Santa Maria Fab Fajita challenge #TASTEsantamaria

Mexican is one of my favourite meal choices and something we eat regularly at home.  With the range of Mexican inspired store cupboard ingredients available from Santa Maria, you really can make up your meals simply and easily just be adding a few fresh ingredients.

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Being vegetarian I always serve vegetarian fajita’s.  For tonights meal I am adding Quorn along side various fresh vegetables with my special ingredient being courgette which really helps fill out the meal and gives you a nice addition to the peppers, onions and tomatos.

I’m also using Santa Maria wraps, Fajita seasoning and salsa which make it really easy to get that spicy Mexican flavour.

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After lightly frying the onion, I add the Quorn to brown off, then the other vegetables and sprinkle with seasoning, continuing to cook to until my kitchen is wafting in Mexican fragrances.

I like to serve my fajitas with a side salad to make the perfect meal, ideal for all the family on a Saturday night!

Once served add a light sprinkling of cheese and some ground black pepper.  Tasty!!

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We were provided with Santa Maria products for the  #TASTEsantamaria Fab Fajita challenge.

Back to School Checklist

With the start of the school term looming in a few weeks, it’s time to start making sure you have everything ready that your child needs.  I’m always making various lists to ensure I’m ready but below is really handy checklist that you can print out and mark off as and when you have each item.  You can even get your child to help by ticking things off, and reminding you of things you need to get.

Click here to print the Back to school checklist

Back to school checklist PrintThis checklist has been created by http://www.myvouchercodes.com

Theatre Royal Plymouth Back Stage Tour

Last week I was lucky to be invited for a tour around the backstage of my local theatre, the Theatre Royal Plymouth.  I’ve visited the venue several times over the years since living in Plymouth with the last show I saw being the spectacular stage production of Wicked earlier this year with my daughter.

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Entering through the stage door, I was greeted before being shown through to the wings of the stage and seeing the lights come on and the safety curtain lifted.  This enabled me to walk on and take centre stage looking out into the auditorium, somewhere I never, ever envisaged me being privileged enough to stand.  Fortunately the seats were empty, as I certainly do not confess to owning the amazing acting and singing skills like those that the cast of Shrek have, having experienced some fantastic rehearsals from them a bit later in the day.

theatre royal 2With Shrek currently touring the UK, their current run is here in Plymouth, so we were fortunate to see the stage set up with all their backdrops, props and wardrobes.  Firstly we went upstairs backstage to where the numerous backdrops hang and are operated using a counterweight fly system, using many ropes to pull each one in to place.  It was fascinating to see the technical side of the theatre and gain some knowledge of how productions comes together.

theatre royal 3We also walked through the main wardrobe area backstage which consisted of rails and rails of costumes, many more than I envisaged.  Within the show of Shrek, each person plays many characters, and each have understudies, so each person has their own costume for every part they play.  There were also make up stations, wigs hanging up and props galore!

theatre royal 4And finally we went down into the orchestra pit, somewhere I imagine very few people have been.

theatre royal 6We finished the day by taking a front row seat and watching the Shrek cast rehearse which was both enjoyable and interesting.  It’s amazing watching the technicians pushing the various stage props in and out of the wings as well as the various cast members change parts, coming on and off stage as different characters.  As they weren’t changing costumes for the rehearsals, I could easily tell the same people, whereas in a live show, you probably don’t realise how few cast there are playing all of the parts!

Backstage in the theatre is a maze of corridors that go round and round, up and down, through one door, out the other and to be honest,  I didn’t have a clue where I was most of the time but one room I did spot that we got a peek in was The Green Room.  Not anywhere near as exciting as you might imagine but I can now say I’ve been in “The Green Room”.  Unfortunately there were no exciting guests or actors in there at the time as it was during the day, but hey, I’ve been in there!

theatre royal 5Well I think that just about sums up my exciting day in the Theatre Royal Plymouth, obviously we couldn’t photograph everything and it was pretty dark inside.  Meeting the Shrek cast was really interesting and has definitely inspired me to get to the theatre more either with or without the children (I do need a break from them sometimes!!).

Keep your eyes peeled for more exciting collaborations with the Theatre Royal Plymouth in the future!

T-Shirts for World Book Day

Kid’s T-shirts produce a wide range of T-shirts for both kids and adults with unique logos, in a multitude of designs.  The images are fun and allow kids to be imaginative whilst wearing them with numerous themes available such as sports, Mother’s Day, Halloween, animals, space etc.

We have previously reviewed some of their costume T-shirts which my children loved and had lots of wear out of.

