Octonauts Live Ticket Giveaway

On Sunday we are off to see The Octonauts Live in Cardiff. Izzy is pretty excited!

For those of you who don’t know who the Octonauts are here is a little info:

image

The popular Cbeebies TV show is the story of The Octonauts who are a dynamic eight-member team of quirky and courageous adventure heroes who dive into action whenever there is trouble under the sea.

Equipped with a fleet of aquatic vehicles, they rescue amazing sea creatures, explore incredible new underwater worlds, and often save the day before returning safely to their home base, the octopod.

Based on the original books by Meomi, Octonauts is animated by Brown Bag Films and continues to go from strength to strength as a unique and exciting global pre-school brand.

image

Here is some info about the stage show:

In Octonauts and the Deep Sea Volcano Adventure the entire crew of the Octonauts, led by intrepid explorer Captain Barnacles, Lieutenant Kwazii and Medic Peso, embark on an exciting new underwater quest and visit amazing underwater worlds full of adventure, with surprises around every corner. This action-packed interactive show features new music (from BAFTA-award winning composer Mani Svavarsson) and all the Octonauts live on stage for the very first time.

Richard Lewis adapts and directs this new production for the stage. He also adapted and directed the hugely popular three Peppa Pig stage shows and last year’s Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom tour. Matt Lewis is lyricist, Simon Scullion is designer, Matt Haskins is lighting designer and Ian Horrocks Taylor is sound designer.

Now do you fancy trying to win a pair of tickets to a show of your choice? To find out where your nearest show is click here

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Frankie & Bennys Review

We were recently invited to our local Frankie & Bennys as part of their new Halloween campaign Frankies Fangs.

image
If you visit a F&B restaurant between October 31st and November 2nd you will receive some fangs at the end of your meal. You can also take part in some fun family fundraising in aid of Children In Need. You can always win a family meal by tweeting your pic with your fangs to #frankiesfangs. Check out the F&B Twitter page for more info.

We went for lunch on a not too busy Monday at a restaurant just a few minutes away from our home. We have eaten in this F&B’s a few times and have never been disappointed. The staff are very friendly, loud children are more than welcome and their breakfasts are rather epic.

This time we indulged in a three course meal which turned out to be rather more than we actually needed to eat but hey we don’t do it often.

To start we had:

Meatballs Italiano
Potato skins
Chicken strips

The meatballs were rather fiery but so good. I enjoy some heat. The potato skins were delicious and I loved the sour cream on the side.

Next up was penne carbonara for me and my mum, a Cajun mayo burger for Andrew and sausage, chips and peas for Izzy.

I shared mine with Chloe and there was plenty to go around along with a huge side salad (you could have had fries instead but I find fries with pasta rather strange) Izzy ate most of hers leaving only a few stray peas and Andrew and my mum loved their meals too.

image

image

Pretty soon we were onto desserts. My mum opted for a fruit salad, Izzy and Andrew chose brownies and icecream and I had a selection of ice cream including blueberry, peanut butter and cookie crumb.

I was extremely impressed by my ice cream. Sometimes ice cream in restaurants is too sugary and tastes a little artificial, this was properly flavoured and creamy. Everyone really enjoyed their desserts..especially Izzy who was very disappointed to get to the bottom of her sundae glass. image

image

image

We really enjoyed our meal although our little ones were a bit young for the fang sweeties so we may have stolen those for ourselves ;-)

image

* We were given a meal voucher for the purpose of this review.

Some days ..

Some days .. It’s hard to function because my eyes are sore and my limbs are heavy.

Some days ..I don’t want to get out of my pyjamas because by doing so I’m admitting there will be no more sleep that day.

Some days .. I am emotional.

Some days .. I just want to eat cake. I need the sugar rush.

image

Most days.. I am angry at myself for one reason or another.

Most days..we don’t get more than an hour of straight through sleep.

Most days.. I wonder why I can’t just pull myself together.

Most days..I find being a parent really, really hard.

Some days I cry.

Everyday I am thankful for my children, my man and my family. For their support. For their love.

Wyldwood Organic Cider Review

Back in August I was invited to attend The Big Feastival as a guest of Westons Wyldwood cider. Since then I’ve been reviewing some of their delicious cider at home – it’s a tough job but somebody has to do it hey?

So what do we know about Wyldwood cider?

This traditional premium cider, produced from fruit sourced in Herefordshire’s organic orchards, was re-branded Wyld Wood back in September 2011 to emphasise its organic and rural origin.

