I was thrilled to be invited to Royal Caribbean’s pre-inaugural cruise on their brand spanking new ship Anthem of the Seas. At 1141 feet long, 136 feet wide and with a total of 18 decks Anthem of the Seas is chock a block full of activities, entertainment and dining options.
I have a fabulous video to share soon but thought I would show you some of the photos I took to help whet your appetite in the meantime…
There are two outdoor pools, one especially for children, two indoor pools; including the adult only solarium with a retracting roof for warmer climes and four whirlpools.
We stayed in a superior ocean view room with balcony, the king sized bed can also be turned into twin beds, plus a sofa bed and ensuite shower room. The room had a mini bar, safe and tea and coffee making facilities. There was plenty of storage space for those holiday wear essentials. I loved the balcony with two reclining chairs and had a sneaky ten minutes to myself listening to the waves lapping with sun beating down on me.
You can’t fail to be impressed by the beauty of Anthem of the Seas, so much thought has been given to every aspect. The nooks and crannies where one can stare out to sea in their own private space, the stunning original artwork…everywhere. The fabulous teen room, the light that flashes to the beat of your heart, the lifts that have the day of the week inserted into the floor, just in case you forget. The Bionic Bar where robots will make you a cocktail…
Children, adventurers and the energetic are in for a treat; SeaPlex offers bumper cars, roller skating, circus school, basketball and more. There is a state of the art gym, Ripcord by iFly, North Star (imagine panoramic views 300 feet above sea level in a jewel-shaped glass capsule) and the Flowrider surf simulator.
With twenty restaurants to choose from you can be assured that there is something for everyone. In fact checking out the restaurants was a real thrill for me. I want to do an entire post dedicated to the food on Anthem of the Seas so will just tease you with a few photos.
Entertainment was just A-Ma-Zing and had to be the highlight of my stay on Anthem of the Seas. There has been no expense spared on venues, entertainers, sets or special effects. Spectra’s Cabaret, just wow. A Las Vegas-esque style show with dancing singing, trapeze and fabulous special effects thanks to Roboscreens and the Vistarama in the stunning Two70 venue.
The Royal Theatre is huge, and we were treated to a full length version of the musical We Will Rock You. Again, it was spectacular and the talent and set knocked socks off some of the London shows.
Top Left to Right:
Bumper Cars in Seaplex – Royal Esplanade – Lift art – Teens ‘The Lounge’ – Floating DJ booth in Seaplex with guest DJ Lauren Pope – Firework chandelier that beats to your heart rate.
Top Left to Right:
Interactive Artwork…children loved switching the switches on and off – The Royal Theatre – Me – La Patisserie – Art – Lift – Seaplex – Help yourself ice-cream – Royal IQ station packed full of info – Artwork – View from a stateroom.
I haven’t even touched on the spa that offers traditional treatments, to teeth whitening and even botox. The WOWbands that are worn on wrists allowing guests to get into their rooms and also make purchases. The Wifi is super speedy! I used it a lot as I was compelled to Instagram almost everything! Oh, and shopping…And so much more, suffice to say I had a fabulous time.
For more information go to Anthem of the Seas and look out for my next post which will include information about the food available on board Anthem of the Seas, including provision for food intolerances, and also my video tour of Royal Caribbean’s newest ship.
I personally think half the fun of a cocktail is the brightly coloured drink you get, often in a quirky glass and for fun a cherry and maybe even an umbrella decorating it. Have you ever thought of having a Mocktail though? These alcohol free cocktails can be just as delicious but ensure you won’t end up with a hangover, can drive safely and you won’t be drinking the dreaded empty calories of added alcohol.
Some scary facts from Drinkaware…
Two medium 175ml glasses of 13% ABV wine have more calories than a burger.
One and a half pints of 5% lager have more calories than a burger, and
Two double gin and tonics have more calories than a burger.
Not only does alcohol have lots of empty calories it can also affect sleep- A couple of glasses a night can affect sleep patterns, meaning you wake up feeling even more stressed, irritable and tired the next day. By swapping that cocktail for a juicy Mocktail, you can guarantee waking up feeling refreshed and ready for action!
