Monday, 31 October 2011

Meal Planning Monday (31st October 2011)

Happy Halloween!

I am frankly quite alarmed at how quickly October went by, and half-term for that matter. It's back to school today and back to routine - which obviously I love.

Meal planning went awry last week and I always find that it ends up costing me hugely so I am glad to get back into meal planning today and reducing my grocery bill slightly!


Week commencing 31st October 2011

Cheeseburgers and fries
Pizza
Lasagne and salad


Not very inspired this week but I am looking forward to all of them! I'm trying out a new recipe for lasagne, so will report back.

The weekend will consist of lots of sausages I should imagine as I've a Bonfire party to go to on Saturday before hosting our own on the Sunday. Phew.

What are you eating this week? Do tell! The Linky is below, join in and spread the word about Meal Planning Monday!

love & kisses
Mrs M x

Sunday, 30 October 2011

When I was young...

When I was young I looked a bit like this...


...happy, slightly grubby, playing outside with plastic toys. In fact, come to think of it, that's how I spent a lot of my childhood. Have things changed much?

Just today I was talking with the sales assistant in my local shop about "the good old days" (and I'm only 32!). A child of the 80's, or 1979 if we want to be precise, my childhood wants and needs were pretty basic and my career aspirations simple - post office worker or librarian, basically any job where I could stamp and sort stuff all day long. My 5 year old, clearly having cast her eye on one too many issues of OK magazine would like to be "a lady in a car".  Whilst I used to wish and hope for one of those guns supermarket assistants used to label up the produce, she wishes for a "mobial fon" or a mobile phone to you and I. (See exhibit 1 below).

(Apparently you colour the other bunny eye in when your wish comes true. It's going to be a long wait until 2021 sweetheart...)
When I was a baby, and I whilst I was probably busily chewing on the bars of my lead painted cot, my mother chose a rather attractive brown and orange pushchair. (I told you - it was the 70's, wasn't the whole of that decade brown and orange?). It was a cheap basic stroller, merely a means to an end, a mode of transport. My parents, having to go back to work straight-after I was born, probably couldn't afford much more than that and they didn't need to did they? It did the job perfectly well. As a child someone bought me an exact replica of that pushchair which I still have to this day, in near-perfect condition considering it's nearly 30 years old.  

(Mine is in storage, I had to borrow this from Google Images...)
When I was pregnant I found there was so much more to consider than a) does it work and b) can I afford it. When it came to buying a pushchair or a pram it was all about features - 3 wheels or 4 wheels, adjustable handles, shopping baskets, clocks, cup holders, straps for putting around your wrist when you're on your morning job... Somewhere in the past few decades a pushchair has become more of a fashion accessory than a necessary evil!

And then there are the toys, oh the toys. I had toys of course, but nowhere near what my children have today. For years I longed and yearned for an A La Carte Kitchen. You know the one, I've probably mentioned it before, it's still a sore point 25 years later. It's the one where she makes beans and swiss roll for her dad's breakfast.
Yeah that one. I never got it and I was gutted. Hence, my daughter was furnished with a toy kitchen for her 2nd birthday, and obviously hasn't appreciated it nearly enough. Then there were the other things I wanted but never got like a Mr Frosty and a Barbie Dream House.  I had to make do with one lonesome baby doll, a couple of Keepers and a secondhand Casio keyboard but I did however become the proud owner of Dream Glow Barbie. Does anyone remember her? Oh how I cherished that doll. It now sits on the shelf in my little girls room and get this - it still glows! My daughter obviously has about 27 Barbie dolls already, and still wants more...
(Okay, so she's a bit grubby and she's lost a press-stud on the back of her dress but she still glows...)

Time in front of the TV was limited, normally only a short period after school or on a Saturday morning, watching He-Man, Dangermouse and The Pink Windmill. We only had a small window in which to watch TV because there were no dedicated channels and no real choice - if you didn't like The Mysterious Cities of Gold it was pretty much tough as there was no flicking over to see if there was something better on Cartoon Network!  For my children, they have TV programmes for them that are on 24/7 with endless dedicated channels and I regularly get asked to "pause it" whilst they go to the loo.

Most of my weekend time was spent outdoors, either in the garden or outside in the street riding bikes, collecting conkers or playing french cricket with the local kids, we were left to our own devices a lot and if we were ever bored it was up to use to entertain ourselves, not our parents. These days I feel that I am constantly trying to find things to occupy my children and sometimes feel like an underpaid, undervalued version of Mary Poppins.

