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Chopping board from Getting Personal

A lovely giveaway for English Mum’s eighth birthday *closed*

So this week, my little corner of the internet is celebrating its eighth birthday.  Eight whole years of talking waffle!  I was telling someone recently (in the manner of a very old lady) that when I started out, I knew most of the other ‘mummy bloggers’ out there.  There weren’t very many and we all felt like friends, commenting on each other’s blog posts and actually meeting up in real life occasionally too! Read more

Win £100 to spend with The Cotswold Company!

Cotswold CompanyI hate to mention the C word, but I’m already starting to collate gift guides (stay tuned – some wonderful ideas on the way) and search for beautiful things to give my friends and family.

One of my favourite sites is The Cotswold Company, not just for their scrummy oak furniture (I adore their wine racks) but for all the lovely accessories too.  I use their baskets on top of my kitchen units to store things I don’t use every day like big platters and special baking tins, and their lamp tables are just gorgeous.  They also have cushions, throws, all sorts of lovely stuff.

I’ve teamed up with The Cotswold Company to provide  you with a little treat: £100 to spend on whatever you like!  So, if you’ve got your eye on something bigger, like one of their amazing oak dressers, this will be a big chunk towards it, or maybe like me you’re in love with all those baskets?

Cotswold Company

Just leave a comment and let me know what wine you’d put in this fabulous Costswold Company wine rack and the winner will get £100 to spend on anything they like on the Cotswold Company website.  Off you go, then!

The Small Print

Usual English Mum competition rules apply.  Competition ends Friday 11th October at 9am.  UK only.  Prize comprises: £100 to spend online on cotswoldco.com.  Winner will be chosen at random.  New comments will not show straight away as they require moderation.

 

**This competition is now closed. Congratulations to Mark Hawes who won the £100!**

 

 

Giveaway: win a gorgeous Valentine’s bouquet (and more) from Prestige Flowers

prestige-flowers-bannerPeople seem to be really torn about Valentine’s Day.  There are definitely those who see it as a cynical marketing ploy dreamed up by greeting card companies and florists (or is it restauranteurs and wine retailers?), but I personally think it’s no bad thing to remind your loved one how much you care once in a while.

Dozen red roses

With this in mind, I’ve teamed up with the lovely bunch (geddit?) from Prestige Flowers to help you spoil your valentine.  Just comment below and tell me who you’d treat and why, and we’ll arrange for a gorgeous bouquet of red roses, a bottle of wine, a teddy bear and a box of chocolates to be delivered to the object of one lucky winner’s affection in time for Valentine’s day.

And hey, if you’re not lucky enough to win, you’ll find loads of perfect Valentine’s Day flowers at Prestige.

Usual English Mum competition rules apply.  Prize will consist of one dozen roses, one bottle of red wine, Belgian chocolates and a cuddly bear.  Competition closes 11th Feb 2013.

 

THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED- CONGRATULATIONS TO KATE  GOODALL WHO WON THE PRIZE FOR HER FRIEND.

WIN a brand new Kindle Fire with Directline Holidays – closed

So as a regular visitor to English Mum *cough* it’s fairly likely that you have an appreciation for good quality writing *cough cough*…

I bet you love a book right? What do you love? Let me guess: you love a bit of crime fiction? No? Romance? Hmmm… travel? Maybe you just like bonding with your tiddlers over Winnie the Witch…?

I bet you even carry a book around with you occasionally don’t you? You do? I’m practically psychic!

So as the book lovers that you undoubtedly are, you might, then, have noticed the news about the brand new Kindle Fire, from Amazon. This sleek and elegant device can be carried about with very little fuss. It also has the capacity to hold 1,100 books, which would otherwise take up an enormous amount of space and frankly be a bit difficult to balance too.

But y’know, times is ‘ard and Christmas is a’coming (okay I’ll stop now) and you may find it hard to justify spending £129 on a Kindle. However, the lovely, good-looking and very kind-hearted travel team at Directline Holidays have come to your rescue and are giving you the opportunity to win one, RIGHT HERE RIGHT NOW! (Well not right now, obviously, they’d have to post it and stuff…)

To be in with a chance to win, all you have to do is leave a comment and tell me the first book you’d download onto your new Kindle Fire. New commenters: don’t worry if your comment doesn’t show up straight away as it has to be approved. The winner will be drawn at random after the closing date of Saturday 10th November. No cash alternative. Open to entries from EVERYWHERE!

