Monday, 30 July 2012

Meal Planning Monday - the Gousto edition!



Yeah, so I've been ill, as I might have whinged on here in past days. It actually went on a lot longer than I thought, and the doctor put me on antibiotics which seems to have been the catalyst for getting properly better. Because of this, I'm behind with pretty much everything. Thankfully, last week, the lovely people at Gousto asked if I'd like to try out some of their meals. The idea is you have a subscription, and pick out how many meals you'd like to feed your family per week then just choose the meals you want each week. All the ingredients are then delivered to your home with a recipe card for you to make your chosen meals.

Usually, that's on a Wednesday but because we're not quite in their delivery area yet, ours are arriving on Thursday, so we will be trying those at the end of this week. That just left me with the start of this week to sort out - some meals have been carried over again from last week and I've only just got around to deciding what else we're having but we are there.

Here, then, is our week in meals.

Monday - Special fried rice with barbeque chicken (yes, we have finally eaten this, third time lucky)
Tuesday - Minted lamb koftas, pitta, salad, tzatziki
Wednesday - Easy peasy lentil curry
Thursday - Basil mint pesto fusilli with pancetta and mushrooms
Friday -  Chicken with parsnip and raspberry basil sauce
Saturday - Ras-el-Hanout chicken with barberry bulgar

What about you? Have you done a plan? Have you shared it with Mrs M yet? You know you want to! 

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Our Olympic Scrapbook gets started!

This is a sponsored post, but you know that by now, don't you? 


So, it's day 2 of the action at the Olympics and we've completed our first two of our Olympic scrapbook from The Times & The Sunday Times. After my post on Friday, we all watched the opening ceremony - I know I said they were going to bed but they just seemed to stay up; once it started and was so magical, it seemed wrong to deny them . We all loved it - it was bonkers in a good way, it entertained, enthralled and gave us goosebumps. And, in an act of family unity, we all simultaneously laughed out loud when Mr Bean appeared in the orchestra.

So yesterday, Monkey and I sat down to choose some pictures for the scrapbook. Excuse the cheesy grin.


We struggled a little, as the ceremony finished so late, it seemed that a lot of pictures from the second half of the ceremony didn't make it into the paper. We chose to include a picture of Bradley Wiggins ringing the bell at the start as we are big cycling fans in this house, and anyway, he lives a few miles away from here. I wanted to include a picture of the cauldron so I printed a picture of it from the online edition. Our favourite picture was of the five rings that was forged together during the show as that was spectacular. We had to include Mr Bean of course, and Monkey was overjoyed to find a picture of Voldemort (he was very excited when JK Rowling appeared during the ceremony) so that has made it in too.

The children had a go at the challenges to win medals on Friday - eat 3 carrots to win a bronze, do a sit up for each year of their lives to win silver, and run 100m to win gold. I'm happy to report they completed all 3 challenges to win all the medals. They actually ran more than 100m as they went and ran round the small block, a ploy on my part to get a second's peace.


So that was the opening ceremony page done, now it was time to get going with the pages for the first day's action. We filled in quite a bit as we went along like the names of winners of some events - some definitely, not all.

Then, this afternoon, Missy Woo helped me choose the pictures from the paper to go in the scrapbook. She is very good at cutting out - much more accurate and careful than her brother.



We cut out some of the suggested pictures from the scrapbook page but didn't go with the one of Vinokourov winning the road race - not because we were bitter that Cav didn't win but because we don't like his stance on drugs. Instead, we found a picture of the GB women's team winning at football last night and Fabien Cancellara after he came off his bike towards the end of the road race. The GB women's picture,  I have had to do a bit of a fold job on to fit it in. We also have small pictures of Louis Smith, the gymnast, and Ryan Lochte, the swimmer.


We're busy filling in today's page but obviously, we won't be putting in the pictures until we get tomorrow's paper.

If you are joining in, I'd love to know how you are getting on with your scrapbook. There will be more posts as we continue to fill our scrapbook so keep an eye out on this blog.

Now all we need to really get going is a gold medal for Great Britain!


