A Girl’s Night In with Butterkist

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I was very lucky recently to be invited to have a wonderful Girl’s Night In courtesy of Butterkist. I’m at that age where all of my friends are married/cohabiting with children, and free time is hard to find with everyone’s family and work commitments. Before I had my son, I was out with friends constantly or working in a pub in the evenings after work for extra money. But then Luke came along and something strange happened. I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving him with babysitters while I went out, I just wanted to be with him all the time. In the 9 years since he’s been born, do you know how many nights out I’ve had without him? You’ll be shocked. Just two. Two!!! Entirely my choice. A couple of friendships fell by the wayside as a result. The party girl side of me vanished without a trace and the calmer settled side became the new me.

There are millions of great things about being a mum, and one of those is the new friendships you make with other mums at playgroups, schools, and clubs. I am so thankful and feel so blessed to have made some very special friendships this way. One such friend is Tracey. I hadn’t seen her for a while. Life has been busy for us both so it’s been a case of communication by Whatsapp for a few weeks. The good thing about technology is it lets you stay in touch with people when you can’t see them. Nothing beats sitting down together having a laugh and a chat though. Tracey was feeling a bit low due to personal family issues, so when Butterkist sent me a big box of goodies, I invited her for a Girl’s Night In.

Butterkist knew EXACTLY what would make a perfect night in. I received a big box containing heart shaped marshmallows and Sweet Popcorn Belgian hot chocolate sachets from Options, along with Butterkist mugs to make them in. There was also Creamy Coconut Face Masks, a 2 month Now TV Sky Movies Pass, and lots of yummy popcorn with special cartons to put it in.

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My Other Half and Luke were banished upstairs so Tracey and I could enjoy our girly night. No boys allowed, apart from our very cheeky puppy who wouldn’t leave us alone.

I made our hot chocolate drinks in our lovely new mugs. Butterkist had wanted to send some squirty cream but Royal Mail had said they couldn’t, but that is one thing that I always have in my fridge. Tracey just wanted marshmallows on hers without cream. I went the whole hog and piled cream, marshmallows and popcorn on mine! While I made the drinks and opened the popcorn, Tracey got the film ready for us to watch. We had chosen an old classic…. Bridget Jones’s Diary. A girly night needs a girly film, and what better than Bridget Jones! I lit the tabletop fire and we were good to go.

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We laughed and cried together. We’re both soppy and romantic and cry at everything, which is why I had a box of tissues ready too. The famous scene with Bridget and her big granny knickers had us talking about embarrassing dates we’d ever had. There were plenty! I won’t embarrass myself by telling you lot though hehe!!!! Ok I’ll tell you the least embarrassing of mine. I went on a blind date many years ago with a man called Jason. He took me to the cinema to watch The Horse Whisperer (that shows how long ago it was)! There was a premiere room in the cinema with waitress service to your reclining seat, where you could enjoy alcoholic drinks and snacks. I put my seat back and settled down for the film. I was really tired after a very late night the night before but thought I was hiding that fact well. There’s a scene in the film where there’s just lovely music and shots of the beautiful landscape. I can’t remember what else. I was so comfortable in my reclined seat I fell asleep and missed the rest of the film. Jason was not impressed as he had paid extra for us to watch it in that room, and he grumbled about it for quite a while! I did see him a few times after (surprisingly), but that led to a much more embarrassing date which I am NOT telling you about and which was the last time I saw him!! Ahem!

Anyway, back to our girly night. Butterkist had sent sharing bags of their latest flavours to try: Salted Caramel, Choc Mallow, and Coconut and Raspberry.

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They were all absolutely scrumptious but we both agreed the Choc Mallow was our favourite. You can really taste the chocolatey marshmallow. The pack says there are only 106 calories per 25g serving, the same as for the Coconut and Raspberry. The Salted Caramel only has 81 calories per serving. All 3 are a source of fibre as they contain wholegrains, so the fact we ate copious amounts of them must make us extra healthy, right? Well in my ideal world it does 🙂 The Salted Caramel was the perfect blend of sweetness and saltiness. I find some salted caramels far too salty, and I’m really not a salt fan, but this popcorn was beautiful. I had received 2 packs of that flavour, so I was kind and let the boys take one upstairs to enjoy. The Coconut and Raspberry was amazing too. Some pieces seemed to have a stronger coconut flavour with a hint of raspberry, and some were the other way round,  but the overall taste was beautiful. All 3 flavours had wonderful aftertastes too. I will definitely be buying all of these. We often have “cinema nights” in our house at weekends, so I will stock up with these for those nights too.

