Tuesday, 10 May 2016

WIN: Tickets To The RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016

For the chance to win, participants must enter a picture of their own little garden - this could be flowers, vegetables, herbs or anything else that you’ve grown in your garden, green house, window box or container. 

This week’s overarching theme is Secret Hideaways: Moments of Escape and next week’s theme is Modern Beauty (modern interpretation of Oak Woodland): Gardens in style.

You can email your photos to littlegarden@mandg.co.uk or upload them to social media with the #littlegarden. A panel of celebrity judges from the world of horticulture will be selecting the weekly winners.  18+. UK only. Terms and conditions apply

Enter on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MandGGarden/
Enter on Twitter: https://twitter.com/MandGGarden

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Envious: The X-Files

For anyone that knows me, they know I'm a HUGE fan of The X-Files.

I'm so envious that those in the US & Canada get to watch the most anticipated comeback of the series before we get to see it here in the UK :(

I've watched all 9 seasons (many times over) and both films and always hoped there would be more X-Files. My husband will tell you, all the years he's known me, I've never gave up hope on more X-Files and I have probably does his head in with the amount I've talked about it over the years!

I originally watched as a teenager, and there are very few programmes from my teen years that I would care to watch again and again, but The X-Files was PHENOMENAL.

Most sci-fi (science fiction) television gets laughed at by a lot and seen as only for the geeks and weirdos (not that I would use such stereotypes, but that was what people would think of people who watched it). But The X-Files was THE programme that got lovers of all genres taking an interest in the sci-fi genre.

So many great episodes, from the serious episodes, to the very funny light-hearted episodes, The X-Files had it all. And now that it's back, I'm hopeful it still will. And of course the brilliant chemistry between Mulder (played by David Duchovny) and Scully (played by Gillian Anderson). And of course the other all important characters who made The X-Files so brilliant, such as Skinner (played by Mitch Pileggi) - Mulder & Scully's boss at the FBI, the very mysterious and sinister C.G.B. 'Cigarette Smoking Man' Spender (played by William B. Davis) and of course, The Lone Gunmen - Byers (played by Bruce Harwood), Frohike (played by Tom Braidwood) and Langly (played by Dean Haglund) - a group of conspiracy theorists set on 'outing' the truth.

Here's a little bit about a couple of my favourite episodes, just to give you an idea of why I love it so much...

Well, for fellow fans, I'm sure this was one of your favourites too. Squeeze was an excellently written episode and equally brilliantly acted.

Mulder and Scully hunted down Eugene Victor Tooms (excellently played by Doug Hutchinson) - the human liver eating mutant that can stretch himself like Stretch Armstrong and fit through tiny spaces, preying on people to steal their livers to prolong his lifespan, consuming 5 livers before nesting and going into hibernation for 30 years.

This episode is so memorable. When my eldest son doesn't tidy his room, I always call him Tooms indicative of him building a nest ready to hibernate in!

Well, we all loved the light-hearted episodes of The X-Files, and Dreamland (episodes 4 &5 of season 6) was definitely one of the best.

It saw Mulder & Scully encounter the 'Men In Black' and Mulder switching bodies with one of their members, Morris Fletcher (portrayed by Michael McKean) leading to some seriously hilarious scenes, such as Mulder (in Morris's body) doing his funny dance in front of the mirror. And then of course, there's Morris (in Mulder's body) totally trying it on with Scully with hilarious consequences which result in him being left handcuffed to the bed!

I could talk about every episode of The X-Files, but this would be a very long blog post!

I am so exited about the return and can't wait for it to arrive on TV here in the UK. So there will be more blog posts about The X-Files yet to come!

I have a huge collection of X-Files stuff - clippings from newspaper/magazine articles, all the seasons on video (VHS), some of the seasons on DVD, all the individual and special videos (VHS), postcard books, clock, t-shirt, mug, watch, figures, trading cards, posters, books, comics/magazines, basically anything official I could get my hands on and anything unofficial that I just loved! And I'm still collecting...

Well, it's 14 years since we last saw The X-Files - will Chris Carter still have the magic to work with The X-Files that he once had, and will David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson still be able to bring that same magic to Mulder & Scully that they once had? I'm really hoping so and I can't wait to watch!!

