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Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Christmas Gift Guide Part 6 - HIT Entertainment

The lovely people at HIT Entertainment sent me their Christmas Gift guide so I thought I would be kind and share it with my readers.

It has some great products included with all the favourites, Angelina Ballerina, Bob The Builder, Thomas & Friends and Fireman Sam. There something for all budgets including Toys, Books, DVD's, Stocking Fillers and Sweet Treats.


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Stocking Fillers


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Books

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DVD's

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Toys - Thomas & Friends


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Toys - Bob The Builder


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Toys - Fireman Sam


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Jewellery

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Days Out

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For more information and to buy online visit the HIT Entertainment online shop

The Gallery - The Kitchen

Forgive me Tara for I have sinned, it's been 10 long weeks since my last Gallery post.

It really has been that long since my last Gallery post, I either keep missing the prompts or aim to 'do that later' and later never comes. However this week I just had to join in, I mean with a prompt like 'The Kitchen' how could I not.

I have shown off posted pictures of my kitchen previously in Where Do You Blog and in a more recent *cough* sponsored post about conservatories.

Two years ago we had quite a small kitchen, with a tiny 2 foot square table in it which, for mealtimes, was pulled into the middle of the room and we all sat around it, thankfully Jack was still in his highchair at the time as we could barely fit 4 plates on the table. I would serve the dinner up & then call everyone to the table, if they were too eager Sam would have to wait until the oven was closed before he could sit down. If there was to be ice cream for pudding we would all have to shuffle over so the freezer could be opened, and then shuffle the other way whilst the dishwasher was loaded. We did have a utility room though, not that it proved much use as it was very small and had a door in and a door out and not much space in between.


So on the first snowy day of January 2010 we began the journey to a bigger kitchen via a bit of this


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Until we were able to celebrate Jack's first birthday in it just over two months later.

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Now we do lots of this in there

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and some of this 

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and a bit of this


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but not a lot of this

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and this morning it looked like this 

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but it's our kitchen where we spend most of our time and we love it because it's The Crazy Kitchen.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Chicken, Leek & Mushroom Pie with Sage & Onion Mash

I recently posted a review for Owen Potts sauces and dressings and I mentioned how I was keeping the chicken gravy for my Christmas dinner. Well Sunday evening came around far too quickly and I had nothing prepared for dinner so after a rummage around the cupboards and freezer I came up with this which was nice and quick to prepare & everyone loved :


Chicken, leek & Mushroom Pie with Sage & Onion Mash 
(served 4.5 with a half portion for the next day)


Olive oil
Frozen cooked chicken breast strips
Frozen sliced leeks
sliced mushrooms
potatoes - peeled
Sage & onion stuffing mix (small box)

(sorry no quantities, I never weighed anything)





  • First I added the chicken and leeks to a pan with a little olive oil and cooked over a low heat until completely thawed out.
  • I then added the mushrooms and chicken gravy and heated until the mushrooms were soft
  • Meanwhile I boiled the potatoes and then mashed them down with butter and milk and then added the stuffing mix (reserving a small amount for the topping) and added some more milk so that it wasn't too dry
  • I poured the chicken mixture into a large pie dish and covered with the mash
  • I sprinkled the reserved stuffing mix on top of the potato and placed into a preheated oven until the top was brown and crispy
  • Served with carrots and broccoli


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This is The Crazy Kitchen

Over three years ago (whilst I was pregnant with Jack) I starting researching Conservatories. I knew it was our best option of increasing space in the house to cater for our new addition, along with my expanding business. I had (in my mind and on paper) knocked almost every wall down in the house to work out possible options. Although these were good ideas that would give us more usable space it didn't help with giving us more overall space so we decided that a conservatory was our only option. both cost and time wise.


More than a year later we still hadn't decided what to do, I was still busily drawing plans and researching Conservatory prices. There were so many decisions to make, design, size, colour, how many opening windows, glass or polycarbonate roof, it was mind boggling and a decision that I didn't want to get wrong.


In the end we opted for a Gable ended square (almost) Conservatory in white UPVC with almost all of the top windows opening and a glass roof, and it was completed just in time for Jack's first birthday.