Looking back on my own childhood and comparing what I had then to what my children have now, one thing stands out for me. We had less, but what we did have we loved, appreciated and took better care of.

Would love to hear about how your childhood differs from that of your kiddies!


love & kisses
Mrs M x

Friday, 28 October 2011

Honey Sesame Chicken


Oh. Em. Gee.

That's all I am going to say about this.

Okay, not really but honestly, wow. This Honey Sesame Chicken was amazeballs.  I stumbled across this recipe on the fantastic My Kitchen Snippets blog when I was specifically looking for a honey chicken recipe. I had amazing honey chicken when at Yak and Yeti at Disneyworld in Florida this summer and ever since have been craving it so I thought I'd have a go at making some myself.  For some reason honey chicken just doesn't seem so prevalent here in the UK as it is in the US but it should be!

I can't put into words how much Mr M and I loved this, he was especially impressed with my kitchen prowess... For sure, this one is a complete keeper.

I am reposting the recipe but you can see the original here. The only things I have changed is a few American-isms (is that even a word? it is now). The recipe below will serve 2.

Honey Sesame Chicken

Ingredients

3 chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp Chinese rice wine
1/2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp cornflour
Salt & pepper to taste

For the sauce;
3 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
2 tbsp tomato ketchup
1-2 tbsp honey (depending on how sweet you like it, I used 1.5)
1 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp light soy sauce
60ml water 

Toasted sesame seeds

Method

Marinate the chicken with the soy sauce, wine, sugar, sesame oil, salt and pepper and set aside for at least an hour. Just before frying mix the two types of flour together and mix it into the chicken.

Prepare the oil for frying (Although the recipe doesn't specify, I shallow-fried). Fry the chicken until golden brown, remove from the pan and drain on a paper towel. Remove the oil from the pan.

Mix all the sauce ingredients together and pour it into the pan. Bring it to the boil and let the sauce thicken a little.

Add the chicken back in and mix gently until the chicken pieces are evenly coated with the sauce. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and serve immediately with warm white rice.

I do hope you try this, it might be my favourite recipe of all time!

love & kisses
Mrs M x

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Autumn/winter dress trends for yummy mummies


Once again the shops are full of fabulous trend-led pieces for the new season, but what should you look for if you want a new frock that will stand the test of time and motherhood? Guest blogger Jo-ann Fortune highlights three autumn/winter trends that are worth investing in.

Daytime dressing
Paul Costello was among the top name designers to showcase textured woollen dresses at London Fashion Week earlier this year, with tweed and knits proving key to autumn/winter’s heritage trend. Oversized jumpers are also making a comeback as the grunge look returns to the fashion forefront. But the figure-hugging jumper dress and tailored kick-flare dress make much more flattering choices. Look out for neutral colours, cable knits and cute collar details for pieces that will form a great base for on-trend day-time outfits.

Day-to-night chic
Meadham Kirchoff, Emilio Pucci and Clements Ribeiro all championed delicate lace dresses on the fashion week runways, from white minis to black and gold baroque beauties. Of course, black is always the most practical option, and this season’s selection of black lace dresses with half- and full- sleeve detail make for the perfect day-to-night piece.   Wear with leggings and boots in the day, and swap for tights and heels for a sophisticated evening look. Switching handbags – from your everything-but-the-kitchen-sink day-time holdall to a statement clutch bag – can also help make all the difference.

Evening glamour
When it comes to choosing your Christmas party dress this year, take a lead from the likes of fashion big-hitters YSL and Paul & Joe and inject some Studio 54 glamour into your getup. Invest in a luxe jewel-tone maxi dress or floor-sweeping gown with Seventies’ pussy-bows, bell sleeves or Grecian draping that will hide all manner of Christmas sins. Rouched detailing around the waist can also help nip you in and create a flattering silhouette. And when it comes to shopping the women’s shoes department, go for velvet or suede wedges or jewelled flats if you need to be more practical.   