Are any of my readers fellow X-Philes? What's your favourite episode? Who is your favourite character? Are you looking forward to the new series?

Saturday, 19 September 2015

YB REVIEWS: Mission Deli Wraps

I was sent some Mission Deli wraps to review.

I was sent 2 packets of "8 Original Wraps" and 2 packets of "8 Multigrain Wraps" to review.

I only normally buy original wraps, so it was interesting to try the multigrain wraps. I was slightly dubious as it's easy to stick to what you know, but I was very impressed with them, they looked like they should be quite a challenge to eat, but they were soft and tasty and felt healthier to eat and to give to my son in his lunchbox.

Wraps are very versatile. It's easy to get caught up in the thought that they're just for Mexican food, after all, that's what a fajita always comes in, but you can fill them with lots of different fillings, hot or cold.

We had wraps for our tea, filled with turkey ham (hubby is veggy so he had a substitute), garlic & herb soft cheese, smoked beetroot, boiled egg, lettuce and garlic mayonnaise - a delicious, cold wrap.

We did have delicious hot chicken fajitas too (well hubby had vegetarian Quorn fajitas).

One other thing we tried was deep fried jerk chicken (hubby had fried jerk Quorn) with lettuce and garlic mayonnaise - it was a truly delicious hot wrap meal.

I definitely found them very versatile, and definitely not just for fajitas! My eldest son has been taking them to school as part of his packed lunch too filled with ham or chicken salad and he's enjoyed a change from boring old bread.

Alex Hollywood has come up with some recipes to use wraps with your leftovers too, which look good. I'm featuring them below and I'll definitely be giving ome of them a go myself.

Roast chicken leftovers with Harissa roast veg, feta & minted yoghurt
Chopped leftover cooked roast chicken
Approx. 200g roast vegetables: onions, squash, aubergine, peppers, asparagus, (roast in a tbsp. olive oil garlic cloves, seasoning)
1/2 packet of feta
1 tsp Harissa paste
1 spoon olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
Some rocket leaves
175 m tub plain yoghurt
Handful chopped fresh mint or a tsp mint sauce
2-4 Mission Deli Super Soft Wholemeal Wraps

In a bowl whisk the Harissa with a dash of oil and the lemon juice, season then add the roast vegetables and coat well. Spoon some onto the middle of the wrap followed by chopped chicken, rocket leaves and a little crumbled feta, season then wrap. In a bowl mix the yoghurt with the mint, season to taste and serve as a dip on the side.

Veggie curry leftovers with paneer & toasted cumin yoghurt dip
Leftover vegetable curry ( bulk up with frozen cooked peas if necessary)
1 packet paneer ( Indian cheese for cooking) chopped into small cubes
Garam Masala
Coriander leaves chopped
1 pot Greek yoghurt
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 crushed garlic cloves
2-4 Mission Deli Super Soft Multigrain Wraps

In a dry pan, dry fry the cumin seeds until they pop then transfer to a pestle and mortar and crush well, stir into the yoghurt with the crushed garlic and a little salt. Heat the vegetable curry, if necessary cook some frozen peas and add in to bulk the curry out then in a frying pan, dry fry the chopped paneer until browned all over. Throw into the curry and stir in the chopped coriander and a pinch of Garam masala then spoon into a wrap, wrap tightly and serve with the cumin garlic dip.

Tip: If you have any leftover roast lamb or chicken, chop it up, add it to the curry and serve with a dollop of Mint yoghurt and some mango chutney.

Leftover Bolognese ( chilli)  with sour cream & chilli cheddar
2-300g of leftover Bolognese sauce
1 can kidney beans drained
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
I small handful chopped fresh coriander
1 small lime
I pot sour cream
Grated mature 'chilli' cheddar
2-4 Mission Deli Original Wraps

In a heavy bottomed pan bring the Bolognese to a simmer; throw in the beans and spices. Allow to simmer for at least 15 minutes (if it begins to dry out too much, add a little water). Add the chopped coriander and a good squeeze of lime, adjust seasoning if necessary. Spoon some onto a wrap with a dollop of sour cream and a handful of the grated chilli cheddar, wrap and serve with green salad leaves.

