A Strong Coffee

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Back To School With Debenhams

Well it appears that back in my day it wasn't the trend to have your photo taken by a front door or garage at the start of each school year. However, I do have a couple of photos of me at the same kind of ages as middle man (5) and big man (7). Debenhams currently have a blogger competition (co hosts are The Ramblings of a Formerly Rock'n'Roll Mum, Yellow Days and Little Steps)  running encouraging us to share our photos with our children and our readers. Hmmmm thanks, I think!

Well here are my lovely photos. Complete with "stylish" NHS glasses.

old photo

And this one where I had become vain and taken my glasses off for photos. I had also lost my front teeth and so refused to smile properly for well over a year!

old school photo

Now who does that remind you of? Note, front door features in this!

So I shared my photos with middle man. His response?


My question had been "What do you think of these?" so I asked him to elaborate.

"No, I don't know them."

"Me not know them either" butted in little man.

"Are you sure?"  I inquired whist doing this:

younger self

Totally unfreaked out by my smile they looked at me and said. "We don't know them."

I then did the same to big man. Surely he would get it?

"Oh it's Auntie Sara!"


"You?"  At last!

So clearly I have aged in the last 20 *cough, cough* or so years. And OK my hair may be a little less red than it was. So what would they pick for me from the Debenhams School range now?

Back to School

Back to School by louise-fairweather 

1. Grey pinafore
2. Girl's White Blouse
3.Green School Cardigan
4. Knee High Socks
5. Patent Bow Strapped Shoes

Going by my first photo they chose a grey dress, white blouses and a green school cardigan. I have to say I was a little reluctant when they chose a white blouse over a polo shirt as I am not one for ironing. However, these are easy iron which makes everything better. Then they got a bit stuck. I gave them the choice of tights or socks and they chose some long white ones and black shoes. I think they did a good job and if anyone wants to recreate my look then I am pleased to say that there has been a great advancement in NHS glasses if you require them.

Friday, 4 September 2015

Sugar Free Lemon Drizzle Cake

sugar free lemon drizzle cake

When it comes to free from baking, I have a lot to learn. For this weeks Great Bloggers Bake Off I decided to make a sugar free lemon cake. I have to say I was so impressed by it, I am definitely going to try some more sugar free recipes.

I used Natvia which is a sweeter, I have used it before with mixed success but this really worked well. Although it recommends a 1:1 swop with sugar, I find it very sweet and used much less.


ingredients sugar free cake

For the cake:

115g self raising sugar
50g Natvia
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 lemon zest
70ml sunflower oil
1 dessert spoon milk
100g Greek Yoghurt

For the Drizzle:

Juice of 1 lemon
50g Natvia Icing mix (Really you need to do this to taste to make sure that it isn't overly sweet.)

The recipe was simple. I started by lining a small loaf tin (7 x 4 1/2 inches) with grease proof paper.  Then I mixed all the ingredients together and baked at 180C for 40 minutes.

lemon drizzle

I then took the loaf out of the oven and poured over the icing sugar and lemon mixture.

sugar free lemon drizzle

I covered the tin in foil and put back in the oven for another 10 minutes.

sugar free lemon drizzle

Then you just need to wait for it to cool before enjoying a slice with a cup of tea.

sugar free lemon drizzle cake

You can check out the other Great Bloggers Bakes over at Hijacked By Twins.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

CBeebies All Stars DVD Giveaway

Cbeebies Allstars DVD

School may have started but pre-schoolers will be pleased to know that CBeebies’ favourite characters have joined forces to star in a special bumper collection of episodes in this brand new fun-filled DVD collection, CBeebies All Stars, to be released on Monday 7th September by Abbey Home Media.
The DVD collection of CBeebies ‘All Stars’ is a great way of entertaining and educating young children. I hadn't really appreciated the educational value of CBeebies until my boys started school and they watched some of the programs in reception. I for one can tell you that Octonauts is very educational when it comes to marine biology (well except for the fact that Barnacles would eat his entire crew if he ever got near such animals.)

