Tuesday, 24 September 2013

A Right Shower

Finally we get to get a shower in place. Chris has pined since we moved into our new home  to be with Granny he loves a shower, he is not keen on  bath like me.

We have been managing with a handheld shower. Its been pretty tough and especially for myself.I cannot bathe as my finger is broken and splinted,I can but I have to wear a big rubber glove,tape my arm and not stay in long enough to relax as the plaster gets damp. that has been fun for three months,one handed with a shower hose,not so funny.

So using some saved Amazon vouchers, I have invested in a Mira Vie. The reviews are good, I have bought all the fixings too, the 45 amp pull switch,apparently cheaper than my friend's supplier He will fit it next week, Chris's belated birthday present and I will not have to lay the shower down to reach for the shower gel,shampoo razor etc.


But there's  always a problem,the bath is not up against the wall and I imagined it would be easy to get a two sided bath screen, with an end and side. Well no its not!!

I have hunted high and low and the cheapest I could find was £360 specially made!!!

So we are a bit stuck, a shower curtain may not contain the water, it may with me as I am sedate in my showering habits, Chris and Conor make the bathroom look like a tidal wave went through. What is it with men!!

Does anybody out there have a bath not up against the wall, do you know a solution,let me know??


Two new sumptuous flavours to savour 

The Lindt Master Chocolatiers have concocted two new delicious, dark chocolate flavours bursting with the sumptuous taste of summer fruits. I was sent the bars to try and Chris who shies away from my cleaning reviews made a beeline to help out!! Funny that!

He adores dark chocolate and eyed up the Strawberry Intense. He said he would give the blueberry a try for review purposes of course.

These bars are aptly named,the 'Intense' aroma is the first sensation, as I unwrapped the Strawberry and before the foil was torn, the fruit scent was evident. Unwrapping the foil,the thin slab of chocolate is dark and the strawberry smell is even stronger. 

The ingredients list strawberry as 1% but it seems much more if you can see from my photo. The flavour is very good,intense dark chocolate,the strawberry is not too sweet and is real fruit flavour. Its a chocolate you will want to savour not gobble. My favourite of the two.

The Blueberry bar was the same deep aroma of fruity blueberries, Chris was joined by Conor, this time he saw the bar unwrapped without seeing what was in it. He said "Wow Blueberry!"  It has a crunch of almond too,which gives it a different texture. 
The chocolate taste is what one expects from Lindt, good, great melt, that just right bitter. 

I was very glad we tried them.

Made using the finest ingredients, Lindt EXCELLENCE Blueberry Intense and Lindt EXCELLENCE Strawberry Intense possess summer inspired flavours, surprising and exciting the senses of even the most devoted chocolate connoisseurs.

Lindt EXCELLENCE Blueberry: Savour the rich cocoa notes that are perfectly balanced by the slight tartness and deep fruit flavour of the delicate blueberry pieces. Almond slivers build on the textural experience to deliver amazing earthiness.

Lindt EXCELLENCE Strawberry: Experience a moment of pure pleasure as luscious, sweet strawberries literally burst from the finest velvety smooth dark chocolate.

Lovingly crafted by Lindt’s team of Master Chocolatiers, with their customary passion and flair, every 100g bar is a masterpiece of intense pleasure, ideal for a treat alone or to enjoy with friends. The deliciously intense fruit flavours make them the perfect choice for  indulgence.

Lindt EXCELLENCE Blueberry Intense and Strawberry Intense are available now from all major retailers.
RRP: £1.83

Disclosure I received the two Lindt bars in order to  review, I received no other payment and my views are my own.

Monday, 23 September 2013

NEW Ariel 3in1 Pods Review

I had high hopes for the New Ariel 3in1 Pods and being sent some it was a chance to put them to the test. Ariel is one of the brands used by four generations of women in my family. The latest launch does away with messy hands,no powder spillage,no liquid drips down the side of a bottle. Just a nice fat little pod...I love that word.

