A mini break in Hull

If you don’t know already I have been moving house, it has taken weeks and I can honestly say it has been mega stressful. Some bright spark (that will be me then) decided that it would be cheaper to get removal people to move just the big furniture and I would do the rest. Oh my goodness, it has taken so long, I can barely move, my back is kaput, but on the upside (always look for positives when the situation is dire) I can do my jeans up again! Yay!

Days out

I am soooo desperate for a break, to be pampered a little; lie in bed knowing that I don’t have to make breakfast; go for a leisurely swim; walks and just generally relax and spend some time with the children without all the usual hustle and bustle that everyday life entails…especially with a move in the mix!

A mini break in Hull – where to stay

I really like the idea of staying in Hull, and having seen the Holiday Inn Hull Marina it appears to tick all the boxes and more. It has an indoor pool, fitness centre, we can take our dog (huge bonus) plus the children can stay free. I love the idea of Hull Marina location where we can watch the boats coming in and out and yet the city centre is only a few minutes walk away.

What to do in Hull

Sheep

There is plenty to do in Hull to keep us busy if we fancy it.

A visit to The Deep, the world’s only submarium, and home to 3500 fish including sharks, rays and Gentoo penguins. I would love to get to one of the daily dive shows. In the evening The Two Rivers restaurant which is located in the aquarium Aquariumsounds amazing!

Some culture at Hull maritime museum. I have a slight obsession about whales so learning about the history of whaling in the area fascinates me and admission to the museum is free.

Or maybe some retail therapy at St Stephen’s shopping centre.The girls would like that, although my purse probably wouldn’t.

A little further away is Flamingo Land which I know the youngest two would love, a theme park and a zoo it will be an action packed day.

On energetic days we can visit the stunning Yorkshire Wolds for a walk or cycle. In my case that will be walk as I am a danger on a bike.

Honeysuckle farm is something that M would enjoy visiting, as well as farm animals to see, it has a play barn, cart rides, forts to climb and mazes to get lost in plus much more.

 

Do you have any more places you would add to visit?

 

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post

 

 

Spaghetti with prawns & asparagus in a creamy white wine & lemon sauce

Prawns and lemon always make me think of summer so I thought they would be the perfect combination to use with Lindemans’ Bin 85 Pinot Grigio white wine. Out of all the different types of pasta there is something special about spaghetti, it feels so decadent, which I know is silly but I tend to save it for those times when I feel like I need a little comforting or indulgence.

Spaghetti with prawns & asparagus in a creamy white wine & lemon sauce

When I was asked to devise a recipe that captures the essence of sunshine using one of Lindemans’ wines I had no trouble coming up with this spaghetti with prawns & asparagus in a creamy white wine & lemon sauce. This is so so easy and yet tastes absolutely gorgeous. A creamy sauce made with coconut milk and a slightly tangy zing from lemon zest and a squeeze of lemon juice makes this one of those recipes that you will come back to again and again.

Spaghetti with prawns & asparagus in a creamy white wine & lemon sauce I’ve used butter in the recipe but you could easily use a dairy free spread to make this a completely dairy free recipe.

Capture the sunshine

Spaghetti with prawns & asparagus in a creamy white wine & lemon sauce recipe

Spaghetti with prawns & asparagus in a creamy white wine and lemon sauce

Prep time: 

Cook time: 

Total time: 

Serves: 2

Ingredients
  • 150g cooked King Prawns
  • 100g asparagus
  • 120g spaghetti
  • 2 spring onions trimmed and sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • knob of butter
  • 200ml chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
  • 6 tbsp coconut milk
  • 150ml Lindemans Bin 85 Pinot Grigio
  • Zest of ½ lemon plus a squeeze of juice
  • A good handful of chopped parsley
Instructions
  1. Cook the spaghetti according to instructions
  2. Cook the asparagus in boiling water for four minutes and drain, keep warm.
  3. In the meantime melt the butter in a frying pan and cook the spring onions and garlic gently for two minutes.
  4. Turn up the heat and add the white wine to the pan.
  5. Cook rapidly on high for one minute.
  6. Add the chicken stock and cook for another two minutes.
  7. Add the prawns, lemon zest, a squeeze of lemon juice and the coconut milk to the pan and simmer for a couple of minutes to heat the prawns through.
  8. Add the parsley and the drained pasta to the pan and stir to coat the pasta with the sauce.
  9. Divide the pasta between two bowls, top with asparagus and pour the remaining sauce over.

