Posts tagged review
I love it when I receive things for ME to review so when I was asked to be a Shoe Zone Mummy blogger then I was happy to help. There are certain types of shoe that every woman should have in her wardrobe. Like a good pair of jeans, there are certain shoes which are staple items. Since having children, I admit I seem to spend 95% of my time wearing trainers now a days but it doesn’t stop me loving shoes! When Shoe Zone asked me to choose a pair of shoes to review, I decided I needed to start building my collection and the perfect pair to start with are these beautiful and simple nude patent wedges.
These are the type of shoes which can be worn with everything and anything, I honestly don’t know how I coped for so long without a pair of shoes like this in my collection!
What do I love about these shoes:
1. They can be worn with absolutely everything, a true wardrobe staple which every woman needs in her shoe collection.
2. They are extremely comfortable. I’d say they are true to size, I am a size 7 in most shoes and these in a size 7 fit me really well. They feel great to wear which is always a bonus as I simply don’t believe in crippling myself for the sake of a pair of shoes, no matter how pretty they are
3. The wedge heel makes these shoes so wearable. I’m tall anyway so I don’t particularly need skyscraper heels in my life (although I do own a couple of pairs) and wedges just feel so much more stable whilst still giving the elegant feel and look of heels. Ideal when trying to cope with two toddlers out and about
4. Quality – now I have to admit, when I saw the price of these shoes (£14.99), I was pretty dubious about what quality they would be but to my surprise they look and feel really well made. Of course I’ve only had them a couple of weeks but from my experience of them so far I’m expecting them to last quite a while.
So, overall am I impressed with these shoes? Definitely yes!
You can never have enough vegetarian recipe books! That is so true for this household, I love recipe books and my collection is huge. When I was contacted to see if I’d like to review a new vegetarian cook book, well of course I said yes
tibits restaurants were originally launched as a family business over 10 years ago in Switzerland by three brothers, Reto, Christian and Daniel Frei, together with Rolf and Marielle Hiltl, of Hiltl, the oldest vegetarian restaurant in the world. Now, due to popular demand, tibits has brought out its first collection of recipes, enabling existing fans and those new to the concept alike, to try out the recipes at home for the first time.
These innovative recipes showcase the taste, beauty, and nutrition of produce that’s fresh all year round: the tender young asparagus of spring, the plump juicy berries of summer; the succulent courgettes and butternut squash of autumn, the comforting roots of winter.
tibits at home: stylish vegetarian cuisine is a sumptuous cookbook, split into four seasonal sections, containing 50 recipes that will delight all loyal tibits fans, as well as those who are new to the brand. 80 per cent of tibits’ menu is vegan and many of the recipes in the book are also vegan – good news for the rapidly increasing number of vegans in the UK. In addition, many recipes cater for those on gluten-free and nut-free diets.
Tibits At Home have very kindly allowed me to share a couple of their delicious recipes with you.
tabouli middle-eastern style
If you love fresh parsley and mint, this is for you!
120 g bulgur
250 ml water
2 tsp fine sea salt
150 g baby spinach leaves
50 g fresh mint
40 g fresh coriander (cilantro)
30 g broad leaf parsley
400 g tomatoes
1.5 lemons (juice)
100 ml extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp fine sea salt
1-2 tbsp chilli oil
Freshly ground white pepper
1 Cook the bulgur in salted water for about 8 minutes, until all the water has been absorbed. Put into a bowl and refrigerate for 1 hour.
2 Pluck the mint and parsley leaves from the stems, wash and chop finely.
3 Wash the tomatoes, remove the stem ends and chop into 1 cm dice.
4 Mix the sauce ingredients and season with pepper.
5 Break up the bulgur with a fork. Add the tomatoes, spinach and herbs and mix carefully. Add the sauce and mix again.
Tabouli is a wonderfully refreshing and nutritious summer dish. We have used bulgur (parboiled and dried durum wheat) instead of the traditional couscous.
Preparation time: 25 minutes
We absolutely loved this recipe in the Brown household and it is now a regular feature on our menu. I tend to serve the tabouli with falafel, pitta bread and sour cream for a more substantial meal and I probably use a dash more chilli oil than the recipe says but we like a little heat
Another recipe which I attempted is sure to satisfy any sweet tooth (I have a bit of a baking obsession at the moment).
