Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Book review : Bold Lies - Rachel Lynch


Bold Lies was, once again, a book that I plucked from the 3-for-£5 shelf at The Works and, to be honest, the price tag covered up the "book five" part at the top, otherwise I think I would have hesitated to buy it. I enjoyed it, but I did get the feeling that I'd missed out on some important goings-on that would have helped intensify feelings and general understanding of what was occurring.

The book is set in the idyllic, if somewhat tourist-infested, Lake District. The first chapter sees a middle-aged man, George, enjoying his fishing trip. In the next chapter, a naked body is found rotting in a boat shed. This time, putting two and two together does indeed come up with four - it's George. But why has he been found murdered ? Is there something going on in his secret life?

Meanwhile, back in London, two scientists are murdered in a secret lab. When it is discovered that they tie in with George, DI Kelly Porter has to leave her beloved Lake District behind to head back to London and follow through on the investigation. This is made extra complicated by the fact that her ex-boyfriend, DCI Matt Carter, is not only on the case but also directly working with her. He is obviously interested in getting back with her, but she has a new man in her life - an outdoorsy guy who fits right in with her new home - so she has to tell him where to go. This is the part that I felt I was largely missing out on, as there is obviously a lot of past history between the two.

It turns out that the case leads back to the very top, with big businesses and even government agencies very interested in what the lab was working on. The group were getting very close to some important new breakthroughs, which would be great for consumers but bad for the big guys' finances. But how far could the powers of the bad guys stretch ? This is what the police have to figure out.

It's an interesting book, which largely follows the police investigation. There's lots of running around interviewing people and chasing up clues, so it all seems a lot more believable, albeit less exciting, than the high-speed car chases and innumerable gun fights that frequently pop up in most American-style equivalents. DI Kelly Porter is a strong character with a core of vulnerability, which makes her intriguing - I'd be interested in reading the previous novels to see how she grew into the woman that she has become.

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £8.99

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Canelo (10 Oct. 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1788635523
  • ISBN-13: 978-1788635523


Monday, 27 January 2020

What's Cooking At The Madhouse ? menu plan week 5


Last week, we stuck to the menu plan, except for the chicken leftovers that were made into soup instead of a pie. I haven't tried any new recipes for ages, so I want to go digging through my cookery books again. I have plenty to choose from ! I've got a few bookmarked recipes to work through from online too, which sound like they have a lot of potential.

Monday 

dinner - chicken stir fry with the leftover chicken from yesterday, noodles, veg & bean sprouts

Tuesday 

dinner - chicken & potato hotpot - based on the ham & potato hotpot on the Onions & Paper blog (thanks for the inspiration Jane !)

Wednesday 

lunch - chicken sausages with pasta & ratatouille

dinner - pork casserole in the slow cooker with rice or maybe mash

Thursday 

dinner -  pepperoni pizza

Friday  

dinner - I'm thinking there will be plenty of leftovers to use up from the pork and/or chicken hotpot - otherwise spaghetti bolognese

Saturday 

lunch - our regular Saturday lunchtime fast food trip. Probably McDonalds as usual.

dinner - sandwiches or cheese on toast

Sunday 

lunch - Moroccan chicken tray bake (chicken, red pepper, onions, spices) with couscous

dinner - leftovers, cheese on toast or "bits and crisps" (nibbles from whatever's in the fridge)


***Click on my Menu Plans tag to see all my other weekly menu plan blogposts.***

Katykicker

Sunday, 26 January 2020

Project 366 : Photo Diary Week 4

Welcome back to Project 366, with a picture for every day of the year. This week was pretty hectic at work so I feel like we didn't do much at all. Three weeks to the next holidays - can't wait !


Sunday 19th January - This is actually the first roast dinner that we've had since Christmas ! As requested by the kids. Roast chicken, roast potatoes, carrots, gravy and a dollop of cranberry sauce.


