Saturday, 25 February 2017

Join PJ Masks Twitter Party on 1 March 2017

PJ Masks, toys for children, collectible toys for kids

We are true Twitter party animals! Earlier this month we hosted a We're going on a Bear Hunt Twitter party, and then there is one more in the pipeline (can't reveal yet what the theme is). It takes a lot of organising and planning, but it's great fun, and my son Eddie is loving them all.

This coming Wednesday, @UKMumsTV are running a PJ Masks Twitter party, and you're cordially invited to join in. It will start at 4pm, and will last until 6pm. There will be lots of giveaways where you could win super duper prizes from the newly launched PJ Masks range.

PJ Masks range was launched at the start of February, and includes a variety of role play, plastic and plush toys. There is an exclusive Deluxe Vehicle set available at Argos.
There are three dress-up costumes in the range.
"Your kids can explore their imaginations and transform instantly into their favourite heroes at home. Whether it is Owlette, Catboy or Gekko, each set includes a mask and full body costume to complete the hero look."

dress up costumes for kids

I will do a review of PJ Masks toys next week, so watch this space.

Several parenting bloggers, myself included, will join forces with @UKMumsTV to host a party on 1 March.
Selected bloggers have received a big party pack with invitations and party goodies, and we can't wait for our party to commence.

As you can see, we received the most marvellous box of goodies for our guests including colouring sheets, crayons, PJ Masks toys - vehicles and figure sets as well as beanie plush toys, a costume set, snacks and treats. Eddie is very excited about having his friends over.
He also can't wait to try on a Catboy costume.

You might wonder how you can get involved? Make sure you're following @UKMumsTV and use the hashtag #PJMasksToys this Wednesday between 4 and 6pm.

Friday, 24 February 2017

Mini carrot cakes with cream cheese topping by Tom Kitchin - Be a Star, Bake a Cake

best carrot cake

If my family had to choose our favourite cake, carrot cake would be a top contender, along with Advocaat cake and ricotta cake. I have tried and tested many different versions of this classic bake, from family recipes to celebrity chefs. Some of them we loved, some decided not to bake again.
When I was asked to mention a Be a Star, Bake a cake fundraiser on my blog, I was offered a selection of delicious recipes to try.

Bowel Cancer UK is encouraging the nation to join celebrity chefs to bake their favourite cake for their families, friends and colleagues to raise money for the charity for Bowel Cancer Awareness Month.

Celebrity chefs - Rick Stein, Tom Kitchin, Brian Turner, Eric Lanlard, Tom Aikens, the Hairy Bikers, Gennaro Contaldo, Deliciously Ella, Mark Greenway - whipped up their favourite bakes in order to inspire the Brits to bake their favourite cake for Be a Star, Bake a Cake.

"This year Bowel Cancer UK, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary, is oping more people than ever will hold a bake sale during Bowel Cancer Awareness Month in April and raise as much money as possible to help fund vital research and lifesaving work to stop bowel cancer.
More than 44 people die from bowel cancer every day in the UK, it's the nation's second biggest cancer killer. However, it shouldn't be. It's treatable and curable, especially if diagnosed early"

Steph Mills, Community Fundraising Manager at Bowel Cancer UK says: "Whether you're a whiz in the kitchen or if baking sends you into a tiz, our celebrity chef supporters have a recipe for you. Test your souffle skills with a delicious Chocolate Orange Souffle by the Hairy Bikers, make your chocolate brownies less devilish with Deliciously Ella's sweet potato borwnies or if you're after indulgence, Tom Aikens' chocolate cake will satisfy your sweet tooth. Then hold a cake stall, coffee morning or afternoon tea and invite your friends and colleagues to make a donation and sample the delicious treats".
Your bake will make a real difference - sign up here - Be a Star, Bake a Cake.

