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Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Warm up this Winter with Heinz Soup

Fight the freeze with some warming soup


As winter sets in, commuters across the UK are being given a warming surprise after ‘Break In Case Of Emergency’ cases, containing a free can of the nation’s favourite Heinz Cream of Tomato Soup, were placed across cities. Throughout soup season, Heinz will be popping up in the coldest cities and towns across the UK, so keep your eyes peeled for one of the cases to get yourself a can of soup. Who said there was no such thing as a free lunch?!

soup, Heinz


The emergency soup boxes have been created following research that found that 75% of Brits agree that nothing beats a winter chill like a hot bowl of soup. According to figures, the north is the biggest soup 'hot spot' during the winter months, with Londoners' love of soup making the city come a close second. It is estimated that Heinz will sell over 20 million cans of soup this January, keeping the nation warm, comforted and cosy in the cold weather. 

Soup consumption increases by 65% from summer to the winter months, with demand increasing with every degree the temperature drops.  Soup is definitely the ultimate comfort food to keep us going when the weather is miserable and Heinz canned soups are so convenient to keep in the cupboard for a quick and easy bowl of warming soup to keep the cold at bay.

Top 5 facts about the nation’s favourite soup:

  • Approximately 1,600 cans of Heinz soup are made every minute of every hour of every day of every week of every month of every year
  • Heinz sells more than 65 million cans of Cream of Tomato soup a year, equating to 124 cans per minute
  • More UK households buy Heinz soup than lightbulbs
  • Heinz tasters take samples of soup from the end of the lines every hour to ensure it looks and tastes exactly right
  • Heinz uses specially selected ingredients to make its soup – every tomato is sun-ripened and grown in open fields
  • A can of Heinz Cream of Tomato Soup counts as 1 of your 5 a day


Monday, 16 January 2017

Make Learning Fun with Education Quizzes

The new year has well and truly begun and my children are back at school getting used to the routine of early mornings, school runs, homework and spelling tests after a wonderful Christmas holiday.

With Freddy now in Year 3, his workload is getting progressively more difficult (much to his dismay!) He is not a fan of handwriting, hates learning times tables and he doesn't really enjoy reading for pleasure. However, he gets really motivated about learning when it involves the use of a laptop or iPad. I am always on the look out for websites that will let him play while he learns. He is pretty competitive and enjoys the challenge - as long as it's online.

One website that we've been having fun with is Education Quizzes. With educational quizzes relevant to KS1, KS2, 11+, KS3 and GCSE, Education Quizzes covers all ages from reception through to teens. Quizzes are divided into subjects including maths, English, geography, history, PSHE and science, and each subject has a selection of quizzes to choose from. With multiple choice answers and helpful tips to help children consolidate their learning, these quizzes are pitched at the right level to make them both challenging and enjoyable. They make great revision aids and are written by teachers in accordance with the school curriculum. Quiz based learning is a less formal and more appealing way for children to learn and they are happy to do it as they are having fun.

Education Quizzes has a no-strings attached rolling subscription charge of £9.95 a month for families, giving full access to all the quizzes across all the age groups. This offers great value for my family as both 7 year old Freddy and his 14 year old sister can both benefit from the quizzes.

The site is a great learning resource for the home, which perfectly supports each stage of a child's education. As a parent, I think it is important to keep up with what the kids do at school and this site is a great way to do this and polish up my own skills at the same time. (Although some of the GCSE stuff is a bit beyond me now!)  Sharing the quizzes together as a family is an excellent way to support children and help boost their confidence.

Schools can also subscribe to Education Quizzes, providing all their pupils with access to the site. The school's annual subscriptions can cost as little as £2 per student and is a great way to support the home /school partnership. The school's first year subscription is currently being offered for free, so be sure to let your child's school know about Education Quizzes!

There are some free quizzes online so you can have a look around the site and try them out to see if Education Quizzes is right for your family. Find out more at www.educationquizzes.com.

educational quizzes

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Keeping Pets Safe this Christmas

Some lucky cats and dogs have been treated to one night in ‘Pet Heaven’ by Vets Now, the out-of-hours emergency vet provider.  The fun experience was created to help raise awareness of the increased danger pets face at Christmas and you can watch the cute videos of the cats at a Catnip Bar and the dogs enjoying a Dog's Dinner!

        


Vets Now sees a 41% increase in pet emergencies during the holidays, however half of all pet owners don’t have an emergency plan and wouldn’t know what to do if their pet fell ill over Christmas.

According to a survey for Vets Now, a third of pet owners will experience an emergency over Christmas, with many cases caused by pets eating novelty festive items or harmful foods. 5.5 million pet owners will unknowingly feed their pets something dangerous this year and 90% of pet poisonings will happen in the home. It is important for pet owners to know how to keep their furry friends safe.

