A Strong Coffee

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Charlie Bigham's Pies Review

Charlie Bigham's pies


As it is National pie week, Charlie Bigham's send me some vouchers to taste their pies. When it comes to pies I am fussy. I don't buy supermarket pies as I am always disappointed. There is generally too much pastry, not enough gravy, and if you manage to find any meat in them, then that seems to be a bonus rather than an expectation!

The Charlie Bigham pies can be purchased from Waitrose and Sainsburys and come in a variety of flavours. They only had the Steak and Ale pies at our Sainsburys store which made chosing easy. At £7 for 2 individual pies, they are not cheap. I spoke to the checkout assistant about them and both of us doubted that they were worth the money.

Taking the pies of the packaging, you can see that they come in their own ceramic dishes. This is obviously going to be one of the reasons that the pies are expensive.

I brushed the pies with egg and put them in the over for around 25 minutes.

As you can see they looked really appetizing.

pie and mash


Was I disappointed?

No. I was really impressed. These are really good pies. There are big chunks of beef, lots of gravy, and although looking at it, there looks to be too much pastry it is exactly the right amount.

steak inside pie


They aren't an everyday pie, more of a treat, but I would look at buying them again.





I was given the pies for the purpose of this review but the opinions are my own.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Cafe Mickey: Dad's 70th

minnie mouse


"Yes, I would like to book a character birthday cake please. The child's name? That is Mike. He will be 70 years old."

The lady on the phone had to double check the age, whilst chuckling. There was no way that we were taking my Dad to Disneyland Paris for his 70th without a character coming over and drawing attention to the fact that it was his birthday.

Cafe Mickey is a must if you go to Disneyland Paris. It enables you to meet a number of characters without having to queue for 30 minutes in the cold. I would strongly advise that you book a table at Cafe Mickey before you arrive as unsurprisingly it gets really booked up.

We had booked the Halfboard Plus meal plan so just had to pay extra for the ice cream cake and wine. The food was nice. I had a lovely pizza. I really don't recommend the strawberry fromage blanc.

I love the photos we took. Here is my whole family.

family photo with mickey mouse


Little man has his eye on the wine and clearly middle man was so hungry he couldn't put down his roll!

eeyore cafe mickey


pluto cafe mickey



birthday cake cafe mickey

I think the photos show that you are never too old to have cuddles with a Disney character! Here's to lots more smiles. Happy Birthday Dad!

goofy at cafe Mickey


Saturday, 24 January 2015

Tech 21 iphone 6 Case Giveaway

tech 21 case
Photo Credit Tech 21

You know you hear stories about people getting their brand new iphones and smashing them within seconds of walking out of the shop? Well that was pretty much my husband. It wasn't quite seconds, but not more than a couple of weeks. He didn't have a case. His screen smashed and after a long wait to get an appointment just to get into the apple store, he had a hefty repair bill on his hands.

When I went into get my upgrade, I wasn't leaving without a case. I was also keen that it would be a case that I didn't need to remove the case in order to charge my phone as this was a problem when I had bought a cheap case previously. The manager at the store recommended the Tech 21 case. My husband was so impressed by mine that he got one of his own when of his own as soon as he had got his screen repaired.

I am not one of those people that is going to throw their phone around the room just to prove the case works, but I have dropped my phone a couple of times and it has protected it.

So if you are stuck for something to buy for Valentines Day, why not invest in a Tech21 iphone 6 case and keep your phone safe. Nothing spices up a relationship like a romantic message sent to your loved one. Tech 21 cases are designed to withstand accidental knocks and drops making them perfect for romance in the digital world.

I have recently been asked if I would like to review a Tech 21 case. As I already think they are great, they have kindly offered it as a giveaway to one of my readers instead. All you need to do is complete the rafflecopter below. Good Luck.

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Open to UK residents over the age of 18 only Entries will be moderated, so please make sure that you comment if necessary. There is one prize of a tech 21 classic case tri band blue for the iphone 6.  No cash alternative. If it is out of stock it will be replaced with a similar case. No bulk or automated entries. If you have already won the prize on a separate blog giveaway with the same promoter they reserve the right to redraw a new winner.  The winner will be chosen randomly. The winner will be notified by email (make sure you leave your contact details) and will have until 24th March to respond with their address. If they fail to respond a new winner will be drawn. No PO Box address Competition closes on 24th Feb at 12.00am . 

SuperLucky Blog Giveaway Linky



New Living Room Inspiration

Why is it that no one tells you just how much children affect your lives, even down to the furniture you have? When big man was born we went out and bought a lovely cream shaggy rug.

What were we thinking?

Well I was thinking that it looked pretty. I was not thinking how awful it would look after every bodily fluid possible had been secreted on it along with a mass of raisins that would hide in the lovely wool yarns.

