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Is romance dead?

is romance deadThey say romance is dead, but is that really true? The people at My Single Friend HQ have asked me to share a romantic moment, gift or rendezvous with them in a bid to win one of three fabulous ASOS vouchers.

Now while I don’t believe that romance is dead, it’s been more than a while that I’ve been on a romantic rendezvous. There have been romantic moments in my life and I do like a little stroll down memory lane and remember them. My first boyfriend, who I’ve been with for 5 years, made a beautiful CD for my birthday one year  - full of songs that described our relationship. He even made a booklet and wrote a couple of sentences about each song and its meaning to him. It must have taken him ages.

I however found it utterly cringeworthy and didn’t really know how to react to it. I loved the songs and now I think it was a really romantic gesture (maybe), but back then I don’t think I was mature enough for such a deep and meaningful present. It was quite overwhelming really. The relationship didn’t last – I ran a mile when he phoned up my mum to discuss children and marriage, but I still have the CD and I won’t throw it away – because the music on it is still lovely.

What would you say: Was my CD an act of romance or just utterly cringeworthy? Also, what was the most romantic thing someone has ever done for you? I’d love to hear your stories.

Image credit: EladeManu via Flickr

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Amy and Sophie have a splash

Sophie splashing about at @Bristol

Amy and Sophie splashing at @Bristol

Amy splashing in the pool near @Bristol

Amy about to jump in the pool

Amy making funny faces

Dare devil jumps into the pool

Amy drenched in water at @Bristol

After our afternoon at Wookey Hole, we decided to let Amy and Sophie splash about in the fountains and pools at Millennium Square in Bristol before going for dinner at ZaZa Bazaar and look how much fun  these two had!

Their eyes lit up as soon as we told them that they could jump into the pools and once they were in the water there was no holding back. They splashed each other, they splashed us. They ran and they jumped. They giggled and shared the deepest belly laughs and we sat back and enjoyed seeing our girls so happy. Okay, admittedly we were also quite envious that we couldn’t jump in and roll around in the water without getting arrested for not drunk but disorderly, but that’s life when you’re grown-up.

What is really lovely to see is the close bond that Amy and Sophie have formed over the last 12 months. They’ve only met twice, once at Ascot last year and then on our short break to Devon earlier this year, but they’re getting on like a house on fire. They share beautifully, walk hand in hand and give each other hugs and kisses that make our hearts melt. It’s lovely seeing their little friendship develop and I’ll hope they’ll stay friends for a very long time – giggles, splashes and all!

 

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Wookey Hole: A day with friends

Amy at Wookey HoleAmy and Sophie having a cuddledragon at wookey holefairy garden at wookey holegorilla at wookey holeAmy underneath the gorilla at Wookey Holedinosaur valley at wookey hole

Wookey Hole is a lovely place for little ones as there’s so much to see and explore, so it was the perfect place to take my lovely friend Andrea and her daughter Sophie when they came down to Bristol to spend the day with us.

The caves of Wookey Hole are a 45 minute drive away from Bristol, tucked away in a small valley on the southern edge of the Mendip Hills near Wells in Somerset, and can be visited by the public all year round.

The girls both did great during the tour through the caves. When we last visited, a little over a year ago, Amy got really scared because it was so dark inside, but while queueing for the tour, we explained to the girls that it would be dark at the beginning of the tour but that we’d soon see a lot of coloured lights, a witch (they both seemed to be really excited about that part) and lots of stinky Cheddar cheese which is stored in the caves of Woookey Hole.

Once we had made it back into daylight, we walked through the garden, discovered dragons, mermaids and fairies and stopped for a slush puppy before visiting the dinosaurs. The girls loved that and would have climbed onto each and every one of them, had we let them. We had different plans though: a trip to the witches laboratory.

I had no clue what this attraction was about as it is relatively new, but it was a fun 4D experience sending us onto a lost island with dinosaurs chasing after us – think Jurassic Park, but with wobbling seats, a dying airplane and a splash of dinosaur poo for the audience. It was hilarious. Poor Sophie however didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, so some light entertainment was on order next: We headed into the main building and attended a show of Wookey Hole’s very own circus.

