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One time on holiday – my embarrassing holiday memories

holiday memories

When I read about the Mark Warner holiday giveaway with Kiddicare, I knew that I wanted to try my luck. Who doesn’t want to win a holiday to Greece after all? We travelled a lot when I was younger and having grown up in Germany, in the centre of Europe, it was relatively easy to jump into the car and drive wherever we fancied.

My parents both love hiking, so we often packed our rucksacks and hiking boots and to Austria. Another popular holiday destination of our family was Lake Balaton in Hungary. We went a lot and I have the most beautiful memories of our holidays. Whenever we went to Hungary, we went with my dad’s brother and his family and I loved getting to see my cousin for two weeks in a row.

We never had just boring beach holidays. I guess we all love getting to know the country we’re in and learning new things too much to waste our time lying on a sun lounger all day, but this is not what this blog post shall be about. I could tell you about day trips, sightseeing adventures and European cuisine, but you can read a travel guide, if you want to hear about all that.

The mountain goat day

The thing that people really want to hear is the gossip, the fun stuff and the embarrassing situations that you got yourself into, so I thought I share my two most embarrassing holiday memories with you. Which one is more embarrassing? You decide…

1. Fashion is an important thing when you are a teenager, so I always took great pride in picking a nice swimsuit before going on holiday. When I was 12 or 13, I chose a stripy number in turquoise and white and thought that I was at the height of fashion. Where I actually found myself was wincing in the corner of changing room. We had gone to an outdoor pool with my Uncle’s family and when I came out the water, my Auntie kindly let me know that the white part of my swimsuit had become see-through in the water and you could see what no teenage girl wants you to see.

2. My parents are passionate hikers and know a thing or two about getting on and off a mountain safely, so when we reached the peak of a 3000m mountain in Tirol and thick fog made it dangerous to move, my dad quickly told us to sit down exactly where we were and not to move until the fog was gone. We did as we were told, stayed safe and were glad when we could get back up. Well, everyone apart from me, because that’s when I noticed that I had sat on a massive pile of mountain goat poo and had a humongous poo stain on my trousers that accompanied me all the way down into the valley.

So which moment was more embarrassing? Swimsuit or poo-gate? Let me know in the comments below and, of course, share your own fun and embarrassing holiday memories! 

Mark Warner Holidays is giving away a summer 2014 family holiday in association with baby specialist Kiddicare. This awesome competition opens 13th September and closes 31st October 2013. You can enter in any Kiddicare superstore or via the online entry form on Kiddicare’s Facebook page.
For tips on how to entertain the kids on your travels, the kit you absolutely shouldn’t leave home without, how to prepare your children (and you) for their first flight, and so much more useful know how written by mums and dads, visit the Kiddicare blog.
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How to make your house more eco-friendly

eco tips from designer oliver heath andrex

I try to be as eco-friendly as I can be. I recycle. I only use the tumble dryer, if I really have to and we have energy saving light bulbs all around the house. Whilst they might seem quite expensive initially, they will save you a fair amount of money in the long run. A new survey conducted by Andrex Eco however shows that 48% of Brits are worried that being greener will leave them out of pocket and a whopping 78% of us thinking that eco-friendly or sustainable products are more expensive than their standard counterparts.

Eco designer Oliver Heath knows that being eco-friendly doesn’t have to be expensive though. Click the video below to go on a tour around his house with the TV star.

How to make your house more eco-friendly – 10 easy tips from Oliver Heath

1. Cut your electricity bills by switching over to low energy LED light bulbs. They’ll save you money and won’t need changing almost ever – well every 50,000 hours or so.

2. The summer months are a great time to fit draught excluders to doors, windows, and even unused chimneys. It’s a cheap and easy DIY job but makes an enormous change to your home come winter – draughts account for 15% of your homes heat loss.

3. Start a compost heap. Now you’re back out in the garden there will be lots of green waste to start feeding it with, plus you can also include kitchen waste and cardboard such as toilet roll tubes. Keep a compost caddy and by this time next year you’ll have lots of lovely fertiliser to feed your flowers, fruit and veg with.

4. Think about all the places you throw stuff away from – people often forget about all the recyclable materials that come from the bathroom such as shampoo bottles and toilet roll tubes, so why not put a separate recycling bin in there too.

5. Cutting down on hot water use can save you in three ways as we pay to buy, heat and dispose of it. Fitting and an aerated shower head and using a shower timer will literally save you gallons every day, not to mention the reduced energy costs.

