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Tuesday 22 April 2014

Organix No Junk Campaign

Have you heard about the Organix No Junk Campaign yet?

As the name suggests, it’s all about healthy food – and healthy children, two things I'm sure we would agree are very important? I have to be honest and say that whilst we have a very varied diet I've not always been the best example to my children of how to avoid convenience foods and to make sure your diet stays junk free. This is one of the reasons I started with Slimming World this week to try and adjust my eating habits and to make a difference for life, not just go on a diet!

The No Junk Campaign starts on 28th April but the pledge to join in is live from today at - www.organix.com/nojunk

Next week will be all about finding out what’s in our food and tucking into simple meals made with real ingredients. I think this very short video gives us a real revelation of how things have changed over the last fifty years and how we now all eat things that we have no idea what they are. I think we consumers have become more aware of flavourings, colourings and sweeteners in the last decade or so but there are still all the preservatives and enhancers put into food that we cannot trace back to a good food source.

On the Organix website there will be loads of contests, prizes, and ways to share your kitchen adventures.
What it’s really about, though, is starting a food revolution. Organix is calling for the government and the food industry to do their part. That means tough controls on salt, fat, sugar and artificial additives in what our little ones eat and it does not just have to be toddler little ones. It is all children, my kids are now 6, 6 and 10 and they still require good food and not a meal full of artificial rubbish.

I’m right behind the campaign and will be blogging more about it next week – that’s why I’ve already signed the online pledge: www.organix.com/nojunk  Why don't you sign up too?

“I pledge to eat and feed my family only real ingredients 
I can recognise or spell.”

Disclosure: This is a commissioned post and I will actually be joining in with this and being very aware of what I feed myself and my family in the coming weeks.

Sunday 20 April 2014

Get ready for an Adventure with Mothercare and ELC

I was so pleased to learn that Mothercare have launched a range of clothes this year to encourage our children to get outside and to explore the world around them. They say the Adventure range captures the world of summer camps and caravan holidays, of children enjoying life's simple pleasures, like nature watching and the rediscovery of small everyday things through the spontaneous eyes of a child. Sounds great doesn't it? Certainly the kind of childhood I want my kids to be enjoying.

Earlier this weekend the kids and I grabbed the ELC explorer kits we were sent and headed out round the lake to see what creepy crawlies we could find and to watch some birds. We had a whole load of fun.

Mothercare sent the girls some clothes and they will be great when the weather is just a bit hotter. 3/4 length leggings and a couple of t-shirts. The coral coloured one is Miss M's favourite (s it says 'sweet as a strawberry') and I was amazed to see it was such a fabulous price at £2.50 for a 100% cotton top.  Miss E took a fancy to the white one which has the slogan 'pretty as a peach' on the front (very appropriate) and this is £7 in her size, the largest that Mothercare do - age 7-8 years.

They also received a 3 pack of leggings and these retail for £11.00 and I can imagine how cute my twins will look in them. One pair is the deep coral colour, another a coral gingham and the last one have little strawberries all over them. The girls did a bit of modelling for me, naturals aren't they?

The girls did end up wearing the outfits as the sun shone and I've washed them since, I was super pleased that the leggings did not really crease up at all and the tops just needed an light iron to make them look smart again. All items kept their shape well and were tumble dryer friendly. We have had Mothercare clothes before and I always find them to be good quality.

Disclosure: We received the clothes and activity packs for the purposes of this review. I have not been insctruted what to write and I remain honest. Many thanks Mothercare.

Saturday 19 April 2014

Dinners with Birds Eye

I have to admit that as a kid I really loved the Captain Birds Eye adverts, almost as much as the Milky Bar kid ones and I was keen to have a part in one of the adverts but alas it never happened and as Birds Eye dropped the captain back in the late 1990's I fear it never will now.

Perhaps the closest I have got is being asked to be a #Birdseyeblogger and to try out some of their products with my family. We were sent some vouchers and I took the kids shopping and told them to go crazy and choose what they fancied.  They are not the most adventurous of kids so we ended up with some mini potato waffles, chicken nuggets and quarter-pound beef burgers.All products they know they like and have eaten before. I also fancied trying out some of their chicken kievs as to be honest I did not realise they made those.