Vets Now has created an emergency pet plan which owners can download for FREE to ensure heaven stays a place on earth for their furry friends.: www.vets-now.com/petemergency


The top ten festive hazards for your pets at Christmas:

1. Chocolate - chocolate contains a stimulant called theobromine, which is severely poisonous to cats and dogs.
2. Mince Pies and Christmas Puddings - all grapes, raisins, currants and sultanas are toxic to dogs.
3. Blue Cheese - contains a substance called Roquefortine C which dogs are extremely sensitive to.
4. Tinsel – dogs eat tinsel, which can cause dangerous blockages in the stomach.
5. Salt Dough Ornaments - the mix of flour and salt with water can cause a potentially fatal salt toxicosis if ingested by any pet.
6. Poinsettia, Mistletoe and Ivy – are all mildly toxic to both cats and dogs.
7. Wrapping Paper - while toxicity is low, eating a large amount of paper could cause an obstruction in the stomach.
8. Snow Globes - imported versions can contain antifreeze, which can be fatal for a cat
9. Candles - can burn paws and curious noses. Tails can also knock candles over, which could cause a house fire.
10. Alcohol - can cause severe liver and brain damage. As little as one tablespoon can lead to serious problems for cats or dogs.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Do You Want to Build a Primula Snowman?

I am a mum of five, auntie of eight, great auntie of one and nana of two, so over the Christmas period I am expecting to see plenty of little people coming to visit. Children, generally speaking, are happy if they have full bellies and have something fun to do, so I have combined both of these things and come up with an edible festive activity! 

Using Primula Cheese, I have made a DIY sandwich-making activity for kids to enjoy, which I've called "Do you want to build a Primula snowman?"  Bento lunches have increased hugely in popularity and children love to see favourite characters recreated using food, but I thought making it an activity for the children to do themselves added to the enjoyment. The fact that the children get to use the bits and bobs to create their own snowman, makes this a lot of fun and it uses their creativity. 

It is so quick and easy to prepare everything and you can use up any odds and ends of salad, fruits, vegetables, veggie meats or cheeses that you have. At Christmas, I always have lots of stuff in the fridge so it's easy to find enough goodies to use. Even the fussiest of little eaters will want to get involved! It's a great way to entertain and feed children at the same time - perfect for when you have unexpected visitors with children and want a few seconds peace and quiet!

I let 7 year old Freddy make his own Primula snowman and he loved creating it and then eating it. I think he did a great job and he said it was nice to be able to make his own snack and he thought the snowman looked really cute. He gave it a big thumbs up.

Primula, Christmas


Ingredients

sliced bread
Primula cheese
raisins
carrot
cucumber
vegetarian sliced ham

Primula cheese


To prepare:

Using two different sized circular cookie cutters, cut out rounds of bread.
Spread each circle generously with Primula cheese.
Prepare cucumber sticks, strips of veggie ham, carrot triangles and raisin pieces.
Arrange on a big plate.
Give each child their own plate and let them make their own snowmen with raisin eyes and buttons, cucumber arms, a veggie ham scarf and a carrot noise.
Enjoy having happy children!


bento lunch, snowman, Primula


Merry Christmas


I am a member of the Primula Blogger Club, which is a paid partnership.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

After Eight Brownies Recipe #AfterEightBakes

After Eights are such an iconic part of the Christmas festivities. We've always loved the yummy mint chocolate thins after our Christmas dinner. We've even played the game where you put one on your forehead and, without using your hands, have to get it into your mouth! But this year I've used them in a new way as an ingredient in some festive #AfterEightBakes.

After Eight kindly sent me a 300g box and some baking ingredients, challenging me to create a family dessert. I have made After Eight Brownies, a rich, chewy chocolate brownie with a layer of melted, minty After Eights running through the centre.

After Eight Brownies


Christmas, recipe, After Eight



Ingredients

150g Dark Chocolate
125g Butter
100g Self-Raising Flower
2 Free Range Eggs
200g Light Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla Essence
300g After Eight Mints

Method

Put the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir until melted.
Allow to cool.
Whisk the eggs and sugar using an electric whisk until thick and foamy.
Stir the melted chocolate mix into the egg mix and add vanilla essence.
Sieve in the flour and fold in.
Pour half the brownie batter into a tin (12"  x 9 ") and top with a layer of After Eight mints.
Pop into a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees for about 25 minutes.
It is ready when the top looks papery and a cocktail stick comes out sticky but not wet.
Sprinkle with icing sugar and cut into squares when it has cooled.

How I got £200 of Christmas shopping for free with Swagbucks

In October, I decided that I really needed to get on top of my Christmas planning. With so much to do and with time pressing on, I needed make a start on my Christmas shopping. Money is always spread thin at this time of year, and so my mind cast back to the success I had had with Swagbucks a few years ago in a Thrifty Blogger Challenge that I'd taken part in.

Swagbucks is a free to join website where you can earn vouchers for doing things online. From taking surveys, to watching videos, to searching the web, to taking part in special offers to shopping online, you earn Swagbucks that can be exchanged for vouchers for shops such as Argos, Amazon and Currys. Swagbucks have been rated the #1 site to make money online by MSE and have given away over $350 of rewards globally. There is good money to be made for dedicating a little time to the Swagbucks site each day.