To give your Bolognese more of a kick & authentic chilli flavour - add a dash of tequila!

Quick baked pudding wraps with mango chocolate sauce & granola
1 Bottle of good quality, thick hazelnut sauce (Nutella or home-made sauce would work too)
1 can mango slices (or 1 fresh prepared mango) or peach slices
150g granola
Icing sugar for dusting
Vanilla or hazelnut ice cream
2-4 Mission Deli Super Soft Original Wraps

Drop 2-3 spoonfuls of the hazelnut sauce on the wrap.  Arrange slices of fruit over then sprinkle a spoonful of granola on top. Fold over and wrap tightly. Dust with icing sugar and bake for 8-10 mins 180c. Serve with a scoop of ice-cream.

Tip: if you want to make this more 'grown-up', use fresh orange slices that have been soaked in a dash of Grand Marnier and crumble toasted pecans over the top before serving with hazelnut ice-cream

Sticky chicken with tomato, avocado, lettuce, cucumber slices & mozzarella
2 leftover chicken breasts - cooked & sliced
2-4 rough chopped tomatoes
1 ripe avocado sliced
some chopped lettuce
Sliced cucumber
1 tbsp Greek yoghurt
Lemon juice
Salt pepper
1 Mozzarella ball torn
Some fresh basil leaves
2-4 Mission Deli Super Soft Wheat and White Wraps

For the sticky sauce;

1 tbsp ketchup
1tsp Moroccan spices, e.g.
Ras el Hanout (available from all major supermarkets)
1 tsp sweet chilli sauce
1 tsp soy sauce
2tsp sesame oil (or veg oil)
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Mix the sauce ingredients together in a bowl and throw in the sliced chicken to coat well.  Heat a griddle pan then add the chicken slices and griddle until slightly darkened. In a bowl mash the ripe avocado with the Greek yoghurt add a squeeze of lemon and season, dollop a little on the wrap add some chicken then tomato lettuce cucumber and torn mozzarella, finish with some basil leaves, wrap and devour!  

Tip: this sauce works well with any leftover BBQ meat - sausages, pulled pork or even fish!

DISCLAIMER: I was sent the products for free to review, but thoughts & opinions expressed are my own. I pride myself on an honest review, good or bad. Recipes provided by Mission Deli in collaboration with Alex Hollywood.

Monday, 7 September 2015

YB WRITES: I'm Going To Mars!

Well, not quite... But my name is :P

And it did a couple of years ago too... 

Thursday, 3 September 2015

YB REVIEWS: Bio-Kult & Bio-Kult Infantis

I was sent samples of Bio-Kult and Bio-Kult Infantis to review.

Bio-Kult is a capsule of live bacteria - 14 strains - good bacteria, bacteria that helps promote a healthy gut and boost your immune system. You take 1-2 capsules a day. I was really pleased that there is more than one way to take them. I have a throat problem which means I can't swallow tablets/capsules whole, but fortunately, you can open them up and sprinkle them onto food or mix with a drink which for me, was perfect. It does not need to be refrigerated and can be taken alongside antibiotics, by babies toddlers and children, when travelling, by vegetarians, as part of a healthy diet and when pregnant - so pretty much all the time.

The Bio-Kult Infantis is specifically made for babies, toddlers and young children. As it's currently around back to school time - it's now more than ever that children need an immunity boost and Bio-Kult Infantis provides this. It comes in a convenient sachet that you can mix with milk, water or food to make it easy for them to take. It contains 7 strains of bacteria, is high in Omega 3 and contains Vitamin D3. I mixed it in with my little mans drink and he had it no problems and I like knowing that it's giving his gut a good immunity boost.

Bio-Kult’s nutritional therapist Natalie Lamb has provided some back to school tips...

