Friday, 22 May 2015

Starting a Herb Garden

There is nothing nicer than being able to pop into your garden and pick the herbs you need to flavour your food. I've always had a herb garden but not since I moved into my new house so now it's time to start one up here. The Little Man was a willing helper while we sat at the table in the sunshine and filled little pots with compost and seeds. I wrote the labels and he stuck them on. He had lots of fun and made tons of mess, but no worries, he said we could clean it all up with a magic stick!

Hopefully the seeds will soon start to grow and then we can plant them out into the garden. I can't wait and I'm sure the Little Man is just as impatient. I can't wait to see his face when we start to see the seeds sprout. Now I just have to decide the best place to plant them. I'm thinking maybe the front garden as it's nearer to the kitchen and it would be nice to be greeted with the smell of herbs as we come home. 







































My favourites are chives and dill, I love them with fish, I love rosemary with lamb, but did you know it also tastes really nice with chicken? I've never grown garlic before but I use it all the time so I'm hoping that it grows. Basil and oregano are great with pasta dishes. What's your favourite herb?

I'm linking up with Country Kids from Coombe Mill, it's been such a long time since I made and outdoor post, hopefully there will be more to come.
  Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall 

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Kids In the Kitchen - Damper Bread

Welcome to this weeks Kids in the Kitchen. I hope you have been busy baking up a storm with your kids this week, we'd love to see what you've been up to and you can always join in with our linky. All posts are shared on Pinterest and Twitter and will get a mention here on Kids in the Kitchen next week.

Last week we were joined by the Free From Farmhouse and showed how to make fabulous, and really easy, Vegan Biscuits with the help of little J.

The linky is open until the end of the month and you can join in as many times as you like.

Damper Bread.

The first time we came across Damper Bread was at a family fun day with the scouts. They twisted the bread dough onto sticks and cooked it over a hot campfire. I've always wanted to try and make the bread at home but not over a campfire. Boo was my willing accomplice and she enjoyed reading and following the simple recipe from my bread book.



I'm not a fan of Soda bread because I really don't like the taste of Soda. Damper bread is very similar in texture but without the taste of soda. There is no yeast so no waiting for it to prove, and it is made with ordinary flour as opposed to bread flour. In fact the ingredient list is small and it's so quick and easy to make. I'm tempted to make it regularly now, especially as it was a huge hit with the kids.

Ingredients:

  • 500g self-raising flour white flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 40g butter
  • 2tsp caster sugar
  • 225ml milk
  • 125ml water


Method:

  • preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6, grease a baking sheet and set aside
  • Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl
  • chop butter into chunks and rub into the flour with fingers
  • stir in the sugar
  • add the milk
  • then add the water a little at a time until you have a soft dough
  • turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead gently for a few minutes
  • shape into a round loaf shape and place on the baking sheet
  • cut a cross in the dough about 1cm deep
  • brush the loaf with a little milk and then dust with a little flour
  • bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown
  • transfer to a wire rack to cool





























So now it's over to you, get in the kitchen with your kids and come and share what you've cooked,
I'd also be mighty grateful if you included my badge in your post so others can see it and come along and join in. (although adding the badge is not compulsory to joining in)





Thank you for reading, if you like my blog then please Subscribe to Raisie Bay
You can find out more about Kids in the Kitchen by clicking here.




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Thank you for joining me. If you like my blog I'm looking for nominations into this years MAD blog awards in the School Days category. It would so kind of you to take a moment to vote for http://www.raisiebay.com Thank you x


Tots100 MAD Blog Awards

Sunday, 17 May 2015

My Sunday Photo






























The Little Man was having one of his attention span of a newt days.
It was a lovely sunny afternoon so I took him outside to plant some seeds.
The start of my herb garden.
He didn't mind that the sunglasses were pink.


OneDad3Girls

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Why Do We Hate Blogger Competitions?

Blogger competitions, do you hate them or love them?

When I say Blogger competitions I don't mean competitions hosted on blogs for everyone to enter, but the ones that a blogger enters by creating a post on their blog.

So why do bloggers hate them?

Well, why would you spend hours writing a post for a chance of something in return, when in most cases you can get something for writing a post? Do competitions de-value the blogger? Basically there seems little incentive for the blogger to write a post that they wouldn't normally write for only a chance of a return.

A working blogger will have a set amount that they accept in payment for writing a post for someone else. Or if they are doing a review they expect to receive the product and then spend time writing about it. With a competition it is not guaranteed that the blogger will receive anything for their work so why should they do it?



In reality blogger competitions offer a company or brand a lot of exposure and possible SEO for much less return than paying bloggers a fee for the promotion. This tends to stir up anger amongst the bloggers. They will complain that most entrants are working for nothing, but the brand is still getting the exposure.

A recent competition caused even more of a stir when the brand wanted to vet the blogs that entered so that they would only receive the best kind of SEO in return for their competition. The prize was good, but was it really fair to not allow someone to enter because their domain authority was not up to standard?

If tempted by a competition I'd always advise that you read the terms and conditions. Some will ask you to write a post then choose the winner at random. You may find yourself putting in hours of work on a great post only to find that the winner had written just  few lines to win as Michelle from The Purple Pumpkin Blog discovered. I recently checked terms and conditions for a competition to find they wanted the post written in 300-600 words. My draft had already exceeded 800 words.


