Saturday 8th – It’s been about a month now that EVERY day I am asked by the little people, how many days to our birthday mummy? And quite frankly it’s doing my head in soooo I sat down with them and designed their own little countdown calendar which they have taken enormous pleasure making a cross each day, even going to the point of waking me at 6am to remind me it needs doing.

birthday countdown chart

Sunday 9th – A quiet day and a lazy one at that but we did make time to read the tricky words which they read off very easily, I am absolutely amazed at how well they read and we are currently organising a reading corner in their bedroom to use over the summer when they want a quiet moment (or me for that matter!)

twinkl tricky words

Monday 10th – I got my Panasonic breadmaker out again and made a normal white loaf which was devoured the same day, later on in the week I tried the Italian program and made Porcini and pancetta bread (below). It was delicious and I’ll be posting the recipe up soon along with a sweet bread Apricot and almond.

porcini and pancetta bread

Tuesday 11th – Messy desk, messy house = Tea break

tea break

Wednesday 12th – A trip to Specsavers to pick up my new prescription glasses and luckily I was able to make use of the BOGOF deal so I have brand new prescription sunglasses too. I’ll take a photo of them if ever the sun comes out again!

glasses

Thursday 13th – When I received an email asking me if I would like to take part in World Gin Day I jumped for joy and shouted loudly all over Facebook how lucky I was to be sent bottles of gin, rum and a ginger liqueur for the occasion … and then it arrived and oh dear, the disappointment, the disbelief. How can I possibly celebrate with a miniature bottle. At the risk of sounding ungrateful I will say I expected more I’m afraid but here it is and also your timely reminder that Saturday 15th June is World Gin Day.

world gin day

Friday 14th – We have finally managed to get the correct break for the Mini Micro scooter  (thank you!) and can now happily scoot to and from school knowing they can stop at the roads.

scooting to school

 

If there was one product I really wanted to try out of the Panasonic kitchen range it was the Panasonic breadmaker and on the understanding I wrote a guest post for The Ideas Kitchen they sent me one to have fun with and boy do I love it.

The first recipe I tried was my guest post and I chose Chocolate and orange bread. It worked fabulously and was a hit with all the family – dad included! This recipe is ideal for a tastier toast in the morning or an afternoon snack with butter on top.

Chocolate and Orange Bread

chocolate and orange breadIngredients
400g strong white bread flour
2 tbsp cocoa
1 tsp ground mixed spice
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp light muscovado sugar
50g mixed peel
50g chocolate/chocolate chips
125 ml warm water
50 ml orange juice
30g butter
1 1/2 tsp easy bake yeast

Method

1. Sift together the flour, cocoa and spice in a bowl.

2. Add all the dry ingredients to the bread pan, add the mixed peel and the chocolate pieces. Pour over the water and the orange juice. If your breadmaker recommends wet ingredients first, simply reverse the order.

3. Add the yeast to the top compartment and set the breadmaker to medium (small) loaf and medium crust. Using the Panasonic SD-ZB2502 the setting was for 4 hours.

4. Once the cycle is completed remove from the pan.

5. Serve sliced and buttered too if you’re feeling really naughty.

 

Having had such success I decided to start using the recipes out of the book and started with a white loaf. That too came out perfectly and was gone in about two days, my only concern was dad’s huge doorstep slices for his sandwiches! The first photo has an Instagram filter on it ;)

making bread

Next I tried the rapid white loaf and although it did produce a good loaf of bread, we noted it was a denser loaf and not as good as the white loaf that takes 4 hours. On speaking to the Panasonic kitchen this is normal and is because the gluten hasn’t had more time to work. However, it was still very edible and if you need a loaf in a hurry this is made in just over 1 hour.

Then I decided to try a brown loaf as personally I prefer brown or wholemeal as opposed to white.

Oh dear! What a disaster

brown bread

let’s look inside – how disappointing

brown bread

not very good at all – is it the machine? Or am I doing something wrong?

I decided to chat with the Panasonic kitchen testers again and when they heard that I had had a few successful loaves from the Panasonic breadmaker they ruled out any problem with the machine but suggested I make a white loaf just to put my mind at rest.

They asked me if I’d used dry yeast – I had.

They asked me if I had weighed out all the ingredients properly and used the right amount of water – I had

They then asked which type of flour I had used, apparently Britain suffered a terrible flour crop last year due to the miserable summer conditions and this has had an enormous effect on the flour available on the supermarket shelves, sadly my Sainsbury’s brown flour just didn’t have a good enough gluten content to produce a nice fluffy light loaf. Waitrose brown and organic is currently the best flour out there. AT THE MOMENT.

