Category Archives: family

Britmums #ACEWinterRefresh Challenge ad

Well I’ve certainly noticed the change in temperature over the last couple of weeks. It is definitely Autumnal feeling, although we’ve managed to avoid putting the heating on yet. Trying to wait until November. I even treated myself to a new secondhand pair of winter boots from the charity shop. I’ve been trying to be more sustainable this year, but this is the first time I’ve purchased secondhand footwear.

Luckily we have plenty of wardrobe space, so all the cosy jumpers and leggings, etc are easily accessible. I remember as a child, my mum used to use a suitcase as storage for summer or winter kids wardrobe according to the season, checking what still fitted us when she unpacked it again. However I have rearranged our hall cupboard and put all the sandals, crocs, flip-flops and sunhats back upstairs in the wardrobes and brought down our winter coats, hats, scarves, gloves and boots.

Winter wardrobe

But what’s with the idea behind the #ACEWinterRefresh Challenge? I was rather sceptical of the hashtag but signed up when Britmums challenged bloggers to take part, so I received two free boxes of ACE for Colours Powder. Apparently the brand-new ACE for Colours Powder reinvigorates clothes, using stain-removing powers and bringing coloured garments back to life. Plus, unlike other stain removers, it comes in a plastic-free fully recyclable carton. It was the latter point that sold it to me, as regular followers of my blog will know that I am trying to reduce plastic.

Britmums #ACEWinterRefresh Challenge

However I drew the line at testing it on my winter wardrobe, straight from the hangers. It is already clean, so that does not seem very environmentally friendly. Instead I waited until I’d actually worn some of my winter clothes.

Britmums #ACEWinterRefresh Challenge

There are various options on how to use all listed on the box, including pretreatment or soaking for stains. As this load of laundry was all standard, I just needed to add the detergent as usual, then add 2 tablespoons of the ACE For Colours powder to the main wash dispenser drawer. You would double the dosage for very dirty laundry like my boys’ school sports kits. But I’m not going to talk about that now, as I blogged about washing those last year here.

Britmums #ACEWinterRefresh Challenge

All looked clean and bright, hurrah. And of course now that it is getting colder, it is time to swap my cropped running leggings for full-length. So there will be plenty of mud splashes on those as well as on school sports kit. Definitely the best time of year to begin the #ACEWinterRefresh, but it will certainly be on-going all winter.

About ACE

  • ACE makes life easy with the never-ending school laundry pile by gently removing stains
  • ACE keeps garments bright, robust and clean meaning clothes last for longer
  • Keep those colours bright and fresh with ACE for Colours
  • Ace for Colours Powder comes in a fully recyclable Tetra pak
  • Use ACE in your daily wash to keep clothes looking fresher for longer
  • Call to action: Pick up the ACE product range including ACE for Colours powder at your nearest Morrison’s store or buy online on Amazon.

I’d love to hear about your washing tips or nightmares.

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Disclosure. This post is an entry for the BritMums #ACEWinterRefresh Challenge, sponsored by ACE for Colours Powder. Get help for all kinds of stains with the ACE Stain Helper and pick up the range at your nearest Morrison’s store or buy online on Amazon.
This post mentions a product I received for free. All opinions are my own. This post is classed as an advert because of the requirement to include the #ACEWinterRefresh hashtag.

An eco holiday at Owl Barn Retreat

In line with trying to become more eco-focussed this year, we decided that we wanted our holiday to follow the same principles, so we chose to stay at Owl Barn Retreat. This is a delightful barn conversion in a rural location about a mile from the village of Llanrhaeadr ym Mochnant in Wales. It is a sustainable and eco-friendly holiday cottage which has achieved a gold award from the Green Business Tourist Scheme. This was how we discovered the cottage. I’m particularly impressed with the kitchen work surfaces having been constructed from recycled glass bottles.

Owl Barn Retreat

Owl Barn Retreat

From here, we were able to do several walks to the nearby villages of Llanrhaeadr ym Mochnant and Penybontfawr, plus most magnificent of all, a longer walk from the cottage all the way to Pistyll Rhaeadr, the tallest waterfall in Wales which is in a remote area of the Berwyn Mountains. And of course we had to take a trip to CAT, the Centre for Alternative Technology, my third time there. We also enjoyed a walk from Lake Vyrnwy to a nearby smaller waterfall.

