Wednesday, 30 April 2014

The Gallery - Happy

As I approach my 25th year of marriage I feel blissfully Happy.

It hasn't always been a happy marriage, let me tell you, it's been a sometimes troubled and bumpy road and anyone who knows us will know that we have fought tough and clung on for dear life to make it work between us. We have really hurt each other so many times over the years, but I don't regret any of it because our marriage would not be what it is today without the crap of our younger, more foolish years. We probably might not adore each other the way we do now, had we never made any mistakes in our relationship. Those mistakes have built a stronger, more loving marriage. Forgiveness, acceptance and unconditional love is the key to our Happy life together. He completes me.




Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery

Friday, 25 April 2014

Radio Go!Go!Go! Album Review

 
 
Nick Jr’s pop stars of stage and screen, Go!Go!Go! have been touring the country this April with their brand new live show featuring songs from their album Radio Go!Go!Go!, that was released on April 12th.

I was sent a copy of the new album to review. Radio Go!Go!Go! is a 12 track CD with bonus Karaoke tracks and a 30 minute DVD featuring favourites such as ‘Wake Up Smiling’, ‘This Is The Life’ and ‘Lay The Rhythm Down’.


I must admit, I'd never heard of 'Go Go Go' before and I was half expecting them to be a bit annoying but when I played the CD I was pleasantly surprised, they really are very good. I found myself toe tapping throughout the whole album and the DVD nearly had me up dancing. You just can't help but be drawn into the vibrant, happy tunes of 'Go Go Go' all of them ooze positivity. I love it and so does my Granddaughter, who was happily dancing around as the CD played. Available to buy from Amazon priced around £7.00


*We were sent a copy of Radio Go!Go!Go! free of charge for the purpose of this review. Our opinions are entirely our own.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

The Tower Of London & Thames Sightseeing Cruise With Virgin - A Review



Booking an experience day with Virgin is something I have never tried before, until now. We ordered a 'Family Visit to The Tower Of London And Thames Sightseeing Cruise' from Virgin Experience Days, which is valid for a family of two adults and three children (aged 5 - 15). We received our experience gift pack in the post a few days later and all we had to do was nip over to their website and activate our experience. It was really simple and only took me a few minutes. 



Once in London, make your way to Tower Hill station and as you step out of the station you can not miss the magnificent Tower of London. Walk straight down towards the river with the Tower to your left (you will see the Shard in front of you, which is on the other side of the river). Head to the Tower Millennium Pier, to the ticket office and show them your Virgin gift pack, the lovely assistant will then give you your tickets for the Thames cruise and your Tower of London tickets. 

We made ourselves comfortable on the boat and proceeded to eat a few snacks from our picnic. We were lucky that the weather was really nice so we sat up on the open deck, but you can sit inside on the lower deck if you prefer. If like me you like to take lots of photo's then sit upstairs, the views are lovely.


The cruise travels from Tower Pier to Westminster pier and it passes lots of famous landmarks like London Bridge, Tower Bridge, The Gherkin, St Pauls Cathedral, The Shard, Tate Modern, Oxo Tower, The London Eye, Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. If you fancy a nice long cruise you can also travel all the way down to Greenwich Pier, where you will find Cutty Sark and Greenwich Market. The captain of the boat gives a fabulous, fun commentary as you pass the sights, and he had us chuckling on more than one occasion, a very entertaining chap.


Once at Westminster Pier you could walk down to Parliament square and sit for a while, maybe to eat your lunch, there is a green here that is a very pleasant spot to relax. In this area you will also find Westminster Abbey. From here you can also walk to Downing street, Trafalgar Square, The Cenotaph, Whitehall and lots more. A lovely area for walking with lots of sights. A ten minute walk is St James park, which is lovely for the kids, it has a pretty lake with ducks. If you walk through the park you will find Buckingham Palace and if you time it right you can watch the changing of the guards (this is usually around 11.30, but check online before you leave).