Dresses pictured, left to right:  Clements Ribeiro, Damsel in a Dress & Betty Jackson, all available at John Lewis

love & kisses
Mrs M x

**This is a sponsored post**

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Product Review: Hexbug Nano Spiral Starter Set

If you don't know what a Hexbug is let me tell you that they are a battery-operated micro robotic creature. There is a few different types of Hexbug and what I am specifically talking about here is the Hexbug Nano. The Nano behaves like a real bug, it can flip itself over and back again.  Apparently if you have a few of them together they'll interact with each other! There are lots of different colours available, some rarer than others, which make them a collectible toy.  My 4 year old son has been eyeing up these Hexbugs for some time so when I was asked by www.find-me-a-gift.co.uk whether I would live to review a Hexbug set how could I say no?

Along with the actual little bugs there is a range of sets which enhance the Hexbug experience. I was sent the Spiral Starter Set which once assembled looks a bit like this;



The Spiral Starter kit comes complete with one rare Hexbug Nano to start you off and helps you create your own world for your Hexbug. You can use the pieces in the kit to build it in different ways or change the path and I was pleased to discover that you can connect the Spiral Starter kit to any of the other kits that are available to make one giant bug habitat - hours of fun!  The kit which comprises of about 25 pieces was quick and easy to put together and is not as big (thankfully!) as it looks on the picture as those critters are only small!

As I could have predicted, my son loved this as it was great fun. He loves the way they scuttle around the floor but I have to admit to being very keen on the kits because I can see how these would easily scurry underneath the fridge if you're not careful and I think the habitats help to contain them!  The only problem I've got is that now he wants MORE Nano bugs and I do think that having more than one bug would definitely add to the fun in a big way. I guess he'll just have to wait and see what Father Christmas delivers...

The Spiral Starter Set is available from Find Me A Gift at is priced at £20.99.

love & kisses
Mrs M x

Monday, 24 October 2011

Meal Planning Monday (24th October 2011)

I don't know about you but I'm really surprised that it's Monday again! This week is not getting off to a good start - it's half-term, I have the makings of a cold and the start of a migraine. Nice combo, huh? I'm doing what any self-respecting mother would do - dragging the children to the supermarket this morning and letting them run wild in the sweetie aisle.

In terms of meal planning, there is a plan this week. It all went a bit crazy last week but I did make the most delicious honey sesame chicken which I will share with you on the blog this week.  

There's only one night I am not planning for this week and that's because we're going to a funeral tomorrow and will no doubt over-indulge on the buffet, plus we're going on a Christmas shopping trip to Smyths in the evening whilst the children are with my parents and we'll no doubt stop off and get nibbles on the way back.

Here's my plan!


Week commencing 24th October 2011

Garlic chilli chicken and rice
Jamie Oliver fajitas from Ministry of Food
Posh fishfinger sarnie
Spaghetti con gamberetti e rucola 

I'm also going to be looking for another Chinese inspired meal as I enjoyed cooking that honey chicken last week, and there will no doubt be some baking.

Linky below - tell me what you're having!

love & kisses
Mrs M x



Sunday, 23 October 2011

Restaurant Review: Miller & Carter Poole


When we were recently on a trip to Poole we needed to find somewhere to eat out with the children and after a quick search on the internet and my old trusty friend (Tripadvisor) we decided to try the Miller & Carter Steakhouse in Poole. Note: This review is a bit gushing but I assure you, they have not paid me for this post, it all came out of my own pocket!

I'd never heard of the Miller & Carter brand (but I now know they are part of the Mitchells & Butlers group) but the website and menu looked smart and impressive, so completely judging a book by its cover we thought we'd give it a whirl. It was situation in an area of Poole that I'd not really frequented before in what I believe, used to be a Beefeater restaurant.

Our first impression was that it was very quiet. It was a Sunday teatime and I expected it to be busier so this immediately made me a little nervous however with hindsight I think this might be down to its location - it's quite far out of the town and you definitely have to drive there. 

Obviously it being quiet worked to our advantage - we got seated in a very nice booth straightaway.  Our waitress sorted us out with our drinks very quickly whilst we perused the menu.  The children's menu sounded lovely with a good selection of meals - even a rump steak! Mine opted for the grilled chicken breast and the other had the chicken burger. Having sampled  a bit of their meal I can confirm that the grilled chicken was delicious!

We decided to skip starters and for his main Mr M chose the gammon and free-range eggs which came a flat mushroom and fries (£9.95). He was very pleased with choice, everything was cooked well and tasted lovely. I opted for steak. It's always a risky choice when you eat out as I have had more than one ropey gristly steak before now and get one that is cooked to your liking can also be tricky. It's for this reason that Mr M normally avoids steak. Well, he was jealous.  

