A Strong Coffee

Thursday, 26 November 2015

What Is Your Favourite Proper Sandwich?

proper sandwich

What is your favourite proper sandwich? You would think that was a simple question, but in our house it caused a bit of debate. English Provender sent us their new Proper Pickles and challenged us to come up with the best "proper sandwich." We started by tasting the pickles and deciding that they were all delicious and are just the thing for a Boxing Day cold meats buffet. Then came the harder part of deciding on the best proper sandwich. 

English Provender

We agreed on a few things. Firsty, a thick and crusty tiger bread was the bread of choice. Butter instead of margarine. Ice Gem Lettuce with a layer of mayonaisse.

tiger bread

My husband felt that cooked ham and cheddar cheese with the chunky proper pickle was the way to go.

ham cheese and pickle

He was right, it tasted good. Full of flavour. Exceedingly British.

han cheese and pickle sandwich

I opted for the Beetroot Proper Pickle. Thickly spread on a layer of roast beef.

We tasted both sandwiches. They were both delicious. But at last we were in joint agreement. Our Proper Pickle Sandwich had to be the Beef and Beetroot Proper Pickle.

What is your favourite proper sandwich?

proper pickle

 This post is an entry into the #ProperPickle Challenge with The English Provender Co and Foodies100

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Planning On Travelling With Children

travelling with children

Travelling more is something my husband and I have agreed we would like to do. I often wonder if I missed out by not having a gap year, but I certainly wasn't mature enough at 18 to head off around the world. Having children adds another element into the mix, especially when trips need arranging around the school holidays. However, you only get one chance at life and if you put off travelling until the kids have grown up, there is always the chance that you could have left it too late. We have come to the conclusion that there will always be someone too young or not wanting to try an activity and if we based our decisions on what the boys wanted we wouldn't venture further than Butlin's

We have therefore decided that next year we will be doing some travelling. Nothing is confirmed as yet. We had been looking at Malaysia, but our current thoughts have turned to Costa Rica as we think it may be better suited to the children. What I hadn't really thought about was having to prepare for travelling in advance. Luckily there is a great pre trip checklist over on the Benenden site to help me out. I hadn't even considered needing vaccinations in advance. We have now had the boys covered for hepatitis which should be all they need wherever we decide to go. They just need a booster in 6 months time. I have to say I was extremely proud of middle man who took his injection in his stride and didn't lash out at the nurse like he had previously done when having an injection.

Our passports are up to date so that is one less thing to worry about. It is easier than you think to let your passport run out. I have a friend that realised a day before her planned journey, so I am now forever checking ours. 

I am pleased to say I am not too worried about the long flights. This year when we visited Dubai, I found the mid haul flight much easier than the short haul to Lanzarote. There was more space and films on tap. Much better than a cramped plane with our tablets being drained. The only problem for me is my fear of flying. I know it is a control thing. I can't fly a plane. Haven't a clue how to. So it worries me. I really found a pilots view camera helpful on our trip to Dubai. Seeing what they could see did put me at ease. I was also reading a piece about conquering fear of flying  and really liked the quote "the brave die but the cautious never live.” I literally nearly got run over at a car park the other week so really it is important for me to put things in perspective.

And with that I am going to flick through my travel guide and dream of a much warmer climate and the fun we can have.

Have you travelled much with your children? Where would you like to go?  Have you got any other things I need to add to my pre holiday checklist?

In association with Beneden

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Christmas Ginger Cupcakes

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #CollectiveBias


I know it is not quite December, but who cares I am getting all festive with these ginger flavour cupcakes. I popped to my local Sainsbury's and was really impressed with their Christmas cake decorating range. There were foiled cupcake cases, ready made frosting and beautiful sugar decorations that allow you to make stunning looking cupcakes in a small amount of time.


There are lots of different gingerbread style cupcake recipes around which all seem quite complicated. I decided I would devise a simple recipe and I am pleased to say it worked really well. I just used my usual cupcake mixture but substituted the caster sugar for light brown sugar and added a couple of tablespoons of ginger powder to give them a lovely festive warmth.


To make 12 cupcakes you will need:

4oz butter
4oz light brown sugar
4oz self raising flour
2tbsp ginger powder

For the topping I used

Sainsbury's vanilla frosting
Sainsbury's gold stars
Sainsbury's gingerbread men cake decorations

Start by pre heating the oven to 180C.

Mix all the cake ingredients together. I put the butter in the microwave for 20s to make this a little easier. Divide the mixture into the cupcake cases. I use an ice cream scoop to measure this out.


Cook the cake for 10-12 minutes and remove when a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool.

Use a piping bag to swirl the frosting onto the cupcake. (Don't worry if you don't have your own icing bag set, they sell disposable ones in Sainsbury's too!)


Finish the cupcakes with a gingerbread man decoration and a few golden stars.