6. Natural light is psychologically uplifting and can help you cut down on energy bills. Make the most of this free renewable energy source by fully opening curtains every day, keeping windows free of obstructions and bouncing light off white painted window sills.

7. Plants not only look good, they also keep your home healthy too. Ferns, ivy, spider plants and mother-in-law’s tongue all absorb CO2 and a variety of toxins in the home.

8. It’s often the small actions that make a change like choosing to buy better. Look out for products that contain recycled materials and that are easily recyclable. You’ll find the same great quality but with environmental thinking built in from the outset like Andrex Eco toilet paper.

9. Homes filled with new furniture and fittings can often feel a little impersonal. Divert usable old or worn out products from waste and find items to upcycle for your home. Vintage or upcycled items add character, identity and style, making your home that little bit more unique.

10. Sharing things feels good and saves you money. There are lots of ways that communities can make big changes and benefit you – whether it’s borrowing more from local libraries, giving away unwanted items on Freecycle or joining other online community groups to access with local skills, products or activities.

Disclosure: This post was brought to you by Andrew Eco.

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Autumn means snuggling up on the sofa

autumn cuddling on the sofa

I absolutely love autumn. It’s my favourite season of all. It’s not too hot and not unbearably cold either and it’s the perfect time for family time outside. Long autumn walks, kicking leaves and enjoying the warm colours that autumn paints everything in are some of my favourite things to do and then there’s the excitement of my birthday and Halloween.

The best thing about autumn however is snuggling up on the sofa with a big blanket, a hot chocolate and a cheesy rom-com that your partner secretly loves more than you do. Unfortunately, that’s impossible on our current sofa. We’ve got a massive leather sofa and two armchairs and if I could afford right now, I would kick it out and get a nice corner sofa. L shape corner sofas aren’t only perfect for cuddling up with your partner, they’re also great, if you have a small living room and don’t want to waste valuable space.

We are currently wasting about 2 square meters of our front room just because we have this brown monster of a sofa that you can’t position in any other way and I’m sick of it. If you fancy a bit of window shopping or in fact need a new sofa, just like me, click here for British handmade sofas. At the moment, we have a dark brown leather sofa and looking at the range of colours available, I think that I would really like to go a little lighter.

A white or cream colour sofa is just ridiculous, if you have a messy toddler around, but I actually quite like the idea of going for something a little different. Grey is always a winner and looking at the red sofas, I now quite fancy for going something a little more colourful. It would mean repainting the front room though and I don’t know, if I can be bothered to go through that hassle again after just 6 months. I might just window shop for a little longer.

Disclosure: This post was brought to you by 123Sofas. I really hate my sofa though! 

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Win a cute Hello Kitty T-shirt

hello kitty t-shirt little casa

A couple of weeks ago, Amy was sent an adorable Hello Kitty t-shirt from children’s online boutique Little Casa. It’s red with a cute pink heart print on the arms, some cute pink frilly detailing around the arms and of course a big Hello Kitty print on the front of the T-shirt. The back of the collar features a little cut out and a red button detail on the back.

All in all, this is a really well made T-shirt for little people. It has a cute design, it’s made from a lovely thick material and it washes really well. Amy has worn it a lot over the last couple of weeks, so she has really put it through its paces and it is still going strong. The colours are still as bright and lovely as they were when we received the t-shirt and it hasn’t lost its shape either. Very impressed!

Unfortunately, the Hello Kitty T-shirt is only available in the sizes 0-3 months up to 2-3 years, so it would be lovely seeing it in some bigger sizes. Amy’s older cousin is a massive Hello Kitty fan and would love to wear this top.

At £9 it is also little more expensive than T-shirts that you can pick up in supermarkets or Primark and H&M, but I really do believe that paying a tiny bit more is worth it because this is a great quality T-shirt.

Want to win your own Hello Kitty T-shirt?

If you want to win your own Hello Kitty T-shirt, fill in the Rafflecopter form below, but please do remember that incomplete or faulty entries will be removed and not entered into the prize draw. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Review: Walkers Mighty Lights

walkers-mighty-lights-crisp

Blogging really has it’s perks, I won’t lie about it. You meet inspirational people, make new friends and if you are really lucky, your postman brings you a big box of crisps – crisps that aren’t only terribly tasty, but also healthier than others. He brings you a box of Walkers Mighty Lights.