Like many other people I want a washing detergent to clean everything, not fade my clothes and take out any stubborn stains. Long gone are the days we spent scrubbing marks and researching books to find out what ingredient will remove a stubborn stain.
There are three compartments in these jelly like pods, provide deep down cleaning, stain-removal AND maintain the brightness of clothes for an exceptional clean

I have a house full of people determined to make me tackle many a stain,blood,tomato sauce,grass,grease, you name it they attack with it. I pride myself in beating them at their little game with my weapons of clean!!

So I took two common stains in our house and put the pods through their paces.

Firstly pasta sauce,we eat a lot of home made pasta dishes, tomato based and messy. 

Then chocolate as you know chocolate gets reviewed quite a bit and some people seem to drop it as much as eat it! what a waste. A quick wipe up is better than stained furniture though.

A pod in my machine, they need to be handled with dry hands as they dissolve quickly,great for the wash, not on hands.

Also a little different to tablets the pod needs to be placed in the drum before the washing.

I put my wash on 30 degrees, to really put the pod through its paces.

The result, stain free clothes, all the other washing was clean,smells pretty good and the brightness test will have to wait for some new clothes to trial, an even better result as I can legitimately go shopping for test pieces!!

Available at all supermarkets and the RRP is  £7.00 (for 19 washes

Disclosure I received the Ariel Pods for free,I received no other payment, my views are my own.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Win P&G Everyday Effect essentials

This is one of my last few 'Uni' posts, I feel quite emotional that Paige will be leaving home, the last week has been a flurry of packing, student loans, banking, cooking and usual over protective Mum chats!

P+G kindly sent her a few goodies to set her up and the findings from a recent survey they carried out, we have giggled at a few.

45% of under-35s admit they had never bought a toothbrush, toothpaste or shampoo before leaving home. I am hoping they do buy the toothbrush  after!! 

This gives me more reason to whittle, I imagine end of term sending home a smelly, dishevelled underfed waif! I do not know whether I will need to open my arms or the bathroom door!

75% of mums expressed some sort of sadness at their kids leaving home. ( Are the others having parties?) I know that one boy that Paige has spoken to has to make his way to Uni on a train with all his stuff, when she asked him if his parents didn't drive he replied" Oh yes they said it would be easier if he went on his own!!

However, little deeds can make the difference before this exciting but nerve-wracking step, such as teaching your children how to cook or do their laundry. 

Even something as simple as showing them what products you use can ease the transition, with a quarter of children who use the same products as their parents saying they do so because reminds them of being at home.

 Paige is pretty organised, the washing tips have been passed on, cooking is getting there. 
Paige has already stated her choice of named brands, this penniless student says she will eat lentils each day as long as she has good teabags, baked beans and washing powder that we use!
So the Ariel and Lenor was squirrelled off in her shopping crate. 

We think by doing ordinary things, we can make a difference to our own and the lives of those around us.  P&G calls the impact of these seemingly ordinary moments the “Everyday Effect”.

So, to try and ease this transition, as well as Paige receiving a mini hamper of P+G goodies,they also  have one to give away to one of my followers. You may not have bigger children to teach new skills to, it may just be little ones, or maybe enjoying the 'Everyday Effect' will just be for you.

Just fill in the easy peasy rafflecopter and tell me in comments below what little 'everyday' thing makes a difference in your life, or what skills would you like to pass on to your children.This is just for fun,a random winner will be picked.

Just make sure after the comment you fill in the Rafflecopter to keep your email details safe and private!

Disclosure we were sent P + G goodies, my views are my own, no payment was received.

The Ultimate Student Cookbook Review

The Ultimate Student Cookbook:
Cheap, Fun, Easy, Tasty Food

Well the days before Paige goes to Derby University are counting down very fast, I always have loved cooking its a passion and in some ways this has hindered my two. Paige said the other day its made her content to let me cook,she helps out and has a few signature dishes but said she needs more experience.

We have been doing a crash course the last two weeks as her job and college are both over. I have been saying she needs a good book and to revise some of the basics that will make it easier. I have had visions of a starving wreck!!!

Studentbeans.com have come up with just such a book.

What I have been gently nagging Paige to do, the The Ultimate Cookbook did in minutes, suddenly excited by how simple everything looked, cheap and easy meals, snacks, hints on what to buy for store cupboard staples,measurements all suddenly made sense to her.