After we enjoyed our lunch in St James Park, we jumped back on the river boat and headed back to Tower Pier. There is a small shop on the lower deck of the boat where we bought a much appreciated coffee, which went down very nicely, along with the slow cruise back along the Thames. Once at Tower Pier we headed to the Tower of London where our Virgin Experience days tickets were fast track, so no queueing.


Entering the Tower of London is like entering another World. It is so hard to believe that this beautiful old building is smack bang in the middle of London, surrounded by so many modern constructions. The contrast is quite surreal.



There is so much to see at the Tower of London and the kids really enjoyed it. In fact my homeschooler has a new interest in history and has started a project about Anne Boleyn. We loved all the winding corridors and staircases, a kids paradise. 


We will definitely buy a Virgin experience Day package again. It was great to have fast track tickets to beat any queues. Great value for money, the 'Tower Of London  & Thames Sightseeing Cruise' is priced at £109.00 for two adults & three Children (5 - 15). The theme for April over at Virgin Experience Days is 'Enjoy the Green' and they have lots of great experiences for you to buy ranging from glamping trips in the Lake District to afternoon tea at Kessington palace.



*We were sent a Virgin experience day gift pack for the Tower of London and a Thames sightseeing cruise free of charge for the purpose of this review. Our opinions are own.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Penne With Italian Sausage, Porcini Mushrooms And Tomato Recipe #Respectthepasta



Last week I blogged about my experience of eating at the Ask Italian restaurant as I enjoyed a girlie pasta lunch. The food was so tasty that I was super excited to try a recipe from the Ask Italian cook book. My eight year old Granddaughter was my assistant for the day and after a lot of in-decision we went for Penne Con salsiccia E Porcini. I must say, it was delicious and the whole family really enjoyed it.



ASK Italian Ambassador Theo Randall, has had a huge hand in creating some of the delicious menus at ASK Italian, he has also created a set of rules for creating perfect pasta:

Pasta DO:
-Use LOTS of boiling, well-salted water
-Cook for two minutes less than the packet instructions and finish cooking in the sauce with a spoonful of cooking water
-Enjoy immediately in small portions in warm bowls or plates – “pasta waits for no man”
 
DO NOT:
-Tip pasta into a colander to drain it - use tongs or a slotted spoon to take pasta out of the water
-Test ‘done-ness’ by throwing pasta onto the walls
-Use too much sauce – coat the pasta, don’t drown it



Penne Con Salsiccia E Porcini
Penne With Italian Sausage, Porcini Mushrooms And Tomato

Ingredients:
  • 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 200g Italian sausages, skins removed
  • 50g dried porcini, soaked in a cup of warm water
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped plum tomatoes
  • 50ml double cream
  • 400g penne rigate
  • 50g dried porcini mushrooms
  • pecorino stagionato cheese, to grate
  • salt and freshly ground pepper.
Method:
  1. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil (for the pasta)
  2. Heat the oil in a separate large  saucepan over a low heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring until the onions soften.
  3. Meanwhile, chop the sausage meat. When the onions are soft, add the meat to the pan, stir and cook over a medium heat for ten minutes. Remove the mushrooms from their soaking water and chop, reserving the water. Add the mushrooms and water to the meat in the pan.
  4. Drain off excess fat, add the tomatoes and cook for 20 minutes. Finish by adding the double cream, keeping the sauce at a simmer. Taste for seasoning.
  5. Meanwhile, cook the pasta. Drain. Turn the pasta into the pan with the hot sauce and mix well over a low heat. Serve the pasta with pecorino stagionato to grate at the table.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

The Writing Nook


As the short spring days get longer and the weather warmer I open up the writing nook. Rosali curtains and crocheted throws are dusted off, hung and thrown. Cushions are scattered and floral art dusted. Cobwebs are left in corners, after all the have an important job to do, catching those pesky flies.


