It’s incredibly hard to review a bunch of flowers that you neither chose nor received, but I shall do my best.
Ahead of Mother’s Day Tesco contacted me to ask if there was someone special I would like to send flowers to for Mother’s Day. The moment I saw the email I knew exactly who I wanted to receive some surprise flowers:
“Liz is the kind of person who always puts herself last. She is loving and supportive and constantly thinking of others. The kind of person who calls you even though she is crazy busy, because she knows you are finding life hard at the moment. She’s the kind of person you’d want your children to have living nearby when they go to University at the opposite end of the country to you. She’s the kind of mum you’d want as a Mother in Law for your married offspring. She’s the kind of mum you’d want to be sitting opposite you in a coffee shop, putting the world to rights, every day of the week, if she didn’t live so far away from you.”
I emailed a message to go with the flowers and tried very hard not to tell my friend about her surprise. I literally did not talk to her. For weeks. I couldn’t write about the campaign, or tweet about it in advance without spoiling the surprise.
Then, two days ahead of Mother’s Day itself, I got a call from my friend Liz.
“Did you send me flowers?” she said, clearly hedging her bets.
“I did.” I confirmed.
“Oh that’s good: I was a bit confused because the packaging said Tesco, the label said Asda and the card with them had your name on.” she replied.
And so I had to explain to my friend that the surprise flowers were part of a campaign, which sort of took the joy out of the surprise, for me at least, particularly as the price tag had been left on.
I was disappointed: for myself, for her, for Tesco. I have never bought Tesco *Finest flowers – bouquets are available in-store all year round- before and find it hard to recommend based on this experience.
I did email Tesco immediately to let them know about the mix up in case it happened to anyone else and received this reply: “I can’t understand why the card made any reference to Asda as both the card itself and the flowers are both Tesco products.”
I have to hope for me, for my friend, and for the #MumOfTheYear campaign that this was a blip. The flowers look beautiful.
I ask Liz what she thought of the flowers themselves, how long they lasted, the service, value for money etc, and she says:
I was confused by what happened. And embarrassed. The flowers had an Asda label, and I felt awful letting you know that it wasn’t quite right at my end. It was all a surreal experience.
We all know that these things happen, but still….
Disclosure: flowers were sent on my behalf to a friend by Tesco so that we could write this review. All opinions are honest.
When we moved house last summer we left behind in our former garden a beautiful hand-painted playhouse, bought as an over-indulgent gift to our first child on her first birthday. It had daily use from a multitude of children and we all mourned it’s loss. I even mourned the handpainted sign saying 25 1/2 that I had made for it.
But the children got over their loss with the promise of their first trampoline, and we had plans for the existing summerhouse in our new home. Sadly for us though it had suffered neglect, and that combined with our very wet winter meant the cost of repairs were well beyond our budget. One sad day a few months ago DH took it down with sledgehammer and axe and made a bonfire of the bits that weren’t salvageable- the beautiful cedar shingles, the rotten floorboards, the lead flashing (which did not go on the fire.) He built a beautiful hen house from the windows and doors that survived.
And I found a company online that produced a summerhouse we could afford, pre-painted and, best of all, delivered and installed for free if under 200 miles away. And one Saturday afternoon my girls set up camp in the middle of the garden and watched as two very nice men erected a new summerhouse that exactly fit the space the old one took up. And there is has sat, storing our camping things, until I took The Girls to France last week and DH- never one to have idle hands- did a makeover like no other: a Shabby Chic Makeover which has created the perfect little girl’s clubhouse.
Isn’t it beautiful? I confess when he said he was using leftover paint: pale grey walls and a blue ceiling, all three of us looked a little worried, but it really lifts the interior. Not only that but he has added pink carpet and custom-fitted the summerhouse with a wonderful desktop which folds up to create more space, and a large shelf for storage- all painted to match. There is also an old Ikea storage box that got a new coat of paint. I found a pair of Ikea voiles that I never got around to hanging in the last house and they fit the windows and oor perfectly, so screen your eyes from the late afternoon sun which comes streaming in.
We won a little 60′s sofa on eBay for £40, whose retro colours have been neutralised with a quilt I used to have on our spare bed. I brought a couple of cushions and side-table that were surplus to requirements from the main house, and Granny gifted us the pair of straw-covered pouffes. DH hung a mirror that we haven’t found a home for and a picture from his old office, he picked up a couple of pink hurricane lamps as he knew they would love them, and found a folding bistro table and chairs which can be used inside or out, depending on the weather.
They are overjoyed with the transformation: we have created the perfect clubhouse that will grow with them over time. They have moved their art pots and paper across so we no longer have a cute little kids table in the kitchen. We just bought them a doormat- to put on the newly decked front of the summerhouse- to help keep out pine needles and LBG keeps asking me to get her a “little bed, just in case.” I think we may find she moves out there permanently soon.
Well done, my Darling Husband: you did an awesome job and we love you very very much indeed.