The benefits of cutting back on alcohol means you’ll be saving all those calories and waking up looking amazing! (Well, a whole lot better than if you have a few cocktails anyway).
Drinkaware are encouraging people to have a mocktail rather than a cocktail by ordering a ‘virgin’ version of your favourite cocktail from the bartender when you are out. If you want to keep a track of the units of alcoholing you are consuming they also have and track and calculate units app that can be downloaded. The Drinkaware app provides impartial, non-judgemental support and encouragement to help you keep track of your journey with a range of useful features: ‘Personalised support’, ‘No-nonsense, easy interface’ and you can ‘Join the community‘.
Drinkaware also have some fabulous mocktail ideas with short videos showing how to make five different mocktails including a Virgin Mary. The great thing is that the children can have these too, and they have been loving them!
I highly recommend the Lime Rickey, it is very refreshing.
Disclosure: I was sent a mocktail kit to get me in the mocktail mood.
I admit to spending rather a lot of time looking at photos of food, and often stare enviously at the cleverness of the photography and styling. So, a chance to pick up some tips from Howard who takes amazing photos of food was one opportunity I didn’t want to miss.
SmugMug have also shared the following food photography tips:
Explore your surroundings – Part of the enjoyment of food photography is being out and about at restaurants, pubs, street food vendors and friends’ dinner parties. Tasting is everything, once you’ve documented your delicious dish of course.
Get in position – Find out where you should shoot from to get the best results. Working out where the natural light falls on the plate will ensure you’re in the right place at the right time to highlight your grandiose grub. Then move closer or further away. Proximity will make the posh nosh strike you in a different way.
The Rule of Thirds – you could try using the ‘rule of thirds’. Simply divide your frame into imaginary thirds on both the horizontal and vertical axis. Now simply place areas of interest at the points at which the lines intersect, or along one of the lines. This will give the composition of your shot more tension, energy and interest than simply centring the subject would.
Scale – When your subject is of unspecified size. For example; an ice cream cone or a burrito. Add a sense of scale by including something of known size. This will help the viewer understand what they’re looking at.
Layer up for interest – Add several layers to your composition beyond the main dish, such as condiments or cutlery in the foreground and background elements to create interest, depth and texture. Add plates for height or background wallpaper for texture and colour contrast.
If only I had all the time in the world to practise and implement these tips all the time but I have definitely been thinking more about my photos. The most fascinating thing that Howard said was that he hardly ever edits his photos after he takes them…just wow.
I took these tips from Howard:
I need a tripod
black or white card can make great effects with the lighting
130 degrees, 3/4 backlight make very interesting highlights to photos.
Taken by me but set up by Howard
SmugMug means that I can store my photos safely online.
They are used by professional photographers to showcase their work and by individuals and families to store their photography securely online, with unlimited storage.
Not only that, I have been able to set up a site where I can share my photos if I so wish, and even sell them. The photos can be organised, water marked, edited, shared privately to specific people such as clients or family, or publicly to anyone you want to impress with your photography skills.
Here is a screen shot of how I have set up my site, although there are a lot of site design options
And another one:
For more information about SmugMug check out their site, or find them on Twitter.
Thank you to everyone involved for making me feel so welcome and for hosting such a fab informative workshop.
Apparently 79% of women in the UK blame rain and cold weather for making them feel unproductive, and it doesn’t help that only 39% of these women eat their daily allowance of fruit in the winter, so Florida Grapefruit are trying to encourage people to get more fruit into their diets.
Carin Leenders de Vries has developed three grapefruit recipes for Florida Grapefruit; Grapefruit Heaven, Red Sunshine Shake and Sunshine Grapefruit Smoothie.
Florida Grapefruits are nutritious and high in vitamin content but for some reason I have never thought of blending them. What a great idea.
Kick start a healthy you by whipping up delicious smoothies and juices and making tasty desserts in literally seconds with the Nutrimaster Blender Pro.
With the Nutrimaster Pro
You can tackle over 50 kitchen tasks in one machine with this 2-in-1 juicer and blender.
