Sunday, 22 March 2015

COMPETITION: Win a Degustabox Food and Drink Box

If you are a regular reader of our blog you will know we are huge fans of the brilliant foodie subscription box - Degustabox - each month they deliver a box of between nine and fourteen surprise food and drink products direct to your door for the reasonable price of £12.99 per box including delivery. 

The great thing we have found when reviewing the boxes we have received is that we have discovered new food and drink that we maybe would have over looked at the supermarket. You can read our reviews of Degustabox here

An example of a Degustabox we received

The lovely people at Degustabox have kindly given us one box to give away to one of my lucky readers. 

To enter the competition simply complete as many of the steps as you wish on the Rafflecopter form below. A winner will be chosen at random at the end of the competition. 
All entrants must be residents of mainland UK (excluding Northern Ireland and Scottish Highlands and Islands) and over 18. 

Good Luck.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Thursday, 19 March 2015

My Recent Wins - March 2015

I thought it was time to share another batch of prizes I won. It's funny because I was planning to do this every week but the thing I am finding is I win prizes and then one week I get none arrive and the next week loads arrive all at the same time. So here are my wins since the last update: 

Competition prize win number 1232: I won this fab dog bed from VioVet on their Facebook page. I have won a few beds for the animals in the past but none have really lived up to Shortie's expectations and he always ends up back in his old white fluffy bed. That was until I won this one. As soon as it arrived Shortie was in there. The thing that makes this bed so lovely is that the cushion is removable which Shortie likes because he likes to flump it up. Also the cushion has two different materials. One is softer than the other and that is the one Shortie likes because it's nice and warm but in the summer he will probably like to try the other cooler side. 

Competition prize win number 1233: I won some Jordans Lighter Granola from A Strong Coffee blog. Anyone who knows me well will know that I love cereal. In fact I could eat cereal all day long. So these didn't last two long and were lush!

Competition prize win number 1234: A won a Hobgoblin t-shirt on their instant win competition. I have won these before and they are good quality t-shirts, Neil loves them.

Competition prize win number 1235: I won two Nails Inc nail varnishes from Kinder Bueno's Facebook page. My sister will love these. They are actually special Kinder Bueno shades - Bueno mink and Bueno orange. 

Competition prize win number 1236: I won an advance copy of Bride in Bloom ebook by J.B. Harnett on Shayna Renee's Spicy Reads Facebook page. I haven't read it as yet but I am looking forward to checking it out on my kindle. 

Competition prize win number 1237: I won a Tractor Ted book and DVD from Tractor Ted's Facebook page. I had this prize sent straight to my sister for my nephew Flynn. He loves Tractor Ted.

Competition prize win number 1238: I won a copy of The Vintage Guide to Love and Romance book by Kirsty Greenwood from Good Reads. I love entering the giveaways on Good Reads to win books as reading is one of my favourite hobbies and publishing companies and authors give away a lot of books every day. I just go for the ones I am interested in reading and they run competitions for all sorts of different genre's. I started reading the book last night and I am enjoying it immensely. It's a very funny book so far. It's funny because when I entered the competition I didn't realise  Kirsty is from Novelicious fame. I visit her website quite often. 

Competition prize win number 1239: I won a copy of Dolphin Tale 2 on blu-ray. I have no idea where from as no note came with it but I am sure my niece will love this. 

Competition prize win number 1240; I won £300 Currys/PCWorld vouchers from Ace UK on Facebook. This was on an instant win game. I won a few vouchers for money off their stain remover as I entered every day but I was totally shocked on the last day of the competition when it came up I had won the vouchers. We are going to use them for a new cooker as our's is very old and the knob has fallen off it so Neil has written where he thinks the gas marks are. hehe. So chuffed with this one! Biggest win of the year so far! 

Competition prize win number 1241: My final win for this update is a Atomicron blind bag. I am not sure what they do but this will be one for one of my nephews.

And that's all for now. I haven't won much this week as I have been focussing more on my blog posts. Need to get entering again this evening though.

What have you won recently? 

Good Luck to everyone entering competitions. 

Prizes I am waiting to arrive: 
Scar Tissue on DVD from Saga
Thornton's Chocolate Hamper from Two Big Ladies
Purrfect Box from Krystel Courture blog
Fury goody bag from Flicks In The City 
Girls Will Be Girls book from Good Reads
The Traitor's Mark book from The Crime Vault 

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Happy Adoption Day Shortie!

