Thursday, 28 May 2015

Who Would You Invite To Your Ultimate Dinner Party?

We must have all dreamt about hosting the ultimate dinner party with famous guests, scintillating conversation and fabulous food. I know I certainly have!

There would be a vegetarian and vegan banquet served for my guests, something that would delight and surprise even the most voracious of meat eaters around the table, introducing my guests to a whole new way of eating that is not restrictive, but is instead inspiring and imaginative. There would be desserts and cakes to die for, and a selection of wines to complement each course. Of course, I would have a chef and waiters, so I could sit down and enjoy my ultimate dinner party rather than be slaving over a hot stove all day long.

Invited to my party, would be a group of famous people who I would hopefully find both entertaining and engaging (and who wouldn't be bored dining with a commoner like me!)

Shonda Rhimes:

I have always been someone who gets on better with men than women, finding men so much easier to relate to than females. I have never personally felt less than a comparable male in terms of pay, position or power at any point in my life. I have never felt suppressed by the patriarchy. The very vocal, and often quite extreme, self-serving feminist movement that takes up a big chunk of my Newsfeed, has never spoken to me or for me.

Then along comes Shonda Rhimes: the writer of Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder and Grey's Anatomy. She is an amazing woman who has created some amazingly strong, dynamic, complex, beautiful and empowered women's roles, changing the perception of females in TV and beyond. Not only does she write superbly thought-provoking and entertaining dramas, she has given a voice to diversity, pushing boundaries and redefining how society views minorities. Her intelligence, passion, creativity and humility, make her a woman that I utterly admire and respect, who endorses an equality based on merit and never held back by skin colour, gender or sexuality. This is the type of feminism that I can get behind.

I imagine she would be incredible, yet maybe slightly intimidating, delivering incredible speeches just like the ones that she writes for her fictional characters. What an amazing dinner party guest she would be!

Chris Pratt

When it comes to Hollywood A listers, there is no-one who seems quite as 'human' as Chris Pratt. He seems cute, humble, funny, self-effacing and utterly adorable. From his role in Parks and Rec to his action hero role in Jurassic World, his personality seems to shine through and I have such a major crush on him. I'm sure he would be hilarious, sending himself up and making everyone laugh.

He appears to be a real family man, an attribute that I find really attractive. I'd love to discuss our kids and chuckle over family anecdotes. It's lovely to see someone so successful that still has such solid core he could tell me all about working with Velociraptors!

Kurt Cobain

I'd evoke the Ultimate Dinner Party rule that you can invite anyone dead or alive to send an invite to the afterlife, to get the Nirvana lead singer to my dinner party. As a member of the 27 Club and someone whose death has been shrouded by theories of conspiracy and inconsistencies, I would love to hear the truth about what really happened to him. For a man who shunned fame, he has been martyred and has massively inspired the evolution of modern music. I'd love to hear about how he felt about his legacy in his own words.

As Nirvana would feature on my dinner party playlist, I'm sure I could convince him to pull out his guitar and perform for us. Come as You Are would be my track of choice. I don't imagine Kurt Cobain would be the most upbeat of party guests, but his dark, macabre sense of humour, his artistic vision and his status as one of the most iconic rock musicians in the history of alternative music would make him a fascinating person.


So the food, the music and the playlist is all decided. All that's left would be the washing up (not by hand though...I'd definitely be throwing them into the dishwasher and using some Finish dishwasher tablets for this clean up. No dirty drinking glasses or greasy dishes to deal with in the morning.)

dishwasher, Finish
I received some Finish products to try out.

Who would you invite to your ultimate dinner party?

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Geronimo Festival - a big family adventure

This bank holiday weekend saw the first Geronimo Festival take place at Tatton Park and we were lucky enough to attend. The venue was beautiful and driving through the grounds, we were excited to see deer roaming freely. The festival itself was well presented, utilising big tents, so whatever the weather, the activities and workshops would go ahead.

family festival

With so many things taking place, I don't think we managed to do half of what there was there to do! But the things we did do, were throughly enjoyed. From balance biking, to bear hunting, to hammock swinging, to castle bouncing, to helter skeltering, to donkey riding, to LEGO building to hill rolling to show watching to ice cream eating - the whole day was action packed and filled with memorable experiences. It was so nice to share the day with my blogging buddy Bex and the adorable Leah, and we bumped in some other fellow bloggers throughout the day too.