Now the boys are getting bigger, and slightly less messy, I really want to make our living room a prettier space. To be honest there isn't a lot I really like about our living room at the moment except for our cable and cotton lights. Changes won't happen overnight, as the boys are still untidy and I don't want to see everything ruined immediately. However, if I start looking at some things I like now, we can slowly work there.

New Living Room Inspiration





One of the first things I need to update is the ceiling lights as our current one needs replacing. I dream of a stylish fabric sofa as opposed to a worn and sinking leather one.

I also love the idea of a large coffee table. I like this one from Next as it has some storage in it too. A few beautiful cushions and accessories would help give the space a more grown up feel. So I suppose the question I am asking, is when is a good time to do this? My youngest is now 3. Do you think my lovely room would be ruined in minutes? Would it be better to wait a year or so? Am I just kidding myself that my three boys would ever keep a beautiful room clean?





In collaboration with Multiyork, but as always the opinions are my own.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Should You Pay Per Grade?

A Facebook conversation the other day got me thinking about this. The question was about how much money should the parent pay their child if they obtained certain grades at school.

My immediate thought was nothing. I managed to pass my GCSE's perfectly fine without any financial carrot dangling under my nose. Surely you should want to get good grades? Infact I remember being really shocked that my parents bought me a gift after I received my grades as they were proud of me. (To be honest I think I would have got it no matter what grades I had got, as it was more of a you have worked hard present.) However, I had no knowledge I was getting it so it didn't affect how hard I had worked.

Having been a teacher myself, I know that lots of parents do this as an incentive, especially at GCSE's, but with other exams too. As a teacher I also know that most of the kids that brag about how much they will get if they get certain grades, probably haven't worked as hard as they should of throughout the year. Does this last minute bonus in a hope that they will do some revision make any difference on their score? I'm not sure.

So there you are. My answer is no you should not pay your child for each grade they obtain at GCSE as they should want to do it for themselves not for money.

Then I took big man to football. My friend and I sit outside with the kids while it is going on, doing homework. Her child is in year 2. She had done all her homework, but her mum was trying to get her to go the extra mile. "It's up to you, but you know you will only get extra stickers from your teacher if you do extra work." I sat there thinking,  I wouldn't bother for a few extra stickers love, you want some cold hard cash as an incentive! Which is when I realised that the whole topic isn't that simple.

From a really young age we use reward charts and reward positive behaviour with a treat. Is it any different to this? No. My husband works really hard in order to obtain his bonus. Same kind of thing. So is it wrong? No. It's a choice. Thankfully one that I don't have to make in the near future so can think about it more.

What is your view? Good idea or bad? How much would you even pay? Would you vary the rate depending on the ability of the child? Gosh I really hope that my boys just want to work hard for themselves as thinking about it all is just too confusing.

Post Comment Love

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Hidden Heart Cupcake Tutorial

hidden heart cupcakes


With Valentines day coming up, I decided that I would have a go at hidden heart cupcakes. they take a bit of time, but aren't too hard and I am really pleased with them.

I started by making a standard sponge mix for 24 cupcakes. I took a third of this and added some red food colouring. I then baked these in fairy cake cases. Once cooled I took a small heart cutter and pressed these into the cakes. (I then put the spare bits aside to make cake pops.)

pink cake hearts

I then set these aside in the fridge to get cold. The idea being that don't over cook when you put them back in the cakes.

I then took some larger cupcake cases and marked on the botton a line to show the direction of the heart. If you don't cut into them the right way then it wont look like a heart.

I then mixed some cocoa powder into my remaining mixture and place a spoonful into the bottom of the cake cases. Next I placed the cold pink sponge hearts into the mixture.

making hidden heart cupcakes

I then placed more mixture around the sides and the top and baked for around 10 minutes.

When they came out of the oven, they looked like this:

hidden heart cupcakes

I have to say I doubted myself and had to cut one open to check it had worked. I was rather chuffed that it had!

hidden heart cupcake cut in half

I then made some butter icing and coloured it pink before piping onto the cakes and adding some chocolate hearts.

hidden heart cupcakes


Casa Costello

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Kenwood Tri Blade Handblender Giveaway

As a thank you to my lovely readers, I have arranged a giveaway thanks to House of Fraser for a Kenwood Tri Blade Handblender. I have to admit that I hadn't really shopped in House of Fraser until Christmas when my husband had asked for a designer scarf and it was selling there at a good price. I ordered it online and the process was smooth and quick with his scarf being delivered really quickly. I have since seen a few deals that have caught my fancy and they sell a whole array of kitchen products including hand blenders at a budget to suit most pockets.

The Kenwood Tri Blade Handblender comes with a 0.5l calibrated beaker and a 0.5l calibrated chopper with lid. To enter just complete the rafflecopter below. Good Luck!
Photo credit: House of Fraser
a Rafflecopter giveaway