We decided to put our face masks on after the film so that we could enjoy the film without having to stop it to rinse them off. (This slightly scared my puppy who must have thought 2 ghosts had appeared with our white faces, but then he tried to lick them off, so we moved from the sofa to the table so he couldn’t jump up to our faces). The hot chocolates had long disappeared and we had moved on to Baileys over ice. The Choc Mallow popcorn went really well with that! Both lovely creamy tastes. We chatted about life, the universe and everything and put the world to rights. It was such a special night with all the ingredients of perfection… scrummy food, indulgent drinks, good film, a bit of pampering, and lots of laughter.

Butterkist, you gave me the perfect excuse to spend quality time with a fab friend, and when she left at the end of the night we both agreed we had really needed that! So thank you.

So now I have a month and a half left on my Movies Pass, which means lots more popcorn-fuelled nights coming up! Heaven 🙂

DISCLAIMER: Butterkist kindly sent me all of the products used for free in exchange for a report of my girly night. This in no way influenced my views though as I believe in honesty in all my posts. I would never recommend something I did not like or approve of. 

Banoffee Cookies… November’s BakedIn Baking Club

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I’ll be honest, I wasn’t particularly excited about making this month’s Baking Club bake. I know, it’s a terrible thing to say but it’s the truth. The box arrived a couple of days ago, conveniently dropping through my letterbox so there was no waiting around for it to be delivered. The first thing that I saw was the lovely bright new packaging… a beautiful green which made it stand out from the boring brown envelopes which arrived with it.

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I get really excited to open this box each month to discover what wonderful recipe I will be baking. I am a huge fan of Michel Roux, so to receive all the dry ingredients I need to create one of his exclusive recipes is just a joy. I opened this box with my usual eagerness and after opening the lovely paper that the ingredients are wrapped in, I saw the one word I usually really don’t like… banoffee. I have a huge sweet tooth but I have never found a banoffee recipe of any description that hasn’t been disgustingly sickly and far too sweet. So, in all honesty, my heart sank a little when I opened this box.

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How silly was I? I should have known this would be different! After all, in all the time I have been subscribing to the Baking Club, there hasn’t been a single bad recipe. I can honestly say with my hand on my heart, these cookies are ridiculously scrumptious! The perfect amount of sweetness, not sickly at all, but bursting with flavour and texture. They contain fresh banana as well as dried banana chips for amazing flavour, and delicious fudge pieces for texture and indulgence. I like cookies to be chewy not crunchy, and these were perfect. Lovely and chewy and moist, with a little crunch from the dried banana on top. All finished off with a drizzle of white chocolate on top. They were delicious still warm from the oven, and they were delicious cooled completely. In a word… Heaven!

I have loved BakedIn Baking Club from the instant I received my very first recipe box, and this month I love them even more for introducing me to a banoffee recipe I can finally enjoy! I will be making these cookies again and again as we all really really enjoyed them. That’s the beauty of this Club. The recipes come with ingredients pre-weighed for you, but the recipe card clearly tells you how much of each ingredient you have so you can make them whenever you want to in the future too. I keep all my recipe cards from them in a folder so I know where to find them quickly.

I cannot tell you the amazing recipe that I used to make these treats, as it is exclusive to BakedIn and it wouldn’t be fair. However if you would like to join the Baking Club and receive these fantastic recipe kits for yourself, click HERE to receive your first box for the incredible price of just £1.99! After that, it costs just £7.99 per month which includes postage. Well worth every little penny.

Happy Baking!

BakedIn Baking Club…. Autumnal Spiced Blackberry Muffins

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I really look forward to my BakedIn Baking Club box arriving each month. The chance to bake something delicious using a recipe created exclusively by Michel Roux for BakedIn is just so exciting, and I love the anticipation of what each recipe might be.

