Personalised message from Santa
Christmas is a time for magic…especially when our boys are at the age where they notice things. Our 6 year old spotted a ‘fake Santa’ (or Father Christmas as he goes by both in our house) the other day as you could see the elastic holding the beard in place which led to many questions around is he real or not.
Well, I asked him what he thought as we both know that Father Christmas is busy right up until Christmas Eve. He agreed that he is indeed real and that the real Santa only comes out on Christmas Eve (Pfew!).
Well, I have devised a cunning plan! Not in the horrible sense of cunning, more like I am excited to keep the magic of Christmas going and have found a tool to help me out!
There is…wait for it….a site that provides personalised video messages from the Big Man himself directly to your computer, mobile or tablet! Now whether that is being naughty or nice will be up to the boys in years to come, but for now, it will help me keep the ruse going.
Pure brilliance! I’ve had a play and created my personalised message from Santa. There are various options over and above just adding your child’s name and is pretty user friendly. I have gone for a premium version which allows for a bit more personalisation. There is however a basic video which is a free personalized Christmas video message offered to parents through Portable North Pole’s mobile app
Santa / Father Christmas (or his elves) , then put all the information you provide him into his magic machine and voila! knows all he needs to know for the big night of Christmas Eve, you can choose adults too (fancy that!)
I am going to be heading back over to that Portable North Pole website and what’s more, Mumof2.com readers or visitors will get a 20% off digital products in the PNP store until the 1st January using the following discount code : BLG20BKP
***sponsored review*** I have received a voucher to review this product
Coffee in our house has become an occasion. We use filtered water to ensure that the famous Nespresso machine (ours is a Magimix) doesn’t get clogged with limescale and that the coffee is ‘pure’.
So, when the Big Cup Little Cup bunch, CaféPod’s sister company, asked whether I liked chocolate (which I love more than coffee!) and asked if I would be happy to try their Nespresso compatible pods that had notes of dark chocolate and chestnut, how could I resist?
We have never used anything else in our coffee machine other than Nespresso pods (bought direct) and to be honest I was a little nervous as to how our machine would cope. I was half thinking I might have the lights all flashing as if it refused to make the coffee!
Well, it was quite happy to process the Reindeer Rocket pod! The main difference between the 2 pods is that the one is plastic and the other is aluminium, which in recycling terms is much of a muchness. The numbers to let you know how strong the coffee is correlates too!
Now on to the important bit…how about that coffee? The limited edition seasonal blend that we tried was the Reindeer Rocket. With the Christmas music in the shops and the boys practising their school nativity play it just seems like a nice choice at this time of the year.
I made an espresso to check the punchiness and for me it was spot on and full bodied with an intense flavour that has a lingeringness (is that a word?!) of chocolate. It was delicious! I can’t wait to have it as a latte tomorrow morning.
The concept of Big Cup (lungo or large) Little Cup (espresso) reminds me somewhat of Big Cook Little Cook and makes sense from CaféPod and it’s always nice to have a change to the standard coffee I usually have to choose from at home.
If you would like to try the Reindeer Rocket for yourselves, CaféPod are giving Mumof2.com reader’s 15% off your first order at www.bigcuplittlecup.com with the discount code MUMOF215
What is your favourite flavour and size of coffee?
***DISCLAIMER – I have been provided this product to review. All opinions are honest and my own. ***
Tea that packs a punch!
Tea comes in all shapes and forms. Me, I usually go back to my good ol favourite English Breakfast Tea with milk and a sugar. I have been known to use Green Tea when studying as it keeps me awake all day. Weird, yes but it does the trick.
When the bunch over at The Exotic Teapot suggested I try their Gourmet Tea Bags, I had a think and reckoned that my English Breakfast Tea won’t mind too much if I left it in the cupboard for a bit.
Well…I think it should have minded…a lot! I had a beautiful Steeples Tin delivered that contained 15 silk teabags, each with a different type of tea. What I noticed most, was that the mix of the various tea aromas was the first to hit my senses. So far, the gourmet part was living up to its name and I couldn’t decide which one to go for first.
I then spotted the Rooibos (said Roy-bos or Redbush in English) and, as I had grown up in South Africa and on Rooibos tea, I reckoned that it would be the best one to start off on. The South Africans are quite protective about it if I am honest.
Exotic Teapot’s Rooibos Tea
It was out of this world. Fact. From the colour of the tea leaves and the infusion of flavour, I have to say, it’s the best Rooibos I have ever had. The little pyramid shaped silk bags pack the flavour and maintain the colour and aroma.
So, if you’re looking for a nifty gift for someone or are a tea lover yourself, head over and check the other products that The Exotic Teapot have to offer. They are a small independent company who design products to provoke a wow! and enhance the tea experience. I can say that they managed a wow! from me!
I am now off to decide if I would like the Raspberry Fruit Infusion or the Rooibos Gingerbread Orange…decisions decisions!