With 3 pre-programmed settings, the blender is able to blend fruit and veggies into juice in a matter of seconds, instantly dice, chop and blitz – it also features a grinding function and it also makes amazing ice cream, frozen yogurts and desserts.
With a digital timer display, you can always keep track, the blender bundle also features a shatter-proof 2 litre container, spill-proof lid with removable lid plug and metal-to-metal, container-to-base coupling.
It operates at 1500w and comes with a recipe book, so you’re all set to get mixing!
Thanks to Ideal World’s “Great Easter Giveaway” one lucky person will get to win a Nutrimaster Blender Pro worth £199.99, further details below.
I have literally just got this blender so haven’t had a lot of time to play around with it and try all types of recipes but I have made a couple of smoothies and the differences between my old blender and this one are…
The Nutrimaster Pro blends so quickly I tried to video it but there was nothing to see, nuts and fruits were blitzed in just a few seconds.
Ice was crushed completely whereas my old blender leaves small lumps of ice.
The Nutrimaster Pro blender was so much easier to clean than my other one, the sides just rinsed clean without any awkward scrubbing.
I haven’t tried yet, although will update this post, but apparently the Nutrimaster Pro can make steaming hot fresh soup in as little as 3 minutes. This means I may be able to get rid of my old blender, my juicer and my soup maker! (Yes I have a gadget problem)
Nut milks can be made in the blender as well as iced desserts such as ice cream (I know?!) and sorbets in 30 seconds! Heads up, stock up on ice cubes because you are going to want to try everything.
Win a Nutrimaster Blender Pro…
To enter this fabulous giveaway to win a Nutimaster Blender Pro answer the following question and follow the steps in the Rafflecopter widget below.
Making Sense of Sugar have some great advice for us all at this time of year when copious amounts of chocolate are usually consumed.
For many families across the UK, the Easter weekend is traditionally a time for treats and celebrations.
And new research from Making Sense of Sugar shows that many of us simply can’t wait to get our hands on the first Easter treat, with almost one in five (18%) of us admitting our household cracks open the first chocolate egg as soon as they all wake up. A further 28% say they only manage to make it to mid-morning before tucking in. Sound familiar?
We love a treat as much as the next person but, we know that we have to keep a bit of an eye on how much we are treating ourselves! And it’s not only the chocolate. Other Easter treats, such as hot cross buns, all add up when it comes to counting calories. Just one buttered bun equates to 14% of our recommended daily calories intake.
Don’t get us wrong, we love a treat as much as the next person and so, it got us thinking that people may find it helpful to be able to see at a glance how they can enjoy their treats as part of a healthy diet.
In our new Guide to Sugars, we’ve taken a closer look at the labels of everyday kitchen favourites including what we plan on eating this Easter weekend. We’ve included a calorie breakdown and some facts you may find surprising….
Need more help on how to maintain a healthy balance diet? Making Sense of Sugar’s video is a great place to start.
Sir Ranulph Fiennes, who has just turned 71, will attempt to run 156 miles (251km) over just six days in the blistering 50°C heat of the Saharan Desert. His aim is to raise £2.5 million for the charity Marie Curie to help people living with a terminal illness and their families by competing in the Marathon des Sables (MdS) ultra-marathon.
Whilst being the holder of several endurance records Sir Ranulph has also suffered two heart attacks, undergone a double heart bypass, a cancer operation and has an on-going fight with diabetes.
Sir Ranulph has already raised a whopping £6.3 million for Marie Curie and is the oldest British person to have climbed the summit of Mount Everest at age 65 years.
The toughest footrace on Earth
Sir Ranulph will face extremes of heat, desert storms and endless sand dunes, instead of the minus 50 degrees centigrade, high altitudes, snow and ice that he’s far more used to conquering. This is the toughest footrace on Earth.
Intensive training has been undertaken to make sure that he is prepared as he could possibly be for the race that will see Sir Ranulph running with all his personal equipment for six days in the Moroccan Sahara Desert.
Please give generously, Marie Curie provides free care and support to people living with a terminal illness and their families. Marie Curie nurses work night and day, in people’s homes across the UK, providing hands-on care and vital emotional support. The charity has nine hospices which offer specialist round-the-clock care. The charity also helps people throughout their illness by giving practical information, support from trained volunteers and being there when someone wants to talk.
