Thursday, 24 September 2015

Lilly-Ana is 10

Today is my nieces Lilly-Ana's 10th birthday. I can't believe how fast the last ten years have gone. I still remember the day my sister Anna told me she was pregnant with Lilly. After getting over the initial shock that my younger sister was having a baby before me I can remember getting this overwhelming feeling of joy that I was going to be an auntie. At the time my sister, her boyfriend and I lived in the same house so when Lilly was born I was there. I remember the evening she was born I went up to the hospital when Anna was in labour. I wasn't allowed in because only two people were allowed in so Ben (Lilly's dad) and my mum went in with her. It was a five hour wait and then she was here. I remember getting really upset because the hospital wouldn't let me see Lilly as it was too late and I had to wait for the next day. Whilst frustrated it was worth the wait. 

Twelve hours later I held Lilly for the first time. The feeling was amazing. I'm an auntie and this little girl changed our lives forever. She is the most beautiful gift to our family ever. 

Lilly - 12 hours old

Me the proudest auntie in the world holding Lilly aged 12 hours old

I lived in the same house as my sister and niece for the first couple of years of Lilly's life. I am so pleased I got the chance because it helped me feel a big part of her life and it was a joy to see her grow from a baby into a little person. I will never forget the way she got so excited in her baby walker in the mornings when the wiggly worms came on Nick JR. Or the fact that she loved watching Dora the Explorer but hated the map (especially if he was wearing a hat lol). 

My sister made friends with other mums and took Lilly to toddler groups. Whilst Lilly has grown up as an only child she has always been surrounded by friends. I am proud of my sister, she has always done everything with Lilly to help her grow up. She read to her, she sang with her, she played games and did crafts with her and socialised her with children of her own age which I think is so important. She also took Lilly to places from an early age such as Longleat, to the park, to the beach and on picnics which she loved as a few examples. 

Lilly on a picnic in the park

As Lilly began to grow and we lived together we had some great laughs. This is one of my favourite pictures of my sister Anna and Lilly. It just always makes me smile. 


Laughing
After a couple of years Anna and Lilly moved out. It was the right time for Anna but I still saw them both most days as we all still lived in Bath. As most people know I love entering competitions and one of my favourite wins was a Me To You bear I won. When I won I was told it could be personalised so I decided I was definitely going to give it to Lilly and I had it personalised with "I Belong To Lilly-Ana" and her date of birth on it. We didn't expect the bear to be so huge. Poor Anna was made to carry Big Bear around everywhere for a couple of days because Lilly wanted to show it to everyone. Lilly still has Big Bear now. 

Lilly and Big Bear

This is another of my favourite pictures of Lilly from a family get together. I just love her beautiful smile. I have this picture as a canvas on my wall at home. 

Lilly 

On Lilly's 7th birthday I decided to make her a little video on youtube of pictures of her with her family. I know every now and then she still looks at the video. It's lovely to have so many pictures and memories. 



And here we are.....10 years. I am so proud to be Lilly's auntie. She is a beautiful well rounded girl. She has a lovely personality, she is polite, kind and a joy to spend time with. Whilst I only visit Lilly every now and again as I live in the Midlands and she is in Somerset I still talk to her on Skype and love spending quality time with her when I can. 

Me with Lilly

Happy 10th Birthday Lilly-Ana - I love you so much. Auntie xxx




"Only an aunt can give hugs like a mother, keep secrets like a sister and share love like a friend!"

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Marimo Candy Club - August Review

As August drew to a close we received a box full of Japanese candy from those lovely people at Marimo Marshmallow this is the premium pack and contains 9 fairly reasonably sized pieces of candy and candy-related paraphernalia. 




But, unlike the other boxes of Japanese candy we've received, this one has a bit of a twist! 

With the exception of one or two pieces, we are looking at a selection of DIY candy that encourages you to play with your food! (Make sure you wash your hands first though!) 

So, throwing caution to the wind we're diving straight in – although as native Brits, our grip of the Japanese language is limited to Konichiwa! Kawaii! we're in debt to the web links which we'll share in this review that helped point us in the right direction! (Especially the youtube videos!) 

So here we go! Arigatou! 

Tanoshi Ramen Yasan - Grape flavoured, DIY Ramen noodle kit. (bit.ly/marimo5832




This was the first of the "more complicated" DIY candy makes we attempted. There is a lot to it (if you follow the link above you'll see more details from the Marimo website including a how to video). Having watched this, and some of the other videos (they're kinda addictive), we decided to give it a go. 

