Friday, 30 November 2012

Christmas Fudge Pie

The Syders love their grub, especially over the Christmas period and Ive been doing a bit of  festive baking today using new Clover Block. I really liked working with this stuff, as it is nice and soft straight from the fridge which saves time because you dont have to wait for it to soften, or if you are a bit impatient, you get no arm ache from mixing hard butter. I also really liked how my pastry turned out using this new Clover Block

A family favourite of ours, has got to be Fudge pie. If you like pie, fudge and chocolate then you will love this recipe.  It takes about an hour and serves at least 8 people.

Ingredients for Pie Base
  • 250 g plain flour
  • 125 g butter 
  • 75 g caster sugar
  • 1 egg  beaten
Method for Pie Base

1. Place the flour, sugar and butter into a bowl and mix with a wooden spoon
2. Gradually add the egg and mix.
3. Using your hands rub the mixture together into a fine breadcrumb consistency.
4. Add tiny amounts of warm water until the mixture begins to become a dough.
5. Kneed into a ball, wrap in cling film and pop into the fridge for 30 minutes.
6. Grease a pie dish, roll out your pastry and line your dish, cutting off any access pastry. Cook for 10 minutes at 180°C/gas 4. 

Ingredients for Pie Filling
  •  170g Butter
  • 100g broken dark chocolate
  • 4 large eggs
  • 300g Granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons icing sugar
  • 6 tablespoons plain flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons of Vanilla extract
  • Tub of either whipping, double or squirt cream
  • Bag of M&M's or smarties for decoration.
Method for Pie Filling

1. In a saucepan melt the butter and chocolate. Put to one side.
2. In a mixing bowl beat the eggs.
3. Add the sugar, flour and salt to the eggs. Whisk together.
4. Whisk in the melted chocolate. Add the vanilla extract.
5. Pour your filling into your prepared pie base. Cook for 30 minutes at 180°C/gas 4.

Once cooked leave to cool then add your cream to the top, chill for an hour (unless using squirty cream then leave adding your cream until you are about to serve). Add your Christmas decoration. Enjoy.

*This is a sponsored post

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

The Gallery - Eyes

The obvious thing to go with for this weeks gallery theme would be my Granddaughters eyes, because unusually she has two different coloured eyes, but I've told you about that before. So I thought I'd go with something completely different and tell you about my Granddad's Eastend shop, through my eyes, as a four year old child. My memories of this time are vivid, as if it was yesterday. My Mum and Grandad are no longer with us, but their memory lives on.

Granddad's Shop Through My Eyes As A Child

Its the early 1970's and I'm a small child living in the Eastend of London. I'm sitting at the breakfast table eating toast, Bay City Rollers are playing in the background on the radio and Mum is smiling as she leans forward to wipe jam from the corner of my mouth. She gently combs my hair and tells me to get my coat because we are going to Granddad's shop. I jump up and run to the front door, eagerly waiting for my Mum to sit me in the back seat of her sporty, green Mini. The short journey fills me with anticipation because I love everything about my Grandads Greengrocer's. 

A dusty mixed aroma of potatoes, apples and furniture polish greet me as I push open the big green doors. The bell rings and I hear my Grandads infectious laugh. I quicken my pace as I'm eager to discover what Grandad is laughing at. I'm guessing he playfully joking with my Nan, as he always does.

Grandad spots me and as I run to him, a big smile spreads across his face, he reaches his hand over towards the apple counter, and picks me a bright green golden delicious. He polishes the apple on his immaculate, white overall and reaches into his pocket for his small pen knife. Grandad then cuts me a slice of the apple and presents it to me as if it were a prize trophy.

I look up to him with adoring eyes. He is a big, strong Irish man with rosie cheeks and thick, black wavy hair, smartly dressed and wearing a shirt and tie underneath his overall. He smells of Brylcreem, old spice and imperial leather. I climb up and sit on a stool beside the big, clunky weighing scales. I watch Grandad as he greets his customers and I notice that he has a special way with people, he never fails to make them smile, even complete strangers.

Pensioners come into the shop regular as clockwork to buy their weekly fruit & veg, always eager for a chat, they scrape their pennies together for a cabbage or two and then in comes a tired young Mum, overwhelmed with bags and children, she looks harassed as she buys a bag of spuds. Grandad always gives them an extra bag of fruit, telling them that it was damaged stock that he couldn't sell. I admire his kindness and that he doesn't let them know he is helping them. He looks to me and winks. At that moment I realise that my Grandad is a very special man.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Monopoly Zapped Review

How many hours in the past have you spent playing Monopoly? I've lost count of the amount of whole weekends that I have spent trying to beat my Brothers at it, and then my Hubby and the kids. Its been quite a few years though since I last played it, and then I was contacted by home shopping company, K&Co who sent us the new, modern day Monopoly, the Zapped Edition.

