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What You Need to Make Your Own Bread at Home.

Friday, 22 August 2014

If you’re hooked on the Great British Bake Off once again then you’re probably considering heading into the kitchen to test out your own baking skills. Bread is one of the more complicated things to bake but is also incredibly rewarding, so here’s what you need to set yourself on the way to baking a great loaf…


Bread flour – You should be fine with normal supermarket flour, but you can experiment a little when you’re feeling more adventurous.

Yeast – This is what will make the bread rise. You can get fresh yeast although fast action yeast usually works just as well.

Warm water - the water must be warm to activate the yeast. A good ratio is 1/3 freshly boiled water to 2/3 cold water.

Salt - This helps keep the yeast under control and also adds a little taste to the bread.

Sugar - you don't need to use sugar but it can help add a little more taste.

Eggs - not technically necessary but help to bind everything together. Some people like to use them, some don't.

Butter - like eggs, some people use butter, some don't. It can add some flavour and can make the bread more moist.

This is only the ingredients for a standard loaf of white bread. There are a huge number of different types of bread, as you can see here, and all require slightly different ingredients, although most will still use the above as a base.


You really don’t need an awful lot of equipment to make bread, but here are a few things that can help the process…

  A good set of scales – You can’t get by without a good set of scales, especially when weights need to be precise.

  A dough scraper – You can get these dirt cheap but they are incredibly handy. They’re good for mixing and also for scraping up bits of dough.

  A surface to work on – Essential really. You need a flat surface, ideally cold so the dough doesn’t stick to it, and sprinkle it with flour, again to stop sticking.

  A mixing bowl – If you don’t want to knead the dough straight on the worktop then you can do it in a bowl. Once it’s kneaded, you can leave it in the bowl with some Clingfilm over the top to proof.

  A bread tin – If you want that perfect bread shape then you’ll want to pop it in a bread tin to proof and cook. You can get various different shapes and sizes of bread tin depending on what you want your bread to look like.

Of course, if you’re feeling lazy or don’t have the time then you can use bread packet mixes or a bread maker. There’s really no shame in doing it this way and you can make some really delicious bread. Bread makers are pretty good at producing a good loaf and the ones here at Electric Shop will more than do the trick.

If you’ve got all your ingredients together then it’s time to actually go ahead and make your bread. Here are a number of different great recipes depending on what type of bread you want to make.

Brought to you in association with Electric shop.

Great Wedding Anniversary Milestone Gift Ideas.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

When your wedding anniversary rolls around each year, it’s important to do something to celebrate, even if it’s just a card or a little present. Here are some great gift ideas to match up with some of the most significant anniversaries and what they represent…

1st Anniversary – Paper
As it’s your first anniversary then you should do something special. If you can afford it, plane tickets for a holiday would be amazing, but if money can’t stretch that far, even a hand written love letter would be a really personal gift. A photograph of the two of you would be a good idea, too. Venture does some excellent couples and wedding anniversary photography.

5th Anniversary – Wood
If you wanted to go down the holiday route again then a trip to a log cabin would be an excellent way to spend your anniversary. These cabins would make the perfect getaway.

10th Anniversary – Tin
Tin is hardly the most glamorous of materials, so you might want to skip this one. However, each wedding anniversary also apparently has precious stones linked to them, and the 10thanniversary just happens to be diamonds. Happy days!

15th Anniversary – Crystal/glass
Many people like to renew their vows on their 15thanniversary, but when it comes to gifts, crystal and glass are the most common gifts. Some fancy champagne flutes would be perfect to toast your anniversary – Dartington make some lovely flutes and glasses.

20th Anniversary – China
Well the holiday idea is obvious here but it’s going to cost a fair amount of money! You could also host a dinner party for all your family and friends and get out your finest china to celebrate such a major milestone.

25th Anniversary – Silver
A quarter of a century! This is a massive milestone and therefore it needs to be celebrated. A silver piece of jewellery would be a perfect gift or maybe a silver photo frame for one of your wedding photographs.

30th Anniversary – Pearl
If you want to go a little more creative then you could go out for dinner and have oysters – if you can stomach them, that is!
40th Anniversary – Ruby
Rubies are red, so why not use that as a starting point with something passionate and heartfelt. Some red roses would be a lovely gift or of course you could go down the jewellery route again if you’re really stuck!

50th Anniversary – Gold
Guess what you could do for your gold wedding anniversary? That’s right, jewellery! It’s the obvious suggestion for gold, but if you wanted to do something else then you could get a nice bottle of Chardonnay, a lovely gold-coloured sparkling wine.

55th Anniversary – Emerald
A trip to Ireland, the Emerald Isle, is a fantastic present for the both of you and a great place to celebrate being married for over half a century. The Irish love a good party!

60th/75th Anniversary – Diamond
Both of these are actually diamond anniversaries and there really is only one choice here – a lovely piece of diamond jewellery! For men who don’t like jewellery, a diamond tie pin or watch is also a great present.

Brought to you in association with Venture Photography.