First up, the instructions on the back aren't that bad; there's lots of words, but for the non-Japanese speaking people out there (like us) it actually makes a fair amount of sense... although watching the videos helped fill us with confidence! 

First up, you make the little pasty things. (I know there's a proper name for these, but it's completely slipped my mind!)… actually, that's wrong. First up you separate the plastic mould, the bowl and the mixing tray. This is essentially made by taking the white candy block and breaking a bit off, making a circle (there is a template) and putting it onto the pasty mould, then filling it with the little balls and closing the mould and pressing it carefully together. Two of these later and we move on to make two eggs and a couple of swirly things. 

We then made the yolk for the eggs/ egg noodles by mixing one of the packs of powder with a little water in the mixing tray and filling the squeezing bag (little hole in the corner) with the resultant mix. We added water and the other powder pack to make the "soup" and squeezed noodles out of the bag into the soup. 



But enough of the process; what was it like? 

Firstly – this was actually a lot of fun! There is something quite enjoyable about it all. It took quite a while (I'm sure it kept us busy a good 10-15 minutes or so) and there were a few chuckles as we went along. 

The problem I had, is the problem I always have with working with clay, plasticine and candy. After a little bit of working, it gets a bit too sticky; although leaving it for a few minutes to cool down helped a lot. 

Tasting – first up the pasty things were a big success! I don't know what those little balls we filled the pasty shape with were, but they were great! Kinda sweet, light, and – I don't know – like something angels would eat or something! 

The eggs and swirly things were mostly the white candy 'dough' - which tasted a little like bubble gum; the noodles though – I know the flavour listed is grape, but they tasted a little lemony I thought. All in all though, it was a lot of fun we really enjoyed making; probably enjoyed it more than the eating!


 Watapachi – Melon Soda flavoured, cotton candy. 




This was actually the first piece we opened; to be honest, we were a little daunted by the rather complex instructions on some of the candy, and didn't want to dive into the Kirby gum (which we'll get onto later); although that's mostly because Neil is a Kirby fan and didn't feel right tearing into the packet. 

Once the packet was open, without looking at what was inside, the first thing we experienced was the great scent of melon – which is good, because that's the flavour it is! Inside is a good rectangle of cotton candy (or candy floss for us Brits). Green candy floss. 

For a start, I'm sure this is the first time I've seen candy floss in a packet like this! But once I got over my surprise I got straight onto the sampling. The flavour is great! It has a good melon flavour; and like a lot of melon flavoured things, is a little bit sour. But that's not all – this is melon soda flavour; and the soda comes from popping candy hidden in the candy floss. (Our poor Shortie dog; other than bubblewrap, the non-living thing that he hates most in the world is when we eat popping candy – fortunately he was dozing while we were sampling and wasn't disturbed at all!) We loved this and thought it was really cool – and was surprised nobody's brought something out like this in England! 

Kracie Himitsu no Neruneru 




This one gave us a few head scratching moments; but one quick view of the how to video explained it all. There are two little trays and two packets per tray with a little packet of topping "fizzy" candy. 

First we added the powder in the packs marked one into each of the trays; added a little water and stirred. These two looked a little odd. One was rather blue, the other a yellowish green. It had a texture of … I'm not sure, paste? Adding the second powder to each of the pots and it went from a translucent paste to a thick gum-like thing; one yellow, one pinky-purple (eventually tuning a nice shade of pink!) 

We then added the topping (splitting it between the two) and sampled! 



First impressions; both of the candies felt a bit like "angel delight" with fizzy candy on top. The one we think was pineapple flavour, the other (we think) was strawberry or something similar. 

We loved it! Once we had worked out what we needed to do (the pictures, although clear once you knew what to do, did cause a little head scratching before) the whole process was quite quick. It was essentially just mixing powders and water and then eating. No complicated shaping or forming or moulding etc. 

We loved it! (I know I've already said that!) This was fun, but quick fun. 

Star Kirby mix and match gum. 


This is fun gum! (And yes, Neil managed to get into the Kirby packet without destroying it). You have a bunch of little, different flavoured, gum balls ( yoghurt, soda, orange, apple and a mystery flavour!) and it's up to you how you chew them. Do you get a bunch of the same, or do you throw a mix in and see what happens? 

