Thursday, 30 June 2016

New York 3d puzzle buildings from Ravensburger

My older son has recently studied "the famous buildings around the world" topic, and loves looking at the school printout booklet with the photos and short texts. He also loves browsing through the city guides of the places our family has visited. He is fascinated with all the 3d monuments puzzles from Ravensburger which we have in our collection at home.
Imagine our delight when we received 3 boxes of 3d puzzles to add to our collection of mini-replicas of the world monuments and famous landmarks. This time we've got to build three New York puzzles - Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building Night Edition and Chrysler Building Night Edition.

Ravensburger puzzles

If you haven't had a chance of working on a 3d puzzle, please be reassured that they are not that tricky. The plastic pieces are all numbered and have a little arrow on the back of each piece, which shows where the next piece should be attached.
First sort through the puzzle pieces. I find it easier to make the columns of tens on the working table, and then use them, building the puzzle up, rather than looking for each piece individually in a big pile of puzzle pieces.

The Statue of Liberty puzzle is the easiest of the three. You only need to build the plinth, and the actual statue comes with the puzzle. It is a perfect miniature of the statue, made with a great attention to detail.
The Statue of Liberty is a colossal neoclassical sculpture on Liberty Island in New York Harbor in New York City. The statue was designed by a French sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, and was a gift to the United States from the people of France.

jigsaw puzzle

The puzzle includes unique hinged plastic pieces which you need to slot together to build a miniature replica of this famous landmark, probably most famous monument of the United States.
There are 108 pieces in the puzzle, which measures 37.5cm in height when complete.

I confess I have struggled with an Empire State Building At Night  3d puzzle. There are lots of corner pieces which you need to bend into a precise straight corner. I even managed to break one of the pieces in two. Once the top storeys were added, some of the lower storey-pieces would get undone. I was getting rather cross with it. I have built a good amount of 3d puzzles, and this one was not going to defeat me. I finally managed to assemble it (after a lot of swearing, but thanks goodness, I was on my own).

It uses LED technology to create 5 different coloured lighting effects which change from red to yellow, green, blue and pink. The lights change automatically and create a festive display. If you fancy having a dinner party to celebrate the 4th of July, this could make an interesting and eye-catching table piece.
There are 214 pieces in the puzzle, and it measures 48.5cm when complete. The puzzle comes with a printed base board.

The Chrysler Building - Night Edition puzzle is a replica of one of the tallest buildings in New York, an art deco masterpiece. It is built from 216 plastic puzzle pieces, including curved and hinged. It comes with the plastic moulds and frames which help to keep the building together and support the puzzle.
Start at the base and work your way up.

Just like the Empire State Building puzzle it uses LED technology to create different coloured lighting effects. The lights change automatically.
All these New York 3d puzzles will make an excellent gift for any puzzle lover.

Disclosure: I received three puzzles for the purposes of reviewing. All opinions are mine.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Turkey steaks with a parmesan and pesto crust

I had a difficult day today, with a medical appointment out of town, which I have dreaded. Thankfully, it wasn't what I was afraid it might be. I arrived home, quite tired and drained emotionally, but still needed to cook dinner. Though my men professed they would be happy with just sandwiches and snacks, I cooked dinner for everyone: pasta for Eddie, soup and sandwiches for Sasha, and turkey steaks for my husband and myself.
Turkey steaks don't take a long time to cook, and I had a pack of pesto pots from Sacla which I wanted to try as a topping for the steaks. Sacla pesto is one of the foods you could probably find in my kitchen at any given time. It is a convenient cupboard staple, handy for any time you fancy a plate of spaghetti, a bowl of minestrone or a cauliflower cheese with an Italian twist.
Sacla has recently added pesto pots to their wide range of pesto products.

easy and quick dinner

Turkey steaks with a parmesan and pesto crust (serves 2)
2 turkey steaks (230g)
2tbsp olive oil
1 Sacla pesto pot
3tbsp grated parmesan
a handful of pine nuts
sea salt
Put the steaks on the hot oiled grill pan and cook for about 3 minutes on each side. Then place the steaks on a tray or ceramic dish, spoon the contents of pesto pot over the steaks. Put the tray in the oven preheated to 180C, cook for about 10 minutes, then add the pine nuts and grated parmesan, cook for another 5 minutes or until the steaks are cooked through.

