Sunday, 30 June 2013

Collective Bias Shoppertunity - Bombay Sapphire and Wimbledon!

I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias and their client.

I must admit I've never been one for sports. At school I was always too short sighted to be any good and by the time I got my first pair of contact lenses, the damage was done. Having said that, about ten years ago I became obsessed with running, until my knees started to do this weird clicky thing that sounded very wrong.  After having children I sort of gave up on exercise and now prefer spectator sports, especially ones that involve relaxing with yummy food and drinks. That's why I jumped at the chance of taking part in a shoppertunity relating to spectator sports and Bombay Sapphire! This is no hardship for me as Bombay Sapphire is easily my most favourite gin. It has a really citrusy flavour that really brings the drink alive and I also love the modern edge to the bottle design.  

Anyway, this year I am determined to watch Wimbledon with a love gin and tonic, preferably with strawberries and cream to really bring the flavour out. One of my neighbours was telling me how lovely it is to mix it up a bit with gin and rather than having tonic as a mixer, to have elderflower presse instead, hmmm, so I thought I would give this a try. When we go shopping, we do a bit of a mix of supermarkets as we don't have one that is mega near our house. Wherever we go is about a 15 minute drive along a dual carriageway, it kind of sucks but that's just the way it is here in deepest darkest Yorkshire. 

We can choose between Morrisons, Asda, Waitrose and Sainsburys, what we normally do is go to each supermarket on rotation as each does something well. We like Sainsburys for their bread, Asda for their deals and cheap prices, Morrisons for their meat and Waitrose for fruit and veg. On this occasion, it was Asda's turn, so that's where I went! I always clear out the fridge before I go and usually I take my youngest son, but on this occasion thankfully I was alone, it's so much quicker. I was quite focussed on this shop on only buying the specific items. We always have lime in our gin and tonics, I find that it really brings out the sweetness in the gin which otherwise can be rather sour.  After buying the lime (and lemons) I went straight to the spirits aisle to see what was on offer. On the gin shelf there were also several other gins but as it turned out, Bombay Sapphire was one of the most reasonably priced as it is on offer at the moment at £16 (was £20).

 It actually worked out cheaper to buy the smaller bottle of Bombay Sapphire than the larger one even though both were on offer. I looked at the price for cl to work this out.
Belvoir, 2 for £3, yummy as an alternative to tonic!
 As the Belvoir was on offer, and it's pretty yummy, I bought two of these to experiment with as a mixer.
I always use proper crystal tumblers when I make our drinks.
After I got back from Asda I had a ten minute sit down to recover myself, then it was gin and tonic time! Since we don't get out much, I use proper crystal when I make gin and tonics for my husband and myself. It just tastes better that way. First of all I made sure there was plenty of ice before adding the lemon and lime, I squeezed some of the juices in too.
Yummy lemon and lime, really brings out the flavour in the gin!

Eton mess with the added danger of blackberries.
To really make it a special even and bring out the flavour in the gin and tonic, we had a bit of a twist on strawberries and cream by having Eton Mess with some added blackberries.

Almost complete, my G&T with the elderflower presse poured in!

Me enjoying the spoils: Bombay Sapphire with elderflower presse along with Eton Mess.
I decided that actually the most relaxing thing to do was to watch Wimbledon alone while hubby took the boys out on their scooters. It was the best feeling ever, I just relaxed and had my goodies without the continual shout of "MUMMY". To me, having a gin and tonic is a good way to relax and feel refreshed after a stressful day or when it's really hot (never).

  • Use lots of ice, loads of it, fill your glass.
  • In my opinion using lemon and lime together doesn't work as they seem to cancel each other out. Use one or the other.
  • Instead of lemon and lime, slice a strawberry and balance it on the rim of your glass.
  • Coriander and other herbs like mint work really well, but don't overdo it.
  • Experiment with other mixers rather than just tonic. I found that elderflower presse really sweetened and refreshed the drink, don't use with lime though it's overkill.
  • Use a really beautiful heavy glass with a solid feel, it keeps the drink cooler for longer and is just plain RIGHT.
  • Have it with something sweet, it just seems to bring the flavour out properly.
I watched the women's tennis which is something I haven't done in a while. It actually inspired me to perhaps do a bit of exercise again...when I've finished this gin and tonic that is.

Silent Sunday

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Win a Panasonic Lumix TZ-40 Camera!

