Thursday, 29 January 2015

Valentine's Day Giveaway

Enjoying a great cup of tea can become that much sweeter this valentine's day when sharing these his and hers mugs with your favorite someone.

These his and hers mugs will make a fantastic present for any happy couple. As the adage goes; the couple that drinks tea together, stays together.  

The name badge makers, Simoney Badges, have created these limited edition his and hers themed mugs for couples, and one lucky reader can win these beauties! All you need to do for your chance to win is follow the instruction in the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Degustabox a monthly subscription box filled with food and beverage products. The products change each month which means you'll get to try out and experience new and different brands/items that you've seen in the supermarkets before, but haven't tried, or maybe hadn't even considered trying them. The boxes include 9 to 14 items are always a surprise and you won't know what is in the box until it arrives on your doorstep! You can either subscribe for yourself or you can purchase a subscription as a gift for someone else.

The box costs £12.99 including delivery per month. Payments are taken on the 10th of each month, and you cancel at any time.

I've been receiving and reviewing Degustabox since March last year and I've enjoyed and appreciated every box so far. This box did not disappoint and it delivered exciting new items for me and my family to try and enjoy.

If you would like to give Degustabox a try, then please feel free to use this £3 discount code for your first box. The code is: 

You can follow Dugustabox for the latest news and updates with the below links:

Gloworm - A premium mixer, specifically blended to compliment a selection of spirits. Their unique formula is sugar-free and taurine-free. Available in 4 flavours; Raspberry & Orris for Vodka, Cucumber & Apple for Gin, Pear, Spice& Lime for Rum, Ginger & Lemongrass for Bourbon.

Fry Light Infuse -  A cooking spray range infused with flavour to help season all sorts of pan fried and roasted food with the touch of a button. Made with pure Garlic and Chilli extracts, it is designed to make cooking quicker, with no need to peel and cut the garlic, chilli.

Bahlsen - Milk chocolate biscuit, with caramel. The finest milk chocolate wrapped around a delicate crisp butter biscuit, with a filling of soft caramel. Available from Asda, Ocado, Sainsbury's and Waitrose.

Kent’s Kitchen - A food ingredients designed to help home cooks create delicious meals. The ranges offer a shortcut to culinary magic and are perfect for novices needing some support. These are quick and easy to use, and they are packed with flavour.

Bonne Maman Coarse Orange Marmalade - A fresh, zingy and made with thick shred orange peels. Perfect for spreading on toast (my favourite) or to be used as the ingredient in a savoury or sweet recipe.

Pukka Herbs Clean Green - With zingy Sicilian lemons and the freshness of dandelion root, this green tea will delight your taste buds.

POPCHIPS - They are neither fried or baked, they are simply popped with heat and pressure to make a naturally delicious crisp with all the flavour and less than half the fat of fried crisps, and less than 100 calories in each serving.

Eisberg-Alcohol Free Wine - Available in Chardonnay, Rose, Cabernet Sauvignon and Riesling, all alcohol free and with only a third of the calories!.

The Chia Co Oats+Chia - Wholegrain oats and chia blended with quality fruits and coconut oil. These ‘just add water’ oats deliver a smooth and creamy texture, without dairy. Packed with omega-3, fibre and protein, and vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Rack of Lamb with Vegetables, Mint Sauce & Chianti Gravy

People who know me, know I don't cook, my hubby has been the cook for the past 17 years, and recently I have wanted to change that. For the first time in my life I have found myself wanting to cook.

I really enjoy watching Jamie Oliver's cooking shows, I find his passion infectious and he makes cooking look, not only simple, but fun and last week I was watching a 30-minute meals episode when I spotted the Rack of Lamb dish.  Normally when we buy lamb, which is extremely rare, it is minted lamb chops, we throw them on the BBQ and char them. But after watching a few cooking shows and seeing how lamb can be cooked, or how it should be cooked, slightly pink, and juicy, I have been wanting to give it a try.

I recorded that episode and went out and bought all the ingredients needed, then before I started to cook, I re-watched the show, wrote down notes and got started.

For someone like me that doesn't cook, this was a big challenge, but I did enjoy it, the kitchen looked like a bomb had gone off, but the end result was great; the whole dish was full of delicious flavours, it was a real treat and the more I cook the more I want to cook again.