Probably the thing I love best about Birds Eye frozen products is that they make for such an easy meal. The kids think it is a real treat when I tell them they can have a freezer meal as this will always involve at least one Birds Eye product. Tonight we had one such easy tea and they enjoyed nuggets, with mini waffles and tinned spaghetti hoops. No not the most nutritious of meals but everything in moderation I say, the watermelon and grapes that followed afterwards help to restore a little balance!

The 32 nuggets that we bought cost £3.00 at Asda and the mini waffles were £1.50. We used all the waffles and the kids had about half the nuggets, so if you add in the tin of spaghetti at about 50p. The meal for the 3 of them cost about £3.50 and that's good value for something that offered me a lot of convenience after a very busy day.

When I got home after shopping the other day I was putting the food away in the freezer and I realised that my favourite 5 minute cook salmon is also Birds Eye, I had not realised that before. It is fabulous, you just pop it in the oven and it cooks in a little bag and then you have a delicious lemon and herb sauce in the bag to pour all over your veg. I love this salmon with a massive pile of green and white veg and then it is a super low calorie meal but full of vital nutrients. These salmon fillets are not cheap at about £3.98 for 2 portions but they are a good size and really are the most delicious convenience food out there.

I had not realised to be honest that Birds Eye have such a large range of products nowadays. I knew they did fish fingers, chicken nuggets, burgers and potato waffles/ smiles etc but that was about the extent of my knowledge. When I started to look what I could spend my vouchers on I was pleased to see there are all sorts I can try out - rice fusions, pies, various chicken and fish meals and even the good old Arctic Roll -its been a while since I had one of those!

Disclosure: I was sent some vouchers to spend on products and also a notebook/pen. I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.

Friday 18 April 2014

Ambrosia launch their mini pots

All three of my children love Ambrosia products - the original rice pudding, semolina, custard and all the flavoured custards.  They make for a really easy treat dessert as the children are always very pleased to see them.

As well as the large tins and cartons I also buy the smaller multi-packs or individual portion pots for them to take to school as part of their packed lunch. These individual pots are between 120 - 150g's (depending on the product and if you buy the multi-pack or singles) and JJ (my strapping 10-year-old) manages them no problem but my younger twin girls (aged 6) so often leave a bit and could probably do with a smaller portion.

Well the good news for them is that Ambrosia have launched mini-pots, currently only on sale in Tesco but they will be available in other leading supermarkets soon. These are a 6 pack of 55g pots and I think they are the perfect size for small toddlers, just the same as most fromage frais. The 6 pack will retail at £1.49 and I suspect my girls would probably have 2 in a sitting and this would make it about 50p per portion for them, which I'm happy with.

One of the best things about the Ambrosia products is that they are ambient and therefore make perfect lunchbox or picnic additions, as you do not need to chill them. It is good to have a go-to dairy product that is a rich source of calcium and vitamin D but I am confident does not have any nasties, such as preservatives or artificial colourings, flavourings or sweeteners.

The girls really enjoyed theirs, just look -

Disclosure: We were sent some mini-pots to try out for the purpose of this review. I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.

Wednesday 16 April 2014

A Thorntons Easter

I set out for my morning walk round the lake today at 7am and just as I was about to head home I remembered there might be a nice surprise waiting for me in the post room and let me tell you, I was not disappointed and when the kids got up to this, I was declared the best mummy ever!

Thorntons had kindly sent me through a selection of their Easter eggs to try out with my family and friends. Some small Easter eggs, lamb and bunny shaped lollys and a couple of Harry Hopalot bunny figures, as well as the Continental selection large egg, which is of course mine as they are my favourite and I was super pleased to see all my regular picks in the the 18 chocolate box, in fact by 9.30am I was doing this -

Then in the interests of being able to give you a full opinion, all the family tucked into some chocolate after our dinner this evening. I started on my Continental egg and the chocolate was really good, very tasty but I was surprised that it was quite uneven, parts where thick and others very thin chocolate. Not necessarily a problem, but not what I would have expected from a premium Thorntons product, see the photo below.

Dh had some of the chocolate from one of the small eggs and he said it was quite sugary, more so than my continental egg but still very good, a quality chocolate. The small eggs retail for £3.99 each and have around 153g - 161g of chocolate each. You can buy them on special, with 4 costing £12, which seems a good deal to me. I really liked the back of the eggs with the embossed Thorntons logo on them. Of course if I was buying these you can have them personalised with an iced name or maybe just Happy Easter and then they would look really attractive with the plastic window on the front of the box.