There were several recipes I fancied trying, but I can never resist another variation of the carrot cake.
Tom Kitchin's version is very carroty, and as a traybake, it is easily divided into portions for a bake sale.

best cakes and bakes, best carrot cake

Mini carrot cakes with cream cheese topping by Tom Kitchin
makes 12 cakes
a little butter for greasing
190g plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda
1tsp ground cinnamon
3/3tsp freshly grated nutmeg
95g dessicated coconut
4 free range medium eggs
135ml vegetable oil
190g soft dark brown sugar
400g peeled carrots, grated

270g cream cheese
230g icing sugar, sifted
160g unsalted butter, softened
1 vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped or 1tsp vanilla extract
finely chopped carrot and grated orange zest to finish

Heat the oven to 180C/gas 4. Grease and line 30x20cm baking tin with baking parchment. Sift the flour with the baking powder, bicarb of soda and spices into a large bowl.
stir in the dessicated coconut.

Using an electric mixer or hand whisk, whisk the eggs, oil and brown sugar together until fluffy and thick. Using a large metal spoon carefully fold in the flour and coconut mixture until just combined. Finally, add the grated carrots and fold in gently.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin, spreading it evenly and into the corners. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a fine skewer or cocktail stick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Leave the cake in the tin for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the topping, beat the cream cheese, icing sugar, butter, vanilla seeds or extract together, using the mixer or whisk, for at least 5 minutes until the mixture is fluffy and white.

Cut the cake into bite size helpings and pipe a generous dollop of the cream cheese mixtures on top.
Finish with a sprinkling of finely chopped carrot and grated orange zest.

best carrot cake, best cakes

It happened to be an interesting version of our favourite cake, and not only visually - I typically make a round carrot cake, sliced in half and frosted with cream cheese frosting.
I have a square cake tin, so poured the remaining cake batter into four paper cupcake cases.

Our verdict: it was a tasty bake, but for me the ratio of carrots to flour was slightly odd. I usually grate 2 carrots and use more flour. Here the amount of carrots is double to flour, so it is a very carroty carrot cake. It is healthier, of course. I also missed the chopped walnuts in the cake, so added a few chopped ones to the frosted tops.
It's a moist bake, crumbly and not over-sweet. The frosting is delicate and works beautifully with the carrot cake.

best carrot cake

best carrot cake

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Roots Collective Blends (review and recipe ideas)

"We're not a juice. We're not a smoothie. We're a Blend!" is Roots Collective's motto.
These days the choice of fruit and vegetable juices and smoothies is vast, with new brands appearing on the market almost overnight. Yet most of these healthy drinks are a mix of both veg and fruit.

Roots Collective has revolutionised snacktime by launching the UK's first and only range of whole vegetable Blends.

The main difference between blends and smoothies is the vegetable content, it is at least 80%. No fruit juice is added to blends, so there is less sugar. They are low calorie (at about 127kcal per 230g bottle), and dairy free. They have a thick consistency and offer a filling fibre hit.
There is a quarter kilo of vegetables used in each blend.
You can have them cold or hot, add them as ingredients to different recipes.
I received a selection of Roots Collective blends earlier this month.

healthy vegetable drinks

There are five inspired flavours to choose from.

Sweet Beet is a blend of beetroot, red pepper, honey & lime. I do love beetroot, but nobody else likes it in our family. Beets have a distinct earthy taste. This drink has a beautiful intense colour and sweet taste.

healthy drinks

I fancied trying one of the recipes sent to me by email.
It was meant to be a Valentine's day recipe - Sweet Beets Breakfast. I didn't make it for that particular occasion, as beets and oats don't quite scream Romance to me.
Or maybe they do, for very health-conscious couples.
I have halved the recipe, which is easily done.

oats soaked in vegetable blend

Sweet Beets Breakfast Recipe (serves 2)
1 bottle of Roots Collective Sweet Beets
2 peeled and coarsely grated apples
6 tbsp of rolled porridge oats
2tbsp of chia seeds
1tbsp flaked almonds
2tbsp plain yogurt
Mix the Roots Collective Sweet Beets, grated apples, rolled porridge and chia seeds in a mixing bowl, stirring thoroughly.
Top with plain yogurt and flaked almonds and divide between two serving bowls.
It is probably best made with Bircher muesli oats, and soaked overnight for a creamier consistency. I used fresh figs instead of flaked almonds, and haven't added yogurt either.
Overall, it's not something I would want to repeat in a hurry.
Red pepper was not quite right there for me. I'd prefer a tomato, or carrot for a borscht-like flavour, though not with oats.