Though I do love using my iPhone as a camera, it isn't the answer to everything. I'm constantly running out of space and sometimes the picture quality isn't what it should be. Sometimes I long for the good old days of "proper" cameras. Ones you just had in your handbag and you didn't need to fight off your two year old who is busy embroiled in "angry birds". There are also time when you might not want to take your smart phone out with you as it contains a lot of your personal information and a camera  just doesn't carry that risk. Here's such a camera that you might be interested in... (I LOVE this video, so innovative!)

Here is some extra information,

"The compact design and trendsetting technical equipment make the Panasonic Lumix TZ 40 a reliable companion on your journeys to discover the world’s most beautiful places. The combination of the 20x optical zoom and the 24mm ultra-wide-angle LEICA lens take you from the big picture to the heart of the action. Preserve the impressions of your exotic travels and share them easily with your family and friends while on the go. Even low-lit details are captured with astonishing clarity thanks to an improved MOS sensor and image processing technology that enable high-speed auto focus."

You see there are some places a smart phone just can't reach :/

If you are interested in winning a Panasonic Lumix TZ-40 (and why wouldn't you be!) then please enter via the Panasonic facebook pageAll you have to do is upload a holiday picture that shows why YOU deserve to win a new camera for this year’s holiday. Spread the word about your entry, and get your friends and family to help you by liking your picture.  The competition hashtag on twitter is #CaptureTheCamera

This is a sponsored post.

Silent Sunday

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

What my perfect morning would be like...

I can remember the exact moment over five years ago when I decided I was "ready" for children. Only a few months before I was rushing to get ready for work and feeling stressed and thinking, "how do people do this when they have children in tow as well?"
Then one morning I woke up and thought, "they just get up half an hour earlier". BOOM. It was as simple as that. Then I started to get an "empty" feeling on a Sunday afternoon, it was something in between cabin fever and loneliness; something was missing, it was a child. That isn't to say that I don't find mornings stressful, they are easily the most difficult part of my day. Someone usually has a rage (normally me), accusations are thrown, as are flannels, toothbrushes and clothes. Son 2 normally needs a nappy change moments before we leave the house or Son 1 announces he isn't wearing any pants. That must be why I suffer so badly from heartburn, all that shouting has to be bad for the health right?

Sometimes, I visualise my perfect morning and what it would be like. It would invariably include a proper coffee and a croissant, lying in a nice clean bed reading my kindle. This dream is quite far from coming true though as our beloved Morphy Richards espresso maching has BROKEN at only six months old, weep! I'm desperate to get a new one, to complete my fantasy perfect morning if I ever get a chance to actually live it out. So I've been scouting around for a new one, and being a bit obsessed with John Lewis, am happy to report that they have started doing voucher codes! There are some shops who I guess, don't need to offer discount codes simply because they don't have to, but I think times are changing and people are starting to expect them. Anyway, I spotted quite a few John Lewis voucher codes (click here) on here including one for a REALLY cool coffee machine. I'm going in!
Lovely Coffee Machine from John Lewis

What are your favourite voucher code websites? Have you got any great deals using voucher codes?

Friday, 14 June 2013

Father's Day is Fast Approaching!

In the UK, Father's Day can be something we're a little sceptical about. As Brits, we tend to be on red alert, ready to turn our noses up at those Americanised ‘Hallmark’ occasions we love to hate. Sadly, this means that poor old Father's Day can find itself on the receiving end of a lot of cynicism, yet surely our dads deserve just as much celebrating as our mums.

The stereotypical man might never say it, but seeing how much you mean to your nearest and dearest is really important, especially when everyday life (and manliness) don't give you much opportunity to indulge your soppier side. So, to inspire us to show some appreciation for the dads in our lives this Father's Day, here are a few daddy-based traditions from around the world.

Flowers and perfume may sound like presents for a British Mother's Day but, in Japan, they are common Father's Day presents. Home-made gifts are popular and children make sweeties to give to their dads on the 3rd Sunday of June. Beer glasses are also a common present, along with a dad's favourite alcoholic beverage, complete with personalised labels made by the children.

Japanese dads may enjoy their drink, but Germany's Father's Day is the booziest. In Germany, Father's Day is an opportunity for dads to escape family life, instead celebrating their macho side with their friends. A traditional German Father's Day involves men hiking into the mountains with special hand-pulled wagons, laden with beer and food for a jolly good day out.