Fully matured in old oak vats, Westons Wyld Wood cider has a truly appley, fresh and full-bodied taste with a ripe aroma – a true celebration of nature in a glass.

First up I tried out of some of their still cider in a sous vide ham recipe. I placed the ham in a zip lock bag with 2 cups of cider and used the displacement method to remove as much air as possible. I then cooked for 12 hours in my Sous Vide Supreme water bath. When I removed from the water bath it was so succulent and tender that we managed to eat it all rather quickly! The cider gave it an incredible flavour and made it so moist.

Wyldwood cider and ham

image

We have also been enjoying some of the bottled fizzy cider which is incredibly good. I’m normally more of a fruity..strawberry and lime type of cider girl but this has an entirely different depth of flavour to most of the ciders I have tasted. It’s fruity without being sweet.image

It’s available now in most major supermarkets and look out for the mulled cider version which is hitting stores now. I will be sharing my thoughts on that next week.

Tiny Tears Doll Review

My eldest is obsessed with dollies. She always has one tucked under her arm or wrapped around her chest.

When we were asked to review the Tiny Tears interactive doll from John Adams I didn’t have to think twice as I knew she would be over the moon.

What do we know about Tiny Tears?

The fully functional Tiny Tears doll not only feeds, cries tears and wets, but makes sound too. You can press her tummy to hear her laugh, cry, or say ‘Mama!’

Izzy was overjoyed as soon as she opened the parcel:

image

image

I think the Tiny Tears doll makes an ideal present for children ( boys or girls ) around the age of 2-3yrs plus. We all know how much our children love to mimic our actions and Izzy definitely enjoyed learning to change her baby’s nappy or feed her a bottle. She especially liked to walk her around tapping her back to wind her after a feed.

Since the TT doll arrived she hasn’t talked about much else and it hasn’t left her side for very long.

image

image

Unfortunately for Izzy, someone else has taken a shine to the doll too:

image

image

And was rather unimpressed when her sister didn’t want to hand her over.

Overall I would highly recommend this as a present for children aged 2-4.

* We were gifted this doll for the purpose of the review.

The Perfect Chicken Curry With Tilda Rice & Spice Guide

When I was invited to try out one of the spice pairings from the Tilda rice and spice guide I must admit I looked at the recipe list for this curry and thought ahhh a zillion ingredients and what a faff. But I do love to try new recipes and I haven’t made a proper from scratch curry in a long time so I was ready for the challenge.

Boy is it worth it?! Wow. By far the best curry I’ve ever made and I’d even go so far as to say as one of the best I’ve ever tasted. Packed full of flavour but no silly amount of heat I thoroughly enjoyed both making it and eating it.

Now don’t be put off by the ingredient list or the recipe stages but just look at it as the necessary process for a delectable dish. Hats off to you Dhruv.

A little tip for you: if you don’t have a spice grinder then use a good blender such as a Vitamix to grind your spices or risk aching hands!

Dhruv Baker’s perfect Chicken Curry

You will need:

Serves 4
75g desiccated coconut
2 x cinnamon stick
2 x star anise
3 whole dried red chillies
1 tsp black peppercorns
2 tsp fennel seeds
100ml of water
3 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp chilli powder
2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp salt
5 tbsp vegetable oil
3 x red onions, finely chopped
4 x cloves garlic finenly chopped
2 x tsp grated fresh ginger
6 x tbsp fresh curry leaves
8 x tomatoes finely chopped
500g boneless chicken thighs (skin removed)
200ml water or chicken stock
1 x small bunch fresh coriander finenly chopped
1 x green chilli finely chopped (optional if you like it hot-I didn’t use this)
A squeeze of lemon

Toast the coconut in a pan over a low heat, stirring until it turns golden brown.
2. Remove the coconut onto a plate and into the same pan add the cinnamon sticks, dried chillies, peppercorns, star anise and fennel seeds. Roast in the pan for 3-4 minutes then add the ground coriander and chilli powder and stir for a minute. Add 100ml of water to form a paste and cook for two minutes.
3. Remove the cinnamon sticks, star anise and whole chillies and keep for later. Add the toasted coconut, cinnamon powder, turmeric and salt to the pan. Add everything to a spice grinder or pestle and mortar and grind to a smooth paste.

