Tag Archives: summer

Keeping the bugs away plus giveaway

At this time of year, I find that I can be plagued by mosquitos and other biting insects whether walking through the woods, having a picnic near a lake or just in my own garden, so I was pleased to be offered a selection of natural insect repellent or relief products free to review.

Whilst waiting for them to arrive, I heard that familiar whirring buzz of a mosquito whilst trying to go to sleep. Luckily it didn’t bite, but it brought back memories of tropical holidays pre-kids with citronella candles and sleeping under mosquito nets.

Bug fighting essentials

I received the following four products, although I had been expecting Mosquitan patches rather than spray.

Bug Balm
Vie Mosquito Repellent
Mosquitan Spray

So obviously the first ones to try out were the repellents to ward off the bugs before they got in biting distance. I started with the Vie spray. It is all natural, DEET-free and suitable for all ages including babies. Easy to apply and does the job as no bites. This is available in 100 ml size currently at £7.95 from Vie healthcare.

Bug fighting essentials - Vie anti mosquito spray

Then the next day I tried the Mosquitan spray. This was a very similar product to the Vie spray and equally effective at keeping the bugs away. Also simple to apply. Again it is a natural DEET-free product suitable for all the family. This is available in 100 ml size currently at £8.95 also from Vie healthcare.

Bug fighting essentials - Mosquitan

The Zap-It wasn’t required until I was actually bitten, so I had to take a pause from applying the repellents in order to reluctantly get a bite. This is a small handheld device which you press against a bite, then squeeze the button, which causes it to emit a safe electrical discharge. I found about 2-3 clicks were needed. The idea behind this product is that this inhibits histamine release, which means less itching and swelling.  But I found that you therefore do need to use it asap after being bitten to improve how effective it will be. It is available in several different colours from selected health stores, pharmacies, garden centres, Asda, Lloyds Pharmacy, Superdrug and Amazon, and currently retails from £5.95. One Zap-It is sufficient for up to 1000 bites, based on 5 clicks per bite.

Bug fighting essentials - Zap-It

I didn’t need to try the bug balm until I unfortunately succumbed to another bite, which I didn’t then zap in time. The balm  was easy to apply and soothing for the itchiness, which is great as it is important to try to avoid scratching bites. I did need to reapply over the next couple of days until the swelling disappeared. This product came in a small 30g tin, so a nice size for keeping in your bag and it currently retails at £7.95 from Skinshop. And it is 100% natural, containing a concentrated extract of liquorice root. Suitable for adults and children.

Bug Balm

So in summary, I was very happy with all these products, although I would have liked the opportunity to also try the patches, as I don’t need two sprays. They are definitely all travel essentials with peak holiday season upon us. Also I’m glad that my review is now complete, so that I don’t have to deliberately wait to get bitten. I hadn’t realised quite how dedicated I was to my blog! But at least now I’m ready, if I get bitten again.

Zap It mosquito bite relief

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a Zap-It to one lucky winner.
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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 top tips for avoiding or dealing with insect bites.

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




Confessions of a Summer Parent

Britmums have challenged bloggers to take part in #The GoodStuff Challenge. This challenge is in partnership with Anchor, so I received a free Anchor Cheddar voucher and a free Anchor Spreadable voucher.

The long school summer holiday is quickly looming, so I’m going to share some of my confessions of how I plan to get through it.

Since I work full-time, I will only be able to take part of the period on leave, so will cover the remainder by the boys spend some time staying in their grandparents caravan and the rest at holiday club.

I have negotiated a few days to work at home plus there are the days that I’m on night shift, so for these I will let the boys have much more screen time than their usual allowance, in order that it is quiet enough for me to either work or get enough sleep. It is great that they are now old enough for this option..

on the trampoline

We will hopefully have some proper days out, but in-between, I tend to let them entertain themselves in the garden on the trampoline or with water toys, while I get on with chores.

Also we often visit one of the local playgrounds. Whilst they play, I’m usually on my phone catching up on email.

at the park

I used to look for children’s colouring competitions and have those printed out ready for a rainy day, but unlikely to bother this summer. Although the boys still love doing their own drawing, colouring is apparently now boring.

And this summer, I’m going to add a new confession. Once I’ve used my vouchers to purchase some Anchor, I’m going to ask the boys to make some cheese sandwiches for either a picnic or we could make a den in the garden and eat them in the den.