A Thai Father's Day is a colourful affair as it is celebrated alongside the birthday of King Bhumibol Adulyade. As the King was born on a Monday and the official colour of Monday in Thailand is yellow, everyone dresses in yellow to celebrate both the King (the father of the nation) and their own dads too. Flowers are a traditional Thai Father's Day gift and canna lilies are given to dads across Thailand every 5th December.

Meat is at the heart of the Brazilian Father's Day. Long considered the 'manliest way to cook', a barbecue is absolutely fundamental when celebrating Brazilian patriarchs. Known as a charrascos, these great big get-togethers feature skewers of roasted sausage, chicken, beef and pork – all devoured whilst enjoying each other’s company, of course.

The United Kingdom
We take a personal approach to celebrating our dads here in the UK. A Sunday lunch is probably high on the agenda, but the gifts we give and the activities we get up to depend entirely on the dads we have. If your dad loves all things 80s, perhaps you'll enter a Father's Day retro gaming competition, if he's mad about cycling, perhaps you'll watch the final stage of the Tour of Switzerland together.

However we celebrate, we tend to personalise our activities to celebrate the unique quirks of the most important men in our lives – our dads! How will you celebrate yours?

Monday, 10 June 2013

Miller and Carter, child friendly heaven and perfect steaks!

This post is written by my Hubby and is about a lovely meal we went to at Miller and Carter
How to get a 'proper' meal to satisfy the grown ups whilst keeping the kids happy?  This is not a question but more an ongoing conundrum that faces most parents each time they venture out with the little ones.  Bored with the usual fare of eating burgers, pizzas or sandwiches the resident family blogger and I were fortunate to be offered the opportunity of a real treat on a Sunday afternoon; Steak and wine!
Here it is, in all its glory.

So, we headed off to Miller & Carter in Leeds city center with the 'terrible twosome' in tow to see if the kids could be happy in a more grown up environment with Mummy and Daddy able to read a menu aimed more at those who lost their milk teeth some time ago!

Obligatory restaurant colouring in.
The greeting was very warm and friendly and straight away it was apparent that the restaurant both welcomed and catered for children, ours being aged 5 and 2 weren't quite ready for a 16oz T-Bone so the varied kids menu was a great boost.  The boys also received the now almost obligatory pencil and colouring-in sheet, a well trodden path no doubt but a saviour all the same.  For the boys, we ordered an excellent fish and chips that in truth would have satisfied some grown up appetites but was attacked ferociously by our two.  The key, as with all meals out, was to ask for the kids meal to be cooked and served asap to limit the potential for playing up. The manager, Sean, couldn't have been more helpful and was really friendly and great at recommending dishes to us. The restaurant was really quiet which was great for us with noisy kids but Sean assured us they had been heaving the evening before.

Yummy child's meal at Miller and Carter! He's rubbing his hands together with glee!
As for the main menu itself, it contained a good selection of tempting dishes but lets be honest - if you go to a Steakhouse, lets order from the Grill.  When in Rome etc..... The waiter provided a good source of info on what steak to order, how each cut should be cooked and also which wines would go with each order.  We actually took no notice of the suggested cooking times as we both like our steak to be still mooing so ordered very pink, but was nice to see someone demonstrating knowledge about the menu and wines on offer. 

The steaks were superb, my wife had the 12oz Sirloin and I had the 12oz Ribeye, proving again there is something about men and large slabs of cow.  Each was succulent and full of flavour, and more importantly cooked as wished for rather than often overdone by chefs who have probably other things to think about as can be the case.  On the side came an iceberg 'wedge' with choice of dressing, choice of potato (we both were good and choice baked as were thinking of waistlines but the chips the kids had were truly fab!), onion bread, tomatoes and a sauce.  All washed down with a cheeky glass of Shiraz or Malbec, perfect.

Lovely pink steak, just the way I like it!

My meal in all its glory!

Wedge of lettuce, what's not to like!
 Dessert for the boys was an easy choice, ice-cream and plenty of it with 3 scoops of icy heaven in each bowl.  As for us, an Eton Mess and Creme Brulee soon nullified the no-chip approach but was a great way to end the meal.
Very grown up ice cream for two grateful boys!

All in all, a great choice and we'll be back.  After all, whats not to like with good food, kids being kept occupied and enjoying their food and parents feeling they've had a more grown up experience than perhaps at some of the more obvious 'family dining' chains on most high streets.

These thoughts are all hubby's own but we did receive the meal for free.


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