Carrot Zing is made with carrots, root ginger, coconut milk, lime juice and a dash of honey.
This blend was probably my top favourite, as I love all the ingredients included in it. It has a lively bright colour and refreshing zingy taste.
Heated up, it will make a lovely bowl of soup.

healthy vegetable juice

Alison from Dragons and Fairy Dust used it to make Fruity carrot noodles, a lovely salad or side dish for the main meal. Check out her delicious recipe.

Garden Greens is a refreshing medley of cucumber, mint and peas. I imagine in summer it will make a delightful cold soup, served with a dollop of soured cream or Greek yogurt.

healthy snacks and drinks

I used it to cook a courgette and asparagus risotto. As an ingredient for cooking, Garden Greens added a beautiful flavour to the vegetarian meal.

vegetarian recipes

Asian Sling is an exotic combination of sunshine yellow peppers, carrot, spinach, lemongrass and coriander.
There are also added notes of honey, coconut milk and avocado, as well as red chilli and lime zest. It is an interesting combination of flavours, reminiscent of stir fries and curries.

Green Warrior is a mighty blend of courgette, spinach, cucumber, lime juice, avocado, coconut milk and honey with a pinch of fresh parsley and chives. That's another great contender for risottos.
Roots Collective suggest to create a salsa verde with this blend, with added oil and garlic.

For a full range of Roots products and more recipe inspiration, check out Roots Collective.

Disclosure: I received a selection of blends for the purposes of testing and reviewing. All opinions are our own.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Courgette and asparagus risotto

How quickly did the holiday week go. Back to school tomorrow. Deep sigh. Tomorrow our house will be in total upheaval, as we finally are going to have works done on the collapsed ceiling in the entrance room. I want all the old plastering to be removed, but that means, everything will be covered with dust, even with the doors to the other rooms closed. So, if I disappear for a while, that would mean, I'm fighting the dust and serving endless cups of tea and coffee to the builders.
Tonight for dinner we had a risotto, later followed by a fresh fruit salad.

vegetarian risotto, Italian recipes

Courgette and asparagus risotto
2 medium courgettes
100g asparagus tips
5tbsp olive oil
25g butter
300g arborio risotto rice
100ml dry white wine or prosecco
230g Roots Garden Peas blended vegetable blend
150ml single cream
40g Grana Padano, grated

Slice courgettes in half lengthways, then into thin crescents. Chop the asparagus. In a deep frying pan heat 3tbsp of olive oil, add the courgettes and asparagus. Cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes.
In a different frying pan add the sliced shallots to the hot olive oil (2tbsp), and sweat on a medium heat until softened. Add the arbotio rice, stir with a wooden spoon, so that all the rice grains are coated with the onion-flavoured oil.
Add the white wine, and allow it to evaporate. Keep stirring. Add the Garden peas vegetable blend, a bit at a time, as you would with the stock. Add the single cream too. Keep adding vegetable blend and cream, and a little bit of hot water for about 20+ minutes, until the rice is cooked. The time will depend on how al dente you like to eat your risotto. If you like it well cooked, you will need more time for cooking.
Add the fried courgettes and asparagus to the risotto in the last 5 minutes of cooking. The vegetables should still have a bite rather than turn into slushy mushy bio-mass.

vegetarian risotto, Italian recipes

Grate Grana Padano and stir in at the last minute. Serve with more grated cheese on top.

vegetarian risotto, Italian vegetarian recipes

In this recipe instead of the usual stock I used Roots Garden Greens - cucumber, peas, kale & mint vegetable blend. It gave a lovely fresh green flavour to risotto.