Pistyll Rhaeadr

Centre for Alternative Technology

Penybontfawr

Stepping Stones near Lake Vyrnwy

We were provided with Faith in Nature toiletries and Ecover, Ecoleaf and Method cleaning products, along with a tasty welcome pack of local food. We continued to try to buy locally with produce from the village butcher, Oswestry market, Llynclys Hall farm shop, plus Honeysuckle whole foods shop in Oswestry and Down to Earth in Llanfyllin. Zero trips to the supermarket on this holiday.

Recycling and composting are key at the cottage with separate clearly labelled bins for each type of recycling. I’m already aware how recycling varies from county to county. Here in Powys, there appears to be no recycling of tetra packs or metal jar lids. We did consider the possibility of bringing those back home but decided there probably wasn’t space in the car. But we did head home with an eco brick half filled.

butterfly

Owl Barn Retreat

And I loved relaxing in the wildlife garden watching the butterflies and listening to the birds. We’ve also seen rabbits, squirrels and a fox. Son2 has enjoyed using the telescope when it has been less cloudy and has spotted Arcturus. He also loved playing in the maze, which is another great area for wildlife with all the long grass and bracken.

Owl Barn Retreat

It was a great feeling to be on the same wavelength as the owners. Anne phoned me a few days in advance of our holiday and told me things like there being a fishmonger at Oswestry market on Wednesdays. Just like I do here at home, Anne takes her own boxes to the butcher and fishmonger to avoid plastic. She was quite happy to leave me a supply of boxes to use, so we didn’t have to pack those.

We loved it so much at Owl Barn Retreat, that we have already booked two future stays there.

I’d love to hear your eco friendly holiday suggestions and tips please.

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Jibbergiggle game including giveaway

A rainy day in the long school summer holiday and what better way to spend it than trying out our latest free game Jibbergiggle from Gamely. We have had great fun playing their other three games, so we were certainly looking forward to testing this one out too.

Jibbergiggle

Also just like the other three games, Randomise, Soundiculous and The Pretender, it comes in a nice small box, the size of two decks of playing cards. This has always been a plus point for me, as the boys’ possessions seem to be gradually taking over the rest of the house. And I’m even more focussed on minimal packaging this year, so I would add that perhaps they could lose a layer of cellophane to reduce waste. Currently the cards are wrapped in cellophane and then the external box is wrapped again.

Moving onto the game itself, the boys were delighted by the rule of how to choose who plays first, this being the player with the longest tongue. Son1 was voted the winner on this count, but who would become the ultimate Jibbergiggle champion.

Jibbergiggle

Once the rules are mastered, it is fairly simple to play but lots of fun. 9 possible scenario cards are laid out, the player then looks at their nonsense sound card and secretly chooses which scenario they wish to perform. But you have to sit on your hands and only perform the scenario using your sound and facial expressions. For example cast a spell using only the phrase “piggle wiggle”. The other players try to guess, but have to shout Jibbergiggle before making their guess. We had quite a few instances initially where the Jibbergiggle shout was forgotten allowing another player an opportunity.

Jibbergiggle

I do have one question for clarification though. We were playing as a 3 person game and both boys guessed wrongly for one of my scenarios, so they were out of the round. We misinterpreted this as just out of the turn and it was only when I re-read the rules that I realised it should have been out of the round. Doe that mean since I was the only one left, with nobody remaining to guess, that we should have discarded the remaining round 1 cards and moved onto round 2?

And as you can see from the photo below, hands did not remain sat upon for long.

Jibbergiggle

Our game went to a tiebreak between son1 and son2, with me trailing in third place. My reactions just weren’t quick enough.

The rules indicate that it is for 3-8 players and suitable for age 8+, so good for a party. What a lot of fun for a load of nonsense.

Jibbergiggle currently retails at £12.99 on Amazon and John Lewis. Great value in my opinion. I can certainly highly recommend this game.

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a Jibbergiggle game to one lucky winner. What a fun prize. Open worldwide.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

And you may see my other giveaways here.

I’d love to hear your idea for a new game.

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Disclosure. This post is a review of a product I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

Free From Fellows sweets review and giveaway

For the last few years, I have become more aware of how bad sugar can be for us. It is known to be one of the worst foods for a variety of common diseases like arthritis, cancer and autism. I enjoy sweet treats far too much to eliminate them, but I do try my best now to reduce my sugar intake. I’m now buying less refined sugar and opting to purchase the likes of date sugar or coconut sugar instead. I’ve made a few little changes like always having fruit with my porridge instead of sugar and sometimes opting for something like a cheese scone or slice of fruit bread rather than cake.