Chocolate and coconut macaroons
A sweet delight for grown-ups and children alike!
160 g caster sugar
5 g vanilla sugar
100 g dark chocolate
(45 per cent cocoa content, minimum)
160 g coconut flakes
1 Preheat the oven to 150º C.
2 Mix the caster sugar, with the vanilla sugar. Finely grate the chocolate.
3 Separate the eggs. Whip the egg whites until very stiff while drizzling the sugar into the mixture.
4 Carefully fold the chocolate and coconut flakes into the whipped egg white.
5 Spoon the batter into a pastry bag with a star tip and pipe small macaroons onto a baking tray, lined with baking paper. Alternatively, make small heaps of batter with two wet teaspoons. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Remove the tray from the oven and leave to cool completely before removing the macaroons from the paper.
Tip: for a more intense chocolate flavour, melt the chocolate in a bain-marie (water bath). Leave to cool at room temperature, before folding into the beaten egg whites.
Makes 30-40 macaroons
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Now I had visions of creating beautifully piped little macaroons with this recipe but I had a little difficulty piping anything out of the piping bag as the mixture was too solid and so my macaroons were more splodges than anything else BUT they did taste absolutely delicious despite not being the prettiest thing I have ever created. I opted to use melted chocolate as I am a complete chocoholic. These went down a treat with the whole family and will definitely be making another appearance in my baking list.
So what did I think of the book? Well I admit when I initially flicked through the book I was a little disappointed. Some of the recipes are things I wouldn’t try (I’m not a huge fan of tofu) but once I started trying out recipes I was surprised at just how good they were. I found that a recipe that didn’t necessarily sound exciting at first glance was actually delicious and bursting with subtle flavours. I regularly use this recipe book nowadays so yes it’s passed the Brown household test
You can buy a copy of tibits at home from amazon or through tibits website
MissB is rather obsessed with dolls at the moment so when Llama Fair Trade got in touch recently and asked if I’d like to review some of their dolls, well I was more than happy to oblige. Looking at their website I just knew that MissB would love them. I chose to receive a Bianca Play Doll and a Phoebe Rag Doll. Llama Fair Trade is a family run company based in Bristol who currently sell a whole range of items which have all been Fairly Traded from reputable suppliers from around the world.
From the moment MissB set eyes on her new dolls she hasn’t let them out of her sight. They go to bed with her every night and she carries them around everywhere. There is something really endearing about rag dolls that I love and MissB obviously feels the same. I think it’s the fact they are huggable whereas plastic dolls aren’t
Another thing I love about these dolls is that they are fair trade and hand made in Sri Lanka. High standards are set where the dolls are made for example:
- No children are employed
- The factory employs 75 full time workers
- Employees are paid 10% more than the minimum wage for garment factory workers stipulated by the Sri Lanka government labour department
- Employees are also paid a living allowance, travel allowance and attendance allowance
- Purified bottled drinking water is provided free of charge
- Tea is provided free of charge
- The factory has an employee canteen area
- The factory is fully furnished with tiled floors and toilet facilities
- Standard 44.5 hour week (8 hours Mon-Fri, 4.5 hours Saturday)
- Employees are granted paid annual leave and all public holidays are respected, including any religious holidays
- All female workers receive paid maternity leave and have the right to return
- Employees are taken on a two day paid company trip every year
- Less able people are employed
Knowing that people aren’t being taken advantage of to produce the dolls and that their standard of living is helped through their work makes the dolls 100 times more appealing in my eyes
I’m extremely impressed with both the dolls we received, the quality is excellent, they really are beautiful and I am actually surprised that they sell for so little, the Bianca Play Doll sells for £12.50 and the large rag dolls £14.
MissB is becoming more and more obsessed with anything princess all the time and so when The Disney Store asked me if I’d like to review something, I saw this Disney Princess Deluxe Figure Playset and I just KNEW MissB would love it It just seemed perfect for MissB who loves playing with little figures at the moment and I wasn’t wrong. From the moment we opened the box MissB has barely let the princesses out of her sight
I admit it’s been a while since I last saw any Disney films but now MissB has reached three we are gradually getting round to watching them. But it does mean my knowledge about all the Disney princesses is pretty rusty, in fact I only recognised Cinderella (I remember the very first film I ever watched at the cinema was Cinderella and so this is the princess that I instantly recognised), Snow White, Belle and Rapunzel (we watched Tangled over Christmas).