With World Book Day looming on 5th March 2015, Kid’s T-shirts have come up with a range of appropriately themed T-shirts which your child can wear either on their own as a simple outfit, or can be used as basis of an outfit to which you can accessorise with other items.

t-shirtsWith T-shirts such as a wizard’s apprentice, space trooper, candy worker, knight, pirate, chef, cat in the hat etc, there is sure to be one to suit everyone.  What a simple way to create a costume.  Why not check out Kids T-shirts today?

We received a couple of kids t-shirts in return for this post although all words and opinions are my own.

 

 

Kitchen Appliance Wishlist

With a view to moving house in the near future, I’m always on the lookout for items I’d love in my new kitchen.  I love the colour silver, therefore stainless steel and grey coloured appliances always appeal to me, and being neutral means you can brighten up the kitchen with other cheaper accessories.

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One must have for my future kitchen is a KitchenAid Artisan Stand Mixer in Medallion Silver, perfect for all the baking I love to do, but also a stylish piece to sit on the worktop.

 

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Something I’ve always desired in the corner of my kitchen is a large American Fridgefreezer with lots of shelves and storage inside.  A water cooler dispenser on the outside would be great too, so that I can pour a glass of chilled water whenever I like.

 

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A toaster is something that my family use on a daily basis so needs to stay out on the work surfaces at all times.  Therefore I want one that looks good but also can do four pieces of toast at a time.  I like this Russell Hobbs model with it’s stylish looks and additional features.

 

 

z3Finally an absolute essential for my new kitchen is a dishwasher.  I’ve never owned one, well other than the husband, but I need something much more efficient.  I get fed up seeing piles of dirty dishes on the side waiting to be washed and with a dishwasher I can hide them away.  I like the clean, sleek lines of this Miele dishwasher which would fit seamlessly into any kitchen.

 

What appliances do you desire to own in your kitchen?

 

This is a collaboration post

UK holiday essentials!

When holidaycottages.co.uk asked me what items I wouldn’t leave at home when holidaying in the UK, it wasn’t too difficult to think of a few must have essentials.  UK holidays means we can forget about luggage restrictions and subject to items fitting in the car then they can come with us.

For me, my number one item that I struggle to leave behind is my laptop.  I know, I know, you must be thinking I’m a complete internet addict!!  Well if the truth me told I do miss the internet although if I was to go abroad I would go cold turkey for a week.

With wifi being potentially available on a UK holiday I always like to keep in the loop with what’s going on.  I know I can check my phone for this but I use my laptop for more than just being online.  I always take a mountain of photos when I’m away with the kids on the beach, the kids in the park, what I’m eating, drinking, the sunsets in the sky, the scenery around us, you name it, I snap it!  So there is nothing worse than coming home to hundreds of photos that need sorting, deleting, editing etc.  If it’s just our little family away on holiday, I take half an hour or so each evening when the kids are in bed to add all the photos of the day to my laptop and sort them out ready for my return home.  I then pour a rather large glass of wine to unwind for the day and spend the rest of the evening with the husband.

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One thing I like to pack if staying in the UK is my own beach towel.  I know generally abroad these are provided but in the UK I like to have something that feels and smells like my own, you can relax and sink into them so much better.  Also I’d never leave the house without my sunglasses, yes I may be a tad obsessed but there’s nothing worse than going on the school run and whilst standing in the playground a glint of sunshine peeks behind a cloud and I’m stood squinting at other mothers.  The same goes for UK holidays, they may not be predicted sunny weather but you can be sure it will poke through the clouds at some point and I can’t bear the the thought of any deeper wrinkles around my eyes than have already begun!  Along with that goes the regulatory suncream and aftersun, if you have the room, pack it – nothing worse than seeking strange, expensive brands from local shops once you reach your destination!

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Reading material is essential, ok, most of my time is spent on a UK holiday playing with the kids on the beach, taking them to a local attraction, showering the sand off them, feeding them and having fun family times, but surely somewhere in there I can sneak a bit of me time to read a few novels.  Being in the UK doesn’t restrict me to kindles, tablets and the like, I can take real paper novels, as many as I want, so why not?

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Not forgetting the kids, they adore the beach, they want to play in the sand.  If I was going abroad I’d restrict them to one bucket and spade each that would be tightly packed within a suitcase, the bucket stuffed full of socks!  But no, on a UK break they can take an entire range of beach accessories, packed separately from your clothes – an added bonus!

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As you can tell, UK breaks definitely appeal to me these days, particularly with young ones, I love not having restrictions on what I take, I pack what I want, take what I want and we are all happy!!

This is my entry into the holidaycottages.co.uk must-haves competition

Find out how to win 1 of 20 sets of Rescue Bots Books!

