Thursday 31 October 2019

Send a smile with Creased Cards ! (review)

This week I celebrated my birthday in style ! We travelled to see my family and catch up with Sophie, which was lovely, and I spent a good couple of hours going through dozens of facebook messages, all wishing me a happy day and asking how we're all doing. I only received three actual cards though, which is a sign of the times ! Those cards are proudly out on show on the shelf and make me smile every time I walk past them. I don't know why but they seem extra special, knowing that the senders took some time out of their day to sit down and write out a very silly personal message for me on my special day. 

With perfect timing, as I was thinking about birthdays, Creased Cards got in touch with me. They told me about their first retail store, based in the world famous Lanes in Brighton (which, they hope, will be the first of several), and also their online e-commerce store, which allows you to buy their locally created gifts and greeting cards from all over the country. They sent me through a selection of their cards and I have to admit, they did make me smile.

The first card that I pulled out would be a great fit for pretty much any of my female friends, who all seem to be huge fans of gin. The vibrant, sunny yellow background has the quotation printed out in silver letters, which stand out really well and add a touch of class : "A banana has 108 calories. A gin & tonic has 91 calories. Enough said." Definitely just the kind of thing I want to hear before heading out for a birthday celebration !

The second card appeals to my love of all things retro and vintage. It features the kind of illustration that would pop up in my much-loved childhood Ladybird books, with a mum and daughter sharing some time together in the kitchen, maybe making a cake or a pie for dinner. The mum, in this scene of domestic perfection and bliss, asks her daughter if she's a good mum. Unfortunately, she got the name wrong ! Maybe she's a step mum. Or just a useless one - who knows ?!

Depending on who you're buying for, you might be looking for a card that features a cheeky sense of humour and the final option ticked all those boxes, with its cheeky illustration of monks playing charades ! Hmmm, which body part could this be referring to ?!

Each of the cards is blank inside, giving you free rein to write your own message. They all come with a plain white envelope and cost around £2.85 each. Send one to your favourite person today and make them smile !

for more information :

Disclosure : We received the product in order to give our honest review.

Wednesday 30 October 2019

October 2019 "Home Comforts" Degustabox review

The end of the month is ticking around again, which means that it's time for another Degustabox delivery. What would be hiding in this month's box? Well, lots of tasty goodies actually, as this month's box has a "Home Comforts" theme.

As you can see from the first peek at the contents of the box, this one has lots of products to help beat the autumnal chill that has been in the air lately. There are all sorts of things for preparing hot teas, flavoured coffees, hot chocolate and soup - all perfect as winter warmers. Time for a closer look.

Tick Tock Tea (RRP £2.05 - subscribers received one box but we got all three) are one of Britain's most loved independent tea companies and they have recently launched these three new wellbeing teas. Bounce is a naturally caffeine-free blend of invigorating lemongrass and ginger, lively cinnamon and fresh green rooibos, perfect for putting a spring in your step throughout the day. Balance will help body and mind maintain their natural poise with its blend of cleansing fennel and aniseed, all-virtuous turmeric and antioxidant-rich, gentle rooibos - a supportive drink with warming spices, earthy aromas and an effortlessly clean finish. Bedtime offers a comforting night-time cup with calming camomile and lemon balm, dreamy lavender flowers and soothing rooibos and honeybush - perfect to unwind and relax as you get ready to tuck yourself into bed.

Growers Garden Fresh Broccoli Crisps (RRP £1.29 - subscribers received one flavour whereas we got all three) are a new snack option that was launched this year. Made by real farmers, each pack contains 27% fresh broccoli - a fact that I hid from the Madhouse kids who aren't keen on it when I cook it, and they wolfed them down ! Each pack contains less than 100 calories, is low in saturated fats, gluten free and vegan. They are available in four flavours - naked, with cheese, with chilli and with sour cream and chive.

