Monday, 29 September 2014

Birds Eye #afterschoolchefs campaign

So a few weeks ago I was invited by Britmums to be part of the #afterschoolchefs campaign.  I was quite excited as David has just started nursery.  I know it's not a main school to start but it's the first step to David's education and it's a big one for both me and David.  It's not a pre-school he's in but he's doing pre-school hours (there are reasons for this but it's too long winded to go into).  Now admittedly I've not had that much of a bad experience with meal planning however doing this campaign made me learn something.  That something was don't forget your vegetables.   I know this is quite easy for some but I normally forget because the fresh vegetables are hidden in the box at the bottom of the fridge or in separate draws in the freezer. 

Now Birds Eye gave me £20 in vouchers.  I was really surprised with what I managed to get with that.  I managed to fill up my chest freezer.  Due to this I was able to pick out vegetables easy with my meals as they were right their in front of my eyes.  So Birds Eye asks what I do to make meal times easier.  Well before I go shopping I like to make a list of stuff I want to eat that week.  I find this easier as when I think of meals I obviously think of ingredients and well that's that.  I also try to make sure I get a mix of fresh and frozen food.  There's nothing worse then reality hitting you and then it takes you forever to cook a meal and you send up eating at like 8pm.  So I always make sure I a few bits and bobs I can put on a bakery tray and pop in the oven.

Another little tip for you mums out there.  This was actual thank to Birds Eye that I thought of this.  Do you ever cook a dinner and go..."Damn I forgot the veg!" just like me?  Then it might be a good time we invested in the Bird Eye steam bags.  With these babies you can pop them in your microwave for a few minutes and hey presto they're  done!  Panic over and the greens are on the plate few!

We had some really good meal times with Birds Eye and I even let David pick out what he wanted from the freezer he had a great time rummaging around.  I think his favourite was the space shapes.  The over all household favourite was the sausage rolls I brought. I brought these to cook them the day before and then to use them as part of lunch or a snack.  Safe to say everyone loved them as I ended up going back to the supermarket and buying some more!

Here are just some of the meals we had I know they look the same but I promise the're not:

We had lots of other yummy meals thanks to Birds Eye and I think I'm going to keep buying the vegetable steam bags there so handy when I forget last minute.  Have you got any tips on how to make meal times easier and how your children get involved?

This post is an entry for #Afterschoolchefs Linky Challenge, sponsored by Birds Eye. Learn more on the Birds Eye Facebook page.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Review | Animal Actually Game App

Hi everyone, so I've been wanting to get more into the toy side of things ready for Christmas I suppose and by my luck a few toy companies contacted me yay! So in the next few weeks or so I should be able to bring you some more fun filled stuffed.  I begin this new side of my blog with the Animal Actually Game.  This is an App that you can download on your iphone or Google Platform phone (aka Samsung or HTC).  I first installed this on my partners Samsung but found it difficult to find.  So much so I had to ask for a link which was beyond odd as when I brought my new Apple phone (yes I've turned to the dark side), I found it straight away in the App Store.

I would say this game is probably aimed at 4+, though obviously depending on your child they could play it a lot earlier. The graphics are okay for children but from an adult gamer point of view they are something to be desired.  The controls are fairly easy, David was able to move the characters with ease using just his fingers.  They have a an "invisible" analog stick to move yourself around.  Basically it will (or should) pop up anywhere on the screen when moving your finger in the direction you wish to move.

One of the funny sides to this game is that the main character seems to pass wind, David didn't really notice (unlike in real life where he laughs about it), but I'm sure most kids who realised would have a good giggle about it.  The games involves quests to help your friends out.  When you complete quests you earn Karma which all goes towards leveling you up and unlocking new quests.  The game is free to download but to unlock all the sections within the game you will need to pay a one off fee.

This game is out to try and teach your child the basics of what every parent wants their child to do.  Love their veg, and how being nice can feel nice.  It tries to teach this through the quests it sets.  Although it's just a game I'm always for promoting healthy eating and kindness.  Not enough is around in today's society which is sad.

That's about it for this review.   I should be back tomorrow with another hopefully until then, bye!

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

My Teddy Bear Story

Hi everyone, a few weeks back the guys over at British Teddies asked bloggers if they could share their first teddy bear experiences. I jumped at the chance because it's actually on of the first memories I have. I don't remember much of the first bear I ever had only that it was a bunny bear.  I've always liked bunny bears I think their totally adorable.

Ironically what I do remember is actually the day I lost it.  I was 3 years old and me and my parents went to Calcton-On-Sea.  We were having a fantastic time (well I assumed we were).  I rode on a little train.  It was very cool actually even had it's own little tunnel despite being quite short.  I wanted teddy to come with me.  Of course all children must bring their companions with them where ever they go.  The train journey was great and my parents even took a photo.  I tried to get them to look for the photo but it seems they couldn't find it.