I am a member of the Netmums Blogging Network. I am paid an expenses fee to cover my time but Netmums have no editorial control whatsoever about what I blog about. Being a member of the Netmums Blogging Network means that I get to try out products and brands and get my expenses covered but that I retain full editorial integrity.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Ready, Steady, Scrapbook!

This is a sponsored post, you know the drill. 

The waiting is over. Almost. Some of us have already had an Olympic experience (we went to a football session at Old Trafford last night) but tonight, finally, the Olympics officially opens. I've explained before how excited we all are but it's taken on a slightly different meaning for us since I agreed to be involved with the Times Olympic Scrapbook, detailing our experiences of cataloguing the events of the next 17 days.

I've just been told that if you've missed out getting a scrapbook before, there is one last chance to get your mitts on one before it all kicks off tonight. What you will need to do is to go here and print the voucher, fill it out and take it to your nearest WH Smith or Waitrose before they close TONIGHT. Yes, that's right. If you really want to join in and get scrapbooking the games with your children, you need to be quick off the mark! That way, you'll be ready and raring to go to start scrapbooking tomorrow.

If you've been away and have no idea what I'm talking about, my original post about this project explains more. The Times and Sunday Times have already given away more than a million of these scrapbooks, so there are a lot of people poised to start collecting their favourite memories, starting of course, with the opening ceremony. Even today's edition has a special games section - I liked the clever world map showing which nations excel at which sports. We're good at "sitting down" sports and the Americans just about everything, of course.

From tomorrow, there will be 15 special souvenir editions of the Times and we'll be cutting out our favourite pictures. For the children, tonight's ceremony is going to be just too late - normally, I'd let them stay up as a special occasion but we did that last night and then they only slept until 7 so both are somewhat lethargic. I have promised to record it all so they can see it in the morning - memories don't have to be watched live, do they?! I have high hopes for the ceremony after seeing the briefest of sneak previews - I love Danny Boyle's style and the way he doesn't take himself too seriously so I suspect that something of him may go into this, along with all the over-the-top events that can only feature in an opening ceremony.

Come back again soon and see how we got on with scrapbooking the opening ceremony, but don't forget to be quick if you want to grab that voucher and get one of the last scrapbooks so your family can join in too!

I am a member of the Netmums Blogging Network. I am paid an expenses fee to cover my time but Netmums have no editorial control whatsoever about what I blog about. Being a member of the Netmums Blogging Network means that I get to try out products and brands and get my expenses covered but that I retain full editorial integrity. On this occasion, I have been asked to share some key information about this promotion, which I have done because it is relevant to the project and informative.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

How to make yourself feel better


I have been feeling quite rough for a few days now although I did actually make it to the supermarket yesterday. It's some kind of virus with a horrible cough that is just totally debilitating with my temperature spiking up and down at will. A great way to start the holidays, eh?

When you're feeling like this, there are only two approaches to make yourself feel better. (Beyond the "dose yourself up to the eyeballs" method - seriously, I'd fail an Olympics dope test right now).

The first is to turn to chocolate. Not my usual method, I'll admit, but as it had happened, a few days before, a lovely lady who runs Chocolate by Genevie had offered to send me chocolate and husband has instructed me never to turn chocolate down.  These arrived on Monday, probably when I was feeling at my worst.



Yeah, there are some missing because we tried some before I even managed to summon the energy to take a snap. They were absolutely gorgeous, although there was no card describing what each one was and not all the decorations on top made clear what was in the middles. They didn't last long and the children enjoyed them as much as we did. They were a lovely pick me up on an otherwise horrible day. I could have happily ate a whole box of the coffee flavoured chocolates. Thank you, Genevie - it was perfect timing.

 The second is to try to be kind to yourself and eat as healthily as possible. Also quite coincidentally, Blue Diamond Almonds sent me a hamper full of breakfast goodies to try out their Almond Breeze almond milks, a healthy alternative to dairy and soya milks. I haven't got around to drinking the champers as yet - the past four days have felt one massive hangover without adding any alcohol into the equation. 



I love the muesli they sent, which I then poured their unsweetened milk over and it was nice. I don't normally like soya milk. I haven't been brave enough to try it in the tea but we don't recommend it for drinking with filter coffee as it seem to split. I thought it would taste strongly of almonds, but given it is only 2% almonds, it doesn't really have a taste at all. It's a good source of calcium and a number of vitamins and the unsweetened version has less than half the calories of skimmed milk, and half the calories of soya milk. So it's good for you too!

