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Monday, 26 June 2017

Tonka Tinys Mini Playsets - Blast & Dash Quarry Playset

This year marks Tonka's 70th Anniversary celebrating decades of keeping children entertained with their amazing toy vehicles.  My 28 year old son played with his Tonka truck as a child and now my 7 year old loves playing with it. They are toys built to last.

Tonka Tinys is the newest, exciting toy in the range. We recently reviewed the new Tonka Tinys three pack and blind garage packs of miniature scale, collectable vehicles. With over 20 Tonka Tinys vehicles to collect including police pick-ups, dump trucks and helicopters, there is a world of imaginative play for kids to enjoy.

Now, playtime is set to bring some big adventures on a tiny scale with Tonka Tinys playsets. Brand new for this year, Tonka Tinys have launched the Blast & Dash Quarry and the Car Crush playsets. They are scaled to suit the Tonka Tinys vehicles and are fully connectable.

Tonka


Freddy received the Tonka Tinys Blast & Dash Quarry playset to try out. The playset comes with an exclusive Tonka Tinys dump truck ready for action. Features include a toppling tower and working detonator for some explosive fun.

Tonka


The playset comes boxed and needs to be assembled. It is a bit fiddly to put the parts together and as you would expect from this type of playset, the assembled structure isn't very rigid (as it is meant to break apart during play) so can't be handled too roughly.

The playset looks pretty cool with a Tonka flag, a ramp that goes through the rock surround, a working barrier and a lift. It is all made in miniature making it the perfect size for any of the Tonka Tiny vehicles.

The exclusive vehicle that comes with the playset is a yellow truck with a working black dump bed and chunky wheels. You can load up the dynamite or boulder into the back of the dump truck.

Tonka


The detonation device consists of a push down detonator that fires the boulder from a launcher. We didn't manage to fire the boulder out of the launcher with any force, so it wasn't powerful enough to bring down the structure, but it was still quite fun to push down the plunger. Freddy said he thinks this part of the playset needed improving to make the boulder explosion look more like the one shown on the front of the box.

The lift carries the truck to the top of the tower. Pulling the lift up was a bit tricky and sometimes resulted in the tower toppling over. If the truck gets to the top of the tower it can then cross the bridge to the adjoining tower and whizz impressively down the ramp. (The ramp was Freddy's favourite part of the playset.)

Tonka Tinys Blast & Dash Quarry

Tonka Tinys Blast & Dash Quarry


The tower collapses to simulate an explosion at the quarry. The plastic structure tilts on its base  so it's simple to push it back into place afterwards. I thought this was a good idea because children don't need to continually rebuild that part of the structure from scratch to continue playing. However, as the structure is quite flimsy, the bridge and ramps sometimes fell off during play, which frustrated Freddy.

Tonka Tinys Blast & Dash Quarry


There is something so appealing about miniature toys. I absolutely love the Tonka Tinys vehicles and think they are well constructed with good detailing. The playsets make a nice addition to a child's collection, increasing the play value and providing an environment for the vehicles to use. The concepts of the two playsets: an explosive quarry and a car crushing junk yard, are exciting and thrilling to young imaginations. We just wish they were a bit more robust to withstand being played with. They are  however good to look at as part of a tiny model world.  A larger playset is due to be launched this autumn to add to the fun.

You can find the Tonka Tinys Blast & Dash Playset on Amazon (RRP of £9.99) and the blind garage packs are £2.49.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Plant For Peace - sowing the seeds of love

Since taking the step and becoming completely vegan, I have found that my whole outlook on life has changed way beyond just avoiding the consumption of any animal products or by-products. I think a lot more about my effect on the planet and try to source as many ethical, sustainable and compassionately produced products that I can. So when I heard about Plant for Peace, the new raw superfood fruit and seed bars, I was really impressed.

Plant for Peace bars come in three varieties: Mulberry Apple, Mulberry Chia Seed and Mulberry Cocoa Orange. They are 100% natural and packed with antioxidants, minerals and vitamins. They are made using wholesome ingredients such as organic mulberries, seeds, apple and raisins with no nasty additives whatsoever. They are suitable for vegans and are a low calorie, nutritious and really tasty, fruity snack.

superfood bars, vegan


However, even more excitingly than having a new superfood bar on the market, Plant for Peace helps farmers in conflict zones in Afghanistan turn their lives around. The organic Mulberries in the bars are exclusively grown on small Afghan farms, enabling farmers to transform their fields from growing opium for the heroin trade, to growing fruit  for the superfood bars. All profits from the bars will be reinvested to fund further fruit tree planting, helping even more farmers to transform their lives. Plant For Peace aims to revive the agricultural industry which was destroyed during the war, and offer farmers an alternative and sustainable livelihood. I think this is an amazing initiative for everyone involved. As a consumer, I love knowing that my money will help support these farmers and this great cause - plus the bars are really good, healthy and vegan. Win win!