For a different vegetarian risotto with Garden Greens, check out the Roots Collective Greens Risotto, cooked with broccoli, spinach and broad beans.

Since I used the remains of prosecco (leftover from Valentine's day dinner) and Grana Padano (which I keep in big chunks in the freezer), this recipe is joining in #KitchenClearout Linky, run by Cheryl from Madhouse Family Reviews.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Grow your own salad giveaway (c/d March 12 March 2017)

In the last month vegetable lovers were left despondent by the so called courgette and salad shortage. Some supermarkets have limited purchases to three lettuces per person. I can't say I have noticed any shortage in the shops locally. There was plenty of salad and courgettes, though when I was doing a grocery order online at Tesco the other week, salad and courgettes were indeed unavailable.
It is a good time for garden centres though, with seeds' packets flying off the shelves.
Yesterday a friend took my younger son and me on a trip to Burford garden centre, for a cup of coffee and a good browse in their gardening section.
I bought several packets of seeds - a couple of varieties of tomatoes and some herbs like borage, fennel and chamomile. I won't be growing courgettes this year. They are considered to be the easiest veg to grow, but the snails and slugs love them too much, and I am not keen on using pesticides when growing vegetables.
I have read gardening advice that growing garlic and marigolds among the salad and vegetables prevents the slugs and snails, but our creepy crawlies haven't read this advice. I remember coming one morning after planting a whole lot of marigolds on the strawberry patch, only to find them half-munched and covered in sticky trails. I have tried coffee granules and crushed egg shells. The snails win the battle.
Basically, I gave up on growing courgettes.
I always have a good crop of tomatoes in the greenhouse, and will be growing them again this year. I grow them in big pots and grobags.

I am offering a selection of packets of seeds for one of my blog readers. Some of these seeds were freebies from gardening magazines.
The winner will receive 5 packets of seeds including Lettuce (red & green salad bowl mixed), the smallest lettuce Tom Thumb (with about 1000 seeds, so you'd have plenty of salad this summer), Lollo Rosso lettuce, sweet basil and St Valery carrots.

If you don't have a garden, herbs and salad are very easily grown in pots or grobags. I will direct you to a couple of useful blog posts written by Attachment Mummy - Balcony Gardening and How to plant a garden in a small space. It's incredible just how much you can grow in a small space.

To be in with a chance of winning, please enter using a Rafflecopter form.
The only mandatory step is answering a question - What do you grow in your garden/greenhouse, on your balcony, patio? If you don't, what would you like to grow given a chance?

Also if you win, would you like some seeds of bronze fennel (a must for all fish dishes) and borage (edible flower, lovely in Pimms or gin cocktails). Just say Yes next to your answer. I will gladly share those with you, as both packets I have bought have 100 seeds.

The giveaway is open to the UK residents only.
Once the Rafflecopter picks the winner, I will contact them regarding address details, if they do not reply within 28 day, the prize will be allocated to another person.
Please don't forget to leave a comment, as it is the only mandatory step, I will make sure the winner selected by Rafflecopter has complied with T&Cs.

The giveaway will close on 12 March 2017 (at midnight)

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, 17 February 2017

Our #BearHunt Twitter Party

toy bear

If you were on Twitter yesterday, you might have seen a hashtag #BearHunt trending and wondering what it was all about. Perhaps you even joined in with the activities and competitions run by @UKMumsTV. Several bloggers were hosting We're Going on a Bear Hunt Twitter parties and tweeting-tweeting-tweeting.
With Twitter parties, it's all about the organisation and planning, everything has to be prepared in advance for it to go smoothly.
Eddie loves having his friends over, and if they have activities to do and a film to watch, he is very happy.
Days before the party we received a big box of party goodies with invitations, colouring sheets and pencils, tasty snacks, bear-ears making sheets, toys, books and DVDs.