The October box was a beautiful Spiced Blackberry Muffin recipe. The eagle-eyed readers amongst you will have noticed I used blueberries instead. Here’s why. I had gone with a friend and my son to pick some blackberries not long before this kit arrived, and had found a perfect place with an abundance of big juicy berries. As we were about to start picking them though, an elderly gentleman approached us and told us we should leave them. We thought he was joking but it quickly became apparent he wasn’t, as he proceeded to go on and on about how they were food for the birds. We did tell him there were more than enough for the birds and for us and if we didn’t pick some they’d just go rotten there were so many, but he just wouldn’t leave us alone, saying “Birds can’t go to Tesco”. He was so rude and his manner was so unfriendly, he was actually making us feel very uncomfortable, so we decided to abandon our berry picking. I went to Tesco to buy some the next day, only to find they weren’t selling them any more! I searched for any bushes locally as the perfect place we had found was miles away on a nice day out, but sadly the berries had all gone. Luckily the helpful BakedIn team told me that this recipe would work with blueberries too, so that is what I had to use. I will be making these again next year though as soon as I spot ripe blackberries around!

The Baking Club kit arrived as always in a box that fits perfectly through the letterbox. It contained all the dry ingredients needed for the recipe, already weighed out and placed in numbered packages to make following the recipe card simple. It also contained a handy butter measure guide, the recipe card, a skewer, and squares of baking paper.

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The baking paper squares were to make muffin cases out of, which I thought was wonderful. They ended up looking like the lovely tulip muffin cases you can buy, but were so easy to make! I just needed a glass that was the same width as the cups in my muffin tray, which I had, and then it was a simple task of folding the paper around the bottom of the glass. It didn’t take long at all to get them all made and placed in the trays ready for the mixture.

The instructions were, as always, very clear and easy to follow. You really can’t go wrong with these kits. I would say they are completely foolproof. The kitchen had the most amazing aroma of cinnamon and almond while I was preparing and baking these. It felt very Autumnal and cosy. The recipe made 20 muffins, which was great as they were so delicious they disappeared rapidly!

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The addition of cinnamon pearl sugar on the top added a beautiful sweet and spicy crunch. They really were scrumptious!

I don’t believe in giving much away about these recipes as they are exclusive to the Baking Club, but I can say in the months I’ve subscribed there hasn’t been a single recipe I haven’t loved. It is so easy to get stuck in a rut of just baking the same things for convenience, so this Club is a great way to try new bakes you might not otherwise have come across. It is ideal too for those days when you really want to bake but time is short. The fact the ingredients are weighed out for you cuts out so much preparation time, so you can just get on with the fun part. I tend to do mine with my 9 year old son, as the recipe card is so easy to follow. A perfect way to spend quality time with your family, and a great way to bring everyone together to enjoy the end results!

Christmas is fast approaching, and if there’s someone you are struggling to find a gift idea for, why not buy them a Baking Club subscription? It would make  a beautiful gift for any occasion. How about a house warming present? Give someone the smell of home baking to fill their house every month, along with a sense of pride and achievement when they have created something delicious.

The Baking Club subscription costs £7.99 per month, including postage. That is already a fantastic price, but the lovely BakedIn team are so sure you will love their Club, they are letting you have your first box for the crazy price of just £1.99!!! You can cancel at any time should you want to (although I doubt you will).

To get your first box for the ridiculously low price of £1.99, click HERE to join the Club using the discount code they will provide on that page. Happy Baking!

October Degustabox …. The Taste of Autumn

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I absolutely adore Degustabox. A monthly box of food and drink items and you have no idea what you are getting until the day it arrives…. what’s not to like? The October box had an Autumnal theme and it was one of my favourites to date! It featured some brands I was familiar with but also some I hadn’t seen or tried before. I get really excited about trying new products, and Degustabox has led me to some fantastic items I have gone on to buy regularly. So let’s see what was in this box…

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  • ROBINSONS SQUASH’D… I received the Orange flavour of this super concentrated squash. We are already a huge fan of these in our house. They come in a range of flavours but so far this is our favourite one. They are sugarfree and only have 3 calories per 250ml serving so they are a healthier soft drink to give to your children. What I particularly love about them too is the fact that you can carry them around in your bag if you want to. If you have a water fountain at your place of work but you find water boring, keep one of these in your bag. A quick squeeze into your water and you have a lovely refreshing flavoured drink. Perfect for picnics too if everyone likes different flavoured drinks. Rather than make up several bottles of more than one flavour of squash which would really weigh you down, just take a bottle of water and a couple of these and you have a happy family. The RRP of these is £2.49, which is great value as you only need a tiny amount per drink.

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  • IAM SOUPER… These soups are high in protein, which means you feel full for longer. They have no artificial nasties, and are low in fat so perfect for people on calorie-controlled diets. I received Pulled Pork and Jalapenos, and Supergreens flavours. They were so tasty! I had the Supergreens one and my partner took the Pulled Pork one to work for his lunch. He said it was delicious, as was the one I ate. Chunky and satisfying and full of flavour. I love the name of them too… what a fantastic affirmation “I am Super”. Well you are, and so is the soup. The RRP is £1.49.