So for the last ten weeks I have been doing daily Swagbucking. As someone who spends a lot of time online, it's easy to incorporate Swagbucks into my daily routine. I've taken daily surveys, watched lots of videos (mostly film trailers) and  used the Swagbucks site to search the internet. I've done a few special offers, taken part in promotions and completed some of my Christmas shopping through the site, earning a percentage of my spending back in Swagbucks cashback.

Each day, Swagbucks gives a daily target, which I use to motivate myself. Meeting the targets earn you bonuses. These really add up over the month. Some days I smash these targets, other days can be slow, but I always persevere.  I have the app on my mobile too so I can use Swagbucks on the go if I'm away from home, which is particularly helpful for hitting those targets!

                


I have been absolutely overjoyed to have made £200 in Amazon vouchers in just over two months. This has covered a huge chunk of my Christmas spending. As well as doing Swagbucks for myself, I recommended it to my daughter (who is away at university) and my niece (who is getting married next year and trying to save money), who both benefited from earning some extra cash for Christmas shopping. They both earned in excess of £100 each. Knowing I helped them pay for pressies has made me feel so happy! As I referred them, I earned a referral bonus, boosting my own total. So sharing the Swagbucks secret benefits both you and your friends.

You can find out about the latest promotions on the Swagbucks UK Facebook page, on the blog and via email, so you can stay one step ahead when it comes to earning those valuable Swagbucks.

From Wednesday to Friday this week, Swagbucks have a huge promotion on their online shopping. The cashback is being quadrupled, making the site the most generous cashback site out there! So simply by shopping for any last minute Christmas gifts online at your favourite stores such as Argos, Boots, The Body Shop, M & S or AO.com, you will earn a top rate of cashback. Holiday companies such as Thomson and First Choice also offer generous rates of cashback, great for anyone planning their summer holidays. So today is a great time to start your Swagbucks journey.

If you want to take a look at Swagbucks and sign up (just an email and password required) you can use my referral link here: http://www.swagbucks.com/refer/wendymcd83 or click through the banners. You can earn some spending money for the January sales!


                   

Monday, 12 December 2016

Nine Lives out on DVD plus some Cool Cat Facts

This Christmas, treat the family to the new feline caper Nine Lives, which follows the escapades of a businessman who becomes trapped in the body of the family's new pet cat. 

Tom Brand, a successful billionaire businessman has grown distant from his wife and daughter. Obsessed with developing the highest building in the Northern hemisphere, he arrogantly pursues his career at the expense of those around him. When he forgets to buy his daughter Rebecca a present for her 11th birthday he rushes off to try and find the gift she most wants, a pet cat. He finds himself in a mystical pet store run by eccentric owner, Felix Perkins (played wonderfully by Christopher Walken). He has the perfect pet for him: fluffy feline, Mr. Fuzzypants.

Kevin Spacey


On his way back to his daughter's party, Tom is called to his tower block, where he and the cat are involved in a freak accident. Tom regains consciousness to discover that his mind has somehow become trapped inside the body of the cat. He watches as his body is wheeled away into an ambulance in a coma. 

Mr Fuzzypants comes home to live in the family home and it takes Tom some time to adjust to cat life, resulting in some very funny moments. Tom quickly realises that occupying the body of a pet cat can be a blessing as he gets to spend more time with his family and gets to know his daughter. He soon learns what is important in life and is prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice for his loved ones.

Nine Lives is a purrfectly heart-warming tale about the importance of family and our furry friends.

NINE LIVES is out to own on Blu-ray & DVD from 12th December, 2016, courtesy of Lionsgate Home Entertainment.

The Nine Lives DVD will make a great gift for the cat lover in your life. How about creating a gift basket containing cat goodies and a copy of the DVD?

Christmas gift idea



Cool Cat Facts

To celebrate the release of Nine Lives here's some cool cat facts courtesy of the feline charity Cats Protection.

SLEEP – Cats sleep upwards of 15 hours a day. They laze about a good portion of the day and expend their energy in bursts nearer dawn and dusk as that is when they typically hunt.

KNEADING – Cats knead or paw at the ground when they are happy in a habit leftover from kittenhood.

TOMS AND QUEENS – A male cat is often referred to as a ‘Tom’, while a female cat is called a ‘Queen’.

HEARING - Cats can hear sounds up to 77,000 Hertz, even higher than dogs and much higher than humans. Most cats will respond to noises their owners can’t even hear.

KINDLE AND CLOWDER – A ‘Kindle’ is a group of kittens and a ‘Clowder’ is a group of adult cats.

LANDING ON THEIR FEET – All cats carry an incredible ability to right themselves in mid-air and turn to land on their feet when falling. Handy for learning to climb trees.

HEIGHTS – Cats like finding high perches where they can survey their surroundings from above. Cats Protection suggests making sure your cat has access to resting places that give it a good view of the rest of the room.

HEAD RUB– Cats say hello to each other by rubbing their heads or side of their bodies on each other. So if they do this to you, they like you!

SUNBURN – Cats can get sunburn. Most cats love to laze in the sunshine, but light-haired cats are susceptible to sunburn. Cats Protection suggests asking a vet for recommended non-toxic sun creams that are safe for furry felines.

cats, feline

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