The game is for 2-4 players, ages 8 years and up, and is so modern that you need an ipad, iphone or ipod touch to play it because you use credit cards  instead of cash.

When I opened the box, it looks like there isn't a lot to it. Not like the old days with the bundles of coloured cash and the community chest, chance & get out of jail cards, none of that exists in this new version as they are on the app instead. Before you can start the game you need to download the Monopoly Zapped app to your device, this is really easy to do and only takes a few minutes.

Bottom Line - What did we think?
We really like this edition, our Granddaughter particularly liked it and was determined to understand how to play Monopoly (She is only 7). It took a bit of getting used to as it is really different from the way we were raised to play the game. However, we found the younger generation picked it up much easier than us 'oldies'. All in all a good board game that fits well with a large age range. A real family classic.

*We were sent Monopoly Zapped Edition for the purpose of this review. We have received no financial reward and as a family always give an honest and unbiased opinion.

Christmas On A Budget - Decorate Your Table Glasses

I shared a few frugal ideas for dressing your Christmas table, last week which I received some fab feedback and a few extra money saving tips that I will be using in future, so Thankyou.

A really simple a cheap thing to do is decorate your Christmas table wine glasses. The way I'm doing it this year is non permanent and only costs pennies.

What You Need
  • A wine glass (You can buy budget packs of 4 from most supermarkets for under a pound)
  • Parcel String 
  • Christmas self adhesive tape
  • A Christmas trinket (I got my silver snowflakes from a local gift shop for 10p each, however there are lots of designs to choose from on Ebay.)

Start by measuring around your wine glass, where you want your tape to sit. Then cut your tape that measurement and carefully stick around your glass, just like the picture to the right.

Measure the same length of parcel string with a few inches extra to tie a bow. Before you tie the bow thread on your Christmas trinket.

Voila - You have transformed a boring wine glass into something a little special. 
Easy Peasy.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Magpie Monday - Mama's Comforts

This weeks charity shop finds are a couple of small comforts for me. Firstly I spotted a lovely comfy footstool, brand new in the box for a fiver. I love it and its perfect for when I'm crocheting by the fire, and keeping my toes cosy.

Then I found a gorgeous sewing box, sitting outside the charity shop. I instantly fell in love with it and I snapped it up for £4. 

And inside...

Normally I would paint items I find like this, however I love it just how it is.

Have you found any bargains this week?

Me and My Shadow

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Singalongz Toy Review and Gift Guide

Singalongz are plush toys with a difference. Sing into the microphone and the colourful characters will sing along. Choose from Dally Duck, Me Me Cat, Ruftey Dog and Cobey Bear for a special singing experience. The microphone can be used with all four toys to create a Singalongz choir!

My Granddaughter, who is very nearly seven loves her Singalongz. Cobey Bear was sent to us to us to review and I instantly knew she would like it, especially because it is cuddly and has a microphone.

Miss E is always singing and dancing and now she has a cute friend to sing along with her. Not only great for cuddling and singing, Cobey Bear is also very good at playing pranks. Leave your Singalongz sitting on the sofa, then hide in the next room and sing through the microphone. Your voice will then be heard through your Singalongz, surprising anyone sitting in the room. Very cheeky fun.

Singalongz is also and Award winning toy - ToyTalk Awards winner in Cuddly Toy category, Mumsnet top electronic toy, Rainbow Awards highly commended, Independent Toy Awards highly commended, Creative Child Top Toy Award!

Priced at £29.99 and Available from

The Lovely people over at Find me a gift have a great top ten, gift list aimed towards kids aged 3 to 12. All available to buy from their website.

1. Mathmos Chuppi Nightlight - £29.99
2. Singalongz toys - £29.99
3. Make your own hello Kitty doll - £9.99
4. Food and Fold Origami placemats - £11.99
5. Personalised Bang on the Door Diary - £7.99
6. Personalised Letter to Santa Book - £16.99
7. My First Scooter - £29.49
8. Talking Tom & Talking Ben Toys - £25.99
9. B Duck money box - £14.99
10. Paint your own wellies - £14.99  

*Find Me A Gift sent us a Singalongz toy free of charge for the purpose of this review. I have received no financial reward and I always give an honest & unbiased opinion.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Christmas On A Budget - The Table

I love to make sure, that every year our Christmas table looks nice for the family. I get such a thrill from the kids taking their seats and the words "Wow Mum" slipping from their mouths. However, as a penny pinching Mum I also like to do it on a budget.