I believe the humour in the book helps. 

Cheese and Ham Toastie -'Melted cheese is God's gift to the human race'

All Purpose Fried Rice - Here's a recipe that's so versatile you might end up trying to get it to fix your door, do your dissertation and talk to people you fancy in a club!

Baked Camembert for two- This dish will clog your arteries, give you type 2 diabetes and probably a good dose of gout to top it all off. But who cares when food tastes this good?

 So inspiring is this book Paige spent the morning making  a shopping list,shopped and cooked.

I waited for the usual "Mum, I don't get this bit!" ...nothing. I  went in to the kitchen to photograph the proof. Mouth open as she looked so confident making a totally new recipe, she does cook a good few of mine but never one from scratch and hasn't read a cookbook or displayed much interest in cooking basics and skills!

Then she called me for lunch!!!!

Bacon and Pea Spaghetti!!!

My visions of the starving wreck evaporated,dreams of being invited to dinner stirred!

Oh and I actually want this book myself, its brilliant, great recipes for curries (see below) and stews,posh toast, brill white sauce recipe, I've been copying some down before she goes.

Also sort of hoping she may just forget it, but alas it disappeared into her food box along with mixed herbs, lentils and baked beans!

Leaving home for the first time ever and being away from mum’s cooking is daunting for the average student. Luckily, those clever people at Studentbeans.com have come up with a clear and simple-to-use cookbook with properly designed recipes for wholesome and great-tasting food.

  • Cooking basics: a necessary rite of passage to a higher level of culinary learning. Measurements, kitchen kit, store cupboard and fridge stand-bys, simple salad dressings, how to slice and dice, how to cook rice and pasta
  • The Building Blocks:  recipes with a multitude of uses. Boiled egg, scrambled egg, simple tomato sauce, white sauce, basic pancakes, multi-purpose mince
  • Quick ‘n’ Easy: Quick fixes for hectic lifestyles – broccoli and anchovy spaghetti, simple potato salad, cheesy easy omelette, sweetcorn fritters with avocado salsa
  • Hungry but Penniless: a chapter dedicated solely to recipes that can be bought with the coins from the back of the sofa – garlic mushrooms on toast, carb-loaded pesto pasta, tuna pasta bake, bean cassoulet, old-school sausages and lentils
  • Home-cooked Classics: for those who really miss mum’s cooking – easy chicken stew, hearty fish pie, mac ‘n’ cheese, roast chicken and gravy, the perfect roast dinner
  • Nifty Lunches: from the basics of sandwich fillings to more complicated lunches – Spanish omelette, prawn, feta and quinoa salad, sausage and red pepper rolls
  • Crowd Pleasers: dishes for minimum effort and maximum impact – baked camembert for two, steamed mussels, chorizo chicken, fajita party
  • DIY Take-Aways:  better for your wallet and tummy – piri-piri chicken, lamb kebabs, Indian lamb curry, tomato, mozzarella and basil pizza
  • Sweet Stuff: desserts and sweet treats with which to indulge yourself and your friends  - All-American pancakes, raspberry and white chocolate muffins

Indian Lamb Curry
Contrary to popular belief, you do not need an entire continent’s worth of
spices to prepare a curry. Just stick with this recipe and smile knowingly when
all your friends marvel at your internationally influenced palate. With slow
cooking, the best meat to buy is often the cheaper and fattier cuts. Try using
diced shoulder or neck of lamb for this recipe.


6 tbsp oil
2 onions, peeled
and grated
5 garlic cloves, peeled
and very finely chopped
Large thumb-size piece
of fresh ginger, peeled
and very finely chopped
2 green chillies, split
lengthways, but still
held together at the top
1½ tbsp garam masala
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground turmeric
800g diced lamb (neck
or shoulder work best)
4 tomatoes, roughly
Large handful of fresh
coriander, chopped
Cooked basmati rice,
to serve