** I have been provided with this product by The Exotic Teapot. My review is an honest opinion of this product **
Recipes from an Indian Kitchen
The Juice Bar
Christmas has come and gone and we’re all turkeyed out (well our house is at least!). 2014 has officially got under way and it brings with it new ideas and great times (we hope!). The folks over at Parragon sent me these 2 fab books as part of their book buddy scheme.
The Juice Bar has loads of ideas for those of you who have made New Year’s resolutions to get healthy, get fit and detox. There are plenty of juice making ideas to give your body the boost it needs with mouth-watering drinks.
If you’re not specifically looking for healthy options, but just some inspriration of something different or to use up fruit and veg that you have about, then this is a great place to find it.
Recipes from an Indian Kitchen is my favourite out of these 2 books. It too is filled with vibrant colours and photos that make you want to scratch the page and sniff the rich aromas of spices and ingredients.
It is jam packed with loads of hints and tips from how long the prep and cooking times are to ingredients that can be replaced if you can’t find the specified one in the recipe.
***sponsored review – I was given these books as part of a book buddy scheme***
Santa (or Father Christmas as he goes by both in our house – he’s been upgraded from Farmer Christmas in recent years) brings both magic and pleasure in the run up to Christmas and of course Christmas day.
He knows if the boys have been naughty or nice and every once in a while, I remind them of this very fact.
Well, this year I have devised a cunning plan! So cunning that I had to test it out for myself and in a very nodding-my-head-hrmf-pulls-funny-smile pleased kind of way think by George I’ve got it!!!!!! (requires more ! but you get the message as to how clever I think I am being).
There is…wait for it….a site that provides personalised video messages from the Big Man himself directly to your computer, mobile or tablet! (stands back and waits for the surprise gasp reaction! I know! nods head again)
Pure brilliance! I had a play and there are various options over and above just adding your child’s name, like whether they are pure angel nice, naughty and nice or naughty along with things they may have asked for or that they need to work on to get onto the nice list.
Santa / Father Christmas, then puts all the information you provide him into his magic reading machine and voila! knows all he needs to know for the big night of Christmas Eve. It’s of course up to you as to when decide to reveal which part of the list your nominee falls into and this of course is not just for kids! In my noseying about and testing, you can choose adults too (fancy that!)
I am definitely heading back over to that Portable North Pole website and what’s more, Mumof2.com readers or visitors will get a 20% off digital products in the PNP store until the 1st January using the following discount code : BLG20BKP (not bad I reckon!) Happy video message making!
My October Book Buddy book is an interesting one and thank you to the Parragon folk for sending it to me. As you can see it’s called ‘Make it in a Jar‘ and with the winter months coming it would make a great present for Christmas (either the book or making a jar from the recipes in said book!)
I love the insipiration it provides to turn a possibly boring recipe into something more. Take the Rainbow Cakes above – when the boys saw this recipe they couldn’t stop gushing over the bright colours (and what a lovely idea for a kiddy party!).
There are also some lovely gift ideas as in…create a jar with the basic ingredients and pop a pretty ribbon on and give it to a friend with a couple of instructions and voila! A useful (tasty) gift for when they are ready to use.
One or two of the Make in a Jar ideas are a little bit far off for my mind to get around – the salad in a jar being one of them but the concept of using a jar instead of plastic tubs for picnics might be something for the greener minded folks.
So, if you are finding that your baking ideas are the same over and would like some inspiration for something a little different or a gift with a difference that your family and friends might enjoy – I give this a thumbs up on both counts.
I recently joined the Parragon Book Buddy review club and as I have a 7 year old who appears to want to know facts and be told a lot of facts, I asked if they could send me a book aimed at older children. I am delighted to say that I was quite pleased when Dinsoaurs Encyclopedia popped through the letter box.
Our boys seem to think I lived in the age of the dinosaurs and well when they see what I survived during that period – it may make them stop and think that perhaps I am a little bit on the young side with 2013 being a few thousand years on 😉
What I like about this encyclopedia is that it’s great for the boys to learn about dinosaurs but also not too simplistic that an adult won’t mind reading with them. It’s packed with facts, diagrams and loads of images. In fact, the diagrams have lovely little details like ‘ Bones with tiny swellings, found in 2007, show that the Velocriaptor definitely had feathers!’ or locations of where species were found.
It does truly bring the prehistoric world to life and is written in a timeline which also helps to put things into context.
I also found it quite a tactile book. The photo of the Caudipteryx above has what looks like a crack or fold on the left hand page. I went to feel it and it’s part of the background. There are other pages which have a similar feel and we couldn’t help but run our fingers along them.
We like this book and give it a 2 thumbs up. You can find it on amazon Dinosaur Encyclopedia
When Coppenrath & Wiese asked if I wanted to try out one of their Lemon Swirl Cheesecakes I jumped at the opportunity. Never one to say no to cheesecake (well..hardly ever unless I am really ill!), this particular request had me more intrigued than anything as the cheesecake in question is frozen. GASP! yes…frozen.