Okay, so that is a really rubbish iPhone photo but you get the gist. It's not it's best side - as it's best side is over there *points behind sauce pot to the onion loaf*.

I chose the 8oz rump steak which was cooked to my liking (medium-well done) to perfection with hardly a bit of fat on it. But that's not the best bit. The steaks at Miller & Carter are a treat to behold! Not only do they come with parsley butter, seasoned fries (or jacket potato) but they also come with a slice of the most delicious onion loaf and a huge wedge of iceberg lettuce with your choice of topping. I opted for caesar dressing with croutons but other options included garlic & chive mayo with parmesan, stilton and bule cheese, classic cocktail sauce and croutons or bacon with honey mustard dressing.  I thought the wedge of lettuce was a very cheap, simple idea but very effective. We're all big lettuce eaters in our house, so it went down a storm!
The impressive wedge of lettuce.

There is also a good selection of steak sauces - bearnaise, bordelaise (which I had - it was delish!), peppercorn, Red wine & shallot, blue cheese mushroom & bacon, hickory maple BBQ sauce and five mushroom chasseu.

We didn't stay for dessert although I totally wish we had! Banoffee pie, eton mess, chocolate brownie, lemon tart...to name but a few! We also ended up wishing we'd tried some of the starters!

We enjoyed the whole experience at Miller & Carter Poole so much - the pub was lovely, staff were really nice, friendly and helpful and the food was just lovely. We loved it so much we immediately got on to the internet to see if there was one near home and were pleased to discover there is, with another one a bit closer opening soon. No doubt we'll be regulars!

love & kisses
Mrs M x

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Rein-ing myself in...


Did you see what I did there? Did you? No? Gah. This is a Christmas blog post about stopping myself buying too much and that was meant to be a pun, you know, reindeers. These things shouldn't need to be explained, huh?

I've started my Christmas shopping. So far I've only bought for the kids but oh my life, there is so much out there that I want to buy I'm having difficulty holding myself back and I'm wondering if this is a problem for anyone else? It's not helped by the fact that I love to see a huge pile of presents under the tree on Christmas morning. Mr M is starting to suspect that I get more out of this present-buying malarky than anyone else...

What have I bought? Fur Real Friends, Barbies, Sylvanian Families, Playmobil, board games, remote controlled spiders, make-up, DVDs, books, magic wands and tricks, Hot Wheels tracks and Huggle Buddies. Then there are the things I haven't bought yet - remote controlled dinosaurs,  letter writing sets, rubber stamps, the obligatory socks and pyjamas, Hex bugs, spy planes... My kids are spoilt. RUINED. (I've drawn the line at Zhu Zhu Pets).

Thankfully my kids are still young so it means I can get them lots of presents. I dread the day when they want one expensive item like an iPod or Nintendo DS. That will be no fun for me at all! I like shopping, I like wrapping presents and I like watching them being opened. One little box under the tree on Christmas morning just won't do it for me.

I realise with over two months to go I need to slow down a tad, at this rate my house will rival a ToysRUs store by Christmas Eve, plus it's getting mighty expensive - those Sylvanian Families are not cheap! However I do still feel compared to some of my friends that their children get bought way more than mine - I still think I am being quite restrained. (My husband says otherwise).

Please tell me I am not alone in my present-shopping obsession?! There must be other freaks kind and generous mothers out there.

love & kisses
Mrs M x

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Quick Steak & Mushroom Stroganoff


Mr M isn't really a fan of stroganoff, or at least he thinks he isn't, so I don't tell him that's what he's having. Clever huh? 

This is a recipe I came across in a copy of Easycook magazine recently and it looked quick so I thought I'd give it ago. It was very simple and didn't take much time to knock together, bar the chopping of meat and veggies. The actual cooking time was quite short. I don't know how authentic it is as a stroganoff, probably not very, but we certainly enjoyed it. It wasn't my favourite meal ever but it'll stay in the memory bank and will be made again.

The recipe serves 2, but clearly it's an easy one to double if you want to make more. I served this with a plate of fluffy white rice and some crusty bread.