Walkers Mighty Lights are Walkers new range of crisps: mighty in flavour and lower in fat than any of Walkers’ other crisps. We were sent 3 multipacks for our big taste test, but before I tell you what we thought about them, here some interesting facts about Walkers’ latest masterpiece:

* A single pack weighs 25g and contains 114 calories and 4.7g of fat
* Mighty Lights are made from real potatoes and baked in sunflower oil
* Walkers’ latest ridged crisp does not contain any artificial colours or preservatives.
* They are available in three flavours: lightly salted, cheese & onion and roast chicken, with all flavours suitable for vegetarians.
* Walkers Mighty Lights contain 30% less fat than average crisps.

So what did we think about the Walkers Mighty Lights?

Ben and Amy are massive crisp fans, whereas I am the one with the sweet tooth in our family, so when they discovered that we had been sent a massive box full of crisps, there was no holding them back. They opened a bag from each multi pack, snuggled up on the sofa and started their big taste test. Their winner was the cheese & onion flavour. No surprise there for me as that’s the flavour they always go for. Ben described them as light and crispy (he’s got such a thing with words), but he didn’t notice that they contained any less fat than other crisp brands. He did however highlight that the lack of fat did not mean a lack of flavour. The bag was gone as quick as any other and the two of them quickly reached for another one.

Personally, I am not too keen on crisps. I do eat them occasionally, but when I fell pregnant with Amy, I really went off them. I did however try some of the new Walkers Mighty Lights as, obviously, I can’t write about something on the blog or even recommend it without having tried it myself. Not being a fan of cheese & onion crisps (I always find that the cheese flavour is a little overpowering), I picked the lightly salted and roast chicken flavour and they were really pleasant in taste and texture. They had a nice crunch to them, the ridge made them a little different from their original Walkers brothers and sisters and the fact that they are a little more healthy than standard crisps made me eat them feeling a little less guilty about my cheeky treat.

I can’t judge, if they are any better or worse than any other brand as I simply don’t eat enough crisps to be a fair judge, but the fact that Walkers Mighty Lights have 30% less fat than other crisps makes me consider them more than other brands. They make a great snack on long car journeys or a picnic and are the perfect size for a lunch box treat.

Disclosure: We were sent 3 multipacks and were compensated for this review. 

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Back to school with Internet Gift Store

back to school must-haves stationery

I absolutely loved school, so going back to school after 6 long weeks of holidays was something I was always looking forward to – not only because I got to see all my friends and chat about my summer adventures with them, but also because it meant that I would get to go stationery shopping with my mum. You must know, I have a tiny little stationery addiction (that’s what you call it when someone has 8 notebooks at the same time, right) and picking new pens, folders and a new timer really excited me. In fact, it still does.

Had online retailer Internet Gift Shop been around during my school days, they would have had a very loyal customer in me. With ranges for children, teenagers and even adults, their products are suitable for all age groups and a fun way of starting into the school year. So what would I choose, if I went back to school right now? I had a look at the back to school range and here are my favourites:

1. Ted Baker Set of Mini Notebooks: It’s always handy to have notebooks and they also make cute little presents. I’ve got 8 different notebooks on the go for all sorts of things, e.g. work, my blog, recipes, little bits and bobs that I don’t want to forget or my ever growing to do list.

2. Gorjuss Pocket sticky notes with pencil: First things first, I do know how to spell gorgeous. This is just the name of the brand and the sticky notes really are what they say, gorgeous. I use sticky notes to remind myself of interesting articles I have read or in fact the shopping that I need for the next week. They’re a clever little reminder and make so much more sense than a knot in your handkerchief. Who can ever remember what they’re there for?

3.  Happy Jackson Hole Punching Ringbinder: Ringbinders are a great idea, if you like to have all your information in one place. I created different chapters for different subjects in my ringbinder and never forgot to bring any of my work when it was needed at school or uni. This one’s really cute too. It comes in a sunny yellow with one of my favourite fonts – yes, I have a favourite font. I told you I was a little obsessed with stationery.

4. Polar Gear Nova Bento Lunch Box: Lunch boxes are a must, no matter if you go to school or the office every day. This one has two layers, so allows you to keep all your sweet and savoury snacks separate. It also includes a spoon and fork, which is fab, if you take in pasta dishes or salads and it’s purple. I love purple, it’s my happy colour!