So, we can see that there are benefits for the brand holding the competition but are there any benefits for the blogger?

I guess that depends on the competition. Some prizes can be really good, a lot better than you would expect for writing a post normally. So although your chances of receiving anything at all, the opportunity of winning can be a big incentive to write something.

Some bloggers will enter a competition if the prize is something they really like, or competition fits in nicely with something they would write about anyway.

Bloggers who don't normally write for money or do reviews may be tempted by a competition. For some it's not all about what you can earn, but the chance of winning a really nice prize might be too much to miss.

Some bloggers do not get paid huge amounts of money for their posts, or get to review fantastic holidays or great appliances, so a blogger competition may be a perfect opportunity for them.

In the non blogging world competitions are run in a similar way. Entrants are asked to submit something that will give the brand publicity in return for the chance to  win a prize. Even competitions where the only thing you have to do is give your contact details you are actually giving away the opportunity for them and other companies to contact you for advertising purposes in the future (although you are able to opt out if you notice the small print or remember to tick the right box) So most competitions are set up in mind with a greater value to the competition setter than the individual entrants.

Personally, I like Blogger competitions. There, I've said it. It's like a dirty little confession.
Here is another confession. I've won a few! A couple of fabulous holidays and a fantastic and expensive toy which arrived just before last Christmas. Not things I would normally get the opportunity to review.

It's not just the winning though, I like the competition, the challenge. I like to work on my entry, try to make it individual, stand out, make it a winner. I get disappointed when I don't win but I don't automatically think...ah I should have been paid for that post. I take it for what it was, a competition.

I only enter competitions that I'm really interested in. I have to either really want the prize and believe that the entry will fit nicely on my blog and not look totally out of place.

Like most things in life, there will be those that love and those that loathe.


So, in summary here are my pros and cons....please feel free to add yours in the comments.

Pros



  • Gives bloggers the opportunity to receive something much bigger than they would normally get for writing a post.
  • Can be a fun challenge
  • May provide fresh and interesting content for your blog
  • May bring you more visitors to your blog or get you notice more


Cons



  • Can feel like a whole lot of work and effort for only a small chance of return
  • De-values bloggers by using them for SEO and promotion purposes when they should be paid
  • Some competitions can be poorly run
  • The entry may not fit in with the rest of your blog
  • May not add anything of interest to your blog readers
  • May not fit the tone or voice of your blog
  • You may get lots of nagging e-mails about the competition





Thank you for joining me. If you like my blog I'm looking for nominations into this years MAD blog awards in the School Days category. It would so kind of you to take a moment to vote for http://www.raisiebay.com Thank you x


Tots100 MAD Blog Awards

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Organic School Dress Review

Boo's reaction when she saw her new school dress was one of delight. I was so pleased because I know she had been expecting a gingham summer dress rather than a grey pinafore. She loved the little bow decoration, the cute, unusual coconut shell button and the pockets. When she tried it on she loved how comfortable it felt and how it hung, we had lots of twirling going on. The comments she received when she arrived in the playground also made her smile, her friends liked her new dress too.



The Dress came from Eco Outfitters who provide organic cotton school uniforms. It is made from 100% pure organic cotton. The cotton gets softer with washing and as it has not been treated with chemicals it also shrinks a little. The cut of the dress allows for 5% shrinkage. It can be machine washed at 30 degrees but not tumble dried.

As Boo is eight in just a few weeks time I decided to get the 8-9 year size which was a little generous in size for her. The claim was that it would shrink after washing but I didn't notice it much. The skirt still sits just below her knees. I think she will have some growing space which is nice as the material feels as though it will last.

I always use non-biological washing liquid for my washing because I do have other family members with skin issues and I find they get less irritated. I can't use fabric conditioner for the same reason. I washed the dress at 30 degrees on an eco wash. (may as well go all the way on the eco stuff!)

I was worried about not being able to tumble dry, the tumble drier is my best friend, especially in a household of seven. However, I don't tumble dry the school sweaters either so I hoped it would dry like them. I hung it on a coat hanger on the outside of the wardrobe and it was dry overnight.

Because of not tumble drying it did need ironing. Now, me and my iron are not best friends and I only get it out when absolutely necessary. I was pleased to find that the dress ironed really easy and quickly. I did iron it inside out as I worried about shiny bits that you sometimes get when ironing uniforms.



The dress, being a pinafore, is sleeveless and has a button fastening on the one shoulder and three push button fastenings on the side. It has a gathered skirt and a cute belt decoration with a bow. It sells at £18.95 to £19.95 which is a little more than I would usually pay for a school dress, but the quality does show and it's nice that it's organic cotton. I have bought organic cotton clothes before and love the way they feel nicer as they get older and they really do tend to last longer. They are kinder on the skin and help protect the environment by reducing the use of pesticides and protects water quality.

Boo loves her new dress and wants to wear it every day.





Family Fever
Disclosure: we were provided with the pinafore dress from Eco Outfitters in return for a honest review, all thoughts and opinions are my own.