The Table Cloth - First thing I think is quite important is to invest in a good quality tablecloth. Mine was passed down to me from my Mum, about ten years ago and I use it every Christmas. It has sentimental value to me and gives the table a real personal touch.

Snowman Soup - Every guest gets a snowman soup at Mama's table . This has become a family tradition and the first thing the kids look for. It gets put to one side after dinner and Christmas evening they are all in the kitchen making up their chocolate treat. Instructions for Snowman soup can be found here.

The Crackers - Homemade crackers also give a personal touch to the table. I buy the hats, snappers and jokes from ebay for a couple of pounds. Each cracker is named and a small personal gift is put inside, chosen especially for its recipient. 

A Memento - I also like my Christmas dinner guests to have a small memento. Nothing flash or fancy, just a small reminder of our Christmas. Last Year it was a lucky sixpence and they were really easy and cheap to make. The sixpences come in packs from ebay and are only a couple of pounds for around 12, and I made the little cards from some red card, christmas paper and red bows.

Party Poppers - These always go down well with my guests and give everyone a big smile. A big bag for a couple of pounds is so worth the mess they create.

Candles - I like lots of candles at my Christmas table as they give a nice cosy ambiance and as space is often a bit tight I use a couple of big blingy Christmas candles and then I reuse my Glade scented candle holders that I have been using in the weeks leading up to Christmas, by popping in a tea light. They are the perfect size to dot around the table.

Do you have any frugal tips for dressing your Christmas table?

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Center Parcs - Elf School at Elveden Forest

As some of you may already know, Papa and I have spent the past 25 years enjoying holidays at Center Parcs. Our first visit was back in early 1988 and since then we have visited almost every year. Now we take our next generation, our Granddaughter and she loves it just as much as our other kids always have. We always visit during Winter Wonderland because we are completely obsessed with Christmas and we love that Center Parcs really make an effort to get everyone in the mood for the festive season.

Last year as our Christmassy treat we booked a festive horse and carriage ride which was really lovely, but this year we wanted something a bit different, so we booked our Granddaughter into Elf School. Miss E is almost seven so we wasn't sure if maybe, she was a little old for this activity, especially as we were waiting for the Elf School doors to open we noticed that she was probably the eldest there. Still, she looked really excited to get started and as soon as the doors opened, she was off like a shot and barely gave us a second glance.

£25.00 lighter on the purse and four hours later we went to collect our little Elf Syder. We were anxious to hear all about it and were thrilled to see she was dressed up in an Elf outfit, which was a pleasant surprise because we didn't realise she would get one.

Miss E was beaming as she greeted us, clutching tightly a basket of lovely things that she had made and most importantly a certificate that certified, Miss E is now officially a fully trained Elf. "I made some Friends!" she squealed with delight. Her face said it all, Elf school was a huge success.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

BassBuds Earphone Review and Voucher Code

Bassbuds are high performance in-ear earphones, they have a mic + MP3 controller and are compatible with all smartphones. With one of the largest colour ranges on the web, there's a pair of BassBuds to suit all your style preferences.

My kids are really fussy when it comes to what they listen to their music on. They love good quality headphones and in ear earphones so when I was sent a pair of BassBuds to review, I knew they would be interested, especially when the likes of Dizzee Rascal, Chipmunk and Alesha Dixon have been raving about how good they are.

Bassbuds come in a really sexy, slick looking box. The actual earphones are a really vibrant colour, ours are pink but there is a choice of ten different colours in the classic collection. They also have a bit of bling with Swarovski cystals embedded into the ear piece.  

One of the Bassbuds features is its advanced crystaltronics sound technology, which basically provides you with cystal clear, high definition sound. Another really useful feature is its hands free mic, such a cool feature that is compatible with all smartphones and means that by activating your voice control you can take important calls while you are busy, on the move.

 Miss Kay says... "I love the look of these earphones, they are really stylish, especially with the crystals giving some pretty sparkle, which I think is a nice touch. They stand out from the crowd and the sound is just as great as they look. I love these earphones and would recommend them to my Friends."

BassBuds Features
  • Intergrated Microphone with Call/MP3 Controller
  • Answer/End Call Control
  • Play/ Pause your MP3 Player
  • Skip Forwards and Backwards through your music
  • Activate voice control commands.
  • Compatible with all Smart Phones
  • Crystal-clear HD audio via the Advanced Crystaltronics Sound Technology
  • Precision-cut, high quality, light-weight and balanced aluminium housing
  • Anti-Tangle, durable, double-wrapped cable
  • FREE Stylish and Protective Storage Bag
  • FREE Black, White and Memory Foam Earbuds in 3 sizes
  • Gold-plated 3.5mm audio jack for optimum connectivity
  • One of the largest earphone colour ranges in the world!
  • Choose from  Classic Collection or 2012 Fashion Collection

BassBuds  are available to buy from  Priced at £34.99. I can offer you a £5 off voucher by using the code  BB38462  

*We were sent a pair of Bassbuds free of charge for the purpose of this review. We have received no financial reward and as a family we always give an honest and unbiased opinion

Monday, 19 November 2012

Magpie Monday - New Wardrobe

I seem to get quite lucky with wardrobes, the last one I got my hands on was free from the tip. A gorgeous handmade solid pine wardrobe that the fella dropping it off said he had never even used. I was chuffed to bits. 