This competition is now closed. thanks for your entries.   The winner, chosen at random by my son is Kate Wit Wit Woo. Congrats!

English Mum’s ‘baked with love’ Bakeoff – who says romance is dead?

So it’s bakeoff time again!  I wanted to do something around Valentine’s day, because you guys always bake the most amazing things, BUT I don’t want to limit you all to just heart-shaped things, oh no.  So our theme for this bakeoff is ‘baked with love‘.

If you’re not loved up, but just want to bake yourself a big mahoosive cake to eat in bed while watching a film, that’s fine too.  First, then, to the housekeeping:

The Rules

Because we’re rebels who ride with the wind in our hair and laugh in the face of danger (or something), the rules are few and far between, to be honest, but I know some of you love a rule or two, so just for you:

1. You’ve actually got to bake something – preferably connected to the theme (although see below re: sneaky rule breaking)

2. You must take a picture (you won’t get far with any of that ‘the dog ate it’ nonsense)

3. You must email it to me at english[dot]towers[at]gmail[dot]com, telling me what it is and who you are.  Entries must be received by midnight on the closing date, which is, of course, the day before Valentine’s Day, the 13th February.

The Cheaty Bit

As usual, a healthy bit of downright sneakiness is to be encouraged, and any entertaining reason why your entry  should be considered will be looked upon favourably.  For example, if your trifle is beautiful, but obviously not exactly baked, let me know.  I’m a flexible type and I’ll probably allow it.  No lying though.

BUT…

Okay, a bit of lying then, but not too much…

The Techy Bit

If you’re a blogger, please link back to this post, and if you’re a tweeter, please use the hashtag #madewithlovebakeoff . If you would like to display the ‘baked with love’ badge, you can download it from the links below. There are two sizes to choose from.

‘Baked with Love’ badge – 200px

‘Baked with Love’ badge – 150px

If  you’re neither, then just pretend this bit never happened.  Moving on, then… nothing to see here…

The Exciting Bit! (and the judgy bit – they’re combined this time)

That most wondrous and luscious of wine experts: the fragrant, and frankly fabulous Helen from Knackered Mothers’ Wine Club has very kindly agreed to be our judge.  Not only that, but she’s also offered to provide the winner with a bottle of pink fizz!!

Entries will be displayed in one enormous blog post and accompanied by the usual descent into hysteria while I get all hot and bothered about uploading and labels and all that other complicated stuff. Follow me on Twitter to witness the carnage in real-time hissy fit tweets as they happen.

The Small Printy Bit

As usual, all attempts at bribery and any dubious approaches must be made direct to the judge (hint: she likes wine) and not via this blog.   The judge’s decision is final.

This competition is open to all comers, regardless of location, although if you live in Outer Mongolia we might have a bit of trouble posting you a bottle of fizz, but hey, we’re triers so don’t let that stop you.   There is no cash alternative to the prize.

So that’s it, then.  You’ve got loads of time, plenty of inspiration, and some very ambiguous rules.  GO TO IT, TEAM!

 

English Mum’s Big Christmas Bakeoff: the entries

And lo, many moons ago (three years, to be precise) there was a foodie obsessed blogger who thought it would be really nice to get lots of pictures together from all the other foodie obsessed people out there and have a bit of a ‘look what I made!’ type get together.  And it’s grown to this – the wonderful Big Christmas Bakeoff.

Thanks so, so much if you entered this year.  Every single entry is amazing – some are technically brilliant, some are made with love by very small people… but all are fabulous in their own way.

The winners will be announced at the bottom of this post as soon as I can track down the chief judge, English Grandma.

The main winner will receive brand spanking new copies of both Jo Pratt’s books: In the mood for entertaining and In the mood for food, along with a load of other goodies like Leisure tea towels and oven gloves from Leisure Range Cookers, and FIVE lucky little bakers will win a Jingle the husky Story Buddy, complete with their very own storybook. Mahoosive thank you to both Leisure and   www.hallmark.co.uk for being so generous with the prizes.

So feast your eyes, then, and I’ll be back soon to tell you all about the winners!

AND IT’S OVER TO ENGLISH GRANDMA WITH THE RESULTS!….

The winner is Chelsea Mamma’s Baileys Cheesecake

Christmas biscuits by Cari’s 3 year old [so love that angel - with wings!]