Plant for Peace bars cost £1.19 (£2.99 for box of 4) and are available from Sainsbury's in three flavours: Mulberry Chia, Mulberry Cocoa Orange and  Mulberry and Apple.

Plant for Peace

Monday, 19 June 2017

Tell My Story Book - unique personalised story books

"Keep reading. It's one of the most marvellous adventures anyone can have." - Lloyd Alexander

Children's books are so important. Sitting on the lap of a parent or snuggled up in bed listening to a story, is where little bookworms are created. Nurturing a life long love of reading is one of the most precious gifts we can give a child, giving them the chance to escape into other worlds and other lives through the pages of a good book.

Finding books that really engage and delight children is the best way to get them into reading from a young age.

Tellmystorybook.com were kind enough to send Freddy a brilliant, personalised storybook called "Imagination" featuring his face and name throughout. Seeing him flick through the pages, he absolutely loved being the star of the book. It really made him giggle seeing his face superimposed onto the main character in the story, dressed in a variety of guises from a spaceman to a bodybuilder to a deep sea diver. It is really quite magical.

Tellmystorybook.com


The story is a simple tale of a little boy who couldn't get to sleep at bedtime so went for an imaginary adventure to a multitude of places such as through space, under the sea, to the circus and the zoo. He imagined being a train driver, he fed giraffes, beat an alien in a race, swam with a mermaid and met a pizza making mouse! Each scenario is well illustrated in vivid colour and features Freddy's face, while the rhyming text uses his name on every page. It's a short and sweet bedtime story that helps little ones settle down to sleep with the promise of wonderful dreams ahead where they can be anyone who their imagination allows.

Tellmystorybook.com


Each book is created in-house to a great quality and high standard and is unique to the recipient using their face and name and the book features a personalised dedication on the front page. The books have a hardback cover and measure 30cm by 20.5cm. They make amazing gifts for little ones that will be a source of joy for years to come.

Tellmystorybook.com


I am really impressed with the quality of the imagery. The pictures are a mix of real life images and illustrations that is really effective. The pages are glossy and thick and the overall feel of the product is that it is engaging  and fun! Freddy loves it and it really, really makes him laugh seeing his face in his very own story book.

You can find out more and order your own Tell My Story Book using your child's photograph by visiting the website at tellmystorybook.com.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Eco-Friendly Bamboo Towels from The Towel Shop

Bamboo is also one of the most efficient and sustainable sources of fibre in the world, with an amazing 2 feet of growth per day. Using bamboo fibres in manufacturing contributes to conservation efforts and helps tackle deforestation, making it a more environmentally friendly material.  As a consumer, I try to chose eco-friendly products where possible, so I was very interested when The Towel Shop got in touch with me to discuss their new product range - The Bamboo Collection.

bamboo towels


The Bamboo Towel Bale brings eco-friendly comfort and luxury to the home.  Made using 50% bamboo fibre and 50% natural cotton, these towels are up to 3 times more absorbent than cotton towels.  They are made using only the finest and highest quality materials on the market, ensuring a better quality product that stays soft and fluffy for longer. With a 600gsm weight density, they are thick, dense and durable, feeling luxurious and smooth to the touch.

Towel Shop


Bamboo has anti-fungal properties, so your towels remain odour free and more hygienically clean and they are machine washable at 40 degrees centigrade to maintain their freshness.

The bamboo towel collection includes a range of sizes from the 33cm x 33cm face cloth through to the 100cm x 150cm bath sheet. They are also available in a range of colours including the charcoal grey colour that I received.

I am really impressed with my bale of Bamboo towels. They really are soft, absorbent and the quality is good. They feel lovely on the skin and soak up more water than other towels. I love the eco-friendly element of the product, as I try to reduce my impact on the planet where I can. Bamboo is a sustainable material that I look out for to use instead of cotton or plastic in the home. In buying bamboo towels you will not be compromising on quality or luxury, but instead will feel perfectly pampered as a more ethical consumer. They are a great choice for my family.

A 10 piece bale consisting of four face cloths, two hand towels, two bath towels and two bath sheets is £55.14, which is great value for money. Other bale sizes and individual towels are available starting at 65p for an individual face cloth. They can also be bought in bulk for businesses at wholesale prices. The Towel Shop offers free delivery, same day dispatch if ordered before 3pm, 365 day returns policy and a price match guarantee meaning that you can buy in confidence.

Check out The Towel Shop at http://www.thetowelshop.co.uk to find the Bamboo towels along with a huge range of bedding and household linen for the home or business. It's great quality without an inflated price tag!