All artists were teenagers and children and I was so impressed with the show that they put on. They juggled, climbed on ropes, performed magic tricks and rode unicycles and I just can’t believe how versatile everyone was. The girls were clapping along and shouting Bravo, while munching on a big bag of popcorn and the show really made a lovely end to our time at Wookey Hole – not however our day. But more on our day of fun in tomorrow’s post.

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Puff pastry pizza with spinach, asparagus and more

puff pastry pizza with spinach, asparagus and broccoli
It’s so hot at the moment that I really don’t fancy slaving in the kitchen for hours, so the other day I decided to make us a really quick but tasty dinner: a puff pastry pizza with spinach, asparagus and lots of yummy toppings. It took 30 minutes to make (including prep-work) and was a big hit with Amy, who had three slices of it. If you want to recreate it, here’s our recipe:

Puff Pastry Pizza with Spinach and Asparagus

Jus-Rol Light Puff Pastry Sheet (320g)
125g soft cheese
1 tbsp red pesto
200g fresh spinach
100g tenderstem broccoli
100g aparagus
150g cherry tomatoes
100g mozzarella pearls
50g grated cheddar
salt
pepper
garlic powder
butter

puff pastry pizza with spinach, broccoli and asparagus

Method:

1. Preheat your oven to 200 degree Celsius. Line a baking tray with baking paper and roll out your puff pastry sheet.

2. Mix the soft cheese and red pesto and thinly spread on the puff pastry sheet leaving a 2cm edge on all sides.

3. While blanching your spinach and boiling broccoli and asparagus, slice your cherry tomatoes in halves and spread on your pastry sheet.

4. Drain spinach and try to squeeze out as much excess liquid as possible, then train broccoli and asparagus.

5. Spread spinach, broccoli and asparagus on your puff pastry sheet, add mozzarella and sprinkle with grated cheddar.

6. Season with salt, butter and garlic powder and brush the edges with butter.

7. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until golden. Serve on its own or with salad.

Voila, our Puff Pastry Pizza with Spinach. I hope you enjoy this recipe. We really liked it and are looking forward and can’t wait to experiment with toppings.

Puff Pastry Pizza with Spinach, Broccoli and Asparagus recipe

What would you top your Puff Pastry Pizza with?

Linking up with Recipe of the WeekTasty Tuesdays and Friday Foodie Round-Up.

Disclosure: I received some vouchers from Jus-Rol to get some of their products for recipes.

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Win a kids bed from The Children’s Bed Shop

A good night’s sleep is just as essential for your child’s development as food and drink. It’s at night, when little ones are in their beds, that their brain recharges its battery and prepares for the next day.

Children who had a good night’s sleep will be more receptive, have a better attention span and be able to process and learn better than peers who didn’t get a sufficient amount of sleep, were interrupted or uncomfortable.

To promote better sleep, we’ve teamed up with Children’s Bed Shop who are one of only a few children’s bed experts in the UK and sell a huge range of Children’s Mid Sleeper Beds, Children’s High Sleeper Beds, Children’s Bunk Beds and Children’s Single Beds.

One of these Children’s Mid Sleeper Beds can be yours as the Children’s Bed Shop has kindly agreed to give one of the Steens For Kids Midsleeper Bed (worth £180) away in this week’s giveaway. How exciting is that that?

Steens For Kids Midsleeper bed, IMPORTANCE OF A GOOD NIGHT'S SLEEP FOR CHILDREN

If you want to win, all you have to do is fill in the Rafflecopter form below following the instructions provided. Please, ensure to fulfil the mandatory steps before moving on to earning extra points. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Keeping your Pet Safe with Fresh Organic Foods

pet foods and what you need to knowPet parents are as concerned as any other parent about what their “children” eat every day. They read labels and compare ingredients to find the healthiest food choices. Reading labels may not be enough to ensure that what is being bought is truly organic. Many believe that foods that are labelled organic are automatically safer and healthier for their beloved pets. The truth is not all commercial pet foods that say natural or organic really are.

