Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Morse Toad CHOCOLATE Christmas Cards*

I love giving Christmas cards so when I heard that the company Morse Toad offered a personalised service with a twist, I couldn’t wait to get on board with the concept. Why send someone a bog standard card when you can send them chocolate instead?


The website is really simple to navigate and I had great fun choosing my chocolate message. I went for ‘Merry Xmas – P.S We can share it!’. You can customise your order with up to 44 letters, that’s 4 rows of 11 chocolates. In total due to the amount of letters I used this card came to £17.00 which I think is great value for something so fun and unique. Standard UK delivery is free too, but the chocolate can be posted all over the world! If you’d like 10% off your order, feel free to use code: crossmeoff (expires 25.12.16).


The card takes the form of a box and the packaging is really lovely. The great thing is this fits through the letterbox so there is no fear of your recipient missing their parcel. Inside the box you had the option to add your own photograph or choose one of the pre-made designs. I went for the Morse Toad Festive photo to fit in with the Christmas theme of the gift. It would have been rude not to test out the chocolate and I was not disappointed. The delicious Belgian chocolate was of high quality and really hit the spot - this didn’t stay around for long! It is also worth noting that the chocolate is gluten and egg free! I have a few friends who will be pleased to know that. Full ingredients are provided on each box.


Of course Morse Toad products aren’t just for Christmas, there are many occasions where you can send a delicious card. Customise your card with birthday messages, thank you, happy anniversary or give as gifts to teachers at the end of the year.



Will you be sending a Morse Toad message this Christmas? Some things are better said in chocolate!

*I purchased this item with vouchers provided by the company in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not influenced in any way. Please see my disclaimer for more information.

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Friday, 25 November 2016

Black Friday & Cyber Monday 2016 with PetShop.co.uk*

Today is Black Friday, the day where most of us will try and grab a bargain. When shopping for yourself or buying gifts it’s important to remember those furry friends in our lives! Discounts aren’t just for humans you know. This year petshop.co.uk have even bigger deals than ever before rolling right on through to Cyber Monday!


Some of the fantastic deals include:

  1. Spent £100 get £5 Voucher (will be emailed within 7 days of placing the order)
  1. Buy 1 get 1 free on Advantage & Drontal
  1. Buy 1 get 2nd half price on Darwin's 80/20 grain free dog food
  1. Buy 2 get 1 free on Catch grain free dog food
  1. 30% off Harringtons
  1. 30% off Wagg
  1. Burgess Sensitive - Buy 2 bags and get 12 trays free
  1. Barking Heads & Meowing Heads 25% off everything
  1. Aatu 25% off everything
  1. Purina One selected 3kg - buy 3 for £30
  1. 25% off Go Cat 10kg
  1. 25% off Gourmet 60 pack
  1. 20% Off All Feliway & Adaptil


All of the Black Friday offers are displayed here. What will you be buying your fur babies this Christmas?

*Collaborative post. All opinions are my own.
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Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Book Review - The Diabolic by S. J. Kincaid*

I am still really into reading at the moment and find myself spending my lunch breaks with my head in a good book to avoid braving the cold weather outside. I recently finished The Diabolic by S. J. Kincaid and despite not being my genre of choice, I did really enjoy the book. Fun fact about the Author: Kincaid originally wanted to be an astronaut, but a dearth of mathematical skills turned her interest to science fiction instead. 


This YA novel is set in a futuristic space world where ‘Diabolics’ exist. Its packed full of action with a hint of romance and plenty of intrigue surrounding it. You will want to keep reading. Nemesis is the main character in this book and she must fight to protect everything she’s ever known. She is a diabolic. Her story is riveting and had me gripped early on. We get to see her gradually develop and come to terms with her life and who she is. The character development was fascinating and was what kept me hooked. The setting and world in this book is complex but I managed to keep up with all the different classes of people mentioned in the book. This might be quite difficult for someone that is not used to reading a lot but I could easily keep to grips with it.

The book may seem like quite a hefty read and it is somewhat large but the pacing of the novel was good and you won’t feel like there is too much when you start to read it. A thought-provoking book, I would definitely recommend this to those who like YA genres and a bit of Sci-Fi. The book is a standalone and there are no prequels or sequels for it.


You can buy your copy of The Diabolic from Waterstones for just £8.99. It might be the perfect Christmas gift! Is this the sort of book you’d like to read?

*I received this item free of charge in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not influenced in any way.
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Monday, 21 November 2016

Save a Life - (C)HECK Sausage Cassoulet Recipe*

Being on slimming world it’s hard to find a decent sausage that is not only low in syns but doesn’t taste of  cardboard. I absolutely love the Chicken Italia HECK sausages at only 0.5 ‘syns’, they are super tasty. When I was asked to review some of these sausages I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to share my sausage cassoulet recipe with you using these sausages and the great thing is I get to share this with you for a good cause.