I last ate in Zizzi’s in Bromley when LBG was small. Lisa and I took our three children for lunch, and my memory of the experience is not a good one. I don’t think I’ve eaten at a Zizzi’s since, though that of course may have something to do with half my family not eating cheese.
Last week, I went back to see how things have changed and to try the new star of the Zizzi’s menu -the Sweet Pizza.
The decor had been updated- calm colours and the use of birch branches made the girls exclaim that it would be good to “do something like this” at home. The staff were very helpful on arrival, and we quickly settled down with the colouring and stickers provided- a given in a high-street restaurant these days, and an essential tool when playing for time.
The Girls were both happy with the pizza-or-pasta options on the children’s menu and I went for a Weekday Special- Buffalo Mozzarella and tomato salad followed by Spaghetti Zucchine.
The food was served quickly. The girls left their crudite starters because the vegetables were clearly past their best. My starter was small but fresher and tasty: ideal for a three course meal.
LBG wolfed down her margerita pizza and declared it to be delicious. She then polished off what was left of her sister’s penne with tomato sauce (no cheese). Dimples had in fact eaten half of what was a sizeable portion so I was delighted. My main was a good size, the vegetables still bright and green and the saffron sauce smooth and creamy. I could have done with more lemon to compliment the sauce, though.
It took some time to get our order taken for dessert. The girls were excited by the make-your-own option, and loved tipping their own little pots of popping candy over their teeny tiny ice-cream cones.
I had the Sweet Pizza- an odd blend of pizza base, with olive oil, topped with gooey melted marshmallows, fresh strawberries and a chocolately hazelnut sauce. I say odd, but the combination did work. I could have done with a couple of bits more topping. My children were less sure and reluctant to try the pizza but eventually tried and liked it- they ate bits heavy with topping, hence my concern that I had missed out. The Girls did say they would like to make one at home one day- toasting marshmallows is one of our favourite activities and we have a firepit for that reason, not to mention a cupboard filled with marshmallows. I think though that for grown-ups, Sweet Pizza is probably something to share, which makes it a very romantic choice!
Our experience at Zizzi’s, though busy, was certainly better than the last time we went. Changes to staff, decor and menus make it a much more appealing high street choice for me than in the past.
Comments I have on our experience:
The loos in our particular branch were tired to say the least. They could certainly do with a good clean. These are things that worry Dimples.
Both crayons and kids starters were served in the same kind of plastic cup that we have at home. Yet their drinks were served in large glasses. Seems odd to me: why not put children’s drinks in children’s cups?
Our restaurant was very busy and understaffed. The manager was very apologetic about this, and the staff worked extremely hard to keep up and I was very impressed by their dedication.
The dessert for children was ice-cream or ice-cream. LBG would generally choose a fruit-based dessert given the choice. It’s worth Zizzi considerng a fruit option for their next menu revamp.
Sweet Pizza is £5.95
Weekday Lunch Menu- Monday to Thursday before 5pm- is £10.95 for 2 courses
Kids Menu- 3 courses and a chococino- is £6.75
*Disclosure: we were given a meal free of charge at the Bromley branch of Zizzi’s for the purposes of writing this post. All opinions are honest and we loved the pizza.
I’ve been following the story of GoldieBlox for a while. The toys for future innovators is the brain child of Debbie Sterling, who saw a need in the Pink Aisle of the toy store for an alternative, despite being told by leading toymakers that engineering toys for girls don’t sell.
As a parent of two girls I have been trying to find a balance between Barbie- and you should read Frog Mom’s thoughts on the plastic phenomenon- and Meccano, which my girls have decreed to be a “boy’s toy”. I am not aiming for them to eschew all the things they love, and it makes me smile when they talk about being popstars and princesses when they grow up. But I would like them to have options, to not be constricted by ideas of what girls are and are not capable of.
Which is where GoldieBlox comes in:
our goal is to get girls building. We’re here to help level the playing field in every sense of the phrase. By tapping into girls’ strong verbal skills, our story + construction set bolsters confidence in spatial skills while giving young inventors the tools they need to build and create amazing things.
Imagine my excitement when I was invited to review the sets, which are coming to the UK, since up until now I have baulked at paying International Shipping from America. We were beyond excited. And have been having hours of fun. Each set comes with a story in which the eponymous hero contructs something that saves the day. You have all the parts you need to build a parade float, a dirty-dog dunking station, and a spinning machine, which you build as the story goes along. Girls like mine like instructions, so this is a better way of getting them involved in the engineering process than dumping some Lego in front of them and leaving them to it.
The best bit is that at the end of the book you are given several other things that you can make using the tools you already have. You can go online at GoldieBlox.com to find other creations. In fact it has become Dimple’s aim to get one of her construction ideas featured on the site! It has definitely sparked her imagination. GoldieBlox certainly rocks our world.
Other comments on our experience:
When the parts are new it can be hard to slot the poles into the holes in the blocks, and parental help is needed.
In our case, the Dunking Set was supposed to have a wrap around scene that attached to the device, but the pre-punched holes were out significantly and it didn’t work.