Snatt's Garlic and Parsley Mediterranean Baked Snacks (RRP £1.49) are another snacky nibbles option that met with the Madhouse kids' approval. These delicious oven-baked snacks are made with 100% natural ingredients, are vegan and contain no MSG or palm oil. The kids were happy to nibble on them straight from the bag but they can also be topped with anything from houmous and guacamole to cheese spread, if you like. They would also be lovely dipped into soup.

Speaking of which ! There was also a tin of Amy's Kitchen Hearty Organic Rustic Italian Vegetable Soup (RRP £2). Packed with organic ceci beans (that's Italian for chickpeas), vegetables, brown rice, mushrooms and traditional herbs, this recipe was inspired by the European travels of their head chef. It's free from most allergens (gluten free, dairy free, lactose free, soy free, corn free, tree nut free), as well as being vegan and kosher. It's lovely as a quick and simple meal when you need something to warm you up.

Maille Mustard With Honey (RRP £1.99) offers the perfect blend of sweet honey and tart, warming mustard. The sweetness offsets the harshness of many other mustards, making this a great family-friendly choice. We loved using ours as a marinade for pork chops but it can also be served with welsh rarebit, cheese or chicken. 

Maille Tartare Sauce (RRP £1.99) is a luxurious twist on the classic tartare sauce with the addition of shallots, offering a savoury sweet note. It's lovely with fish dishes or can be stirred into mashed potatoes for a delicate twist. If you want more ideas, Maille's Instagram feed features some of the best French food inspiration using their products.

Another product from a well-known French brand, Teisseire Gourmet Drops (RRP 2 x £3.99) are the perfect alternative to sugar-heavy syrups in your coffee or baking. We got two flavours, Chocolate and Vanilla, which are vegan-friendly, sugar-free, carb-free, gluten-free and fat-free. Born out of a passion for the best quality ingredients and an expertise at concentrating rich flavours, they will offer a guilt-free dash of flavour to everything from hot chocolate and milk to cakes and cookies.

Pip's Real Hot Chocolate Coins (RRP £1.50 - subscribers received one item) are perfect for a no-fuss gourmet treat - just unwrap one and melt it into 200ml of any kind of milk for a delicious, flavoured treat to warm the cockles of your heart ! We got Hazelnot (nut-free) Praline and Orange flavours, which were all much appreciated. There are various other flavours available, including Raspberry, Mint and Black Forest - hmmm ! Hand-made in Wales since 2015, there are options for almost every dietary need and desire.

Upbeat Drinks Juicy Protein Water Blood Orange and Mandarin (RRP £1.79) is one of a new range of drinks that offers a whopping 12g of protein while being sugar free and bursting with the sweet flavour of fruit. Perfect for accompanying your lunch or gym session or just for hydrating you on-the-go. I loved the refreshing citrus flavour.

Cadbury Boost + Protein (RRP £1.49) offers protein crisps enrobed in layers of chewy caramel and delicious Cadbury chocolate. Each bar provides 12g of protein and above all, tastes delicious. Yum !

Clarks Original Maple Syrup (RRP £2 for 180ml) is a natural blend of Pure Canadian Maple Syrup and Carob Fruit Syrup, which means you get a delicious maple syrup for 45% less sugar than refined white sugar (per 100g). It tastes just as sweet and delicious as regular maple syrup and is perfect for porridge and pancakes on a wintry morning or as an after-school treat.

Whitworth's Shots Chocolate and Hazelnut (RRP £1.89) are great as a healthy snack option that the kids can stuff in their coat pocket or grown-ups can keep in their bag/car glovebox. 

This shows what we got in one pack - a lovely blend of sweet and juicy raisins, crunchy hazelnuts and delicious milk chocolate buttons. Perfect for munching on the go, although they'd also be great for using as a topping on yogurt or adding to cookies. Even better news, each pack comes in at just under 100 calories .

We loved everything in this box, which has a focus on warming snacks and treats - perfect for this time of year.