Natural foods are ones that have no synthetics and all ingredients are created from animal, plant or mined sources. There can be no additives or chemicals used in the growth of these ingredients. However, government regulations are extremely lax about pet foods. Even foods that are manufactured in the United States may have ingredients, such as wheat, from another country. Everyone has heard about the contaminated pet foods and treats that came from China. That this could happen again at any time is scary!

The government has regulations for all kinds of strange things, but when it comes to what people and pets consume, the regulations are not always easy to understand or follow. At times, it seems the regulations are flexible and only the circumstances surrounding the item decide what the government will follow. The sad reality is consumers should have little confidence that the pet foods they purchase are truly safe and organic.

Truly Organic Ingredients

Thousands of people are finally realizing that the only way to know exactly what their pets are eating is to prepare it themselves. That way, they can control what ingredients are used and can make it according to what their pets love and need. Just like with humans, some foods are better for pets of different ages and medical needs.

Preparing pet food may seem like it could be time-consuming or expensive but that is simply not true. Foods that are purchased from certified organic farms or ones that are grown in their private gardens for their families can be used for pet food, also. Recipes are easy to found on the internet for all types of pets – they can even be searched for medical needs of the pet, such as pregnancy.

Organic Pet Snacks

While researching pet food recipes, check out all of the options for special treats for pets. It doesn’t matter what type of pet, there are thousands of recipes for delicious and healthy treats for them. From cookies shaped like fish to bags of puppy chow snacks, don’t forget to prepare safe and healthy snacks for pets! These are all easy to do using ingredients that are fairly inexpensive. Not only will pets love the taste, but the pet parents can be sure that the treats are healthy! No more worrying about what is really in the treats!

Pet lovers will do anything to keep their pets safe. They purchase the best dog containment system or even install a do it yourself invisible fence. They buy only the safest toys for their pets. They purchase only the best foods for their beloved pets and prepare their meals with love. Nothing is too good for pets that are family members.

This is a promotional post with an image from Ryan Forsythe.

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Meaningful Memories – The best road trip songs

meaningful memories the best road trip songsI love music. I’m forever singing and secretly dancing along to my favourite songs, so there couldn’t me a more perfect challenge for me than Hidden Hearing‘s Meaningful Memories challenge. The winner will receive a £100 voucher of their choice – either ASOS, Amazon, or iTunes and if you want to enter, send your links to Kathryn Thompson by 28th July 2014. Her email address is kathryn.thompson35@gmail.com.

You are free to share any 5 songs that have a meaning to you. They can be from your childhood, remind you of your first love (we’re going to skip that one, although he once made me a beautiful album full of songs that reflected on our relationship) or include songs that remind you of your child’s birth, your first dance or your first kiss.

I thought we’d make this one a bit of fun, so I’m sharing with you the songs that my sister and I picked for our family road trips when we were 5 and 11. Get ready for some serious 90s ehm trash?

Captain Jack by Captain Jack

Picture us sitting at the back of the car and getting our tongues in a twist trying to join in with Captain Jack’s military rap. Captain Jack was high on our list. The tune was catchy, and although good old Captain Jack was the most awful singer the 90s have seen, his side kick Liza had a lovely voice – you’ll hear it, if you concentrate on ignoring her questionable outfit.

Where do you go by No Mercy

No one can resist some Spanglish (totally a recognised word) summer tunes, so this was one that accompanied us on every single trip from Germany through the Czech Republic, through Slovakia and into Hungary. Our mum had a soft spot for the boys, so as totally selfless daughters, we added them to our cassettes – yes, it was that long ago.

Herz an Herz by Bluemchen (now Jasmin Wagner)

15 year old girl with hideous blue eye-shadow and excessively teased bunches sings about her first big love – something every teenie girl back then could resonate with. The single earned Bluemchen dozens of awards in Germany and made it to No 46 in the UK charts in its translated form. Check it out here.