So, a two pronged attack. Strange that the chocolates have disappeared before all the muesli and almond milk, isn't it? That is because I can keep the muesli to myself without being pestered for it. Kids, eh? It'll do me good. That, and the dosing to the eyeballs method, is going to have to get me fully back on my feet fast as we're going to the Olympic football tonight!

(I was sent the above products to try for the purposes of review. All words and opinions are my own and I have not been paid a fee to write this post). 

Monday, 23 July 2012

Meal Planning Monday - the easy cooking edition!

So, the kids are off school now and this week, so is husband. And the Olympics start on Friday. Well, actually, for us it starts Thursday as we're going to the Olympic football at Old Trafford - so I won't be cooking then.

With the Olympics starting, I'm going to be making stuff as simple as possible. The special fried rice and chicken you might recognised from last week - various things means it never actually happened so I'm rehashing it this week.

Here is my easy peasy week

Monday - Special fried rice with BBQ Chicken
Tuesday - Gnocchi with roasted squash and goat's cheese
Wednesday - Chicken tomato curry (made with a sample of a sauce I got ages ago)
Thursday - not cooking
Friday - Olympic bagels, onion rings (the snacks), donuts (can you spot the theme?!)
Saturday - New potato and smoked mackerel salad
Sunday - Beany nachos

That's it. What about you? Have you been to see Mrs M's linky with all the other MPM entries this week?

Friday, 20 July 2012

Olympic Scrapbook - have you got yours yet?

This is a sponsored post (but it's not that bad really).

If you read my post last weekend, you'll know that I'm going to be blogging about our experiences completing the Olympic Scrapbook that appeared in The Sunday Times last week.

If you missed out last weekend, don't fret as you have one last chance to get one. Get yourself down to a WH Smith or Waitrose this Saturday as you'll be able to get one free when you buy a copy of The Times. Then, the next day, The Sunday Times will have an exclusive sticker set which you'll be able to use in your scrapbooks, and I've been allowed to give you a sneaky preview of how those stickers are going to look.

Monkey, in particular, is excited about the stickers so I'm going to have to try and rein him in so that he doesn't stick them all over the scrapbook within half an hour. We've been looking at The Times all through this week but nothing has yet made it into the scrapbook as we're waiting for our Olympic experience to begin (which will be next Thursday as we are going to some of the early games in the football tournament the day before the opening ceremony). We're going to collect front pages, choose the pictures to cut out and stick in, and fill in the statistics - another Monkey job; he'll be there with his statto hat on, and will probably try to write the results in almost as they happen!

Olympic legends have been supporting the Olympic Scrapbook this week as the two papers build towards the London 2012 Olympic Games. Here's the lovely Roger Black:


And also, the great Ade Adepitan, pictured at the recent premiere of Chariots of Fire.



Take a look at this (very short) video which shows you how the scrapbook works. 


video

You can also find this video here.

This time next week, the Games will be upon us. Excitement is reaching fever pitch here. If it is with you, get your scrapbooks and stickers and join us cataloguing this very special occasion.

I am a member of the Netmums Blogging Network. I am paid an expenses fee to cover my time but Netmums have no editorial control whatsoever about what I blog about. Being a member of the Netmums Blogging Network means that I get to try out products and brands and get my expenses covered but that I retain full editorial integrity. On this occasion, I have been asked to share some key information about this promotion, which I have done because it is relevant to the project and informative.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Can you hear that sound?

Across (largely) England and Wales, I mean? That hissing sound that's getting louder and louder and louder with every anxious hour?

Do you know what it is? It's the collective sucking in of breath by parents of children in school. For, over the next few days, children will finish school until September. September! That's a whole other season away, isn't it?

I view long holidays with a mixture of joy and trepidation. Joy that the morning rush with recalcitrant children is over for a few weeks at least, that I can turn the alarm off on my phone that I have set in case I ignore the clock radio, that I don't have to clockwatch all day to ensure I don't forget to collect them from school and see how far I can push it. ( I may have left at 3.30 to pick them up on the odd occasion this year but only on days they have afternoon assembly. School finishes at 3.30, we live a 5 mins drive away.) Trepidation because what are we going to do for 6 weeks? Trepidation that they will just drive me mad and each other mad. Trepidation that I will get no work done at all. Trepidation that it will just rain for 6 weeks and we'll all go stir crazy.