Coping with a Family Member who’s had a Stroke.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Sadly, strokes can occur without warning and completely change a family’s life, so it’s important to know how to go about coping if a family member is unfortunate enough to suffer one. First of all, here are the warning signs that someone is suffering from a stroke…

Remember the word FAST:

• F – Face: The person’s face may have dropped on one side and they may be unable to smile.

A – Arms: They may not be able to move or lift one or both of their arms due to weakness.

S – Speech: Their speech may be slurred or they may be unable to talk at all.

T – Time: Time is of the essence so call 999 immediately if you notice any of these signs.

If you’re unlucky enough to have a family member who has suffered from a stroke, here are some things you need to conside.

Know what medication they’re on
Once someone has a stroke then they will almost definitely be on at least one form of medication, quite possibly several. It’s vital that you know exactly what they need to take, how much to take and when to take it, so you can help ensure that they are taking what they need to. You should also find out about any possible side effects of the medication so you know what to expect when they take it.

Reduce the risks of further strokes
Those who have had a stroke are at a high risk of having another unless the relevant advice is followed. Ensure your family member eats healthy meals and gets regular exercise if possible. Mental exercise is just as important as physical exercise so give them books to read or puzzles to complete to keep their brain active. Also make sure they attend regular consultations with doctors and physicians to see how they’re getting on.

Observe their attitude and behaviour
When someone has a stroke, it can dramatically alter their brain, affecting their attitude, behaviour and even their whole personality. Keep an eye on any changes you notice so that you can mention them to a doctor.

Consider how much care you can offer them
Someone who’s had a stroke may well require a significant amount of care, so you need to consider carefully whether you can offer enough care at home. If you decide to become a full-time carer, then you may be entitled to a Carer’s Allowance. You may also need to look at the possibility of care homes if you can’t provide the care they need. Organisations such as Extra Care run various homes around the country and can help you find the right one for the needs of your family member.

Take care of yourself
This may sound selfish, but looking after yourself is also massively important. Strokes can take their toll on everyone and you need to make sure you cope as well, particularly if you’re providing care. You’ll only be able to provide the best care if you’re healthy and happy too.
This is only a few points to consider if someone has had a stroke. You can find much more information, help and support over at the Stroke Association website.

Brought to you in association with Extra Care.

Cirque Du Hilarious review

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Liv and I have had a lovely fun packed week last week, starting with a trip to Blackpool to watch the Father and Son duo - Danny Adams and Cliff Webb - better known as the very funny Cirque Du Hilarious.

If, like me, you have never heard of them before, here is a paragraph from their website describing them:
"Circus Hilarious are award-winning father and son duo Clive Webb and Danny Adams. For over fifteen years, CIRCUS HILARIOUS has been bringing the magic of circus and mirth of comedy to audiences across the UK"

When we arrived at the Central Pier Showbar we were handed our tickets and advised to collapse the pushchairs as there were quite a few stairs to climb, although I'm sure there must be a lift in the building as I spotted some wheelchair seating available to the left of the stage.

There was plenty of seating avaible throughout the good sized room - which was air conditioned - an absolute blessing! Also in the room was a bar selling alcohol, soft drinks and crisps.

We got some drinks from the bar and sat down at the back on some raised seating so the toddlers could see, it was then I began to wonder how successfull these Guys would be at making our group ranging from 2 - 65, laugh out loud. The answer is - VERY!

The show is a hilarious mix of slapstick, magic acts, music, dancing, audience participation and pure and simple stupidity. My six year old Nephew in particular did not stop laughing through the whole act, and has been repeating Danny's catchphrases ever since.

Liv was a little upset at a few of the very loud bangs and didn't really link the giant fake robots head falling off but otherwise she laughed and danced along happily. While some of it was a little cringey to Adults the kids loved it and although it isn't really my kind of humour I found myself giggling along and really laughed at a few parts. It's absolutely impossible not to with the very talented and cheeky Danny pulling faces, using funny voices and generally throwing himself around the stage. The one or two mishaps were made to seem like very funny parts of the act like when Danny fell off the stage dressed as a Wolf, the way he dealt with it was more hilarious than the fall!

All of the performers (including another two of Clive's sons - Mick Potts and Jonny Marx) work really well together, with the very lovely dancing Ladies brought out to distract you from the prop change. I honestly don't know how they all managed to perform so well in last weeks heat, it must have been absolutely gruelling for them but of course as professional performers they didn't let it show.

Hints and tips:

1) Just incase Grandma or Boys of a certain age are going with you - there are Ladies dancing in burlesque outfits and in the show in their underwear (fleetingly). Nothing to worry about but I thought I would mention it as my Nana would have been horrified (my Mother in law was not!) 

2) I would advise you to try to keep phones etc in a safe place as there are occasions when water is squirted into the audience - VERY funny!

3) Try to get there early to ensure a central seat so you don't miss any of the action.

It was without a doubt a very funny show, all of our group genuinely enjoyed the show and would happily pay to see it again.

If you find yourself in Blackpool before the 31st of August I would definitely reccomend watching the show, alternatively you can catch Danny and Clive in their annual sell out panto in Newcastle or possibly during their Butlins tours. You can also keep up with the latest news on their Facebook page or on Twitter.

Disclaimer: we were provided with free entry to the show to enable us to review, however all opinion is my own.