Friday, 2 June 2017

Celebrating La Famiglia at Prezzo

This week, we were lucky enough to enjoy a lovely meal courtesy of Britmums and Prezzo in The Printworks in Manchester. Over the years, Manchester has become like a second home to us. My eldest daughter Megan went to university there, shortly followed by her younger sister Ella who has now completed her degree and is about to start her Masters. We love Manchester's vibrancy, its heritage, its sporting and musical history, its cultural diversity, the shopping and the restaurants. It's a great city to visit and a place where we feel at home. 

Prezzo


The recent attack on Manchester left us feeling utterly shocked and heartbroken. This wonderful, welcoming city has been violated in the cruelest and most callous way, but in the aftermath has showed itself to be more resilient, proud and defiant than ever. People from all walks of life are standing together, holding each other closer and finding strength and love through unity. 

As a mother, I have held my children even closer than usual, reminding myself of the importance of living the best lives that we can, becoming the best versions of ourselves that we can be, and celebrating the blessings that come from being a family. Family means everything to me. Being the matriarch of my wonderful, ever-growing family defines me and gives me purpose and so much joy in this world.

We love to do things together and eating out as a family is always a lot of fun, allowing us all to relax without worrying about the cooking or washing up afterwards.  Dining out always means lots of laughs, plenty of uninterrupted conversations and the opportunity for spending quality time together away from the TV, laptops or iPads. Exactly what we need to be doing; consolidating our togetherness and celebrating family life.

Manchester, Prezzo


The Prezzo restaurant in The Printworks in Manchester is a really great venue to grab a family meal. It has a very welcoming atmosphere, with cosy booths that allow families to sit together comfortably. The staff were very friendly and helpful and we felt very relaxed and ready to experience their La Famiglia Feast.

Little ones have colouring sheets to keep them entertained while they wait for the food to arrive and Freddy enjoyed doing the wordsearch and crossword with his big sisters.

Prezzo


Prezzo's La Famiglia concept makes ordering for a family really easy. You simply choose a big sharing bowl of  Penne Arrabiata, Spaghetti Bolognese, Spaghetti Carbonara or Penne Alla Rusticana and it arrives at your table with a serving spoon and four bowls. It embraces family dining as you serve yourselves at the table. It adds an element of home style intimacy and fun to your mealtime. No squabbling, no food envy and no stress over choosing from the menu - you all eat the same, together. As you serve yourselves, you can adjust everyone's portion size to suit their appetite. More for daddy and less for the little ones, so there is no waste. There really was plenty to go round and it was nice to be able to serve up some seconds when our first bowls were empty. All the perks of eating at home with none of the hassle!

Prezzo


We chose the vegetarian choice, Penne Arrabiata, which is penne pasta served in a tomato and chilli sauce. We asked if the chef could make it mild so everyone could enjoy it and they were more than happy to oblige. It's good to know that everything is freshly made in the open plan kitchen. The dish had some lovely chunky pieces of tomato running through it. It had the appeal of being made from scratch, using real ingredients, just like I'd do myself (but with none of the effort!)

Prezzo


The pasta was really tasty with a gentle kick of heat. Perfect to suit everyone's taste.  I played 'Mama' and served everyone a delicious bowlful of Penne Arrabiata from the sharing bowl. The pasta was served with garlic flat bread, and we all ate our fill. I loved the novelty of the La Famiglia sharing bowl. We felt far more engaged as a family, embracing the theatre of intimate Italian family mealtimes within the restaurant setting. It really was fun and made a real change to traditional restaurant dining.

pasta, prezzo


I love to see my kids having fun together. Food is often at the centre of family celebrations. There is something about sitting down and eating delicious food together that creates a relaxed atmosphere. Smartphones are cast aside for a while and we can give each other undivided attention. Everyone from the youngest to the oldest gets a chance to shine and be a part of something bigger than themselves - a part of La Famiglia!

restaurant, dining out


Rounding off our meal with some Italian ice cream and sorbet was the perfect ending for our La Famiglia Feast. The Blood Orange sorbet was really fresh and fruity and came in a perfectly chilled glass bowl. It's the little things like that, which make dining out such an enjoyable experience.

Prezzo


We had a lovely time celebrating family life, eating some authentic tasting Italian food and enjoying the Prezzo La Famiglia dining experience. In these times where we are all reeling from the negative things happening in our world, it is more important than ever for us to stand together and stand up for our right to celebrate our lives in the most positive and enjoyable way: spending quality time with the people we love, sharing good food and supporting the community that we feel such a part of.