Monday - I had planned on using the left over roast chicken and potatoes from yesterday to make a pie, but the kids had other ideas and wanted chicken soup. This made me think that buying a few tins of chicken soup would give them another quick and simple option for lunch times, when I'm still at work. Well, I have discovered that you can't buy chicken soup in France ! We definitely used to, but in Lidl, they only have veggie options (tomato, pumpkin, leek and potato or mixed veg) and in the bigger supermarket that we went to, they didn't have any either. They did have a Chinese chicken soup with noodles in, but that didn't appeal to the kids. I'll have to stock up on our next trip back to the UK !


Tuesday - The best thing (or maybe the only good thing ?!) about getting up at 6.15am to go to work is catching the beautiful patterns across the sky as the sun rises. What is it they say though ? Red sky at night, shepherds' delight, red sky in the morning, shepherds' warning. Well, it was blooming cold but that was it, apart from a little bit of drizzle at the end of the day, so I can't complain.


Wednesday - we headed into town, for a quick look around the shops before Juliette's orthodontist's appointment, and had a giggle at this stroppy looking seagull ! It's the sales so she managed to convince me to buy her new trainers (admittedly, they were reduced to 50% and they do look cool !) and a new sweatshirt. She had loads of photos taken of her teeth. She's on the end of her treatment now, with her braces removed and just a shield thing to put on overnight. Next visit in 3 months - that's easier to work with than monthly visits !


Thursday - Got home from work just in time to sort the bins out for recycling. I hadn't bothered putting the bottles out all week or the week before because it had been so cold so this was catch up time. Eek, that's a scary amount of bottles.


 Friday - I usually have the morning off but this week, I had to go in all day as the Norwegians were over, for our ongoing project about teaching critical literacy. Since Madhouse Daddy died, I haven't been able to go on the annual trip to Norway for the conference (and to meet up with the Norwegian teachers) - boo ! This year, another school has joined in the project in Spain, so I'll be missing a trip to Spain AND Norway over the next two years - double boo ! When I got home from work, Pierre was already playing Fortnite with his friends ! Ah well, it's the weekend :)


Saturday - We went for our usual let's-start-the-weekend trip to McDonald's, before hitting the shops then going to a friend's house for a catch-up. I couldn't decide what to have, so I tried the new Big Mac BLT - it is what it sounds like, a cross between a Big Mac and a bacon-lettuce-tomato burger. Nice enough, but it just tasted like a normal burger - it didn't remind me of a Big Mac OR a BLT. Not overly impressed !

So that's it, another week done and dusted. Fingers crossed, next week will be slightly calmer. Here's hoping !

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

Saturday, 25 January 2020

Fab freebies of the week 25/1


Woohoo we made it to another weekend ! Thank goodness for that ! I need lots of chilling out after the busy week at work this week, then I'm hoping for a calmer week next week. I hope you have a nice weekend planned. Here's this week's freebie round-up to start things off in style.

****************************************

Win one of 500 lip glosses from Iconic London

Enter your details below to claim your FREE sample of Neal's Yard Remedies Wild Rose Beauty Balm

Get your free Green Tea Lime soap sample from Adra Soap now!

Become a tester for Pestle & Mortar skincare

Visit your nearest Aveda counter and show the voucher to one of our advisers to pick up your two free nutriplenish™ samples. You can choose between the light or deep shampoo and conditioner or opt for the leave-in conditioner.

Win one of 1000 Odeon cinema e-ticket codes from Magnum ice cream - use Code: 8711327374652

Want to test ELEMIS products? Sign up to the ELEMIS Review Panel to be in with a chance to test our latest and greatest skincare launches.

We're looking for 200 users with a child aged between 1 and 12 to test Biotiful Dairy Kefir Quark Squeezy snack or Kefir Slurpy drink with their children.

On the Naturelly newsletter : Please give us a star review on Sainsburys, Waitrose, Ocado, Amazon or Holland & Barrett and we will send you a free sample box of Naturelly*
*just email us a screenshot to play@naturelly.co.uk of your (positive) review and we'll send you a sample box to enjoy to thank you.