Quick Steak & Mushroom Stroganoff

Ingredients

1tbsp oil
1 red onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 green pepper, chopped
200g mushrooms, sliced
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
150ml red wine 
150ml beef stock
200g lean rump steak, sliced
150ml creme fraiche

Method

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the onion for a few minutes, until soft. Add the garlic and paprika to the pan and cook for 1-2 minutes until fragrant.

Add the pepper and the mushrooms to the pan and fry for a further 5 minutes, until softened. Add the red wine vinegar, the Worcestershire sauce and the red wine.  Boil for around 5 minutes to reduce by half. Add the stock and bubble on a high heat for about 2 minutes until the liquid has thickened slightly.

Add the sliced steak and cook gently for around 3 minutes, depending on how you like your steak cooked.  Finally remove from the heat, stir in the creme fraiche and season to taste.

love & kisses
Mrs M x

Monday, 17 October 2011

Meal Planning Monday (17th October 2011)

Hi guys!  


Sorry I am a bit late with this weeks blog post. I'd like to say I've been ridiculously busy but in reality I've been drinking tea with one of my friends. Sorry about that.

Anyhow, I haven't formulated a plan yet. This doesn't mean there won't be one, there will be but right now it depends on what is in the cupboards. Yes. I'm having one of THOSE weeks.

My kitchen cupboards are a mess, a complete mess and I'm going to try using things up so I know it will involve Nasi Goreng, possibly Red Thai and definitely some Massaman. In fact it could just be a whole week of curry! (Which, lets face it, is no real bad thing...).

Tell me what you're having! Linky is below as normal.


love & kisses
Mrs M x


Friday, 14 October 2011

Interview with Emma Forbes + giveaway of her brand new book!


I was recently given the opportunity to ask the very lovely Emma Forbes some questions about her soon-to-be-published book on entertaining.

Emma's new book "Life & Soul" published by Ivy Press, builds on her hugely successful website Forbes Style - a source of inspiration for stylish living covering a variety of subjects such as food, homes, fashion, parenting, travel health and well-being.

Keen to create something tangible to document her pearls of wisdom, Emma has built on the tips that have gained her devoted followers on the popular Forbes Style TV YouTube channel and created a glossy bible for entertaining. Emma invites the reader into her stunning home to share tips taken from the fabulous parties she is renowned for by her friends and family. The result is 192 pages of beautiful imagery, insightful advice and creative ideas that give even the smallest party a big personality, on any budget.


From choosing an inspiration theme and decorating the venue through to collating trinkets for guests to take away with them and, most importantly, Life & Soul draws on Emma's experience as a semi-finalist on BBC Masterchef to recommend recipes for mouth-watering food that will keep guests coming back for more.

Here, I chat to Emma about what inspired the book and her best party-planning tips.

Emma, what inspired you to write this book? Have you always loved throwing parties?
What inspired me to write this book was really off the back of my website - www.forbesstyle.com - as it's developing into more of a lifestyle website, and the book seemed a natural progression. That and the fact that I love throwing parties - I have always adored doing my kids parties and love putting together everything to do with them.

How do you come up with your party ideas?
Well, I love a theme - and if I have a theme whether it be someones age, or a subject, I then have something to work with. Themes are great - ones like Halloween or Christmas are a gift as you instantly have a theme!

Have you noticed any new party trends coming through?
Recent trends are things like fancy dress. I have noticed a lot more people have gone towards a retro theme - 60s and 70s.

If you could throw any type of party, what would be your dream event?
My dream event would be to organise a wedding - I think I could get truly carried away on the whole theme and have a ball!!!

What are the most important things to remember on the day of a party?
The most important thing to remember on the day of a party - timings. Plan your day out so that you know what should be done and when, and also make sure that you factor in your own time to get yourself ready!

Have you ever planned a particularly challenging party? What lessons have you learned?
I guess my most challenging party was my daughters 13th - the first teen party! A lesson that I have learned is that less is more with teens - they love to just get together and chat, so they don't need much entertainment - the days of entertainers end when they hit their teens.  I did a neon themed party and it worked a treat.

Do you have any cost-saving tips for people with limited budgets?
Plan out what you want to prioritise and work backwards. You can make some delicious food but with inexpensive ingredients and it goes a long way. If you want to save on things like canapes with drinks, then doing cool buckets of popcorn is effective and just as delicious.