So how do you get through the long summer holiday?

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Disclosure. This post is an entry for BritMums Confessions of a Summer Parent Challenge, sponsored by Anchor and mentions vouchers I received for free.  All opinions are my own.

Summer recipes with Lee Kum Kee Chinese sauces

I’ve been busy cooking some tasty BBQ treats, chinese style. This is to tie in with the Lee Kum Kee summer BBQ carnival. Unfortunately the weather was not kind to me on the day and the barbecue had to be abandoned in favour of the oven. But I’ve made sure that my recipes have both barbecue and oven instructions.

LKK summer BBQ carnival

First let me tell you about the Lee Kum Kee summer BBQ carnival. Take a look for your chance to win flights to Hong Kong, cookery classes, supermarket vouchers and other prizes. But be quick, as the competition closes on 9th August. Also if you shop in Asda, keep an eye out for the discounted offers on the Lee Kum Kee Chinese sauces this month.

Lee Kum Kee Chinese Sauces

So I received a selection of four of the Lee Kum Kee sauces free in use in my recipes. They also sent a USB key ring and a copy of their Wok Along Discover Chinese Cooking book. The sauces comprised:-
Oriental Sesame Dressing (new to Lee Kum Kee range)
Chiu Chow Chilli Oil
Char Siu Sauce
Premium Oyster Sauce

Lee Kum Kee Chinese Sauces

Lee Kum Kee Chinese Sauces

Now on to my recipes. First up we have kebabs, both fish ones and vegetable ones. Kebabs are always a firm favourite on the barbecue in our household and the oyster sauce flavour really compliments them well.
Fish and vegetable kebabs

Fish kebabs

Ingredients (makes 4-5)

12 frozen king prawns
1 bag of frozen fish pie mix (cod, smoked cod and salmon)
4-6 tbsp Lee Kum Kee premium oyster sauce


Defrost the prawns and fish pie mix for about 3hrs at room temperature.
Heat BBQ up or preheat fan oven to 180 deg C.
Spoon the oyster sauce into a couple of bowls.
Add the fish pieces to one bowl and the prawns to the other bowl.
Mix to ensure they are nicely covered with the oyster sauce.
Allow to stand for 5 minutes.
Thread the fish pieces and prawns onto skewers in an alternating order.
Any leftover fish pieces, thread onto an additional skewer.
Place on either a foil tray for BBQ or baking sheet for oven.
Cook on BBQ or middle shelf of oven for approx 10 minutes.
Serve and enjoy.


fish kebabs with oyster sauce

Vegetable kebabs

Ingredients (makes 3)

1 courgette
3 small shallots
6 medium mushrooms
3 small sweet peppers
4-6 tbsp Lee Kum Kee premium oyster sauce


Heat BBQ up or preheat fan oven to 180 deg C.
Chop sweet peppers in half and remove seeds.
Top and tail the courgette and cut into 6 pieces.
Remove skin from shallots and top and tail.
Spoon the oyster sauce into a couple of bowls.
Add two types of vegetables to each bowl.
Mix to ensure they are nicely covered with the oyster sauce.
Allow to stand for 5 minutes.
Thread the vegetables onto skewers in an alternating order.
Place on either a foil tray for BBQ or baking sheet for oven.
Cook on BBQ or middle shelf of oven for approx 15 minutes.
Serve and enjoy.


vegetable kebabs with oyster sauce

Next we have pork loin steaks with Char Siu sauce. I haven’t cooked pork steaks previously, but I will definitely be purchasing them again. Tasty, tender and very good value for money, approximately 50p per steak. And a delicious flavour with the Char Siu sauce.
pork loin steaks with char siu sauce

Pork Loin Steaks with Char Siu Sauce


2 Pork Loin Steaks
4 tbsp Lee Kum Kee Char Siu sauce


Spoon the Char Siu sauce into a flat dish.
Trim any excess fat off the pork.
Add the pork steaks to the dish, turning several times to ensure well coated with the sauce.
Allow to stand for 5 minutes.
Either cook directly on BBQ or on a low heat in a preheated wok.
If using wok, spray with oil first.
Drizzle any spare sauce from the dish over the steaks.
Turn the steaks over after about 5 minutes.
If necessary, turn again after a further 5 minutes.
Serve hot with your choice of vegetables and rice.