Now although I feel like I personally am gradually winning the battle against sugar, it is a different story when it comes to my youngest son. He is such a fussy eater and so skinny compared to his brother, but he does have a sweet tooth. So we do have sweet treats in the store cupboard for him to help himself to, as I don’t aways have time to bake and sometimes he rejects my lower sugar baking anyhow. And one thing he has always been partial to is the likes of Haribo.

Free From Fellows sweets

So I was delighted when Free From Fellows contacted me, asking if I would like to review their sweet range. They sent me 9 free packs of their sweets along with a Utopia preserving jar. I used this to make a very retro look sweets jar. It looked just like a mini version of what I fondly remember being stocked at the sweet shop when I was a child. I particularly have fond memories of counting out chocolate mice from such a jar.

Free From Fellows sweets

The range includes the following six varieties.
Gummy Bears
Cola Bottles
Midget Gems
Rhubarb & Custard
Pear Drops
Lollipops (packet contains cola and strawberry flavours)

Their sweets are sugar free, gelatine free, gluten free and have no artificial colours or flavours. They are also suitable for vegans which is great as so often gummy sweets can contain pork gelatine. Apart from the lollipops packet which was 60g or 5 lollys, the other packets were all 70g each. All the packets were very long-dated to 2020.

However when I looked at the packets, I found they did contain other sweeteners instead of sugar. The 3 gummy varieties contain maltitol syrup and steviol glycosides whilst the lollipops contain isomalt and steviol glycosides, and the other 2 hard sweet varieties contain isomalt and sucralose. This reminded me that I had planned to do some research into sugar substitutes a while ago, but this is still outstanding.

Free From Fellows sweets

With all the choice of sweets in the jar, the boys took their time choosing which variety to try first. But once they had tried them all, everything got the thumbs up. And I have to say I’m struggling to decide whether cola bottles or rhubarb & custard is my favourite.

Free From Fellows sweets

Free From Fellows are stocked both in-store and online at Sainsburys, Morrisons, Ocado and Boots plus many smaller health food stores. I was just browsing in a small independent store called Honest To Goodness last week whilst on holiday and spotted all the varieties on the shelf there.

However one thing that was a shame was the packaging. Not only was it plastic packets, but the pear drops, rhubarb & custard and lollipops were all individually packed in plastic again inside the outer plastic packet, so an unnecessary double layer of plastic. How about considering compostable packets like a few brands are starting to move towards? Or since they were keen for me to use a jar, how about selling them in jars in the first place?

Free From Fellows sweets

One word of caution though. However tasty they are, don’t eat too many at one time. There is a little word of warning on the back of the packet that if eaten in large quantities, the sweets can occasionally give some an upset tummy.

Plus I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway 12 packs of sweets from Free From Fellows to one lucky winner. That will be 2 packs of each variety. What a sweet treat of a prize.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

And you may see my other giveaways here.

I’d love to hear about your favourite reduced sugar treats. Or perhaps you have an idea to share for an addition to the Free From Fellows range?

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Disclosure. This post is a review of products I was sent for free. All opinions are my own.

STEM Box review and giveaway

It has been a while since we last reviewed a Weekend Box. The boys have had great fun doing the activities from these in the past, but they have now got a bit old for them. However I recently found out that Weekend Box have extended their range to include a STEM box for older children. For those of you don’t know what STEM stands for, it is science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The STEM box sounded right up my boys’ street, as son1 already participates in the YES programme via school. All these acronyms – YES stands for Young Engineers and Scientists. So we were delighted to receive a free STEM Box to review.

STEM box

Son2 was the lucky one who got to put this box to the test.

STEM box

So the first part of the fun is opening the box to find out what exciting activities lie within.

STEM box

Son2 was quick to check out the booklet. He immediately decided that of the three main activities, he wanted to start by making a rocket. Most of the necessary equipment was included in the STEM box, but we would have to provide a plastic bottle. Oh no, there’s a word we didn’t wish to see – plastic! It was son2 who got us started on our journey towards a plastic free future in the first place. I haven’t bought any drinks in plastic bottles at all this year. However I had a rummage in the kitchen cupboard and found a suitable apple drink hiding at the back.

STEM box

So son2 did all the crafting to make his rocket indoors before we headed out into the garden for the scientific action. Add warm water and the effervescent tablets, pop the lid on, give the bottle a shake and put upside down in a mug. Then wait for the rocket to launch.

STEM box

We didn’t manage to capture a photo of the rocket launching.