Support Sir Ranulph in his fundraising by visiting JUST GIVING or Text RUN to 70007 to donate £5, you can also include a message of support to Sir Ranulph in this text.
Keep an eye out on social media for the hashtag #runRanrun for live updates on Sir Ranulph’s progress in the Marathon des Sables.
If you don’t know the story of Cinderella where on earth have you been? I think most of us have seen Disney’s 1950 animated masterpiece at some point in our lives.
Disney’s Cinderella has had a make over and is now a live action feature with fully realized characters creating a beautifully visual treat with breathtaking scenes and settings. The film is out in the cinemas now.
Disney’s Cinderella is directed by Kenneth Branagh and produced by Simon Kinberg, Allison Shearmur and David Barron. The cast includes; Cate Blanchett, Lily James, Richard Madden, Stellan Skarsgård,Holliday Grainger, Derek Jacobi and Helena Bonham Carter.
The story of “Cinderella” follows the fortunes of young Ella (Lily James) whose merchant father remarries following the death of her mother. Eager to support her loving father, Ella welcomes her new stepmother (Cate Blanchett) and her daughters Anastasia (Holliday Grainger) and Drisella (Sophie McShera) into the family home. But, when Ella’s father unexpectedly passes away, she finds herself at the mercy of a jealous and cruel new family. Finally relegated to nothing more than a servant girl covered in ashes, and spitefully renamed Cinderella, Ella could easily begin to lose hope. Yet, despite the cruelty inflicted upon her, Ella is determined to honor her mother’s dying words and to “have courage and be kind.” She will not give in to despair nor despise those who mistreat her. And then there is the dashing stranger she meets in the woods. Unaware that he is really a prince, not merely an apprentice at the Palace, Ella finally feels she has met a kindred soul. It appears her fortunes may be about to change when the Palace sends out an open invitation for all maidens to attend a ball, raising Ella’s hopes of once again encountering the charming Kit (Richard Madden). Alas, her stepmother forbids her to attend and callously rips apart her dress. But, as in all good fairy tales, help is at hand, and a kindly beggar woman (Helena Bonham Carter) steps forward and, armed with a pumpkin and a few mice, changes Cinderella’s life forever.
We were very lucky to see this at a special screening a few weeks ago with children of various ages including a seven year old, tweens and teens.
The teens and tweens loved the film, it was all they talked about for ages! They loved the music, the narration, in the teens’ words ‘the eye candy’. One child, aka,’the film buff’, said she thought the cast were perfect and sshhh, she was pleased that most of them are British. The costumes were stunning and the children liked that the film was close to the original Disney film.
I think the film is suited to older children, M, aged seven is just on the cusp. He said he really liked the film but I am not convinced it held his attention the whole time. It doesn’t have any particularly scary parts though. I was not so keen on the narration in the film, but I absolutely loved the music, the costumes and the big visually rewarding scenes such as the ball room. Cinderella comes across as a strong and feisty girl fighting for what she believes in. Helena Bonham Carter’s character as the Fairy Godmother was a little surprising but Cate Blachett’s evil step mother role was perfect sending shivers down my spine.
An added bonus and piece de resistance is Frozen Fever, an animated short sequel to the 2013 film Frozen before the showing of Cinderella. A sweet catchy piece that will bring smiles to lots of boys, girls and adults alike. Watch out for the very cute snow babies. Who knew what a sneeze could bring!
Just a very quick post to introduce one of the newest members of the Cadbury family…the Cadbury Dairy Milk Oat Crunch. Extolled as the new elevenses and perfect accompaniment to the mid morning cuppa this mini oat filled bar is set to get us through to lunchtime.
This Cadbury Dairy Milk Oat Crunch is made up of two breakable oat crunch biscuits with a thick layer of Cadbury Dairy Milk running through it.
Each 35g Oat Crunch has 150kcal.
Well it has Dairy Milk running through it so what’s not to like?