Spaghetti with prawns & asparagus in a creamy white wine & lemon sauce

Enjoy this Spaghetti with prawns & asparagus in a creamy white wine & lemon sauce pasta dish with a chilled glass of Lindemans’ Bin 85 Pinot Grigio for a totally feel good meal on these delightful sunny evenings! Love summer.

 

Post in collaboration with Lindemans wines.

 

Six things I have learnt from being a parent

Whilst I continue to be deep in the chaotic throes of moving house, the lovely Sabina from Mummy Matters has  kindly written a guest post on what she has learnt since becoming a parent.

Over to Sabina…

For as long as I can remember I have wanted to be a Mummy first and foremost. I didn’t have any huge career aspirations or dreams of travelling the world, I just knew that I wanted to be a Mummy. To have someone to pour my love into and hopefully who would love me in return. I am very proud to say that I have been lucky, not only to have three beautiful children of my own blood but I also have a handsome stepson who loves me unconditionally too. I have been a ‘Mum’ in one capacity or another for 11 years now (whoa that’s a scary thought!) and I wanted to share a few of the things I have learnt along the way about being a parent.

Family

1. You don’t have to give birth to a child or be a blood relative to fall in love with them or for them to love you in return. A parent is someone who raises (or helps to raise) a child through the good times and the bad.

2. Breastfeeding doesn’t come naturally, it is a skill to be learnt by both Mother and Baby. I assumed (wrongly) that breastfeeding would be a breeze but as I found out when breastfeeding my babies, each child and each breastfeeding story would be completely different.

3. Weaning is NOT my forte! Again, like breastfeeding, I thought it was the natural next-step that would just happen and that all babies would want to eat. What I found out was that my weaning journey would not only be a difficult one with Little Bean but that I would carry the scars through to Beanie Boy and Jelly Bean to the point that mealtimes STILL fill me with dread.

4. It’s ok to ask for help. Parenting, despite being the most rewarding ‘job’ in the world is actually REALLY hard. Whether your baby is just a few days old, a few years or even a teenager there are going to be times where you think to yourself “I can’t do this” and you need to reach out. It’s ok because 99% of parents will have been there and you’d be surprised just how many people you can turn to who will not only be happy to help, they will feel special that you have turned to them in your time of need. It will also show your children that you aren’t a superhero, that we all have bad days and that in those times, there are people who you can turn to. In years’ to come that knowledge will help them too.

5. It’s ok to admit you were wrong. Ok, so this might be a difficult one BUT it’s an important one because we ALL make mistakes but the biggie is whether we can be gracious enough to hold our hands up and say “I was wrong, I’m sorry”. Again, this is a great life lesson for our children because they will see that by admitting we were wrong, things that be done to rectify the situation or at least go some way to making amends.

6. You will NEVER know just how deep you can love until you become a parent. Yes we love our partners, boyfriends/girlfriends, Husbands/Wives, our own parents and our best friends but the love between a parent and child is like no other. My love for my Beans makes me feel like my heart could explode it is so full of love for them.

Thank you very much Sabina, some great points there that I think we need to be reminded of sometimes.

 

Devilishly wicked Baileys truffles

Devilishy wicked Baileys Truffles

Funnily enough I’ve not had Baileys for ages, and then I was given a glass when I was on the pre-inaugural Anthem of the Seas cruise the other week, it was delicious and there is something decadent about this creamy drink which has been around since 1974. A unique blend of Irish Whiskey, fresh diary cream, vanilla and chocolate essences Baileys was created specifically for women, with the belief that they deserved better than the traditional offering of beer or whiskey.

