A Strong Coffee

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

BISSELL SpotClean Portable Spot Cleaner Review

Bissell Spotclean review

When I told my husband that I had been offered the chance to review the BISSELL SpotClean Portable Spot Cleaner to review, he joked that his Nan used to rave about BISSELL. Well now I have one, I can understand why!

The SpotClean is a portable machine that can be transported around the house to where it is needed. It is small enough to fit on the stairs and can even be taken outside with an extension reel to clean the car.

It requires a small amount of assembly to start, which is just attaching the clips for the nozzle and cable. In the box are the 2 trial sized stain cleaning products that you need to use for the machine, the Oxygen Boost and Spot & Stain 2x concentrate, so that you can get using the machine immediately.

I decided that I would start with my rather stained rug. The flash of the camera makes it look even worse than I had realised. I used the measuring levels on the first jug to add the required amount of water and cleaners.

stained rug

I sprayed the stains and then used the brush to really get into them. Considering these are old stains I was amazed at the result.

Here is what came out. Eewww!

dirty water

I have to say that this started a bit of an obsession. I have now gone over all the stains on the carpets upstairs and have completely done the stairs. The carpet here is pretty old and worn but it is amazing the difference that using the BISSELL has made. I also thought I would try our dining room chairs. Again I achieved great results with just one use.

Before and after cleaning chairs

As the BISSELL SpotClean is portable I thought I might give my car a treat.

cleaning car seats

The BISSEL SpotClean Portable Spot Cleaner has an rrp of £129.99,  which I think is good value. The Spot & Stain 2x concentrate is £8.99 and the Oxygen Boost is £9.99, however, they have a 3 for 2 offer on at the moment which again, makes it quite reasonable. After my initial clean of the house and car with it, I expect I will only use it as and when something gets spilt. It is small enough to store and simple enough to use that it will be easy to get out when accidents happen. Having read other reviews, it is meant to be particularly good with cat sick so may be worth considering if you have a pet.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Black Cherry And Chocolate Cupcakes

black cherry and chocolate cupcakes

At Christmas my friend introduced me to the world of flavoured icing and last week I went to the local cake shop to buy some myself. Sugar and Crumbs do lots of different flavours and here I chose the black cherry to make a Black Forest gateaux style cupcake

Makes 12 Cupcakes

For the cupcakes:
4oz butter
4oz caster sugar
2 eggs
3oz self raising flour
1oz of cocoa powder
chopped glace cherries (optional)

For the frosting:

250g Sugar and Crumbs Black Cherry icing sugar
125g softened butter
1 tbsp milk
A few drops of red food colouring.

Fresh cherries

Start by making the cupcakes. Pre heat the oven to 180C.
Cream the butter and caster sugar.
Mix in the eggs, flour and cocoa powder.
Chop some glace cherries in half and mix in.

Divide the mixture between 12 cupcake cases and cook for around 15 minutes.

chocolate cupcakes

Once cooled make up the butter cream up as per the instructions on the pack. Add a few drops of red food colouring.

cherry icing

Pipe onto the cupcakes and add a cherry to each one.

chocolate and cherry cupcakes

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Saturday, 25 July 2015

Arlington Court National Trust - Devon

Arlington court

When on holiday in Devon this Easter we visited Arlington Court. I have to say I need to thank the weather! It was one of those things where the beach was cloudy but it was nice inland and this in combination that we have National Trust passes made us decide to go here. The flyers just talk about the carriage museum. We didn't even make it there as the grounds were so lovely.

Peacocks roamed around the gardens and we went on a long trail. Best of all was the children's playground area. Woods stepping stones, ropes to climb up hills. We could have stayed here for hours.

den area

climbing a rope

The boys were excited by Pooh stick bridge. It ended in tears when our sticks seemed to disappear! 

pooh stick bridge

Arlington Court was absolutely beautiful and so much more than a carriage museum. Definitely worth a visit if you are in North Devon.


 Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall 

Friday, 24 July 2015

Spicy Macaroni Cheese With Prawns

spicy macoroni

This dish was inspired by a lovely meal at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. I would have never have thought of putting prawns and macaroni cheese together and here I used a Mexican cheese on give it a bit of a kick.

You will need:

200g pasta it doesn't really matter what shape you use. 
A knob of butter
A dessert spoon of flour
250ml of milk
1 cup of grated cheddar
1 cup of grated Mexican cheese (plus extra to melt on top)
200g of prawns
Juice of a lime

Start by cooking the pasta in salted water.

Make the cheese sauce by melting the butter and adding the flour. Next add the milk and stir in the cheese. Continue stirring until the sauce thickens. Drain the pasta and add to the sauce.

making cheese sauce

Meanwhile fry the prawns and them add the lime juice. Stir these into the cheese pasta.

lime on prawns

Top with breadcrumbs and more grated Mexican cheese and melt under the grill.

ready to grill


spicy macaroni with prawns

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Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. London

Bubba Gump Shrimp

Last weekend were were treated to a fantastic day out at Ripley's Believe It Or Not! Followed by a delicious lunch at Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. Bubba Gump is situated between Picaldilly and Leicester  Square so gret to know about if you are planning a day out in London over the Summer. It is a Forest Gump themed restaurant with photos and memorabilia over the walls and the film playing on TV a screens.

inside bubba gumps

The theming is fantastic. Even down to the signs on the tables. I found out (by mistake) that if you keep it on the blue "Run Forest Run" then everything's fine. Need a waiter? Flip it onto the red "Stop Forrest Stop!" I love little touches like this.

run forest run

The children's menu had a good selection of food from macaroni to pizza to fish and chips. Like any good family restaurant, there were activity books to keep the boys entertained and their food was bought out first in these quirky boats.

kids colouring

kids meals bubba gump

We were treated to a sample buffet. I tried most things and liked them all! My favourites had to be the shrimp macaroni and Mama's southern fried chicken. I would never have ordered this usually as I would have expected something like KFC. It was chicken breast with the most amazing sauce. I am not sure what was in it but if had a real kick and I was told it is made on the premises. 

shrimp macaroni



I hardly had room for dessert by I managed to fit some in! It was the first time I had tried key lime pie and the warm chocolate chip cookie was lovely too.

desserts at bubba gumps

I have to admit that when I looked at the prices I was pretty impressed. Considering that it is in central London,  £4.50 - £5.50 for a kids meal and the adult shrimp and  macaroni at £8.95 sounds good to me. 