The other two main activities in our STEM box are making a kite and pinwheels, as this box is on the topic of things that fly. Son2 plans to do those next weekend. Plus the booklet is also packed with plenty of bonus activities on the same theme. There are facts, jokes, puzzles and instructions for making two types of paper planes along with an experiment evaluation table and a “touch down” certificate. And there is even a door hanger to colour on the inside of the box. So lots more fun to be had.

When I had a browse round the Weekend Box website, I was pleased to see that everything contained in a box is either reusable or recyclable and that 95% of each box contents comes from recycled material. So if they are so committed to the environment and sustainability, why ask us to provide a single-use plastic bottle? Could something else have been used to make the rocket instead perhaps?

The STEM Box is a new addition to the Weekend Box range, targeted at older children from age 7-12. It currently retails at £8.95 including free delivery, the same price as a Weekend Box. It is sent out monthly and the one difference is that there are 3 activities, rather than 4. Well worth the price in my opinion for all the educational fun.

We have reviewed the Kids Weekend Activity Box a few times previously. You can see the fun we had before, on the following posts, along with an introduction to the principles of Weekend Box.
A mask and a rainforest
Chinese New Year activities
Cooking Potato Boats and making 3D glasses.
Sand Art and making a bird feeder.

If readers of my blog would like to try out any type of Weekend Box, I have an ongoing unique promo code for you to get your first box for free (including free delivery).

The unique promo code is CLAIRE43 and can be redeemed at www.weekendboxclub.com. If you have any difficulties with the code, try signing up with this direct link www.weekendboxclub.com/main/signup?promocode=CLAIRE43

Plus I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a 6 month subscription of STEM Box to one lucky winner. What a fun prize.
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a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

And you may see my other giveaways here.

I’d love to hear what STEM or crafting activities you enjoy.

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Family Fever

Disclosure.  This post is a review of a product I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

A duo of vegetarian TVP recipes plus giveaway

Regular readers may remember that I made some delicious healthy chocolate puddings earlier this year using ingredients I received free to review from Buy Whole Foods Online. I have now received some more products free to review from their online shop. This time I received two types of TVP (textured vegetable protein) in the formats of mince and chunks.

TVP (textured Vegetable Protein) or soya

This year I’ve been thinking a lot more about sustainability and one thing I’ve been focussing on, is can our family eat less meat and dairy? As an ex-vegetarian, I’ve easily implemented returning to a vegetarian diet at lunchtimes, either at home alone or in our excellent work canteen. However it isn’t so easy when catering for the whole family. My other half is very resistant to the idea plus we’re also restricted by my youngest son being very fussy about what he will and won’t eat.

I therefore decided to take two of son2’s favourite meals, namely spaghetti bolognaise and chicken nuggets and use the TVP to cook vegetarian equivalents. Last year we successfully swapped using shop-bought jars of bolognaise sauce for passata in an attempt to reduce sugar. What would he think this time?

So firstly here is my recipe for the Bolognaise.

Vegetarian Bolognaise

Vegetarian Bolognaise

Ingredients (serves 4)

100g dried TVP mince
boiling water
1 vegetable stock cube
1 clove of garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
500g passata
salt and pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
250g wholewheat spaghetti

Method

Place the dried TVP in a large bowl.
Crumble the stock cube into a jug.
Pour on the boiling water and stir until dissolved.
Pour sufficient stock over the TVP to cover it.
(Any spare stock can be stored in the fridge once cool for a few days for use in another recipe).
Leave to stand for about 20 minutes for the TVP to absorb liquid.
Once the TVP is ready to use, bring a large saucepan of water to the boil.
Meanwhile peel garlic and squeeze through garlic press.
Add spaghetti to the saucepan and cook for about 11-13 minutes.
Gently heat oil in a wok.
Add garlic to wok and cook for about 1 minute.
Stir in the TVP.
Season with salt, pepper and oregano.
Stir in the passata and cook for about 8-10 minutes.
Drain the spaghetti and serve topped with the bolognaise.
Enjoy.

Vegetarian Bolognaise


And secondly the nuggets.

