Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Foodimal competition: Welcome Kiwi-oala bear!

To celebrate the release of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, Tots100 is offering you the chance to win a fab Sony home cinema system worth £500, in return for a glimpse of your own foodimals!  This was our entry:

Please say hello to Mr Kiwi-oala bear!  Our little friend was created from three kiwis and a selection of cocktail sticks.  Great fun was had trying to get the eyes and buttons to remain in place.  I liked the idea of making a koala bear out of kiwis to illustrate to my son that nearly every food form can be brought to life with a little imagination.

 Of course, our little koala had to have a tree to live in, so we gave him a pineapple!

And he loved his banana!
He was very tasty too! :)

Monday, 24 February 2014

Thane H20 X5 5-in-1 Steam Mop Review

Like most people with children, my priority is to keep the house clean and tidy to provide them with a clean environment to live in; but sometimes I do worry about the safety of the products I use.  Sure enough they work efficiently and leave a glistening bath or tile behind and a fresh (and sometimes overpowering) fragrance but the dull ache I get in my head not long after using them tells me that they aren't as good for my body as they are for my home.

There are so many jobs around the house that require so much more than just elbow grease; for starters there's the oven (the thick sludgy grease and grime), the bathroom tiles (the mould and mildew), the carpets (which presents an attraction to an assortment of stains from trod in muck to toothpaste and chocolate) not to mention the floors and windows.  

It's hard to imagine not having to use any chemicals whilst you clean but in fact that's just what the H20 mop X5 5 in 1 Steam Mop from Thane Direct allows you to do.  If you research the dangers of Pthalates, PERC, Triclosan and Sodium Hydrochloride you will see why the conventional cleaning products make us feel so ill.  So to be able to clean without using these ingredients is no small feat for me.

As the name suggests, the Thane H20 X5 5 in 1 Steam Mop is a multi-functional tool which can conquer almost every household chore whilst killing up to 99% of bacteria. The innovative appliance uses the power of steam to clean carpets, hard floors, windows, garments, upholstery and just about every kitchen and bathroom job you can think of.

 We assembled the Thane H20 X5 5 in 1 Steam Mop with ease thanks to the self explanatory booklet. I started by using the mop on my laminate flooring and kitchen tiles and was pleasantly surprised by how well it glided across the floors, more importantly I felt I was blitzing away any germs with the hot bursts of steam and a bonus was the fact that floors sparkled.


The carpets also received a good spring clean and looked like new carpets once I had finished, the only minor irritant was when I attempted the stair carpet; the bumping against each step caused the carpet glider to constantly fall off which was a little disappointing but the rest of the jobs I attempted more than made up for the fact.

My mirrored wardrobes came up a treat using the window cleaning attachment, diminishing the many little hand prints and replacing them with a steak-free gleam.  Whilst the bathroom tiles which were dull with the pinky gunk that we get through living in a hard water area disappeared with ease.  

Every job was completed without any trouble because the steam cleaner is so light-weight and versatile.


There are so many wonderful things to love about this steam cleaner.  The fact that I can be sure that 99% of bacteria is killed in my household, ensuring that not only do my children have a clean environment to live in but even better the fact that I am not polluting the air we breathe with harmful toxins.  

If it was just these two facts alone I would be over the moon, but there's more....  The fact that the steam cleaner is so good at multi-tasking with just the use of plain old tap water means that I can put my purse away as I won't be needing to buy any more cleaning products again...  The only negative I can see about the steam cleaner is that sometimes it is nice to have a subtle fragrance whilst cleaning (although I do believe you can buy packs of fragrance from Thane Direct to put in the steam cleaner) but this is a small price to pay for the many advantages of this product.  

I also have a discount code for my readers- you can get 10% off if you order direct from Thane with discount code HOMESWEETHOME.

For more information please visit www.thane.tv or call the order line: 0844 571 7526 
Also available through Argos, Tesco, Robert Dyas & Rymans

* I was offered the steam cleaner in exchange for an honest review

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Superbreak #VDayBloggerComp - My Perfect Valentines Meal!

Superbreak are running a fantastic competition.  All you need to do to enter is write a blog post with your advice on what your perfect Valentine's Day meal would be.  I spent my weekend cooking up what my ideal Valentine's Day meal would be......

These days we don't tend to go out for restaurant meals on Valentine's Day - we find they lack the relaxing ambience which we like when we dine out, as they are too busy and too overpriced.  So a great alternative is to pick something that is tasty to make at home.  I like to do as much of the preparation as possible ahead of the meal, so that I'm not stressed out trying to get everything done at the last minute.  So without further ado, here's what my menu would look like:

COURGETTE, CHEDDAR & POTATO SOUP served with french stick

GRILLED CELTIC PRIDE FILLET STEAK WITH A SHALLOT PUREE served with slow-cooked creamy garlic mashed potatoes, sauteed baby mushrooms and a port jus

PASSIONFRUIT CHEESECAKE with raspberry coulis

Some of this menu I prepped the day before we actually ate it, so that the three-course meal could go blissfully smooth.  For starters I made the passionfruit cheesecake.  This was from a Nigel Slater recipe which you can find here   The cheesecake tastes much better when chilled for several hours, so it's much better if you can do it the day before.  I simply served this with a ready-made raspberry coulis and presented it using a heart shaped cutter.  As presentation is so important when serving food, I always enjoy using cutters when I am presenting an important meal.  The cutters I use are these Judge Heart Cutters and I use them in every romantic meal I make.  I also love the heart tray from Sabichi to serve up sandwiches and soup.

Next I moved on to preparing the courgette, cheddar & potato soup.  This way I could just reheat the next day when we had our three course-meal. This was a recipe from Good Food, you can find it here

My photo of my main does make everything look a little more dark than it actually was, although I do confess I like my fillet steak well done, I absolutely hate the sight of blood, so  it has to be well done or I can't eat it.  So before hand I made my creamy slow-cooked garlic mash potatoes in the morning.  I got this recipe from here.  Although I altered the recipe slightly and omitted the sour cream and just used Philadelphia Spring Onion & black pepper.  It was the most delicious mashed potato I have EVER tasted.

Once the mashed potato was cooking away in the slow cooker, I could get on with making my port jus and my shallot puree.  I simply chopped a whole bag of shallots and sweated them in a frying pan on the minimum heat for several hours to caramelise them.  This way I could just split the amount and use them for the two recipes.  The shallot puree recipe I got from here  and the port jus recipe I got from here.  I then simply served the meal with the sauteed mushrooms and a sprig of rosemary and the caramelised port onions for decoration.

The preparation I done beforehand meant that when it came to serve up, everything was stress-free, and we could really savour the meal.  Thanks for this challenge Superbreak as I think this could well be the most delicious meal I have ever cooked.

Of course, preparation is always key to the perfect romantic moment and we are lucky as when it comes to finding the perfect place to stay Superbreak has done all the hard work for us - have a look http://www.superbreak.com/short_breaks/valentines_weekend_breaks.htm