With Movember in full swing, food company HECK have announced they will be renaming their brand as CHECK for the month to join the fight for men’s health. HECK are hoping to raise £25000 for Movember Foundation through sales and hope to encourage more men to take action when it comes to their healthy and ensure they check themselves for signs of testicular cancer.

This campaign has come about due to the incident earlier this year when Jamie Keeble, co-founder and eldest son of the family behind HECK found a cancerous lump in one of his testicles. Thankfully he caught the cancer early but this is not the case for a lot of men who aren’t aware that testicular cancer is more common in younger than older men. Unfortunately too many men feel something unusual but do not head to their GP for a second opinion. HECK want to make it easier for them to say when they feel something isn’t quite right. The packs of CHECK sausages will hopefully start some conversations which will raise awareness, and funds and maybe even save some lives.


I love a sausage cassoulet and using this Chicken Italia sausages really enhanced the flavour of this meal. Each pack contains 10 sausages and they are gluten free. Keep reading to find out how I made this dish.

Ingredients: (serves 2)
6 Chicken Italia CHECK Sausages
1 tin of baked beans
250ml Chicken Stock
1 Onion
1 Carrot

1 Celery Stalk
Herbes De Provence
Potatoes

Method:
The first thing I tend to do is to peel and chop my potatoes and get them roasting in the actifry as they take 45 minutes and I can get on with the rest of the meal whilst they are cooking. I spray my potatoes with a bit of frylight before popping them into my machine so they crisp up nicely. You can also add oil, however if you are on Slimming World this will need to be synned. You can of course serve this cassoulet with mash, rice or simply have it on its own – it’s completely up to you. Try serving it with sweet potato mash for a delicious alternative.


Chop your onion, celery and carrot and pop these into a saucepan. I spray a little bit of frylight on them to stop them sticking and fry off until everything starts to go soft. When this happens, add your chicken stock, baked beans and one teaspoon of Herbes De Provence. Let this simmer away on a low heat so the vegetables can continue to soften.

Meanwhile cook your sausages as per the instructions on the packaging. I grill mine as they only take 12-14 minutes, just remember to turn throughout. When they are nearly cooked, add your baked bean and vegetable mixture to a baking dish and let this cook for another 5 minutes. Pop your roasties on a plate then add the sausages with their sauce for a delicious hot meal. If you’re on Slimming World this is only 1.5 syns a serving!


Men – don’t forget to CHECK your testicles. If I can write and talk about it on my Lifestyle blog then you can certainly talk about it with your GP. More than eight out of 10 men (82%) find it embarrassing to discuss their testicles with a parent or GP. It’s extremely important to check and seek medical help right away if you notice something unusual.

So if like me, you can’t grow a moustache for Movember – pick up a pack of CHECK sausages and spread the word to your brothers, partners, uncles and all the men in your life. Do your bit this month to combat testicular cancer. CHECK sausages are available throughout November and will cost £2.99 a pack and 5% from each pack will go to the Movember foundation.


*I received these sausages free of charge in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not influenced in any way.


*I received these sausages free of charge in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not influenced in any way.
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Friday, 18 November 2016

Festive Cocktail Recipes feat. Fentimans Drinks*

Fentimans drinks are a favourite in our household and James and I associate these with fun days out. We’ve had these at Blickling Hall and consider them to be a nice luxurious treat. Drinking these natural drinks without any nasty additives or preservatives is a real refreshing experience so when I was contacted by Fentimans to try some of their new mixers, I couldn’t wait to sample them. The drinks come in 500ml sixed bottles, perfect for using as mixers for cocktails but can also be enjoyed on their own as a soft drink.

Seeing as Christmas is officially next month (scary I know!) I decided to create some fun and festive cocktails with some of the Fentimans drinks I received. It’s never too early to start stocking those cupboards for Christmas so I hope you like these recipes and they inspire you to create your own cocktails over the Christmas period


I thought the Ginger Beer & Muddled Lime drink would be perfect for Christmas as the ginger would really remind me of gingerbread. The idea came to me after attending the Norwich Blogger Cocktail Event to garnish the cocktail with a gingerbread man on the side. I served this with 25ml of Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum which really went well with the soft drink and the spiciness added to that festive feeling. This cocktail to me tasted exactly like Christmas in a cup.


The Botanical Tonic Water is made with lime flower for a unique floral flavour. I decided to add some Midori Melon Liqueur to this tonic water to create this lovely elf green colouring. This fruity sweet drink was really tasty and a great one to serve at parties over the festive period.