We’ve had great fun learning about who all the princesses are together and memorising who is who. MissB is now an expert on Disney Princesses and has patiently been teaching her Daddy what they are all called
The set contains 10 static Disney Princesses, Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Mulan, Ariel, Rapunzel, Aurora, Jasmine, Pocahontas and Tiana. Each one is around 10cm high which is the perfect size for sneaking into pockets and taking them out with us. Not something I usually encourage but when waiting for meals in restaurants it is usually handy to have a couple of toys to keep them occupied
Considering the figures are small, the attention to detail on the outfits and faces is really good and the characters really do resemble the princesses. The set sells for £20 which I think is pretty good value for 10 figures. They have provided hours of fun for MissB and she really has enjoyed playing with them (although I bet in the films they never had to cope with dinosaur attacks and being run over by trains ).
I’m now planning on getting all the disney films so that we can watch them together and see the Princesses in action. I’m particularly eager to see The Princess and The Frog and Mulan. It’s lovely to see my daughter loving the same films that I grew up with and now we can discover the newer Disney films together
I’m a bit of an app addict, so when I was asked if I’d like to review the Confused.com Parking App I was happy to give it a try. I always have a stress about parking when I am out in the car and so anything that might help has got to be a good idea The Parking App is free and I was sent an android handset to try it out on.
Simplicity is the key for me when it comes to apps, they’ve got to be instinctive to use and do what they say on the tin. This app certainly does that and it has proved really useful whilst out and about over the holiday season. Not being a local in the North East, I have mainly been using the first car park I can find up until now but this app has shown me some new and cheap car park gems in the area which is always a bonus. It will prove even more useful when travelling around the UK later this year
I used the app from home prior to going out in the car, you simply enter your destination in the search function and it brings up either a map or list of car parks nearest to your destination. You can sort by distance or cost depending on whether you’re planning on saving money or whether you’ll be laden down with shopping bags and don’t want far to walk
The map view looks a little confusing at this zoom level but when you zoom into your destination, it’s a great way of seeing where the car park is in location to your destination
By clicking on each car park you can then see all the details such as prices (these were last updated in April 2012 for this particular car park but they were correct when I checked. It also tells you other useful information such as whether you can pay by card, whether there are disabled spaces, CCTV, baby changing facilities, public toilets, park and ride and the number of spaces. If I was being picky then I’d have liked to have also seen whether there were parent and child spaces in each car park too, as with two toddlers, a large 4×4 and a buggy to unload I really need as much space as possible. When searching, you can also add filters to specifically search for each of the above, so for instance if you were looking for a park and ride car park then you’d add this filter and it would bring up only those results.
Another great feature of the app, is the ability to set up a parking timer to remind you what time you parked. If you don’t want to spend more than a certain amount on parking or you need to return at a certain time then you can set the timer to remind you. It will also tell you how much your parking has cost you and how much it will cost to stay longer. When out with the toddlers, it’s easy to lose track of time so I find this function particularly useful
The Confused.com Parking App is FREE and it is definitely one to store on your phone, if like me you hate driving around looking for car parks I have to admit, I’ve now downloaded it to my iPhone as I do prefer it on there rather than the android but I guess I’m an apple girl
Platform: iPhone, Android and Windows devices
Visit the website for more information or to download the App HERE
I love the eighties so when Warner Bros. asked if I would like a copy of Rock of Ages to review, I snapped their hands off
“Under the direction of Adam Shankman (“Hairspray”), New Line Cinema’s feature film adaptation of the smash hit Broadway musical “Rock of Ages” comes to the big screen.
“Rock of Ages” tells the story of small town girl Sherrie and city boy Drew, who meet on the Sunset Strip while pursuing their Hollywood dreams. Their rock ‘n’ roll romance is told through the heart-pounding hits of Def Leppard, Foreigner, Journey, Poison, REO Speedwagon, Twisted Sister and more.
This is definitely one for anyone with a penchant for 80s rock, not to mention the cast which includes Tom Cruise, Alex Baldwin, Russell Brand, Catherine Zeta Jones and Mary J. Blige.”