5. Mirabelle Adrift Accessory Case: This cute little case in pastel colours is perfect, if you are looking for a pencil case or just a place to store all your bits and bobs. I always had rulers, a pair of compasses and a mini hole puncher with me, so could have actually done with an extra case for them. 

But what do you think? What are your back to school must-haves?

Disclosure: This post was brought to you by Internet Gift Shop.

 

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Black Forest Trifle

black forest trifle chocolate and cherry trifle

You might have already guessed it from the picture, this week, one of the Great British Bake Off themes was Trifle. The other options were Floating Islands or Petits Fours. Seeing that I don’t like custard, floating islands weren’t an option for me, although I did think of swapping the custard for a fruit soup at one point, and petits fours just sounded like a lot of frustration for me. I’ve got sausage fingers, so meticulously decorated mini cakes would have been a massive challenge for me. So was making a trifle by the way. Can you believe that it was my first trifle ever? Scary, huh? Still less daunting than petits fours, I thought, so I tried to come up with a recipe that didn’t involve custard and that was a little different from the traditional English trifle that you can buy literally everywhere. The idea of a Black Forest Trifle was born. Quite fitting seeing that I’m German and love chocolate and cherries in equal measures.

Want to try it? Here’s the recipe for my Black Forest Trifle:

300 ml double cream
1 tin black cherries

Ingredients Cherry Jelly:

5 sheets of gelatine
300 g pitted cherries
300ml cherry juice
100 g cherry jam

Method Cherry Jelly:

1. Soak your gelatine sheets in cold water for about 5 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, bring your cherries, jam and juice to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Then liquidise in a blender and pour through a sieve. You will have about 600ml once you are done.

3. Add half of your liquidised fruit puree to the gelatine, stir unil the gelatine has completely dissolved and add back into your fruit puree. Set aside.

Ingredients Chocolate Brownies:

225g softened butter
75g cocoa powder
4 eggs
300g caster sugar
4 tbsp milk
100g self-raising flour

Method Chocolate Brownies:

1. Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4 and grease the base of a 13x9in or 33x23cm tin.

2. Whisk the butter, cocoa powder, eggs, sugar, milk and flour to a smooth mix. Spoon into the tin and bake for 30 minutes.

3. Cool on a wire rack and cut into pieces to fit your trifle bowl.

Ingredients Chocolate Mousse:

300g dark chocolate
3 eggs
50g caster sugar
1 tbsp cocoa powder
300ml thickend double-cream
some grated chocolate for decoration

Method Chocolate Mousse:

1. Melt the chocolate over a bain marie and stir to avoid lumps. Once melted take from heat and set aside.

2. Mix eggs and sugar in a large bowl and whisk for about 5 minutes until you have a pale and thick mixture. Fold in the cooled chocolate and cocoa powder.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk the double cream and gently fold into the chocolate mix using a metal spoon.

How to assemble your Black Forest Trifle:

black forest trifle chocolate and cherry trifleNow that you’ve finished preparing your ingredients, it’s time to assemble your Black Forest Trifle in a pretty glass bowl that shows off your masterpiece. With trifles, it’s all about the layers, so make sure you create well defined layers that are visible from the outside. I found filling the bowl from the outside to the inside worked best for me..

I layered my trifle as follows: cherry jelly, chocolate brownies, whipped cream, cherry compote (1 tin black cherries), chocolate mousse and whipped cream. I piped little peaks, but you can go for a smooth look or pipe your cream however you like.  Sprinkle your trifle with grated chocolate and decorate with some fresh cherries before serving.

I bought my trifle bowl from The Range. It’s a 15 inch martini glass, which can be used for so many craft and cookery projects that it would have been plain rude not to buy it. It also only cost me £6.99, which I thought was an absolute bargain.

I love styled photo shoots as you can see them on Lucy’s blog Capture by Lucy and I really want to make more of an effort to make my photos look more attractive by using some interesting props, textures and backgrounds, but on this occasion the only props I used were my trifle bowl and some cherries that I scattered around my living room floor. I think it works for this particular recipe, but I can’t wait to go prop shopping for some interesting little objects that will give my photos more character.

If you want to see what other bloggers use to style their blog photos, check out Lucy’s brand new linky: Sunday Prop Shop. For more recipes featuring this week’s GBBO themes, pop over to Mummy Mishaps and The Crazy Kitchen.

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