Vegetarian Nuggets

Vegetarian Nuggets

Ingredients (serves 3)

40g dried TVP chunks
250ml boiling water
1 vegetable stock cube
1 clove of garlic
1 slice of stale bread
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp dried oregano

Method

Crumble the stock cube into a jug.
Pour on the boiling water and stir until dissolved.
Squeeze garlic through garlic press and stir into the stock.
Add the TVP chunks to the jug.
Leave to stand for about 20 minutes for the TVP to absorb liquid and double in size.
Meanwhile tear the bread into pieces and put in blender.
Whizz the bread into crumbs.
Tip the breadcrumbs into a flat dish.
Season with salt, pepper and oregano.
After about 20 minutes once the TVP has doubled in size, drain off any liquid which remains.
(This liquid can be stored in the fridge for a few days for use in another recipe).
Dip the chunks in the breadcrumbs, ensuring they are fully coated.
Gently heat oil in a frying pan.
Cook the nuggets for approx 4 minutes on each side, turning once.
Serve with your choice of vegetables or salad.
Enjoy.

Vegetarian Nuggets

So verdict on the recipes. Son2 was happy with the Vegetarian Bolognaise but the Nuggets did not hit the spot for him. Son1 liked both though as did I. In fact I found the nuggets delicious with my salad. The boys have agreed going forward that we will alternate between a traditional meat bolognaise and a vegetarian version.

In fact, both these recipes are not only vegetarian, they are actually vegan, so long as you don’t serve grated cheese with the bolognaise.

Here are the links to the two products I received. They come in a range of sizes from 500g to the bulk 15kg.

Textured Vegetable Protein – Plain Chunks (TVP) 500g – made from 100% soya beans.

Textured Vegetable Protein – Plain Mince (TVP) 500g – made from 100% soya beans.

I was pleased with both these products and am now thinking up my next recipe. I did ask the boys for recipe suggestions. I wasn’t too convinced when son2 said how about in a banana milkshake but son1’s idea was to put some of the mince on a pizza. I’ll certainly give that a try as I usually make him a pepperoni pizza, whilst son2’s pizzas are already vegetarian as he won’t try anything except Margarita.

I can’t comment on cost comparison, as I haven’t seen these products elsewhere previously. It is great how versatile these can be. It is like having a blank canvas as the TVP absorbs the flavour of whatever you choose to cook it in.

And one other point to note. Don’t misread the chunks pack like I did initially. I thought it was implying that one cup of chunks would need 7 to 8 cups of water. It actually meant seven eighths of a cup, so in the end I decided it was simplest to do a 1 to 1 ratio. However that was after deciding to only rehydrate a small quantity of chunks, as I assumed they were going to massively increase in size. In fact they hardly increase at all.

Finally a mention about the packaging. As it hasn’t been that long since my earlier post, I wasn’t expecting any change yet. And true enough both of these products were again in plastic, even if it is BPA free plastic. I’m still hoping Buy Whole Foods Online will review their product packaging and switch to a paper-based solution.

I do recommend that you take a look at the Buy Whole Foods Online store. There is a huge amount to choose from.

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a pack of both TVP products from Buy Whole Foods Online to one lucky winner. You’ll certainly be able to get creative in the kitchen with these.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

And you may see my other giveaways here.

I’d love to hear your recipe suggestions using either of these products.

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of products I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

Healthier Chocolate Puddings plus giveaway

Time to share a very tasty recipe with you using a selection of products I received free to review from Buy Whole Foods Online. I was offered carte blanche to select any product from their online shop to use in a recipe of my choosing.

I found there was a great extensive range, so it was a difficult choice, but in the end I opted for cacao, almond flour and date sugar. I’ve never used any of these 3 products previously. In fact I’ve always been mystified as to what is the difference between cacao and cocoa since they look similar, so I decided that now was the time to investigate this question. I discovered that cacao is raw whilst cocoa has been roasted.

BuyWholeFoodsOnline cacao, almond flour and date sugar

Regular readers of my blog will know that in 2019, I am doing my best to reduce our household waste and in particular plastic. So I cast a critical eye over the parcel when it arrived. Thumbs up to Buy Whole Foods Online for using paper packaging to protect the products in transit. However the products themselves were all packed in plastic, which is still plastic even if the packets were labelled as BPA free. I’m sure a paper-based solution could be achieved. Even the supermarkets who have a very high plastic usage, sell most flour and some sugar in paper packets. Hopefully Buy Whole Foods Online will review their product packaging.

I had a recipe idea in mind, when I chose my products and this was to try to make a healthier version emulating those delicious hot chocolate desserts from Gü. I’m not sure if date sugar truly counts as healthy, but I’m sure it must be better than regular sugar. At least I hope so, since I am trying to reduce my use of sugar. So here is my recipe.