In reality, I realise I am very lucky that my work allows me to be at home with them during the holidays. We have plenty to do, including trips to two Olympic events, the Olympics themselves, a wedding, several parties, a christening (I think), a summer dance school for Missy Woo. No doubt we will be 3 weeks in when we realise that we need to get ready for going back to school. The children are growing up fast and more able to entertain themselves every day. Last week, Monkey was off sick with a bad cough and although it was disruptive to me, he did amuse himself quite a bit.

Still, it doesn't stop me joining in the collective sucking in of breath as parents brace themselves for the holiday. Come September, you'll hear the sound of parents letting out that breath in a sigh of relief.

In the meantime, we're holding our collective breath and crossing our fingers behind our backs.

Wish me luck.


Monday, 16 July 2012

Meal Planning Monday - the last week of term edition!

I can't quite believe it that it's nearly the summer holidays. Within 6 weeks, I'll have a child in juniors. This week is slightly busy (again) as I am hosting a Pampered Chef party tonight, Monkey has a friend coming for tea tomorrow and Missy Woo STILL has her dancing lesson this Thursday. (Dammit, I thought last week was the last one of term!) Still, at least Monkey no longer has football which means it's slightly less manic. And then, at the weekend, Monkey has two parties to go to and husband is off to the Open golf at Royal Lytham - tickets to which were his birthday present. 

I even managed to get the meals planned on Saturday before I went to a wedding reception and the food bought yesterday to give me as much time today to get the house presentable. Monkey even came to the supermarket with me and my stress levels didn't go through the roof!

So, ladies and gents, I give to you our menu for the week. 

Monday - Chilli ginger lamb chops with curried pasta salad
Tuesday - Pinwheel pizza
Wednesday - Lemon scented fish and chips
Thursday - Courgette, bean and cheese quesadillas
Friday - Turkey and coriander burger with guacamole
Saturday - Special fried rice with barbeque chicken

(There are no links as I took all the recipes from this month's BBC Good Food mag and the recipes don't appear straight away on the site although they usually do within a month or two.)

Don't forget to check out other Meal Planning Monday entries over at Mrs M's place - but stop by and let me know what you are eating this week first. 

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Preserving London 2012 memories with the Olympic Scrapbook


This is a sponsored post (but you might like it anyway!)

Two weeks to go, after seven years of waiting. I remember sitting, holding Monkey (a nearly 4 month old baby) in my arms watching the announcement of the host city of the 2012 Olympic Games and tearing up with joy and excitement when Jacques Rogge uttered the words "the games of the thirtieth Olympiad are awarded to the city of London." (I just looked those words up on YouTube to make sure I got them right and it set me off again!) I was excited, not just for me, but for the baby that I was holding in my arms, that such a fantastic thing was going to be happening in our country and that it would be something we would be able to share as a family. 

Seven years of waiting, but once it starts, the Games will be here and gone again in the blink of an eye and we will be left with will be some - hopefully fantastic - memories. I've been pondering how best to do this with the children for a while. Monkey, in particular, loves his wall charts - he dutifully filled out his Euro 2012. But I wanted more than that - a keepsake that can go into their memory boxes to remind them of the this once in a lifetime event. Then, I was asked if I'd like to be involved with the project I'm about to tell you about. Being a sports mad family, I jumped at the chance as we will be devouring the Games in all forms when it starts. 

Foreword by Lord Coe
The Times and The Sunday Times today announced the launch of their ultimate Olympic Scrapbook that will offer readers the opportunity to catalogue their memories from this once in a lifetime event. Readers of the newspapers will be able to collect and record every day of London 2012 with their free scrapbook inside every copy of The Sunday Times this weekend.

The scrapbook, supported by London 2012 sponsor P&G, will feature editorial content from The Times and The Sunday Times’ award-winning journalists, including an Olympic timeline along with stats and facts about this summer’s Games and past medal winners. Readers will be able to collect pictures, athlete profiles, medal tables, as well as adding in their own images and memories – plus an exclusive sticker set that will be available inside The Sunday Times on 22nd July.