Three years ago today we adopted our dog Shortie from Bath Cats and Dogs Home.  I am so glad we found our boy who we love to pieces. 

Shortie's story isn't a bad one. He was taken into the home as a puppy and was adopted by a lady who had him for 9 years. Then due to personal circumstances she had to give him up. It must have been very hard for the lady to give him up but he was taken back to the home and was in there for less than a week before we saw him. I originally went up to the home to look at a different dog but he wasn't really suitable as my young niece visited me a lot and he wasn't too good with children. So then I went to look at the animals new in and then I saw Shortie. Straight away I knew he was the one. 

I had a few worries with regards to adopting Shortie. Firstly I was worried about his age. He was nine at the time and I kind of worried how long I would have with him. But as he is a Yorkshire Terrier x Poodle he has a longer life expectancy than a pure breed dog. I took him for a walk whilst he was at the home and he could walk and walk. He absolutely loves walking. My other worry was how he would be with my cat Tigger. I knew that Tiggs would be fine with him as he has lived with dogs before and he is so laid back. Luckily it all went fine. I think Tiggs gave Shortie a little swipe on the day he arrived but within a month they became firm friends. In fact this picture of the boys sleeping together was taken just one month after I adopted Shortie. 

Shortie settled in well to his new home in Bath and we made new friends at the field near my home. Then we moved to Kidderminster to be with my fiancé Neil.  Every day Shortie goes on four walks a day (three short walks and one longer walk usually). Shortie loves life. He is now twelve years old and he still runs around acting a lot younger than his age. He loves walking and being off the lead. He is a good boy. Shortie has also helped me a lot too. For a start he has got me out and about walking which helps keep me going because if I didn't have him to walk I probably would just be totally lazy. He has also helped me meet new friends here in Kidderminster. The lovely thing about owning a dog is you become part of a group of dog owners. It's a great way to start a conversation in the park. We have both made lots of friends this way. 

Shortie has many dog friends but he does love his cat brother Tigger a lot too. Tigger comes out for walks around the block with us which a lot of people find very funny. They walk side by side as great buddies. 

Last summer we took Shortie to two local charity dog shows in our parks here in Kidderminster. He won Scruffiest dog and came second in the Golden Oldie category in the first one and he came second in the Scruffiest dog at the other one. I am so proud of him. Both shows were great fun. 

One thing for sure is that we totally love Shortie. He is a huge part of our family and he has now found his forever home. I am so so so so glad I found him! 

Not all dogs are as lucky as Shortie. Some cats and dogs have a long wait to find a new home. 

Bath Cats and Dogs Home look after the animals very well but all this does come at a cost. A lovely way to donate to the home is by becoming a Paw Pal and sponsoring a long stay animal. 

I would like you to meet Buster. He has been looked after at Bath Cats and Dogs Home since 2004. 

For a minimum of £5 a month you could sponsor Buster towards helping to keep him warm, fed and cared for at the home. 

If you would like to sponsor Buster or another long stay animal at Bath Cats and Dogs Home please click here.

If you are looking for a cat or dog please consider adopting. There are so many lovely animals out there desperate for their forever homes. I also wouldn't hesitate to adopt a golden oldie again.

I can't imagine my life without Shortie now. We are just so lucky to have him.  

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Memories of Boyzone

Today would have been Stephen Gately's 39th Birthday had he not been so sadly taken from us in 2009. I have spent all day listening to my Boyzone albums as I always do on Stephen's Birthday in memory of someone I grew up listening to and admiring. I thought it would be a good idea to write a post about my Boyzone memories. 

I remember the day I discovered Boyzone so clearly. Every year I would sit and watch the Smash Hits Poll Winners Party. It was 1994 and I was sat at home alone watching but also with it recording on VHS for my sister to watch later. There was a new category for best new act from the Smash Hits tour and Boyzone were the winners. 

All my friends at school loved Take That but whilst I liked them there wasn't anyone in the group that I thought "Wow he is lush" and at the age of 15 I was boy crazy. The thing with boy bands is as a girl there is always one of the group that you like. So I was watching the poll party and then all of a sudden Boyzone came on. I sat up and was totally engrossed from the start. There was one boy that stood out for me and that was Stephen Gately. To me he was the most gorgeous boy I had ever seen. I have always liked boys with dark hair and with a bit of a cheeky face and so when I saw him the obsession started. My sister Anna was 12 at the time and as soon as she came home I remember telling her about this new band and how amazing they were. She watched the video back with me and she decided her boy was Ronan. We did love the other boys Shane, Keith and Mikey too but just not quite as much. 