I did make the mistake on thinking ‘ooh we have cheesecake in the freezer let’s have some’ and then discovering that it needs to be defrosted in order to be enjoyed properly. So, popped it in the fridge overnight and tried it the next evening. There are other options for defrosting, but this was the easiest for us.
There are mixed reviews in our house. My supportive husband liked it. A lot! He reckoned it was lemony (like the box said it was lemon swirl), the biscuit base with crunchy (even after being defrosted) and the part that he loved the most was that it was easier on his weight watchers points than he thought. His portion came to around 5 points when he was expecting 8. He would definitely choose it again.
I, on the other hand, am undecided. I found it to be more lemony than I expected. I liked the crunchy base and that my palate felt clean after eating it. I am a chocolate girl at heart and so decided that I didn’t give it enough of a chance. A couple more bites in and taking my supportive husband’s comments on board – I could see what he meant. But – I think if I were to try another one – I would maybe go for the Chocolate Cheesecake
This morning I heard the postman drive into our drive (there’s not escaping anyone who thinks they can sneak up on us as the shingle gives the game away!) and I wasn’t expecting the loud knock on the door for a parcel delivery…well I was but thought it was some shoes I had ordered. With it being school holidays and taking things a little slower – I raced downstairs to the door to catch him . To my surprise it was ….
a box from the bunch over at Walkers filled with 3 new flavours of ridged crisps. ( I am secretly relieved as I was expecting them at some point and thought there was no ways the shoes could have arrived so early as I only ordered them the evening before!)
And a more perfect timing they couldn’t have been – as we were going on a lovely unplanned walk with some friends and having a picnic half way. So I was even more pleased that I had goodies to add to our lunch boxes.
After enjoying our walk through the woods, we stopped to refuel and as we had a few packs – we shared with our friends and their children and this was our verdict :
- They all said they were delicious – there was a flavour for everyone (roast chicken, lightly salted, cheese and onion). I never heard any of the children moan that there wasn’t one for them or that they didn’t like them. In fact, one of the mums who usually doesn’t eat crisps was tempted to try them and noted that there was no scrimping on the flavour as they were jam packed with it (and then went to ‘try’ another one, two, three….a whole packet later!)
- They didn’t find the crisp as harsh on the mouth as it didn’t cut the roof of their mouths. As the Mighty Lights weren’t as hard as ‘normal’ crisps – they didn’t seem to hurt if they went in the wrong way.
- We would all look to buy them for our children either for snacks after school or to put in their lunch boxes or car journeys. Apart from the fact that they taste great – they are lower in fat than a standard potato crisp. They liked the fact that they were lighter as in they felt lighter in their mouths and were also going to be lighter on the hips (well for the mums at least!). According to our weight watchers app a bag is only 3 points versus the usual 5 points! Bonus!!!
- I, personally, like the no MSG part. My mum has an MSG (mono sodium glutimate) allergy and her allergic reaction is not fun (for her or anyone witnessing it!). So it’s great to know I can have a snack ready with no wobbles.
- And finally – the kids loved them!! They gobbled their packet up in minutes and were asking for more!
So – it would appear that Walkers has added another dilemma in our household when we head down the crisp aisle! For some more info check out the walkers mighty lights website
The lovely folk over at Parragon Books were very kind in giving me a couple of recipe / cookbooks at a recent conference and here is my take on them :
Mama’s Family Cookbook – Family recipes from the Italian Kitchen
I really loved the style and ‘easy goingness’ (new word I know!) of this recipe book. I like the way the ingredients are easy to spot and you don’t have to trawl through the recipe to make sure you haven’t forgotten to add anything to your shopping list. Anyone who knows my cooking style will understand that KISS (keep it simple stupid) is my motto!
Every now and then they have thrown in a ‘Mama’s tip’ which are lovely snippets eg. A basic pizza dough recipe or reminding the cook not to scrimp on pizza toppings!
If you or your family are not really into Italian type food – then this book probably won’t be for you. That said – I reckon there is something for everyone’s palate in here. Gets a triple thumbs up from me!
Vegetarian – the perfect guide to meat free meals – Step by Step
Now if you thought I liked Mama’s Family Cookbbook a lot…well this veggie step by step guide completely blew me away. I have to be honest and confess that I don’t have ANY vegetarian specific recipe books in our house and I am so glad to say that now I do!
It does what it says on the cover and literally provides step by step illustrations/photo’s to reassure whoever is cooking that they are doing the right thing and well if they aren’t I spose.
It’s eye catching and provides great inspiration for days when you don’t feel like eating meat or alternatively (in my case) for providing a great base to add your chosen meat to. It’s also nice to see that the veggie option isn’t the ‘boring’ option.