Windows are polished, the floor swept I sit back and smile as I observe my nifty handy work. The sun beams through the door and I can hear the peaceful sounds of the garden. Birds chirping cheerily, sea gulls sweeping hungrily across the warm sky, the cockerel crows proudly as he forages with his hen and I feel at peace as I enjoy this tranquil haven.


I like to read in here, drink tea and hide away, but most of all I like to write here. I'm rarely bothered by the outside world inside this space, it's my place to escape from distraction, my place to think, to create and to ponder. My special place in the garden is my writing nook.


Have you got a nook?

Mammasaurus and How Does Your Garden Grow?

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Young Sports Journalist Reporter Competition




Do you know an aspiring young journalist? 
A kid who could become an internationally-known junior sports journalist? 

A great opportunity for kids aged 12 - 14! 

If you are 12 to 14 years of age, enter the Football for Friendship competition and you could be in with a chance to be chosen to fly to Lisbon (with your Mum & Dad) to represent the UK against finalists from 15 other European countries in the quest to be crowned Europe's Best Young Sports Journalist. You will get to see the UEFA Champions League Final, plus the chance to see their article in print. 


To take part in the competition:
  1. Study the eight principles of FOOTBALL FOR FRIENDSHIP. Traditions, peace, friendship, victory, equality, health, fairness and devotion.
  2. Interview a peer – football player or a football fan, covering these principles.
  3. Submit creative photos illustrating the interview.
  4. Send interview, photos and filled application form by April 18, 2014 to f4f_uk@gazprom-football.com.
  5. Follow the competition results on www.gazprom-football.com and Facebook official web page of the project – https://www.facebook.com/FootballForFriendship.

You must be quick if you want to enter as the deadline is this Friday 18th April.  Enter Here 



The Gallery - A Favourite Place


A favourite place of mine is my garden just after summer rain. If we have had a hot few days and then some rain I love it. The musky, earthy aroma's after a short down pour is delightful and I walk around the garden sniffing everything in sight. I love my garden after rain.


Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery

Monday, 14 April 2014

An Easter Treat From Find Me A Gift


Find Me A Gift have some really cool Easter treats, both for kids and adults. A particular favourite of mine is their Rabbit Night Light. It stands 15cm high and it gives off a really pretty glow as it slowly changes colour. Perfect for a child who likes to keep a light on during the night as it doesn't disturb the rest of the household.

This cute rabbit can also be personalised with a name, date or occasion. Priced at only £4.99 it is a very affordable Easter gift for a loved one. Great value for money, we love it.

Other great Easter gifts sold at Find Me A Gift include Grow Your Own Scented Flowers - £9.99, Happy Easter Chocolate Pizza - £11.95 and Personalised Egg Cups - £6.99.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Step By Step Guide To Growing Potatoes In A Bag



Growing potatoes in a bag is really easy and convenient, especially if you don't have a lot of space or you don't fancy digging up your lawn in favour of growing spuds. Even if you only have a small concrete yard or balcony, you can still easily grow some fresh potatoes. Here is a step by step guide to growing potatoes in a bag.




1. Buy Your Seed - You can buy your potato seed from loads of different places and they come in various amounts, so depending on how many bags you will be planting up is how many seeds you will need to buy. I usually put around four seeds per bag. When picking your seed bare in mind that there are different types of potato;

  • Earlies - Are best if you are short of space, they can be lifted earlier in the year and are less prone to pests. Probably the easiest to grow and perfect if you want to grow 'new' potatoes. Plant from February  to late May. They take around 10 weeks.
  • Second Earlies -  Again these are good if you want smaller potatoes. They take around 13 weeks. Plant from March to late May.
  • Main Crop - These are your bigger potato, the ones you want for baking and roasting. Plant from March to mid May. They take around 20 weeks.
  • Second Cropping Potatoes - These are grown if you want fresh spuds Christmas Day. Lift them in late Autumn and store in a dark place. Plant in August. They take around 11 weeks.

