Sunday, 23 November 2014

Campbell Christmas book countdown number 3. Hello! Christmas

We are on to number 3 already in the Campbell Christmas book countdown!

Today I wanted to tell you about a book which helps with the excitement of Christmas.


Hello! Christmas is a board book all about 2 children who are preparing for Christmas day. From the School nativity to building snowmen and riding on sledges, to Chester's favourite part, decorating the Christmas tree. This book has a lot of excitement!


What I love about this board book is that it is very sturdy. Sometimes push and pull books can be a bit flimsy and it doesn't take very much for the bits to break or tear. But this one is great, both children found it easy to push and pull and neither one of them has managed to break it!

The illustrations are by Angie Rozelaar, they are a joy to look at. The excitement of the children almost pops out of the page!


The book is recommended for ages 2 and up. I have to say I would be happy to give this to a younger child, simply because it is chunky and sturdy. The text is rhyming, which makes it easier for me to read and easy for the Children to follow.

Chester and Millie both enjoyed this story, they both had their favourite pages, Millie's was the snow scene, being only 2 she is very intrigued by snow. Chester's, as I mentioned above is the Christmas tree scene. He loves that he can make the lights move and change colour by spinning the wheel!

The story is basically a build up to see if Santa thinks they have been good enough for him to visit? Does he stop at their house on Christmas Eve? Well, I will leave that for you to find out....

Hello! Christmas has an RRP of £9.99.

A happy ending to a Christmas story...

The excitement of Christmas has well and truly his this household! The Children are talking about it daily and I am immersed in preparation! Its a fantastic time of year, I love all of the buzz around it. This Christmas, House of Fraser have written a really lovely Christmas story.

The story, Fraser Bears Snow Story, is about Fraser Bear and his baby Brother, you can read the story here. As you can see the story does not have an ending, so Chester and Millie have been challenged to come up with a suitable ending through a drawing.

Chester and Millie loved the story, they totally related to the Christmas crafts that the bears were busy doing, as we spend so much time crafting here!

Millie thought it was sad that baby bear did not know what snow was, I had to explain to her that it was because he was only a baby, so it was his first Christmas, and as snow usually only comes at Winter time that is why he hadn't seen it!

I then explained that they needed make up an ending to the story. They thought for a very long time about what would be the best way for Fraser Bear to show baby bear what snow was like. They had lots of ideas, including wishing on a star for it to snow, asking the fairy godmother for some snow, and even making snow cones with a slushie cup! But in the end they decided, as it was Christmas Eve, it would be best if the bears asked Father Christmas if they could take a ride on his sleigh to fly to a country where it was snowing!

I totally loved the whole thought process, and the fact that they discussed it together!

Then the discussion turned into how they were going to put that ending into a picture. Chester (age 6) took the lead on this, as with Millie being 2 (very almost 3 as she keeps reminding everyone) she was, in Chester's words, not the best person for the job!


So Millie was left to draw in pink on her piece of paper, as she had decided Father Christmas really likes the colour pink!


Chester wanted to create a night scene, after all, it was Christmas Eve! So he got out our coloured paper and found the black. He then found a problem, the pens were not showing up very well on the black paper! So he decided to use white paper to draw Father Christmas and the bears riding on the sleigh, which was being pulled along by 3 reindeer!


He put some white paper at the bottom of the black paper to make a snowy blanket for the ground, then used star and snowflake felt shapes for the sky.


Lastly he decided that the snow on the ground needed to have some trees on it and then to finish the scene off he drew a house!


Here is Chester with the finished ending....



I think he did an amazing job, they both did. Apparently baby bear loved the snow!

Pandora has arrived at Hempstead Valley!

A little while ago whilst shopping at Hempstead Valley Shopping Centre I noticed something VERY exciting!

Pandora were opening up a shop, in Hempstead Valley, which is not far from me at all, and really good news for people in the Medway area!

As you all know, I really love Pandora, I blame two of my friends who introduced me to the bracelets, beads and charms. Then as soon as I found out they had a gingerbread man charm I was sold! You may also remember that my friends brought me the Pandora Essence bracelet for my Birthday this year, which I really love!


Yesterday I was lucky enough to go to the official ribbon cutting of the store, I had to take Chester and Millie with me, and in fairness they were well behaved. We arrived early so that I could have a chance to chat to the store manager, Alison, who is lovely. You can hear the enthusiasm and excitement she has for the store in her voice! She is thrilled at how well the new store has been received. I quizzed Alison on the new Pandora Disney range, which are currently only available in North America, and the Disney Parks, unfortunately there is still no word as to if and when they will be available over here. I chatted about my favourite charms and Alison told me her favourites are mostly from the new Starry night collection and she also loves her Essence bracelet as each of the charms mean something special to her.