The collection features a host of CBeebies’ best loved characters: 
Twirlywoos – Twirlywoos come from far away, seeking adventure wherever they go. Join Great BigHoo, Toodloo, Chickedy and Chick for adventures on The Big Red Boat in Pop, the Twirlywoos have fun with bubbles when Peekaboo interrupts teatime.
The Furchester Hotel – The Furchester Hotel is an ‘almost’ world-class hotel run by a close-knit family of cheerfully chaotic monsters. The series introduces brand new characters and also welcomes the beloved Elmo and Cookie Monster from Sesame Street. In Toast With A Smile, it’s Elmo’s turn to work room service. Will he make it to Harvey P. Dull’s door without falling, tripping, slipping, crashing or dropping the toast? My boys absolutely love this program and love seeing the luggage trolleys in hotels!
Clangers – Get to know the whole Clanger family and all their friends: the Soup Dragon, the Froglets, the Iron Chicken and the Sky Moo. In The Lost Notes, the Music Tree notes for Tiny Clanger’s marvellous new melody are blown away when a big wind blows across the planet. No one can find them, and a search begins.
Octonauts – Join Captain Barnacles and crew on their animated underwater adventures. In Fiddler Crabs, the Octonauts help clean up a beach after a storm, but things get tricky when the resident fiddler crabs hijack the Gup-D!
Peter Rabbit – Beatrix Potter’s wonderful stories have charmed and entertained children for generations. Now fans can enjoy the brand new adventures of her timeless children’s classic Peter Rabbit from the new animated series. In The Lost Ladybird, our favourite rabbit loses Lily’s ladybird Florence, and the rabbits embark on a dangerous chase to recover her precious pet.
In the Night Garden – Share in the magical Night Garden world with Igglepiggle, Upsy Daisy, Makka Pakka and friends in Tombliboo Eee Gets Lost,Tombliboo Eee is separated from his friends and needs to use Upsy Daisy’s microphone to help find them.
Mike the Knight – Mike is an energetic, cheeky yet bountiful young knight-in-training, driven by his passion to help others and, along the way, be the best knight he can be. In The Special Signal, when Mike won’t teach his dragons a signal they’re able to do, they make up their own. But instead of calling Mike, it calls the Vikings! To rescue Sparkie, Mike has to learn the new signal – and to be a better teacher!
Chuggington Take to the rails in the action packed adventure Iron Chuggers where the Chuggineers compete with the Steam Team for the coveted Iron Chuggers title.
Dipdap –Butterfly and Balloons are two episodes taken from the series where a drawn line creates endless challenges and surprises for the unsuspecting little character, Dipdap.  Dipdap is both entranced and confused by the antics of The Line.
Cloudbabies – Who looks after the sky? The Cloudbabies do but in Grumpy Rainbow, Rainbow is in a bad mood, and his patience is tested further when he has to babysit Fuffa, Bobo White and Little Star. 
Topsy and Tim – Inspired by the books by Jean and Gareth Adamson, Topsy and Tim, is a live action drama inspired by the small stuff in little people’s lives, in New Babysitter when Mummy and Daddy go out for dinner, will the twins behave? There really is something to please every little one! You can pre-order the DVD from Amazon

I am also pleased to say that I have a DVD to giveaway to one of my readers. Just complete the rafflecopter below. Good Luck!

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Sponsored Video: What Do You Crave?

Crave: Verb. A powerful desire for something.

In my nearly 40 years of life, I have come to the conclusion that there is no point in denying yourself certain foods. Being healthy is all about striking a balance. Saying you aren't going to eat something, just makes you crave it more. I have tried many diets before that say no to certain foods and they have never worked for me. Infact, I am more likely to fall off the wagon and do exactly the opposite and binge on the restricted foods. I think that it is better to enjoy your food and make healthy choices. I have two big weaknesses when it comes to food. Chocolate and cheese. Not together. Don't worry I am not expecting again! Chocolate and cheese are both foods I love and crave. Both an enjoyable treat.

