my faves from the last week. Just look at all those chubby cheeks! 
Top left: @life_with_oakley 
Top right: @mrsknief
Bottom left: @emilycambrey
Bottom right: @mrs_p_and_my_4
Top Left: @sian_amy87
Top right: @oohhlalaamyevelyn
Bottom left: @theditsyhouse
Bottom right: @rachel.marilyn.reeder

Once again, thank you for allowing me to share these beautiful images mamas, I cant wait to see next week's! Do keep them coming in  as I will be looking for some more to feature next Monday.

Don't forget to check out Charlotte's beautiful blog too as she has also been uploading her favourite images from this week and has written a lovely blog post. She has a stunning blog and Instagram feed, both are well worth a little scroll if you get five! 

Finally, I just want to wish you all a wonderful week. Our job isn't easy mamas, but there is so much joy and fulfilment in the small details of the everyday, isn't there? 
Always remember:

'The hand that rocks the cradle, rules the world!'- Mom's night out

Love Bunty



Winter essentials

I've really noticed the darkening evenings recently. By about three in the afternoon that dull haze seems to creep into the atmosphere and I feel myself conscious of the few hours of real daylight left. Normally at this time of day I will grab my camera to quickly chance any last photos I need before the light totally changes. Typical blogger!

Another side effect of the transition into Autumn and Winter is that I have found myself checking to see the time a lot more. Whilst during the summer months I find it really easy to 'guess' the time,  I've felt completely thrown in recent weeks as we are rapidly losing the light. 
I have never really worn a watch consistently but when I was in Next last week, I picked up a simple leather strap so that I didn't have to always have my phone on me. In all honesty, I have found myself wearing this more than I thought I would! I think it will definitely be a bit of a 'winter essential' in the coming months!

Speaking of winter essentials- hand cream is up there with the best of them! I picked up Zoella's recent release and I have been loving it! It has a really gentle scent which is so delicate and feminine. It isn't at all overpowering or offensive as some hand lotions can be- I love it!
One week in and I am already using this several times a day...Definitely one for the repurchase list!

Finally, when I think about my winter essentials, I always imagine a cosy spot to sit with a nice cup of tea and catch up on a homey magazine... Grandma has some lovely spots in her home where you can sneak a couple of minutes peace- (roll on nap time kiddies!) I love the way she uses faux fur throws to enhance her furniture with extra comfort and warmth. This little spot in front of the fire is absolutely a winter essential! 

What are your winter essentials?
Love Bunty



Raising Those Rascals

Hello everyone! Today I have a bit of a different post to bring your way. Blogger Charlotte Amor Valentine (The house that made me) and I are launching a campaign together. Using our blogs and social media, we want to support parents though the journey of raising their little ones. 

 Our collaboration all grew from growing frustration with the pressure to appear so idealistic in our blogs and social media accounts. We both acknowledge that not every day looks as ‘picture perfect’ as our kitchen table blooms appear to be. Life isn’t perfect and in learning to live out this truth, we both felt compelled to offer an insight into the less than picture perfect moments of our days. Ultimately, we want to offer a platform of support to other mothers and fathers out there who struggle as we do with the ups and downs of raising our families and to dispel any taboo that it isn’t perfectly normal to feel overwhelmed at times.

Being a wife and mother is the best thing I have ever done and it is by far the most rewarding. Yet in this world where imagery holds such power and influence, I feel a responsibility for portraying a realistic image of our life. Charlotte and I have both struggled from time to time with a sense of ‘keeping up’ with social media trends and popular ‘cliques' which can be so exhausting. Whilst I know these things are flawed, we really want to bring a clarity and transparency to the images we present. We want to inspire, motivate, support and befriend all of you lovely readers!


We have decided to launch a hashtag on our social media: #RaisingThoseRascals which, if you would like to be involved, we ask you to use when you post your images on social media. This is going to be the name and forefront of our campaign and we are so excited to see how it grows each day. We would love you to join in as it will really bring to life this platform where we can inspire and raise each other up.

 Each week, Charlotte and I will be posting on our blogs a little about how our week has been and sharing with your our high and low moments. We will also be looking through the hashtag and selecting our favourite images from you all to feature on our blogs. We hope this will become a really fun, supportive network of people encouraging each other and raising those rascals together!

 For the struggling Mama, the tired out Daddy, the parents who just want to know they are not alone in this- you are the reason we started this!
For the mums who look back on their children's early years and wish they could do them all over again, the fathers who now cherish their grandchildren- you are our inspiration!
For the parents who are thriving, who don’t always have it together but do their best to raise their rascals anyway- this is also for you!

We hope you join us on this journey together and we are so excited to share it with you! 

Lets begin Raising those rascals together!

Love Bunty



Cheerz photo app!