Back to school is fast approaching and many parents will be starting to worry about the stresses and strains that a new term can put on a family. Stress can upset the delicate balance of the gut microflora in a child, depleting their immune system and causing symptoms such as stomach upsets and increasing their susceptibility to colds and flu. With 70% of our immune cells located in the gut, a child’s are still growing and changing during childhood. Their gut bacteria play an essential role in supporting the development of a strong healthy immune system at this time. This can be compromised if they are busy fighting off a wide range of new bugs shared out amongst new class mates. As well as being well organised and making sure your child is getting plenty of sleep, the following tips could help support a healthy immune system:
  • Get the most of the last of the British summer sun to boost natural vitamin D levels, important for ensuring a strong immune system.
  • Have fun picking local berries and fruits mid-summer such as blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, gooseberries, elderberries and black currants are said to be rich in Vitamin C & E and full of antioxidants.
  • Eat a varied wholefood diet high in a rainbow of coloured vegetables, salads and some fruits. I’d also advise choosing meats, eggs and oily fish over processed sugars and refined carbohydrates which could feed unwanted bacteria and are generally low in useful immune boosting nutrients.
  • Multi-strain probiotics such a Bio-Kult Infantis have been shown to significantly reduce the frequency and severity of common colds commonly picked up in play groups.   
Bio-Kult retails for £14.95 for a box of 60 capsules and is widely available in high street retailers, independent pharmacies, health food stores and online at www.Bio-Kult.com

Bio-Kult Infantis retails for £11.95 for a box of 16 sachets and is widely available in high street retailers, independent pharmacies and health food stores and online at www.Bio-Kult.com.

YB WRITES: Turbospoke Competition

Turbospoke is a brand new toy for kids that is a toy exhaust for fitting to a bicycle that has realistic motorbike exhaust sounds - mega fun for kids!

The Turbospoke can be easily attached to back of of the bike frame with the mounting kit which comes with tools in the box to fit it with.

It comes with 3 sound cards that you can tune for up to 6 different realistic sounds. It's a great gift for children of all ages (recommended age of 6+) and I think it's probably going to be a big hit this Christmas, which is quickly creeping up on us!

  • Bicycle exhaust sound system
  • Makes authentic motorbike noises
  • Three interchangeable sound cars
  • Activates as bike is pedalled
  • Does not require batteries
  • Modern take on a classic
  • Includes stick-on decals
  • 35cm

If you would like the chance to win one, simply read the terms & conditions below and enter using gleam.

Open to UK residents
Closes 23:59 03/10/2015
Winner has 7 days to claim their prize (send over name, address, e-mail address & phone number) or a new winner will be chosen

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

YB WRITES: Childhood Obesity - What Is To Blame?

It seems everywhere you turn, there is some talk about childhood obesity and I wanted to voice my opinion.

You've got know-it-all chefs like Jamie Oliver telling the world and their children what they should and should not eat, when really, all he cares about is getting his name out their, and making money.

Then there is the government dictating to people what their children should and shouldn't be allowed to eat. Acting like people are incapable of looking after their own children, treating adults like children!

And that brings me onto my opinion...

When I was a young child - 25 years ago, I was 7 years old - my spare time was spent playing out - be that with the kids that lived nearby, my friends from school, on my bike on my own, using my imagination - but always active. Then, 20 years ago, I was 12 years old, almost a teen and at senior school, a lot of my spare time involved going for a walk with my best friend or going into town shopping or just looking around the shops.

Kids nowadays, get not near enough exercise - has anyone stopped to think that this could indeed be the cause of childhood obesity?

When my eldest was younger, we always tried to encourage to play, but the more technology became and everyday piece of life, the less he wanted to do. Now as a 12 year old, despite our protests, he spends most of his time glued to his iPad - be it playing games or watching TV! Sometimes we take away his iPad as we get so sick of it, and get him crafty stuff to at least try and promote creativity and imagination, if he can't be encouraged to go out with his friends and play or do something.

His life is centred around technology. He's not obese, but his lifestyle could make him so. What I'm saying is, maybe the biggest cause of childhood obesity, is technology - the distraction from real life, the thing that stops children going out with their friends and playing as instead they can sit there on their tablets playing online games against each other and chatting online.

So there is the government preaching about childhood obesity, the very people who force technology on people more and more - insisting that absolutely everyone should be online. So instead of forcing ridiculous food changes to stop childhood obesity, maybe they should stop forcing technology on everyone and start making more ways for and encouraging children to get out there and play and interact in person with their friends more often!