What is the best party-planning tip you can offer?
The best tip I can offer is to not leave everything until the last minute. By planning ahead you save time, money and you get to enjoy the party yourself!


Now. How would you like to win a signed copy of Emma's new book?

How to enter...

If you'd like to get your hands on a copy of Emma's new book "Life & Soul"  all you have to do is leave a comment below telling me if you were holding your dream party what theme would you have?  Please could you also drop me a quick email me at hello@athomewithmrsm.com so that I am able to contact the winner.

After the giveaway has ended your email address will be deleted and not used for any other purpose. This giveaway is only open to those in the UK. Sorry!

The giveaway closes on Friday 28th October 2011 at 5.00pm and the winner will be chosen at random.

love & kisses
Mrs M x

Emma Forbes is the founder of lifestyle website www.forbesstyle.com, the ultimate destination for gift inspiration.

Her new book, Life & Soul, is a bible for entertaining and is released in October.
Published by: Ivy Press
Price: £20.00
ISBN: 978-1-907332-86-9

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Florida Fun


I have been meaning to blog about our trip to Florida in August ever since we came back but it's just not something I've got around to because there is SO much to say about it. We stayed at Disneyworld for two whole weeks and I'm sure you can imagine how much you see and do in that time! I've decided now that I'll do a highs/lows & tips/hints type post in the near future but for now I thought I'd just share a few snaps to give you the overall gist of it! (I say "a few" obviously I mean a TON, so no falling asleep at the back...)

OUR HOLIDAY

We stayed here:

Port Orleans Riverside Resort in Walt Disney World, Orlando

There was A LOT of this:

Dessert from the Prime Time Cafe, a Mickey Cookie the size of your head from the Main Street Bakery, Fried Wontons (skewers of pineapple & cream cheese wontons, vanilla ice cream and honey vanilla drizzle) to die for at Yak & Yeti, chocolate cake with Mickey sprinkles from the food court at Port Orleans - we had a lot of this.

The best steak I've ever had at Coral Reef at Epcot, amazing Honey Chicken at Yak & Yeti, The famous Dole Whip at Aloha Isle, Magic Kingdom (these are incredible, don't miss them!), bottomless (incredible!) milkshakes at Whispering Canyon Cafe, onion volcanos at Teppan Edo.

There was an ENOURMOUS amount of this:

Mickey & Minnie in the Town Square Theater, Magic Kingdom, meeting Princess Aurora in Cinderella's Castle, cuddles with Snow White, Woody, Cinderella herself at her Royal Banquet.

There were lots of shows:

"Wishes" nighttime spectacular at Magic Kingdom, Fantasmic, my favourite ever Disney show, Beauty & the Beast - outstanding, Lights Camera Action extreme stunt show now featuring non other than Lightening McQueen.

And lots of parades:

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade at Animal Kingdom, Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade at Magic Kingdom, Main Street Electrical Parade at Magic Kingdom, Pixar Pals Countdown to Fun Parade at Hollywood Studios.

There were in-room surprises from the lovely people at Disney UK (thank you very much!)

Popcorn buckets, Mickey rice crispy treats, photo frames, autograph books, teddies galore, Mickey hands, photo albums, guide books, pens...

And then there was everything else:

Seagulls that shout "Mine", dinner guests at Coral Reef (sitting next to a big aquarium whilst you eat dinner is fascinating), plenty of boat rides to Downtown Disney, animal spotting at Animal Kingdom.

Towel animals in the room left by Mousekeeping, trips on the Monorail for excitable small children, boat trips to the Magic Kingdom, water-parks & thunderstorms.

And then at the end of the day, there was this:


What a holiday! We all had an amazing time and we can't wait to go back in a couple of years time. I hope you've enjoyed seeing a little bit of what we got up to. If you've never been I thoroughly recommend it. I've now been twice (once without children) and it's a different experience every time.

I'll be back soon with some more info about our trip but in the meantime, if you do have any questions about anything Disneyworld-related, please ask!

love & kisses
Mrs M x

Hop/iTunes Review


I use iTunes all the time. I mean, all the time. I am addicted to downloading music but strangely enough I've never actually downloaded a movie. I'm not sure why, it's just never occurred to me.  Anyhow, I was recently asked if I'd like to try downloading a movie, "Hop", from iTunes. Of course I said yes and wasn't swayed by the bottle of wine and box of chocolates they sent me at all. Nor the Hop goody bags...