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  • MAGGI FUSIAN NOODLES… I received Aromatic Spiced Curry, and Fiery Sweet Chilli flavours, but you can also get Classic Chow Mein. These are super quick and easy to prepare and can be eaten on their own as they are packed with flavour, or you can add them to a stir fry. These are different to other instant noodle brands as these have a sachet of infused oil, seasoning and vegetables which you make up first by mixing with water, and then you add the noodles. That makes the flavour much more authentic. I have to say I was really impressed with these and will be looking out for these in the shops. The RRP is £1.39.

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  • JIM JAMS… I can’t tell you how happy I was to see this in the box! My son let out a little excited squeal, as this is now a regular purchase in our house thanks to being introduced to it in a previous Degustabox. I received the Milk Chocolate Spread, but you can also get one with hazelnuts to make it taste more like another big brand of chocolate spread. The first time we ever tried this we were knocked out by how good it was. It has 83% less sugar than the other brand, and is gluten free and diabetic friendly. We did a blind taste test last time, as at the time I had the other brand in my cupboard so we could compare them. Jim Jams came out on top for flavour, creaminess, sweetness… in short I honestly think this is the best chocolate spread you can buy. As a parent it is great to know it won’t rot my son’s teeth and cause all manner of sugar-related health problems too. I buy this regularly with no guilt and the other brand hasn’t been seen in my house since first trying Jim Jams. Mix it with hot milk for a yummy hot chocolate, mix it in buttercream for the creamiest chocolate cake topping, spread it on toast, use it to sandwich 2 cakes together, dip breadsticks or strawberries in to it for a grown up Choc Dip, the possibilities are endless. The RRP is £2.59. It is available in Tesco and Holland and Barrett.

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  • PASQUIER PITCH CHOCO BARRE… This is a French snack now recently available in the UK. We LOVED these! They are little brioche buns with a miniature bar of milk chocolate in the middle. Not melted chocolate, but an actual bar! The brioche was so soft and sweet and delicious, and the chocolate was wonderfully creamy tasting. Put them both together and you have an amazing treat! You get 4 in the pack and each is individually wrapped to keep them fresh. I could easily have eaten all 4 in one go they were so yummy, but I was good and shared them 🙂 I will definitely be looking out for these in the shops. The RRP is £1.40 per pack of 4.

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  • HERSHEY’S COOKIES’N’CREME… This was a king sized bar of scrumptiousness! Creamy white chocolate with crushed up cookies mixed in. Imagine an Oreo biscuit but with the cream on the outside and the chocolate cookie bit in the middle…. that’s what this reminded me of. It was sweet and indulgent and impossible to resist. There’s not much else to say about it really except is was sooooooo good and I need to buy more! The RRP is £1.00.

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  • YUSHOI SNAPEA RICE STICKS… This Japanese inspired snack is made from baked green peas and rice. I received the Lightly Salted flavour and absolutely loved them! They look like pea pods with a crispy rice coating, and that’s what they are! They have no artificial colours or flavours and are high in fibre and a good source of protein. Each pack contains 5 servings (unless you are a pig like me) and each serving only has 91 calories. I am not a fan of salt and sometimes find that even lightly salted foods contain too much, but these had the perfect amount. Just enough to taste without overpowering the delicious flavour of the pea and rice. I have since bought more of these from Tesco, I enjoyed them that much. The RRP is £1.99.

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  • LEVI ROOTS SMOKEY BBQ COAT’N’COOK SAUCE… I love this type of sauce. Ideal for busy days when time is limited to prepare a meal from scratch. No need to marinade, it provides instant flavour. You just pour it over chicken, fish or ribs, and pop it in the oven. Easy! I used it on chicken and it was delicious. Many of this type of BBQ sauce are mild but this one had more of a kick from Scotch bonnet chillies. My son likes mild flavours so this was a bit too hot for him, but my partner and I loved it. It has no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives, and the sauce is suitable for vegetarians and vegans (obviously not if used on meat though). The RRP is £1.00.