Just recently, I saw that Tesco had took Ribena off the shelves in an effort to help solve childhood obesity. And of course, most supermarkets you go into now sell only oven chips rather than frying chips. All in a bid to force people to be more healthy while the real problems get ignored.

We are babied by the government, they even treat us adults like children that need telling what they can and can't do, what they can and can't eat. And then they feel the need to take over the upbringing of our children as well - OUR children.

I think exercise and a good diet are essential to curb childhood obesity, but that does not mean we need to take away every scrap of fun food and drink - it's all about doing it in moderation, making sure they eat a good varied diet with plenty of fruit and veg but also get plenty of exercise.

So if Jamie Oliver and the government really care, they need to stop solely preaching about the food children eat and get out there and make more children get active and get away from technology!

Friday, 21 August 2015

YB WRITES: SafeTOTS Competition

As a parent of a 13 month old, safety is paramount when it comes to having a toddler around. Once they start crawling and walking, they want to go everywhere and get into everything.

SafeTOTS offer a huge range of safety products to help you make your home baby & toddler proof.

If your little one is anything like mine, he wants to go everywhere! And so a safety gate is one of those must-have items when you have a little one running around.

SafeTOTS sell over 100 safety gates to fit all size gaps and prices start from as little as £15.49 and offer FREE delivery when you spend just £50.

SafeTOTS have an easy to install, self closing safety gate available for a very reasonable £27.99 - SAFETOTS SELF CLOSING GATE WHITE STANDARD 75CM-82CMand they have kindly given me one to give away to one of my lucky readers.

The safety gate you have the chance to win is a pressure fitted gate with self closing mechanism - making it easy for you to get in and out, but keeping your little one safe from escaping. It is suitable for children up to 24 months old.

If you would like to win, read the terms & conditions below, then enter using Gleam.

Open to UK residents
Closes 23:59 21/09/2015
Winner has 7 days to claim their prize (send over name, address, e-mail address & phone number) or a new winner will be chosen

YB WRITES: Hedrin Protect & Go - Protection From Headlice + Competition

The UK’s No.1 head lice brand has launched Hedrin Protect & Go, a clinically proven head lice protection spray which offers parents greater control in the battle against head lice. Visit them over on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OnceAWeekTakeAPeek

Hedrin Protect & Go is a fuss-free spray which, when applied twice-a-week, protects children from the parasites by breaking the life cycle and killing lice before an infestation can be established.

The Orange & Mango scented conditioning spray is also ideal for times when the risk of infection increases such as the beginning of a new school term, at children’s parties and sleepovers and following an outbreak letter from the school.

The protection spray contains an organic compound called 1,2 octanediol which disrupts the life cycle of head lice preventing their spread.  It is easy to apply and dries naturally leaving the hair looking healthy and conditioned.  

Christine Brown, school nurse consultant and head lice specialist, said: “Head lice infestations can be hugely frustrating for parents and children alike. An effective preventative solution that offers greater control and reassurance is not only a real breakthrough, but could drastically reduce the number of infections which currently affect as many as 1 in 5 school children. The spray is also kind to children’s hair and should be used as part of the regular cleaning regime, much the same as cleaning teeth or using a shampoo.”

Anyone can get head lice, although they are most common amongst children aged 4 to 11 due to their greater levels of close physical contact with friends.  The best known symptom of head lice is itching, which can lead to a loss of concentration and sleep. Not treating head lice can lead to a loss of self-esteem and confidence, and a general feeling of being unwell.

Priced from £4.29 for 120ml, Hedrin Protect & Go is available from Boots, pharmacies and leading retailers nationwide.  It is skin friendly and contains no known asthma triggers.

Answers from Christine Brown, ex school nurse and advisor to the Medical Entomology Centre

1) What ARE head lice? “Head lice are small wingless insects that live on the scalp, feeding from the blood. Baby lice are extremely small but mature within 10 days and only after that are they able to reproduce, with numbers growing more slowly than most people think. Females lay several viable eggs a day and adult lice can live for as long as a month.”