Be My Lover by La Bouche

La da da dee da da da da… Simplest lyrics ever, right? My dad, the old grinch still didn’t sing along with the rest of us while driving through the night. I think he just doesn’t do the whole singing in the car thing, but it’s so much fun, especially, if you’ve got a tune that you can sing from the top of your lungs.

Scatman by Scatman John

Hand on heart, have you ever listened to this song without trying to scatter along? I haven’t and I know that my sister loved it just as much to sing along as I did. I swear, we came up with the most ridiculous lyrics trying to copy good old Scatman John – especially as both our English was non-existent back then. That’s also why I was shocked and appalled at the same time when, Ace of Base’s lead singer proclaimed that “All That She Wants Is Another Baby” – I really thought she wanted to swap her kid. Thank God, I’ve caught up in the brain department…

Now how about you? What are your favourite or most memorable tunes? And how do you like our car tunes? Would you have come on a road trip with us?

This is a promotional post, but I hope you enjoyed our little trip down memory lane. The image above is from William Warby via Flickr.

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Send me the pink pigeon

If you’ve recently watched telly, you might have come across the new advert from Bingo at Paddy Power. It features a massive pink pigeon that flutters around the country and ehm deposits pink pigeon poo (luck) and to be fair, I wouldn’t mind, if it followed me around for a little bit of luck.

I would back my bags and go on a long holiday, traveling from one country to the other. I haven’t been on a real holiday in ages and I used to love traveling when I was younger – how ancient does that make me sound?

Anyway, I have asked some of my blogging friends which wish they’d make come true, if the pink pigeon came to bring them luck and here’s what they said:

Andrea wishes for her family and herself to be healthy and happy, because nothing else in life really matters, but she wouldn’t send a cleaner home either!

Jenny would love to turn back time to when her eldest son Burton was a newborn. She says: “I’d do it all again , learn from my mistakes and be a better parent. A time machine would be great, but that’s maybe a bit too much like Back To The Future.”

A new kitchen is what Helen would love and a lottery win, so she would have enough money in the bank to never worry about bills again at the end of the month.

Amanda would love the voice of an angel. She says:” My hubby is such a good singer, and if we both could sing we could totally kill it on singstar! We might also be a singing duet and make millions too!” I’ll make sure to buy your album, guys!

Clare would love the pink pigeon to find her care bear from when she was 4. She says: “I lost it in a house move in my 20′s and I really wish I hadn’t.”

Simone would love a 6ft Adonis in her life and, of course, he’d wine and dine her with a winning smile on his face. – I’ll join the queue!

Penny would love the pink pigeon to ensure that everything she touches, and her family touches, gets put away, as if by magic, when it is finished with. She also wouldn’t mind, if “occasionally, the odd surplus to requirements thing could turn to gold. That would be the icing on the cake.”

Which wish would you make come true? Check out the infographic below to find out which dreams others made reality.

Lucky 7 or who I need a pigeon that throws luck down my chimney
This is a promotional post.

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First-time Buyer Essentials

first-time buyers and what they should not forget when they first move into their new houseBuying your first house is an immensely daunting and exciting (not to mention stressful) time. You’ve got all kinds of solicitor and estate agent issues to sort out which can seem like an endless process, but once all of that is settled you can start thinking about actually buying some of the nice things to furnish the place.

Here are some first-time buyer essentials you shouldn’t be without when you move into your first place…

Sofas

One of the greatest things about having your own place is being able to relax and chill out, and you’ll really cherish that first night where you can just slob out on the sofa knowing that you own the house you’re living in. Which brings us onto the next point…

A Television

If you’re curled up on your comfy new sofa, then you’re probably going to want a television to watch as well. Whether you get something small or a big 3D TV, you’ll love watching your favourite shows and films in your new house. Hispek have some decent deals on TVs so might be worth checking out their website to see what they have.

first-time buy essentials a tv for romantic evenings

A bed

This is arguably the most important item on the list so one that you shouldn’t skimp on. Pretty much everyone loves being in bed, so you’ll want something comfortable and roomy, particularly if there are two of you sharing it. Obviously the size of your bed might be limited by the size of your bedroom, but if you can squeeze in a big bed then it’s worth doing so.