The moment I fell in "love" with Stephen Gately

From there on my sister and I and some of our friends became besotted with Boyzone. Any time Boyzone was on the tv doing an interview I would record it, my bedroom was covered in posters of Boyzone and Stephen Gately. In fact I even had a poster of Stephen blue tacked to the ceiling so I could look at him when I was in bed falling asleep which makes me laugh a lot now. Even little pictures of Stephen was cut out of magazines and made in to a collage poster that I stuck on my bedroom door. The Said and Done album was on constantly in my mums car on the way to school or on my walkman or hi-fi. 

When we heard the news that Boyzone were coming to the Colston Hall in Bristol we had to get tickets. Whilst I suffered badly from anxiety problems there was nothing that was going to stop me from going and seeing Boyzone and as the Colston Hall wasn't the biggest of venues I knew I would cope with the anxiety once I was there. The first Boyzone concert I went to was the first concert I had ever been to. I went with my sister and some friends. As soon as we got there and queued up to go in I knew it was going to be a bit mad. There was a person going down the line selling whistles which everyone seemed to have. Once through the doors we went to buy some merchandise. I got my very first tour t-shirt and then on to the concert hall. The noise on the build up to Boyzone coming out was so loud. The whistles, the screams, the excitement and then eventually after the supporting acts had finished (from what I remember it was a group called Deuce and Sean Maguire) Boyzone came on. And here is where I ruined my very first concert experience. Whilst I thought Boyzone were brilliant and I had a good time I was so overwhelmed to be in the same room as them that I spent pretty much all of the concert crying. I just couldn't believe I was in the same room as Boyzone and how perfect they were and how much I liked Stephen. Thinking back now I know this is sad but at the time it was how I was feeling and even though I wasted that concert crying I wouldn't change it because it was all part of me growing up. 

When Boyzone came back to Bristol the next year we went again. This time I didn't cry but stupidly I forgot to take my glasses so Boyzone just looked like a blur for the most part. Luckily we had some lovely ladies sat next to us who had binoculars and they let me have a little look for a few minutes through them. So I did get to see them a bit. I can't remember if it was the second of first concert but for one of them Shane had broken his leg so could only come on stage for the slower songs. I still enjoyed being in the same room as them, listening to their music, seeing their blurry dancing and soaking in the atmosphere that you only get at a boy band concert. 

I found this page from my 1995 Diary where I had stuck stickers of Boyzone in with their names. A few years later my sister decided to read my diary and to add the little comments in. I find it quite funny actually: 

My 1995 diary Boyzone Page 

I continued to love Boyzone but didn't go to any other concerts because they never came back to Bristol and I didn't fancy going to an arena with my anxiety problems. I carried on getting all their albums and videos/dvds and enjoying loving them. I remember saying to my sister when I was 17 I was going to learn to drive and we would follow them on tour like some other girls did. I still can't drive so that never happened. I can also remember when Boyzone had their first website you could submit a question and I asked Stephen if he had visited Bath before and he answered it saying that the boys had stayed at The Royal Crescent Hotel in Bath and he really liked it.

I remember when Stephen Gately came out as gay that I wasn't shocked. Even though I thought I loved Stephen when I was 15 I was realistic that I would never be with him. I even thought there was a possibility he was gay before he came out. I can't imagine what it must have been like for him to be forced to come out in such a public manner but also to have had to keep that secret life for all those years. I felt incredibly sad for him but so happy that the fans still supported him and in fact he even gained a whole new fan base. I remember thinking how brave he was and how I just would love to hug him and tell him how much joy he had brought to his fans and that it was all okay, we still loved matter what! 

Boyzone never really officially split up as such. They just sort of decided to have a break and go off and do their own things for a bit. Unlike Take That where special phone lines had to be set up for fans who were heartbroken Boyzone just left us fans hanging and knowing that in the future they would probably get back together again and record again. During this time I still followed their individual careers from solo albums, to acting, to various talent type shows (ie Dancing On Ice and The Games). 