DSCN2529.JPG

DSCN2533.JPG

DSCN2530.JPGdd
4. Heat the oil in the same pan and slowly cook the onions until they are soft – this will take about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for a couple of minutes then turn up the heat and add the curry leaves and stir for a minute.
5. Add the tomatoes and the spice paste, return the cinnamon stick, star anise and chillie to the pan and cook for five minutes, stirring until you end up with a smooth paste and the oil starts to separate out
6. Remove half the mixture and freeze or place in an airtight container, which will keep in the fridge for a week or so.
7. To cook the rice, add 2 measures of cold water to one measure of Tilda Pure Basmati. Bring to the boil, reduce to a low heat, cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes until the water is absorbed. Remove from the heat, stand covered for 5 minutes. Lightly fork the grains before serving. For best results, soak the rice in cold water for 30 minutes, then rinse in a sieve with cold water
8. Add the chicken and cook, covered, for 10 minutes. Add 200ml chicken stock remove the lid and cook for a further 5-10 minutes until the chicken is cooked through
9. Remove the star anise, cinnamon and chilli, stir through the lemon juice and green chilli (if using) and scatter with the fresh coriander

DSCN2543.JPG

DSCN2547.JPG

DSCN2551.JPG

Serve with Tilda Basmatic Rice. Delicious.

DSCN2581.JPG

Why not try infusing your Basmatic rice with star anise while cooking for a truly aromatic experience?

* I was sent vouchers to purchase ingredients for this recipe.

Check Out Your Boobies

Boobies, boobs, breasts… Whatever you want to call them.

It’s Breast Cancer Awareness month and I only actually remembered to check mine for the first time in a few months yesterday. My mum had breast cancer three years ago and there are charity campaigns and reminders everywhere right now yet I almost forgot to check. That means there are probably be lots of you reading who have no personal link to the disease who are even more likely to forget to check and it only takes a few minutes. You could even do it as part of your shower routine.

What do we know about Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK, but there are several types of breast cancer; it is not one single disease.

It can be diagnosed at different stages of development and can grow at different rates. Breast cancer is also a complex disease and it is difficult to predict what course it will take in each person.

Most cases are in women but men can be diagnosed with breast cancer too, although this is rare.

IMG_4449.JPG

Early detection is important so checking at least once a month is recommended. If you are eligible for mammograms then make sure you go. My mums cancer was picked up at a routine mammogram and her lump was not able to be felt or seen externally.

Above all if you are concerned or worried in any way, don’t think your issue is too small. Go to see your GP, seek advice. That five minute appointment could save your life.

Check out the following websites for further advice:

www.breastcancercare.org.uk
www.breastcancercampaign.org

The All Important Quest For Winter Boots

I love Autumn and Winter. I love wrapping up in warm clothes..slouchy cardigans and boots.

Just like I rarely take off my flip flops in the summer from October on my feet are usually encased in a pair of boots. Because of this it’s important to me that my boots are comfy, look good and are durable.

High quality boots are rarely cheap but it’s an investment.

I was sent these totally gorgeous boots from Pavers to review and I LOVE them. They fit perfectly with an adjustable buckle for those with wider calves, are available in black and brown and are ridiculously comfortable even when spending all day zooming around London in them..up and down stairs..running for tubes etc.

IMG_4453.JPG

IMG_4455.JPG

IMG_4456.JPG

I think they look pretty stylish on me and they are the kind of boots which will continue to look good as they get a little scuffed and battered or well worn as I like to put it.

IMG_4457.PNG

What do we know about Pavers?


Here is the story of a woman called Cathy Paver, and her search for the perfect shoe. Like many women, Cathy found shopping for shoes difficult because she could never find stylish shoes that would actually fit her. So in 1971 York based Pavers Shoes was founded.

Cathy decided to start selling her own shoes… they would be the most comfortable, stylish shoes available. Over 40 years of passion has gone into this simple aim.

Since that time, Pavers Shoes has gone on to become one of the UK’s leading comfort footwear specialists and is now an established multi-channel retailer. As well as having over 115 shops throughout the UK and Eire, they have invested heavily in catalogues and the internet in order to better serve their customers. Now you too can buy easily from the comfort of your own home.

Pavers have established a reputation for providing high quality, comfortable, stylish footwear at great prices, and over 150 years of collective footwear passion goes into selecting shoes at Pavers.

About the boots:

This smart leather long boot from Pavers is an ideal style for every day wear this winter. The foot is standard fitting whilst the leg opens up to a wider fit, accomodating a sportier calf. Two decorative buckle straps sit around the calf and one across the ankle.
Heel Measurement: 3.5cm

Somebody else liked my boots too:

IMG_4459.PNG

I’ve worn my boots with opaque tights and dresses, leggings and tunics and skinny jeans and oversized knits. They have certainly been tested most days for the last month! Yay for fresh, cool days.