Freddy met some of his favourite CBeebies characters, Swashbuckle's Cook and Line and the absolutely lovely Katy Ashworth from I Can Cook. He also got to see Alex Winters and Mr Bloom performing, whilst perched up on his daddy's shoulders.

family fun

I wish we had more time because we missed out on the Funky Junk Zone, Adrenaline Zone and Circus Zone. We were just too busy having fun doing other things!  I loved the freedom of the event and seeing Freddy being able to have fun doing a selection of activities was great. He had a really good day.

Here's hoping that Geronimo Festival returns next year!

Geronimo Festival

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Father's Day Crafts from Baker Ross

When it comes to special occasions, nothing beats a homemade gift from a child who loves you. Knowing that they have put in their time and effort to create something special makes them the most precious of presents to receive.

For Father's Day, Baker Ross have a brilliant range of crafting goodies to help children make something really special for their dads. Freddy received some of the sets and we hosted an after school get together with his cousins to try them out. 

The things we tested out included:

Father's Day Foam Stickers: pack of 120 £2.99
Tie Book Mark Kit: pack of 4 £2.99
Toolbox Photo Frame Kit: pack of 4 reduced from £3.96 to £1.99
Car Wooden Desk Tidy Kit: pack of 3 £3.45
Father's Day Car Cards: pack of 8 £1.99

With Baker Ross products, you know you are getting a brilliantly thought out craft activity containing everything needed to make something that looks great. With pre-cut foam pieces and self-adhesive stickers, many of the kits are really easy and straightforward to do. Children just need to add their own artistic flair to make a design that their dads will love.

Baker Ross

The children seemed to really enjoy doing the crafts for their dads. They don't always stick religiously to the instructions, but they all put their own unique spin on the activities to create unique gifts. The foam stickers were stuck on with some wild abandon at times, but this makes the gifts even more unique!

We particularly loved the Father's Day self-adhesive foam stickers. With shapes such as guitars, ties, lap tops, footballs, moustaches, newspapers, remote controls, power tools, golf clubs and PS3 controllers, there are designs to match any dad's personality. There are also slogan stickers with phrases such as 'World's Best Dad' and 'King for the Day', which are ideal for card making. We used the stickers to personalise the car shaped wooden desk tidy, which we filled with sweets to make a lovely gift. Alternatively, you could use paints to create a unique design on the easy to assemble 3D wooden car.

The tool box photo frames will grace any dad's desk and will look fabulous with a family photo inserted. They look really cool once completed and are a lot of fun to make with the assortment of self-adhesive tools to stick on around the foam frame. The frame is free standing, slotting into a base.

The tie bookmarks come in four different designs and the 'Dad Rocks' one complete with a guitar sticker is perfect for Ian. The other designs include sports, a race car theme and a #1 Dad design. They would be a perfect additional gift if buying a book for dad this Father's Day.

The colour in car cards come in three designs; a camper van, a Mini and a race car. They can be coloured in with felt tips, crayons, pencils or paints and come complete with envelopes. 

Seeing how proud Freddy was to have made his daddy a selection of such lovely gifts was a delight. He and his cousins carried out the crafts with such enthusiasm and really enjoyed creating the things that they made.  There are going to be two very happy daddies on Father's Day!

Baker Ross, crafts

Find all these Father's Day craft packs plus hundreds of other themed craft ideas and accessories at

Friday, 22 May 2015

JCB 5CX Eco Backhoe Loader - toy review

"I'm Fred I'm 5 and my dad's Bruce Lee, Drives me around in his JCB."

Freddy, like lots of other young children, loves trucks, cars and diggers. There is something that holds kids spellbound, when faced with a big, impressive vehicle. JCB is a brand that ticks all the boxes when it comes to delighting digger loving children. The iconic yellow colour and the totally cool designs lend themselves perfectly to firing up a child's imagination.

JCB has a range of brilliant kids' toys, scaling down the designs of their full size vehicles making them the right size for some fun and constructive play! Freddy used to love his My 1st JCB toys when he was younger. The cute, chunky vehicles were just right for him when he was a pre-schooler with a penchant for imaginative play and funny characters such as Joey JCB and Doug Dump Truck. Nowadays, he enjoys playing with more grown up toys, taking an interest in how things work and what they can do.

