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Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Cute Aprons......Cute Kids.......Scrummy Cake...

'Cooking with Your Toddler' was a regular feature earlier in the year on this blog until Jack started Pre-school. I'm hoping to revive it once the regular routine starts again in the next couple of weeks. To help us on our way Jack has been sent a fab new apron to review so he no longer needs to wear his sisters pink one.


Buy Cute Aprons is a family owned online retail store with a huge selection of aprons including all of the top American and UK apron designs. Some of their aprons are so gorgeous they look good enough to wear out and about!


There are traditional aprons.....                      To something a bit more racy.....


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From Cupcakes......                      To Camo......

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For Kids.............                          And for the Men.......

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Buy Cute Aprons has an apron for everyone. We were sent the cute Gruffalo design from Shred's. It's made from 100% cotton and machine washable at 40 degrees. As you can see Jack was very proud to model it and was keen to put it to good use decorating a cake for Pop Pop (my Dad) as it was his birthday and we were going to pay a surprise visit.


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This apron is great value at just £5.99 and would make a great gift for any budding young chef.

Go and check out Buy Cute Aprons and make sure you add one to your Christmas list this year, I know I am (whether I get one will be a different matter - Husband I hope you're reading!)





I was sent the Gruffalo apron for the purpose of this review, all words and opinions are my own.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Bob's Big Build - WIN a Goody Bag with DVD

Bob the Builder has been around for over 10 years and was a big favourite with my 10 year old son Sam when he was younger. Jack however has not (to my knowledge) ever seen an episode of Bob the Builder, instead favouring Fireman Sam, Postman Pat and Mr Tumble. He does know almost every word to the theme song though, taught by big Brother. That has all changed now though, all we hear is Bob the Builder this, Bob the Builder that and the lounge floor is scattered with tools.....


The big change came about at the weekend after attending Bob's Big Build at the O2 in London. We were lucky enough to receive a VIP invite to the event which included a champagne breakfast aboard the sightseeing Thames Clipper from The London Eye, where we met up with the lovely McDonald's from Inside the Wendy House.


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We then disembarked and made our way to the O2 where we were met by some of Bob's Crew and the children were presented with hard hats ready for their building experience. 


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Even the big kids had fun!


We made our way through a variety of zones where the children enjoyed activities from digging in the sand .....


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....building brick walls........


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....face painting.....


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....working in the Workshop and playing with toys from Character ....

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....scooter riding...
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I know what Jack will be asking Santa for...


....and watching Bob and Wendy dancing live on stage...


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The event was finished off nicely with a screening of Bob's new DVD 'The Big Dino Dig', from HIT Entertainment and not due for release until 19th September, watched from the comfort of some rather lovely beanbag chairs.

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I have a Bob the Builder goody bag, including a copy of the DVD, for one lucky reader, along with five runners up prizes of smaller goody bags. If you want to be in with a chance of winning please tweet the following and leave me a comment below to let me know you have done so.


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I want to WIN the new Bob the Builder DVD and Goody Bag with @jessies_online http://bit.ly/nyrmGy
  • Competition closes at 8pm on 14th September 2011.
  • One lucky winner will be chosen using Random.org
  • Maximum of 1 entry per person.
  • I will notify the winners once the competition has ended. If I don't receive a reply within 48 hours I reserve the right to draw other winners.
  • UK Entrants only.


*** Click CTRL & C to copy the above phrase ***

I have not been paid to write this post, I was however provided with a VIP ticket for the Thames Clipper for myself and my family, and given goody bags.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Silent Sunday - 26th August 2011

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Thursday, 25 August 2011

A Hopping Good Day.......

Bank Holiday Monday is fast approaching and that means one thing.....sadly not a day off for me - Hubby is working & I have 3 kids to look after....but it does mean that HOP is released on DVD and Blu-Ray so at least I will be able to keep them entertained if the usual Bank Holiday rain falls.