We started by having one of each flavour – there are some really nice (and different) flavours in there. The apple is particularly nice; when you usually get an apple flavour, we'll be talking sharp-slightly-sour green apple. This tastes much more of a crisp and sweet red apple. 

Of the various items in the box, this was the simplest of the "mix things to make something" - but that's not a bad thing. The flavour was great, and like Jelly Belly Jelly Beans, there's a good amount of fun to be had experimenting with the various flavour combinations. ( Although I've not managed to work out how Marimo made tea with milk yet) 

We've managed to get a few bubbles out of this (Neil always tempts fate with his facial hair … but there's an element of risk in most activities). A lot of fun! 

Ice Bar Soft Candy – Candy Popsicles! 



This was our first, proper, "make" of the kit; it wasn't too involved so was the perfect thing to break us in gently to the DIY theme. This candy popsicle kit contains four tiny ice-lolly stick, two soda candies and two strawberry candies, powdered sugar and clear syrup. 

Simply, you push the sticks into the candies and carefully shape them to make them look a little like ice-lollies; or, if you're us, like slightly squished blocks on a stick. You then squeeze the syrup into one of the trays and pour the powdered sugar into the other; then you dip the candy into the syrup before doing your best to coat it with the powdered sugar. (I don't think we were that successful, but it was fun trying! 

Finally, you eat it! 



This reminds us a little of the dip dabs we had as kids; except, with a little bit more work – and, just like with them, once the candy was gone we just were straight in with fingers to get up as much of the syrup and sugar as we could; no soggy paper packets here though – just mucky fingers. A lot of fun! 


Mi no Naru Shake – Jelly bead shake! 


I often seem to bring up "bubble tea" on these reviews (just coincidence), but there's something definitely familiar with the way this DIY candy looks. 

This time we tried just following the picture instructions. Unfortunately we did something wrong, so the grape (purple) bubble-bead things just didn't take. They kinda dissolved into the water-base thing rather than forming balls. 

(I think the thing we did wrong was use water from the mix rather than fresh water; the second set of balls – the green ones – worked a lot better). 

Finally we mixed up the "shake" mix; which was pink and didn't take too long to make. Now there was a picture of a fridge on the package, but we didn't want to wait; plus, having messed up the purple balls, we just had a big pink foamy thing with green balls in. We thought, "why wait? Let's just go for it" - and we did. 

Now, baring in mind we mucked up. It wasn't bad. It was fizzy and grape-ish (which could have been from what would have been the grape beads). Sucking it up in the straw mostly felt like sucking a fizzy shake). It was nice, not quite like the bubble tea we were expecting. But it was nice. Maybe next time we'll try and get better looking results. 

Niginigi Osushi Yasan Gummy – DIY Sushi Gummy Kit 


These we should have started with; they were quite simple to put together. Simply we took the jelly "fish and fruit bits" and put them on the sticky "rice" jelly bits, then ate them. 


The fishy/fruity bits tasted nice; the rice bits tasted a little creamy. It was good combination; but a little like most gummy sweets – although it was a bit fun (the sort of thing you'd imagine younger kids would really enjoy doing). 

Very simple, but fun and in keeping with the theme. 

Korokoro Animals – Rolling Animal Candy!
( bit.ly/marimo4429




This was actually the last candy we attempted; mostly because it looked like it could be either the most complex, or the most demanding of our artistic endeavours. However, we were a little wrong. We were expecting blocks of candy to shape and form, but, instead we had a tray with three packs of powder and a stick! 

Never mind; after checking out the video (because this is one of the ones we scratched our head about a bit) we gave it a go. Some water in two of the trays, and then the mix. One a pink … possibly strawberry... flavour, the other a brown, chocolate-like flavour. 

Once we had our gummy mix, we separated it into a number of balls. Five pink, three brown. Putting four of the balls (one at a time) on the stick and dipping them in water followed by the white powder (which is kinda sweet flour like) and then dipping back in the water to fix it gave us four white balls.

We then used the remaining pink and brown balls to make ears, noses, eyes and so on. (There are moulds for most of the animal part shapes). 

But how was it? There was an element of fun mixing and making – as with all of these; but there was an undeniable amount of stickiness to the pink and brown balls which made it a little tricky to shape all the pieces into the right animal bits. (You might be able to tell this from the photo of our attempts!) That didn't stop us trying though. 