The cupcakes have a lovely warmth thanks to the ginger and are perfect for a Christmas party. What quick and easy recipes do you have for Christmas?


Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com

Monday, 23 November 2015

Lapland UK 2015 Review

Toy Factory Lapland UK

On Saturday we were guests of Lapland UK to review this years experience. It is set in a Whitmore Forest in Bracknell, Berkshire. This was our third visit to Lapland UK and I was initially concerned that the boys wouldn't be excited. However, children enjoy repetition and I was wrong. The excitement when they found their invites was at fever pitch. Thankfully they received them a day in advance as middle man must have asked at least 50 times whether it was time to see Father Christmas yet.

On arriving at Lapland UK you check in and are given a team that you follow for the tour. Returning guests also receive an extra surprise. Children are given elf passports which allow them to enter the magical world of Lapland UK. There were two elves in the waiting area keeping the children amused.

Elves greet each other with a special wave.

elf wave

You then walk through a woodland scene where you meet two woodland elves who talk you through some magical explanations. This year they had new outfits and were more interactive.

eco the elf

The door to Lapland UK is opened and a reindeer herder takes you onto the next step of your journey.

The elf toy factory.

The elves this year were fantastic. The toy factory had more detail than ever before. The first toy to make was a reindeer which was also made in last years experience. This is quite tricky for little hands to stuff but does look cute.

reindeer toy factory

Next was a wooden horse. This was much easier to make and the elves demonstrated how elf magic (applied to the children's toys later) would make them walk. I was impressed!

A big thank you from the elves and stamp in the elf passport and you are in your way to Mother Christmas' kitchen. Here gingerbread houses are iced and a story is read to the children. Again more detail and extra thought had gone into this years kitchen. The children are read a story here and another stamp is gained in their passport.

decorating gingerbread at Lapland UK

You are then lead to the elf village and told when to meet for your journey to Father Christmas.
The elf village did seem quieter this year. Probably because it was November, late and freezing cold. You could stroke Huskies, go ice skating, visit the post office, sweet shop, or elf emporium. On sale in the elf emporium are toys similar to those that your children have helped make.

elf empourium

You have around an hour and a half in the elf village. I really think it is necessary to eat when you are there as it is a long wait otherwise. The Mother Christmas' Pie is lovely, the kids meals aren't the best. Drinks are expensive at a minimum of £2 each. Our food came to £48. You can pay in elf jingles (if you have pre purchased these) or using card.

The ice skating rink has lots of penguins and "small folk" can use double blade skates that attach to their shoes. There are elves on hand to help you if you fall.

ice skating at Lapland UK

This year a new system was put into place to take you up to see Father Christmas. I think there were a few teething issues as it was opening weekend. In previous years we have never had to queue but this year we did. I am sure that the elves will be working on this to make it a smoother journey for future guests.

This elf did the most amazing job of keeping our boys entertained.

elf and squirrel

On the walk up the hill you see the reindeer and sleigh. When in the waiting area it is worth noting that just one adult needs to check in, without any small folk around.


An elf then calls your children by name and takes you on a trail to Father Christmas. The silly elf infront of us was taking a different family on the long route whilst we took a short cut!

waiting to meet father christmas

The meeting with Father Christmas was very good. He knew lots about each child and even found their names on his good list which he showed them. At the end they were given a golden bell sticker for their passports meaning they are honorary elves. You aren't allowed to take photos in Father Christmas' house, but don't fear there is an elf doing that. There were a number of magical moment (unstaged) shots and then staged family ones as well. You can then decide how many you want in reality depending on how much you want to pay. We went for the cheapest option of £15 for one photograph of all the family. This year you also get the digital copy too for that price.

grotto Lapland Uk

A printer issue meant the elves in the shop were having a difficult time and the queue was incredibly long to pay for this. They did their best to sort the issue out as soon as possible.

So what did we think of our third visit to Lapland UK? Despite a couple of teething issues, it was a fantastic experience. This year there was more detail than ever before. The interaction between the elves and children was superb and had stepped up a knotch from last year (which was already good!) If you are thinking of booking tickets to Lapland UK you can view remaining ticket dates here. Ticket prices are expensive, but it reflects the type of experience it is. I have compiled a short You Tube video which will give you a taster of what is in store.

I believe that the best age to take a child to this experience is between the age of 4 and 6. You should also be aware that the experience lasts around 3 1/2 to 4 hrs from the time you check in. You also can't visit Father Christmas early. The only time this would be an issue is if it is really bad weather. We had a lovely time at Lapland UK and would like to thank them for yet another amazing experience. If you have any questions about the experience, please leave a comment below and I will do my best to answer it.