Stickers? Monkey will be overjoyed! He has that geeky, slightly obsessive quality that little boys often have, collecting stickers and cards wherever he can. I suspect Missy Woo wants to join in as she likes stickers although they will have to be pretty ones.

A sample page from the scrapbook
We have had a sneak preview of the scrapbook as we were sent a copy to get going. The scrapbook is a really nice size (just under A3) with Jess Ennis on the cover, and a foreword by Lord Coe. Every page is in colour, with information for you to cut out and keep from the newspaper or their website (although that is behind a paywall) as well as interesting information about the Olympics, like profiles of high profile athletes and a series about Olympic villains over the years. There's space to write in who won what on each day. 

Monkey is very excited about the prospect of filling out this scrapbook over the coming weeks. Missy Woo is less so, but I know she will enjoy it too. This is going to be a great summer holiday activity, which we are going to need if the weather carries on the way it has been! I think it's nice to be able to do something like this together - choosing the pictures, cutting them out, sticking them in - to make memories the way we see them, not anyone else. 

Over the next month, I'll be blogging about our experiences of putting the Olympic Scrapbook together, and showing you what we're doing with our scrapbook. If you'd like to join in, please do. I'd love to see what other people do with the scrapbook. In my next post, which should be early next week, I'm hoping to share a How to video with some useful tips for completing the scrapbook with your children. 

Get your copy of The Times & The Sunday Times OlympicScrapbook free this weekend with The Sunday Times and you can visit: http://bit.ly/STOlympics for more information. If you have arrived late to this post and missed your chance, all is not lost. You'll have a final chance to get your hands on the Olympic Scrapbook by visiting your local Waitrose or WHSmith on Saturday 21st July and purchasing a copy of The Times. 

If you want some more ideas for Olympic related activities to do with your children, you can visit the Olympic Fever section of Netmums throughout the summer.

I am a member of the Netmums Blogging Network. I am paid an expenses fee to cover my time but Netmums have no editorial control whatsoever about what I blog about. Being a member of the Netmums Blogging Network means that I get to try out products and brands and get my expenses covered but that I retain full editorial integrity. On this occasion, I have been asked to share some key information about this promotion, which I have done because it is relevant to the project and informative. 

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Missy's birthday surprises

I have been a bit quiet recently, thanks to work, and life. Oh yes, and birthdays. Well, one in particular. Missy Woo was six last Thursday and I had a few days of lining up surprises and then carrying them out.

You see, she is a child that doesn't want for much. Yes, she does always want new toys but she's just as happy with small ones (and usually tat at that). We bought her a bike last year, she doesn't always want new games for her DS, and the thing she likes to do most is draw, colour and make things. She is very difficult to buy for if you want to spend more than a tenner.

She told us she wanted a scooter but she said this when we were in Devon and my sister offered to buy it for her. Still no closer.

The only thing I had to go on was her love of dancing. I tried to look for London shows but then we were at the other extreme of cost. With added hotel and travel costs, I couldn't justify it. Then I discovered a show in Manchester on the weekend of her birthday, featuring ballet and streetdance. And the tickets were £15, so two were purchased very quickly after consultation with her that she wanted to go.

Opening her presents
This didn't feel like much of a birthday surprise so we decided to extend her trip by booking a night in a hotel after the show. Given that the show was at the Palace Theatre, I booked a room at the Palace Hotel across the road. Then I typed up a note to her from Hello Kitty telling her about this to put in with the tickets she was expecting to open on the day. We managed to find a few smaller bits and bobs for her to open - mostly with a Hello Kitty theme - on the day.

So, on the big day itself, she had a few nice presents to open, but didn't look as much as it did on Monkey's birthday. (He got a bike this year). She was very excited about her "sleepover" in a hotel, had a special breakfast and got to speak to grandparents before school, where she got to wear the Birthday Hat all day and gave sweets out at the end of the day. Granny met us there on a flying surprise visit, bringing presents and giving her a big hug before hopping back on the bus home. For we were off on our usual Thursday odyssey - Monkey to football, Missy Woo to her dance lessons - as she had insisted that she was really looking forward to going to dance on her birthday. Mainly so she could be centre of attention, for the first thing they did was sing her Happy Birthday.