Femfresh is the expert in skincare for delicate intimate skin with a leading range of products designed to gently cleanse and care for your intimate area, without disturbing its natural balance. We are on the look-out for 1,500 Insiders to show their intimate skin a little extra love with femfresh then let us – and all their friends – know just how much difference this special attention has made!

Answer 5 easy questions correctly to receive your FREE 100ml sachet of Nikwax Down Wash Direct! (and the great news is you can just keep trying until you succeed !)

Take the fitness & hydration survey -  prize bundles up for grabs

Enter now ! 100 prize winners each receive 2x 70cl bottles of Baileys Almande.

TESTIMONIALS NEEDED 🤩 ... I am giving away free samples of our incredible fizz sticks reboots your energy, coffee replacement, wakes you up & only 13 calories #vegan #gluten-free #testers #testimonials #manchester #london #uk #bloggers #Veganuary
Hit me up 🤩

If you’d like to try any of our amazing chemical free, organic & 100% vegan products, message me with your skin type and any particular problems and I will send you some FREE SAMPLES - you will L😍VE them! 🌸🌸🌸

You can see previous weeks' freebie roundups by clicking here but be warned, many of the offers are only valid for a short time. Let me know if any have expired and I'll remove them from the roundup.

You may also like to enter my current giveaways :

coming soon !

Thursday, 23 January 2020

Brilliant Bangers from The Sausage Man ! (review)


A couple of months ago, an email landed in my inbox, telling me all about The Sausage Man and a new line of delicious hot dogs, especially targeted to kids and parties. I went to investigate and discovered that The Sausage Man is a leading UK based wholesaler of German sausages and hot dogs. Based in Dartford, they sell over 7 million sausages per year and the German Embassy in London is a regular customer. Well, that says it all !


I dropped them a line and set up a review, after drooling over the delicious-looking photos on their website. Who knew you could do so many things with a sausage ?! As well as hot dogs (beef, turkey, pork, vegan), there are bratwurst (footlong, giant wheel, XXL) and frankfurters (cheese, chilli beef, bacon, pork, Vienna beef, Vienna pork). They are even currently selling VW Volkswagen Currywurst, as presented by Richard Hammond on Discovery-UK last night !


The postie soon delivered a fabulous selection of sausages for us to try - we got Beef Hot Dogs, Pork Hot Dogs, Chipolata Vienna Pork Sausages, Chipolata Vienna Beef Hot Dogs, Nuernberger Bratwurst and Vienna Pork Frankfurters. Wow, where to start ? Well, to begin with, they all went in the freezer !


We started off sampling the Beef Hot Dogs. If you're used to eating the kind of ready-to-eat hot dogs that can be bought in packets, tins or jars from the local supermarket, these ones are completely different - they have a firmer texture and a much better flavour. In short, these are the real thing !


I wasn't sure how to cook them - should they be boiled in water or fried ? - so we ended up heating them up in a frying pan along with some eggs. We served them with some Ebly and, for those who wanted them, beans. (Sorry for the less than gourmet presentation - this was kid food, made by the kids, and they were very proud !) The hot dogs tasted great and were a unanimous hit, in terms of taste and texture. Perfect !



They were such a hit with the kids that they broke open another pack and cooked themselves some lunch. They at least took some photos that I could use in a review ! These are, I believe, the Pork Hot Dogs, but I could be wrong.


These were polished off over a few days with whatever leftovers were lurking in the fridge - they were paired with fried eggs and baked potatoes.


They were also served with boiled potatoes topped with butter. When they ran out of leftovers, they just stuck some in a slice of bread and drizzled them with ketchup. Whatever they made with them, the kids gobbled up every last bite !


After frequently asking what I should add to the next week's menu plan and being met with cries of "sausages", I grabbed the pack of Vienna Pork Chipolatas and threw them in a pan.