Get ready to enjoy the ultimate tales of chicks, candy and Rock N Roll. From the creators of the Hit Movie Despicable Me, comes Hop, a tale of fame, fortune and friendship.
When the time comes for E.B. (Russell Brand) to take over from his dad running the family business, he decides the pressure is too much so instead he runs away to Hollywood to see his name in lights. However, right from the start Hollywood isn't exactly what E.B. expected. Whilst looking for somewhere to stay, E.B. is hit by Fred's (James Marsden) car and Fred is forced to take him in to recover. When Fred realises E.B. is the very same Easter Bunny he glimpsed as a child they form an unlikely friendship and he agrees to help E.B. pursue his rock n roll dream, taking him to appear on "Hoff Knows talent". In return E.B. teaches Fred about what it takes to be an Easter Bunny. Meanwhile both are blissfully unaware that an elite team of royal ninja bunnies, the Oink Berets, have been sent on an urgent mission to bring E.B. home.
Back on Easter Island all is not well. Head Chick at the Easter Factory, Carlos (Hank Azaria) see's E.B.'s escape as an opening for the position of Easter Bunny and with some unwitting help from hapless music obsessed chick Phil (also Hank Azaria) he attempts to take control of the Easter factory.
We were lucky enough to be invited to a screening of Hop at the appropriate setting of Cadbury World in Bourneville, nr Birmingham where we enjoyed a tour of the Chocolate Factory, met some lovely fellow Bloggers, ate a delicious buffet lunch and watched Hop whilst the children sat mesmerised by the film (some of them.....not mine). 

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Where's my balloon gone?
We also got to meet the star of the show E.B. in person.....I think the parents were more excited than the kids....especially Jack who point blank refused to have his photo taken with him and insisted on just waving at him from a safe distance.

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Mum! Do I have to...

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Giving E.B. a cuddle!

I then got dragged around the Worlds Largest Cadbury Shop and was forced to spend too much money on lots of lovely goodies.






We had a great, but tiring, day out and a tricky journey home - have you ever tried carrying a 2 stone toddler, a buggy and a 1.5kg chocolate football down a steep flight of stairs when you're hurrying for a train?



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Mummy's Boy

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Our Hoard
I'll leave you with the words of my 8 year old daughter after we had struggled onto the train with all the bags of chocolate along with everything else you need on a day out.... "Why would any Mother buy their son a big chocolate football"...hmmm I sense a touch of jealousy here!



Bet you didn't know that.........

Heinz, a brand that we have grown up with, have been around now for over 140 years with their first product of grated horeseradish way back in 1869.  They have their World headquarters in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a place very dear to my heart as my two eldest children were born there. The Keystone logo on their packaging is based on that of Pennsylvania, the Keystone State.


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The UK didn't see a Heinz factory until 1905 with Heinz Cream of Tomato Soup being first launched in the UK in 1910 and production of the famous Baked Beans didn't start over here until 1928. From 1941 - 1948 Heinz Beans were classified as an 'essential food' as part of wartime rationing. In 2008 Heinz renamed its Heinz Baked Beans as Heinz Baked Beanz - well I never knew that!

We have been sent a Heinz Beanz fridge pack - a 1kg resealable tub of Beanz, containing 5 servings, perfect for hungry families.Once the beans have been opened they will stay fresh refrigerated in the tub for up to 5 days. After you've eaten all the beans you can wash the tub out and re-use the tub to store your pencils, bits n bobs or as a money box. The fridge packs are now also available in reduced sugar and salt, containing no artificial sweeteners, colours, flavours or preservatives and  just 100g would contain one of your 5 a day.


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The beans arrived at just the right time to accompany a lovely cheese and potato pie that I'd made .........


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.....and to use in my Easy Peasy Beany Chilli...



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We were also sent some samples of the new Heinz Squeeze & Stir soup range, a delicious alternative to powdered cup a soups. They are made from a concentrated puree and don't contain artificial colours, flavours, preservatives or MSG - often found in powdered cup a soups, and even count as one of your 5 a day. I tried the Mediterranean Vegetable and The Husband took the Minestrone to work - he stole the mug from me too!

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Also available in Cream of Tomato and Cream of Tomato with Basil which I fancy trying next.

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Sticky Pineapple Pudding

Picture the scene....It's Winter, and cold outside (or I suppose it could be August!) you've filled up on Easy Peasy Beany Chilli and you want something sweet and stodgy to follow but you can't be bothered to go to the shops and buy a pudding......here's a quick and easy sticky sweet & stodgy pudding that you can make in under 20 minutes....