Serve hot, with a simple salad.
I did a salad of mixed leaves, sliced tomatoes, cubed cheese and chopped spring onions. And because I love pickles, I also scattered a few baby onions on a plate as well/

Disclosure: Sacla pesto pots were part of the latest Degustabox food delivery box which I receive every month for the purposes of testing and reviewing. All opinions are mine.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Lemon drizzle cake with lemon curd icing

"In Britain, a cup of tea is the answer to every problem.
Fallen off your bicycle? Nice cup of tea.
Your house has been destroyed by a meteorite? Nice cup of tea and a biscuit.
Your entire family has been eaten by a Tyrannosaurus Rex that has travelled through a space/time portal? Nice cup of tea and a piece of cake. Possibly a svaoury option would be welcome here too, for example a Scotch egg or a sausage roll".
David Walliams, Mr Stink

Can't argue with that quote, as it is entirely true. You have life problems, you reach for the kettle. And if there's a slice of cake, life definitely looks more promising. At least for the next five minutes.
In the last year I've been mostly baking numerous variations of the carrot cake as it's my older son's favourite kind of cake. Me? A chocolate cake wins every time. But I do love a slice of a good old-fashioned lemon drizzle cake as well/

Lemon drizzle cake with lemon curd icing

zest of 2 lemons, unwaxed
200g caster sugar
3 medium eggs
150g self-raising flour
50g cornflour
1tsp baking powder
120g butter, melted
2tbsp lemon juice
5tbsp lemon curd for the filling
6tbsp icing sugar with enough lemon juice to make a runny icing

Mix the zest of 2 lemons with the caster sugar, beat in 3 medium eggs, one at a time. Add the flour, cornflour, baking powder, melted butter and mix well until the cake batter is of smooth consistency.
Pour the contents of the mixing bowl into an oiled cake spring form cake tin, about 20cm in diameter. Put the cake tin in the oven preheated to 180C. Bake for about 40-45 minutes. Check readiness with a wooden toothpick.
Let the cake cool a bit in the tin before taking it out. Cut the cake into two round slices, using a thin knife or a cake wire slicer. Spread 3tbsp of lemon curd on the lower layer and sandwich two layers.
For the icing mix 2tbsp of lemon curd with 6tbsp of icing sugar and enough freshly squeezed lemon juice to make a runny icing. Drizzle over the cake, and shake a bit more of the icing sugar on top.
Serve with a cup of tea. Don't forget to lick your fingers.

In this recipe I used a delicious lemon curd Lemoncello from The Hawkshead's Relish's new range Culinary Couture, but if you cannot find it, any good quality lemon curd will do.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Photo diary: week 25, 366

We're fast approaching the end of the school year. A few more weeks, I have to tell myself every morning, forcing myself out of bed. I'm sooo not a morning person. Last weekend we spent at home, as my husband was away in Rome and Milan. I finally trimmed Eddie's hair, as he was turning into a Goldilocks. OK, it's not the straightest haircut in the neighbourhood, but I've done worse before.
Not the best photo either, as it was quite dark indoors, and the flash on my camera refuses to work.

Eddie and I baked Finding Dory cupcakes after school. We found the baking kit at Tesco online.

On Tuesday I was trying to take photos of the infused water. The sun was in full blast, and Eddie was jumping around.

I don't know what this little plant is, it's more of a weed than anything else. It looked very pretty after the rain, sparkling like a diamond diadem.

A glamorous rose with a sweet scent

Rain, rain, rain, every day it's raining. June, where are you? It's not different from April weather-wise.
Dog rose after the rain:

Tired after a tennis class, Eddie's lounging on the sofa, watching Alvin & the Chipmunks, while I keep telling him off and asking to lower the sound, as I find their voices mightily annoying.

How did your week go?

Alvin and the Chipmunks: the Road Chip

- Eddie, not so loud please!
- But Mummy, I love the music!


Our chipmunks' movies collection has just been expanded by the latest installment called Alvin and the Chipmunks: the Road Chip (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment).

The chipmunks are back with a vengeance. These mini pop-stars hit the road and make your head spin.
The blurb promises: "Alvin, Simon and Theodore race to Miami on a wild road trip, but their jaunt takes a nutty detour, leading to hilarious hijinks and music-packed adventures across the country".
The mischievous chipmunks whom my son calls cheek-munks are in trouble. Their father-figure Dave has got a new girlfriend Samantha. Not only that, Samantha has a teenager son Miles who hates the little rodents.
The trio suspect that the proposal is in the wings when they find an engagement ring packed in the bags for the trip. There is only one thing they could do - to ruin the matrimonial plans and save themselves from the unwelcome addition to the family.

What did we think about the film? Eddie loved it, but then again, he enjoyed all the previous chipmunks' adventures.

As for my opinion, let's just say, I have never been a fan of any of the Chipmunks films, I find the voices and songs very irritating. These silly little creatures grate on my nerves. Though I'm obviously not in the age group of those who appreciate the series.
While I find all the fart-poop jokes tedious and annoying, Eddie thinks they're ever so funny.