Anyway as you can image I got off and we headed home.  Sadly I went home alone, I had left my companion on the train.  It was indeed dark times for me only being 3 and I betrayed my teddy and left it behind. In a way I hope it went to a good home it found another little girl or boy to play with and make happy.  It's not a very long story but it's the first memory I actually ever have of myself so it's dear to me.

David's really lucky and doesn't just have 1 first teddy he has loads.  For this reason I'll be making sure with my next child no one buys a teddy but me ha ha.  Sorry there are no photos for this post if I ever find the picture of me on the train I'll make sure to add it.  Until next time.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

New TK Maxx Store at Pipps Hill Basildon

Hello everyone!  So a few weeks ago (not sure how many to be honest) I was invited to the new TK Maxx store in Pipps Hill, Basildon.  I was super excited as it is local to me and I haven't been to a TK Maxx in ages.  Before this store opened the nearest one was Southend and I don't go there as much as I'd like to as the cost of parking is ridiculous.

As this was the day of the grand opening of the store I got there quite early.  Thank god my dad acted as my taxi as David unusually was playing up. When we got there, there was already quite a few people.  I felt kind of VIP as I got to have a preview of the store before it opened.  I'm so glad I was able to as once the store opened it got SO busy!  This perhaps was helped by the fact TK Maxx was generously giving out £10 gift cards to the first 500 people.

When having a look around I was SO impressed.  I literally haven't been impressed by a shop as much as I have with TK Maxx.  There was loads of space for prams and wheelchairs and the lighting was amazing.  Everything was set in colours which made the shop look so beautiful.  

Once the store opened I managed to look around to hunt for some bargains.  I must make it clear that all TK Maxx's are different so they never have set brands in store.  You can find a mix of small brands and big name brands though for VERY good prices.  I was given £50 from TK Maxx and I wanted to see how much I could get for my money. So what did I manage to buy?



£7.99 not bad!
I got a mixture of stuff, mostly clothes to help with the colder seasons.  I also got some briefs as David is currently (kinda) being potty trained.  It's a slow start but something.  The garden chair?  Well I couldn't resist it was only £7.99! Needless to say I'm impressed with what I got especially the sets of clothes and garden chair.  Infact a lot of the toys I saw were good prices.  I will be back though for myself, the homeware stuff was so beautiful and their salon range was a girls dream come true.

That's it for this post.  Hope you enjoyed reading.  Hopefully I'll be able to do lots more posts now that my son is nursery.  Peace out and until next time.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Pizza Express | Autumn and Christmas Menu 2014

So about a month ago I was invited by Pizza Express to their Christmas Event.  This was to preview their A/W 14 and Christmas Menu.  Now I'm not going to lie I am (was) a Pizza Express virgin.  This event made me question why I hadn't ever been!  The food was amazing and to my arrogance (probably due to the fact I was late) it wasn't until after I came home that I realised I ate Gluten Free and Vegetarian options.  In a way though that is a good thing as they were ALL tasty.

I was late to arrive at the new restaurant located near London Liverpool Street. When I arrived I was warmly welcomed and drinks and food were already being passed around. I can't remember how each individually tasted but what I can confirm is that they were all tasty and have converted me to a lover of Pizza Express.  There new menu is packed full of new food and some old favourites.  To start off with new drinks will be introduced Bollinger Champagne and blush cider. 

The first Starter on the list is Arancini Provola which is vegetarian. They are baked risotto balls with spinach and a provola cheese centre. they are served with a spicy arrabbiata sauce. You also have pork and pancetta croquettes 

The next new starter is the Melanzanine which is vegetarian and maybe GF but you'd have to check. It is a mini al forno dish of layed aubergine, passata, mozzarella, basil and gran moravia cheese.  Another starter that will be making a return is Pizza Express's famous cheesy dough balls.

For the mains there were 3 pizzas and a calzone.  The first picture which I did not get a picture of was the Aubergine Gluten Free pizza called Melanzane Romana.  I do not re-call what it was called but it was very tasty as I ate it within seconds.

This is the calzone. It is much like a English cornish pasty only Italian style, tasty too.  This one is filled with spinach, ham and pepperoni.  It just bursts with flavour. 

Next we have the Festiva (vegetarian).  This was made up of brie sauce, mozzarella and leek with a generous amount of rocket placed on top (as you can see).  This was my least favourite as I felt as if I was being fed like a rabbit.  They also had Anatra, a pulled duck version of this pizza with hoison sauce instead which perhaps would of tasted better but I did not get to try that sadly.

Next up is the Mare Rozza pizza  It was very light I felt and was one of my favorites.  Toppings included chunks of smoked salmon, prawns and broccoli. The final pizza which I failed to get a picture of was my most favourite and I think everyone elses too was the Carbonara Pizza.  Basically Carbonara in the shape of a pizza, so think egg, bacon and well just haven!