pork loin steaks with char siu sauce

As I’d bought a big pack of pork loin steaks, I cooked some more the following day using the same method, but served in a wrap. So easy finger food for summer eating.
pork loin wrap

Char Siu Pork Wrap

Ingredients (makes 2)

2 wraps
2 pork loin steaks
6-8 leaves of Little Gem lettuce
6 tbsp Lee Kum Kee Char Siu sauce


Cook the pork steaks as above using 4 tbsp of the Char Siu.
Shred the lettuce.
Spread 1 tbsp Char Siu sauce over each wrap.
Heap the shredded lettuce onto each wrap
Chop the pork into pieces and add to wraps.
Fold each wrap closed.
Serve and enjoy.

pork loin wrap

And of course in the summer, you want a salad alongside your barbecued food. So I made a Tomato and Bread Salad, which you usually think of as an Italian dish, but I gave it a very tasty Chinese twist with the Oriental Sesame Dressing. Very yummy. You will need a very large dish for this. I thought mine was big enough before I started, but ended up having to split it across 2 dishes.

tomato and bread salad with oriental sesame dressing

Tomato and Bread Salad


600g mixed tomatoes
200g sweet peppers
200g ciabatta bread, preferably stale
4 tbsp Lee Kee Kum oriental sesame dressing
6 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sesame seeds


Cut the ciabatta into pieces and put aside to dry out. If necessary, toast slightly in the oven.
Chop the tomatoes into pieces and put in a large serving bowl.
Chop sweet peppers in half and remove seeds.
Add to bowl.
Season with salt and pepper.
Add the bread and mix together.
Stir in the oriental sesame dressing and olive oil. Add extra of either if necessary.
Sprinkle in sesame seeds.
Serve and enjoy.

tomato and bread salad with oriental sesame dressing

I haven’t included a recipe in this post for the Chiu Chow Chilli Oil, but this adds a wow to my pasta salad.

Most of these products can be purchased in major supermarkets.

So what summer dishes would you make using Chinese sauces?

Regular readers of my blog may remember that I also blogged a selection of Christmas recipes using Lee Kum Kee Chinese sauces.

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

42 Days of Summer

Britmums have challenged bloggers to share how they are going to fill 42 days of summer fun. The challenge is sponsored by McVitie’s BN Biscuits and I received 2 free packs of their biscuits, 1 chocolate flavour and 1 raspberry flavour.

BN Biscuits

I hadn’t come across these biscuits before, but the children and I loved both flavours of these biscuits and thought they looked very appealing too with their cheeky faces. I have to say it doesn’t need to be summer for us to enjoy eating biscuits. We love doing that all year round.

yummy biscuit

So some tips of what we’ve done so far this summer break and what other things we have planned. We have several National Trust properties reasonably near us which we enjoy visiting. Not only do they organise childrens’ activities, but they mostly have some great garden games. We’ve bought our own sets of quoits and giant jenga after hours of fun at the National Trust. And some have geocaching trails too and great natural play areas.

We also enjoy the activities organised for children at our local Squires Garden centre. And it has a soft play area.

And our local library is great for organising childrens activities. Plus they always have a summer reading challenge. This year it is Mystical Maze.

I also always keep an eye out for kids competitions. The boys enjoy taking part and are very pleased when they win something. Son2 has already been a runner-up in a competition this summer with his potato man. And a big thank you to Super Lucky Di who is great at compiling lists of kids competitions each holiday period.

We’ve just had a great seaside holiday and done lots of fun things with the kids. They have paddled in the sea, built sandcastles, learnt how to skim stones, collected shells, been blackberrying. We visited a nature reserve, a museum and a lavender farm to name but a few. And we’ve brought home some stones which we are going to make into memory stones, an idea shared by another blogger.

At home, we made a den in the garden, had water fun with the paddling pool, regular visits to the local play area, walks on the common.

And we love having lots of ice creams and lollies.

Enjoying a homemade ice lolly

Enjoying a homemade ice lolly

This post is an entry for 42 Days of Summer Linky Challenge sponsored by McVitie’s BN. Learn more at http://bit.ly/1mRpMCL.