"We're going on a bear hunt" by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury has delighted several generations of children and parents alike since 1989. Our old copy, from the days when my 14-year-old son was a toddler, is quite battered and has chewed corners.
I remember reading this story hundreds of times, when he was little and enjoyed the rhythm and repetition. He was delighted when I made all those Squelch squerch, Splash splosh sounds. We definitely knew the book off by heart.
The plot is quite simple:
Children are led on a challenging adventure by their big brother. They have to go through the high grass, a river, a thick oozy mud, dark forest, snowstorm until they reach a bear cave. The bear is startled to see them. Terrified, the kids flee back home, in reverse order, before finally hiding under the duvet in their big bed. They vow never to go on a bear hunt again. The poor bear who was woken up from hibernation in his cave, looks sad and desolate.
This children's classic appeared on the screens last Christmas as an enchanting animation (see my full review - We're Going on a Bear Hunt DVD review)

To celebrate the release of the DVD of We're going on a bear hunt, selected bloggers were invited to host a Twitter party.

children's animation

We managed to pack in a lot of activities in those two hours of the party.
First, Eddie and his friends watched the film. I was a bit anxious about the story, as it has been changed from the original book, made darker and more poignant. But nobody was particularly distressed or affected by the sad parts. If anything, it was I who felt my eyes were brimming when the girl put her late Grandpa's scarf on the bear's neck. It made me think of my own Dad who died many years ago, and who never met his grandchildren. But I digress.

As soon as the film has finished, the quiz sheets were out. Eddie got all of his answers right except one, he forgot the name of the dog.

Decorate a Bear Hunt Biscuit activity was great fun. We had a packet of digestives, two bags of chocolate buttons and chocolate-flavoured icing pens.

decorating biscuits with kids

Eddie always enjoys decorating cupcakes and biscuits, but doing bear biscuits proved to be quite a challenge. I also had to remind the guys that chocolate buttons were for decoration, as they kept sneakily eating them, one after another.

decorating biscuits with kids

Eddie's bear was an Angry Birds hybrid, with bushy eyebrows, but he was proud of his creation.
I had a quick go too, though my bear wouldn't win me any prizes. Well, my excuse is I had to entertain and tweet at the same time.

Some of the icing ended up on the sleeves, but it didn't really matter. It was great fun.

Some of the biscuits were promptly eaten as soon as I have taken photos.

Bear Hunt Treasure Trail was another great activity. Who doesn't like the idea of looking for treasures - DVD, book, toys and sweeties.

By then I was a bit exhausted, running up and down the house, shouting Hot or Cold to give a hint how far they are from the next prize.

And then there was a turn of Pin the tail on the bear. We used scarves as blindfolds. The poster on the wall showed the bear from the animation. You had to stick a fluffy pom pom tail as close as possible to the bear's bum.

We were supposed to make our own Bear Hunt ears, but by that time our company was in such high spirits and way too giggly to do anything sensible, they were getting sillier and sillier, so the Bear Ears activity sheets went into the goodie bags to take home together with colouring sheets, pencils, toys and other gifts.
You know how it is with kids, sweets and fun games.
I was in need of a cup of tea (or perhaps something stronger) and some peace and quiet.

Our party was a big success, and Eddie can't wait for us to host a new Twitter party.

Disclosure: As mentioned in a pre-party post, we received a big box of party goodies. All opinions are our own.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Surviving the cold season with TLC, folk remedies and Vicks #VicksTricks

Once children start nursery and school, they will inevitably pick all kinds of germs and viruses. Both of my sons managed to get chicken pox in the nursery. I think Eddie haven't been to the nursery even for a month before he caught it. But while in the nursery the attendance is not an issue, the school is a different matter, there is too much pressure on not missing school at any cost.
Many parents send their sick kids to school, with the attitude "Oh, I gave her Calpol before school, and hope she'll be fine". Then there is always a pressure from school for the attendance stats. I remember when Eddie was in Reception, and was unwell quite often, with a fever or stomach bug, we had a letter from school about our "poor performance" and spoiling the school attendance statistics. I was quite furious. Anyway, his immunity is getting stronger.
He did miss several days of school this academic year, when he had a bad cold with a high temperature, but I would never send a sick child to school, statistics or not.