Autumn Publishing are challenging readers to create their very own creative Rescue Bot figurine using a template provided in Titan’s official Transformers: Age of Extinction Comic Issue #4, on sale October 16th.
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All you need to do is get your child to cut out and make a model or the Roll and Rescue figurine, then upload a photo of their creations to Autumn’s Facebook or Twitter pages.
The top 20 winning designs will then win a full set of Rescue Bots books so plenty of chances to win!!
The Transformers: Age of Extinction Comic costs £3.99, and comes free with one of two collectable mini Transformers and comes out today 16th October 2014 so get your copy today!
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Mornings with Belvita

Mornings for me consist of chaos, being a mad rush getting ready for work in the morning and get the children ready for nursery and school.  Even leaving the children’s things laid out for nursery/school or on my days off, it still seems a mad dash to get the children up and out the door.  So I’ve really tried my hardest to be more organised recently, which comes mostly down to being prepared the night before.

That means clothes laid out for all of us, pack lunches made, school bags ready, my handbag by the door with everything I want in it!  If I’m working, it’s usually my husband that takes them to school due to his shift work, but that means I need to be up quick and out the door often not having time for breakfast.  An essential I keep in my bag are a healthy cereal bar or a pack of the new Crunchy belVita Breakfast biscuits!

belvitaAt work I find them a handy snack on my desk that I can nibble at during the morning.  There are three quite chunky biscuits that do fill you up and are rather tasty.  Coming in hazelnut, choc chip and apricot flavours, I can actually say I recommend all three!!

Being honest I do think the hard crunchy texture tastes best dipped in a hot drink which is something I only achieve on the days I don’t work.  E.g. on a Thursday I’m at home with my youngest, we walk my eldest round to school, then come home again.  I don’t normally eat breakfast myself before the school run so when I come back I make myself a cup of Twinings detox tea (the only kind I drink!) and enjoy it with a pack of Belvita.  I honestly enjoy all three crunchy flavours, choc chip is moreish, hazelnut has a lush nutty taste and apricot has a fruity bite – they are all really tasty!!

What I really find great with Belvita, is that they are handy to keep in my bag as a a breakfast snack or as a mid morning snack at home with a hot drink.  The best bit is they come in a pack of three biscuits #MorningWin, great portion control which I love – if it was a an endless pack I wouldn’t know where to stop!

Belvita for me are a great snack that is versatile and tasty, take it with you, on the go, or have a home – a win win for me!!

This post is an entry for #MorningWin Linky Challenge sponsored by belVita Breakfast. 

 

Miss M’s Dream Home

Miss M loves art and craft and was thrilled when a box of craft goodies dropped through the letterbox for her to create her dream home.  With coloured papers, glitters, pom poms and pens she couldn’t wait to get started.

dream house 1Deciding on a purple front to her house, she added pink sparkly windows.  Miss M said her dream house would be all sparkly on the inside with a giant playroom and in the playroom would be a big play house.  She wouldn’t let me assist and sat happily creating her picture on her own.

dream house 2In the orange play room she added lots of pom poms, which are all the toys – as you can see she wants lots of toys inside there!  Miss M loved making her picture and couldn’t wait to show me the finished result.

dream house 3dream house 4One thing she also wants that she didn’t draw is a large garden which she described to me as having a trampline, swings and a tree that they can climb.  We all have ideas of what our dream house would be like and who knows, one day we may be lucky enough to live in it!

 In collaboration with Principality Building Society

Brown Sugared Vanilla Shortbread

Baking Mad is a recipe database website with endless pages of scrumptious looking things to make, all alongside mouthwatering pictures to tempt you into a spot of baking.  It really is the place to go if you are looking for something to bake and I do like the way you can search with just a few key ingredients in mind.  There is also a “How to” section which is really handy for getting to grips with methods, hints and tips as well as video demonstrations.

baking madWith an array of baking goodies sent to me including flour, sugars and Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Extract, I wanted to make something that included most of them so searched with the words, “brown sugar, vanilla, flour” and I was faced with a delicious array of sweet treats wondering what to make.

I decided on the Brown Sugared Vanilla Shortbread, we all love shortbread and this one looked really tasty with the crunchy brown sugar and it’s deep golden colour.  And it was so simple to make, all the ingredients put together in the food processor which does the hard work for you then bake in the oven.

baking mad 2I let all the family have a taste and the verdict was a resounding “delicious”.  They all wanted more and now are eager for me to bake it again.  It has a really soft crumbly yet crunchy texture that just melts in the mouth, perfect with a hot drink to dip it in.

baking mad 4I’m really pleased with the outcome of the Brown sugared vanilla shortbread and now want to try some other recipes from the site, with so many tempting options I’ll have to be careful but I’m sure my family will enjoy tasting them with me.

All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions and we received some ingredients in order to write the review.