Then in 2007 Boyzone started working together again and performed a medley of hits on Children In Need where they announced they would be doing another tour. My sister and I went straight online to book tickets but the nearest was Cardiff which isn't far from Bath but was still a big arena and I was worried about my anxiety. We booked anyway and looked forward to it and then came the amazing news that Boyzone were going to be doing a concert in Bath outside on the Rec in the summer as part of a three day musical extravaganza. As soon as the tickets were announced Anna and I went online and booked them. We managed to get a seat to the side of the middle section on the third row. We decided to give the Cardiff tickets to a friend and just go for the Bath concert. We were so excited as we knew this concert was going to be very different to the ones before. We were 10 years older and this was about celebrating Boyzone and reminiscing about our teens.  

So on the 6th July 2008 we found our old tour t-shirts and put them on (or in my case, squeezed into it) and got out our old tour scarf to wave about too. 

Here is a picture of us just a few hours before the concert:

True Boyzone Fans. 

We got down to the Rec and found our seats. We had an amazing view of the stage and then the heavens opened and it poured down with rain, but we didn't care. When Boyzone came on we had the best time ever. They were amazing as always but this time we didn't cry and it wasn't all a blur. We sang along, we called their names, we enjoyed ourselves. This was to be my best Boyzone concert I went to. For the most part Stephen Gately was on our side of the stage which suited me fine. When I watched Stephen this time I saw more than just this man that I fancied but as soon as he came on stage you could tell he was in his element. He put 100% into his performance and he loved it up there. 

Here are a couple of pictures I took from that concert: 

Boyzone - back together again on stage - Bath, 2008

My favourite picture I took. Ronan and Stephen having fun on stage - Bath, 2008

Everything was going well. Boyzone were at their best. They were still working together and then on the 10th October 2009 my phone rang at 5am. It was my friend Dee. I knew she wouldn't ring me at that time without a reason so I answered and she told me the shocking and devastating news that Stephen had passed away. I got up and turned the computer and tv on. I just couldn't believe it. Stephen Gately had passed away from an undiagnosed heart condition. I remember seeing Boyzone on the news when they flew out to bring him home, it was heartbreaking. I remember watching the funeral on Sky and crying and feeling so sad for his family, for his partner and for his other loyal fans. 

Picture I took of Stephen on stage in Bath, 2008. 

Stephen was taken from us too young. He was at his best in my opinion. He could sing, he could dance, he could act and he had nearly finished writing his children's book. Stephen seemed happy in his life. When Stephen stepped on stage he shone so brightly. His energy, his cheeky face, his everything. He was a beautiful person. I wish I had got to meet Stephen personally just to thank him for his work. Sadly I never got that chance. Us fans are lucky that with the internet we can share pictures, watch videos, listen to his music and read his book which his partner finished for him. He has left something for us all but he was taken too soon. Life can be so cruel. They do say that good people die young. I don't know what I believe in but I do believe there is a place where good people go and live in peace and I know that if there is such a place Stephen will be there. 

After Stephen died a lot of fans went out and got his signature Superman tattoo in memory of him. I have never been a fan of tattoos so I decided to order this lovely wrist band instead with his name on. 

When Boyzone released one of the last songs Stephen recorded - Gave It All Away - I couldn't help but having a tear especially at the first lyric "I will learn to live before I die." And when I watched the video you could see how much Stephen was such a big part of Boyzone and how close the boys were. Such a beautiful video and song. 

Tonight I will light a candle for Stephen - I will always remember him, he was a big part of my teenage years. I will always celebrate his life. 

My Ten Favourite Boyzone Songs 

Here are my ten favourite Boyzone songs and links to the videos on Youtube (where possible):

1. Everyday I Love You - I think this is such a beautiful song. I love the lyrics. I remember sending the lyrics to my fiancé Neil not long after we met. 

2. Bright Eyes - This song was sang by Stephen. This is actually a special song to me because the orginal song was number one in the charts on the day I was born, so for Stephen to sing it was like a dream come true. 

3. A Different Beat - This song always makes me get goosebumps. I loved seeing this performed live at the concerts. 

4. Love Me For A Reason -  Where it all began for me. I will never forget discovering Boyzone and watching Stephen reaching that really high note. And I still know the main dance part of the song. 

5. Said And Done - There is something about this song that I just love. I think I love the fact that all the boys sing a part of the song individually and seeing it in concert where they turned on the chairs was just lovely. 

6. No Matter What - A beautiful song which Boyzone sang so nicely. 

7. If You Were Mine - Another Stephen song. I always think of the video of him on the platform with everyone cheering around him. Just amazing. 