2. Chit Your Seeds - Once you have your seeds you will need to 'chit' them. You can do this buy spreading out your seed on a sunny window, conservatory or greenhouse. The aim is to encourage the seed to sprout, (just like when you forget about your spuds in the bottom of the cupboard and they sprout). Usually start chitting around January.


3. Fill Your Bag - You can buy special potato growing bags quite cheaply, or you can use old compost bags that are black inside. Turn the compost bag inside out so that the black is on the outside. Fill a third of the bag with compost, poke a few holes in the bottom for drainage and roll the top down half way. Avoid using mushroom compost to grow potatoes as the lime base promotes scab.



4. Plant Your Seed - I plant around four seeds per bag. Make sure the sprout is facing upwards and cover with about 6" of compost. Put them in a sunny position and after about 3 weeks you should notice a plant growing, once it reaches about 3" you should cover with compost. It wont kill the plant, it will continue to grow. Covering the green foliage will encourage the plant to focus on growing the potatoes.


5. Water - Water your bag so that the soil is damp but not soaking wet.


6. Earth Up - Keep adding extra soil to your bag as the foliage gets bigger. By May or June you can have a look beneath the soil and see if you have any potatoes. The more you earth up the better potato crop you will get.


7. Harvest - To harvest your spuds simply tip your bag out and you should have lots of fresh potatoes. Sometimes the potato foliage grows really tall (like below) and will need staking to keep tidy.



It really is as easy as it looks to grow potatoes in a bag!





Mammasaurus and How Does Your Garden Grow?

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Ask Italian Review #Respectthepasta




Ask Italian have launched a new campaign #RespectThePasta and their mission is to remind people just how cool and exciting pasta is. They want families to get creative with pasta dishes in their kitchens and in the words of the great Federico Fellini “Life is a combination of magic and pasta” and they feel this sums up their campaign perfectly!

The Italians have crafted a whopping 600 different types of pasta, so no wonder it is at the heart and soul of every meal, but here in the UK pasta is too often taken for granted, under cooked and under valued. Ask Italian want to change that by getting us excited about pasta.


Today we visited the Ask Italian restaurant in Billericay, Essex for a girlie lunch. As soon as we walked through the door we were greeted by a really friendly waiter who walked us to our table. The building is really old and full of character and as we headed towards the back, a large glass room full of sunshine, I felt welcome, instantly I loved it. The chefs were also in the back room cooking on full display of all the customers, another major plus point, and boy did they work hard!


We were handed our menu's and asked if we would like some drinks. The waiter, a young fella was chatty and super lovely, he instantly put us all at ease. The girls already knew they wanted pizza, and we all gasped as a waitress served them a huge 'Pollo Piccante Con Pancetta' pizza each. We were not expecting the pizzas to be so large and really two people could quite easily have shared one between them. 


The girls giggled as they cut their pizzas, shocked that they had a whole pizza to themselves. They really enjoyed it, even though they couldn't manage to finish it. I picked the 'Penne Al Pollo Della' a seasoned chicken breast baked with mushrooms in a creamy mushroom & white wine sauce. It was truly scrumptious, I thoroughly enjoyed it.


Dessert was then served. 
The girls picked Chocolate Amour and I went for the Italian cheesecake.


They were both absolutely delicious, especially my raspberry sorbet! 
Fresh and full of flavour. We loved the desserts.


We loved the family friendly atmosphere in the Billericay restaurant. Kids of all ages were made to feel very welcome indeed. Lunch time was full to the brim with families, and the staff couldn't do enough to cater for them. There were a lot of very happy customers. Very reasonably priced too, if you sign up to Ask Italian online you can claim a code for two dishes for £10.95. Check out their Facebook page & Twitter for updates of offers.

We have all said that we want to return to Ask Italian soon, the food is very good, the staff fabulous and the atmosphere was buzzing. A massive thumbs up from The Syders.




*We were given a gift card to spend at Ask Italian for the purpose of this review. Staff had no idea we were there to review. Our opinions are entirely our own.

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