Chocolate yule log from Marie & twins [yummmmm]

Carol & BG’s Christmas biscuits [so pretty]

Cass’ daughter’s gingerbread house [clever]

Nessa and family’s chocolate marshmallow brown sugar fudge [need you ask?]

Well done everyone!  Get in touch and we’ll get your prizes to you asap :)  And thanks to my fab sponsors and my wonderful Mum too!

A visit to Leith’s Cookery School with Asda and an Extra Special Christmas giveaway!

So last week I headed up to London to Leith’s Cookery School to check out Asda’s new Extra Special Christmas range.  There’s a new train service which goes straight from my local station to Shepherd’s Bush.  You literally step out onto the very threshold of Westfield Shopping Centre.  I nearly died happy right there and then.  It was actually really lovely to be in London and I enjoyed all the hustly bustly and twinkly lights.  And then it started to rain and I was quite pleased to find my taxi driver and get to Leith’s.

It’s an amazing place.  All sparkly stainless steel, stark white and wood.  It looks really clean and professional – I SO fancy doing a course there (not the £18,000 Diploma in Food and Wine, you understand, just one of the smaller ones!).  First of all we had a glass of champers and listened to lovely Camilla, Managing Director of Leith’s (you might have seen her in the new adverts for the Extra Special Christmas range) tell us why Leith’s decided to team up with Asda to develop the range.  I have to say, I was really impressed.  Basically she said that everyone needs a cheap supermarket, especially at the moment, but that doesn’t mean that we all can’t indulge a little at Christmas:

“We have a shared passion with Asda that good food should be accessible to everyone, whatever their budget. We believe, like Asda, that good quality ingredients are at the heart of great cooking which is why we’ve chosen to collaborate with Asda Extra Special for our first ever supermarket partnership.  We’ve been really impressed with the quality of Asda’s Extra Special food and wine and we’ve had great fun creating some wonderful Christmas recipes and tips using the delicious ingredients which really will help make this festive season extra special for everyone.”

She also said, and I totally agree, that there’s a snobbery about food that – now, more than ever – shouldn’t exist.  What better than good food, simply made?

I was quite surprised to learn that we’d actually be in the kitchen cooking.  It was enormous fun – and such a privilege to be cooking in a real working kitchen.  They set us working in teams of four on a menu using lots of the Asda Extra Special ingredients (do email me if you want any of the recipes):

Canapés

Hot smoked salmon pate crostini

Goat’s cheese, walnut and honey crostini

Cocktail sausages four ways (sweet chilli, mango chutney and greek yoghurt, harissa, honey and mustard)

Starter:

Warm seasonal salad of butternut squash, tenderstem broccoli and feta

Main Course:

Venison rack with parsnip and creme fraiche mash

Brussels sprouts and chorizo

Dessert

Yule log

I was really impressed with the ingredients.  The whole rack of venison was all trimmed and ready to cook – you can crust it with breadcrumbs, rosemary, mustard and thyme, etc, or just roast is as is, and it serves 8.  Absolutely amazing.  And some of the cheeses were out of this world as well.  Here’s some photos from the evening.  I know I’ve said it before but honestly, food bloggers are just the nicest people.  I met up with Katie, Kavey and Helen again after meeting them before at Jimmy’s Farm, and Sarah from Maison Cupcake too.  We’re planning a boozy blogger’s lunch in L0ndon.  Wehay!

Oh and the best news of all?  I’ve got a mahoosive hamper of the Asda Extra Special range to give away, including brandy-soaked rich fruit cake, smoked Scottish salmon and vintage Champagne as a competition prize.  Just comment to enter (sorry, forgot that bit!) x

Competition finishes midnight Friday 9th December 2011.  No cash alternatives. The judge’s decision is final.

THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED.  THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR ENTRIES.  CONGRATULATIONS TO SARAH BROADHURST WHO WON THE HAMPER :)

English Mum’s Big Christmas Bakeoff!

Altogether now… ‘Chriiiistmas time…. mistletoe and wiiiine…’

Yes, it’s now December so all mentions of Christmas are totally justified. YAY!  In your face, bah humbuggers!

And so, henceforth, forthwith and without further ado, I give you a BRAND NEW BIG CHRISTMAS BAKEOFF!