8. Key To My Life - Aside for it being a fab song I just love the video. 

9. Father and Son  - A classic lovely song. 

10. Will Be Yours - This one was only on an album and wasn't released as a single but I love it. 

I am glad that Boyzone continue to live on and record together and whilst Stephen was my favourite and always will be I will always support and follow the other boys' careers. 

Boyzone Rules Take That Drools! lol (if you watched the Said and Done documentary video you will know what I mean). 


Monday, 16 March 2015

Shortie Has A Hair Cut

Yesterday our dog Shortie had a well overdue hair cut. Shortie is a Yorkshire Terrier x Poodle. We tried to leave it for as long as possible because of the winter we didn't want him getting too cold but his hair was quite thin and it kind of sticks together so we could still see his skin and we always put him in his coats in the colder weather. He also had a few matted little clumps which were driving me mad especially in his beard. We knew it was time for him to be groomed. 

Here is the picture of Shortie before his hair cut: 

So we took him to the lovely ladies at The Groom Room at Pets at Home here in Kidderminster who gave him the full works including hair cut, nails and teeth and here is what he came home like. 

I am so impressed with the service and Shortie looks like a different dog, in fact people say he looks like a puppy now when in actual fact he is 12 years old. He is running around more in the park and seems to be be a lot happier and so are we...though Neil says Shortie's head looks like one of those old fashioned telephones hehe.  

This gives him enough time to get a little bit scruffy again for the next fun dog show at a local park here in Kidderminster as he always gets entered into the scruffiest dog category. For now though we are enjoying looking at our very cute dog.  

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Degustabox Review - January 2015 Box

Another month and another food unboxing. As you can probably tell from previous blog posts, we're a bit of a Degustabox fan here at chez Webkin; this month we're looking at January's Degustabox which we received a few weeks back. (We do have to take time to sample the delights before writing about them after all, and there's so much in each box - it's more than a single meal's worth). 

For those who have missed our previous unboxings and food reviews, Degustabox are a monthly "surprise box" food service where, each month, you get a surprise selection of food items for a more than reasonable £12.99 per box (including delivery). Often they have a theme to them, January's as an example is aiming towards the healthier side of foody stuff (to tie in with everyone deciding, as part of their "New Year's resolutions" to be healthy/lose weight/etc.); but more on that as we go through the contents. 

Mornflake Top Porridge -  RRP £1.19 per pot

One of the nice things about Degustabox is that they don’t limit themselves to only providing one thing. Each box is a variety of breakfast, lunch and dinner items – not to mention snacks, drinks and bake-it-yourself kits. To be honest, it’s one of the things I really like about them. In January’s box, the breakfast part came in the form of two pots of Mornflake Top Porridge. These are quick porridge pots, suitable to be carried with you and ate “on the go” – or, if you’re like me, as an alternative to ever needing to wash up an empty bowl of porridge later in the day. 

There isn’t much really to be said about the porridge itself – porridge is pretty much a standard thing; although I did make the first pot a little too runny for my liking (or I ate it before the ‘let it sit 3 minutes’ was up – patience not always a virtue I have first thing in the morning). 

Making up the porridge was simple – much like a ‘pot noodle’ – you fill to the line, stir, wait, add flavour (and yes, I did lick the rest of the golden syrup/Nutella out of the pot), stir some more, wait and consume. 

Tasty, quick and easy to make – and no bowls to wash up (although you will still need a spoon). 

Of the two, my personal favourite was the golden syrup flavour, although it was close! 

Alfa One Rice Oil  - RRP £2.00 per bottle

Next up is a bottle of oil. Can you contain your excitement? Okay, so bottles of oil aren't the most exciting things - but, keeping with the healthy January theme, this rice oil comes with a bunch of positives that help you with your positive and healthy start to the new year. It is high in natural antioxidants and has been shown to reduce cholesterol. It's quite a versatile oil for cooking in and with. 

We used the oil to make a bit of a stir fry and have to say it had a nice flavour to it and didn't make the food taste like it was oily or greasy; in fact the taste of the oil seemed to complement the food we were making. 

Again, it is just oil - but if it's healthy claims are as good as they say, then it will go that little further to help us when we chose to indulge in an occasional fry up! (Plus, for oils you cook with, the actual oil taste is much better than compared to other vegetable oils). 

Magners Light - RRP £1.25 per bottle

Neil's the resident Cider fan so I swapped his usual beverage for this month's alcohol selection; a bottle of Magners' new Orchard Berries (light pear cider with berries). 