2) How do they spread? “Lice are spread only by head-to-head contact, so sleepovers, after school activities, playing with friends and visiting family are the most common places for children to pick them up and pass them on.”

3) How do you know if you've got them (as the child and as the parent looking)?  “Although the best known symptom is the itching, although only about 30% are aware of it – the only true way of knowing is by regular checks with a head lice detection comb. Head lice can be uncomfortable, can prevent sleep and concentration, and can cause bullying. It’s best for parents to check for head lice using a comb made for the purpose – ideally white, so that lice can be easily seen and with teeth no more than 0.3mm apart. Research has shown that detection combing is nearly four times more effective than visual inspection for finding live lice. Lice are around 2-4mm long but immature lice are even smaller, living close to the scalp. Nits are dead or empty shells, which can be removed by hand or by combing.”

4) Why are kids more prone? And girls? “Children are more prone as they are in close contact with each other. Children aged 4 to 11 are most at risk but no one is immune. Girls and women do tend to be more prone as girls tend to play more closely together and women are the carers of the family. But there are certainly plenty of boys and men with lice.”

5) Any preventative measures? eg things to avoid, products to use “ Avoiding will not stop you from catching head lice! Hedrin have just launched a clinically proven head lice protection spray called Protect & Go. It’s a mango and orange scented conditioning spray which should be used at least twice a week. It protects children from the parasites by breaking the life cycle and killing lice before an infestation can be established. The spray is also kind to children’s hair and should be used as part of the regular cleaning regime, much the same as cleaning teeth or using shampoo.”

6) If you've got them, what should you do? “If you find live lice, firstly, don’t worry. Head lice are a normal part of life and there is nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed about. Research suggests lice have become resistant to pesticide treatments, so pick a non pesticide treatment which will work by smothering the lice and either stripping them of their waxy coating, causing them to dehydrate or blocking the openings to their air tubes, disrupting their ability to manage water. These physical modes of action mean there is theoretically no chance for the head lice to build up a resistance. Try a treatment containing dimeticone or octanediol, which are used in Hedrin’s treatment products. If you’re unsure about treatment options, speak to your pharmacist.”

7) Are treatments still as noxious and overpowering as I remember them as a kid, or are there gentler versions now? “No – the new insecticides treatments are odourless, non stinging, easy to use and kind to skin and hair.”

8) What's the key ingredient that kills them and is there a natural alternative? “With non pesticide treatments, the key ingredients in use are dimeticone, octanediol and isopropyl myristate. There is limited evidence to show that natural remedies, such as tea tree oil, mayonnaise etc are effective in eradicating head lice.”

9) Does the whole family need to be treated? “Only if you find live lice on other members of the family, never treat ‘just in case’.”

10) What would happen if you left nits untreated? “Nits are the hatched or dead eggs. They remain on the hair as long as the hair is on the head and having them on your hair will make no difference to the hair or to you. However, leaving head lice untreated thus leading to a long term untreated infection has similar symptoms to low-grade flu and can make a child irritable and can result in a secondary bacterial infection.”

11) Is it true they prefer clean hair? “Having head lice has nothing to do with personal hygiene. Head lice can live on all types of hair and no preference exists between clean or dirty hair!”

12) Does the 'nit nurse' still exist in schools? “No! Employing a nit nurse is not an effective method of controlling head lice. To adhere to best practice, each of the 5.5 million primary school children in the UK would need to be checked by the nit nurse once every week! So the likelihood of each child receiving a thorough check is minimal at best. Even if the nit nurse checked and found lice it would still be up to the parents to choose and use a treatment. Parents need to feel empowered to check for head lice regularly and feel confident about using an appropriate treatment when an infestation is found. The website www.onceaweektakeapeek.co.uk has some great advice for parents on managing and treating head lice.”

Hedrin Protect & Go have kindly given us some of their product to giveaway to 3 lucky winners. If you'd like to win, read the terms & conditions below, then enter using Gleam.

Open to UK residents
Closes 23:59 21/09/2015
Winners have 7 days to claim their prize (send over name, address, e-mail address & phone number) or a new winner will be chosen