 

These were served with couscous and chickpeas in tomato sauce and the kids WOLFED them down ! This was Pierre's plate and he ate FOUR of them ! I also added some to a vegetable stew and served them with mash. That was devoured hungrily too. As I was working late for a couple of nights at parent-teacher evenings, I bought some hot dog buns and the kids loved eating even more of them, with ketchup, mustard, gherkins and onions. They even sent me a text message to tell me they were happily stuffing their faces while I was at work - that's just mean !


There are so many other recipes that you can try though, many of which are available on The Sausage Man website. How about trying a New Year's Pound Cake, Bratwurst Mini Calzone, Bacon Frankfurter Shawarma, Beans and Paprika Sausage Stew or the Party Antipasto Platter in the picture ? If you don't fancy those, go and see what other gems are hiding out on the blog. You're sure to find something to take your fancy.

If you're planning on catering for a party or special event, definitely go and check them out. 

for more information : https://sausageman.co.uk/

Disclosure : I received the products in order to provide an honest review.

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Real Good Ketchup - No Added Sugar review


Ketchup is one of those things that can always be found in the fridge in our house. While we don't eat loads of the stuff, there are some dishes that are always improved with, if not brought into existence by, a quick squirt of red. While the kids are happy to dip their chips in it, I always add it to hamburgers. It's also lovely for adding moisture, sweetness and flavour to tuna sandwiches and I do love a cheese and ketchup toasted sandwich from time to time. I won't tell you that I occasionally opt for pink mash too, mixing ketchup into mashed potatoes, as that would just be childish !


Real Good Ketchup recently sent us over a bottle of their lovely tomato sauce to try out. If you're worried about the large amounts of sugar and salt in some varieties of ketchup, rest assured - Real Good Ketchup is made with 100% natural ingredients, naturally occurring sugars and with over 75% less sugar and 78% less salt than the market leader. It is made using only natural sugar alternatives, including xylitol from sustainable birch and beech wood in Scandinavia. It also has no hidden nasties, plus it’s allergen-free and vegan-friendly, making it the ideal choice for those following special diets and eating plans, including diabetes type 2 and nut allergies.

On paper, that all sounds fabulous, but what would the kids think? I cheated, squeezing a dollop on to their plates when we tucked into sausages and chips, so that they couldn't see the bottle. They gobbled it up, then asked for more, acting all shocked when they saw that it is a low-sugar and low-salt variety. Victory ! 


As we're into January and many of us are making New Year"s resolutions about cutting down on sugar and eating more healthily, this is a very easy swap to make. If you're doing Veganuary, you might even like to try out this recipe for Real Good Chickpea Burgers.

If you fancy giving the ketchup a try, The Squeezy (RRP £2.20 for 315g) is available from The Co-op Free From aisle, Morrisons Health & Wellness fixture, Wholefoods Market and Ocado. For more info on Real Good Ketchup, please visit www.realgoodketchup.com

Disclosure : I received the product in order to write an honest review.

Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Book review : Thorn - Intisar Khanani


On the front cover of my review copy of Intisar Khanani's Thorn is an indication that it is inspired by The Goose Girl fairy tale. This instantly had me intrigued, as this isn't a story that I was familiar with. I went and had a quick read of the synopsis of The Goose Girl on finishing the book and it is, in fact, very similar. The book fully develops the characters of the fairy tale though, giving a real insight into the two girls' very different personalities and the deep understanding and sense of moral duty of the princess. It also takes a closer look at the dangers of life as a lowly worker and the darker side of the kingdom, which the princess can encounter through her work and her humble living quarters.