Chocolate Puddings

Healthier Chocolate Puddings

Ingredients (serves 4)

75g cacao powder
125g almond flour
100g date sugar
4 eggs
50 ml milk
75g butter

Method

Allow butter to soften at room temperature.
Preheat fan oven to 160 degrees C.
Grease 4 small ramekin dishes.
Beat together all ingredients.
Spoon into the ramekin dishes.
Place dishes on a baking tray.
Cook on middle shelf of oven for 10 minutes, until outside of puddings is set but inside is still soft.
Turn out of ramekins into pudding bowls.
Serve with your choice of creme fraiche, cream, greek yoghurt or ice cream.
Enjoy.

Chocolate puddings

These were delicious, although the inside is only slightly soft. I had originally intended it to be more gooey inside.

Here are the links to the three products I received. They all come in a range of sizes.

Organic Date Sugar 500g – made from 100% organic dried dates. Date sugar is far less processed than other popular sugars and retains the high fibre content of the fruit. It also has a naturally low glycemic index.

Organic Raw Cacao Powder 500g – 100% organic and fully raw. Cacao is highly antioxidant.

Almond Flour 500g (x2) – Low-carb, paleo-friendly, gluten free. They also stock an organic version.

I was very pleased with all three of these products and am now thinking up my next recipe. I can’t comment on cost comparison, as I haven’t seen these products elsewhere previously.

Wish I’d had them before Christmas, as I always make marzipan stuffed dates for Christmas and this year in an effort to reduce sugar, I tried blitzing flaked almonds with a little chopped date together, to use as the filling. It would have been so much easier to have used date sugar and almond flour instead, plus the texture would have been more like marzipan.

I do recommend that you take a look at the Buy Whole Foods Online store. There is a huge amount to choose from. They currently have a special offer of 10% off everything, plus 20% off selected products, using coupon code NEWYEAR19.

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway cacao powder, almond flour and date sugar from Buy Whole Foods Online to one lucky winner. Think of the yummy treats you’ll be able to bake with these goodies.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

And you may see my other giveaways here.

I’d love to hear your recipe suggestions using any of these products.

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of products I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

Berkley, A Nose Tail by David Hillman

Although son2 is very advanced with his reading, he also still loves his picture books. So he was pleased when we were offered the chance to review ‘Berkley, A Nose Tail’ by David Hillman for free. You can find out more about the author on his website.

Berkley, A Nose Tail by David Hillman

Here is the book blurb.

A little bit about Berkley…
Berkley has a huge nose and is always sticking it where it doesn’t belong, always getting into trouble.
Can Berkley ever find a way to put his super sniffer to good use?
This is a fun and funny story of how being a little bit different can be an asset, not a disadvantage.

Berkley, A Nose Tail by David Hillman

This is what son2 had to say about the book.

I liked Berkley (Not Barkley) because at the end Jeremy tells Berkley – Not Barkley – that they can help more often but Berkley, Not Barkley, is too busy smelling stinky socks!

Let me first explain why son2 keeps referring to the dog as being Berkley (Not Barkley). This was due to me saying that Berkley was an excellent name for a dog, due to the fact that dogs bark. However son2 refused to accept my suggested pronounciation and said that would be spelt Barkley.He pronounces Berkley in the way that berk would rhyme with perk and not park.

This book has been both written and beautifully illustrated by David Hillman. The lovely colourful pictures are just great for small children listening to the story being read and with 34 pages, it is also ideal as an early reader too.

Berkley has the biggest nose ever, so he is always chasing after smells and getting into trouble. But then we hear how he puts his nose to good use. And of course he gets a special smelly reward.

Berkley, A Nose Tail is newly published today and is available on Amazon currently at £12.95 in paperback. This is a delightful picture book.

I’d love to hear about your child’s favourite books.

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MamaMummyMum

Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

Sweet Victory Products review and giveaway

For the last 2 or 3 years, I have become more aware of how bad sugar can be for us. It is known to be one of the worst foods for a variety of common diseases like arthritis, cancer and autism. I enjoy cakes and biscuits far too much to eliminate them, but I do try my best now to reduce my sugar intake. I’ve made a few little changes like always having fruit with my porridge instead of sugar and sometimes opting for something like a cheese scone or slice of fruit bread rather than cake.

So I was delighted when Sweet Victory Products contacted me to offer a free hamper of some of their products to review. They had seen my Zollipops review, which is one of the products they stock. Their aim is to help as many people as possible to change their relationship from High Sugar to Sugar-Free and healthier alternatives. This is exactly what I would like to do, if only I had the willpower.