We did enjoy the making; but how about the eating? First up, it was a lot of work for four little animals; so you might expect we took our time and savoured every bit and waited a while …. NOPE! We went straight in and tasted and munched. 

We'd made, essentially, jelly animals. There was a gummy nature to them; a soft gummy nature to them. They were nice, good and fun – although … I'm not sure you could tell that we were attempting to make a panda, pig, elephant and cat! 

Decoration 'layer' Cake – DIY Microwave cake mix! 


Cake! But how does five or six little packets turn into the marvellous desert delight you'll see below? 

Well, like all of these DIY candy's, some assembly is required; First you remove the strawberry mould and water measure from the plastic pack. Then you make the cake. The cake is a layer cake, so there're two little cakes to make. The first two packets are opened and emptied into each of the cake moulds. Three measures of water are added and the whole lot is mixed gently until the two reach a batter-level of consistency. 

Once that's happened, it's to the microwave for about a minute before removing the cake from the mould and leaving it on a plate to cool while we work on the decorations. 

First up are some jelly strawberries, then white icing/ frosting and finally pink icing/ frosting for piping. The icing/ frosting worked well (although I think I made too big of a hole in the piping bag and ran out of pink icing half way around the bottom layer – oops!). 

(I also think I attempted to take the strawberries out a few minutes too soon; but never mind, they more-or-less kept their jelly shape). 

Putting it all together, big cake under little cake. A little of the strawberry jam to hold the top and bottom together; white icing all over and then pink piping and mixed balls and strawberries to decorate – made the lovely little cake you see below. 



Taste-wise, this was good. Like a lovely little layer sponge. The top layer I think was a little dry and crunchy; I'm not sure if this was intended or if I left it in the microwave 10 seconds too long – but it didn't detract at all. The taste was good; all of the decorations worked (although we didn't cut out and roll out the candles, but appreciated them being there for emergency birthday cake needs). 

Lots of fun, a little messy, but fun. 

All in all we've loved our premium Marimo Candy Club box. Lots of fun things – which is great. Kids would definitely love this; all of the DIY aspects of making the food is great. It would keep them busy on a wet day while meeting that "I want Candy!" need. For adults the fun is no less – there is something remarkably enjoyable about playing with food – no matter how often you're told not to. 

We loved the box and would recommend it to anyone after a bit of a different candy subscription/ surprise box. If you would like to receive your own box of candy-related fun, Go to their website: http://marimomarshmallowstore.com/ and a premium box will cost you $29.99; although if that's too much for your wallet, candy boxes start at $11.99 for between 2 and 4 candies (all boxes include DIY candy!) and – if you're not after a box, you can just order your favourite Japanese Candy from their online store. 

We enjoyed it a lot – it kept us busy for hours! 

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Degustabox Review - August 2015

So here we are again, another month and another Degustabox filled with delicious delights drops onto our doorstep. 



Now this month we're graced with a rather stuffed-full box with a mixture of old favourites and new faces...Usually I waffle on for a bit on this preamble but for a change I'll just dive straight in with the sampling, starting with the new faces.


Walker’s Biscuits - RRP: £2.00 (for 4 packs) 




While not exactly a new face, the numbers of boxes of shortbread we've consumed over the years being enough to break through even the toughest amnesiacs memory blocks, these are new to the Degustabox; and this is the first time we've seen these two-biscuit snack-packs... so they're kinda new to us too! 

We were sent four different biscuits, so starting with the old, familiar favourite of the shortbread fingers... which were delicious and tasted just as you'd expect, like Walker's shortbread/ With all of these we found that the pack size was nice, ideal for slipping into a lunchbox and making a nice treat to have after the main sandwich. 

Next up to be sampled was the Oat n’ Honey flavour; these had a definite crunch to them and you got the oat-y texture and flavour, although there was still a bit of a lingering shortbread taste to them (I think); not that that was a bad thing. 

Third in our civilized biscuit consuming session was the fruit and lemon flavour (surely Lemon is a fruit – although, I guess ‘fruit and fruit’ just is nonsense, and it is nice that the pack highlights the fact that there will be lemony moments; and lemony moments there are). These are exactly what they say on the packet. In a shortbread biscuit we have a lemon tasting flavour running through that compliments the Mediterranean fruit (which I assume is just raisins and things) really well. It’s not too overpowering, and not too subtle; it hits the right balance and makes a nice, refreshing taste. 