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  • BELOVED DATE FRUIT HEARTS… These very nutritious snacks are made from raw dates and other natural ingredients. You get 5 heart shaped pieces per pack, and they count as 1 of your 5 a day for fruit and vegetables. They are gluten free, high in fibre and low in fat, and have no added sugar. They come in 4 delicious flavours: Simply Divine Date (100% dates), Rich Cocoa Date (98% date, 2% cocoa powder), Cocoa and Berry Date(97.5% dates, 2% cocoa powder, 0.5% freeze dried raspberry powder), and Zesty Orange Date (dates with a hint of natural orange flavouring). They were all lovely, but I am a huge fan of dates so these were perfect. They are suitable for vegans, and one pack of 5 hearts only contains 105 calories. Guilt free snacking at it’s best. The RRP is 75p per pack.

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  • HEINZ… I received Minions dry pasta shapes, and smooth tomato pasta sauce. The pasta in particular caused much delight when my son found them in the box! Everyone loves the Minions so making pasta in their shapes was a stroke of genius. Although Luke liked inventing stories on his plate and moving the Minions around for a while acting out the stories! Eventually the Minions left the story for one reason or another so that was when he was able to eat them. He loved the shapes and he said the sauce tasted better than the sauce in tinned spaghetti. The pasta is made from half whole wheat and half durum wheat and is suitable for vegetarians. The sauce has no added salt or sugar, and no artificial colours or preservatives. Great fun for children to eat. The RRP of the sauce is £1.55 and the pasta is £1.19.

As you can see, this box had something for everyone! Familiar and unfamiliar products, sweet and savoury. Degustabox usually costs £12.99 which includes free delivery via DPD. That is already a bargain, as the products you receive are worth around double that. However, the wonderful people at Degustabox are so kind and generous they are giving you the opportunity to try your first box for just £5.99! That’s less than half the usual price!

To get this fantastic deal, click HERE to go to the website and enter the code IA7K4 at checkout. You can cancel at any time, although once you have experienced the excitement of having a mystery parcel of products, I am certain you won’t want it to stop!

 

DISCLAIMER: I received my box for free in exchange for an honest review. This doesn’t affect my opinions though and all views are my own genuine thoughts. I believe in honesty in all reviews and I would never say something was good if I didn’t believe that to be a true statement. 

 

Crafty Creatives… The Art of Papercutting

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Crafty Creatives is a fantastic subscription box which delivers an exciting craft kit to you every month. I love crafts and am keen to try out new ones, but the thought of buying loads of equipment only to discover I don’t like the craft after all scares me. That is why Crafty Creatives is so perfect! Every month you receive everything you need to complete a wonderful craft project, so you don’t have to spend a small fortune to see if you like it. I have to say though I subscribed around 6 months ago and have loved everything they have sent! Thanks to Crafty Creatives, I have made a fascinator, mosaic hearts, lip balms, a rolled wool trivet, and Hama bead coasters.

The October box was amazing! I have seen some stunning works of art made from papercutting and have admired their intricacy. I had wanted to try it but hadn’t known where to start! Luckily for me, this box gave me everything I needed to make 2 beautiful designs.

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Included in the kit were a self-healing cutting mat, a finger tip swivel knife, a picture frame, and the 2 designs to cut out along with the paper to mount them on. I was a bit nervous when I saw the swivel knife as it looked like it might be a bit tricky to get the hang of, but I was wrong thankfully. You hold it like a pen and it hooks comfortably around your finger, which makes it so easy to manoeuvre, and provides support when you move it around. The blade is what sets this knife apart from other craft knives. It turns smoothly as you change the direction of your hand! That means you can cut out any shape without having to move the paper or take the blade off the sheet. Fantastic! This box was worth having just for the knife!!!

The two designs were lovely modern ones…. words with a little symbol linked to the word. I cut out Star first as I knew I would prefer the Love one if my first attempt went wrong. I needn’t have worried though as they both turned out beautifully. I have kept Love in the frame provided and as my son is my little star, he has the star one in a frame in his bedroom.

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I definitely feel confident to carry on with papercutting projects, especially with this amazing swivel knife! It was such a therapeutic relaxing activity. Some crafts can take ages to produce finished pieces. This was relatively quick and easy, so great for people who like to see results fast!

If you want to try Crafty Creatives for yourself, click HERE to go to their website. The subscription costs £15 per month plus £2.95 for postage, and you can cancel at any time. (Not that you’ll want to)! Happy Crafting 🙂

DISCLAIMER: This is my own honest opinion of Crafty Creatives. I receive no fee/discount/compensation and I pay for my subscription in full. All views are my own.