Delicious and easy Baileys truffles

Baileys isn’t just a popular drink though (2300 glasses of Baileys Original Irish Cream are consumed every minute, every day) it is also used a lot in Mmmmm trufflesbaking.

I had a lovely recipe I was going to make using Baileys Irish cream however half my kitchen is here and the other half at our new home which we move into this week. Cooking is somewhat interesting, and baking is a no go. Something I am not looking forward to is getting used to yet another oven in the new place either.

Moving means lots of kind people have been helping me with various jobs so what better way to say thank you than with devilishly wicked Baileys truffles made with fresh cream and lashings of Baileys Irish Cream.

Making Baileys truffles

Oh, and son number two turns eighteen tomorrow so we’ve been celebrating with the help of these truffles which are also gluten free!

For more ideas and baking inspiration with Baileys try Baileys’ Sweet Treats.

Devilishly wicked Baileys truffles

Rating 

Prep time: 

Total time: 

Serves: 45

Ingredients
  • 300ml double cream
  • 300g 70% dark chocolate
  • 50g butter
  • 6 tbsp Baileys Irish Cream
  • 2 tubes chocolate strands
Instructions
  1. Break the chocolate up into a heatproof bowl.
  2. Melt the cream and butter slowly over a medium heat until the butter is melted and the cream starts simmering.
  3. Add the cream and butter mixture to the chocolate and stir until melted and glossy.
  4. Pour the Baileys Irish cream into the mixture and stir well.
  5. Put the bowl into the fridge for at least two hours.
  6. Pour half a tube of chocolate strands at a time into a bowl, top up as needed.
  7. Use a spoon and your hands to roll the mixture into balls and coat with the chocolate strands.
  8. Chill the truffles again until ready to serve.
  9. Store in the fridge.
Notes
The entire recipe contains approximately 1.8 units of alcohol so don't go eating all 45 truffles at once and then drive.

These are also absolutely delicious coated in dessicated coconut which I used for a few of the truffles as I managed to use all of the chocolate strands up.

Devilishly wicked Baileys truffles

 

 

The Perfect Fit

I’m talking toast of course, there is nothing more annoying than having to turn your bread in a toaster to make sure it is toasted right to the top is there?

Thankfully, for toast lovers (that will be millions of us then) Breville have created the new Breville 2 & 4 slice toaster which is ‘The Perfect Fit’ for Warburtons and  ‘promises to toast loaves from Britain’s number one brand completely to the top.’

The Perfect Fit

Breville and Warburtons, the number one bakery brand in the UK, have collaborated to bring together a toaster that is the perfect fit for The Perfect Fit Warburtons ‘Toastie’ bread.

The Breville toaster is sleek with a stainless steel finish with key features including;

  • Deep bread carriages for toasting larger slices of bread
  • Variable browning control
  • Variable bread slots for thick and thin slices
  • Look & life facility to see if your toast is ready without cancelling the cycle
  • Red illuminated control buttons for easy function identification
  • Defrost, reheat and mid-cycle cancel functions
  • Removable crumb tray
  • Non-slip feet

I love the lines that the toaster leaves on the bread, it also toasts quickly and really does toast to the top!

The Perfect Fit

The Breville toasters cost:

£34.99 RRP for the two slice toaster- The Perfect Fit for Warburtons.

£59.99 RRP for the four slice toaster- The Perfect Fit for Warburtons.

The Perfect Fit

Breville’s The Perfect Fit for Warburtons toaster is available from Breville.co.uk and Amazon.co.uk

The Perfect Fit

 

Anthem of the Seas

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…

Anthem of the Seas

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.

Anthem of the Seas

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 Anthem of the Seas 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.

Anthem of the Seas North Star

Anthem of the Seas

 Anthem of the Seas

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.

Anthem of the Seas

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.

Anthem of the Seas 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.

Anthem of the SeasTop 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.

Anthem of the Seas 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.

 

 

Have a Mocktail

The Mocktail

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.

Have a mocktail

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).

have a mocktail

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.