Finally we have the chocolate chip shortbread; which I’m assuming will taste like a cookie – which is the main reason it’s been left until last – I did plan to start and end with the familiar.

I have to say I was wrong; this was nothing like a chocolate chip cookie – it was more like shortbread with chocolate chips in… which I guess makes total sense because that is exactly what it is. It’s not a bad combination really; although, of all the flavours, I have to say it’s my least favourite… but that’s just because it’s a bit boring compared to the others. Nothing at all wrong with it, I just found the others a little more interesting.


Scheckter’s Organic Energy - RRP: £1.45




Powered by nature! I've had a few energy drinks in my time, and this newbie to the Degustabox compares favourably. I never really know what flavour it is that these drinks have; it’s that sweet, not quite a fruit-but-like-a-fruit taste that you just can’t put your finger on… Well, this has that taste, although it did taste a little less syrupy than some of the energy…“Red Bull”… style energy drinks out there. I think, in part, that might be due to the sparkling, filtered water running through it – or maybe the reliance on more natural flavours and sweeteners. Either way, it is quite nice and … while I can’t scientifically back up their claims of it giving an energy boost, I did notice that my energy levels were noticeably increased having drunk it. Although, maybe I’d had too many coffees earlier that day – who can say? There’s never a scientist around when you need one! 

I did like this; I think the price (£1.45 per can) puts it in the mid-to-high canned drinks range; especially for a 250ml can – although it is all natural, doesn't taste bad and is award winning, organic and vegetarian approved.


Db’s Discovery: Primal Pantry - RRP £1.49 per bar




Another new face is from the Primal Pantry; we were sent two Paleo bars, Hazelnut and Cocoa and Apple and Pecan Raw paleo bars. First up to be sampled was the Hazelnut and Cocoa. I have to say this is a bit of an oddity. It has an appearance not dissimilar to a chocolate-flavoured biscuit; however, biting into it – it's firm, but soft; so no crunch. Looking at where it was bitten looks a little like what it looks like to bite into liquorish. It isn't that sweet and despite the colour and cocoa flavour on the label, doesn't taste that chocolatey. In fact it tastes a little bitter (maybe) and most of the sweetness you get comes from the pieces of hazelnut. 

This was one of those ones where you go "I'm not sure if I like this – nom, nom, nom" and then before you know it the bar is gone and you're like "I've not made my mind up." 

Fortunately for me the degustabox contained another bar; this time the Apple and Pecan. This tasted a little sweeter (my guess is from the apple) and was a little lighter in colour, and taste and texture. I think the Apple and Pecan is a definite “will pick up again” while the Hazelnut and Cocoa is a definite “will pick up continually until I work out whether I like it or not”.

This was the Db discovery this month; the Primal Pantry Company was founded by nutritionist Suzie Walker with a mission to make great tasting Paleo and primal foods accessible to everyone.

The bars are handmade in the UK and free of any junk and they’re naturally gluten and dairy free.


Life Tonics Dalandan Orange flavour - RRP £1.49




Now when we saw this in the box we did a little hesitant gulp. This is another drink with coconut water in – and, as we found in our June Degustabox review coconut water isn't to everyone’s tastes. In our household, Neil liked it but I was disappointed it didn't taste like Malibu minus the alcohol. 

This drink is different. I think the coconut water drinks people have cottoned onto the fact that coconut water is very much a marmite drink – you either like it or hate it. Life tonics drinks come in a variety of flavours; only one of which (coconut and mint) jumps out and says “this tastes of coconut!” 

We were sent the Dalandan Orange flavour, but there is also the aforementioned “Coconut and mint” as well as an “Elderflower and Juniper” flavour which others may have received in their boxes. 

Last time we had coconut water, we thought it would be a good post-sport/ post-exercise drink; so this time we tested it in exactly that way. Neil liked the coconut water last time so by default got to test this one this time – plus, he does sport and stuff so it wasn't exactly a hardship for him to go out and sweat for a bit! 

First up: you don’t really taste the coconut water. There is a hint of coconut in there, but mostly you get the refreshing orange taste – which works really well. 

Second up: The drink contains vitamins and minerals, which I think means it helps replace some of the things you’d sweat out during your workout. He couldn't fault it. He said it tasted nice and really hit the spot. 

Third up: This is another “no artificial sweetener/ refined sugar product” – but you don’t really notice. It tastes good and plenty sweet enough anyway. 