He said that he loved the taste. It was nice, sweet, light and flavourful and compared well with other brand's "berry ciders. It didn't taste like it was lower calorie and there wasn't any sweetener aftertaste (which you sometimes get with low calorie things). The only problem he found with it, was that there wasn't enough of it! (Not that he meant he wanted more bottles (although he did) but the bottle is only 330ml - whereas your average bottle/can is around 440-500ml, which meant the pint glass ended up being only three quarters full! Not a problem though if you drink from the bottle...) 

He said he'd definitely like to have it again (hint hint). 

Little Miracles organic drinks - RRP £1.49 per bottle

We've been sent the Little Miracle organic drinks before, all the way back in our September 2014 Degustabox review. We liked them back then; in September we were sent the "Green tea, ginseng, pomegranate, açaí and agave" and "Lemongrass tea, orange juice, ginger, ginseng and agave" flavours. This time we were sent "Black tea, ginseng, peach, açaí and agave" and "White tea, ginseng, cherry, açaí and agave" 

Neil loves these - he's particularly fond of the peach flavour one (He's had other black tea/peach drinks before and it's a favourite flavour combination). He wasn't as keen on the cherry/white tea (which he liked, but just not as much; he felt the combination wasn't quite as strong or potent as the other flavours). Really though, I don't think there's much we can add that we didn't say in our original review of the drinks. They're light, refreshing and flavourful. It's a bonus that they're low calorie but not loaded with artificial colours, flavours or sweeteners. Definitely would recommend these, especially to those who like the "iced tea" style drinks you can pick up. 

Finn Crisp Original - RRP £1.20 per box  

Think diets and low fat food, and you're going to at some point be drawn to the class crispbreads and thin rye cracker things that you always seem to get that have the consistency, and unfortunately often flavour, of cardboard. Okay, over the past few years a lot of the companies that make such things have mixed it up a bit by adding seeds and the like to give a little more flavour, but on the whole the standard basic crispbreads haven't really changed that much. 

So, we were a little trepidatious when opening the box and seeing this box of Finn Crisps; but our worries were unfounded. These crispbreads are thin (we're talking a couple of millimetres), crispy, and actually have some flavour. While we weren't particularly adventurous with our toppings (we stuck with cheese, although Neil did dip some in humus) we enjoyed them. We found the flavour nice and complimentary - not overpowering. The fact they had a good crunch to them was nice too. 

The final bonus though, is that the box is packed with them! Because the Finn Crisps are so thin, there must be around 40 or 50 in there! At time of writing we've had them about four times for snack-type lunches and we're not even half way through the box! 

Haywards Piccalilli - RRP £1.89 a jar

Now this is a slice of nostalgia for Neil. As a child Neil never really got on with school dinners (and to be honest, was far too often conned out of my dinner money by children who he hopes went on to become used car salesmen or estate agents or QVC sellers...) so, after a while he took sandwiches in a packed lunch and ate those instead. He was a little picky as a child, so his sandwiches were almost always cheese, and with that cheese, was a good helping of piccalilli. And the piccalilli, he's sure, was always Haywards. 

So, seeing this jar meant we gave a little whoop and a nostalgic air-punch. Over the course of the month Neil's been having cheese and piccalilli sandwiches and keeps asking "do we need more piccalilli yet?" -- I think he's worried we're going to run out! Definitely one of our favourites of this month's box! 

Kabuto Noodles -  RRP £2.00 

Sent to all degustabox subscribers in time for the Chinese New Year (Gong Hey Fat Choy to you all), these noodles - looking a little like a "posh pot noodle" in our box were a curious item in our Degustabox this month. 

Before we get onto the taste test, the packaging is brilliant! Lots of nice little things that made us chuckle (such as the suggestion that, while we wait for the noodles to cook we use the time to meditate, or brush up on our Karate). 

The noodles were as easy to prepare as the porridge pots; just add water to the fill level, cover and wait. The noodles inside were much better quality (in our opinion) than your standard 'pot noodle' style package, with nice, thin, soft noodles filling the pot. The flavour was unlike anything we've tasted in other noodle pots - it was full of Asian flavour, with a clear ginger punch. Delicious! The only thing we thought, was maybe the flavour was a little more Japanese than Chinese - but - that's neither here-or-there. Very tasty. One for the noodle connoisseur, definitely! 