 A subscription to Degustabox costs £12.99 per month including delivery, with each box having a value of much more than that, but the great news is, I have a discount coupon code for you which means you'll get the first box for just £7.99 - enter code PKUFE at the checkout.

for more information :

Also now on Instagram @DegustaboxUK

Disclosure : We received the box in order to write an honest review. As a Degustabox blogger, I receive all of the products that go into the monthly boxes, but subscribers may not get exactly the same selection.

Monday 28 October 2019

Madhouse recipe : Pierre's cocoa cookies

After making some fabulous cakes at the start of the holidays - THREE of them, two with milk chocolate and one with white chocolate, all delicious - Pierre decided to keep baking and turned his hand to cookies. Using up just some basics that were in the cupboards, he made these gorgeous cookies - they didn't last long either ! As they're based on an American recipe, he used measuring cups for the ingredients and I wasn't around to convert them to grammes - sorry !

Pierre's cocoa cookies

ingredients : 

1/2 cup + 2tbsp butter, softened
2/3  (1/3 + 1/3) cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/3 cup flour

Preheat oven to 180°. Put 2 tablespoons of butter, half of the sugar and the cocoa powder in a bowl and melt in the microwave, using 15 second bursts to avoid burning. Mix together.

In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and the remaining sugar. You want this to get light and fluffy.

Beat in the egg and the vanilla extract.

In another bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt. 

Stir the butter/sugar/egg mixture into the flour.

Then stir in the cocoa/sugar/butter mixture.

Lay a baking parchment on a baking tray (or use foil/baking paper or just grease the baking tray). Use a spoon to place dollops of the biscuit mixture on the sheet - leave enough space between them as they will spread out. We got about 18 biscuits.

Put them in the oven for 8 minutes then remove and leave to cool. We were originally going to ice them but they taste delicious just as they are. Well done Pierre (again) !

Saturday 26 October 2019

Fab freebies of the week 27/10

Not only is it the weekend, the sun has also put in an appearance - yay ! Hope you have something nice planned, whether you're into half term or just making the most of a lazy weekend. We're catching up with the Madhouse Grandparents and Sophie this week, which is lovely. Here's this week's freebies to start things off nicely :)


The latest offer if you have a Debenhams card : This one's a cult classic... From Friday 25th October, pick up your sample of the Lancôme Advanced Génifique Youth Activating Concentrate Serum.

Now available on Send Me a Sample - Zendium toothpaste
Just say to your Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant “Ask Send Me a Sample for Zendium toothpaste”

Tesco Clubcard are giving away a million points and 2,000 Now TV passes - find out more here

Whether you’re trying to choose the right towel for you, or you’re just looking to switch up your daily or monthly routine, why not give Bodyform a go?

Fill in the form below to get your free MAF Advent Calendar

Win one of hundreds of prizes in this Jack Reacher competition from Shipyard Beer (books, T-shirts, baseball caps and loads more) - free daily entry

The Insiders are looking for 150 dog owners who would love to try Dentalife dental treats for their dog!

We are offering every 7-13 year old in the UK a free issue of First News newspaper

Claim your free Dark Oil sample today!

Mum & You are looking for UK MNers to test the following products on their baby:
- Mum & You Nappychat Nappies
- Mum & You 100% Biodegradable Wipes
- Mum & You New Baby Safe & Sound Hair & Body Wash
Selected testers must have at least one baby wearing size 2 / 3 disposable nappies (3-9kg or 7-20lbs), and must use disposable wipes.

We have 1000 free samples of AUVA After Shave Cream. Fill in the form.


To take part in our 7 day Better Skin Challenge, sign up below for your chance to receive a FREE* Cuticura Mildly Medicated Dry Skin Cream 50ml, then after 7 days let us know how you got on by leaving a review at Superdrug. (50 available)

New campaign from The Insiders : We're launching our last Bepanthen® campaign of the year to put a smile on your baby's face. We're looking for:
Parents of babies between the ages of 0 to 6 months
Parents-to-be who are in the third trimester of their pregnancy

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 24 October 2019

Alaska diaries : Day to day life

We're currently on our autumn half term, but as Pierre has his leg in plaster, we're not actually doing a great deal at the moment. This has had me looking through the draft blogposts that I never found the time to post, to see what I can share with you. I've found some more photos of our trip to Alaska this summer that made me smile, so I thought you might like to see them too.