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Our conservatory is now the heart of our home where we have enjoyed many parties (for both the kids and adults) as it forms part of our kitchen, hence the name of my blog The Crazy Kitchen.


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If you're thinking of having a conservatory I would definitely recommend shopping around and comparing prices as they do vary a lot. I would also recommend that you go for the best that you can afford, after all it's a longterm investment and something that can often give your home the wow factor.

You can also compare double glazing prices and orangeries prices.




This is a sponsored post.

Spruce up your Christmas

Christmas is approaching fast and all the shops have their Christmas goodies in. Last year I wanted some red charger plates but apparently two weeks before Christmas is far too late to be looking for anything Christmas related so with that in mind I will be starting to think about our Christmas Dinner table this week.

If you're looking for linens and fabrics to spruce up your dining table and kitchen this Christmas Terry's Fabrics have an amazing range of fabrics in all colours. You can search for fabrics by type or by colour so if you're looking for Red Fabrics, Green or Gold  to fit your Christmas colour scheme I'm sure they will have something for you. They have a vast array of Organza fabric which is great to use as a table runner, and you could make it a bit fancier by adding a gold tassel on each end.
Gold Metallic Key Tassel

If you're looking for something reasonably priced to make your Christmas table more welcoming the Poinsettia table linens are very effective over a plain white tablecloth.

Red Scroll Poinsettia Table Linen

After that big dinner you will want to relax and what better way than to curl up on the sofa watching Mary Poppins with your tin of chocolates surrounded by some luxurious cushions and a nice warm throw.
Claret Carnival Cushion Wine Twiggy Cushion
Red Chenille Checked Throw


Terry's Fabrics also have a great range of curtain fabrics, Ready Made curtains, Blinds and Bedding.

You can order everything online, requesting free fabric samples beforehand if necesssary, or you can call into their stores in Stockport and Stoke.

This is a sponsored post.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Christmas Gift Guide Part 5 - Food and Drink Lovers

Next up in The Crazy Kitchen Christmas Gift Guides is one of the most important (in my opinion) - for Food and Drink Lovers.


I love to make themed hampers up at Christmas for relatives and in the past have made them on the following themes :


Ice Cream - including Sundae glasses and long handled spoons, Ice Cream mix, Ice cream wafers, vanilla candles, chocolate & strawberry sauces and a jar filled with sweets for decorating the sundaes.


Coffee - including expresso cups & saucers, a cafetiere, ground coffee, milk frother and some coffee scented candles.


Ginger - homemade ginger liquor, stem ginger, ginger biscuits, ginger chocolates,  ginger oatcakes, ginger beer and ginger scented candles.


I have also made hampers up for my parents and Grandparents full of lovely food and drink that they perhaps wouldn't buy for themselves - my dad is a bit partial to M&S luxury nuts but would never buy them so I always put some of those in.


Kitchen Gadgets and Utensils
If there is anyone that you need to buy for that is like me and would be very happy to receive Kitchen utensils and gadgets for Christmas then you could make them look a lot more exciting than wrapping them in Christmas paper by using a sheet of cellophane and some ribbon. You can usually buy lengths of cellophane from florists. I have shown here how to wrap a gift basket in cellophane.


Oxo have a great range of Christmas gadgets - I particularly like the Oxo Good Grips red spatula - perfect for some festive baking.
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Instead of a basket to hold all the gadgets and utensils you could use a nice roasting tin - I received one from Mermaid, which is made of hard Anodised Aluminium and is very lightweight although of excellent quality and comes with a lifetime guarantee.
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I filled it with shredded paper and arranged the utensils in the tin, along with some Ferrero Rocher, as Christmas isn't Christmas without a lovely box of these, and wrapped in the large cellophane bag that I'd made.


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I have a cheap set of kitchen scales but I've had my eye on some new ones for ages. I particularly like the Salter Heston Blumenthal Orb scales which a pretty sleek and I'd love in my kitchen. 

Heston Blumenthal Precision Orb Electronic Scale
Salter sent me a set of their Anniversary scales to try out and I must say, although not quite as sleek looking as the Orb scales they are good looking enough to be displayed on my kitchen worktop. They have a large LCD display with a clock as well as weights displayed in either metric or imperial. There is a stainless steel weighing bowl and the scales come with a 15 year guarantee.