Ingredients


Sliced pineapple - or you could use apple or sultanas
60g Butter
100g Golden Castor Sugar
200g Self Raising Flour
2 Eggs
200 ml Milk
tsp vanilla extract
100g Soft Brown Sugar
200ml Boiling Water



  • In a wide,deep microwaveable bowl lay the pineapple slices on the bottom and slightly up the sides
  • Beat the butter, sugar, flour, eggs, milk and vanilla together in a bowl until smooth.
  • Pour the batter over the pineapple
  • Mix the soft brown sugar with the boiling water and pour over the batter - yes I know it looks disgusting....just bear with me...
  • Microwave on full power for between 10 & 12 minutes, depending on how powerful your microwave is, until the cake is cooked in the centre.



The sauce will thicken on standing........serve with custard, cream or ice-cream.




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Easy Peasy Beany Chilli

I love my slow cooker but I usually forget about dinner until past lunchtime, by which time it's too late to start cooking in a slow cooker.


But when I'm organised I like to make a veggie chilli (just don't tell the husband that it's got no meat in....).


It's a very easy recipe, I just chop & throw in the pot, I don't bother with the 'frying off' as that just creates more washing up and the whole point of a slow cooker, in my opinion, is the beauty of 'one pot/less washing up' cooking. Since receiving my Cryotex knives it has made the whole chopping process a lot quicker and easier.


Here's my recipe - you can adjust the intensity of the chilli by adding more chilli flakes or chilli powder or leaving it out completely if you like a mild chilli - the cayenne pepper adds enough spice for some.


Ingredients


1 Onion - chopped
2 Small Carrots - chopped
1 Courgette - chopped
1 Small Butternut squash (approx 450g) - chopped
2 Garlic Cloves - chopped or crushed
290g Can Chilli Beans (in the chilli sauce)
400g Can Chickpeas
400g Baked Beans
1/2 Pint boiling water
1 tsp Paprika
1tsp Cayenne Pepper
1/2 tsp Crushed Chilli Flakes




Throw in the slow cooked, give it a mix and turn onto high and leave for around 4 hours before turning down to low for a further 2 hours or until you are ready to eat it.


And as if it didn't have enough veg in already, I added a couple of scoops of Kidz 5 a day to give it a richer flavour.....and to ensure that we all get our 5 a day!


Serve with Baked Potato/Rice and Cheese, or in a bowl with some crusty bread....



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Friendship Month

August is friendship month with ZhuZhu pets and fans can keep in touch with their friends by sending cute and quirky e-cards to their friends and family.

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The cards are a great way to stay in touch with school friends during the Summer holidays, and not only are they a unique way of showing that they care, ZhuZhu Pets fans will be entered into a prize draw for every card that they send, with five winners being chosen every day!


I know we'll be sending some as Hanna is a great fan of ZhuZhu hamsters.


For a chance of winning great ZhuZhu prizes and to send the fab e-cards just go to Thinking of Zhu.


So what are Zhu waiting for......go and spread some ZhuZhu love with your friends now......


I have been provided with a ZhuZhu pet for writing this post - which I intend to give to Hanna for her  birthday, shhhhh!

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

The Sharpest Knife in the Drawer

Some of the knives in my kitchen drawer are probably more than 15 years old but after a recent plea on Twitter the lovely people at JML sent me a stylish new set of knives to try out. The set consisted of an 8" chefs knife, a 6" fillet knife and 3.5" paring knife, but they are not just any old knives, they are the cutting edge of blade technology! These knives are Cryotex knives which have been heated and cut at extreme high temperatures and then instantly cooled with extreme low temperatures. This makes each blade stronger, harder, tougher and sharper than any other.


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The knives are in a stylish black with an ergonomic easy grip handle and each has a plastic cover that slips over it to not only protect the blades when they're in the drawer but also to protect your fingers - they are extremely sharp!


I tried them out first of all on boiled eggs and the blade glided through the egg as though it was slicing through soft butter. Soft tomatoes were no match either, the cuts were precise with no tearing or squashing, and as for potatoes I couldn't believe the sharp edges on those sliced spuds, they were so sharp I very nearly cut myself on them ( I didn't really but you get the picture). Butternut squash was no match for the chefs knife either, again gliding through it with ease, whereas it is usually a struggle to slice with my existing knives.



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I would highly recommend the Cryotex knives which at £39.99 for a set of 3 high quality knives, along with a free chopping board is an excellent deal.