Sweet Victory hamper

It didn’t take long for a beautifully packed basket to arrive which contained all the following goodies.
Virginias B-San white chocolate coated digestive biscuits no added sugars 130g
Diablo sugar free chocolate chip cake 230g
Jim Jams no added sugar milk chocolate spread 350g
Sweet Switch No added sugar Premium Belgian milk chocolate confetti 22g
Sugar free gummy sweets pick and mix 100g
Sugar free sweets pick and mix jar
2 sugar free cherry lollipops
2 Tplus+ immunitea vitamin tea orange and blueberry sachets
Cadbury highlights reduced sugar hot chocolate 11g
Cadbury highlights reduced sugar fudge flavour hot chocolate 11g

Sweet Victory hamper

So focussing on the individual products and starting with the digestive biscuits, which son2 was over the moon to see, as chocolate digestives are his all time favourite type of biscuit. I don’t think any of us had come across a white chocolate version previously. These contain zero sugar, and are sweetened with an ingredient I haven’t heard of called maltitol. We all enjoyed these. I haven’t done a direct price comparison on any of these products but I would certainly be happy to pay more for these sugar free digestives when I consider how quickly we get through a regular pack in our household.

Virginias B-San white chocolate coated digestive biscuits no added sugars

Next the cake. Once again sugar free and sweetened with maltitol and acesulfame K. I’ve not heard of this sweetener either. However I wished that I hadn’t looked at the ingredient list, as 16 E numbers sounded rather excessive. Luckily I didn’t look until after I had tried it. The boys enjoyed the cake, but I only thought it okay. Like many shop bought cakes, it tasted rather synthetic to me. I’m much more a fan of a homemade cake.

Diablo sugar free chocolate chip cake


And the chocolate spread. Jim Jams is a brand that I heard about earlier this year and have been unsuccessfully looking out for, so I was very interested to try this. Again this contains maltitol rather than sugar. Rather than just spreading it on toast, I decided this deserved a recipe.

Pain au Chocolat (Chocolate Croissants)

Ingredients (makes approx 4-5)

250g puff pastry
approx 75g Jim Jams chocolate spread

Method

Preheat fan oven to 200 deg C.
Grease baking sheet.
Roll out the pastry.
Cut pastry into similar sized rectangles.
Spread a length of chocolate spread along one edge of each rectangle.
Roll each rectangle up from that edge.
Place on baking sheet.
Cook on middle shelf of oven for about 10 minutes.
Remove from baking sheet immediately and place on cooling rack.
Serve either warm or cold.
Enjoy.

These were delicious warm. We all enjoyed them. For a store cupboard essential like chocolate spread, I definitely plan to switch to the Jim Jams brand in future.
Pain au chocolat (chocolate croissant)

And then there were four types of sweets. Firstly the Sweet Switch chocolate confetti which look very similar to smarties. The product name on the website indicates that these are made from premium Belgian milk chocolate, but this isn’t particularly promoted on the packet, with just a small mention of Sweet Switch address in Belgium. Tasty but again I wished I hadn’t looked at the packet, as I was confronted by 8 E-numbers. No added sugars, but more sweeteners that I hadn’t heard of – maltitol again plus sorbitol and steviol glycosides.

Sweet Switch No added sugar Premium Belgian milk chocolate confetti

And then the sugar free Gummy Pick & Mix Sweets with all our favourites like cola bottles. The packaging advises you to refer to their website for ingredients, but as it is a pick & mix product, you would need to look at each sweet type individually. I only looked at the cola bottle page, which does show that they contain pork gelatine, so I feel that this ought to be highlighted on the Pick & Mix webpage itself.

Sugar free gummy sweets pick and mix

Wow what a lot of different varieties of sweets in this pick and mix jar. Just looking at it brought back happy memories of visiting the local sweet shop as a child. And just think, these are all sugar free. There are a few familiar brands like Werthers and Mintoes, nether of which I realised did a sugar-free variant. But mostly just dip in for a tasty surprise. Again you would need to refer to individual sweet webpages for ingredients, but you can request for a particular sweet to be excluded. All of Sweet Victory weigh-out sweets can also be purchased in 100g increments. With Halloween round the corner, these would be fab for Trick or Treat.

Sugar free sweets pick and mix jar

And of course lollipops. I didn’t get to try these myself as there were only two and both boys wanted one. However they said they were good. These are sold in packs of 10. Again more unknown sweeteners on the ingredient list – acesulfame K again, plus sucralose and isomalt.

sugar free cherry lollipops

Next for a cup of tea. This was very pleasant and apparently contains an immune boosting blend of beneficial herbs, green tea, fruit and 50% RDA in 9 daily essential vitamins; Vitamin C echinacea and ginseng. I’ve never really thought about tea in the context of free-from but according to the website, this is gluten-free. So does that mean that some teas contain gluten? I never knew. This is sold in boxes of 15 sachets.