Whilst I do like to keep my Dairy Milk as ‘pure’ as possible, caving in sometimes to fruit and nut the Oat Crunch made a nice change. It was a hit with children too. Dare I say, the oaty bit makes you think you are being a little bit healthier even if there is a big slab of thick chocolate to nibble on. My favourite chocolate at that. It is crunchy and a substantial snack that would make a great treat for after school or on picnics.
The Cadbury Dairy Milk Oat Crunch has a RRP of 58 pence and can also be bought in a three bar multipack with a RRP of £1.49.
So, if you want something a little different, that is filling and ‘only’ has 150kcal then I can most certainly recommend the new Cadbury Dairy Milk Oat Crunch!
Disclosure: I was sent a few Cadbury Dairy Milk Oat Crunch to review
Easter is literally a couple of weeks away, most of the children break up next week but the youngest not until the week after…it’s one of those split holidays, oh joy. Anyway, I am trying to muster up some Easter enthusiasm from somewhere very deep within…I may just have to make this Pompom tail bunny garland from Mum In The Mad House to get me into the mood. Isn’t it cute! Anyway, I have made some Easter carrot cupcakes, very easy to make but they would look great at any Easter themed party.
These are very light carrot cakes, using only a small amount of grated carrot and some cinnamon. I did use a Sukrin cake mix that I was sent to make the cakes (I have however given you the conventional recipe too) The Sukrin cake mix is sugar, gluten, wheat and egg free, although I used eggs in the recipe. You have to agree the cakes have an impressive rise. The mixture is sweetened using all-natural sweetener erythritol. To be honest, the children couldn’t taste the difference however I think I must be extra sensitive because I could taste the sweetener and it left an after taste in my mouth. If you are watching your sugar and carb intake though or following a paleo diet then Sukrin mixes could be the answer for you.
The chocolate ‘eggs’ are also sugar free (the sugar strands obviously are not) I made them using Sukrin sugar free chocolate, safe for coeliacs too! Yay. This tasted great, in my opinion.
These cakes would look extra special with a huge marzipan carrot ‘planted’ into the grass…I have these fab ideas but never the time to implement them but if I did that’s what I would do. The ‘grass’ for the cakes is edible and sugar free and I bought it and the carrots from the Cake Decorating Company. So, whilst the cakes I made were sugar free, there is obviously sugar in the buttercream but I used the bare minimum to cover the cakes just enough to get the grass to stick.
If you want to go for the easy option buy a pack of Sukrin cake mix, gluten, sugar, wheat & egg free.
Author: cherished by me
Recipe type: cake
125g softened unsalted butter ( I use stork, or pure if making them dairy free)
125g caster sugar
125g self raising flour (gluten free)
100g grated carrot
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2-3 tablespoons milk (replace with a dairy free milk if necessary)
40g milk chocolate
70g very soft butter (I used a dairy free spread)
100g icing sugar (approx)
30g edible green grass
12 royal icing carrots
Preheat oven to 200ºC/gas mark 6
Put all the ingredients except for the milk into a food processor and blitz until smooth. Add the milk down the funnel whilst pulsing to make a soft dropping consistency.
Stir in the carrot.
If doing in the traditional way, cream the butter and sugar, add the cinnamon and then the eggs one at a time adding a spoonful of flour each time. Fold in the remainder of the flour, then add the milk.
Divide the mixture between 12 cupcake cases
Bake for 15-20 minutes until cooked and golden.
Allow to cool completely on a wire rack
Whilst the cakes are cooking melt the chocolate in a bowl over a barely simmering pan of water.
If you draw some egg shapes on a piece of baking parchment this helps keep them to a similar size although my shaky hands meant there was still discrepancies in mine.Turn the paper over so you can see the shapes through the paper.
Put the melted chocolate in an icing bag (or a sandwich bag), snip off the end and pour onto the parchment paper to make egg shapes.
Cover the chocolate with sprinkles, if using and put the tray in the fridge until the chocolate is set hard.
Put the butter into a large bowl and whisk until soft, gradually whisk in the icing sugar until you have a thick consistency. You may need a little more, or a little less icing sugar.
Cover the cupcakes in the icing, enough to act as a sticky surface for the green grass to adhere to.
Press the green grass onto the icing and finish with a chocolate egg and a carrot.