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Make sure you follow JML on Twitter and Facebook to find out about the latest deals on their gadgets.

Monday, 22 August 2011

When he's a big boy.......


With lots of talk of potty training around the blogosphere at the moment I have been talking to Jack more about saying goodbye to nappies and sitting on the potty. He's not too pleased about it and whenever I ask him to sit on it he screams and throws himself on the floor, except one night last week when I convinced bribed him to sit on the potty with the promise of sweets if he produced anything. Since then he hasn't been quite so happy to sit on it - in fact he hasn't wanted to sit on it at all, but I still keep asking him every day.

Today I had two conversations with him on the subject of potty training.

The first whilst changing his nappy this morning.

Me : When you're a big boy you won't need to wear nappies as you will do all your wees and poos in the toilet

Jack : lep (meaning yes)

Me: Kieran doesn't wear nappies

Jack : no

Me : Jonah and Jude are big boys, they do all their wees and poos on the toilet

Jack : lep

Me : Sammy's a big boy, he does wee wees and poos on the toilet

Jack : lep

Me : Hannas a big girl, she doesn't wear nappies

Jack : no

Me : Ella doesn't wear nappies either, she's a big girl and does wees and poos on the toilet

Jack : lep

Me : Is Jack going to be a big boy and do wees an poos on the toilet

Jack : Nope (and walks away)



Just before lunch I broached the subject again

Jack : I want something (meaning he's hungry)

Me : ok, what do you get if you do a wee wee on the toilet?

Jack : Sweeties

Me : yes, that's right.....do you want sweeties

Jack : lep

Me : you can have some sweeties if you do a wee wee on the toilet

Jack : Have sandwich then



Wish me luck, I think I'm going to need it!

Always a Storm Brewing

I have been sent some teabags to try out by the lovely people at STORM in a variety of flavours. I have previously mentioned in blog posts that I'm not a great lover of fruit and herbal teas but in the name of research I'm willing to give anything (within reason) a go.


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Storm produce organic whole leaf teas in wonderful little silk pyramids, no need for straining your loose tea and ending up with bits in your cup. Did you know that there are also health benefits to drinking tea :


If you want to transform your immune system to better fight off colds and flu MORE EFFICIENTLY, drinking tea can be a powerful and easy way to accomplish your goal. Studies from Harvard University showed that those who drink 5 cups of black tea a day for 2 weeks transformed their T cells into super cells that produced 10 times more cold fighting interferon than those who did not consume black tea. Green tea was also just as effective. Other germs were also defeated in this study including infected cuts, food poisoning, and diseases like malaria. Even drinking less than 5 cups a day provides some valuable benefits. So, drink a cup or two of green or black tea a day for benefits that are well worth the time to brew a cuppa.
Drinking green teas could help diabetes prevention and it also boosts one's system. Green teas are used for many other healthy remedies all over the world today such as stomach upset, diarrhoea, nausea, and bowel irregularity, lowering levels of cholesterol, with prevention of tooth decay and mainly as a type of antioxidant. This tea may also have positive anti-inflammatory effects as well. Why not try our Chun mee green tea?    - Storm 

Well I didn't know that! 


I was sent Earl Grey, English Breakfast, Camomile, Peppermint & Rooibos to try out and I was a bit scared to be honest and didn't quite know what to expect, with me being an Asda Red Label tea drinker!


First up was the Camomile which, with a squeeze of lemon, was very nice and as the pyramid bag was so lovely looking I didn't want to throw it away so I left it in my cup and had a second cup a bit later, which was just as tasty as the first.
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Camomile




I wasn't too keen on the Peppermint or Rooibos but as I have found with herbal teas previously, it takes me some time to get used to the taste. 


The English Breakfast had a completely different taste to the tea taste that I'm used to but it was very nice and has made me realise that the tea I do occasionally drink (not even 1 cup a day some days) doesn't really taste of much at all - a few years ago I used to use a tea strainer to make my tea, but not with loose tea, I used to put my teabag in the strainer and pour the water over so the milk was just an off white. I've moved on from that but still don't like my tea too strong and it has to be made with skimmed milk - unless it's a fruit or herbal tea of course.


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English Breakfast
Storm tea can be purchased online for £3.79 for 15 silk pyramid bags.


I was sent these tea-bags for the purpose of this review.

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