Prezzo


“This post is an entry for the BritMums #PrezzoLaFamiglia Challenge, sponsored by Prezzo.  https://www.prezzorestaurants.co.uk/LaFamiglia/."

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Our Day Out at the Geronimo Festival 2017

Arley Hall is the beautiful setting for this year's Geronimo Festival. The festival is running across this bank holiday weekend, and we visited today and had an absolutely amazing time. I'd go as far to say that this is the best Geronimo Festival yet! Freddy had a day filled with some incredible experiences and activities where he learned new skills, tested his nerve and had a huge amount of fun.

Animal encounters form a big part of the Geronimites' day. Little ones can meet exotic reptiles with Ranger Rob and learn about them in a hands on wildlife experience. Freddy and Kezia held a huge black and white lizard, which was stunningly beautiful. The Parrotman is there with a collection of colourful birds while The Feathery Folk have a selection of beautiful birds of prey for children to learn about. The Giant Tortoises are just wonderful and we loved petting them in their enclosure. Freddy rode on Geronimo the Donkey! We also saw some shows in the arena with horses and there were sheep for little ones to meet. Add to this the performing T-Rex, Bear's Big Bear Hunt and a host of weird and wonderful animal models and puppets, and kids are in for a wild time!

animal encounters


Arley Hall is in a gorgeous estate, surrounded by trees and fields giving the festival the most perfect venue. The colourful tents and decorations across the festival ground make Geronimo a wonderland for families, where there is so much to see, do and explore. There is a main stage where stars of CBeebies and other kid friendly acts perform. There are two circuses and also a main arena where you can watch knights on horseback, a stunt show and BMX riders. There is also a theatre zone where you can take in a show or you can go and listen to some magical storytelling.

If you prefer getting hands on there are plenty of craft activities to do, a funky junk workshop or a Play Doh area. There is music and dancing and lessons where you can have a go at playing a musical instrument. However your family likes to have fun, Geronimo has something to keep you happily entertained.

festival


Freddy's favourite activities are the high adrenaline ones. He learned some trapeze skills, did archery, threw axes and fired a crossbow. He scaled a climbing wall, went caving in an interactive, replica caving trailer, had a go on the Ace inflatable obstacle course and zipped down the Skyfall zipwire. Freddy also learned how to fence and did some pretty impressive parkour over obstacles.  His favourite thing was The Air Bag, which saw him jumping from a high platform and landing on an inflatable crash mat. He was like a proper little stuntman!

Geronimo Festival


There is absolutely loads of fun things to do at Geronimo. We missed so much that we are going back tomorrow to do the rest. Freddy really had a great time today, and speaking to other mums and also to my sister who came with her two little ones, the general consensus is that this year's Geronimo is a really fantastic family day out. With so many things included in the entry price, it's really good value. (The funfair costs extra, but with everything going on, Freddy didn't even have the time to ask to ride the carousel!)

There is still two days of Geronimo to go. Find out more at http://www.geronimofest.com.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Sing out on Blu-Ray and DVD #singmovie

SING IS AVAILABLE ON 4K ULTRA HD™, BLU-RAY 3D™, BLU-RAY™, DVD AND ON DEMAND  On 22ND MAY 2017

From Illumination, the studio that brought us The Secret Life of Pets and Despicable Me , comes an animated comedy about finding the music that lives inside of all of us. It's an all singing, all dancing spectacular starring the vocal talents of lots of Hollywood A Listers.

Sing


SING stars Matthew McConaughey as Buster Moon, an eternally optimistic, showbiz obsessed koala who puts on the world’s greatest singing competition in an attempt to save his failing theatre. Unfortunately a typo on the competition flyers offers a grand prize worth much more than Buster Moon can afford. This sets in to motion a chain of events, bringing together a host of animal characters trying to win the cash, find fame or find themselves.

Reese Witherspoon stars as the housewife Rosita, an overworked and under appreciated mother of 25 piglets desperate to unleash her inner diva and escape the drudgery of everyday life. Scarlett Johansson voices Ash, a punk rock porcupine with a beautiful voice behind her prickly exterior and with a cheating porcupine partner. Taron Egerton is Johnny, a young gangster gorilla looking to break free of his family’s life of crime through music. Other characters include a crooning mouse who is wanted by gangsters, an extremely shy but talented young elephant and a rather flamboyant pig called Gunther.

The Golden Globe nominee for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song, SING features more than 65 hit songs. Everyone will be singing along to all the familiar tracks as well as to the brand new song "Faith" recorded by Stevie Wonder and featuring Ariana Grande.

We loved this film, especially the heart warming ending! The catchy songs and funny dance routines play out alongside humorous scenes and truly touching moments. From the youngest to the oldest, we all enjoyed sitting down together to watch this movie. There are some real memorable moments and the soundtrack is fabulous. It will definitely have you singing along.