It was nice; it seemed to work. Neil would probably pick up some of the other flavours in the future if he saw them.


Product of the month: Barilla Penne Rigate and Barilla Arrabbiata sauce - 
RRP £1.50 and £2.00 respectively



This falls into the Degustabox category of “something to make up and eat.”

We have been sent sauces and pasta before, but it is nice to get a natural pairing like this in the box. It gives you no excuse not to whack a pan on the stove and put together a plate (or bowl) of yumminess! So that’s exactly what we did … 

We used some quorn mince. We’re not vegetarian, but we don’t let that stop us munching on vegetarian products… and we do find that quorn mince has a similar flavour to beef mince, but without any worries of finding “odd gristly bits” in it… plus, it’s lower fat and a little healthier.

We stuck the pasta in a pan to boil; it was about 12 minutes from “dropped in the pan” to “cooked, but with a little firmness still”; not quite al dente,  At the same time we heated the quorn mince, adding a little oil, herbs, a stock cube and letting it defrost and start cooking. After a few minutes the sauce went in.

Anyway, it cooked; pasta got drained and it was all arranged artistically on a plate and a little cheese was sprinkled on top.



I have to say, it tasted good! The pasta had quite a nice flavour to it; I mean, pasta is pasta is pasta – but it had a really nice taste. The sauce was a little spicy; but we’re talking more “warming” than “burn your taste buds off!” It looked to be a thicker sauce and was packed full of flavour. We definitely liked it and would have it again!


Ryvita crispbread - RRP £1.44 each




Now I’m going to be honest, we haven’t yet sampled these. You know what it’s like when you have a packet of crackers or crispbreads on the go; if you open them, and then leave them to go and eat other ones… when you come back to them, they have a bit of a “cracker that’s been open and the air has gotten to them making them a bit soggy or something”. Essentially I’m saying, “We’re already eating a box of crackers/crispbreads and didn't want to start a new box until we finished the old one!” The packets say they’re now in “foil-stay-fresh” packs which is a bonus. 

Saying that, we were sent two flavours of Ryvita; cracked black pepper and Sesame crispbreads. Of these, we have previously tried the sesame and loved it. (We are big fans of the seedy crispbreads).

Oh – I should note before I forget – the recipes on the back of the Degustabox checklist feature a couple of alternative uses for the Ryvita crispbreads. I might try the ‘breaking and using like croutons’ one in soup in the future – because that does sound like a nice idea!


Williamson Ginger Grove Tea  




Now Neil is a fan of Ginger, and a fan of tea; so he gets to trial this box of Williamson Ginger Grove Tea – lucky boy! 

When you open the box of tea bags, the first thing that goes through your mind is “this is a quality product.” Inside the box is a clear plastic, easy-to-open inner bag, and inside that are 20 bags of tea in delicate little silk (well, material) bags with a drawstring and a little elephant emblem on. Once you open the box’s inner bag, you are greeted with a waft of fragrant ginger. 

When I’ve had ginger teas/infusions in the past, I usually find there is quite a strong ginger presence that grabs you and says “HEY, I’M GINGER!” – but with these, it seems to be a little more subtle. You can pick up the ginger hints, but this is no “punch you in the face” levels of potency. It’s more delicate. I nice drink for an afternoon brew. 


Dr Oetker Mug Cakes, RRP £1.37 each 




Here is the second of our “things to make” products in this months box.

Now I've encountered the idea of mug cakes before; not through product but through a family member discussing something they’d seen created online and they’d gone and replicated and was, for all intents and purposes, quite happy with the results. 

This month Degustabox sent us three mug cake mixes – lemon, chocolate and chocolate chip. At time of writing we've tried the lemon and the chocolate chip, but the process is the same for all of them. First, you get your mug. You need a mug that will be able to contain 250ml of cake. To the mug you add the contents of the sachet and 60ml of milk (semi skimmed is recommended), stir and then stick in the microwave for approximately a minute and a half. Take out and eat. Simple. 



Baking simplicity dealt with, what do they taste like? Well, the lemon tastes like a lemon sponge. It's not quite as good as making a "proper lemon sponge cake" – but considering all you do is add a little milk and stick it in the microwave for a minute – it is pretty awesome. The same can be said about the chocolate chip one. (The double chocolate we gave to a relation as part of a food package for a birthday present - but shhh - it's a surprise!) 