Freddy received an awesome large size, die cast JCB model of a 5CX Backhoe Loader. This is the classic vehicle that I think of when I think of 'diggers'.

The 1:16 scale JCB 5CX eco Backhoe Loader from Bruder Toys, has a fully functional front loader and backhoe with a tilting and locking bucket. It has a fully functional rear bucket with 2 outriggers for stability. There is a swivelling driver's seat and opening rear window, as well as an off-road front axle and rolling wheels with authentic rubber tread tyres. The attention to detail is brilliant - it is just like a mini version of the real thing.

One great feature is the steering wheel extender that is located in the base of the digger. Through an aperture in the top of the cab, the extender connects with the steering wheel and sticks out of the roof, allowing the vehicle to be steered as you move it along. It really adds to the fun of this toy. The buckets can scoop up objects and drop them where required.

With its fuctionality, this toy isn't just for looking at, it's for playing with! And that is exactly what Freddy did with it!  Whether indoors or outdoors, this is a great fully functional vehicle, which is just like the real thing.

Dad Ian and Grandad Stan both loved this toy. It definitely brought out their inner little boys as they marvelled at the mechanics and the authenticity of the design. They both thought it was incredibly realistic and impressive.

The Bruder Toys  JCB 5CX Backhoe Loader model retails for £39.99 and is available from Amazon.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Geronimo Festival 23 - 25th May

If you are looking for something to do with the kids over this bank holiday weekend, then check out the Geronimo Festival in Tatton Park, Cheshire on the 23/ 24 and 25th of May.

With six fun zones: Groovy Zone, Geronostage, The 3ft and Under Zone, Funky Junk Zone, Adrenaline Zone and the Circus Zone, there is loads for kids up to the age of 13 to see and do.

Celebrities such as Mr Bloom, Alex Winters, Katy Ashworth and Cook and Line from Swashbuckle will be there along with a host of other performers.  Activities include building models with the Legoland Discovery Centre, meeting creatures in the SeaLife touch pool, tree climbing, den building, storytelling, BMX shows, a petting zoo, crafting, dancing and circus skills. All activities, performances and workshops are included in the price of the ticket. 

The event is focused on quality family time, imaginative play and bringing families together to play, learn and have fun together.

Find out more at:

family festival, bank holiday

Greener Spring Cleaning with Astonish

I am a big fan of Astonish products for greener cleaning all year round, including the big spring clean.  Astonish is a British brand, with a strong emphasis on cruelty free, environmentally friendly and ethical production. The products are certified vegan and come in recyclable packaging. And as if those credentials weren't enough, the products are also really, really effective. In fact the Astonish Oven and Cookware Cleaner is my favourite cleaning product ever - I use it for so much more than just cleaning the hob or oven.

cleaning, Astonish

I received a selection of Astonish products so I could have a green spring clean.

Astonish Mould & Mildew Remover 

When unslightly mould and mildew grows in damp places, this spray can kill the spores and prevent regrowth, working in just 2 minutes. It works well in the bathroom on areas of fresh growth, keeping the horrible black spots away. Unfortunately nothing can shift the black mould that has grown into my silicon sealant around my shower, but for the mould on the tiles and on the plastic shower door it does a good job. I've used it on walls, window surrounds and on the ceiling with good results.

Astonish Bathroom Cleaner

Limescale, soap scum and stains can be removed using this trigger spray bottle of cleaner. It is effective on chrome, taps and shower heads. It works pretty well and doesn't have the harsh, chemical smell of other products. It gave a good shine to my taps and spruces up the shower unit. This is a useful everyday spray to keep limescale at bay or for removing light build up.

Astonish Kitchen Cleaner

Cutting through kitchen grease and grime, this fresh fragranced spray leaves no residue. The spray on, wipe off formula works on tiles, work tops and other surfaces. It is a good everyday cleaner to keep surfaces fresh and clean. It works well to keep surfaces clean and is a good everyday product.

Astonish Window & Glass Cleaner

This formula, which contains vinegar, does a great job on windows and also on mirrors. It leaves a lovely, clear finish without smudges. It is really easy to use and keeps greasy finger prints at bay. It is easy to use and wipes off to a good shine. I also use this on my glass TV shelving unit to remove Freddy's sticky finger marks. It really does clean it up nicely.