Whenever he is unwell, he loves me fussing around him. He would stay on the sofa in the sitting room, all tucked in with a warm soft duvet. If he's a bit perkier, he might watch his favourite DVDs or listen to audio books, sometimes nodding off. Resting aplenty is very important.
When he was younger, he loved to hug his favourite soft toys.

I try to entice him to eat something, and drink plenty, as when he is unwell, he is off his food too. Keeping him well hydrated is a priority.
If your children like the taste of ginger, make a ginger tea with with honey to help soothe the sore throat. It lessens the inflammation and helps to clear the sinus area. Sadly, Eddie doesn't like ginger, so this is not his favourite drink.
We enjoy a quiet time together. Eddie loves me to read books to him. Scary stories like Goosebumps are his favourite. He would be sipping his cup of hot milk with honey and listening to the story. Hot milk with honey is our drink of the day, when we have colds or bugs, even my husband asks for a cup of hot milk at bedtime when he's unwell.

Just like my own Mum used to give me hot milk, and tell me a story. She rarely read books to me, but used to tell stories, she's a great story-teller.

The other folk remedy my Mum used to do was to put dry mustard in socks, and make us wear those socks overnight. I think as a remedy it worked, but I disliked sleeping in socks.
When we were little and had a cold, Mum would prepare boiled potatoes, then mash them, cover the cooking pot with a towel, and make us breathe the steam under the towel.
You can also use a steamy hot water with a few drops of essential oil like eucalyptus or tea tree as a decongestant, but it's probably best for older children, as you have to be very careful with the hot water.

My Mum is a source of old remedies, even now when we talk on the phone and I tell her I'm not feeling well thanks to the cold, she'd suggest cutting an onion or garlic and putting it next to my bed. To be honest, I don't follow her advice. I don't think I could sleep with all that smelly food around me. Sorry, Mum.

And of course a homemade chicken soup is a must! It gives you energy and strength when you're feeling weak from cold.

homemade soup

If it's a cold my kids are suffering with, we get a reliable old remedy, Vicks VapoRub, out.
Eddie's very ticklish, and giggles when I smear the VapoRub on his back and chest. It helps him to breathe easier, relieves congestion and helps with a sore throat. It has a pleasant smell, not too strong.

Vicks VapoRub has come up with a series of videos recently, called #VicksTricks, teaching parents how to keep children entertained when they are ailing.
"When children are feeling poorly, every parent needs a few tricks up their sleeve to entertain, distract and make them feel better, especially during the back-to-school season when they need to be back up and on their feet quickly".

Eddie and I enjoyed watching the videos. The drawing trick was our favourite, as it is simple yet impressive.

As a talking point about #VicksTricks, BritMums have sent us a big envelope of goodies including a book for younger children, finger puppets for creative play and Vicks First Defence nasal spray. We haven't had a chance to test the spray yet (knock on the wood), but it is supposed to work at the first signs of cold, by targeting the viruses to help stop the cold in its tracks before the symptoms got worse. I guess it will work similar to the other Vicks nasal sprays, which I use quite often myself.

What are your tips for surviving the cold season?

This post is an entry for the #VicksTricks campaign.

LEGO® NEXO Knights Season One DVD (review + giveaway E: 2 March 2017)

image credits: Warner Bros Pictures

LEGO® NEXO Knights have been part of our lives for a while. Eddie who is 6, loves anything NEXO Knights-related. He's been watching the series on TV, and playing a Merlok 2.0 app on the ipad.
Every morning, when we happen to walk to school with his friend Peter, these two guys discuss all the technical details of the app and give useful tips to each other. Apparently, it is a bottomless topic, they never get tired of discussing it.

LEGO® NEXO Knights are also an extensive range of Lego minifigures and sets. In the past year we spent way too much on LEGO® NEXO Knights, and of course, they come up with new sets, for example, this January has seen a release of the latest figures and sets. Eddie's wish list is forever growing.