The consistency was a little more rubbery than your traditional sponge; but this didn't really detract. It was nice. We enjoyed our little cakes. With a little more thought we'd have gotten a little cream or custard ready to go with it... maybe next time. 

So what do I think of it overall? I think these are a great idea and a great last minute “I forgot your birthday so I made a cake” sort of affair; and obviously, you don’t have to stick to a mug – any 250ml container (that is microwave-safe) should work (I’d imagine). I can see having a few sachets in the cupboard ready for those emergency pudding situations we always face.


Pick up! Dark chocolate and Choco Leibniz White - RRP £3.48 




And finally the last of the new faces in this month's box. First up are the lovely Pick up! individually wrapped dark chocolate biscuits which makes them great to add in packed lunches or for on the go. The biscuit is lovely and has a nice crunch to it, while the chocolate filling is a firm rectangle of actual chocolate; no fondant filling here. We love them. 



Next is the Choco Leibniz White which are a similar affair; lovely chocolate biscuit base with a generous slab of white chocolate on top. Another that we absolutely love. A great quality biscuit.


Fru Snax




A returning face this month from last months box is Fru Snax. This bag of freeze-dried fruit with yoghurt is full of surprises; not least being that the yoghurt is freeze dried rather than coating the fruit! We loved how different this was from any other fruit snacks we’d encountered when we saw them back in July and still love them now. 


Baked Bread Bites




These bacon-flavour, bread snacks were quite enjoyable back when we first had them in March. Back then we had ideas of using them instead of croutons in soup or salad, but I have to admit, we just ate them out of the bag! 

And there it was – August’s Degustabox. A nice variety of old favourites and new friends.

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:

1IDMA


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


Links: 
Disclaimer: The August 2015 Degustabox was sent to me for the purposes of this post. All opinions are my own.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

My Webkin Annual Poll returns...

In 2003 I decided to run a fun online poll on my website finding out what entrants favourite music/tv/sports person of the year was etc. I carried on doing this (including adding new categories) until 2013 when I decided to take a bit of a break as I do all the results by hand which takes time. This year I have decided to bring it back again. 

The question I always get asked is "Why do you do the poll?" it all stems back from being a teenager and obsessed with the Smash Hits Poll Winners party. I love media and finding out people's opinions plus I really enjoy doing the tally chart results. I find it a bit therapeutic. Also as many of my readers may know I am really into entering competitions so in a way this is my way to give back to other people who love entering competitions whilst having a bit of fun at the same time. 

So the 2015 poll is now up and running. This year I have three prizes available to win they are: 

A £25 Amazon Voucher
A bundle of DVDs
A bottle of Insania Shared Fragrance 

If you would like to join in the fun and enter the poll (and see the previous results from other years) please check out the Webkin Annual Poll site. Good Luck. 


Thursday, 3 September 2015

An Update and Petshop Dog Food Competition

The summer has been quite hectic for me so I haven't managed to get blogging much. My Chronic fatigue has been very unpredictable with good and bad days. Hence the lack of posts so I thought it was time for a little update of what's been happening. 

I spent a lovely two weeks down in Midsomer Norton with the family. I can't believe how much my niece Lilly has grown up. She is going to be 10 years old this month. It seems like only yesterday that she was a baby. I also got to see my other nieces and nephews who are all growing far too fast. 

Cousins all together.

I loved getting to spend time with my Mum, sister and Lilly. We even went to the cinema to see Inside Out which was fun. I really loved the Lava short before the film too. I was really pleased that I went because one of my anxiety I hadn't been to the cinema in 10 years and I was fine. I really enjoyed myself. 

I also took up adult colouring too whilst down in Somerset. I find it relaxing and it's been good for my fatigue because I can colour and relax without sleeping. Whilst colouring I have been watching some great programs on Netflix including Orange Is The New Black and recently Dance Academy. 


One of my colourings. 

And finally we took Shortie to another local park fun dog show and he came third in the scruffiest dog category. He may be a scruff but we love him so much. 

Our scruffy boy Shortie

*** COMPETITION *** 


Our friends at PetShop have kindly given us a 12kg bag of Hills Ideal Balance Large Breed Adult dry dog food worth £52.99 to giveaway to one lucky reader. 

To enter the competition please use the rafflecopter widget below. Please note you must leave an email address in the widget which will be passed on to PetShop for their mailing list. This competition is open to UK residents only. Good Luck. 

Listed on Loquax
More competitions at ThePrizeFinder