8-bone rack of lamb (although at the time all that was available was a 7-bone rack)
lamb neck fillet (approx. 250g)
3 x sprigs fresh rosemary
2 x cloves of garlic
1 x teaspoon Dijon mustard
white wine vinegar
300g cherry tomatoes on the vine

4 x rashers of smoked bacon
2 x sprigs fresh rosemary
1 x heaped tablespoon plain flour
Half a glass of red wine

500g baby new potatoes
250g baby carrots
1 x bunch fresh mint
1 x chicken stock cube
200g fine beans
200g runner beans
Half a Savoy cabbage
Knob butter

Mint sauce:
Bunch fresh mint
4 x tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 x tablespoon golden caster sugar


First turn on your oven to full heat, heat a large pan on the hob, boil water in a large saucepan and fill and boil the kettle.

Cut the rack of lamb and neck fillet into half, score the skin on the rack of lamb and season with salt and pepper and rubbed a generous amount of olive oil all over. Place the lamb into the hot pan and sear each end.

Whilst your lamb is browning, chuck your washed potatoes and carrots into the large saucepan and add a pinch of salt. Place a couple of sprigs of mint in, along with the chicken stock cube. Put the lid on and leave to bubble away.

Don't forget to turn your meat. For the marinade, you need to pull the leaves off 3 sprigs of rosemary and place into a pestle and mortar with some salt & pepper and the garlic. Then pound until it is mushed. Add a spoonful of Dijon mustard, with a couple of lugs of olive oil and a lug of white wine vinegar, mix it all together. 

Once your lamb is seared, transfer it to a roasting tray. Pour away most of the fat in the pan, then put it back on a very low heat for the gravy. Back to your lamb you spoon the marinade dressing from the pestle and mortar all over, making sure it is well coated and then put the vines of cherry tomatoes on top. Season with salt and then put the tray on the top shelf of the oven. Set the timer for 14 minutes.

Finely chop the mint leaves and place in the unwashed pestle and mortar. Pound away until the mint is mushed up and then add the red wine vinegar, caster sugar, a pinch of salt and a couple of tablespoons of water from the vegetable saucepan. Mix it all together and add a tiny splash of extra virgin olive oil. That is the mint sauce done!

For the gravy, first you need to slice up the bacon and chuck into the pan, and turn the heat-up on the hob. Add the leaves from the rosemary and stir in the flour, red wine and a few ladles of water directly from the veg saucepan.  

Whilst your gravy is simmering away, slice up the runner beans (about 1cm thickness), dice up the cabbage and add to the saucepan as well as the fine beans, then stir and put the lid back on.

When the 14 minutes are up, remove your lamb from the oven and leave it to rest for a minute.

Drain the veg in a colander, and return them to the pan. Drizzle your veg with extra virgin olive oil, and add a good pinch of salt and pepper and a knob of butter and gently mix. 

Pour the gravy into a gravy boat and cut the rack of lamb into individual chops. Plate up and enjoy.

Seasoning the meat
Mixing the marinate up, ready to rub on the meat
Getting ready to place the meat in the oven.
The gravy is now ready.
Getting the vegetables started.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Project 365 #4


Monday - Jacob made a spaceship at school, he came out holding it in his hands with the biggest beaming smile. Then he was running to the car, tripped over, and it crashed on the ground - all he was worried about was his poor spaceship - but not too worry it didn't crash land and all was okay.

Tuesday - In last weeks 365 I shared a photo where Summer is fascinated with the gate outside her nursery, this week I thought I would capture the window she is also fascinated with, it is near the gate, and she has to stick her hand in it, and she peeks through the slates - she can see a little light and she is dying to get in there.

Wednesday - Just outside out patio doors is the sit-on tractor trailer, which with all this rain has filled with water and in these freezing evenings the water on the top keeps freezing. And before we go to school, Jacob goes out to get a bit of ice.

Thursday - Jacob is a fussy eater, but he does love coleslaw and this is his bowl of coleslaw for dinner - he did have some celery as well. Also he got hit in the eye with a ball at school, so he has a little bruise under his eye.

Friday - After school the kids were in a playful mood and were giving each other rides and generally just having fun. 

Saturday - I've been cooking again (very rare for me to cook).  I cooked a lamb rack with vegetables, and I made the gravy. It was very nice. The more I do this the more confident I am getting and the more I enjoy it.