Astonish Floor Cleaner

For cleaning floors and repelling dirt, this Lime and Bergamot formula is really good. It leaves floors clean, lifting dirt and grime and smells pleasant. It is good for both our tiled kitchen floor and for our laminate flooring. I also use it neat on a cloth if I find something sticky and gross that the kids have dropped on the floor and not told me about! It is good for getting up dried on splodges of food.

Astonish Oven & Cookware Cleaner

For enamel, porcelain, ovens, cookware, plastics, glass, tiles, chrome and metal, this is a super effective deep cleanser. It lifts stains out really well, working when other cleaners let you down. I find it absolutely brilliant for getting rid of water marks and for removing limescale from sinks and baths. I've also removed Sharpie Marker from a table using a bit of this paste on a cloth. It is also brilliant for removing the brown stains from stainless steel sinks and for shifting rust marks made from leaving tins on the work surface by the sink or in the bathroom. It is also excellent for cleaning the surrounds on my uPVC window frames. I have also used it to clean the burnt on greasy build up on my oven's glass door, something that no spray can touch. With a good cloth and a bit of elbow grease, I made it look like new, buffing it up after rinsing away the residue.

oven cleaning, green cleaning

I cannot praise this product enough, it has so many uses and it is my go-to cleaning product when I see a stain that sprays won't shift. The slightly abrasive formula really is a miracle worker when it comes to cleaning things other products struggle with.  Every home should have a pot!

The Astonish products really are great quality and brilliant value, delivering good results and a perfect finish. You can buy them online with an RRP of £2 but many are available for just £1 each in Poundland and so buying a selection of products to carry out a spring clean needn't be expensive. Plus, by choosing Astonish you are being kinder to the planet. 

Traditional Italian Chocolates from Bonieri

Receiving a box of beautifully and elegantly packaged chocolates from Bonieri could not have happened at a better time. About to celebrate my eighteenth anniversary with my husband Ian, the chocolates gave us a wonderfully indulgent, quality treat to enjoy along with a glass of red wine over the weekend. Perfect!

Italian chocolate

Bonieri are speciality chocolates from Turin in the Piedmont region of northern Italy. These top quality chocolates have recently launched into Selfridges and are also stocked in the chocolate room in Harrods. They are also available in the Bonieri online shop.

Bonieri showcases recipes using the Tonda Gentile delle Langhe hazelnut - gianduiotti, cremini, gianduja - all rich, velvet smooth pralines, made using traditional recipes and processes.


The Delice is a combination of a single toasted hazelnut enrobed in velvet smooth hazelnut praline, coated in crisp dark chocolate shell. They are individually wrapped in foil wrappers and presented in a bag tied with a ribbon. They are rich and creamy, with a lovely nutty flavour and are dairy free.

A 100g ribboned bag is £6.95.

Italian chocolates

Bella Box Caffe

The beautifully presented Bella boxes contain a selection of fine Italian chocolates. They are tied with a ribbon and deliver real luxury, making them a wonderful gift idea. The Caffe box contains a deluxe selection of gianduja pralines flavoured with coffee. Each box contains smooth coffee flavoured Cremini, rich traditional Gianduiotti and the decadent Gemme, with an edible coffee bean on top. The individually foiled chocolates make a wonderful treat for lovers of coffee and chocolate (that'd be me then!)  The selection is dairy free.

The 170g box is £17.95.

Italian Chocolates

Chocolate Covered Hazelnut Nougat

The handcrafted aromatic hazelnut nougat is made by hand using a recipe dating back to 1883. It contains aromatic Millefiori honey and Piedmont hazelnuts, giving a balance of sweetness and earthiness. It has a uniquely crumbly texture and is coated in dark chocolate. Each individual piece is wrapped for freshness. They are lovely!

A 250g ribboned bag is £14.95.

italian chocolates

Gianduja Spread

This fusion of freshly ground Piedmont hazelnuts and smooth chocolate cream has been awarded a gold star in the Great Taste Awards 2014. It's easy to see why! The smooth, nutty, chocolatey spread is rich and creamy and can be enjoyed in so many ways. A spoonful straight from the jar is an utter indulgence. Otherwise, you can serve it spread on biscuits, on pancakes, topped on cupcakes or with fruit or ice cream. It can be used in recipes or added to hot chocolate. It is a chocolate spread for grown ups!

A 200g jar is £8.95.

Italian Chocolates

You can discover the full range of Bonieri Traditional Italian Chocolates on the website:


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