I was also very pleased to be able to have a chat with the franchise owner Trevor Fitzgerald. He explained the reasons why they decided to open in Medway, specifically Hempstead Valley. This was because the shopping centre is easily accessible, it offers free parking and the store itself is situated in a great position. The Store was actually opened on Tuesday evening (ahead of schedule) and as mentioned above it has been really well recieved, it has been very busy!

Hempstead Valley is having a bit of a revamp at the moment, they are currently building some big name chain restaurants. So having a Pandora shop there too is really just another excuse to shop local!


So the ribbon cutting took place, and everyone was very excited, there was champagne and cupcakes on offer upon entry, and the store filled up pretty quickly with lots of customers! Its a lovely bright and spacious store, so even when busy, you were able to browse the cabinets easily.



Anne from Sittingbourne, was the first Customer of the day and she was only to happy to tell me that she has already visited a few times since they opened just a few days ago! Today she purchased some lovely earrings. She went on to say that she was really happy that Pandora had come to Hempstead Valley, its the perfect location for her to just pop in whenever she wanted to.


The new Christmas range really caught my eye, especially the Snowman! I also really liked the new Starry Night range, its still christmassy but is subtle enough to be wearable all year round! Chatting to the staff its clear that they have lots of enthusiasm about the Pandora products, they were only to happy to give me recommendations and advice. I was made aware of the Star stacking ring, and I just love it. I actually hadn't paid much attention to the rings in the past, but after trying a few on today I can certainly see a purchase coming up soon!



So if Pandora Hempstead Valley is your new local Pandora, I totally recommend you pay them a visit!

Do you have a favourite Pandora item? Mine is my Giraffe Charm as it reminds me of our Honeymoon in Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, where our room overlooked the Giraffe's!



Saturday, 22 November 2014

Turkey Mac & Cheese

Do you remember me telling you about the Bernard Matthews event I attended last week? I may of mentioned that I ate the most amazing Turkey Mac & Cheese?!

Well the other day I decided to make the Turkey Mac & Cheese for my family, and let me tell you, it was just as yummy as I remembered and super easy to make!

So I thought I would share the recipe with you, it easily serves 6...

Ingredients:

420g (3 packs) Bernard Matthews  Roast Turkey Chunks
400g Dried Macaroni, or Spirally Pasta
45g Butter
45g Flour
568ml Milk
50ml Double Cream
200g Grated Cheddar
50g Parmesan
1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
1 big squeeze American Yellow Mustard
4 tablespoons Breadcrumbs
3 tsp Cajun Seasoning
18 Cherry Tomatoes


Method:

Before we start with the method, I will just mention that when I made it, I omitted the Cajun Seasoning and the Parmesan. This was purely because I did not have them in my cupboard at the time! I still loved how it turned out!

Pre-heat the oven to 180c

Cook the pasta according to the back of the pack directions, then cool under running water. Drain well and set to one side.

In a large pan, gently heat the butter, then stir in 2 tsp of the Cajun seasoning. Stir continuously and add in the flour. Stir until it makes a sandy colour.

Slowly add the milk a little at a time, whilst whisking to prevent it sticking.

When the milk is all mixed in, reduce the heat and add the mustard, cheddar cheese, smoked paprika and cream.

When the cheese has melted and the sauce is glossy, take off heat and add the drained pasta, cherry tomatoes (I cut mine in half) and the Bernard Matthews Turkey Chunks.

Meanwhile, mix together the breadcrumbs, grated Parmesan and the last tsp of Cajun seasoning.

Transfer pasta into an oven proof dish, and cover with the breadcrumb mix.

Bake at 180 degrees for 20 minutes.


We didn't serve ours with anything else as it was such a filling dish! It went down a treat with my family, and really reminded me of the amazing Mac & Cheese that they serve in America. It is certainly something that I will be cooking more often. It was much easier than I thought it would be to make!

Does your family have any firm favourites that are always on your cooking list?






Campbell Christmas book countdown number 4. Lets Play... Ice Skating

So the second book in our Campbell Christmas book countdown is Lets Play... Ice Skating.


I don't know about you, but when I think of Christmas, I think of Snow. I don't know why because it has only ever snowed once at Christmas in my lifetime and I was about 7 or 8 at the time! I also associate Ice Skating with snow, so this book is the perfect wintery story for me, er... I mean the children!

Lets Play... Ice Skating is a really fun and interactive book. Set against a city backdrop, 3 little children learn to skate on an outdoor rink in a park. I think as adults we can all associate with that first time on the ice, I love that this story teaches Children that practice makes perfect. You get to see the 3 Children turn from slippery beginners to gliding stars of an ice show.




