Category Archives: shopping

Almost Easter.

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Now Mothers Day has passed, it is a rapid downhill to Easter.     With the kids breaking up on Friday – for some reason they go back to school on Easter Monday but don’t get me started on that one, I am busily making preparations for the holidays.

We will be away the second week of the break, but home for the first so I have been preparing things to keep the occupied during that time.

I have also turned my thoughts to Easter proper, being away for the immediate run up, means I need to have sorted it sooner rather than later.

If you are anything like me, you will have been moaning for the last three months that the shops have had Easter eggs on display since boxing day, but now it’s almost Easter and time to get organised for it, there is increasingly less choice in the shops.

I was lucky enough to be asked to take a look at the Easter range on offer from Hotel Chocolat.     Now, anyone who has read anything I have written before knows how much I love chocolate, proper chocolate, and not the stuff that comes in the purple wrapper – although that has its place if you like it overly sweet, I don’t!         I was lucky enough to try a product from their Christmas range – http://wp.me/p3tFtX-et, and I loved it.   So, when the chance came to review an item from their Easter range, I was more than happy to do so.

For those of you that haven’t been blessed with trying the chocolate, it is a touch of luxury.     It is rich and creamy, not too sweet and yet not bitter either.    Trying to describe the magic feeling you get when eating chocolate is impossible, so you’ll just have to try it for yourself, and I strongly recommend that you do!

The Easter range from Hotel Chocolat has something for everyone, and if you aren’t lucky enough to have a shop near you, their website could have you spending hours just deciding what you want as the choice is amazing!    I know I could easily spend a small fortune on there!

I must admit to being a bit of a traditionalist where Easter gifts are concerned as I like the symbolism of what the egg represents, but when I was asked to choose something from the range to try, I decided to move out of my comfort zone a little.       I asked the boys to look at the products on the site with me, and choose what they thought looked the most interesting.      There was a lot of “I wanting” as every product we looked at had something going for it, but every one agreed with me on my final choice, of Egg and chips – http://www.hotelchocolat.com/uk/shop/easter-eggs/egg-and-chips

Egg & Chips

It just looked brilliant, and who doesn’t love egg and chips?!!!

The box arrived, the packaging is beautiful making it into a special gift,  and there was total excitement in the house as we sat down to share the chocolate.     The fried egg is white chocolate – proper white chocolate with vanilla bean, and not set condensed milk, with a soft caramel yolk, under a crispy shell.      The chips are pure indulgence with smooth milk chocolate filled with amazing runny caramel and decorated with yellow coloured white chocolate – I think it would have looked better decorated in red to look like ketchup but then I am a ketchup fiend!        It was really rich, but that was a good thing, because it meant the flavour was savoured and not just rammed in.    It also meant that although there were 4 of us trying in, we only devoured half of it and saved the rest for the next day!

D was so enamoured by it, he said I was to get his Easter egg from them as the chocolate was so much nicer than “normal” Easter eggs.    That is praise from a hard to please wee man, but I believe I must be raising my children properly if they prefer real chocolate!

I would say something like this is for that special someone as are all the products from Hotel Chocolat as they aren’t your cheapy chocolate you buy in every other shop.      This is a high quality product and you are therefore paying for such.   The Egg and chips is £14, so not cheap, but definitely value for money, because it is chocolate that adds the touch of luxury to your day.     There are products in their range that are specifically for the kids – I love the egg on toast on a stick which is just £2, but there are also eggs of all sizes and designs that would make a lovely gift for anyone.     I know I would never complain about receiving something from their range – yes that is a major hint if Hubby is reading this!!!!

I think in future I make sure I hide my Hotel Chocolat stash from everyone else as they say its good to share, I say, that’s a lovely thought but chocolate is MINE!

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Christmas Eve.

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After a week of headless chicken act, the final countdown is now in full swing, for tomorrow is the day!

Last night I wrote my list of jobs to get done today. As you know, I like my lists, and there is something very satisfying about having the jobs written on the chalk board and one by one they get removed until there is an empty board!

Hubby was given his list of jobs to do this morning, and with a bit of a kick up the bum has got them done. I know it is a holiday day for him, and he should be relaxing, but unfortunately I don’t have that luxury, and if he wants me to stop stressing, he has to pitch in.

The boys have been excellent, and D, who loves cleaning, has hoovered the living room, and then asked to use the steam cleaner on the wood flooring – now before anyone screams at me for letting a six-year-old use a potentially dangerous piece of kit, D is a rule follower, and before he uses it, we go through the rules of keeping on the floor, and making sure it is nowhere near toes, and he looks at me as if to say we don’t have to go through this everytime. The floor looks beautiful. M was in charge of putting away things that have been dumped on the sofa – for some reason Old person thinks everything needs to be piled on the corner of the sofa and it often gets the stage that there is no where for bums, it drives me mad!

Old person was being Old person, until the boys guilt tripped her into helping, and she sorted the coffee table. To be fair to her she has helped more in the last half hour since everyone went out than she has in months.

My jobs have all been kitchen related. I have sorted out the bag of treasure I have been stock piling over the last few weeks, with the naughties for the festivities, the sweeties, and biscuits. I then pulled everything from the freezer that needs to defrost. I have made dinner pies as we call them, but Yorkshire puds as the rest of the world knows them. I have made a strawberry sauce to go with the roulade that we are having for tomorrows dessert. I have made pigs in blankets, and rolled bacon. I have baked a gammon with a maple glaze – which M was more than happy to be chief taster for when it came out of the oven!