A good set of knives

You might be doing more cooking than you’re used to, and one thing that is essential but often gets neglected is a good set of knives. If you’ve got old knives that haven’t been sharpened in forever, then you’ll be amazed at how good a new set is. Lakeland has a wide variety of knives, although you might be shocked at how expensive some of them are! They do have cheaper sets as well, though.

Local takeaway menus

You may have your knew knives but you’ll definitely need a few menus from the local takeaways, particularly in the first couple of weeks of moving in. Your new place will likely look a mess for a little while and you’ll be busy getting it sorted, so you might not fancy cooking every night, and that’s where the menus come in very handy. Just-eat.co.uk is a very cool website that lets your order online from a huge selection of local takeaways.

Garden tools (if you have a garden)

If your new place has a garden then make sure you get a few basic garden tools. The previous owners may not have paid much attention to the garden so you might have to hack away at trees and bushes, which is a lot harder to do if you don’t have the right equipment.

New bedding

Sometimes you just can’t beat some new bedding, and what better time to get some than when you move into your new house? That first night’s sleep will be even better.

This is a promotional post.

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Cleaning Without Chemicals: How to be a Green Domestic Goddess

Cleaning Without Chemicals How to be a Green Domestic GoddessThere are so many good reasons why being a green domestic goddess is such a smart move.

If you have a typical family home with kids and pets constantly creating havoc and mess wherever they go, you need to find a way of keeping the house clean without using chemicals, if you can help it.

Here are some of the positive steps you can take to achieve your green goddess status and have some solid eco-credentials as well as a sparkling clean home.

Carpets and upholstery

Any house with kids is going to suffer some inevitable spills and stains on the carpets and settee.

A normal reaction would be to either call in a cleaning contractor or get a branded cleaning product to work on the affected area.

The problem with this is not just the added expense of paying for professional help and buying the cleaning fluids, it is the fact that carpet cleaning chemicals quickly get into the air of a room and can therefore put your children potentially at risk from inhaling them.

The green solution would be to use a steam cleaner like the ones that you can get at www.karcher.co.uk. Using a steam cleaner will help you to clean the house in an environmentally friendly way with no chemicals and no water contamination.

A steam cleaner is capable of delivering outstanding cleaning power and uses less water to clean a floor than you would use with a mop and bucket. The high-powered steam also provides a good level of sanitation and you don’t have to worry about the kids in the house as there are no chemicals involved in the cleaning process.

Ditch the toxic products

Look in the cupboard underneath the sink in the kitchen of a green domestic goddess and you won’t see the poisonous toxic products that so many of us keep in our home, without thinking how harmful they have the potential to be.

Aim to replace toxic products with bio-degradable and non-toxic substitutes. There are some basic household ingredients that you can use to create eco-friendly cleaning products from things like baking soda, white vinegar and lemon juice.

Healthier home

You want to keep your kids safe from germs and infections and that is one of the reasons why so many of us turn to bleach as a way of keeping bacteria away.

You can quickly create a more eco-friendly and safer antibacterial spray without resorting to bleach, which has the capacity to be harmful in a number of ways.

Cleaner air

You can even reduce air pollution in your home simply by having more plants around the house.

Plants have a natural ability to clean the air and provide more oxygen into your environment. Not only will your home look more attractive with more plants around, but it will also be healthier too.

These are just a few ways in which you can make your home cleaner and healthier without needing to resort to chemicals in order to do so.

Ditch the toxic products and use a steam cleaner around your home and you will be well on the way to achieving domestic goddess status.

Abby Rahman enjoys researching about ecologically and family friendly home cleaning methods. She enjoys sharing her research online so other can also benefit from her findings. Image: luckyjimmy via Flickr