You can't go to America without going to a mall, and the Dimond Center in Anchorage (yes, that is how it's spelt !) was the perfect place for the girls to get some retail therapy in. They loved looking at the clothes and bath products and spent a fortune in a "fan store" that had T-shirts, badges, mugs and all sorts of other things related to all their favourite series. Pierre, meanwhile, was happier skating around on the ice rink on the lower floor.

He also enjoyed making full use of the massage chairs while the girls shopped up a storm !

Food was another thing that kept the kids happy ! Whenever we were heading out somewhere, Jim, our host, would always stop the car at the final garage before the main road, declaring that it was the last chance for snacks. They managed to find all sorts of things to while away the final miles - sweets, drinks, doughnuts, corndogs, cookies, ... you name it ! We also ate out in a lot of "family restaurants" like McDonald's and Subway. This was in a local Mexican restaurant.

The kids all opted for nachos, which they declared delicious.

I opted for enchiladas, which were very tasty too. The little pot of tomato salsa was stupidly spicy though !

Another afternoon was spent at the local bowling alley.

Yep, you've guessed it - we checked out the food and drink on offer there too !

The ice cream sandwiched between two cookies was a big hit. I reconfirmed that root beer is absolutely disgusting though - ewwww !

On one of our trips to the nearby Three Bears store to get some groceries, we spotted some popcorn kits. They came in what looked basically like a sieve - a foil tray with a long handle and a dome of foil over the top, that you heat over the cooker. Our first one was a spectacular fail, as it all came popping out of a hole, but it did give us a good laugh ! Luckily, the second one worked perfectly.

Hmmmmm I just found this photo and can't remember what it is - it was Jim who knocked this up for breakfast (well, brunch, as nobody was hungry for lunch afterwards !). I need to ask him for the recipe because it was delicious, but as far as I can remember, it involved sausages, split open and cooked, then mixed in with milk or cream and spices - I need to check the details. Underneath were hash browns and on the side, a milk roll. All absolutely delicious.

Yep, we definitely need to go back to Alaska some time soon !

Wednesday 23 October 2019

Madhouse recipe : Pierre's chocolate cake

Poor Pierre is still hopping around with his leg in plaster. In fact, after the torrential rain that lasted most of last week, the end of his plaster was getting decidedly bendy, so we headed back to Casualty to see what they thought. They had a quick look and decided that his foot hadn't actually been placed in the right position, so they cut the original plaster off and put a new one on. Two weeks to go ! As he can't go outside to play, he asked if he could make a surprise in the kitchen. He actually made this cake all by himself, from start to finish, measuring out the ingredients, following the recipe (this one, on French site Marmiton), setting the timer and baking it all by himself. He even took step-by-step photos so that I could blog about it ! I have to say, I was very impressed. In fact, it was so tasty, the whole thing got munched and he went straight back into the kitchen and made another one !

Pierre's chocolate cake

serves 4 (or 8 small portions)

ingredients :

135g milk chocolate
70g butter
2 eggs
35g plain flour
70g sugar

Put the chocolate and butter in a bowl together.

Melt them in the microwave (in 15 second bursts), stirring to combine.

Put the sugar in a separate bowl. Break in the eggs.

Add the flour.

Whisk it all together with a fork or spoon.

Pour the melted chocolate/butter into the flour/eggs/sugar mixture. (As you can see, don't worry if the chocolate didn't melt completely - it still comes out fine at the end !)

Mix it all together.

Pour the cake mix into a silicon mould. (Don't forget to grease it with butter or oil if using a traditional metal mould.)

Bake for 20 minutes at 180°. This can be eaten warm or cold - they are both lovely. Juliette even served hers with custard - cold custard, but she's just weird !

Well done Pierre - you can start again whenever you want !
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