Heat the oil in a large saucepan or casserole dish over a
medium heat. Once hot, add the onions and a generous pinch
of salt. Cook the onions, stirring regularly, for 12–15 minutes
until they become lightly coloured and incredibly soft.
Add the garlic, ginger and green chillies. Fry for a further
4 minutes, stirring regularly, before spooning in the spices.
It is very important to ‘cook out’ the spices for 1 minute, so
fry, constantly stirring to avoid burning. Increase the heat to
maximum, then add the diced lamb. Stir well to combine for
1 minute, then add the tomatoes.
Reduce the heat a little and add half a glass of water to the
saucepan. Bring the liquid up to the boil, then reduce to a
simmer. Place a lid on top and leave to cook for a minimum
of 1 hour. (It can go on cooking for double that time if you
keep adding a little water every now and then to prevent it
from drying out.) The longer the curry is cooked, the better
it becomes.
Add the chopped coriander just before serving with cooked
basmati rice . . . and then delete the curry takeaway number
from your telephone.

Tip: More often than not, curries taste better the day after
they have been cooked because the flavours settle and
intensify. So if you can cook this the night before, leave it
to cool completely before refrigerating. When ready to eat,
just tip the curry back into the saucepan and bring to the
boil over a medium heat. Simmer for 2–3 minutes and enjoy
your fully matured curry.

About Studentbeans.com: Taking inspiration from the student’s staple recipe ‘beans on toast’, studentbeans.com was born in 2005. A few years on, the website is first destination for millions of students looking for savings, advice and entertainment.
Published on 15th August 2013 by Weidenfeld and Nicolson in trade paperback at £11.99, as an eBook at £7.99

 Disclosure I was given a free product. I was under no obligation to receive the sample or talk about this company. I get no additional benefits for talking about the product or company.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Slow cooked Chicken Provencal

I cook from scratch, love it and have discovered since breaking my finger,three months and still in a splint I was destined to have personal sous chefs! Chris and Paige have been great choppers,dicers and peelers, so I can still keep my hand in and cook. I may continue this routine hehe!! 

We do more food planning so that all my ingredients are chopped the day before and then I can cook at leisure,pan lifting is a bit tricky so my slow cooker has been on the side permanently. Its really helped with the heat of summer an unexpected bonus, we have been  eat a great cooked meal without melting from the heat of the oven.

 I reviewed the Tefal slow cooker http://giventodistractingothers.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/judge-slow-cooker-review.html

I have had great success with it, my best question and find was Can you cook bread in a slow cooker? The answer was a very successful yes!! Look out for the giveaway to win one!


Back to this weeks recipe I so waffle, I have been reviewing more products to make life simple designed for busy cooks not just broken digits. The latest is the Just Add range herbs and spice in an easy tube,I love them, they have a three week shelf life if refrigerated,I am already half way through the garlic in a week.

Just Add removes the fiddly task of chopping when cooking meaning that you can simply reach for the squeezy tube or one shot sachet to add your desired taste sensation, which includes: Garlic, Chili, Basil, Ginger and Coriander. They are perfect for a fuss free, flavorsome supper across a range of cuisines, for example, the Coriander is great in curries and stir-frys and the Ginger makes a delicious marinade. Available from Tesco Asda, Waitrose and Ocado

I used the Just Add Garlic and Basil for this slow cooked chicken, its a lovely alternative to snipping leaves or crushing garlic and stringy ginger.The basil especially had a lovely fresh aroma and in  the finished dish it was very evident.

To make a Slimming World Chicken Provencal, just use fresh garlic and basil.

I made this a rather herby chicken,feel free to omit or add herbs of your choice,most  of the recipes start as a certain dish then I tinker!

Do not be alarmed by the size of the dish above I doubled up my recipe,as I was taking some to London for my Mum and Dad.

Serves 4

1 red pepper, cut into large chunks
1 green pepper, cut into large chunks

1 onion sliced
450 grams chicken breast or thigh
400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 tbs tomato purée
1 tsp Just Add garlic
1 tsp Just Add basil
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
Black pepper

Fry the chicken if you want to but I did not this time as using breast pieces. It tastes the same either way and saves even more time.

The method again is very simple,place all ingredients in your slow cooker and cook on low for 6 hours!

Disclosure Just Add sent me the Garlic, Basil and chill range to try. I received no other payment,my views are my own.