I was on holiday last week, so didn't pick up any bargains but the week before I went I managed to get a lovely cream, triple wardrobe for £25 from my local Facebook Sales group. It has been a God send as so near to our holiday and Christmas money is a bit too tight for new wardrobes but we were bulging out of our old wardrobe. So now Papa has our old wardrobe and I have the new one all to myself. I love it.

Me and My Shadow

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Madagascar 3 The Video Game Review - XBox 360

Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted Xbox 360 Cover ArtGame Overview

Based on DreamWorks Animation’s new upcoming animated film, Madagascar 3: The Video Game puts players in the role of their favorite Madagascar characters, including Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Melman the Giraffe, and Gloria the Hippo.  In a new and original adventure, the gang travel through Europe by way of a travelling circus and must put on the show of their lives if they ever want to make their way home to New York.

Players will be able to experience the excitement of the circus by completing challenging and sometimes suspiciously zany missions given by the Penguins, performing amazing publicity stunts on some of Europe’s most notable landmarks, and dazzling the crowd with circus acts fit only for a Madagascar-style Circus Extravaganza!

What Do We Think?

A really engaging game both for us as Grandparents, parents and for our Granddaughter. We prefer to play this game as a two player because the game is quite difficult and by playing as a team it is easier to work out.

Bottom line - Would we recommend it?
Yes, a very entertaining game. Great for all ages, but quite challenging. Great Fun.

 Available to buy from GAME and other good stockists.

*We were sent a copy of the Madagascar 3 game free of charge for the purpose of this review. We did not receive any financial reward and as a family we give an honest and unbiased opinion.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Cooking On A Budget - Meatballs and Pasta

My kids love bolognese sauces and a particular favourite is with meatballs. This is really easy, takes only few ingredients and always goes down really well with the whole family.

Ingredients - Serves 6 - Cost £6.00
  • 24 small meatballs - ready made
  • 2 Tins of Chopped Tomato's
  • Tomato Puree
  • 1 teaspoon of Dried Mixed Herbs
  • Olive Oil
  • 2 Crushed Garlic Cloves
  • 2 Small Chopped Onions
  • 500g of Dried Pasta

1. Fry the onions and garlic in a pan with the Olive oil
2. Add the meatballs and fry until browned.
3. Add the tomato puree, stir in the chopped tomato's
4. Add the mixed herbs and simmer on a low heat for 25 minutes.
5. Cook the pasta, serve up on separate plates and add the meatballs with sauce.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

The Gallery - Eighties

This weeks Gallery theme is very fitting, as Papa and I celebrated our 23rd wedding anniversary last weekend. We had a proper eighties`wedding, blamange dress and everything. We were teenagers and very much in love...We still are (well, not exactly teenagers anymore but still very much in love).

People said it wouldn't last. Apparantly teenagers dont know what real love is. We did!

23 years later, four kids and a Granddaughter we are together. We have fought hard to stay together and even separated for a year, six years ago. It hasnt always been easy but it is now.

Its a Wonderful life, when I have Papa by my side x

Monday, 12 November 2012

Thrifty Plus Size - Save Money By Shopping at Outlets

If there are items of clothing that I need and I cant find them second hand, I then try online sales and if the item I need is unavailable online, I visit a discount outlet. These places are great for buying designer brands at bargain prices. Many of the outlet stores offer up to 70% off the usual price. I particularly like the M&S and NEXT outlet stores as they usually stock plus sizes and I always manage to pick up a bargain.

My most recent shopping trip to an outlet was when I visited Freeport in Essex. I needed a swimming costume for my holiday and I had spotted one online in NEXT but, before I bought it I thought I'd try their outlet store first. It is out of season for swimwear so I was pushing my luck really, however I managed to get my hands on a costume, it was actually their last one in my size, reduced from £30 to £14.

As I'm curvy I do feel a little self conscious about wearing swimwear, although that isn't just down to my weight because even when I was skinny I always covered up around the pool. I wanted a nice bright cover up to match my costume and I found one in M&S for £14. I love it, perfect for sitting around the pool at Center Parcs.


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