Finally we finish with the deserts. As a woman with a sweet tooth my god I was in hevaen! I got to try most of the deserts that night I ended up brushing my teeth twice that night just incase.  So what have they brought to the menu?

So we have Christmas Pudding or Honeycomb Cheesecake, Chocolate Tartufo, Snowball dough balls and some other old favourites.  I couldn't take pictures of everything there was so much going on but needless to say you'll be spoilt with desserts that's for sure.

That's it for this blog post.  The Autumn menu launches on the 7th of October with the Christmas menu shortly following on the 11th of November.  I know I'm going to be booking my table when the new menu comes out will you?


Thursday, 4 September 2014

Review | New Ryvita Tin & Pumpkin Seed Flavour

Hello everyone! So a pretty unusual review today on the blog but it's about the new limited editon tin Ryvita have just brought out.  Now Ryvita's are a god send in the Candyfloss household.  David doesn't really get on well with sandwiches.  Don't get me wrong he loves toast and pretty sure he likes bread but he doesn't get on well with sandwiches.  He'll take out the filling and then won't eat the bread or eat half of it and then before you know it's on the floor....very frustrating.

It's also good for my "diet" (okay yes not been strict but I'm happy either way at the moment).  There's plenty of room in the tine fitting a whole packet of Ryvita's and a bit more.  The design itself is very simple yet effective.  Now I'm not art expect but I'm guessing this is in a similar style as Art Deco?  Please correct me if I'm wrong.  The lid goes on nicely and it secures it put it's not too hard to get off.  That means it keeps the Ryvita's from going stale.    

Because of the colours it will easily fit in with many kitchen styles and won't look so ugly on a window sill so there is no reason to hide it away in the cupboard.  This style is in fact designed by the award winning Ben De Lisi.  As well as the pictures I have posted with what I've had with Ryvita I also dipped it in soup which is divine!  What are your favourite toppings for Ryvita?

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Review | Quorn BBQ Event

Hello everyone!  So a few weeks ago I attended a Quorn BBQ event in London.  I invited my brother along with me as he is vegetarian. Even though I am a meat eater I do love Quorn.  I've only ever had their mince and chicken but I really enjoyed them when I've eaten them.  I was really happy to get invited as it gave me the change to try out more of their range. I had to bring my son David along too as it was on a day I have him for contact.  I thought I would take advantage of this and so me and my brother took him to the science museum.  He had lots of fun and loved the cars and trains.  He spotted them out straight away which I was pleased about.  After exploring the rest of the museum we went down to the basement where they had their "garden".  I wish I went down their sooner as David loved it and I don't blame him.  It was amazing and well I wish I could of had the water play section in my back garden.

Anyway more about the event.  When we arrived we were welcomed with a friendly reception.  We were given a press pack and a bunch of vouchers for drinks.  Normally I would of introduced myself to everyone but I had David with me and understandably he was being difficult. It wasn't his fault though as obviously he wanted to run around and touch everything.

Whilst we networked and waiting for the BBQ to start we were given a glass of pimms and snacks were laid out on the table.  It was very relaxed, as we were near the airport too we were able to show David planes....he now points at every plane he sees in the sky ha ha.

Quorn had laid out a lovely table of food for the BBQ as well to put on our plates.  I took some cocktail sausage to try and bribe David some what in to keeping quiet as he was being rather loud.  I managed to eat one myself this time as well considering my brother normally tells me I can't have any when I'm round the parents house.  I can see why he wanted them all to himself now as they were lovely!

It wasn't long until the chef started cooking the quorn sausages and burgers.  They had marinated the burgers with some special sauce.  I don't know what it was but my god it was amazing!  The only way I could explain it, was that it was like ribs with rib sauce had been mushed together into a burger.  Oh my god, it was to die for.  David stole most of my burger sadly.  I can't blame him though it really was that tasty.

Please excuse the bite marks as I nearly forgot to take a picture as I was enjoying it that much ha ha.  They also had sausages.  These tasted much different from the cocktail sausages but still packed with flavour.

They also served up some trifle for afterwards which was lovely.  I think quorn is always ignored as a healthy alternative but infact it's great if your on a diet you don't have to be a vegetarian.  Weight Watchers even have it included in part of their healthy and filling plan.  Quorn was nice enough to give us some recipe ideas that I might in the near future have a go at.  If you would like me to post the recipe's with feedback as to how easy it was to cook etc, please let me know.

Just before I finish this post I'll leave you with this fact about Quorn that may just surprise you.

"*Quorn Mince, Quorn Meat Free Chicken Pieces and Quorn Standard Sausages are a nutritionally healthy protein source. Protein contributes to a growth in and maintenance of muscle mass.

**Based on a 75g serving size."

Don't forget to subscribe to me over at my youtube channel as I'll be doing a vlog on this soon as well.