Lapland UK 2015 Review

 photo 4d06e438-4e6a-4f3b-88b2-0c1093350397_zps361ad0e9.jpg

Family Fever

We received press passes to review Lapland UK but all purchases inside were our own. We have previously purchased tickets to the event. You can read our 2013 and 2014 reviews as well as frequently Googled questions.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Win The Incredible Adventures Of Professor Branestawm On DVD

win professor branestorm DVD

The Incredible Adventures Of Professor Branestawm is due to be released on DVD and Digital Download on 30th November, before it's second showing on BBC One this Christmas.

It hosts an array on famous British actors and comedians including Harry Hill, Ben Miller, David Mitchell and Miranda Richardson. It promises to entertain the young and young at heart! If like me you missed the first airing, you can get a taste for the film in the clip below.

Professor Branestawm (Harry Hill) is a mad professor, who doesn't even notice the chaos that ensues when one of his mad capped ideas go wrong. In this story, the professors friends and apprentice Connie, join forces with an evil businessman. They plan to brand the professor as a danger to the community so that his workshop can be flattened to make a munitions factory.

You can pre-order The Incredible Adventures of Professor Branestawm [DVD] [2014] from Amazon.
I also have a copy to giveaway to one of my readers. Just complete the rafflecopter below. Good 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

www.theprizefinder.com - See more at: http://www.theprizefinder.com/content/prof-branestawm-dvd#sthash.eeFPBtk0.dpuf

Friday, 20 November 2015

Christmas Star DVD Giveaway

A Christmas Star
Christmas is all about the magic and this Christmas, prepare to believe in miracles as A Christmas Star is released on DVD and Blu-Ray on Monday 23rd November.

The film contains a star studded cast and is narrated by Liam Neeson and features a cameo appearance from Kylie and guest appearance from Dermot O’Leary.

After a dramatic birth under the Christmas Star the main character Noelle believes that she is able yo perform miracles. She teams up with local kids to save the village from demolition. However, one by one her friends lose faith in Noelle’s abilities and she is left to fight McKerrod on her own. The town’s future hinges on a final showdown in Belfast’s Stormont building as Noelle implores politicians, her friends and the watching world to believe in the true meaning of Christmas…love.

scene of a christmas star

If you would like to get a taster of the film, just take a look at the trailer below.

This might be perfect for you if you like to have a Christmas movie night or a Christmas Eve box. You can pre-order the DVD from Amazon.

I am able to offer one of my readers a chance to win A Christmas Star on DVD. Just complete the rafflecopter below. Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

www.theprizefinder.com - See more at: http://www.theprizefinder.com/content/christmas-star-dvd#sthash.XbJcrcEn.dpuf

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Muffin Tin Meals Review and Giveaway

muffin tin meals

The latest recipe book I have been sent to review is Super-Quick Muffin Tin Meals: 70 Recipes for Perfectly Portioned Comfort Food in a Cup. It is great for giving you simple ideas of meals to cook in a muffin tin. A lot of these dishes would work really well when you are entertaining for a party.

chicken burrito bites

My biggest gripe with the book is that it is written for an American market and hasn't been adapted at all. There are a lot of recipes where you are left wondering what you should use instead. There are a lot that use a Crescent dough sheet - I am guessing this is a canned dough but as far as I know, you can't get anything like this in the UK. Please correct me if I am wrong and tell me where I can get it!

s'mores pockets

The aim of the book is to make food that is easy to prepare and therefore there are lots of cake mixes and pre made pastry products to cut down on the time element of baking. When it comes to party catering I think we can all agree that is a good thing.

I decided to have a go at the Pesto and Egg mini quiche recipe - I made a few changes using what we had in the cupboards and I would recommend pre cooking the pastry for 10 minutes before you add the egg to ensure it cooks through.

mini pesto quiches

To make 12 you will need:
1 packet of jus roll shortcrust pastry
85g boursin
70ml milk
1tbsp green pesto
3 eggs
A handful of cooked chicken (diced)
3 spring onions diced
1 tomato diced

Divide the pastry into 12 and press into the muffin tin.

Put in the oven at 180C whilst you make the quiche filling.

Mix the rest of the ingredients in a bowl.

Pour this into the muffin pan and cook for 20-25 minutes until the pastry is cooked through.

mini quiches

Overall, the book is great for ideas. I am definitely going to have to try the Smore's pockets. It is just a little disappointing that it hasn't been adapted to include ingredients that are easily accessible in the UK. You can purchase Super-Quick Muffin Tin Meals: 70 Recipes for Perfectly Portioned Comfort Food in a Cup from Amazon and I also have a copy to giveaway to one of my readers. Just complete the Gleam Entry below. Good Luck!

Muffin Tin Meals

UK competitions at ThePrizeFinder - See more at: http://www.theprizefinder.com/content/muffin-tin-meals-recipe-book#sthash.CBjFQpYo.dpuf

SuperLucky Blog Giveaway Linky