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We'll be taking a short blogging and social media break for the rest of August.

If you are trying to get in touch with us, please be patient.

Enjoy the rest of August!


A passion for Pink Lining...A dream come true!

You may remember earlier in the summer that we wrote a blogpost and made a couple of videos to share our passion for a certain brand...a brand that we adore, a brand that's been part of our lives for several years and just as the tagline on their website says...'designed for our family and yours', they seem to pre-empt and meet our needs as a family for carrying baby and toddler items with us wherever we go. It is of course the utterly wonderful Pink Lining brand!

Today we have exciting news to share...

Very exciting news....

news that deserves a very big virtual drumroll....
A photo posted by Rebecca Beesley (@rebeccabeesley) on
We will get to review some of the most fabulous products (including an item from the newly launched Autumn/Winter 2015 range. They also have some cute new designs for the Pink Lining Child range too!) and share with you exciting Pink Lining news throughout the year. We are not alone in our passion for Pink Lining so you can meet all the other Pink Lining Ambassadors here.

So here's our shiny new blog badge to share this fantastic news:


Bake Off Biscuit Week: Naan berenji - Persian Rice flour Shortbread

This week was biscuit week on bake off and I loved the look of all those biscotti. I'd love to have a go at cooking biscotti one day. For my biscuit week bake I wanted to look back to my roots, my heritage, and make an Iranian biscuit.

I remember these rice shortbreads from my childhood. Having an Iranian mother meant that we were fortunate enough to taste many interesting foods that my peers did not. One such food was naan berenji (rice flour shortbread). I don't recall my mum ever actually baking these but I do remember eating them at her friends houses or friends returning from visits to Iran bringing some back for her. 

The recipe for these is pretty straightforward, but the chilling time for the dough could well be a world record for the longest chilled biscuit dough. Depending on which recipe you find, it varies from a minimum of 6 hours, 8 hours, overnight or up to a whopping 24hours!

It uses rice flour instead of ordinary flour and so the biscuits end up VERY dry tasting. They are supposed to be like this to be eaten with Persian tea but I know the dryness is not to everyone's liking. (I know I know, I'm having mine with green tea rather than proper persian tea!) 

360g rice flour
240g unsalted butter
2 eggs
240g icing sugar
Poppy seeds (optional)
Ground cardamom seeds (around 1 teaspoon to taste)
Rosewater (1-2 tablespoons to taste)

1. Cream together the butter and sugar and then add the eggs, beating well after each egg is added.
2. Add the rice flour and cardamom and beat until a stiff dough is formed.
3. Wrap in cling film and chill for a very long time! I did 6 hours but you can leave for up to 24 hours.
4. Once your dough is chilled thoroughly for all those hours, preheat the oven to 190C. 
5. Line a baking sheet with baking paper. 
6. The dough is a very strange consistency and so instead of trying to divide it into pieces or roll it to cut it, the way to handle it is to use a spoon to cut off small pieces. Then shape these pieces into balls and slightly flatten them as you place them onto the baking sheet. They are quite small biscuits so each biscuit will probably be only about 3cm wide.

7. To get the perfect traditional look for these biscuits, you are supposed to press a thimble onto the centre, then sprinkle a few poppy seeds onto the thimble marks. I found a fork print or using a knife to score a little star pattern works just as well. You can leave out the poppy seeds altogether if you wish as I did with some of mine.

8. Bake for around 12 minutes. They are supposed to be characteristically pale in colour. They should not brown. My first batch came out perfectly, but I wish I had placed the second tray in for a shorter amount of time as those ones did brown a little.

The amount of cardamom and rosewater can be varied according to taste. I personally love cardamom so used a whole teaspoon of ground cardamom seeds in it. Too much rosewater can end up reminding us of those overpowering rose flavoured soaps so you need just enough rosewater to give it a lovely hint without it being overpowering. For me just 1 tablespoon was fine.

I'm really glad I made these as it is one of those things I've always wanted to bake and (apart from the long chill time) they were actually far more straight forward than I imagined them to be.

Once again we are linking up with Silver Mushroom's Bake With Bake Off and the Great Bloggers Bake Off at Mummy Mishaps.

Mummy Mishaps


A whizz around the kitchen

I can't say I like cleaning. In fact, I really don't enjoy cleaning so I try to make the process as quick and pain-free as possible. That's where having great products that make the job easier really helps.

We've long been fans of the e-cloth range of products. Since discovering them a few years ago, we've found that it makes chemical-free cleaning a whole lot easier and a lot cheaper than relying on disposable cloths and expensive cleaning detergents.

The first product we used was the original 'general purpose e-cloth'. I remember being totally wowed by its effectiveness. I regularly show the kids the before and after places that I clean with it.

Soon after, we invested in a 'Glass and polishing e-cloth' which has proved fantastic on mirrors.

Then as our tea towels needed replacing, you guessed it, we replaced them with e-towels. And the list goes on...we have an e-cloth product for cleaning stainless steel, we use e-cloths luxury hand towels to dry our hands and more.