At the beginning of the book, the young princess Alyrra is summoned by a neighbouring king, who wants her to marry his son, Prince Kestrin. She soon sets off in a carriage, accompanied by a maid, Valka, who obviously doesn't like Alyrra much, following past drama at the court. On the way, a magical attack swaps over the two women so they inhabit each other's bodies. On arrival at the court, Valka is swept away to the castle and bedecked in fine robes as the future princess-bride, while Alyrra is cast out among the poor villagers, given a menial job as a goose girl and left to her own devices. Despite not speaking the same language as her co-workers and having no experience of working with animals, Alyrra throws herself into the job, happy in her new life with her new friends. But can she really be content in this new lifestyle?

Alyrra certainly has no desire to go back to being a princess. In her former life, as a child and young woman, she was constantly disrespected by her mother and physically abused by her bullying brother. She is happy enough in her new life as a worker and has no desire to resume her previous role. However, when her friend goes missing and is eventually found, badly hurt after being attacked, she becomes aware not only of the darker side of the kingdom but also the guards' total lack of empathy and desire to help the lower ranks of society. How can she make things right if she maintains her status of worthless goose girl?

Alyrra is an absolute underdog. Whether living as a princess with her vicious family or working her fingers to the bone in menial labour, she never seems to find her true worth. She does, however, decide to make a difference, following her heart and her brain to put things right, even if this may lead her into danger. Despite the elements of magic in the story (a talking horse, a magical necklace that will throttle the princess if she starts to speak of her plight, ...), Alyrra comes across as a believable heroine and one who could definitely bring about great changes in the kingdom. She's a great role model for young women, as she constantly counts on her own inner strength and belief in what is right to finally come out on top.

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £7.99

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Hot Key Books (24 Mar. 2020)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1471408728
  • ISBN-13: 978-1471408724



Disclosure : I received a review copy of the book.

Monday, 20 January 2020

What's Cooking At The Madhouse ? menu plan week 4


Most of last week's menu got made, with a couple of changes when the kids asked for something specific or we had too many leftovers. This week, I went shopping early Saturday afternoon (and grabbed all the reduced-to-clear meat !) so I'm writing this menu plan with a full fridge, knowing what I have to use up. On Friday this week, the Norwegians are over (from our school project) so I may end up having to go out for a meal with them, but nothing is planned at the moment. And on Wednesday, Juliette has an orthodontist's appointment late afternoon, so we'll see what time we get out of there. Here's what's planned for this week.

Sunday 

lunch - roast chicken, roast potatoes, veggies and gravy - if I remember, I'll make some stuffing too, as I found a couple of packs in the cupboard

dinner - leftovers, cheese on toast or "bits and crisps" (nibbles from whatever's in the fridge)

Monday 

dinner - There should be roast chicken-roast potato-veg-gravy leftovers from yesterday to use up. I'm pretty sure I have a roll of pastry in the freezer, so I'll knock up a chicken & veg pie, with mash. I'll have a look at what veg is lurking in the cupboard - I think there should be a tin of sweetcorn to go with it too.

Tuesday 

dinner - I have some meatballs, that I will fry off and serve with pasta and tomato sauce, or maybe with veggies and couscous - I'll see what the kids fancy.

Wednesday 

lunch - chicken paupiettes with rice and carrots

dinner - I might need something quick if we get in late after the orthodontist's, in which case pasta and a jar of sauce will cover all bases. But if we don't get in too late, garlic chicken with potatoes and green beans sounds good to me.

Thursday 

dinner - Cottage pie with carrots (or I may just throw the carrots in with the meat to save time). Hmmm I haven't had cottage pie for ages and I really fancy it now !


Friday  

dinner - chicken gyros with rice or couscous (depending on what we had on Tuesday) and salad

Saturday 

lunch - our regular Saturday lunchtime fast food trip. Probably McDonalds as usual.

dinner - sandwiches or cheese on toast

Sunday 

lunch - chicken stir fry with noodles and loads of veggies

dinner - leftovers, cheese on toast or "bits and crisps" (nibbles from whatever's in the fridge)


***Click on my Menu Plans tag to see all my other weekly menu plan blogposts.***

Katykicker

Sunday, 19 January 2020

Project 366 : Photo Diary Week 3

This week was a calmer, more normal week - thank goodness for that ! Just a normal, busy week at work, with lots of dashing around, trying to fit in as much as possible at the weekend and on Wednesday (which is my day off and the kids' day off, as there's no school all day for Pierre and just in the morning for Juliette). So here's a look at my boring nice calm week.