If you are looking for somewhere fun to eat the next time you are in London with the children then Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. is definitely worth a visit. Here is my favourite sign - having been a waitress I think it is fantastic!

signs at bubba gump

Let's Talk Mommy

Monday, 20 July 2015

Ripley's Believe It Or Not! Review and Giveaway

Ripley's Believe It or Not

Last weekend we were lucky enough to be invited to Ripley's Believe It Or Not! to see their new Wonderland Gallery. It was our first visit to Ripley's and I wasn't quite sure what to expect. We took the lift to the first floor and saw a collection of weird and sometimes wonderful artefacts. Giant chairs, a knitted life sized car, and some stuffed two headed animals were some of the first things we saw. Whilst the boys were "oh look a two headed lamb" and taking it in their stride, I wasn't 100% sure about it all. Then we watched a holograph explaining about Ripley and onto some more of the exhibition.

first floor at ripley's

A picture of Micheal Jackson made out of sweets (complete with gummi bear face) first took my interest. Then there was Whitney made out of casette tape, and toast art. A computerised graffiti wall kept the boys entertained!

There were some statues with extraordinary facts - one was of a man who made a hole in his head to put a candle in when it was dark!

There was an upside down room which reminded the boys of the Twits.

Upside down room at Ripley's

The Wonderland Gallery is a special Pop Up this summer and big man was happy as he has been doing Alice in Wonderland in school. The boys went down (through) the rabbit hole and entered the wonderland of Alice.

Wonderland Gallery Ripley's Believe it or not

Here is my Madhatter having a cup of tea.

My Madhatter

The Ames room is very clever. If you get two people in there you can make one look like a giant and the other one small. Unfortunately the boys were too taken by the mirrors to get a good photo!

The mirror maze is great for every age and you really do need to walk with your hands infront of you.

mirror maze at Ripley's

There were bits of the tour that we went past quickly with the boys. I wasn't ready to explain to big man about the electric chair and I was a bit unkeen on the shrunken heads.

Some of the minatures gallery were amazing. I particularly liked the bible scences painted on pumpkin seeds.

Big man found out how cold the water was when the Titanic sunk and that he has a lot of growing to do if he wants to be the worlds tallest man!

worlds tallest man

Middle man found that he wouldn't like to be in a black hole.

Black hole at Ripley's

Finally on the basement there is the laser race. A Mission impossible style laser room. From my time in that room I learnt that there was a reason that Tom Cruise didn't take his shopping bags and three children in with him on a mission. We broke a lot of lasers!

It took about 2 hours to go round and I actually really enjoyed it. It kept the interest of my 5 and 7 year old and my 3 year old was happy most of the time too. Tickets cost £26.95 for an adult on the door but there are savings if you book 14 days in advance and under 4's are free. If you are like me and love your Tesco Clubcard Rewards you can currently get a Ripley's ticket for £8 in vouchers and they are via e mail.

We were also treated to lunch at Bubba Gumps which is just a short walk from Ripley's. I can recommend it there too and you can read all about that tomorrow.

Ripley's have kindly offered a Family ticket* to giveaway to one of my readers. Just complete the Gleam entry below. Good Luck!

Ripley's Believe It Or Not!

*Family ticket is for 2 adults and 2 children.

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 family ticket to Ripley's Believe It or Not! London. The ticket is valid for a family of four and will need to be used within a year of receipt. No cash alternative. 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 17th September to respond with their address. If they fail to respond a new winner will be drawn. No PO Box address Competition closes on 17th August at 12.00am . 

- See more at: http://www.theprizefinder.com/content/family-ticket-ripleys-believe-it-or-not-london#sthash.MQGR42Y3.dpuf##
SuperLucky Blog Giveaway Linky

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Spinach and Ricotta Croquettes with Henri Le Worm

You may remember that a couple of weeks ago we were invited to the press day at RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show to see the Henri Le Worm community garden.

The Henri Le Worm App aims to encourage children to engage with nature and their food. There is a section with games where your child can meet Henri and his friends.

Henri Le Worm app

There is also a section with some recipes. In order to get big man trying some different foods, I got him to help me make the spinach and ricotta croquettes.

You will need:

100g Spinach
180g Ricotta
6tsp Rapeseed oil
60g grated cheese
2 eggs
150g breadcrumbs
100g wholemeal flour

Wilt the spinach in a small amount of oil and drain off as much liquid as possible.

Liquidise and blend in with the cheese. 

Roll into a ball and coat in flour, egg and breadcrumbs.

making spinach and ricotta croquettes

Fry until golden brown on each side. Ours turned out more like fritters.

spinach and ricotta fritters

I am pretty sure that if I had served these to big man he would have pushed it around the plate asking questions. As he made them himself he was pleased to try them. It has encouraged me to try some more recipes with him. It is also nice to have the buddy in the kitchen.

spinach and ricotta croqettes

We weren't asked to review the app, but we enjoyed this recipes so I thought it would be nice to share.

Eats Amazing Fun Food Friday