Koko Dairy Free Original - RRP £1.39 per carton

Now Koko Dairy Free Original is an alternative to cow's milk. It's largely made with coconut milk, rather than the soy or almond-based alternatives. It claims to be remarkably like cows milk on cereals and in cooking and is good in tea and coffee. 

While it wasn't my thing at all, Neil didn't mind it. (He's had experiences of being dairy free in the past and has tried a number of the milk alternatives). He said that it was close to the taste of cows milk; it's much closer than some of the other alternatives. Drinking it in the way one would fresh milk in a glass, it did taste a little more like watery coconut than cow milk, but the flavour wasn't that far off - and he was sure it was something you could get used to over time. Like all things, it is a taste you'd acquire - the big thing being that we are so used to the flavour of cow's milk it's hard not to make a comparison. If he did say though that in his mind it was comparable to skimmed milk. 

The packaging blurb suggests that you should be able to use it in tea and coffee, or on top of your morning cereal. In tea, for the most part, it tasted fine - although on a couple of occasions there was a little bit of an aftertaste -- although that could have also been from leaving the T-bag in the cup too long, or not enough sugar... 

On breakfast cereal (Wheatabix) it had a good milk-like flavour and it was easy to forget that it wasn't cow's milk in the bowl. 

All in all, for a cow-milk substitute, it wasn't that bad. We're not avoiding dairy at this time, but should we need to for any reason in the future, we would definitely consider picking more of this up.

Simplee Aloe drink - RRP £1.79

This is a drink that combines Aloe Vera with grape juice. When we saw it in the box we though, "ey up, what's all this then?" (or something similar). Usually when you think of Aloe Vera, you think of skin care products and similar - or the plant itself I guess. You don't usually think of something you'd drink. 

The Degustabox boxes come in two varieties, ones which contain alcohol and ones which do not. The ones which did not came with this instead of the bottle of Magners light. 

Now this drink … it's a bit unusual. I'm not entirely sure I could describe the taste. It's not really like anything I've had before; that's not to say it's unpleasant - it isn't. It has a fresh, clean taste; there's a hint of a cucumber flavour to it while the grape juice and other flavours come through, but are much more subtle. 

This was definitely one of those where you go "I'm not sure, let me try some more... still not sure, okay, I'll have more - oh - wait, I just drank it all!" - I think it's fair to say we're still a little undecided on this one! 

Sukrin Cake Mix - RRP £5.00  

The most expensive item in this month's box is the Sukrin cake mix - we haven't gotten around to baking this yet - but are BIG CAKE FANS so are looking forward to getting down with the mixing bowl and making this up. (Some boxes had a bread mix instead of the cake mix). This is a sugar-free cake mix that claims to make moist, full-flavour cakes with 80% less carbohydrates than regular cake mixes. 

When we get around to making this (and our other "things to make" ) we will blog about it - it looks promising, and like I said, WE LOVE CAKE! 

Sample pack of Clipper Fairtrade Green Tea (with Lemon)

As a bonus this month we were sent a sample pack of Clipper Fairtrade Green Tea. This is a lemon tea, and as Neil is the tea drinker, I handed him the pack and said "Drink this!" (He's not done badly this month for foody items - more stuff for ME next time please :-) ). 

He is a fan of green tea; although sometimes he finds it hard to get the right mix of things to get the flavour right. Often he tries to have honey instead of sugar, but with these teas, he finds it tastes much better with sugar than any sort of substitute. The green tea went down well and he enjoyed it. He said it was lemony enough and pleasant (so long as he didn't leave the t-bag in there too long to stew) and it was a nice alternative to regular black tea or coffee; especially later in the day. 

So there we have it. Another brilliant box of food from degustabox; a great selection with some old favourites and some new friends which we'll be introducing into our regular shopping and eating routine. 

I should also mention, one of the great things about Degustabox is that they always give you recipe ideas along with the food to inspire you about ways you could use the products they send. I know we don't usually get chance to use them, but we do appreciate them - and they do inspire us - even if we don't get to write about them. 

If you would like your own Degustabox, please go to their website. It costs £12.99 a box (including delivery) however Degustabox has given us a special offer code for our readers to get £3 off their first box. The code is: 


We are very happy to recommend the service and selection they provide.


Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Wins Of The Year So Far

I haven't kept up to date with my wins of the week posts recently due to health issues and family time. I don't know if other compers have been the same but I find I seem to be winning less at the moment especially on Twitter. I guess there are more people entering competitions. Still I have had some lovely wins so here is the best ones of the year so far and then below I will list other wins I have received since I last update in November last year. I hope to get back into posting my wins of the week again (that's if I win enough to post!) 