So we really didn't need convincing of just how great e-cloth products are. They were one of the first products that we came across that were better than their traditional counterparts in terms of effectiveness whilst being better for the environment too.

The Kitchen Whizz is one of the newest products from e-cloth and when we were asked to give it a whizz around our kitchen, of course we were going to say yes!

With J at pedal karting this afternoon, I had a few moments to myself to tidy the kitchen so thought it would be a great time to give it a very speedy clean with the e-cloth Kitchen Whizz at the same time.

It is a green pad with extra long fibres to get to hard-to-reach areas around sinks and taps. It has slightly rubbery feeling 'scrubbing stripes' to help with those stubborn parts that need cleaning.
Like the other e-cloths, it can be popped into the washing machine for a wash and re-used again and again. The pad is guaranteed to give at least 3 years use. It's priced at just £2.99 and you don't need to use any cleaning fluids with it. Incredible!  

I'm well aware that my kitchen could do with a very deep clean (so don't judge me) but I did want to take some before and after photos of just how quick and easy it was to do a speedy clean with the Kitchen Whizz.

I used it mainly on the tap and sink area and then decided to give the hob a quick clean too (even though I do have the stainless steel e-cloth, I was curious to see how the Kitchen Whizz would fare).

 I think it did pretty well. I'm going to keep it by the sink so I can regularly whizz round the kitchen whenever I get the chance. I was particularly impressed with how shiny it got the tap looking.

So Kitchen Whizz, you've passed our test and we welcome you into our home to join all the other e-cloth products we have here that help make cleaning chores that little bit easier. e-cloth - we love you!

Disclosure: Although we were sent the e-cloth Kitchen Whizz for the purposes of review, all of the other e-cloth products we've mentioned (and more) we have purchased ourselves in the past and fully recommend all these wonderful products!

Book review: Hotel Alpha, by Mark Watson

Review by Richard Beesley.

This unique book by Mark Watson tells the story of Hotel Alpha, a fictional hotel in London, over the decades from its opening through to the unravelling of the intertwined and complex tales of both guests and owners.

Told from the viewpoints of Graham - the ever-loyal concierge - and Chas - the son of the owner - we get sucked in to life at the Alpha. For both of them, the hotel is their entire world, but for different reasons. From the ostentatious doors, through the vast lobby, and into the smoking room (later the IT Suite), we see, hear and smell the decadence. We become used to Graham's unwavering sense of duty and his unquestioning loyalty.

But there are stories behind the success of the Alpha; stories Howard York (the owner) does not want us to know. Strange things, it seems, happen in this hotel, but over the years the loose ends begin to unravel and cause Graham and Chas to think more carefully about their worlds.

This tale imaginatively continues online, with a hundred more short stories told from the perspectives of the guests and others who receive only a brief mention in the book itself. Of course, we can never be sure which version of events is correct, and only the reader can decide what will happen to the guests, the staff and the hotel.

Hotel Alpha, by Mark Watson, is published by PanMacmillan and is available from their website.

Disclosure: Pan Macmillan sent me this book to keep for the purposes of review. All opinions are our own.

My Shabby Chic Vintage Inspired Tea Shed

I try not to have too many regrets in life, but here are two. When we moved into our house 14 years ago, there were not 1, but 2 sheds in the garden. I can only think that we were young and stupid as we rapidly demolished them both. We didn't have children back then and didn't have any immediate plans to have kids so we found ourselves with ample space in the house and garage and had no need for a shed.

Or so we thought. Fast forward 14 years and space is at a premium. We've already extended the house once and still find there's never enough space for us and three kids with all the 'stuff' that they seem to accumulate.

I find myself desperate for a space of my own. Somewhere to hide away and be able to just sit, and read and perhaps have a cup of tea without constant disturbance and disruption. In recent years, I've discovered the joy of baking as a way to unwind and escape so my perfect secret shed would be a place to enjoy tea and cake.

But more than that it would be decorated in my dream style perfect for afternoon tea with a shabby-chic vintage inspired theme to it. Think lots of pretty pastel bunting, Royal Albert cups and cakestands, deliberately distressed furniture, and just lots of pretty things around. The kind of items I'd like to have in my home but there's never enough space to have because of all the children's things taking priority inside the house.

My drawing above gives a little sneak peek into some of the things that might be found in my secret dream shed, but as my drawings leave a lot to be desired, I thought a pinterest board would do the job better:

Follow Rebecca's board Vintage / Shabby-Chic Tea room Shed inspiration on Pinterest.

And there is a very definite colour scheme I have in mind, that vintage shade of green, the off-white furniture and pretty pastel pinks and creams. Again another pinterest board, this time to demonstrate the feel of the colours I have in mind:

Follow Rebecca's board Colour schemes on Pinterest.

For the shed itself, I know I'd need to look no futher than Tiger Sheds and their huge selection ranging from garden sheds, to summerhouses, to log cabins to playhouses and more.

This is my entry into The Ana Mum Diary competition with Tiger Sheds to style my dream secret shed.