I cannot say that I watched the whole film with him, alas, it was too much for me to endure, but I was staying in the same room most of the time, glancing at the screen from time to time, and thinking to myself: just what the heck did I see and hear? It could be just me, but I don't find chipmunks' "sexy" comments about scantily clad girls appropriate for a children's film. I thought they were supposed to be kids, not diminutive sized adults with a one brain cell.

There are two discs in the set, including the Ultimate Playlist featuring the best songs from all the Alvin and the Chipmunks movies.
I haven't told Eddie that the second disc is all music (when he asked what was there, I said it's a documentary on how they made the film). Shall I come clean and let him enjoy the songs? Then I'll have to hide in the garden, away from the squeaky little terrors.

Do your kids love Alvin and the Chipmunks? Have you seen the Road Chip?

Alvin and the Chipmunks display in the local Sainsbury's
And to give you a taster of what it is about, here is a short video for you to enjoy.

Friday, 24 June 2016

Keep calm and drink more water

My boys are fussy eaters, but ,thankfully, I don't have to encourage them to drink more water. They drink plenty of water, both tap and bottled. While my older son prefers a certain brand of flavoured water, he's as happy with just plain water, especially if I add some ice.
With more outdoors activities planned in warmer weather, we need to carry bottles of water with us. Eddie has recently started playing tennis. After every session he is so thirsty, he gulps up the whole bottle.

I know some kids as well as grown-ups need quite a bit of encouragement to drink more. Take my Mum. She says she's not thirsty and might go without water until the afternoon. I am forever nagging her that it's not healthy.
If you or your kids find the taste of plain water boring, Robinsons have recently launched a campaign called Enjoying Drinking More Water.
They say: "With real fruit in every drop, Robinsons is a tasty way to enjoy drinking more water". The Robinsons range contains no added sugar, is free from artificial colours and preservatives. They have recently expanded their range to add the super concentrated squash called Robinsons Squash'd.
It comes in 6 flavours including Summer Fruits, Lemon & Lime, Citrus, Orange & Peach, Apple & Blackcurrant and Passion fruit & Mango. Each container is small and portable, so you can even carry it around with you.

summer squash

You need just a tiny squeeze to flavour a glass of water. And by tiny I do mean tiny, as otherwise your drink will be very sweet. This is a concentrated squash, so you really need just a few droplets.

summer squash

I quite often buy cordials and squash and often jazz the drink up with sliced citrus fruit and fresh mint leaves.

Infused water is one of the foodie trends these days. All the health guru-bloggers seem to be extolling its virtues. But it surely is not a novelty. My Mum has been doing it many years ago, when we were kids. She's been always adding sliced fruit, berries, herbs to the iced or hot tea and water.
It certainly is much more cost-effective to make your own soft drinks at home. I have recently seen the infused water in what Mumsnetters would definitely call a "naice place", and the price was quite shocking really.

cold summer drinks

I tend to slice a whole orange (peel on) and add a couple of slices of lemon to a small jug of water. Sometimes I add mint leaves, sometimes I drizzle a little bit of squash for an extra flavour.

cold summer drinks

Cucumber peel makes a very refreshing drink, while strawberries add a touch of sweetness. And again, if you add a few drops of Squash'd, you have a whole variety of different flavours to choose.

cold summer drinks

cold summer drinks

These little portable squashes will come handy when we stay in Cornwall later in summer. We can jump to our heart's content on the beach, run and scream like noone is watching, play football, dig the trenches in the sand and then have a cool flavoured drink, because holidaying on the beach is a thirsty job.

We are counting days until the school holidays start. So many plans, so much to see and discover...

This post is an entry for BritMums #EnjoyMoreWaterChallenge. sponsored by Robinsons.

Disclosure: I received a selection of Squash'd for the purposes of writing this post. All opinions are mine.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Primrose's Kitchen expands its range

vegan breakfast foods

When I was a child, my Mum used to tell me that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. She also liked to repeat that rather tired maxim "Eat your breakfast yourself, share lunch with a friend and give your dinner to your enemy". The recent research concluded that actually breakfast might not be the most important meal of the day. Either way, I don't quite trust much of the modern research regarding eating habits as it often has its own agenda. I don't skip breakfast, as I need "fuel" to keep me going, and I certainly make sure my boys have their breakfast too before school.
These days the range of breakfast cereals is so vast, you might get lost. Which health benefits to believe, which take with a pinch of salt?
I have recently discovered The Primrose's Kitchen range of natural food. The brand is the brainchild of Primrose Matheson who did Naturopathic and Complementary health studies and has a degree in Homeopathy. She used her knowledge to create a range of the natural and wholesome food which includes muesli and granola, nut and seed butter, sprinkles and smoothie boosters.

The Primrose's Kitchen has recently expanded its range of inspired breakfast products by introducing a new flavour of granola as well as organic oats.