The Continental Luxury egg (500g) retails for £17.49 and that is far more than I'd normally spend on an egg but I have to be honest and say I'd be over the moon if my husband choose this for me as an Easter surprise. Let's be honest there is nearly £10 worth of Continental chocolates in here before you even think about the egg.

The kids tried out the Harry Hopalot figures and lollies and were super pleased with them, both white and milk chocolate were branded delicious!

If you get in quick you can still order your Thorntons Easter eggs up until 8pm tomorrow night (Thursday 17th April 2014) with next day delivery to ensure you have them for Easter Sunday.

I've been a very happy customer of Thorntons for a number of years now (since my Mum had a brief spell working at one of their shops back in the late 1990's) and I will happily keep shopping with them as I think their products are really good and offer value for money. Thank you Thorntons.

Disclosure:  I received these chocolate products free of charge for he purpose of this review. I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.

Monday 14 April 2014

Family holiday at Butlins Minehead

If you read my other blog you'll know that we were lucky to be staying at Butlins in Minehead last week for the massive Christian festival Spring Harvest.  This week is of course a little different to a regular Butlins week but there are many things that are exactly the same and our family do holiday at Butlins when it is purely Butlins so I feel qualified to tell you a little about what it is like.

I'll start by saying that we love Butlins, it is not for everyone. It is pretty full-on and you can literally fill your day from the moment you wake to when you drop in bed so I would say to be careful and to pace yourself. This is supposed to be a holiday so some planned in down time is really important for my husband and I. Rather than just go with the flow we tend to plan our day ahead to make sure that we do those things that are top of the lists for our three children.

So what are our favourite bits about staying at Butlins?

I asked all the family and this is what they had to say -

The husband - 'I love the funfair rides, now our children are that bit older it is so much fun to take them on the dodgems and waltzer. The new funfair make-overs at Bognor and Minehead have been really successful'. of course the rides (with the odd exception) are all included in the Butlins experience too and that makes them even more tempting.

Miss M - 'The Skyline gang are my favourite, they do the best shows and are really friendly'  I wrote a full review of the entertainment available at Bognor last year and it will be very similar for each of the sites. We do always find the entertainers to be completely kid friendly and nothing seems too much effort for them.

Miss E - 'When I'm older I'm going to go to art University so I love the arts and crafts best' and here is an impressive line-up of crafty activities that your children can get involved with and most have no cost at all. of course if you make an expensive item to take home, such as a printed t-shirt then there might be a small cost.

JJ - He was torn in many directions as there is loads he likes but in the end he decided that food would come top of his list 'as it is sooo awesome'.

Me - Probably my favourite part is all the family going swimming together and being able to laugh on the lazy river, relax in the whirlpool and jump the waves, whilst the kids can enjoy the flumes but I also enjoy having an alfresco drink whilst the kids play in the park too. Or letting the kids go off with my husband to play the penny machines while I enjoy a latte and a good book.

In fact there is so much more I could tell you as there is tons going on at every Butlins, you won't be bored and you won't be disappointed I'm sure.

Disclosure: I am a Butlins Ambassador and I am being offered a break in May to review the Bognor Regis site. My family paid for this holiday but Butlins kindly upgraded us to Gold. I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.

Prepaid Mastercard - would you use one?

Image Credit

I'm lucky that in the nineteen years I've been with my husband he has taught me all about budgeting and being frugal with my money. This now means that we are in a sound position financially and we have a credit card which we use to our advantage, paying it off each month.

I know there are a lot of people who would like the convenience of being able to use a credit card but actually their previous credit history and therefore credit rating is too poor to be able to gain one and even if they can then they worry for fear of spending too much.

Kalixa Pay Prepaid Mastercard - what does it cost?
This is where I believe a pre-paid credit card, such as the Kalixa Pay Prepaid Mastercard comes in really useful. Of course you must check the small print and see what you are singing yourself up to as some companies can make quite a number of charges but the Kalixa pay is upfront about the charges they make. You pay £6.95 initially to register your card and then if you withdraw cash at an ATM in the UK there is charge of £1.75 or £2.25 internally, this is not surprising though as I would have to pay cash withdrawal fees on my credit card too if I used it in that manner.