I have to admit, it was rather strange seeing Tom Cruise in this kind of role and it took a bit of getting used to but you know what – it works! He is actually really good in it. Russell Brand is absolutely brilliant and Catherine Zeta Jones puts on a great performance too The film, as you would probably expect is cheesy and you won’t be able to resist nodding your head, playing air guitar and singing along! I’m not usually a huge fan of musicals but when combined with so many rock classics of the 80′s I ended up really enjoying it, in fact so much I’ve already watched it twice
Rock of Ages was released on the 8th October and it can be bought in all the usual places, I’ve included a link to it on Amazon below
I don’t mention it much but I’m a bit of a vampire addict, I’ve always loved vampire tales from Dracula through to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I loved the Twilight books and films but I confess that The Vampire Diaries has passed me by for some reason. Maybe because I’ve been busy having children and not had time to watch any series over the last couple of years The lovely people from Warner Bros have very kindly sent me the box set of The Vampire Diaries – The Complete First Season so now I have no excuse not to catch up on what I’ve been missing
“It’s Elena’s first day back at Mystic Falls High School since the tragic death of her parents. Along with her Aunt Jenna, Elena tries her best to look after her troubled younger brother, Jeremy, and salvage what family they have left. The first day is already shaping up to be a struggle for Elena until she meets the mysterious new kid at school, Stefan. Elena is touched that he can relate to what she’s going through. What Elena doesn’t know is that Stefan is a vampire, constantly resisting the urge to taste her blood. As their undeniable connection grows deeper, Stefan’s dangerous older brother, Damon, shows up to wreak havoc on the town of Mystic Falls – and claim Elena for himself.”
The box set consists of 5 discs and 22 episodes, unsurprisingly I haven’t been able to watch all of them for this review, in fact I’m only four episodes into the series but already I can feel myself getting a little addicted OK so make that hooked, there is something rather addictive about the series and a little bit of eye candy in the form of Ian Somerhalder who plays Damon (why are the bad guys always so much more attractive?) certainly keeps you going back for more I’m hoping by the time I finish the first season, Warner Bros are going to continue my new addiction by sending me seasons and two and three lol.
The box set also includes special features such as:
The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening – Audio Book
The Vampire Diaries: Vampires 101
The Vampire Diaries: A Darker Truth – Webisodes
You can buy the boxset of The Vampire Diaries – The Complete Season One in most places, I’ve included a link to it on Amazon below
Just before we left for our holiday the other week, a package arrived just as we were loading the car. It was perfect timing as it contained Scooby-Doo! Spooky Games, sent to us by the lovely people at Warner Bros. I say excellent timing because it was opened and put straight into the DVD player in the car ready for our 3 hour drive. Watching DVDs in the car is
the only way we can get any peace a great way of keeping the children entertained (I won’t go into how I killed the portable DVD player at Chester Zoo here but needless to say I’m devastated). As a child I remember loving Scooby-Doo and so I think I was more excited about the kids when I introduced them to it
Scooby-Doo and the gang are off to compete in the World Invitational Games in this all new 23 minute episode. Who would have thought that Shaggy could be selected as an athlete but it appears all those years of running away from monsters has been excellent training! Of course as in all Scooby adventures, things start going a little spooky when a 1000 year old statue comes to life and threatens to ruin the entire event! Will Scooby and the gang solve the mystery?
The mystery solving technology may have improved (police with taser’s and computers!) since I last saw an episode and the graphics may be a bit better but it’s still the same old Scooby and gang which I love
Included on the DVD is Scooby’s All Star Laff-A-Lympics!, here Scooby is joined by some very familiar Hanna-Barbera characters as three teams compete is some rather bizarre events such as bull-fighting (with a difference), leprechaun hunting and roller-skating. It even guest stars Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble! This was a serious trip down memory lane for me, I think I recognised almost all of the characters such as Dick Dastardly and Yogi Bear.
Scooby-Doo! Spooky Games can be bought in all the usual places, I’ve included a link to it on Amazon below. It’s rated PG and it’s definitely one to introduce to your kids (purely so you can watch it too!).