Tip for poor flour

A good tip they offered so as not to have to throw the half bag of flour away was the addition of 2 teaspoons of lemon juice to the ingredients and using rapid selection. I shall let you know how I get on with that.

So peeps it’s back to the drawing board and off to Waitrose to buy some of their flour to see if I can produce a good brown loaf.

Moral of the story – don’t give up on your machine, use it more often so it becomes an addition to your kitchen rather than a burden clogging up your cupboards. When in doubt check out The Ideas Kitchen for plenty of good advice and support.

I can’t wait to try the recipes for focaccia and ciabatta – watch this space

TheBoyandMe's 365 LinkyThis week saw the beginning of the Easter holidays, a freeeeezing bitter cold and our Ambassador Butlins break at Bognor Regis which really succeeded once again in cheering us all up.

I went to buy some net curtains today (Friday) in John Lewis, it was lunchtime and there were a lot of mums with noisy kids, some screaming, some being unruly and my two, well they weren’t too bad considering I was there for over half an hour. Anyway the woman cutting the fabric raised her eyes at me on hearing one piercing shriek (not my kids) and said, ‘I bet you can’t wait for the kids to go back to school?’

I nodded and raised my eyes too but it was a lie.

I LOVE having the girls home with me, I love hearing their chatter all over the house. I don’t mind picking up toys that have been played with and then left behind whilst they move on to the next imaginary game using something else. I love cooking their favourite foods for them, having them slip into my bed in the early morning (maybe too early sometimes) but the hugs are priceless. I love the relaxed attitude that a school holiday brings with it but I couldn’t be bothered to tell the shop assistant all of this, she maybe would have thought I was mad?

Right here we go – I’m taking it from last Friday, Good Friday as that’s when we left for Bognor Regis and the fun started, it’s very difficult for me to choose a couple of shots from Butlins when I took about 300 but I daren’t bore you

Friday – Arrival at Butlins and this was our room, a beautiful honeymoon welcome which really made us and the girls smile. They played with the swans. We wathch the Skyline Gang in the Pavilion and eat late, poor Bess falls asleep at the table :( and we cart her off to na’nights.

Wave hotel butlins bognor regis

Saturday – Bessie is VERY under the weather but determined to leave the room. She is desperate to try out the brand new Helter Skelter we’ve been talking about. She does incredibly well and even manages to see a show but after that we’re off to bed for a good night’s sleep.

butlins kids fun

Sunday – Bessie is still not 100% but a little bit better. We decide not to try out Splash Waterworld (although daddy is definitely trying his best to convince me) I have the enormous pleasure of trying out the Ocean Spa as a wedding present (thank you once again Butlins) I opt for the Deep muscle shiatsu full body treatment envisioning total relax and wafting in the lap of luxury …. little did I realise it’s the toughest on the menu and one footballers use! It was good, painful in places, the knots in my shoulders were very stubborn but overall a beautiful experience. Thank you Butlins x That said, next time I’ll go for a more gentle massage ;)

ocean spa butlins

Monday – Splash Waterworld, a last trip on the Helter Skelter and then homeward bound. A very good journey but boy is the house cold when we arrive. Whack up the heating and get the girls on the sofa under covers

butlins funfair bognor regis

Tuesday – Paul back to work, the girls sleep in till 8.30am – unheard of and the lap of luxury. I wash two loads and hang them on the  line but it’s bitterly cold out there and don’t dry completely. I buy the girls a hopscotch game from the supermarket and they love it.

hopscotch

Wednesday – Another 8am start (Bring it on!) we try to do some Bug Club but the site is down, we read, the girls play, I iron with my brand new Panasonic super dooper iron which I have yet to tell you about and I bake bread in my Panasonic breadmaker – chocolate and orange bread recipe to follow

chocolate and orange bread

Thursday – What day is it? What happened? Oh yes it snowed!!! It snowed on and off all day long. We went to see my grandmother and we talked for ages about my great grandfather and his wife, my late grandfathers parents. Nan mentioned how much she misses her parents. She’s 93 this year and yet she says she can remember being back in her home in Winsford, the wallpaper, the smells, how her father was dressed, so clearly. I realise it must be difficult getting old.

snow in april

Friday – Net curtains, chicken Bhuna curry plus the Panasonic vegetable curry again. The girls decorate their micro scooters with the accessories that have been sent to us. We manage to eat another couple of Easter eggs and now we are left with only 10 more. I swear next year to speak to the aunties and try to cut this out. As I close the girls curtains I am greeted with this spectacular sunset so I run downstairs to capture it before it changes

micro scooters

 

I am one of 10 lucky bloggers chosen by Panasonic to be part of their Intelligent Living Mums group. This means I get to go to Panasonic HQ in Bracknell a few times over the next year, see their products, new ones coming up for launch and chat about Intelligent Living with them.