Great for budgeting and limiting your spending
There is no monthly fee to pay for using the Kalixa pay but you may have to pay a small charge to add credit to your card but this depends how you add that credit, if it is by internet banking or a standing order then it costs you nothing. Little features like this mean that if you are someone who overspends and just can't seem to help yourself the Kalixa Pay Prepaid Mastercard is perfect as there is no overdraft facility and you have to have money available on the card to be able to spend it.

Again if overspending is your weakness and you need a little help to stay on top of things the Kalixa is fabulous in that it will send you an email or SMS message totally free of charge to remind you of each transaction that you make above £5.00. You can also use the online portal (eWallet) if you wish to stay informed.

Using it abroad
I've already mentioned about the charge to use an international ATM but you can take your card abroad with you and use it to pay in whatever currency you need to without paying any foreign exchange fees, transaction charges or commission and you can rest assured that the Kalixa pay offers the most competitive foreign exchange rates on the market.

Other considerations
It is worth noting that as the card is not connected to your bank if you do unfortunate lose it or is is stolen the amount the thief can access is limited to what is live on the card.

Also you probably just need to be aware that a prepaid credit card is different to regular credit cards in that it is not covered under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974. This protects credit card purchases between £100 and £30,000 against a retailer going bust, or your goods arriving faulty or damaged.

if you would like to get your own Kalixa Pay prepaid Mastercard then you just need to apply online and they will send the card out to you.

So might a prepaid credit card suit you?  They are certainly more useful than I firstly thought!

Sunday 13 April 2014

A great night out at Cineworld

I have to share with you about the bargain night out that Cineworld have launched. It's called Take 2 and it is fabulous, I kid you not. I let out a whoop when I found out about it.

Two adults can go to their local Cineworld on a Thursday night and see a film which is not the newest release but one just a few months old that was a box office hit and you might have missed. The cost for the two tickets is just £10 (if you book online, or £11.10 if you pay as you arrive) and you will also receive a regular popcorn and two small drinks included in that price. I can't even begin to work out how much of a saving this is, it is massive.

Don't worry that the films might not be ones you want to see, they totally are.  Recently there has been Gravity and then American Hustle and showing this Thursday is 12 Years A Slave, which if I had not already seen it in February I would definitely be taking my husband to see. I highly recommend it if you have not seen it yet, hard hitting and moving,

The great thing is that at £10 for the night out for both of us we can actually afford to pay a babysitter and have a night out together. Or really it is the perfect deal for sharing with a girlfriend too, what a great cheap night at just £5.00 each.

I really hope this deal catches on and Cineworld keeps it up long-term. I'm avidly waiting to see what will be showing on Thursday 24th as I think I can get a babysitter!  There are some good ones lined up, like The Wolf of Wall Street, The Book Thief and Non Stop.

Well done Cineworld!!

Disclosure: Cineworld are offering my family complimentary tickets for a movie. They have not instructed me what to write and I remain honest.

Thursday 3 April 2014

PG Tips: Fruit,Herbal and Green Teas

I was very pleased to be sent some of the new pyramid teabags from PG Tips.  I received a small box of 20 teabags of three different flavours- Peppermint, Red Berries and Mandarin Orange Green tea.  I do like different flavour teas but I have to be honest I rarely drink them, the classic builders variety is my tea of choice.

However I'm looking to try and shift some weight at the moment and any changes that I can make to help drop my calorie intake are very welcome. Whilst my tea without sugar is not that calorific, the chocolate or biscuit that I have with it are!  The great thing is that when I drink a herbal, fruit or green tea I have no desire to have anything sweet with it.

Out of the three I was sent the Mandarin Orange Green tea is probably my favourite but all three were very drinkable and at £1.00 for a box of 20 they are good value too.

Some fruit teas I have had before have had great colour but then lacked any real taste and this is not the case with these PG tips bags, they give a good but delicate flavour. This could be due to the pyramid tea bag shape which PG tips say allow a better infusion.

There are five different flavour combinations of fruit and herbal teas and a further five green tea blends, you can see them all over here. I think these teabags are worth checking out and I'll happily buy them again.

Disclosure: I was sent the tea bags and a small gift as a thanks for reviewing these tea bags. I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.