I was therefore excited to hear about The Laughing Cow Mini Cravings. Mini cubes of creamy cheese and best of all only 14 calories a cube. Perfect for a mini snack to help you through the day. I would spread one on a melba toast with a slice of tomato to give me an afternoon treat. They come in seven different flavours: The Laughing Cow Original, Ham and Herb, Three Cheese, Garlic and Herb, Cheddar, Smoked Cheese and Blue Cheese. There is a mini craving to suit most paletes. What's more with all those delicious flavours, you aren't going to get bored.

Which of The Laughing Cow's mini cubes will you crave the most?

This post is sponsored by The Laughing Cow

DCKids Create Your Own Superhero And Giveaway

I have just returned from a week away and we are having a lazy morning. Perfect for creating our own Superheroes! Thanks to DC Kids you too can create your own Super persona! I will now be known as Red Eagle. I am incredibly intelligent and have the power of invisibility. Middle man is extremely proud of his gravity controlling Red Shark. What would your Superhero be?

Create a superhero

red shark superhero

There are also some new videos over on the DCKids Channel and WBKids Channel - don't forget to subscribe. Favourites such as Scooby Doo and Batman Unlimited will see many more exciting updates over the next year.

Warner Bros. also have a giveaway running to win a bundle of great gifts. Just complete the rafflecopter below for your chance to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This is a sponsored post

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

The Royal Horseguards Review

royal horseguards

When it comes to hotels I am usually a Premier inn type of girl. However, as it was our 10th Wedding Anniversary we were looking for something a bit more special on our recent trip to London. We opted for The Royal Horseguards as it's fantastic location means that it is a few minutes walk from Trafalgar square and Leicester square.

reception royal horseguards

We booked an executive double. I am pleased we chose this instead of the double as it meant there was a bit more room. The bed was really comfortable and the room was so quiet. One of the problems I've had when staying in London before is the traffic noise. There was a large desk with a hidden mirror and hair dryer and a wardrobe with ironing board.

executive suite royal horseguards

The bathroom was lovely. You could relax in the bath watching TV and the shower was huge. the toiletries were Elemis.


The best thing about the hotel was the service. Nothing was a problem. We asked for decaf tea as there was only decaf coffee in the room. Within minutes we had leaf tea and fresh milk.

Breakfast was £18 per person, and as we were going for a large lunch, we opted to leave this and walk up to Starbucks. However, I have no doubt that it would have been lovely.

Each night our beds were turned down and a treat was left. One night it was chocolate the next tic tac's.

If you are looking for a nice hotel in the heart of London the Royal Horseguards is a lovely option.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Low Fat Baked Lemon & Raspberry Cheesecake

Low fat baked Lemon and Raspberry cheesecake

It has been a long time since I have made a baked cheesecake as I often opt for the simple no bake style. I decided that with all the baking I am doing at the moment it would be good to do a lower fat version and so used reduced fat digestives along with low fat cheese and quark.

You will need:

ingredients cheesecake

11 reduced fat digestive biscuits
50g butter
250 light soft cheese
500g Quark
3 eggs
4 tbsp plain flour
Juice of 1 lemon
10 raspberries
150g caster sugar

To decorate: melted white chocolate, raspberries and lemon slices.

Start by making the biscuit base. Rub butter around a 23cm springform tin. Crush the digestives, add the melted butter and push into the base of the tin. Put this in the fridge to cool whilst you make the cheesecake filling.

Combine the soft cheese, quark, caster sugar, lemon juice and eggs. Stir in the raspberries.
Smooth this mixture over the digestive base. Cook at 180C for around 40mins. Allow to cool.

Add the remaining raspberries as decoration using melted white chocolate to stick them in place.

baked cheesecake