Monday morning saw me invigilating an exam for three hours. Luckily I had one of the good classes so there were no problems to deal with. I couldn't stop yawning when I was teaching for the last hour of the morning though, so I guess I was pretty brain dead after sitting in a room for all that time, not doing much at all ! I actually finished lessons an hour earlier than usual (3.30pm instead of 4.30pm) as my class had been in an exam. Sadly, I had to hang around at work for a meeting at 5pm anyway - grrrrr ! 


Tuesday was another work day and I took a quick snap on the way to work in the morning. This is where I get my bus every day. I wonder when they'll take down the Christmas decorations !


 Wednesday was my day off. I spent most of the morning waiting in for a parcel to be delivered, then dashed out to the post office, heading past the town hall on the way. They've just taken down the Christmas stuff here, replacing it with a variety of brightly coloured, giant flower pots. Just what is needed for a splash of colour in the rain ! After this, I went to the supermarket for some odds and ends then ended up hitting the sales in town with Juliette.


Thursday, back to work. When I finally got home, Didou was in a mood for catching up with cuddles. He's much more open to affection since his mum, Vicky, died last year.


Friday, my half day at school, so I had a quick tidy up then caught up with blogging. It's amazing how fast Friday morning goes ! In the afternoon, I took the pupils to the local cinema to see "Green Book" in English. We're doing a project on Martin Luther King and the Jim Crow Laws, so it's good for them to see another side to the whole racism angle. As it was a lovely sunny day, we walked rather than taking the bus. 


A typical Saturday, starting off with a lazy morning and lunch at McDonald's, then I went shopping. I obviously hit the right time and managed to grab loads of bargains - a whole chicken, beef meatballs, beef mince and chicken paupiettes for 30% off, some guacamole for 20 centimes and two beef tournedos (tenderloin) for 50 centimes. Can't do better than that !


You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

Saturday, 18 January 2020

Fab freebies of the week 18/1


Did you have a good week ? This week was much calmer than last week, with no unexpected problems to deal with - thank goodness for that ! I'm still looking forward to a nice, calm weekend though. Have a great time, whatever you're up to, and I hope you find a nice freebie or two that take your fancy in this week's list :)

****************************

Cushelle is looking for 120 MNers to test their Facial tissues. Selected testers must have at least one child aged 0 to 13.

Ape are looking for 250 UK Mumsnetters with children aged 3 - 11 to test out a range of Ape snacks.
Selected testers will receive the following flavours: Really Cheesy Puffs, Lightly Salted Puffs, Sweet Chilli Puffs

Grab a free weaning pack from Ella's Kitchen, including coupons and a wall chart with stickers

FREE SAMPLES OF R5 AMINOS IF YOU'RE STRUGGLING TO SLEEP AT NIGHT THEN WE MAY HAVE THE ANSWER


Enter now for the chance to win a Junior LFC bundle, including bootbag, cones, armband, football & training cards, we have 300 to give away!

Navigator Office Paper Solutions is kicking off 2020 by giving away 201 Apple iPhone 11s. (You need a ream code but you can request a free one)

We love it when our customers tell the world about their love for JUST MILK. If you have reviewed JUST MILK online, then fill in the form and you could win a tote bag.

Sign up to get a free miso soup when you next visit and be entered to win a 50% off itsu pink card every month.

You can see previous weeks' freebie roundups by clicking here but be warned, many of the offers are only valid for a short time. Let me know if any have expired and I'll remove them from the roundup.

You may also like to enter my current giveaways :

coming soon !

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...