The Blu-Ray has loads of bonus features including three mini movies (Gunter Babysits, Love At First Sight and Eddie’s Life Coach), music videos, behind the scenes footage, character profiles, interviews, a dance along video and a comedy mash-up as well as a digital download to play the movie on mobile devices.

Here's a behind the scenes video clip showing some of the stars of Sing recording their characters' lines for the film.

      


SING is out on Digital Download, Blu-ray™ and DVD from 22nd May, courtesy of Universal Pictures.

Website: www.singmovie.co.uk
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SingMovieUK
Twitter: https://twitter.com/universaluk
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/universalpicturesuk

Hashtag: #SingMovie

Friday, 19 May 2017

Super Geek Heroes Animated Series - a mission to learn

The SUPER GEEK HEROES are a unique group of super-kids who are having fun in turn with a mission to learn! With their own YouTube channel and website, the Super Geek Heroes videos provide an excellent resource for young children to learn about the world around them in an interesting and exciting way.

Their seven friendly ‘super-powers’ are derived from the Early Years Foundation Stage framework  and focus on Personal, Social & Emotional Development, Understanding the World, Communication & Language, Literacy, Numeracy, Physical Development, and Creative Arts & Design.  

The seven characters are very engaging, leading children on a mission to learn in a fun and friendly way. Children can relate and interact more effectively with the EYFS as they understand the meaning of the key areas, within the context of these bite size videos. 

Super Geek Heroes


Here are the seven Super Geek Heroes characters and the development areas within the Early Years Foundation Stage that they represent; 

Jake Jotter (Literacy), Mille Maths (Mathematics), Peter Planet (Understanding the World), Ant Active (Physical Development), Vicky Voice (Communication & Language), Ronnie Rock (Expressive Arts & Design) and Suzi Smiles (Personal, Social & Emotional Development.

Some of the subjects covered include healthy foods, weather and seasons, shapes and numbers, phonics, telling the time, the continents of the world and high frequency words. Children can interact with the characters and the information is repeated to help them understand and consolidate skills. There is plenty of praise and encouragement given by the characters and children will feel like they have the superpower of knowledge, supporting their learning in an entertaining way.

You can find the YouTube video channel at  https://www.youtube.com/supergeekheroes where you can subscribe and keep up to date with all the latest episodes. The website has additional learning resources, print outs and character information to accompany the videos. To find out more visit the parent section of the website at: http://www.supergeekheroes.com/parents.html.

Super Geek Heroes is a really impressive learning resource that will be perfect for sharing with little ones. For this September's school starters, the Super Geek Heroes can give them a head start on the EYFS, boosting their confidence. I really liked that each individual video was quite short so you can pick and choose which ones to watch, focusing on specific areas of the EYFS. I loved that the characters were voiced by children making them friendly and easy for kids to relate to. The 3D animation is simple but cute and colourful. As a parent, you can confidently leave your child watching the channel on an iPad, knowing that the content is safe, appropriate and educational. Our favourite character is Peter Planet who helps us understand the world around us! Who will your children's favourites be?

Visit www.supergeekheroes.com and start your child's exciting adventure into learning with the Super Geek Heroes!


             

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Disney Crossy Road Toy Review

Crossy Road is the iconic game, where you try to cross a busy road without getting splatted by oncoming vehicles. Whereas the original game featured a chicken, the Disney version stars favourite classic Disney characters such as Mickey Mouse, Buzz Lightyear and Daisy Duck, trying to get across the road. Based on the Disney Crossy Road game app, Character Options has released a collection of mini figures and plush toys.

collectable toys UK


The Disney Crossy Road toys are made to look pixelated like the game characters and are great to collect, swap, display and play with. There are over 40 mini figures in the Series 1 range including Mickey and friends and characters from Toy Story, Big Hero 6 and Lion King. They are a new way to enjoy your favourite Disney characters.

Freddy was sent a plush Simba figure (£9.99), a Mini Figure 4 Pack (£10.99) and two Mystery Figure packs (£3.49).  The Mini Figure 4 pack has three visible figures and one hidden mystery figure. The Mystery Figure single packs come boxed so it's a completely blind choice.

Like most 7 year olds, Freddy loves collectible toys. He enjoys opening the mystery packs to try to find the characters he wants and likes to display his collection in his bedroom. The Disney Crossy Road toys combine the fun of collecting with our love of all things Disney, which makes them extra special!

Disney


Each character comes with its own rarity rating status such as classic, rare, epic, secret, legendary and limited edition. This makes collecting them all the more fun, as you try to complete your collection while hunting down the super limited edition metallic figurines.