There are plenty of pull tabs and spin wheels for Chester and Millie to use. Its a big chunky board book so easy to use. Chester is 6 and as you can see in comparison to him, it is a fairly big book!


 The story is rhyming, which my children always respond well to. It has a fun and upbeat feel to it, and will certainly make you and your children want to have a go at Ice Skating by the end of the story! The illustrations by Yu-hsuan Huang are lovely, they are bright and lots of fun, filling the whole page with lots of details!

Lets Play... Ice Skating is currently on Amazon for £9.98 for a board book of its size I would say that is a fair price.

So what do you think of this wintery book?

Friday, 21 November 2014

Letters to Father Christmas 2014!

Its that time already, time to write the letters to Father Christmas, or Santa Christmas as Chester likes to call him!

Chester thought really hard about what he would like this year. He decided he would like... Skylanders! What a surprise! For the 3rd year in a row, he has asked Father Christmas for Skylanders. Gotta love him! This year its all about trap team so he is asking for some traptaniums and some figures. He was also quick to point out that he has tried his best to be good this year, and that he has worked hard at School and is excellent at Maths. Although he left the at Maths part off so really he just looks like he is being a bit big headed. Only Chester!


It won't surprise you that when Millie was asked what she would like from Father Christmas, she replied with Pom Pom Baby Panda! The child is obsessed! Although I do think it is kinda cute that she still has so much love for Baby Panda's, all thanks to a Kinder Egg toy! As this is just her 3rd Christmas, I spent some time explaining to her about where Father Christmas lives and about all of his Reindeer. She was particularly interested in the Reindeer and said that she really wants to go and visit them, and cuddle them!


We send our letters to the following address:

Father Christmas
Santa's Grotto
Reindeer Land
XM4 5HQ

All you need to do is make sure you put your childs name and address at the top of their letter, then a 1st class stamp on the envelope you send it in, and Father Christmas will send a reply (for free, thanks to Royal Mail)



Have your little ones sent their letters off to Father Christmas yet? What have they asked for?!

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Bernard Matthews #Bootifulmeals

At the weekend we were invited to The Horniman Museum and Gardens in London to meet with the Bernard Matthews team and talk Turkey!

I chose to take both of the children with me, and they were just as excited as me. Both of them are massive fans of the iconic Turkey Dinosaur. When I say Bernard Matthews that is what they think of!

The Children were settled in with some colouring sheets and Duplo blocks, which kept them entertained whilst the adults (and some of the older children) took part in a food styling lesson with Olia Hercules.


I learnt lots of new tips and was reminded of some things that I had forgotten about, such as 'the rule of 3' meaning odd numbers look better on a plate than even numbers (this plays havoc with my number ocd!). After Olia had shown us the tips and tricks, we got to have a go ourselves. We were given some ingredients to make a turkey caesar salad and then had to dress it and photograph it. I think I will give myself a pat on the back for my efforts, as I am very pleased with the final outcome....


Next we were given a more difficult task of dressing a plate with a Turkey Dinosaur! The reason I say that this was difficult was that the children could not keep their hands off of the dinosaur, so no sooner had I got my camera ready the dinosaur's were making their way to the children's mouths!


We were served lunch, which of course was Bernard Matthews Turkey themed. It certainly made me realised that even for lunch there are lots of different ways to include turkey into your everyday meals. Everything was really yummy, especially the Turkey Mac & Cheese. It was infact the closest tasting Mac & Cheese to my very favourite American version, Which I have so far been unable to find or recreate!


We then were able to give our opinion on some ideas that Bernard Matthews have, it was great to get into a discussion with everyone. We all had different likes and dislikes with regards to the flavours, but I think a couple of things stood out from the discussions, they were that we all agreed the Turkey was yummy and also that it was perfect for all of the Family!

We then had a chance to explore the museum and gardens, we absolutely loved exploring, but with so much to see we are going to have to come back!

I think the main thing I took away from this event, was that Turkey is not just for Christmas. When people say Turkey in this country, most of us will automatically think Christmas! But actually it is a great year round food! Its tasty, its good for you, and its reasonably priced. So why are we forgetting about this great bird?! I for one will certainly be using Turkey in my meal plan more often.

I mentioned the delicious Turkey Mac & Cheese earlier, I loved it so much that I am going to make it at home, then I am going to share the recipe with you guys. I really wouldn't want you to miss out!

I have also been asked if I would like to become a member of the Bernard Matthews family panel, which is a great honor, I am really looking forward to finding out more about Turkey and sharing some recipes and information with you all.



Do you enjoy turkey year round or do you think of it as a Christmas dish?