I've always had a bit of a thing for photo prints. Growing up in the 90's, I can remember wishing I could cover my room in cool displays featuring our adventures as children and childhood dreams. The concept of being able to print your own photos into little squares is right up my street!
 I am impatient though and have never been into putting my photos on a memory stick to take down to a public photo printing facility- All that hassle just to fill a photo frame! 
So when I discovered that Cheerz offered exactly what I had been looking for in the easiest, most accessible way possible, I have to admit I was pretty excited!

 Cheerz is a new photo printing app and website which allows you to easily print your off your memories in a fun and creative way. Using your Facebook, Instagram and phone photos, you can create unique retro-style prints, magnets and photobooks- all at the touch of a button!

Cheerz recently got in touch with me and very kindly asked me to trial the whole experience of using their service. Honestly, for someone who doesn't normally go to the bother of printing photos all that often, Cheerz has revolutionised what can be a mundane chore and turned it into a very simple, quick and enjoyable experience. I was able to select my photos (all from the convenience of my phone) and send them to print within a matter of minutes. That same evening I received an alert to let me know that my prints were already in production and the following morning they were in the post, on their way!

 I have to say I am genuinely very impressed not only with the friendly service I received but the quality of my prints, all 45 of them. I chose the Cheerz box which houses my prints safely so I don't have to worry about losing them around the house (or to my toddler!) The packaging is vibrant and fun and really goes to show how Cheerz are dedicated to pleasing their customers with something a bit different.


 I have teamed up with Cheerz to offer three lucky readers the chance to win a £20 voucher towards any of their products! This really is an amazing offer and I can't commend Cheerz highly enough for their quality and service. 

Keep your eyes peeled for this competition which will be hosted via my Instagram page very soon! In the meantime, do head over to their website here and take a wee look at all the goodies they have on offer!

Love Bunty

*This is a collaborative post. Whilst I was kindly gifted the products mentioned above, all opinions expressed are authentic and representative of Bunty Living.



The end of our breastfeeding journey

I really wanted to write a little post about my decision to stop breastfeeding, now that it has been a few days since I completely finished. In the end I had very mixed feelings about it and I guess I wasn't expecting to find it to be the emotional battle that it was.
For those who have read my little updates about Jonah since his birth, you'll probably know that I supplemented feeding him myself with formula bottles, pretty much from the word go. Before we began weaning onto solid foods, I tended to breastfeed on demand day and night, whilst topping up Jonah's growing appetite with bottle feeds in between. 
In all honesty, I didn't expect to breastfeed for as long as I have and I have wondered each and every passing month if this would be my last month of feeding him myself. Needless to say, it was never a very seamlessly smooth journey for me, but it is certainly one that I have greatly valued!
 The emotional battle of knowing deep down that I wasn't able to support him on my own has always niggled away at the back of my mind, most especially when faced with continued campaigns from well meaning advocates of 'breast is best'. And yes, I do whole heartedly understand that it is.

From my experiences of breastfeeding two babies, I always felt like I was in a bit of a weird category. Whilst I considered myself lucky that I could breastfeed at all, my choice to bottlefeed at the same time never really felt like MY choice. It was the only solution I had to support my babies without compromising their weight gain and overall health.
I definitely had my struggles with the stigma around comparing mothers who breastfeed and those who bottle-feed their babies. I found myself growing frustrated with the assumption that I was a certain type of mother because I breastfed, as if it was the 'correct' response of me to be feeding my baby this way. Part of me wanted to shout that actually, it was all thanks bottle feeding Noah (alongside breastfeeding him) that we were kept from being admitted to hospital in his early weeks. I am so grateful that there was another option for us, here in the UK. And I thank God that like so many families in times gone by, we weren't faced with such bleak odds when my own body couldn't keep up with my babies demands.

My decision to stop breastfeeding last week was also out of my hands too. Whilst I would have liked to continue nearer to Jonah's first birthday if I could, it was becoming pretty impossible with his teething. Put quite simply, I felt if I ever wanted to breastfeed again in the future, I should probably stop now as Jonah was quite happy using me as his teether and it was just not working out.

For me, the end of breastfeeding your baby marks that full transition from pregnancy to being back to yourself again. I always have a sense of 'coming full circle' when I stop breastfeeding. It's definitely bitter sweet as having that closeness with your child is such a bonding experience and yet, here I am marking my very first step of many to come, in letting go of my baby. 
Jonah on the other hand almost doesn't seem to have noticed anything. To me his reaction has validated that I made the right decision- that it wasn't too early and that he doesn't need me in this way any more.

I'm not here to campaign or pressure either way when it comes to feeding your baby. I have relied on both options and am really grateful that I was able to do so. I only hope my experience might cast a little light over what can be a really daunting and difficult circumstance, especially for new mothers in a similar position to me. I've said it before and more than ever I really hold onto the fact that we, as mothers and fathers, should not get too caught up in what's best for us (whether that is breast feeding or bottle feeding), but place the overall needs of our babies first.

Love Bunty

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