I then went about the main job of preparing the bird. We are traditionalists and are having turkey, which I love. She looks good. I made a mixture of sausage meat and sage and onion stuffing. I chopped streaky bacon and mixed through butter which I have placed under the skin over the breast. I am getting hungry just writing this down!!! Then comes the one task that is so difficult every year, and that is to weigh the beast. Traditional kitchen scales never take such a big weight, and the bathroom scales are too difficult to see one the pan is on it. Then I remembered on the Wii Fit plus, there is a function for weighing your pet. Yes, you guessed it, I had to set up a profile to weigh my turkey!! Luckily nobody saw me, as I’m sure I looked a total nit holding a baking tray with a stuffed turkey, while standing on the wii board! I got my reading and have been able to calculate the time to put in the oven in the morning.

There is just one job left to do, and that is prep the veg. I have it all  out across the work surface, ready to go.

Basically tomorrow, all I want to do, is switch things on. The only time I want to spend in the kitchen is when I’ve had enough of everyone else and need to hide!

Hubby and the boys have headed over to his mothers to collect her as she is staying with us for a few days. I have made sure we have lots of brandy as a few of those in her and she is slightly more bearable! They will come home via Dominoes, and I actually get an evening off from cooking!!!!

In the mean time I am so grateful to the local radio station for all the cheesy Christmas songs its been playing today. There is nothing more likely to get you in the mood for the holidays than Shakey, and Wham! Problem is the boys have kept coming into the kitchen to check I’m alright as I sing at the top of my voice!!!

But in the words of the Mr Stevens – Merry Christmas Everyone!

Unrealistic Christmas!

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With the big day fast approaching and most jobs crossed off my list, I find new things to panic about towards getting Christmas organised.

In our house it came to a head yesterday when I finally let rip because nobody else seemed to care that the big day was fast approaching and the house looked like a pig sty. Now, I openly admit, I am not a house proud person. My house is always clean but it is messy. You know the old saying that a tidy house is the sign of a bored person, well, I must be the most mentally active person I know then! So, while I don’t mind all the boys toys thrown in a heap, the heap has to be in the place the toys live, which in our house in under the stairs. Old person really annoys me because rather than put things away, she will just move them about – we call it that she is playing chess again! I do however like the house to look presentable when there are people coming, and with Hubbys Mum staying with us over the holidays, it has to be done. Yesterday as fast as I tidied one area, two were turned upside down, and I finally exploded. I told everyone that if they didn’t care about getting organised for Christmas, then why should I? I also went as far as saying that if nobody was willing to help, then this would definitely be the last year that I bothered! At this point I went upstairs to strip beds and tidy there – the boys have invited half the town to drop in over the holidays which I think is great, so I thought I should knock and inch of dust of their shelves and pick up all the books and magazines – although I did get in trouble for moving them! I also gutted the bathroom, as my MIL will be moaning anyway that we haven’t had the shower fixed without also needing more negativity! When I finally returned downstairs, the living room was tidy ish. They hadn’t done much but had made an effort.

This got me thinking about the pressure we put upon ourselves to make the perfect day. Is there such a thing as a perfect day? I think it is all an illusion we want to believe in from some sappy movie we have seen. After all, we rarely get a white Christmas, but believe it should be, and likewise we believe in a perfect family Christmas.

A friend of mine, also commented on Facebook yesterday, that she hadn’t signed up to be a slave and yet that was what her family were expecting of her – there were plenty of comments agreeing that is was a shared feeling at the moment.

Is the weekend before Christmas the time we say enough is enough?

But is this not part of being a Mum? Now all you guys out there, don’t start shouting at me about how men do things towards the festivities, and the single Dad families, I know all that, and I am not putting these people down, but traditionally the role falls to Mum, and despite the changing face of women in the workplace, there is still evidence that the majority of work within the home falls to the woman, and we a silly enough not to be working to change that!

We, as the principal care giver in the home, take it upon ourselves to get it right. I know I want the perfect day for everyone. It’s not about me, I suppose I am subservient by nature – anything for a quite life! We do however take on, and take on, until we can do no more – at this point I have an image of the players in cabbages and kings from Crackerjack – if you aren’t of a certain age that reference will mean nothing to you!, but by this stage everyone else has the attitude of why should they help. So does it serve us right when they don’t? No it doesn’t, but the rest of the household aren’t mind readers and can’t guess what we think is the priority to get done. I suppose we should learn to delegate but that is definitely easier said than done!

This morning, I had the food delivery. We have enough food in this house to last us until Easter probably! Its silly, and every year I say we should cut back, but just because it’s there doesn’t mean we will pig out too much. I seriously probably wont shop – other than for milk, until way into January. But to see the way people do shop does make you think of the gluttony we as a society accept. I popped into the supermarket on Friday, just for a couple of bits, and the piled high trollies were amazing, some of them real feats of how to defy gravity! You would think the shops were shut for a month and not just 36 hours! How much of that food will be wasted? I am a reuse sort of person so any leftovers become another meal. Old person loves soup and you can make that out of almost anything!! We therefore actually throw out very little wasted food, and that is a boast I am proud of.

And what about present buying. Why do we go so mental? I love buying gifts for people, there is something really satisfying about knowing it is the right thing for that person. We are however not made of money, so I do a little throughout the year. The boys don’t need anything, and so they will get a lot of little presents – the old people will comment about the amount the boys receive, but it is books, and games, not computers and electronics.

I think back to what my Christmases were like as a child, and remember the excitement of opening the first present. We were always allowed to open just one first thing, and it was always an annual which kept us busy while everyone else got organised. I remember them being happy, as my granddad would always stay, but I always remember them being long days and I would usually take myself off upstairs to write my thank you letters and get some peace mid afternoon.

I want my boys to remember these times with fondness, and so I should loosen the straps a little and not let it stress me so much because that’s not a good memory for them.

Maybe I will never be the go with the flow sort of person that just lets things happen but I think like many I should stop having such unrealistic expectations of this time of year, and just try and enjoy them a little more.