The mini figurines are designed to be really simple, like an 8-bit pixelated game character, yet the attention to detail is spot on. From Goofy's teeth to Woody's hat, the essence of each character is perfectly captured. Each comes with its own plastic stand making them easy to display.

Disney Crossy Road


The 6" plush toys really bring the Disney Crossy Road characters to life. They are super soft and detailed and there are six to collect in Series 1: Minnie, Mickey, Simba, Baymax, Woody and Buzz Lightyear.

The Disney Crossy Road items are available to buy from Tesco, Asda, Toys R Us, Smyths and Argos. To see the range and to watch some great product videos, visit www.moosetoys.toys/disney-crossy-road.

Here is Freddy's unboxing video (including me mispronouncing the name of Emperor Zurg! Oops).


         


Monday, 15 May 2017

A Vegetarian Barbecue with Yutaka #nationalvegetarianweek

Yutaka Gives Summer Barbecues a Japanese Flavour

Give your veggie barbecues a Japanese zing this summer with these  recipe ideas given a contemporary twist from Yutaka – Marinaded Tofu Kebabs and Red Bean Panko Burgers.

Yutaka means ‘good harvest’ in Japanese and that’s exactly the aim of the company: to create authentic Japanese food products made in the traditional way. Their ethos ensures their products are of the highest quality and feature a lot less additives compared to some other brands on the market. I received a lovely hamper of goodies from Yutaka so I could try out some barbecue recipes with a Yutaka twist.

Yutaka, vegetarian


BBQ Yutaka Marinade

Sushi ginger, rice wine and miso are among the ingredients that make this marinade uniquely Japanese in flavour. It is so easy to create authentic cuisine using the Yutaka products.

The Yutaka Marinade can be used to marinade bite size pieces of  firm Tofu to make some delicious kebabs that can be served with Yutaka sushi rice and a sheet of Nori to make your own sushi style barbecue meal.

vegan, tofu, marinade


Ingredients

2 tbs Yutaka Yakiniku Sauce

1 tbs Yutaka Miso Sauce

2 tbs Yutaka organic Tamari Soy Sauce

2 crushed garlic cloves

1 tbs chopped Yutaka Sushi Ginger

1 tbs Yutaka Mirin

2 tbs Yutaka Shaoxing Rice Wine


Tofu, Yutaka


Method

Mix together the marinade ingredients and cover bite-size pieces of Tofu making sure they are coated well in the marinade and refrigerate for at least 12 hours. I use a lidded Tupperware box to marinate my Tofu so you can give it a regular shake or turn it upside down to ensure all the pieces get properly covered during the process. Remove from fridge at least 30 minutes before you are ready to BBQ.

Making the Marinaded Tofu Kebabs

Soak the bamboo skewers in water for at least 4 hours.

Make the sushi rice – wash 250g of rice 3 or 4 times with cold water. Drain rice with sieve. Add 330ml water and the washed rice to a saucepan. Bring to boil and simmer for 10 minutes with the lid on. Turn off the heat and leave to stand for 25-30 mins. Do not open the lid.

Take a bamboo skewer and build the kebab using bitesize pieces of courgette, peppers, red onion, mushrooms and the marinaded Tofu pieces. Brush with marinade sauce and barbecue, turning occasionally. When cooked remove from heat.

Serve with the sushi rice and if desired, roll the veggie, Tofu and rice into a Nori sheet.



Panko Burgers

Many of the boutique burger restaurants use Yutaka’s panko to give their burgers extra bite. This vegetarian burger is really delicious and holds its shape well. It is incredibly simple to make using canned beans.



Yutaka Red Bean Burgers


Ingredients

2 small red onions, finely chopped

2  crushed garlic cloves

2 tins of drained red kidney beans

2 tbsp Yutaka Panko breadcrumbs

1 tbsp Yutaka miso sauce

1 tbsp Yutaka Yakiniku sauce

1 tbsp tomato puree

1 tbsp Yutaka Tamari Soy Sauce

Salt & pepper



Place onions, garlic, breadcrumbs, beans, sauces, tomato paste and salt and pepper in a food processor until combined. The mixture should be thick enough to roll into balls. If it is too wet add more breadcrumbs, too dry add more tomato puree. With wet hands shape 6 burgers and coat with Panko breadcrumbs. The mixture is sticky enough for the crumbs to stick. Cover and chill.

veggie burgers

vegan, veggie burger


Barbecue the burgers and serve with salad in a bun if desired, with some Yakinuko sauce and mayonnaise to finish. 

veggie burger, bbq


I really enjoyed making the burgers and kebabs using the Yutaka products. They added a really great taste and allowed me to try out some Japanese flavours. I loved the marinade with the Tofu and I'll definitely be experimenting with some more vegetarian recipes using the sauces.