Sunday - I packed ready for my business trip to London on Monday and Tuesday. Of course, I've packed the most important thing, my Kindle - I cannot be without my Kindle.

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Do I need a home phone?

More and more people are using mobile phones as their primary source of communication and some are not bothering with a home phone at all - I am one of those people; since moving into this house a few years ago we've never got around to buying a home phone, but are we missing out? 

We've coped without a home phone, but I have missed it on quite a few occasions, and I do feel it would be better if I pulled my finger out and brought one. But do we need one? Is there a benefit to having a home phone? 

The simple answer is yes.

It's because a landline is more reliable than that of the mobile phone. You don't have to worry about getting a signal, finding the right spot to get a good signal or it won't drop calls half-way through a conversation.

Then there is the cost of calls, landlines can be cheaper to use, i.e. Some mobile phone providers charge you to call the free 0800 numbers (my bugbear). Also home phones offer voicemail for free, whereas my mobile phone provider charges me for each and every voicemail message I listen to. 

Then there is misplacing your mobile phone, I am guilty here, I am always losing my mobile phone, either the kids took it off to play a game on it, and I can't find it, or it falls out of my pocket down the back of the sofa. And I always lose it when I need it the most. With your home phone, this generally won't happen - the kids won't be 'borrowing' it to never return.

They don't run out of batteries, where my old iPhone wouldn't last half a day before it died out.

I am already paying for a landline, so why are we not using home phones? Thinking about it, having a home phone is probably sensible and if I do get one it will give me extra piece of mind, i.e. They are generally better during emergencies, and when you may need them the most. They offer flexibility, they are always on (no signal cut outs) and they are more user-friendly as everyone knows how to use a home phone.

This post was written  in conjunction with Panasonic.

Silent Sunday


Friday, 23 January 2015

Haliborange Mr. Men & Little Miss Vitamins for Children -

The NEW Haliborange children's range with Mr. Men and Little Miss softies. An enjoyable and more enticing supplement for your little ones that helps get the vitamins they need.

Calcium & Vitamin D StrawberrySofties: The soft chews are more appealing as they look and feel like sweats. They help provide children's little bodies with the calcium and vitamin D needed for healthy bones and teeth.

Omega 3 & Multivitamins Orange Softies: Again another soft chew, that looks just like a sweat, but this one offers a wider balance of multivitamins, which provides an important source of Omega-3 fatty acids, as well as vitamin A. Helps support healthy eyes. Vitamin B. Contribute to the release of energy from food. Pantothenic Acid. Supports normal mental performance. Vitamin C. Helps support the immune system Vitamin D. Helps the body's absorption of calcium, promoting strong bones and teeth. Vitamin E. Contributes to antioxidant protection of body tissues.

No matter what part of the year / what season, you want to help your child maintain a healthy immune system, and if they are not the best of eaters, i.e. they don't eat lots of fruit and vegetables, then the best way to encourage a healthy immune system is to support your child's diet with supplements and the Haliborange range is designed to do just that.

Jacob is a fussy eater, he lives on pasta and noodles (plain no sauce). He does like his fruit, although he struggles with his vegetables, and because of this and because I worry he isn't getting all the vitamins he needs, I would like for him to supplement his diet with vitamins. Now getting him to take a tablet would be a struggle or a vitamin liquid (like what my mum used to force down our throats when I was little). If he doesn't like it he won't take it, and this is what I both appreciate and like with the new Haliborange range, the vitamins are more like 'sweats' - they looks like sweats, they feels like sweats and they taste like sweats. They solve any issues with him turning his nose up at them, he takes them and enjoys them. I make it a routine so I don't forget to give him one each day, and each morning he quite happily eats one.

As well as the Mr. Men and Little Miss range, Haliborange sent us Teensense for my older two boys. Liam and Lewis do eat a good range of food, but not always the healthy stuff, they would much rather opt for the pizza, than the salad, so it does concern me deeply that they are not getting all their nutrients and vitamins needed.  Being older, they are quite happy to take the vitamins (to my relief), so I will quite happily give them, knowing that they are contributing towards a better immune system - keeping them healthy and happy. Haliborange Teensense vitamins are designed specifically for teenagers and they offer: Omega-3 that helps support brain function and vitamins A, C, D & E for growth and good health