Anniversary Electronic Scale

I removed the scales from the box and filled the pan with chocolates before wrapping in cellophane to make it into a much more exciting looking gift than a box.

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Chocolates
We all probably eat too many chocolates over Christmas but it doesn't stop us buying them - it's nice to give and receive them at Christmas and we usually manage to make ours last until Easter!


Ferrero Rocher - as I mentioned before I don't think that Christmas is Christmas without these lovely little nuggets of deliciousness. They're no longer just available in the standard flavour but you can also get Garden Coconut, Rond Noir (with rich dark chocolate and almond) and a limited edition Garden Pistachio with a whole pistachio in creamy filling, wrapped in wafer and sprinkled with a light meringue and finely chopped pistachio pieces.


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Gift Sets
If you don't want to go to the hassle of making Gift Baskets up then Boots have a great range of foody gifts already packaged ready to give.


I love the Joules Brilliant Baking Hamper filled with lovely goodies.
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Or the Food Nation Paella set
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or Italian Pizza Set
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Emile Henry Creme Brulee set - I've always wanted one of these but I don't like Creme Brulee, I just like the idea of having a blow torch for those occasions when you might need your topping crisped up.
Crème Brûlée Set

Lakeland have a large range of hampers and gift baskets starting from £14.99 which, for £3.50, you can have gift wrapped.

St Kew Teacup Basket
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Cottage Delight Great British Afternoon Tea
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Nandos Gift Sets
If you like spicy food Nando's have a range of gift sets this Christmas available from their own website , Debenhams , Argos and Boots.
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Festive Foods
If you're looking for some festive food ideas either for gifts or to put you in the festive mood then how about these :


Dorset Cereal Gingerbread Porridge
Start your day off with some hearty porridge with real gingerbread pieces, in handy to use single serving sachets.
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Packington Free Range Cockerel

If you fancy something a bit different to the usual turkey this Christmas try a Cockerel from Packington Free Range. Known for their Packington Porkers, free range pigs that you can see running free in their Staffordshire fields, Packington also have free range Cockerels, slow reared for an exceptional taste. You can purchase them online for a 22nd December delivery.

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Cheese and Biscuits
At Christmas we always buy some lovely cheeses that perhaps we wouldn't buy throughout the year. Websites such as The Cheese Shed are a great place to start if you don't know what cheeses to look for to go on your Christmas cheese board.


Vulscombe


You can't have cheese without crackers and award winning Fudges have a great selection of Biscuits for cheese, including Marmite Crackers and some really different looking Charcoal crackers and delicious sounding Oat & Walnut Crackers . They also have party packs of specially selected crackers perfect for different occasions, including Drinks Party Pack, Cheese Party Pack and High Tea Party Pack.
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Wine
If you're buying a gift for a red wine lover why not get a Vinturi wine aerator. With the Vinturi you no longer need to leave the wine to 'breathe' as the clever little gadget aerates the wine immediately so it's ready to drink straight from opening. Just pour the wine through the Vinturi into the glass and it's ready to drink.

Christmas is the only time of the year (believe it or not) that I order wine by the case. Last year I got very anxious when the Tesco Wine van couldn't make it up the hill to our house because of snow but the driver managed to fight his way through the blizzards the following day to make the delivery - phew!

Waitrose Wine Direct have a mixed case of Christmas wine for a special offer price of £79 with Free Delivery.


Virgin Wines have some presentation boxes of wines in white, red or mixed


and a bottle of Moet in a presentation gift box




Luxury Gifts


If you're feeling like spending a bit more money this year why not get one of these gorgeous looking coffee makers from illy, £199 from John Lewis.




Or one of the many food experiences that Buyagift offer, such as Gordon Ramsey's Claridges 4 Course lunch with Champagne, or Dinner Cruise on The Thames for two or a Medieval Banquet for two.


Or a cooking holiday from Cook in France, where you can buy Gift Vouchers for one day courses or a full 5 day all inclusive course. 

























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