Leisure Range Cookers have been working with gorgeous chef Jo Pratt and have produced some fab, easy ‘how to’ videos, including this one for some amazing, crumbly topped aromatic mince pies:

… and they’ve kindly agreed to donate prizes to the winner, too!

And for the kiddies there are these GORGEOUS Hallmark Story Buddies – an exclusive new range of interactive cuddly toys that bring story time to life and I’ve got 5 to give away (worth £19.99 each).

 

It’s a Christmas bakeoff so everything and anything remotely Christmassy is fair game.

The Rules

Since we scrapped the ‘send English Mum a piece of each one’ rule *sniff*, the rules are few and far between, to be honest, but such as they are:

1. You’ve actually got to bake something (although see below re: sneaky rule breaking)

2. You must take a picture (there’s none of those dodgy ‘I baked it, but then I ate it’ excuses…)

3. Email it to me at english[dot]towers[at]gmail[dot]com,  telling me what it is and who you are.  Entries must be received by midnight on the closing date (see below).

The Cheaty Bit

As usual, a healthy bit of downright sneakiness is to be encouraged, and any entertaining reason why your entry  should be considered will be looked upon favourably.  For example, if your trifle is beautiful, but obviously not exactly baked, let me know.  I’m a flexible type and I’ll probably allow it.  No lying though.

Okay, a bit of lying then, but not too much…

The Techy Bit

If you’re a blogger, please link back to this post, and if you’re a tweeter, please use the hashtag #bigChristmasbakeoff - if you’re neither, then just ignore this bit completely.

The Exciting Bit!

The lovely and frankly wonderful chaps at Leisure range cookers have vey vey kindly agreed to give the winner brand spanking new copies of both Jo Pratt’s books: In the mood for entertaining and In the mood for food, along with other goodies like Leisure tea towels and oven gloves.  Visit Leisure’s video recipe gallery here for more amazing recipes from Jo.

And for the kiddlies, there are 5  Jingle the husky Story Buddies, complete with their very own storybook.  Both engaging and educational, Jingle is perfect for bringing families together. For more information on Jingle and the rest of the Story Buddy range, visit www.hallmark.co.uk

The Judgy Bit

Entries will be displayed in one enormous blog post and accompanied by the usual descent into hysteria while I wrestle with pixels and uploading and all that other complicated stuff. Follow me on twitter to witness the carnage as it happens.

My lovely, wondrous mum, English Grandma has foolishly agreed to be the judge.  All attempts at bribery and approaches of a dubious nature will be well received (knowing my mother) and are to be made directly to her and not via this blog.  The judge’s decision is final, or you’ll get one of her hard stares. And trust me, you don’t want that.

So that’s it, then.  You’ve got loads of time, plenty of inspiration, and some very ambiguous rules.  Let’s get baking!

The Small Printy Bit

This competition is open to all comers, regardless of location.  The closing date will be 18th December at midnight.  There is no cash alternative to the prize.

Dinner with Dhruv and giveaway copies of the new Masterchef at Home book!

Did you watch Masterchef last night?  I’m a bit of an addict – I really wanted Tom to win, but very pleased for the lovely Tim.

To celebrate Tim’s win, and also because I’m just a big bloody lump of loveliness, I’ve got 5 copies of the new Masterchef at Home book to give away!

Dorling Kindersley are also giving away an amazing prize of dinner for 4, cooked by the Masterchef 2010 winner, Dhruv Baker IN YOUR HOME!  All you have to do is visit dk.com/masterchef to enter.

I’ve got five copies of the new Dorling Kindersley Masterchef at Home book to give away. Just leave a comment and tell me something interesting.

Oh and don’t forget that my buddy Nick Coffer will have the brand new Masterchef Winner, Tim Anderson, on his show this weekend – 12 noon on BBC Three Counties Radio.  Don’t miss it!

********************This comp is now closed, but don’t forget you can still enter the Dhruv Baker competition!  The winners of the Masterchef at Home books, chosen at random by volunteer Twitterer @Tinky_Pink are:  Matt, Lisa, Terry, Shelly and Katie.  Congratulations all! ********************************************************

Throw away your baggies. I haz new pantz!

THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED – THANKS FOR YOUR ENTRIES!

Come on, what are your pants like, then? No, I’m not being pervy. Have a quick look in the ol’ knicker drawer – are they slightly baggy and greying? Thought so.