2 Tplus+ immunitea vitamin tea orange and blueberry sachets

And finally the hot chocolate. This is marketed as a low sugar product, rather than sugar-free and is something I have purchased previously. So I already knew that I liked both flavours. However I just scanned the barcode with my food scanner app and found that they still have 3g (original) or 3.4g (fudge) sugar in an 11g product. That is not really low sugar in my opinion.

Cadbury highlights reduced sugar fudge flavour hot chocolate

After sampling all the goodies, I had a look round their online store and can certainly see plenty of other tempting products, including some which would make lovely gifts. I think I would like to give the Xylitol a try, to see how that works in baking. And I also noticed that they stock Real Good Tomato Ketchup which is another product that I have previously reviewed. I have looked for this in vain at a couple of local branches of the Co-op, so very pleased to identify an online stockist.

And I was pleased to see that delivery costs are very reasonable, starting at £3.55 for second class. There is also a reward points scheme. I am definitely happy to recommend Sweet Victory Products.

But looks like I need to do some research into sugar substitutes next. Find out a bit about maltitol, acesulfame K, sorbitol, steviol glycosides, sucralose and isomalt.

And I have an offer to pass on to my readers – 10% off your first order at Sweet Victory Products with discount code: YABM10

Plus I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a hamper of treats from Sweet Victory Products to one lucky winner. What a tempting prize bundle. Contents will be similar to those that I received.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

And you may see my other giveaways here.

I’d love to hear about your favourite reduced sugar treats.

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Disclosure. This post is a review of products I was sent for free. All opinions are my own.

Britmums #ACEforSchool Challenge ad

So the boys are back at school and as usual the washing pile has grown exponentially. There is all the school uniform and sports kit. I just groan thinking about the sports kit. Why is there so much of it? There are different types of tops for each sport they play, so at least two get worn each week. The boys take it to school in trolley bags, as it would be too heavy to carry.

Britmums #ACEforSchool Challenge

Luckily neither of the boys are that sporty, so tend to be in either the C or D team. This does generally tend to mean less matches against other schools than for the A or B teams. But even so, my washing machine always seems to be on. And of course, most of it can’t go in the tumble drier. I’m just glad it is still mostly sunny and mild, as once we head into November, I have just one word to say to you – mud!

Mud is the bane of my life when it comes to washing. Even if they haven’t slipped over and sports kit isn’t looking too bad, they need to take their muddy boots off before getting the bus home. And do they remember to put those in their boot bags? Sadly usually not. Instead the boots go loose into their trolley bags right on top of their school uniform. Oh dear!

This all adds to the washing nightmare. All I can say is thank goodness that the blazers are washable. The ones for their last school were dry-clean only. So I immediately signed up, when Britmums challenged bloggers to take part in the #ACEforSchool Challenge. I received a free bottle of ACE for Colours and a free ACE Stain Remover Spray to help tackle the stains.

Britmums #ACEforSchool Challenge

But even without the mud, I still needed to put these products to the test straightaway, on the dried-on lunch remnants on son2’s tie. A squirt of the spray in advance of washing, followed by a capful of the bottle in the washing drum did the trick on cleaning it up.

Britmums #ACEforSchool Challenge

Britmums #ACEforSchool Challenge

Britmums #ACEforSchool Challenge

Next test will be when the school jumpers go back on after half-term. I know that there are several paint stains on one of them that defeated me week after week last winter. Why do schools use permanent paint these days rather than water paint like they did in my schooldays? Will Ace be up to the challenge?

Britmums #ACEforSchool Challenge

About ACE

  • ACE keeps garments bright, robust and clean meaning clothes last for longer
  • Keep those colours bright and fresh with ACE for Colours
  • Tackle germs, grease and stubborn stains with ACE Stain Remover

I’d love to hear about your washing tips or nightmares.

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Disclosure. This post is an entry for the BritMums #ACEforSchool Challenge, sponsored by ACE. Get help for all kinds of stains with the ACE Stain Helper or to buy head to your local Tesco’s, Morrison’s, Waitrose or Sainsbury’s.
This post mentions products I received for free. All opinions are my own. This post is classed as an advert because of the requirement to include the #AceforSchool hashtag.