The Rose Lemonade is one of my favourites and is made with the juice of real lemons balanced by an infusion of aromatic rose oil. The pale blush colour comes from the infusion of 100% natural steam distilled rose petals which also work to enhance the flavours. I thought I would mix this drink with 25ml of my favourite vodka and serve with a candy cane. The combination of the mint flavour from the cane, the alcohol and the smooth lemonade was the perfect mix. I think this would also taste great alongside gin. I wanted to drink this all day long!



When I saw the Premium Indian Tonic Water, I knew I had to keep it classic with a Gin & Tonic. This premium version from Fentimans has a hint of Lemongrass with kaffir lime leaves meaning it is perfectly accompanied with citrus flavoured gins. I decided to use 25ml of Gin, a squeeze of lime plus extra for garnish then topped the glass up with the Premium Indian Tonic Water and a couple of kaffir lime leaves. I think this cocktail would also taste great with the Pink Grapefruit Tonic mixer which is really zesty. The balance of sweet and sour is spot on and the drink is really refreshing on its own.


The Naturally Light Tonic Water served with 25ml Gin and garnished with a slice of lemon is great for those slimmers this season. If you want to control those calories then this drink is light and refreshing.



Will you be making any of these cocktails? For more information and recipes visit  the Fentimans website, you can also find your nearest stockist.

*I received these drinks in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not influenced in any way.
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Monday, 14 November 2016

Snapfish Personalised Stocking Stuffer Ideas*

Christmas is less than a month away now and you may have seen my post this time last year on the amazing stocking fillers available at Snapfish. I have very kindly been gifted a voucher for this year to enable me to choose even more great personalised gifts from the fantastic range of items. Snapfish is a leading online photo service where you can store, share and print your most precious photos. They not only offer great personalised photo gifts, you can also get your photos developed at competitive prices.

 
The perfect winter warmer is a delicious hot chocolate so turn this gift into something personal by getting a personalised photo mug and stuffing it with hot chocolate sachets and mini marshmallows. You could even pair this gift with the coasters! You can really use your imagination when it comes to creating personalised items. There new designs, embellishments and plenty of text options can be used on the mugs to create something really unique and special. The mugs cost £7.99. I decided to use some more photos of Macy but this time to collage a few of them so I could make use of all of the photos I took. I then added plenty of pet themed embellishments to really make the mug look unique. I think the mug looks so professional with the added embellishments. 

 

Gifts for pet lovers are hard to come by, my mum has got a French bulldog and the standard Frenchie merchandise simply doesn’t look like Macy her dog. I love that with Snapfish you can personalise everyday items and get the exact design you want. I had a fun day with Macy taking some high quality photos of her and decided it would be a great idea to put one of these photos on some photo coasters, a brilliant personalised Christmas gift! Last year you had the option to create 6 different unique coasters however it seems this year there is only the option to receive 6 coasters of the same design which is a shame. I absolutely love the addition of the embellishment feature, the categories are split across multiple themes. I chose the pet theme which enabled me to add some cute slogans or speech bubbles to the coasters to really make them unique. There are also other categories such as ‘baby’, ‘special occasions’ and ‘friends and family’ with so many options to choose from. The coasters are heat resistant with a non-slip cork backing and measures 4”x 4”. A set of 6 coasters costs just £12.99. Why not complete the gift by popping some treats for the pet in the stocking too, animals deserve presents at Christmas too!


As a little extra stocking filler I ordered a 10 x 8” collage photo print which can then be customised and framed however you wish. This print cost just £1.89 and when framed it makes a really nice gift for someone.


Finally for that tech savvy teen, a personalised phone case is the perfect gift and prices start at only £11.99. Again, embellishments of all shapes, sizes and types can be added. It’s easy to move them around and change their shape and size. For this cat lover I placed a couple of photos of their cat, flipped them around and added some cat themed stickers to the design.


I always find that with Snapfish the delivery times are really good and you are kept in the loop about your order. Snapfish emailed me to let me know when things when my order had been received and again when it had shipped which was really handy. Everything came nicely packaged and protected to prevent any damage to the items. I really hope you’ve got some ideas for personalised Christmas stocking fillers! For more great ideas, head over to Snapfish and look at their Stocking Stuffer Photo Gifts. What will you be buying for your loved ones?

*I received these items free of charge in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not influenced in any way. 
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Friday, 11 November 2016

S+ by ResMed - Sleep Tracker Review*

Since moving into a new house it has been hard for me to get to sleep. I have tried herbal sleep remedies, different sleep positions, open and closed windows and nothing seems to be helping me find out the reasons for my broken sleep. When I heard about the S+ by ResMed, the world’s first non-contact sleep tracker I couldn’t wait to try it out. I was lucky enough to receive the S+ for review and couldn’t wait to put it into action.


The S+ consists of a device that sits beside the bed, a cloud-hosted sleep mentor system and a free app that goes along with it. It is also compatible with my Apple Watch which is a feature I really like. It provides a daily sleep score and chart alongside coaching and advice on how to improve your sleep. It even has a smart alarm which helps users to sleep and wake up better.