 

Food Photography Tips

I was very lucky to attend a food photography tips workshop with photographer Howard Shooter and SmugMug the photo sharing and image hosting site.

Cloud meringue treeImage [Howard Shooter]

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.

Spoons witth SpicesImage [Howard Shooter]

SmugMug have also shared the following food photography tips:

  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.

food photography tipsTaken 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

food photography tips

And another one:

food photography tips

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.

Grapefruit Heaven

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.

Grapefruit Heaven

Florida Grapefruits are nutritious and high in vitamin content but for some reason I have never thought of blending them. What a great idea.

Sunshine Grapefruit SmoothieGrapefruit Heaven

Grapefruit Heaven

Rating 

Prep time: 

Total time: 

Serves: 2

Ingredients
  • *Grapefruit Heaven*
  • 2 Florida grapefruits
  • ½ mango (peeled)
  • 2 slices of pineapple
  • 150 ml orange juice
  • 150 ml coconut milk
  • 1 frozen banana
Instructions
  1. *Grapefruit Heaven*
  2. Cut the grapefruits in half horizontally, and cut the flesh from the skin with a grapefruit knife.
  3. Put the Florida grapefruit pieces in the blender.
  4. Now, peel the skin from the frozen banana with a peeler, cut the banana into pieces and, together with the orange juice and coconut milk, add it to the grapefruit in the blender.
  5. Cut the mango and pineapple into smaller pieces, add this to the other ingredients and blend it at high speed.
  6. Tip: fresh mint goes with this smoothie perfectl

Grapefruit Heaven

Red Sunshine Shake

Red Sunshine Shake

Rating 

Prep time: 

Total time: 

Serves: 2

Ingredients
  • 2 Florida grapefruits
  • 200 g frozen raspberries
  • 1 lime (zest and juice)
  • Fresh ginger
  • 150 ml Greek yoghurt
  • 4 ice cubes
Instructions
  1. Cut the grapefruits in half horizontally, and cut the flesh from the skin with a grapefruit knife.
  2. Put the Florida grapefruit parts in the blender.
  3. Add the frozen raspberries, the lime zest and juice and the Greek yoghurt to the blender.
  4. Grate approximately 1.5 cm of the peeled ginger root into the blender.
  5. Blend everything at high speed.
  6. Add 4 ice cubes and crunch the ice.
  7. Serve while it’s still cold!

Sunshine Grapefruit Smoothie

Sunshine Grapefruit Smoothie

Sunshine Grapefruit Smoothie

Rating 

Prep time: 

Total time: 

Serves: 2

Ingredients
  • 2 Florida grapefruits
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 100 ml orange juice
  • 150 ml non-fat yoghurt
  • 2 tablespoons oatmeal
  • 4 ice cubes
Instructions
  1. Cut the grapefruits in half horizontally, and cut the flesh from the skin with a grapefruit knife.
  2. Put the Florida grapefruit parts in the blender.
  3. Now, peel the skin from the frozen banana with a peeler, cut the banana into pieces and, together with the yoghurt, add it to the grapefruit in the blender.
  4. Start the blender and let everything purée, add 4 ice cubes and the oatmeal, and blend again until the ice has been crushed.
  5. Serve straight away in tall glasses.

 

Win a Nutrimaster Blender Pro

Kick start a healthy you by whipping up delicious smoothies and juices and making tasty desserts in literally seconds with the Nutrimaster Blender Pro.

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!

Choc n' Hazelnut Milkshake

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.

#Easters4Sharing

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 Nutrimaster Blender Pro smoothies and the differences between my old blender and this one are…

  1. 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.
  2. Ice was crushed completely whereas my old blender leaves small lumps of ice.
  3. 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.

What are you looking forward to trying out first in the blender?
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Full terms and conditions in the Rafflecopter widget:

Open to UK residents over the age of 18.
There is one prize of a Nutrimaster Blender pro from Ideal World.
Competition closes at 11.59pm on Monday 4th May 2015

 

 Disclosure: I have received a Nutrimaster Blender Pro to review but all opinions and words are my own.

Image [Nutrimaster]