Category Archives: shopping

Supermarket swap!

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I signed up for the Brit Mums Morrisons challenge recently.    It involved going to a Morrisons supermarket to do your shopping for the Bank Holiday weekend instead of using your regular supermarket.    Morrisons have recently introduced many price cuts, and so it was an exercise in saving money and improving quality on your regular shop.

I think I should give you some background on my view of Morrisons.   Basically, I have never been a fan!    I have found their stores to be dingy and crowded.   I do believe my negative view is as a result of that when one opened in my home town, the ceiling was extremely low, and the buzz of the lights really freaked me out, and so I just couldn’t shop in there.      I have only been in the store in Aberdeen a couple of times, and found it rather old-fashioned compared to other stores.   It was therefore a case of Morrisons starting on a back foot with me before I had even stepped foot in the store!

I did however decide to look at the store with as open a mind as I could muster, and try to push my negative thoughts to the back of my head for this exercise.

Usually our bank holiday shop would involve a roast meal, and all the trimming that went with it, but this year, I was shopping for a party for a 7-year-old, and food to barbecue and smoker for the Monday.    I went armed with my list, and an idea of the prices I would usually spend.

The first thing I noticed was the store had been opened up at the entrance, no more barriers to pass through but instead straight into a vast fresh fruit and vegetable area.       The poor quality of supermarket veg is one thing I have had many conversations with other Mums about as we try to find somewhere in our area to buy good quality, so I was very interested to see what was available.      I was more than pleasantly surprised.     The quality looked so much higher than I am used to from Asda, and the price was good too!     What really impressed me was the display of fresh herbs – something I buy a lot and usually have to buy more than I need because of picking out wilting leaves, but here, they were in a misted display, keeping them fresh.

I then continued into the butchery department.     The fresh display looked really appetising, and exceptionally fresh.     Even the packaged meat looked freshly prepared, rather than wondering how long it had been sat there.      I bought full racks of ribs at under £4 each, which I thought to be exceptional value.        The fish counter looked amazing and there was little smell, which to me says how fresh it all was.    I ordered a couple of herrings, and was very impressed with the service, as the assistant made sure I had exactly what I wanted, rather than the level of service I’m used to being lucky if they have what you want and if they do it’s just bunged into a bag and almost thrown at you.

I then entered the one department I had previously been impressed with and that was the freshly cooked counter.     The display looked fresh with chickens, and other cuts waiting – I think if I had been going straight home I could have been convinced to purchase one of them.   The availability of baked pies was amazing, both savoury and sweet.    I think there must have been something for everyone there and the price was brilliant.      I decided to order create your own pizza for our tea, as it’s always a popular one with the boys – especially M who is so fussy what he wants on his!     The service was exceptional.    When I do CYO at Asda, you choose your topping, but have it as they see fit after that and have to go away because it takes so long to make, but here, the assistant, was checking the amount of sauce, and cheese I wanted, as well as ensuring the toppings were as I wanted them.   It was made in front of me so I saw exactly what went onto it.   It really was created my way!     When M ate it, he commented on how much tastier it was than usual which really is praise from Ceaser!!

The bakery was amazing!     I happily choose bagels and rolls from the pick and mix, and at just £1 for 5, the value was brilliant.        I was looking for cakes and biscuits for the party and the choice was vast.     Everything looked so good that I could easily have filled my trolley in this department!

I had got half way around the store and was feeling as if I had totally got Morrisons wrong, and I should have believed Ant and Dec about the quality in the Market Place, but to be honest they are so annoying its hard to take anything they say seriously.       I was totally blown away by how good everything looked and how competitive the prices were.

I then came back to reality as I entered the regular aisles of the store.    The shelves were stacked high, and only a narrow walk way between them with just room for two trollies to pass..      The choice was far more limited than I am used to with only the major brands and own brand available.      I was surprised to see kids clothes in there as I didn’t know they were now doing that.     It was a real let down after the start of the shop.

It was therefore a shopping experience of two halves.    The Market Place that Morrisons spend so much time advertising is amazing, with produce that is fresh, and great value for money.     The traditional part of the shop though left a lot to be desired for me.     I would definitely shop for my fresh food if I were in the area, or if they finally rolled out the online shopping across the country, I would use the service to get the value and quality offered.

 

 

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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!

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!