The S+ by ResMed monitors your breathing, body movement, light, noise and temperature conditions and then offers you advice and tailored feedback on how to get a better sleep. I couldn’t wait to get this set up and try and find out what exact aspects were holding my sleep back. It’s very clever in that is recognises the respiration and body movement signals to fully analyse your sleep. If you’re moving about then you’re less likely to be asleep and the S+ registers this.

I found it very simple to set up the S+ and did this as soon as I received the item and put it next to my bed.


I often find myself unable to sleep as I have too much on my mind, the Mind Clear feature helps you get those thoughts out of your head by letting you record voice memos whilst you lay in bed. I have been using this feature which has really helped me sleep knowing I don’t need to remember and run through tomorrows to do list multiple times.


The S+ retails for £129.95 and can be bought on their website here. I highly recommend this product for those wanting to improve their sleep, it really has changed my life. 


*I received this item free of charge in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not influenced in any way.
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Monday, 7 November 2016

Harriets Cafe Tearooms Norwich - Revisited

You may have seen my previous review on Harriets Tearooms where unfortunately I did not receive the best service. I must say the customer service team that I spoke to via Twitter after my experience were very helpful and kindly send me two more vouchers for afternoon tea, this time for the Special edition. This time I took my mum along with me and I can certainly say the experience was a whole lot better.

We both went for the standard Harriets Tea blend with our Afternoon Tea which was lovely. There is unlimited refills on the tea and we had a second pot brought over to us when we finished our first. The service seemed to be really great this time and we were seated and served very quickly.


The Special Afternoon tea usually costs £19.95 per person. The bottom tier came topped with delicious fresh sandwiches in cream cheese & cucumber, smoked salmon and Suffolk ham. These were really lovely and the bread was soft and light. My mum didn’t like the smoked salmon so I ate her share too – no complaints from me!



The second tier consisted of scones and you could choose from cheese, fruit or plain. We decided to go for one cheese and one plain each. The cheese scones were served with butter and a really tasty tomato chutney. The plain scones were served with Cornish clotted cream and strawberry jam and tasted lovely and fresh this time. It was nice to have one savoury and one sweet option, it really balanced the platter out.


Finally the top tier was filled with decedent looking cakes. My favourite was the chocolate and caramel cake, topped with a rolo. The macaroons were lovely as were the small pastry treats. No mould in sight! This was probably my favourite tier of the three and the cakes were exciting and beautifully made.




Overall I had a much better experience the second time around and will definitely return to Harriets Tearooms. I put the first experience down to a one off. Will you be visiting Harriets?


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Thursday, 3 November 2016

Blogger Cocktail Masterclass - Warwick Street Social

A couple of weeks ago now I attended a blogger cocktail masterclass at Warwick Street Social in Norwich. Having never been to Warwick Street Social I was curious as to what it would be like, but looked forward to it all the same. The Norwich Bloggers who planned this event offered some spaces on a ticketed basis, I decided to buy a ticket and go along to have a fun night of socialising with likeminded people. 


I arrived at 7pm and met up with other bloggers Courteney, Kate, Amy, Amy, Lindsay, Sammi, Laura, Laura, and Shelley. The aim of the evening was to choose a cocktail that we could have at the Christmas Meal so we got to have a go at making 6 different drinks with the help of Scott. The first drink was a classic Mojito which was probably the simplest cocktail we made. This was ruled out early on as it just didn’t have that festive feel to it, although it did taste lovely. We then made a ‘bramble’ which is something I have never heard of before but it was lovely. The main part of this drink was gin, added with freshly squeezed lemon juice, sugar syrup and a fruit cordial, this was really nice. Me and Kate had a go at making this one and we both thought it was lovely, but again this did not have a Christmas feel to it.

Thirdly we made Pina Coladas, I love a creamy Pina Colada but this didn’t go down too well with the rest of the group. I think Pina Coladas are best served on the beach in a hot country, perhaps not alongside your turkey dinner. We then made a Smashing Pumpkin Fizz. This had pumpkin pureé and Prosecco in so I couldn’t wait to try this. This would have been the perfect Halloween/autumn drink I think, it tasted great but just didn’t have that festive feel to it.


The final 2 cocktails were the most festive of the lot. Firstly the spiced gingerbread one, complete with gingerbread man. This just tasted of Christmas, it was delicious and perfectly spiced. The final cocktail was called Candy Cane, this had peppermint syrup, cranberry juice and strawberry vodka. It was so refreshing and will be served with a crushed candy cane sugar rimmed glass!

If you’d like to keep up to date with future Norwich Blogging events, follow the twitter page and keep an eye out for future events.


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