Competition prize win number 1213: On the last day of last year I received this amazing Garmin Fitness band which I won from Maplin on twitter. Ever since it arrived I have been using it. As some people know I suffer from fatigue, this band has helped me so much because it shows how many steps I have done each day and how many miles I have walked. I also wear it to bed too and it records your sleep quality. I have noticed that I do fidget around a lot during the night. I love the band and I hope to continue using it through the summer when I hope to get out and exercising more with the dog especially as I have put on over a stone in weight in the last year and I am finding it so very hard to shift it. 

Competition prize win number 1215: I won a Christmas Pawsome box for my dog Shortie from A Spaniels Tail blog. I love winning prizes for my pets. Shortie really loved the chicken fillets the best. He has played with a few of the toys. As he is a bit older now (12 years old) he has his favourite toys so some of them I am going to give to my friend who has 7 dogs (including 3 puppies). 

Competition prize win number 1218: I won an amazing Christmas Hamper from Woman and Home. I find some competitions very odd sometimes in the fact that some sites offer Christmas Hampers etc to win but the closing date is after Christmas. This competition closed in November but I wasn't informed I had won until January. The hamper arrived after having to have it delivered to my friends house as I was away visiting family and it arrived on the day I got back. Such an amazing prize filled with lots of alcohol, condiments, chocolate, biscuits, Christmas cake and pudding and meat. Sadly some of the meat was out of date when it arrived. 

The selection of wines etc
Chocolates, cakes and goodies

Competition prize win number 1224: I won an amazing £150 Joshua James Jewellery Voucher from The LDN Diaries. My fiance Neil and I have been together for nearly 6 years and been engaged for nearly 4 of those years so we thought it might be a nice idea to get wedding rings with the voucher. So hopefully we will find some nice rings with the voucher. 

Competition prize win number 1230: I won on the Magners Blippar competition. The prize was a pair of Hunter wellies however they send it in the form of a £95 Schuh voucher which is great for me. As I have big calves a lot of wellies don't fit me so I am going to use the voucher to get some more trainers as I wear them pretty much all the time. I will probably get Skechers trainers as I know they fit well and I love them. 

Other prize that have arrived since last update: 

Win 1191 - A football
Win 1192 - Trust In Me book by Sophie Mckenzie
Win 1193 - YOU Homecare cleaning goodies
Win 1194 - Anatomicals goodies
Win 1195 - Q Pootle 5 dvd
Win 1196 - Biscuiteers book
Win 1197 - Disco ball bracelet
Win 1198 - 5 x Frijj vouchers
Win 1199 - 2 x Emmi Caffe Latte Vouchers
Win 1200 - Misfire dvd
Win 1201 - Stockans Oatcakes goodies
Win 1202 - £20 Nintendo eShop credit
Win 1203 - £10 Amazon voucher
Win 1204 - Sandy dog from Annie Movie
Win 1205 - Yazoo Dinosaur t-shirt
Win 1206 - Yazoo Cup
Win 1207 - Budweiser Xmas Jumper
Win 1208 - iPod Shuffle
Win 1209 - Logo Grab game
Win 1210 - Molton Brown giftset
Win 1211 - Sony headphones
Win 1212 - Tub of Cadbury Heroes
Win 1214 - Magner Beanie Hats
Win 1216 - North Face gloves
Win 1217 - Cushelle Koala
Win 1219 - Harvester Chicken Dinner
Win 1220 - Prince Of Darkness blu-ray
Win 1221 - Fingers & Tongues book
Win 1222 - Bluebeard Revenge gift set
Win 1223 - £10 Amazon voucher
Win 1225 - The Equalizer dvd
Win 1226 - Heart bowl and ladle
Win 1227 - My Little Pony dvd
Win 1228 - Looking Season 1 dvd
Win 1229 - The Best of Me dvd
Win 1231 - Whole Earths 3nut butter and pancakes.

And that is all my wins since my last update. I also have a competition running on my blog at the moment so be sure to enter.

Good Luck to everyone entering competitions over the next week.

Why not leave me a comment of your favourite wins of the year so far?

Prizes I am waiting to arrive:
2 x Nail Varnish from Kinder Bueno
Scar Tissue dvd from Saga
Thorntons Hamper from Two Big Ladies
Purrfect Box from Krystel Courture