Since using these boots I have of course been tempted to try out more of the Pavers range and I’m a little bit in love with these at the moment:

IMG_4458.JPG

And these cosy Wellington boots:

IMG_4460.JPG

Why not go check out the Pavers Range yourself?

* I was gifted these boots for the purpose of the review.

Cheese, Potato & Mustard Pie

I’m going through a bit of a pie phase at the moment. Mainly because I’ve recently rediscovered just how easy it is to make shortcrust pastry after a lazy year of using store bought which quite frankly is just not the same.

This is a lazy using up leftovers pie and it’s a rather thrifty one too. You could use up any leftover mash or boiled potatoes – I used half of a tin of new potatoes I had leftover from making another meal and I warmed them before running through my potato ricer. I used a chunk of cheese leftover in the fridge which was a little past it’s best but still perfectly edible and 1/2 an onion. For a twist I dolloped some wholegrain mustard throughout the pie but next time I would definitely mix it with the cheesy, oniony mash for a more well distributed flavour. As it was we had little bursts of mustard – which was lovely but I think mixed in would taste even better.

Cheese, Potato & Mustard Pie

You will need:

For the pastry:

225g plain flour
100g butter ( or a combo of butter and lard )
2tbsp of cold water
Pinch of salt

For the filling:

Some leftover potatoes mashed
About 50g of Cheddar ( or any other suitable leftover cheese) grated
1/2 an onion diced
1.5tbsp of wholegrain mustard

To glaze:

1 egg, beaten.

First make up your pastry:

Mix flour and salt in a large bowl and then rub in the butter. Add your cold water a little at arise and mix with a knife until you have a stiff dough. You may not need all the water or you may need slightly more. Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for about 30 mins. Remove from fridge and allow to come back to room temperature before rolling out.

* it’s worth noting I have also made the pastry in my food mixer and didn’t notice a massive difference – just a slightly heavier texture so ideal if you are in a hurry.

Whilst you are chilling/resting your pastry, prepare your filling. Mash your potatoes, grate your cheese and lightly sauté your diced onions and combine in a bowl.

Preheat oven to gas mark 5.

Split your dough into two and roll out one half quite thinly so that it covers your pie dish and the sides. ( I used a smallish pie dish which was enough to feed 4 people) You could blind bake at this point although I don’t with this type of pie. Fill your pie with your cheesy mixture and then dollop some mustard throughout the pie or you could mix the mustard into the cheesy mix first. Roll out your remaining dough and cover your filling, pressing around the edges to seal and then prick the centre of your pie with a fork to let the steam escape.

IMG_4429.PNG

IMG_4430.PNG
Brush with beaten egg and bake for 25-30 minutes until golden.

IMG_4431.PNG

*The above photo also has a mincemeat and brown sugar apple pie in it which I will share later this week. It was incredible.

Try to leave it cool slightly before eating to avoid burning your mouth. It’s lovely served with crispy bacon, egg and beans.

Clementine Candied Peel

Now I’m starting to think about Christmas gifts … Actually that’s a lie I’ve been thinking about it for agessss but I’m starting to plan all the homemade edible gifts now!

This recipe is for candied peel, something I’ve always enjoyed eating but never considered trying until I had a few too many clementines leftover this week and thought I would give it a whirl. Most people use orange or lemon peel but clementine certainly works well in my opinion.

Candied Peel

You will need:

6-8 clementines, peel removed carefully in long pieces
300grams of granulated sugar (approx)
Boiling water

Slice the peel into long strips and place in a pan of water. Bring to the boil and then drain the water and add more to cover and bring to the boil again then simmer for 30 minutes. Now drain away the water into a jug and measure it before returning to the saucepan. Add 100grams of sugar for every 100ml of water and heat until the sugar dissolves. Add the peel to the pan and simmer for 30 mins. The peel should be changing colour a little ( becoming slightly translucent) and be soft. Leave to cool in the pan.

IMG_4425.PNG

IMG_4426.PNG

IMG_4427.PNG

Once cooled place on a wire rack over a tray and place in the oven on the lowest setting for 45 minutes. Remove, cover with sugar and leave to dry/cool for about an hour before bagging/packing.

You could dip these in chocolate once dried for extra indulgence – I’m definitely going to do this next time. I think a dark chocolate would work well.

IMG_4428.PNG