This month LEGO® NEXO Knights Season One arrives on DVD - on February 13 - complete with a free NEXO Power and we're giving you the chance to win your very own copy on DVD (scroll down for the giveaway).

image credits: Warner Bros Pictures

Who are NEXO Knights, and what is so exciting about them?
The episodes are a cross between medieval and magic themes. A quintet of knights battle monsters in order to defend their kingdom and citizens.

"Oh no... the high tech Kingdom of Knighton is in trouble! Join five young knights: Clay, Aaron, Lance, Princess Macy and Axl as they fight to protect the kingdom from Jestro and the Book of Monsters in LEGO® NEXO Knights: Season One.
The King's Jester has gone rogue and stolen the strange talking Book of Monsters. Using its evil magic, he summons an army of dangerous Lava Monsters and attacks.

image credits: Warner Bros Pictures

It is up to the brave but inexperienced NEXO Knights to come to the rescue. In their amazing rolling castle and with the help of holographic Wizard Merlok 2.0, they have technology and NEXO powers, an incredible new digitized magic, on their side.
But the Jester and the Book of Monsters have a sinister plot that may spell doom over the once peaceful kingdom.
Collect your NEXO Powers and join the battle to save Knighton."

Watch all your favourite NEXO Knights characters in 10 action-packed episodes on two DVDs.
Episodes list:
The Book of Monsters, Parts One and Two; The Power of Merlok; The Knights' Code; Fright Knight; The Golden Castle; The Maze of Amazement; The Black Knight; The Book of Total Badness and The Might and the Magic.
The DVD is suitable for ages 6+.
Running time: approx. 221 minutes.

My personal favourite is Macy. She is a princess turned knight, a badass who knows what she wants in life. It's great to have a bit of girl power in an otherwise male-dominated world.

image credits: Warner Bros Pictures

Eddie thinks Aaron is the best, because he can shoot from far away and can fly on hover shield.
The knights are a mixed group of personalities and talents. Sometimes their personalities clash, which creates problems, later solved when they start to work as a team.
The series is jam-packed with action and adventures. There is a lot of humour too, so the series is quite entertaining.

To celebrate the release of LEGO® NEXO Knights Season One on DVD, I have one DVD as a giveaway prize for my blog readers.

Win LEGO® NEXO Knights: Season One on DVD - out on DVD 13 February 2017

image credits: Warner Bros Pictures

To be in with a chance of winning this brilliant prize, simply watch the trailer and answer the question below.

The king's jester has turned evil using which item?
A. An enchanted sword
B. An invisibility cloak
C. A magical talking book

Closing date: 2 March 2017
The giveaway is open to the UK residents only.
There is no prize alternative.
Once the winner is picked randomly by Rafflecopter, they will have 28 days to respond with their address details. If they fail to get back to me, another winner will be selected.
Please enter using the Rafflecopter form.
The only mandatory step is answering the question.
All the other Rafflecopter entries are optional.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good Luck!

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Date and Walnut Truffles: Valentine's Day inspired recipe

Valentine's Day recipe, healthy dessert

Yesterday evening I was fuming on Facebook, saying that the prize of the "romantic" of the century goes to my dear husband who planned to have a high table dinner in his college tonight. He's a typical Oxford don, who doesn't take any notice of the "important" dates.
But thankfully, he managed to cancel so we had our Valentine's meal at home after all.
I didn't bake a cake, but bought profiteroles at M&S, and made some delicious date and walnut truffles.

Heart shaped truffles are a perfect treat for Valentine's day. They are easy and quick to make, and are a healthy alternative to chocolate.

Date Truffles (recipe courtesy of Forest Feast)
7 Forest Feast Medjool Dates, pitted
65g pecans (any nuts can be used)
85g ground almonds
30g cocoa powder + more for dusting
1/2tsp vanilla
pinch sea salt (add to taste)

- Soak the dates in hot water for a few minutes to soften. Drain and squeeze out excess water.
- Finely grind pecans (or walnuts), ground almonds and cocoa powder in food processor. Add dates, vanilla and sea salt. Pulse until a sticky ball forms.
- Taste & add more salt if necessary.
- Take small balls & place into silicone mould.