Another fantastic day out that we had whilst on holiday to Derbyshire was a day at Gulliver’s in Matlock Bath, they very kindly gave me tickets for the family to visit I grew up only a few miles away from there but I’d never actually been before and I have heard so much about it from my sisters who still live in the area.
I admit reading the weather forecast the evening before almost had me in tears, heavy rain wasn’t what I really wanted but it takes more than a bit of rain to stop the Brown family going out and having fun. In actual fact over half of the rides at Gulliver’s are undercover and to be honest I think the rain actually helped as the park was quieter so we had absolutely no queuing for any rides, food, toilets or anything. We all had our raincoats, a raincover for the pushchair and a big umbrella and so we didn’t really get wet at all
I was warned that Gulliver’s in Matlock Bath is set on a hillside and so there are a lot of steep hills. I imagine if you start at the bottom of the park and work your way up you would be exhausted but I had a cunning plan which worked brilliantly. We entered the park at the bottom entrance and then caught the chair lift to the top of the park. They even send your folded pushchair up for you. Once at the top we then slowly worked our way back down over the day. The only uphill we had to do was up to the Western World but there is a travelator which takes the hard work out of the hill for you.
On entry to the park, MissB’s height was checked and she is over 90cm which meant she could go on all but 2 of the rides there. I loved that each ride had clear signage as to what height could ride solo or accompanied. MasterB could go on a lot of the rides too as he can sit beside me I could spend all day telling you about every ride we went on but seeing as we went on pretty much all of them I’m just going to share some of our highlights. Daddy rather bravely took MissB on the log flume, I think she enjoyed most of it but the big drop scared her a little, you can just about make out her little head in the photo below
One thing I was extremely impressed with was the facilities, on every level there are food options, toilets, baby changing facilities etc. I loved that they had veggie nugget meals for our vegetarian family (it is so hard finding places which cater for vegetarian children usually). The food was pretty reasonably priced, I think it was about £16 for lunch for all 4 of us and it tasted lovely. Another thing I have to mention is how absolutely lovely and helpful all the staff were. Whoever we spoke to in the park was always friendly, happy to chat and asking us if we were enjoying our day. I don’t think I’ve ever visited anywhere with such lovely staff! They really are a credit to Gulliver’s!
Luckily whilst the rain was at it’s worst we were near the Party House which was great fun, MissB and MasterB had a chance to run around and play. They loved the jungle play area and ball crawl. I loved that there were no hidden extra charges for the little rides around the park such as the mini carousel in the play house. I think MissB would have sat on it all day, though she did enjoy the big carousel further down the park too.
One of my favourite rides was the Balloons Ferris Wheel, we were all able to sit in it together and watch the world go by. The Dino Explorer Cars were also a big hit, it’s nice to be able to go on rides as a family and MissB even overcame her fear of dinosaurs a little Daddy even persuaded MissB to go on the Log Roller Coaster with him, I really expected tears from that but she absolutely loved it!
Myself and my husband both went on the Switchback ride (separately), my husband loved it but I’ve realised that maybe roller coasters aren’t for me any more lol. The great thing about there being no queues is that if you liked a ride and nobody was waiting you could stay on for another go if you wish. Unfortunately Lilliput Land was closed on the day of our visit which was a shame as it looked good but despite the weather everything else was open.
Our final ride of the day was Lazy Boat Ride which was lovely. We arrived at the park at 10:30am and by 4pm we were ready to leave. It’s a very long day for two toddlers in the rain but it flew by and unsurprisingly neither of them complained all day. Rather conveniently we had then reached the bottom of the park so it was a quick walk back to the car to load two very tired toddlers in their seats.