Panasonic kettles to be launched in October

Panasonic kettles to be launched in October, toaster to match

My first trip was last Thursday and although VERY excited, I just knew in my bones I was going to have a great day I just didn’t know how brilliant it would be.

Out of the 10 bloggers I already knew four and I always love meeting bloggers I haven’t met before. Here’s a list of all of us

Emma http://www.mummymummymum.com/
Filipa http://www.gourmetmum.tv/
Laura http://www.thelifeandtimesoftheworkingmum.com/
Lucinda http://www.bakesbooksandmyboys.blogspot.co.uk/
Marianne http://marisworld.co.uk/
Monika http://mumonthebrink.com/
Penny http://aresidence.co.uk/
Ruth http://geekmummy.com/
Sara http://www.walkingwithangels.co.uk/

Penny Alexander models a Panasonic fridge

Penny Alexander checks out the Panasonic fridge

I was completely blown away by my Panasonic day. I never expected to learn so much or to be so humbled by an international corporate organisation but I was.

Mr John Hardy the Sales and Marketing director played a major part in our day and what a likeable man. Soft talking and gentle manner he won us over in two minutes of meeting him. He filled us in on the history of Panasonic and what a humble beginning!

When I found out about Konosuke Matsushita, the founder of Panasonic and listened to his life story I was captivated. A lad who at 9 years old had to leave home to work as an apprentice and has grafted every single day of his life. I am reading one of his books given to me on the day and I can’t put it down. Such an inspirational man. He founded Panasonic – then Matsushita Electrics, in 1917

It quickly becomes clear that Panasonic multi international company is based on very strong, deep values which are as important today as they were at the beginning. You can’t help but be totally amazed by the company philosophy which in a nutshell is to produce products that help the customer and enhance their life. Their products must make people’s lives better and free up time to spend on quality family time. If a product doesn’t do that, they won’t bother making it.

Panasonic museum

I learnt that Panasonic is the largest consumer electronics company in the world, not bad from starting off with a double plug adaptor and a bicycle lamp, they even make Panahomes in Japan where Panasonic make 99% of the house!

Konosuke wanted to look after his staff too and founded the PHP Institute Peace and Happiness through Prosperity, he established a local hospital to benefit the society around him and his entire life was spent giving back to make society a better place to live in.

Konosuke Matsushita

I learnt so much more in that one day. I learnt how to use their bread maker and I am now longing for one of my own. Panasonic corner 60% of the bread making machine market, their success is entirely based on word of mouth as no advertising is employed. Their machine Karin Joyce, even makes gluten free loaves as they work closely with the coeliac society. You can make spelt loaves and Nickie72 the dough for focaccia and ciabatta can be made in the breadmaker and finished off in the stove I was delighted to hear.

Panasonic bread maker

I have started my Christmas list with this product take note Santa!

Their bread machine won Which Best Buy and is endorsed by the Good Housekeeping Institute. Funnily enough Which mentions one negative on their bread maker there is no viewing panel on the top but listen up – they don’t want a viewing panel as it causes condensation to fall back on the dough preventing a crusty dough! So it’s NOT a negative but a positive

I learnt that each year the flour crop is different, I learnt that this year’s best flour is Waitrose’ own make or Tesco’s and that the flour you use makes a difference.

I also picked up the tip of adding the yeast to the pan before the flour ;)

We moved onto washing machines and I learnt that blood stains should be washed at a low temperature, if you try to wash at a high temperature you will ‘burn’ the stain onto the fabric and it will never come out. As I helpfully pointed out to Panasonic this little tip will really mess up CSI’s forensic investigations! All the murderers can clean their clothes of blood stains!

Panasonic washing machines

Panasonic have set up The Ideas Kitchen for customers and it’s full of recipes, tips and tricks with lots of myth busters for their range of combi microwaves. It’s not a selling site, you won’t find one product on there but you will find lots of tutorials on how to use the products

lunch at Panasonic

We were very lucky bloggers as we all came home with a goody bag, we fished out our product written on a piece of paper, Two mums got one of my bread makers and I fished out a Panasonic epilator ‘ouch’ and didn’t hesitate to swap with Penny for her Panasonic Milano men’s three blade shaver which Paul is very impressed with. I also have a great Panasonic cam corder to play around with so watch this space ;)

Verdict – I can’t wait for the Christmas met up and thanks Panasonic for an amazing day