- Pop into the freezer overnight
- Once hard, pop out of the heart-shaped mould and roll in Cocoa powder.

I used walnuts rather than pecans, because I prefer their taste, and also couldn't find any pecans in M&S today, which was the only shop I managed to pop in today after taking my son on a playdate. I also used a little bit more cocoa.
These truffles don't really need an overnight stay in the freezer. I took mine out of the mould after and hour and a half in the freezer, and they were perfectly fine.
Very moreish snacks. I can easily eat the whole lot. My husband loved them too. Kids are not big fans of dates, so didn't fancy trying.

Valentine's day recipes, healthy snacks

In this recipe I used Medjool Dates from Forest Feast. They come in sealed pouches, for freshness. These are aromatic, melt in the mouth dates, plump and sweet.

healthy snacks

Medjool dates are a great healthy snack, and also a fantastic ingredient for baking and cooking. How about a sticky date pudding, with caramel or butterscotch sauce?!

Forest Fruit Smart and Hearty Dates, 100g (RRP £1.99) are a nutritional powerhouse of minerals, energy and fibre, and have been selected as they contain no added sugar, additives or preservatives.
Known for their caramel flavour and plump flesh, Forest Feast Medjool Dates, 180g (RRP £2.85) are a tasty snack or the perfect addition to cooking or baking.

"Now considered a superfood, dates were previously viewed as boring fruit that only featured at Christmas. Today however, dates have once again found the love they deserve.

And here are a few facts about dates:
- Dates are a rich source of amino acids, which are known to increase sexual stamina and libido. Therefore, dates are a popular aphrodisiac, especially in North African countries.
- Dates are also the symbol of the goddess Ishtar, the goddess of fertility, love, sex and power.
- Indeed, is is believed by some scholars that it was a date and not an apple used by Eve to lure Adam in the Bible's Garden of Eden - the ultimate temptation.
- The word "date" comes from the Greek word daktylos, meaning finger.
- There are hundreds of different varieties of dates but Medjool are the hardest to grow. This, coupled with their soft, sticky, caramel quality make them the most luxurious dates on the market.

healthy snacks

Disclosure: I received three packs of Medjool dates and a silicone mould for the purposes of testing the recipe. All opinions are our own.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Join the We're Going on a Bear Hunt Twitter Party!

animation for children

To celebrate the launch of We're Going on a Bear Hunt DVD, several parenting bloggers and @UKMumsTV are hosting a We're Going On a Bear Hunt DVD Twitter party this Thursday, between 4 and 6pm, and you're cordially invited to join in!
Selected bloggers have received a big party pack with invitations and party goodies, and we can't wait for our party to commence.

As you can see, we received a super duper box of goodies for our guests including colouring sheets, crayons, Schleich toys, snacks and treats including biscuit decorating kits. Eddie is very excited about having his friends over for a Bear hunt treasure trail and watching the film together.

You might wonder how you can get involved? Make sure you're following @UKMumsTV and use the hashtag #BearHunt this Thursday between 4 and 6pm. There will be lots of activities going on and a ton of We're Going on a Bear Hunt prizes will be given away.

Keep an eye on my Twitter account - @maximka25 - on Thursday as well. I will host a flash giveaway for We're going on a bear hunt DVD + book set.
The giveaway will only run for 24 hours.
This giveaway is open to the UK residents only.
The prize winner will be announced on Twitter, and will have 28 days to get back to me with their address details. The prize will be posted by me to the winner.

If you haven't seen the animation at Christmas, have a look at my blog review of the film - We're going on a Bear hunt (DVD review).

When: 16 February, 4-6pm
Where: Twitter @UKMumsTV and @maximka25
Hashtag: #BearHunt

See you there!