Then, and only then, and after a quick change, we went out for tea where she could make her own pizza! This meant a bit of a late night on a school night for both her and Monkey, which I suspect was the motive for insisting on going to her dance lessons!

Saturday was a big day, despite it not being her birthday. She had her party here - 9 girls and poor old Monkey totally outnumbered! One of the girls coming was a girl she used to play with before she went to school and hadn't seen for ages but I had kept from her that she was coming and the little girl didn't know she was coming either! That was another little surprise which she enjoyed.

She was very excited about her cake which she had helped to mix the day before. This was not my idea - I got it from Susan's post and it seemed really easy yet effective. I had to source non-NestlĂ© equivalent to Smarties but I discovered all the supermarkets did them. These are from Asda. My tip, if you want to make it yourself, is get your Cadbury's fingers from Aldi or Lidl and put the cake on a bigger plate than you think you need because the fingers increase the size of the cake quite substantially.

Once the party was finished, it was all systems go to get to Manchester. We took the train in, Missy adopting a granny we met in the station along the way and insisting on sitting next to her on the train. We popped into the hotel before the show to check in and the room was WOW. Look at this. The ceilings were about 20 feet high and the windows went right up to the ceiling.



Unfortunately, because the room was on the main road and at the same level as the railway track not 20 feet away, it was too noisy, necessitating a move to a new room later in the evening when Missy tried and failed to sleep.

The show was brilliant. It was called Against Time. I would urge you to go to see it but sadly, the performances in Manchester were the last ones and it's now finished. The promo video gives you a flavour of it here. It was a collaboration between English National Ballet and Flawless, who were on Britain's Got Talent.



Missy was mesmerised and loved every minute of it, especially there was a lot of familiar and contemporary music. She joined in with the clapping and was singing along to the songs too. I asked her what she thought of the show during the interval and she just said "Fab".

Chilling after the show.
After the show, and finding her new adopted granny to say goodbye to, we went out for tea to a nearby Italian before retiring to our room and attempting to get Missy to sleep, as I mentioned before. By the time we moved to a new room, it was nearly 10pm but once we were settled, she was asleep in a couple of minutes. In the morning, she was awake before me and got up to play with her sticker book and watch telly. When I did wake up, she told me off for snoring! We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast, at which she discovered fried bread and sautéed potatoes, and followed it up with a quick coffee before heading home to piles of leftover pizza and birthday cake.

All in all, it was a fun weekend and Missy took away some fabulous memories of her sixth birthday, that will hopefully stay with her for a long time. I got to enjoy time with my little girl and it reminded me how much I enjoy just being with her. And for now, I'm revelling in that, because these experiences can be all too fleeting.

Happy birthday Missy Woo. We love you.


Monday, 9 July 2012

Meal Planning Monday - the over-catering edition!

You're probably wondering what the hell I'm on about but this week, I am deliberately cooking more than we need. The reason for this is that husband is still on his course. (I thought it was one week; turns out it's two) He needs to take reheatable leftovers in with him as he only has access to a microwave and a kettle. So, I put my thinking cap on - which was a tall order after a weekend full of party, trip to Manchester and tennis! Although the recipes below are serves 4, I am in some cases going to scale them up to allow 1 or 2 extra portions.

After a hunt around on my usual places, I think I've done it. It's an odd week because of the course. We're also at school's Celebration Evening one night, and it's our last week of Thursday madness until September (it's me you'll hear breathing a sigh of relief when it's over!) although I am still cooking a chicken for tea. Yes, totally mad. Going to a wedding on Saturday night too.

Here is our week

Monday - Veggie shepherd's pie with sweet potato mash
Tuesday - Slow cooker gammon with mustard potato salad
Wednesday - Spanish fish stew
Thursday - Roast chicken
Friday - Squash, lentil and bean one-pot with fig raita
Saturday - staying free
Sunday - not sure, more leftovers probably.

That's mine, how is your week looking food wise? Don't forget to tell me, then visit Mrs M to check out the other Meal Planning Monday entries.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Cakes through the post? Go on then!