There really is so much to do at Gulliver’s, we will definitely be going back again. It was perfect for younger children, so child friendly and so much for them to do! A day visit ticket is £13.95 with babies under 90cm getting in free. I usually resent having to pay an entry fee for MissB but seeing as she was able to go on almost every ride I wouldn’t mind paying it. There are also Fully Inclusive Tickets available for £19.95 which include a meal, ice cream, drink and a retail voucher. We had an absolutely brilliant day out there, despite the rain and I’d recommend it to any family with young children! Gulliver’s also have parks at Warrington and Milton Keynes so I’ll be sure to pay them a visit if we are ever in the area
I’ve been dying to take MissB and MasterB to a zoo for ages and whilst we were on holiday in Derbyshire, we decided to visit Chester Zoo as it was within easy driving distance. The lovely people from Superbreak provided me with tickets for the day. Check out their website for great value cheap breaks and days out
We arrived around 11am and as we had prepaid tickets we were able to go straight through the fast track gate which was lucky as there was a long queue building up to buy tickets. We had taken my parents with us, who didn’t have prepaid tickets but we were still allowed through the fast track gates to buy tickets for them at guest services inside which was good. MissB is not yet 3 and we didn’t think she would manage to walk all around the zoo and as we didn’t have a double buggy on holiday with us, we hired one from the zoo for the day. It cost £10 but it was seriously the best £10 I spent on the entire holiday MissB and MasterB absolutely riding around in it and it made our day a thousand times easier If you have young children I’d highly recommend you consider one!
Chester Zoo has over 8000 animals, many of which are exotic and endangered. With a lot of animals to get around we set off on our zoo adventure, first stop of the day was the elephants. MasterB was mesmerised by them and MissB could only stare in awe. It must be strange suddenly seeing all these animals in real life for the first time, I don’t think she ever expected them to be so large bless her We found certain parts of the zoo were much busier than others, the elephants, the chimpanzees and the realm of the red ape were all very busy. We didn’t manage to go into the realm of the red ape unfortunately as it looked like they were queuing to get in and my two little monkeys were getting hungry.
The zoo is absolutely huge, you are provided with a map when you enter and it is a good idea to plan a route before you start to make sure you don’t miss any of your favourite animals, I think we saw pretty much everything and we were there for over 5 hours which is a long time for two toddlers, two parents and two pensioners Luckily there are frequent refreshment stops around the zoo which was very handy as it was a very hot day when we visited and constant supplies of drink were needed, followed by frequent toilet visits from a recently potty trained toddler lol. I was impressed with how clean the facilities were and how little time I had to spend queuing for toilets.
Up until the 4th November there is a Dinosaurs Bite Back! exhibit which features 19 lifelike robotic dinosaurs. I had a feeling MissB might not be too keen on them and I was right! They were really impressive and I wish I’d managed to take some photographs of them but MissB had a complete freak when the spitting dinosaur soaked mummy (I didn’t mind!) and our walk through the exhibition turned into a mad dash to get her past all the dinosaurs bless her. We’ve now explained to her that they are just big toys but there is no reasoning with a 2 year old. I can’t quite figure out how she thinks lions and tigers aren’t scary but robotic dinosaurs are lol. The photograph below was taken by my sister Sonia from This Mummy Loves when she visited the zoo.
The only other area we had an issue with was the Fruit Bat Forest, I loved it as I have previous experience of fruit bats from when I lived in Cairns but with it being dark and bats flying around, MissB wasn’t too impressed. She did however love the monkeys and the penguins. The lions and the tigers were very impressive, a little on the lazy side because of the heat but we did finally manage to find them lying down in the shade The butterfly house was a huge hit, there seemed like hundreds of beautiful butterflies everywhere and MissB loved watching them (as did I).
The giraffes were one of my favourites, they are so graceful and elegant I was impressed with how much space all the animals had, none of them seemed overcrowded and they all looked happy and healthy (well ok it’s hard to tell if an elephant is smiling so I can’t guarantee happy but they looked it in their own elephant way ). I’ve always had a bit of a doubt about zoos in the back of my mind but visiting now as an adult and seeing the lovely conditions that the animals live in and the work that the zoo does protecting animals and plants from extinction, I feel much happier about them.
The highlight of the day for MissB was the Zebras. She had been looking forward to these the most and they didn’t disappoint. There is something about Zebras which is just absolutely mesmerising I could have stood there and watched them all day. They are located right on the other side of the zoo from where we started and so by then we had walked a very long distance and were getting tired. We considered going for a ride on the monorail or on the water bus but after 5 hours we decided it was time to call it a day as we had two very hot and exhausted toddlers on our hands.
We had an absolutely fantastic day out at Chester Zoo and will definitely be going back in the future MissB has been telling everybody and anybody about her day there since we came back. We meant to call in at the shop and buy her a toy as a souvenir when we were leaving but we forgot which is a shame but I’m sure it won’t be long until our next visit.