Organic Porridge oats are sourced in the UK and have been milled, using centuries-old methods.
As you know, oats are a great breakfast food which keeps you going for the whole morning (well, until the elevenses anyway, when I do enjoy a cup of coffee with a biccie).

vegan breakfast

I like to jazz up a meal of porridge by adding some sliced fruit or berries, and pour a syrup or honey. To make it colourful and pretty, slice a couple of small fresh or dried figs and drizzle a good glug of date syrup. Totally delicious! Of course, if you're virtuous, skip the fruit and syrup and have your porridge plain.
Since I don't follow a vegan diet, I used milk to cook the porridge, but for a vegan option cook it with almond milk or water.

breakfast porridge, health food

I also used these oats as an ingredient for baking oat walnut cookies. The oats gave the cookies a lovely texture and flavour. Oats are my favourite way of adding texture and extra fibre to cookies.

Oatmeal & Chia porridge is another tasty porridge. I wasn't sure if I were going to like it, as it does sounds "too healthy" - chia seeds seem to be promoted by all health gurus as a super food.
I cooked the porridge with milk (and again, use almond milk or water for a vegan version) and topped up with a sliced banana and chopped coconut chunks.
The chia seeds add a little bit of crunch to the creamy porridge. It was a very enjoyable porridge.

Organic Orange & Cashew Granola is a wholesome mix of orange, cashew, sunflower seeds, raisins, coconut pieces, cinnamon, nutmeg and Himalayan salt. All my favourite flavours together, this is a perfect granola for me. It has a delightful aroma and a crunchy texture.

vegan breakfast foods

I rarely have a granola in the morning, but I do love a bit of granola in a simple dessert. Just put a handful of granola inside a glass, top up with coconut yogurt (or Greek style yogurt) and a spoonful of your favourite jam for an amazingly moreish treat. Orange & Cashew granola topped up with coconut yogurt and lingonberry jam is just heavenly.
If you want to try exactly the same recipe, look for a coconut yogurt from The Coconut Collaborative and a Swedish rose hips and lingonberry jam from Felix.
My boys enjoy eating granola as a snack, straight from the packet, and without any milk.

We loved Primrose's Kitchen products, they are bursting with flavour and goodness.

Have you tried any of Primrose's Kitchen products?

Primrose's Kitchen orange * cashew granola

Disclosure: I received a selection of Primrose's Kitchen products for the purposes of testing and reviewing. All opinions are mine.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Belledorm luxury percale bed linen

When it comes to bedrooms, I prefer pretty pastel colours and soft patterns. My younger son is the complete opposite, he loves all the bold and bright designs, and has a selection of bed linen with Spiderman, Ninja Turtles, Trucks etc. But like me, he finds the smell of the fresh bedlinen irresistible. Whenever I'm changing the bedding, he'd be right there, jumping on the bed and "helping" me.
Belledorm luxury percale bed linen is available in a wide range of sizes and colours, to suit all tastes and styles.
Browsing at Rooi online, I have picked a Belledorm 200TC polycotton contemporary plain double duvet cover in duck egg blue and matching pillow cases for our older son's bedroom.
The set has arrived in a cotton bag, which could be reused for keeping the linen whenever you don't use it.

As it is a blend of 50% cotton and 50% polyester, it is easy to wash and iron.
Anything that requires minimal ironing is a bonus for me. With three men to look after and iron their clothes on a daily basis, I'm not too enthusiastic when it comes to ironing the bed linen too.
Polycotton keeps cool in summer and warm in winter, and is pretty durable.
I have already washed our set a couple of times, so can confirm that it washes well. It is a stylish and practical range of bed linen, suitable for everyday use, and comes with a seven years guarantee. It is also available in Single, King and Super King sizes.

I like all shades of blue, as I think this colour is classic and timeless, and helps to create a look of serenity in the bedroom. My older son prefers a minimalist look, so this colour scheme worked very well for his bedroom.

The beauty of the plain dye bed linen is that it is available in a colour palette to suit any home and that you can mix and match it with the other bedding sets to create whichever look you fancy.
If a one-colour scheme is not to your taste, jazz it up with a different shade of the same colour or patterned design which includes the same colour or different shades of the colour.

It can be kept simple, uncluttered and stylish, it can be eye-catching and vibrant when matched with a few accessories that make a bold statement. For example, some bold stripes on pillow cases or cushions could be added for a nautical look.
Imagine this lovely blue with a few little cushions which have a floral design and a bit of tatty lace for the shabby chic bedroom.
The possibilities are endless. But then I'm very much a mix-and-match person, in my reading preferences, musical tastes, interior design and culinary trends.
If you're a purist and minimalist, keep it simple.

What does your bedroom say about you?

Disclosure: We received a set of bedlinen for the purposes of testing and reviewing. All opinions are ours.