As I mentioned the other day, Missy Woo's birthday is this week and her party is on Saturday. I've managed to talk her into a really simple but fab-looking cake as she had grand plans for a cake that she had drawn and I just knew was going to involve lots of sugarpaste and fancy decoration that is beyond my skill level.

Then we were given the chance to review a letterbox cake from Baker Days. They do two types of cake - a small one that literally can go through your letterbox or a larger cake that is perfect for a party (which won't fit through your letterbox).

Now, all this was arranged via an email through a PR so my experience didn't involve ordering via their site but I showed some to Missy Woo with the intention of having a little cake on her birthday. She chose two designs but one of them didn't fit with the wording we wanted. There is a massive range of designs, plus you can design your own or upload your own photo to go on the cakes too. We kept with one of the standard designs.

I told the PR when Missy's birthday was and left it at that. The cake then appeared a day or so later, much much sooner than I had anticipated. The cakes can be stored for up to a fortnight, but as the children wanted to see in it and then try the cake, we had to open it there and then.

The letterbox cake comes packaged in its own little tin.


Inside, there was this:



Hmm. My name wasn't supposed to be on that! As I say, it wasn't ordered through the site, rather by email but I thought I'd make it clear in the message who it was for. Ah well. The cake is really quite small. It literally is just enough for 4-5 people to have - so suitable for a small informal celebration.  Some of the design looked a bit blurred and the sugar paste was a bit creased as you can see but Missy loved it (apart from the fact it didn't have her name on it).

I' chose double chocolate chip for the cake (which costs an extra £2.00) and it was delicious. There are a range of options - including a gluten free and wheat free option which is nice to see.

My main issue with it is the price and this is where my cheapskate head gets put on. £14.99 for a small cake that only serves 4-5 is a lot to me, and it's £16.99 if you want chocolate cake. That is an awful lot of money. The party cakes seem a lot better value - as they serve up to 16 for about another £12. Thankfully, the prices include delivery - which are sent out next working day if you order before 1pm or the following day if ordered after that.

I can foresee situations where I would use this, but as I said, my main reservation is the price. Still, the range is huge and you can be almost assured of finding something that is perfect for your intended recipient but I would only do it for someone a long way from me. Someone closer by, I'm more likely to bake a cake for them and give it to them myself.

(I was sent the above letterbox cake for the purposes of a review. All opinions are mine and genuinely held)


Edited to add - Baker Days have been in touch to apologise for putting the company name on there and offering to send a new one to see if the design can be improved. 


Also, they have given me a voucher code to pass on to you that will enable you to get a 20% discount on orders from their website. That would bring the cost of a letterbox cake down to around £12.


The code is 5My6Co - enjoy!

Monday, 2 July 2012

Meal Planning Monday - the July birthday week edition!

Yes, it's another birthday week in our house. This time, it's Missy Woo's turn - she turns six (6!) on Thursday, and has her party on Saturday. We've some nice surprises lined up for her - she thinks she knows all the nice thing, but she so doesn't. Not saying anymore as I had better keep them to myself.

So, the week is split by festivities. Also, husband is on a course this week, which may mean he is home a bit later, though I'm also hoping it means he can do the school run once or twice for me as I've got a lot of work on. Still not sure what we are doing on Missy Woo's birthday - she is adamant she wants to go to her dancing so she needs to have a sandwich before going as she has two lessons back to back but she is also adamant that she wants to go out for tea after that!

I actually wrote this plan on Saturday as last night, I was at Clandestine Cake Club and am always stuffed by cake after, so I got busy and filled the three or four days needed. Monkey has asked for the lamb pilau as it is one of his favourites. Two of the others are basically using up things I have, to keep the shopping list short in lieu of all the party food I'm having to buy for Saturday.

Here we go.

Monday - Roast summer vegetables with chickpeas
Tuesday - Lamb, coconut and mango pilau
Wednesday - Easy cheesy chicken
Thursday - To be decided
Friday - Saucy sausage pasta
Saturday - party day
Sunday - keeping free

That'll do me. I have a cake to make as well! Don't forget to pop over to Mrs M's and see what else is on offer this week. Next week will be less manic, she lied.
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