Find some recipe ideas and inspiration at www.yutaka.co.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Food Review - Jack Daniel's Barbecue Sauce and Duerr's Marmalade

Add some sunshine to breakfast with Duerr's Marmalade

Duerr's marmalades come in a variety of flavours and textures, making a marmalade which is exactly how you want it to be. Whether you like your orangey bits thick or finely cut, or if a fine citrus preserve is more to your liking, Duerr's have it covered.

I was sent two of their lovely rounded jars to try out, one with Thick Cut Classic Seville Orange Marmalade and the other with Sunny Lemon Smooth Citrus Conserve.

Ian is a big marmalade fan. He'd give Paddington a run for his money! He loves the chunky marmalades packed with peel spread thickly on granary bread. Whereas I like the smoother conserves with the flavour of fresh, fruity, juicy citrus without the bitter aftertaste. So we were both happy!

Both are suitable for vegans and the marmalade is available from Tesco and Sainsbury's.
Find out more at duerrs.co.uk.


marmalad, Duerrs, jars


Get ready for barbecue season with Jack Daniel's

Jack Daniel's Barbecue Sauces and Glazes are perfect for barbecue season. Bringing the authentic flavour of Tennessee, they come in a range of flavours and have the distinctive smooth taste of Jack Daniel's Whisky. We were sent a Smooth Original Barbecue Sauce and a Smokey Sweet Barbecue Glaze from the range.

The Smooth Original has a rich caramel flavour and is perfect for adding a luxury twist to everyday foods. It's perfect for stirring through Pulled Quorn or jackfruit. It can also be added to gravy for a rich, barbecue flavour.

The Smokey Sweet Barbecue Glaze can be used to glaze vegetables or can be used as a dipping sauce. You can brush it onto veggie kebabs before cooking or add to stir fry vegetables to make a filling for a tortilla wrap. You can even make vegan bbq carrot dogs for a super healthy twist on a classic!

Both are suitable for vegans.

Find out more at jackdanielsbbqsauces.com.

BBQ, vegan, JD, Jack daniels

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Thumb Chucks - the latest fidget toy #thumbchucks

The current trend for fidget toys has taken the market by storm for both adults and children. The latest fidget skill toy on the scene is the addictive Thumb Chucks. The pairs of light up balls (or chucks) are connected together with a cord (or belt), allowing users to master skills and tricks and 'control the roll'. Chucks are interchangeable to create your own colour combos, adding to the fun.

Thumb Chucks, fidget toy


Young children, teens and adults alike will enjoy mastering the skills and controlling the roll of the Thumb Chucks. Whether you're killing time, out and about or fed up at work, Thumb Chucks can help entertain you and focus your mind. There are online tutorials to teach you tricks such as the beginner's Pass, Rebound and Wrap moves. The basics are quite easy to master and you can then elaborate on them adding your own spin or following the advanced tutorials to master some extreme skills. It gets really challenging and uses a lot of co-ordination and concentration. You can submit videos of yourself doing the skills to earn new belts for your Thumb Chucks.

Thumb Chucks


Freddy went freestyle with the Thumb Chucks using them as light up spinners and clackers as well as trying out the basic moves. He also loves making patterns by spinning them in the dark! His hands are quite small, so some of the skills have been a bit fiddly for him to master, but the beauty of the Thumb Chucks is that you can just use them to play with, keeping your hands occupied and having fun. They really are quite addictive. We've all been having a go with them and practicing the moves - they are easy to learn but a real challenge to master!

Thumb Chucks, fidget toy


The Thumb Chucks from Zing Toys retail at £7.99 and are recommended for ages 5 to adult. They are available from toy shops, retailers and online. There is going to be a big social media buzz as players are encouraged to share tricks online. Thumb Chucks are tipped to be 2017's answer to the Yo-Yo!

Take a look at thumbchucks.toys to discover this new craze, learn new tricks and skills and watch the experts in action. There are some seriously impressive skills on show.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Naked Pressed - Bright Greens, Lively Carrot and Bold Beet

If you are trying to up your daily intake of fruit or vegetables, Naked Pressed offers a simple and flavoursome way to do so. The new range is available in three different variants: Bright Greens, Lively Carrot and Bold Beet. Each contains selected fruits and vegetables that are cold pressed with chilled pressure to preserve the flavours, creating a refreshing and authentic tasting juice drink.


juiced, juicing, Naked


Bright Greens contains seven juices including apple, cucumber, spinach, lettuce, celery, courgette and lemon plus wheatgrass. It is invigorating and slightly sweet with all the goodness of greens.