When you buy a movie on iTunes, it works just the same way as a normal music purchase, it's that simple. You can then watch it on your laptop or iPad - wherever you want really. I chose to watch it on my widescreen TV because I have a rather snazzy DVD player with a USB port that means I can pop a memory stick in the front. Clever, huh? That makes downloading all the more better for me as I can still watch it on the big screen.


Hop is a film about E.B, the teenage son of the Easter Bunny. Just before he has to take over the family business, E.B leaves for Hollywood to become a drummer. It's a mixture of live action and animation. My kids both loved the Hop film, we downloaded it on a rainy afternoon when there was nothing better to do. (I can already see that being able to download films quickly and easy is going to be a sanity-saver in school holidays!). It's a cute and funny film that is perfect for the whole family.

If you haven't seen Hop you can find out about it on the films own website http://www.hop-themovie.com/UK/  You can watch it in many formats, it's available on DVD, Blu-ray, iTunes download and new titles are now available in all formats from the day of release.

I was pretty amazed at the ease of downloading a movie, even with my rubbish broadband connection, and because it's so instant I'm sure it's something I will do again, especially when we're at  a loose end. I don't live anywhere near a DVD rental place or a shop that sells DVDs so this is perfect for us as we don't need to leave the house!

love & kisses
Mrs M x

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Restaurant Review: Fishy Fishy

I'm a bit late in posting this review as I actually visited in back in early September but better late than never huh! Let me start by saying that I was not paid or asked to do this review but since I reviewed the cookbook earlier this year I decided that I would follow this up with a post about the actual restaurant.

I'd been meaning to try Fishy Fishy for quite a while, certainly since I first saw it appear on the Quay in Poole. We go to Poole quite a lot and on our last visit we decided to book in to Fishy Fishy with the children early on a Saturday evening.

First impressions were good. The Fishy Fishy restaurant in Poole is very smart and well decorated. A quick glance around told us that the usual clientele would probably not have two small children in tow with them however they were very welcoming to my young bairns, providing them with their own menu/colouring sheet and a pot of crayons to keep them entertained.

The staff were reasonably attentive but despite the restaurant only being half-ful it did feel that there was an air of discontent amongst the team and certainly it seemed quite apparent that there was a few disgruntled members of staff and a bit of a power struggle going on. The openness of the kitchen to the restaurant and the bar area means that you can see and hear everything going on and it seemed clear that it was not a happy ship that evening!

Nevertheless our meal was nice. The children had a choice of fish goujons, grilled fish & chips, open chicken sandwich and tomato pasta, with their meal coming with a choice of fruit juice or milk and some ice cream for pudding. This is set menu for £5.50 and rather reasonable I thought as the portions were quite large. Always the chicken lover, my daughter opted for the chicken sandwich and my son went for the grilled fish and chips. Both were eaten and enjoyed. 

After perusing the menu (which changes with the seasons), I opted for the Fishy Fishy MLT - locally smoked mackerel served warm on an open sandwich with lettuce, tomato and skinny chips (£10.50), whilst Mr M chose the Sticky Mackerel which was a whole chargrilled mackerel brushed with BBQ sauce and served with a beetroot apple slaw and a potato salad (£13.50).

The Fishy Fishy MLT

I have to say my MLT was very tasty and rather hearty - look at the size of that wedge of bread! The mackerel was just on the right side of salty and the fries were crisp.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and would order that again if it were available.  

Mr M's mackerel was a little less satisfying. It was very tasty but really it felt like an incredibly small meal once you've picked all the bones out of the fish. There wasn't a lot of the potato salad and in all honesty Mr M left Fishy Fishy hungry, which was not really the objective!  It would have been nice to see this served with something more substantial as in the end, I gave Mr M about a 1/3 of my MLT to make up for his deficit.

Sticky Mackerel

Whilst waiting for our food, I did witness a couple of tables sending theirs back and so this made me a little nervous but I needn't have been as all was well.  We didn't stay for dessert as time was ticking on, the restaurant was filling up and it was starting to feel a bit cramped.

Would I eat there again? Yes, probably. It was a nice setting and the food was good but I'd perhaps make sure that Mr M made a better choice next time so we don't have to make food-stop on the way home!

You can find Fishy Fishy in Brighton and Poole.

love & kisses
Mrs M x