Last week I had what I initially thought was some kind of weird spam email asking me how big my bottom was. Turns out, it was the lovely chaps from Lingerie Please asking me my sizes so they could send me some gorgeous new lingerie. Yes, really!!! I’d usually keep my bottom size secret, but seeing as they were offering to cover it with lovely silky new pants, I whispered my sizes, and soon enough, these gorgeous creatures arrived:

The set on the left is a Gossard Wonderbra and little lacy shorts to match, and the one on the right is a really lovely silky steel grey bra and knickers from Triumph.  They both fit fantastically and I feel like a million quid in them!

And because Lingerie Please are such fabulous, gorgeous and frankly incredibly good looking people (and because I might have done a bit of shameful begging, too – sorry Rebecca!!), they’re giving you lot the chance to win a £50 voucher to use on their site!

Sadly, they can’t promise us the bod of the model in the picture *shakes fist at girl*, but you can treat yourselves to a couple of stunning sets, or browse the sale section to get some fantastic bargains.  There’s a great selection of lingerie, bras, shapewear and I spied beauty products too.

To enter, just either follow @Lingerieplease on twitter and retweet the competition tweet, or comment on this post and tell us all what you’d buy with £50.

And don’t worry, you don’t have to tell me how big your bottom is.

Competition closes 17.4.11 at midnight.  Voucher will last for one month. No cash alternative.

Win Christmas presents with Tesco!

I blimmin’ LOVE Amanda Holden.  I loved her in Cutting It and I love her on Britain’s Got Talent.  I love the way she annoys (the surprising prudish) Simon Cowell with her slightly smutty comments and her filthy laugh is just brilliant.  I can imagine going out for a few cocktails and a good snigger with her.

I was delighted, then, to see her in the new Tesco Christmas advert ( ‘Penny, your name’s not ‘Belchere‘, it’s Belcher’) alongside the fabulous Fay Ripley and Mark Addy.

Tesco are launching a fab competition this Friday to link in with these great new adverts.  It’s a nice fun spot the difference competition, so even the blondes *cough* can join in.

Basically there will be two Tesco commercials playing side by side.  All you have to do is spot the differences.  If you get them all right you can enter to win the items mentioned in the commercial which include a camera, Guitar Hero and a Zhu Zhu hamster.

The competition is only open until next Wednesday so get moving!!

Simply click here to watch the Tesco advert and join in the competition.

And just especially for you, Tesco have one of the fabulous  Zhu Zhu Hamsters to give away to a lucky English Mum reader.  Just email me via the contact form at the top of the page with TESCO in the title and tell me the name of Amanda Holden’s daughter, along with your name and address.  UK only entries please.  This giveaway closes next Wednesday, 24th November 2010.

‘It’s ‘Belchere’ actually’.

***************************************

This competition is now closed.  Congratulations to the winner, Jenny Kearney from London, who will be receiving a Zhu Zhu hamster from Tesco!

The Great Big Autumn Bakeoff: entries

Well, you didn’t let me down.  You picked berries, you rolled pastry, you bubbled, you baked, you stirred, you probably perspired a little too…

And here they are.  All your gorgeous entries:

And now it’s over to the lovely Amy Lane to find out our winners!

…and the winner is:

The lovely folk at MyFotowall have done their deliberating and cogitating, and decided the the winner of the photo wallscape wallpaper is this entry:

Congratulations, CarolineSweetie!  If you’d like to send me an email to: contactenglishmum@gmail.com I’ll put you in touch with them so you can claim your prize.

Competition Winner: the Cook’s Academy Cookbook

The winner of the competition to win my hot-off-the-press copy of the Cook’s Academy Cookbook by Vanessa Greenwood (spectacularly published by the lubly chaps at Gill Macmillan) is… cue fanfare…

JENNIFER GEARY!!!!

Congrats, Jennifer.  Cookbook will be winging its way to you shortly.

Are you the next Mr Kipling?

So the lovely people at RTÉ have asked me to tell you all about their new competition.   They’re looking for amateur cooks with a great recipe or signature dish that they think could make it big in the marketplace.  The more unique or innovative the idea the better.

So if you’ve invented something fahbilis, then click on http://www.rte.ie/tv/recipeforsuccess/ for more information and an application form.  Closing date for applications is 26th September so get cracking!  Oh, and if you win, remember your mates, eh?