Lively Carrot is a five juice blend featuring carrot, apple, orange, cucumber and lemon with added vanilla bean and turmeric. The taste is sweet with a hint of spicy warmth.

Bold Beet includes beetroot, carrot, apple, cucumber and lemon with added ginger. It's sweet and earthy with a slight ginger kick.

The colours of the juices are bold and vibrant and the flavours are very authentic, with a taste that is very similar to juices I've made myself. They have a tendency to separate, in the same way that home made juices do, so a quick shake before drinking is sometimes needed.

I've really enjoyed these juices as they are a convenient and effort free way of enjoying juiced fruits and veggies in the home or on the go. I'm passionate about healthy eating and anything that makes it easier to incorporate extra plant based goodness into my family's diet gets a thumbs up from me. The addition of wheatgrass, ginger and turmeric adds a boost of superfoods to the juices.

The Naked Pressed juices are available nationwide in 600 ml bottles at £3.79 RRP. The Lively Carrot and Bright Greens varieties are also available in 250 ml bottles for £2.29 RRP.

Monday, 1 May 2017

Fallen out now on DVD

Fallen is out today on DVD and we have enjoyed a fun film night with snacks and angelic accessories to celebrate its release. Based on Lauren Kate's bestselling YA romantic fantasy book,  Fallen tells the story of troubled Luce Price who starts at Sword & Cross boarding school following a tragic incident that she took the blame for. At the school she meets moody Daniel Grigori, a fellow student that she feels a strange connection to. Luce slowly settles into life in her mysterious boarding school making a best friend in quirky Pennyweather who has access to the school records. She soon finds out the secrets of her past and discovers why Daniel feels so familiar to her. 

Fallen, Lauren Kate


This film is based on the first of a series of books, so it ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, setting the seen for its sequel. It was an enjoyable watch with an exciting storyline that will appeal to fans of  the YA fantasy romance genre. It features attractive, charismatic teens who hold dark secrets that date back across the centuries. It is atmospheric, moody and dangerous, with a backstory that features Heaven and Hell. The young cast members do a good job portraying the characters in the story and Joely Richardson plays the slightly terrifying and obsessed teacher Sofia. Kezia is 14 and she really enjoyed Fallen and is now reading the book. It is a great series for young teens to discover.

Fallen is out today on DVD and VOD courtesy of Lionsgate Home Entertainment.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

CozyPhones - soft, fleece headphones for kids

Freddy loves his iPad, whether he is watching YouTube videos, listening to music or playing games. However, he also loves getting into bed with us early on a Sunday morning to watch the latest video or listening to his own music playlist in the car or playing a game snuggled up to me on the sofa while I'm trying to watch something on Netflix. Now, there is only so much DanTDM, Ariana Grande or Hello Neighbour that I can deal with in a day, but I don't want to send Fred away or ruin his fun by telling him to turn it off. Up until now, there has been no alternative for me other than sucking up the cacophony of different noises as Freddy hates bulky headphones and uncomfortable earbuds. 

But then, a miracle happened! I was contacted by a US company called CozyPhones who offered to send us a pair of their super comfortable and soft fleece headbands, which contain a discreet pair of quality, ultra thin speakers and a flexible, durable, braided stereo plug. They are easy, safe and fun to wear and allow children to listen to their music, films or games without sharing the noise with everyone else!

CozyPhones


The CozyPhones come in a variety of designs including the adorable panda that Freddy received. Other designs include a frog, unicorn, monster, bunny, cat and fox. They are all cute, colourful and fun with masses of kid appeal. The fleece is super soft, light and comfy to wear, providing a hassle free solution for listening to favourite devices.

CozyPhones


Freddy loves the cool design, the comfy fit and the ease of use. He is delighted that they don't hurt his ears and he loves wearing them. The headphones work really well and provide a great way for little ones to listen to music, watch videos or play games while providing a peaceful atmosphere for everyone else. They are perfect for bedtime, travelling or for using around the home.

CozyPhones


I am so impressed with the CozyPhone headphones. Freddy does struggle a bit with sensory issues, but he absolutely loves these. They don't hurt his ears at all, unlike other headphones we have previously tried. He can use them in his car seat, on the go or while lying in bed. It is easy to adjust the speakers into the optimum position and the band holds them perfectly in place. We get peace and quiet, he is happy. Perfect!


CozyPhones


They are available to purchase in the UK from Amazon at £15.99 a pair (just search CozyPhones) with free next day delivery for Prime members. They also come in adult sizes too, in fleece, lycra and contour fit. They would be perfect for listening to music while exercising or for listening to audio books, music or hypnosis tapes in bed. The speakers are removable so the headband can be washed to keep it hygienically clean.

Find out more at www.cozyphones.com.

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