I love that each set has multiple applications. In America you can also buy an add on kit. Hope that comes over soon!
Sets start from £19.99 at John Lewis and Amazon
Hema is a huge brand in Holland. So huge that 50% of all babies born in the country will wear a Hema babygrow. There was a point when Woolworths could have claimed similar figures but since the store disappeared from the high street I have been looking for something to replace it.
The Bromley Blogging Massive: Not Another Mummy Blog, Cool Bananas, me and my Girls, Spirited Puddle Jumper. Not in shot were Lisa G Creates and A Baby on Board.
Which is why I was attended Dutch store Hema’sopening in Bromley last month. It was worth it. I can see why some articles have referred to it as Ikea-for-the-High-Street or Posh Poundland. It sells a great collection of house-hold items: from cleaning products to saucepans to stationery, as well as really useful things like lemonade dispensers and kitchen towels that already have hanging loops or eyes on them.
But it also sells make-up, kids clothes and basics like underwear. I imagine in future that I do with HEMA as I do in Ikea: pop in for one thing and come out with fifteen. The pricing structure is simples: everything in increments of 25p, and everything represents great value.
I stocked up on washi tape and crafting supplies, napkins and hair detangler.
The Girls got nail varnish, some new underwear and a beautifully colourful bikini, both of which fit well and look lovely.They also are washing well too.
We got delicious syrup-waffels, which we encountered in Holland on our first Home Exchange and have loved since- I’ve made the 30 minute pilgrimage twice since to top up!
The buzz on the Domestic Goddesque Instagram Feed tells me that Hema is what we have all been waiting for, and the best news is that the brand is launching an online shop for the UK in mid-September at www.hemashop.com.
The website will provide its dedicated ranges across kids, home, kids, stationery, cook, food, bath and beauty and seasonal products for those of us who cannot get to one of the three successful existing shops!
I was sent a jar of Thermomorph recently.
It sat on the kitchen table staring at me whilst I looked online to find out what I could do with it.
It’s very easy to use: you simply tip some of the plastic beads into boiled water and wait for them to melt and coalesce into a gloop that you can mould and manage. If it gets too hard, dunk it back into the water to soften and carry on. I stirred a whole bunch of Hama Beads into one blob and used a bowl as a mould to make a tealight holder: an easy take on our Diwali lights we made a couple of years ago.
I also used a small amount to make a repair to the bowl of my Magimix, which is holding well so far.
But where the Thermomorph magic kicked in was when LBG and Dimples were in full Loomband Discovery Mode. The loom hooks that come with them are small and don;t feel very strong. When you are starting out, this is not helpful.
But in a few minutes I had made a customised loom hook, fitted to their hands: I just moulded some plastic around the handle of the Loom Hook and rolled it to a sensible shape, then each girl held onto the firming plastic so it was specific to their hand shape.
And LBG thinks it’s the best loom hook ever.
*Disclosure: we were sent a jar of Thermomorph for the purpose of writing this post.
Salted Caramel Pecan Millionaire’s Tiffin. Rolls off the tongue, right?
Indeed it does, straight into your belly.
So tiffin, for those of you who don’t know, is just a fancy word for fridge-cake. This is made in the style of English Mum- it’s weight-guestimated rather than weighed, but people are asking over on my Instagram feed for the recipe so I wanted to share.
There are several stages to this recipe so it won’t be something that will be ready in 20 minutes’ time but it is really worth the wait.
Step 1 is to make some Salted Caramel Sauce. And let it cool.
Step 2 is to crush 300g (this I actually weighed, only because I know that the tiffin recipe I generally follow has 300g) of biscuits. In my case I actually use the broken mess at the bottom of the biscuit barrel, so this particular batch had Speculoos, Digestives, Fruit Shortcake and Bourbons in it. You could just go with one biscuit. Tip them into a large bowl and break them with the end of a rolling pin until they are in little chunks no bigger than your fingernail.
In a pan melt half a pack of butter (about 130g) with an equal amount of Golden Syrup (probably generous tablespoons). Once blended, mix into the biscuits bits (and crumbs) then try to resist the temptation to eat it all, and press into a lined tin: I lined my 20cm square tin with parchment foil. Fancy, I know. Pop in the fridge until set.
Once set, you need your molten (I melted mine in the microwave as I have a jar in the fridge for ice-cream-related emergencies) Salted Caramel. Pour over the top of the biscuit. I probably used half a jar. Then break about 100g pecans into pieces and sprinkle evenly avross the goo. Feel free to add more if you like, and leave them out if you don’t like, nuts.
Bung it all back in the fridge whilst you melt approximately 200g chocolate. I say that because I used 300g and the stuff was impossible to cut into neatly. Go with slightly less, unless you are a fan of chocolate and don’t mind uneven pieces. Put back in the fridge and try very hard to leave to set.
When the chocolate is rock solid (which it will be if you went with 300g chocolate) then cut into pieces and enjoy.
It will need to be kept in the fridge if the weather is warm or you have an Aga in your kitchen. Assuming it lasts that long.